Wednesday, March 4, 2015

We Live on a Beautiful Street in New Orleans

The park across the street from our house
I was looking over the list of all the B&Bs in New Orleans.  The vast majority of them list Bed & Breakfast in their names.  Second-most popular is Inn.  Then there is House, Maison, and Courtyard.  There is one Quarters, and one Row.  Ours is the only one that is just a name without reference to the property itself: La Belle Esplanade.

I never noticed this before.  Our boutique New Orleans inn [a little keyword stuffing there] is named after our street.  We aren't selling  rooms, even if that's what you think you are buying when you make a reservation.  We are selling our neighborhood.  We love where we live.  It always makes me happy when our guests stroll around the neighborhood.

Mind you, I am going to say it again, just as I try to say it as frankly as I can on our website, we are not in the French Quarter.  If you want to stay in the French Quarter, there are places a scant mile from our house where you can stay.  If you do stay in the French Quarter, we hope you'll take a stroll up Esplanade Avenue.  Make sure you take a picture of our house.  Everyone else does.

Esplanade Avenue is known as the Creole St. Charles Avenue.  It isn't as long as St. Charles Avenue, and there isn't as much to do, commercially speaking, as in the neighborhoods around St. Charles Avenue, but Esplanade Avenue, and Tremé, have their own delights.
A house on Esplanade Avenue
An esplanade, according to Webster's, as they say, is a level open stretch of paved or grassy ground, especially one designed for walking.  Everywhere else in the world, esplanade is pronounced 'ess-plah-NAHD."  In New Orleans, where everything is different, it is pronounced 'ess-plan-AID."  If you are looking to pronounce our name correctly, we are La Belle Esplanade on Esplanade Avenue.

As a flaneur, I always appreciate an esplanade.  According to Webster's, a flaneur is an idle man-about-town.  I don't know how much I agree with that, no matter how much I resemble that definition.  Like Charles Baudelaire, I prefer to think of a flaneur as someone who makes it his occupation to walk the city streets, getting caught up in their ephemeral scenes.
Charles Baudelaire
If you stay in our Les Fleurs Suite [see the link at the top of this page] you'll find a copy of my favorite book by Baudelaire.  It's a charmer titled, "Les Fleurs de Mal."  What's that in English?  "The Flowers of Evil."  Love poems.  

Tremé is a fascinating neighborhood, even though it isn't the ritziest in the city.  It's predominantly working class, though that is changing.  The new Lafitte Greenway will open later this year.  It's going to change a lot of things in the neighborhood, not just the demographics.  For now, though, behind our house are two famous restaurants, a lot of history, and a ton of details piled up over the centuries.  That's enough.

Up the street from us, toward City Park, there are more restaurants and coffee shops, two grocery stores, a wine bar, and a laundromat. If you need to do laundry during your stay, we have a laundry room on site.  It costs a $1.25 to wash and $1.25 to dry.  We'll provide the detergent if you need it.

Let's end with a little Baudelaire, shall we?


Nature is a temple in which living pillars 
Sometimes give voice to confused words; 
Man passes there through forests of symbols 
Which look at him with understanding eyes.

Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance 
In a deep and tenebrous unity, 
Vast as the dark of night and as the light of day, 
Perfumes, sounds, and colors correspond.

There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,
Sweet as oboes, green as meadows
— And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,

With power to expand into infinity,
Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin, 
That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.

-Translated by William Aggeler, The Flowers of Evil (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade, a New Orleans bed and breakfast.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Doing Time in New Orleans

Life is a parade in New Orleans
I was telling Frau Schmitt that I want to have a bird in the house.  Specifically, I would like to have a sulphur-crested cockatoo.  "Why?" she asked me.

Because some days I feel like Baretta.  

I don't like to go to bed with a price on my head and I don't do any crime when I can't do the time.  I keep my eye on the sparrow when the going gets narrow and I live in a place where the cold winds don't blow.  Well, well, well, well, well, well, well, well.

I don't even know what most of that means, but it always sounded good when Sammy Davis, Jr. sung it.  The song, "Eye On The Sparrow," was the number 1 song in the Netherlands in 1976.  The Dutch called it, "Baretta's Theme."  It's my theme, too.  Besides, no matter what happens, I'll always be a little rascal.

"I'll take care of the bird," I said.  Frau Schmitt snorted.  "No you won't.  I'll end up taking care of it."  She is usually right about these things.  "No bird.  Do you hear me?" she said while she looked at me sternly.  I heard her---for now.  I think a sulphur-crested cockatoo has a lovely singing voice.

Recently, one of our guests told me I reminded him of one of the Bowery Boys.  "Do you know who they were?" he asked.  I do.  Do you, gentle reader?  They were originally known as The Dead End Kids.  I assume our guest was referring to Leo Gorcey and not Huntz Hall when he made the comparison to your humble narrator.  

I'm sorry if you are too young to get any of the associations I've been tossing out in this post so far.  

Let me throw you a bone.  I have nothing in common with Daniel Tosh.  In fact, sometimes,when nobody is checking in on a particular afternoon, I go to the Parkview Tavern on North Carrollton Avenue up the street from us and I write the blog like I'm writing it now, and they have Comedy Central on the television and they're showing Tosh.0, and I think, "This is like staring into a cesspool."  I like it when Futurama is on, though.  
Life is not a cartoon
I pay more attention to Futurama, but I usually have other things to do to occupy my time.  When you live in New Orleans, you don't have a lot of need for the mainstream culture.  We don't live in Oklahoma City or East Grand Rapids or Beaver Mills, Alabama.  There is enough going on on the streets in New Orleans.  Who has time to get the corporate commodified version of what is entertaining when there is already enough to do with our neighbors?  Wanna know what it's like to live like a local in New Orleans?  You'll never be bored here, I'll tell you that.

I could write more, but Kristine just led a bicycle tour past our house.  I'm going to go out to talk to her if you don't mind.  Tune in next time and I'll have another story that is more interesting, I hope.  Until then---

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rex Hollywood In New Orleans

2216 Esplanade Avenue in 2012
It's always nice to see people twice.  Frau Schmitt and your humble narrator know we'll see some of our guests again, eventually, some day, in the future, but, when it happens in reality it always warms our hearts.  

It's always nice to see people again.  We saw someone this week who's presence especially always tickles us.  When I saw the reservation come through last August, I sent a brief email.  "This is an unexpected surprise," it said.  "We look forward to seeing you and your lovely bride again," it concluded.  Unfortunately, the bride in question couldn't make it at the last minute.  Next time.  There is always a tantalizingly possible next time over the horizon.

Our friend, the man-of-mystery, Rex Hollywood, who didn't get himself killed while he was here, wore dress slacks and flashy ties the whole time he stayed with us.  He's a dandy.  That's his nature.  He wasn't showing off.  He just likes to look good.

Wanna know a secret?  Rex Hollywood and I get our shirts from the same place. When one Kirkland man sees another, they recognize that mark of distinction.  It's like a Masonic handshake.  There's an unspoken bond.

When people love New Orleans, there is an unspoken bond, too.  If you don't like New Orleans, you're just not right in the head.  

Some people like New Orleans.  Some people love New Orleans.  Some people get New Orleans, or, rather, New Orleans gets under their skin.  The city is like a Sinatra song.  It's for lovers.

After Rex Hollywood left this afternoon, I thought about Frank Sinatra.  They have similar mannerisms.  They are both the epitome of cool in their own ways.

Just before he sped off to the airport in his sports car with the top down, I shook Rex Hollywood's hand for what I hope wasn't the last time.  "I just wish Cathy could have been here," he told me.  I seconded the motion.

I say the same thing about Frau Schmitt when I have some great experience in New Orleans.  For Rex Hollywood, it was after spending three days in New Orleans.  For me, it's usually after I've picked up a box of donuts in the morning.  It's a crazy world down here.  It's a crazy mixed-up world.  

You never know who you will meet in this kaleidoscopic city.  You can be sure to make friends here, though.  Good friends make the world go around.
2216 Esplanade Avenue yesterday
À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

This one goes out to Chris.  A tip of the fedora in his direction.  
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