The story goes, about 40 years ago chef Paul Prudhomme was cooking one afternoon in the kitchen of his New Orleans restaurant, when the phone rang.
Prudhomme accepted the interruption and had no choice than to take the important call. Back in those days that meant steeping into an adjacent office, since wireless mobile phones didn’t exist. Trouble started when the telephone call went way longer than was expected.
If every journey begins with a single step forward, then Ross Leitz has run an incontrovertible marathon.
That’s not an easy thing to do when you’re a 6-foot, 4-inch grizzly bear of a man who once weighed nearly 500 pounds and currently resides in the foodie and drinkie capital of America, that great city of all temptation — New Orleans.
Since it’s unlikely many of you know Ross, I’d like to introduce him to you, and then explain why I think he’s such an inspiration on so many different levels. He’s certainly an inspiration to me, and might be to you also — particularly if you’re struggling with any kind of serious problem and want to take back full control of your life.
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Candy Chang.
She lives in New Orleans, in an area many would consider a rough part of town.
A few years ago, Chang unexpectedly lost someone who was very dear to her. The jolt of that unforeseen tragedy made her bereavement even more disheartening. Sudden loss does that — tranquility instantly dashed, replaced by bewilderment, and even anger.
Following her loss, the void of despair lingered, and even widened. But then, something strange happened. Death procreated the birth of new perspectives.
“Death was always on my mind,” Chang writes. “It brought clarity to my life. It reminded me of the people I want to love well, the type of person I want to become, and the things I want to do. But I struggled to maintain this perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to me. I wondered if other people felt the same way.”
They did. Indeed, lots of people felt the same way. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Even millions.
Chang would make this marvelous discovery entirely on her own, accidentally, setting forth a perpetual motion of proverbial tumbling dominoes all over the world spawning from a wacky idea that first began on a run-down city block in central New Orleans. It all started with an overtly simple idea and the willingness of someone both a little courageous and a little crazy to pose a simple, yet provocative thought.
Before I die I want to ……
If I had to to pick a single favorite artist over the last twenty years of poplar music, that would have to be Lenny Kravitz.
Kravitz brings it all to the stage and to the studio — raw talent, boundless energy, natural charisma, and a gift for both music and lyric. His songs and style are often criticized as “retro,” but there’s nothing wrong with taking the best sounds of the past and mixing them with a modern interpretative. Amy Winehouse used to catch this same flack, too. Frankly, I wish there was more “retro” music, not less.
My relationship with Kravitz is something quite personal. Think of it this way. Most of the music we enjoy is personal. It touches us. More importantly, it connects us with key moments in our lives, and frames the memories we hope to cherish forever. I’ll bet most of you remember certain songs and music based on the events of your lives. In a sense, our music is our own personal soundtrack.
Back in 1989, just prior to leaving the United States for two years to live and work in Romania, I entered a music store in Arlington, VA. Remember music stores? They’re now a thing of the past. Back then, whenever a new album came out, it would be played inside record stores. So, you came across entirely new sounds and brand new artists, just by walking in and browsing the shelves (this was when people used to go out and buy CDs, rather than stealing them for free off the internet).
Writer’s Note: Eighteen days and nights in New Orleans have ended. Looking back, here are some of of my fondest memories from this most recent stay: