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WWOZ and Jazz Fest in Exile May 4, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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I left New Orleans New Year’s Eve 1986, clutching the winning ticket of a good job in Washington, D.C. and leaving a hard-riding posse of personal demons and the raft of friends who had kept me afloat here behind a string of burning bridges. Still, I could never shake my connection to home. The mark New Orleans places on those who grow up here is as indelible and as defining as Original Sin. No matter where we might run to, all of our suffering and opportunities for grace arise out of that invisible fleur de lis imprinted on our hearts. We cannot escape it, are reminded of it no matter where we are as surely as a determined sinner disturbed by the bells of morning Mass on his way home from a night’s debauchery.

During my almost 20 years away from the city, WWOZ and programs like it’s Jazz Fest broadcasts were one of the links that offered me an opportunity to experience the grace of New Orleans, that redeemed what seemed at times the mortal sin of leaving. When I lived in the far north, I would spend some of the first decent days of Spring not out clearing my yard but huddled in my cool basement around my computer, the WWOZ stream struggling through the dial-up connection like a short-wave broadcast from another continent. When the entire city went dark in September ’05, one of the first thing I found was the ‘OZ stream out of New Jersey. It was the sound track of all of my early postings to Wet Bank Guide.

WWOZ and Jazz Fest are both prominent ambassadors for New Orleans, and links that tie us all together: the people who are home, the ones still somewhere else by circumstance or choice, and the visitors lured by the glamor of the city. Without either institution the city would somehow survive, even if dearly diminished, even as we survived the steady erosion of some of our cultural landmarks over the last generation. Even with the gaping hole the absence of either would leave behind, it would still be New Orleans. Those of us here would find the music and the food and the spirit of the street parade on our own. Not so the displaced or the visitors who descend on the city every year for the Fest. Without ‘OZ streaming into the world or the Fest to draw it’s listeners here, the numbers of the foreign legion of New Orleans would be fewer and their strength diminished. We would be silently but certainly undermined in our determination to live here and remake New Orleans if either were to stop.

So what are you waiting for? Turn on. Tune In. Be Home.

N.B–Loki, here’s a “paragraph” for the ‘OZ blog on what the Fest and ‘OZ mean to me. You know I can’t just write a paragraph. Now I need to climb down from my fountain and go make some more coffee. My own Day Four at the Test has worn me out.

Comments»

1. Sophmom - May 4, 2008

Lovely. We’re wrecked. Y’all are made of much heartier stock than I. We’re not going back today. Nice to see the Fountaineer emerge, if only briefly.

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2. Loki - May 4, 2008

Fountain boy! I ask for a paragraph or two and I get an Epic. Good to see you running true to form! Everyone at the station appreciates your kind words.

BTW< You’ve been blogged on the WWOZ Jazz Fest Blog:
http://blog.nola.com/wwoz/2008/05/what_wwoz_means_to_me_mark_fol.html

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3. New Orleans News Ladder - May 5, 2008

Oh Hell. As I like to say often these days…it is the OZ online broadcasts that have kept yer oh’so humble Editilla outta da’McDonalds with an armful of throwin-pies…or worse, a loaded watergun.
Oh Fountain Beau! Fortuna smiles sweetest on da’water dancers no lie.

We rushed the bridge on the sixth day of the federal flood. When I got to BR the first thing I did was hit a computer…and there it was: OZ streaming<–(ironic euphemism that, eh?). But it was not live, just the music. Just the music.

You see, I fell to my knees in the turgid floodwater outside of the station and heard…nothing. Some of you know the sound. It is a sound. I still have trouble describing the tone…the echo, the doppleganger, of a scene that is very much more that the absence of the first note of a song. I dare say I heard the Muses weeping.
Yer stumblin Editilla knows what it means.

And this year I still ride the long road’ho, and OZ came through again even better and more together, and the world can just go to the mall in a handbasket, spared for a time from meeting my dangerous side. They still ain’t got no Popeye’s out here though…

So, Loki, I renewed my membership today! Yea!

Viva La Pucelle d’Orléans
love you all,
Editilla O’rilla d’Aphasia

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4. WWOZ/Jazz Fest II: Community Voices « Radio 2020 - May 5, 2008

[…] Mark Folse, Toulouse Street […]

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