Sunday, July 24, 2011

Under the Claiborne Avenue Overpass, New Orleans, LA

Under the Claiborne Avenue Overpass,  New Orleans.
A drear and gloomy day today found me trapped under the Claiborne Avenue Overpass seeking shelter from the rain.  I was only a quarter mile from home, but it was pouring down, and I was in no rush.  

Claiborne Avenue used to have a remarkably wide neutral ground on this stretch with four rows of oak trees.  That was replaced for a highway overhead.  There is always something going on in this less-than-ideal setting.  In the photo above, there are tables with balloons in the middle distance.  Someone was holding a birthday party under the highway.

As I waited, I smoked my pipe and watched the rain come down.  I was stranded with many other people and we talked about our bad luck being caught in a storm, commenting that it poured for two hours yesterday, and, hopefully, today would not bring a repeat performance.  I was there for about a half hour.

I watched someone shoot a video under the overpass.  This seems to be a fairly common setting for local music videos, from what few I have seen.  This was the main business street in historic Treme neighborhood before the highway came.  I suppose it still is, but many of the businesses have moved on.  
Claiborne Avenue Overpass, other direction.
Instead of four rows of ancient southern oaks, the current Claiborne Avenue in this part of town sports four rows of pillars that support the highway.  Some of these are painted with oak trees, a dim echo of a not-so-distant past.  Others are painted with historic or inspirational scenes.  The out-of-focus photograph above was taken from the intersection with Governor Nicholls Street.

Two scruffy, young men approached me, having walked down from Canal Street and headed further downtown.  In New Orleans, downtown refers to the area east of Canal Street, downriver.  They asked me if I had an eggroll in my jacket pocket.  I didn't.

They told me that their had almost gotten hit by a car that flipped over further up the road.  One of them told me, "That happened last night.  We passed out and woke up outside the cemetery.  Have you got a dollar?  We want to buy an egg roll."  I didn't have a dollar to spare.

They pointed downtown at the purple building on the corner of Claiborne and Esplanade Avenues.  "Do you think they will have an egg roll?" one of the men asked.  

"They should," I replied.  "That's the Manchu Market.  I hear they have the best fried chicken in the city."

"We were up the street looking for chicken wings.  That guy wouldn't give us any.  That's why we're looking for egg rolls."  He must have meant the little wing shack on the corner of Orleans and Claiborne Avenues, just a few blocks away.

"You should be able to get either there," I told them, meaning the Manchu Market.  We all bumped fists, and they went on their way.

I did manage to take one picture in focus.
Marie Laveau mural under the Claiborne Avenue Overpass.
Like many people, I am fascinated by Marie Laveau, the most famous voodoo queen to have practiced her arts in New Orleans.  Her tomb is located in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, perhaps the very same boneyard outside of which the two scruffy gents awoke this morning.  Persons who pray to Saint Expedite in Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel on Rampart Street, leave their offerings to the saint at Marie Laveau's grave, since the priests who administer the goings on in the chapel discourage leaving pound cake and rum within the sanctuary.

In other news, I got my hands on a Saint Expedite statue yesterday, at the F&F Candle Shop on North Broad Street.
Saint Expedite.
It cost $8.99, which is probably a 600% markup, but where else am I going to get a Saint Expedite Statue?  The proprietor offered me a sample of "Get Rich Quick Oil" that he formulates himself in the back room laboratory, along with all the other specialty oils, powders, and incense he sells.

Balaenius Rex!

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