Tag Archives: Mardi Gras

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?

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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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Ka-Boom

I am officially past one month into the new year and 2012 has already proven to be a loud, uncompromising bastard of year; a ferocious bitch full of changes and surprises. There was a death, there was a birth, there was music, and there was a rebellious cat.

In the midst of all the crazy that’s been going on, I’m proud to write that I’ve been a very, very good girl when it comes to my resolutions.

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                    Kinda the opposite of Claudia…

One resolution was to keep pushing myself physically. On December 26, 2010 I became serious about getting in shape (in other words, I saw the number on the scale and freaked out). Since then, although it’s been up and down (as my friend Jess said, “Weight is fluid”), I’ve stuck to it.

I’m pretty active at the local JCC gym. A good week usually means five days of cardio and two days of weights. I was biking for a while, but then my bike was stolen. Womp Womp. I have moved up in weights at the gym and can last at cardio most days for up to an hour.

While I’ve been proud of my progress, I’ve always marveled at friends of mine who could participate in marathons- or in the case of my friend Lena, a triathlon, because she’s a monster. Even while I was getting stronger I still wrote off running as an exercise I just couldn’t do.

Then one day I stumbled on this running plan for beginners from Women’s Health Magazine.

And you won’t believe it.

Please, I want to tell you what happened, but you just won’t believe it.

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You know what Women's Health Magazine? You're f*ing right. I CAN do this.

I did it.

I’ve been running for the last three weeks, every other day. Last night, something miraculous happened. Something just clicked. I ran for over 20 minutes straight.

There were definitely Rocky air-punches thrown in the mix as I ran up and down Carrollton.

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I AM ILLADELPHIA

Another resolution of mine was to write more. My friend Sarah and I had been lamenting since we met almost two years ago that we needed a serious writing group. When we joined one this past summer, we realized that most writing groups are not going to give us what we need. I can only speak from my experience, but most writing groups I’ve come across are not for serious writers looking to be published. Most writing groups are an outlet for people who want to share the poems they write in their diary.

ImageDear Diary, today Brian asked to borrow my pencil. He totally likes me.

Now, I’m not knocking people who write in diaries. I write in a journal myself. But there is a significant difference between writers who want to share their work for the purpose of hearing it out loud and receiving praise, and writers who want other serious writers to read their work, rip it apart, make it bleed, and tell the writer to stop being sentimental and get to the f*ing point already. The hope is that real criticism will make the writer a, gasp, better writer. That’s what I need.

So, thanks to Sarah, this new writing group has been meeting quite often. It is exhilarating to have dedicated writers look over my work. It’s inspiring to read what the other writers have to offer as well.

With so much writing going on, I decided it was time to submit one of my memoir/fiction pieces I started with the 7th Ward Neighborhood Story Project.

And guess what?

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It was rejected.

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S’aight.

I’ll be fine. They told Elvis he had a terrible voice and should stick to being a truck driver. Boy, were those people pissed when they didn’t sign Elvis. Plus, if Elvis had listened to those naysayers, think of where we would be today? I mean, pop culture would think “Hound Dog” was written and performed by talented black singers.

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Hey! Speaking of talented black musicians…

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Another goal of mine was to see more live music in New Orleans. A recent highlight was last Thursday night at Le Bon Temps Roulé. Bon Temps is a great locals bar Uptown on Magazine street. Like most places in New Orleans, it’s bigger than it looks on the outside.

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I had heard really great things about the music at Le Bon Temps Roule and had been wanting to go for some time. I met my friend Lindsey a few hours before the band was scheduled to perform (10 p.m. which means the band is playing at 11:30 p.m. in New Orleans). The bar was well lit and very welcoming. A few people were there, just relaxing, playing pool and drinking beer. Lindsey and I grabbed a seat by the window overlooking Magazine. There was a decent draft selection, so Lindsey and I had plenty of beer to choose from while we waited for the house band to start.

The house band, no cover, every Thursday night just happens to be one of the best brass bands in the city: The Soul Rebels.

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Btw Bon Temps, you had me at the big alligator in the background.

Soul Rebels were stellar. It’s difficult to describe the energy inside a New Orleans bar when a brass band plays. It’s loud. Everyone is sweating. The band, at least at Bon Temps, is on the floor with everyone else, there is no raised stage. The horns blow inches from your face. Rough-looking regulars dance up close with hipster newcomers and everyone is throwing their arms up, punctuating the air with each beat. Brass band music is happy music. You just can’t help but feel grateful to be alive when you’re out dancing along.

So that’s what’s been going on down here in the Crescent City. Before I finish I just have one more “I live in a better city than you do moment”:

Down here, everyone is getting ready for Mardi Gras.

What does your city look like?

Because it doesn’t look like this:

(c)2009 Sharon Keating

Come on down, we love having new people to party with in the streets.

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