Incredible funk and soul and jazz and blues - the kind of music that brought white and black folk together in dusty clubs and hotel dance halls. The kind of music that white men got kicked off the radio just for playing. Louis, Fats, The Meters.
And though New Orleans was chock full of disappointments great and small it somehow seemed hopeful, and beautiful, in spite of that. And without all those disappointments, all the violence and poverty and heartbreak, it wouldn't have been what it was and is. That beauty illuminated in the amber light of hard lives.
So I was drinking beers, and sitting there, immersed in this film and my thoughts, and swatting at mosquitoes that were nipping my ankles. On my way out to smoke a cigarette I stepped in a muddy puddle, nearly slipped, and found myself in an alleyway full of rats and cracks, mansions and tenements and Bangkok's own music.
And as I sat there alone and smoked, listening to the honks and two-stroke roars of Rama 4 - I started to think about Bangkok - a city not unlike the Big Easy. A city that holds on tight to beauty in spite of itself. A beauty that many people can't see, because that can't see past cracked sidewalks and exhaust, or brothels and corrupt cops.
The rhythms of Bangkok and New Orleans are different, for sure. But as I sat in that alleyway I thought about all that entangles me in this city - about the shoeless motorbike driver with the club feet that giggled as we sped down the soi earlier that night; about the blind man who stumbles by with his pan flute collecting working man change as I sit on the cantilevered curb eating papaya salads with kind strangers; about the forces of proximity and poverty and promise that have assimilated Mon and Chinese and Indian and Lao and Khmer and Muslims. I thought about the beauty queens and the mighty Garudas, the steady river and the silent temples and the shoulder-wide passageways and wide smiles. And the strange and wonderful smells of this melting pot of food over flame that - in my mind - plays bass in Bangkok's own irresistible rhythm.
That's life in The Big Sleazy.