Even though I couldn't tell you what she drives, I can always recognize Debra's car from the back. It's plastered with bumper stickers advertising all the unknown bands she promotes locally, most of which are not my taste and none of which I've gone to see. When she worked at Kaldi's, a local coffeeshop in the French Quarter whose demise I now mourn every time I pass it, she was always burdened with neon rectangles of posters that she would be seen later on plastering up on the telephone poles in front of Checkpoint Charlie's. I don't think I ever talked to her, but she was a vision in turquoise earrings and red hair, in ruffled pantaloons as shorts and greasy, grimy Chuck Taylors. She must be in her mid to late thirties and from what I've heard, doesn't receive much in money for her hard work. Punk bands seldom do turn a big profit until they supposedly sell out.

One of Mike's friends has this little car. This car is covered with Mardi Gras beads in swirly patterns and bright designs. He's learning that metallic beads soon lose their foil outer shell once they've been hot glued to his car's doors, so he's usually petitioning his parade going friends for the clear plastic ones during the Mardi Gras season, the smallest strands that have the least amount of value in the beads for sexual favors exchange for which New Orleans is renown, even if it's seldom true unless you're in the Quarter on Bourbon and smashed out of your mind. This car is well known in the city. Last March, he drove it in one of the parades I went to. It's on postcards in tourist shops. It's something Mike's friend prepares for and spends time on, like any hobby that means anything. You keep at it, even if it's always falling apart.

I think of all those small bands that play their hearts out every night at small venues. You open a weekly Gambit newspaper and their names are repeated so often you'd think they were really popular when in fact they may be just taking every open spot in front of a mic that they can in this city. I think about all those seemingly vacant art galleries and micro-mini theatres like Zeitgeist and Movie Pitchers. I even, God forgive me, think of those open mic poetry nights at the Dragon's Den where I was subjected to torturous Beat poetry by homeless stinky overweight women and men with no shoes, where even I once stepped up on stage and read a verse, years ago.

And I can't help but feel a bit ashamed that I'm not up there with them making an ass out of myself, because then I'd know that something mattered that much to me.

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