I lived in New Orleans’s 9th Ward before and after Katrina, in the very small sliver of that fabled area that did not receive fatal amounts of water. As such, my dry block, full of gorgeous shotgun houses and Creole cottages, became a hot-spot for media to set up and film segments about Katrina.
One night I was driving to my house. It had just rained, and the streets were wet, and the way the streetlights played off the pothole puddles around my favorite bar, Vaughan’s Lounge, looked surreally gorgeous — which I quickly realized was a trick of the tall studio lights placed strategically all around Vaughan’s. Yet another professional film crew had set up outside the bar.
As I approached my house, I noticed that, up the street, in the center of all the cameras and commotion, stood famous grey-haired reporter Anderson Cooper. Almost two years after the flood, he was continuing his special focus on post-Katrina New Orleans.
In the center of all the lights Cooper stood, busy doing the thing he surely does most at his job: waiting around to be filmed. My first thought was that I needed to dash home and grab him a copy of my New Orleans novel, The Donkey Show, which takes place in the window between Katrina and 9/11. New Orleans being his thing, he’ll love it! I thought.
I made it back to my house, grabbed a copy of my book, then ran as fast as I could with my permanently bad knee, down the street to Vaughan’s. As I limped near, I could see him up ahead, still standing, waiting, with the big microphone at his side. I sped my gate and finally reached him, sweating, excited, “Mr. Cooper! I just wanted to…”
I heard the shouting all around me at the same time I felt several sets of hands grab onto me. Two people began pulling me away, and I realized I’d fucked up, or at least embarrassed myself.
But then Anderson Cooper stopped them. “Wait, wait. Come here,” he said to me. The crew thugs let me go. I proceeded toward him, straightening my clothes. I handed him my novel. “This is for me?” he asked. I explained the basics. He seemed as gentle and kind as he portrays himself on TV. “This looks really awesome,” he said. “Thank you so much.”
The cameras then swooped in and I backed out of the spotlights as Anderson Cooper hid my book behind his back while filming his newest attempt to help our fucked-over city.
Michael Patrick Welch’s “132 Famous People I Have Met” series is FREE, but please consider donating to his VENMO (michael-welch-42), or to his PayPal (paypal.me/michaelpatrickwelch2), so he can feed his kids, pay his mortgage, etc.