A closer walk

Editorial Notebook

September 03, 2005

THE MEMORY of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the back yard on a hot night or something said long ago. Louis Armstrong

One of my choice amusements during my stay in New Orleans was going down to the old French Market, especially of a Sunday morning. ... I remember I nearly always on these occasions got a large cup of delicious coffee with a biscuit, for my breakfast, from the immense shining copper kettle of a great Creole mulatto woman (I believe she weigh'd 230 pounds). I never had such coffee since. ... And what splendid and roomy and leisurely bar-rooms! Walt Whitman

A swell time and we had plenty of fun. A kind of fun I don't think I've seen any other place. Of course there may be as nice a fun, but that particular time there was never that kind of fun anyplace, I think, on the face of the globe but New Orleans. And we had that every Sunday. Jelly Roll Morton

It still happens to be part of the great state of Louisiana where people play the political game the same way it's played in Lebanon. The place is one layer after another of tribes, factions and at least a million laughs. A. J. Liebling

And every time we think about the bacon and the beans, we'll think about the fun we had way down in New Orleans. Jimmy Driftwood, "The Battle of New Orleans"

Blanche: What you are talking about is desire - just brutal Desire! The name of that rattle-trap streetcar that bangs through the Quarter, up one old narrow street and down another.

Stella: Haven't you ever ridden on that streetcar?

Blanche: It brought me here. Where I'm not wanted and where I'm ashamed to be. Tennessee Williams

One morning - it was December, I think, a cold Sunday with a sad gray sun - I went up through the Quarter to the old market where, at that time of year, there are exquisite winter fruits, sweet satsumas, 20 cents a dozen, and winter flowers, Christmas poinsettia and snow japonica. New Orleans streets have long, lonesome perspectives; in empty hours their atmosphere is like a Chirico, and things innocent, ordinarily (a face behind the slanted light of shutters, nuns moving in the distance, a fat dark arm lolling lopsidedly out some window, a lonely black boy squatting in an alley, blowing soap bubbles and watching sadly as they rise to burst), acquire qualities of violence. Truman Capote

Mayann told me that the night I was born there was a great big shooting scrape in the alley and the two guys killed each other. It was the Fourth of July, a big holiday in New Orleans, where almost anything can happen. Pretty near everybody celebrates with pistols, shot guns, or any other weapon that's handy. Louis Armstrong

My uncle and aunt live in a gracious house in the Garden District and are very kind to me. But whenever I try to live there, I find myself first in a rage during which I develop strong opinions on a variety of subjects and write letters to editors, then in a depression during which I lie rigid as a stick for hours staring straight up at the plaster medallion in the ceiling of my bedroom. Walker Percy, The Moviegoer

It's a kind of backward, country city. I do not mean that in a mean way. Because it's not so urban, there is not the desire to change with the trends. New Orleans is New Orleans. And it has been so for hundreds of years. Branford Marsalis

The water of the Gulf stretched out before her, gleaming with the million lights of the sun. The voice of the sea is seductive, never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander in abysses of solitude. All along the white beach, up and down, there was no living thing in sight. A bird with a broken wing was beating the air above, reeling, fluttering, circling disabled down, down to the water. Kate Chopin, The Awakening

The Doctor woke up afraid. He had been dreaming of the old house in New Orleans again. Anne Rice, The Witching Hour

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