Chewbacchus Week

Monday was a good day, with a stop at Mollies on the way home from the Walgreens, and a successful cooking experiment. I used the communal grill in the courtyard for the first time to cook a hunk of salmon and discovered it does not get very hot. The thermometer only got to 250 or so, and I had to finish it in the oven. It was good to cook a little bit.

I spent some time cleaning up the pith helmet in preparation for Mardi Gras. It is considerably whiter, and now I need an appropriate plume to top it off. I’m thinking a military style jacket or something underneath, but that will require some shopping. In the meantime, the parades start this weekend with Chewbacchus, the Star Wars/science fiction themed parade, and I am deciding whether to dress for it or just photograph. The general rule of not being able to overdress in New Orleans may apply. I can probably rustle up a decent Senator/Emperor Palpatine from the costume closet, but a Sith Lord or Jedi would require a few more parts.

I went to dba to see Gal Holiday, who is a well reviewed country rocker who covers Hank Williams, John Prine, and Johnny Cash along with originals in the same style. She rarely plays Frenchmen Street, but many of the regulars, including John Boutte who has the Monday night early slot at dba, are touring leading up to Mardi Gras. It was a fun show, with a different feel than the usual jazz or brass band music I seek out.

The next day was bright and sunny, and I took a walk with my camera through the Quarter, seeing the Mardi Gras decorations starting to come out and some street musicians along Bourbon. I walked the length of Bourbon to Canal, with light tourist traffic. I stopped at the Chart Room, and met a photographer there who had kind things to say about my photo site, and suggested a commercial outlet. He does landscape photography in Colorado, and sells to hotel chains and such to outfit rooms with affordable art. I’m not sure that is the way to go, but it was a nice compliment anyway. I continued on, stopping at Molly’s and walking Frenchmen

Street in the late afternoon light. It was a good photo walk.

After dinner I went out to dba for a short set from Dinosaurchestra, and met Seker at the R bar for a little bit. He was chatting up a couple from Canada as they played pool. They were fun, but I know better than to try to drink with Canadians unless you are ready for it, and called it an early night.

I did some photo editing at Envie and decide to split my grocery list between the Rouses on Royal and the Robert’s to work in a walk through the Quarter and the Marigny. Carrying a grocery bag provides a certain immunity from the street hustle but allows for reasonable people watching, even on a slow day for the party crowd.

The walk through the Marigny was more fun, with a stop at the Costume Center for inspiration. I bought a white ostrich plume to top off the pith helmet, which now works well. I just have to figure out the rest of the outfit. I have seen some high school band uniforms in the second hand stores, but will keep looking. Costuming is kicking into high gear all around town.

I stopped at Mimi’s on the way to the grocery store, and met Mimi, a mid 50s hipster who owns the place. Mimi’s did not disappoint, as the beautiful tattooed and facially pierced bartender was joined by her boyfriend, a guy covered in hand-poked tattoos, wearing John Lennon round wire glasses, an “Anal Cunts” band t-shirt, and bright green short dreads. Definitely street wear, but he could hop right up on the Star Wars bar float at the parade and have the best look there. Mimi’s boyfriend, a 60-something guy with shoulder length wavy and professionally maintained hair, shorts, birkenstocks, and a corduroy sport coat with exaggeratedly thick ridges, gave the alien a California greeting-the hug and “oh my god, its so good to meet you” with dead eyes. The cruise shippers definitely don’t get out this far into the neighborhood.

As I walked St. Claude towards home, I appreciated the embarrassment of riches, passing by half a dozen good or at least interesting restaurants that have been well reviewed or recommended by friends, including a pasta place, a charcuterie, two Vietnamese modern restaurants, the St. Roch Market with its food stalls, and the ones I have tried, like Em Trai and the NY Slice place. I also walked by the Hi-Ho, the Carnaval Lounge, Kajun’s Pub, and the Allways Lounge, all live music or performance venues. What a good neighborhood.

I ran around town costuming, settling on a pair of motorcycle boots and a toy pistol to complement the pirate costume. I looked at sashes in the costume stores and decided to go with an old bedsheet. It won’t be Pirates of the Caribbean movie set ready, but plenty good enough for a walk up Bourbon Street in the dark. I can add pieces and parts as time goes on.

I walked by Washington Square Park and met a painter there, Wayne, who paints his impressions of old jazz clubs, like Big Percy’s and the Ebony Lounge, in large format oils. He claimed to have played in the Negro Leagues, and had a painting of a man in a baseball uniform from that era. I’m intrigued, but we didn’t talk price.

I went to Manolito for a daiquiri, and a conversation with the staff. It was a super slow night, and the bartender had been assaulted by a couple of guys in a Mustang as she rode her bike along St. Claude. The car edged her off the road into the curb, and one of them pointed a gun at her demanding her purse. She is tall, and was able to straddle her bike and get it up on the sidewalks and get away, but was still shaky and scared. The same guys made the paper in the morning, similarly going after several bicyclists that afternoon. Big city stuff, I guess.

I had a catfish po-boy at Bamboula’s, a really good piece of fried fish, and listened to a set of 1920s-30s style jazz in an almost empty room at the dinner hour. Many days I cannot find a place to sit on Frenchmen Street at that time of night, so this was a bonus. Seker texted that he was playing pool at the R bar, so I headed that way. I noticed a trio of acoustic guitar players, an unusual group, at the Marigny Brasserie and an empty seat at the bar. I sat for a few songs, and the group, a white hipsterish guy, a young black woman in a t-shirt, and a younger white woman in more typical alt-country costume, was very good, between them covering the full vocal range and providing good harmonies for their original songs. Serendipity strikes again for finding good music.

I had been there for a few songs when an obviously drunk guy dressed in business clothes, a vest and shirt and tie, came up to the bar and ordered food to go, declining to see a menu but giving specific directions to the bartender. He said he was drinking across the street, but ordered a martini and insisted on buying me a drink. He pitched in on singing harmony with the band, showing off a gospel voice and energizing the group, who were performing well for the ten people in the room. I got the full-on “You’re a very attractive man…” spiel, at a least three times as he did not remember running the same lines over and over. A compliment, I guess, but also a quick escape with a go-cup. And the weekend hasn’t started yet.

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