Posts from December, 2007
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So, we had sometime this year between Christmas (in Houston) and New Years (in Waco, more on that later) and decided to make a couple days of it. While both sides of the lady sparkler’s family have a history in the city — and her father spent the first 20 years of his life there — thankfully everyone had moved away in the years before Katrina.
First of all, we had a fantastic time. The city is very much open for business, and while we hit all the touristy areas (French Quarter, Esplanade, Garden District) we never felt unsafe, even for a moment. There was live music everywhere, descent crowds in the streets, and outrageously good food. It was just an amazing experience.
Even so, something seemed just a bit melancholy. While the streets were full, it wasn’t as busy as it “should” have been two days before New Years (and the Sugar Bowl, even if it was Georgia vs. Hawaii). And, while we were admittedly in the wrong part of town, the locals seemed to have returned in even less force than the tourists.
I may have been projecting, but there was a real sense that a clock was ticking on New Orleans. There was quite literally water everywhere. We must have driven on 30+ miles of causeways over all sorts of rivers, lakes, swamps and bayous to get into the city. Not to mention, the area protected by the levees blew my mind (we drove what seemed like 20 minutes from the French Quarter before we passed the last sea wall).
It’s hard to explain how exposed 12 feet above sea-level seems unless you’ve been there (and that was the “high” ground).
Things to Do
So, back to the great time we had … The only “must” on my list of recommendations is Frenchman Street. Located just off the eastern edge of the French Quarter, it is much less “college frat party” than Bourbon Street. There are at least four great, authentic music venues — we saw great performances at d.b.a. and Snug Harbor, and listened in to another at Blue Nile.
We had nothing but spectacular dining experiences, including breakfasts at La Boucherie and the ever-famous Café du Monde, lunches at Napoleon House (built in 1797) and Central Grocery (the home of the Muffalatta), and dinners at Bacco and Acme Oyster House. It seems like such a stereotype, but you really do eat and drink here non-stop, and all of it was not only reasonably well priced, but well worth their reputation / our effort. (Photos of all these places are in the Flickr photoset if you are interested.)
Finally, if you are looking for cemeteries, St. Louis no. 3 (up near City Park) was perfectly safe, and our trip out to the Garden District (to stare at the mansions) was worth the effort. I will say that we rented a car and were glad we did; they weren’t running that many street cars, and taxis were hard to find outside of the hotels.
I have no idea what will happen in the next 100 years, and I am even more conflicted then ever about exactly how much hubris we should muster to try and beat back what nature seems to have planned for the city. The one thing I am not conflicted about is this: Go. Honestly. Such a great experience, and there is enough left to give you a flavor of what everyone else has been talking about.
it’s easy for us trace our current state of happiness to the fabulous people who surround us, and so we want to take what time is left in 2007 to say thank you. with that in mind, may the very best of the season be with you this holiday, and may you experience in your life the joy, love and peace that you have brought to ours.
Ah, ’tis the season of love, joy, and parties. This year, we have two work parties each, two more parties at our house, a couple trips to the theater, and about half a dozen happy hours between us.
Not that I am complaining, but I actually had to stop commuting to work via bicycle in mid-December, because we have something just about every day after work for the last two weeks before Christmas. Thank God we finished up our Christmas shopping in late November, or a lot of people would be getting a whole-lotta nothing.
The highlight so far — for us, at least — was the Christmas Cartoon Extravaganza. Each year we collect as many television Christmas specials as we can, and throw a party where they are playing in the background. Our place is a bit small, but we managed to cram in twelve people to watch three and a half hours of pure animated Christmas goodness, including A Charlie Brown Christmas, Frosty Returns, Robbie the Reindeer, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends christmas special, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
I think this is only the second or third time the lady sparkler and I have thrown the Extravaganza, but I have done something similar on and off for the last decade. I wish I could take credit for the notion, but the idea originally came from a Theatre Department tradition at the College of William and Mary where people gathered each year and managed to turn How the Grinch Stole Christmas into a drinking game.
The basic premise of the College version was to drink each time you hear the word “Who” — as in “All the Who’s down in Whoville” and “Cindy Lou Who who was no more than two.” As you can imagine, the “winner” was essentially declared by the first commercial break by looking around at whomever was still standing.
Fortunately, the thirty-something version entailed just sitting on the couch and thinking warm thoughts of friends and family, though we did “go crazy” by slipping some peppermint schnapps into the cocoa.
i normally don’t stoop so far as to shill for touring companies, but we saw monty python’s spamalot at D.C.’s national theater tonight and it was just incredible.
i haven’t seen Holy Grail since college, so i’m by no means a connoisseur. (actually, most of the complaints i have heard about the show have come from hard-core fans.) even so, i thought the show was smart, bawdy, funny (with a minimum of toilet humor) and just consistently great.
in my experience, it’s pretty common for a show to have 4 great songs, and then a bunch of crap filler to pad the rest of the show. while Spamalot didn’t really have a marquee song per say, there wasn’t a single bad song … and i never once looked at my watch wishing the show would hurry along. that, and the lady sparkler didn’t stop laughing for 2 1/2 hours straight.
oddly enough, i just heard it is playing in Vegas now (fitting!), along with the usual london and new york. needless to say, if you have the means, i highly recommend.
the elementary school next door has a christmas tree sale every year, but some strange reason it’s not until the second week of december. (who waits that long?!?) as you can imagine, being genetically unable to wait for pretty much anything, the lady sparkler and i decided to head out of our hamlet and forage for a tree.
we passed through the seven levels of the rock creek forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and to a magical place called “north Georgetown.” we found a small, Christmas forest of pre-cut trees located at the corner of “Wisconsin” and “Calvert.” a kindly old man with a chain saw assisted us with the finest of skinny trees, and strapped it on to our late-model, german engineered sleigh.
there is nothing quite like a city christmas.