Archive for September 2, 2001

West Palm Beach (The Sox got a hit, so I can start typing)

September 2, 2001 Leave a comment

At least the three game sweep that finally put an end to any hopes of doing anything this season wasn’t ended with a perfect game. Ok so the game isn’t actually over, but I have no hopes of Trot doing anything here. And it looks like I was right! Maybe Joe Kerrigan isn’t the answer either – at least Jimy never lost 7 in a row right when the pennant race was heating up!

So where the heck was I when I finished my last entry? Oh yes, I was leaving Tunica . . .

About two hours later I found myself cutting off a truck and slamming on my brakes to quickly pull into the driveway of the Leland, Mississippi Chamber of Commerce which houses “The Birthplace of the Frog – An Exhibit of Jim Henson’s Delta Boyhood. I had heard of this as soon as it was put together as it was all the rage in the Muppet News. No, not THAT Muppet News, but the whole newsgroup thing. Now these are of course Muppet Fanatics and I think this is a place will both disappoint as well as be appreciated by these fanatics . . .like me.

So what’s there? Not much. There is a glass case with Kermit playing the banjo, there are some photos (previously published in other books) and some letters from Leland government agencies: “This letter is to verify that Jim Henson attended school . . . “, “This letter is to verify that Jim Henson lived here . . . ” – pretty much all modern, all boring. Then there is a letter from Jim Henson responding to a request to visit Leland in which he refuses the request, but says he’ll think about it. They play a video of Jim Henson MSNBC Time and Again (I have this on tape – it’s cool), they have a room of showcases full of cool and rare Muppet collectibles, all on loan from the personal collection of Muppet collectors worldwide.

Is there enough to go way out of your way to Leland? Is it worthy of a pilgrimage? No. Is it worth geek points to have been there? Most certainly yes, which is of course why a bought a t-shirt and a bumper sticker!! The people there are very nice and perhaps one day the exhibit can be worthy of the intentions of those running it, but for right now, it is not an impressive place.

So now it was time to take the long trek to New Orleans, still about 290 miles away. And worse yet, it started raining cats and dogs (no, not Muppet News style cats and dogs) most of the way there. So I’m driving through the rural highways of Mississippi in the pouring rain. Fun? No. Miserable? Not hardly. My misery came mostly from the realization (made when stopping for gas) that I had not been properly storing all my gas and mileage information in my Palm Pilot. For some reason, I was missing about 10 gas stops – they were not backed up – perhaps I never hit Enter? I don’t know what the heck happened! I was pretty pissed off about this for a couple of hours, and thinking about it makes me mad, but basically I am over it. But if you were looking forward to a cool spreadsheet full of gas statistics, you will be disappointed. Plus, I have no idea of the exact mileage of the trip. So this journey has gone from an exact science with statistics to something more laid back and uncertain. I should put on some Buffett, man . . .

So as I continued my journey to New orleans, I had to stop and pick a place to stay. So I stopped for more gas (golly I need a lot of gas on this trip – how much gas? I no longer have any idea, but I’m not obsessing over it I swear) and picked a hotel. I chose the Historic French Market Inn on Decatur and St Louis. This was on the edge of the French Quarter, three blocks from Bourbon Street, yet directly across from the Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump’s and Hooters among other touristy stops. So I figured it would be a nice safe area, which it was. I asked for directions and I was told to take the Canal Street exit, take a left, etc. etc. This is all well and good, but there is no Canal Street Exit going east on I-10. Aye Carramba!! Luckily I was well armed with maps and I was able to find the hotel without taking any wrong turns!!!

So I find the hotel and I park in front and unload my bags. I check in and I am told that the bellman will take my bags up to my room and show me to my room. I said I would be glad to do it myself and it was strongly recommended to me that I let him show me to my room as I wouldn’t be able to find it otherwise. Huh? What kind of a hotel was this? Well it turns out it is a “Historic Bed and Breakfast” (now a Best Western as of three weeks ago) and I guess “historic” means downright confusing! Because when I went down the corridor leading off of the office, I was in a set of courtyards that were between multiple buildings, all part of the same property. So after being shown to my room (which I had trouble finding later, even before I started drinking heavily), I went to park the car. Now he had told me when I checked in that the parking was one block up St Louis, then take a right on Charters and then it is halfway down. Now I knew my little map of the French Quarter had Rue Chartres on it, which as those of us who have ever studied Art History or French know, is pronounced “Shart.” Well not in New Orleans it ain’t! Because when I verified these directions on my way out the door . . .

“So it’s take a right on St Louis and then a right on ‘Shart’ and then it’s the pink building?”

“No no no. It’s a right on St Louis and then a right on ‘Charters'”

So after parking my car, I walked directly to Bourbon Street. Now Seth had given me a couple of recommendations for a couple of things I should do on Bourbon Street. One was to go to the Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street and say hi to Denny and maybe she would give me a free drink like a Hand Grenade. OK so I went to the bar and I asked if Denny was there and she wasn’t working tonight. But I had a Hand Grenade anyway ($7.50) which claims to be the strongest drink in New Orleans. I was on an empty stomach and this was the first drink I had consumed since Butte, so it hit me pretty hard for one drink, but I cannot verify if it is the strongest in town as I did not run any scientific tests.

Now Bourbon Street at 7 is an oddly quiet place. There are hawkers outside of every bar with “Happy Hour 3 For 1 Special” signs and when you walk by their bar, they open the door for you as if you were planning on going in there. The liquor laws in New Orleans allow you to get drinks to go, so people walk up and down the street drinking out of bizarre plastic cups (as well as normal ones). Most of the bars have little to go counters facing the street so you can get a drink without going in the bar. One bar I was in (I won’t say which in case my audience has stretched to the Alcohol Bureau) kicked out these girls who were underage, but not before letting them take some drinks to go. Apparently they don’t want the people in there, but selling them liquor is no problem. Someone will have to explain this to me.

“Can I see your ID?” asked the bartender.

“Um…well I’m not 21.” she replied softly, and then her friends said too that they were not 21 either.

“Well you can’t be in here – we have video poker machines.”

“Well we aren’t going to play or anything.”

“Sorry you’ll have to go, but hey – you wanna couple of drinks for the road?”

“OK!” and so they bought some drinks before they left the bar. And no, these were not George Bush’s daughters.

After my brief pre-dinner barhopping, I had dinner. I ate at Remolaude, at Seth’s suggestion. There is this famous expensive Bourbon Street restaurant called Arnaud’s. Well this Remolaude joint is basically Arnaud’s food but with casual service and cheaper prices. It was an excellent choice. I had “Arnaud’s Oysters,” which was a sampler plate of different kinds of baked oysters, and Jambalaya!!! It was all very good and I prefer the casual service. The waiters all wear t-shirts with the name of the restaurant on the front and a jazz playing menu item on the back – a drumming crawfish, a trumpet playing burger. etc. I bought Slick, the sax playing oyster! So that was two t-shirts in one day, and my first of the whole trip!

New Orleans is quite a t-shirt place – seems like every other store front is a t-shirt shop/bar. You go into the t-shirt shop, get a beer, and walk around looking at t-shirts. And every one of these stores sell the same t-shirts. A lot of them are pretty dumb and most of them are available everywhere. But something about a bar in a t-shirt shop is kind of cool!

The disappointing thing about Bourbon Street in New Orleans is that it has gone from having some sort of culture to being a place where the culture is marketed. The little kids standing on the street corner tap dancing for tips, the voodoo shops, the fortune tellers, the beads. I guess it is like every other place in America – if they can’t sell the culture, they can’t survive, so the money ends of subverting what was there. I am sure that there is some real tangible culture there somewhere, but is not open for all to see. Now it’s a bunch of frozen drinks, t-shirt shops and cover bands. But I guess it is better than the options right next to my hotel. Can you imagine being in a city, any city really, and wanting to spend one of your limited number of meals at a Hard Rock Cafe or a Hooters? Isn’t this something you need to do once? Or maybe not at all? I’m dumbfounded at how many places have Hooters and Hard Rock Cafes!!! Ok I’ll stop complaining about that . . .

So after dinner, I went back to my hotel to drop off my t-shirt, use the restroom and catch my breath for an evening of wild barhopping and partying on Bourbon Street. If they were going to market this, well darn it I was going to do it!! Bring on the drinks!!!!

But that will be in the next entry . . .

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