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In the morning, I had a choc-almond croissant at La Boulangerie. You have never had a pastry this glorious, unless you have.
We took the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, the oldest operating street railway in the world. After the oppressive heat of the day before, we sat with the window open and felt the cool breeze. Locals told us fall had suddenly arrived that day, and the temperature dropped to the 70s. We spent a portion of the day simply riding up and down the railway to its terminus. We took it up to the corner of Carollton and Claiborne. Then we boarded another train and rode all the way back the way we came to Canal Street at the edge of the French Quarter. The operators were friendly, having a saintly patience for tourists. Later that evening, while climbing into the car to travel to Carollton for dinner, Emily asked if beer was allowed on the streetcars. “No, no! You can wait!” laughed the operator, smiling broadly.
We wandered around the French Quarter, sitting in a park near the seat of the old French government, and read. There are many horse-drawn carriages which I find morally objectionable.
For lunch we went to Coop’s. If you go to New Orleans, have the jambalaya there. I can still taste it. They were playing an old 1940s screwball comedy on the small television suspended above the bar. I couldn’t identify the film, but I am pretty sure it starred George Sanders and the plot made much use of misunderstandings that implied that the heroine was a slut. The locals having a mid-afternoon beer were quite entertained, talking back to the screen.
That evening, we ate at Jacques-Immo’s. It was recommended to us by everyone. We had a short wait, so I ordered beers at the bar near the entrance. My Michigan driver’s license was thoroughly examined with blacklight. I had become sort of used to the extra scrutiny bartenders gave it in these Southern towns. New Orleans, perhaps due to the college students and tourists, has been the most suspicious of all cities I have visited. We sat, drinking our Abitas, when a young man in a blue uniform approached me. He had a badge shaped like the Great State of Louisiana, a patch on his chest of the same shape with some writing etched into it, a gun, and a clip board. As he came closer, the patch read “Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.”
“Excuse me, sir, I am from the Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control [points at his chest], I’m just making some inspections, would you happen to have your ID on you?” He smiled pleasantly. I laughed, and gave him my ID. “You just look young, that’s all… Say… What’s the address on this license?” I responded with my address in Michigan. He seemed satisfied and left. He approached the host’s podium, and spoke in low tones. The host, looking slightly unhinged, left the premises and returned with a middle-aged couple of the elderly hippy species. The man seemed incoherent and slightly flighty, the woman focused and business-like. They were the owners. The Alcohol Officer explained that he was visiting on a snap inspection of the premises. He needed their identification, which the wild-haired old man duly fetched, and would need to go behind the bar and view their alcohol license. The woman asked incredulously how it could be that this was the first inspection in 13 years, to which the Officer responded (not very convincingly) that it was just a random inspection, there had not been any complaint, and he did not know why they had not been inspected before. The Officer went behind the bar and he and the bartender held individual bottles of alcohol up to the light. He chose a bottle of Captain Morgan’s and a bottle of Smirnoff, there seemed to be very little pattern to the bottles he chose. Then he collected the license and began to fill out paper work.
Emily and I sat and drank and watched the whole thing. The lawyers in us regarded the Officer with suspicion. He seemed too gregarious, too conciliatory. His examination of the liquor bottles was a little too ridiculous and comical. We questioned whether we should tell the owners to check his identification. Just as we debated the wisdom of getting involved, the woman owner walked up to the man and asked for more identification. A little too smoothly, the Officer said, “Oh, well if the uniform and badge and the gun don’t convince you, here’s some ID.” At that point, we were seated. I am sure he was a con man.
Here is a picture of our tablecloth.
Our waiter gave us free dessert. Two of them! Creme brulee! The only dessert I truly adore.
After dinner, we proceeded next door to the Maple Leaf Bar to see Rebirth. I am not going to try to describe it. It was amazing.
During the show, I noticed a lecherous old man, oggling and pawing at the hipster girls. His posture was stooped. He wore a silly hat with a braided rat tail hanging out of the back and walked with a cane decorated in feathers and bones. He had a white beard and sleepy eyes. I thought he might be just any other weird New Orleans character. But he seemed slightly familiar. Then, during their raucous set, Rebirth stopped to introduce him and usher him onto the stage. It was Dr. John, New Orleans jazz legend and 60’s icon. He sang a few bars. Crazy.
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