Tuesday, April 06, 2004

new orleans day by day 

friday 26th i arrived here in the middle of the night after the train was delayed by about 3 hours. minor panic ensued when i couldnt get hold of daisy - i had to call kellie in denver, as you do - but all was well and on wlecoming me into her apartment she gave me a glass of wine, which i promptly spilled. i was good for nothing except sleep.

saturday 27th was my first day proper; i explored the french quarter and was quite charmed by it. much smaller, friendlier and more varied than i imagined. also much less leery and aggressively drunk, even later on in the day (although with 24 hour bars some people didn't appear to ever need to sleep it off. i felt quite the happy lightweight). Actually, I only had one drink on saturday, not counting more daisy wine. I found a bar that looked lone woman friendly - i've gotten quite good at scoping - and went to order a g and t. A very drunk and hideously perspiring man in a baseball hat pushes past and says "how much would one of those be?" I already have my money out to give to the bar tender when he thrusts a $10 at her and tells he he'll get mine, have one too and she can keep the change. Its $2 drink so that's a decent tip. My heart sinks, i try to protest, not because i wouldn't like a free drink but because i fear the cost will be too high. The barmaid gives me a sympathetic look and says "you've made a friend" Mr drunk snarls and says "not a friend. just a drinking buddy" I say "oh good. please excuse me, i need the bathroom" When i get back he is bugging someone else and two really smart and funny women from portland come in and start talking to me. They don't share my belief that portland has more attractive people than anywhere else i've seen

Sunday 28th we went to Tickfaw; the tale has already been told by both me and daisy (still weird reading shared memories and comments this way)

Monday 29th there was a torrential storm; i spent most of the day burrowing through the massive stash of free magazines i accumulated at sxsw

tuesday 30th i went to the dermatologist about my face; it was looking and feelind terrible. she told me i have a virus, the name of which i've forgotten and gave me 3 prescriptions totally $168. ouch. on the upside she said i must be in pretty good nick on the whole because i didn't get sickness or fever as is normal. Afterwards i went into the quarter again, primarily to suck up some more inspiration from galleries. I especially wanted to see the George Rodrigue gallery (see georgerodrigue.com) because the blue dog makes me smile.

i also went to the pharmaceutical museum which was grimly fascinating; lots of tephaning and amputation instruments and dubious remedies. And a genuine old soda fountain which made me chuckle. They also had some information on sun ray treatment, and an old machine, like the one that used to found in our house. I took a few pictures; i hope they come out ok

Wednesday daisy dropped me off at the cemetery first thing. New Orleans is below sea level so graves have to be above ground so bodies don't get washed away. Of course, this is also the land of lestat and marie larue and a million wonderful old legends; the graveyards are very beautiful, some lovely architecture, slowing decaying next to some luscious plants. At the risk of sounding like a smiths song i find such places strangely uplifting. I think as a society we have a very strange relationship to death. On the one hand it is everywhere in the media but also oddly sanitised; we are dissociated from the reality which is painful but inevitable and trying to pretend we can live forever. what if we accept we will die and that's it, and just get on and live.

afterwards i wandered at random up magazine street, chosen in part because the band (probably not eponymous) long time favourites. (top song imho: model worker)
On my way back to daisy's he neighbour was sat on his porch enjoying the sunshine. He invited me in and I ended up having an excellent time eating cheese and drinking wine with two of the campest men i've met for a long time. They had some stories to tell. And i know one shouldn't go into strangers houses but its instinct innit? and they were daisy's neighbours, not that I would suggest for a minute going into the houses next door to mine.

The highlight of thursday for me was going to the launderette. Daisy dropped me off at luckys, which is a 24 hour pool hall, bar and launderette. what a fantastic idea. The barman was ace; he greeted us with "welcome to your new living room!" and a bunch of quarters. Its kind of a divey looking place, and i was slightly pertubed as i put my laundry in and a somewhat disheveled old guy started asking me a lot of questions and telling me about tourists getting murdered in gruesome ways. I went to sit at the bar; the barman called the guy assorted american swear words (not on account of what he said to me, butwhat he had said to him) Then another old guy comes and sits by me; we get talking about the music that's playing and he tells me he's worked with willie nelson for 17 years and i just sit back and listen to his yarns until his friends come along and we all start telling jokes.

after a bit the barman and i start chatting about the usual - where you from, where you going etc and then, this will sound leery but it wasn't, it was totally not a chat up or anything - and says "you're a very sweet woman, you know."
me: "oh, er, thanks. I'm just me"
him: "i know. but i can just tell, the way you are with people"
me: "thats nice, i don't feel the most confident at the moment" (waves at my scabby face)
him: "See, we look past that here. I judge by peoples eyes, and words and actions. and you are lovely. besides, i've had far worse than that so i know what its like."
we talk abit more and then he leans over the bar and kisses my forehead.

then a very loud, very passionate blues band starts playing on a sage, so tiny i never noticed it before.pretty much everyone in the room is a musician and they were great, although i suddenly remembered my washing and that i was supposed to call daisy.... she and jeff appeared, as if by magic, not long afterwards, and we moved on to igors to play pool somewhere more peaceful. A fantastic day was capped off by me potting four in a row, all of them my balls and none of them white. yay for me.

Friday we went to another statepark, St Bernards. More swamps, this time with turtles and fish and best of all susie who ran into the water, looked horrified at not being on land, dashed back out, realsied it wasn't so bad after all and then plunged back in and swam about for a bit before emerging with weeds drooping out of her mouth. She smelt pretty bad but was oh so cute. In the evening we went to see Jeffs brothers band; they were fun in a happy, thrashey way; they had a song about stabbing yourself in the stomach which i especially liked.

saturday i went uptown to auborn park. everywhere proclaims they have "live oaks" which i find amusing; don't see many dead one's in parks. This does seem to be a city of misspells signs, and most especially superfluous comas and speech marks. (yes, I know i'm a hypocrite here) It was also my nans birthday - she is such an amazing woman, and was sad not to be sharing it with her.

Sunday i wanted to see the voodoo museum, it was a bit of a let down really, piles of interesting stuff but not much context. Its a fascinating religion, much maligned and i'm struck by so many similarities with paganism. I found one of the private shops more interesting; i had a long chat with a woman who makes dolls there. There's also a lot of very dubious tourist trap gimmicks of course, but I'd be lying if I didn't confess to being at least a little tempted to try and fix my life by magical potion. There was a public ritual later on at night but we chose to have a nice dinner and go home instead.

I also saw some more art - the galleries here range from the dreadful to the inspired - i especially like rev finster and clementine hunter; I'll try and add some links and probably get round to finishing some thoughts on folk art; i'll probably write it on the train today and blog in about 3 years time. I'm getting in need of breakfast now so i'll hurry along

monday i wnet back to the doctors. i saw a different guy; he was disconcertingly cheerful "howdy doody; what the jimminy cricket do we have here?" I commited a terrible mistake; i didnt ask many questions, i was kind of swept up in his manner so when he said i needed a "jab in yo butt" i didnt doubt this was right - plus, i'm getting despearte, although my skin is better it now looks like terrible sunburn. So, he gave me some "pills with more whack in them" ($46) and the nurse gave me an injection which hurt a lot.

later i got disturbed and annoyed at myslef for not knowing what they put in me; sod antibiotics, its probably some foreign subversive tracking device. aaaargh! To consoll myself i had a veggie burrito and bought a pack of old photos from a thrift shop


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