lextopia

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Archive for the ‘New Orleans’

The Calm During The Storm

August 29, 2011 By: admin Category: Happiness, Health, Living, Love, Meditation, New Orleans, Randomosity, sustainability, The Search

I’d like to start a new PAC: Americans for the Preservation of Leisure.

Hurricane Irene has been inching it’s way toward me since early this morning and while, officially, I’m keeping my eye on the weather reports and listening for sounds in my house that I don’t readily understand, unofficially, I’m watching movies and eating popcorn. In other words, the storm has given me license to do nothing but relax. And I kinda like it. But wouldn’t it be better if it didn’t take a storm of hurricane strength for me to “go offgrid” for a day here and there to catch up on sleep and let my mind be at ease? Who gets helped by me being exhausted and stressed all the time? And therefore, I advocate a new standard: the return of Sunday.

I don’t mean to make light of hurricanes. Not at all. I was in New Orleans right after Katrina and filmed a lot of the devastation and spoke to a lot of people. I just think there’s quite a bit our culture needs to re-evaluate, and appreciation of ourselves and of silence is a good start. Humility, lack of hubris is another.

Jan. 1-2, 2008–INDIA. Mardi Gras Beads, or What Not To Bring Through Customs At Bangalore

January 03, 2008 By: admin Category: India, New Orleans, The Film

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Somewhere around 2:00am West Bengal time I was woken up by a bad smell. I thought I’d just farted really bad–airplane food and all that….–but no, it was the still early morning air of Kolkata.

M wrote in an arrival email to family that she was having all these contrasting feelings about being back here, but that she was also noticing so many new things. that’s just about how I feel too. everything is familiar but i’m seeing so much more. that’s good and bad. last year I was full of awe and wonder, this time i see how truly depressing the state of affairs really are here. and it’s impossible to ignore. when i woke up in the middle of the night i was panic-stricken wondering how the hell i would ever be able to make film here. not that it can’t be done, just questioning how I could do it. I’ve always been “the adventurous type” but this is something else–making a film about joy in a world of horror. i am obliged to keep my eyes, ears and heart, especially, open, and that is just the thing i want to avoid most.

as time passes and the sun rises, though, the feelings get easier to deal with. i think about Mom and how terrified she’d be for me if she were alive. truly, if she was still alive i wouldn’t be here. i would never have been able to put her through that anxiety. anyway, when i’m freaked about being here and the task i have to accomplish, i think of her and realize that i have an obligation to be doing this film. i may not be the best filmmaker, but i do know how to shoot, and that’s of great value when the thing i’m tasked to do is show the West what is happening here. one small part of it, anyway.

this morning at 5:00am a voice rang out over the city. an islamic chanter was singing the morning prayers. i’ve never heard that sound. it was beautiful. again: contrast. the city smells so bad, but you can still put the thought of it aside for a moment to observe something beautiful…

PART DEUX: Customs In Bangalore
So, as you can imagine, the 22-hour travel time SUCKED. the flights themselves were very comfortable, and i did sleep through half of the second leg (London to Bangalore). by the way, for those asking yourself the truly valueless question of why we flew the route we did (LA-London-Banaglore-Kolkata) the answer is because we wanted to try British Airways. last year’s flight was awful on Singapore Air so I wanted to try something new. also, the reason the question is value less is because the travel times for each choice are about the same. there’s maybe a one to two-hour difference.

now that we have that out of the way…. we were pulled aside by customs in Bangalore. they didn’t like our mardi gras beads. we have a fair shitload of them that we brought for the New Light kids and the customs agent thought we intended to sell them. i told him what they were for, he didn’t believe me and an itty, bitty standoff ensued. it was all very amicable, though, because my intention was to not rattle or insult him. i carefully explained the rituals of Mardi Gras (whcih probably only served to make me sound more suspect…), and showed him one stack of beads. he counted the stack and said that it was worth some money. i said “No, sir. It’s plastic.” in retrospect, such things might seem of value here because they’ve never seen it before. thankfully i realized that in time to change my pitch. i told him that my intention was to give them as gifts in India, but that i didn’t have any particular attachment to giving them out myself, so i offered the whole lot to him. “I’m sure you have children, sir. You are most welcome to give these to them.” He handed me my passport and waved me off…

Alison
I will never have words to thank Alison for coming to pick us up. I never though she’d be able to as she had an important appointment just after our plane landed. after a 22-hour flight and fighting with customs over strands of tiny plastic balls, negotiating with a pre-paid cab service was the last thing i wanted to do. i was sure that it was going to be another hurdle as we stick out like sore thumbs and in India every Westerner is seem as a walking open bank, but when we came out into the stale, smog-thick air with our piles of beads and bags, there was Alison, smiling and waving. :) there’s nothing like the feeling of home.

Jan. 3, 2008
I got up around 6:00am, Kolkata time. i had a hunger headache and needed to eat. Bryan, Alison’s husband was already up and helped me to make an espresso. yes, contrast: in the middle of a backward city where little makes sense and everything is difficult, i have fresh cappuccino and espresso guaranteed every morning… :)

i’m suffering from jet lag a bit. feeling slightly funky, but the test will come with time. if i’m not better by tonight or tomorrow morning then i’m officially sick. if i am better, yadda, yadda, yadda…

i’ll be writing every morning, i think, and would welcome any responses, thoughts, etc. this is going to be quite an experience for me. it’ll be completely different from last year, as i will be focusing on one project/subject, and won’t be as babysat as i was last year. i’m still being babysat quite a bit, and that’s how i like it, but it’s a lot less than last year. India isn’t easy. i admire Alison and Bryan so much for their choice to live and work here. deciding to do good is easy, implementing systems that are actually successful at it is very hard, and so even after only 24 hours back here, i know for sure that i could never do what they do. Bryan and i talked about that this morning. i think that in order to do well in life, you have to accept who you are and how you like to live. if you try to force yourself into something–like starting an NGO in the third world–without knowing exactly who you are, you’re in for a big, ugly surprise. this trip will show me unequivocally who i am. i hope to God i like myself after i find out… :)

cheers from Kolkata,
lex

The Universality of Joy

October 08, 2007 By: admin Category: Food, Living, Music, New Orleans

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My friend Michelle, a New Orleanian, sent me photos of her recent trip to Spain. Among the 234 images taken with her point-and-shoot Michelle captured breath-taking human pyramids, raucous stick dances, and fireworks–in other words, revelry–proving once again that wherever you find a New Orleanian, you’ll find a party.

There’s a unique way that New Orleanians enjoy life. They allow the pleasures of life–food, drink, music, camaraderie–to fully penetrate their minds and hearts. As a result, they just enjoy things more than most folks. New Orleanians are some of the most ALIVE people I’ve ever met. They’re also very present, rarely dwelling on anything for very long. Usually, it’s just too damned hot to dwell.

It’s for these reasons that I find it hard to understand why others don’t try harder to understand the challenges New Orleanians face trying to rebuild post-Katrina. Not only have they been physically devastated, the emotional devastation has to be crushing. To be promised hope and relief and help and to not receive it so long after the fact has to be demoralizing in a way I can’t comprehend. That’s why I’m thinking of going back. I’d like to do a story on one family’s struggle to rebuild. I’d like to get up close and personal as they make phone calls to federal agencies and visit the courthouse to fill out form after form. We have become an ADD society that only “sees” what’s happening in clips on TV. Once a clip is replaced by another, for most, the story is over. I’d like to go beyond the clip and take viewers through what it actually takes to get your house rebuilt in New Orleans.

Anyone have any suggestions about where I should do this?

Securing A Sense of Home

September 21, 2007 By: admin Category: Faith, General, Health, Living, Mom, New Orleans, Randomosity

We attach meaning and identification to things and events by giving them names. Mine was “my grandmother’s house.” I never saw my grandmother in her house. I saw her in a small apartment in an assisted living facility that I took for her home because I was so young. Later–after I was a bit older, but she still too frail to travel–I saw what had been her home, but I don’t remember going inside. It was the house where my father and uncle had grown up, it was the house where my grandmother had lived for many years. It was my grandmother’s house. But, growing up, it was important for me to SAY “my grandmother’s house” to indicate that the conversation that I was in could keep going, that I understood what “grandmother’s house” meant.

My own home is in New Haven, CT. Someone else lives in it now. And it’s in Paris, France – another place where someone else lives. And it’s in New York city, where I spent almost 20 years. And now, finally, it’s on Martha’s Vineyard – the house my parents retired to and where my father still lives. In some sense, as an aside, there is a room in Boston’s Mass General hospital that is a bit of home to me as it’s where my mother died. There will always be a piece of me there because there is a piece of her there.

We have to secure our sense of home or we can’t feel comfortable. We can survive, we were designed to do that, but we can’t be completely relaxed and, therefore, completely ourselves.

Several years ago my girlfriend and I lived in Brooklyn, NY. One night a largish stray kitten came to our ground floor bedroom window and meowed and meowed so loudly that we woke up. Then he came the next night, and the next, and the next… Finally, I let him in and led him to the bathroom as he wasn’t fixed and I didn’t want to have to clean up after he’d sprayed everywhere. I fed him, gave him water, and then slept on the bathroom floor with him that night so he wouldn’t be lonely. The next day, as we made breakfast, he jumped onto our bed and fell instantly asleep. I thought it was odd, as he’d gotten a good night’s sleep the night before, but, none-the-less-we closed the bedroom door to give him some quiet. After two hours I peeked inside the bedroom… he was still asleep. Two more hours later I peeked again… he was still asleep. The last time I peeked I watched as his limp, exhausted, little body twitched in dreams. I shut the door. “Mel,” as I came to call him, eventually woke up and all was well, but I never got the image out of my mind of this tiny, adorable, exhausted thing getting the first good night’s sleep he’d probably had since he was born. He was able to sleep because he was in a place he recognized as being safe.

Without such safety and support and love and HOME… we cannot be ourselves. We can’t do any of the things we’re supposed to do. And the world, and each other needs us to be doing what we were meant to do.

Workin’, Workin’, Workin’

August 21, 2007 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Fatblogging, Food, Health, India, Music, New Orleans, Running, Video

M and Jessen are in M’s studio right now writing a song for the Ronal Lewis New Orleans video. This one’s going to be beautiful… I finished the “picture lock” last night at 1:00am, and am now cranking out the India vids for delivery to AOL India later this week. I’m taking the opportunity to teach myself Apple’s Color for FCP, cuz if you have footage from India, ya better make it pretty! So far I’ve eaten shit with Color twice. Can’t ever remember to render before I send it all back to FCP. I’m sure this is all fascinating for you all…

Anyway, pictures to come!

Running: 13 mins.!!!! New time on gthe new route! Guess good sleep helped again…
Blogging Dinner: Tiny lamb chops sauteed in olice oil and garlic salt, with a salad. Also, I went to a par-tay on Sunday and wore a teeny tank top for the first time since moving here!!!!!

Indians ‘a-Comin’!

August 15, 2007 By: admin Category: Blogging Dinner, Body, Cooking, Fatblogging, Food, Health, Living, Mom, Music, New Orleans, Randomosity, Running, The Album, Video

I am so fortunate that I was able to spend time in New Orleans with the people that I did. I can’t think of a better Mardi Gras. Maybe if M had been there for the entire trip, it might have been better… 😉

My latest New Orleans video is up. It’s about the Mardi Gras Indians. It’s the 5th video in the series “New Orleans Voices” that I’m doing for Netscape. You can see some of them if you go to my videos page on Netscape. It’s pretty killer, but I think I love most of my videos… This particular vid is very close to my heart – the subject matter, anyway. A lot of folks worked real hard to get me some incredible access in New Orleans, and this, and ALL the New Orleans Voices videos are the result of that. Here’s to Troy, Jack and Michelle!!!

In other news: M wants to expand her video coverage of the album recording!!!! So, we’re going to take a cue from Bravo and will be interviewing her every night after she’s done with whatever she did that day. :) COOL, HUH????

Stay safe, y’all.

DINNER: leftover Dover Sole. The first time-’round wasn’t my best, I forgot to make greens, and something really odd happened to the rice. Still, the leftovers were edible and now they’re gone, which is good. We’re human recycle bins. Awesome.

RUNNING: KICKED ASS. Sometimes I think we chicks are enhanced by The Great Bleed. I don’t know. Sometimes I feel so fuckin’ powerful when I have my period, like tall-buildings-in-a-single-bound type powerful. WTF is that????

RANDOMOSITY: Zan emailed tonight and said she was rummaging through her pictures boxes and found the one of Mom standing on the dunes at the Cape. The one I framed. Wow…

My First NewsQuake! Article!

May 23, 2007 By: admin Category: New Orleans, NewsQuake!

It’s official: I’m a blogger! Now, effectively, I’m getting paid for it! Check out my first post – researched and everything – on Netscape’s new news blog, NewsQuake! My genius colleague Karina Longworth came up with that title, I’m told, and I love it.

Netscape’s New Orleans Voices, “Trombone Shorty” Andrews

March 19, 2007 By: admin Category: Music, New Orleans, Video

My first New Orleans Voices video from my time in NOLA during Mardi Gras. This musician, Troy Andrews, is a gifted young player who will lead the resurgence of a new sound out of New Orleans. Enjoy!