Sunday, October 5, 2008
Dan's new home.
Look! I'm playing the trombone!
Dan has found the new love of his life. Don't worry, it's just the city of New Orleans. Or maybe you should worry. New Orleans has shot straight to the top of the list of where we should live after NYC, and he is already mapping out a game plan on how he'll be back (perhaps as a resident) in 18 months. I am unsure whether I will join him. Sure, I like New Orleans. A lot. But me, a Southern belle?
Besides for a few don't-really-count business trips to Atlanta and Charleston, this is my first time in the South. Outside of New York, I have never been somewhere where art is so abundant in present in day-to-day life. The thing is that in New York--the art is snotty and inaccessible--while in New Orleans, it's down to earth and everywhere. You get the sense that everyone here is an artist of some kind. Take Saturday night. We happened to be in town for the yearly Art for Art's Sake--an evening devoted to gallery hopping all over town. The best part is that these galleries all serve complementary wine, walking on the streets with alcohol is perfectly acceptable here, and lots of the galleries hired local bands to play loudly on the streets so we had the best time. (Just think: if such a thing ever happened in New York, it would be so crowded that you wouldn't get to see anything or the event filled with such pretentious people that the vibe would diminish any fun). Our art-filled week also included live music at Vaughn's Lounge where they served complementary homemade rice and beans at the bar and we had the chance to hear Kermit Ruffins on trumpet and the Congo Rhythms Music Festival where we sat on the lawn and watched bands play.
That's me with an open container on the streets of New Orleans.
The people here crack me up. While you certainly get your share of weirdos in New York, I have seen characters here like no others. Like the man driving a fruit truck driving really slowly down the streets of the French Quarter and singing equally slowly in a loud speaker for everyone to hear:
"I've got banana."
"I"ve got strawberry."
"I've got grape."
Or how about the conductor of the old fashioned trolley, who slammed on the brakes of a train car loaded with people, so she can yell across the street to say hello and have conversation with her friend.
Dan in the driver's seat of the trolley.
In Jackson Square, they've got the park lined up with fortune tellers and found myself in front of a dread-locked man with three teeth who rubbed my hands in stinky oil, held my palms for minutes and threw chicken bones and dice on the blanketed table to tell me:
"You were tall when you were little and they used to make fun of you for it."
"You will have twin girls. And your daughter will have triplets. Do twins run in your family?" I said no. Later Dan tells me his grandfather is a twin.
"You will travel all around the world."
"The money will come. You will have good health. You will be alright."
"You have nice teeth."
We did the requisite walk through the French Quarter. Sure some of it's touristy and trashy, but then other parts of town are so surprisingly unaffected--like Magazine Street, a main strip of stores and restaurants where the only chain store we found was American Apparel and there wasn't a single bank in site. (We know, because we needed money. Lots of places here are cash only). All of the stores were small and quaint with much local flavor, it was such a relief that all cities in America aren't run by chains and look the same.
Can we stop for a minute to talk about how cheap everything is here? Two drinks at a bar for $6? Two ice cream cups with two flavors for $5? A 6-bedroom house in a nice part of town for $400,000? We've been living in NYC too long to appreciate these prices.
There's a spirit about New Orleans that's hard to miss. It's just brimming with so much potential. There's a great deal of beauty in it, although sometimes you have to look through the cracks to see it. The cracks:
The most beautiful Southern-style homes full of charm can be right next to these slummy looking things, and this happens no matter the neighborhood.
A deeply political town (they were having local elections this weekend and we couldn't believe the amount of political signs we saw--it was like high school all over again where everyone plastered the hallways with posters except here, high school is the entire city of New Orleans) which is awesome that people care about their government--but apparently all the politicians are corrupt.
New Orleans is the murder capital of the United States. It's advised not to walk alone at night. Enough said.
The sidewalks are uneven and Dan trips on them about every ten minutes. I've managed to do okay, but seriously, every ten minutes Dan goes flying in this town.
With all the rebuilding, they can make this place look incredible and start anew. But there's a very possible chance that if you ever bought property here, it could wash away.
Since I have been here I have gotten more mosquito bites than I have had in the last ten years. "You will get used to it," says Dan.
Even with all those negatives, I still like it here. But if we're going to live here, we'd have to get used to a whole lot of things--the good and the bad.
Posted by Yvonne at 2:49 PM