Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jefferson Davis Celebrated in New Orleans

A conference on our front porch
Jefferson Davis, like Robert E. Lee, is memorialized in New Orleans.  There is a Jefferson Davis Parkway.  If you don't know who I'm talking about, I'm talking about Jefferson Davis, this one, the President of the Confederate States of America.  He has his own Presidential Library in Biloxi, Miss.  

Jefferson Davis' funeral was held in New Orleans, at Confederate Hall, which most people think of as the Civil War Museum just off Lee Circle, across the street from the National WWII Museum.  

This article is about Jefferson Davis Parkway in New Orleans.  Like all streets that cross Canal Street, Jefferson Davis Parkway changes names when it crosses Canal.  There is a South Jeff Davis and a North Jeff Davis.  Everybody just says Jeff Davis.  Nobody says Jefferson Davis Parkway.  At the Canal Street intersection, on the South Jeff Davis side, there is a statue of Jefferson Davis.
The man memorialized in granite
If you go to the Civil War Museum, in the back, there's a collection of Jefferson Davis' personal effects.  I'm a student of history so I find it interesting.  The Civil War Museum itself is an old fashioned jumble of artifacts that people may or may not find insightful.  I don't find them very insightful, myself.  This isn't because I'm a Yankee by birth but only because very little is really explained.

Let me explain.  There are cases of belt buckles next to cases of snuff boxes next to cases of hats next to a piece of a tree that has a cannonball embedded it.  There is very little context to the jumble.  Believe me, as the curator of my own odditarium, which I maintain in our lobby and throughout our inn, this doesn't bother me.  It enchants me and makes me pay more attention to what is on display.  For some people, though, the lack of context, except for the fact that everything is memorabilia from the Civil War, the effect may be more puzzling than enlightening.

The statue in better light
Jeff Davis Parkway is a lovely street, strewn with statuary memorializing other people other than Jeff Davis himself.  The street is named after him, though, so there's no escaping his presence.  The street has a wide neutral ground, where the statues are placed, and it has a bicycle path that meanders down its middle.

It's a nice enough street with a couple of nice bars and restaurants (it is New Orleans, after all).  My tailors are located on North Jeff Davis Parkway.  My tailors are two very nice elderly Vietnamese women located just downtown of Bienville Street next to a music school.  You never know what you'll find in New Orleans.

Sometimes, when I don't have much else to do, I like to park my motor scooter on Jeff Davis Parkway and walk under the oak trees that line the neutral ground.
The sportiest scoot on the block
You can spend all day at the National WWII Museum.  Just ask Jack.  He and I spent four hours there a few months ago and after four hours he said, "I'm fascinated by this stuff, but I'm tired."  I'm twenty years younger than Jack and I said, "Me too."  So we headed back to La Belle Esplanade.
It's the orange house with blue shutters
On the way homeward, we swung a right down Jeff Davis Parkway.  "Who is that a statue of?" Jack asked.

"None other than the President of the C.S.U." I replied.
A monument that few people stop to read
New Orleans is chockablock full of surprises, few of them expected.  Few of them can be interpreted at face value.   The city is a gumbo, if I can coin an unoriginal phrase.  What I mean is that it has a kitchen sink full of dirty dishes full of flavors that mingle with the soapy water to produce something ineffable.  Some people, most people, find it to their liking even if they don't understand why.

The other day, Frau Schmitt and I went to Toup's Meatery on North Carrollton Ave.  We ordered a slice of doberge cake for an appetizer and the waitress commented that she liked our style.  I had a beet martini and Frau Schmitt had a French 75.  Frau Schmitt told me, "I know you say it all the time, but you really are right when you say there is nowhere else like New Orleans."  

When the charcuterie plate arrived after the cake, she said, "We should take Jeff Davis to get home.  There won't be as much traffic as there is on Carrollton Ave."  She is usually right about these things.  That's what we did.  She was right again.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Life of a New Orleans Innkeeper

Our front porch
Nobody wears full length pants or long sleeves this time of year in New Orleans and it's only May.

The busy season is winding down for us.  People like to ask when our busy season is.  It's from the end of January until the 4th of July.  Then, things pick up again in the middle of September and we're busy until the end of November.  Then, we're busy around New Year's Eve.  Now you know.

A similar picture
We are continually blessed with good guests.  We hear a lot of horror stories from fellow innkeepers but, for some reason, we don't have any hair-raising tales to tell.  Ever day is a pleasant pattern of relaxed conversation in the morning and then people go out to have adventures in this magical city we call home.

Some people ask if we ever hold a wine tasting in the afternoon.  No.  We're in New Orleans.  I don't have to invent things for you to do.  You shouldn't be hanging around the house, anyway.  You're on vacation---I don't normally use this name for our city, but I'll say it--- Go enjoy the Big Easy.

A real Maltese firecracker stayed with us this weekend.  Remember, Tracey, that hot ticket who thought Tammie the Housekeeper doesn't exist?  Well, this Maltese firecracker was a hot ticket, too.  She was sharp as a pin, paying attention to everything.  It's guests like that who keep us on our toes, let me tell you.

I don't mean this in a bad way.  We like it when people notice what we do.  I don't think many of our guests give our suites the white glove test, though we wouldn't mind if they did, but if they do, we never hear about their findings.  

The Maltese firecracker said, "You two have thought of everything."  I wouldn't say everything.  The inn is still a work in progress and we are always adding lagniappe and fiddling with the details.  We've thought of a lot and we've been doing this almost three years, now.  We like to think we've gotten better along the way from opening day to here.  YMMV.

It's a big work in progress even if most of the pieces are already in place by now.
I'm beginning to detect a theme
We end today with a musical interlude.  Travis Trumpet Black Hill died last week while he was touring in Japan.  He used to play every Monday at the Ooh Poo Pah Doo Bar, a few blocks behind our house.  He was a very talented musician who will be missed in New Orleans and in our neighborhood especially.  He had a promising career ahead of him that was unexpectedly cut short under circumstances I'm not going to go into here.  

As you can hear, Trumpet Black could really play.  That clip was taken in Armstrong Park last year.  So far, 125 people (including your humble narrator) have viewed this clip on You Tube.  125?!?  Listen to that, man.

I saw his funeral procession this afternoon under the Claiborne Avenue overpass.  I didn't go to gawk because I don't like to do that.  I don't mind telling our guests about second line parades that are going on in our neighborhood, but when people ask if I know where there's going to be a jazz funeral, I usually say that I don't.  

One: I don't really follow those things.  Two:  Howzabout a little respect for the dead, eh?  If you stumble across it, that's one thing, but I don't want to feel like I just sold tickets to somebody else's funeral.

Living in New Orleans is already like living in an aquarium.  Nobody minds much that visitors watch everything we do and ask us a million questions about what it's like to be here.  I just showed an apartment to a fellow and, when I was done, I asked him when he'd be ready to move in.  "Oh, I live in Pensacola.  I was just wondering how much apartments go for here and what they look like on the inside."

He's staying in an illegal short term rental he found on Air B&B.  "There's no privacy but it was cheap and I'm meeting a lot of interesting people."  I'll bet.  He wanted me to show him the inside of our inn, "just in case for next time." Unfortunately, I had other things to do at that very same moment.

Live here long enough and you'll get used to things like this. 

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Dog's Breakfast in New Orleans

A dog in New Orleans
Meggen and I are irregular correspondents.  She sometimes writes to me.  Who knows why?  She always says that your humble narrator makes her laugh.  I don't mean to.  Maybe I bring a smile to your face, too, gentle reader.  That isn't my intent.  This blog's mission is only to inform, not to entertain.  What it informs you about is a matter of conjecture on my part since I just make it up as I go along.

Let's start this ride, shall we?

I know why Meggen wrote to me the other day.  It was to tell me that La Belle Esplanade was featured on the front page of the website she runs, Find Everything Historic.  You can waste a lot of time there if you click the link I've provided.  

If you search for travel destinations on Find Everything Historic, you'll only find one listed in the great State of Louisiana.  Guess which one.  I like Meggen.  Frau Schmitt likes her, too, and Frau Schmitt is a shrewd judge of character.  

Find Everything Historic
Meggen also told me that she wants to feature our blog on her website.  I said that would be fine.  I said, "The blog is a real dog's breakfast, for what it is worth.  People seem to enjoy it.  If you feature our blog, make sure you call it a real dog's breakfast.  There's no point in wasting a good phrase."

Truer words were never typed in an email.

When I typed it, I didn't really know what a dog's breakfast is, except for something that a dog would eat, which can mean just about anything.  I looked it up on Urban Dictionary, which I don't normally visit since most of the things defined on it are things I would rather not think about.  According to Urban Dictionary, the phrase "dog's dinner" has the advantage of being more attractively alliterative (which, itself, is a phrase that is attractively alliterative), but I prefer dog's breakfast, which, truth be told, I've always associated with a dog eating its own vomit.

This went in an interesting direction.  Remember, I did just say I make these posts up as I go along.

Street vendor at a second line parade
I've said it before and I'll say it again, you never know what you'll find when you walk around New Orleans.  The city is a feast for the senses.  

I was talking to our guests from Washington State this morning.  They arrived yesterday.  They went to the French Quarter for their first day in the city, as most people do.  "It didn't smell very nice down there," they told me.  They're from Tacoma, WA.  I used to live in Tacoma so I'm familiar with "the Aroma of Tacoma."  The French Quarter doesn't smell anything like that.  The French Quarter smells like, well, there's no way to put it delicately, it smells like vomit and piss and overripe garbage.  

That doesn't sound very good, does it?  It is what it is.  The French Quarter is beautiful and it really is something to enjoy, all olfactory considerations aside.  It's like being transported back in time.  Believe me, the French Quarter smells the best it has in 300 years.  Imagine it with horses.  When you are in New Orleans, you aren't in Minneapolis anymore.  It's a different kind of city.  We live in the sub-tropics.

That explains everything.

A new B&B in New Orleans
The old Police Jail and Patrol Station on the corner of Dumaine and North Dorgenois Streets is being converted into a bed and breakfast.  It's an interesting neighborhood in which to undertake that project.  It's close by to us and we wish them the best of luck.  It's a beautiful building that deserves to be restored.  I should tell Meggen about it.  She loves everything historic.  Just in case you don't believe it's an old police jail and patrol station, I took a photo of the sign carved in stone over the front door.

New Orleans Police Jail and Patrol Station
You never know what you'll find in New Orleans when you turn a corner.

À votre santé,
La Belle Esplanade bed and breakfast.
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