Thursday July 19, 2012
Corrected post from an earlier one complete with typos during internet distress at my hotel...
It is rare that i send a link rather than a personal report but yesterday was one rare day. If not for massive problems getting the internet to work at my hotel (I've walked through the rain to another hotel two blocks away) you'd get the up close and personal brand of pt at large.
In next few days, you'll get the pt at large perspective with comments from Uncle Lionel's relatives, friends, fellow musicians, and the everyday people who were Uncle Lionel's kind of people.
Today from 10 AM to 5 PM, it felt like the entire neighborhood of Tremé tipped on one side and funneled every man,woman, and child into the large viewing room at the Charbonnet Funeral Home on St. Phillip Street, not far from where Uncle Lionel lived his larger than life life...the last legend of New Orleans.
I went into the viewing room, saw a casket lined in lustrous white silk -EMPTY. "Where is Lionel?"
A fellow visitor pointed. Standing, yes, standing, in the midst of a small area cordoned off by red velvet cords, stood, yes, stood, Uncle Lionel dressed to the nines, felt hat to brown spats, every bit the dapper incarnation of the man still fresh in everyone's memory.
The tears will come tomorrow perhaps but today was a celebration. Music from every song the Tremé Brass Band ever recorded is piping through the speaker system. The expressions on the faces of visitors are priceless, varied, unique and ultimately reflect deep appreciation.
The Batiste family insisted that No photos be taken inside the viewing room. There's one in the Times Picayune story linked here.
I'm on my way to Uncle Lionel's funeral at the Mahalia Jackson Theater For The Arts in Louis Armstrong Park at the edge of Tremé. More to come.