December 13, 2019

D. Eric Bookhardt tribute on the radio

I heard a very nice tribute to the arts writer D. Eric Bookhardt on WWNO tonight on my way home from work. I didn't know him personally; Gina did. One thing we both noticed was that he sometimes elided details like he was in a hurry. He referred to my luchadores as "sumo wrestlers" and he described Gina's grandmother in a painting (that's twelve feet tall) as her grandfather. But let's leave that and credit it to misplacing one's notes. What I liked in this interview ( a rebroadcast from 2006) is that he said something about New Orleans that I've struggled to put in words, and he really got it right. (And I'm going to paraphrase here, so, Eric, I'm sorry if this isn't exactly the words you said.) He described the appeal of New Orleans so nicely.

He said (and I'm paraphrasing): "The idea of a city in America is a Calvinist place where things follow the logic of money, and New Orleans is not that." It follows some other logic, or none at all.

Of course, since disaster capitalism arrived that's no longer true, but that's almost entirely what drew me to stay here after love brought me here and dropped me off and disappeared. I thought that was the best statement of the appeal of New Orleans in a world of Clevelands I'd heard. I wish it still meant something.

D. Eric Bookhardt tribute on the radio David Rhoden, New Orleans