n’awlins: quick impressions

Posted: August 15, 2013 in Travel
Tags: , , , , , , ,

We’re spending several days in New Orleans, or as people who think they know what the locals call it but seriously don’t have a clue, N’awlins. So we’re here in N’awlins because the lovely Ms. Trask is attending a conference with her professional peeps. Me, I’m just along for my spectacular company and stellar restaurant scouting skills.

It is my second time in N’awlins, but the first time was so long ago and for such a short amount of time this might as well be my maiden voyage. About the only thing I remember from that previous trip was going to Pat O’Brien’s Piano Bar and drinking an evil concoction or three known as a Hurricane which, in retrospect, may be the reason I don’t remember anything else. I don’t even recall the specific reason I was in N’awlins. I’m 60% sure it had something to do with some sort of training for the work I was doing at the time. Perhaps my utter inability to recall the trip’s purpose is one of the reasons I am no longer employed with that company. So while the lovely Ms. Trask is filling her days with plenary sessions, roundtable talks, committee meetings, and lots of glad-handing I am left to fill the vacant hours by my ownself. Thank god I have a camera. Not that it helps you since the photos are sitting snugly on my SD card, but trust me, they’re awesome.

We have been here less than two days and yes, you may be wondering how much can a person truly experience in two measly days? Let me tell you, an observant person can observe plenty. Somehow, I’ve also managed to see a few things. Here’s a taste.

– N’awlins is an extremely walkable city. This is good because a person needs to do something physical to counteract the obscene amount of food which gets mysteriously shoved down their unsuspecting throat. A person can stroll through the Warehouse District with its hipster art galleries, amble through the Garden District with its impressive southern homes, meander back through the Central Business District with its modern central business office buildings, skip over to Marigny with its colorful funky shops and cafes, and step lively through the French Quarter with its music and bodily fluids secreting from every pore. And they can do it over and over. When I’m here for a third day I will be able to say they can do it over and over and over.

– The touristy section of Bourbon Street is seedy. Like 1973 Times Square seedy. Seedy in a way which would make Scorsese think, “Hey, I need to film here!” The main difference between ’73 Times Square and ’13 Bourbon Street is ’13 B.S. has no aging movie houses showing films best described as “grubby”. Also, ’13 B.S. has far more out of shape tourists who cannot hold their liquor. ’73 T.S. certainly had its share of people who couldn’t properly manage their booze, but they were regular unkempt street folk, not doofy out-of-towners looking to create that one magic memory culminating in a healthy dose of penicillin. Of course stumbling, slurring tourists add a certain flair to any vacation destination. But like 23 scoops of ice cream, too much at once can turn a good time into an unforgettable bummer.

– N’awlins weather reports are far more complicated than little old New Jersey’s. In Jersey the weather basically approaches with tentative aggression from one of two directions: south or west. Either some pesky system is coming up the coast to ruin your weekend plans or some other annoying system is sweeping across the Ohio Valley to ruin your weekend plans. But here in N’awlins it is a whole different animal. Low fronts sweep down from Arkansas, high fronts gallop in from Texas, and drawling storm cells meander in from Mississippi. Then in the tropics weather patterns form and dissipate and form and dissipate, only to form again. Then maybe dissipate. No one seems to know for sure. The meteorologists speak of weather tracks wrought by the European model, by the American model, by the spaghetti model. Eventually all of these low fronts, high fronts and tropical patterns collide forming a swirling mess of wrath which performs a series of unpredictable and sadistic pirouettes, any of which may hit land from the exact direction none of the models anticipated. Really, it is like the weather patterns spent a night on Bourbon Street before resuming their jolly path to anxiety.

– Surprisingly few people have Rod Steiger’s Gillespie accent or Broderick Crawford’s Willie Stark accent which is just another disappointing reminder that movies may not be the best source for cultural education. Although until it is proven otherwise, no one can convince me 1.21 gigawatts of power will not propel you into the future.

I suspect over the next few days other N’awlins observations will surface, but for now I’m going to cap it here. I see a stewing conference attendee jealously coveting this computer, one of five available to hotel guests. She is giving me the Marie Laveau voodoo eye and if there is one thing you don’t mess with in N’awlins, it is Marie Laveau.

  1. Oh how I love New Orleans. But you’re right about the comparison to Times Square back in the day. If Bourbon Street is that bad on an ordinary day, I have absolutely no idea why anyone would want to go to New Orelans during Mardi Gras. It skeeves me just to think about it.


  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the food. I went to college in N’awlins. Anytime someone tells me they are planning a visit there I give them a list of must eats – chili omelets and pecan pie at Camellia Grill, barbecued shrimp at Pascal Manales, muffalettas at Central Grocery and of course beignets and cafe au laid at Cafe du Monde. And if you’re there over a weekend, brunch at Brennans should be on the agenda, too. Granted I graduated in 1979, but I think all those places are still there.

    And for music, Tipitina’s and Preservation Hall should also be sampled. You are a brave soul for visiting in August. I think New Orleans is more humid than Florida!

    I, too, am looking forward to your photographs. New Orleans is a great place for photography.


  3. rangewriter says:

    Oh I can’t wait to see the pictures. You and your camera, your feet and your tummy, killing time on Easy Street. Woohoo! And I have something for you from my most recent excursion, but I haven’t figured out how to put it together yet. 🙂


  4. BrainRants says:

    Exactly as I experienced N.O. I want to go back someday, mainly for the jazz bars, Hurricanes, and all that awesome seafood, mainly fried. However, never ate more oysters on the halfshell in my life than my vacation in the Big Easy.


  5. Patti Kuche says:

    Now that sounds like a fun place, even with the tourists in B.S ’13. Can’t wait to see the shots!


  6. I used to live there. I bet you’re getting some great pictures. There is nothing like people watching in New Orleans.


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