Thursday, January 24, 2008

the french quarter

We’ve realized we didn’t actually tell you about the French Quarter, the only part of New Orleans most of you have ever seen. It is the oldest part of town, originally settled by the eponymous French settlers, though it was later held briefly by the Spanish before becoming nominally American. It is hands-down the most European neighborhood I’ve ever seen on this continent, with truly glorious architecture, and has a history more rich and dramatic than its measly (by Continental standards) 400-some-odd years of permanently settled existence.

It’s disgusting, though. Rivulets of piss, vomit, spilled alcohol-swill, and god-knows what else trickle down the old worn gutters. The lights and music and crowds at night cast a forced revelrous aura, but in the day the reality is unavoidable. Tacky plastic signs (tacked irreverently to gorgeous facades) advertise tacky plastic merchandise and tacky plastic women for sale. It’s all much, much too much. It smells terrible, and is at this point so entirely self-aware that there is no joy left, just commerce.

I would strongly recommend to anyone visiting New Orleans: go to the French Quarter once, during the day; explore its nooks and crannies, but don’t look too close; pay a boatload of money to eat at one of the gazillion fine eating establishments that have been there since Napoleon, and don’t ask what the delicious thing you’re eating actually is; hold your breath the whole time; and then leave. The rest of the city is actually wonderful, not trying to be.

(P.S. Petra liked it better than me. I think that’s ‘cause she doesn’t have a very good sense of smell. Or self-preservation. :) She, of course, would disagree.)


Athene Numphe said...

Sounds like you were on Bourbon Street. Don't go to Bourbon Street. Walk Charters or Royal during the day and hit lower Decatur at night. :)

Oh, and look out for Quarter water.

PS. Could you turn your feed settings to the whole thing, instead of just the first little bit of text? Thanks!

Erika said...

feed stetting changed!