From LA to NOLA, Tales of Life

Just checking in to record for my own posterity tales of my recent travels (as that is the noted purpose of my blog). What a whirlwind couple of weeks this has been!  Preparing for the first ever CEPR Hollywood shin dig. Crazy, how did I ever find myself at the home of Oliver Stone, at a party in honor of my humble little think tank that could, the Center for Economic and Policy Research? I am in awesome debt to everyone at CEPR for the opportunity, especially since I had never been to LA. I dug it.

Santa Monica beach at sunset

Santa Monica beach at sunset

Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard (h/t Jo)

Until the sun comes up over Santa Monica Boulevard (h/t Jo)

I was surprised at how much I liked LA, so much so that I  had to leave my east coast snobbism on Santa Monica Boulevard…the weather was perfect, and LA is just beautiful, and yes, chill in a good way, yes Ms. Sara you are right. She’s my colleague from the west side whose apartment I stayed in and whose mother was such a gracious host, in addition to being a fabulous novelist, and a beautiful woman to boot. Thanks Alicia. You are awesome. And Sara, you are the best co-worker ever and I’m not even going to think of you going off to NYU this fall.

And, ACK! The party was an experience I will not soon forget. Lots of famous people there. I just hope it eventually brings CEPR many riches along with our proud memories.

Oliver singing CEPR's praises to the crowd...

Oliver singing CEPR’s praises to the crowd…can you guess who that is in the leather jacket?

And when I miss Ms. Sara I will look at this picture and smile…Sara and her HS musical muse. Rage on sister…

Sara and Tom MorelloSara and Tom Morello

The MOST famous attendees...:)

The MOST famous attendees…:)

And it made me think a lot about celebrity, and people. I went to a similar kind of shin dig just a few days ago, a fundraiser in DC for a “progressive” PAC (the word being relative when you talk DC kind of politics), and that party was not so much fun (except for my co-party comrade of course). Really DC vibe, with the conversation 100% focused on polls and who was up and who was down, and it was all about who you are and who you are connected to. Whereas the LA shindig was more real, if you can believe that. Hollywood talking more about reality and DC all up in the noise. Or perhaps it’s just that I am tiring of the DC scene? I want to talk issues, not poll numbers. And a big aside, I want to lift up people like my girl Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, who spoke the truth to power the other day. You rock Medea.

Yes, perhaps I just need to get out of the DC cesspool more frequently. Cause I also had a fabulous time in NOLA, just one short week after LA. Whew! Whirlwind craziness. But I had to go to see my boy Tom T Follz Lobell graduate from Tulane.

Me and the graduate

Me and the graduate

So, so proud of him! Neuroscience! Such a great graduation too…who  could ever argue with NOLA jazz and the Dali Lama and Dr. John and Alain Toussaint, all rockin the Superdome where the Ravens just won the Superbowl not too long ago.

Tulane graduation

It was nice to share all of that with my boys (and their girls)

My people and their Po BoysMy people and their Po Boys

New Orleans is a very friendly city, unique and fun.

Voo DooVoo Doo

And beautiful.

New Orleans

And H-O-T, or more to the point humid. That might be hard to get used to. But the vibe is great. I loved where we stayed, the Royal Street Courtyard in the funky Bywater hood.

Royal Street Courtyard

Royal Street Courtyard

We had lots of good NOLA food and drinks, bien sur,

Shrimp Po Boy

Shrimp Po Boy

and we went out for a walk on the bayou where I saw several alligators, for reals, and that was real crazy y’all.

look closely....

look closely….

And me being me, we also took a drive to the Lower 9th Ward, so that we could be reminded of Katrina. And of the vast gulf in race and class that we have to endure in this country. I wondered what would have happened if the levee had broken and the French Quarter would have been under water and all of the elites had been forced to live in the (redone) Superdome? I do ponder these things. I felt bad taking these pictures with my phone, but I wanted to testify. So much empty space, where houses used to be. Note, an X means that someone died in the house that’s no longer there. We saw lots of those. So sad. We can do better as a country! We must…

Lower 9th 1

Lower 9th ward

lower 9th ward

This is life, the sunshine and fun and the proud and the beautiful and the sublime, and the dark underside, and the ugly and the serious. All wrapped up in a trip across the US of A…next up, BASQUE country, hons. Please stay tuned (and for anyone who reads my blog and is wondering about those babies in Fallujah. I am going to work with Ross, the amazing ex-marine founder of the Justice for Fallujah Project. He’s making a documentary on the siege and the aftermath, and I hope to help him to raise some funds for that, and eventually some of the money from that will go to the babies. Stay tuned as I hope to have another blog dedicated to those efforts.  I would be humbly grateful if you read both )