Friday, December 31, 2010

I was given the paperback version of Patti Smith's "Just Kids" by my wife for Xmas was instantly drawn to reading it (as opposed to putting it on the pile till Summer as usual). And I am loving it!

Most of all I'm in love with the language which hits me like Leonard Cohen's -- obviously coming from the perception of and expressed via the verbal prerogatives of a poet. I don't mean that everything is expressed in overwrought poesy, but that many things viewed from that skewed, penetrative perspective that belongs to the poet.

But I'm happily wallowing in her her chronicling of the 60/70's boho culture in NYC -- when it was significantly populated by working and lower middle class kids with artistic ambitions taking advantage of cheap rents in crappy apartments and plenty of menial jobs to pursue their dreams of becoming vital artists, rather than a buncha
trustafarians. The sense of style also highly beguiling -- when "style" just meant applying artistic ambitions to your basic living enviroment, dress sense etc. utilizing thrift store finds and the basic precept that every moment of your life should be lived as excitingly as you can manage.

Being a consumerist swine this is leading me to inventory my Patti swap: alla albums in the most updated versions I could manage, vintage vinyl bootlegs. 12" singles with non-LP B-sides, "Piss Factory" single (but the Sire re-issue, not the original on MER), Lenny's release of Patti and he in '71 and an autographed copy of her "Witt" book of po'ms that Jim Testa found cut-out at Strand Books. A signed David Gahr print of her and Sam Sheppard posing on a balcony at the Chelsea Hotel.

I recall the first time I saw her -- Spring '75, playing George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, a "hometown" gig for Lenny Kaye who's from North Brunswick (I'm pretty sure). This is just before they had a drummer and right after they'd released "Piss Factory" on their own MER label. Still one of the best gigs I've ever seen. They manifested the aura that ANYTHING was artistically possible at any moment -- in the best sense there was no rhyme or reason to the set, nothing was pro forma or predictable. Patti and co. flowed like Mercury from sweet and sassy Ronette street pop to Keef Richards toughiness to mad poetess and traced the line of ecstatic visionary that slithered through all of those. I've still got a handbill from that show with biographical notes that someone had scribbled on the back to prep me to interview her. And THAT'S a whole other story.

The New Brunswick connection was a funny thing. Years later Ivan Kral and his wife ran a video store in New Brunswick, Tony Shannahan, Patti's regular bassist once she came back from Detroit, lived around there and used to run the "Slaves of New Brunswick" revue on Tuesday nights at the Melody Bar (the house DJ was a cat named Matt Pinfield) -- he'd play a set and then back all comers. Every so often we'd be walking down Route 27 and Lenny Kaye would come running up to say "hi."

The pic this is illustrated with is by Robert Maplethorpe. It's pretty close to the Witt cover. if you can afford it you should buy some Maplethorpe art.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

full circle line

Monday morning we were up early, packed, made bad coffee with the "pod" coffee maker provided by the hotel. Then Amy decided to go out for oatmeal from the Starbucks at the Sheraton on Canal Street. We bundle up, head out and notice lots of trucks on St. Charles with side doors opened. You could see drawers fulla stuff. We figured that this was a service getting ready to decorate the streets, hotel fronts etc. Or someone filming something or other. New Orleans has a municipal department whose main job is to encourage film industry work here and they're notably successful. Lotsa things shot here. Damn "Salt" a film obstensibly about dirty business in the CIA and revolving aroudn their HQ in Langley managed to work in a segment in New Orleans - on Royal Street at Ursulines!

We go to Starbucks, get our stuff, head back to hotel and as we get to that block note a dolly filled with director's chairs. We take a peak: "Simon," "Zahn"... Man with a clip board comes up and says "We're filming for a TV show called 'Treme'." Turns out they filmed a sequence at the hotel's restaurant, Luke. The scene is actually set in NYC where the character based on Susan Spicer has relocated and is in the process of "cooking her way back to New Orleans."

As we entered the lobby we noted lotsa folks with garment backs ducking out doors, jumping on elevators...

And next thing ya know we're in a cab headed to Louis Armstrong Airport.

BuhBye! Sigh!!

Louche dei

Sunday of this trip was pretty laid back. Went to choich. Lollygagged around the hotel a bit, walked down Decatur Street, stopping at Louisiana Music Factory to pick up a second Eureka Brass Band CD and swing by Faulkner House book store to see if there were any tomes that gave any in depth look at the etymology of Mardi Gras Indian chants (there weren't! - in fact, on returning home I reached out to someone cited as an authority on Caribbean culture and he affirmed that such work doesn't exist to date) and then down to the end of the French Quarter and Coops.

Years ago, on one of our first trips to NOLA we were wandering haplessly down Royal or Chartres and stumbled into a very downhome eatery whose name now escapes me. Looked VERY dicey but we really didn't know WHERE to stop so gave it a shot. And they had some amazing fried chicken. After The Flood it closed and we've been searching out for comparable experiences. One local guided us to Fiorello's, also down at the end of Decatur. And this was a worse dive than the first. Dirty, in attentive staff. There were roaches crawling around on the walls. And they took their sweet time in delivering the chow -- but it was all pretty much worth it. Great chicken, served up hot, freshly made. Last time we went there, ordered up the grub asked for wine and were told by the waiter -- "there's nothing here you'd wanna drink!" But we insisted. And he insisted! He finally gave in and brought some nasty chablis -- can't say he was steering us wrong! But the food's the point. Haven't been back since. (I should point out that Willie Mae's is very neat and clean and if the staff seems overwhelmed they are always polite and make you feel at home - hell, one year a waitress pinched me for putting my elbows on the table!)

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal (which Mrs. W. reads religiously) had mentioned Coops as one of the great foodie bargains in the French Quarter. So we tried it last year and it's OK so that's where we wound up that Sunday afternoon, Saints game on the telly. I gotta say the chicken -- to my taste -- is nowhere near Willie Mae's. The breading is much thinner and nowhere near as crunchy and flakey. Smaller portions too. But the coleslaw it's served with is fresh and spicey and refreshing. The rabbit and sausage with rice was filling and occasionally tasty but kinda bland.

On the way back to the hotel Amy decided to try Cafe Beignet on Royal Street instead of Cafe Du Monde on our friend Joy's recommendation. We'd eaten there in years passed but didn't think too hard on the experience. The big difference is that Cafe Beignet is indoors, intimate and far more civilized that Cafe Du Monde. In warm weather (the temperature dropped into the 50's this day), there's a sweet little garden area immediately abutting the police station. So there's less waiting for a server to find you -- or to find a single clean table than at Cafe Du Monde. Otherwise, the victuals are comparable.

We napped again and pondered dinner. We lamed out and opted for the Gumbo shop in the French Quarter. Nice enough atmosphere - kinda downhome touristy. But peronable wait staff, good service. Food was all on the bland side tho. I got blackened chicken and expected a bit of heat coming off 'em but the spices mainly made the chicken taste like beef. OK but. WTF.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Big Chief 3

Tom and Arion had told us that there'd be a Second Line on Saturday and agreed to meet us and be part of it. We walked down Bourbon Street at about 11AM -- probably the only time to do with without drama. It's shocking how much is going on even at this hour! There's even a few dudes staggering around still nursing last night's bender. But overall it's pretty civilized.

Considering the national image of Bourbon Street as one continuous bacchanal going 24-7, the reality is decidedly different. As you enter from Canal Street, things start out decisively classy with big fancy hotels, expensive restaurants and the first of Larry Flynt's Hustler clubs. As you proceed things get more down home and rambunctious with more and more dacquiri and hurricane bars (basically a wall full of churning clear plastic vats filled with various colors/kinds of high test booze-slushee), some are basically just a kiosk right on the street, no seating - you takes yr plastic alien fulla frozen hooch and stagger on), cheapie souvenir shops and the like. Eventually you come to the residential zone which is shockingly, quiet, sedate and frankly quite beautiful. Lotta little homes, fronting right on the sidewalk, no front lawns. Remember, these were literally "town houses" - the real home was in the country, on the plantation. These places were essentially a parlor for entertaining and a place to crash out when you'd eaten and drunken your fill either at home or at another town house.

Passing out the end of the Quarter we walked West to Arion and Tom's apartment - a charming little place in a larger subdivided house. High ceilings, aged, planked flooring. Tiny kitchen. Kinda Manhattan style - basically it's a clothes closet and place to flop because - the city is your living room, kitchen, dining room etc. We ambled down Esplanade and then crossed on Decatur to Elysian Fields.

The Second-Line was sponsored by WWOZ-FM featured the Treme Brass Band leading the parade, then the New Wave Brass Band sitting in the center, and a third (didn't catch the name) bringing up the rear. Most of those participating were on the bourgie side (like us!) and the parade route was thoroughly tourist friendly - up Decatur, West on Esplanade, South on Royal, across to Decatur and then North to the end of the French Market. Nonetheless -- a LOVELY experience. It took a minute to find a groove for dancing while walking, especially to a brass band beat -- frankly this is one of the great, unique beats going; easily as attention grabbing and addictive as classic DC GoGo or Mississippi Hill Country blues if ya ask me -- but finally got it and just had a merry old time along with everyone else second-lining.

Amy appears at 1:33 on right hand side

we're at 1:08 to the far side, boogying

There were moments when it seemed pretty surreal - a big old second-line of largely middle-aged white folks being cheered, photographed and filmed by their peers but also a significant number of black folks. Dunno what they made of it. They could have thought it was pretty funny, but then again I saw folks coming out of restaurant kitchens having a look and then start dancing along and shouting encouragement.

I'd like to think that this is part of a strange kind of transition. It's no big secret that the Louisiana State gov't was all to happy to see large swathes of New Orleans poorest neighhoods depopulated by The Flood and made no effort to try and repatriate those residents to their home. As people move back into New Orleans and more and more white, middle class bohemian types. Which of course aids the evisceration of the indigenous culture. EXCEPT for the fact that many of these immigrants hold that vanishing culture in high regard and would appear ready to do whatever's in their power to help perpetuate it. I'd speculate that this is not lost on the original inhabitants of New Orleans that remain or have managed to make it back and I'd like to think that they see that there're alliances to be made to everyone's advantage. Some of these white invaders are those people who'd most support initiatives to restore historically black neighborhoods like the 9th Ward, Treme, etc. That's an outsider's perspective. I could be wrong; undoubtedly I'm oversimplifying. Mea culpa. I hope y'all can see some positive intent beneath it all.

All that being said -- it was a GAS to be sashaying 2 miles sandwiched between two great bands. I could mainly hear the New Wave Brass Band and they were kicking it, hard! I'm surprised at how many selections I recognized.

When we finished all four of us retreated to the Market Cafe in the French Market. I think the ladies had fish and Tom and I split a Muffaletta. This of course is one of the signature dishes in New Orleans. The night before J.R. had mentioned that it was originally known as the "wop" sandwich - oh boy! But eventually Italians came to be treated more respectfully and they came up with Muffaletta. Basically this is a hoagie, sub, etc. but served on a big round loaf of crusty bread - basically a whole one would cover a small dinner plate. The key ingredient is a slightly, spicey, vinegary relish made with various pickled vegetables - the components vary from place to place. Green olives are a main ingredient in some places. Here it was carrots, peppers, cauliflower. In Philly the big downhome food controversy centers on who originated and who now makes the best cheese steak - Pat's on Passyunk has the best claim to originating it but there's a passionate division between folks who favor Pat's as opposed to Jim's (on South Street) or Geno's (near Pat's actually). In New Orleans there's various places claiming to make the best Muffaletta tho most agree that Central Market on Decatur is the originator -- tho I recently had a friend claim that Central Market is owned and operated by the same folks as own Frank's - a short distance down Decatur and thus their muffaletta is just as good though not commonly given the same glory.

Afterwards, we sauntered down Decatur to Cafe Du Monde for the usual. Today entertainment was provided by a brass band of 12 year olds. The performance was not great and it seemed that they floundered about trying to catch a groove. Nonetheless, very cool to see a buncha pre-teens working to master actual instruments, let alone brass (as opposed to sitting at home playing Guitar Hero) and learning a repertoire whose roots could likely be tracked back a century or more. And here's strange facet of New Orleans culture in full effect -- kids could be doing ANYTHING on their day off. There's certainly other part time jobs to be had that take a lot less training and discipline and are a lot more contemporary. That anyone chooses this option is kinda extraordinary.

Then it was back to the hotel for another nap until we headed off into the Arts District to do unspeakable things. After that...
Some friends took us deep into the Bywater to Bacchanal. This is a place that could ONLY exist in New Orleans. The main building seems like it was a garage or storage shed; it's just two big, low ceilinged rooms (painted concrete, plaster?). Decisively ramshackle. Rudimentary kitchen in the back room, front room covered in raw wooden racks full of wine bottles, one wall covered in second hand refrigerator cases, the last wall being a crude bar. Out back there's a buncha beat up looking tables and white resin chairs strewn around. Two piece band playing on a rickety wooden platform in one corner. Pretty humble looking.

ONLY - the wine selection is extensive, canny, adventurous and eminently affordable (Amy got a glass of dry Spanish sparkling wine - a wineglass full, not a flute - for $4.50). Meanwhile, if you walked out back, and hung a right you found a tent rigged up where you could order up entrees of beef shoulder with fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables or a roasted quarter chicken with braised greens and rice - $12 a plate! And granted, it was served on a paper plate but -- frankly this is fine cuisine on a par with any place with a maitre d up front and linen on the table. Teh cheese platters were impressive too -- nice selection of distinctive cheeses served with a variety of breads and crackers -- enough to fill up the kinda serving platter you'd bring out a turkey on.

We spent some quality time here, then got a ride home.

In the Land of Fleur di Leis 2

Blundered through this day thru the mist of hangover. No doubt y'all no what that's all about so won't tediously belabor the point...
We caught a taxi out to Willie Mae’s Scotch House, on St. Ann in the Treme. Noted that the levelled projects are starting to be replaced by "mixed" income housing. That means developments built at one time by one developer but comprising a mix of building styles, serving different sized families. But all built from the same basic materials. So essentially an obvious simulation of an organically growing neighborhood with naturally occurring varied architecture. Still, I'm sure they're nice and if the gov't pointedly brings back the original inhabitants of the neighborhood it'll be all good.

Arriving at Willie Mae's we see that they've now installed a velvet rope outside to form a line; once you get in, you then get on the second line inside in the back room. We lucked out and proceeded directly to the second line and were seated in about 15 minutes. Lunch was as spectacular as we'd hoped - a big old platter of piping hot,crunchy,heavily crusted (distinctly salty but not obnoxiously so) Southern fried chicken, done to perfection as well as platter swimming in creamy butter bean puree. Yeah, easily the best fried chicken we eat all year tho it could be that what my pops used to whip up in his younger days might prove competition -- tho he didn't achieve the thickness and tastiness of coating that seems de rigeur here.

We taxied to the corner of St. Ann's and Rampart with the intention of visiting Congo Square -- where enslaved people's were allowed to meet, dance and recreate back in the bad old days. Yes, we should have done this 10 years ago but frankly, the richness of New Orleans culture, history and experiences on offer make it tough to really get to everything quick -- it takes time. Turns out that Louis Armstrong Park - wherein Congo Square resides, a little ways South of the main entrance - is closed for renovations; it'll re-open around the time of Jazz Fest. One of our local friends told us that it's been getting renovated for years now, being closed then opened then closed on an ongoing basis. I'll note that the temperature was in the low 70's F -- a delight for someone coming from the mid-Atlantic states where the temperatures had plummetted the day we took off for New Orleans.

Since we were already on Rampart Street it seemed a convenient opportunity to walk over to St. Louis Cemetery #1 off Basin Street. This is one of the old cemeteries in town and notorious for the acid trip scene shot for "Easy Rider" there -- which cause the immediate and eternal ban on further filming there by the Catholic Church which owns it. It's also the reputed final resting place of Marie LaVeux. Her name doesn't appear on the crypt in question but every tour guide and would be hoodoo practicioner obviously recognizes it as such. The crypt is covered in "XXX" and offerings of bottles of rum, wine, coins, beads etc. litter the ground in front. As we wandered about -- always a somber, calming experience -- came across another crypt that was even MORE heavily "XXX"ed than LaVeaux's with offerings of full glasses of wine, coins, beads and electronic hotel room keys piled up. As hoodoo practice is about practical, tangible results you hadda wonder who was interred here and what service the worshippers were hoping for: hotel keys?

Leaving St. Louis we walked across the French Quarter to Decatur Street and Café Du Monde. Yes, it's another touristy cliche -- but like many things like this there's a reason for it. Their coffee (with chicory) is simply my favorite; when I have a supply at home this is my weekend morning treat. Dark, distinctive, with a bit of acidic bite, but a lot of body. And the beignet's – as Amy says "Deep fried dough and powdered sugar; what's not to like?" The effect is like fresh zepoles or funnel cakes but lighter and somehow really not greasy - the accounts of Krispy Creme's history hold that their doughnuts are made with a beignet recipe acquired in New Orleans. The location is prime: it's beginning of the French Market, across the street from Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral with the Mississippi River behind it. People watching the folks streaming down Decatur Street (not to mention IN CDM itself) is always prime. The downside is that the place is pretty much packed 24-7; literally. The place is crowded, the ground (the bulk of the seating is outside on a huge covered patio)is covered in powdered sugar, spilled coffee and beignet scraps and usually thronged with pigeons looking for a meal. So...ya toughen up and enjoy.

Today, the Tornado Brass Band was playing out front to my great delight. Now I'll admit something right here; no doubt there's been brass bands outside Cafe Du Monde, or in Jackson Square or on Royal Street I've just passed by and ignored in years passed. Previously this all seemed a bit hokey and utterly contrived to appeal to tourists' sense of nostalgia. One of the gifts of "Treme" has been to give us some insight into the cultural engines that drive and have driven New Orleans. Of course the brass bands DO appear cute and old-timey and suggestive of simpler times to the out of towners (like me!) At the same time the urge to honor and preserve and make dynamic use of traditions like brass bands, Mardi Gras and such is a basic principle of local culture and has been for the odd century or so.

SO...the Tornado Brass Band played an estimable set, playing the modern standards of the genre (which I can now recognize from Rebirth Brass Band albums), as well as their adaptations of more pop tunes to this artistic mode -- following in the footsteps of Jelly Roll Morton and the like who likewise "jazzed up" church music, French dance tunes and blues and established the process we've called "Jazz" ever since.

Warm weather, live brass band music, warm doughnuts -- a nice trifecta of humble creature comforts.

After walking back to our hotel in the Business District we took a long nap. Upon waking we grabbed up cab up Magazine Street to Truckstop, a vintage men's clothes store run by J.R., former frontman for the late great Blackfire Revelation (imagine Blue Cheer playing MC5 songs -- yep, they were that good!) He's got a nice stock of vintage flannel and western shirts (I bought one embroidered with playing cards on front and with three desperadoes playing poker on the back), Frye boots and some new stock (the problem with vintage is -- most pieces are one of a kind and you never get one style/color in a selection of sizes). Cool place. All raw, red brick inside, decorated with vintage metal gas station signs, pinball machine and suchlike. Mecca to Southern boho types.

When the store closed we met up with J.R.s lady, Candice, who is the mastermind behind the Trashy Diva empire (multiple stores and locations in town, different store with different specialties - undies/corsets for instance) and their lovely little boy, Jackson. Drove over to Garden District Books which is located in a little mall on Prystania (Anne Rice used to have a shop in here) for a book signing by Sean Ysseult, former bassist of White Zombie/current leader of Rock City Morgue. She explained her raison d'etre for creating the book (basically, she pulled all her diaries and photo albums and such from storage to contribute to the book accompanying a White Zombie box set -- then Geffen did the most bare bones packaging possible), read some passages from the book (all very funny or poignant), and then signed anything anyone waved in front of her. In typical New Orleans style, there was a nice turn out from members of the community: club owners, folks from myriad local bands including Pepper Keenan late of Corrosion of Conformity, currently with Down.

Next we drove to MidCity for chow at Venezia. This is a big, noisey, family-style restaurant done up in a very 60's style of modern, ergo quaint. Decent prices, decent food (admittedly living across the Delaware from Trenton and 30 minutes North of Philly we're pretty blase about getting good Italian cuisine). Most fun was ordering a bottle of wine and some glasses at the bar and taking that out on the street to drink while we're waiting for our table -- drinking openly on city streets remains a source of ongoing amusement for us!

itselfbought coffee and beignet mix, bought a Saints at at Jackson Brewery. TGhere was a brass band playing in front of Café Du Monde while we were eating – bought their CD
Dinner with John and Candice – took taxi to John’s store Truckstop – which looked very cool – yakked a while, bought a western shirt from him.
Candice, John and Jackson drove to to Garden Book store – the mini mall that Anne Rice store used to be at for Sean Ysseult book signing – she talked a bit, read from the book and signed books.
Met Rik from Phantoms, owner of One Eyed Jacks and Pepper from COC
Then drove to Venezia in mid City on Canal Street – waited there a fairly long time – ok chow. Nice time talking. Candice thinking of opening a Trashy Diva in Austin. Her clothes are going to be used in True Blood again
They say to check out Tracey’s on Magazine Street - the original owners of Parasols (Parasols now owned and operated by folks from Florida)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Louisianna Bound pt 1

I've spent this year obsessing over New Orleans - went in April and then "Treme" commenced at the same time so it was like not really leaving for a LONG time. The experience is hard enough to let go of normally, but being reimmersed on a weekly basis made it much much worse. Leading me to do some pointed investigating of NOLA music and culture starting with finally listening to the Jelly Roll Morton interviews recorded at the Library of Congress in the lat 30's. And with his powers as a raconteur, his utterly delectable voice and sultry piano playing underneath it all equalled FURTHER immersion - and this leading to some small appreciation of how a love of continuity and tradition flavors the local culture. If I might be so bold to venture -- one of the few places where the folks at the bottom of the capitalist economic strata have a genuine appreciation and love of their history and a will to propagate it. Once Republican administrations took music lessons out of public school (and the classical programs in public schools were THE breeding pools for just about all the greats of modern jazz; so what's the result of ELIMINATING those programs?...)

So I spent a lot of daydream time on the streets of New Orleans this year and finally, here we were.

Thursday, December 2
Arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport mid afternoon. It was largely deserted. I think ours was the only plane debarking at the time. So perhaps spooky, perhaps comforting as its a lot more tranquil than say Philly's airport.
Taxied to the Hilton on St. Charles which used to be The Monaco under the Kimpton aegis pre-Flood. And it's still much the same. Perhaps could be touched up here and there and it'd be nice to get HOT water, but overall, nice.
Then we walked over to the French Quarter and up Chartres Street to Napoleon House. This place was built in the 1700's, was intended as the hiding place for Napoleon if they coulda snuck him outta Europe but that never happened. As it noted in many places, not much has been done to update or upgrade the facilities in the centuries since. This is no re-creation of 18th century environs -- it's the real thang with things like electric lights and electric heaters basically added on as an afterthought as time's passed.
This is a ritual moment for us. Sit down, order a glass of wine and Pimm's Cup (for Amy) and a cheese board. Take a sip and just LET GO OF EVERYTHING ELSE in our lives. Here we are. The New Orleans charm and identity is as in your face as possible here. And all talk shifts to what we'll do in the days to come.
We walk out of here slightly buzzed (when I gave up regular boozing my tolerance plummetted - 2 glasses and I'm honestly good for the night!) and headed East to Decatur Street and Louisiana Music Factory. This is a great, beat up mom and pop record store that specializes in Louisana music (not that there's not other stuff as well). It's NOT the place to find Mystikal or any other No Limit releases but it's the only place I know of where you'll find SECTIONS devoted to Mardi Gras Indian chanting, New Orleans brass bands, and bin cards for the likes of Jelly Roll Morton and Kid Ory. After consultation with a friendly staffer we picked up

Jelly Roll Morton "Last Sessions"
Eureka Brass Band "In Rehearsal 1956"
Flaming Arrows "Here Come the Indians Now"
Storyville: The Naked Dance DVD

Now most of these you COULD find online, or via Amazon - the Morton is on UMG, the Storyville on Shanachie. Though at the same time, I've found stuff at this store's website that appeared no where else online - not even a mention at AllMusic. MORE IMPORTANTLY -- it's simply easier to DISCOVER music unknown to ye when you're digging through physical piles of records, especially when you've got knowledgeable record store staff there to advise you. There's certainly enough Jelly Roll Morton records available online but not easy to discern which one has the most vocal performances. Or brass bands...not only is the online selection spotty but not easy to figure out the BEST and EARLIEST recorded examples available via the Internet.
And frankly, I never would have thought to look for documentaries on the infamous NOLA red light district spontaneously but here we were looking for the music and there's the documentary on display. A neat way to make additional connections for the non scholars among us.

Swag in hand we sauntered over to Tom and Arion’s on Esplanade at the end of Quarter. These are folks we'd met online and had some mutual interests, or had known professionally for years, and only found out by accident that they'd moved to NOLA 6 weeks earlier. We got off Esplanade and into the nicely quiet streets of the Marigny and made our way to Frenchman Street, looking to chow at Adolfo's. Putting our name on de list we proceeded to have a jolly olde time just jawing away on the little bench outside the restaurant, sipping wine (no open container laws in New Orleans so easy enough to get a drink at a bar and take it outside). We were having such a good time that we didn't hear them call our names (if in fact they did!) so after about 1 1/2 hours we went next door to Yuki. Had more wine, some Japanese appetizers and then grabbed a taxi to Vaughan's which is deep in the Bywater (area North of the Marigny, which in turn in North of the French Quarter), almost in the 9th Ward. Thursdays are the night of trumpeter Kermit Ruffin's regular gig. Got there, settled in, more wine (generous portions to boot) and the band soon appeared and announced that Kermit was in NYC with Trombone Shorty (turns out this was a Red Hot AIDS benefit concert devoted to NOLA music), so we (ill advisedly in my case) quaffed our drinks and got another cab to a spot called Loveless. And here my memories fail me. No need to recount this -- y'all know what it's liked being trashed, kinda weaving while walking and speech slurred to the max. OY! But made it home all right and frankly the good fellowship and neighborhood cruising were well worth next day's hangover.