The weather continues cold for a semi-tropical city. 40 degrees and rainy is the weather I was trying to escape, but it seems to exist here as well. Maybe 29 degrees tonight? Our little electric heaters are barely keeping up, and the banana trees are not happy.
It was a good day for a walk through some of the usually crowded tourist areas of the city. Jackson Square was almost deserted which made for some good photo opportunities. I started my museum touring with the 1850 House, a restored and furnished townhouse in the Pontalba Apartments that border Jackson Square. They date to the 1840s, and were one of the first planned apartment complexes in the country. It is a reminder that New Orleans was not only the cultural capitol of the South, but one of the most important cities of the day.
The furnishings in the main part of the house are beautiful, and everything was human-scaled. The parlors and bedrooms were about half the size of a modern McMansion, and a lot closer to the size of the rooms in our little condo built around the same time. The courtyard was interesting, with a laundry and kitchen on the ground floor and slave/servant quarters above. It was fun to walk the stairs and galleries in the back of the house, narrow and oddly tilted in places to make the corners. The courtyard was designed with a central gutter that ran out to the street with all manner of waste. The remnants of this system can be seen throughout the quarter(back of Coops or Johnnie Whites, in almost original form, and rebuilt in the Napoleon House or Pat O’Briens). I like being able to see the layers of the old city.
I bought a membership to the Friends of the Cabildo, supporting the museums and getting discounted admission to the state museums downtown. I found a history of the Marigny neighborhood to add to the hyper-local book collection. The organization is the tour guide training outfit, so I got added to their mailing list. It sounds a little impractical, 13 classes starting in March with an obligation to volunteer a few times before being certified by the state. I’m not sure I’ll have time this year.
I wandered through the upper Quarter, visiting an old bookstore-the books were old and the store is old-and the Jean Lafitte National Park Visitor’s Center. The park itself is downriver, so the center is predominately storyboards and video. As a note to my future informal tour guiding self—it does have clean public bathrooms, a rare find in that section of town.
I went to the Spotted Cat for one set from the Royal Roses, a fun band playing traditional jazz. The band leader plays both tuba and the stand-up bass. That’s a new one for me. In addition, they had a piano, horns, and an acoustic guitar. Interesting instrumentation. It was almost uncomfortably crowded on a cold and rainy Tuesday, proving once again I have yet to figure the place out. I would have bet money that I would be sitting at the bar by myself.
I bought a ticket to see a traveling jazz player, Jeremy Pelt, at Snug Harbor on Thursday, and am looking forward to the Treme Gumbo festival in Armstrong Park on Saturday and Sunday. It looks like a bunch of good brass bands will be entertaining, and some chefs will be doing cooking clinics on various styles of gumbo, along with a gumbo contest, food court and art fair. I’ll have to pick and choose, but the gumbo z’herbes class followed by the Hot 8 Brass Band and Rebirth are on the list.