Friday, March 12th began early, yet uneventfully. I got up at 2:00am, aught the 3:00am C & J Trailways bus and tried my best to snooze. With spring break and enhanced security, Logan was a madhouse, but they opened up extra lines around 4:30am and things began to move smoothly.

The flight to Memphis was a different matter. A student from Massachusetts had a severe allergic reaction on the plane. Luckily there was nurse on board and she was comforted and given oxygen until her medication took over. Then there was some turbulence which seemed to blanket the entire states of Kentucky and Tennessee. The good news, newly-resigned, jack-of-trades, Patriots running back Kevin Faulk was on the plane; returning back south after negotiating a contract extension. Patriots Nation is pleased.

When I got on the New Orleans-bound plane I spied one of my heroes, Allen Toussaint, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, singer, song-writer, producer, pianist, who was returning home. A had a chance to meet him briefly once we landed. The description “gentleman” could not be overused in his case.

I met my friend Bruno for lunch at Domilise’s uptown. He ordered in advance so I missed the joy of waiting in line. I had a small fried oyster po-boy, fully dressed, with a Diet Coke – an ironic combination by any standards. We talked so fast and furiously I don’t think I ever asked him what he had. My guess: a shrimp/oyster combo, dressed, with a cold Barq’s. I just can’t be so authentic.

Alas, he had to get back to work and I had to make sure our arrangements were set over in Marrero. After some confusion, I was able to figure out our living arrangements for next week. Make sure there are no housing disaster looming, secure the combination to the doors, and relay that to the incoming vans.

Later, I went into the City, where the cold winter has truly put spring off schedule. Things are not so green, flowers so prominent; however, if this warm, sunny weather continues, things should explode quickly. Although, nothing preempts the human spirit on a nice day. Street performers, musicians, and artists were out, as were tourists, conventioneers, and locals.

As is customary, I began my week by witnessing the start of the Molly’s on the Market St. Patrick Day Parade, which more appropriately would be described as a block-party/costume party. I did see one of my favorite bar-tenders of days past in one of the crews.

I then went over to Frenchmen Street, where a weekend-long indie rock festival has got the normally Bohemian area into a paroxysm of black, studs, and tattoos/piercings. I ducked into the reincarnated Spotted Cat Music Club (ne Spotted Cat) to see the reincarnated Cottonmouth Kings (a recasting of the New Orleans Jazz Vipers). I was exhausted, and nearly left during a set by a good, but somewhat lifeless blues duo. Then Washboard Chaz, the Yo Yo Ma of laundry implements showed up and worked his magic on one number; it breathed life into both me and the act.

As the Cottonmouth Kings were setting up, I had the good fortune of meeting a one of the volunteers from Operation Helping Hands who will be working with our group next week. She, like one of our leaders last year, is a recent graduate of St. Anselm College in Manchester, where they have a fantastic service learning program. There will be much more on she and the folks at OHH, service learning, etc. in future posts. She did reiterate that they want us across the river in Gentilly, ready for action, by 7:30am on Monday. Not a big deal for me, but try conveying that to 26 college students on the first day of spring break. The thought of it made me more tired though. I made it through part of the first set of the group I had come to see, but knew I had to get back and crash.

When I got back to Madonna Manor, two of the three groups had arrived. Sleep preempted, I was glad to see they had arrived safely. As many of them ventured out for late-night eats; I went to sleep.

Tomorrow will indeed be another day.

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