Wednesday, April 22, 2009

New Orleans: Come Along With Me On My Trip!

***To read this post I must insist you do as Lynrd Skynrd says, and 'TURN IT UP!'
- Go ahead-I'll wait! Turn up the Creedence jams down at the bottom of the page!!
-- Have some respect, people!***
I thought I'd take some much needed advice and take an editing break :)
I took these pics on the trip I took to New Orleans with my mom. I was able to use the trip to take pics of real scenery for my ghost story I'm editing now and we were able to see all the places my mom grew up loving:
SO-- sans ACID: Let's take a TRIP!!
(That pic is me and Peetie the CD holder penguin on the road!)
Don't pay attention to the dates-they're wrong-I just didn't know how to change the date on the camera.
DAY 1:
My mom's accent COMPLETELY changed the second we crossed the Texas/Louisiana state line. She'll deny it, but it's fun to hear her talking like THIS :)
You know ur in Louisiana when you see trees like the ones above--I call them "creepy trees" cuz I KNOW they know something!! They watch me whenever I go there.....
Before you get to New Orleans, you can stop off at Oak Alley Plantation. The trees are around 272 years old. It was humbling to see them. A few movies were filmed here including 'Interview With The Vampire'- where the house served as Louis' home.
Here are some branches that are laying on the ground. It was CRAZY hot that day. The humidty in this area is harsher than Houston-which I often say is like "drinking air".
This is in New Orleans, and is a statue at the private Catholic elementary school my mom-sicle attended. She always tells a story of the nuns making her eat her most hated veggie-spinach. She would wait till they weren't watching and would stuff the spinach in her milk carton :) "Take THAT Nuns!!!" :)
Day 2:
This is Sucre on Magazine Street where there are lots of Antique shops. It's a bakery that offers French macarons, gelato and upscale pasteries. My friend Rachel sent me more pics of the amazing place from her recent trip and I posted them 2 posts before the one ur reading now :)
Here I am enjoying our uber-unhealthy breakfast of white hot chocolate infused with Lavender, a cupcake, and French macarons.
Here is City Park where my mom would search for tadpols. I wanted to take some of the Spanish moss, but we weren't sure that was "legal" we waited and went back when we weren't with a tour group .... "don't tell!".
City Park is also the location of Voodoo Fest each year!
What is Voodoo Fest?! 3 days -Week of Halloween-over 100 bands---bourbon soaked, beignet fueled perfection!
We took a Hurricane Katrina tour and here is a monument in the 9th ward showing how high the water was in this spot.
This was a house marked by the rescuers who searched the houses for survivors. The o at the botom references that there were no victims found in the home This was difficult to see- Many people who live in the 9th ward see the hurricane tours as disrespectful to those who died, and I can see how many tourists are being jerks- there certainly are people in any situation that would be wanting to view carnage-that's an aspect of human nature that I hate. Most homes that DID have victims found in them have painted over the mark-and I can certainly see why-Personal pain on display makes it harder.
I didn't take this pic, but I DID see this very sign when we were there. There was an immediate sense of shock on the small tour bus we were on. Most of the people that happend to be ON the bus with US that day were from NOLA, and wanted to be shown the different areas so they could report back to their other family members who love and have been worried about the city-what has happend. We certainly would never want to disrespect this city that is a huge part of our hearts.
The 9th ward -specifically -is really the only area of New Orleans that isn't at least somewhat back to normal--When the levees broke, the water flooded the entire 9th ward neighborhood and it is basically slabs of concrete now. My heart breaks for all of those families. Most of the homes in that spot had been handed down over at least 2 generations.
Here's a look at the house in the 9th ward that Brad Pitt is hoping to replicate there through Global Green. It was strange having NOTHING anywhere near that house--then going in-there was a plasma screen inside. It was strange, but I respect what he wants to do. He doesn't come across as those other useless celebs do who make PSA's from the comfort of Beverly Hills. I dunno if he'll get the people who had to leave this spot to come back tho-They've had to move to places like Houston to get jobs and it's hard to move back unless there's some sort of guaranteed income I'm sure--
The only thing that bothers me about Brad in NOLA is that he's got Angelina there too, and I've felt like she isn't being sincere in photos anymore...
LOOK at her soft smile--It's like she practiced in the mirror to try and seem like a quiet-activist-multiple mom opposed to this...
...which is the Angelina I think is still on the inside. I mean, people CAN change, but-with her-I think she's trying to push herself too far from who she was--it doesn't feel genuine to me. I just want to shake her and say, "I know who you are! ...but you can't HANDLE the truth!! Ur in the MIDDLE of Mother Teresa and Hannibal Lecter, Angie! Deal with it!"
back on subject---
We went on the hurricane tour because my mom is from this city and it's not safe to drive into the 9th ward since the hurricane. I DO think that if tour buses are going to be full of gawking tourists looking at these people's despair- they should get a donation from the tour ticket price.
I didn't take this one-It's of the 9th ward-the most hard hit area- This was a neighborhood filled with shotgun houses. You can see the red river barge that was pushed over one of the levees and slammed into the neighborhood up ahead.
St. Louis Cathedral in The French Quarter. We went to mass here on Saturday night and it was gorgeous-all of the twinkling candles.
Day 3:
Beignets at Cafe Du Monde. My parent's first date was here-yay!!
- Never laugh while holding a beignet--you'll look like Tony Montana in 'Scarface'-
...not a good look....
This is a view out of a window at a restaurant on 'Pirate's Alley' (that's a real street name!).
We got to the cemetery where Marie Laveau, the voodoo queen, is buried too late to get in to see it- they close THIS cemetery early cuz SO many people want to have seances in it--- but you can see the sign here telling you not to mark the graves--People mark Marie's tomb with 3 letter x's and ask her for something.

New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted cities in the world, and it does well at maintaining that reputation- fo sho!
You can go on night ghost tours, but we didn't. My mom is really averse to anything like that since, and I quote, "I grew UP in New Orleans. I've seen things I can't explain. Thank God Jesus saved me from a life of sin cuz when I was in High School and saw that "black witch" nun raise the candle flame 3 feet in the air, I knew the devil was HERE!"
aahh...I love my mom :) She's beautifully dramatic--but she never lies, so I DO believe the story of the candle!
This is the LaLaurie Mansion. It is rumored to be haunted by the slaves that were tourtured and mutilated by Madame LaLaurie-the mistress of the house. - but ya know, I ain't afraid of no ghost! :)
I WISH I had taken this time lapse pic of Bourbon Street, but it was not me. This is where the bars are- many won't give you glass cups since people routinely walk out into the street with them. This street is also known for the Mardi Gras parties and....the indecent exposure...
Emeril Lagasse's town house- In NOLA, if you're a chef, you put the fish bone symbol in the front of ur house.
I didn't take this pic- it's Fitzgerald's restaurant on Lake Ponchatrain. My mom worked there at one point when she was a 20 something and it was BLOWN AWAY by Hurricane Katrina! Blown AWAY!
Here is Fitzgerald's being knocked around by Hurricane George - which was years before Katrina. The restaurant recovered after George, but not after Katrina.
This is the site where Fitzgerald's restaurant WAS. --There were a number of other high end restaurants that were here as well--all just pilings now.
This is Mardi Gras beads hung up on the electrical wires on St. Charles Street where the historic street car goes. Many houses and trees allow these to stay where they land year round after the parades :)
This is the home belonging to Anne Rice in the Garden District.
Commander's Palace Restaurant -One of the homes my mom lived in when she was little was directly behind here. The house was changed, but the trees were still there and it was exciting to see this-especially when my grandpa and grandma Jeansonne met up with us!
This is the cemetery directly across from Commander's Palace that my mom and her brothers and sisters would play hide and seek in...yep- disturbed me a little too...
The tombs in NOLA are all above ground because the water table is so high and caskets would make their way back up to the top of ground graves even despite having rocks on them when NOLA was first colonized. There are usually multiple people in each above ground tomb- and there is a law saying that you must leave each new body alone for a year and a day-then they can move you. ....My grandma mentioned that they had paid EXTRA to NOT be moved....again...disturbing.... :)
Driving Home:
Ok-This ones funny - We drove thru this town on the way back- Rayne, and it's the FROG CAPITAL OF THE WORLD! ...Tho I didn't see any frogs :( ......really wanted to see a frog!


Jenna said...

Oh, I love New Orleans! I've only been once, but my mom says she's dragging me back as soon as I turn 21 since my birthday's right around Mardi Gras.

Those are some awesome pictures! :D

lotusgirl said...

I ate Beignets at Cafe du Monde once. I still have my souvenir mug from the hot chocolate. Mmmmm!

I have to say I'm totally in love with the trees from the plantation. I could spend a whole day taking pictures of those.

Lady Glamis said...

I think this is so cool that you got to do this! I know that it's the best research to do... actually go and SEE things. There's nothing that can replace that!

I was just wondering if you have had any luck on your title. I'm still willing to try and help you, although I'm not sure how much help I can be since I haven't read your book. Titles can be so hard!

Pen Pen said...

Lady G- I've been editing the manuscript and avoiding the title issue--I do have an entire like 2 pages going over what u had said in ur last e-mail tho--I'll take an edit break tomorrow and get that back to you so u can see if there are any ideas u have--I so appreciate ur help! U and ur blog have been one of the chief writing resources I've gone to throughout my writing process, and I am so glad to have come across u - period!
:) Can't wait to see what u think, cuz I think I have a better handle on exactly what the title should give after what you've suggested- :)

Jessica said...

Wow, awesome pics! I have to agree with you on Angelina. I think she's a woman torn between two selves, and I think she would make a great character.
That's so cool how you went with your mom.

Windsong said...

Those were awesome pictures! I love the frog sign. But the combination of your commentary and the pics is what made the post so great. Thanks!

K @ Blog Goggles said...

Holy moley, this is an awesome post. I love New Orleans (worked with the public schools there for about 9 months post-Katrina), and this was like a trip down memory lane.

I never got to see Louis' house, though. That would have been a treat!

Stacy Nyikos said...

Looks like an awesome trip. most envious of the beignets at cafe du monde. I have great memories of eating some there at night in the summer when I was a kid visiting my aunt in NOLA. Yum!

shopgirl101 said...

I've always wanted to got to New Orleans..great pics!

clorivak said...

Wow...I so want to go to New Orleans now. Those trees are just amazing. I'm big on freaky weird trees. History and ghosts just cry out from the pictures. Really great, interesting post.

drollgirl said...

I LOVE CREEDENCE!!! and i am so jealous. i have never been there and would love to go (sans humidity, of course!).

and the thing with your mom and the accent cracked me up! i was in london once for about a week and found myself talking like them. kinda freaky. and very madonna of me. shudder.

Pen Pen said...

To anybody wanting to go to NOLA- I recommend going in the late Fall or early spring since going in the summer is basically like stepping into a humid oven :) -but there are cabins u can stay at Oak Alley Plantation --and that's fun during Christmas cuz they have a historical feast, and you can see all the "bayou bonfires" that are lit up and down the Mississippi river to light the way for Santa's barge! :) I recommend staying in a hotel near the French Quarter too--NOLA is much like New York in that you can wasl out your door and WALK anywhere--tho it's MUCH smaller. ...Don't stay ON Bourbon Street tho--u won't sleep! Stay in a historical hotel like the Monteleone!! It's also fun to go on weekends when they have art festivals and such--not as crowded and drunk as voodoo fest or mardi gras and more artsy, which is a different vibe! :)

Pen Pen said...

THat's hilarious u did like madonna!!!
My mom IS from there, so she does have an accent all the time, but it get mega amplified when we're there--I dunno why she can't hear herself-I should record her talking next time. Normally, she sounds mushed Texan/Cajun, and the inflections that change make it seem like she has a cotton ball in the back of her mouth.

--and I love that u LOVE Creedence! I had a ticket to see John Fogerty at the Houston rodeo last year and I got stuck at work and missed it-----I'm STIL HELLA PISSED!!! Seriously-I'm livid about it!! It's a sore spot for me. :)

Big Red said...

Your breakfast on Day 2 is making me drool! I want to go back and eat all that yummy un-healthy food.

Tina Tarnoff said...

this post is absolutely fantastic! I'm going to nola soon as I've been commissioned to paint a mural inside a house in the garden district. cant't wait! I will use this post to go to some places - thanks for sharing Penny!

and my god, that cupcake is huge! I want!


Pen Pen said...

I'm so glad I could help!! :)
--and OMG- I wish I was going with u! The Garden District is amazing! My mom and I have always held delusions of grandeur where we will one day own one of those homes and sit on the porch drinking iced tea all day reading Tennison :)
My only recommendation for YOU(since u are a young woman) would be for you to be sure and walk around with a buddy through the streets. It's not a dangerous place, but 99.9% of the people out and about after 4 in the afternoon are TRASHED--and- of course- drinking makes some people kittens and others---a lot more like evil ogres or something :) Especially Bourbon Street--u want to be in a group cuz it's a big frat party! :)
---and save some cash for Sucre, cuz it's EXPENSIVE to eat there, but never has something been MORE worth it in my life!
--and u should check out this site:
It's a site that shows many of the artists in NOLA--We sometimes go to their studios and hang out-most of the artists' studios are like revolving doors, and they would be a great resource for you to hang out with and they could show u some great stuff! Don't feel strange e-mailing or just walking into a NOLA artist studio--most of them have told me personally that they came to NOLA specifically for that interaction. :) YAY! GIve me a shout if u need any recommendations for hotels, restaurants or sites!! :)

Pen Pen said...

the comment I left above here is for Tina--sorry tina--didn't label it to u! :)

Lady Glamis said...

Hope to hear from you soon, then!

The Cottage Cheese said...

Wow - such great pics! I love N.O., hope to go back soon. I was there a few months after Katrina, and it was pretty shocking (even though I had been a news junkie for months, nothing could make the impression that being there could). The mod 9th ward home rocks!