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September 13, 2005 Austin, TX

Got in touch with a good friend of mine, Homer Hill, who owns "Mr. Catfish" (a catfish-blues joint I waited tables at while I went to school here from 1990-93.) We decided to have a catfish fry with live music for all the evacuee guests staying in the Austin Convention Center... With the help and hard work of my assistant Anita Ferry alongside Homer, we worked with many of the already present volunteers, and had a "spirits high fish fry" Tuesday night. When my mom and brother and other personal friends arrived, the guests were fillin their bellies and the band "Blue Mist" (a local blues band from the school for the blind) was jammin... I almost forgot, I met a clown named "Doodle Bug" the day before and she offered to bring some of her clown friends and entertain the kids with balloons, tricks, and face painting through the eve. Thanks to her, the evening was all the more festive...

After most everybody ate, it was time to dance off the dinner, and this is when the festive turned to revival... It was open mic of course, and many of the evacuees were musicians so an all out jam session began like one I have never heard or seen before... Suddenly, we had our own private Mardi Gras right there in Austin... It was a New Orleans-zydeco-patois-gospel revival: full of tambourines, improvisation, and a wheelchair rhythm section. Basically, an all out Sunday mornin on a Tuesday night dance the devil away thank the almighty séance session—yes, it was righteous—the dance floor was full, with people three to ninety four, white, black, brown and red, some with rhythm, some without...but it didn't matter, there was a ceiling above us but no roof on the room, if you know what I mean...

After a couple of hours and a dance floor full of sweaty bodies, we wrapped up the eve. Spirits were higher, hearts were warmer, bellies were fuller, and in some respects, the sadness and fear in the wake of the recent tragedy was forgotten, even if just for an hour or three...

Just keep livin, McConaughey

Take a look at my photo diary.
FROM: Oprah on Location: Inside the Katrina Catastrophe
Published on September 15, 2005

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