I got some more insight into Jazzfest this year. In my experience to date, it has not been my favorite. Always ridiculously hot, muddy or some combination of the two. I feel trapped in the Fairgrounds, unable to come and go, at the mercy of expensive food vendors. I leave sunburned and exhausted, feeling ancient in the presence of exuberant, olive-skinned girls effortlessly wearing next to nothing. Meanwhile, I am attempting to cover every inch of skin with a giant hat and lightweight cotton clothing, successfully achieving the look of someone’s 102-year-old grandmother.
But I am getting better at “Festing,” as they say here. In fact, the more people I know, the more fun it becomes. First of all, they have connections to things like a slip of shade in the awning of the electrical shed, or extra passes to the Coke tent, which has private port-a-potties, shaded tables, and sometimes ice. Next, they know things, like which of the many foods are must-trys, how to shortcut from one place to another, and that you can sneak vodka inside in water bottles to mix with the lemonade, if that’s your thing. Third, you run into them on the grounds. After awhile, it starts to seem so lovely that the Jazz and Heritage people threw this huge party just for you and your friends.
Jimmy Buffett headlined last night at the Acura stage. This man is a chapter from my past, belonging so thoroughly to my mid-20’s and my first young love that I have avoided his music ever since. But as you may have noticed, my blog title is a nod in his direction, as his song, “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” has been one of my favorites. I can rarely remember lyrics, but swaying with strangers in the crowd, my younger self easily remembered the words to the chorus.
“It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”
The photo isn’t that great, but it was a nice moment. In the golden light of the setting sun, a beer-hawking employee found some way to gain a little elevation above the crowd, and stood out in dark contrast to the sea of light faces. Next time I looked, another young man had scrabbled up as well, and for a few uninterrupted moments, the two of them teamed up with Coors Lite for a fleeting moment of racial harmony and youthful vigor.
Also, the New Orleans “it’s a marathon, not a sprint” attitude is helpful for Festing. Although the festival itself ends at 7pm, of course it stands to reason that the night is young enough for dinner and another, more intimate, show at one of the many venues across town. As with French Quarter Festival – maybe more so – you never know which musicians might show up where, and in what combinations. MoPho was packed at 9:30pm, and the Squirrel Nut Zippers at Tip’s were completely off the charts with raw, carnival-esque energy. Several local horn players sat in.
So yeah, I continue to learn. Changes in latitudes, baby!