The rain. They told us we were gonna get washed out. Again. But what does that mean? We got washed out last week by a storm that didn’t even have a name.
It’s when the TV weather guys don’t wear ties on the air that you know they’re serious. It’s not the wind. It’s the rain, they said. The water.
Run for the hills they told us. Except without the hills. There aren’t any hills here. It was metaphorical, the way weather so often is.
And so it rained, and it rains in some places still. Sideways for most of the weekend, which I don’t like. But on Monday, down in thick straight drops. I like those.
Those seem so much less menacing. Beautiful almost, the way Blanche Dubois described it in Tennessee Williams’ “Streetcar Named Desire.”
“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands – and who knows what to do with it?”
Or the way Maria McKee sang it in on Lone Justice’s 1986 record, “Shelter.”
The rain. It fell in swaths and fell in dribbles and sometimes didn’t fall at all. Some folks got a free day off. Some got soaked and swamped. Just mere miles away from each other, life changed or life stayed the same. But it turned out not to be the whack we were expecting, loose ties and all.
I left the city, mostly because I hate losing power, and losing power is not only a great metaphor for life, but a terrible waste of frozen red fish, steak and ice cream in your freezer. But it was nothing like the things that have happened before. Like what Maria McKee sang on the second cut of Lone Justice’s debut self-titled record in 1985.
That’s one of those songs, like Springsteen’s “My City in Ruins” or Green Day’s “Wake me Up (When September Ends)” that seem like it was written for us, this place, about that time. Perseverance. Equanimity. Strength.
I went to the Northshore to stay with the woman I love. We slept and made art and cleaned house and stared out from her porch at the storm and she declared, several times: “It’s raining cats.”
She’s like that. Contrary on purpose. No dogs. Just cats. Who the hell says that? I guess it makes as much sense as “cats and dogs,” when you think about it, which makes no sense at all. Then again, cats are pretty damn contrary themselves.
And so we watched the cats fall and took the days off. Watching and wondering what was happening elsewhere. We ate the red fish and steak I took from home. I left the ice cream behind. I haven’t gone home yet, so I don’t know if it melted or not.
I like going to her place in Lacombe, in times of peril or not. She lives in a three-acre bamboo forest on the Tammany Trace and off the shore of Lake Pontchartrain. How cool is that? It’s so close to New Orleans but so very far away at the same time. In days of rain, I feel safe there, like Maria McKee sang on the title cut of Lone Justice’s second – and, sadly. last – record.
I wrote a story about Lacombe for the upcoming issue of New Orleans Magazine. I’ll post it shortly. I guess when I get back to the city. See if my ice cream melted after all.
In the end, it was another “weather event” here in the Southeastern US, the Northern Tropics. A place called home. A little piece of eternity dropped into our hands. Speaking of which:
Lone Justice was a short-lived thing. Two records in two years and then gone. They were produced by Jimmy Iovine and Steve Van Zandt, Springsteen’s producer and lead guitar player. Respectively.
Dolly Parton was a fixture at their early shows at Whiskey-a-Go-Go on Sunset Boulevard in LA. Linda Ronstadt convinced David Geffen to sign them to his eponymous record label. Tom Petty’s keyboard player, Benmont Tench, toured with them in their early year(s). Rolling Stone called their first record one of the best ever recorded. Six months after forming, they were opening for U2 on their international tour.
They flashed, then panned. Two records, two years. Goddamn, they were good. They sang about rain like nobody’s business.
Well, maybe except for one guy. Aforementioned. Enjoy. And stay dry out there. You never know when the next gully is gonna wash.