COVID-19 has changed a lot of things, but it is certainly possible to have a great day in New Orleans while trying to observe some basic hygiene rules, staying outside, masked, and/or distanced. This is important to me as the family gatherings, rituals, and festivities of the holiday season will be curtailed.
Saturday was a peak plague day, a couple of weeks before Christmas. I spent a little longer than usual writing at Envie, noticing that the weekend crowd was heavy on locals with a sprinkle of tourists, identified by their recklessness with the masking and distancing rules. I guess if you come to New Orleans to party, you are gonna do what you wanna.
I like seeing the young families without tattooed faces getting treats at the coffee shop mixed with the large young woman with a Grateful Dead tattoo covering one shoulder and carrying an iPhone X wearing an over sized T-shirt and apparently nothing else, showing more flesh than many burlesque dancers and carrying a guitar I have never seen her play. She is living her grandmother’s hippie dream.
I meandered into the Bywater, checking out the art space at 601 Elysian Fields, then a fun garage sale with lots of women’s costumes. The ladies let me into their house to see a bunch of stuff for sale. It was a small cottage with great art on the walls, and it looked like someone dumped out a house full of adult toys and clothes throughout. They seemed like fun people but I’d go nuts picking up after them. I walked through a couple of art markets for the last gasp of Christmas shopping, and saw a brief performance from the Flossin’ Possum, a woman in an elaborate possum outfit dancing. Don’t see that every day.
I sat at Pepp’s outdoor “park” (two parking spots converted into outdoor seating) for a couple of beers, and talked with a older man, probably in his seventies, very thin, smoking cigarettes and drinking red wine. He could have been played in a movie by Harry Dean Stanton. He talked about how he walked a couple of miles to get here for the cheap wine, how happy he was to be healthy, and his father in his 90s who was in a nursing home, desperate and lonely because of the pandemic.
I bought a couple of Christmas gifts from the art vendors set up at the bar, and headed towards home. A band called Concrete Confetti, a rock and roll band credibly covering 60s and 70s hits was playing at the old gas station across the street from Marie’s. They would have been a hit at DU back in the day. There were neighborhood people in costume dancing, and some of us old folks just hanging around.
After their set, I walked home to drop off treasures, and then thought I would check out Frenchmen Street. It was quiet, and I walked to Breaux Carre Brewery and had a pint of lager served by Courtney the Hula Hoop go-go dancer. Fun to have friends.
I walked back along the almost deserted street, and stopped at the tintype pop up photo booth. It had usually been too crowded for me to look, and the sample photos l saw looked good. Jenny, the photographer, came out and explained that they are taking digital images and processing them using glass plates and colloidal silver onto the metal to get the effect that the early photographers got from long exposures. As I was talking to her, Nicole from the R-bar and her friend John, saw me and said they were headed to MRB for live music. I agreed to meet them, and talked with Jenny some more, explaining my idea for a Jack Dempsey boxer style photo in the tintype format. She was extremely excited by the project. She shot a bunch of me shirtless in the boxer pose, and then a few with the pork pie hat as a prop. She was gushing over with enthusiasm, and had me sign a permission slip so they could use the images as advertising. I am really excited to see what they do with it, and the enthusiasm was certainly flattering.
I met Nicole at MRB in the courtyard and we split oysters, a dozen chargrilled and a dozen raw, listening to a guitar/keys duo. It was really good to get some oysters, and better to run into friends and have a good conversation.
On the way home, I heard music playing at the Royal Frenchmen, and paid the cover to hear Glen David Andrews in the courtyard. He was in great voice, with a range that not many have, and was entertaining as always, wandering through the sparse audience (COVID rules) and flirting with the girls. I noticed him whistling more this time, perhaps just because the space was so intimate. It was really a great show, and something to take guests to. He ended the set by playing the Treme song in fun second line style and the roadies or hangers on danced throughout the courtyard.
I headed home along Touro Street, and stuck my head in the courtyard as the neighbors were doing karaoke, but probably wisely passed on the party. What a day for a plague!