A Solid Weekend

It was a rainy morning, and after a short walk through the rain to run some errands and get some coffee, I waited out the rain at home. After the rain quit, I decided to get my steps in by walking to the other side of the Quarter. I walked down Burgundy to Three Legged Dog, the source of my first New Orleans crawfish and rumored to be one of the best boils in town. They are only doing it on weekends, but the whole place smelled of old boiled crawfish. It is a dive type bar, and the people hanging out there included a young black woman who had the body of a dancer who complained of a hangover so bad she couldn’t even drink, a friendly 50-something couple from Wisconsin who ordered every item on the menu and struggled to understand why they bought so much food, and a very drunk local who was very upset by the lack of body recovery at the Hard Rock Hotel. An odd crowd, but perhaps I will return for crawfish.

I walked over to the Erin Rose, inundated by a group of 10 or 12 bachelor party guys drinking a lot of frozen Irish coffee. It was a little much for my mood, so I headed over to the known quantity of the Chart Room, which, although on the far side of the Quarter, is a comfortable place to hang. I talked with a guy named Patrick from Dallas who has a small condo in the CBD and comes to New Orleans a couple of weeks at a time. He is in a different tax bracket, but a nice enough fella to talk fishing with. He insisted that sturgeon were a big commercial and sport fish in Alaska right up until I showed him a picture of a halibut which he identified as a sturgeon.

I walked back through Frenchmen Street, having some boudin at Thirteen, and ran into Chris and Cecile at the Marigny Brasserie just as the bands took a break to switch performers. I ended the night with the Hank was Here crowd at the R bar. There was a French woman with hair an improbable shade of red, cut short, and wearing no makeup who joined the group, and was an interesting change of pace, adding a directness of conversation and manner which is refreshing or rude, depending on your perspective. I kind of like it, but it is off-putting to someone with American manners. I’m not sure if her comments about my shoes and her extensive footwear collection were flirty or about shoes, but she was not shy about offering suggestions about shoe care.

Friday was another good mellow day, with kind of a cloud of melancholy hanging over it from Mike McKimen’s death. I walked the camera around the Quarter, and did the slow walk back, stopping for a burger at Turtle Bay and ending the evening at the R bar as Roberto cooked quesadillas loaded with cilantro. I was glad to have eaten earlier.

Heather of the Hank was Here crowd pointed out an estate sale in the neighborhood, and I went out in the morning to the Lanaux mansion on Esplanade and Chartres. It is a beautiful house with gorgeous art and furnishings, most of which were for sale at perhaps 10% of what I have seen similar items priced at antique shops. I made a rookie mistake, seeing a painting that I liked and not grabbing it immediately. I went back after reflection, and it was gone. It was like a garage sale without the junk predominating the goods. The house felt like a museum, and I was glad to see the old photographs although none caught my eye at the price point. I feel good about going to my first estate sale, and now I will have to keep my eye out.

Seker was bored and suggested a walk through the Quarter, and we took the Harry’s/Chart Room/Manolito route with a stop at the cigar shop in Exchange Alley. I successfully avoided buying a cigar, but they are smelling better and better. We ran into Ken and Cyndi at Harry’s, and Ken invited us to a music show at Carnaval by a couple of his friends. Perhaps I can fend off one bad habit. I had a good daiquiri and a Cuban sandwich at Manolito and then relaxed at home for a bit.

I headed out to Carnaval, running into Tayja and Vince in the courtyard on the way, and found the band playing to the bartender and Eric, the chef from Buffa’s. I have seen him around a lot, and he probably cooks three meals a week or so for me, so I sat down with him and introduced myself. The band, a duo with a great name, The Dirty Rain Revelers, played mellow country rock with the lead guitar leaning hard into virtuoso rock and roll guitar. I am still a little freaked out by being directly addressed from the stage through the PA, but the small venues are fun that way, with friends playing for friends. It was a good performance, and fun when Ken and Cyndi showed up for the last half dozen songs. We sat for a bit after the show with the band, and then went across the street to the new New York style pizza/gelato joint on St. Claude next to the Robert’s. We had slices and an affagatto, and the food lived up to the positive reviews-cheap, good, and straight forward, with the owner serving the pizza. A good place to support.

There was an impromptu art market on the street, and one of the vendors ran up to me and greeted me with a hug. She was grossly offended that I didn’t immediately recognize her out of context, but I think she was a bartender at Mimi’s who I had a pleasant conversation with last spring. It is good to be recognized, but I felt bad to have hurt her feelings, even though I know it was more about her than anything I did.

We wandered from there back into our neighborhood and down Frenchmen Street, running into Lynne, Ellen and her nieces, and a couple of other of the Touro crew outside Snug Harbor. A couple of 20-something travelers got into a semi serious fight involving two guys rolling around on the concrete in our group of friends standing on the sidewalk. I spoke sternly to them using my best “These aren’t the droids you are looking for” voice and gave them the stare, and they brushed themselves off and walked away. They might have thought it was their idea. I’m glad I don’t do that regularly or professionally anymore. I usually avoid bar or street fights, but this one literally rolled up on my feet and threatened to knock bystanders over.

I listened to a couple of songs from the rockers at Checkpoint Charlies and called it a night. A solid weekend.

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