Thursday, December 11, 2008

Danse Macabre

For the first time in five years it snowed in New Orleans this morning, I usually hate snow.
In the same way I reacted once at a dinner party when a six year old sat down at a piano and started playing Ravels Gaspard de la Nuit: Trois Poèmes pour Piano d'après Aloysius Bertrand and then Danse Macabre by Saint-Saëns during desert, the effect was surreal and- dare I say it- magical.

It is so great to be back home for a few weeks, I am truly pleased to see the rebirth and rebuilding of this great city, but when I pass the buildings and homes that sit abandoned, I find it strange how these now unoccupied buildings seem to be in an odd state of stasis, waiting for another chance, and about the people who once lived within the now still rooms that may very well still reside in them, if only in memory or spirit. If I linger long enough I can almost hear the faint whisper of music and laughter from another time.

Every time I have to leave my beloved home town of New Orleans -and the plush and comfy "Chez Moose"- for any length of time, I always get a little sad. I'm not alone in this feeling as many of my dearest and nearest native New Orleanians feel the same way- it's the darndest thing, I have been told that we display an almost maudlin concern for the welfare of this city, and are worried in our absence that we will somehow be needed.

The House with Nobody in it
by Joyce Kilmer

Whenever I walk to Suffern along the Erie track
I go by a poor old farmhouse with its shingles broken and black.
I suppose I've passed it a hundred times, but I always stop for a minute,
And look at the house, the tragic house, the house with nobody in it.
I never have seen a haunted house, but I hear there are such things;
That they hold the talk of spirits, their mirth and sorrowings.
I know this house isn't haunted, and I wish it were, I do;
For it wouldn't be so lonely if it had a ghost or two.
This house on the road to Suffern needs a dozen panes of glass,
And somebody ought to weed the walk and take a scythe to the grass.
It needs new paint and shingles, and the vines should be trimmed and tied;
But what it needs the most of all is some people living inside.
If I had a lot of money and all my debts were paid
I'd put a gang of men to work with brush and saw and spade.
I'd buy that place and fix it up the way it used to be,
And I'd find some people who wanted a home and give it to them free.
Now, a new house standing empty, with staring window and door,
Looks idle, perhaps, and foolish, like a hat on its block in the store.
But there's nothing mournful about it; it cannot be sad and lone
For the lack of something within it that it has never known.
But a house that has done what a house should do, a house that has sheltered life,
That has put its loving wooden arms around a man and his wife,
A house that has echoed a baby's laugh and held up his stumbling feet,
Is the saddest sight, when it's left alone, that ever your eyes could meet.
So whenever I go to Suffern along the Erie track
I never go by the empty house without stopping and looking back,
Yet it hurts me to look at the crumbling roof and the shutters fallen apart,
For I can't help thinking the poor old house is a house with a broken heart.


le Sazerac du Cornichon
1/2 oz bourbon whiskey
2 oz Pernod® licorice liqueur
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 tsp sugar
1 twist lemon peel
Place a sugar cube into an old-fashioned glass, and saturate with angostura bitters. Add ice cubes, pour in liquors, and add a twist of lemon peel. Fill with water, stir well, and serve.

May I have the next dance?

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