October 12 2016
This is the start of a 2016 Trip to New Orleans…a trip from 2010 follows.
A few days of just walking around.
I met Richard at the airport – we taxied in to town stopping off to pick up a case of wine(!) one of Richard’s friends had sent, which was a great treat to have bottles of good wine always at hand.
Arriving at the rented house we found Richard’s daughter Annalee, Richard’s brother Rob and Rob’s son Sean. It’s a house full of delightful Fannans and me.
And my first oyster po’boy of the trip from Verti Marte down the street.
…where we got to hear Antoine Diel, a killer cutie for sure.
The Spotted Cat is a pretty down home-everybody stands, funky kind of place and Antoine and his fabulous band made me smile 100% of the time. We saw him again at an upscale hotel bar with a different set of players and I still loved every minute but its The Spotted Cat guy I’ll want to see again.
Wiki: “Louis Armstrong Park is .. located in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter.
“In the 1960s a controversial urban renewal project leveled a substantial portion of the Tremé neighborhood adjacent to Congo Square. After a decade of debate, the City created the present-day park from that land. This park was designed by New Orleans architect Robin Riley and was named after New Orleans-born Jazz legend Louis Armstrong.
“.. The portion of the park immediately in front of the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium is the site of Congo Square, formerly known as Beauregard Square, famous for its role in the history of African American music and spiritual practice.”
What the sign says: “Congo Park is in the vicinity of a spot which Houmas Indians used before the arrival of the French for celebrating their annual corn harvest and was considered sacred ground.
“The gathering of enslaved African vendors in Congo Square originated as early as the late 1740s .. By 1803 Congo Square had become famous for the gatherings of enslaved Africans who drummed, danced, sang, and traded on Sunday afternoons.
“..These African cultural expressions gradually developed into Mardi Gras Indian traditions, the Second line, and eventually New Orleans jazz and rhythm and blues.”
The St Louis Cathedral.
From Lonely Planet: “One of the best examples of French architecture in the country, this triple-spired cathedral is dedicated to Louis IX, the French king sainted in 1297; it’s a most innocuous bit of Gallic heritage in the heart of an American city. In addition to hosting black, white and Creole Catholic congregants, St Louis has also attracted those who, in the best New Orleanian tradition, mix their influences, such as voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
“The present cathedral was dedicated on Christmas Eve, 1794, and awarded the rank of minor basilica by Pope Paul VI in 1964.”
We stopped off at Hotel Monteleone, at the Carousel Bar, where this delightful wedding party invited us to join them so we could get a good view of Mr Cutie himself, Antoine Diel, who was playing here with an entirely different band.
We did all this on foot too. So much walking my step-meter couldn’t go that high.
From the spiral staircase to the second and third floors of our house looking into the living room, a not-yet-ready to leave lay-about. The perfectly comfortable dining area and kitchen would be behind me.
Annalee and I each had our own bedroom And our own bathroom while the boys slept dorm-style on the third floor and shared a bathroom. And air-conditioning! Returning from the outside into the inside was always a rush of welcome cool air. I was happy with this house.
Then we walked (and might I add again that we were walking Fast…or is it that I walk slow?) through the Warehouse District, through the Bywater, to a heritage breakfast place where the specialty was praline bacon and I had an entire order plus cheesy grits for my breakfast, a memorable meal for sure.
In the distance in the upper left is the Crescent City Connection, the bridge previously know as the Greater New Orleans Bridge, construction beginning in 1954 when I was already seven so how is it old? I think not.
October 19 and 20 2010
I tend to be disoriented when thinking about New Orleans. I’ve always got her sitting on the Gulf when actually that big body of water you see in all the tourist maps is to the north and it’s Lake Pontchartrain, a place we can all pronounce now since Katrina hit.
The commerce is mostly run on the Mississippi river which ends in the Gulf of Mexico many miles away.
On October 17th the power cord to my computer shorted out. oh NO, you Know I’m not going to be able to last very happily without my computer.
So when I arrived in New Orleans instead of going into town I took a taxi to the nearest Best Buy, paid a not-so-small fortune to get a power cord, and then took the bus…
The trolley started at a huge cemetery part of town. All the graves are above ground and all the monuments are huge to go with the whole theme of huge.
It was hot though, with the sun overhead so I didn’t roam around inside the cemeteries. I did have to take this picture. Odd Fellow’s Rest. Sounds like a fine place to be.
I went out for a neighborhood dinner just two blocks from the apartment. The meal was delicious, no surprise there. The restaurant was called Ports of Call, there was a big fish tank, they had fish on the wall, and on the menu – three burgers, three steaks, all with baked potato, and that’s it for choices. You could choose to get cheese or mushrooms on your meat or your potato.
Their most popular beverage was a Monsoon. Like a Hurricane they said, only better. People were coming through the whole time I was there ordering a Monsoon or two or three To Go. That’s right, in New Orleans you can order your booze To Go and drinking on the street is entirely legal.
I’m not a big night time wanderer especially in areas that aren’t busy. So I didn’t wander, I just walked to dinner. Here are some pictures from that short stroll.
As noted by many: The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.
It was oddly bright inside for a cathedral and then I realized it’s all painted white and there are many clear glass windows surrounding the balcony.
See the statue of the horseman. It’s Andrew Jackson centered in its place in Jackson Square. The inscription reads “The Union Must And Shall Be Preserved”. Not what I expected to read!
I walked on through the tourist stops in this area including Jackson Square and the French Market. I also walked by the casino, the River Walk, the aquarium, and plenty more. Oh man did I enjoy my late lunch of a cup of gumbo, an oyster po’boy, and a perfect draft beer.
This is the last authentic steamboat that tours the Mississippi (they say). It’s a two hour ride so you don’t get far but maybe on a hot day it’s a good way to catch a breeze.
Here’s another map so you can be reminded of the Katrina floods.
Today I walked from the French Quarter west, following the river through the Quarter, the Warehouse & Arts district, and through the Garden district heading into Uptown. All of these neighborhoods stayed dry. I’m going to try to make it to a flooded area in the morning before catching my late afternoon flight back to Florida.
This is the outside of the place where I’m staying in the 1300 block of Burgundy Street. The first time I said I was staying on BURgundy Street the person I was talking to looked confused and then said, oh yeah, BurGUNdy Street.
I was on a trolley today talking to the driver to see where I should get off and about one thing and another. ‘You’re not from around here, are you?’ asks the driver. ‘Right, I’m not from around here’ I reply. ‘But how do you know’ says he, ‘to say BurGUNdy?’. It’s like how you say Burgundy Street is a code, for being from ‘around here’ and being from ‘somewhere else’.
There are tons of rainbow flags around the Quarter (and I didn’t see one anywhere else) not yet rivaling the Castro or West Hollywood but still there’s a very present gay community.
And as many rainbow flags and as many American flags, there are twice as many New Orleans Saints flags. This town LOOOVES them some Saints.
Traveling through the Garden district, and remembering that it was not flooded, still there are many buildings in such bad shape I can’t imagine any chance for their repair.
I’m sure there are some serious zoning rules for the historic areas – like the size of a phone book, when a phone book was the size of a phone book. Kids today, they don’t know about a real phone book.
My last day in New Orleans when I spent the morning walking through a small section of the flood zone, the flood zone being basically everywhere north and north-east of the traditional tourist area by the river.
I’m so glad I did it but not because I have such happy news to report. I’m thinking it’s a story to tell with statistics. I’m leaving my opinions mostly out of this because I can’t think of how to express them cogently anyway, and I don’t even have statistics to share.
The picture on the left is from 2005, of the neighborhood I walked around. The pictures on the right are of the Ninth Ward where I did not walk, the bottom is from 2006 and the top is from 2010.
photos from the Sacrament Bee
For a mile or two around it was all like this. Abandoned and ruined commercial and residential buildings, empty lots, the occasional home patched up and painted.
I can’t imagine what would be required, how it could happen, to bring this community back to life. And not that all of New Orleans was in such fabulous shape before the floods.
I can’t imagine I think because of my own lack of imagination but I hope someone else can! I will add my thought that rebuilding a city below sea level strikes me as obviously imprudent. So then what?