I made it home on Mardi Gras Day before 9, and was coherent enough to eat a snack and drink some water, but still it was good to sleep in Wednesday. I was not feeling particularly hung over, but out of energy from dealing with all the people and a little sick from the stress on the immune system of multiple long days of partying in the carnival crowds. I dressed to go out, and then just sat in the courtyard most of the day reading about Katrina. The book After the Deluge by Douglas Brinkley is an hour by hour journalistic history of the hurricane and flood, concentrating on the human stories and some of the decision making by local and national leaders. It was heart wrenching to read some of the stories, and engaging to read about the how the emergency planning was put in place, or in most cases, politicized, with a Republican federal system and Democratic state and city system using the bureaucracy to gain political advantage rather than help people. It is interesting to have a trained historian doing a kind of first cut on the historical record, with a clear and angry point of view, and provides a lens to view the current political response to hurricane and pandemic emergencies.
On Thursday I made it out of the courtyard but was still feeling under the weather. I took a nice walk through the Quarter stopping at the Rouses and Walgreens, marveling at the quiet streets. The season ramps up gradually over a month or so, and by the time the true craziness of Mardi Gras Day hits you are used to people in costume acting outrageously in large crowds. The abrupt return to “normal” New Orleans weirdness is jarring.
On Friday I ate a bang bang shrimp bahn mi at Em Trai in preparation for the final tattoo appointment of the year. It is quite a sandwich, with the pan seared and well spiced shrimp a break from the usual fried shrimp that go into po-boys. The two year tattooing project is finally done, with about two hours of highlighting and touch up to the red tentacles of the creature. Jamie Ruth also gave me a little fleur d’lis in Saints colors as lagniappe. It has been a good experience, and now we see how well it heals and how the color cures. I had a mellow Friday evening, with a short Rbar stop and a burger at Buffa’s. I ran into Eugenie and her mellow Doberman at the bar, and it was good to see her.
Saturday I walked the river, counterflow to the cruise shippers. There were two boats at the cruise ship docks and it is apparently Spring Break season. The people on the street were cruise ship folks and college kids in gangs. I went into Beckham’s, the used bookstore on Decatur, and browsed for a while, ending up with an urban planning commentary by Andre Codescru with a big section on pre-Katrina New Orleans. I sat for a bit in the Chart Room, and then walked back home for lunch and a nap, still fighting the low energy Lenten blues.
I walked out and had a daiquiri at Manolito’s, figuring lime juice would be good, and swapped Mardi Gras stories with the staff and regulars. I walked back to the Rbar, and sat outside. A skinny older guy with a loud low gravelly voice was there rolling a joint and singing. He introduced himself as Wolfman Will from the 9th Ward, and said he had grown up with Charmaine Neville and the Neville Brothers. He was working on a song, and singing the guitar parts loudly and repetitively as he went. He would increase the volume whenever a pretty woman walked by, and told me that was his secret. Secret to what, I am not quite sure, but he seemed happy with himself. A New Orleans character.
The barista at Envie said they did 20 times the business of a normal shift on Mardi Gras day. No wonder it seemed busy!
I walked over to the Walgreens on a beautiful Sunday morning through Jackson Square. I was waiting to check out, and a street guy, clearly not a tourist, walked in carrying a milk crate. the clerk yelled “no” at him and immediately called the police. He was walking fast towards the back of the store, and then walked out fast carrying a box of cold medicine. He disappeared into the crowd outside the store before the woman could complete the phone call. It was disconcerting to see such a brazen act, but I guess it explains the internal security, with some items being locked in glass cases. I prefer this store because it has more items just on shelves rather than locked up, but I guess that could change.
I packed away the Mardi Gras costume closet, always a depressing reminder of the change of season, and started to come to the realization that I now have weeks rather than months left in the city. I am still fighting a cold and recovering from tattooing, but took a short walk down a quiet Frenchmen Street, and talked with folks at the Rbar for a bit. I ended up at Royal Sushi for udon, pulling out all the stops in an effort to get some energy back.
Another low key day as I tried to keep the crud under control, but did get out of the house to eat some pasta at Buffa’s. At least I am in good company, with a number of my friends reporting the same symptoms of a pretty good cold, and hopefully with rest I’ll be back up for the weekend. Rebirth is at dba Friday, and it will be a show to try to catch, the Krewe du Fool is meeting on Saturday, and Sunday I will be cooking the salmon out of my freezer for the Hank was Here crowd. Then comes termite tenting and a quicky road trip along the Gulf Coast.
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