A Quick Trip to the Swamp – 24 Hours in New Orleans

Dat Dog - dare you try the Chef's Surprise?
Dat Dog – dare you try the Chef’s Surprise?

Despite a large number of work duties stretching ahead of me in the next week, I honored my original plan to visit daughter 2, also known as S, for what had to be one of the shortest in and out visits to New Orleans ever.

But as always, despite its brevity, any period of time in NOLA is worth it. This visit was no exception.

Of course, it started with a torrential downpour, and we were soaked after walking the two blocks from where we parked to the Dat Dog on Magazine Street. But as I’d probably brought the rain with me from Florida, this was hardly a novel experience. Plus, when looking for something dry to wear in S’s closet I discovered that she was the culprit who had taken one of my favorite dresses – well, it meant at least there was something to wear that fit.

Magazine Street balcony on a Sunday morning
Magazine Street balcony on a Sunday morning

S is now ensconced in an apartment right on Magazine. It’s in an old, two story building with balconies both at the front and back, one overlooking the street and the other a small rear courtyard. Magazine is one of my favorite New Orleans streets. Less overwhelming than St. Charles, it still has its share of huge, beautiful and sometimes slightly decaying houses, interspersed with bars and restaurants and eclectic shops. Age permeates everything in New Orleans – it’s as though the humidity cushions the city against the rigors of modern life.

After making several fairly unsuccessful house furnishing forays to not very exciting shopping centers, we met up with S’s friends (friend 1 and friend 2) for a great dinner at Dick and Jenny’s. They had just gotten their charbroiled oyster equipment (who knew there was such a thing) and last night was the very first time they’d served charbroiled oysters to guests. Fabulous sums it up.

Dick and Jenny’s is across the street from Tipitina’s, a New Orleans institution for live music. And what had inspired the trip in the first place was going to hear Rickie Lee Jones there. I’ve been a fan since the 1979, when her first album came out, and J and I were originally supposed to see her years ago, before the daughters were even born, at a sunset jazz series in Orlando. But, alas, she canceled (I have a bad history of that – the one time I was finally going to get to see the Greatful Dead the concert was cancelled) – so I’d been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. Her voice still sounded great.

Ricki Lee Jones at Tipitina's
Rickie Lee Jones at Tipitina’s

We rounded out the 24 hours with brunch at the Oak Street Cafe. It was a little surreal. Supposedly it featured live music – which consisted of an older woman mostly lip syncing to recordings from her own CD and doing what can only be described as interpretive dance. It was a bizarre combination of zydeco, funk and folk with bits of live accordion playing every now and then. The completely bald baby, accompanied by mother, father and grandfather, all sitting near us, was enthralled. The father’s and grandfather’s hats made a nice addition too – they were adorned with long feathers sticking up on either side. The whole experience was vaguely tribal.

Now back to work tomorrow. Its own special sort of summit.