Tuesday, December 4, 2007

brangelina and glowing pink boxes in the lower 9th

Half way through dinner last night our friend Rose called to say that we should fill our car with people and come immediately to the lower 9th Ward for this art exhibit, concert, and fundraising benefit she was attending. It’s going on now and involves large glowing pink boxes representing houses that Brad Pitt is going to build, she said, so hurry.

Brad Pitt has founded a nonprofit organization called Make It Right. Partnering with a variety of other organizations (architects, private-sector corporations, 9th Ward community organizations), they're going to build affordable and ecologically-sound houses for Katrina victims in the lower 9th Ward. Last night was their kickoff event and benefit fundraiser. They're starting goal is to build 150 of these homes, and last night alone they raised enough money for seven. At the moment, there are 150 pink house-sized tents covering about a five block area of the lower ninth Ward. At night they are lit from within and without, and you can see them as soon as you crest the bridge over the Industrial Canal. Scattered among the tents are small blue points of light that look like candles or stars, one for each resident of the Lower 9th Ward who died in the floods. They're also three or four viewing platforms set up come each about two stories tall. The display is definitely best viewed from above.

Because it’s New Orleans, I was completely unsurprised to hear excellent live music as we walked through the neighborhood towards the stage. I was surprised, however, that the music wasn't jazz but rock and roll. Specifically, 1950s rock. After we listen to the second song, I narrowed it down even further. It appeared to be a Jerry Lee Lewis cover band.

We climbed to the top of the viewing tower, taking in the sites and absently listening to the music. Gradually it occurred to me that this was an awfully good Jerry Lee Lewis cover band. Quite exceptionally good. And the crowd, though small, was really extremely excited about it. Much more excited that I would have expected the New Orleans audience to be about a Jerry Lee Lewis cover band.

And then they started to play Great of Balls of Fire. The entire audience went crazy. Things started to fall into place. We raced down the stairs, heading for the stage as quickly as we could. The guy at the keyboard looked to be about 80 years old. I stood there gaping. This was not a cover band. We were listening to Jerry Lee Lewis himself play his hit Great Balls of Fire, live in New Orleans in the lower 9th Ward, from a stage less than 20 feet away from us.

Then he played The Twist, and it was totally awesome. We twisted. That man can still rock.

Unfortunately, I didn't actually see Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie, though we knew they were there. We left to go home to bed before they came out (I've got a bit of a cold). My friend Melinda stayed longer, and she did see them both. In fact, she was standing right behind them during the final performance of the Neville Brothers (who we also heard play). Angelina was holding one of the babies. Melinda has pictures -- blurry pictures, but pictures nonetheless. I'm trying really hard to get over the fact that I missed my opportunity to meet the second most beautiful personal alive (#1 being my beautiful wife) in order to go home and go to bed because I have a cold. There’ll be other opportunities to meet Angelina Jolie, right? Sure! Of course there will be.

This photo by Melinda:

And these by Erika, of course:

1 comment:

A'Llyn said...

Of course there will! You're just that cool, she'll seek you out one of these days.

That sounds like a great experience, though.