Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Part I: New Orleans

St. Louis Cathedral

I had a bad omen about this vacation initially, because as I left work Friday night, I walked up to my car to find a $40 ticket for parking too close to the intersection. It's totally a lie. I was on the corner, but I wasn't blocking anything. Apparently you're supposd to leave 20 feet of space between your car and the intersection, which is ridiculous, really, because that's practically the entire length of space available in that section of curb.

The other thing that galls me is the meter maid was right there when I parked, and you'd think just out of a little goodwill, in the spirit of humanity, she would have informed me that I couldn't park there or else I'd be ticketed. But no, she watched me saunter off to work, then turned around and big fat wrote me a ticket when I was out of sight. Sometimes I wish there was a crystal ball that would only show karmic retribution, because I hate that you usually don't get to see it. I'm not going to fight it in court, because they just smack you with court fees, anyway, and also in past experience I have been known to choke in front of judges. Johnnie Cochran I am not.

Anyway. Fantastic start. Thankfully, things were all uphill from there.

We rolled into town, relaxed at the hotel for a bit, then decided to walk around the French Quarter and get dinner. One thing we noticed right away as we were being driven in our shuttle from the airport is that a lot restaurants are really fond of having their diners line up outside the door like cattle, waiting to get in. We decided immediately that we are not doing that, because almost no food is that good, and neither of us was keen to wait in 96 degree heat to find out for sure. The Mr. wondered if it wasn't just some mind game: restaurants have little spaces set up to form a line, tourists see it, think there must be some great reason for there to be a line and voila, you're in business. Or maybe we're just paranoid.

We ate at a place called Deanie's, which was very touristy but had a no-line thing going for it. It was OK. I suspect there were better places more representative of N'awlins cuisine we could have eaten, but we enjoyed ourselves.

After dinner, we explored the rest of the Quarter. I'm not sure if you've heard the stories that the Quarter smells bad, but they're totally true. I don't even want to imagine what it's like around Mardi Gras. A really appetizing mix of puke, sewage and urine. Which really makes you wonder whose brilliant idea it was to have previously hungry diners stand outside to inhale the stench. Mmmmmmm.

We arrived in Jackson Square, where I saw these two dudes play-scuffling, so I snapped a picture.
The much, much larger of the two of them (red shirt) stopped and said, "Hey, did you take my picture?"
"Um, yes."
"I don't want my picture taken!"
"OK, I'll delete it." Except, I wasn't going to really. Also, I was totally scared. I continued on and he said, "Hey, hey, wait up." Then he motioned to his friend. "Yo, man! She took our picture!" My life is flashing before my eyes at this point. White shirt says, "Why did you take my picture?"
"I just like taking candid photographs of people."
"What?"
"I just like taking candid photographs of people."
"In English, please."
Oh lord.
"You guys were doing something interesting, so I decided to take a picture of it. You looked like you were having a good time."
"Yo!" white shirt says. "We were! We're just enjoying life! That's what it's all about!"
I can relate, as I'm enjoying my life as well, and don't want to die because of this picture, especially not the night before a cruise.
"Lemme see the pictures," white shirt says. I show them, and they laugh and approve. Whew.
"You can keep them. It's cool. I don't usually let people take my picture," says red shirt. "I'm Tattoo, by the way. This is my friend Joey."
I introduce myself, apologize for any trouble and Joey takes my hand and kisses it, and I let him, because Jesus, his friend is named Tattoo.

So, that left us a little rattled. I asked the Mr. why he thought Tattoo was so weird about his picture being taken. "Because he's probably wanted for something!" Ahhh.

After that, we went to Cafe du Monde. I'm saying, we are perfect tourists. I'm feeling like I remember B List telling me that she had a meltdown here once years ago when she and her crew were treated rudely (and please correct me if I'm wrong!). Anyway, if this is the place, then the Mr. and I fully understand said meltdown. It wasn't a horrible experience by any means, we just had to put a lot of effort into getting
someone to acknowledge that we had been sitting there longer than some people who were already diving into their beignets. But once we got some service, everything was fine.

The beignets (our first) were delicious, and I don't know how much more needs to be said other than they were fried in oil and covered with an inch of powdered sugar. You can't not love anything cooked that way. I wonder if beignet dough is any good? I'll find out at some point, since I bought some mix. You'll get a full report.

Fat and happy after scarfing beignets, we bravely wandered over to Bourbon Street, the smelliest of all the streets we encountered.

After a few blocks, the Mr. and I were beginning to feel like we were cartoon characters, where the same scene keeps scrolling behind us. Here's some people throwing beads. Here's a drunk guy. Here's a band in a club. Here's a place selling hurricanes. Here's more people throwing beads. More drunk people. Another club. To mix it up a little bit, there was one guy passed out in the street and some EMTs were loading him into a stretcher. He appeared to be a repeat customer.

Top and bottom! Moderately priced! Don't say New Orleans never did anything for you.

These kids were taunting and poking this grenade outside a club, and the grenade actually took off after them. It has to be one of the top 10 funniest things I've ever seen, possibly right after when the Norseman made the table collapse in the "We've Got Spirit" episode of Freaks & Geeks. I mean, look at that thing. Plus, I've always wanted to see someone in a costume do that. Usually when you do that at Disneyland (um, not that I have, I swear!), the costumed person has a bodyguard to tell you to knock it off. This grenade was ready to go mano a mano.

I just took this because that guy looks so ridiculous holding that sign. It's like he thought the leather and tattoos would negate the dorkiness of holding a sign advertising "Big Ass Beers To Go." Sorry, Harley Davidson, it doesn't.

Anyway, I would like to go back someday and see more of the sights and experience it a little more, check out some of the history. Clearly, we only got one view of the city, but we had a good time there!