How’s that for a completely ambivalent blog post title? Ray Bradbury would be proud, assuming that he envisioned such things as blogs just as he envisioned so many other developments. (He’s on my mind because I recently finished his Dandelion Wine for the umpteenth time. That book is not so visionary, but it is brimming with heart and warmth and a masterful command of words. If you’ve always avoided his work because of that “science fiction factor”, Dandelion is the perfect place to gently enter his world, where your respect for his artistry will grow as you flip each page, and there are no robots to be found.)
Okay, enough of Ray-Ray. His estate certainly doesn’t need my promo. By the time this pre-scheduled post (another modern marvel!) drops out of the stratosphere to land in your blog feed, I will be airborne towards New Orleans. (Or perhaps we’ll already be checked in to our beloved and tiny but charm-filled hotel, The Inn on Ursulines. It’s a great place to stay, if you’re like me and enjoy experiencing local character. It should not be your destination if you want room service and valet parking and the corporate-smothering of true hospitality. (Go stay at the Hilton if you want that.) New Orleans is a city rich with treasures, and you should be spending every waking minute tromping about and finding those things. All you really need, habitation-wise, is a clean room and a comfortable bed. If you need more amenities than that, you’re probably on the wrong adventure.
But speaking of adventures, some of the rumors about New Orleans are true. Yes, Bourbon Street, or at least a certain section of it, can be a hedonistic party, with lots of people getting very drunk and then doing stupid things. It’s the nature of that particular beast. And it’s not an environment that suits everyone, because drunk, stupid people can get very annoying, very fast, if you’re not in the mood. (At the same time, if you don’t want to see that kind of mess, then don’t go there. It always amazes me when people whine about the decadence of Bourbon Street. Did you not read the brochure? Why are you even in this part of the city if such a thing offends you?)
Personally, I like to spend at least part of one evening traipsing about in the “touristy” section of Bourbon Street, because the sheer absurdity of heavily-libated people running amuck and fully displaying their failures as civilized human beings is a fascinating anthropological study. In fact, if you are having a difficult time understanding how Donald Trump could even possibly be considered presidential-worthy by certain segments of the nation’s populace, take a stroll on Bourbon Street between (roughly) Bienville and St. Ann, and everything will become crystal clear. Some people are idiots, and high-octane alcohol crystalizes this plot point.
But once I cross that particular fix off my agenda, I generally stay away from the imbecile implosion. It just wears you out, even if the local bands playing in many of the bars are quite good. (This is one aspect that can keep me on this part of Bourbon longer than I should. The live music is usually entertaining, even if some of the bands tend to be working from the same playlist. There was one night when we heard “Brown Eyed Girl” at least 20 times. Luckily, I like that song or I might have been forced to have a mild psychotic break in the midst of it all.)
Instead, we spend most of our time in the other areas of the French Quarter, wandering about, discovering new places and revisiting old favorites. (Note to potential first-time visitors: If you manage to stay at a hotel within The Quarter and plan to spend most of your time there, you don’t need to rent a car unless you have mobility concerns. The Quarter may seem rather immense at first, but it’s really not. You can walk to just about any destination with relative ease. Besides, the entire area has been designated a National Landmark, and this is evident in the charm and character of the buildings. You should savor this charm whilst casually strolling, not catch brief glimpses of it as you whiz past in a rented sedan.
Of course, the minimal pain that the manual labor of actually getting some exercise might cause you can be eased by an adult beverage. Possession and consumption of alcohol in an open container in public is perfectly legal here. Naturally, said container must be plastic so we don’t end up with shards of lacerating glass littering the streets after clumsy patrons get distracted and forget that they are carrying something. The bars and restaurants will happily provide you with “to-go” cups upon request; don’t be shy if you are in the middle of a cocktail at Pat O’Brien’s and your traveling companions suddenly decide that they can’t live unless they head to Preservation Hall right now. Take your elixir with you.
But don’t be in a hurry, whatever your destination or activity. The vibe is very laid-back in The Quarter (and in New Orleans, generally). Nobody is in any real hurry to get things done, but it will get done. Just relax and be patient, especially in the restaurants. (Two of my fave places to eat: Pere Antoine’s (Cajun, slightly pricy but not outrageous) and Mona Lisa (Italian, moderately-priced). I have had many orgasms in both places.) Your food will eventually get to your table, but you might need to entertain yourself for a bit. Ergo, you should probably order a drink to keep you company, especially if you have reached that point in your vacation where you don’t really care for your traveling companions as much as you did on the first day.
Anyway, I suppose I should get to my point. I really hadn’t intended on the rambling, spontaneous travelogue above, but it’s actually appropriate in that experiencing the French Quarter can follow the same meandering path. You may start out for one destination but never make it there, enticed by little surprises you encounter along the way. And the particular details I babbled about serve to underscore the original message for this post:
I’m going to be doing a lot of drinking in New Orleans, most of it voluntarily. This means that I will most likely be away from social media and tumble weeds will be blowing across my sites. (This should not be much of an issue here on WordPress, since I have a few posts scheduled to drop in the interim.) On the other hand, I can’t rule out that a fluctuating blood/alcohol ratio might prompt me to spontaneously pontificate on things I find myself doing and seeing in NOLA, and there’s the slight chance that I might post something trivial, mundane or completely lacking in substance or maturity. (Such is the case, when imbibing; everything is much more fascinating than it really should be.)
Therefore, I am officially apologizing in advance for any tawdriness and debauchery you may find documented on these pages over the next several days. The Big Easy just does things to you, and you have to embrace it and enjoy the ride…
Categories: My Life