Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Author: lmcfarlane

Return to NOLA

I’ve been riding this marvelous de ja vu since arriving here in New Orleans two days ago with our 2015 sponsorship group. Five years ago I stepped off a plane with six Berklee colleagues and strangers as a participant in the 2010 group. This year I feel fortunate to come back with seven new colleagues to lead the group and share all the wonders of this beautiful city.

Sue Buzzard Serenades Us & the Mighty Mississippi

Ain’t Misbehavin on the Mississippi banks performed by Sue Buzzard

Ashley Macchia (faculty development), Jessica Halton (Institutional Advancement), Andrew Crawford (IT), Sue Buzzard (Berklee Online), Ruthie Ristich (Ear Training, faculty), Jordan Lockaby (Admissions),  Julia Polanco (IT) and I landed in NOLA on Monday afternoon, and settled into the Best Western French Quarter hotel. First few items on our agenda? Immerse and explore! I’m happy to say we have accomplished both with incredible Nawlins’ style dinners at Oceana in the French Quarter (Monday) and Jacques-Imo’s (Tuesday). We strolled through beautiful Jackson Square, gorged ourselves on coffee and beignet’s at Cafe du Monde and strolled along the Mississippi. Sue took out her violin and entertained us with her rendition “Ain’t Misbehavin’ while we tried to catch a breeze from the water. The humidity in NOLA is no joke and we found ourselves taking a quick “shower” in the fountains outside the Aquarium of the Americas.

Cafe du Monde heaven

Jordan, Ashly, Julia, Andrew, Sue and Laurie

Cooling off in the Fountains

Laurie, Andrew, Jordan fresh from the fountains            Today will be our first day on the construction site with Habitat for Humanity. I’m looking forward to reporting back!






Salty Sweet: Wednesday – Thursday

I just love sweet and salty foods – chocolate covered pretzels, french fries and Frosties, you get the picture. Wednesday night Chef Chris DeBarr at The Green Goddess achieved salty/sweet greatness with – get this – the Bacon Sundae. I know it might sound gross to many of you. Perhaps a bit frightening? Not to worry. Roya, Sally, Mike, Jeri and I were up to the challenge (see Sally’s Gustatory Delights blog for more on our taste adventures). Leave it to a city that considers pork a major food group to pull off that one. YUM.

And leave it to NOLA to tug more than taste buds in opposite directions. You can drive through the Garden District and admire sprawling, gargantuan mansions in mild mannered pastels. . .but prepare to drive over enough potholes to make a Louisiana debutante curse like a Bourbon Street stripper. Everyday promises sensory contradiction and emotional backflips.

Roya, Jeri, Mike, Sally and I finally visited the lower ninth ward on Thursday after a day consumed primarily with painting the house on Independence. Brad Pitt’s, Make It Right Foundation has done a significant amount of work down there. The houses are marvels of modern style and green efficiency. There is even a small memorial in center of the neighborhood with statistics on Katrina and information about the foundation. Roya told us that the mold smell was finally gone. It’s amazing to see so much progress and beauty after so much destruction. We even saw some families milling about on their porches enjoying the sunshine.

Katrina Memorial with Make it Right home in background.

But there are the miles of empty plots, wild with weeds and slabs of concrete where houses once stood. You see the rotting remains of a few homes – the watery tombs for some of the 1,000 who had no warning or chance. And there the Levee sits – repaired but unchanged. Ah, well. Guess we can’t have the sweetness of healing without remembering how salt got in the wound in the first place.

Skeletal house, empty plots

Thanks for the pics, Jeri!

NOLA Evening Day 2 – Day 3

Wow. I can’t believe that our can-do crew is nearing the end of our third day in NOLA! What an amazing few days it has been. I had forgotten how delicious this city is in every sense of the word – chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House, artfully decaying buildings drenched in every imaginable color and those sweet Louisiana horns tickling your ears under the lights on Decatur Street.

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