NEW ORLEANS DIARY / First Night
Here. The Big Easy. The cab driver takes us back roads to avoid the jam on
the expressway. I comment on his Arabic newspaper. He tells us tourism is down
60%. We promise to do our best.
It's overcast and we are told we just missed the rain. Already we are lucky.
The room in our condo is cozy and cool. Bonnie and I take the spiral step upper two beds, lofting an overview of the sitting area. Helen & Maida will share a family sized bed, headed up in ornate mahogany and dangerous foot corners. An hour back, we set out at about 6pm.
Helen tours us to the French Quarter, my cameras work hard, but first we eat and listen to Cajun music at Mulates. There is a 70ish guy in red suspenders with a matching hanky hanging out of his back pocket. He is taking one partner after another to every song played to the dance floor. The floor is full and happy. I eat off the menu. Already I am a concession. The cheesecake was sublime.
In the Quarter, it is hot, humid, dark and vivid. As people gather under beseeching balconies, a pickpocket scopes for potential...eyeing us last before he leaves the crowd. The beads fall brightly.
There is music and aromas stewing from every crevice. The shops are like a slide show as we walk by their windows, picking destinations as if from brochures.
Women pull up, shove down and expose it all. Thonged derrieres, shaved pudendas, and breasts of every form. I overhear a guy complain "Who wants tulips? There's melons and peaches. Who wants tulips"?
A transgender beauty entices across from authenticity. Her allure is greater to me and she allows me a quick shot of her camp tease.
I am bloated and obvious, but beyond caring. We walk for hours in reality TV. Girls cry in doorways and on steps. People stagger and bump, as if we're all on a moving cable car. Bottles and glasses - empty, full and in-between sit on ledges and along the gutters. Everyone is anonymous. It's too loud to ask.
We finalized at Cafe du Monde w/black chicory coffee. Maida and Bonnie take a cab back. Helen and I walk. I think that cheesecake is still with me.
I am very tired, but wide awake. Maybe the coffee, maybe everything. I move my bed out from under a very low beam. Bonnie will have to climb over me to get to the bathroom (and much later, does). I read until 4am and quit when Helen does below. The AC is good. I drift in and out of sleep.