Tuesday – April 22nd
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“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances. ” ― Maya Angelou
First thing this morning I have domestic duties and I headed the few doors down to Sud Dem Duds to do my washing. I recognize a few of the faces as locals and the owner of the laundry greets me as a local.
I have 30 minutes to kill and it is only a block further down Bourbon to the world famous Clover Grill. The grill is a 24 hour breakfast and hamburger shop. And has been seen in many films including the Curious Case of Benjamin Button. While it only seats 30 people at the most it is worth a visit if you are in town, you are bound to see a mixture of tourists and exotic locals’. You have to be very over the top gay to work behind the counter. They can break into song at any campy moment. Cheap food and entertainment guaranteed.
After picking up the washing I headed off for a long walk through the Quarter and over Canal and then down St Charles. My destination is the Fed Ex store where I can get a copy of my now signed Little Freddie King photo. I say mine but Wendy really took the said photo. The local Walgreen stores can reproduce photos but they did not have a scanner big enough for this particular shot. The lady looked at the photo and asked me if I had permission to copy it. I said I owned the photo and I had to fill in a copyright notice to say I was not ripping of someone else’s work. I have to come back at 4P.M. to collect the copy.
It is getting hot and humid and I was sweating pretty badly by the time I got back. My old neighbours were leaving and a new couple and their son were moving in for a one-night stay. They remembered me from last year, Brad his partner Ginger and young son Zack. I should have known their names as well as they are etched in the banquet (French for sidewalk) at the bottom of the steps. Once we got talking it all came back to me. Brad and Ginger are dropping some art-work into a couple of local galleries. Last year they brought their pet goat with them! Their Son Zack is around 13 years of age and is a violin player. He has just been accepted to a touring youth orchestra. They are good friends with Landlord William and he invited us all out the back to his own apartment for a drink. I had not been in William’s place before and it is larger in size that my place as well as having a deep yard out back. I did not want to get tapped into an afternoon drinking session so had one beer and left. I did have an excuse as I went back to pick up the photo.
Tonight I decided to catch a Street Car down Canal to Chickie Wah Wahs’ which is a very good music club. It is only a 10 minute ride. Jon Cleary is playing a solo set from 8P.M. It is amazing to note that it was only about 3 weeks ago that I saw Jon and his band play at the Newport Sub-Station. Here I can lean against a wall a few feet from where he is sitting and watch every majestic move of his hands. I had a feed of Pot Roast Nachos (very tasty, and spicy).
After listening to Jon it was time to catch the Street Car back. We got to the corner of Rampart and stopped and had to alight. A Street Car turning onto Canal had come to a halt across the converging tracks. Its over- head connection to the cable had come loose and was tangled up across a number of lines. I could hear the driver of the stalled car radioing for help. Oh well it is only a few blocks walk to get back to Bourbon for the 15 minute walk to my apartment on the 1100 hundred block.
I have written about Bourbon St and its night life a number of times. Referring to it as a little like Kings Cross. It has a rich history and has gone through many metamorphosis. Let me walk you down its street from the start at Canal St.
Firstly Bourbon St is not named after the alcoholic beverage although you could be forgiven for that assumption. It is in fact named after the French ruling house at the time of settlement the house of Bourbon. New Orleans (La Nouvelle-Orléans). Many street names have a strong connection to the French as well as the Spanish. In fact if we wanted to be strictly correct it is Rue (French for Sreet) Bourbon. When the Spanish had control of the colony is would have been Calle D Borbon. The street numbering is interesting but once you understand it makes sense. Each block is numbered from 1 – 100 and once you cross a street you are on the next block (200) irrespective of if the last numbered property ended at say 68. Some residential down my end of town are numbered in the halves I.E. 1223½. Also not that all the streets in the Vieux Carré (French Quarter) are all alternating one way streets
Ok let us take the stroll. It being Tuesday night Bourbon is not packed but still there are many people on the streets. By the way Bourbon is not open to traffic at night. So you can walk wherever you wish. The first establishment that take your eye is the Hustler merchandise shop (your last fling before the ring). Ralph Brennen’s Red Fish Grill an upmarket seafood restaurant, a couple of oyster houses and then another up-market seafood restaurant Borbon House Seafood with its crisp white linen and napkins. On the opposite corner is the Hard Rock Café. See it is not all booze and titties.
We cross at Dauphine (this is the feminine form of “Dauphin,” the prince in line to be the king of France). Daiquiris’ and cigar a factory, Galatoirs Steak house (up-market), pizza and chicken and more oyster bars, Hustlers (yep the titties have started), t-shirt shops, Déjà Vu show girls, Willie’s chicken shack, Old Absinthe House (1807) a building with a rich history http://www.ruebourbon.com/oldabsinthehouse/ On nearly every corner you will find a lucky dogs food cart. Anyone who has read the hilarious book ‘A Confederate of Dunces’ will immediately think Ignatius!
Over Bienville (was a French colonizer, and an early, repeated governor of French Louisiana) Desire Oyster house (as you can gather oysters are plentiful and eaten in large amounts, no need for Viagra here), Arnaud’s restaurant, Music’s Legends Park with its statues of famous ‘awlins music sons (and good beignets), Royal Sonesta Hotel a classy establishment with the concierge immaculately dressed including a pith helmet, his whistle always at the ready to call in a cab for the well- heeled guests. P.J.’s coffee house (sorta Starbucks), the Temptations Gentleman’s Club, huge- ass beers, quarter punks sitting in dirty rags with cardboard pleading for spare change. Signs like ‘you know the spiel give me the cash’, ‘need $2 for pimp lessons, ‘down on my luck anything will help’. The totes at the front of the strip joints implore the young guys and gals to come in and see the titties, no cover charge, barely legal, ya’ll know ya wanna’. There is always one or two scantily clad young nubiles advertising their assets. I try to be strong but ya can’t help glancing. If a girl catches your eye you get that little wicked smile. The noise and buzz of the crowd builds, loud laughter, spilled drinks, a couple of guys with no shirts doing an impromptu pole-dance) of course not as good as our own Mr. Smith. The smell of cigars, broken sidewalks to negotiate. Venues blaring out retro rock with the tempter of two for one big-ass beers. Believe me they are big-ass.
Over Conti (named for the Prince de Conti, a member of the ruling Bourbon family of France)chicken, beer, daiquiris, the beer fest (100 beers available), Panda Bear a purveyor of sex apparel. You see the theme of Bourbon St is emerging. You need to be fed, thirst quenched, primal urges satisfied and then have somewhere to lay your head. More babes, another Hustlers’, fresh Mex grill, LipstiXX, Pier 124 steak market, hand grenades – a potent concoction served in the shape of a hand grenade with a very long neck. People stroll down the street getting the brains blown-out. Rock music clubs churning out AC/DC
Over St Loius (many streets are named after saints), Big Daddy’s world famous love acts men and women!, There is a Jesus freak with a loud hailer spreading the gospel and handing out pamphlets trying to save the backsliders (tough gig on Bourbon) further on another guy with similar loud hailer trying to get marijuana legalised. Maybe the Jesus freak and the dope freak should pool their resources? Save my soul and pass the wine/joint. The Four Points Sheraton and another rock bar advertising funky R’N’B (not likely)
Over Toulouse (named for an illegitimate son,one of many) of Louis XIV) a couple of more music bars (not real New Orleans music here) the famous Court of 2 Sisters http://www.courtoftwosisters.com/ the equally famous Irish Bar Pat O’Brien’s’ with their signature drink the Hurricane, guaranteed to get your legs shaking, duelling pianos and a real nice court-yard, Maison Bourbon dedicated to the preservation of jazz (real New Orleans music), Crazy Corner music house, more guys pole-dancing
Over St Peters, more bars and cigar shops, Bourbon Heat Grill Club, Embers Steak House, Johnny White’s Bar (foggy nights spent here) the Black Heritage Gallery
Over Orleans, more hand grenades, the Funky Pirate where Big Al Carson holds a residency and where you can hear some blues although tourist centric, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club. Marie Laveau’s Voodoo shop with potions and candles. Marie Laveau is one of New Orleans infamous Voodoo Queens of the 1800’s http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Laveau
Over St. Ann and a bit more calm sets in. More bars (some gay) residential properties and the Washing Well LaundryTeria
Over Dumaine (another illegitimate son of Loius XIV, what is interesting is the bastard sons are jammed in between streets named after Saints), Café Lafitte in Exile (gay bar) the Clover Grill (sign of good taste!), Skully Records, Gay Pride (where Wendy and I bought our Clover Grill t-shirts last year) this shop has some very interesting to say the least items for sale. All I can say is judging by the photos around the shop I would not fit into the gay community. Man they are built like donkeys! Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar very interesting history here. The longest running bar licence if the U.S. and connected to the famous pirate Jean Lafitte http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Lafitte
Over St Phillip (called Calle San Felipe in Spanish times 1762-1803), Lafitte guest house, the Post Office Emporium (blame them if you did not get a postcard) many residences and an art gallery
Over Ursulines (named after the nuns that came to the colony to save souls) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Ursulines_in_New_Orleans and now I am in my block the 1100, the Quarter Master deli open 24 hours a day and I have had many a midnight grease attack here.
The next few blocks to the Esplanade where the French Quarter ends are all taken up with homes, many painted in bright colours in the tradition of the Creoles. This is the quiet end of Bourbon. People walk down here on the way over to Frenchman and its music clubs. It is not too noisy at night and I am in a prime position
I hope you enjoyed the tour and maybe one day you will make that walk yourself (if you have already not done so)