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

What I learned this week, July 16, 2017

Dallas Museum of Art acquires the only ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ of its kind in a North American collection


This Is the Water and This Is the Well: Notes on Twin Peaks: The Return at the Halfway Mark


The conscious emulation of life’s genius is a survival strategy for the human race


Six Reasons For Indoor Training

Don’t skip past this article if your motivation for riding is purely for fun. If you’re fitter, hills are less arduous, and you have a wider range of options of who you ride with and how far. Riding for fitness requires focus and at least some intensity, and that’s best done away from traffic hazards. Along with the rise of connected training apps like TrainerRoad and Zwift, that’s why retailers report they’re selling indoor trainers year-round and not just in the traditional run up to winter.

If you’re riding for fitness or training for racing or a summer sportive, then indoor training offers numerous benefits.

1. It’s time efficient

Indoor training can be more time efficient if you don’t have the luxury of 25 hours a week to ride your bike. If you only have an hour, say, you can get more out of that time on an indoor trainer as you don’t waste any time umming and ahhing about what to wear. You can simply jump straight on the trainer and spend more time actually pedalling, minimising the wasted time either side of a bike ride, ideal if you’re a time-crunched cyclist. Even a quick ride after work at this time of year requires a careful planning to ensure you maximise time on the bike. Indoor cycling is also a realistic option for people that have children, and you can’t just leave them and cycling 20 miles down the road – you can set up the indoor trainer in the next room and still keep an eye on the kids.

2. It’s safer

There’s a certain grim satisfaction to riding when it’s cold, dark and wet; some of our most enjoyable rides have finished in the dark with a face covered with mud. Sometimes though, it can be the safe and sensible choice to hit the indoor trainer rather than brave the elements, especially if there’s a storm outside or the roads are covered in snow and ice when the risk factor increases massively – and I write this as someone who has crashed on ice on several occasions, I know much it can hurt. If you don’t fancy riding along unlit dark country lanes then riding on an indoor cycle trainer can certainly feel the safer option.

3. It’s better quality

Controlled and targeted training is one of the big benefits of indoor training. There are no junk miles. An indoor trainer makes it easier to be very specific about your training compared to riding outside, allowing you to spend more time in key heart rate or power zones, with no time lost to stopping at junctions or freewheeling down the hills. It’s also possible to replicate any sort of road, flat or steep, on an indoor trainer, including roads that you might not have the luxury of living near to. There are all sorts of turbo trainer training sessions you can follow to work on specific areas of your fitness, whether you’re training for a season of crit races or ultra distance events.

4. It’s faster

Do you feel slower cycling in the winter? You’re not alone. The colder it gets, the more effort it takes. Cold air is denser and it takes more effort to push yourself through it. Cold muscles won’t help, either. Lower temperatures, rain and windchill can mean your leg muscles aren’t operating at ideal temperatures. That’s why winter rides can be tough, especially if you try and ride familiar roads and climbs at speeds you know you’re capable off during the winter. You’re also likely to be wearing more or thicker layers and that restriction and increase in your frontal surface area can play a part in your decreased speed compared to riding in lightweight jerseys and shorts in the summer.

5. Get smart

The latest smart trainers with integrated power meters can take your training to the next level, with detailed and targeted workouts that can be incorporated into a structured training plan. They can be controlled from a smartphone, tablet or computer and allow you to easily change the training zones, helping you to get the most out of your training time.

You can get the most out of a smart trainer with an app like Zwift or TrainerRoad. The hugely popular Zwift has gone a long way to transforming indoor training for many cyclists by providing a realistic environment and other real-world cyclists to ride and race against. It provides an experience that is as close to riding outdoors as it’s possible to get without leaving the comfort of your living room. New courses and features are being added all the time; the workouts is a good addition that provides all the structured training you could wish for. Another popular option is TrainerRoad, which offers a larger suite of workouts and live performance data.

6. It’s fun

Yes, really. Indoor training can be a lot of fun, and more appealing than grinding out miserable miles by yourself in the freezing cold, dark and rain. You can chant rule five to yourself all you want, but if there’s no-one to hear you, does it really work? On an indoor trainer, you can do all sorts of interesting things like cadence drills, one legged drills, hill reps, speed intervals and other workouts that can really enhance your cycling fitness, and critically help time fly by. You can inject more engagement with something like Sufferfest, which overlays ride prompts over actual race footage, you’ll be acting out your wannabe pro dreams in no time.


25 Things You Should Know About New Orleans

Daily Ritual

New Orleans Writing Marathon

Day Five, Friday, July 14, 2017

“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.
Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
—-Tennessee Williams

Fish on the sidewalk,
Governor Nichols Street
New Orleans, Louisiana

Every day I have to select what I will be handwriting for the day. I carry a burlap zippered bag that used to hold five pounds of Basmati Rice that I bought from the local Indian market (a great bag, by the way) and into this bag I put one, two or three journals. I also select a couple of fountain pens, usually of contrasting ink colors, which I put into an Otterbox armored cigar case (two cigars) for protection.

Pens – I usually have about 5 in rotation – I may put a new one into or take one out (clean it of old ink, place it back in storage) rotation.

Things to think about:

  • Value – Don’t want to carry an expensive pen someplace risky.
  • Age – The older pens are fragile and won’t carry one if I’m going somewhere active (like on a bike)
  • Line Width – If I am going to write a lot I’ll want a pen with a narrow line – wider lines are fun for short writing
  • Ink Color – I like to vary this – for the heck of it
  • Reliability – how long will I be gone? If more than a short time, I need a reliable pen.
  • Amount of ink held – again, how much writing?

Journals:

  • Bullet Journal – go to, usually carry
  • Idea Journal
  • Goals Journal
  • Straightening Journal
  • Fiction snippets journal
  • … several others

This has to be done every morning before I leave the house. The rice bag will fit in my work backpack if I’m going to work.
I don’t know how to carry extra ink (bottle, cartridges, syringe?) – need to work on that.