New Orleans

Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall.

Preservation Hall

Ken on Bourbon Street

Walking by day. We had traversed Bourbon Street the night before, around 2 a.m. when we finally arrived, and it looked very different then. (Maybe because we were drinking.)

We pulled in to New Orleans late, well after midnight, and after a little driving around to find the hotel, we unpacked, carried everything upstairs, and decided to head down to Bourbon Street immediately, since this was going to be our only night in the Big Easy.

Ken had been there before. Alex and Doug had not.

We got to Bourbon Street, and Ken knew exactly what to do next. "We need to get us some Hurricanes," he said. "Everybody here drinks Hurricanes."

Hurricanes. To call the drink merely a Twister would seem inadequate, as if "twisted" would have enough adjectival force to describe the state in which it leaves the unwary traveler.

No, in the same way a ferocious vortex moves across the ragged surface of the water, raising first a boil, then a waterspout with its sickening sucking--in just the same way as the waterspout comes upon a ship, filled with terrified sailors, eyes wide, hoarse screams torn from throats by the moaning gale, pauses like a crouching panther, then, slowly, sinuously, like a thigh-thick serpent, encircles first the shrouds, then the ship itself, heaves it up on the rising water in the eye of the cyclone, as if hefting it on a callused sailor's palm, then, slowly, methodically, and then explosively, sucks at the sides until suddenly--pow!--the ship bursts into splinters, blasted asunder by the pheromonal suckage, sails shredded, sailors shot out into the roiling sea--in just the same way, the Hurricane moves through the lobes of the brain, pausing, then pouncing, sucking neurons till the pressure within explodes them, their shattered remnants drifting downstream in the capillaries like so much flotsam and jetsam to be collected in a liver blasted and scarred by repeated bouts of heavy weather, to be excreted in due course.

To be a ship on the main in a gale or to be a neuron afloat in that sea of menacing ethanol--there is no difference.

Thus the name.

We got ourselves our Hurricanes and proceeded to patrol the street, weaving through crowds of pedestrians in remarkable numbers, given the hour. We took a look into various bars to see what the music and other (!) entertainment was, but we soon found we couldn't go in while we were carrying our Hurricanes. Doug, impatient to get inside and hear some blues, helped Ken and Alex finish theirs.

At one point a couple of horseback cops went clattering off down a side street chasing someone down. We turned down the street for a look, to see if anything interesting would happen. Nothing did, but while we stood there, we let a guy take our picture with Alex's camera. Much later on, after we got the pictures back, we determined that we had been standing, quite coincidentally, right in front of Preservation Hall when he snapped us. We didn't know it at the time, but we did come back the next day to have a look and take pictures by daylight.

We wandered back up to Bourbon Street and hung around, watching college kids being college kids. The custom in Mardi Gras is that people pass out free necklaces of cheap plastic beads, and your objective is to get as many strings of beads as you can--usually by doing something to earn them. Alex got a lot of strings on her looks alone, which she shared with Doug and Ken, who didn't get so many strings even with their winning smiles. As we stood outside a building where folks on a balcony upstairs were tossing beads down to the crowd below, someone came up to us and invited us up--first Alex, then Doug and Ken too when it became clear she wasn't going alone.

We got up to the balcony, found there was a bar hidden right behind it, and fixed ourselves up with some thirst quenchers, then went out and watched the bead-throwing technique. Most of the bead throwers were guys, and they were following the tradition of getting women in the crowd before to expose various pieces of flesh to earn their beads. Ken and Doug were far too liberated to treat women that way, so we bought a whole handful of necklaces and gave them to Alex, to toss down as she determined people in the crowd had earned it.

The target was men. They went crazy below.

"Show us what you got!" Doug shouted in a big hoarse voice, and when the guys realized what they were going to have to do to get Alex to throw any beads down, most of them moved along pretty quickly. A few, though, stayed and earned their beads. Alex had decent aim, but mostly the men had to catch the beads in their hands--she wasn't quite good enough to loop anything around their heads.

In an advance state of inebriation, we headed back to the hotel and collapsed into bed.

The next morning, we weren't quite as swift out of the chute as we'd been on earlier days during the trip. We sat and had ourselves a very gingerly breakfast in a sidewalk patio, then we strolled slowly around the French Quarter as we got our energy back.

Ken remarked that the night before, Doug and Alex had been very excited, and were buzzing around Bourbon Street maybe a little faster than Ken would normally like to walk, shooting all over the place, looking at this and that, accosting strangers. The morning after, though, Ken noticed he was more often the one in front, and Alex and Doug were the ones dragging behind, painfully in no hurry anymore.

Slowly we came back to life.

Faulkner House

We happened to be walking by here, and Doug, who read a lot of Faulkner in school, felt compelled to take a picture. That's Alex ringing the doorbell to see if Mr. Faulkner is in.

(We had bypassed Oxford, Mississippi, where Faulkner is well commemorated, with nary a murmur from Doug.)

General Andrew Jackson

General Andrew Jackson, up on his high horse. In 1862, Yankee General Benjamin Butler, commander of the troops occupying the city, had "The Union must and shall be preserved" inscribed on the pedestal. He sure knew how to make friends.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square. Lovely with French and Spanish architecture surrounding it.

Ken at Jackson Square

Ken at Jackson Square.

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