Monday, April 27, 2020

It's Hard to Explain New Orleans.

He said.  She said.  They both agreed they love New Orleans.  What's to disagree about?  Who doesn't love New Orleans?  You'd have to be Cotton Mather.

A view of New Orelans' French Quarter.

Where else can you go where everything is always all right?  I can think of only one city.  New Orleans is part of America, but New Orleans has always been a world all its own.  There is no other place like it.  When New Orleans was founded, it was improbable.  That New Orleans still exists is a miracle.  New Orleans is a slice of Heaven on Earth.  You can't keep a good city's head underwater forever.

When the pelican lies down with the alligator, you know everything is going to be alright.

When stars sink in the night sky, they get buried in New Orleans mud.  Ours is a city that sparkles in the dark.  Walk down any New Orleans street.  There is magic in the air.

New Orleans slumbers under the horizon line.  If a phoenix can be reborn in fire, just imagine what New Orleans can do once it gets its act together.  There are optimists and pessimists in this world.  New Orleanians are in a class by themselves.  New Orleanians like to think that they know what's up.

Uptown, downtown, lakeside, riverside.  Those are the points on a New Orleans compass.  When you know where you are, you love where you live.  New Orleans is the best of all possible worlds.  What drives people who move here from outside New Orleans crazy are the things that make New Orleans alive.  It's hard to explain.  It took me a long time to get it.  Now, I do.  You will, too.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

More About the Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club

Let me tell you a little bit more about the Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

The Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club headquarters.

I'm not saying that all the members of the Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club go ga-ga for pork chops, but some of them are like Li'l Abner.  

You have to be my age to know what that means.  Li'l Abner was a newspaper comic strip that ran for 43 years.  It ended in 1977.  It was never my favorite but it was very successful in it's day.  In 1956, if I said Li'l Abner, you'd know who I meant.  Li'l Abner loved pork chops.

I would link to the Li'l Abner Wikipedia page but it's so full of details that nobody cares about any more that you'll get lost in minutia.  Yet, 60-70 years ago, everyone knew all about it.  Lena the Hyena was the Tiger King of her day.

The Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club (social aid and pleasure club is usually abbreviated SAPC) has their own headquarters, unlike most SAPCs, who hold their meetings in public.  It's not that the Porky Chops are secretive, though they kind of are, it's that the club owns a house with a kitchen and a banquet hall.

They own a double shotgun with all the walls removed except for those around the toilets.  The table where they hold their monthly dinners is 400 feet long.  It's like something out of a Joseph Mitchell story except with pork chops instead of beefsteak, and set in New Orleans instead of New York.  

Every month, the Porky chops have a pork chop dinner at their headquarters, which they lovingly refer to as their "Slophouse."  Only members of the SAPC and their personally invited guests get to attend.  

There are pork chops served, of course, family style, along with greens, boiled potatoes and garlic bread.  The only things to drink are water, Dixie, Big Shot, and highballs.  The cost of the meal is covered by annual membership dues.  Drinks, except for the water, are charged separately.

I hear that one of the members is a big muckety-muck over at Big Shot and that's how the club gets donations of soda that's about to expire that month.

Aside from the camaraderie, the highlight of these monthly feasts at the Slophouse is a speech made by the guest of honor.  All sorts of people have graced the Slophouse over the years since 1918.  There are photos on the walls like in a restaurant that likes to brag what celebrities have eaten there.  

I don't have space to list all the photos of people who have been invited to address the Porky Chops' general membership and share in the Porky Chops' bonhomie.  The club has been around since 1918.  That's a lot of dinners.  Suffice it to say, you know some of them and that many, many of the names will be unfamiliar to you unless you are student of New Orleans history.

My picture's up there.  Go figure.  I was a guest once.  I attempted to give a speech.  It didn't work out as planned.  

I can't say there is bad blood between the Porky Chops and I.  I've been invited back.  I am banned from membership, though.  It hurts but I've learned to get over it.  

As long as I can visit the Slophouse from time to time, when invited, that's good enough for me.  The Porky Chops are a swell bunch of fellows.  Some of them are women, too.  They're all a swell bunch with their hearts in the right place and they are a part of a New Orleans institution that has been around 102 years come this July.  

Their anniversary banquet is held the Saturday closest to July 17th every year.  I've already gotten my invitation in the mail.  I'm looking forward to it.

Hopefully, this coronavirus shut-down will be over by then.  If not, a lot of people are going to be disappointed.  That will be five months without a pork chop dinner.  The very thought makes one weak.

À votre santé.


When you are ready to visit New Orleans like you mean it, there is only one B&B hotel where you should stay.  It's La Belle Esplanade, the small hotel that will respect your intelligence.  You belong here.  Here's the link to La Belle Esplanade's blog.  This New Orleans State of Mind blog is good but La Belle's blog is "The Best Written Blog in New Orleans."  

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club

No one is a stranger in New Orleans.  Everyone belongs to a Mardi Gras krewe, or a marching society, a confraternity, a secret society, or a charitable organization, or some kind of club that won't let me join.  

The Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club won't let me join.  I was turned down for membership.  That's okay.  I wouldn't join a club that would let me in, anyway.

When life gives me sour grapes, I choose to make grappa.

The Porky Chops have been around since 1918.

Unlike Mardi Gras krewe dens, most social aid and pleasure clubs (SAPCs) in New Orleans don't have official headquarters that they own.  SAPC's meet at their neighborhood bars to support local businesses and to be seen out in the community.

Every SAPC has its own constitution, its own by-laws, and its own traditions.  Everyone of them is different.  Some are strict while some are loose.  Some require background checks and fingerprints and credit reports before a person can join.  Some are hereditary.  Some of them are pretty open to everyone interested in what the SAPC stands for, but even they won't let just anyone join.

The Porky Chops SAPC is somewhere in the middle.  They keep out of the public eye but they have been around long enough that anyone who wants to know something about the Porky Chops can easily find out by asking someone sitting on their front porch.

The Porky Chops own their own clubhouse.  It's in one of those neighborhoods that doesn't have an official name in the City of New Orleans Zoning and Land Use Master Plan.  It's on the border of different neighborhoods, neither a part of St. Roch, nor a part of Gentilly, nor of Dillard.  It is in a world of its own, hence, even though the city doesn't recognize the name, the people who live there call their part of New Orleans Benefit.

This stretch of Benefit Street runs parallel to this elevated stretch of Interstate Highway Ten.  Humanity Street runs on the other side of I-10.  The next street riverside from Benefit is Treasure Street, and, after that, Abundance Street, Agriculture Street, and Industry Street.  Any of these streets would provide an equally suitable name for this neighborhood.

Some hotshot real estate agents got together and tried to rename this part of New Orleans RUTITO: Riverside Under the I-10 Overpass.  It didn't stick.  Neither did their suggestion for the other side of the highway: LUTITO.  They were looking to make a killing but it came to nothing.

The Porky Chops headquarters, what they call, "The Slophouse," is in a nondescript house in the neighborhood.  I'm not going to tell you the address.  You go and see if you can figure it out.  Don't cheat by googling it. 

Once a month the Porky Chops SAPC gets together at the Slophouse for ---wait for it--- a pork chop dinner.  These dinners are closed to the public except by special invitation only.  You have to know somebody who's a member.  Or, conversely, you can be a politician, celebrity, or all-around good person who has caught the Porky Chops' attention, and, then, they'll invite you to a dinner and ask you to make a speech before the final toast of the meal.

I'll let you guess how I got invited to one of those dinners.

À votre santé.


When you are ready to visit New Orleans like you mean it, there is only one B&B hotel where you should stay.  It's La Belle Esplanade, the small hotel that will respect your intelligence.  You belong here.  Here's the link to La Belle Esplanade's blog.  This New Orleans State of Mind blog is good but La Belle's blog is "The Best Written Blog in New Orleans."  

Visit New Orleans like you belong here.

To your health, my friends!

Monday, April 6, 2020

New Orleans Doesn't Worry. New Orleans Endures.

I can't even remember the last time I saw Margarette.  I dunno how long it's been since last I wrote about this adventure.  My whole world has become a crazy, hazy doozie of a daze.  Love in the time of Covid-19.

Love in the time of Covid-19.  The Immaculate Heart hidden in the bushes.

New Orleans is eerily quiet.  It's quiet like St. Roch Cemetery No. 2.  There is nobody on the streets, not even Margarette.  I thought I saw her but it turned out to be Adrienne.  One's an heiress and one's a painter.  They probably know each other.

I don't know what day it is.  I know Easter is coming but that's about it.  I know there's no comparison but I feel like Charleston Heston in The Omega Man.  Luckily, everyone on the street is even more super-friendly than usual and New Orleanians' natural, by-nature, neighborliness is second to none.  It's the world standard.  The standard has doubled over the past couple of weeks.

Stay 6 feet apart.  I'll tell you a story.

Having nothing else to do, I've been reading Wikipedia.  

The neighborhood I live in, our zip code is 70119.  Did you know that Louisiana shares the first zip code digit, 7, with Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas?!?  Wha-a-a-a-at!?!

Certainly, Shreveport is more Texan than Creole.  The northern parishes of Louisiana are very different from the southern parishes. New Orleans is an island unto itself, 200-proof Creole.  Acadiana is Cajun.  Louisiana is a patchwork state of sugar cane and cotton.  

Then, there's the crawfish.  Rice or potato salad?  Meat pies with tartar sauce or cayenne?     Catfish or drum?

New Orleans is cosmopolitan.  It always has been.  It always will be.  We nurture a polyglot population of gumbo and mumbo-jumbo.    Don't forget the French bread.  Leidenhiemer's is good to the last crumb.  There is no place so nice as New Orleans.

Coat-of-arms of the Porky Chops Social Aid and Pleasure Club.

In a New Orleans state of mind angels come home to roost.  When you love New Orleans, the city will love you right back, doublefold.   We who live in New Orleans, we're home.  

It has never been easy to live in New Orleans.  You know how a big man is nicknamed Tiny?  That's the Big Easy.  

New Orleans, forever beset by plagues, exists in a world of its own. New Orleans, like Atlantis and Camelot, endures.  New Orleans isn't going anywhere any time soon.  We're all in this together.

302 years and still kicking up, high stepping, free styling, and dancing like nobody is watching.  If you sing from your heart in New Orleans, everyone will harmonize with you.

In a New Orleans state of mind, you suspend your worries and your strife.  New Orleans will take care of you.  We are all in this together.  New Orleanians won't bow down.  "Our Lady of Prompt Succor, hasten to help us."  Have a great New Orleans day today, wherever you happen to be.

Wherever you happen to be, be well.  

À votre santé.

A word from our sponsor:   

When you are ready to visit New Orleans like you mean it, there is only one B&B hotel where you should stay.  It's La Belle Esplanade, the small hotel that will respect your intelligence.  You belong here.  Here's the link to La Belle Esplanade's blog.  This New Orleans State of Mind blog is good but La Belle's blog is "The Best Written Blog in New Orleans."  

The #1-ranked small hotel in New Orleans since April 2014.

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