King Cake’s Birthday, an Unauthorized List of Happiness

Didja know? This Sunday is January 6.

And while maybe January 6 is no big deal for most of the world (in other words, you’re boring Chicago), in NEW ORLEANS January 6 is King’s Day.

What happens on King’s Day?

king-cake3

All the bakeries in town open their french doors and the glorious smell of King Cake cascades into the air filling the streets of New Orleans with light and love and happiness and sugar. I like to call it King Cake’s Birthday. It’s also a signal that Mardi Gras is on it’s pretty little way.

flanders

snnfff. I’m excited.

(Btw, I just noticed that Flanders’ yellow skin, green shirt, and purple curtains are all Mardi Gras colors. Coincidence?)

So, in honor of King Cake’s Birthday!!!!!!! I’m going to give you my current list of why New Orleans is the only city that matters you should come visit me in New Orleans. This list is in no particular order, nor should it be considered official because I’m writing today under a self-induced hysterical sugar high.

Last night I went to a stellar author talk and book reading at Octavia Books. Emily Epstein Landau was in town for the American Historian Association Conference and came to talk about her book,¬†Spectacular Wickedness, a study of race and sex politics in Storyville, New Orleans. I have always been fascinated by the history of Storyville, especially Bellocq’s Storyville photographs. There’s so much I still want to learn about this historic area in New Orleans, and my wonderful artist neighbor Nikki offered to take me on a tour (hopefully Tuesday?). Hurray! Until then, check out her work on Etsy.

A few weeks ago, I heard about The Goodnight Show with John Calhoun. I had been wanting to visit the New Orleans Healing Center since it opened and when I found out The Goodnight Show was playing at Cafe Istanbul, I was interested. When I found out that he would have Meschiya Lake on his show, I was sold.

Even though after two hours my butt was numb, the show was well worth the $10. Not only was there a bar serving “Goodnight Show Cocktails” of bourbon and soda, but there was a lot packed into the show. First, Dwight Henry, star of Beasts of the Southern Wild and owner of The Buttermilk Drop Bakery and Cafe, came on and spoke. He explained that he was reluctant to leave his bakery and so he refused several times to be in the movie. Director Benh Zeitlin literally had to convince him that he was the only one for the role. Then Meschiya Lake, who I usually hear sign jazz songs, came on and sang a couple of her own love ballads. Her vocals were breathtaking. I could tell how nervous she was when John Calhoun interviewed her, I’m assuming she’s much more comfortable on stage signing then talking because when she’s singing she’s a goddess. She did tell a funny story about how when she was 9 years old she sang a Patsy Cline song and won an adult competition in a South Dakota steakhouse’s talent show. Then she toasted to her mom for bringing a 9 year old to a steakhouse bar competition.

And then she told us about the time she ran away to join the circus.

God, I love me some Meschiya Lake.

What was unique about the Goodnight Show is that it’s a Johnny Carson style talk show but dedicated to New Orleans. Just from the first show I added to my New Orleans cultural knowledge. There were stories about buttermilk bisquits and Grow Dat youth farming in New Orleans, Meschiya Lake sang some damn good ballads, and standup comedian¬†Leon Blanda turned out to actually pretty funny.

The other night I took Sumner to his Christmas present: a night at W.I.N.O.

You would have thought the guy walked into Disney World.

But instead of riding teacups you put a credit card into a wine machine and it pumps out wine, like so…

I’m not a wine connoisseur, and by that I mean I know absolutely nothing about wine except that I like it red. Sumner is much more in touch with his inner Bacchcus. So he was able to go around and choose wines from all different parts of the globe and we drank and made merry and I ate lots of olive tapenade while he was in his happy place.

I do what I can for the people I love.

A few days later Sumner took me to the Audubon Zoo. Not only are there ELEPHANTS (I will ride an elephant one day, goddamnit), but there is a Cajun Swamp exhibit that rocks my Yankee socks off.

I want one!

Sumner doesn’t quite understand my obsession with alligators. But seriously, look at them! Look at them!

It wants to eat you. I think it’s hilarious because alligators are terrifying (at least for me) but they are SO stupid. It’s like finding out the bully in your class you’ve been scared of is so dumb that not only can you run away from him but he doesn’t know how to walk without stumbling over his large feet. It’s ridiculous.

Also, I ran up Monkey Hill for the first time. I kept looking for the monkeys. Turns out there are no monkeys on Monkey Hill. You are the monkey.

Very clever, Audubon. Very clever…

The kids on the hill were NOT impressed with my Monkey Hill climbing skills. While I was looking around and asking Sumner, “But, where are the monkeys?” a few kids were waiting at the top of the hill saying “Hurry uppp. We want to race.” Sorry, kids. Mommy isn’t really agile anymore for rope spider webs, and if I had known I was going to have to climb up a rope bridge walk and then walk down one step at a time trying not to break my ankle I would have stayed on the ground. Sumner had to lift me up over the rope to get me down and I lost my shoe as all the adults waiting on the other side of Monkey Hill watched.

Gah.

And that’s the end of the list- for now. Today is Friday and tomorrow I take the trip up to Jackson to see some friends, drink some Irish beer at my favorite pub, and hear some low down dirty Blues music. I am very excited.

So, when are you coming visit?

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