Actually, I’m back from New Orleans. My buddy Mur had the need for a sudden whirlwind research project for a book, and as I have a flexible schedule and can decide to take four days off on a whim (provided I bust my ass for the weekend prior) I went along to help drive and eat beignets.
We drove up on Tuesday, spent much of the drive trying to find NPR in Alabama and Mississippi long enough to tell us where the election stood, got to New Orleans, got into our hotel, and in the fifteen minutes between when we got out of the car and when we found a bar, they had called the election and Karl Rove was throwing a tantrum with the sound off.
I won’t lie, I was a little disappointed. Not because Obama won—I am somewhere to the left of Al Gore, politically—but because it was anti-climactic! They didn’t even get through the Daily Show!
I drank something called a “Cypress.” It had sugar cane and cucumbers and rum.
The next day we roamed the French Quarter, soaking up local color. We encountered a man who introduced himself as “Hey, ladies! My name is Eddy and I’m always ready!” Then he told us about his four marriages, his great-uncle the voodoo priest (who passed all his powers on to Eddy, naturally) how he boxed Muhammed Ali in the parking lot of a hotel, how he had played the recorder in a past life, and now he wrote poetry on Facebook.
I believe the bits about Facebook. And the four marriages. I expect Eddy would have been difficult to take in the long term relationship department.
Mur, having doubted my tale of feral cats in Jackson Square, was duly chastised by the presence of said cats. We ate much crawfish. I had another exciting southern-themed cocktail. We made a friend at a restaurant called Cafe Soule, who was having the most eventful week of her life, and was now running the restaurant. The bartender kept sending us shots based on their resemblance to cough syrup. “You have to try this one! It’s exactly like Nyquil!” We became slightly inebriated.
ME: You hugged the chef.
MUR: You’d have hugged him too, if he made you roast duck.
MUR: Shut up.
We got free beignets out of the deal, though, so there’s that.
For breakfast, we went to the Ruby Slipper and I had poached eggs over “pork debris.” I still don’t know what pork debris is, but it’s amazing.
I went into a number of art galleries. I bought some prints. Surely there is wall space somewhere. And then I saw a painting of a pepper that pulled me in off the street and I stood in front of it clutching my hair.
ME: I have wasted my life.
MUR: No, you haven’t. Anyway, you have a Hugo.
ME: But I haven’t painted this pepper!
MUR: ….okay. I’m really trying to understand here. Why, of all the art we’ve seen today—including that one with the birds you liked—this pepper here is the thing that makes you say you wasted your life?
ME: I….I need to paint a chicken. That looks like a chicken. The way this pepper looks like a pepper. Does that make sense?
MUR: Not really.
ME: It’s an artist thing. It’s just…art. You know. Hits you. Oh god, look at the water droplet on the pepper there.
MUR: I guess some things just hit people differently.
MUR: SHUT UP.
I had a drink at the Green Goddess called “Glory For Your Salvation.” It narrowly beat out the Ninjarita.
We went on a “Vampire Tour.” I have had two very good tours in New Orleans. And now I’ve had this one.
MUR: I started to get a bad feeling when he kept referring to the author of Dracula as “Bram Stroker.”
ME: I was intrigued to hear about the “Goth religion.” And all this time I thought Kevin was a Lutheran!
MUR: I know! What was up with that?
ME: The high point was really the three-legged dog urinating on the street behind him.
MUR: Yeah…did you notice that the dog was, uh, intact elsewhere? It kinda looked like the vet just…missed.
ME: Oh well, could be worse….chefhugger.
MUR: You are just never gonna let that go, are you?
Also, New Orleans has some very educational graffiti.
The next day we went on a swamp tour. The swamp was fine. As a birder, however, my sensibilities were…somewhat offended. However, I was sitting far away from the tour guide, so most of my commentary went unheeded by anyone except Mur.
TOUR GUIDE: And this is a waterfowl.
ME: It’s an anhinga, actually.
TOUR GUIDE: When I say “waterfowl,” people always think of ducks. But we get these birds, too.
ME: That’s an anhinga.
TOUR GUIDE: Lots of waterfowl!
ME: No, seriously, dude, that’s an anhinga.
TOUR GUIDE (some minutes later): That’s a…uh…
ME: American coot.
TOUR GUIDE: …moorhen.
ME: It’s got a white beak.
TOUR GUIDE: Yep, it’s a moorhen.
ME: The American version of the Common Moorhen was split off into the Common Gallinule last year, so you’d be wrong, but anyway it’s a Coot. It was the word of the day awhile back.
Some minutes later…
ME: AHHHHH Woodpecker!
TOUR GUIDE: And there’s a red-headed woodpecker.
ME, staring through binoculars: …red-bellied woodpecker.
TOUR GUIDE: We have four kinds of woodpeckers out here. Pileated, red-headed, hairy and ivory-billed
TOUR GUIDE: The ivory-billed is listed as endangered, but we see them out here!
ME: Oh my god that is such a massive lie I do not have words to adequately express the lies that are coming out of your mouth you lying liar that lies!
TOUR GUIDE: Or extinct. Maybe it’s extinct. One of those lists. Regardless, we got em.
ME: I would kill you right now but I don’t think I can steer the boat.
MUR: …you’re really genuinely angry about this. Wow.
ME: Look, this isn’t politics or love or something! Birds matter!
TOUR GUIDE: Yup! Had three ivory-bills out here last week!
MUR: Look, if you need to shove him into the water, scream “I’m taking us to hell, you bastard!” and gun the boat through the swamp screaming obscenities in search of this woodpecker, I’ve got your back.
ME: You are a true friend. Even if you are a chefhugger.
And then we drove a million miles home and I had to pee about eight hundred times but we all got home and Kevin got home from Seattle slightly before me and we slept like logs and spent the weekend tearing out the downstairs carpet in preparation for the flooring guys. So I’m exhausted. But it was a good trip.
Except for the woodpecker thing.