Friday, February 11, 2011


I'm typing this blog entry with one finger, just as I have my other posts. This broken iPhone may be persnickety at times but, oh boy, when it works, it's magical. I think I slept well last night, but I'm not sure. I'm sitting with my coffee listening to a song bird chirping outside the kitchen window while my dad snores in the other room. And wherever we go, so goes the sound of that train somewhere off in the distance.

We stayed in a cute apartment that we sublet for the night. The Ursulines Retreat was on a beautiful tree-lined street in Bayou St. John. Eileen Julien of the New Orleans Afrikan Film Festival arranged the whole thing. A special thanks to Geoff and Karley for taking in two weirdos. It truly was lovely!

Our less than 24-hour stay in New Orleans was a tease of sorts. Like when you're starving and all you have is a tiny crumb to savor, I had never been to this city before. And it's impossible to explore its vast depth and rich history in so little time. From the bits and pieces I saw on this trip, it was a feast for the eyes. I fell in love with the colors and the architecture and the people we met. But there is so much healing to be done, aside from all the rebuilding.

The deep sadness and loss is beyond palpable. I was overrun with emotion as we transversed the city. Any which way you turn, the devastation is evident. Immense wealth clashes with poverty. Wrecked stores flank rebuilt ones. There is definitely a sense of hope, despite the tragedy, as members of the community whom we met remain strong and proud.

It was an honor to be welcomed by our warm and gracious hosts, Eileen Julien and Joseph Gaye. They are passionate about film and promoting the arts. They founded the New Orleans Afrikan Film Festival together. Their son, Lat Joor Awa, made an indelible impression on me. I could have spent hours talking and laughing with him. He was hilarious and charming and unlike any other 9-year old I've ever met. My only regret is that I didn't take a family portrait of this dynamic trio!

The screening at the Cafe Rose Nicaud was a hit. Thank you to the Gambit Weekly for promoting the event. A packed house usually guarantees a rowdy response to my father's antics. That's the fun part of playing the film to a live audience... laughter can be contagious!

My mind was blown when I realized that we weren't just screening the film inside the cafe. The image was simultaneously blown up and projected onto the building across the street! Outdoor speakers carried the sound so that passersby could watch and listen, too. It was crazy, brilliant, funny and another unprecedented presentation of ABEL RAISES CAIN!

Thank you so much to Ken and Melba Ferdinand, owners of the Cafe Rose Nicaud, for opening their doors to the weird world of the Abels, Bernard Productions for their fine technical support, and to Eileen and Joseph, who felt like old friends even after one meeting. It was a memorable night in a vibrant and eclectic city. And we will be back...

That's a promise and not a threat.
Location:New Orleans, LA