March 10, 2002
"..and the piano has been drinking, not me..." -Tom Waits

Picking up on yesterday's story..(click here for yesterday's)
After squeezing Duke into an ashtray-sized parking space on one of the French Quarter's horse and buggy-width streets, we sauntered into LaFitte's Blacksmith Shop for a sunset drink. Supposedly one of the oldest bars in the U.S., Lafitte's is seemingly half-sunken into the earth, all gas lamps and shuttered windows on the outside, open beams, creaky floors, and candlelight inside. There's a grand piano crouching in a dark corner in the back where nightly an old character, sometimes black, sometimes white, switches on a dim light over the keys and plays anything you wanna hear. I ordered a frozen daiquiri and got the blender. Scott ordered coffee. We sat and talked shop, both of us writers, and people watched. My drink was so damn huge that naturally Scott's coffee was long gone, and when I told him we could go anytime, he hesitated, a bit confused. "Oh, yes," he said as I stepped out on the street, drink in hand, "I forgot about that." And that, to my mind, is one of the best things about this town: the freedom to drink almost anywhere. As long as it's in a plastic cup, it's legal (and there are no shortage of those in New Orleans as logo-printed cups are second only to beads as parade "throws," thrown by the dozen gross from every one of hundreds of Mardi Gras floats). You gotta love it.

New Orleans is a drunken poet's paradise. Everything is aesthetically magnificent, and there are more bars than there are lifeboats (should this below-sea level isthmus ever get hit with a Titanic hurricane, New Orleans will be an aquarium in minutes). And heck, since most poets are suicidal and dying to become legend, the aquarium thing could be looked at as a plus, too.

Many bars here are open 24 hours. The Club, the first bar I was introduced to here and Julian's second living room, is such a place. All well drinks at The Club are a dollar, doubles are two bucks, and Wednesday is two for one night. Nicolas Cage as a suicidal drunk should have been filmed in New Orleans. He never would have had to leave The Club! He would have been able to off himself in a nice, social environment for half the price, leaving him enough cash leftover to buy Sera, "S E R A, Sera!" off her mental-case pimp and out of the life of prostitution. Poor planning. Poor location-scouting. Hell, poor scripting! I should have written it.

Man, it's too nice out today to be inside. I'm outa here.