Friday, 5 December 2014

Jazz, Java and...Journeys? Yeah, sure.

      Preparing to bid goodbye to this southern paradise hidden gem place, one is reflective. I'm happy to have crammed a lot into not very much time, including a lot of the aforementioned wandering the French Quarter alone.

      I followed the smell of musty paper over gumbo into one of seven (yes, I got to all of them) different used and rare bookshops within a three block radius - truly this city is magical. Thought I might snag a 1st edition Faulkner as a Christmas present, then the shopkeep informed me that The Sound and the Fury ran about $19,500.'s a picture of the case instead.

This was also delightful. Apparently booksmelling is a more pervasive issue than I previously realized.
With so much going on at street level, it's easy to forget to look up. But then you walk into the oldest continually operated (as they will continually remind you) Catholic church in North America. It's weird that so much awesome art and architecture comes from such a stupid thing. 
I sung Oh Happy Day. Alexander Black indeed.
Saw an awesome gospel choir as well (And I can guarandamntee these guys did not come from a Catholic background, but whatevs). Miss Betty Winn and One-a-Chord! Took this snap as I was leaving; I was right up front for the performance, which can be awfully intimidating when the lady looks directly at you and says "Get up and put your hands together!"

       Tuesday saw us on an enlightening swamp tour. It's worth nothing that we're down here for an unusually warm week during December, so we got to see a bit more than is common as far as alligator movement. Apparently they go into a state called brumation, basically reptile hibernation, which they're normally in by now. Swamp tour company might have mentioned that before we booked...luckily for them, alligators are honey badgers in regards to the weather. 

Apparently, this tree is famous.

These guys had almost no fear of humans. They waved, ate marshmallows, came right up to the boat, and played chess.


       What is it called when a domestic animal is introduced to a habitat for hunting, allowed to become feral, then gets nearly domesticated again?

Super cool is what it's called!


Even though he basically told us to take this picture, the tour guide wasn't wrong, this is a pretty cool shot. A serene and unique environment, or something. 


You catch the game last night?
Nah, dinner with the ol' lady.
       I was super stoked to hit the aquarium here, especially after missing the one in Chicago, though I think theirs is bigger and better. Still, enormous Amazon fish and otters and sharks and penguins and pythons and white gators and Dorys and jellyfish abound, and it was an awesome place, though I feel guilty and sad when I see a penguin relentlessly trying to swim through plexiglass. I could stay for hours and hours in peaceful places like that, but for the tourist talk. "Look at thaaat!" Actually I was here to check out my shoes in a new light.
It's a good song, but the male gives birth.


I can't be the only one who thought this...


      On the cemetery tour we found a whole bunch of history. It's different from most other body-stashing grounds because all of the tombs are above ground. People still say their voodoo prayers to the dead around these parts.

      The three Xs are wishes asked; the tokens (beads, red beans, books, cheese wheels, chewing gum) are thank-yous for wishes answered.


      Everything in the city is sinking, but some of the oldest graves have dropped almost their entire depth below ground.


      To give you an idea of the size of the place, I was standing in the middle and just turned around at a random spot to snap this. 


      Cool tomb, eh? Doesn't the book add the perfect, rustic, mysterious touch? I would love this picture...
      ...but the fucking book is Twilight. Seriously. 


      This lonely little corner, the only bit of the place that isn't horribly overcrowded, belongs to the Protestants. 
Lutheranism: ain't nobody got time for that. 

      Guess who this snazzy number, with its fresh white coat and adoring lipstick all over, belongs to?
I was proud to have translated the Latin on my own, at least.
      Nicholas Cage. No bullshit. It's a pyramid. How pretentious can you be? One of our group said, "his career is already in there waiting for him."

Blasphemy: it's what's for dinner!


      Street artists were everywhere on my French Quarter meanderings, some very good, some not so much, but with the shit tonne of art galleries around here, the creative spirit is very much alive on canvas...

      ...and in music. It doesn't seem fair  that so much talent is concentrated in such a small area. I could have blown my entire budget just tipping awesome street artists before I ever bought a coffee in a dive, or got to Preservation Hall. These guys were my favourite, had to cop the CD. Some intense ass freestyling.

      On a couple different recommendations, checked out Preservation Hall. I'm standing at the very back of the room in this picture; "Hall" might be a bit misleading. Still, it was my favourite experience from the entire trip, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is second to none.

      Whenever I come somewhere new, I think, "could I live here?"


  1. No harsh winter.
  2. Bountiful, rich local coffee culture. Spitfire Coffee wins out as the best place I found all trip, despite (because of?) being roughly the size of a closet.
  3. Much of the area, including the French Quarter is low. Not many buildings over three stories, and most are two. One doesn't feel contained by towering buildings, like downtown Toronto or Chicago.
  4. Jazz on Jazz on Jazz! Errywhurr! Other music, too. Saw some great acts at random dives.
  5. There is still very much a collaborative public sense of rebuilding and rebirth after Katrina. Plus I think people are just friendlier in general - perhaps the mentality that grows up when a place is a tourist attraction. Here, you meet eyes with a stranger, any age, colour, or gender, and smile; maybe one in twenty doesn't smile back. At home, the stock response to eye contact is "THE FUCK YOU LOOKING AT?!"
  6. Cajun/creole cooking is...just wonderful.
  7. A lot of history.
  8. Potential to bump into Anne Rice.
  9. People keep paying for my meals. 
  1. No harsh winter
  2. A dearth of fresh vegetables, both at stores and restaurants. Confused me, for a port city. Perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places?
  3. Crowds and crowds and crowds
  5. No Naples Pizza, Acapulco Delight, Shawarma Palace, Pho Xic Lo, Gyros and More...Windsor is culinarily spoiled, and I'm okay with that.*
  6. It's December, and I'm sitting on a porch sweating. Summer would kill me.
  7. A lot of erroneous history...shit, I thought people in Detroit were confused about 1812.
  8. Potential to bump into Channing Tatum or Nicholas Cage.
  9. I don't think people would keep paying for my meals.
  10. Booze in public, at all hours = All my friends would be dead. 
      I think #s 1,2 and 5 on the Contra list are enough to keep me home, for now anyway. I'll have to be content with Starbucks and jazz on CD. Either way, a lovely experience, and I'm sure I will be back someday.

      *Addendum: just took a stroll for a lovely, normal-ass breakfast and passed four different Vietnamese restaurants. They're probably not as good as Pho Xic Lo, but at least I wouldn't go hungry.

      I'm gonna eat the shit out of some kale when I get home.

Me writing this post.

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