American TV is very similar to Greek TV in that the news is all about local parochial sweet stories – like ITV will be in a couple of years – pure condescending brain-fat, no meat or analysis. It’s also totally predictive – this may be going to happen, what would happen if this were to happen.
I can’t stop eating, but can’t shit either. I’ve only had one small rat-like pellet since London. Something's gotta give! I’ve chowed down on a skip full of junk and can almost feel the waste tickling my tonsils. If they need a dam down there in New Orleans to stop the flooding… here I come!
There are posters everywhere for Superman Returns. It gets me to thinking how Superman is the Christ of the 20th/21st Century. Imagine that a group of people created the superhero Jesus 2,000 years ago as a moral symbol of hope for the people of the time, just like Superman was imagined by Jerry Siegel during the 2nd World War.
Due to the oral tradition and a lot of speculation, it has now become a mythological fact. It would be hilarious if the same thing happened to Superman in another 2,000 years and he became thought of as a fact! Anyway, they’ve just called my flight.
It’s amazing that for 35$ extra I can upgrade my flight to Business class. I suppose because US flying is much more the norm than in the UK. I’ve upgraded and am now going to swagger to the gate for some 1st class treatment. Excuse you Atlantan scum, clear the way, here I come!
New Orleans, Louisiana
“How you doing?”
“Cooler than you, I think!”
Thus spake the barman.
New Orleans is cooler than a frozen cucumber that’s been stuck up Captain Scott’s arse after 100 years of freezing arctic winds. The ambient temperature is 100 degrees in the humid shade, sweatier than Toby Wagstaff’s arse crack on a Grecian wall, yet still cooler than anything. As the barman of the first joint I walk into says “New Orleans and New York are about as far away as you can get from each other in the US” no kidding, transplant man!
THIS is what I’ve been after – a holiday of contrasts. My one fly in the ointment, and there always has to be one, godammit! As I switched on my phone at New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport – a message from Next Move saying that Tom, the buyer of my Aunt’s flat, wants to visit it at 5 pm tomorrow to have another look around.
I don’t know why and neither does the woman who left me the message, but it’s really put me on edge. It’s not the end of the world if he does decide that he no longer wants to buy it, but it would be a massive muthafucker of a blow if he didn’t. I REALLY need to put it out of my head, because I can’t believe that I’m sitting in a crazy cool Jazz bar on Bourbon Street worrying about this warty flat.
It’s now 05:03am and I’ve just called the estate agent again. English time is 11:03am Ha! Ha! Ha! I’m out of my face on Bourbon Street speaking to those grey fuckers in rainy Stoke Newington. I AM DRUNK…
What a night! I have a hangover this morning worthy of Lee Armstrong’s Austrian Stag do. I was out of my tiny mind. So much happened… phone numbers exchanged, impossibly great live music, beers and shots. Nawlins in heat!
Bourbon Street is just real enough to not slip into being a tacky tourist trap. Every bar has live music slamming out into the steamy night, drummers working hard to drown out the beat of the neighboring bar. With the air conditioning on, the heat from outside causes waves of smoke to billow in to the bar. Very strange to watch. I bar-hopped like a beered-up Cricket from place to place until I found a killer bar called ‘Dungeon’ and holed-up there for the small hours. I gave Alex, the handsome Gothic barman my number at his request and he said he’d call. I feel so mortally f**ked today that I actually hope he doesn’t! As the man said – “What happens on Bourbon Street, stays on Bourbon Street, son.”
I had a long interesting conversation with an ex-army long distance truck driver who’d lost everything and was now just killing time, and mainly himself, in Nawlins. He showed me the pictures of happier days carrying logs from Denver to the west coast. He stands in front of his logging truck, arms folded, proud.
So different to the man now holding the photo in shaking whiskey claw. Some college kids on their first adventure away from their mum’s teat, hassle the barmaid for drink after drink. They get rowdy and boring. I get talking to this big bruiser of a bloke from Detroit who says he knows a cooler bar on the edge of town. He seems like a cool cat and even though I’m out of my face, I get the sense that if it came to it I could have him in a fight, or at least outrun him!
We leave the Dungeon and walk off to this bar. It turns out he is incredibly racist. He looks and sounds like Mickey Rourke and is regaling me with tails of manufacturing cars in downtown Detroit. I’m so pissed that I’ve taken to saying everything in an John Lee Hooker style Cajun drawl.
He can’t believe I’m really from London and thinks I’m spinning him a line. He’s worried that I’M taking him somewhere to get robbed! We stop and try and work out who’s leading who and who’s mugging who.
Once more at the controls he takes me to the bar and fair play, it is alright. Young, hip crowd. 4am dance music. I order a Jamesons and fall into conversation with a weirdy-beardy student originally from Arkansas.
He looks like something out of ZZ Top and seems in love with the fact he’s more intelligent than his peers. I have a chat with him about reality or at least my understanding of reality at 4:30 on a Nawlins morn! but soon grow bored of it and look round for the next thing. To tell the truth, that’s all I remember, except for this:
As I’m leaving the bar, an old emaciated black guy comes up to me trying to sell me a small red BMX bike. I ask him how much semi-jokingly as I’m seriously considering cycling back. Some guys who’ve been drinking in the bar and are now on the street shout out to me not to do it, that this old guy’s a crackhead. I look again. Of course he’s a crackhead! I stumble off bike-less and clue-less towards the orange glow of the dawn sun.
I am now having a carbo-tastic Cajun breakfast that is digesting humanity back into my bones. I’m reading in the local paper that the National Guard has been drafted in. Apparently after Hurricane Katrina all the blacks were forced to move out of their ramshakled homes, but now with the help of FEMA (Federal EMergency Action) they are moving back and with them the inevitable new type of human hurricane, drugs, gangs, muggings, gun crime.
A barman told me last night that, post-Katrina, there aren’t enough police to handle it anymore so they’ve called in the army. I feel safe, cocooned here in the French Quarter, but looking at photos of the surrounding Central City, Nawlins, I get the feeling I’d be swatted like a Louisiana housefly the second I stepped off the Quarter!
American TV is amazing! Amazingly frightening and shitty! All programs seem to be news related and aim to terrify its American viewers into subservience. The News is predictive not reactive or fact based. It all seems to be obsessed with what “might” happen. Primarily Al-Qai’da.
Even better than this are the adverts which are all for medications. Although for the hard-core ‘scrippies Americans still need a prescription from their doctor, there’s obviously a lot of competition out there and they can tell their doctor which one they want! Watching these adverts, it becomes clear that the US FDA has passed a law that forces drugs companies to mention possible side-affects in their advertising, resulting in a chirpy ad for arthritis tablets finishing up with a fast, low and sinister voiceover at the end rumbling through a list of possible complications including; but not limited to nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and psychotic episodes! Nice!
I had my first plate of Jambalaya for dinner, in a perfectly Cajun atmosphere restaurant. Sweet. There was a storm brewing outside and the odd rumble of thunder which perfectly complimented the humid dark crevices of the swampy restaurant. I needed somewhere dank and quiet for my self-conscious hangover. I’m sitting here at the table reading the blogs of the contributors to the Lonely Planet guide with growing envy. I’d like to be a travel writer, well, I guess I am, but what I mean is I’d like to be paid to do it!. I had my palm read last night by some old hippy dude and he told me pretty much the same as the Indian palm reader in Lachmanjula exactly ten years ago – no kids; lifestyle illness; living in two countries; many loves; can’t work for anyone; creatively minded, globe trotter, should be a writer, yeah right! Oh and some minor problems with depression… tell me about it!
With this hangover I’m a bit moody about the future. What am I going to do with my life? I’m nearly 30 and still “drifting”. I’m no closer to having a focus or a long-term job that I even have the slightest interest in getting out of bed for.
I can’t take that XXXX job that’s been offered to me – where’s that going to lead to? What would it be for? BUT, I can’t think how to make real money from writing. I need to think on…
The plan for tomorrow then is a hearty breakfast, check email, find out about a hotel in Lafayette (T’Frere’s sounds best), find out how to get the Greyhound bus from here to there. The cool guy from Dungeon told me that the real action is in Frenchman’s Street, on the far western edge of the French Quarter in an area known as Maringny. I
t’s where the locals go to hear and drink the good stuff, so that’s what I’ll do tomorrow night – I haven’t heard enough live music yet.
Maybe I’ll even watch the England game at 11am on Sunday! I’ve been thinking a lot about New York today, and it already seems like part of another trip. Perhaps I should rent a car in Lafayette and drive up to Little Rock in Arkansas rather than my current plan of the gruesome Greyhound? Good night, dear reader! Next Part 2 in the Big Easy!