The Indians came out for St. Joseph’s Day. I am pretty sure I know who is in charge of my neighborhood. It’s the guy with the pretty suit and the six pound axe. Only in New Orleans.
The day started slow and just got better. It was a hot day, pushing 80 hard and sunny, and I took a walk into the Bywater around noon with my camera. I stopped in Dr. Bob’s and took a closer look at the Wilkerson Row shop. They have some really interesting wood they are turning into tables and furniture. I had seen their showroom on Magazine Street, and was intrigued, and this confirmed the interesting work.
I stopped at Euclid Records for the first time. they specialize in vinyl, and had a couple of interesting pieces of used audio gear for sale, like a Kenwood receiver and separate CD player, looks 90s vintage, for $100. A place to look once I decide how to upgrade the sound system.
I went to Elizabeth’s and had shrimp and grits. They do it with a beef debris gravy, and it all works. A total umami bomb. That and an iced Irish coffee-the progenitor of the “mark it zero”-set me up for a walk over the pedestrian overpass to Crescent Park along the river. It was nice to get out to the river, and see the industrial activity and the views of the city from a different perspective. The breeze off the river made it a lot more comfortable than the street. As I walked I was shadowed by a crow or raven, who followed me for about a mile. That reminded me of home. The park ends at the foot of Esplanade at the French Market.
I walked up Frenchmen and stopped at the microbrewery Brieux Carre for a flight. All good, and they have a pleasant courtyard just off the bustle of Frenchmen. I stopped at the Spotted Cat for a set of music from the Royal Street Winders. Jeanine LNU is their lead, and does a great job on vocals and trumpet. A new accidental drink favorite: Hendricks and soda. I meant tonic, but soda came out of my mouth, and it lets the Hendricks shine.
I wandered home to put the camera away, and changed into shorts to lounge about the courtyard. It is nice to be baked by the sun sometimes and may have driven the cold out. I walked up to the fancy grocery store for dinner and some odds and ends, and was walking them back along Rampart at Iggy’s when I heard a loud rap on a tambourine and soft singing form a couple of guys in jeans and hoodies: “Indians are coming…” The guys were carrying hardware store axes with colored feathers around the axe heads. I looked up towards Treme and saw a purple suit, a green suit, and a blue very elaborate suit spread out over a block or so. The man in the purple suit, sweating up a storm, walked up the steps of Iggy’s and yelled “Indians-cold water”. The bartender got the drink and handed it to me, and I followed the man into the street to give him the water.
They gathered at the corner, with the guys with axes brandishing them at cars who wanted to get by, and paused to let people get pictures. they walked along Rampart singing “Indians are coming” and people came out on their porches and onto the street to watch and greet the Big Chief. He was dressed in a blue suit with a fish theme, with a sailfish or marlin on the back, and three dimensional sea creatures built on the front.
They paused again at Pauger, right in front of Langlois, and the staff came out of the kitchen. The Big Chief took one of the decorated axes and used it, as traffic backed up in two directions, to sing and draw a line across the intersection. I guess I know who is in charge of my neighborhood now. I heard sirens approaching, and the Indians disappeared into the cinderblock apartments on Pauger and Burgundy.
I went to get my big camera and put the groceries down, and took a walk around the neighborhood looking for Indians, but they had moved on. I stopped in Iggy’s, and the bartender thought they were Yellow Pocahontas but he said you never can tell. I read that they come out at sunset on St. Joseph’s day, and next year I will have to be more deliberate, but the chance encounter was pretty exciting.
Iggy’s is a authentic neighborhood bar, just a block away from Buffa’s but with cheaper beer, no food and the music played is by the customers, a mix of white and black folks and no tourists. Fun to have another place to go.