That Nolia Clap: Day 1
My boy GW and I typically go somewhere every March.
After going to a mild Boston last year, I was insistent that we went somewhere actually warm this year. We broke it down to either New Orleans or Miami & I was pleased as either choice would provide a much needed break from the atrocious Newfoundland winter.
Thankfully - even though my buddy had already been to New Orleans - we eliminated Miami because he wanted to return to New Orleans as he enjoyed the NOLIA experience previously.
En route to New Orleans, my flight went through Washington & I was excited to explore this new airport.
This patriotic store was particularly amusing.
The three black teens stepping in front of Barack to get their picture with cardboard Michelle Obama was extra amusing.
Landing in New Orleans, I was excited to be in the Southern U.S. for the first time in 15 years, but the drive from the airport to the downtown was utterly mundane. It starts out in some sort of grassy, arid, empty area and crawls towards an interstate riddled with your standard chain stores. Eventually I was excited to finally get downtown and start seeing some more interesting buildings.
I threw my luggage in the hotel room, did my standard front flip onto the bed & hit the streets - time to explore.
One of the things I wanted to check out in New Orleans was the Dixie Brewery - a 1907 structure which sat abandoned since Hurricane Katrina. When the levees broke and Mid-City New Orleans was flooded with water, the Dixie Brewery was inundated. In the wake of this, scrappers moved in and made quick work of the copper used in the brewing process - leaving the actual Dixie Brewing Company to outsource their brewing needs to some place in Wisconsin.
Even though the brewery was only 10 city blocks from my hotel, it brought me through the abandoned theatre district and subsequent mean mugging as I passed dollar stores and Chinese food joints. Continuing along, it flip-flopped back to nice for one hotel, then back to run down as I passed another abandoned skyscraper near the Iberville Projects. Going under an overpass, I was moving towards a more desolate land and a fringe neighbourhood. There was a nice church and some people at the bus staring at me as I walked by, but generally things weren't too bad - even though I was still quite nervous from all of the warnings I had been given about New Orleans.
Continuing along, I was coming close to the Dixie Brewery when I noticed a fork in the road. I was thankful that my plan was to find an entrance in the back of the Dixie Brewery, as the front of the building was across the street from an abandoned motel and about 30-40 people hanging out and doing whatever.
Once inside, the first thing I did was move towards the Dixie Brewery gates at the front of the building to see if there was any commotion over at the Motel Abandoned - thankfully, it looked much the same, with everyone doing the same thing of standing around and not doing much.
I walked to the backside of the brewery, towards a window, and observed the houses along the backside road. A middle-aged woman had come out on her porch and was looking at the brewery. Crap. I instantly wondered about all of this and the risk and the...before said woman simply turned around and went back into her house.
The brewery is made up of 4 sections and all of these areas meet in a central corridor. Unfortunately, this corridor is highly visible because of a high ceiling and the fact that it is wide open in the back, with those transparent gates in the front.
After I realized the first section I entered didn't go anywhere, my nerves were tried as I had to return and cross the visible corridor again. In this corridor, I hoped that no one would be walking by the gate and that no one was looking out of those houses which could also see clean through (the corridor).
I scurried across for a second time, only to find a blocked staircase. Grrrrrr! I was starting to get irritated in addition to stressed.
Thankfully the next scurry across the corridor brought me to some stairs which led into the old cooler rooms. Through 3 crossings, no one had seen me from the gate side; and I wasn't certain, but hopefully no one saw me from the houses either.
Now In addition to the stress of crossing that corridor, there was also the fact that this brewery had those susceptible, thin metal stairs so commonly found in aging silos and breweries - oh what a calm and enjoyable afternoon explore this was turning out to be!
I'm actually being a bit facetious here, I do enjoy these stairs as long as I don't go through them. I simply had to take my time and be careful with putting my weight on the stairs before I knew they were safe...
Speaking of sketchy stairs, the stairs leading up from the cooler area didn't look very safe.
Brewery coolers are quite boring anyway, so I turned back and returned to the corridor in search of more interesting areas.
I wasn't risking that corridor crossing in search of better stairs again; so after crossing for a fourth time, I accepted a set of half-shattered steps.
Careful not to slip in the rainwater runoff washing over the steps, they led me into the vat area.
I voted against going up to the roof as the brewery has a small footprint and therefore, there would be a good possibility that one of those 80 motel eyes would spot me.
I approached the window of the 7th floor turret and assumed it to be a view close to what I would have achieved by risking the roof.
Turning away from the turret, I went up some stairs to a doorway leading onto a lower roof facing away from downtown.
I was happy with the view I had achieved.
Making my way back down, I was now more relaxed and lazily looked out of a window to see if all was clear.
Suddenly my relaxed state disappeared like air from a released balloon. I peered out and discovered two cop cars with their lights flashing, harassing some dudes across from the houses.
They obviously weren't there for me, but I wasn't about to get lectured for the police thinking I was a dumbass for going into an abandoned building. This window-rich room I was in didn't provide much for cover or hiding places. I ducked behind some crates of Dixie bottles and waited this out.
Soon enough, the dudes were in the cop cars and they sped off. I didn't waste any time in heading back towards downtown and I did have another road in mind to take back so that I could explore more New Orleans.
Walking this alternate road...what a pleasant surprise! I was greeted with a BANKSY along the way! (Check the Abe Lincoln stencil on the building).
Now to those who don't know, Banksy is a pretty famous graffiti artist. He did some great stuff in England in the early 2000s and may be the most famous graffiti person on Earth. His stuff has sold to the likes of Christina Aguillera for $45000. He's straight ballin'. He's did some cool stuff like putting up his own art in the Louvre and spraypainting on the West Bank Barrier while the Israeli guards took the safeties off of their guns.
I actually didn't even realize how popular Banksy was until he did stencils in Detroit recently...and the entire walls were stolen within days! Of the 5 stencils he did, 1 was quickly painted over, 1 was stolen by an art gallery from the Packard, 1 was stolen from an abandoned dry cleaners on Van Dyke, 1 was seized by the building owner of the Packard and offered up for $75000 & 1 other was painted over in the following weeks.
Shit is seriously wild with that guy.
Anyway, as I was taking this picture, a homeless couple passed me and the male commented about how the city really should take down the building I was photographing...but how could he not know?!? That's Banksy! People steal whole walls in Detroit for his work!
It was hard for my mind to comprehend how this downtrodden man had room in his mind for things he deemed more important that British Guerrilla Art. Unbelievable!
After the Banksy building, I noticed an amazing biking spot...wondered why I hadn't seen it in any videos, then realized my proximity to the Iberville Projects.
There was an upside to being so close to the Iberville Projects though; it meant that I was really close to Saint Louis Cemetery #1 - est.1789.
I had read about New Orleans oldest cemetery prior to coming here, but I was a bit turned off because of a warning about locals hiding behind mausoleums and popping out to rob you as you checked out the cemetery.
Thankfully there was a cop standing right across the street!
After 5 minutes, I had walked through about half of the cemetery before noticing the policeman had vanished. I didn't feel overly threatened, but a car was circling with two dudes eying me; so I decided to play it safe.
I walked out of Saint Louis #1 and went kitty-corner from the Iberville Projects - closer than I would ever walk near the Jeffries or Brewster projects in Detroit; but maybe I was just having my typical dumb luck.
I continued walking around New Orleans, headed up Canal Street towards the Mississippi River.
The second picture is from some type of building turned parking garage (if you're wondering what's going on there)...
...and at the Mississippi, I was greeted with Franklin's Gulls...
...and timid feral cats.
I went to pet and meow at them, but they quickly scrambled back into the fenced parking garage.
Moving along, New Orleans had a completely unique feel to me - it felt like how I imagine Havana feels.
I half expected Fidel Castro to pop out and offer up a cigar.
(Those are gaslight lamps by the way.)
Soon enough it occurred to me that I could get a beer down in New Orleans & walk around while enjoying it...
I was unimpressed with the lame selection at the Cajun Market, but it did have Coors Original.
This SHOCK & Detroit's own PAID was nearby.
Walking around a city quickly moving up my list of top 10 favourites...with a cold, tall Coors Original...I was in heaven.
After finally resting my feet for a second after five hours of walking, GW & I were off to the French Quarter for some dinner.
My duck quesadilla was awesome, the bite I had of GW's alligator po boy was awesome & the fact that our waiter poured our beers into go-cups at dinner's end...yep, awesome.
You see, in certain places down south, they'll pour your alcoholic drink initially into a plastic cup - or provide plastic cups at the bar - so that you can take your drink with you & leave the establishment!
Getting tired and want to start walking home? Go-cup!
Want to have a drink while you walk around the city? Go into a bar and get a Go-Cup!
A truly amazing idea.
(By the way, alligator tastes like they say: like chicken.)
We took it easy that night, with the reasoning being that we had all week ahead of us.
One walk down Bourbon Street did yield some bible thumpers attempting to convert us though. I still feel bad for the poor Columbian guy trying to convince me - he didn't stand a chance. I was gone as soon as my go-cup was empty.
Onto Day 2.
|New Orleans 2010|
Touristy Jazz, Algiers, My First Ever NBA Basketball Game.
Cemeteries & the World's Longest Bridge.
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