New Orleans, April 2007

 


Well, it’s really too late at this point for a proper trip writeup, but here’s my quick takeaway:

Go visit New Orleans, really. It’s going to be years before the refinery and shipping jobs come back, if they ever do. For now, what’s keeping the city going is construction work and tourism. Everyone we spoke to, whether a random stranger or a local friend (hi !) was unequivocal on this point: Tell your friends we’re open for business. The city is still recovering, yes, but it’s also still alive, vibrant, beautiful and worthy of your interest. It’s going to be touch and go for a few years — they really, really need enough calm hurricane seasons to outlast the Bush administration — so going now increases the chances of it still being there to go to in the future.

“Dressing up” means something different down there. Years of going to punk and goth clubs in NYC and SF left me woefully unprepared for what the rest of the country does by way of “dressing up for a night out.” We went to see the Rebirth Brass Band at the justifiably famed Tipitinas (an awesome show, complete with an unscheduled appearence by a group of Mardi Gras Indians), and I foolishly thought that my normal clubbing get-up of black jeans and a leather jacket would be perfectly appropriate. Wrong. There were, I swear, multiple women in 4” heels and day-glo empire-waist dresses. There were also boys in docksiders, the less said about which the better.

Dear god the food. I don’t think I have ever eaten as consistantly well in any city that I have ever been to in my life, Paris included. It wasn’t a surprise that Jacques Imo and the Commander’s Palace instantly rocketed onto my top-ten-meals-of-all-time list, but the random cheap street eats were just phenomenal as well. I still have half of a Verdi Mart muffelata carefully sectioned into eighths and bagged in my freezer, and have been rationing it out to myself over the last six weeks. Also, I am going to hell for this, but turtle soup turns out to be astoundingly good. Mmmmmm…reptile…

Bourbon Street at night is like a Pride Parade for drunken straight people. Amusing to watch, but you couldn’t pay me to be female and anywhere near it around Mardi Gras.

Really, you should go. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking in equal turns, and it might be gone tomorrow.

A few more of my favorite photos behind the cut…

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