Unlike so many people, I never knew him. I used to stumble over him sitting at an outside table at Cafe Envie now and then when I was walking around the corner for one reason or another. I say I never knew him. Not being a New Orleanian, I never really even knew who he was. (Sorry about that, but I'm a man unaware.)
He struck me as a kind-faced, bright-eyed character. Another Quarter rat.
I almost met him once. He was sitting with someone I knew, with whom I had stopped to speak. He seemed eager to join the conversation, but the person I was talking to didn't introduce us, and I went away.
That person is the same one my friend Mark Folse wrote about in his piece about the unfortunate memorial and second-line in Coco's honor earlier this week, the one who dropped Coco's guitar.
* * *
I've decided I don't want a memorial service when I die.
Not that I can think of anyone who would want to throw me one.
I've been to a few, and they invariably escalate into world-class, competitive-mourning competitions. "So-and-so loved me more than he did anyone else here tonight."
I want a funeral, of course. I'd like to have "Simple Gifts" played. Maybe some show tunes. Something from Gypsy perhaps. No second-line for me, though. I had wanted one for my retirement party, but since I didn't get the party, the second-line was moot.
Not getting a retirement party is like dying and having your body go unclaimed and dumped in a potter's field.
* * *
Somebody once said about actors that there were two kinds: the kind that loved themselves in the art and the kind who loved the art in themselves. That's true of all the arts, although the performing arts are top heavy with the former.
Coco Robicheaux struck me as belonging to the latter class. He had an art, a spiritual thing, inside of him. He was humbled by it and obedient to it.
It's like the difference between a dog person and a cat person. A dog will love you unconditionally, adore you no matter who you are or what you do. A cat will keep you in your place.
* * *
For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
And sing the blues ...