I was sitting in Cobalt. This was a restaurant in the Hotel Monaco, not far from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It was April 30th, 2004. Life couldn't be better. My wife, two great friends, margaritas, killer weather (and I mean that in a good way) and not 10 blocks away, David Bowie in concert at the gorgeous Saenger Theatre. We had tickets. Many did not. It was Jazz Fest and well...nothing is bad during Jazz Fest. Hell, we'd go see Joe Piscopo in New Orleans, as long as we knew when we exited the theatre we'd still be in New Orleans.
So like one night, we were in Cobalt, and Brandy the bartender saw us sitting way in the back. She smiled and waved. "I can't believe Brandy remembered us," I said to my wife Melissa, as I not-so-secretly wished we weren't sitting in the back, in a booth designed for Capone and at least 8 of his men. (My feet barely touched the ground. I needed a phone book to reach my silverware.) She walked over to our table and said she knew we liked sitting up front, so why were we sitting in no man's land? (Cobalt wasn't a "go to" music stop, but if you just happened to be eating their fabulous fish and drinking their fabulous wine, you would also be treated to some tunes by the likes of George Porter Jr. and David Torkanowksy and Stanton Moore. Google their names and hang your head.) She brought us up front and we listened to this trio perform a very casual and very inspired set of music. Brandy set us up with cocktails right in front of the makeshift stage. I love New Orleans. I miss Brandy.
The night I mentioned earlier, April 30th, 2004, my wife and I arrived at Cobalt a few minutes before our friends. Leah the host greeted us with that awesome New Orleans smile. "I see you guys have a table tonight. Expecting some people from out of town?" (That could be one of the highlights of our time spent in New Orleans.) We were in Cobalt so often that Leah thought we were locals. We told Leah that we were from New York and that we visited often and we loved the city and the people and the music and the food and the people and the people...and the people.
On August 29th, 2005 or maybe it was August 30th, my wife and I watched the television in horror as a reporter stood knee-deep in water in a very familiar spot and explained what was going on in New Orleans. "Oh my God! Look!! She's right in front of the Hotel Monaco!"
And thus it began.
Two years later, Cobalt still hasn't reopened. Big deal. What's one restaurant in one hotel? Two years later, the wonderful people of New Orleans are still being dicked around. Two years later and my heart still aches and my soul still wanders aimlessly. And I have a home. And family. And people who respect me. And I am not tossed aside like some insignificant scrap and waste that will be attended to...well, at this rate, never.
Whatever you're doing today and wherever you are... think of New Orleans. And those amazing people. Those people. Those amazing people.