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New Orleans: Jazz, Food, Bluegrass, Art, and Rain Featured

  • Posted on:  Friday, 22 March 2013 14:12
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I convinced my mother to spend a couple afternoons walking with me around a chilly, empty New Orleans. I convinced my mother to spend a couple afternoons walking with me around a chilly, empty New Orleans. Photos by Vida Mikalcius

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Begging for Beer

 

My mother and I stumbled upon these street musicians, taking alms for their friend's birthday. Pabst Blue Ribbon cans and hand rolled cigarette butts littered around the gang. "Hey, its Drew's birthday, Mom. Maybe I should buy him a beer?" "I'm pretty sure it's his birthday every day," she told me, sitting on a step, preparing to listen to some bluegrass. The soft afternoon light bounced off the tuba and into her eyes.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Oysters

With bipolar weather, we often hid in tiny eateries, escaping from the heavy rains. Gorging myself on freshly shucked oysters, I tried to convince my mom I would still be able to walk after a second Abita beer. I stuck with one. In the midst of leaving Acme restaurant, I tripped on the curb. My mother raised her eyebrows at me, penetrating me with that mom glare. But I know, and I know deep down she knows too, that it wasn't that one beer, but the clumsiness that has plagued me since those first troubling steps.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Jazz Time

We discovered a quiet eatery, where I could enjoy my second beer. A trio of jazz artists serenaded the five people in the audience. I placed my feet up on the chair in front of me, my mother and I taking a break from our conversation, to enjoy the rifts on the base, shielding my beer from my mom, who would take little sips. Those little sips ended up costing me almost 1/2 of my second beer.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Ravens

Wandering through the art district on a grey afternoon, to immerse yourself in visual stimulation, added color to those bleak days. I stopped at this one, to check out the paintings of one of my favorite birds- the crow. Upon second glace, I could not tell you if the bird was a crow or raven, or even if it was one of the so similar to the two, the blackbird or rook. But the funny squaking and playful mannerisms of the overenthusiastic bird had allowed me hours of entertainment. In university, while I struggled to write papers, I would watch three crows, of whom I assumed were siblings, bouncing in the trees that lined my street outside my third floor apartment window. They were a relief, and so graceful. A grace I lacked, only proven by the permanent bruise on my hip from the walk past the kitchen counter.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Dessert in the Late Afternoon

Late in the afternoon we dined on the famous beignets of Cafe de Monde before heading to the Cathedral for a Christmas string quartet concert. The deep-fried fritter drowning in powdered sugar provided a perfectly light dessert, and the latte gave a little kick just before heading to listen to the acoustics bounce around the dimly lit cathedral. Service was quick, but the staff were noticeably tired. Even in low season, they never seemed to get a real break.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

The Legacy of Carnival Continues . . . 

Even though the Mississippi River runs right through New Orleans, it seemed so removed from the center of the city, despite it only being a block away. The river, wide with a strong current, dragged litter all across the shore. A Carnival Cruise ship sits, polluting the the air, with no one heeding any attention.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Low Season Weather

We power walked four blocks, racing the rain clouds approaching, reaching our hotel's parking garage only three seconds after the rains began plummeting. My mother called to me from the portrait of a jazz player holding a trumpet deep in the garage, near the hotel's entrance. "Get back, you'll get the camera wet!" The grounds were soaked a good 10 feet into the shelter, but the plumbing truck Rooster Man was there, just sitting at the stop light.

 

 

 

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Photo by Vida Mikalcius

Couples in Christmas Markets

I didn't see the breasts adorned by Mardi Gras beads or hear the alcohol soaked musicians in the wee morning hours. Many of those places were closed, and I was spending time with my mother, who appreciates quiet nights and early mornings. I read half of Les Miserables in those three short days, after which it took me over a month to finish the next half. Wandering the streets of New Orleans, despite not having that adventure of The Lost Weekend I imagined, was filled with gumbo, oysters, local Abita beers, and music, all while getting to ride on a red street car, and having a reason to constantly yell out, "Stella!"