dispatches from Dr John’s second line
For a few brief hours, this corner of the city paused. A jazz band and a crowd of celebrants wandered through it, honoring the memory of a fallen great. The inhuman pillars and hostile echoes of the raised highway became a reverberating chapel, amplifying the joyous sounds, throwing them back at us along with the sorrow hiding beneath. An on-ramp became a viewing gallery for the parade, with cyclists doing donuts where only cars normally go.
Doctor John is gone, and so are my parents, and so are thousands of other people of this weird, impossible city of the swamps. The city paused to notice one. I suspect I wasn’t the only one in the crowd with a few personal ghosts along for the festivities. And then the second line stopped. The crowd dispersed. The cathedral was a highway once more.
Mac Rebennack and his alter ego Dr John are no more. I wish them well in whatever is next for whatever remains of him. But we will see his like again, for as long as New Orleans clings to its improbable life, there will be kids growing up in its music scene and blending the city’s traditions with whatever strange new musical styles come along.
The city stopped, to honor a famous son. The city moves on.
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