My Mint account is going kind of nuts with all these (frankly pretty judgey) emails about: “Unusual Spending on Food & Dining” and “Unusual Spending on Travel” and “Unusual Spending on ATM Withdrawals” and “Unusual Spending on Ghost Tours & Small Bone-Shaped Voodoo Store Trinkets with Claims of Magical Powers of Doubtful Veracity.” Yeah, well, bite me, Mint. I get to go to New Orleans sometimes, too, you know.
The last time I was in New Orleans I was like 12 years old? I had beignets at Cafe du Monde and went to some pretty cemetery to take a meeeeeeelllion photos (on FILM, because it was the Olden Times) and went to Brennan’s, where I had turtle soup, which is the thing I always cite as the single best food item I’ve ever eaten in my whole life. I bought a tiny bone-shaped charm at a voodoo store. I mispronounced the word “bayou” in front of a waitress, who literally had no idea what I was even attempting to communicate to her, and everyone at the table laughed at me, and I pretended to laugh, too, but I STILL REMEMBER THAT SHIT AND IT STILL HURTS, YOU GUYS.
But I still like cemeteries and voodoo and spookiness and fried dough! And I hypothesized that I would like those things especially if I was of drinking age and not accompanied by my parents! And I have learned how to pronounce the word “bayou!” Sooooo…I went back to New Orleans, I guess. AND HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED OH MY GOD:
So okay, the first thing you should probably know is that magic wishing beans are three-for-$1 at the Voodoo Spiritual Center way up on North Rampart, but they’re three dollars EACH literally everywhere else in the city. Also, the lady who works at the Voodoo Spiritual Center is WONDERFUL and exactly what you hope a Voodoo priestess will be. (Well – you’re either hoping for her or for the kind that would be super-sexy and mean and wear amazing haute couture turbans and put on red lipstick SUPER RIGHT, but if you’re looking for the OTHER kind of one, then this one is the perfect example of THAT one.)
Let’s see, what else, what else, what else? Not much else, other than that, really.
Doop bee doooo.
The French Quarter is actually really really really fucking tiny. Like, you’re looking at a map and you’re trying to maximize the number of voodoo shops you can go to on each day (like you do) and you’ve got it all planned out and everything, and you set out on your first day and you realize that you’ve accidentally just visited each of them twice and it’s 3pm and NOW what are you going to do until the 8pm ghost tour oh right drink a million drinks. I kept passing the same people over and over and over the three days I was there. It was sort of not-anonymous-enough and embarrassing and weird. Maybe people who like friends would enjoy this aspect of it? But it just made me anxious and embarrassed about everything, obviously.
But so the place was small enough that I certainly got an oddly thorough experience in three days. I mean…a thorough experience of the bits I was interested in, anyway. I only ever saw live jazz accidentally (though that does not mean infrequently) and I drank shockingly little. But I tell you what: I learned some shit about motherfucking Marie Delphine LaLaurie, and that’s the truth.
I went on three ghost tours in three days, all covering the same topic over the same small portion of this already-small neighborhood. I got the same story a bunch of times (but always told in amusingly different ways), but it was mostly different stories each time, too. Or, anyway, I was different levels of drunk for each one, so I remember them in different ways. Most of the tours began at a bar. All of them had a stop in the middle at a bar. One of them also ended at a bar. People in New Orleans drink a lot. They also love their fucking ghosts. I went on three tours, but there were ten or twelve more available that I did not have time for.
Oh, what’s that you say? You would like a ridiculously over-detailed description of each tour? OKEY DOKEY HERE YOU GO!
Anyway, here’s some other stuff, which is not about ghosts (except probably some of it is):
I went to the Pharmacy Museum! It was neat.
The St. Louis #1 cemetery wasn’t as cool as I’d hoped, I guess. You weren’t allowed to go inside unless you were accompanied by a licensed tour guide, which I didn’t find out until I was standing there at the gate, so I joined a random crappy tour and didn’t like my guide much. Still – there’s a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t have known if she hadn’t been there. Like, the MAAAASSSIVE gleaming-white pyramid-shaped tomb in the middle of the cemetery is going to hold Nicholas Cage some day. And Marie Laveau was (well – probably) buried in a tomb with her daughter’s name on it, to prevent her fans from defacing it or grave-robbing it or something. That plan hasn’t worked too well. It looked like the photo on the left when I was there, but sometimes it looks like the photo on the right, I guess (or at least it did before they stopped letting people in unaccompanied):
This was not Marie Laveau’s tomb, but some people think it is:
(I asked for a favor from the spirits inside BOTH tombs, just in case.) Marie Laveau, incidentally, was a fucking feminist badass, ran a couple of businesses, had 15 fucking kids, and is the only person who has ever been granted permission from the Catholic Church to perform voodoo ceremonies on Church property. Also she may or may not have had a pet boa constrictor named Zombi. I love Marie Laveau.
The Hotel Monteleone was some schmancy hotel bar shaped like a carousel, where a bunch of famous writers drank sazuracs. I went there and drank Lagunitas, because I’m a rebel. It was maybe four minutes after I sat down at this round bar that I said to the bartender: “I just realized that I’m turning.” He said: “Yes, ma’am, you are.” And that was that.
I met Ginger there at the bar. Ginger is from Columbus, Mississippi, and she is 79 years old, which is younger than all of her friends, who are all in their 80s, but she is not as old as them. Ginger drank (quite a few) champagne kirs. She has five great-grand-children (ONE of whom is very cute and she wanted to show me THAT one’s picture) and five grand-children (one of whom went to Ole Miss and became LIBERAL; one of whom is half-Italian and about my age and lives in Monterey, where there is no crime, and she wanted to show me HIS picture, also). She also had some VERY glamorous photos on her phone of her and her husband in the 60s when they were in New Orleans. She had sewn the dress she was wearing in that photo! “Ah,” I said, “I sewed THIS dress!” She leaned back a little, looked it up and down, and said: “That wasn’t the FIRST time I was in New Orleans, of course; I went as part of my high school senior class trip, as well….” Ginger was staying with a friend in a house which used to be owned by Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney. Ginger SAID that she thought it was admirable that I was travelling alone, but she seemed a little sad for me, anyway. Ginger was the best. I would kind of like to take my next vacation with Ginger. I think I’d be a good wingman for Ginger.
I ate some stuff. I went back to Cafe du Monde for more beignets. They were fine. I’ve had better fried dough at Worlds of Fun. I think they probably go through a LOT of powdered sugar there. If you see little white dusty bits on the pages of my cartoons anywhere, that’s what that is.
I went to a place called Central Grocery for a muffuletta sandwich. It was pretty fucking great. Worth the line.
I also went back to Brennan’s! I had a really excellent bloody mary, and the turtle soup, and something called rabbit rushing, and then I had kind of a psychic breakdown slash existential spiral of despair.
God, I don’t know, probably other things happened, too. I certainly have all sorts of super-cute photos claiming so. But I’m pretty sure it mostly boils down to my (FUCKING AMAZING) ghost tour comparison chart and that muffuletta sandwich. (No, really – have you looked at my chart yet? Go look at my chart.) My cats missed me. I have good cats. I’m going to go eat some ice cream now. And that is that.