It’s good to be back in the Big Easy. The travel, time and culture change are big ones, but so far so good. The place survived the summer well, and Eileen took great care of it. A tv and new mattress showed up unannounced, and some purple sheets. Costume material. The mail drop system works great, and it is a relief to not have to worry about packages disappearing off the porch.
The day was rainy and warm, pushing eighty, which is quite a change from SE Alaska. I walked around the Quarter running errands, sweating inside my rain jacket. I stepped out of an air conditioned shop onto the street and felt a blast of warm air. The Alaskan in me immediately looked for the heater that someone clearly had turned up too high. I’ll learn.
It is good to be recognized at the corner bar and coffee shop. I walked Frenchmen Street, and skipped Alexis and the Samurai. Once bitten, twice shy. I did have a crawfish boudin bahn mi sandwich, which I imagine is about as New Orleans as it gets, and watched the street band for a bit.
The bones arrived, with only minor damage. I bought a little epoxy and rebuilt it good as new. Time to search out a voodoo hat and be done. Except for the ironing. The flaw in the vacuum pack system is that everything wrinkled to an unwearable state.
On the way to New Orleans. I spent way too much time thinking about getting ready for my first long stint in the city. There was the thinking about packing and preparing for not only city life, but a road trip and a dive trip. I was also thinking about whether this was indeed the right thing to do, and second guessing whether leaving the house and responsibilities in Craig, not to mention the relationship stress of a long time away. The realization of being fully and truly retired is also sinking in a bit. There are few employers who are interested in a seasonal employee with no certified or marketable skills. The things I think I am good at are not in high demand. Apparently drinking and knowing stuff is good enough for a prince in the Game of Thrones, but doesn’t get you far in this world. Good thing I won the retirement lottery and am fairly good at self entertainment.
Travel was a bit of a bear, but the price was right. I left Tuesday at 6AM, drove across to Hollis, ferried to Ketchikan and had a nice lunch with Wayne Weihing, the old SEACC activist. I left Ketchikan at 6, and then hung out in the mostly closed N-gate terminal in Seattle until midnight, when I caught a flight to Chicago. I drew on extensive training and was able to sleep for most of the flight. I spent the morning in the not significantly upgraded O’Hare. I finally arrived around 4 in NOLA. A 34 hour travel day, which is a lot to bite off for an old guy.
I got the last of my mailed packages today, a minor miracle, and the mail drop has a client for life. This is a great service. I ran into Courtney as she was moving out. She is an entertaining stress bomb, and her family was here packing all of her stuff into a trailer.
I reacquainted myself with the staff at L’Envie and walked through the French Market in search of a hat to top off the costume. I still haven’t figured out where to wear it, but it is coming together. I ended up with a quality bowler from Road Kill, the excellent costume shop on Decatur. I figure a little hat bling and we are done for Halloween, and setting up a Clockwork Orange droog costume for later. Can’t go wrong with solid costuming foundations, or so they say.
The Voodoo Fest is happening, and lots of festival goers were costumed up and walking the Quarter. Not every day in Craig do you see six mermaids walking to the bus stop. I bought a broom for the courtyard, and walked Bourbon. They have the street torn up, so there is a chain link fence in front of Jack White’s Hole in the Wall, but I went in anyway, and Susie was bar tending. I had no idea she was working there, and she had Halloween makeup on doing the full Bourbon Street crusty bartender shtick, mostly for the entertainment of the regulars. “Of course I can make something refreshing. You need to tell me what you want or get the hell out.” “If you order Patron, it is going to cost $9 a drink.” She introduced me to Tammy, a 70ish woman in a pirate costume who tends bar at the Funky Pirate. Shades of Mary Lou, in a good way. I am sure they have each heard all of their stories, but it was fun to hear them for the first time.
The geographic cure might be working. It is a beautiful day, pushing 80 degrees and sunny. I did get to the park to do some exercise, and was treated to the display of a traveler changing his pants, which i think I just saw him pull out of a trash can. Life can be hard.
I am here for Halloween week, but am a little confused about the etiquette. I watched the World Series game at Buffa’s and chatted with some neighbors. The costume ratio was about 50/50, and I wasn’t dressed properly, at least compared to the guy in the Bam-Bam outfit. The game was a good one, tight until the 8th or 9th, and kept me tied to the barstool. That, and the entertaining conversation with Jen, one of the cooks just getting off shift. I couldn’t tell whether she was in costume or just has the natural Olive Oil look going. I suspect the latter.
I meandered down to Frenchmen Street and watched the street band for a bit. All the venues were packed, and the cover at dba was $15 for the Soul Rebels. I was too tired/drunk to appreciate it, so took a pass. The street was absolutely packed with people in costume. A different feel than Mardi Gras, probably because it was midnight, not noon, but just as crowded and crazy. I avoided Bourbon Street, but got the report that it was not as crowded as years past because of the street construction.
It was a Sunday to sleep in, and we had our condo association meeting. It is interesting to have a business meeting with no real defined rules or expectations, and a lot of jumping from topic to topic. It only took a couple of hours to agree to the obvious, and move on.
It was Susie’s day off, and she led a vigorous pub crawl through the Quarter. She asked if i wanted to go for a beer, and it turned into an afternoon. The Golden Lantern, Harry’s Corner, Original Johnny White’s, Johnny White’s Hole in the Wall, the Krazy Korner where Susie knew the band( I’m thinking she is a bit of a groupie), and back to Harry’s. We were with Jody, Susie’s friend from out of town, and Margo, who is staying at Jennifer’s and used to live in the building. I made a break for it and watched the Saints game on the little TV that a tenant had left for me. It was almost more than I wanted to bite off on a Sunday. And Halloween is not for a few more days. Still working on the plan.
I swam at the community pool in the Treme this morning. It is a great facility, nice and clean, and the only people in the pool were in an aqua-aerobics class. The music was awful, but was hard to hear with my head underwater. The walk isn’t too bad, and only had one panhandler on Burgundy. The price is right, free, and didn’t get any pushback when I had an Alaska ID once I gave them a local zip code. No free weights, but can’t have everything.
I spent an hour at L’envie, and then walked up to Mary’s for some odds and ends, and then checked out the pool. I walked through Armstrong Park and Congo Square, and after getting my ID card at the pool walked back to the hardware store. I had a beer at the Voodoo Lounge, which definitely has the craik, or at least a friendly bartender.
I came back to the courtyard and shelled pecans. No wonder they are so expensive. I assume there is a better method, but it was slow going. The mosquitos drove me in. I’ll keep plugging away at it.
I went to dba for John Boutte’s early show. He was not in great voice, but still charismatic. He was playing with a piano/bass/guitar trio. He said this was the combo Nat King Cole played with(not these guys) to save money on the road trips. They played some standards and then migrated to gospel, interspersed with John’s rants against religion and right wing politics. I agree wholeheartedly with his hard left politics but am still not sure how to channel the anger I have without getting thrown out of a club. It is hard to channel disgust into a positive or articulate message.
In any case, The Battle Hymn of the Republic sung in gospel style was a show-stopper. He sang Hallelujah which was a crowd pleaser for the cruise ship demographic which was heavy in the club. I did meet a woman drinking green chartreuse on the rocks, a new one for me. She was a dancer with a group of dancers, always a good thing, and I am sure that there is a Tom Waits song somewhere in there. Ain’t nuthin seems right.
I walked the street for a bit, and listened to the street band. They suffer from a lack of leadership, which is why I guess you pay for a band in a club. The musicianship is good, and when a soloist can break out they sound great, but often the whole effect is just muddy. I’m being stalked by a young guy, black kid with short dreads, physically fit, good teeth, and glib, who has approached me twice now. This time he suggested we go smoke a joint around the corner after noticing that he has seen me drinking water(true) every time I am on the street. I wasn’t born yesterday, but also don’t want to be confrontational on a crowded street or get rolled on an empty one. I’m hoping he is just some local color doing his thing.
And I just saw a fire truck roll by with a firefighter wearing a gorilla mask.