A beautiful morning in the city, warmer and sunny, and a good day for a walk. It takes me a while to form a solid opinion, but I think I like the city at 70 degrees better than 40 degrees. I’m probably not the only one.
Last night I went to see a couple of sets from Tom McDermott and Aurora Nealand at Buffa’s. Tom is one of the better known local piano players, and Aurora plays the clarinet and soprano sax and does plaintive vocals. The crowd for this show is mostly locals of early retirement age who clearly appreciate the music. The management team from WWOZ was in the club for the show. The bar manager said this was his favorite regular act at the club. I ration my Aurora Nealand shows so I don’t get arrested as a stalker. They played some old music, some Brazilian style originals written by Tom, some Tom Waits, and some Billie Holliday to let Aurora stretch out. Tom sang a couple of comic holiday originals that he wrote for Harry Shearer-“The only thing that rhymes with Christmas is Isthmus” and “Did anyone tell Santa he is not real?”. Apparently he has a standing gig at Harry Shearer’s holiday party, and writes a new song every year for the This was a comedic side of his work that I had not seen before, reminiscent of Randy Newman, and was really fun. It is nice to have this level of music a block away.
I visited the Cabildo, one of the Louisiana State museums on Jackson Square. The main exhibits were the Battle of New Orleans, the Baroness Pontalba, and a mapping display. The map was projected on a large table overlaid on the topographic outline of the city, and changed through more slides than I had patience for, showing political changes, demographic changes, development of the neighborhoods and the flooding and recovery of Katrina. I felt well prepared for the exhibit having recently read Campanella, but it was a bit daunting. The large format helped in comprehension. The old oil paintings and maps were the highlights of the other exhibits, and the weapons display from the battle was fascinating.
I prowled the upper Quarter for a proper roux spoon as a gift for brother Jimmy, and found success at a cooking school. I had a lunch of a half dozen oysters at the Crescent City Brew Pub, usually a tourist Mecca right on Decatur, and was joined at the oyster bar by a fully made up (including violet contact lenses and a spectacular blonde wig) and impeccably dressed 6 foot tall black drag queen. We had a pleasant chat about oysters. She is not a fan except for the char broiled kind, a not uncommon preference.
I meandered on to the Chart Room, stopping to make dinner reservations for New Year’s Eve at SouBou, a new-age creole restaurant attached to the Brennan chain, and then on to Bourbon. They are resurfacing the street, with the plan of being done by October. There are full size construction vehicles working the streets along with the usual hawkers and crowds of people drinking in public. I’ve never really had an intense desire to be a road construction worker, but shoveling gravel and hot asphalt while being surrounded by the party that never ends seems like a special kind of torture. I stopped at a pen store to search for a pressurized pen refill, and walked out with a wallet. There is no shortage of ways to spend money in this city, but it was a fun afternoon.