stepping out onto the crumbling buckled streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans was as intoxicating as I always dreamed it would be.
Rolling in through the snow and waking up in the swamp to see the Spanish moss wafting in the trees was like entering the Lost World.
I had my eyes open for a rogue pterodactyls.
Exploring the courtyards that felt like dirty secrets, flicking coral stucco off brick and sipping hot rum while Mr. Wait's sandpaper lullaby of Heart Attack and Vine adheres to the humidity to create some sort of primordial party-ooze--
The Surreal Honey Dimension where everything fun happens.
Walking down Frenchman Street in the rain while the gas lamps sputtered, stray cats jaywalked and a clarinet screamed in the background I thought, "This is where good people go when they die."
Our first stop was the famed St. Louis Cemetery Number 1: final resting place to notable historical bad asses and people whose families and descendants have long forgotten about them. You could actually hear the cemetery crumbling around you: succumbing to ferns and algae and thieves and gravity and of course, the fact that it is sinking.
Marie Laveau's tomb: smattered with lipstick and nail polish, decorated with beads, garbage, silk flowers and whiskey bottles. Items left as prayers or practical jokes...strangely both seem appropriate.
The Voodoo Museum is a jewel. And by jewel I mean an ice-fishing sized shack full of dried up cats, alligator faces, an assortment of horse skulls and personal artifacts of Voodoo Queens past and present.
The altar room was a particularly wonderful and comforting curiosity.
I realized that as a Midwesterner I truly have no concept of what Mardi Gras actually is.
Wisconsinites, (Milwaukeeans in particular) pride themselves on their herculean ability to guzzle beer, discretely vomit, holler at strangers from speeding vehicles and weave their way home for the two weeks we call "summer".
We look like fucking puritan amateurs at a church basement pot-luck.
These people invented "party".
And I'm pretty sure you can still smoke in hospitals here.
Even the food is party.
New Orleans cuisine is exquisite and puzzling.
For instance the famous BBQ Shrimp...that isn't barbequed.A dish that is as confusing as it is delicious.
The Quarter is both menacing and delirious. No surface is untouched: if it is stationary it is plastered with paper and paint and ink and rainbow slimes. Perhaps the already vaporous and haunting ambiance is moved by giddy nervousness that comes with knowing that your city is slowly eating itself:
Knowing that you and it are sinking.
Sinking below sea level.
Falling deeper in Love.
You got me good--messed me up real nice and now nothing will ever be the same.
I'm coming back for you, Nola.