A New Orleans Diary -- Leaving Town, After Six Months

It's one thing to be in love with New Orleans, as I have been for almost two decades. It's another thing entirely to spend almost the entire first half of the year in the city, as it's roller-coastered from Super Bowl-inspired ecstasy to oil-spill-driven gloom. No city has traveled so far on the emotional spectrum so fast.

These six months, which I've spent filming and editing The Big Uneasy -- the true story of why the city flooded, and why the "new improved" system could fail us again -- have been remarkable in any number of ways. A brilliant group of crew members, people stopping me on the street because they've heard about the film, the fire at the French Quarter corner store Verti Mart, the smell of volatile organic compounds in the air whenever the wind blew in from the east, nights with friends and strangers at music gigs all over town, introducing my godson to the delights of the city (and watching his eyes pop as he saw music being created by dudes with horns, not turntables)...it's been spectacular.

One of the greatest treats was strolling through Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyard at a local middle school, seeing Waters' theory of introducing schoolkids to the wonders of real food come alive in the middle of Mid-City. Now comes a report in the Times-Picayune that urban farming isn't limited to schoolyards. For all y'all who think New Orleanians are waiting for a handout, a lot of us are busy feeding chickens and goats.

Not me, of course. I'm busy killing vegetable plants.