Playwright Tony Kushner grew up in Lake Charles and may be its most famous literary resident. He describes a “happyish” boyhood exploring the shady, melancholy woods, waiting for his life to happen.
Our time in Lake Charles was rigorously boistrous, joyous and noisy. Mardi Gras is a party – we get that. But at times, it takes on the air of a Fellini movie with a touch of Sunset Boulevard – vivid moments when beauty and grandeur entwine with mortality to stunning effect.
In Lake Charles I tasted my first Boudin, first beignet, and first crawfish – all sublime. I saw my first Confederate flag on a dilapidated house and a second done up in spangles – equal parts repellent and disturbing. I saw my first alligator plus graceful herons and egrets under a blue Louisiana sky at the Creole nature preserve.
The trip was an indelible experience, one I would not have missed for the world. It was compelling, intriguing, and at times, deeply moving – and, to borrow a phrase from Tony Kushner, “strange, a little scary, and in some sense, ineluctable and sad.”
No place is any one thing. •