Thursday, January 16, 2020

A Day In the Life Of a Real New Orleanian

I would tell you what I did today but you wouldn't believe it.  Let me tell you about a day in the life of a real New Orleanian.  You will think that my life, living in New Orleans as I do, is much more interesting than your life wherever you live.  You are probably right but not in the ways that you think.  We all have our crosses to bear.

Would you like to know what I did today?  

Okay.  Full disclosure: I, your humble narrator, have been invited to ghostwrite this blog post.  Full disclaimer: All of the characters portrayed in the following description of my day are fictional and any relation to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.  That's just the way we roll here in New Orleans.  Full admission: It is all true.

I will tell you the true story of a day in the life of a real New Orleanian.  I will tell you this:

I got out of bet before the sun was up.  I cleaned up with a splash of bay rum, dressed, and walked the dog.  The dog and I went up to City Park, at the end of our street.  In the morning, usually around 6:00-6:45, some time in there, we are walking around Big Lake, which, well, is the big lake on the downriver side of the Esplanade Avenue entrance to City Park, you know: the good one, not the one across from Ralph's-on-the-Park.  I wouldn't walk a dog in that neighborhood.

I got on my motor scooter and went to pick up fresh bread and pastry.  
Your humble narrator out on patrol.

I had good conversations over breakfast.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  When you have breakfast where I have breakfast, then we'll have breakfast tomorrow.  It will be a curated breakfast of local delicacies from around our neighborhood.  How do I know?  I go out on my motor scooter to pick everything up, that's how.

Being a New Orleans goodwill ambassador is a calling.

I walked the dog, again.  This time we went way, way back in City Park.  It isn't a part of City Park where tourists go.  It's way, way out where nobody goes, a secret trail network in City Park.  I would tell you where it is but I don't want the trails to get crowded with other people who are scared off by a dog off a leash.  Plus, I now don't want the City Park Police to go looking for me now that I've admitted I let the dog off his leash.

I went to the New Orleans Athletic Club where I swam a few laps under fountains, took a long steam, and got a massage.

I saw a puppet show.

My lovely wife, who is the better half of this operation, and I had lunch at Café Degas, just up the street from our address.  It is super-duper romantic in there, that's why we like it.  The food is excellent, too.  I had snails because they are good for your kidneys. I also had crab and asparagus soup.  I also had the hanger steak---it's the best hanger steak in town, even better than Gabrielle's. so you know I'm serious when I'm saying it's good.



I bumped into someone I know on the street.  Imagine that!  She told me that she had moved in two blocks away from here last week.  That's great.  It is always nice to have good neighbors.  Our part of New Orleans is full of them.

I had a heart-to-heart talk with one of my old neighbors.  He and I have a lot of respect for each other.  Scratch anyone who lives here and you will find a New Orleanian underneath.  Home is where the heart is.  If you can't be friends, at least be good neighbors.  Love makes New Orleans go around.

I stopped in for a nice cold Dixie at Pirogue's.  While I was there, I made small talk with a woman named Destiny.  She asked me if I wanted to go up to Liuzza's-by-the-Track for a bowl of gumbo.  I had to tell her that I was still full from lunch.

On my way home, I helped two kids get their kite unstuck from a tree.  The kite was just a stick-and-construction paper affair but, luckily, I had some scotch tape in my pocket to make the necessary repairs to get aloft again.  Who dat?

Then I came home.  Now, I am writing this blog post to tell you about my day thus far.  What will happen next?  That is for me to know and for you to find out.  If you want to spend a day in your life as a real New Orleanian, you have to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.  Visit like you belong here.

Stay at La Belle Esplanade and enjoy a curated breakfast over good conversation, get personalized about everything and everywhere New Orleans that you want to know about.  Then, go out and have some New Orleans adventures all your own.  You never know what you'll find when you turn a corner in this wonderful city we call home.  Sometimes it's a parade, sometimes it's some kids putting on a sock puppet show in a washing machine box.  Everything will make you smile.

Keep yourself in a New Orleans state of mind and you'll make good memories worth keeping there rest of your life.  Be a New Orleanian when you are in New Orleans and spend a day in the life of a real New Orleanian.  It will be hard to wipe that grin off your face when you're done.

Here's a video I took in City Park when I was walking the dog way, way back:

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Alligators in New Orleans.

You never know what you'll find when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  The city has posted warning signs around open water that alligators may be in the area.  There are alligators in New Orleans.  Everyone who lives here knows that.  We don't see them very often, though.  The signs seem much ado about nothing.
Alligators in area.
It's not that I've never seen an alligator in the city proper, though they are sighted in Bayou St. John, in Bayou Sauvage, in the drainage canals, and in Lake Pontchartrain.  They are very rarely seen in the Mississippi River.  The river isn't their natural habitat.

The last time I saw an alligator, I was in the back stretches of City Park.  Now that was a story to remember.  Just remembering it still makes my hair stand on end.

It's a much more memorable story than seeing a sign posted on a placid waterway in the most peaceable of cities in a residential neighborhood that hasn't seen an alligator attack for 100 years:

You get what you expect.  If you want to walk through New Orleans on tenterhooks, senses on red alert, you'll be disappointed.  You'll be high strung but everyone else won't know what you're worried about.  Good things happen in New Orleans.  They happen every day.  We live in a kaleidoscope of a city.

Where does all the crime and the petty theft happen?  Where the tourists are.  Where all the drunks and the easy marks are.  No one in authentic New Orleans, the real city outside the French Quarter and off Frenchmen Street is hiding behind a bush waiting for nobody to show up----it isn't a cost-effective use of the criminal's time when the easy pickings are where the tourists are.

Only tourists think there are alligators lurking in every puddle.  They think we eat gumbo with a side of jambalaya three meals a day.  New Orleans isn't like that.  New Orleans is better than anything you've learned from movies or books or TV.  

Dreams come true on Esplanade Avenue.  It can happen to you.

Mmmm....  Somebody is cooking gumbo next door right now.  It's kitchen sink gumbo, full of crab bodies and chicken thighs and sausage and okra and dark, dark roux.  Don't believe everything you've learned about New Orleans until you get your good self down here to experience it yourself.  There is tourist New Orleans and there is real New Orleans.  I live here.  I prefer the real New Orleans.  You will, too.

And now a word from our sponsor:

Visit New Orleans like you live here.  When you are ready to visit this wonderful city we call home, La Belle Esplanade is the #1 place to stay in the city.  We don't say that.  TripAdvisor has been saying it every month since April 2014.  Check our website.  See what we have to offer.  You belong in the real New Orleans.  The best New Orleans memories begin at La Belle Esplanade.  

Follow La Belle Esplanade on Facebook and on Instagram.  We post regularly to help keep you in a New Orleans state of mind until you get here.  Once you arrive, you'll be in the thick of authentic New Orleans.  Don't worry about alligators.  Don't worry about having a good time.  Everything will take care of itself.  New Orleans loves you.  Trust me.  I live here.  I see it every day.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

When You Turn a Corner In New Orleans

You never know what patterns you will find when you wander about New Orleans.  This city is a maze of folkways and traditions, most of them unexplained to tourists.  New Orleans is a welcoming city but it is a city that is always overflowing with surprises.  You never know what you'll see when you turn a corner in New Orleans.

Keep your eyes open in New Orleans and you'll discover all sorts of good surprises.

New Orleans is a glory, glory, alleluia kind of of a place.  Which way do you want to go?  Towards the river or towards the lake?  Uptown or Downtown?  Follow your nose in New Orleans.  When you turn a corner in New Orleans, you never know what you'll find but you can be sure it will be the stuff from which good memories are woven.

We live in a densely woven and richly textured city.  There are no strangers in New Orleans.  Everyone is a friend you are about to meet.  Welcome to the New Orleans state of mind.  Be a New Orleanian in your heart and everything else will fall into place.  Good memories are made in New Orleans every day.

Everyone if friendly in New Orleans.  Everyone says hello.  Everyone is happy to chitchat.  A good city is full of good neighborhoods and good neighborhoods are full of good neighbors.  New Orleans is a good city.  You never know who you'll bump into when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  It will all be good.  

How do you count up your cherished memories?  I live in New Orleans so all I need to do is go out my front door to be reminded of all the good things that have happened to me since I moved here.  You should be able to do the same, even if you only call New Orleans your home for only a few days.  

No one ever says their visit is too long.  It is always too short.  The longer you are here, the more you'll discover to explore when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  You will never run out of things that will make you.  I know.  I live here.  

Your humble narrator.
New Orleans is full of interesting characters and fascinating details.    In a New Orleans state of mind, whatever is possible is probably true.  It is almost impossible to wrap your head around everything that New Orleans contains.  It is very easy for New Orleans to wrap its arms around you.

New Orleans loves you.

A Word from our sponsor:  Visit New Orleans like you live here.  When you are ready to visit this wonderful city we call home, La Belle Esplanade is the #1 place to stay in the city.  We don't say that.  TripAdvisor has been saying it every month since April 2014.  Check our website.  See what we have to offer.  You belong in the real New Orleans.  The best New Orleans memories begin at La Belle Esplanade.  

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