Saturday, October 30, 2010

The city of jazz

If you want to speak the lingo of beatniks, hipsters, hep cats, floozies, gun molls, rum runners, the sporting class, zoot suiters, dandies, rakes, and chronically underemployed poets, New Orleans is a better place than most to learn it.  I spent this morning in Bywater, hipster-central.  A nice, compact neighborhood that gets progressively more seedy as one progresses further from the quarter.  It seems to be a safe place though I wouldn't recommend it for families with children in search of role models.  Call me conservative, which I am not except when it comes to fiscal policy.

If you want to see something beautiful, look in the mirror.  That's what I do.  It should work for you.  If you want to something beautiful outside a mirror's frame, walk about New Orleans.  A wide, rambling city, every part of New Orleans shares similarities, but every block is unique in its own, eccentric way.  Bywater is dense, a fabric of homes and stores and small, old factories and you never know what a building holds until you try the door.

I haven't spent too much time in Bywater beyond just passing through in my zigzagging way on an errand to nowhere. When I moved here in June I thought it might be a nice part of New Orleans to call home.  A heavily tattooed, young woman in the Lower Garden District warned me away.  "Stick to the Garden," she said, "The people in Bywater are weird."  I don't know.

The little time I've spent nursing a coffee or beer in Bywater, I've been struck by the neighborliness of the place.  People know each other.  While I know my neighbors where I live, I don't bump into them regularly.  Bywater seems a self-contained enclave.  This is my impression.

If you want to see something else that is beautiful, there is a fence in the residential end of the French Quarter inspiring enough that it made me take a picture.
All sorts of glass flowers wired to the bars.  A tree may grow in Brooklyn but the imagination flourishes in New Orleans.

And with that, I am off to other business.  Have a nice weekend.

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