Thursday, August 28, 2008

Day 24: Freewheeling in the French Quarter and Beyond

August 7: Monteleone Hotel to Faubourg/Marigny and back again

Soundtrack: Carousel Bar muzak, Jazz at The Spotted Cat

Imagine the luxury of lolling on the rooftop pool at the Montelene, stretching out on chaises and swimming in the tepid water while the sky worked its way out of mist from the river! Well, maybe not so tepid; the pool was sufficiently bracing that for the two early mornings of my stay I was the only one willing to brave the experience. Once in, of course, it was heavenly to float under the authentic Royal Street sky and relax reading Grapes of Wrath poolside.
I napped in the room until noon and then walked about the quarter, first to try to buy India Arie tickets for the House of Blues and then to visit the Martin Lawrence Gallery and see if they stil had any Peter Max art. I was unsuccessful in both, but stayed out of the rain at the music shop acoss from the club, where I found a copy of The Best of the Zydeco Party Band, and browsed the expensive art at Martin Lawrence. The George Rodrique Gallery was closed. Again the blue dog holding a “Hey FEMA, throw me something!” sign made me grin.
Glenn Miller, my old friend from the Quarter was meeting me at the famous Carousel Bar. In glass cases through the Monteleone lobby, autographed editions of works by Faulkner, Flannery O’Conner, and Tennessee Williams attested to the literary significance of the place. The main effect of the hurricane on the Hotel was the clots of filthy relief workers dragging in to their subsidized rooms after spending hours cleaning up flood debris. Only one section of the hotel’s ground floor, the former oyster bar, remained barricaded because of water damage. The bar was the first attraction to recover and it wheeled nonchalantly round and round as patrons became more and more susceptible to dizziness from the happy hour well drinks, sangria and Szeze rac cocktails they knocked back. I was sufficiently tipsy by the time Glenn Miller waltzed in and we took up conversations left off years before as easily as if no time had intervened. He had been out to Hollywood to show his art at the Runyon Canyon Festival when I was the Keymaster and Charlie was the Gatekeeper (we watched a lot of Ghostbusters back then).
The rain eased up and Glenn Miller rolled out bicycles from the back of a van he was test driving to see if he wanted to buy it. He had already scored several vehicles from people leaving town after Katrina and wasn’t sure he need another one, but it was an opportunity to take bicycles into the quarter. We pedaled up DuMaine to Fauberg-Marigny where we lounged in a bar called the Spotted Cat and listened to some young guys playing azz. The Spotted Cat had a unique way of saving money: they bought blank matchbooks and let the patrons decorate them and leave them for others at the bar. We made custom Spotted Cat matches and in the process Glenn found an old freind, tooling past the bar on a segue scooter, who showed us his latest paintings in progress in a chaotic bungalow a few doors down.
We looked about for a place to eat out of the quarter, but as it got later we ended up back at the hotel, closing down the Hunt Club on the ground floor next to the Carousel. I had a bottle of Barefoot Chardonnay from the A & P on Royal, the market I had frequented when i lived in the Quarter, and we stayed up talking and watching the television far into the night, finally falling asleep on the separate beds just before dawn.

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