Sleeping Beauty

Day Two – April 4th

My crib – 1123 Bourbon St.

A great city is one that handles art and garbage equally as well. Bob Talbert

It is going to be a short blog today, read on and all will be revealed.

I woke up at 5:30 feeling refreshed and ready for my first day in New Orleans. There was a lot of rain and thunder overnight. It is still raining this morning. To fill in a few hours before venturing out for breakfast I read the Age and Guardian online. Next was to complete the first day’s blog and let my Facebook friends know that I am in New Orleans.

By 9 o’clock I was hungry. Off I went and upon opening the front door and thought to myself, ‘self it is very dark outside and the street lights are on’. I put that observation down to New Orleans being different from any other city in the States.

I had only walked a few feet and had another thought, ‘it really is dark, like night dark.’ My watch is an old analogue time-piece and as far as it was concerned it was just after 9.

I turned around and head back to my crib and checked the online time. It was 9 pm! I had slept all through Wednesday night and all of Thursday. Never have I done something like this before. I know all you people from my past will put that down to scoring some good weed, but I swear Your Honor (American spelling, I know), it was not like that!

What to do now? I quick trip down to the Quarter Master for a Cheese Burger and fries, breakfast, lunch or dinner, all three I guess? I was telling the grill jockey my story, he laughed, saying, ‘welcome to New Orleans, it don’t matter the time here’.

Went back for a couple of hours of TV. and back in bed by 11 pm.

On The Road Again – Day One

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? 

Three little words we often see,

Determiners, like a, an and the.

A Noun’s the name of anything.

A school or garden, hoop or string.

An Adjective tells the kind of noon,

Like great, small, pretty, white or brown.

Instead of nouns the Pronouns stand –

John’s head, his face, my arm, your hand.

Verbs tell of something being done,

To read, write, count, sing, jump or run.

How things are done, the Adverbs tell.

Like slowly, quickly, ill or well.

A Preposition stands before

A noun, as in a room, or through a door.

Conjunctions join nouns together,

Like boy or girl, wind and weather.

The Interjection shows surprise,

Like Oh! How charming. Ah’ How wise!

The whole are called ‘Nine Parts of Speech’,

Which reading, writing and speaking teach. ‘ Collins Complete Writing Guide’

Boarding 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.

As 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!

I 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 the truth.

The 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.

Now 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.

Again, 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.

We had another tail-wind and so reached New Orleans 30 minutes early. I had a fantastic view of Lake Pontchartrain as we descended into ‘nawlins.

Our 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.’

The 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.

In bed by 8 and it is good night from me.

PS, 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.

Bourbon 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.

Bourbon Street 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.

Its premier 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 laws.

Bourbon 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.

Regardless, 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