Day 11 – Darwin to Nashville

Tuesday 2nd. July 2013

Breakfast at Envie again.
Did some playing and French Market souvenir shopping.
Mikey & Gretta did the Air Boat swamp tour and looked at alligators.
Gretta crook.

Met Mikey for a cab ride uptown to the Maple Leaf for more second line stuff.
Met Australian girls Alanna and Talya. Had a snack at Jacque Imo’s on Catfish leftovers kindly offered by Americans Margaret the accountant and Liz the screen printer artist.
300 + in the hot jam packed venue without aircon.

The Rebirth Brass Band are astounding. Similar to 21st. Century Brass and holding down a 25 year residency to a packed house. They are a knockout but it’s hard to get a view and basically crammed so the beer garden is where we end up for most of it.

Mikey has a name the states competition with locals; $10 for every Australia state you can name and you only have to pay me $1 for every American state I can name. He’s streets ahead until he ups the ante with a gentleman from New Zealand who manages to reel off a few. Double or nothing a few times and already Mikey’s in the hole for $100k. Laughs all around as he worms his way out of the payout.

Chatting with BJ who went to school with Cyril Neville. He’s so animated and grinning from ear to ear as jokes about musicians get swapped. Back inside for another set then we wait for a tram – but get impatient and cab it back to Mikey’s Hotel near Bourbon St. I walk home and get mildly lost and a local with a white pushbike guides me as he unfolds his tale of moving from the countryside and trying to survive. The Red Cross are helping him out. He produces a manila folder crammed with x-rays, hand written references from Minsters, I.D. and a general tale of woe and bad luck. It’s not the first encounter I’ve had like this, but it’s no less moving.

We get interrupted by a voodoo queen who tells us our fortunes, points to various body parts which apparently indicate our health problems, past sufferings and upcoming life-changing events. She insists that my new friend is genuine, I make a donation and stumble home. By the time I get a few blocks away there’s a gentle but warm drizzle. I’m thinking about the injustice of it all and the uneven hand that fate dishes out. Sometimes tourism stinks. You just come and look but make no difference to the daily struggle of others. I start blubbering uncontrollably.

Normally I’m a happy drunk and as I’m a man and men don’t cry it all feels confusing. I’m starting to trip over the broken footpath and there’s a scream welling up inside of me. I’m muttering to myself trying to work out why we can’t all just treat each other with some love and compassion. I’m reminded of the Leunig cartoon when the beggar asks the squillionaire business man……and I paraphrase…”how do you sleep at night with the blood of the huddled masses on your hands?”. The smug reply – “on a queen size water bed with satin sheets looking at a panoramic view of a spectacular harbour, making love to a woman whose beauty would make you weep – that’s how I sleep at night”.

I make it home and collapse with an aching heart.