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.



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.


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.


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. 


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.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Shadow on the Wall

December 30

Joanna had taste for roasted, or at least cooked, oysters. She settled for char-broiled, and that wasn’t a bad deal.

That was breakfast, lunch, whatever, first meal of the day, at Felix’s Oyster Bar. 

It was around 11:30, and a long queue had already formed outside the Acme across the street. But this was the first time we’d seen Felix’s without a line, so we went in, just for the hell of it.

Joanna ordered char-broiled oysters. They cook them at a grill by the front window. Every once in a while flames shoot up, like they’re making Bananas Foster. But no, it’s oysters on the half shell topped with flavored bread crumbs. 

 Joanna cannot bring herself to eat raw seafood and until very recently has preferred not to eat rare meat. This morning she calmly observed that the oysters were not entirely cooked as she forked one into her mouth.

I sampled half an oyster because I have never had them done that way. They were damned good.

I am over-oystered and will lay off for a couple of days. I had a side of red beans and rice to go with blackened alligator. This came in bite-size cubes, very tasty and surprisingly tender. 

We went back to Jackson Square and listened to one of the happiest blues groups ever. It was a brass jazz band. One of the trumpeters liked my hat and tried it on. The musicians were posing with tourists for photos while they were playing.  Nobody missed a beat.

They were selling CDs, so we bought one. It was by a group called To Be Continued, which (the internet says) was formed by high school students about a dozen years ago. I don’t think these are the same guys. Maybe they support TBC and were doing covers. These guys looked too old to have been in high school as recently as 2002.

Joanna wanted a hot chocolate, so we took one look and gave up again on Cafe du Monde. Only the most dedicated or obsessive tourists are going to stand in a line like that.

We went to Restaurant Stanley on the corner of St. Ann and maybe Chartres Street instead. The chocolate was rich and the mimosa as good as the one I had there the other day.

We walked uphill from there, and as we crossed Royal Street, a band was playing “House of the Rising Sun.”

It was very appropriate, because I took Joanna up Conti Street to see No. 1026. It’s the last building on the left before Rampart. This is the house where Norma Wallace operated a brothel in the ’30s and ’40s. According to a biography of Wallace called “The Last Madam,” there was a hidden room where the girls and johns could duck and hide during a raid.

The house had previously been owned by a photographer, Ernest Bellocq, who did portraits of prostitutes.

Bellocq and Wallace are both remembered on a sign hanging over the front porch.

During our wanderings we stopped and made reservations for Friday afternoon at Galatoire’s on Bourbon Street. Karl says their turtle soup may be the best soup ever.

Dinner today was probably uninspired, but fun. After eating oysters, crawfish, offal, and other wonderful exotica for the past several days, we were both craving hamburger. One of the best places we have ever been for that is across Royal Street from our hotel. Ole Saint serves coarse beef. Joanna thinks the meat may be ground only once. It’s so good that Joanna will enjoy it even if it’s pink inside.

We both ordered burgers and shared a side of Brussels sprouts. I have often had sprouts with steak before, but never hamburger. But the meat is strong enough to hold up to the bitterness of the vegetables. 

The LA 31 biere noir was like a thin porter. OK, but more malt than hops, so not one of my favorites. I followed it with a pale ale, whose name I have forgotten and was much better.

We’ll be back at Ole Saint again tomorrow because it’s the first place in the half-dozen we tried that wasn’t booked solid all day for the 31st.  I think that’s some kind of holiday.

One of the great sights here at night is the back of the St. Louis Cathedral. There is a large statue of Jesus blessing the world. At night, they light it from below with a flood lamp so the shadow spreads over the entire back wall of the church. That’s the photo of the day. Or the night, as the case may be.

We went into a couple of shops on Royal Street to look for earrings to go with the peacock feathers in Joanna’s new hat, which we picked up at Trashy Diva the other day. A couple of options came close, but we didn’t find the right green or blue.

We had to go back to Naughty Street, as the kid called it.

It was too cold for strippers to be out in their underwear, but everybody else was in place. The Crowne Plaza, maybe this whole part of town, seems to be the gathering place for Ohio State fans. 

Ohio State is playing Alabama in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. The hotel and the neighborhood are flooded by people in red Ohio State sweatshirts and ball caps.

I have indirect connections to both universities through my job. Ohio State has a team largely of undergraduates who develop high-speed electric cars, which compete at Bonneville. The team holds all the electric heavy-car class land speed records. One of their cars was powered by a bank of batteries, another by a fuel cell. Both clocked over 300 mph on the salt flats. Cool, huh?

A group from Alabama invited me to join them on the Weightless Wonder in March 2001. The plane, operated by NASA, flies arcs over the Gulf of Mexico that leave you weightless for 30 seconds at a time. They were conducting an experiment to record the vital signs of a flame in zero gravity.

But I digress.

There is street music all over the French Quarter. From people with poorly tuned guitars to others with amps and mics, sometimes entire bands. Electric fiddle is popular. There are also young men and boys with bottle caps on their sneakers dancing without accompaniment. 

I believe this is actually how tap dancing was invented—by kids working for tips on the street in American cities. I may have read that somewhere. Has anybody heard anything like that? If so, please pass it along.

We have lots more cool stuff lined up for today, so I’m going to call it quits for now.

Blessings to everybody.


Dec. 31

TRASHY DIVA! I love that place. Don't even get me started on the storefront they have dedicated to zany shoes  :)

I don't know if you're game for a cocktail bar, but I have to recommend French 75, attached to Arnaud's Restaurant if you get a chance:

Sadly New Orleans is not a beer town, BUT d.b.a. on Frenchman Street has some good brews. We go to the one in Manhattan from time to time and it's a really friendly, low-key spot. They have 20 taps at the N.O. location, and are between Chartres and Royal Streets. Just walk over Esplanade like two short blocks and you'll be in Frenchman.

Tenebrous Kate