Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sweet Home Alabama

A few of Umlaut's friends know about the chaos and bullshit that is making his and Skychick's life difficult at this moment in time.

This weekend Umlaut is travelling to Alabama (via New Orleans) to confront some family issues that are so Southern Gothic it's not even funny.

THE great irony of Umlaut's life is that in his younger years he was fascinated with Southern literature (and Southern Rock) and he eventually found himself a member of a full-blown Southern Family... with all of the unnecessary drama and pathos that inspired writers like Faulkner and Crews and bands like Skynyrd and Blackfoot.

I will try to find humor in my return to The South. If I do, readers of this space will be the first to know. If I don't, then the absence of any addendum to this in the near future will be your answer.

Take care, y'all!

"A Southern Man don't need him 'round anyhow..."

Added 4/27/06

Waynesboro, Mississippi
Sunday - April 23, 2006

The day began with a 3 hour drive from New Orleans (Skychick grew up in nearby Slidell, LA). The trek was highlighted by Aerosmith's 'Last Child' coming on the local Nola Rock Radio station as we drove past endless evidence of Hurricane Katrina ("Home... Sweeet... Home.."). It ended with an ultimately hellish and stressful ordeal with the aforementioned "chaos and bullshit" in Alabama.

That night, Skychick and Umlaut stopped at a Walmart for supplies before heading to her aunt's house just across the Mississippi / Alabama border. I was afraid this was a dry county... and if I ever needed a cold beer (or two) it was at that moment.

I was relieved to find a beer cooler and they actually stocked Foster's, which would do the trick. However, their wine selection was hilarious: They only stocked this weird Gallo brand and the merlot, although in a regular wine bottle, had CARBONATED WATER listed as an incredient. Fortified Classiness!

When we got to the checkout, the cashier looked at the 6-pack, looked at us, and said "It's Sunday... We can't sell alcohol."

She took the Foster's and set it off to the side and continued ringing up our other items.

I almost screamed.

Skychick said "We're not from around here..." and the cashier asked "Where y'all from?"....

"California... San Francisco."

"Ohhhhh...", said the cashier.

On the way back to the car I said to Skychick "Fucking Mississippi... No alcohol on Sunday Christian bullshit..."

Then, as if God was sending me a message that I was on HIS turf, I somehow set the rental car's alarm system off and couldn't disarm it. There's nothing like sitting in the middle of a Walmart parking lot in rural Mississippi with a car alarm blasting as the yokels look at you suspiciously. After maybe 5 minutes the alarm finally turned itself off.

God - 1, Umlaut - Nil.... For now.

The French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana
Tuesday - April 25, 2006

Long story short: Skychick and I fled the "chaos and bullshit" in Alabama. As we sped along I59 heading back towards Mississippi > New Orleans in the middle of the night, the Grateful Dead song 'Alabama Getaway' came on the Classic Rock radio station. I shit you not. Now, Skychick and I have never been Deadheads but at that moment we were. Thanks Jerry.

The next day we spent an incredible afternoon in our beloved New Orleans (Skychick's hometown). We surprised old friends who had no idea we were in The South. It was the perfect way to reconnect to life again. Although seeing post-Katrina Nola was heartbreaking.

I couldn't get my head around all of the abandoned houses and buildings. I couldn't get my head around all of the piles of debris. I couldn't get my head around the streets that were so empty of people.

The French Quarter looked the same... at first. But then I started noticing how many buildings and storefronts were vacant there as well.. But it was still magical to wander those streets again. Thankfully, an ice cold beer in a funky bar in Pirates Alley was still available. As Louis Armstrong once asked "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?" Godspeed y'all.

THANKS to Umlaut friends Cindy and Alida for, well, being our friends. HANG IN THERE! (Cindy, you need to jot down your Jimmy Page story for this space!).

Twenty four hours later I was back in Casa de Umlaut.

"What song is it you wanna hear??"