Arriving in New Orleans


The fantasy of travel, which never goes away, still gets tempered by the actual arrival at a location. The best locations in the world are the ones that, like a shy guest at a party, sit quietly back in the corner and wait for you to discover them.

New Orleans is all about its life, its music, its spirit and its joy, grief and pain all smashed into one colorful pastiche. And yet, just walking off the plane, just before a mid-fall rainstorm hits, and just as the sun goes down, a lone jet-fuel tanker truck rumbles past my plane at the gate, oblivious to the empty runway and the tense, waiting silence that accompanies nightfall when mixed with the coming rainfall.

I was in New Orleans for a conference. Over the space of four days I probably spent five or six hours in actual meetings. Much of the rest of the time was given over to receptions, dinners, cocktails, and in my free time wandering the streets bathed in music, light, people, and more alcohol than anyone could safely consume for long. The brooding blue of my first minutes in town faded away.

I used this photo as on the front page of a portfolio website I made for myself last year. The deep blues, the vision of travel and the sense of anticipation drew me to it. In the end, I took the image down and changed my site layout because the whole site was just too busy. I could never completely explain just how a jet-fuel truck and an arrival gate were related to the site. Even so, that beloved fantasy of travel never goes away, even when I arrive at my destination too late in the day to see much of anything.


Desperately Seeking The Great Gatsby

What is good writing? I’m in the presence of good writing after I write a draft, then polish, scrub, polish, scrub, delete half of it and still love the rest. It’s when I read the same piece the next day and don’t hate it.

Good writing is when I open a vein and distract myself until something major comes out. It always does.

Good writing is when I read a piece over and over again and get so into it that I forget what day it is. Good writing is a moment that comes and then is gone just when you were both getting to know each other.

I thought about the mystery of good writing when I continued my fruitless search for an article I wrote about The Great Gatsby that appeared in the San Francisco Bay Guardian sometime in the 1990s. I loved that piece. I can’t find it anywhere: not in my files; not on the website’s archives.

My high school junior English teacher, Mr. O’Brien, taught us the ins and outs of The Great Gatsby. He also taught a certain love of reading and taste for pictures, images and feelings in good writing. It’s all in the article, somewhere.

One day, I’ll find that article again. It’s worth a re-post, if only to get back into the moment one more time.