Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Recollecting New Orleans

It’s a laid back place; there is casual sense of urgency. The air is thick, and the sun is shining throughout the year. Her indignant are a unique alloy of diverse pool of people. They have all kinds of blood. There is sound of music everywhere, everyday, all the time. Music leaves here; you will find children moving around with their textbook bags and trumpets on their hands. There is always a distinct sound that follows you everywhere you go. For those who come to visit, you can call them tourists; this is a carefree environment. Where folks choose to retire their orderliness and pursue a lifestyle free of constraints. Liberty at its purest form resides in New Orleans. For those who reside here, this is their way of life.

People here do not need reasons to celebrate. The biggest Halloween party I have ever been stretches over 6 blocks of Frenchmenn Street packed with people on all kinds of costumes. The party will go on all night. On Mexican Independence Day, St. Charles Ave & Antoine Street shuts down and folks party up more than those in Mexico City. There is a weekend of French Quarter Festival which is one of my favorite; live music, good food, and booze at the bank of Mississippi river on the edges of The Quarters. Every Wednesday evening at Lafayette square, locals get a treat of live music and good food—and there is no cover charge. Just show up. St. Patrick’s Day brings out a little Irish in everybody. Although the city is known for its major events like Mardi Grass and Jazz Festival, there are small festivals which take place throughout the year that are equally entertaining. With a little encroachment from those tourists.

You see, you can catch good music at Soul Rebel in Magazine Street, maybe random concert at Tipitina any day of the week. Speaking of Magazine Street, although upscale-ish it resides most comprehensives restaurant and booze joints in the city. Wide selections of beer at The Bulldog, drunken- greasy food at Balcony Bar, and maybe random chilling/sport bars of Rendezvous and Tracies. You can't go wrong with Rum House's Tacos; But the true gem in Magazine Street is The Bridge’s Lounge. A hipster place which also hosts a variety of good music and a diverse crowd of young urbanites. Heading downtown, in central business district and lower garden district are few gems worthy exploring. Many bars in this area are full of Abercrombie & Fitch crowd. The Fraternity crowd extends from The Republic, RedEye, and Lucys. But one joint stands out from the fraternity crowd, 12 Bar on Fulton has been one of my favorite in central business—also Whisky Blue at The W lounge, and LePhare on Gravier St have always been a perfect pre-game pubs.

Mid-City is rather quiet and more residential, but don’t get it twisted. Best fried chicken in the world is at Ms Willie Mae’s restaurant, while best Po-Boys in town are at Parkway Bakery; both located in Mid-City. The best brass band experience in the city is at Candlelight, also in Mid-City, coming with complimentary NOLA’s signature red beans and rice. Every Wednesday night candlelight is lively with brass band music, and you can swiftly transition to Dragons Den’s to cap the night in a reggae club with DJ T.Roy. Mid-city also host the iconic Finns McCool pub, here is where you can catch a live Arsenal game—sipping a fresh Guinness at 9 am. That is how many Saturdays usually start. And Arsenal disappoints most of the time.

The quarters are fun and always crowded, Bourbon being Bourbon, is the epitome of it all. Not being the biggest fan of the quarters, but it remains the center of entertainment in New Orleans. Best brunch joint on weekends at Café Amelie on Royal Street. Probably the best street in the Quarter is Royal, with its mix of residential/restaurant/artistry stores. I caught The Wailers at the legendary House of Blues on Decatur Street. Stretching the Quarters further, you will find Frenchmenn Street, which is always musical. You can catch Little Fred King live at DBA, Brass-A-Hollic at Maison, and a Mannie Fresh concert at Maison’s penthouse. Frenchmenn also host reggae nights on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday at Dragons Den, Blue Nile, and Café Negril respectively. A very old form of European Jazz and blues is at display at The Spotted Cat, while in Frenchmenn Street, Vaso is always worthy of exploration. You can show up to Frenchmenn at 2 am in Tuesday morning, and you will have fun. Stretching further away from Frenchmenn is Marigny area—and there is Mimis pub located in this part of NOLA. Saturdays night is full of 70s and 80s funk music under the watchful eye of Dj Soul Sista. The Orange Couch coffee shop is also located in this area. Whenever you are in need of a quiet work time, this is the ultimate coffee shop to get work done.

The city is not the same, compared to its pre-Katrina days, but it is definitely not dead. As the matter of fact, very few folks in the city talk about Katrina anymore. Although the population has vastly decreased and low income communities are pushed away from their housings near city center. The City continues to be a distinct place and there is no place like New Orleans. My most memorable NOLA moment began when The Saints won Super Bowl, followed by Saints parade, and Mardi Grass shortly followed; it was crazy!

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