Saturday, July 08, 2006

Impressions of New Orleans

What I will remember most about New Orleans outside the long, empty, cold, clean corridors of the convention center are the restaurants, the Bruce Daigrepont band and the cabbies.. and the humidity. The places I ate at, Gumbo Shop, Mulates, Tommy's, and New Orleans Heritage were all very good. In some cases, amazing (Gumbo Shop!). New Orleans Heritage will stick in my mind because it was so empty. My party of six friends and new acquaintences were the only people there for a while, having rushed in to get the cheap martinis before 7pm. I was supposed to go to the Mary Chapin Carpentar Awards Bash later, so I was especially anxious when I realized that there was only one single waiter in the place, and perhaps one cook. I ordered French Toast (I don't know why, it looked good?) and wondered if my strange choice was holding us up.. about 50 minutes after ordering the meal arrived, and I ate so quickly I had an upset stomach walking back to the hotel, where I caught a bus to the convention center (there were lots of free shuttles from all the hotels). The French toast was very good, though.

I got to the Bash on time, and found it was in the giant concert hall, not in a room where one could get up and socialize, like I had expected. The best part of the concert ended up being Bruce Daigrepont and his band, a local group who played before Mary came on: they were so upbeat and fun I bought a CD. Mary's guitars and so forth had been lost by US Air, so she was kind of pissed about that, but she sounded great. I ended up leaving because I had developed this cough that wouldn't go away.. and while Mary is great, I thought the program would be less concert, more party. Librarian's don't seem to believe in having a big party/dance like the medieval scholars I attend conferences with.. it's really their loss.

The cabbies were a very interesting assortment of nationalities, personalities, and styles. I talked with one guy driving me around the French Quarter about his family , who are forced to live in Florida while he tries to make a living hundreds of miles away. Another man who was south asian, told me how happy he was that we librarians had come for the conference and how we shouldn't be worried about mold (this was apparently a big fear for some people). Then there was the Croatian man who drove me to the airport. We had such a good time talking, but I can't remember much of what we spoke about, other than how great it was that in the US, if you didn't like one part of the country you could up and move to another part. Oh, and how he knew all the good restaurants. Guess I should have hired him a little earlier.


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