Tuesday, May 29, 2012

From Michael Erlewine: The Mandala Is Breaking Up


The UAC mandala is dissolving. The last day is already here. I have to remind myself that, like the intricate sand mandalas of the Tibetan Buddhists that once finished are swept into a pile and tossed into a river, it is not the colored sand that is the mandala and blessing, but the act of offering and making the design. We have all offered ourselves to one another here; how inspiring.

When I first arrived in New Orleans, time seemed to crawl by and each day was an endless display of promising events. But each succeeding day has gone by faster and faster, like two trains passing, until today we are suddenly at the end. I already see that leaving all of this is going to somewhat painful. I was afraid of that.

Much of my experience here has been like a dream or movie in which the cast of my many astrological friends appear one after another in succession. I am awake in my own dream. As for my Facebook friends, I have met scores of you in person for the first time and, although we have never seen each other face-to-face, we were already old friends. It has been such a treat to meet you!

In my life I wear several hats, including being a musician. I had to skip the UAC banquet I was looking forward to when I received a dinner invitation from Ben Jaffe (the owner and creative director of the Preservation Jazz Hall), and the son of Hall founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe. Ben also plays tuba and bass for the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. This was an offer I could not refuse. It was a wonderful evening, just a few folks meeting at an incredible home for food and conversation. 

Attending was acclaimed musician John Boutte, who wrote the theme song and other music for HBO's original series, "Treme." I had lunch with Boutte earlier in the week. Also there was the legendary musician Charlie Gabriel, a 79-year-old clarinetist who also plays in the Preservation Hall Band. Luke Winslow-King, who  played music at our UAC booth twice this week, was also there, along with Celia Sinclair (who helped out in our booth). Celia is the daughter of my long-time friend, poet, and activist John Sinclair. My old friend Bill Lynn picked me up at the hotel and brought me back. We had a delicious and vegetarian (mostly vegan) meal, so it was almost like home, what a wonderful time.

Today I will be tying up loose ends and (quite symbolically) taking down our booth sometime around 2 PM. After that I have no idea what I will do, probably say goodbye to as many folks as I can and prepare to head to the airport early Wednesday morning. I will soon be back home in a small town in mid-Michigan with my family, so far away from all this. Au revoir to New Orleans and to all of you at UAC.

 [Photo of Charlie Gabriel, not by me]
Charlie Gabriel, Clarinetist and member of the Preservation Hall Band

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