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

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.

The True Wasteland Begins

“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

waiting for a parade Nola Brewing New Orleans, Louisiana

waiting for a parade
Nola Brewing
New Orleans, Louisiana

“there was something about
that city, though
it didn’t let me feel guilty
that I had no feeling for the
things so many others
needed.
it let me alone.”
― Charles Bukowski

waiting for a parade Nola Brewing New Orleans, Louisiana

waiting for a parade
Nola Brewing
New Orleans, Louisiana

“Yes, a dark time passed over this land, but now there is something like light.”
― Dave Eggers, Zeitoun

waiting for a parade Nola Brewing New Orleans, Louisiana

waiting for a parade
Nola Brewing
New Orleans, Louisiana

“Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become a study for archaeologists…but it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio.”
― Lafcadio Hearn, Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn

Sugaring the Beignets

“Sometimes life is merely a matter of coffee and whatever intimacy a cup of coffee affords.”
― Richard Brautigan

Everyone I talk to about New Orleans says they went to Cafe du Monde for chicory coffee and beignets. That’s fine if you want to do the touristy thing, I suppose – but there is better coffee and there are much better beignets.

My favorite is the New Orleans Coffee and Beignet Company, in Uptown, off St. Charles, about halfway to Tulane. You’ll never eat beignets on Decatur again.

Take the streetcar.

New Orleans Beignet Company

New Orleans Beignet Company

The Control of Nature

“The industries were there because of the river. They had come for its navigational convenience and its fresh water. They would not, and could not, linger beside a tidal creek. For nature to take its course was simply unthinkable. The Sixth World War would do less damage to southern Louisiana. Nature, in this place, had become an enemy of the state.”
—-The Control of Nature, Atchafalaya, John McPhee

Levee strengthening, New Orleans, Louisiana

Levee strengthening, New Orleans, Louisiana

“The Unites States Congress, in its deliberations, decided that ‘the distribution of flow and sediment in the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers is now in desirable proportions and should be so maintained.’ The Corps was thereby ordered to preserve 1950. In perpetuity, at Old River, thirty per cent of the latitude flow was to pass to the Atchafalaya.”
—-The Control of Nature, Atchafalaya, John McPhee

New Orelans, Louisiana

New Orelans, Louisiana

Construction Project at the Bayou Boogaloo

While in New Orleans for Lee’s Tulane Graduation I rode my bicycle to Bayou St. John for the Bayou Boogaloo. There is always a festival going on in The Big Easy and they are always fun. This was a particularly good one.

I bought a beer and found a shady spot on the shore of the Bayou. I sat there chatting with the locals about cycling, music, and aging hippies. We watched the watercraft plying the waves. It was a beautiful day.

A small group of people arrived on the far shore (not very far away) towing something on a trailer. They proceeded to extract a large, homemade barge consisting of a wooden platform with plastic barrels strapped underneath for floatation. We wondered how they were going to launch the ungainly contraption.

The guy had it going on. He directed his motley crew with efficiency and before you could swallow your gumbo they flipped it neatly into the water – using ropes to control the weight.

Then the guy proceeded to start hauling out prefabricated railings, benches, and an umbrella – screwing everything into place with a portable drill. It was an efficient and impressive display of carpentry. He soon had his own portable floating party barge, right in the middle of the bayou.

“Get that guy’s name,” one of the folks sitting next to me said between gulps of Abita Amber and bites of muffuletta. “I need a new deck and that’s the best carpenter I’ve seen in New Orleans.”

As I watched he extracted a full-blown steel anchor and dropped it into the mud at the bottom of the bayou.

The barge arrives and is flipped

The barge arrives and is flipped

over into the Bayou St. John.

over into the Bayou St. John.

Pretty bare bones at this point - but it floats.

Pretty bare bones at this point – but it floats.

Adding benches and railings.

Adding benches and railings.

Dropping Anchor.

Dropping Anchor.

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Laissez les bons temps rouler