Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Fine How Do You Do

Sheesh. What kind of person promises to give his reader an insightful travelogue of a quintessential American city, and then instead takes an overlong hiatus from blogging? What's that? That was me? Oh. Never mind.

Given that my trip to New Orleans (No Wall-ins!) is no longer fresh in my memory, and given that I'd like to use this space to muse upon other things (oh just you wait), I'll be cruelly brief in my assessment of the place, for which I can only apologize. All that I can really say about the place is that if you like to go places, you should try New Orleans. It's like a whiskey-breathed ballerina; it's both beautiful and a little dirty at the same time, and I've never been to anyplace quite like it. It felt to me like a distilled version of the United States, packing a wallop and leaving a bitter aftertaste, but when all is said and done you'd like another shot, please. Bad simile? Probably. The place gave me a weird kind of feeling everywhere I went, some strange juxtaposition of conquistadors and carpet baggers, fur trappers, slick salesmen and jazz musicians, riverboat gamblers playing Thomas Jefferson and Lafayette for fools while Clifton Chenier sits back and chuckles to himself, and Tennessee Williams calls everybody names. I'm probably getting it all wrong, if it's possible to do so in a place like that. Part of me likes to think that anything you can say about New Orleans would be true as soon as you said it, but not before. I ate breaded shrimp on a submarine sandwich down there, and it was just about the best sandwich I've ever eaten. Whatever I leave out of my willy-nilly description of the place, that sandwich seems like an important enough detail to leave in.

Visiting my family was wonderful, and it's really what made a three day trip worthwhile. Lindsey and I stood as godparents for my brother's son, Pascal, which was a wonderful experience and a great honor. I got to spend some time talking and hanging out with my two brothers and my sister-in-law, which even with the miracles of modern communication is too rare an occurrence. My nephews are both delightful. The youngest (Pascal) amused himself for the most part by sleeping and eating, but he was decent enough to give me a good looking-over before giving his honest assessment of me (he cried). The oldest (Gui) was eager to include Linds, Reen, and me in whatever he was doing, which for the most part consisted of keeping the streets of New Orleans safe from poisonous caterpillars. He's a keeper.

That's just about all I have time to write, though I wish I'd gotten to it while it was still fresh in my mind. I'll leave you with some pictures:
A house with no visible front door. Picturesque, no?
Magazine Street, from the porch of the old bus barn, which is now a Whole Foods Market.
Another caterpillar prepares to meet its fate. He would knock them off of trees and houses with a stick (they're poisonous to touch), and then step on them.
I'm not sure which of us took this picture, but I like it. It's that shot in National Geographic with the caption: "Each year, ten thousand people play pool in New Orleans, which has helped the tourism industry, but there's a darker side to the story as well." It will probably then talk about someone who owns a billiards bar that nobody comes to anymore. Neil takes aim in pool. I think he won the game.

More pool.

Katie's first Irish Car Bomb. Lindsey is very excited.

Liam, in his signature pose.

Neil, in his.

Liam et fils, regardant un grenuille. French = artistic title.

Then we spotted Hilary Clinton. Ooooh! Topical. Current. Win.

Gui, in what he called his "castle tree" (for reasons which should be fairly obvious).

The Champagne of Beers. I'd forgotten how much champagne tastes just like dirty water.

Park and house exterior, daytime.

Neil and Reens spotting their first alligator, in a totally not-posed-for picture.

Gui and Maureen

A sidewalk, or something like one. Note the absence of pavement.

Pascal's patented uneasy look. He loved Lindsey.

Reen is either standing on a step, or is as tall as Neil and I. You decide.

Maureen, Gui, Lindsey, and Neil. I thought this was a nice group shot.

My brother Neil, enjoying a cup of coffee.

Guillame hamming it up (as usual). Very cute.

That's his prized caterpillar killing stick, perilously close to my face.

He had that mischievous glint in his eye pretty much the whole time.

This is the doorway of Neil's "shotgun" apartment. The composition of this shot looked way better to me in my mind's eye.

Just a house that I thought looked neat.

Pascal. Cute, ain't he?

1 comment:

die Amerikanerin said...

The Naruhns took me to the Rheinfalls region last Saturday, and the two boys spent most of their time collecting sticks and poking them into holes. That was the first thing your caterpillar-killing story reminded me of. The second was from back when we were in France, and I was admiring a snail which I had found on the sidewalk. I got excited and made the mistake of showing it to Jakob, who jumped on it right away. I was disappointed until I found that snails seem to be about as plentiful there as caterpillars back home, just like slugs are the German equivalent of earth worms. (When it rains, they all come out.) Anyway, Jakob spent most of his vacation crushing snails, but at the time my German was too poor to decipher if they were poisonous or not.