Saturday, January 23, 2016

Smoke, No Mirrors, but a Missing Church


July 3, 2014
OK, so I always forget to pack something basic.
This time it was extra handkerchiefs (but despite my big nose, that was no problem) and my camera. Say what?
I did a Google search at the Best Western on Wednesday night for Canon cameras. I chose Manassas as the place, because I was going to pass right by there on the way to Smoke Hole in West Virginia.
There is a Best Buy in Manassas. God, I hate Best Buy. So I read up on the selection of cameras and knew what I wanted, something under $100, light so I can carry it in my pocket. OK, so I won’t need a lot of the help that isn’t available there.
As it turns out, it wasn’t too bad. I had to serve myself and then wait around till the one guy who may be able to answer a couple of questions was available. The phone at the counter rang two or three times while I was waiting, and I was astonished. Somebody actually answered the phone. At Best Buy. Wow, try to call up the store in Totowa sometime. That’s really why I hate Best Buy.
I bought a package that included a camera case, tripod (which maybe I’ll use someday), and an eight-gig memory card. I also bought an extra battery, which is a good thing because the one that came with the camera had almost no charge at all. That one’s in the charger now, plugged into the wall.
Batteries and memory are important. My battery started to go in Albuquerque, but I was lucky because the city has a Batteries Plus store. My memory card, back in the days when two gigabytes was a lot, filled up when I was on top of the Petroglyph National Monument. I cringe to think what images were lost to posterity by that mishap.
I was planning to make a quick stop at the Manassas battlefield to try out the new camera, and to see the place for the first time, but I got onto Interstate 66 in the wrong direction. Actually, I wasn’t supposed to get onto the Interstate at all. So rather than go back, I said, no, some other time. It isn’t really difficult to reach, maybe four hours from home without traffic, like if you leave New Jersey after 7 or 8 p.m.
The trip to West Virginia from Washington isn’t overwhelming, and the traffic drops off as you get away from the capital. I took a small detour that sent me through Strasburg, Va. I’ve been there a couple of times before but not in the past 15 years.

It’s a small town that has seen better days, but it has enough attractions, including the old Strasburg Inn, that spending a day and a night there can be fun. Ah, but Strasburg on this trip was a moment’s distraction and nothing more. I was headed west to grow up with the country. Well, maybe not grow up, but I was headed west.

This was extra fun, by the way, because I was using the GPS for the first time in a couple of years. It’s not bad, as long as you check on other sources where you want to go, just to confirm that it isn’t sending you around the bend.
Strasburg wasn’t on the GPS agenda, so the computer voice kept saying “Recalculating,” “Recalculating,” and giving me new instructions that I was ignoring. It’s fun to mess with a computer’s head.
I did it several times. I was buzzing down the road when I saw a sign for Lost River Recreation Area. OK, is this where the river dives underground and gets lost? Let’s go see. “Recalculating,” “Recalculating.”  But then a sign gave me the distance, another 16 miles. That would be a couple of hours at least, or more, depending on how fast I could find the hole where the river disappears.

So I went back to a grocery store and self-styled deli to order a sandwich. But you can’t order at a counter here. Instead, you pick up something made beforehand—in my case ham (which is all right) and American cheese (which isn’t all right). It was on whole wheat, because of course I have this fantasy that I am shoring up my body with whole grains, if for no other reason than to be able to abuse my health properly.
The sandwich was stale on one side, so much so that for a second I thought the bread was toasted. The other side wasn’t soggy so much as wet. But I remembered what my good friend Jack Ryan told me many years ago: The best sauce is hunger.
I had eaten a four-ounce container of yogurt and three mini corn muffins (about an ounce each) for breakfast. That was around 8 in the morning. I had that scary sandwich at 2 in the afternoon, and the timing was perfect. I knew it was awful, but I wolfed it down.
I picked up a piece of cheese at the same store. It was supposed to be an ersatz pepper jack. Jack cheese is usually pretty soft and fatty, and this was atrocious. Jack T. may want to do something about the association of his name with such a poor excuse for food. But Jack, maybe you should wait till the verdict comes down in the copyright suit that Lindsay Lohan has brought against the video game that includes a caricature of her.

Above all, the pepper processed cheese food product left me craving sweets. I took care of that when I stopped to buy gasoline. I got some cherry gum drops and Chips Ahoy cookies.
So far, I haven’t touched the cookies, but I ate some of the gum drops with some more of the cheese. Somehow, disrespecting my stomach like that really confirmed that I was on a road trip.
At some point I stopped at West-WhiteHill Winery for a tasting. I had passed a couple of wineries in Virginia, and some Virginia wines can be good. Something made me stop in West Virginia. Maybe mischief.

I tasted the two dry varieties available and bought them both. Just for the hell of it, I’m going to ask Larry to taste them and hear what he has to say.
Larry is watching the house for me right now. Yeah, he’s back in the States. He says his visa ran out in the European Union, but I don’t know. Maybe they ran him out.
I came through Petersburg, West Virginia, for what I remember as the first time. It’s a charming little southern town, but not much to write about.
Using both the GPS and a Google map, I was headed to a local landmark, the Old Judy Church. It used to be Methodist, but I wanted to see it anyway. It’s a log building made in the 1830s., and blah, blah, blah, (more information than anyone needs). My friend Jean Thilmany plugs that into copy that she’ll fix up later.
I plowed down the highway for two days, maybe a week, without eating or drinking. Sorry, on reflection, I see that may be an exaggeration. But I’m not sure.
Anyhow, I passed a historical marker headed “Old Judy Church.” Damn, all right, I found it. I came back to read the sign that says it was a church until it was abandoned in 1910, and then was rededicated in the 1930s as a place for public gatherings.
The only weird thing is that there’s a sign telling me it is the oldest log building in Pendleton County, and it was made from logs cut right nearby, but there is no trace of the church.
The sign is in front of a closed gate that blocks a path that goes down precipitously to what appears to be a stream. (That sentence, by the way, apparently was inspired by “The House That Jack Built.)
There’s no other road in sight. Are there restricted hours for this? You know, like from 6 to 9 on Saturday you can put your boots on and hike to the church?
I dunno. Life is like that, full of mysteries.
So after that disappointment, I headed to Smoke Hole Cavern and Seneca Rocks.

Smoke Hole Cavern is a natural formation with a hole in the top. The Indians and later the European settlers who displaced the Indians used it to smoke meat. Now it seems to be controlled by people who own a motel there. That may be fine and worth a trip someday, but today I continued to Seneca Rocks. These are impressive rock formations, looking almost like Mohawk haircuts.

There is a legend that an Indian princess named Snow Bird challenged her suitors to chase her up the peak and the guy who could catch her would be her boy.

Heading back north, I saw a sign that had sounded weird enough to be interesting. I had ignored it the first time around because I was going too fast.

There was a brown sign (U.S. Dept of the Interior) that only said “Dolly Sods.” A weird name like that, you know I had to go there. It’s a national forest or something like it. There’s a long washboard dirt road that goes up and up, maybe forever. I got weary after about six days and came down the way I’d gone up.
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A sign at the bottom of the hill said what the place was about. A parked UPS truck blocked the view of the sign when I came down. So I parked a little farther down and walked back to look.
The driver, a lady, came out of the back of the truck and saw me as I walking by. The last thing she expected to see was another human being—that is on his feet, standing outside her truck. The poor woman almost fainted.

“I’m terribly sorry. I just want to get some information off this sign. I didn’t mean to startle you.”
Then when the lady got her breath back, she told me that hunters go up to Dolly Sods for big game, including bear.
From there I pretty much pushed to Morgantown, which was some distance away. GPS did a great job, but insisted on a street and number. So I wound up in a residential district.

Next step was to find a bar. Gibby’s Pub and Eatery on High Street sounded OK. I went there and than asked GPS for places to stay. This is the magic of GPS, by the way. Top on the list was the Morgan Clarion Hotel, a fifth of a mile from the bar.
I parked in front of the hotel. They not only had a room, but they also had parking. I’m writing from my room there now,
I walked back to the Gibby’s. The food was OK. Well, not exactly. I ordered something called Cajun Penne Alfredo, just for the cultural weirdness. It even came with salad.
When the salad came, I was reminded that I was in West Virginia. The dressing came on the side, in a plastic envelope.
Way too much garlic in the main dish.
The taps, however, surprised me. I expect West Virginia to be the Midwest, so when I walk into a bar and find half a dozen ales on tap, I am brought up short. In a good way,
I forget the name of the first ale I tried. It was something artisanal that I had not heard of before. Forgive me, future generations, for not being able to name it, because it was good. The second was called “Alpha Blonde,” and also very good because blond ales usually are.
On the walk back to the hotel, I passed a young lady talking to a man who was lying on the sidewalk.
“Do you need help?” she said.
I think he said yes.
That’s when I horned in. “Call the police. They’re trained to handle stuff like this. You and I aren’t.
I stayed around till the cop car came. Then I got the out of there. Hell, I had a switchblade in my pocket.
Be well, all, and don’t sleep on the sidewalk.

ISO the Wild and Wonderful



July 2, 2014
Just a quick note from the road.
I’m back at the Best Western in North East, Md., on my way to West Virginia, which, as they advertise, is Wild and Wonderful. 
There was a little delay for rush-hour traffic on the Garden State Parkway, but then things loosened up considerably on the Turnpike.
I had hoped to get to Steak and Main in North East by 7:30, about two hours from home, but that was way too optimistic. It's embarrassing because I have done this so many times that the Taurus should know the way on its own by now. Realistically, it takes closer to two and a half hours.
I got to the restaurant about eight. Jamy and Bob were at the bar with a couple of their friends. I had never seen them before, but they recognized me as I came through the door and nodded to my sister.
Jamy had told them her brother would be the guy in a tie and jacket. “I forgot the hat,” she told me later.
I had a Loose Cannon IPA with my raw oysters. I followed that with a black ale from somewhere and a rare New York strip steak, which was delicious. So was the ale, which had a hint of bitter chocolate in it, as many black ales do.
Now, since I’m headed for West Virginia next and they don’t have real food there, I threw in dessert tonight, some kind of fragrant apple cobbler served warm with vanilla ice cream. Decadent? Yes. Perfect? Yes.
There was something in the cobbler besides cinnamon that made it outstanding. I wanted to guess cardamom, but truth to tell, I have no idea. I had that with the Steak and Main house pale ale, which is also full of flavor. 
It’s past 10:30. I think it’s time for me to go to sleep.
Good night, all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Voodoo You Do



January 2

When we passed through the hotel lobby this morning, it seemed that most of the line was university fans checking out. So things may be settling down a little.

The sidewalks were still a little crowded when we walked down toward the French Market, but then, they may always be crowded here. I couldn’t know.

On the way, we were on Rue Dumaine and made a detour into the Voodoo Museum. (You knew there had to be one, right?)


It’s a couple of rooms and a hallway with pictures and altars. An obituary of Marie Laveau reproduced from an 1881 newspaper is framed on the wall. She didn’t die. She “fell into the sleep from which there is no waking.” OK. Forgive me. Maybe that was elegant in 1881.

The place was founded by Voodoo Charlie Gandolfo 40 years ago.

The music is fantastically appropriate. Among the selections were “I’m Gonna Put a Spell on You,” a blues number about Marie Laveau that I hadn’t heard before, and “Love Potion Number Nine.” 

The altars are supposedly functioning. One gets sprinkled with water every day. It receives visits from Voodoo practitioners, who leave offerings there. The altars are covered with small change, an occasional dollar bill, but mostly coins. I left a quarter for Baron Samedi, who is my favorite. I mean, c’mon, the guy has lost all his skin but still shows up in a tux.


I also found out that the triple x, a sign on Marie Laveau’s tomb and others at St. Louis No. 1 is intended to cross out a hex, and so is an appeal for spiritual protection.

Like anything else this colorful, you have no clue what’s real tradition and what’s made up on the spot.

The French Market starts with the line for Cafe du Monde and stretches a few blocks. There is a jazz band in an open-air cafe, a restaurant, food stalls (including one that specializes in alligator), and a flea market, which is mostly souvenirs for tourists. 

I can’t imagine that anybody goes to the French market to buy groceries. I did see signs for an actual farmer’s market, which sets up occasionally.

There are plenty of places to buy a drink, and that has fascinated me about New Orleans. It’s almost as free as Europe. 

We had a 2:30 reservation at Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street and so started to head there.

On the way, we stopped at the Bourbon O because they serve good mimosas and I know where the men’s room is. 

When we got to Galatoire’s there was some kind of party in progress. People were spinning their handkerchiefs in the air while somebody else blasted a tuba with enough energy to pierce my head. 

I don’t know what it was. A wedding reception? A bar mitzvah? An Ohio State victory party? 

I didn’t want to know. I was alarmed. I’m already half deaf and this could take me the rest of the way.


Lucky for me though, our table was up a long flight of stairs and through a couple of rooms, enough to damp the boom of the horn.

Three tables were occupied in the room where they put us. The largest group, which included four wel-behaved kids, were already on coffee and dessert.

I wanted to take Joanna to Galatoire’s because Karl had written to me that the turtle soup there is the best he has had, and may be the best soup of any kind. OK, I said, this is pretty safe. If Joanna hates the food, I can blame Karl.

The meal was excellent.

That turtle soup was savory, with just a hint of the sherry in it. The broth was dark. The texture was terrific, with minced vegetables and small bits of turtle meat. 

It might put you in mind of my favorite song from “Mystery Science Theater 3000”: “Gammera is really nea; he is full of turtle meat.” Just like Galatoire’s turtle soup.

I had the soup with a glass of Haut-Medoc, and Joanna had a Burgundy. The Haut-Medoc is a Bordeaux and this one had some of the oaky taste I like, but not a great deal of that. It also had an almost spicy finish.

I had a sip of Joanna’s Burgundy, which was very smooth with lots of fruit and a sensation almost like a spreading of the flavor on the way down, which I expect from pinot noir grapes. 

We both ordered filet mignon for our entrees. I try not to do that when there is anything out of the ordinary on a menu. But I have been eating so many unusual dishes—sauteed alligator, rabbit pie, sweetbreads, gumbo, olive salad, oysters with caviar—that I was getting tired. 

I wasn’t up for experiments with veal liver, so it was time for steak and potatoes. But with a twist. The filet was about two inches thick and red in the middle. Potatoes Lyonnaise are sauteed with onion in butter (like home fries, Joanna said). The cauliflower was plain, no dressing on it, and sat on the plate like a little brain. Spinach Rockefeller is pureed with stuff in it, but I’m not sure what. 

I had a Cotes-du-Rhone called Rive Droite Rive Gauche with the steak. Nice aroma, good fruity flavor and, like the other two reds, very dry.

By the time we were halfway through the steak, the other tables had emptied. We didn’t expect it, but we wound up with private dining at Galatoire’s. Excellent turtle soup and a great steak. Thank you, Karl.

Here are a couple of things from earlier in the week that I forgot to mention.

I forgot to report one of the highlights of New Year’s Eve. Considering that it’s in the United States, Bourbon Street is pretty much over the top even in daytime. 

The street was crammed that night, mostly with people wearing Alabama or Ohio State red, but one figure stood out—kind of hard to miss, really. A woman was wearing a head-dress that included a rack of deer antlers. She had a cape, and that was about all she was wearing above the waist. 

That and a pair of pasties that looked like pink rubber anemones. She was asking for tips if anyone wanted to take a photograph. 

Among the more interesting tombstones we saw in St. Louis Cemetery was one for Micajah Green Lewis “who fell in a duel, Feb. 14, 1805.”

Our New Year’s Day walking tour guide, Natalie, had told us that the now-fenced-in square behind the cathedral, where the statue of Jesus is, for many years was the public dueling ground. The church owns the space, and in the days when most duels were fought with swords or daggers, church officials tolerated the tradition.

When firearms became the rage, the clergy said, No, we can’t have any of that. So the duelists had to move their trial by ordeal to some city park. 

I wonder if Micajah fell on consecrated ground. His tomb is in the Protestant section of the cemetery.

We walked in the evening on Bourbon Street but it was getting damned cold. We went back to the Bourbon House, the restaurant at the Crowne Plaza, for oysters and salad and a couple of IPAs.


January 3

The trip home on Saturday was fine. I had booked through Expedia, which sent us out on American (changing planes in Dallas). We were on Delta going home, and the route made more sense. The transfer was in Atlanta.

When the lady at the bar carded me in the New Orleans airport, I realized that I was out of the city and back in the South. It’s airport policy, she said. 

I always resent that more than I should. It brings out some of my prejudices. I always suspect it is a conspiracy by religious zealots to harass the wicked for drinking beer. 

We got out of New Orleans on time, and our scheduled four-hour layover in Atlanta stretched into more like five. There were storms all over the East, so planes were delayed. 

If there is going to be a delay, it’s best on the last leg of the trip.

Anyhow, by the time our plane left Atlanta, I had had enough beer to sleep even in coach. All I remember is waking up to the announcement that we were beginning our descent.

Last time I fell asleep on a plane was on the way to Paris. Joanna said I wasn’t snoring this time.

Love and good times to all.

Harry

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Jan. 6
A four hour layover? The whole flight shouldn't take that long. Is this because it was high season travel? I always managed to get direct flights. I trust you saved a bunch of money because of this.

Larry

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Napoleon, Jackson, Etc.




January 1, 2015

After my hangover wore off, the day got better. The weather was chilly and damp, but we didn’t get rained on.

We joined a walking tour. Usually you sign up for a walking tour for $20 or so a person. This one you get to decide at the end what you’re going to pay.

The guide, Nathalie Richard, is a transplant from Australia and very enthusiastic. She had to shout most of the time over the noise of traffic, bands, and random drunks protesting the excellence of their college football teams.

We started in Jackson Square, where we learned that the buildings surrounding it were a sort of family affair. 

During the Spanish period, roughly the last half of the 18th century, a rich guy named Andres Almonester y Rojas paid to rebuild St. Louis Cathedral, which had been leveled by a fire in 1788. It was rebuilt in 1794. Much of that building has been replaced by subsequent renovations, so little more than the foundation of the original is still there.

Andres started to build a house next to the cathedral as a residence for priests. That’s why it’s still called the Presbytere, although no presbyters ever lived there. He died before it was finished, and so it languished. When it was finally completed decades later, it was a commercial building and later a courthouse.

When Andres died, his daughter, Micaela, got the family fortune. Some cousins in France wanted the fortune too, so they arranged for Micaela to marry one of them. The father-in-law, the Duke of Pontalba, became frustrated when Micaela refused to sign her money over to his family, so he shot her four times at point-blank range and then shot himself.

He died. She lived. She became the Duchess of Pontalba, but separated from the cousins and took care of herself.

Eventually Micaela built the row houses that flank both sides of the square. 

So everything around Jackson Square, except the former town hall known as the Cabildo, was put up by an Almonester.

New Orleans is one of the few places in the South where something called Jackson isn’t likely to be named for Stonewall.

The Jackson of Jackson Square is Andrew, who was general over one of the few American victories of the War of 1812. According to a cenotaph in St. Paul’s, the British lost two generals here. The battle was fought after a treaty of peace ended the war, but this was in the days before telegraph and wireless, so nobody down here knew.

There is a statue of Andrew Jackson in the middle of the square. He perches on a horse reared onto its hind legs, sort of like the Lone Ranger. He’s waving his general hat and looking very triumphant indeed.

It sort of puts me in mind of David’s painting of Napoleon on the rearing horse. There’s a reproduction of that one on Bourbon Street in front of the Napoleon’s Itch bar. 


The tour lasted two hours, and much of it covered ground we had already seen. But we picked up a couple of useful tips.

Not far from the square is the home of an old-time mayor named Girod. He offered his house as a refuge for Napoleon, if someone could get him off St. Helena. There is a legend, Nathalie said, that the Lafitte brothers were trying to cook up a scheme to spring him.

Anyhow, the bar on the first floor of the building is called Napoleon House. Nathalie recommended it for Pimm’s cup and muffaletta.

So when the tour was over, that’s where we went and what we had for lunch. It’s a very cool place, with paint faded off the walls and lots of Napoleon stuff inside, including a print of that David of Napoleon on his horse. Also a poster for a screening of Abel Gance’s “Napoleon,” a 1927 silent film. This was a special showing in 1981 accompanied by a symphony orchestra. 

I knew that there had been a revival of the film with new music. But didn’t know that the music was composed and conducted by Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s father, who wrote the music for “The Godfather” movies.

Pimm’s Cup mixes Pimm’s No. 1 with 7-Up and lemonade, maybe something else. Given my newly discovered taste for mixed drinks, I found it more than all right. Joanna liked it too, so we shared two before we left.

The muffaletta at Napoleon House consists of a round loaf filled with ham, Genoa salami, pastrami, Swiss, and provolone. We split half a muffaletta with a side of red beans and rice. 

The sandwich is heated till the cheese melts and is topped with an Italian olive salad. It was supposedly invented not far away, in a place called Central Grocery on Decatur Street, as a specialty for Italian delivery truck drivers.

We roamed back to the Crowne Plaza and took it easy for a while. Truth be told, I think we’re wearing down.

Joanna found a music program on the local Public Broadcasting Service station. It began with ballet, and Joanna loves dance. Then the program proceeded to a concert hall in Vienna. One of the numbers include “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” by Strauss, complete with quaint scenery shots. I’m sorry, but the only thing more boring than static scenery on film is Johann Strauss. 

Julie Andrews did the bumpers for the show. I only liked Andrews when she did the double drag part in the remake of “Victor und Victoria.” I hated “Sound of Music.”

After playing on the computer for a while, I was getting a mite peckish. We went downstairs to the seafood restaurant, where Joanna had a salad and I had raw oysters with caviar. They were very good that way. The white caviar was better than the black.


I had them with a couple of IPAs. When I ordered the first ale, the bartender asked what Joanna would have. She didn’t want anything, not even water. The salad would be enough.

I explained: The lady doesn’t drink; she just hangs around with me because I’m a bad influence.

We shared a cheesecake with all kinds of citrus added: a citrus glaze, some orange slices and Meyer lemon cookies, and some sweetened shavings of lemon peel. It was delicious, especially with the IPA. Turns out, IPA is a great dessert beer almost every time.

Joanna was amazed. “I don’t eat dessert,” she says. “I don’t drink beer.”

But she loves dessert and India pale ale together.

They were closing the restaurant bar when we left around 10, but the bar on the other side, by the hotel lobby, is open 24 hours. I was thinking about one more Campari or something there, but Joanna said she was full, and I realized I was too.

So that was it for the night.

Good night.

Harry


January 3

Wow....your e-mail reminded me of the restoration of Gance's Napoleon in the 1980s. My pal JC and I saw it at Carnegie Hall with Carmine Coppola conducting an orchestra (I forget which one) performing his score. It was really great, especially with the live performance. 

Larry


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lots of Pickling



New Year’s Eve, 2014

We were walking down Royal Street in the general direction of Jackson Square when we came across the first good omen of the last day of the year.

A man we had seen a few times before plays amplified guitar. At night he works in the alcoves at the entrances to shops after they close. This morning he was on the sidewalk next to Cafe Beignet.


The tempo was faster than I would have expected but he unmistakably was picking one of the most gracious pieces of music ever written, “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” a Bach composition for the organ.

I gave him a donation and we stood across the street to listen. Then, damn, if he didn’t finish that and segue into “Sleepers Awake.” Hot damn, Bach in the morning. Hell, Bach at any time.

A couple of blocks farther along we came to a Dixieland band. The singer was a woman with blue hair who used a small megaphone and sounded a little like Betty Boop. This was whorehouse jazz, and one song had a wonderful off-color, bouncy style. All I remember was the end of the chorus, Betty Boop singing something that I later learned (by the miracle of modern Google) is a Ma Rainey song:

“You low-down alligator,
Just watch me, soon or later,
Gonna catch you with your britches down.”


Then we came to a road block: horse carts, a Mardi Gras float, mounted cops, cameramen, city officials, lots of people lining the streets. It had to be one of two things. This was either the disorganized setup of the Sugar Bowl parade or a riot drill. 

Joanna buttonholed someone wearing a name tag and confirmed that we were watching the randomness before a parade.

The musicians, magicians, fortune tellers, and maybe pickpockets too were out in force, as usual, at Jackson Square.

We went to someplace new for lunch, Muriel’s, across the street from Restaurant Stanley. We sat at the bar in back, where you don’t need a reservation. The jars of garnish were lined up, but one, a little bigger than the others, I didn’t recognize. It looked like string beans. So I asked.

And that’s what was in the jar—pickled string beans as garnish for a Bloody Mary. So I had one of those. Joanna had a very good plate of eggs Benedict, but I decided to keep it vegan. After all, I had string beans.

I am not a big fan of Bloody Marys but this one was very good, and very sharp. Turns out, it not only had Worcestershire and black pepper in the mix, but also horse radish and Tabasco. Maybe lemon juice too.

We strolled down Chartres Street because I was looking to see where it crossed Frenchman, where there is a bar called d.b.a. that Kate recommended. But we didn’t get far when we came to Harry’s Corner. I may have mentioned before that, to acknowledge my support for the beverage industry, they name bars for me all over the world. There’s one in the Singapore airport, another on Via Veneto in Rome. I have visited a few others, too, I am sure, but maybe stayed too long and don’t recall where they are.

This wasn’t like Harry’s in Rome, or even the one in Singapore. It was a dark, local dive that only took cash. Just having drunk my lunch, I wasn’t ready for anything heavy. So Joanna and I split an Angry Orchard cider. 

Frenchman Street crosses Chartres just outside the French Quarter. You cross Esplanade Avenue, which is the edge of the Quarter, and Frenchman is a block beyond that. Esplanade is a scenic tree-lined boulevard with lots of ironwork on the galleries.


Frenchman looks like a newly gentrified street being given over to bars that appeal to people under 40. According to my tourist map, the neighborhood is Faubourg Marigny. We didn’t stop in any of these bars, but walked up the street past Washington Square, a park where a lot of young people were hanging out, or camping out. It was like old home week. I could smell cannabis in the air.


I can’t remember if the Christmas house, the photo of the day, is on Chartres Street or on Dauphine. You can’t see it in the photo, but just behind the window is a mannequin dressed up in a lighted bra.

The rules of the house are posted on the front wall: No loitering, no crack selling, no cat selling.


When we came to Dauphine Street, we decided to take it back to the Quarter. Frenchman doesn’t run parallel to Esplanade, so we could get ourselves good and lost if we weren’t careful. 

When we got back to Bourbon Street, it was already filling up with foot traffic. Lots of people in Ohio State and Alabama red. Both schools’ colors are red and white. Could that make for confusion on the field? Maybe somebody would throw the ball to the wrong guy.

We stopped into the Bourbon O Bar, which is in the Bourbon Orleans Hotel. I ducked in there mainly because I needed to use the men’s room. But we wound up staying to share a couple of mimosas and watch David Niven for a while in “Around the World in 80 Days.” 

We went back to the hotel to change. Since I had brought it, I was determined to wear the tux on New Year’s Eve. Five is a little early for a tux, but who was going to notice? Besides, we were having dinner in a sports bar.

Joanna ordered an extraordinarily tasty and thoroughly Confederate dinner: A huge pork chop with sauteed sweet potato cubes and collard greens. The collards had ham, cider vinegar, and a bit of heat in them. The sweets had a little bit of resistance left when I bit one. The pork was tear-jerkingly good.

I had a dish that had been on my radar since our first visit to Ole Saint: rabbit pot pie. This came in a small bowl under buttermilk biscuit dumplings. Very savory. As in eating chicken or fish, I had to be careful of the little bones.

I had that with a NOLA India pale ale called Hopitoulas, which is full of bitter flavors. Even some craft breweries lose their nerve and water down a beer, but IPAs generally run strong. Many have an alcohol content above 5 percent, and that adds interest, too.

After dinner, we went back to Naughty Street, which was packed. Half the people were wearing something red. Every once in a while, even during the day, you hear somebody shout “Go, tide” (the Crimson Tide of Alabama). Others are too drunk, so they just growl.

I’ve heard a lot of them talking in bars, and it’s a kind of a college reunion for them.   

We got to the Blacksmith Shop for a Campari, which I took with me. There was barely standing room in the bar.

The men’s room, however, was fairly empty. The ladies’ had quite a line. 

So I was the only guy there peeing into a trough when a strange lady walked in. She saw me and stepped back. She must have judged me safe enough and stepped in again. “I’m sorry,” she said, and I think she meant it. “But I need to pee.”

Go ahead. There’s nobody in the stall.

I must really be getting old. Strange young women think nothing of walking past me to share a men’s room. And it doesn’t break my heart.

At one point, we saw the lady on the trike, my dance partner from the other night. This time she was in a black flapper dress with fringe, short enough maybe to break some kind of  record. She was working on a pint of something and well on her way to needing to replace it.

Next stop was French 75. This is a small, old-fashioned cocktail bar connected to Arnaud’s on Bienville Street. Kate recommended that we try the cocktail that the bar is named for: Courvoisier cognac in Moet & Chandon champagne with sugar and lime juice. It tastes as terrific as it sounds.

Lillet Cobbler, made with an aperitif wine, blackberry liqueur, and lime juice was also very tasty. We shared two of those before we left.

I also ordered a cocktail that mixed rye with God knows what. That was not my favorite. Joanna took one sip and let me have the rest.

We made our way slowly back toward the hotel. There was no way to hurry. the horse cops were out. The State Police were out. All kinds of cops on every corner.  But they didn’t do anything but maintain order. Oh, the horse cops intimidated a few people out of the way.

But they didn’t even interfere with the grass-green weed wagon, when it stopped in the middle of an intersection to dispense a couple of joints out the driver’s side window.

The vans prowl the Quarter, and maybe elsewhere in the city, and advertise products like Purple Urkle and Herojuana. There’s more than one van, and they also deal wholesale in pound quantities.

I can’t figure that one out. Maybe it’s performance art and there’s no cannabis at all. Maybe it’s oregano. 

Tonight one of the strip clubs opened its front curtain and a pole dancer shook her bottom at the street.

We got back to the hotel in time for one more Campari and soda. Then I went upstairs to sleep.

I opted out of watching the ball drop in Times Square or the fleur de lis fall in Jackson Square. I’ve seen the ball drop before. I saw it get stuck once, but to this day am not sure whether or not it caused the old year to extend a few seconds longer.

Besides, I was going to have to pay for all this wretched excess in the morning. My bad karma has been building up. So I needed a good rest to prepare for a showdown.

Love to all.

Harry