Monday, October 28, 2019

New Orleans Witch Houses

It would be rash to say that there are a lot of witch houses in New Orleans.  Despite the neighborhoods' reputations, there are far fewer witch houses in Tremé or the 7th Ward than anyone thinks are there.  Everyone knows a couple of New Orleans witch houses but the way to take a census isn't to ask everyone you know how many witch houses they know and then add up the answers.  

A New Orleans witch house.

A lot of people know the most popular witch houses.  Just because 20 different people know the witch house on Perdido Street, that doesn't mean there are twenty different witch houses.  There are, however, more than one, even it the number isn't as high as the guide books lead you believe.  

People who live in New Orleans know how many witch houses there are.  It doesn't take a genius to figure it out.  Spend enough time in this wonderful city we call home and you'll figure out a lot of things and ways to get by.

The New Orleans witch houses in Tremé and the 7th Ward aren't tourist attractions.  They are so far off the usual tourist radar that when tourists do find them, they are lost.  Your typical New Orleans tourist wants to get his or her voodoo from a French Quarter voodoo shop.  About all the supernatural your typical New Orleans tourist can take is a drunken ghost tour through the French Quarter and having his or her cards read in Jackson Square.  

The rest of New Orleans is not the French Quarter.  It's better.  It's more magical.  

A New Orleans witch house?  It's still under construction.

The real New Orleans is where people live out their lives by working, loving, laughing, raising families, burying parents, forging friendships, celebrating Mardi Gras, making ends meet, making good memories, nurturing traditions, being a part of this giant post-Katrina social project of rebuilding a great city better than it was before, improving the best parts and making the worst parts much, much better.  New Orleans is very, very good.  The best is yet to come.  We're going to have the best Mardi Gras ever next year.

This is not one of New Orleans witch houses.

From the outside, New Orleans witch houses are pretty quiet places.  Some nights, when I'm walking my dog at 1:00AM, we'll run into people standing outside a witch house.  Apparently, no vaping is allowed inside.  I do the talking while the dog sniffs about.  The dog never barks at a New Orleans witch house, his guard is down.  Everyone I talk to seems like a solidly okay Jane or Joe, solid citizens.  They are as angry about AirBnB taking over New Orleans' neighborhoods, the Sewerage and Water Board dysfunction, and the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel as much as anyone.  

The Secret of New Orleans Witch Houses

I've been in my share of New Orleans witch houses.  It has most times been a dull affair.  One of the owners of one particular witch house, Josephine, who I knew from Liuzza's-by-the-Track, wanted to talk to me about the meaning of life.  "Uh-oh!" my conscience said.  My conscience was right.  Josephine and I had Barq's root beer and deviled eggs for an hour while she cayenned me with questions that I did my best to answer vaguely.

That's the way it's gone most times I've been in a witch house, except for the times when it wasn't like that at all.  I've got some good New Orleans memories about those good times.

There is nothing ominous about New Orleans witch houses.  Most of the people who run them are harmless kooks.  I'll take a kindly eccentric over a malevolent one, any day.

A Word From Our Sponsor:  

Speaking of kindly eccentrics, today's blog is sponsored by La Belle Esplanade, a small, five-suite artisanal hotel located on a beautiful street on the boundary between New Orleans' Tremé and 7th Ward neighborhoods.  

There is nothing wrong with visiting like a tourist on your first trip to New Orleans.  When you've gotten the French Quarter out of your system, though, we hope you'll consider La Belle Esplanade, the small hotel that respects your intelligence.  La Belle also is home to "The Best-Written Blog in New Orleans."  Check it out and keep yourself in a New Orleans state of mind. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Barracks Street Jawbreaker

Hoo, boy.  Where Bayou Road intersects with Barracks Street there's a triangular lot.  The building on the Johnson Street side of the triangle used to be a grocery store, a greengrocer with general store sundries and a butcher counter with a bar in the back.  Your typical New Orleans corner grocery back in the day.

Barracks Street may be the most undeservedly unlauded street in New Orleans.

For years after Katrina, the building was a fence installation office.  Times change.  You'll know the building when you see it.  Barracks Street, like Bayou Road, is a very interesting street.  Barracks Street, like Bayou Road, has a lot of history most professional historians overlook.  

Professional historians, especially the ones who teach in schools, but, also, the kind who write best selling books and have podcasts, or, who show up to offer opinions on TV shows about ancient aliens, or ,who did nothing more but get themselves some accredited sheepskin, they got their smarts from burying their noses in books.  A real historian, an agent in the field, he or she is out and about like Indiana Jones, discovering history and putting all its pieces together.  Academia isn't always academic.  There is history all around us in New Orleans.

The Barracks Street Jawbreaker was a particular kind of hard, round candy made by a certain Juliette Mirabeaux.  She lived on Barracks Street and that how this candy got its name.  References to it appear in the local newspapers, the New Orleans Bee, the City Item, the Picayune, the Mascot, the Times-Democrat, etcetera.

There was a popular song at one time called "The Barracks Street Jawbreaker Rag."  Hoochie-coochie girls used to dance to it.  

In Creole society, it has never been polite to chew gum in public.  People could smoke cigars or pipes, even cigarettes, eventually, even women, and no one will bat an eye.  It's like a cocktail at lunch.  To chew gum, though!  Someone seen chewing gum in public can be ostracized from all the good couvillons and Mardi Gras balls.  Who would want to associate with a common, sloppy gum-chewer?  Nobody.

Instead of chewing gum, polite Creoles from good families started to suck on jawbreakers.  Sucking a jawbreaker was the vaping of its day.  Nowadays, they just vape instead of chewing gum.  When it comes to chewing gum in certain echelons of New Orleans high society, New Orleans may as well be the city-state of Singapore.  The two have almost nothing else in common besides their weather.

Juliette Mirabeaux was toasted all over New Orleans as "Queen of the Barracks Street Jawbreakers."  She had a secret recipe.  She went to her grave with it.  She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery #3, in Restaurant Row.  

All sorts of house-industry jawbreaker confectioners set up shop on Ursulines Street and on Bayou Road.  They tended to cluster on either side of Claiborne Avenue.  Juliette Mirabeaux was the only one on Barracks Street.  Her central location as well as her secret recipe cemented her reputation.  Give the people what they want.

You can still find a Barracks Street jawbreaker today, but not in any store.  Sometimes, you'll find them for sale in a jar at a snowball stand but the only really reliable source is a huck-a-buck lady.  They aren't cheap but they aren't expensive, either, considering the product.  A Barracks Street jawbreaker is fossilized New Orleans ambrosia.  Someone has replicated Juliette Mirabeaux's recipe.  It's addictive.

Sometimes, someone really will break their jaw while consuming a Barracks Street jawbreaker.  It is an interrupted consummation.  Even with a broken jaw, while waiting for an ambulance to arrive, the jawbreaker addict will wrap what's left of his Barracks Street jawbreaker in a handkerchief to save it for when he gets out of the hospital.

There are hundreds of stories like this in New Orleans.

New Orleans is full of intriguing things.


Today's installment of the New Orleans State of mind is brought to you, as usual, by La Belle Esplanade.  If you are thinking about visiting New Orleans, we hope you'll consider staying at La Belle Esplanade.  

Thursday, October 24, 2019

New Orleans Hoodoo Signs

Call them signs, call them sigils, call them chicken scratchings or illiterate art, but, for the purpose of this article, we're going to call them New Orleans Hoodoo Signs.  They're everywhere.  Here is Exhibit A:

New Orleans Hoodoo signs seen in Mid-City, New Orelans.

You can find chalk drawings and finger-scribbles in the dirt all over New Orleans.  When you look down while you are walking in New Orleans you'll discover a multitude of details most people overlook.  Keep your eyes open.  New Orleans is full of overlapping charms.  The city is like an onion.  The deeper you get into New Orleans the more dense it gets.

There is voodoo in New Orleans.  Like love, voodoo is in the air here.  

Keep your eyes open in New Orleans.  Keep your eyes open for colors and voodoo.  Keep your eyes open for New Orleans hoodoo signs.  It could be something so innocent-seeming as a hopscotch court scratched onto the asphalt, or it could be something so diabolical as your full name as it appears on your birth certificate written in pig blood on the inside of every window of your house.  That last one is the worst.

Sometimes it's a joke, a lark, a prank.  Sometimes its a scam, a hoax, an advertising gimmick.  Most of the time it's a gang of kids between the ages of 11 through 14 having a good time at someone else's superstitious expense, except when it's not.  When it's not, it's a real curse.  Real like your name is written in the Devil's address book to take you to where you deserve to go.  It is so real there's no mercy.  

It's no walk in the park when someone curses you with some real New Orleans hoodoo signs.  Brrrrr.  Even only the thought of it will give anyone with any sense the shivers.  

New Orleans hoodoo signs come in many variations:

Some people say the Chariots of the Gods landed in New Orleans.

Sometimes you can tell what they mean.  Most of the time you can't.  Who knows?  Somebody does.  If you tallied up all the unexplained accidents that bloom like skunkweed every day in New Orleans, and you compared that to the number of New Orleans hoodoo signs around the city, I expect you would come up with a 2:1 ratio.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.


La Belle Esplanade is a small hotel located on a beautiful and historic street close to all the tourist action but far enough away to be immersed in the real New Orleans where people live.  Visit New Orleans like you belong.  You do belong here. 

They run an excellent blog over there, too, in case you're interested.  The focus is a little different but it's all pure New Orleans state of mind.  Be a New Orleanian when you're in New Orleans.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

New Orleans Is A City of Sinners Full of Saints

New Orleans is magnificent.  The city glows, day and night, with a holy light.  The City of New Orleans is the handmaid of the Lord.  Miracles happen in New Orleans.  New Orleans will make a convert out of you.  Once you've been bitten by New Orleans' bug, you'll be contagious.  Happiness loves company.

Saints are around every corner in New Orleans.

Vice is nice in New Orleans as far as it goes, and, in New Orleans, the sky is the limit how high a trumpet note can reach.  Angels sing in New Orleans.  Guardian angels keep busy in New Orleans.  You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you shouldn't pick your friend's nose.  The Devil wants to be your best friend in New Orleans.  

Statistics show that the rate of drug-assisted rape in the City of New Orleans outside of the French Quarter is the lowest per capita of population in the Western Hemisphere except for Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the state of Utah, the country of Suriname, and the part of the continent of Antarctica that is in the Western Hemisphere.

Don't believe the worst that you read about New Orleans.  Ours is a tender and tolerant, welcoming city.

New Orleans is a city of sinners but it is also a city full of saints.  New Orleans is, literally, the Saints' City.  Watch Monday night football.  Who Dat!

New Orleans is a city that goes light on judgement.  New Orleans is a city that goes heavy on mercy.  You will meet the nicest people you will ever meet in New Orleans.  People who live in New Orleans are onto something.  They know things that people who don't live here don't know.  

In different parts of the city, different people know different things. No one in New Orleans is wholly innocent.  New Orleans is a city.  Vice will find its voice and advocate on the City Council, and even in the Mayor's office.  Nothing is pure.  Everything in New Orleans is a mix of natural law, human nature, swamp gasses, faubourg quelque choses, traditions, recipes, stories, love and devotion.  New Orleans is a collection of souls who want the best.

It's hard to know sometimes.  I know.  What's best?  New Orleans has its answers.  Immerse yourself in a New Orleans state of mind. Everything will still be murky but it will seem clear.  New Orleans has its own pulse.  When your heartbeat matches New Orleans' rhythm, you'll be well on your way to being a saint.  

We are all sinners, it's our nature, but New Orleans is a city that encourages holiness.  You can't swing a broom without hitting a sinner in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter.  Most of those people aren't New Orleanians, they are visitors.  You can't swing a dead cat in New Orleans without hitting a saint-in-the-making.  Every real New Orleanian is a saint making his or her way to Heaven.  This is New Orleans.  "Love thy neighbor." is an authentic and obtainable ideal here.


La Belle Esplanade sponsors this blog.  If you are thinking about visiting New Orleans, or, if you know someone who is thinking about visiting New Orleans, or if you just know someone who wants to be in a New Orleans state of mind until it's gonna be time to visit this wonderful city we call home----Turn them onto this blog that you're reading right now, but also check out  There's a pretty good blog over there, too, and you can learn about the most unique small hotel in New Orleans at the same time.  

We look forward to meeting you at the small hotel that will respect your intelligence: La Belle Esplanade.

St. Joan of Arc is the unofficial patroness of New Orelans.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pinkest House in New Orleans

If you ask somebody from Uptown if they know about the pink house on North Dorgenois Street, they're not going to know what you're talking about.  They're from Uptown so they they don't know.  There are other pink houses, but, this is the pinkest house in New Orleans.  Even though it is super-pink, to tell you the truth, not many people in the 6th Ward know about it either.  It's like it's invisible.

The pinkest house in all New Orleans!

Ask somebody at CC's Coffee Shop on Esplanade Avenue.  Guaranteed no one there, neither outside nor inside, will have ever seen or heard of this pinkest house in New Orleans.  I doubt any of them could name even one pink house in the city.  It's not their fault.  This kind of thing just isn't on their radar.

Ask somebody at Dooky Chase's.  Maybe someone has heard of the Dorgenois Pink House.  There was a song about this pink house once.  It was popular around the time of the New Orleans Axe-Man.  Go to Dooky Chase's for Friday lunch.  There will be a long line so there will be ample opportunity to ask as many people as possible.

Ask someone at Willie Mae's Scotch House.  That address is even closer to the pink house.  Certainly no one in the line that goes down the side of the building will know.  Some of the Uber or taxi drivers who swarm around the address may know.  They've driven down every street.

Find someone on the Lafitte Greenway.  If they'll talk to you, ask them.  If it's kids sucking on huck-a-bucks under the shade of a tree, they'll probably know.  The pink house sticks in the minds of children.  It is only when we get older that we start to take the world's simpler pleasures for granted and stop noticing them.

Ask an adult who has grown up in the 6th Ward.  They'll know.  Ask an adult who has moved in the 6th Ward since Katrina.  They probably won't know.  It doesn't matter how specific you get.  "It's the pink house on the river side of North Dorgenois Street.  It's pink.  It's really, really pink.  It's all pink!  The porch light is always on.  It always smells like turtle soup."  They don't know, even if they're not originally from Uptown.

Why do you need to know about the pinkest house in New Orleans?  You're probably not going to see it, either.  

The Dorgenois Pink House isn't a legend.  How can something be a legend if nobody knows about it?  It is a well-kept secret hidden in plain sight.  To know this pink house is to love it.  Maybe it is best that most people don't know it.  The pinkest house in New Orleans is on a quiet block of North Dorgenois Street.  Crows never roost there.


I know where the house in question is, of course.  If you are interested in learning more, I know the perfect place to stay when you Visit New Orleans.  La Belle Esplanade is a small personalized hotel experience in an authentic New Orleans neighborhood (the 6th Ward).  You should read the blog over there!

When you are ready to Visit New Orleans like you belong here, and you do belong here, we hope you'll consider La Belle Esplanade.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

The Saddest Sight of All in New Orleans

Looking at a lone white baby shoe on the side of the road won't make anyone smile but a sight sadder than that is an abandoned walker leaning against a fence for someone to take.  New Orleans is a city that runs the gamut of the human experience but this walker is the saddest sight of all that I've seen this week.

One of the saddest sights of all in New Orleans.

I saw this abandoned walker leaning against a fence on North Tonti Street in New Orleans' 7th Ward.  

We can all imagine why a walker would be left out in the rain and unattended for four days, waiting for someone to drive by and take it to a new home.  None of the scenarios that first come to mind are very pleasant.  They all involve someone not needing it anymore, usually for a reason more toward the zero end of the scale, ten being they got up, danced a jig, and walked two miles to Antoine's for a celebratory dinner.  Something tells me that the previous owner of this walker didn't dance a jig this week.  Call it a hunch.

I was walking our dog when he and I came across this abandoned walker.  He spent a long time sniffing it.  He wanted to pee on one of the legs but I stopped him.  We moved along.  Based on the amount of time my dog spent sniffing the walker, I suspect I am in the minority of dog-walking citizens who are cognizant of the karmic consequences of letting a dog pee on an abandoned walker.  Call me superstitious but I just find the very idea to be disrespectful.  

An abandoned walker truly is the saddest sight of all in New Orleans but it also an uncommon sight in this wonderful city we call home.  I come across an abandoned walker once maybe every 16-18 months, maybe every two years.  They rarely stay on the street for long.  Someone, somewhere always has need of a walker.  We all will need one someday, probably.  For now, let us be grateful for our God-given good health.  It could be a lot worse.

When the dog and I reached the intersection of North Tonti and Columbus Streets, we ran into a guy who calls himself "Montana."  I doubt that's his real name but that's how he introduces himself.  The first time I met him, he told me to call him Montana because, "I'm from Montana," he said.  I call him Montana.  Everyone does.

The dog barked the whole time I talked with Montana, who stayed on the opposite side of North Tonti Street, to be out of reach of the leash.  The dog doesn't like Montana.  The dog doesn't like many people unless they have salami in their pockets, but the dog really, really, really doesn't like Montana.  During the whole conversation, the dog strained at the leash, he was on two legs, barking, barking, barking the whole time with teeth bared at Montana.

"Have you seen an abandoned walker around this part of town?" Montana asked me.

"It's two blocks that way, leaning against a fence on the lakeside of the street," I said as I pointed uptown.  "It is the saddest sight of all in New Orleans," I added.

"Thanks," Montana said.  "I've got a customer for that appliance.  An old lady on D'Abadie Street broke her hip so she'll be needing a walker.  I'll bet I can get fifteen bucks for one in good condition."

"Make sure you wash it thoroughly, first.  I think some dogs have been disrespecting it."  I said.

Montana said, "Will do, baby.  Will do.  I don't deal in any tainted merchandise.  Mr. Montana stands behind everything he sells.  I'm an honest businessman."

The dog didn't stop barking the whole time Montana and I were talking.  Once Montana left our company in pursuit of the abandoned walker, the dog pulled me downriver along North Tonti Street.  Someone had abandoned some half-eaten chicken wings on the sidewalk in the 1700 block.  Half-eaten chicken wings tossed on the sidewalk are common in this part of New Orleans.


If you are looking for a small artisanal hotel where you can experience the authentic New Orleans like you live here, we can only recommend La Belle Esplanade.  This small hotel has only five suites that offer personalized recommendations and insights into the real New Orleans.  La Belle is located two blocks from where that walker was abandoned.  You can walk by that very same fence.  Our neighborhood is full of thought-provoking surprises.  When you are ready to explore the real New Orleans off the usual tourist radar, we're here for you.  La Belle Esplanade is the small New Orleans hotel that will respect your intelligence.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Mid-City Baby Shoe

The Mid-City Baby Shoe is not the subject of the world's shortest story, "For sale: baby shoes, never used."  First of all, there is only one of it and, second of all, it's obviously been used.  It's a thing of mystery:

New Orleans' famous Mid-City Baby Shoe documented in the wild.

The Mid-City Baby Shoe appears and disappears randomly and without fanfare.  Most people see it on the street but that is only because most people are on the street.  More people walk past my house every day than see what's inside it.  The Baby Shoe has appeared in my house, but only my wife and I saw it.  By the time our friends came over to witness it, the white baby shoe was gone.  There was a white feather in its place.

Lola sneezed and the feather drifted down the stairwell and out the window, never to be seen again.  Thanks, Lola.  I know you couldn't help it.  You wouldn't have sneezed if it was a baby shoe.

Here's what it looked like when I saw it:  It was a white leather shoe with orthopedic soles made for a baby.  It was tied.  It was scuffed all about the toe and on both sides and on its heel.

It's hard to tell if a baby shoe is a right shoe or a left shoe.  It's not like they walk around in them and it's not like they'll complain if they have their shoes on the wrong feet.  One plain white baby shoe is pretty much like any other, especially when they are bronzed, which the Mid-City Baby Shoe is not.  The Mid-City Baby Shoe shows definite signs of wear and tear.  Some baby has worn this shoe and put it through its paces.

The Mid-City Baby Shoe is scruffy.

The Mid-City Baby Shoe appears only for a short while.  Then, it disappears to reappear somewhere else.  It's not an omen.  It doesn't foretell doom or anything like that.  It's just a randomly appearing and disappearing baby shoe.  It is no more unusual than any other New Orleans mystery.

People study New Orleans all the time.  For a small city it gets more than its share of attention from scholars and cryptozoologists, paranormal investigators, ghost hunters, fringe scientists, voodoo practitioners, exorcists, New Age kooks, and quantum physicists.  It's the physicists that particularly study the Mid-City Baby Shoe most seriously.  Something about the space-time continuum and particle wave theory.  I don't know.  It's all mumbo-jumbo to me.

All I know is what I see.  I've seen the Mid-City Baby Shoe in my underwear drawer.  Neither I nor my wife knows how it got there.  We had never seen it before then.  It didn't scare us.  Who gets scared by a white baby shoe?  We already knew its backstory so we knew there was no cause for alarm.  It's appearance was neither a blessing nor a curse.  The shoe was gone within half an hour, before Lola could get there. 

I saw the Mid-City Baby Shoe the other day on the street:

Mid-City Baby Shoe on North Rocheblave Street.

Some kids were poking it with a stick.  I shooed them away.  The shoe wasn't hurting anyone.  Why torment it?

In a city like New Orleans, and there are very few cities on God's green earth that are like New Orleans, you never know what you'll find when you turn a corner or you open your underwear drawer.  Sometimes, it's a treat.  Sometimes, it's a scare.  Sometimes, it's just plain odd.  Sometimes, you'll care, and, sometimes, you won't.

Go with the flow.  That's the New Orleans State of Mind.

A word from our sponsor:  If you want to go with the flow in a New Orleans state of mind, there is really only one place to stay when you visit this wonderful city we call home.  La Belle Esplanade is a small, artisanal hotel on a beautiful and historic street that runs through the neighborhoods where these stories are set.  The fact that we live on Esplanade Avenue is how I collected this lore in order to share it with the wider internet.  

Maybe you think the stories I've been posting here the past few weeks are all made up.  Nope.  They're not.

We live in a magical part of New Orleans.  You really don't know what pleasant surprise awaits you when you turn a corner here.  Visit New Orleans like you belong here and stay at the small New Orleans hotel that respects you intelligence.  You have two New Orleans goodwill ambassadors standing by to assist.  We only have five suites so we tend to fill up early.  Plan ahead!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

New Orleans Earthworm Parade

An earthworm has six hearts, and, if you cut an earthworm it will bleed red, the same as when you cut your own finger.  What does this have to do with the New Orleans earthworm parade?  Okay, I'll tell you:

Most city people don't know that earthworms bleed red.  To the untrained eye, worm blood is indistinguishable from human blood. The first time you see it, it's kind of creepy.  The worm won't be thrilled to discover it, either.

There's a story that makes the rounds every October about the great New Orleans earthworm parade. Some people call it a fantasy that someone with DTs saw in a fever dream one October night and the story grew legs, so to speak.  New Orleans is a city full of parades. 

The earthworm parade story goes that all the streetlights on Ursulines Avenue between North Claiborne Avenue and North Broad Avenue went out all the same time one October night.  It might have been in 1973 or 1974, maybe in 1975.  It wasn't any later than 1975 because by 1976 the oak tree on the corner of North Galvez and Ursulines Avenue had been cut down.  It was blighted with termites.

There were more than one witness but they all had something in common.  They had all gone to a very popular candle shop on North Broad Avenue, not the one you're thinking of, for a earthworm blood mojo bag and they were wearing those mojo bags around their necks.

In New Orleans voodoo, earthworm blood is a potent cure for a variety of ailments.  It is used to cure scrofula, grippe, bloody flux, syphilis, turtle pox, a broken heart, impure thoughts, impotence, itchy palms, itchy feet, bed bug bites, melancholy and distemper.  A special mojo bag is prepared by cutting an earthworm in half and putting it in a little cloth bag with a mixture of herbs decreed by what ailment is meant to be relieved.  You wear the bag on a cord around your neck, usually with the bag at heart level.  People with the above listed conditions wear earthworm blood mojo bags all the time.  Off the top of my head I can think of four people wearing one right now.  I'm not one of them.

Everyone who was out on Ursulines Avenue when the lights went out that night was wearing an earthworm blood mojo bag.  There was a scrofula outbreak going through the neighborhood at the time.  

Everyone who was out on Ursulines Avenue when the lights went out that night saw the earthworm parade.  

The earthworms weren't ghosts nor were they decapitated.  There was no blood anywhere visible.  The earthworms were jolly.  The were upright, bouncily bounding along on their tails up Ursulines Avenue toward the lake.  The earthworms formed a single file line marching up Ursulines Avenue.  Boing, boing, boing.  There wasn't a brass band but there was some kind of ineffable music in the air.   Everyone could hear it though everyone described it differently.

If you dig between the air and the water table in New Orleans you will find that the city is home to more earthworms than people.  Ask any tenured Tulane University vermeologist.  That's a lot of hearts.  

New Orleans has miles and miles of heart.  That was proven that night when the earthworms paraded up Ursulines Avenue.  That New Orleans earthworm parade is one for the history books.  If only someone would write a book like that.

I'll bet you see an earthworm parade of your own before you read about this one in any book.  That's the way things are in New Orleans.  It is a city of stories that nobody knows.

And now a word from our sponsor:  If you don't know it by now, La Belle Esplanade is consistently ranked the #1 place to stay in New Orleans.  How consistently?  #1 on TripAdvisor every month since April 2014.  That's pretty consistent.  

If you are going to visit New Orleans, we hope you'll consider La Belle Esplanade.  Visit New Orleans like you belong here.  Visit New Orleans in a New Orleans state of mind.  La Belle has a very good blog, too.  Check it out!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The New Orleans Bowl Weasel

It would be a curious creature in any climate, but, when you think about it, the bowl weasel's presence in New Orleans is unsurprising.  That said, this shy and retiring beast isn't well known in New Orleans' popular reputation, and, indeed, if we were to take a poll, I guess most New Orleanians are unaware of the existence of one of the city's most native species, specially adapted to the city terrain.

Some people look at the clouds and see bowl weasels in them.

The bowl weasel isn't black with a white stripe down its back.  The bowl weasel doesn't have a bushy tail.  In fact, it has a very long and thin, stubbly tail.  If you ever get close to a bowl weasel when it's sleeping, take a big whiff and you'll learn that bowl weasels smell faintly of skunk.

The natural color of a bowl weasel not in captivity is a searing bright yellow.  The species used to be more drab but the advent of neon signs set Darwinian rules of evolution into play.  Bowl weasels kept as pets are usually dyed by their owners to match the colors of the season.

Purple, green and gold are Mardi Gras colors.  Red and green are Christmas.  Black and Orange are Hallowe'en.  Pastel colors come out in Easter and emerald green is for St. Patrick's Day.  The Fourth of July is red, white, and blue, or, as the French prefer to say, blue, white, and red.  Black and gold are the colors of football season.

Long ago, during colonial times in New Orleans, a ship full of weasels and a ship full of bowls were tied up next to each other at the Hospital Street Wharf.

Somehow, the weasels got loose and they jumped ship to the ship with all the bowls.  Nobody knew that at first, though.

Once the weasels were discovered missing, the crew of the weasel ship was frantic.  A hold full of weasels bound for Barbados was valuable property.  Those weasels were a big investment and a lot of careers were riding on this voyage.

After a thorough search led hither and yon, the weasels were located in the ship with the bowls, each weasel contentedly curled up, each in its own bowl, and sleeping, dreaming satisfied weasel-y dreams.  They looked so cute, no one had the heart to disturb them. The two ship captains' conferred and decided to care of the issue tomorrow.  Everyone went home to bed.

The weasels woke up in the middle of the night and again had ideas of their own.  They got loose in the city.  That is how the New Orleans Bowl Weasel ( Mustela orleaniensis) population started.  Though they now look very different from their ancestors, the modern breed still sleeps in bowls, dreaming satisfied weasel-y dreams.

You'll see what you want to in New Orleans.  It is a city full of surprises.

A Word From Our Sponsor:

If you would like to see a genuine example of a bowl weasel, you should visit The New Orleans Odditarium, where a perfectly preserved specimen is on display.  The Odditarium is a small museum of New Orleans culture and curiosities that is open by appointment for those enquiring individuals who want to learn more about the less-known parts of New Orleans.

The New Orleans Odditarium is only open to the general public by appointment but visitors to New Orleans who stay at La Belle Esplanade have unfettered access to this curated collection of artifacts.  Make your trip to New Orleans extra memorable.  Stay at La Belle Esplanade, a small artisanal hotel in the heart of Esplanade Ridge, and learn what it means to fall in love with New Orleans off the usual tourist map.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Truth About Dumaine Street, New Orleans.

Dumaine Street is one of New Orleans' original streets.  It starts in the French Quarter and ends at City Park.  There is nothing more New Orleans than that in this part of the city.  Dumaine Street's course just about sums up Mid-City.  People who live in New Orleans know the truth about Dumaine Street.  People who don't live in New Orleans don't know much about it.  Dumaine Street isn't the source of memorable legends.

Another beautiful day on a beautiful New Orleans street.

Some people, I'm not saying who, say that Dumaine Street is a street of the damned.  I never say that.  I love Dumaine Street.

Some people, I'm not saying who, say that Dumaine Street is a street of the blessed.  I'm not going that far.  I say that Dumaine Street is a street of the fortunate.  Lucky are those who live on Dumaine Street.  The truth about Dumaine Street is more than it appears.

Open your eyes in New Orleans.  The truth about Dumaine Street, the truth about any and every street in New Orleans, is right there for you to see and savor.  New Orleans is beautiful.  Everything in New Orleans is beautiful.  You are beautiful, and not just because you are on Dumaine street.  An intricate mosaic is made up many tiny sparkly pieces, each where it perfectly belongs.

The Buddha can be found on Dumaine Street.

The Buddha on Dumaine Street, New Orleans, Louisiana.
People of all persuasions live harmoniously in a New Orleans state of mind on Dumaine Street.   The truth about Dumaine Street is really pretty dull.  Everyone gets along.  No fights break out.  Kids who grew up across the street from each other get married, raise a family on Dumaine Street, or on Saint Philip Street, or on Saint Ann Street.  

This part of New Orleans is full of saints.  We all grow up as time goes by.  Dumaine Street, like New Orleans, itself, endures.

A word from our sponsor:

Thanks for reading today!  If you are looking to visit authentic New Orleans to get you into an authentic New Orleans state of mind, we'd like to recommend to you La Belle Esplanade.  Rated the #1 small personalized hotel in New Orleans since April, 2014, and #2 in the United States, AND, #16 in the world.  Visit New Orleans like you belong here.  La Belle Esplanade has its own blog, too!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Most Putrid Thing in New Orleans

The most putrid thing in New Orleans won't make you sick, necessarily, but it may make you queasy.  I'm not going to describe the most putrid thing in New Orleans.  If I did, you wouldn't be able to read to the end.  Instead, I will just provide hints of what the most putrid thing in New Orleans might be.  Believe me, it's a doozie.  Use your imagination.  That won't be enough.

Flowers grow in profusion in New Orleans.

Trust your senses in New Orleans.  What are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?  Your own nose?  The knot in your stomach?  The loud beat-beat-beat of your telltale heart?  

Use your best intuition; visit New Orleans like you mean it and then buckle up---it's going to be a wild ride.

New Orleans is good.  There is very little that is truly, truly putrid in New Orleans.  Like finding phlegm in a public toilet bowl, you expect to find a lot worse in New Orleans.  What goes around comes around and everything comes up oleander and crepe myrtle in New Orleans.  If the worst you carry back home when you leave New Orleans is good memories, that'll be better than a hangover, syphilis, or an empty bank account.  

Most people leave New Orleans with their heads and their hearts stuffed full of good memories.

This isn't a haunted house, it's a New Orleans house in our neighborhood.

You will most likely find the most putrid thing in New Orleans in the French Quarter.  Where else would it be?  Watch your step.  If you step in it, it will raise a stink to the top of the twin bell towers of St. Louis Cathedral.  It will be squishy and slimy and gelatinous, like something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story.  It will contain bits of half-digested----stuff, there is no other way to describe it, animal, vegetable, or sewage.  

If this doesn't whet your appetite to explore New Orleans, nothing will.  The most putrid thing in New Orleans never visits our neighborhood.  I've walked around the most putrid thing in New Orleans in the French Quarter but I've never even seen it more lakeside than Burgundy Street, and that was where St. Ann Street crosses Burgundy.  What a mess that was.  Burgundy Street is pronounced bur-GUN-dee.

In our part of New Orleans, all is pleasant and nothing is putrid.  Who would choose to live in a city that's a cesspool?  Every New Orleanian loves where we live.  We live here by choice.  We don't regret that choice.  There is no other city in the world so great as New Orleans.  You'll see when you visit.

Don't forget to check out our sponsor's blog after you've spent enough time steeping yourself in The Authentic New Orleans State of Mind on this blog.  When you are ready to visit nocturnal New Orleans, you know where to stay: La Belle Esplanade.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Personal Ad to New Orleans Visitors

A personal ad in the local New Orleans newspaper (you know the one):

"When was the last time you talked to someone who lives in New Orleans?  I'm not talking about your bartender or your Uber driver. When was the last time you sat down and had an in-depth conversation with an honest-to-goodness New Orleanian?  Never?  Here's your chance.

"Walking around New Orleans, you never know what you'll find when you turn a corner.  It's the same way when you talk to someone who lives here.  A New Orleans conversation moves in unexpected and delightful directions.  

"Would you like to talk about New Orleans over a meal?  I'm your man.  I'm your man-about-New Orleans, your agent in the field.  I'm an armchair historian, an amateur philosopher, a bon vivant, your personal New Orleans goodwill ambassador, and, I am known as being a raconteur extraordinaire.  

"What do you want to know about New Orleans?  No subject is taboo.  No stranger to New Orleans culture, there are very few bars I haven't been to and there are very few local personalities, very few traditions, and very few out-of-the-way haunts I don't know of.  Discover what it means to be in love with New Orleans.

"I'll pick the restaurant.  I'll make the reservations so that we're sure to get the best table in the house, the VIP table.  You buy the meal and you pay me for my time and company.  Good memories are made in New Orleans.  Let me help you make some.  Be a New Orleanian while you are here."

I wonder who placed that ad.

Every path leads to paradise in New Orleans, Louisiana.

A word from our sponsor:

You don't need to hire an escort for a meal to learn all about what it really means to be in love with New Orleans.  You can stay at La Belle Esplanade.  Every morning we sit and chitchat about all things New Orleans over a curated breakfast.  We want to hear about your previous days adventures while we help you plan todays.  Live in the moment in New Orleans.

La Belle Esplanade only has five suites in a city with 36,000 hotel rooms.  Smart people stay at La Belle Esplanade, the small hotel that respects your intelligence.  

Á votre santé!!!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

New Orleans' Indigenous Plants

New Orleans is a cosmopolitan city connected to the rest of the world, even if it doesn't look one.  The Port of New Orleans is the third-busiest port in the United States.  You may not think much of New Orleans is indigenous.  Ours is a city built of brick and stone and concrete, nothing that is naturally found in this part of Louisiana.  New Orleans' indigenous plants flourish in this sub-tropical climate.  Everything flourishes in New Orleans: plants, vegetables, daydreams, good memories----even you.

Animal, vegetable, mineral, and spirit.  These are the things from which New Orleans is made.  This most convivial city blossoms with wishes come true, even at night.

Passions bloom  yellow in the New Orleans side street shadows.

Look around.  New Orleans' indigenous plants sprout from the over-rich damp soil in front yards, in back yards, in the parks, and between the cracks in the sidewalks.  Everything flourishes in New Orleans.  Ask anyone who lives here.  They'll tell you the truth.  In a city of love, the first thing to wilt is hatred.  Love makes New Orleans wake up every morning to embrace the oncoming day.  All is good. There is nothing so sweet and parti-flavored as a day spent in New Orleans.  

Lucky are those who thrive in New Orleans.

New Orleans indigenous plants are everywhere.

What are New Orleans' indigenous plants?  I'm not a botanist so I can't really tell you.  Creole tomatoes are not a particular breed, they are just tomatoes that grow in New Orleans soil.  They are the tastiest tomatoes of all.  This is true of anything that grows in New Orleans.  It you find it in New Orleans, it's gotta be good.  The prettiest flowers grow in New Orleans.  Bees love New Orleans pollen.  They make the sweetest honey from their harvest.

Open your nose.  Flare your nostrils.  Inhale.  Aaaaaahhhhh!  Those are New Orleans' indigenous plants that you're smelling.  That is New Orleans' atmosphere.  There is no other perfume so sweet and intoxicating as the scent of a New Orleans day.

A house on Bayou Road in our neighborhood.

A word from our sponsor:

La Belle Esplanade is a small artisanal hotel on Esplanade Avenue in New Orleans, on a historic and picturesque New Orleans street that is a jungle of New Orleans' indigenous plants.

If you want to discover what it means to really fall in love with the authentic New Orleans, visit La Belle's website.  See what La Belle offers.  If you like what you read, you can stay at a lot worse places in New Orleans; a lot worse.  La Belle has been ranked the #1 place to stay in New Orleans since April 2014.  Two-time winner of the TripAdvisor Travelers' choice award: #2 small hotel in the United States and #16 in the world.  

Get your New Orleans on and visit like you belong here.  You do belong here.  We only have five suites so we tend to fill up early.  Plan ahead and make a reservation today.  You won't regret it.  The best memories are made in our part of New Orleans.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

New Orleans Stray Cats

New Orleans is a city of secrets.  Many of them are hidden out in the open, in plain sight, part of the landscape, easily overlooked because they are just the way things are in this kaleidoscope of a city.  Here is a New Orleans secret:  New Orleans is like no other place else.  Pssst!  Here is another New Orleans secret:  There are stray cats in New Orleans.  North Johnson Street is a stray cat strut.

When Tulane University urban zoology students first noted the explosion of feral cat population on North Johnson Street, the fecundity had already been underway for a long while.  I won't bother you with the mathematical models and equations that comprised the graduate students' studies.  I'll just tell you that North Johnson Street has a lot of New Orleans stray cats.  The people who live in the neighborhood between Orleans Avenue and St. Bernard Avenue will tell you the same thing.  There are a whole lotta cats on N. Johnson Street.

There aren't any rats.  The City of New Orleans Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control Board keeps statistics of vermin caught during regular censuses of every city block.  Since even before academics noticed that stray cats had overrun the neighborhood, the Mosquito, Termite and Rodent Control board reported no rats to be found, not even carcasses or droppings, on the Tremé length of North Johnson Street. 

You can leave a raw hotdog on the sidewalk in front of your front door when you leave for work in the morning and it will still be there, fully cooked, now, when you get home.  I wouldn't eat it but a day under the New Orleans sun will make anything well done.

How did the cats become so fecund and virile in this part of New Orleans?  Maybe there is something in the water.  There is a fire hydrant that leaks right into a pothole on North Johnson Street.  That fire hydrant started leaking after Katrina.  When the Sewerage and Water Board inspected the hydrant after Katrina, the department found it satisfactory.  Everything was status quo.

Old Man Dupre says that there is zinc in the fire hydrant.  He goes to the hydrant every morning to fill up a few plastic water bottles. "This water will keep you full of piss and vinegar," he says.  He makes gumbo with that fire hydrant water.  He swears by it.

A lot of people get their household water from the leaky fire hydrant.  All the cats in the neighborhood drink from the puddle under the leak.  

Watch the cats on North Johnson Street.  They're frisky.

At night, you'll hear the New Orleans stray cats on North Johnson Street me-e-e-e-eeee----ooooowwww.  It isn't jazz.

A sidewalk pathway on N. Johnson Street in New Orleans, LA.

The singing cats hide in the lush vegetation that lines the sidewalks of North Johnson Street.  North Johnson Street is like a jungle, a land of a different time, a street in a city that care forgot.  You never know what you'll find when you turn a corner in New Orleans.  Ever turn brings a fresh surprise.

A word from our sponsor:

La Belle Esplanade is the #1-ranked place to stay in New Orleans, according to TripAdvisor, since April 2014.  If you are looking for an authentic visit to this magical city we call home, you can do a lot worse than booking a stay at La Belle Esplanade.  You can do a lot worse.  I live here.  I know our competition.

We only have five suites, so plan early.  As a tiny artisanal hotel, we take the hospitality we offer seriously and try to deliver a tailored personalized experience of New Orleans.  La Belle Esplanade is the small hotel that respects your intelligence.

La belle d'Esplanade.  We look forward to meeting you and sharing in your adventures in a city that is like no place else on this wonderful world.

Friday, October 4, 2019

History of Bayou Road, New Orleans

Academic historians and neighborhood shamans call the intersection of Bell Street and Bayou Road the umbilicus of New Orleans.  People go there to stare at the ground at the downtown lakeside corner of the park formed by the two streets' crossing each other.  That's the official spot.  You'll be able to find it because there is always a pile of small change covering the physical umbilicus, which is just a depression someone carved out of the dirt with a spoon to catch coins from pilgrims and from other passers-by.  Bayou Road's ambiguous history attracts people from all walks of life, both pious and perfidious.

For decades, the park was a place where mothers went to bury their babies' umbilici after the babies' superfluous appendages had dried up and fallen off.  When vines grow long enough to reach up the cypress trees that grow in this park, the vines are twistier than examples of the same species found elsewhere in New Orleans.  The cypress tree branches are pretty twisty, too.

New Orleans is a city chockablock with picturesque decay.  The climate is murder on everything, here.  New Orleans is a city of night sweats and ghost pangs.  

New Orleans is a city that is robust in the way a queen mother is robust.  New Orleans is old but it knows a lot of secrets that the city is willing to share to keep things interesting and life worth living.  New Orleans may be old but that doesn't stop New Orleans from being sexy.  When you land in New Orleans, you are this close to Storyville.

The umbilicus of New Orleans is between Bayou Road, Bell Street, and North Dorgenois Street.  There used to be a movie theater there, the legitimate kind.  There are cypress trees and a sculptural installation by Robert Tannen, called 'Shotgun Temple.'  This part of the 7th Ward is home to the city's largest Rasta community.  You never know what you'll find when you turn a corner in New Orleans.

Dogs love the intersection of North Dorgenois Street, Bell Street, and Bayou Road.  Bayou Road is the oldest street in the city. The triangular park formed by the streets' crossing rights-of-way is full of interesting smells.  Even a human nose can smell them.  To a dog, a trip to this small part of New Orleans must be like a trip to Heaven.  Dogs get very amorous in this part of New Orleans.

Love is in the air in this part of New Orleans.  Love makes New Orleans go round and round until the city turns dizzy.  Where else but at the center of it all, across the street from the Old Indian Market?  Where else but across the street from The Church of I AM THAT I AM?  New Orleans is full of secrets, most of them hidden out in the open.  

The history of Bayou Road is the stuff of legend and tall tales, even the parts that are grounded in fact.  The whole history of New Orleans is that way.  What should be true, usually is, at least that's the way things are in New Orleans.  

And, now, a word from out sponsor:

La Belle Esplanade

La Belle Esplanade is a small artisanal hotel located close to the subject of this essay.  When you are ready to experience REAL New Orleans, the way the people who live here experience it, check out website.  If it appeals to you, make a reservation directly there.  There is no other way.  

We only have five suites, so personalized and tailored recommendations are our specialty.  La Belle Esplanade is the small hotel that respects your intelligence.  Sure, you can spend all your time in the French Quarter, but, if you do, you'll be missing the whole rest of this wonderful city we call home.  

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