June 18, 2010

levee To me, the Mississippi River rolls and surges through my soul no less than its does this country’s soul. I’ve made sure Tracey knows that when I’m gone I expect 1/2 of my ashes to be dumped into “Big Muddy” at Gramercy, Louisiana – an unassuming river town in St. James Parish, west of New Orleans just over the next big Mississippi River bridge. It was there, maybe 10 or so years back, that Tracey and I shared a smooch and a cocktail together on a sandy bank just over the levee; on a bright spring afternoon it was just us and a few lonely trees and some driftwood and the occasional beer bottle keeping us company as a larger container ship urged its way upriver just yards away without making so much as a peep. The river that afternoon was both magical, majestic, and haunting in its hard-working beauty.

Whenever I lay in bed at night with thoughts of work or other stuff troubling my mind, that afternoon in Gramercy, with its levee and the set of small frame houses and obligatory set of railroad tracks adjoining it, will always put my mind at ease.

I think of the Mississippi River as a part of my soul, an itch that will never be satisfied by any amount of scratching. G. Paul Kemp, a former professor of Marine Science at Louisiana State University and current vice president of the National Audubon Society’s Louisiana Coastal Initiative, calls it the biggest tool in the toolbox when it comes to keeping the oil being spilled out of that BP well into the Gulf of Mexico out of Louisiana’s fragile swamps and marshland. It wouldn’t surprise me – there are few, if any, systems in the world as adept at moving huge volumes of water like the Mississippi does. It’s done a lot of damage to people over the years, it would be ironic if it helps save some peoples’ livelihoods if put to good use. I’d give it a try…

Here are a couple of tunes that make my heart long for being back on that levee in Gramercy, away from the cares of my world. First, we’ve got Ray “The Genius” Charles – one of my all-time faves – and his incomparable version of “Old Man River” (scroll down and click on the piano).

Next, we’ve got this odd YouTube video of the Beach Boys doing Brian Wilson’s fine arrangement of Old Folks At Home and Old Man River. Pure Americana (the music, I mean, not the the video, which must be the India version of someone’s own Mississippi, which is OK).

Gotta find a way to make another date with Gramercy and the Mississippi one of these days…

Pool temp: 89 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:07 | Comments (4)
  1. I feel the same way about my river and the creek behind my house. I grew up loving the Ohio river and take every chance I can to sit and have a meal on the banks of both. Last night I went with a friend to the place on the river that I have taken you to..it used to be called Heather’s and now has new owners but is still the most wonderful place to be on a hot summer evening. Sat at the big ass Tiki bar enjoying crayfish, a beer and watching the sun set. There is something about a big, slow river to slow life down and make one breathe, really breathe. Hope you make it back to your special spot soon. OR….you and Tracey come visit me.

    Comment by Jana — June 18, 2010 @ 4:19 am

  2. Heather’s is under new ownership? I still have my t-shirt – it was one of my faves but the years have not ben kind, I’m afraid. What’s it called now?

    And your right, Heather’s was my favorite spot while we lived there, that Ohio is big and rolling and beautiful. Great location!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 18, 2010 @ 7:32 am

  3. It has had 2 other owners prior to the newest one. All have had good food, Tiki bar is always filled. The new owner is young, has a great menu…crayfish for one makes me very happy. I told them they need to serve bignets on the weekends.

    Comment by Jana — June 18, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  4. I think they need to serve The Great White Shank on weekends. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — June 18, 2010 @ 8:44 pm

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