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. 

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