Sunday, September 6, 2009

Obituary for A Friend

In the mid-to-late nineties, after running the gambit of art gigs to little financial avail, I made the move back in to bartending. As it so happened, a very good friend, and fellow artist, Jimmy May, had taken over the bar at 626 St Philip Street, across from where Flanagan's is today. It was called Sin City. He took me on as full time bartender, and, within short order, I was managing the place for him. Inside, it looked like a Biker Club House/OpiumDen/Bordello/Pirate's Hold/Seance Room. Only more insane. Christmas lights and ladies under garments hung from the ceiling like stalagtites. The music blasted everything from Monster Magnet & AC/DC, to James Brown & Elvis, to Sammy Davis Jr & Tom Jones. Thick curtains were hung to keep out the light, some days, and it was often midnight in to the late afternoon, inside that decadent world. And it Rocked Like Fuck, 24/7, for almost five years. When it eventually closed, we were mostly amazed we had gotten away with so much for so long. We worked together at other places, off and on, for many years, bringing each other in, wherever we wound up, as gypsies, artists, pirates and rebels often do. Fear & Loathing in the French Quarter, we called it. As time went by, Jimmy worked the Apple Barrel on Frenchman street, being one of the first to skate the 'caberet laws' and bring in live music, anyway. From Coco Robicheaux to Mike Hood, they came and played. And played and played. I sat in with Coco & Mike many times, getting yanked from my drink & chair to have a guitar stuck in my hands, and we were off and running. Jimmy sometimes sang from behind the bar, or on it, occasionally jumping over it, in to the crowd, microphone and cocktail in hand. Jimmy and his wife, Michelle, were married at my house, The Skull Club, with Coco Robicheaux conducting the ceremony, just as Jimmy, himself, had conducted my wedding there, about a year before. We were all each other's family, spiritual guides & healers, musicians and friends. The band that played the night of Jimmy & Michelle's wedding was stellar beyond even New Orleans standards, with each player being a band leader in their own right, gathered together for something bigger than just music. We gathered together for love, New Orleans style, as true a family as this Island Of Misfit Toys can ever hope to have. And that family continues to this day. We share memories of the Fear & Loathing parties, complete with full costumes and our own 'additives' that often raged for a day or more, leaving even some French Quarter regulars with eyebrows raised. Memories of escaping a city filling with water, and finding each other on the road, returning together in that old Mexican Ford Van, stopping first for beer & Ice, and then just stopping, slack jawed at how little was left behind for us to rebuild from. We went on. This morning, Michelle awoke to find Jimmy dead, a thing no one can possibly understand the impact of, unless they have done it. May you never have that chance. Ever. His ongoing illnesses were, we thought, coming under control, and when I last saw him, a couple of weeks ago, he was laughing, joking and seemed healthier than I'd seen him in years. I suppose that looks can be deceiving... Those who knew him, by encounter or deed, know that a brilliant Jester in the Court of Life has left us. One of those rare people who would stop their world, and stay talking to you, all night, if need be, to help put your troubles in perspective, is no longer there for counsel. Perhaps one of the most hilarious and devious pranksters and instigators I have ever had the pleasure of stirring the pot with, is no longer available. The world has lost another of it's brightest sparks. Rest in peace, Jimmy May. We rocked our corner of the world together like maniacs. Your leaving will make for some still waters, my friend. As your attorney, and in your honor, I promise to stir things up from time to time. love, LD

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will miss knowing that he exists in this world.