PA to LA: Day 3
June 3, 2003
June 3: Having spent much of the first two days of our sojourn to the City of Angels in the front seat of a Subaru, it was nice to actually have a day that didn't include 8 or more hours of driving--a day that didn't include any driving but for a couple of brief cab rides.
We awoke to cloudy skies that quickly turned to rainy skies. The rain started and stopped, started and stopped, like an aging car engine. Once kicked over, however, it continued for about an hour or so. We stayed in and caught up on emails before heading toward the French Quarter. After visiting a cigar shop and watching and talking with the employees while they masterfully rolled tobacco leaves, we continued north to a corner restaurant near the cathedral (don't ask me the name of the restaurant or the cathedral--it's late and I've no idea where the street map disappeared to).
Today's lunch consisted of crawfish poppers and fried pickles (pickle slices lightly battered and fried to a golden crisp and served with a dipping sauce)--a delicacy that is no doubt an acquired taste. My entree was the catfish po-boy (aka, the catfish sandwich). Di enjoyed crawfish etouffee which was far superior to the etouffee eaten the night before at the HOB.
The po-boy is itself an interesting concept. It is derived from the words "poor boy" as it was once considered an inexpensive means of purchasing a decent meal. The key ingredient to the po-boy is French bread. New Orleans French bread has a crunchy crust with a very light center. Po-boy fillings can consist of roast beef, shrimp, catfish, or just about anything.
Outside the restaurant we met an older black man named Reginald who was selling pralines. These are in the shape of large cookies filled with pecans and held together by what appears to be molasses. We purchased a half dozen and talked with Reginald a few moments. He warned us to be careful in the city and to stay away from con artists who will say "I know where you got your shoes." Here's the scam: Man will say to you, "Wanna shoe shine?" and typically if you are like me you will say, "No thanks; I polish my own shoes, thank you very much." Man will then say, "Betcha five bucks I can tell you where you got your shoes," to which you might be inclined to pause and think to yourself ain't no way this guy can know where I bought my shoes. And while you are thinking this, man will say, "Not only can I tell you where you got your shoes, I can tell you which street you got them on," and now you might think to yourself, Okay, this is money in the bank. I'm from outta town. Ain't no way this guy can tell me where I got my shoes, much less the street where I got them on--Hell, even I don't remember the street! So you talk the bet and the man, quick as a flash says, "You got your shoes on your feet and you're on Bourbon Street (or whatever street you happen to be standing on at the time). So if you visit the Big Easy and you are approached in this fashion, the response is, "I got my shoes on MY feet, 'nuff said" or you could reply as I did the night before and indicate that you killed a man for your shoes--either will likely work fine.
Following a late lunch we ventured across the street toward the trolley tracks adjacent to the Mississippi River where we watched huge riverboats pass by. We then walked further into the Quarter and visited a few voodoo shops. Despite the various voodoo dolls and zombie paraphernalia, I was disappointed to find there were no Rob Zombie records or CDs. There are literally hundreds of voodoo charms and trinkets to do everything from provide extra power in the bedroom to ensuring good luck at work (for prostitutes I suppose the first charm would do the job of both trinkets). When I asked if there were any voodoo dolls or kits that would make a person attractive to hot, 16-year-old girls, she replied that there were none. I asked if there were any spells to protect me against evil monkeys--again, none. Evil robots--none. I picked up a book on he history of voodoo as it looks damn interesting and I know very little about it. I also purchased the High Llamas 2-cd retrospective from the Virgin Megastore and it is highly recommended--but I digress...
By 6:00 pm we hit Bourbon Street which, as the name implies, consists largely bars. Gorgeous architecture that is largely of Spanish origin. Most of the French architecture was destroyed by fire long ago; the buildings that followed were of Spanish design.
After a few hours of sightseeing we decided to partake in a walking tour of Vampires of New Orleans. The tour departed at 8:30 p.m. from the cathedral and was mostly entertaining--though the two bar stops seemed a bit redundant. Those expecting a shocking gore-filled extravaganza would be highly disappointed. The tour focuses on much of the history of vampire lore in New Orleans from the 18th century to the present. It was not quite up to par with other haunted excursions but was certainly more entertaining than television.
Mostly what I learned about vampires was that people (vampire killers, mostly) wear garlic around their necks not to ward off vampires, but to help keep from gagging when they open a vampire's coffin and kill it--apparently the undead are not the most fresh-smelling individuals one can find.
Following the tour we had a late dinner consisting of salad, crab cake jalapeno poppers, crab and shrimp pasta Newberg, and gumbo. All quite good at a dive bar (again, the name escapes me) next to the pretentiously neon Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville restaurant and bar.
Last nights dreams were few and included visiting a car dealership. Hoping the jalapeno poppers will yield more interesting material this evening...