Friday, July 20, 2012

Have All The Time In The World On My Hands

Today is the final day of the week long funeral events for the most beloved 'Uncle" Lionel Batiste.

Wear white today and your watch across your hand in honor of Lionel Batiste

Uncle Lionel said, "I want to be at the Mahalia Jackson or the Superdome,” he explained to one of his daughters of his funeral wishes. He loved spectacle, a good show, and good time surrounded by tons of people.
"I want to be at the Mahalia Jackson or the Superdome” - photo by Christopher Briscoe

The memorial today is at the Mahalia Jackson Theater, a venue big enough for touring Broadway shows. “No dark colors and no crying,” he told his daughter.The family has requested that white be worn to the memorial.

I think this memorial and second line funeral procession will be the largest the city of New Orleans has ever seen, bigger than the one for musician Ernie K-Doe in 2001.

Lionel Batiste seemed like he was around forever, and that he would be around forever. A respected musician, the bass drummer for the world famous Treme Brass Band, and a also singer who could play any instrument, he would often grace the bandstand of many clubs in New Orleans, by sitting in for a number or two. He became a movie star in the HBO series "Treme".

Lionel Batiste was always there

He was a dapper dresser, and loved to promenade on Frenchman Street to show off his sartorial splendor for all to enjoy. One of his trademarks was to wear his watch across his hand, telling people,  "Have all the time in the world on my hands".  Uncle Lionel shared his joie de vivre with everyone, locals, tourists, fellow musicians, and especially pretty girls.

The sharp money green suit on his birthday

The formal attire as Grand Marshall of a second line parade

So if you can't make it to The Mahalia Jackson to pay your last respects, wear white today, and wear your watch on your left hand, and say a prayer for Lionel Batiste as he is sent home by the thousands who love him.

Have all the time in the world on my hands - Wear your watch like Uncle Lionel today - photo by Christopher Briscoe

Have you thought about your funeral? I has a friend who wanted one like the character Annie had in the movie "Imitation of Life". Little did I know that I would be living in a place where that kind of funeral is the custom.

"No dark colors and no crying" - Wear white today to celebrate Lionel Batiste

Off you go Uncle Lionel.  Off you go home, where you truly do have all the time on your hands.

Lionel Batiste 1931-2012 - photo by Marc Pelletier

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  1. Another New Orleans legend is gone.
    Imitation of Life is my all time favorite movie (well, tied with Gone With the Wind), mainly because of that great death scene of Annie's, then the moment when Sarah Jane returns and realizes what a mistake she's made, and finally the beautiful funeral with Mahalia Jackson.

  2. I remember seeing Mr. Lionel on one of my many trips to New Orleans. I knew he was very talented and charming, but I didn't realize what a huge claim to fame he had! Wonderful tribute.

  3. Unc was special; thanks for keeping his memory alive. (and thanks for using my pic at the end; one of my favorite shots).

  4. I was in New Orleans only once........12 years ago on a "decorating tour"! I met Mr. Lionel when he called me a "pretty girl" ( I was 53 at the time!!) I stopped to "chat"! What a charming and knowledgable gentleman!

    When the world is turning into "Slobbovia"; what a lovely remembrance of a gentleman; beautifully dressed; and who took pride in his city and his appearance!

    And he showed me his watch!
    "Joie de vivre" is in short supply! May you spread it further! He sure did!

    Lucky me to have met him!!



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