I checked out of the Chateau and, after some computer time at Envie, walked the Quarter, half heartedly shopping on an 80 degree day. I cooled off at the Chart Room and Johnny Whites before pulling the trigger on replacing the sunglasses I lost on New Year’s. It is nice to have good glasses again. At Mollie’s I talked to a couple from Metairie who kind of get it. They rent a hotel room in the Quarter once a month or so, and hang out for the weekend not having to drive or worry about home stuff for a few days while enjoying the bars and restaurants.
I let myself back into the condo, and spent an hour or so cleaning up the sidewalk and courtyard after the termite folks. It wasn’t too bad, but they did knock the front gate out of alignment which may cause a problem later as guests or drunken tenants don’t pay attention to closing it properly.
I had a good burger at Buffa’s, talking to a couple from Downers Grove who were all decked out in Cubs gear. They never escaped, and were perplexed by my story of getting to Alaska. I’m a little surprised that they seemed to like New Orleans, but they were freaked by the geckos and roaches. I had a beer with the Hank was Here crowd and commiserated about the effect of the coronavirus on events and especially the service industry folks, and then picked up my stuff at Jill’s. She is still negotiating with Jena about St. Patrick’s Day parties, so we will see how it rolls out. She has to travel for a week for business in three different cities next week, which is a little scary, but the judge is unwilling to change a court date.
Chores in the morning, repacking the cabinets and going grocery shopping. I’m not sure whether to shop like I am camping for a couple of weeks before I decamp for the summer or for the coronavirus apocalypse where we fight off the escaped zoo animals.
The Downtown Irish gathered at the R Bar in the evening, buying everyone drinks and distributing Jell-O shots. They don’t get better by virtue of being green. The groups was smaller than years past, but probably 50 marchers showed up. I ended the evening on the Touro porches.
Saturday the official St. Patrick’s Day celebration, and I decided to avoid the unpoliced block party at Tracey’s and Parasol’s. It turned into a minor riot in the evening, with police horses riding through the crowd to disperse the illegal gathering. I’m glad I was not part of that show. It was a hot day, and I took my camera along the river and through the Bywater. It does feel good to be out in the sun and sweat a little. I had lunch at Mimi’s, a lamb chop tapa perfectly prepared. The chef told me that he butchers his own animals for the lamb dish on the menu, one every few days, and can make only one of the lamb chop specials per animal. Pretty good for bar food. I took a break after the walk to download some photos, and then headed back out.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and one of the really quiet days in the lower Quarter. The cruise shippers were out on Lower Decatur, and Mollie’s was crowded, but downright pleasant for a Saturday. It was a good walk. I saw and chatted with Puge outside Checkpoint Charlie’s, continuing on past the overcrowded Mollie’s to Manolito where I sat with my bartender friend Melissa from Tujagues and Shannon who had just got off duty but stayed to talk for a bit. We were sitting outside, and I was greeted by name by half a dozen people including Katie Leese, the artist. I took the loop through Jackson Square and Bourbon Street, not stopping but marveling that people were still out playing, and being greeted by the evening occupant of my favorite barstool at Johnny White’s. I stopped at Harry’s Corner to say hi to Beverly, and met Tom, the chef from Tujagues, who said he was laying off a third of his staff, going to summer staffing now instead of June. He claimed that the big Marriott on Canal was shutting down completely, effective immediately, in response to the virus and business slowdown. With that cheery news, I went to the Rbar and sat with the Hank was Here crowd, commiserating with the church musicians who no longer have a choir to direct or a congregation to play for, the HR people who have gone from hiring to firing overnight, and the service people who are wondering how they will make it through the next few months with a reserve for the always slow summer.
From there, I sat with Jill and her very drunk friend Renee who had not skipped the block party. Jill took us out to sushi, and it was time for me to go when Renee launched into a good five minute angry rant about co-workers that rivaled the “fuck you you fucking fucks” speech from Treme. I thought sailors could swear, but try a drunk Cajun lawyer. On the way home I was flagged down by Irena (Auryana?), the Ukrainian woman with the neon orange hair, and Jim the mule driver tour guide. Jim says their business is off by half, and they are probably going to cut staff in their normally busiest season. Irena asked me to walk her home because she was having a problem with one of the guys in the bar, and it was a good way to end the evening.
The whole day was great, in that I saw a lot of friends and had good conversations, and reminded myself that this is a good place to be, with great food and with lots of pleasant acquaintances and some good friends, but a little melancholic because the corona virus has let the air out of the balloon. The planned parties, festivals and gatherings are all cancelled, and there is talk of closing bars and restaurants. People are scared and it shows. I will miss all these folks, but most of them will be here in October, and they did move French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest to October, which may make me move up the travel dates. All we have to worry about is the hurricane season.
With all of the uncertainty, and a potential for increased travel restrictions and diminished social opportunities, I am pulling the cord and heading north a couple of weeks early. Travel on St. Patrick’s Day into a couple of weeks of self quarantine as a potential disease vector.