November 2012

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Ingrid Lucia

Ingrid Lucia with her band at Preservation Hall in New Orleans. Photo by David Lansing.

I’m sitting at the bar at Sylvain drinking a Negroni when I get a text from Christine: Do you want to go to Preservation Hall with me tonight? One of my best friends in the world, Ingrid, is playing.

Ingrid is Ingrid Lucia. She’s the standard New Orleans artist–incredibly talented and always broke. As Christine says, “It’s sad. New Orleans starves its musicians.”

Ingrid used to front a band called The Flying Neutrinos–jazz, swing. So, yeah, sure, I’ll go to Preservation Hall to listen to Ingrid. Christine says she’s playing three sets and maybe I could meet her there in time for the second show. Which is what I do.

So…Preservation Hall. Not at all what I imagined. I mean, it’s small. Tiny, really. Just a small room with scuffed wood floors and a few rows of folding chairs, a couple of women sitting on the floor, a few other people standing in the back. Maybe two dozen of us total. To listen to what is far and away the best jazz music I’ve heard since I’ve been in New Orleans. Soft, sweet, with this painful edge to it–very much Billie Holiday-ish. I love it. I love Ingrid. But listening to her and her band is painful. Because they are so good and making so little money doing this. Such an underappreciated gift.

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Champagne and fries in New Orleans

New Orleans bar food: Veuve Clicquot and fries at Sylvain in the French Quarter.

The photo above is crap (it was dark and I was using my iPhone) but what you’re looking at is a bottle of Veuve Clicquot and a large plate of french fries, which I ordered last night at Sylvain on Chartres Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This wasn’t a strange marriage between haute and poor that I made up; this is something that is actually on the menu. Right there on the bar food menu. Veuve Clicquot and fries. $50.

Is there any other city in the world where you could find Veuve and fries on the menu? I think not. God bless you, New Orleans, for knowing one of my fantasies even before I did.

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To New Orleans

The taxi line at the New Orleans airport. Photo by David Lansing.

Jean Remy picked me up at the New Orleans airport this afternoon after I’d stood in the taxi line for at least half an hour behind 200 people or more. And it isn’t even Mardi Gras or anything. What is the taxi line like when there’s a Saints game or a big convention?

Anyway, Jean Remy was driving a tricked out Chevy Suburban and playing, at high volume, some Mitch Woods rock ‘n’ roll blues. I had to wonder–did Jean Remy really like this music or do they just make the taxi cab drivers do this for the tourists, sort of like “It’s a Small World” at Disneyland.

Jean Remy had a Xerox of his license on the back of his seat and, along with the proper etiquette for a New Orleans cabi, was this rather disturbing admonishment: “Killing of a taxi cab driver may be a First Degree Murder offense in the State of Louisiana, punishable by death.”

“May be” an offense?


Oysters being sold on the beach. Photo by David Lansing.

Beautiful morning out. Gorgeous. Blue skies, sunny, warm. Maybe I’ll go for a walk along the beach. Or for a swim. A little exercise would do me good.

Except…except…well, I’m suddenly feeling a little queasy. Nothing major. Just an unsettled stomach. Skip the coffee this morning. Maybe have something healthy like a fruit smoothie. With yogurt. Settle things down.

Cool. Refreshing. Big glass. Orange juice, frozen strawberries, some of those little Mexican bananas, and peach yogurt. That’s lovely, isn’t it?

Except…except…now I think I’m going to ralph. Maybe just crawl back in bed and snooze until it passes. Nothing major, I’m sure. It’s not at all like that time in Bordeaux when I had very rare pigeon and my body proceeded to do an unauthorized cleanse, top to bottom, for two days. God, that was dreadful. Probably shouldn’t think about that. Not right now. Because, ohchrist….

There, that’s better. Get it out of the system. Whatever it is. Some of the strawberries were still frozen. Odd, that. You don’t suppose it’s those beach oysters I had, do you? Couldn’t be. That was, what, a week ago? Do nasty things in oysters stay in your body only to make a nasty appearance a week later? Shouldn’t think so. Still. What else could it be? What did I have for dinner last night? Oh, yes, the stuffed chile poblano at Aduato’s. With a salad. Could have been the salad. Or the chile. Or whatever was stuffed in to the chile. Shrimp, was it? Not oysters, certainly. Anyway, just get back into bed, take a little nap, and when I wake up in an hour or so, I’m sure it will all have passed.


Well, that was nasty. Always worse the second time around. Odd the body can even contort itself like that. Need to get back in there and clean up the floor a bit. Attract flies otherwise. After I get my strength back. Climb in to bed. Turn on the overhead fan. Close my eyes. And try not to think of beach oysters.


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Tacos on the windshield

Me cleaning taco sauce off the windshield of the Blue Whale. Photo by David Lansing.

I dropped Jeff off at the airport today. As I was driving back to Bucerias, I thought about the last time Jeff was down here and I somehow convinced him to do a roadtrip with me from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles. What I remember is that the night before we left, Jeff suddenly came down with an intestinal problem and he wasn’t able to eat the carne asada we’d ordered at a restaurant in Bucerias. Not wanting to waste it, he’d asked the waiter to wrap it up in aluminum foil.

The next day, we stop to get gas before heading off into the jungle. While I’m paying for the gas, Jeff gets the foil-wrapped steak tacos from dinner and puts them on the windshield, held down by the wipers.

Me: What the hell are you doing?

Jeff: Heating up my tacos. It’s a hundred degrees outside. They’ll be warm by the time we get to Mazatlan.

Me: The windshield wipers aren’t going to hold them! Those babies will go flying off in two minutes.

Jeff: They’ll be fine. Just go slow.

So off we went through the jungle. With two big aluminum foil packets of tacos underneath the windshield wipers. At one point the tacos de parabrisas started to creep up the windshield but I found that if I kept my speed around 40-45, they were okay. Although some of the sauce leaked, making salsa rivulets down the hood of the Blue Whale.

Just before we got to Mazatlan, Jeff hopped out and grabbed the tacos. They were a little soggy but heated through. We had them with a couple of orange Fantas we bought at an Oxxo.

The next morning when we gassed up before leaving Mazatlan, Jeff went into the quickie mart and got two $.69 hot dogs. He stuck them under the windshield wipers where they stayed as we crossed the Sonoran desert. I think this may become a regular thing with him.

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