What I learned this week, July 23, 2017

At Whataburger, ‘Take a Number’ Means Something Entirely Different


Parks Build Community Is Headed to New Orleans!

I had a really nice bike ride along the Lafitte Greenway on my last trip to the Big Easy. Glad to see it will be continually upgraded.


10 of the Best Long Rail Trails in the US

I hope I live long enough to see The NETT on this list.


Brawn in an Age of Brains


Television’s 10 Best Anti-Heroes of All Time


According to the hypothesis of formative causation, morphogenetic fields contain an inherent memory, transmitted from similar past organisms by the process of morphic resonance.


10 Terms Every Tequila Drinker Should Know

Bartender and Regular

Molly’s was home to the demimonde, to artists, journalists, retired teachers, lawyers, politicians, cops, and people of uncertain description. Laura and I wrote poetry together there, sometimes with other poets. For a time I became addicted to the video poker machines in the bar and lost a lot of money. I once brought Philip Glass, the musician, to Molly’s, and he sat before one of the machines and became instantly fascinated by their Zen randomness and sounds. We had a hard time getting him away from it. We snapped great moments in Molly’s photo booth, when there was one, immortalizing the goofiness and sweetness of ourselves.
—- Andrei Codrescu, Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans – Some Prefatory Remarks, from New Orleans, Mon Amour, Twenty Years Of Writings From The City

The Bartender and a Regular, Molly’s, Decatur Street, French Quarter, New Orleans

The Window At Molly’s

He presided, he directed, he ruled, he snarled. From his perch at the Window of Molly’s which is where I mostly saw him, he listened indulgently to the speculative thrusts of the Window Gang, paid slightly more attention to opinion derived from inside info, and gave his full ear to inside info itself. Like everything that went by the Window on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, including a variety of humanity that would have made both Goya and Picasso shriek with delight, on couldn’t be sure of the exact percentage of B.S. Monaghan alone seemed to know. People vied to be in the Window Gang, but few could stand the Chief’s tests, which to the innocent must have often seemed rough, illiberal, crude, or so deliberately provocative as to preclude any rational response.
—-Andrei Codrescu – The Passing of Jim Monaghan, New Orleans Bar Owner, from New Orleans, Mon Amour, Twenty Years of Writings from the City

The best place to write… or to sit… possibly to drink… in the French Quarter is the window at Molly’s. Take my word for it.

A machine will squirt out Molly’s frozen Irish coffee (caffeine, ice cream, alcohol – three of the four major food groups) into a plastic to-go cup and you can sit inside the window, outside the window or even mill around on the Decatur sidewalk.

Today the bar was packed with a dozen young women, obviously a bachelorette party, all wearing identical denim shorts and t-shirts emblazoned with “I LIVE TO BE DRUNK” in glitter. They handed me a phone and asked me to take their photos lined up at the bar. I arranged them and took some shots, they were particularly giggly happy with the landscape photo.

The Window at Molly’s, the street (Decatur) unusually quiet, with notebook, vintage Esterbrook pen, and Molly’s frozen Irish Coffee

There are bikes locked up all over the French Quarter, mostly to the wrought iron columns supporting the ubiquitous overhead balconies. Most of these are heavy, beater bikes – in deference to New Orleans’ rough streets, giant potholes, and flat-as-a-pancake geography. Every day, though sitting in front of me, well-locked to the pole on the sidewalk was a nice Specialized road bike – looking fast standing still, if also well-used. One day, I arrived early enough to watch the owner arrive and lock up – he was obviously a worker in a nearby bar or restaurant. That day someone else had already locked up to his pole, but he maneuvered around and managed to lock on the other side, sharing the pole. It was his spot and he was going to use it.

Specialized road bike on pole outside The Window at Molly’s. French Quarter, New Orleans.
Notice the green shelf for drinks. Sometimes the crowd on the sidewalk outside The Window grows.

One would do well, as I have done many times, to investigate a single place over time, at different times of the day. Molly’s on Market, for instance, is home in the early afternoon to a lively Window Gang consisting of a varying crew of journalists, men-about-town, women-about-town, writers of fiction and poetry, mysterious characters either larger or brighter than life, led on by Jim Monaghan, proprietaire extraordinaire, Irish wit, and provocateur. Monaghan’s extravagant personality imbues the day, but the night belongs to the tribes of the tattooed and pierced young. At night a sloshed picture gallery displays itself with sensual impertinence.

—- Andrei Codrescu, Solution: Enivrez-Vous: The Bars of New Orleans, from New Orleans, Mon Amour, Twenty Years Of Writings From The City

Hipster Talking to a Girl on Decatur

“The beauty of Molly’s is that it is not, whether in the daytime or at night, the exclusive preserve of an age or income group. Unlike the sterile night scenes of pretentious San Francisco or New York, Molly’s (and most other New Orleans bars) welcomes all ages, all colors, and all sexual persuasions, provided they are willing to surrender to the atmosphere.”
― Andrei Codrescu, New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City

Taken from the window at Molly’s – French Quarter, New Orleans

Molly’s at the Market

Stone Sculpture on the Riverbank

“Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins.”
― John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

I was walking along the strip of concrete along the top of the Mississippi levee that separates the French Quarter from the vast moisture of the Big Muddy. There was the path, a narrow strip of weedy grass, a band of riparian riprap rock used for erosion control and then the water itself.

I noticed a pile of rock in a peculiar arrangement, down right next to the water. At first I thought someone had simply piled them up, but as I looked closer, it seemed that they would not hold together in that formation by themselves. Gravity would pull them asunder. Someone had gone down there with some industrial adhesive or quick-set epoxy and glued the stones together. It was a sculpture, a work of art.

An Internet search failed to reveal any information about this impromptu pile of granite.

Who knows how long they will hold together under the assault of the elements, but if you want to check – it’s right there near the entrance to Jackson Square.

Riverbank Sculpture, Mississippi River, French Quarter, New Orleans

Musical Cyclist on Frenchmen Street

“My kids are starting to notice I’m a little different from the other dads. “Why don’t you have a straight job like everyone else?” they asked me the other day.

I told them this story:
In the forest, there was a crooked tree and a straight tree. Every day, the straight tree would say to the crooked tree, “Look at me…I’m tall, and I’m straight, and I’m handsome. Look at you…you’re all crooked and bent over. No one wants to look at you.” And they grew up in that forest together. And then one day the loggers came, and they saw the crooked tree and the straight tree, and they said, “Just cut the straight trees and leave the rest.” So the loggers turned all the straight trees into lumber and toothpicks and paper. And the crooked tree is still there, growing stronger and stranger every day.”
― Tom Waits

Frenchmen Street, New Orleans, Louisiana