New Orleans reading list

World that Made New Orleans– Ned Subette    This one gets into the history of the ancestral roots of the people that make up NOLA. Explains Cajun, creole, quadroons and more terms unique to NOLA.

Nine Lives– Dan Baum    9 true stories pre and post Katrina lives.

A Confederacy of Dunces– John Kennedy Toole   The most unlikely story but the author killed himself as this book was rejected by all major book companies. His mom found a copy of the book and pestered a professor at Tulane to read it for over a year! Of course its one of the best and funniest books written during the 20th century and set in New Orleans. Won a Pulitzer for literature too.

Accidental City– Lawrence N Powell      So far the most comprehensive history of the area that is NOLA. It starts out literally a millennia ago as the Mississippi dumps huge amounts of sediments at the gulf end of the river, thus creating bayous to the ocean. It explains natives role in shaping the city, the sad slavery part is covered too.

Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children– John Churchill Chase   A wonderful read about street names in NOLA and how they got named. More than 1 plantation estate has been gambled away to become a neighbourhood.

Beautiful Crescent–  Joan B Garvey & MaryLou Widmer    The book is recommended to take the tour guide test. Basic overview of NOLA.

Empire of Sin– Gary Krist    If you’ve seen The Wire Season 3 this spot in NOLA was an inspiration for Hampsterdam. For 40 years in a section of NOLA everything was legal. Prostitution drugs booze you name it Storyville had it. Everyone had to have a permit to live in this part of town, though there was no reason given for said permit. It only verified that person was allowed to live in Storyville.

Inventing New Orleans: Writings of Lafcadio Hearn– former columnist of the Orleans Daily Item, Times-Democrat, Harper’s Weekly, and Scribner’s Magazine, he details New Orleans city life 1877-1887.

Bourbon Street: A History  Richard Campanella- The whole history of likely the most famous street in the US, Bourbon St. Loved and hated by locals and visitors, this book details the history of this street of sin beginning with the French, Spanish, 20’s gangsters, and post- Katrina days.

Bienville’s Dilemma  Richard Campenella- 65 articles about all aspects of New Orleans life and residents from its founding in 1718 to current geography and populations post Katrina.

 

 

 

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Handle it: Becoming a tour guide in New Orleans

About a year ago I made one of the best decisions of my life, I took a test to become a tour guide in New Orleans. I had just ended a seasonal bar-tending job and was listless. A lot of free time on my hands so it felt it best to pursue something. This process is not good and it is not explained at all on the website. My pain your gain. Here is how this process really works.

https://www.nola.gov/onestop/business/taxi/tour-guide-permit/

You’ll want to go to this website 1st as there is an app you must fill out. You also have to obtain a criminal background check! Yes no felon guides need apply. There is also a book they recommend you read. It is an ok read, there are others I’d recommend more than this one but it does the job.

1st trip to city hall you will have to fill out a form, bring ID. You’ll have to see 3 people each will do something different. One gets all your info, hands you info on where to go to get background check done. Then another will take $50, they do take cards but you know they dont tell you that its no cash until you arrive.

You are then given the news that there is a test only offered 2x per month. At least this was the case in Jan 2018. Sign up for the 1st available. The book is easy read and can be perused in a week. You should also study up on column names, like doric ionic and Corinthian. Know house types like creole cottage, camel backshotgun etc. None of this info is contained in the book. I feel it may have been on a paper she gave me. Nonetheless the links to the architectural styles will be most helpful on test day.

When you are at one of the 2 background check companies they work with, ask them to send the info to city hall. They have a system, maybe fax but I dont recall having to get a physical hard copy but get one anyway make them print it out. It costs 30$ I want to say. Not cheap vs time it takes them to obtain the info anyway.

Test day will come and you are back to city hall. Take the test and wait for a call. You must go back to city hall only after receiving confirmation that you passed. A lady will review your file make sure all info is correct and background checks out. They take your pic and print out your official license ! You have made it! Only takes 3 trips to city hall to get everything done. Hooray !

How to get around: Denton to Austin TX

I’ve done enough traveling to know a few more things about how to get from 1 place to another. I also realized that some of these journeys may happen again so now I have a place to go where all the research is done. Every trip depends on how much time you have so go slow or fast, enjoy the ride!

One of the 1st pages I use is this one which breaks down the travel riding options such as air bus train even ferry if available. This page located a couple of amazing boat rides on some trips and its always fun to add a new travel method. A search reveals that its bus or train only. Sure flights are an option but not one for under 100$. Now is where you have to ask yourself how in a hurry are you? The 1 truth I learned on a long trip is that it is cheaper if you fit yourself around their schedule.

A big thing is to consider arrival or departure times. Buses run 24 hrs a day and if you want to save even more, you can catch a night bus and wake up at your destination. Always be sure to check the itineraries before you book because there is 1 bus company that likes to make passengers change buses at 2 am. You do not want to do this if you can find a more direct option.

So the train is first option to ATX, only 2 per day and it takes 2x as long as car or bus plus it costs more. Another random thing you learn about buses is that they have assigned stops at certain gas stations or other non marked stops. Just type in whatever city you are really in and they just may have a stop at a station. This is the case with Denton there is a stop at a station just off the highway. This stop connects you to the big Dallas hub where you can go pretty much anywhere in the US. This way is a bit more vs public transportation but it will be faster. Bonus is should this bus be late you can go right to their counter to get remedy.

Greyhound and Megabus are your options. Greyhound has a pick up station in Denton or you can Dart to Greyhound’s hub in downtown Dallas. This is the option I recommend. When you get to the station you need to look for one of the buses to Mexico, as that is the final stop and the name of the bus. Just underneath the final stop are the cities it stops at in-between. Take the express non-stop bus, several times per day and takes 3 hours. You get a electrical plug at every seat, mine worked. So nap read watch a movies or do what you want and you are soon dropped in Austin.

3 hours is not bad even in a car. I had no stops on my trip. I caught some shut eye. I haven’t taken Austins buses yet but I am sure I  will. Keep on reading for more info when that ride happens.

 

 

 

Baseball Stadium trip Game 5- Wrigley Field Chicago Cubs

 It was an afternoon game so we didn’t really have to get there at noon, but we did. We had to walk around, had to take it in for as long as we could. This stadium had had so many great players on its field. They likely walked were we did at some point. We were a part of the history now, we had placed foot to concrete. We took a couple rounds the park walks to take it all in. The smells of grilled onions and brats, the hawkers selling peanuts, the random pre-game announcements. I broke away and called my dad as I was walking around. It was pretty emotional; we had tossed around a ball for years, now I was in one of the places it had all started! It’s a favorite moment to think back on, there were lots of pauses, we both likely teared up a bit. I composed myself enough to get a brat, eat it in the right field bleachers with a beer. That’s all I needed.

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We were front row bleachers that day and as we found out, you really want to be about three people in on the front rows. They have a security guys stand at certain markings so if you are first seat, first row, you have zero view. We found out just in time to get people to move over a bit but the security guy was indeed a dick about it. He wasn’t there to discuss this, you need to move over, my position is here. We felt he could lean on the other rail instead of directly in front of us is all. A call out to the bleachers we found a bit of room, shove down, a bit more, ok! We caught a glimpse of Sammy Sosa who was on a hitting streak but was on the DL today. Toenail thing, a foul off the foot. It was yet another good day for baseball in Chicago.

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When leaving we got a Right Field Bleachers shirts and discovered we had been parked  in. We literally had to wait for someone to leave and even then, it was expert back and forth with some good fellows directing us outside. Surrounded by cars on all sides.

You guys are in the Cubs lot, they stay the whole game and then some! Yup most people may leave their cars overnight, too, yeah. Ha-ha’ he cackled.

We had to thank him profusely as he spent 5 min helping us get out. Back up an inch at a time, a few inches forward, then back… But on the other hand, he wasn’t doing much, that beer in his hand wasn’t going to drink itself, you know. He’s the man for that job.

We arrived in Oklahoma City about 7-8 am the next morning. We pulled into a truck stop for gas and encountered some ladies of the night, they were working the scene. They said hello first and asked where we were coming from, sort of gas filling up small talk that happens in smaller towns. Then one of them came out with it and asked if we are partying, if we want to party with them. Nah, pass on that. I don’t think they were too either way, pretty or ugly. It cannot say I’ve encountered prostitutes who propositioned me in a gas station before or since.

A short time later I was back in Denton’s warm embrace.

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Baseball Stadium trip Homestretch- no game Canada to Chicago

Again we were stopped and searched at the US border; again we left our ticket stubs out so they’d see a pattern to our trip. I knew they felt we had grass, why else do you drive up from Texas? Oh to see the Blue Jays? Yeah we are going to need a moment to search your car. They too enjoyed our road signs. We were telling the truth, and it sucks to not be trusted at the border by your own country. I’d heard about a border crossing into Canada that just has a phone, you call someone and tell them you are coming in or leaving? There could be a lot more trust between us is all.

We had one more day to kill before our Cubs game. We made it back to Chicago and stayed on the outskirts of town, a few exits from Wrigley. Our plan was to check out the area around the stadium. We found a dive bar and headed in. It was a long wooden bar, jukebox on the left, a small stage followed. Stationed ever present to one side of the stage was the DJ and dictionary thick song list.

I generally sing Johnny Cash songs since its pretty much just talking low, not really singing. I picked wrong, wrote down the wrong number but for sure they played a song I wasn’t prepared for, Convoy! Ha I barely know that tune, for sure didn’t know there was a movie about it, CB radios. I stumbled through it, aided by pints Old Style for $1.

 

We eventually made it to Wrigley Field later that night. The area we were in was park and walk. We walked out on the street, staring at the glowing neon red sign: Welcome to Wrigley Field! We took pics and then located another bar to post up in for a bit. We wound up encountering an unencumbered camera. This was an early model digital camera, probably a hundred bucks or so. We talked to everyone in the bar, even the bartenders, no one knew whose camera it was. We tried to look at the pics but the camera had run out of batteries. The bartender said it was ours, they didn’t want to hold on to it.

In our hunt to find the owner, we get to talking to a business guy who was interested in  the camera. He said he’d just buy it if we did not want it. I think we found and sold a camera in Chicago and used that money to buy a pitcher of beer. That’s what happened.

Baseball Stadium trip Games 3 & 4- Detroit Tigers Stadium Toronto Blue Jays Stadium

The next day we arrived for an early Detroit Tigers game, we sat upper deck, left field. The field was far, but it was a good time. We sat near some real funny guys, local dudes. Everyone had two seats essentially as they put their feet on the armrests of the chairs below them.

 

One even shouted to the pitcher, ‘Your mutha wears combat boots! Ha!

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Of all the things to remember, that is what stuck with me. I guess it was the extreme distance in which this guy tried to razz the pitcher with a very unfunny insult to boot. I am pretty sure the Tigers won. I think all the home teams won, except Toronto, sorry. The stadium was large and open, but otherwise not too remarkable, it was new so it didn’t have that lived in feel a stadium needs. Fairly generic stadium I’d say.

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The night before, my friend had figured out that it was only a very short finger-thumb distance between Detroit and Toronto. Canada, eh, let’s make this one an international trip why not? This Tigers game was early, noonish, so we watched the game until it was in the bag by the 8th inning. Hopped in the car and headed to the border, Canada. It was a four hour drive and a 7pm game time. Barely enough time to drive nonstop and we had a boarder to cross, too.

They usually require a passport to enter Canada so I guess we got a day pass. I’ve since realized our excursion was pretty bold idea, they could’ve turned us away. We would have probably partied in Detroit then. How far was Cooperstown?! All we knew was we had to be back by Wednesday. Cubs were the only game we bought tickets for in advance, so we would be guaranteed to sit in the bleachers. We heard the bleachers sold out early and didn’t want to take any chances. Our eyes were on Wrigley!

We were randomly stopped the border for a car inspection. We sat in a waiting room and gave them our driver’s licenses. We didn’t have birth certificates or any other official docs they asked for. It sure didn’t help when we said the nature of our trip to Canada was to see a Toronto Blue Jays game. Baseball game, really? No one goes to Canada to see a baseball game. You come up to see hockey! They went away and few moments came back smiling.

‘Nice road signs yeah! One of the agents said has he handed over our licenses. Found the stadium and again arrived right on time. At the ticket booth we asked for cheapest tickets and they offered,

 

Hey do you guys want to be in the action? We have seats in the action.’ the ticket guy excitedly told us!

 

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It sounded like a scripted term by the Jays. Of course we wanted in the action seats! It was under $10 Canadian dollars for the right field bleachers, above one of the bullpens, too. This would come into play later during the game. We nearly were kicked out after the 4th inning I’d say. A security guy came out and reminded us to be nice, you know you are doing wrong. Our friend Matt is hilarious and had been perfectly imitating a local drunk who was in dire need of a belt or better fitting pants. Plummer’s crack does not go far enough; his pants were nearly down, mooning every one.

Matt gives it back to the security guy, Hey look there, he did it first! Tell him to pull up his pants, too!

So amazing and we stayed for most of the game after a brief talking to with the guard and promise we wouldn’t cause another scene.

Opening ceremony began with a rendition of “Oh Canada,” which we decided not to remove our hats, it wasn’t our anthem. The 7th inning stretch was an occasion for break dancing on top of the dugouts. Mascots and a pro dance team spun all over the place. This occurred in 2003, fully 20+ years after breakdancing swept the US. It was insanely fun! There was also a kid seated in front of us for a bit who would yell out about every 5 minutes, ‘let’s go you Blue Jays!’

We retreated to a nearby Hooters for beer and wings after the game. I don t think this place was too busy, it wasn’t a big party night in Toronto, likely a Sunday night. It took a long time to get a waitress over and then a long time to get food, drinks. We were one or less than five tables in the whole joint. My friend calls out our waitress as she delivers our bill and says, I know I’m not from this country but this service is horrible. You’ve been ignoring us all night, hanging with your friends over there (motions to a table she pretty much sat at the whole time).I hoped you’d want to show us a good time as we are visitors. It was easily one of the most awkward, uncomfortable moments in my young years. 

We didn’t leave a tip and got out of town quick, had to put some miles between us and Toronto. Found a small hotel outside of Toronto and stayed the night. We’d cross the border in the morning in a better mood.

Baseball Stadium trip Game 2- Chicago White Sox Stadium

Chicago White Sox were the closest option to Milwaukee and had an afternoon game the next day. It was a short drive and at some point along the way we decided to make signs. Of course being in our early 20’s, they were all crude and crass. Phrases such as: show us your boobs, honk if you’re horny, and just Honk! It was the person riding shotgun or backseat’s job to display these signs upon determining the attractiveness of the person we were passing. Usually the 18 wheelers automatically got the ‘honk if you’re horny,’ option. Not too many female long haul drivers out there, much less any whose boobs you’d want to see. The reaction was mostly positive from the 18 wheelers drivers as they were likely just as bored as we were. Some just smirked and did not pull their horn. Those are truly lame people. No one flashed their boobs, but it was worth a try.

Upon entering Chicago, we made a point to drive around Solider Field where da Bears played. It is a cool area, one way streets so I am sure we did a loop or two to ensure everyone got a view. It was that or we were lost, we were using dang paper maps that were updated during the Reagan administration! We arrived to the stadium and I finally understood why they always said South Side. This wasn’t a totally safe area at night I’d bet but it was ok during the game. So far it’s the only place I’ve seen playgrounds covered in a dome of chain link, not sure if that is to keep kids in or bad guys out but it is there.

The fans were noticeably different, too, and not in a good way. Openly hostile to anything Cubs, perhaps even the color blue. There were always vendors in the parking lot, but these souvenirs were homemade and proudly proclaimed,

‘it’s always bear hunting season; kill the Cubs; death to Cubs,’that sort of sentiment.

I for sure would not wear anything Cubs near this stadium. I got the impression that they would physically remove any Cubs article of clothing forcibly; they’d just rip ‘em off. I am all for a bit of rivalry, but not violence. Just because you are a fan of a team does not make you my enemy. In fact, fans have very little to do with the game, you just show up and watch, cheer. People are way too serious, it is a game.

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The stadium is open and has grass field. It was a hot, afternoon game so I procured a hat, nothing special. We sat in the outfield bleachers. We always tried to get down to the bleachers, but some places had better security than others. The Sox played Detroit and I am fairly sure this was a walk off homer or a grand slam, a rare event game ender is for sure. At some point we decided during the game to head over to Detroit Rock City after the game. It must have been when we saw who was playing, ‘Detroit is close right?’

I remarked once we were passing through Gary, IN that it was the home of the Jackson 5, the only thing I knew about the city. First time in Indiana, too. We located our hotel and hunkered down for a night in Detroit.

 

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