a handy guide to New Orleans, from someone who has never been there

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Dear reader, I missed last week’s Friday Fives.  I was luckily otherwise bothered to be in New Orleans for the very first time.  We spent an amazing 4 or 5 days there, and it was just the best time and place ever.  Now… this week’s Friday Fives will likely be late or never, as I am training a new hire training class every day 80 miles away.  If I am not training my new hires for 8 hours a day, I am prepping or tearing down.  Or… driving.   So, let’s kill 2 drunk college kids with 1 stone.  I am going to answer all your questions about New Orleans.

As North America’s ‘Top Unsolicited Tour Guide®’ step right in to the real New Orleans… from a guy who was just there like this morning, y’all.

After my very first time there (for only a few days), I will take on the questions on the Chamber of Commerce site.  Likely, the answers were thoughtfully and painstakingly put together by people with lifetimes of experience of the ‘Big Easy’.  I am not only not that person, I won’t pretend to be.  My answers are honest and only speak of my limited experience there.  I will tell you the real truth that those pinheads are afraid of.

Note, I did not ever read any of the answers.  I just copy pasted right off this fine site

first… let me start with this, their new slogan

 

New Orleans – Its like Las Vegas for people with souls and character®

  1. Ready?  Ready to generalize, laugh, and learn?  Let’s go!

 

How can I experience New Orleans’ cultural celebrations and festivals this season?

GTS – google that shit.  There is TONS of amazing and free stuff happening pretty much always.   We found the New Orleans Treme Jazz and Gumbo fest this last weekend.  Totally free, and in a beautiful and awesome park  > Louis Armstrong park.  It was exactly what it sounds like, and it was amazing.

I have not visited New Orleans in a few years. What can I expect?

The fabled ‘French Quarter’ is exactly how you mis-remember it.  Painfully so.  I got the vibe that New Orleans works really really hard to feel and look like what you think it might look like.  We have traveled a lot, around the world, and this felt like a singularity. Remember that iconic scene in ‘the Great Outdoors’, where they are trying to sell their miserable house?  They want it to look like a woodland paradise for the buyers, so you hear things like ‘ok, cue the deer’.  I swear, it felt like that… and it was AWESOME.   Hookers?  yup.  Every single building looking like it was painted only once about 1200 years ago?  Amazing street music and jazz everywhere?  An odd amount of body paint and glitter?  Each and every square inch declaring itself the ‘real New Orleans’, and the actual, genuine, and real life “Home of the _________”.  I dare you to find a business in New Orleans who doesn’t not proclaim themselves the ‘home’  or originator of something.  It’s pretty terrific!

I swear, it feels like every day New Orleans is auditioning to get the lead part in a movie about New Orleans.  This isn’t a bad thing, they know who butters their bread.  It did feel a bit desperate, though.  Example, I dare ANY owner of ANY thing in the ‘French Quarter’ to put a new coat of paint on anything!  You can’t, it ruins the ‘charm’.

Now, obviously there are still tons of ‘pre/post’ Katrina  things happening and evolving.  Basically, Hurricane Katrina was like the arrival of Jesus and his impact on the calendar.  Every conversation about every single thing begins pre, or post, Katrina.  You truly cannot fathom the impact it had on every single aspect of life in New Orleans.  We weren’t in town longer than 30 seconds when our Uber driver told us an excellent (and plausible) explanation of how the government actively failed in the controlling the hurricane damage and flooding.  About the hurricane flooding, btw… it is VERY likely the govt acted with indifference and negligence in assistance.  I don’t blame the initial flooding on them.  Know why?  You built an entire fucking entire city under-fucking-neathe a fucking ocean.  On the other side where the ocean isn’t waiting to eat New Orleans, there is a lake.

This is New Orleans. topographically speaking.

Enough about that.  It’s too easy to make fun of New Orleans.  They built, and rebuilt, and rebuilt, a city UNDER the ocean.  This is not exactly a Mensa hotspot.  Butt let’s talk about the nice stuff  – like my next ex-wife Meschiya Lake.  Go find her!  She is singing there somewhere right now, I swear.  Most likely at the Spotted Cat.  The following questions are legit questions from the Chamber of Commerce website.  I just replaced their boring stock answers with my own.  It’s way more interesting now.  Those squares at city hall should just link this.

meschiya lake 2017

amazing local singer Meschiya Lake

 

How many visitors have been to New Orleans recently?

7?  I don’t know.  Who cares? You shouldn’t!  What kind of stupid question is that? If you are just a follower, go to a Cowboys game. Does it make a difference, or have a direct impact on your experience?    Just go, man.

What time of year should we go?

Not summer, way too hot and humid and sticky.  and busy.  Not Mardi Gras, because now you are sharing the roads and sidewalks and airports and cabs and lines for the bathroom with a million random ass mouth breathers who are so drunk that they won’t even remember being there. Even during the pandemic, when they told people not to travel… 1.4 million showed up. Like most all places, aim for the ‘shoulder seasons’, which is the time least busy.  This way, everything is the least crowded it can be, the locals are the most ‘locally’, locals aren’t so sick of tourists at this point that they are happy to strike up conversations, and you can get better deals.

What are my restaurant choices?

Too many to mention.  Your choices are 2, basically.  You will end up doing the third.  First choice is start researching now.  You will go down a rabbit hole of food porn.  You may never escape.  You will go to New Orleans on a 3 day trip with a list of 37 places you MUST visit.   Second, you told some people you were going to New Orleans, and they gave you a list of 38 places you MUST visit… or why even fucking bother.  These are good.  Write these down, and (most importantly) get a strong feel for where you are staying.  This, where you are staying, will dictate everything.

See, what will actually happen is a combination of the three.  The top two, and the reality of just winging it.  Yes, there is that amazing café that will change your life that is a short 25 minute cab ride away.  It won all the awards.  Guess what?  You are tired, and had an amazing day, and just don’t have that in you.  Blow it off.  Find a place in walking distance.  It will be amazing, no matter where you go.  There is SO much great food there, that it equals competition.  You can’t succeed with mediocre in that environment.

In fact, put away your trip advisor and yelp for a couple days.  Go out, make snap judgements.  Improvise.  Pretty much no matter where you go, you will have the best food you have ever had.  Every single meal was transcendent, even sketchy $6 subs from the corner market.   Btw, you have to call a sub a ‘po boy’.   Don’t even ask why, but I just made you cool.

What are my options for shopping?

Just like any other place on earth, too many to mention.  If you are looking to find cool stuff, or unique local stuff, or fun gifts… you will find that.  This isn’t a New Orleans thing, it’s a getting out of your house, thing.

What type of events does New Orleans offer sports enthusiasts?

Wrong question to ask.  With SO much going on culturally there, to go for sports would be a waste of time.  Would you ask that about going to Angkor Wat in Cambodia?  If you got to see Pearl Jam at Red Rocks, would you ask where you can get good fries?  If you were offered a sailing trip around the Caribbean, would you ask where you can catch a good basketball game?  Like any major market, there are many sports and sports franchises.  That isn’t why you are going to New Orleans.

Wanna go to a great sports city?  Go visit Buffalo, or Green Bay.  Those towns, some would say, are cultural zeros.  So, they WORSHIP their football teams.  Trust me, more travel than I care to admit is to go see the Broncos play in other markets.  In Buffalo, for example, they show up to the parking lot to tailgate the day before the game.  Yeah, you leave Saturday morning to go watch a Bills game at Orchard Park.   1) it’s wicked fun, and 2) there is literally nothing else to do in Buffalo.   Great football town, but not much else.

What’s the best way to get to New Orleans?

Doesn’t make a difference how you get there.  However, consider how to maximize your time there.  Yeah, you could drive there.  But, then you spend 2 or 3 days getting there, 2 or 3 days there, and 2 or 3 days getting home.  That is a great adventure, and you should take that adventure.  It is a road trip, though.  Not a trip to New Orleans.  If you have 7 days off of work, spend that 7 days in New Orleans if you can… not getting there and back.

That being said… that airport is SKETCH.  Or, is the politically correct term ‘stabby’? Shady, gross, terrible food, one lousy coffee stand, and to fill my water bottle i had to go into the bathroom.  Pretty sure I have Hepatitis after that airport.  Which one?   All of them!  Granted, these are truly first world problems.  I guess I am spoiled by the Denver airport, it’s pretty great.

What are my options for taxis, buses, airport shuttles and streetcars?

All those things mentioned above.  Those are your options.  However, you won’t use any of them.  You’ll find yourself on a rented bike or in an Uber/Lyft if you aren’t on foot.  We had bikes the whole weekend and it was my favorite part of everything.  You move swiftly through neighborhoods, you still see and take in and small all the adventure, you aren’t paying per trip, you are getting exercise, you are saving the environment, you won’t spend 4 hours a day looking for parking space… and even if you are rip shit drunk… you won’t hurt anyone but yourself.

Is New Orleans a safe place for visitors?

Sure, but like ANY travel, have your common sense.  Don’t wander too far away after dark, don’t be overtly drunk… especially after dark.  Don’t leave your valuables laying around or in plain site.  Don’t leave bikes or cars or kids unlocked.  This has nothing to do with New Orleans, but is about travel in general.  Nothing good is going to happen anywhere on earth at 3 am… especially if you just look $300 out of the ATM.  Go to bed.  There is plenty of adventure tomorrow.  opt to live to see it.  That is the difference between going when you are 20, or 45.  Hint… I am closer to the latter.

*** odd.  You didn’t ask about the music.  The music is the thing there, man.  It is everything.  The food is the best you have ever had, and the limitless booze (and fact that the bars don’t close) is plenty of fun… the thing about New Orleans is the music.  It is everywhere.  I saw SO much great and amazing and life affirming music in three days.

proof?  Here are some shots from my phone over the course of a few days.  This isn’t even necessarily seeking out music.  it’s just being out and about.  You’ll notice some of these folks are on proper stages, some are in corners of bars, some are on corners of intersections, and some folks were just plain set up in the middle of the street.  Musical heaven.  no.  Musical Double Heaven®

 

It was magnificent.  I have traveled a modest bit around the world… and never to New Orleans.  It was everything I wanted it to be, times 100.  I can’t wait to go back.

*** side note – our host, the Nixons, also turned us on to the HBO show Treme.  Spot on.

I will say this again, because this is the story of New Orleans

New Orleans – Its like Las Vegas for people with souls and character®

Lastly, I would never live there. It is a poor and polluted and corrupt and violent place underneath the veneer. Wanna know the real soul of New Orleans? Check out the airport. That is the real New Orleans.

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Friday Fives – the Sofa King Edition

a bit late, butt worth it.  Literally took me several hours to write.  Sadly, I have run out of time and patience… so it will not exactly see 8 hours of editing.  Enjoy!

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You just inherited a race horse, what do name him?

Believe it or not, we had a race horse.  His name was Double Heaven.  Well, we had a tenth of a racehorse.  Several years ago, a bunch of us horse friends got together under Bobbie (who I totally miss, and haven’t seen in years) and went in on a race horse together.  It was kinda what you might expect:  fun, rewarding, and wildly expensive.

Did you know it is supposed to be bad juju to bet on your own horse?  True story.  Was told that by a lot of folks, so we never bet on (or against) our own horse.  Pete Rose, I am looking in your direction on this one, pal!

 This is crazy. A quick google search found our horse, she has her own page.  How do I know that was our horse, there could have been thousands of horses with that name.  Answer is, that was our trainer.  BTW… Double Heaven > isn’t that just a beautiful name?  Even as an atheist, I see perfection in those words.  Good name for a band… OR… good nickname for boobies!

 My point being, I guess, that name is out.  So… how about Gonzo Hootie??

If you were an Alien observing humans for research, what would be something humans do that would be seen as completely absurd?

 How are we slaves to smaller, dumber animals.  As humans, we have conquered the ocean, mountains, and space.  We created flight!  We get our goddamn tv from outer fucking space.  Yet, we seem subservient to these things they call ‘dogs’.  We go to work all day every day… to get them food and treats.  The dogs don’t work.  They sit at home and we drive them around and feed them and then pick up their shit.  Even the queen of England doesn’t have someone pick up her shit.

 If we were truly the ‘master’, would they not work to bring us food?  Would they not feed us?  Wouldn’t they follow us around and pick up our shit?  Just sayin’.  Also, dear humans, your ‘master’ (the dog) licks anus while you are sleeping.  Not just his, either.

 Older, wiser people, what is some general life advice you would give to younger people?

this is where I am supposed to say something self deprecating like ‘I may be older, but certainly no wiser’, right?  Then, I should give some folky Twainism** like ‘the only thing I really know is that I know nothing’?  Horseshit!  I am older, and far wiser.  Age and time have taught me about patience and kindness.  I posses neither, but I admire them greatly!  See what I did there?  Lastly, like the Buddha, I do not claim to be wise.  Simply wiser than I was.  Heck, even you are that!

at 44, the most true thing I have learned is ‘you get what you pay for’.  However, that isn’t advice.  It is just an observation.  Best advice for a yute would be from my dad, who said

 you can play now, and pay later… or pay not and play later

He was talking about education in general, and grades in college in specific.  It applies to SO much, though.  His point being if you want to dick around and party and get nothing done now (play)… later in life you will pay.  Meaning, go ahead and drop off the earth and follow the Dead (or whatever) but you will be working at burger king when you are 40.  He was right.  You can spend your evening at the library re-writing term papers (didn’t really have PC computers for the average consumer in the early 90s.  Just the useless TRS80, or the arty and useless Macintosh… each cost more than college) OR…  you can blow it off and go to Brad’s party, instead.  Life is short, you wanna spend it in a library, nerd?  The answer is yes, yes you do. It’s library this Friday night, or working at Dairy Queen EVERY Friday night for $8 an hour for the next 40 years.  You can play now, and pay later.  Or… pay now and play later.

Behaviorists have studied this in society, it is called ‘delayed gratification’.  They found people with the capacity to do that (delay gratification, or pay now) are WAY more successful in life.  How do you test for something like that?  It’s fascinating.  You ask a kid ‘I can give you one oreo now if you would like.  OR… you can wait 2 hours and have 3 oreos.  In that choice, though, you get none now.  Obviously, for a very young child, it will be about 90% will choose the Oreo now.

Don’t be a hootie, I guess, is the point.

 Even better, funnier, and more relatable?  This scene in Colors, where Robert Duvall is teaching a very young Sean Pen that patience is the key to dealing with these gangs.

Here, just watch this (key dialogue begins at 34 seconds)

 

That story is the absolute perfect essence of my dad’s thoughts.  Of course, I didn’t know how right he was at the time.  My dad has since passed away, and I am still thankful for that paternal wisdom.  I spent an hour trying to explain it to you, even though you likely got it in 30 seconds.  I just wanted to make sure you got it, because it becomes more true every day.

 You travel back in time 3000 years, you can take 1 item. Which item do you choose to become the ruler of Earth?

 Easy – my guitar.  Doesn’t need electricity, comes with the hundreds of songs in my head, will dazzle the ladies, and (perhaps most importantly) allow me to keep myself entertained and occupied for endless hours.  You know this guy scores with the ladies.  Be a hootie, I guess, is my point

 In your will, what is something you could add to cause the most chaos?

 I don’t want to think about my death just yet.  And if I do, I want to think about the awesomeness people will fight to show how great I was.  WAIT… there it is.  Whomever makes the greatest homage to me (must be Eco-sustainable) gets all my… um… worldly… um… old Playboys?  Just kidding.  I don’t keep those. That would be creepy.  I mean, we would start with Hunter’s goodbye, the absolutely brilliant and utterly narcissistic and pointless gonzo cannonGonzo fist’ cannon that shot his ashes into the night sky.

 

Couple of footnotes to an already too long piece

 ** in writing this piece, I was made to remember our horse ‘Double Heaven’.  Remember, I do not write the questions, so it was a genuine surprise when I saw that.  I then realized ‘shit, those words are AMAZING together!’  Even a dummy (atheist with 2 divinities) like me knows that.  So, i then thought ‘shit, I must OWN those two words!’ because that is how we men handle these things.  I hopped over to Go Daddy to secure my loot and found it gone.  YET… not gone to a domain squatter… like those assholes who won’t sell me Lono.com because I don’t have $10,000. 

No, it appears to be a gal who started a blog.  It’s even a WordPress blog.  So, though I am jealous, I am not petty.  Stop over and give her a read.  She is SUPER new to it, and only has a couple posts.  Give her some encouragement.  Funny thing is, if she is as new as I think she is, and had I not sat on my goddamn Friday Fives for a week and a half… i could have got that domain name.  Either way, Double Heaven gal… good luck in your new adventure!

Also, maybe if just one of you turd burglars was here 13 years ago to encourage me when I started I’d be writing books now, instead of managing in a call center, you vampire of joy!

*** note the time and place you just read this, crackers… because I did it again.  That word up there?  Twainism?  I just spilled out of my head.  I had my editor do some research on the etymology of that word.  Since I am my editor, I’ll give you the news directly; I just motherfucking invented that word… as I wrote it.  Let’s put this in perspective, shall we?  Were you there when the Wright Brothers took off?  Were you there when Kennedy got shot?  Well, this is probably bigger.  Unless you were here for this gem, or this one?

really, that word didn’t exist.  Check here, and even here.  I’d offer a third citation for proof, but frankly I am a little butt hurt you even required two.  I do not source things, America… I am the source of things.

lastly lastly let me say this.  I hope you know I am not this narcissistic judgemental asshole I write myself to be.  Literally, it is a character.  Obviously, I am a HUGE part of that character… but I think of it as a bit.  Sort of like Steven Colbert did with his last show.  Like him, I think, it is also a cathartic and fun piece of vanity I recommend everyone try.  Also, when making fun of literally everyone in the bible belt… it’s best not to use your real info.

yes, I am a passionate liberal asshole who thinks he knows what is best for everyone.  In person, though, I ain’t.  I’ll leave you alone, prolly.  I mean, just look at you!  See what I did there?  That was Lono, my online persona.  I am Kevin of Parker, you jackass!