Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A New Orleans Quickie

St. Joan of Arc in the French Market, New Orleans
I know it's hard to tell most days, but it does take me a significant chunk of time to put together these fascinating articles for your enjoyment.  Today, pressed for time, I am going to be uncharacteristically brief.  You see, we are going to the Professional Innkeepers Association of New Orleans (PIANO) social mixer at Auld Sweet Olive B&B, one of our favorite B&Bs in the city.  Check out their website.  

People ask, with +/- 140 B&Bs in New Orleans, if there is a lot of competition between innkeepers in the city.  I have to admit that the answer is, not really.  If there is any competition, it's only of the most friendliest kind.  [I know I just used a double positive.]

I think part of this is because among the kind of people who choose to stay in a B&B over a hotel, it's because they find that a boutique catered experience is the more better option. [See what I just did there?]

The number of B&B rooms available at any given time is dwarfed by the number of hotel rooms available.  Really, for some people, the hotel is the better option.  I'm not trying to be a snob when I say this, but some people prefer familiarity over adventure.  

I'n not trying to say that it's an adrenaline-tingling adventure to stay in a small boutique New Orleans B&B the way it is to rappel down a cliff.  I'm saying that when you stay at a B&B, it's not off the rack.  Being an innkeeper is the ultimate small scale business.  After all, innkeepers open their homes and their lives to their guests.  Sometimes, when I lead guests through our lobby, I like to say, "Welcome to our world."  Nobody working in a hotel ever said that, at least not in a good way.  

In a hotel, it's more like, "The manager is out to lunch right now and there's no one with the authority to solve your problem.  I know what to do, but I'm not allowed without prior approval.  I've only been here for two months and I'm still on probation and I don't want to lose this job.  Welcome to my world."  

That paragraph needs a smiling emoji at the end but I don't have any at hand.  You know what I mean. 
Bedroom in our Clio Suite
We take great care to decorate every room in each of our five, two-room suites with care and attention to detail, to make it seem homey, if your home is a dream come true.  The bedroom in the Clio Suite doesn't even look like the picture above.  The bed has a canopy now, and flowers, and fairy lights.  All of La Belle Esplanade is a constant work in progress as we try to make it better and more interesting for our guests.  

So far, we seem to be doing a good job.  For the last 15 months, we've been ranked the #1 B&B in New Orleans on Trip Advisor by our guests.  15 months.  That's longer than we ever imagined when we opened the doors in September 2012.  It's gratifying to learn we are doing something right.
Sitting room in our Clio Suite
People ask if I always wear a hat.  No, not always, not when I'm singing in the shower.  Whenever you see me, I'll bet you a dollar that I'll be wearing a hat, though.  I like hats.
Fall innkeeper uniform
I'll be wearing a hat tonight when Frau Schmitt and I hobnob with our fellow innkeepers.  They're a boisterous lot, full of joie de vivre and plump with facts about this city we call home.  You can stay in a hotel anywhere, and much of the time you don't have any choice. In New Orleans, you can stay in a licensed bed and breakfast.  Think it over.  Make your reservations early.  We tend to fill up long before the big chain hotels on Canal Street do.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Where Baptist Seminarians Eat in New Orleans

Corner of Orleans Avenue and N. Miro Street
I was at the campus of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS) the other day.  I'm not going to be studying to be a Baptist pastor or anything, but I visit all sorts of places all over the city.  That's my job: to know as much as I can about every facet of New Orleans.  As usual, I didn't bring my camera, so we'll be using photos of unrelated restaurants in our neighborhood to illustrate this installment.  That old forgot-my-camera schtick never gets old, does it?

I picked up a flyer at one of the desks in the student union building entitled, "The Unofficial Guide NOBTS Guide to Where to Eat in New Orleans."  Here's what the rest of the front of the flyer says:  "New Orleans is known for its abundance of quality restaurants.  We polled the NOBTS family for its favorite places; hopefully, you will enjoy these recommendations, and come back with some of your own!"
Corner of St. Anne and N. Tonti Streets
I've got some recommendations that aren't endorsed by the NOBTS family.  I've got nothing against their suggestions, and I am not going to list them all here.  A lot of them are out in the suburbs.  A lot of them are in trendy neighborhoods within the city that are out of the way for most visitors who don't have a car.  Freret Street is heavily represented, and, while the restaurants are good on Freret Street, you can find something similar in your home town.  You don't come to New Orleans for pizza or for sandwiches (or maybe you do).  I would never dream of going to most of the restaurants recommended, and I have a car; and, there are plenty that I've never heard of.  [Gasp!]

Frau Schmitt and I like to think we know most places to eat in the city, even the places our guests are never going to be interested in or to be able to find.  We visit them just in case.  We never know who is going to walk through our front door and what their interests will be.

NOBTS has a leg up on us.  I asked Frau Schmitt to take a look at their restaurant list.  "Are these places still open?" she asked.  I had no idea.  We asked Tammie the Housekeeper.  She shrugged.  "Beats me," she said.  Tammie has lived most of her life in New Orleans or just outside of the city.  None of us are elitist snobs, far from it.  My favorite lunch place is Sammy's.
Tammie the Housekeeper
I will share the Top 4 List that's on page three of the brochure: "The Favorites.  Our Most Recommended Restaurants."  Okay, here we go:

No. 1.  New Orleans Food and Spirits at 210 Hammond Hwy in Metarie.  We've never been here.  Never heard of it.  It has three locations, one on the West Bank (the Best Bank), one in Covington (across Lake Pontchartrain) and one in Bucktown (the Hammond Hwy location).  Maybe it's good.  If people want to go to Bucktown, we send them to Deannie's Seafood in Bucktown.  There's a Deannie's Seafood in the French Quarter, but don't go there.  Most people say it's not as good.  Go to the Bucktown original.  Or, you can go to New Orleans Food and Spirits, apparently.  You could, of course, stay closer to home base and eat at just about anywhere else.

Corner of Bienville Street and N. Jefferson Davis Parkway

No. 2.  Drago's at 2 Poydras Street or at 3232 N. Arnold Rd, Metarie.  Drago's is the birthplace of charbroiled oysters.  The original location, in Metarie, is located in a part of Metarie called Fat City.  I am not going to bore you with a history of Fat City, which is mildly interesting, but I will tell you that it's a very weird place.  The location on Poydras street is on the ground floor off the Hilton Hotel lobby close to the Convention Center.  That's why it's there, because it's close to the Convention Center.  If you're attending a convention, consider Drago's.  I don't give it much thought, myself.  This past January, we attended a professional innkeepers convention in that very same Hilton.  We didn't go to Drago's.

No. 3.  Russell's Marina Grill at 8555 Pontchartrain Blvd.  There are a couple of seafood restaurants on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain.  We've been to two of them and, frankly, they were enough to satisfy our appetite.  Now that I've pulled up Russell's website, I know where we're talking about.  We haven't eaten here.  We'll add it to our list of places to eventually visit.  According to their website, it's home to the Original Onion Mumm.  I have no idea what that is.  I haven't seen any copycat onion mumms on any menus around the city.  Again, this is far away.  You may as well go to Bucktown.
Corner of Bienville and N. Telemachus Streets
No. 4.  Dat Dog at 5030 Freret Street or at 3336 Magazine Street.  People who stay with us typically stumble across the Dat Dog branch on Frenchmen Street.  There is also Dis and Dat, which offers Dat Dogs and hamburgers on Banks Street, and there's a Dat Dog located in the Lakeside Mall in Metarie.  Did you come to New Orleans for a hot dog?  If you have a hankering for a hot dog, we do encourage you to visit Dat Dog on Frenchmen or Magazine Street.  Don't be tempted to try a Lucky Dog from a cart in the French Quarter.  Don't be tempted to try a Lucky Dog from a cart in the French Quarter.  I didn't type that last sentence twice by accident---I did it for emphasis, then I went back and italicized it to make sure you get my drift.  How about a third time?  Don't be tempted to try a Lucky Dog from a cart in the French Quarter.  Know what I'm saying?
Corner of Iberville and North Telemachus Streets
I have nothing against the NOBTS restaurant recommendations.  Some of my best friends are Baptists.  It's just that someone studying theology in New Orleans might miss out on some of the better cultural cuisine the city has to offer.  As innkeepers, we meet people from all over the world, from all walks of life, all with different expectations of what New Orleans has to offer and they carry different images of what New Orleans is in their heads.  

Let me just say that I was surprised that these four restaurants made the top four.  They are so far off my map, they wouldn't even be in my bottom four.  They wouldn't even be mentioned.  To each his own, ce sera, sera and all that jazz, live and let live.  

When we meet you, we try to figure out what you are interested in and what will appeal to you.  Then, we give you recommendations. Sometimes, there are so many that it can seem like we turned on a fire hose.  No worries.  It is very hard to have a bad meal in New Orleans.  It's a place that takes its food seriously even while everyone is having a good time.

We tried The Franklin last night for dinner to see if we can recommend it.  We can recommend it.  That's all I choose to say.  It depends on what you're looking for.

Dat Dog held a jingle contest in recently memory.  The winner was a folk song.  I much prefer the runner-up by the New Orleans Youth Sound Experience.

If you are interested in Sammy's Food Service and Deli:

I warn you, Sammy's is a bit out of the way.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Bewitched in New Orleans

The Pudding Lady
I don't like to write in dialect the way that it makes Mark Twain difficult to read, dropping the 'g's to replace them with commas.  It I were to write the Pudding Lady's name correctly, it would be as the "Puddin' Lady"  After all, she's the lady who runs the Puddin' Shop.  Plus, spellcheck keeps automatically putting the g into puddin' after I've moved onto the next few words (I type that fast) and then I have to go back and manually correct.  Such is the life of a professional writer.  I know you feel your humble narrator's pain.

Remember our last installment?  The one in which I wrote how much I love to write the title of a particular song: Secret...AGENT MAN!  Well, we have agents all over the city who do some legwork for us.  One of them is the Pudding Lady.  That's not her real name.  It's her code name.

My code name is Your Humble Narrator.  Frau Schmitt's code name is Frau Schmitt.  Tammie the Housekeeper's code name is Agent 11.  She snorts when I call her that.  One time, I called her that when she was drinking hot coffee and it came out her nose.  She's going to love reading this in print.  I'm not telling you to embarrass her, only to illustrate how much she puts up with my shenanigans.  She also hates it when I use this picture whenever I mention her in the blog, and I haven't mentioned her for too long a time.
Tammie the Housekeeper
Thank you, Tammie, for everything you do to keep the inn running shipshape, on schedule and under budget. 

The Pudding Lady was down in Armstrong Park on Thursday, peddling bread pudding to the people who came to enjoy Jazz in the Park every Thursday.  She knows a family we used to know, a couple from Thailand who makes a very special flower-shaped rice cracker that was a hit with our guests last year.  The market where we met the couple closed and the Pudding Lady has located them for us again. The Pudding Lady dropped off two boxes of rice flower crackers (which are about 3 inches across and look nothing like a Ritz, they're prettier and sweeter) on our doorstep.  
A view of La Belle Esplanade's breakfast buffet
Thanks, Pudding Lady.  Thanks, again.  

We get intelligence from all over the city about where the best breakfast items might be found.  Then, we go to investigate.  Wherever I can find the best gossip and the best goods, that's where I point my motor scooter ever morning.  I'm not going to over-romanticize what we do, but we have an extensive network of fellow-agents and goodwill collaborators who help us provide an interesting and varied breakfast that gives our guests a taste of New Orleans culture and neighborhoods.  

When you stay at La Belle Esplanade, you are in New Orleans.  You aren't in grandma's house and you aren't in a chain hotel.  We're quirky.

Joan of Arc's birthday is coming up.  There is going to be a fairly low-key commando ceremony and parade in the French Quarter (no permit or police escort).  I can't tell you when or where it's going to take place.  If I did, it wouldn't be commando.  Keep your eyes open.
Joan of Arc statue in the French Quarter
When you spend time in New Orleans, whether you are visiting or you live here, you never know what you'll stumble into.  We try to know everything, but we know we can't know everything.  Confucius said, "Know what you know and know what you do not know.  That is true wisdom."  There is just too, too much going on.  The city is a kaleidoscope.  I know I've said that before, but it's true.

You will be bewitched, bothered and bewildered.

Good memories are made in New Orleans.  Especially on Esplanade Avenue.  

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Whiz Bang New Orleans

The uptown side of Canal Street, riverside of Carrollton Ave.
This is going to be one whiz-bang of a post as the opening photo hints.  Apparently, when I took pictures of Blue Dot Donuts the other day I also took a lot of photos while walking our dog through the neighborhood.  It isn't the most exciting part of town, but, like most parts of New Orleans, it's interesting enough.  Of course, I live here.  I find our city endlessly fascinating.

When I was picking up pastries this morning, I overheard someone standing in line say to someone else, "A pretty face can hide and evil mind."  I thought of one of my theme songs:

And, only because I like to write it this way, that song's title is: 

Secret---AGENT MAN!! 

I'm often mistaken for a man of mystery as I take the motor scooter out picking up fresh bread and pastries every morning.  One morning, one of the girls at Blue Dot Donuts said, "You must love these bacon maple johnny logs."  I had to admit that I've never eaten one.  They're for our guests.  Who can eat that many bacon donuts?  Well, I guess a lot of people can.  Then a fully dressed shrimp po' boy for lunch.

When you live in New Orleans, people from elsewhere think we walk down the street with a shrimp po' boy in one hand and a trumpet in the other.  I don't know how to play the trumpet.

I did just order an ocarina from Amazon.  I don't have enough hobbies.  It turns out the ocarina I ordered has some tie-in with The Legend of Zelda, which I understand is a video game of which I have no knowledge whatsoever.  As Frau Schmitt will tell you, I am an old fuddy-duddy.  She is usually right about these things.
This Canal Street Building is for sale
Canal Street used to be the most glorious shopping street in the South, as the Chamber of Commerce likes to brag.  All the big old-looking hotels on Canal Street towards the river used to be department stores.  Further lakeside, the architecture is a collection of 1920s manors and bungalows, and a smattering of modernist office buildings constructed in the 1950s and 60s.  It's a very interesting streetscape if you are interested in urban studies.  Canal Street was supposed to be the main business street, hence the modernist office buildings.  During the late 1970s, it was decided that Poydras Street would be the main business street in the city and that's why the tall office skyscrapers are on Poydras Street.  

Poydras Street is not very interesting for me.  When people stay at Le Pavilion Hotel, which is a beautiful building, they ask me what there is to do on Poydras Street.  My answer: "Not much."  That's changing now as some new apartment buildings are being built where there used to be parking lots, but the area still doesn't interest me much.  If you've been to another American city, you've been to that part of town.  If you want to eat at Jimmie John's or Jamba Juice, you can stay home and do that.   I have nothing against those places, or against whatever big city you live near, but you don't come to New Orleans for that.  

You could go to Memphis.


Louisiana Running Company, Canal Street, New Orleans
Those are shoes handing under the Louisiana Running Company sign.  I have a close-up picture of them, but it's a picture of shoes.  I've limited myself to five illustrations for this post.

Someone wrote to me today asking if we accept guests who are 13 years of age.  The answer was yes.  We do not accept guests who are younger than 13.  I would think it should be needless to say, but I'm going to say it anyway because one never knows, guests under the age of 18 must be accompanied by at least one adult.

My ignorance of video games notwithstanding (I am an old fuddy-duddy, after all), I imagine that our inn could be very interesting to a 13 year old boy.  Not that I would encourage him to wander the lobby unattended, but there are a lot of interesting and offbeat things in the lobby, the kind of things that fire a person's imagination.  As Frau Schmitt will tell you, and she is usually right about these things, your humble narrator is an arrested adolescent in many of his preoccupations.  To see the world through the eyes of a child...  New Orleans is a magical place.  I wouldn't take a young lad to some parts of Bourbon Street, but New Orleans is a place in which one's imagination can be set free.  It is a city of wonder.

Let's change the soundtrack:

Quite the change, eh?  That's one part of Bourbon Street.  I heard that song the other morning out of one of the clubs when I was walking our dog after picking up croissants and baguettes at Croissant d'Or.  That's what made me think of it.

I can hear you, "Waitaminnut?  You were picking up pastries at 6:30 in the morning and the clubs were blaring music out the front doors?"

Welcome to New Orleans.  That's the French Quarter for you.

Of course, our house is within walking distance of the French Quarter, but ours is overall a quiet neighborhood.  There's traffic on the street on Friday and Saturday nights, but then things quiet down after 11:00.  Other nights, it's very peaceful around the clock.  At about 3 or 4 AM, if you're awake, you'll hear distant train whistles and tug boat horns.  I like it when I'm awake at that hour, listening to the nation's port going about its business in the wee small time before everyone rouses themselves for fresh daytime adventures.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, at around 5 or 6, a couple of crows will roost in the oak trees in front of our house and have a conversation for a few minutes.  They're neighbors.  Nobody minds.
Sofas & Chairs & More, Canal Street, New Orleans, LA
I like how Sofas & Chairs, Inc. doesn't leave the "and more" part of what they sell up to your imagination.  If you can't figure it out, they sell lamps too.  I always admire this sign.  It clean and crisp and uses the lack of a show window to admirable effect.  Maybe you want to shop for a sofa when you're in New Orleans.  I should pop in soon and see if they'll ship.

And that concludes this installment and I know what you're thinking.  I promised five photos to illustrate today's rambling musings.  Fear not, I've got one in reserve.  This is a restaurant on North Carrollton Avenue, a few blocks downtown of Canal Street.  We have eaten at over 300 restaurants in New Orleans but we haven't eaten on this one yet.  We're waiting for one of our guests to try it out to tell us how it is:
Yummy Yummy, North Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA
You didn't come to New Orleans to eat Chinese food, did you?  Maybe you did.  I'm not here to judge.  As innkeepers, our job is make sure you enjoy the city according to what interests you.  They do offer a full lunch buffet.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Blue Dot Donuts in New Orleans

Canal Street Streetcar in the morning
We love it when celebrities stay at our inn.  I'm not talking about Rex Hollywood, who is a joy to have around, or about Frede Fup, who really is a celebrity, albeit in Denmark.  I'm talking about celebrities you know---the kind of people you see on your Yahoo newsfeed.  [Apparently newsfeed is a word since spellcheck didn't correct it.  Who knew?]  

I don't follow the Kardashians and I am disheartened that my Wheaties box idol, Bruce Jenner, is famous for what he (she) is famous for now.  No link there.  At least it isn't Mark Spitz.  Could you imagine the electrolysis bill?

Anyhow, back on topic, famous people stay at La Belle Esplanade. I can't tell you who they are.  I've signed a confidentiality agreement, as have the guests who stay in the other suites at the same time.  I can tell you this, though, the conversation at breakfast is just as interesting as it is any other day.  This is a boutique operation.  If you're sitting across from Laura Bush, what are you going to say?  You're going to tell her and her husband where you had the best fried oyster po' boy yesterday.

Laura Bush didn't stay with us recently.  Somebody else did.
That streetcar was still coming up Canal Street that morning
A celebrity is staying with us right now.  I asked if I could write about him in our blog.  He said yes, but he also said we couldn't call him by his real name.  What name did he prefer?  Billy Ockham.  He's traveling with his wife.  They stayed with us for six nights, which is a nice amount of time to experience New Orleans on it's own terms.  It's their 25th wedding anniversary.

"Should I spell that like Ockham's Razor?"  I asked.  "Yes," he said.  "Any relation?" I asked.  "No," he answered.  Here we go.  

You might know him and his bride or you might not.  They are very nice to have around the house and they've been enjoying the Clio Suite balcony that overlooks Esplanade Avenue.  Other than that, I cannot say any more.  My lips are sealed.

Let's listen to a song about Virginia.

Sic Semper Tyrannis.

Over the course of our breakfast conversations, I learned that Billy Ockham has a love of bacon.  It's nothing to be ashamed of.  A lot of people love bacon.  It's one way that Burger King keeps pace with McDonald's.  Wendy's, too.  Bacon.  The more the better, some people say.  Not me.  Not Mrs. Ockham either.  Frau Schmitt says that too much bacon is bad for my cholestrol and she is usually right about these things, but who are we to judge?

Since Billy Ockham loves bacon, I decided to pick up some bacon and maple donuts at Blue Dot Donuts on Canal street.  
Blue Dot Donuts on Canal Street
Blue Dot opened on Canal Street a bit over two years ago.  They're very popular.  The donuts are good.  They have a wide selection of specialty donuts.  When I go, I tend to pick up the maple and bacon johnnie logs, which are the real show stoppers in the case.  If I get there after 7:00, the Jesuit High School students have usually scooped up all the bacon and maple donuts so I have to get there when the shop opens, at 6:00.  I do this for our guests, whether they are international celebrities or not.

Where is that donut shop again?  I probably shouldn't tell you, but I will.
4301 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA
Now you know.  You can call ahead if you are so inclined to make a reservation.

I'd like to tell you more.  Frau Schmitt would, too, but we cannot.  Our lips are sealed.

À votre santé,

La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Someplace you'll never visit in New Orleans

Homedale Inn is a bar
I just wrote to a prospective guest that until we open the calendar for next year, he should read our blog.  I provided the caveat that I don't always (ever) know how useful the blog is to prospective guests but some people enjoy reading it and I certainly enjoy writing it.  

There is nothing worse than a blog that just regurgitates a list of festivals or recipes or boilerplate cadged from the tourist information bureau.  There is nothing worse than a blog that has no personality.  We don't try to sell you anything here.  If you want personality, well, our inn has it in spades.  

Over breakfast, we like to talk about the city we live in, even the parts we know are out of the way and that you'll never see.  New Orleans is much, much more than the French Quarter and the Garden District.  It is much, much more than what you read in the guide books.
Homedale Inn isn't much to look at from the outside
Here's what Mayor Mitch Landrieu had to say during his State of the City speech the other day, which was held in the Carver Theater, a few blocks behind our house:

"The world deserves a better New Orleans.  It's time for us to claim it, to own it, to accept the awesome responsibility that history has laid at our doorstep."

I wrote that down because I'm going to hire Whalehead King to write it in calligraphy and frame it for us.  Some people think he's a talented artist.  His paintings hand all over our inn.  Talk about personality.

What the mayor was trying to say is that the world is a better place when New Orleans is a better place.  Imagine a world without New Orleans.  The very idea gives me the shudders, and not just because I live here.  New Orleans is like no place else on God's green earth.
The Homedale marquis is pretty much homemade
The pictures I'm using are pretty crummy looking because I took them on a crummy day, with storm clouds looming the whole time. You can tell the Homedale Inn is a local place because of the beer signs on either side of it's masthead.  Neither beer, neither Jax nor Regal are served inside.  They aren't brewed anymore.  They are old New Orleans beers that live on in sweet, sweet memory.  Dixie Beer is still around but it isn't brewed in New Orleans anymore.
Max Beer Logo outside the Homedale Inn
Regal Beer logo outside the Homedale Inn
The Homedale Inn is located off Canal Boulevard, which begins at the end of Canal Street.  It isn't a place tourists visit, being too far out of their way.  Doesn't matter.  Plenty of things happen in New Orleans that visitors don't know anything about.  Those are the things that keep the culture fresh and vibrant.  Those are the things that make things work the way they work here.  Visitors are welcome, of course, they always are, but most visitors don't seek out places like the Homedale Inn.  I like it there.  Frau Scmitt?  Not so much so.

We could use a little musical interlude here, and, because we just mentioned Dixie Beer, I've chosen Al Jolson singing Swanee.  I know he's performing in blackface and I just talked about the Carver Theater.  According to their website, "The Carver is recognized by the National Register of Historical Places with 'exceptional significance' as a watershed in development of first-rate theaters for blacks in New Orleans."  This is not a celebration of stereotypes that are apparent on every level of this performance, only a historical artifact.

I always like it when Jolson spells out D-I-X-I-E.  The name Dixie for the South comes from New Orleans, but that's the subject of another post.  I also like it when Jolson whistles in this song.  The song was written by George Gershwin, who also wrote Porgie and Bess:

Back on topic, did you know there's a dress code at Homedale Inn? Nobody's ever turned me away, but I tend to be a snappy dresser to begin with.  Everyone at the Homedale Inn seems to be.  Here's their website if you're interested.
Homedale Inn is located at 618 Homedale Street, New Orleans, LA
I would like to finish up with some vintage New Orleans based television commercials.  I'm fond of the one for Seafood City at about 2:13 where the guy is cured of passing out by eating a crawfish.  That shop was a few blocks from our house.  It's a Walgreen's now.  McKenzie's was at the intersection of our street with North Broad, where Tastee Donuts is.  There are layers and layers of history in New Orleans.  I think Frankie and Johnny Furniture is still around, but I may be thinking of a bar Uptown.

And now, to end on a really highbrow note, a little Porgie and Bess.  "Summertime," of course is a jazz standard that you'll hear sung on Frenchmen Street just about any night.  Most people don't know it was originally written as opera.  It's very different when it's played and sung as opera:

Here it is performed by Ella and Satch:

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