Friday, July 2, 2010

Here's to Good Friends

Ah, the luxury of a day off. Life in the Crescent City continues to offer lots of fun, entertainment and excitement.

Last weekend I hosted the first (of what I hope will be many) house guest in my charming apartment. The one and only Elisa Jones flew in from Ft. Lauderdale for the weekend to hang out and take in the City. I've known Miss Jones for about 22 years now, and we always have a good time. In fact, the two of us moved from Boston to San Francisco in the early 90's and road tripped our way across the country, stopping in New Orleans for a day to check out the scene. That particular stop didn't go so well for Elisa, as a spate of late night hurricane consumption produced a green, hungover young lady who used I-10 for a vomitorium as we headed towards Texas. But that's a story for another day.

This trip was a bit more restrained, yet filled with booze, good food and music. Peaches also had a friend in town, a nice man named David, and the four of us set out to take in the sights and sounds of the Big Easy. We had a failed attempt to see Kermit Ruffins play at Vaughn's in the Bywater, but managed to take in the Lost Bayou Ramblers at DBA on Frenchmen Street. I've seen this band several times this year, and they are absolutely awesome. They play Cajun and Zydeco music, and you can't help but shake your moneymaker when they start up. The show was at the end of a long day of touring around the City, which commenced with a round of watermelon margaritas (to combat the heat) as we headed to the streetcar to head uptown and enjoy some food at the fabulous Camellia Grill. It was fun to walk around the City and play tour guide--made me realize that I've learned quite a bit of the history about New Orleans in the year that I've lived here. Of course Brandon has a fairly extensive knowledge about the place as well, and his ability to convey a story made for a lively afternoon. We enjoyed dinner at my place, Chicken with 40 cloves of Garlic, a simple and delicious dish.

Saturday Elisa headed to Lake Charles to see a friend, which was a good break for me as I had to work and needed to give my liver a rest. Sunday evening we headed out for some drinks at the Lantern and then wandered over to Bourbon Street to listen to some blues at the Funky Pirate. Had a couple of mojitos at Cosimo's in the Quarter before heading home for a late night musicale.

So a good time was had by all. Elisa's visit reminded me of my delight in playing host and having friends come to visit. For my thousands of readers, this is an invitation to come by and hang out for a few days. There's an embarrassment of riches here to enjoy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Living in the Lap(top) of Luxury

Hello, Fellow Sybarites!

I'm baaaack! There will be no mea culpas offered for my prolonged absence from the blogosphere; I've been having too much fun!

One of the reasons for my absence was the fact that my trusty laptop of 10 years finally decided that it had had enough. The system still boots, but the machine shuts down after 3-5 minutes, over and over again. I did everything I could think of to keep her going, but it became apparent that it was time to upgrade my technology. So last week, I procured a delicious new laptop. It's a Toshiba Satellite, and I couldn't be happier. Huge hard drive, lightning fast processor, nice big 17" screen, and all the bells and whistles that I desired. This machine has an integrated webcam, so now I can begin to Skype with folks around the world, or at least take a foray into the "art" world like my sisters Peaches and Gyps.

So where to begin on what else I've been up to? Short of work, nothing monumental to report. I have been actively taking advantage of all the food and culture New Orleans has to offer. There seems to be no shortage of festivals here in the Spring, and the weather has been extremely pleasant. While I worked during JazzFest, I spent time wandering around the stages at the French Quarter Fest and enjoying a variety of music by local acts. I've also seen several performances at Wednesdays on the Square, another free weekly event during Spring that takes place in Lafayette Square. Trombone Shorty, Amanda Shaw, and Marcia Ball were standout performances.

I had the good fortune to join my sister Peaches on the Golden Lantern carriage again this year for the Easter Parade, and I can't remember when I've had such fun. We were resplendent in fantastic bonnets and threw beads and candy to the throngs that lined the parade route. A more detailed recap of the day with photos can be found on Peaches' blog.

I've also committed to exploring more of New Orleans. There's so much more to the City than the French Quarter. Today I plan to head over to City Park and walk around. It's a muggy day, but I'll take heat and humidity over the cold anytime. Have a luxurious day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Throw Me Something, Sister!

I woke up fairly late today after a night of revelry with Peaches. Mardi Gras is in full swing here in the Crescent City, and there seems to be an endless offering of parades and activities. The Saints win at the Superbowl last Sunday has added to the Mardi Gras madness, and everyone seems to be in a great mood.

After a polite libation at the Lantern, Peaches and I headed out to watch four parades roll through the City last night. Despite the bone-chilling temperatures, the streets were packed and everyone was clamoring for beads and dubloons from the parade riders. We watched the parades at a great spot near the end of the route, so the crowd was thinner and the folks on the floats were trying to get rid of their throws. We walked away with two huge bags of stuff, and I scored big time by catching not one, but two high heels from the Muses.

The Muses is the only all-female krewe and last night's parade marked their 10th anniversary. The floats were fantastic, and the krewe is known for having great, unique throws. Much like the coconuts thrown by the Zulu, the shoes are highly coveted, and I was amazed to catch two in my first year of Mardi Gras.

Not sure how many more parades I will be able to attend this year, so last night was definitely a highlight of my Mardi Gras experience.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

A Return to the Interior Illusions Lounge

Catching up with my dear friend Paul the other night, I learned that the second season of "RuPaul's Drag Race" has begun on Logo. While I do not watch much television at all (I'm one of those freaks who doesn't have cable), I love, love, LOVE this show. Fortunately Logo puts the episodes online, so those of us who don't have access to the channel can still enjoy the show.

The format is fairly simple: 12 drag queens from around the country compete in various challenges to win a title, some cash and to participate in a tour around the country. Of course, when you get that many big personalities in the same room, drama and hilarity ensues. Personally, I felt that last year's winner should have been Nina Flowers, but at least she was the runner-up.

Having spent a fair amount of time around female impersonators, I find the show to be a pretty accurate depiction of these queens. Lots of attitude, bittersweet tales from life and egos that are only outsized by their hairdo's. Once the eyelashes and heels are stashed away, most drag queens are really decent people, and their commitment to perform and support all kinds of causes for the gay community is quite admirable. I love to watch a good drag show and shower the talent with dollar bills.

It's a bit early in the Drag Race to determine who the frontrunners are, but I'll be glued to my laptop each week to see the glamour and drama unfold. Trust me, it's worth 45 minutes of your time.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Sybarite Returns...

Greetings and Happy 2010 everyone!

I'm back after a long hiatus. Looking at the Blogger dashboard this morning, it's been over two months since I've made a post--eek! Rather than offering some long-winded apology or vow to be more on top of things, I'll say that I took a much-needed break from pretty much everything.

The holidays in 2009 were not a particularly luxurious time for me as I was consumed with an overwhelming work schedule. Fortunately I parted ways with the Roosevelt just before New Year's and landed a job at Stanley, located in the French Quarter on Jackson Square. So far, the job has proven to be a great fit--reasonable hours, a five day work week, and enough business to keep up with food, rent and other financial obligations. It's nice to wake up not dreading to go to work. Once the new gig was in place, I enjoyed a month of rest and leisure. As I've said before, many of life's luxuries are small and/or intangible, and the luxury of a return to sanity and happiness has done much to improve my outlook on things.

I'm not one for making tons of New Year's resolutions, but I made a conscious decision this year to learn more about my current city of residence and enjoy the history and rhythm of New Orleans. The Saints are playing in the Superbowl on Sunday for the first time in franchise history and Mardi Gras is less than two weeks away, making an already festive city more ebullient. While I haven't followed enough football this season to become an official member of the Who Dat Nation, I am looking forward to cheering on the team at my local watering hole this weekend.

So this post hopefully signals a return to more regular updates on life in the Crescent City. I have committed to making this last year of my 30's the most productive, enjoyable, and fabulous year that I've experienced so far, and I look forward to sharing many tales of luxury and enjoyment with you.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Remembering My Friends

It's the first day of December, which marks World AIDS day. Not wanting to be maudlin or get political, the friends I've lost to this insidious disease are on my mind today. Men who were taken away from the world long before they should have been, each of them contributed much to my life and made me a better person for knowing them.

So Ernest, David, Brian, Larry, Sergio, and Mark, I hope you found peace and happiness in the great beyond. And for my friends who are still here and dealing with HIV on a daily basis, I applaud your courage and resolve to fight the good fight and I support you in every way I can.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Slinging Turkey at Shenanigan's

A chill is in the air here in the Crescent City as the holiday season is upon us. I hope that my legions of readers all had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. My celebration and gluttony was relegated to the later hours of the evening as I had to work at the restaurant, ensuring scores of families had an enjoyable holiday meal.

I've taken to referring to my place of employment as Shenanigan's in homage to the restaurant portrayed in "Waiting", starring Ryan Reynolds. Those of you who have spent time in the hospitality industry should give the movie a screening; overall the movie is just ok, but you'll recognize the archetypes of the servers and managers and may find (like me) you've worked with all of these people at one time or another.

So yesterday at Shenanigan's was a typically over-hyped affair. We had lots of reservations on the books, which meant management freaked out and overstaffed the floor. I was fortunate to do fairly well money-wise and had gracious tables with no major meltdowns. My schedule impeded my typical litany of holiday phone calls, but friends and family were on my mind as the day progressed. I am very fortunate and grateful for the people in my life, and I realized that I can do more to demonstrate and communicate my appreciation for them every day, not just on holidays.

After work I stopped for a much-needed libation en route to Peaches for a delightful repast. Peaches hosted an intimate gathering of friends earlier in the day, and I was happy to see that there was plenty of food left for me to enjoy (although considering the size of the bird he purchased at Rouse's this week I knew there would not be a shortage). Everything was delicious and we chatted and laughed as I ate and helped with the clean up of the kitchen, delighting in the music and magic of the Living Legend as is typical of our holiday (or any day)gatherings. We called it an early night as I was tired from work and needed some rest before entertaining an early morning visitor today.

This weekend the city hosts Bayou Classic, which I understand is the ignorant cousin of Essence Fest. I doubt that we'll get much traffic out of it at Shenanigan's, which is fine by me as the group we had in-house last week was ill-mannered, cheap and rude. I love the international travelers who still feign ignorance at our system of gratuities in the service industry; more than once last week I was prepared to hand back the 2% tip and let the customer know that it was obvious they needed the money more than me, but I decided better of it. Even with my disenchantment at Shenanigan's, work is work and money is money, and until I figure out the next step in my career path I need to make sure I keep the lights on and the rent paid. In fact, looking at the clock I see that it's almost time for a shower so I can go and sling again. Here's hoping for a profitable weekend...