Day 13 - New Orleans (cont)  
   
    Walking the streets of the French Quarter.    
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 

After spending the morning in the swamps, David and I arrived back in New Orleans at about lunch time, and went for a walk around the French Quarter. Given the day was very warm, we were naturally thirsty, and the frozen alcoholic beverages for sale along the length of Bourbon Street looked very attractive. We each purchased a 20 oz. frozen Hurricaine and walked around, getting to know some of the less travelled areas of the French Quarter.

 
 
 
 

Some parts of the Quarter are quite run-down.

 
 

Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

 
 
 
 

Doorbells, New Orleans style.

 
 

Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

 
 
 
 

A study in colour and texture.

 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

After walking around for some time, and two more frozen beverages, we were feeling a little tired! David needed to use the internet, and I needed a haircut, so we separated and arranged to meet back at the hotel later. I had found a barbers shop at the side of the Hotel Monteleone, so I stepped inside to get a cut. With its big tub style chair it was so distinctly American, I had to get a shot.

 
 
 
 
You just don't see a barber's chair like this anywhere else in the world.
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

When I returned to the hotel, David was pretty tired, and felt like staying in for the afternoon. He was still recovering from the effects of a cold which he had had before we met in Washington, and an early start together with 60 oz of frozen alcoholic beverage had knocked him around a bit. Personally, I felt that the drinks had just loosened me up a little, so I decided to do some more wandering. We arranged for me to meet him back at the hotel for our evening meal.

I headed down towards Jackson Square, as I wanted a closer look at some of the beautiful Spanish and Antebellum architecture that surrounds the square.

 
 
 
 
Detail from the Cabildo Building, adjacent to St Louis Cathedral..
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

The Cabildo Building was built in 1799, and was originally the home of the Spanish city council offices. It has a special place in history as the building where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803, and it is now owned by the Louisiana State Museum. The exhibits within the Cabildo explore the history of Louisiana from the first European explorations to the post-Civil War Reconstruction era from a multi-cultural perspective.

Outside the Cabildo was a great Jazz band busking for tips from the locals and tourists.

 
 
 
 
Three trombones, a trumpet, banjo and double bass, that's a big band!
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 
 
 
This trombone player looks like he is serious about his music.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 
 
 
The band were great, and the music in the streets make New Orleans come alive for visitors.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

On either side of Jackson Square are the Pontalba Apartments, named for the woman who had them constructed, Micaela Almonester, the Baroness de Pontalba. Born as the daughter of a Spanish real estate baron, in New Orleans, she was married at 15 and shipped off to France to live with her husband and father in law. After a dispute that ended with the father in law shooting her four times and then taking his own life, she recovered and returned to New Orleans, and her family holdings.

The buildings commenced construction in 1849 and were finished in 1850, and comprise retail and commercial space at street level with two floors of apartments above. They are recognised as the oldest example of apartment buildings in the USA.

 
 
 
 
Detail of the Pontalba Building in the afternoon light.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 85mm f/2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 
At the head of the square is St Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuosly operating Catholic cathedral in the country. First built in 1724, it has been destroyed twice, once by fire, and a second time by a hurricaine. The current building that looks down over Jackson Square was built at the height of Spanish rule over Louisiana, in 1794.
 
 
 
 
The spire of St Louis Cathedral, seen from the gardens of Jackson Square.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD W.Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 
 
 
One of the older style lampposts that contribute to the French Quarter's old-style character.
 
 
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji Superia Reala
 
 

It is hard to take pictures of something as well photographed as Jackson Square and its surrounds, without having those photographs look just like a million other holiday snaps taken every year in New Orleans. The cathedral is stunning, however, so I made a note to myself to find a location from where I could shoot it at night, and show it in all its glory.

It was now quite late in the afternoon, so I headed back to the hotel to meet David for dinner. After an hour or two of relaxing we were off again to Bourbon Street, where we had a fine dinner of deep fried crawfish tails plus other delicacies I don't remember. I seem to recall a bit of beer was consumed however!

After dinner, David and I wandered Bourbon Street for a while, absorbing some of the sights. It really is a wild place!

 
 
 
 
The shops along Bourbon Street sell only four things - food, drink, souvenirs and sex.
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 
 
 
I think I can guess which of the four is sold here!
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Fuji NPZ 800
 
 

After an hour of walking around, David had had enough, and was ready to head back to the hotel. I however, wanted to stay out a bit later, and experience more of what New Orleans nightlife had to offer. I walked with David back to the hotel, and when there I loaded up my trusty XD11 with 3200 speed film, put on my fastest lens, the 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X, and headed out for some fun.

I decided to follow the music, and by doing so, experience a little of what New Orleans is probably most famous for.

 
 
 
 
On the corner of Royal and Iberville, these guys were having a ball!
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 
New Orleans' musical tradition, together with the ready custom provided by well heeled and lubricated tourists, means that for street performers there is lots of fun, and cash, to be had. I think these guys were more out for fun, and by the look of things, they were going to have a bit more later!
 
 
 
 
The a capella stylings of Jay-Ray and Gee - these guys were great!
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 
A little further down Royal at the corner of St Louis you will regularly find the a capella band, Jay-Ray and Gee. These guys are a New Orleans landmark now, singing a range of 50's, 60's, motown and gospel tracks regularly for tourists and locals alike. I stood with these guys for a half-hour or so, they were really very good, and they sure looked like they were enjoying themselves. There was quite a crowd watching them, and the cardboard box on the pavement in front of them was getting regular deposits when I moved on to my next venue, Preservation Hall.
 
 
 
 
Preservation Hall from the street.
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

Situated on St Peter St, between Royal and Bourbon was my next stop, Preservation Hall. Preservation Hall was established in 1961 by Allan and Sandra Jaffe, who wanted a place where New Orleans musicians could play New Orleans Jazz, a style, they believed, should not disappear. At the time it was being overtaken in the other city venues by modern jazz and rock n roll, and this has continued to this day, where in most of the clubs up on Bourbon Street the music is modern pop, not even jazz.

New Orleans jazz originated in the early 1900's, and should not be confused with the two-beat dixieland style. The tempo is slower than the other jazz forms and the melody is always clearly heard with improvisation at its heart. The music has simplicity and form, and is not obscured by complicated arrangements that became popular with other types of jazz. Bands generally consist of five to seven pieces, with the trumpet usually the musical leader

Thanks to Preservation Hall, the trad jazz of New Orleans is available to all, and any night you can visit and hear music played by veteran musicians in their 70’s and 80’s, as well as younger musicians who have embraced the traditional style. It is a welcome respite from the loud and raucous cacophony that is Bourbon St.

 
 
 
 
The Cat's Meow going off!
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

Only a block from Preservation Hall, but a world away in terms of quality is the popular venue the 'Cat's Meow'. The Cat's Meow is a bar where the patrons provide the music, singing drunken karaoke versions of popular tracks. A lot of fun, it always has a big crowd, and is well worth a visit if you are more into partying, and less into jazz.

Finally, it was time for me to head back to the hotel. After all, it had been a long day. However, on the way back along bourbon street I got a glimpse of what mardi-gras must be like, and the reason the souvenir stores sell so many beads to visitors.

 
 
 
 
This woman got a lot of beads!
 
 
Minolta XD11 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X. Film: Kodak TMax 3200
 
 

As I mentioned previously, the city has a modern tradition of women being thrown beads to expose themselveson the street, and on balconies. Originating from a mardi-gras custom, it is now firmly engraved in the local party scene, and given the number of beads for sale in this city I would draw the conclusion that sex indeed does sell.

 
 
 
 
Next - Day 14
 
 
Back to Trip Index
 
 
Front Page