It is my last weekend for a while,in New Orleans, so I’m trying to take advantage of what is here while I can.
Late nights are a killer, but I knew 3 am was past my bedtime. I did some reading and writing in the courtyard and then took a walk to Frenchmen.
I ran into Randy, a street guy who dresses like an extra from Braveheart. He has half his face painted blue, and his hair tied into unkempt knots, not quite dreads but not quite pigtails. He wears a crocheted multicolored skirt, not quite a kilt, and flip flops with toenails painted green, I assume in honor of St. Patrick. He was carrying a pint of cheap whiskey, and came across the street at Pauger and Royal to greet me. He was very excited that he had just read the plaque on the cottage on the corner because the original owner was the architect of the Cathedral. He exclaimed that it was so fun just to walk the back streets of the neighborhoods learning about the place. His day sounds uncannily like mine, although my street costume is not yet as fully evolved. We walked along for a bit, and he said he used to be a waiter at the original Ruth’s Chris, and had been run out by the mob that runs Louisiana. I’m thinking that it probably had more to do with his sartorial decisions, but never underestimate the power of the mafia.
I listened to a short set over an oyster po-boy at Bamboula’s, and then sat for a half hour with Chris on his porch. I ended the night with Tom McDermott and Aurora Nealand at Buffa’s. Aurora was a little late, and Tom invited a friend up to play four hand piano. It was a blast, with the two players switching position like the Marx brothers in the middle of one song. It was fun, and the level of musicianship is amazing. Aurora is one of my faves, with a great sense of humor and stage presence to go along with the music.
I started the day walking to the park and rolling around on the mats, and ran into a two year old also playing in the park who had a nanny, a security guy in a suit, and a driver. I’m guessing his parents are in a different tax bracket than I am. I know Drew Brees has a house on the street near the park as does Brad Pitt, but I am not a good enough tabloid news follower to recognize their kids.
I had a good morning at Envie with coffee, and walked the Quarter in search of a souvenir I had seen on one of my rambles. I couldn’t find it, not surprisingly, but walked right in to the start of the Tom Benson second line. I have never seen more police and security in one place, except perhaps the Olympics, but never in Jackson Square or the Quarter even for Mardi Gras. I later learned that everyone from the Governor and the congressional delegation to all of the Saints stars and many former players were marching. They were still in the church when I saw the lineup, but the step clubs and marching bands I did see were the real stars of the show. I snuck a couple of good pictures but bolted away from the crowd as it got dense and jostling. I wasn’t in the mood for hot sweaty skin to skin action at 1 in the afternoon. Save that for the dance floor later…
I stopped at Franks to buy some olive salad to bring home and a muffuletta. On the walk home, I ran into Chris, Lauren, and Chris’ daughter Jennifer, and had a beer at Checkpoint Charlies, aka Igor’s Laundromat. We made tentative plans to go to the pool(the Country Club bar) on Sunday. On my return to the courtyard, Suzie’s husband Booth was working in the yard, enclosing the back stairs to provide some storage. I negotiated to leave an open walkway, cutting the storage area down, but leaving more open space in front of our door. That gives a little less privacy, but a less convoluted path to the door. The project seems to be going well. I sat and chatted with them for an hour or two. The courtyard can be a great place to hang out.
I had a snack at Buffa’s with a nice talk with a couple moving to New Orleans from Korea. Talk about a big jump-they are concerned that the city won’t be busy enough as compared to Seoul. They are probably right.
I walked Frenchmen and listened to the street brass band for a while, assisting a disabled woman and her husband negotiate the crowd to get into Snug Harbor. I walked the art garden, and talked with a striking woman with massive tattooing, including a cycles of the moon tattoo across her face, and multiple piercings, Somehow she pulls it off, and does pop art in 3D with boxes and fabric with monsters and a circus sideshow theme in many of them. I bought a small piece, the “man-eating chicken”, that caught my eye and sense of whimsy. I went to dba and heard George Porter, Jr., the bass player for the Meters and one of the players featured in the art on the wall at dba, in a funk-centric show. I took off after the first set, when the music fans started to get outnumbered by the frat boys playing with their phones.
Maybe Cyril Neville in the late show tonight?