Wednesday – April 3rd
Travel Day has arrived. This will be trip number nine to my spiritual home – New Orleans. A trip that I can’t afford (money wise). I procrastinated for many months on whether to go or not. I guess, it being the 50th Anniversary of Jazz Fest finally swayed me in the affirmative. Truth be known I didn’t need a whole lot of swaying. I am so grateful to Wendy having some inkling of why I go, she is herself a lover of New Orleans and the many friends she has made in the Crescent City.
We are up at 5:45 for the thirty minute drive to Tullamarine. I
must admit that the check-in process and customs check are way better
that my first trip in 2010. Withing ten minutes I am through
security. A world record indeed.
Now for those that have read my blogs in the past, I thank you for
your patience IE. my bad grammar. A Technical School education will
do that. However, this year I have taken the time to re-read the
book—Collins Complete Writing Guide (the Dictionary people)
and feel, that this year, a Pulitzer Prize may be in the offering. To
all my teacher friends, please feel free to send in a daily report!
To be honest, I am still very vague on correct punctuation. Do any of
you out there remember this aid to writing?
little words we often see,
like a, an and the.
the name of anything.
school or garden,
hoop or string.
tells the kind of noon,
great, small, pretty, white or brown.
of nouns the Pronouns
head, his face, my arm, your hand.
tell of something being done,
read, write, count, sing, jump or run.
things are done, the Adverbs
slowly, quickly, ill or well.
noun, as in a room, or
through a door.
join nouns together,
boy or girl, wind and weather.
Oh! How charming. Ah’ How wise!
whole are called ‘Nine Parts of Speech’,
reading, writing and speaking teach. ‘ Collins Complete
time for my flight will be 9 am and take off at 10 am. I must say I
am a little more nervous about the flight this time around due to the
recent aircraft disasters. I booked through Webjet and opted for
American Airlines although for the Melbourne to Los Angles leg of the
journey I will be flying with their equity partner Qantas. We
departed on time. I took pot-luck with the seating arrangements and
am in a window seat, something I have always tried to avoid. I must
admit that I now prefer the window seat as it gives you an
oppurtunity to lean on something to sleep.
all you travelers know, airline food is goddamn awful. Qantas
excelled today. The Beef Brisket was more than awful. Beef Brisket,
my arse, more like beef brick!
tried a different tack this time around and decided not to watch
movie after movie and finish up with eyes as dry as a ‘dead dingoes
donger.’ I listened to ten hours of music straight, including an
album by the Australian artist, Mojo Ju Ju. What a fantastic album’
her names suggests ‘the Blues’ but that could not be further from
flight was nice and smooth and with a prevailing tail-wind we landed
in L.A. some thirty minutes early at 5:30 am. I flew through the U.S.
Border Patrol security checks and custom largely due to the entry
checks all being stream-lined.
I have a 4 hour plus stop-over. It is only 6:30 am local time and I
am hungry and decided on a breakfast Burrito. I am so tired. Long
distance flights are not getting any easier. My left leg is giving
me hell, knee, foot and now Achilles are stopping me from trying to
catch a bit of shut-eye.
I am lucky as my flight leaves on time and we are off for the 3 hour
plus flight to NEW ORLEANS. I have a window seat again which afforded
a great view of the Sierra Nevada’s as we banked out of L.A. and
started our accent to our 30,000 feet cruising height. A note to the
reader. I am going to keep all measurements in American as I still
can’t get my head around Metrics.
had another tail-wind and so reached New Orleans 30 minutes early. I
had a fantastic view of Lake Pontchartrain as we descended into
very good friend, Pat, messaged me a few weeks back and offered to
pick me up at the airport for the 30 minute drive to my Crib in the
Eleven Hundred block of the infamous Bourbon Street. Mickey was
waiting out front of the apartment, my Landlord and friend, William,
came out to welcome me home. William is resplendent in his Aboriginal
motif t-shirt. To make me feel even more welcome he has the
Australian Flag flying proudly from the building flag-pole. I told
him that, ’the flag may attract undesirables.’
local time is 6:30 pm and after a much needed shower I headed over to
the Verti Mart for a take-out of Creole chicken, cheesy mac and
garlic potatoes. I know I would not eat it all (Wendy, Kate and
Cara), not because of the quality. More the quantity.
bed by 8 and it is good night from me.
I have also been re-reading a mighty fine book, ‘Hope & New
Orleans – A History Of Crescent City Street Names’
– Author Sally Asher. I will include extracts from the book on
some of the streets that I visit. The book is available as a Kindle
download from Amazon. The title might suggest that it would be, ‘a
dry read.’ Nothing could be further from the truth. What amazing
history this crazy city has.
Street – Bourbon Street conjures up images of amber-colored
whiskey, clear vodka, “huge-ass beers” and sugary drinks with
names that evoke both natural and unnatural disasters (hurricanes,
hand grenades and horny gators), all served in deceptively innocent
plastic cups. Neon signs line the street where twenty-four hours a
day their steady glow promises food, flesh and music.
has become world renowned as a place where inhibitions are as easily
discarded as the flyers that hawkers shove in hands promising erotic
indulgences of taste, sight and sound. Despite its legendary
hedonism, Bourbon has royal origins. The House of Bourbon was a
branch of the Capetian Dynasty and one of the most powerful sovereign
houses of Europe.99 The house descended from Louis I, the Duke of
Bourbon, and grandson of the King Louis IX of France. Like most
families, the Bourbons had their share of virtuous and sordid
characters, as well as scandal. There was even a “bastard”
bloodline that was rumored to have the “Bourbon nose” (larger and
more protruding), known as an indicator of the infamous “Bourbon
temperament”—a polite phrase for their epic sexual appetite.100
In its youth, Bourbon Street was a paragon of decorum.
bastion of sophistication was the French Opera House, located on
Toulouse with its main entrance on Bourbon. It was built in 1859 and
was an immediate landmark of the city’s cultural vitality, but in
1917, a “ghastly artistic misfortune” occurred when the opulent
structure was destroyed by fire. It could be said that the burning of
the French Opera House was an omen of the cultural combustion to
come. During the Prohibition era, agents targeted Bourbon Street.
Newspapers told frequent stories of raids where Prohibition agents
seized “wine and women,” busted in on youthful patrons enjoying a
“merry tinkling” of glasses, “cut their way to the bar” with
axes and saw one proprietor dive out of a second-story window to
avoid capture when his speakeasy was raided.101 But Prohibition could
not truly subdue Bourbon, and after it ended, the street thrived. Its
status as a hot place for drinking and revelry was only fueled by the
city’s growing tourism.
For a time,
culture and vice coexisted, but one quickly eclipsed the other. In
1954, Billy Graham called Bourbon the “middle of hell.”102
Nightclubs such as the Hotsy Totsy Club, Jazz Limited Club, Guys and
Dolls, Flamingo Club and Silver Frolics lined the streets of Bourbon.
Strippers like Delilah, Tempest Storm, Tiger Lily, Fatima, Reddi
Flame, Panther Girl and Blaze Starr removed their sequins, tulle and
satin, exposing themselves to hordes of fans on a nightly basis.
Cleanup campaigns and regular police raids occurred during the 1950s
and 1960s that dampened tourism and left some locals terrified to
even walk down Bourbon for fear of being swept up in a moral
blitzkrieg.103 Many of the clubs adopted stricter clothing
regulations after the raids and attempted to bring their dancers’
oscillations to ossification. One of the most popular dancers on
Bourbon was Miss Lilly Christine, aka “The Cat Girl,” who John J.
Grosch, the chief inspector under the district attorney, said had
“the most filthiest, most lewd and indecent performance I have ever
witnessed in my life. The purpose of her dance was purely and simply
to debauch the morals of the audience.”104 Christine worked at the
500 Club, located at the corner of Bourbon and St. Louis and owned by
Leon Prima, the brother of bandleader Louis Prima. Known for her
sensuous looks and exquisite muscle control, one columnist was awed
by Christine’s “rotating innards. This estimable girl is equipped
with revolving viscera, like a four-speed rotisserie!”105 Some
strippers were arrested multiple times for lewd conduct, but most
charges were eventually thrown out due to the “vague” obscenity
prevailed, and “natural sex orgies and unnatural sex acts” still
took place in the clubs.106 The burlesque dancers of the 1950s and
1960s seemed almost quaint by comparison to the prostitutes of the
1970s. Bourbon became known as a “Wham-Bam Babylonian” of the
flesh market. The Times-Picayune reported that the Old Absinthe House
at 240 Bourbon and Lucky Pierre’s at 735 were two of the most
notorious places for prostitution, where a few twenty-dollar bills
could buy you a cab, a room and some “company.”107 The visibility
and availability of sex was so great that feminist activist Andrea
Dworkin and one hundred others from the National Organization of
Women marched down Bourbon in 1985 chanting, “Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho;
Pornography Has Got to Go” and placing “por-NO” signs on strip
clubs.108 Still, Bourbon prevailed: strips clubs flourished, and
music and alcohol continued to flow from the backrooms to the
streets. Entering the twenty-first century, some critics argued that
Bourbon had become overrun with mass commercialism, citing the
profusion of souvenir and daiquiri stores.
the street today draws in the multitudes to enjoy the freedom to walk
with drinks in hand and window shop for sins, all on display and all
for a price. Culture still has a place on Bourbon though. It is home
to one of the most distinguished and celebrated restaurants in the
city—Galatoire’s, which opened in 1905 at 209 Bourbon and is
where locals still stand in line on a first-come, first-serve basis
for the legendary service and creative cuisine. It was a favorite
haunt of Tennessee Williams, who mentioned the restaurant in his play
A Streetcar Named Desire. Exemplifying today’s Bourbon, it is just
a few doors down from the strip club Larry Flynt’s Hustler Club.
For all its notoriety, Bourbon Street only extends thirteen blocks,
book-ended by Canal Street and Kerlerec (just past Esplanade Avenue).
The blocks closest to Canal are primarily commercial, while those
closest to Esplanade are mainly residential. To most locals, Bourbon
is like that slightly tacky, quite frequently inebriated uncle who
never ceases to embarrass everyone. Love him or hate him, he’s
still part of the family