Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Big Easy

There's an amazing, funky old amusement park outside of Pittsburgh called Kennywood. It's probably a tenth of the size of the various mouse-affiliated parks. The rides are rusting and rickety. They are not particularly big or tall or fast. But there's a ride there that makes me smile just thinking about it. It's a rollercoaster, and an old wooden one at that, but there's no big hill. It creeps along out of the chute, and you wonder if the old contraption is going to hold together one last time. Then it drops over the side of a cliff. It plunges down toward the Monongahela River, and the first time I encountered that I was scared out of my wits. The second time I smiled. And I haven't stopped smiling since.

Las Vegas is Disneyland; big, shiny, ostentatious. New Orleans is Kennywood; dark, old, ridiculously rickety and funky. I went to the former in January to see Van Morrison, and although I was quite happy to see Van, I was done with the Strip in about four minutes. I couldn't wait to get out of town and hike in the desert. I just booked a trip to New Orleans today. And I bought tickets to see a concert in the place shown above. It's in Treme, Back o' Town, the kind of place where you don't want to hang out after the sun goes down. I will, of course, be there after the sun goes down. The place wouldn't cut it on the Vegas Strip. But I'm willing to bet on which one will provide the more satisfying musical experience. I love New Orleans, in all of its dirtiness and messiness and earthy, soulful reality.

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