Monday, March 22, 2010

The Big Easy

Howdy, blog, I'm back from the grandest long weekend in recent memory. How grand, you ask? Very grand. So grand, in fact, that I might have to break this up into a few posts. But I'll start with a quick summation: it rocked. Handsome and I, faced with a few days of Spring Break on my part, and an itch to get out of the office on his, decided to take off for the city with more nicknames than God: the Crescent City, Birthplace of Jazz, The Big Easy, Nawlins, NOLA, am I leaving something out? Oh yeah. New Orleans, Louisiana.

Somehow I had never been there before. I know, crazy. I couldn't believe it either, but it's true. We rocked up on Thursday night, and promptly dove head-first into an enormous plate of Cajun food. After, that is, we bought 20 oz. beers and walked around IN THE STREETS with them. Shocking! I felt so illicity! So yes. Gorgeous food, public alcohol consumption, and dandy music all about. Pretty much I felt like we'd landed in heaven.

These are the fun things we did:

When I asked my mother what we should do in New Orleans, it took her negative three point two seconds to scream BEIGNETS AND COFFEE at the top of her lungs. So okay. We went to the Cafe du Monde, and to be honest, I was a little skeptical on account of EVERYBODY IN NEW ORLEANS was there. Mass production for mass consumption? How good could they be.

Good. They were very good. Now I understand.

What else. Oh! Public transportation. Parking is CRAZY expensive in the French Quarter, so Handsome and I figured out the bus system, and it was so much fun. I know, I'm a nerd, and maybe totally crazy, but in my opinion, learning the public transportation networks in any city is just about the best thing ever. You can put down your tourist map and just saunter aboard. "Hello!" you can greet the driver. "Could you let me know when we get to Oopsie-Daisy Street?" And the driver will nod, and the doors will close, and you can sit there and stare out the window until you arrive. It's awesome.

We also talk a walking historical tour of the city from an older gentleman named Hal. We learned the difference between a gallery, a porch, and a balcony, we learned about the colonial-period yellow fever alert system, and we learned euphemisms for prostitute, courtesan, and concubine so exquisite that Handsome didn't at first realize what sort of "special relationship" Hal was describing. We saw examples of hilarious architecture (look, the marbles don't match!), and while Hal certainly told us that a woman named the Baroness Pontalba existed, thank God I'd stopped in the Cabildo museum earlier and knew this amazing story. Man, that lady was awesome. Ferociously ugly, but awesome. Her father-in-law shot her point blank with dueling pistols, blew off her fingers, and somehow she survived with bullets lodged permanently IN HER CHEST. I tried to wheedle some more salacious historical details out of Hal, but he wasn't having any of it because look - the Mississippi River!

Hal later redeemed himself for the mediocre tour, however, by taking a shine to Handsome and myself and calling in a favor to get us a table at his favorite French Quarter restaurant. Turns out they had one table left, up on the balcony (not the porch or gallery)...

White wine, shrimp etouffé, fried green tomatoes, coffee and creme bruleé. Good heavens. Half drunk and very full, we tottered off to a place whose name I kept mixing up. Eventually I settled on "Hall of Preservation Hall Jazz Hall" but I'm pretty sure I was needlessly complicating the issue. The Preservation Hall Jazz Masters play nightly in a teeny-tiny intimate setting - no mikes! - and it's awesome. They're having fun, we're having fun, it's just great old New Orleans Jazz music. I honestly expected Louis Armstrong to waltz on in the door at any moment.

Drunk on jazz, cajun food, and music, Handsome and I tottered back to the bus station that night, and... Not to leave you on tenterhooks, but I believe I'll continue this later. I've got work to do, people!


Frank Irwin said...

If you would've gone up a few blocks, I think you may have found the intersection of Terpsichore and Confusia.

Where have those two been, lately, anyhows?

libélula azul said...

What a fabulous trip! Glad you got to enjoy being illicity AND taking advantage of public transportation.