Apr 3, 2010


Monday 22nd and Tuesday 23rd March - Days 42 & 43

I was just ill in New Orleans. After 41 days of travel and a week at SXSW we drove 512 miles in 8 hours and went out in the French Quarter. Drank, ate, slept and then woke up feeling very ill. I think I beat the throat cancer but now it turned into lung cancer. I was coughing up some nasty phlegm. We were staying with another Postcarder, Michael, and his wife Louise, who also have a super cool place to live. It's a Creole cottage, and it has its very own bar. Here's me looking very comfortable there. You may also notice that I have somehow brought the spare tire from our car into the bar. I don't know how that happened. I've been eating such healthy food here in America. And drinking moderately. Now I know you'll blame the booze on my illness but even though we did have lovely cocktails, as well as some food (deep fried chicken, the south is a lot like Glasgow) and some more drinks in a dive bar that we had to go in because they were playing War Pigs, that is not why I woke up ill on Tuesday. The usual cure of breakfast proved too weak for whatever was ailing me and despite it being a beautiful day in NOLA I couldn't take advantage of it. Michael and Louise both work from home so I really tried to stay up. I even went and sat in the Cathedral of Saint Louis for half an hour. It reminded me of the famous Brendan Behan quote “I'm a Communist by day and a Catholic as soon as it gets dark.” Sadly Jesus chose not to cure me and even though NOLA looked like no other American city I just had to go back to our hosts and rudely sleep through the day. Though I recovered enough to go out for some food and drinks again that night, I can't really tell you much about the city. But here are some random observations:

1)It looks like a former French Carribean colony and is all the better for that.
2)The sidewalks are shot (and I'm pretty sure they were before Katrina). Seriously broken up sidewalks like you'd see in a war movie.
3)You can drink on the streets! (Watch your feet.) It's a 24 hour drinking town. One bar even has a launderette in it.
4) The city has a lot of cemeteries. We visited the one where Buddy Bolden is buried. Somewhere. No one knows where though. (If you are not familiar with Buddy Bolden then I suggest the novella Coming Through Slaughter by Michael Ondaatje. I give you a money back guarantee that you'll enjoy it. But you will need a proof of purchase if you want to claim on that.)
5) The road called Elysium Fields is the finest civic failure I've ever seen. It was meant to be the Champs Elysees of NOLA but it just never took off. So it's a very wide boulevard with a grassy meridian and very few signs of life. You can check it out on Street View. It looks like this:

Talking of signs of life, Michael took us for a ride around the Lower 9th. It wasn't what I was expecting and it's certainly no East St Louis. Maybe the sun had a lot to do with that. Certainly Brad Pitt does. Now we saw a lot of Katrina/Lower 9th stories in the UK but I was completely unaware that Brad Pitt had set up a charitable foundation called Make It Right to get some amazing homes built in the Lower 9th. Places that look like this...

and this...

and this...

I don't know, maybe it's possible that it's common knowledge and I'm just ignorant. Highly possible. But assuming it's not, it strikes me as odd that stories like this don't get much coverage. I wonder why. Still it's amazing to see these modern structures rising up amongst the condemned and abandoned shacks and urban prairie.

Oh and if you are wondering why there's no mention of music on this page (other than Buddy Bolden) it's because there are no songs that mention New Orleans. None whatsoever.

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