I used to know a bartender at Molly’s on Toulouse, small bar on Toulouse (duh) between Royal and Bourbon, and I loved the place…small, pool table, open windows to the street…old feel, and it was close enough to Bourbon and all the idiocy contained therein one could step outside for a smoke and look the half block up to watch fraternities, sororities, christianit-ies, stupidities and every other -ies, along with the more amusing level of criminalit-ies, without actually having to deal with any of it firsthand. A good distance, the kind of proximity that lets you watch it like a television show, harmless and unreal.
One of my favorites illegal scams was the stripper(s) at the Bourbon Street joint(s) who would entice the traveler to go to her place for something a little “extra” only to lead him down towards Burgundy or Rampart where her “associate” would be waiting to rob the drunken guy blind. Hey, live and learn, you wanna get that drunk and that stupid…well… Was a time I used to hang out, wait, and watch the unsuspecting be led away…I took a few of their pictures actually, just for the fun of it…
Anyhow, one day I was hanging out, slow Sunday afternoon and I heard a clamor, and being sporting enough I looked down that half-block to see what was the matter…this was back during the build up to the Iraq War, GW hadn’t officially thrown out the first pitch yet but he, Rumsfield, Cheney and all those other assholes had been throwing warm ups for weeks and brother, opening day was coming! Turns out though, there were a number of people worldwide who thought the idiotic invasion of Iraq was kind of well, idiotic and a number of New Orleans residents were no different. That day, they’d decided to march against the war (don’t get me started on the ineffectiveness of political marches, really, don’t) and for some reason, the planners of that march thought Bourbon Street was a good place for their parade to head on down…
It wasn’t going well.
You see, a lot of people on Bourbon Street were rather intoxicated.
And a lot of intoxicated people on Bourbon Street thought invading Iraq was a swell idea.
So, I left the front of Molly’s and ambled on over to the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, cigarette and beer in hand.
It was hot, really hot that day and the sweat, well, you know how you can swim in it, so I was trying to see through perspiring eyes and the parade was loose, the people marching were having fun, but they were taking it from all sides. Being so soon after 9-11, this was a particularly patriotic time for the country and anger (fear) was at an all time high (remember the whole sealing up the cracks of your homes anthrax deal, in a French Quarter apartment…right!) Well, being a person who errs on the side of logic, has a lot of anger of my own and kind of thought this whole Iraq thing was a bit incorrect, I sidled up between a woman dressed in denim, big blonde hair and the reddest lipstick I’ve ever seen and a man who I assumed was her boyfriend, American flag t-shirt, cop sunglasses and a red bandanna wrapped tight round his sunburned head.
There appeared to be a conflict of philosophy going on.
The couple thought the protest marchers were incorrect in their belief system, felt they hadn’t thought it completely through and they were eager to help these wayward souls understand the error of their thought process… that, and implying they all must be homosexuals, or a specific part of the female sexual anatomy who apparently had lost their way somewhere between Moscow and Beijing…communists of some sexual kind. Being fairly new to New Orleans, a place I liked and like very much, I was always trying to make new friends so I felt I might have something to add to this conversation, and holding up my beer between them, which drew their attention long enough for them to hold up their beers as well, I let fly… “Hey you reds, go back to fucking Zaire!”
The couple liked that, the guy clapped me on the back and we grinned together and took another drink of our prospective beers and the woman, she turned to me then and said something about teaching men who apparently find it comfortable to wear towels upon their heads a lesson, oh yes…a very important lesson, a lesson patriotic as fuck.
I took that opportunity to make eye contact, directly and intense as I could muster, which apparently worked for she looked directly into mine when I responded, “Whatever man, I’m just very pro-death, so war’s cool and all, really, guns and such but for me it’s all about the blood, a whole lot of blood.”
She looked at me then, questioning, but I smiled again to put her at ease and raised my beer, “Blood!”
It was about this time she took two distinct steps to the left, away.
I laughed, raised my eyebrows, maintained the eye contact, shrugged my shoulders and added, “Bloody violent as fucking possible, blood, blood, blood…”
Then I laughed again, and I went for my cigarettes.
By the time I lit one, they were gone. So, the moral of the story? Ain’t one really…except I suppose, love it or leave it, when you ask anyone what they think of when one mentions New Orleans, especially if they have never been there, they almost always say “Bourbon Street.”
That and the fact that the town runs a great deal on tourist dollars so all these killings/shootings on Bourbon Street of late, they gotta stop. And since every time I read about another shooting I seem to invariably hear “100 block of Bourbon” or whenever a club is mentioned, I read “Bourbon Street Blues Club,” which round my parts with the people who know the town, BBB club is one big fucking punch line to violent stupidity, and since I keep reading these things, it would seem how a constant police presence at the corner of Canal And Bourbon, and also at Bourbon St, halfway between Canal and Iberville might be a good idea. Oh, and Serpas? You probably want to put a few out front of the Bourbon Street Blues Club as well.
It’s a thought.
Because when I mentioned being pro-death, I was just trying to creep out a couple of drunken tourists, but these shootings, well they’re creeping out a lot more tourists than I ever could and that ain’t a good thing. Having lived in a lot of tourist cities, the toleration of their species kind of goes with the territory. Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, I can think of a number of days I swung open my gate onto Royal Street, took one look at all the people in t-shirts and sandals and said, “Oh, hell no, not today…” and the gate slammed as I went back upstairs to my apartment.
Anyways, speaking of tourist destinations…love it or leave it and the subtle war between tourists and locals…I offer the following, which is just one of many songs mentioning places where tourists thrive, and where much of the locale might not want them to, but need them to anyway…New Orleans and San Francisco…and the tale of Operation Ivy’s end.
Rancid – Journey to the End of the East Bay
“Matty came from far away,
From New Orleans into the East Bay
He said this is a Mecca, I said this ain’t no Mecca man, this place’s fucked
3 months go by, he had no home, he had no food, he’s all alone
Matty said fool me once shame on you, didn’t fool me twice
He went back to New Orleans”
And if I told you how many times I listened to that song on Molly’s jukebox, beer in hand…you wouldn’t believe me. Okay, and please forgive me one more, for the sake of being momentarily egocentric…about the neighborhood in San Francisco I miss, a neighborhood I once worked and lived in…
Rancid – Tenderloin
Realize you’re dehumanized, you criticize your existence
It’s your demise when no sun arise, when you’re paralyzed by your lack of resistance
She know she is, she knows she’s going, down below where the fire’s glowing…
The tricks she gets them she’s not a victim, she makes a list of them and reads them all alone
For money she’s walking down on Larkin’, in the TL they’re rocking all night long…
See you soon, friends of both regions…
And astonishingly enough…the war I mentioned earlier in this post…who’d a thunk the blood would still be flowing, almost ten years later.
God bless…and good luck.
Have a nice day.