Day Fifteen

Day 15 – April 20

Straight off, I bought me a through train ticket,
Ridin’ cross Mississippi clean
And I was on that midnight flyer out of Birmingham
Smoking into New Orleans. – Promised Land – Chuck Berry

Blue Nile

Mickey has gone off for another NCIS shoot. William is getting ready to walk his dogs. He has left me with the key for the apartment next door in case the new tenants arrive while he is away.

We walked around to Frenchman to the Louisiana Music Factory where WWOZ has an information counter. I want to pick up our Brass Passes for Jazz Fest. The Brass Pass gets you into each of the seven days of the Fest plus gets you access to the WWOZ hospitality tent where you can relax and avail yourself of the free iced coffee and fruit salad. Opps I forgot you have to pick up the passes at the radio station itself.

Kate and Wendy have gone over to the nearby Electric Ladyland where Kate wants to get a tattoo. Bad luck for Kate as the tattoo artist has up and left for Texas without telling anyone he was going. They have taken our cell number and will call when another artist is available.

We have missed breakfast again so I decide we should go and eat at the Praline Connection which I know from the past is a fine soul food restaurant. The girls have gone for a serve of ribs with sides of potato salad and cheesy mac. Guess who is having the cheesy mac. I am pretty sure that neither of them will be able to eat all their ribs. I went for two starters instead of an entree (don’t get confused as an entree is the main meal). I ordered BBQ oysters (that is pronounced ersters) and spicy chicken wings. The ersetrs came out swimming in a very tasty sauce with four pieces of bread for dipping. I got six pieces of chicken. Kate asked me after the first bite of chicken if it was hot. ‘No’, i said. I spoke a little to quickly on that as after the second bite I was on fire. The chicken was fanatasticly finger lickin’ good. I went through 6 paper napkins for my hands and two root beers to help put out the fire. I was real proud of Kate, after yesterday weakening and going to Maccas, today she has eaten corn bread and liked it. I was right the girls only managed to eat half the ribs and we have to get another doggie bag.

Williams came in to have a chat. When we went into the Microsoft store yesterday he was looking at a new HP tablet. He bought in his old Nexus Tablet as I told him I would have a look at the specs for him to see if he really needed to upgrade. Of course we had a couple of ciders to help the process. W chatted for an hour about all sorts of things and I tried to explain our political process. He was very surprised when I told him that the Queen of England had the power to dismiss our government. It sounded ridiculous when explaining it to William and it looks ridiculous when I am writing this down. Bring on our Republic I say. Long may the King reign (Elvis that is – for more on Elvis see tomorrows blog).

Cheryl and her crew from California have arrived and it is good catching up with them all. They have been coming down for Jazz Fest for over 10 years and always stay in the apartment next to us.

We left at 4:30 for the walk down to Lafayette Park for the free music in the park. We will meet up with Carol and Stew. We got there just after the music started with the support act being Alexis & the Samurai. Caught up with Carol and Stew and spotted a few Aussies that are in town as part of the Brian Wise tour group including Ann who comes to our Way Out West gigs.

The main act for the night is the Honey Island Swamp Band a real favourite of Ian Fraser and me for that matter Great set as always. I spoke to the singer from the first band as I noticed he had a tattoo of the world wrapped around his bicep. Asked him if Australia was part of the tattoo and he said yep and showed me, even had Tassie and New Zealand featured,
I got a beer and was walking back to where the girls where when I heard a voice call out Rob (in a southern accent). Turned around and it was the actor Rob (forgot his last name) who was in the Treme series and the film 12 Year a Slave. He wanted to welcome me back to N.O. and came over to say hello to Wendy and Kate. Kate went over to one of the artists stalls and bought a collar for our pup Gumbo. He will look resplendent in his Fleur Dis Lis collar. The free Wednesday night concert series which is held during Spring is always a lot of fun. Lots of locals, families, eccentrics, dogs and party goers in general. Blankets and picnics and just a hint of the herb in the air. The Honey Island Swamp Band rocked and Ivan Neville also jumped up for a couple of songs on the Hammond.

We also ran into Ken Gilmore and Lisa and a few newbies to N.O. who are also with the Brain Wise tour.
We left with Carol and Stew just as the band were finishing up to go over to Mona’s on Frenchman for a gyro. Always good Lebanese food here.

After our meal Stew said we should check in for a beer at the nearby Blue Nile. Stew knows the bouncer and we get let in and then notice that we have gate crashed a private wedding. Well this is New Orleans and everyone is welcome. The groom is dressed in a sparkling top-hat with feathers and the bride in in white in a New Orleans styled outfit. We even finished up with some wedding guest to go cups. Got to see the bride though out her bouquet. Stew then took us upstairs to another room which also hosts bands and then we spent a very pleasant half hour or so out on the balcony watching the goings and comings of the very popular Frenchman Street and its music clubs and eating houses. There is a brass band playing down on the next corner with a large crowd spilling out on to the road. What a hoot this was, watching New Orleans and its visitors out and about. Stew told me that a lot of the people are all members of the same Craft Club.  I must have looked a little confused. He said yeah, ‘Can’t Remember A Fucking Thing’. I had to write that down as I think I may be an honouree member of that very same Craft Club.

P.S. To all you grammar Nazis I  am using a U.S. spell checker ya’ll

Day Fourteen

Day 14 – April  19

Don’t remember much about my baby days,
But I been told
We used to live on Willow near the Garden District
Next to the Sugar Bowl
Momma used to wheel me past an ice cream wagon
One side for White and one side for Colored
I remember trash cans floatin’ down Canal Street
It rained every day one summer
Momma used to take me to Audubon Park
Show me the ways of the world
She said, “here comes a white boy, there goes a black one,
that one’s an octoroon
This little cookie here’s a macaroon, that big round thing’s
a red balloon
And the paper down here’s called the Picayune
And here’s a New Orleans tune – New Orleans wins the War – Randy Newman

Shop ‘til ya’ll drop

We meet William out front at 9 for the drive over to Metairie and more particularly the shopping mall. We got there around 9:30 but as most of the shops don’t open until 10 we sat down and had a coffee. The girls went off to do girlie shopping and William and I wandered around. Seen one mall seen them all I guess but never the less this one is impressive. Not as big as say Highpoint but vey clean and tastefully set out. William and I only ventured into one shop that being the Microsoft outlet. I have a Samsung Tablet which I am very happy with but I most confess that I would love to be able to afford one of the top notch Microsoft Tablets. Oh well, dream away.

After meeting up with the girls we then drove a short distance to Barnes and Noble’s. A very large bookshop of the highest quality and the section of Louisianan and New Orleans books is first class. I now have even more books to add to my library. I have an insatiable thirst for learning as much as I can about this unique city. The more I learn confirms my love of this place. Although as always it can be bad assed. There have been a number of armed robberies in recent days in the Marigney, not far from where we stayed for the first four days of our trip. You just need to be vigilant. As a tourist walking at night you gotta stay on the main streets. Don’t go walking in dark neighbourhood areas as you are courting danger. The perpetrators will get caught shortly and be locked away. Justice is swift here.

Williams needed to make groceries so we drove down to the Win Dixie (think Coles Supermarket). In fact there was very similar signage to Coles plus the staff were dressed in similar colours. It was shortly after that I noticed advertising with Curtis Stone’s face ‘meals under $10’. Even had notices saying ‘prices are down’. Even giving that our dollar is well short of the US$ the price of food and groceries is a lot less than we pay back at home.

We got back home after 2 and are very thankful to William for taking us out to see a different part of New Orleans.
Tonight we are staying in as Mickey should be on the NCIS N.O. episode. It is cool being able to recognise so many of the locations in the show. We didn’t see Mickey but we tried real hard. It was weird trying to look at characters in the background and not concentrate on the main actors.

I went down to the local Verti Mart and got me a Creole Chicken and Cheesy Chilli Fries. Another great day in New Orleans.

I have said it before and I will say it again. When you make friends with locals they absolutely go out of their way to make you feel welcome and are proud to show off their city. We have some real good friends here. Pat and Gentilly Jnr., Stew and Carol, William and Mickey and the crew at Iggy’s, Big Dave, Little Dave, Ed, Mike and many more whose names I can’t remember. All the unknown people that just greet you with a good morning, a how ya’ll doing or a simple nod of the head.

Thanks to you all for making us feel so welcome.

Day Thirteen

Day 13 – April 18

I met him in a cell in New Orleans I was down and out.
He looked at me to be the eyes of age as he spoke right out.
He talked of life, talked of life, laughed slapped his leg a step. Mr Bojangles – Jerry Jeff Walker

The Rowe’s Get Cultured

Up early for a change and it looks like a nice day with the sun breaking through the clouds at long last.

Mickey has had a call from the casting company for NCIS N.O. and he will be a hostage in an episode to be filmed tomorrow. Mickey has had bit parts in 10 episodes of series two. William has very kindly made a time for tomorrow morning to drive us over to Metairie so the girls can go shopping at the mall.

Lunch today is to be at Mother’s on Poydras Street which is a good half hour walk through the Quarter then over Canal Street and down into the Warehouse District. I have eaten at Mother’s before and they are world renown for their Po Boys. I wanted to get there before noon as it is very popular with the local business people. We got in around 11:45 and the girls were a little confused with the ordering system. As soon as you walk in you are handed a menu at the door and then directed to line up for the cashier. The idea is you select what you want as you get closer to the cashier. It was easy for me as I knew I wanted a Roast Beef Debris Po Boy but the girls felt rushed. Being a Monday Wendy has gone for Red Beans & Rice and Kate just wants a drink. Once you have paid for the meals you sit at a table with your receipt. A waitress then comes by and fills your order. The walls are adorned with photos of locals and celebrities who have dines at Mothers. Bit of a fluke that we sat at a table where Kate spied a signed photo of Steve and Terri Irwin, the establishment has now been given her stamp of approval.. I was more impressed with the signed B.B.King and Dr. John photos. I am glad I only order the small Po Boy as I could manage to eat half only’

We continued walking away from the Quarter as I want to go to the Civil War Museum which is across from the very impressive World War Two Museum. I should have known better that on Mondays many of the smaller museums are closed. Bugger, but all is not lost as a few doors down it the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. I have always wanted to visit this place but it took some convincing of Kate. Of particular interest to me was the photos of Louisiana for the period 1865 – 1945. I thought I heard Kate mutter that she was back on a school excursion! Then she got confused, thinking a normal table was a piece of art. The exhibition that really took my fancy was the surreal sculptures of New Orleans native Arthur Kern. His work is worth checking out.
I also picked up a fantastic book at the gift shop entitled ‘Unfathomable City – A New Orleans Atlas’ to add to my (if I do say so myself) impressive library of Louisiana/New Orleans books back home.

We got back to Canal Street around 2 and Kate has decided that she needs a Maccas fix. Oh well she has been trying different foods over the last couple of weeks so I guess I can let here fall off the wagon just this once.
We walked past Cafe Beignet (after Maccas) on Royal Street and just had to call in to see if their beignets are as good as Cafe Du Monde. They were!

Wendy is leaving Kate and I to our own devices tonight as Pat is picking Wendy up just before six for a girls night out. I am sure my ears will be burring at some stage later in the night. Pat being a local knows all the great spots to dine out and Wendy told us that she had a great time at the classy Bacchanal Fine Wine and Spirits. By the way Bacchanal means ‘an occasion of wild & drunken revelry. I can see why a puritan like me was not invited. Wendy was very impressed. You select from the refrigerators a bottle of wine, salami and your cheese of choice. Then hand over you supplies to the staff who then bring them back to your table on a wooden board with added goodies such as olives and dips. Plus there is live music. Very civilised indeed.