Spring Break 2016 Tuesday, Mar 8 2016 

In a few days we will be heading to New Orleans to volunteer with lowernine.org during spring break. And I don’t underestimate the sacrifice that you are making when compared with what some of your fellow Wildcats will be doing at the same time. The work itself will be memorable. You will be tested. You will learn new things. You might for an instant wonder why you are there. But I can guarantee that you will come away with an appreciation of a great city, the challenges that it faces and, more than anything, a love for the people who live there.

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Orientation with Laura Paul, lowernine.org, Lower Ninth, March 2013.

In addition, your leaders and I are planning activities to fill the time when you are not working. And we think you’ll like the results of our brainstorming. Here are some examples of what is store for you, that is, after that 1600 mile drive from New Hampshire:

Saturday, March 12th – arrive in NOLA early afternoon; go directly to Irish Channel St. Patrick Parade; check in @ Community Center afterwards; dinner with your group;

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Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Parade, March 2013.

 Sunday, March 13th – Jazz mass @ St. Augustine’s, 10-11:30am (optional); Keep ‘N  It Real Second Line (schedule TBA); dinner at Lil’ Dizzy’s, 5:30pm; Hot 8 Brass Band@ Howlin Wolf, 10pm (entrance covered);

Monday, March 14th – Arrive @ lowenine.org, 8am; lunch on the Mississippi River levee in Holy Cross; French Quarter Scavenger Hunt, 8-10pm;

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French Quarter Scavenger Hunt (finale), March 2013.

Tuesday, March 15th – Visit to Chalmette Battlefield @ lunch, weather permitting; and visit to Bayou Sauvage, after work:

Wednesday, March 16th – House of Dance and Feathers, lunch or after work; cookout at Laura Paul’s house, 6pm;

Thursday, March 17th – Downtown St. Patrick’s Parade, Royal Street, starts at 6pm; Rock and Bowl, Zydeco Night, 9 pm (entrance covered);

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Glen David Andrews with UNH students at the Rock and Bowl, 2008

Friday, March 18th – Backstreet Cultural Museum, after work (entrance covered) and St.Charles Streetcar to Carrollton and dinner at the Camellia Grill;

Saturday, March 19th – Cleanup at the Community Center; Bill’s breakfast with scavenger hunt winners (my choice); Saturday morning in the French Quarter in its glory; Congo Square Rhythms Festival, Armstrong Park, 11am (free).

Sniff, sniff. Head back to New Hampshire.

 

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    Members of the 2015 New Orleans class with Errol and Esther Joseph, March 2015.

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24 Hours in New Orleans Sunday, Apr 8 2012 

One of my favorite travel columns is in the Sunday New York Times; it is called “36 Hours in…whatever.” It can include places that I never thought of going to (until I read the column), but it always fun to see what the writer includes in a visit that last barely 24 waking hours. For cities I know, I generally quibble, but I’m prone to that anyway. And then a few weeks ago, they featured New Orleans, and my antennae were out…big time.

St. Louis #3 Cemetery, March 2011

Although I’m generally in New Orleans for a week or more or at time, I was impressed y what they included. And for the most part, they included things that I consider a must. And while I eschew the highfalutin bar and restaurant scene (first, I am of Scottish descent and second, the heart of New Orleans is its working class citizenry and I much rather eat and drink with them). They did include a visit to the cemeteries (check), a visit to the Lower Ninth (check), and various musical venues (check, check and double check). The one thing they included that I had not done was the jazz mass at St. Augustine’s in Treme, and I took care of that first chance [see: Cruising from New Orleans] However, when we returned to New Orleans, I had that karmic opportunity to experience my beloved city by the hour.

I was not awake, but because we were approaching the mouth of the Mississippi at midnight when I retired, I suspect we docked about 5:00 or 6:00 o’clock a.m. Our return flight was scheduled for 6:00 a.m., so we had exactly one day in New Orleans. If left entirely up to me, it would have been a mad, maniacal rush to cram as much in as possible. Luckily, my wife has common sense.

Jazz mass at St. Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church, Treme, March 2012

We were all packed, bathed, dressed, had a full breakfast on board (seated, not the buffet), and were through customs before 8:00 a.m.

8:00 a.m.: we took a cab with our luggage to the Queen and Crescent Hotel on Camp Street. They were full, so I clearly expected to check our luggage and be put out on the street. However, they had a no show the night before and they checked us in! Luggage stowed. Bathroom. E-mail for the first time in a week. Glorious.

9:00 a.m.: we started across the French Quarter for our second trip to St. Augustine’s in as many weeks. It’s something to be in New Orleans and with a wild, hankering for a jazz mass. But it is worth it.

10:00 a.m.: the most moving, welcoming, mind blowing mass imaginable. From ushers, to alter server, to musicians, to the priest, it is perfection. Even though over half of the “participants” are guests, the mass is personal, welcoming, and an immensely spiritual experience. The sign of peace lasts for ten minutes. And hour and forty minutes, you are walking the streets of Treme so thankful for the experience you have had.

Congo Square Fest, Armstrong Park, March 2012

Noon: Louis Armstrong Park for Congo Square Fest. Food, music, crafts, and food. Food twice, because the fest is also the start of the Revolution Second Line, so you have all of the food and drink vendors that accompany such events. Fried chicken, beans and rice, and greens for lunch, $2.00 beers, Latin jazz, a shaded lawn, and a second line. What more could one want?

1:00 p.m.: Revolution Social Aid and Pleasure Club Second Line, with the To Be Continued Brass Band. OK, here is where having my wife along is a good thing. I could have been lost following this thing for miles, but we saw it off, had another beer and walked back through the French Quarter. A bright, Sunday afternoon. Royal Street resplendent with light and entertainment.

2:00 p.m.: Pat is resting comfortably. I do so for…15 minutes. We make plans to meet at the Spotted Cat at 5:00 p.m.

3:00 p.m.: OK, I left the “36 Hours in New Orleans (NY Times version)” compound. I grabbed a cigar and local brew and did some intense people watching, most of which focused on the…

Stella’s Balcony, Stella and Stanley Yelling Contest, March 2012

4:00 p.m.: Tennessee Williams Literary Festival “Stanley and Stella Yelling Contest.” I look at the videos from this every year and I wasn’t going to miss it the one time I was in town. It was hysterical from the time participants started lining up to register. Photographs don’t do it justice and as soon as I can figure out how to extract the video from my camera, I will share. Suffice it to say, how often do you see hundreds of people crowded around to hear theatrical yelling?

5:00 p.m. I got to the Cat a little early, but Pat was already there, besieged by a drunken opinionated carpenter with bad teeth. I’ve run into this guy before, so I felt bad, but once I got there, he decided to make an awkward, smelly, and argumentative exit. The wonderful Cindy, who was behind the bar, was most comforting and the music, by Yvette Voelker and the Rites of Swing was predictably enjoyable. By the time we left, I think Pat understood why I spend so much of my evening hours there.

Rites of Swing, Spotted Cat Music Club, March 2011

6:00 p.m.” Lovely evening to walk across the French Quarter. First on Chartres, then on Royal. Ended up at the Acme Oyster House, where there was a healthy wait. But we were there, it was nice, and there was a place nearby to get drinks, so why not.

7:00 p.m. After a wait, classic, modest, non New York Times dining. Shrimp po’ boy (her); fried oyster plate (me). Great food and exquisite company.

8:30 p.m.: OK, let me whisper this, very quietly, with a 3:00 a.m. wake up call, even I was willing to call it a day. We went back to our room, finished packing, and after an action packed day, made it an early night.

3:40 a.m.: Airport shuttle. And all that boring, yet frenzied stuff afterwards at the airport.

6:00 a.m.: flight home. Daylight shortly after.

24 hours in New Orleans.