Sorry to spring this on you, oh my brothers and sisters, but your faithful and humble homie is OUT CHEA IN NEW ORLEANS for the Independence Day Weekend and the annual Essence Music Festival. And it is already going down - something serious. I couldn’t pretend to remember how many drinks I’ve sipped or chugged since 8 p.m. Central time, including the one sitting next to my laptop as I post this blog. But I’m feeling quite righteous, and I can’t even say that it’s all due to the free-flowing alcohol.


There’s something special about The Crescent City. Sure, it’s a dirty, filthy, shitty, stinky, swampy mosh pit of wet, dripping, moldy, ass-smelling poop water, but it’s still one of the most beautiful places in the world. New Orleans is one of those places that, when you visit, you feel immediately jealous of everyone who's from the city, even if it is basically a death trap for poor people who celebrate and dance in the face of death. They have their own language, their own style, and eff what you heard; second lines are crunker than the club in any city.

Back to the point. I’m sitting here at my sound-proof suite at Hotel Underwriter (The Ritz-Carlton on Canal), finishing my lukewarm Heineken and giving myself the proper ten minute break from my next beer to consider just what needs to be covered during my trip. Here are some story ideas I’ve come up with so far:

THE 9TH WARD (How much progress has been made? The French Quarter looks just fine, but is it really back to normal?)

BOURBON STREET (The street band was illie.)

HURRICANES (The drink, not the natural disaster. I vote yes.)

THE DIALECT (I haven’t heard so many “whoadies” in years.)

THE ESSENCE FESTIVAL (Oh yeah; there’s a concert in town! Who knew?)

Yeah, it seems that the gods have either smiled down or screamed up at me with all these amenities. I got hook-up tickets to the entire three-day festival, which includes Frankie Beverly and Maze, Kanye West, Chris Rock, Mary J. Blige, Rihanna, Jill Scott, Chrisette Michelle, Chris Brown, Patti LaBelle, Musiq, Morris Day, etc, etc, etc. The room at the Ritz is on company money, and most of the food is going to be provided. It’s going to be a great weekend for music, eating, dancing, clapping and celebrating in the birthplace of jazz.

That is, if I actually make it to the venue at all. I’m on some Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas shit this weekend, in the sense that I might not even make it to my own assignment due to out-of-town drunken fuckery. Not at all in the sense of having a briefcase full of ether, mescaline and weed. That seven-hour dolo drive from Atlanta shook me up something horrible, and I wouldn’t have considered bringing as much as a half-smoked roach on the road in the rental with me sike. I’ve never, ever, ever-ever-ever, taken a road trip and seen as many police pulling people over, so just making it to the N.O. without a $300 traffic fine was just fine with me. Thank God for cruise control and seat belts.


But regardless, I will come up with a story to tell, and it’ll probably be waaay better than what actually happens at a music festival produced by a magazine for elegant, mature women of color. I just don’t see it being as crunk as Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza or even Summer Jam or Birthday Bash for that matter, but I could always be proven wrong. We’ll see. Trust me; if something unexpected happens, I’ll give you a first-hand report. Unless I’m too busy drinking Hurricanes and eating gumbo on Canal and Bourbon to actually be there when it occurs. So there it is. I’m on a much deserved vacation, yet I’m still on the clock as a writer since our work is never over. I've always believed that a writer never really works, but never really has a vacation, because he or she is always doing both at once.

But I’m going to stay throwed off the bourbon, hurricanes and a stomach full of ABITA, the locally-brewed beer of New Orleans. So you can rest assured that I’ll be in creative think-mode throughout the journey, but I'll try not to lose focus. I mean, am I here to entertain myself or do the job?

Wait, I forgot; I’m not getting paid for this. So it’s definitely the former.

“I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death…”

I’m just saying…

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