… We Took A Little Trip…

November 18, 2010

Sure. Like it’s never happened to you.

Sitting in your favourite Cajun watering hole eating establishment, knocking back a few whisky sours hush puppies and blackened chicken livers, talking about how long it’s been since you visited New Orleans.

Fired our guns but the British kep' a-comin'...

Way before Katrina. Maybe even as long as 10 years ago. Quite possibly longer. 1998 rings a bell…

A few more whisky sours piquant shrimp and some corn bread, and the next thing you know, two days have passed and you’re still drinking whisky sours but now at the Maple Leaf Tavern on Oak Street, listening to the regular Tuesday sound of the Rebirth Brass Band. Bourbon makes folks do strange, sometimes fantastical things. Teleportation is not even out of the question.

It is hopping on a Tuesday night here in New Orleans, at least in this particular bar, out near what they call the Riverbend district of town. The same can not be said for the rest of the city. To these very inexpert Big Easy eyes, the place feels quiet. Maybe it’s a pre-Thanksgiving lull with everyone hunkering down for a final work push before the holiday kicks in. But the guy I share a cab back to Canal Street with who went to college here back in the day and is in town visiting for a conference, tells me he’s never seen the city this dead. It’s kind of spooky, he says. And not the good kind of spooky New Orleans is notorious (and loved) for.

The place has been hit hard during the course of the past five years. Hurricane Katrina and governments’ woeful response might’ve been a mortal blow to lesser cities. BP’s gulf oil spill (and another tepid reaction on governments’ part) further sullied the entire region’s reputation. Not to mention the vicious global economic downturn over the past 2 years, as was pointed out to me yesterday on a sunny a.m. in Jackson Square by a really, really drunk local while I stuffed my face full of beinets, oj and coffee. Tourist destinations take it especially hard on the chin when a country’s wallets tighten.

So New Orleans endures. Its inhabitants hang on (Louisiana like much of the Dixie south is not known for having much of a social safety net) and hope that the worst is over. What else can nature or man throw at it? Besides, it is 23-degrees Celsius on this mid-November day. I’m heading over to see if I can find Brennan’s, a restaurant that gives wine suggestions with your choice of breakfast entrées. How could any day that starts out like that turn out badly?

Eventually, however, I will have to figure out if I ever got around to checking myself into a hotel and, if so, where. So far I’ve found nothing on my person that resembles a room key or card. Without that and a corresponding checkout date, I’ll be hard pressed to know when it was I planned on returning home. Despite all the recent adversity visited upon it, there are worse places than New Orleans to be stranded and discombobulated.

gumboly submitted by Cityslikr