New Orleans is a place for poets and artists. It’s a magical place surrounded by swamplands, tucked into a pocket of land on the north side of a bend in the Mississippi River.
It’s a place to hide, to blend in after the escape, to entwine with the grime and dust that settles on the rust of wrought-iron gates.
It’s a resting place for the exiled who’ve run away from the wasteland of the multitudes.
And as the morning rolls in, it’s here you’ll find street musicians awake from their slumber as a breeze from Lake Ponchatrain flings whiffs of jasmine through back alleys. Sipping morning coffee at a corner cafe, you can watch the St. Charles Streetcar carry the phantoms of yesterday through narrow streets under ancient oaks ladened with spanish moss. The timeless cemetaries are eerily silent as the sun pushes up, forcing the souls of voodoo queens back into their everlasting tombs.
And it’s here that whores with dirty feet and golden hearts linger on corner streets as they offer their essence to the lonely. And the weathered bums with bloodshot eyes beg for crumbs from sightseers drunk on rum.
Listen, listen, you can hear it.
The sounds of banjos and trumpets, jazz and blues, the smell of beignets and booze, while tipsy locals drink whiskey on front stoops of creole cottages.
It’s a refuge for those who’ve withdrawn from the drab of everydayness. Those looking for a slowdown, away from the busybodies who forgot how to live.
This is their home. And they thrive in this dirty little town that washed up on the banks of the mighty Mississippi centuries ago.
This is New Orleans.
“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.
Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
― Tenessee Williams
“Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins.”
― John Kennedy Toole,
“We wander through old streets, and pause before the age stricken houses; and, strange to say, the magic past lights them up.” – Grace King
“there was something about
that city, though
it didn’t let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
it let me alone.”
― Charles Bukowski
Historic Garden in the Quarter
Gypsies of Esplanade Ave.
“Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become a study for archaeologists…but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.” – Lafcadio Hearn
If you want great Nawlins’ music without the tourist traps, go to Frenchman Street. And stay there.
This is David from Montana. Told me “I’ve been pluckin’ this ole guitar out here on the dirty banks of the Mississippi River since 67′.”
Said he came out to New Orleans right after his tour in Vietnam. Seemed the place to go. I told him it’s Paradise out here, he said “yeah man, something about this city gets in your blood, it grabs you man, you can’t leave.” We took a pull a whiskey and listened to the slow sounds of the city for awhile. I love New Orleans.
He wasn’t askin’ much out of life. Told me his name was Lloyd. Said he’s been out here sweepin’ the dirty streets of the French Quarter for decades. “Shiiit, ain’t no place I’d rather be, man. Born and raised right here in Nawlins.”
I looked into his eyes and saw the universe. There was something poetic there. He was beyond content. More than most.
I asked him, I said “hey Lloyd, man, what’s the secret to life?” He says “man, just be kind and live simple, that’s it. Shiit, I work everyday, sip a lil’ whiskey at night and get up do it all over again. I don’t have no bills, no stress, man, I’m just here tryin’ to be something in this land of nothing, you know?” I told him he’s a genius, he says’ “shhhh, I’m tryin’ to keep that shit a secret.”
On the St. Charles Streetcar
“If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.” – Judy Deck
“The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds – the cemeteries – and they’re a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchres- palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay – ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who’ve died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn’t pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time” ― Bob Dylan
There are only two things: love, all sorts of love, with pretty girls, and the music of New Orleans or Duke Ellington. Everything else ought to go, because everything else is ugly. –Boris Vian
The great poet and musician, Grayson Capps, playing in Carrollton Station Bar in uptown. He once said he writes songs that “have the voice of dead prophets masquerading as town drunks screaming ‘look at us we’re pretty, too!'”
Carrollton Station Bar
“To get to New Orleans you don’t pass through anywhere else. That geographical location, being aloof, lets it hold onto the ritual of its own pace more than other places that have to keep up with the progress.” – Allen Toussaint
“Dreams have only one owner at a time. That’s why dreamers are lonely.”
― William Faulkner
The beautiful people of New Orleans
The beautiful homes of New Orleans
“Next to music, beer was best.”
― Carson McCullers
Classic New Orleans
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar: It’s been called the oldest bar in America, built sometime in the 1720’s.
“We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.” – Chris Rose