Tahlequah Daily Press

May 14, 2012

Sights, sounds of Big Easy sometimes come in pairs

By KIM POINDEXTER
Managing Editor

TAHLEQUAH —  

I’m probably too old for outdoor music concerts, especially those spanning several days. But sometimes I can’t help myself. And judging from the crowd at the New Orleans Jazz Festival last weekend, I’m not alone. There are still plenty of other Half-Century Club members willing to suffer setbacks on their aches, pains and pocketbooks to have a good time. Even if physical recovery takes a week or so, and financial recovery even longer.
My sister Lisa and I and our husbands made the trek to the Big Easy, accompanied by my son and a friend of my sister’s and mine since grade school, Diane (Stotts) Yarnell. All of us are members of the Half-Century Club, except my brother-in-law, who’s on the cusp, and my son, who’s 23 but doesn’t mind hanging with the old folks if we’re picking up the tab.
We believe the woman with the ogle-worthy augmentation is also a member of the club. More on that later.
I had told several friends we were going to JazzFest, and even invited a few. Some threatened to join the fray, but backed out, possibly because they are offended by the excesses of Bourbon Street. I saw no nudity this year or last, but perhaps the possibility of such an experience was what prompted one acquaintance to warn me that people who spend too much time in New Orleans will earn themselves apartments in Hades. I’ve been told I’m “going to hell” before, and such pronouncements lead me to believe hell will be a very crowded venue, but I’m not sure it will exceed the sea of people at the Acura stage last Saturday evening. That’s when The Eagles were to perform.
New Orleans is always worth your time and money. Uniquely in this country with its pervasive British roots, the Big Easy is a vestige of French culture, and when it comes to cuisine, it’s like Paris: Even a bad meal is a good meal. You can always be assured of good stories to take back home to your friends. And sometimes you’ll have photos to boot.
We arrived Thursday morning and made the obligatory beeline to Cafe du Monde to get beignets and chicory coffee. While waiting in line, we told my son to grab a table. He was shooed away by an employee, who said he had to order food to get a table. He’s an easy-going kid – a trait he  did not get from his parents – so he complied. Shortly thereafter, I noticed a couple with a baby in a stroller was allowed to sit without buying. I did not think the presence of the baby merited special treatment, because the baby already had a seat. A trio of 50-something women shared my opinion, because they also refused to budge, although the only consumable item they had was a plastic bottle full of what looked like water, but probably wasn’t. 
Saturday, we went to the fairgrounds early in hopes of setting up camp close to the stage. Unfortunately, although we were first in line at our gate, the locals knew about a back entrance. By the time we got to the Acura stage, hundreds of people had already staked out the best spots and spread their proprietary tarps, and were willing to defend their positions with excessive force, if necessary. I can’t say I blame them.
Still, we were in pretty good position, and most folks around us were our age or older, many with adult children and grandchildren in tow, revving up to see one of the best rock bands of all time. Almost every head sported gray hair, and there were several walkers, wheelchairs and even a portable oxygen tank in our immediate vicinity. Most folks wore T-shirts from rock concerts, some from the distant past – Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones and the like. I saw one that said, “I may be old, but I’ve seen all the cool bands.”
At some point between bands, there began a murmuring in the crowd – the utterance of phrases like “Oh, my god!” and “Look at THAT!” Even if you had looked only peripherally, you couldn’t have missed it: the most monstrous set of implants we had ever seen. Even for New Orleans, this woman was over the top. Literally. A movement of half an inch in either direction would have negated my claim to have not witnessed nudity in New Orleans.
The men around us were staring, but not in lust. It was more like fascination, puzzlement, or even horror. People were taking photos with cameras and cell phones, like paparazzi pressing the red carpet at the Oscars. Folks without cameras or cells were writing down their email addresses for the paparazzi, in hopes of getting their own copies to share with friends back home. I did get a shot myself, which I posted on Facebook, only to be accused of using Photoshop to enhance it. But I’m not that good with Photoshop, and besides, I have witnesses.
We did not see the monsters Sunday, when the crowd – mainly there for the Foo Fighters – was much younger. There weren’t nearly as many sideshows, unless you count the fascinating array of tattoos on the fans or Dave Grohl’s creative and frequent use of the eff word.
I returned Tuesday with about 5 extra pounds, a depleted bank account and a viral-worthy photo. And, of course, the memories of a fantastic show by The Eagles, the Foo Fighters and others. Not too shabby for an old gal.
Kim Poindexter is managing editor of the Tahlequah Daily Press.