Archives for March 2013

My Year of St. Patty’s Day, Part 3: Riding, Walking, & Scooting From Downtown


Tourists Descend On The French Quarter For The Downtown Irish Club Parade

Tourists Descend On The French Quarter For The Downtown Irish Club Parade

The Central Business District was empty as I passed through, but people were already crowded along Canal Street watching the beginning of the walking parade as I arrived. Unlike most elaborate float parades, this one was led by old men dressed in Irish garb driving dune buggies–very odd.  Behind them, revelers mostly walked and there were large gaps in the procession typically not seen in motorized parades. The straggling may have been caused by the fact that stops at local bars were listed along the official parade route. Now that’s Irish!

Add Your Own Caption To This One?!

Add Your Own Caption To This One?!

I walked over to Decatur where the unbroken chain of onlookers were calling out with outstretched hands for green and white beads. Many of the walkers wore tuxedos, a trend I’d encountered in the Irish Channel but have yet to figure out, while others eschewed formal wear for costumes, most notably a [Read more…]

My Year Of St. Patty’s Day, Part 2: Irish Channel Redo & Irish House Bubble & Squeak Stew


Lock & Reload: By Mid Afternoon I Was Ready to Rejoin the St. Patty's Party

Lock & Reload:
By Mid Afternoon I Was Ready to Rejoin the St. Patty’s Party

My Mardi Gras ailment had run smack into allergy season which, driving back and forth between Jacksonville and New Orleans, was compounded by completely different pollen potions. On February 9th the health insurance from my old job had terminated. On February 10th I had awoken sick, struggling on and off ever since. My religious notions are based more on irony and coincidence than faith. Some greater consciousness with a sadistic sense of humor seems to be pulling the strings, for such ironic juxtaposition occurs much too frequently in my life to dismiss as random chance.

On Thursday I had finally visited a Walgreens clinic to throw cash at a Nurse Practitioner for an Rx of ‘cheap’ antibiotics. I hadn’t been deathly ill since just after Mardi Gras but couldn’t shake ebbing and flowing congestion as well as bouts of achy exhaustion once or twice a week. I only mention this because March 17th was not only  St. Patrick’s Day–the climax of four days of celebration–but also ‘Super Sunday’ for Mardi Gras Indians–the one day when they all converge in daylight to show off their costumes and march together. My antibiotics apparently hadn’t worked their magic yet, however, and I woke up once again feeling spent. Instead of chasing Indians and leprechauns, [Read more…]

My Year of St. Patty’s Day Part 1: From Red Stick To Irish Channel


Me With the Tusas At Their Home for The Baton Rouge St. Patrick's Day Parade

Me With the Tusas At Their Home for The Baton Rouge St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Having detoured around an accident, I arrived in Baton Rouge late Friday night where I’d been invited to attend the parade Saturday morning at the home of Dirty Little Angels author Chris Tusa and his wife Pam. I still miss those late-night, heavy conversations from my days in academia and Chris and I immediately dove into formidable quandaries of art, politics, life and literature, pontificating until after 3 a.m. The only downside of this verbal rambling was that, unbeknownst to me, Baton Rouge is an early party town. The parade that would pass by their front yard began at 10 a.m., so guests were already arriving 8 a.m., reluctantly rousing me. I guiltily yet groggily rolled out of bed searching desperately for coffee.

Waiting for the Parade

The Parade Finally Arrives

As we waited on the parade, Chris played dueling stereos with his braggart neighbor, eventually turning off his system in disgust at the one-upper next door while I stayed inside and had a pleasant chat covering a few hundred years of U.S. history with his former neighbor, a retired firefighter. Two consecutive sprawling conversations with well-read sparring partners—it was nerdy nirvana.

B.R. SPD Parade 1When the parade finally did roll by it was [Read more…]

Taking A Break And A Rookie Mistake


Slim Goodies: Rumors Of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exagerated

Slim Goodies:
Rumors Of Our Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

After my wonderfully unexpected yet late Wednesday, I slept in before eagerly strolling to Slim Goodies for breakfast. I had stumbled into La Fin du Monde the day before only because The Captain had told me Slim Goodies, a greasy diner he had recommended last December during a visit, had burned down. I had had an amazing breakfast at this funky little dive with bright walls and an open, eclectic vibe and knew as soon as I learned they had WiFi that this would be a regular blogging spot when I moved town. Thus I was devastated by the news of their demise.

Walking back from La Fin, however, I peeped in and the place looked fine. A cook who was just leaving informed me [Read more…]

A Typical Wednesday In New Orleans (That Unexpected Magic Only The Big Easy Can Conjure)


A Night of Joy!

A Night of Joy!

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival encompasses all that is great about this region’s music, food, culture, and hospitality in a confined, accessible area, and thus was my gateway drug to the city as it is for so many. Although it name-checks jazz, Jazzfest consists of 11 stages hosting artists from every imaginable genre and ranging from obscure local climbers to superstars from around the nation and world–every major rock artist that I can think of has played except U2 & McCartney. Yet, although Dave Matthews, Billy Joel, and Fleetwood Mac will be there this year, I always advise people to avoid the ‘superstar’ stage; it’s the unexpected discovery that is the beauty of Jazzfest.

And this is the perfect metaphor for New Orleans. While there are certain famous spots tourists will flock to–rightfully so–there are more wonderful restaurants, clubs, musicians, artists, and personalities clustered here than any one person could fully embrace in a lifetime.  While everyone’s life is a [Read more…]

A Typical Tuesday Night in New Orleans


I Finally Had Neighboors, This One Apparently Living Mardi Gras Year Round Too!

I Finally Had Neighbors,
This One Apparently Living Mardi Gras Year Round Too!

It was satisfying to unpack and settle into a space of my own. Although temporary, I finally had a room and a neighborhood. When I stepped onto the front porch to greet a beautiful spring day, I felt like a local at long last.

Part of me wanted to rush out and explore my new part of town–excited to actually have a part of town–but I decided to relax and soak it in instead. I’m not a smoker but enjoy a pipe or cigar on special occasions, so pulled out my guitar, lit a pipe, and sat on the front porch waving as locals wandered by like I’d been raised on the block.


I was tired and still unsettled so considered staying in, but I’d moved here to write about the city and felt compelled to get going.  I hadn’t located an Offbeat or Gambit Weekly yet (free local publications that include music listings) but knew New Orleans well enough to know where to head on a typical Tuesday night: Oak Street.  Hiding all the way Uptown, as far from the French Quarter as you can get without swimming, this street houses one of New Orlean’s most popular and controversial [Read more…]

The Pascagoula Run to Down Around Biloxi


The Scintillating Nightlife Along the Pascagoula Waterfront

The Scintillating Nightlife Along the Pascagoula Waterfront

As I drove I-10 West back to New Orleans, I gave a second wave at the Carnival Triumph before going under the Mobile Bay Tunnel. My convalescence had apparently been much shorter.

I had spent the morning packing and preparing, not leaving Jacksonville until noon. My temporary roomie worked nights so I wouldn’t arrive in time to get a key.  I could get a cheap room for the night in East New Orleans, but I had a futon strapped in the bed of my truck and figured there was at least a 43.625% chance I’d wake up in the morning with it gone. Being one who always looks for lemonade recipes when plans sour, I viewed this as an opportunity to see the Mississippi Coast.  I’d driven by a hundred times but had only stopped by Biloxi once a decade ago to see its lighthouse, which I read somewhere was [Read more…]

Interlude: Recoup & Regroup


The Triumph: A Failure in the Distance!

The Triumph:
A Failure in the Distance!

I left New Orleans a bit roughed up, but no worse for wear.  On the drive home, as I passed through Mobile, the universe sent me a humorous reminder that someone always has it worse.  Just before I entered the Mobile Bay Tunnel on I-10, I spied a Carnival Cruise ship docked along the industrial waterfront where it was surrounded by cranes, looking derelict and abandoned.  I laughed aloud.  Who else could this be but the good lady Triumph?  As I had healed at the Captain’s Metairie home after Mardi Gras, we had watched daily as she had been slowly towed to Mobile, adding our own comments to news reports of the squalid conditions onboard: Urinating in the showers, defecating in bags, sleeping on deck to escape the stench, eating… [Read more…]

TKO in N.O.: End of Round 1


How I Appeared to Tara By The Time I Reached The Apartment Showing

How I Appeared to Tara By The Time I Reached The Apartment Showing

While exiting the parking garage, right before crunching in the side of my truck, I had received a phone call that I assumed was Tara, my realtor, asking where I was.  Instead of answering, I had increased my haste resulting in my accident.  Now, as I headed down St. Charles Avenue, I checked my messages and discovered that the call was only a Craigslist renter informing me that her rental room wouldn’t be open until May.  Doh!

Cursing my foolishness, I checked the map on my phone to see where my Fucher Street destination intersected St. Charles.  When I arrived, however, I didn’t see the address listed on any of the houses.  I was already angry and not thinking clearly on top of being embarrassed for being late.  Now I found myself driving up and down the street, which changed  to one-way and then reversed directions after a few blocks (are you kidding me?!).  Addresses are in numerical order.  What kind of idiot can’t find a sequentially numbered house?!  My phone rang again.  It was Tara.  She had seen a truck with Florida tags pass…a couple of times…and assumed it was me.  Ugh!   Hello, I’m Brooke’s dumb-as-dirt friend, Eric! [Read more…]

Train Wrecks, Figurative & Otherwise….


View The Royal St. Charles Hotel in a larger map

As I headed to my hotel on St. Charles Avenue, just a block away from the French Quarter, I should have been in paradise.  This was the most central spot I’d ever stayed at in New Orleans and things were still in their post-Mardi Gras lull, so none of the good clubs or restaurants would be crowded.  My lingering cold had me frustrated, though, and when you are sick, you crave comfort and familiarity.  Instead I was in a strange city and had been staying in a strange house.  The Captain and Peggy are the most gracious hosts imaginable, but in hindsight I would have been better served heading back to Jacksonville once I was well enough to drive with plans of returning to find housing once healthy again.  I was convinced, however, that I needed an abode before departing so I headed downtown for three nights–a bad decision that would domino the way such mistakes do when you can’t think clearly. [Read more…]