the oldest restaurant in New Orleans - Monday May 03 1999    

It was the last day of our visit to New Orleans. For Kim it might have been sort of sad, but for me, I was already needing a vacation from this vacation. Don't get me wrong, I love New Orleans and could probably even live in New Orleans some day. But without a home and an internet connection in a hard-partying city that stays up all night giving me stories to write and no way to write them, I soon go nuts. That's just the way I am at this point in my life.
Lisa L@tter picked us up out in front of the stone lions at Lindsay's place and we headed down to the French Quarter. The plan was to do lunch at the restaurant owned by Lisa's parents, Tuj@gues, the oldest restaurant in New Orleans, established 1856.
The scene in Tuj@gues was considerably more casual than that of Commander's P@l@ce had been. This was mostly to due to the fact that we were part of a contingent consisting of the owner's daughter, a contingent they would have to feed for free. When all was said and done, the food was excellent and the service was the fastest I've ever experienced in a fancy restaurant, but given the circumstances, it's impossible to say whether this sort of thing is typical. The staff consisted primarily of low-key butler-like white people. Lisa, clearly trying not to be too much of an imposition, teased them gently at worst. She also pointed out some Tuj@gues infamies for Kim and me. One of these was framed on the wall amid many other pictures: an image of Monica Lewinski. She'd eaten at Tuj@gues some time over the past year and evidently the management was rather proud of this. But not so Lisa. "I can't understand why they have to hang her picture!" she said. Monica Lewinski is a weird sort of celebrity. She has instant name recognition and incredible fame, to the point where she's on the who's who list of celebrity in America. But she got there by going down on President Bill Clinton, and that leaves lots of people uncomfortable with her. They want to be honoured with her presence, but then when she's gone they throw out the china and cutlery she used. (I doubt that happened at Tuj@gues, though.)
We left a $20 tip and headed upstairs to check out the Tuj@gues attic. In was full of old restaurant furniture, dust and chaotically-located, long-forgotten odds and ends, but it was a large space. Lisa expressed the desire to fix it up and move in some day. She tried to show us a stunning view of the mighty Mississippi river, but someone had recently nailed sheets of galvanized steel over the end windows. It looked like a difficult place to keep cool in the summer time, but with insulation and heavy-duty air conditioning, anything is possible I suppose.
The girls were both on Xanax, but I was only drunk on wine. "I don't like you on Xanax," Lisa had said as she'd passed out the pills. I agree; I don't like myself on Xanax; that stuff just makes me want to curl up and go to sleep. But the girls somehow know how to groove on that special Xanax downer buzz. And groove they did, as evidenced by the following series of photographs, which I took with my digital camera.

There's just something about New Orleans that makes a girl want to show what she has to the world. We all know about Mardi Gras, and how Schteves gather beneath iron balconies to toss beads up at girls for showing their titties. Little do these Schteves know that any self-respecting New Orleans girl will show it all for free, just so long as she's had enough Xanax.

A typical afternoon in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Things got even crazier after this picture was taken. I was minding my own business in one of the second floor dining rooms when Kim came to fetch me saying she had something special for me but that I might have to pull down my pants. What followed was particularly strange and vivid, especially considering how relatively sober I was at time. New Orleans is a crazy town; it's not for the faint of heart.

Next on the agenda was a stop at a nearby gallery so Kim could get the latest quote on the value of her Blue Dog print, done by a famous Cajun artist named Rodrigue. She expected it to be up as high as $7000, but it was only $5000. Still, it's the most expensive of all Rodrigue's prints. It features just the dog itself, without any of the extraneous background that Rodrigue normally adds.

Lisa L@tter providing some suggestions about what to do with a backyard pond. The couple on the left are Chris and Genevieve, both of them artists.

Before leaving New Orleans altogether, we stopped in at the residence of Genevieve and Chris, a couple Kim has known since her college days. They're both artists. They don't just say they're artists either; their house is full of paintings, many in various stages of completion. Chris appears to work mostly in oil, combining fanciful, vividly-coloured depictions of reptiles and funky stretched people, many with overt references to New Orleans themes. Genevieve has a completely different technique. Many of her works were based on collages she had made, which she then duplicated as paintings, resolving all the subtle colour matching problems, edges and even the compositional flow in the process. Chris and Genevieve had also done extensive work decorating their house, putting up a faux-brick fireplace featuring ancient Egyptian details. In the back of their house they were building a tiny pond, no bigger than a child's swimming pool. Their industry was impressive; I'm not used to seeing hip young adults keeping themselves so busy with creative projects.
The only downside of Chris and Genevieve's house was the yappy little Taco Bell dogs. They were extremely suspicious and took an unusually long time to pipe down from their incessant yapping. Even once they fell silent, they kept shooting me evil sidelong glances that didn't do a thing for my self esteem.
Lisa dropped us off at the New Orleans airport, and without much incident, we found ourselves heading west over spectacular bayous and increasing cloudiness towards Houston.

The clouds over East Texas.

We stayed on the same plane all the way to San Diego. Somewhere between a stop in Houston and another in El Paso, we encountered a bit of turbulence, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the pilot seemed to fear (given all his warnings). The next day I learned that we'd passed over the southern end of a line of powerful storms whose tornados had killed 43 people in Oklahoma and Kansas. Other than that, and some discrete sex acts over the more barren parts of Texas, the flight was uneventful.
As Kim was driving us out of the parking lot at the San Diego airport, she tried to fake out the ticket girl by saying we'd lost our ticket and that we'd only been parked at the airport for three days. We didn't know that every night someone goes around and takes note of the license plates. So, try as she might, Kim couldn't convince the ticket girl of anything other than the truth: we'd been there five days. I would have given up this argument considerably before Kim. Perhaps she was still running on the inertia of New Orleans, where no facts are absolute and anything can change to suit the wishes of a cute white girl. So I forked over my credit card and took the $84 hit. Ouch.

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