The beads, the booze, the boobs; all tossed in your face like pennies into a fountain.
Unfortunately we were doused in rain as much as debauchery, but a little weather never hurt- uh, nevermind.
We started our experience by ticking off the boxes we knew we had to- streetcar ride (I resisted the urge to try Brando’s bawl), coffee and beignets (say “ben-yay”) at Café Du Monde and a self-guided tour of the French Quarter.
We met up with Cliff again and he showed us his lab in what was, as our cab driver warned en route, “not a good neighborhood to be going to.”
The facility took me back to senior year of college… red dust on everything, tiny fragments in plastic bags, dudes in black t-shirts scribbling notes. Good times.
“You get used to stuff like that living around here,” said Cliff, in his perpetually unfazed Louisiana drawl.
Lunch was, of course, fried shrimp on a sub- which they call a “Po’ Boy” for reasons I never learned. What I didn’t expect was that it was served at a Chinese restaurant. That also sold cereal. “The Chinese setup shop here, and figured out what people wanted to eat,” explained our host. “I guess they stuck with the dragon décor just ‘cuz.”
He also introduced us to a new genre of city dwellers referred to by contributing members of society as “gutter punks.” The gutter punks are part hipster, part flower-child, rolled in under a motif of homeless. They invariably have lots of tattoos, a dog, and rancid hair. Curiously they seem to disappear in bad weather suggesting a “homeless by choice” scenario, which earns them scorn from both sides of the poverty line.
After sharing that cultural gem with us Cliff had to get back to work, so Jess and I were on our own again for sight seeing.
Instead of aquatic creatures, these bowls contained vodka, light rum, 151, amaretto, triple sec, gin, a dash of grenadine and few sneezes of juice.
Despite the fact that this unique container included a necklace-string, by the vendor’s own admission it was not up to the task of supporting the beverage’s weight.
“Hold the bowl from the bottom, don’t wear it around your neck. Because then you’ll be wearing it all over your shirt.”
Based on the jet-exhaust smell the elixir was emitting, I had a feeling it wasn’t going to matter.
Drinking from a fishbowl full of liquor while strolling down Bourbon is perfectly acceptable, almost expected if you’re from out of town. But the practice felt decidedly more embarrassing when we crossed the line out of tourist town and into the abutting residential areas.
Just walkin’. Sucking down a gallon of liquor. Don’t worry about it.
We circled back and landed at another weird restaurant for dinner. I couldn’t resist a menu item called the “Dead Cajun”- a fried burger (yep) injected with cheese and jalapeños, toped with fried onions, fried fries and what I’m pretty sure was just fried lard. Jess Instragramed a picture of it while I called my mum to tell her I loved her before committing to what would surely lead to a heart attack.
To my left a few fellows were cheering on a March Madness NCAA game. Out the window to my right, a woman in sequined sweatpants was beckoning pedestrians to enter a building with the text “LIVE SEX SHOW” over the door in, you guess it, flickering neon. Instead of windows the building had TV monitors looping content that I gathered was taking place inside.
You’d think I would have lost my appetite, but I was starting to get used to the spectacle that is New Orleans.
In case you’re wondering, yes there is an Uptown where locals go. It’s chock full of its own great nightlife and reminds you that NOLA does in fact have residents. But if you’re in town for one night, that’s not where you’re going to end up.