Andare, Partire, Tornare

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A registrar loose in the City that Care Forgot

My guidebook seems to imply that only mental midgets, assholes, and people with no soul dare to dislike New Orleans. I’m not sure I agree with them.

To be sure, there are sections of New Orleans I like very much indeed. Naturally, these are the ritziest sections – I always had champagne tastes on a Pabst Blue Ribbon budget. So my favorite section was the Garden District, where gorgeous homes from the mid-to-late 1800s sit amidst fragrant gardens and old oak trees. I also loved riding up and down St. Charles Ave. in the streetcar from the 1860s, with the wind in my face and the occasional clang-clang-clang of the bell making me very happy, indeed. Even portions of the French Quarter are lovely, once you move far away enough from the cesspool that is Bourbon Street.

My friend Kateh, who was there for the same conference, took one look at Bourbon Street and said gingerly, “I think I might have loved this…about five years ago.” Indeed, Bourbon Street must be paradise to those who enjoy getting boozed up and puking on strangers. But for those of us not too interested in that pastime, or intrigued by low-rent sex toy shops or Larry Flint ™ strip clubs, there’s really very little to enjoy about the place. The people-watching isn’t even all that high-quality. No fire eaters, no funky street artists, only a small, grubby handful of those annoying “pose like a sculpture” people - even the small boys who tap for change with bottle-caps tied to their shoes did not show up. Aside from a small, very good jazz band we saw through a window, most of the bands were really bad, and reduced to playing horrible covers of “It’s My Life” and the occasional disco hit so that the drunken patrons could sing along. But worst of all, and the thing that really made us avoid the place after a couple of hours, was the smell. Puke, garbage, and stale beer – mmm, tasty.

At any rate, even though I’m not a fan of seafood, I did find plenty of good eating to be had. I think I ate the best breakfast of my life at La Madeline – cinnamon brioche French toast with sliced bananas and strawberries with maple syrup and maple-cured bacon. I nearly died after I put the first bite in my mouth, but I didn’t because the rest of the plate was waiting there to be eaten. I fell in love with the roast beef po’boys that I had, and the one I got from the little grocery with the flickering flourescent lights and the dicy clientele was miles better than the one eaten at the cute little bistro in the French Quarter. Beignets at Café du Monde were definitely worth the trip, and I still probably have powdered sugar trapped in my clothing.

As to conference-related things, all went well. There’s something very heartening about hanging out with a bunch of people all in your profession, and so I enjoyed the company of like-minded museum professionals, and especially, other registrars (even if I sometimes feel that I’m not quite there yet). I’m going to assist with writing a rights and reproduction handbook, and perhaps plan to go to Indianapolis next year to present on the topic. Most of the sessions weren’t that helpful, but I did do some scoping out on behalf of the director, and so hopefully provided her with some intelligence that will assist her as she goes into battle in a week or so. The shippers party (no relation to fanfic, but rather the people who do art shipping and who every year throw the best party of the conference) was at a bar called Howl at the Moon, with great food and two great bands. (The third band, sadly, was a dueling piano act that just ooozed cheese and smarm, so we avoided that bar and hung out in back with the zydeco instead.) Registrars may look like a staid lot, but they know how to party.

I’ll be putting up photos after I get them developed, so watch this space for further developments. I promise at least one photo of me double-fisting drinks. Honest.

4:10 p.m. - 2004-05-12

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