The diaries: New Orleans’ Saints
Have been increasingly discomforted by mugginess and lack of a proper shower. Have also begun, despite all my initial hate of the idea, tying my hair with an elastic band since Natchez. (Add to that: Got murdered by mosquitoes and other kinds of wild river-bugs over there, a necklace of red sores.)
Actually asked this guy in the Bayou area (not proper use of expression) if I could use his hose to rinse off.
“You wanna hose that little fag pussy of yours?” etc.
Am spending nearly entire first day in New Orleans in Community Coffee house (French Vieux Carre, bien sur. Sounds stupid, but. Do what you gotta do. I already like it, know I’ll find myself some time. Thanks to long drives over last days, I can now relax a bit on my way to Dallas (I’ll explain after).
Heteroclite, heteroclite is the word.
Walk to Louis Armonstrong (local hero) Park. In construction. Rinse by water jet. Eat breakfast at real authentic diner, on other side of Canal street, downtown area. Will ride streetcar today. Have more work to catch up. Plan to go to Spotted Cat tomorrow evening to see musician-writer I met at coffee house play. Also would like to drive down to Gulf beaches.
Have I “lost” it? I feel so very dry. Again I have wasted a lot of the day in an attempt to get some computer work done, to no avail. I haven’t taken pictures for a long time it feels like. The video I’m working on isn’t turning out right, and I can’t find the patience to edit the few decent pics I have. This diary strikes as a waste of life.
I come to sit at a court, enjoy my first drink here (no kidding!), as soon as I order, the jazz band stops.
The city is so colorful, lively, and yet I have nothing better to do than walk up and down Bourbon street. Must ride streetcars all day tomorrow, in hope of getting a better feel for this place, possibly visit a museum of interest.
Met Kelly at the convention Center, where the Rotary International Convention was held. Former photographer, now painter / quilter, does volunteer work, tells me about a super-biker race that might interest G.
Lafitte Blacksmith Hurricane hitting the spot, was better than the fake mint Julep at the court. Always helps to watch the bartender as she pours the drink.
Visited the oldest cathedral in the USA this morning, only makes sense to get a drink at the oldest bar in the USA in the evening (since 1772).
A lady tugging a dog with a pink ribbon in a metallic baby carriage from what seems to be the 1950s just came in. I don’t take a picture, although everybody does. I like the ordinary a bit too much, whereas ‘good’ photos often depict the incongruous, that atypical snapshot of life, which is why they’re considered striking.
Possibly one of the biggest thunderstorms of the year, or so it seems as the fist-sized drops batter the windshield. I’m stuck in the car. Was just a few minutes from making it to the spotted cat for the concert.
With some luck, the rain will be as heavy as it is short-lived. For half hour before the downpour, an inordinately long time, the sky was dry and strewn with picturesque lightning bolts, ranging the gamut from the cartoon ‘Z’ to the full peripheral illumination. So this may last a while. A mistake it was to return then.
The last two hours have been full of stories, so this forced repose will give me the opportunity to reflect upon the latest.
The day started uneventfully. I awoke sweaty as ever from having had to wrap into the sheet, because a neat swarm of mosquitoes were buzzing all around. Walked to the diner where I ate yesterday, because I liked it, its feel, even to the point of appreciating the relative unfriendliness of some of the workers (the manager), surely due to my un-belonging there.
Also because I figured what I want for the New Orleans Road Reel and needed some shots. And because the food was good and cheap. Manager nicer today. The portion of grits larger (plus one egg sunny side up and two slices of buttered bread, toasted). Then took a few paces ‘downtown’ – meaning among the ugly financial skyscrapers that nobody in the city really wants to hang around of, and by chance stumbled into the green streetcar on its way out.
Rode it and into the garden district, discovering with amazement a whole neighborhood of houses exquisitely southernly beautiful, adorned with fountains, columns, vast balconies, Jags and Porsches, the whole Tra-la-la.
Hundreds of colored bead necklaces swoop from the trees, electric wires and streetcar signs. The Parade walks down this street.
- The rain is still waterfalling unabated, twenty or thirty minutes in, the view through the windshield looks like an impressionistic painting. Or like looking at a view that’s at the bottom of a swimming pool.
A few daredevils skip past on the sidewalk. A soaked girl with an absolutely useless umbrella actually walks by with a smile. That’s nice.
Get to the end of the line, step out instead of simply taking the next streetcar back, as many tourists do (the streetcar is from the 1940s or 1950s, and is both a popular tourist attraction and the most effective way to visit some of the city’s must-see districts).
Step into Café de la Course, something like that, stylish coffee house with high ceilings, although I’m getting increasingly frustrated by the time I spend in these places and the fact that they’re only frequented by the same kind of people – nothing against this ‘kind’ of people, simply am somewhat opposed to the idea of a comfortable routine.
Anyway, get some work done, walk out and retrace some steps, along the canal and then to the zoo. Pretty and peaceful. Sit down and relax, it’s a beautiful day.
- Finally I can see through the windshield, although it is not yet time But there is perhaps hope I will catch some of the music. Aha, have spoken too soon. –
From Loyola ride the streetcar back, get some footage. Then walk around Canal street, vieux carre, River side market. Am unsure what to do. The afternoon is barely getting old. End up deciding on trying one of the other streetcars (there are three, turned out I picked the right two). Red, enclosed windows – the quaint charm of the past.
This is where it gets interesting.
Go through areas that are more modest, one might be tempted to say derelict, but only in contrast with the exaggerated gorgeousness of the Garden houses. Just as the streetcar comes to its last stop, the famed cemeteries of NO, it starts raining. The cemeteries are closed anyway. I ride the streetcar back along with the other stranded tourists.
I meet Wade and his wife, who do work at Rotary International. We talk.
When we part downtown, the rain is still pouring. Soon as I cross the street a mid-aged woman, blonde with curly hair, approaches me with eyes red and mushy.
She’s cried her eyes out and is still crying.
“Can you help me find a cab?”
Of course. I make out something about her husband leaving her. I’m not sure whether she’s saying she’s separated from her husband, or whether she lost him in the crowd, or what. At first I wonder if she’s drunk. Finally figure out she’s distraught, highly emotional though I have no idea why, something to do with her separated husband.
Simply put, she’s a mess. A watery mess, and the rain isn’t helping.
Never been very good at these situations. Don t know if it’s because of ice-heart or simply inability to understand how to make people feel better. Considering this track record I did a pretty good job.
“Le Pavillon, that’s all I know. It’s my hotel.”
I tell her to wait under the eave of the building, so as not to get any wetter. Walk in the middle of the road, trying to hail a cab. None are taken. A cabbie hands me a card with a number to call.
“Do you have a phone? Nevermind, I’ll call them.”
She needs the assistance at this point.
“Hey, I was wondering if you could send a ca… wait, would you know the address of the hotel called le Pavillon?”
I have a hunch it’s probably close by, no point waiting here for nothing. The woman on the phone isn’t helpful. Says she doesn’t understand.
“Le Pavillion. Le Pavillion.”
“Can’t hear what you’re saying.” Le fu-cking Pa-vi-llion. Hang up. And no cabs. It’s still raining, but gently.
“Look, there’s the Marriott right there, I bet they’ll know, are you OK to walk there?”
“He thought I said something about his daughter, and he got mad.”
“Have you been together for long?”
“We just got married.” Jerk.
“When did you get in? have you been here for a few days?”
“No, we just got here.”
“Did you drive here?”
“We took a boat.”
“So you were on a cruise for your honeymoon and he left you?” Big jerk.
“Look, we’ll find your hotel and I’m sure he’ll be back in no time and will feel sorry.”
“No he won’t.”
“Look, he’s the one who got angry, you did nothing wrong, you have nothing to feel bad about.”
“But I do, I feel terrible.”
“Well, you said nothing wrong about his daughter, right?”
“So there’s nothing to feel bad about, right?”
“I suppose I shouldn’t.”
She smiles a bit.
I’m glad I got her to say that. To think that. Who knows how this will play out in her future? Inception.
By then I’ve formed a better picture of her, and especially her newly wed husband. However wrong I may be, I imagine him as probably a good A-gap. Possibly quick-tempered, brashly impulsive. Macho, likes to treat his women like dirt, and to see them come back slugging on their knees – literally – for more. A man who’s ready to leave his newly wed wife, who’s evidently a sweet, perhaps slightly helpless, woman, to cry out alone in the streets of an unknown city, on their honeymoon.
“You’ll be at your hotel in no time, and when he gets back you can talk it out and it’ll be alright.”
I leave her in good hands at the Marriott. The bell guy looks OK. Wave at her, them. Bye. Until then.
As I walk, there’s a feeling that’s not quite right, but not quite wrong either:
Man, it’s been a while.