Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Houma & New Orleans

After Bossier city, it was time for a trip deep into the Bayou....Houma, Louisiana. 60 miles South of New Orleans.

Houma was interesting insomuch as a lot of the house we're pseudo shack-like structures up on stilts. The main streets were separated by these tiny bridges that crossed over the swamp.

There really isn't much of a bustling "downtown" as a good majority of the residents make their living much like relatives of previous generations. They are shrimpers, trappers oyster and fishermen. I also found out Houma is where the 'Swamp Thing' series is based....which is pretty rad.

We found one bar that served as home for our time there: Monterey's (I think that's what is was called). Great international beer list and less clubby douchebaggery than many of the other (many as in 3) places in the two blocks that made up downtown.

We hung out there the night before I took off to New Orleans for my birthday.


New Orleans

Despite an overwhelming response from Couchsurfing.com, no potential hosts were going to be in New Orleans the day I was there....that whole 'Thanksgiving' thing I guess. With that option shot down, I booked a bed at the India House Hostel, which I would recommend to anyone passing through NOLA. I briefly spoke with this Indian dude staying there then started the 2 mile walk to the Quarter.

The first place I struck out for upon arrival was Coop's Place, home of the best Jambalaya in existence.

As soon as I walked in, some started calling my name. It was my new Indian friend who had coincidentally ended up there as well.

We shared a table and starting talking. He was on his first visit ever to the states making his way to Florida to see (I think) his brother's family who he had not seen in 20 years if I remember correctly.

New Orleans is a great place to land if it's your fist time in States. We got on the topic of my job I walked away with a great recommendation for both a movie and book to check out. The movie was a great Indian Film called Mera Naam Joker. It's one of those films that a director pours all he has (emotionally, allegorically, and financially) only to have it flop at the box office. The film took 6 years to make and nearly put Raj Kapoor, the director, into bankruptcy. I'm currently trying to find the full version somewhere.

When I explained to him how we traveled and approximately how many people are directly involved with the show, he drew the comparison to 'The Tipping Point' where one idea discussed is how once a population tops 150, you start to see more corruption, crime, and generally breakdown of society. It seems that we are currently traveling with the perfect number to create an ideal society.

My friend was very well versed in the realm of mathematics and finance and I got his seal of approval for my plan with this tour regarding investment and payoff. So that made me feel yet again like I'm doing the right thing.

After wandering around the quarter buying myself a few birthday gifts (Among them a new wallet! No more George Castanza!) I heading downtown to meet Nathan and his friends at a brewery/restaurant. The brewmaster had rolled out something new so it was free sample night. And 'free sample' we did quite well.

After hanging there for a bit, we were off to Frenchman street, which unlike Bourbon Street, has real bars the locals will visit devoid of trashed 19 year olds and green beer that comes in long plastic tubes.

We checked out this sushi bar and had some amazing sake and sashimi. One dude walked by us and heading down the street and after a second I realized it was Stanton Moore, a favorite drummer of mine.

I was able to catch him outside and we chatted for a while. Turns out 15 years earlier he had sat in playing percussion when the the Circus rolled through town (back when they would hire local musicians in each town they visited). It was pretty cool. For the first time I was able to have a peer style discussion with a musician I was really into instead of the typical fanboy (duh...you play real good...duh) talk that I used to find myself in after shows. That again made me feel good about what I'm doing.

After THAT, it was off to the Maple Leaf to see the Rebirth Brass Band again and they rocked it even harder than the first time I saw them. Nathan was crashing with his friend a few blocks away so instead of stumbling to a train car and maybe finding my way back to the hostel, I just crashed on his couch. The next day (complete with a pristine hangover), I decided it would do me good to walk the 3.5 miles back to the hostel. Ha....oops. It was interesting to walk past a lot of buildings that were still trashed from the hurricane. Seeing that stuff up close and in person really hits a lot harder then watching recycled news reels.

I gathered my things and headed back to Houma.

I met an awesome woman who kind of ran things at the building we were playing at and was in charge of the Arts Council in Houma. Hopefully paths will cross again.

Steve and I decided to stay over Sunday night so we could watch the Steeler game. Turned out to be a good decision since we found out we couldn't park at the arena in Alexandria until the next day. A lot of people had to turn around and come back to Houma. Apparently the place was run by some 80 year dude who wouldn't sell tickets online (box office only) and didn't use email (just fax). Very nice.

Onto Alexandria.....the hopefully last time we are in a city for one show only.

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