Cardinals, Blue Jays, and Characters

Cardinals and blue jays in the courtyard today! A fun sight after a couple of long days exploring the city, and a huge sense of relief that my aura is correct in color and shape.

I made it to the park for exercise and to Envie for coffee, with a walk through the French Quarter to the dry cleaner. I am glad that I am still tickled by the ridiculousness of both having a dry cleaner and walking through the Quarter to get there.

I took the bus to Magazine Street for a self guided tour of the Garden District with my camera. I grounded myself at Tracey’s, checked the fancy furniture stores to confirm that I didn’t need anything more this Spring, and walked through the vintage clothing store to see what new stuff rolled in. I made it as far as the Rum House, which once again was too crowded to get into. I think their happy hour food is cheap and good, and every tourist in town knows it. It is enough of a non-dive to be non-threatening.

I returned along Magazine to Parasol’s for a firecracker shrimp po-boy. Another excellent sandwich, with spicy pan-fried shrimp and a mellowing aioli. Hard to beat, and they let dogs sit at the bar. Even the bartenders were still worn out from St. Patrick’s Day, complaining about people who walked in to the neighborhood Irish bar, with Guinness on two taps, Smithwicks and the usual domestic suspects on tap, and the best selection of Irish Whisky I have seen outside Dublin, and complained that they couldn’t get their Miller dyed green.

I walked the neighborhood(Lower Garden District) between Magazine and St. Charles, shooting houses with my 40mm primary. It is a video lens, but I am liking it because it is a little faster and a lot less obtrusive than the zoom. I can concentrate more on exposure than framing. The cemetery was closed, but there will be another day.

I caught the streetcar back to Canal Street, and went to the Meyer Hat store. I was served by Sam Meyer, wearing a name tag proclaiming himself the third generation owner of the largest hat shop in the South. He was about 75 years old, and clearly at the top of his game. I described what I wanted, and he immediately put his hand on one in the right size. He was in a hurry to close the shop, and was being treated with utmost deference by the rest of the staff, but still taking the time to be polite if moving with all deliberate speed.

I walked back across the Quarter, stopping at the Chart Room for a short break. 18,000 steps and change, and I was plain worn out, too tired to hit the Treme Brass Band for a 9 pm show. The better part of valor. Dumpstaphunk tonight, and better planning or a nap is required.

Day 42

I played tourist in Metairie today, ubering to the mall to buy a decent blanket, perhaps the last house item of the trip. It is a bit of a culture shock to visit the America that I don’t see in either New Orleans or Alaska. Sometimes I question the authenticity of the neighborhood New Orleans I am becoming familiar with, but when faced with the completely manufactured environment of a retail mall, I am reassured, even after running into the fifth ghost story tour of the day.

After the shopping trip, it was time to head out to see Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. The venue was the Ace Hotel on the other side of the Quarter, so I took a slow walk trying to maintain an even keel for the 9:30 show. The first stop was Coop’s, where I magically got a seat at the bar without a wait, and had an excellent pork chop seated next to the owner.

I had an excellent old-fashioned at Tujague’s and swapped Alaska stories with the bartender Melissa, who had spent a summer in Denali and Homer. I meandered through Jackson Square and some of the tourist shops, ending at the Chart Room, where Tracey the bartender recognized me. Fun stuff. I stopped at a chain restaurant for an appetizer, and confirmed my opinion that Coop’s is darn good.

I continued on across Canal to the Ace Hotel, one of the new concept hotels in the CBD. The first floor has a huge restaurant on one side of the front desk, and an equally huge lounge on the other. I now know where all that Restoration hardware leather furniture as big as aircraft carriers ends up. The music venue is a small room/dance floor with a stage separated from the lounge by shutters that allowed bar chatter to come through. That huge open lounge is one noisy place, but once the music started it didn’t matter. The band was led by Ian Neville on keyboards, and had two bass players and a drummer. An unusual combo, but a great show and good stories about James Booker and other players. The crowd was younger richer white people, many apparently guests at the “hip” hotel.

I was leery of the walk across the Quarter on Bourbon at midnight, but it was a quiet night, with not a lot more people than I see in the afternoon, just a little drunker. I stopped at Buffa’s for some red beans. Two women were at the end of the bar. One of them began talking about her sex life, and how she absolutely had to have two orgasms a day or she would go crazy. She got progressively more detailed, saying that water was the only thing that would do it other than a very big dick, and she refused to use plastic products like vibrators, and didn’t use her hands. She complained that the freeze got her pipes, and she went nuts for a couple of days until it was fixed. She started chanting “water or dick” loudly, and the woman next to her moved. Holly the bartender at first was entertained by the conversation, but then told the woman to leave, which caused another burst of chanting. The woman who moved sat next to me, and gave me a free psychic reading of my aura. Characters all over, but it was definitely time to go home.

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