Thursday, May 31, 2012

Kick my ass for $1

I stepped out earlier to go to Rouses, as I exited my building I could see strobe lights flashing on my street. Lots blues and a few reds, cops are blue and EMT or NOFD are red.  Most people get the rubber neck and can't wait to look, I was tempted to back into my door without even glancing at it. Instinct as a former cab driver, if you see flashing lights go the other way. It's nothing I haven't seen before, and just as a rule of thumb, AVOID COPS. Even if you haven't done anything, it's just smarter to do so.  Let's say 5 cops are beating the shit out of some drunk and 5 more cops show up. There isn't enough ass to go around so the 5 new cops will grab whoever happens to be walking by at the time so they can have some fun too. 



It's just common sense to stay away from the action.  As I locked the gate behind me, my neighbor Richard comes skipping up to me from the middle of the mayhem like a little boy who just saw his first police car. Excitedly he told me what had happened, later Catastrophe Curt filled me in on more details.

Apparently one of our local characters was standing on the corner of Toulouse and Bourbon holding a sign that read "KICK MY ASS FOR $1" Sounds like he made a few bucks tonight.  Drunk on booze and high on bath salts he became belligerent to passer-bys trying to drum up business. Someone told him to chill the fuck out or the cops were going to give him a very bad night. At that point he started to muthafuck the cops who took that as a challenge. Now, no place on Earth do you start shit like that with law enforcement, especially in New Orleans. Seriously, after a NOPD cop in the Quarter gets done beating your ass, they let their horses have sex with you. It's been documented. 

I went on to Rouses, bought my coffee and hot dogs returning to see the ambulance pull away from in front of Molly's. As it chugged pass I glanced into the window to see a bloody and cuffed idiot on the gurney  having a very bad night. I wondered if he ever got his dollar. Life in the Quarter.





Monday, May 28, 2012

Pipes

My friend Jeff does some work for my landlady.  We have a couple of dancers who live upstairs. Jeff asked if I would come up to the fourth floor and help find the dancers drip, he needed me to hold the flashlight. "Hell yea man, let me grab my coffee...."  Oh. Plumbing.  Of course I had to be a smart ass as soon I walked in. "I found your plumbing problem right here, you have a big brass pipe in the middle of the living room."

It is of course an old building. I think I saw a plaque on the neighbor's building that it was built in 1794 or something.  It's amazing what you'll read when you're taking a piss on a wall.  Very high maintenance structures here in the Quarter, lots of unpleasant surprises for property owners.   Say what you want about dancers, they do get the best service. I knew a dancer once, I swear Domino's delivered in 12 minutes. I was always afraid to eat the pie, she was a creep magnet.


(BTW,  the answer was twice on the pipes.)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Politics in the French Quarter

I haven't paid too much interest in NOLA politics. I'm not sure I can say that I have a firm grasp of the political system down here yet. Coming from New Jersey I understood them up there. Jersey's last scandal involved politicians on the take, mobsters and rabbis. Down here political families are immortalized for picking up strippers on Bourbon Street or being a power hungry madman and getting a bridge named after them. 

Prior to that, political leaders used to have public duels and shoot one another. They play rough down in the Big Easy. I wish elected officials still settled things on the House floor by dueling to the death, I might start watching C-SPAN if they did.  Perhaps instead of elections we give them all weapons and let them settle it like men.  I'm not saying the survivors would necessarily be the best choice, but it would thin the herd faster than term limits.  Unfortunately the best man would probably be Sarah Palin hanging out of a helicopter with a sniper rifle.  I could picture Nancy Pelosi pointing a Russian made RPG back at her. She looks like she has stood behind a few being launched.

The French Quarter has had five flags fly over it. French, Spanish, English, Confederate and American.  Napoleon had one hand in his vest while the other helped write the laws here.  If they wanted something done right, they hired Pirates. Pirates, the original NAVY SEALS. 

The basic premise behind politics is the same no matter where you go, "What's in it for them." The three branches of government are: the elected officials, corporations, and the taxpaying sheep.  I know my place on that food chain.  Recently two of those branches held a little PR parade through the Quarter. "Hospitality Zone" self promoting self pleasuring committee or something like that.  Sounds great on the surface, promoting tourism in the city.  What's in it for them? More money, more taxes. For us, a little more money, a lot more vomit on our doorsteps every morning.


Another red flag is an "Appointed committee." I understand that not every city related position can be filled with an election. So the premise is that you elect a few barely competent lawyers and trust them to fill  needed positions with the best choices they can find. See the flaw in that ideal? We barely trust you guys that we voted in, now we must trust your buddies.

I won't attempt to explain the entire "HO ZONE" story. At first I thought it was just promoting the two blocks of businesses on Iberville Street between Bourbon and Decatur. But no, it's the the Quarter and parts of other neighborhoods.

Here are a few links:



New Orleanians: If you’re not disgusted by the proposed Hospitality District,
then you’re not paying attention

We Are a Community — Not a Commodity!

Hospitality District LA SB 573 amended, but not improved.

Genesis Report re: LA SB 573′s Hospitality District Legislation

 

Just ran into a good friend Rod the street magician at Walgreens. He said the city now wants to crack down on street performers. The city (or businesses) want only statue mimes since they don't hold a crowd. I know what the city is planning, they want to paint all of the homeless people on the benches silver.  Do they plan to clean up the Quarter so much that it just becomes like Disneyworld's sanitized reproduction of the Quarter? It won't work Mitch, we ain't got mice, we gotz ratz.





Monday, May 7, 2012

Courtyards



When you have 10 million visitors cramming themselves into your 70 square block neighborhood every year, you need a sanctuary. Very few of those 10 million ever get to see the nicest parts of the Quarter, courtyards.  The front of almost every structure is has it's toes on the sidewalk. Behind these iron gated and shuddered dwellings are open air  rustic brick lined spaces. The size can vary according to lot layout and building design.

The Pontalba building has small courtyards that are 4 stories deep. Those were designed primarily to provide cross ventilation in the days prior to air conditioning.  The townhouse layout utilizes long hallways, winding steps and lots of windows to funnel the slightest breeze from the balcony to the courtyard. Windows from each unit facing into the staircase are authentic. I remember one windy day, someone opening up the first floor door caused a door on the fourth floor to slam.

Some of the least expensive and yet coolest places to rent are slave's quarter efficiencies.  To my Yankee friends: Yes, former living quarters for slaves. Carries Karma with it.  The original popular layout is an apartment on each floor with two bedrooms off of the balcony facing the street, a sitting area and maybe a dining room. The kitchen area is usually a long narrow brick building connected by an exterior balcony (To you Yankees "decks") Two of these "L" shaped buildings facing each other produce a small courtyard in the center.

This time of year they are Eden like. Old and sometimes crumbling brick walls divide the space into small cozy halves.  I've been in some adorned with folk art and plush with tropical plants and fruit trees. Water features trickling as tiny green lizards dart about the fauna. Drink up under an umbrella during the day, smoke up under gas light at night and watch a rat bounce across the slate floor with that piece of chicken that your were saving for later.




The main apartment facing the street has the balcony that everyone associates with the Quarter, the slave's quarters balcony faces the quiet private court. It was easier to keep them in that way I guess.  A lucky quarter rat can afford one of these less than 200 square foot domiciles. It's about like living in a roomy RV. Most have 12 foot high ceilings with windows only on the side facing the balcony.  No cross ventilation here.  Mine has a large loft space for my bed at the 8 foot mark. Better suited for people in their 20's, most nights I end up crashing on the couch. Too sore and too old to deal with the fold up ladder. At my age I don't do bunk beds.




I enjoy my time out on my tiny private little balcony. If I want to stand out there in my underwear at 3 am to have a smoke, I can.  The other day I realized that the courtyard for the "Court Of Two Sisters" could probably be hit from here with one of those water balloon launchers. Just sayin.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's around here someplace

The other day I walked past a street musician who was performing a rather disappointing version of "The house of the rising sun." I remembered that I had always heard that it was a real house of ill repute somewhere here in town.  I could scarcely call myself a Quarter Rat if I didn't have some idea of where the old whorehouse was. Perhaps they were still in business and would like to advertise in the next issue of the Quarter Rat. So I turned to the greatest source of misinformation, rumors and lies, the internet.




There are several locations that stake claim to the title, the first being at 535 Conti Street. Built in 1801 the small hotel named "House of the rising sun" burned down in 1822. In later years large quantities of empty cosmetic bottles were unearthed on the site giving credence to the notion that painted women had once resided at the location.  Given the history of the French Quarter, odds are that every building at one time or another has housed prostitutes, speak easy's, pirates or some other kind of lascivious resident. Another address that takes claim to the title is at 1614 Esplanade Ave. In the 1860's and 70's the building was owned and operated by a French madam named Marianne LeSoleil Levant. The translation of her name from French means "Rising Sun."

Even the actual meaning of the lyrics are disputed. The most common notion is that the song refers to a brothel, others claim an illegal gambling house, others insist the reference is to a prison. One account that the reference is to an infirmary that prostitutes went to for severe syphilis where they were treated with the miracle drug Mercury.  The song was first recorded in 1934 by Clarence Tom Ashley. The origins of the song can be traced back to a English folk song.

My personal choice for the true location stands at 826-830 St. Louis St. The structure was purchased many years ago from the last of many madams who had managed the bordello for decades. During a recent renovation project, the latest owner discovered numerous risque postcards of half naked women dating back to the late 1800's.  As the contractors delicately removed decades of alterations from the original structure they uncovered a mural on the ceiling. A rising sun and three cherubs. Given the fact that the building is only about 3 doors down from Bourbon Street and the archelogical findings, I will give it my vote.

Also, it's the closest rumored location to my house, so I won't have to drag visitors from out of town too far to see The House Of The Rising Sun.