Reflections on New Orleans

Writer Steve Nemo escaped Hurricane Irma by heading to New Orleans. He shares his visit to the Big Easy.

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Jackson Square in New Orleans.

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2017 — New Orleans is a very strange city. It prides itself on being a crazy and edgy metropolis. But on Bourbon Street, everyone – from the stumbling drunk Father Time to the New Year’s Baby ensconced in his stroller – rubs shoulders in relative harmony.

The police presence is minimal and very bored.

PARK FOR CHEAP

Cheap, all-day parking in New Orleans.

Parking is crazy expensive in this city, with some lots charging as high as fifteen dollars an hour. If Bourbon Street is your destination, park in the lot at 1515 Canal Street, across from Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, for $5 the entire day during the week and $10 on weekends.


Then walk the few blocks to Bourbon Street.

BREAKFAST ANYONE?

Ruby Slipper restaurant.

You may wait as long as an hour to get a table at the Ruby Slipper, but you will click your heels, happy that you did. It’s well worth the wait to feast on a Hot-Smoked Salmon Bennie: smoked salmon over a buttermilk biscuit and topped with two poached eggs, red onion, flash-fried capers and dill with hollandaise sauce.

You can reduce your wait-time by downloading their “NOWAIT” app to make a reservation. The Ruby Slipper is opened for breakfast and lunch only.

Address: 1005 Canal Street, New Orleans. Phone: (504) 525-9355. Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.


On the road to New Orleans, Irma in my rear-view mirror


A BOURBON STREET CRAWL

The oyster bar at the Bourbon House on Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Belly up to the magnificent oyster bar at Dicky Brennon’s Bourbon House, which says it “is all about local seafood.” Part of its friendly staff stands behind a massive, semicircular oyster bar shucking those sweet, magnificent mollusks – Caminada Bay in particular – while you watch, drooling.

When asked how many oysters Bourbon House goes through each day, a chef, who somehow manages to keep his smock a pristine white, simply says, “Too goddamn many.”

A customer looks through the dessert menu at the Royal House Oyster Bar.

They also serve a delicious corn & crab soup and excellent Bourbon House salad with local greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parmesan, croutons tossed in a Maker’s Mark bourbon vinaigrette.

Address: 144 Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Phone: (504) 522-0111. Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Then walk up the street to the Royal House Oyster Bar for bananas foster cheesecake, topped with warm Banana Foster sauce and a cinnamon graham cookie.

Address: 441 Royal Street, New Orleans. Phone: (504) 528-2601. Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

ANTEBELLUM CHARM

One of the Antebellum Southern mansions in New Orleans’ Garden District.

Begin your stroll at the corner Prytania Street and Washington Avenue. That’s where you’ll see the largest collection of antebellum mansions ever assembled. Established in 1832, the Garden District is also the home of historic Lafayette Cemetery #1, near Commander’s Palace Restaurant.

REMEMBERING THE GOOD WAR

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

The World War II Museum should be near the top on your list of attractions to visit while in New Orleans. On purchasing your ticket, you board a troop train where you’re asked to press a badge that comes with your ticket to a video screen. It assigns the badge a soldier whose exploits you follow at various kiosks stationed among the museum’s exhibits on the Pacific or European theaters of war.

Pay an extra $5 and see the immersive presentation “Beyond All Boundaries” in the museum’s Solomon Victory Theater. You’ll fly with U.S. Army Air Corps bombers over Nazi Germany, hearing and feeling the explosive power of anti-aircraft ordinance around you. The film, produced and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, takes you from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the liberation of Nazi death camps, to the Japanese surrender on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

You’ll fly with U.S. Army Air Corps bombers over Nazi Germany, hearing and feeling the explosive power of anti-aircraft ordinance around you. The film, produced and narrated by actor Tom Hanks, takes you from the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the liberation of Nazi death camps, to the Japanese surrender on the deck of the U.S.S. Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

Ernie Pyle exhibit at the World War II Museum in New Orleans.

In the film, war correspondent Ernie Pyle expresses his war-weariness in his last dispatch, found tucked in his pocket after he was killed during the battle of Okinawa:

“But there are so many of the living who have had burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

“Dead men by mass production – in one country after another – month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer.

“Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous. Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come to almost hate them.”

He died three short weeks before the war’s end. Scripps-Howard never published Pyle’s ironic and grim epitaph.

Address: 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans. Phone: (504) 528-1944. Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

OH, THE MUSIC

Step up to any Bourbon Street public house and you’ll likely hear rock and the most amazing blues, with guitarists playing licks that make you clench your fist and punch the air to the rhythm.

Listen to hot jazz while having a cool drink at the Jazz Playhouse in New Orleans.

Or walk into the beautifully appointed and comfortable Jazz Playhouse located inside the Royal Sonesta Hotel. The cost for an evening of fine jazz is a single drink… mine was a glass of San Pellegrino mineral water with a twist of lime. You will hear musicians like

You will hear musicians like jazz drummer, band leader, and music educator, Shannon Powell.

Address: 300 Bourbon Street, New Orleans. Phone: (504) 553-2299. Music begins at 8:00 p.m.

“Every time I close my eyes blowing that trumpet of mine,” said Louis Armstrong, “I look right into the heart of good old New Orleans.”

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