Pain Perdu, or, Deceptive Clarity in The Big Easy

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived thru March 2001:Pain Perdu, or, Deceptive Clarity in The Big Easy
By Head_Prosthesis on Saturday, March 31, 2001 - 06:58 pm: Edit

"Sitting across a table from each other are a poorly embalmed Abraham Lincoln and an emaciated Rush Limbaugh. Glowering down at them in the role of the green fairy is Linda Blair."

The Green Blairy
The Green Blairy

By Loucheliver on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 06:56 pm: Edit

Thanks Artemis for taking me to the Big Easy bash. I makes me wish I would have gotten Fairy bitten a few months earlier so I could have attended.

By Malhomme on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 02:39 pm: Edit

"It was about people. Friendly, polite, socially well-adjusted, interesting people getting REALLY wasted with no trace of rancor or anything like that."

Bravo, sir!!!
That, to me captures it perfectly.

Jim

By Artemis on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 01:09 pm: Edit

The Denouement:

Okay, why didn't he describe the party?

1. I really *don't* remember much of it.

2. Other people have given very respectable accounts of it, and there's not much I can add.

The pictures are nice. Ted stayed pretty much in that corner with one hand on his fountain, like Thor with his hammer (a particularly apt simile, given the effect of his wares). I can't blame him, considering the value of the thing, the rickety tables, and the herd of VERY drunk admirers that surrounded his table all night.

I do remember taking him up on his every offer to pour.

"And I offered often", he assured me some days later.

I remember recruiting someone now and then to help me salaam him, as in "Ted's da MAN!", which he took in good humor.

And the party wasn't about absinthe. Not for me. That's the most surprising aspect of the whole affair. It was about people. Friendly, polite, socially well-adjusted, interesting people getting REALLY wasted with no trace of rancor or anything like that. I had been forewarned it would happen by my friend The Nephilim who had previously made the transition from forum to flesh on at least two fronts (absinthe and motorcycles). The extent to which he was right still blows me away.

By Artemis on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 01:07 pm: Edit

Final Chapter:

Ted must be heaving a massive sigh of relief. The storms have moved to Mississippi and the evening is clear and fresh.

Jackson Square is filled with tourists and street entertainers - jug bands, tap dancers, fire eaters, the golden man (he poses like a statue) and his alter ego the silver man.

At Pirate's Alley Cafe, it looks like business as normal, no sign of anything absinthe-related, but then I am an hour early, eager to get the show on the road. I walk back out to the street and see Ted, biceps bulging, steaming down the sidewalk carrying an ice chest, accompanied by a young man and woman who turn out to be Justin and his friend Jen.

Ted is discreet. He introduces people by their forum names, leaving it up to individuals to take it further or not. As far as I can tell, everybody quickly reveals his true name, but for the most part they continue to address each other by their pseudonyms. But they move back and forth easily between their "real" and "assumed" identities - nobody shows any trace of discomfort nor pride in either one.

The setup is simple. Ted places his antique fountain on a table in the same corner we occupied the night before, under the evil gaze of Linda Blair. He fills the fountain with ice water from the ice chest, passed into the cafe bucket brigade style from the street. He pours the absinthe from large green glass demijohns into a topette and doses the glasses from that. He issues business cards with the names of his products. He allows nature to take its course.

A firm believer in the maxim "You snooze, you lose", I'm right at Ted's elbow when he decides to start pouring. He fills the glasses of everyone on hand (very few people at that early point in the evening) with the E. Pernod reproduction.

"What's a French toast?", asks Ted.

"Pain Perdu", replies some smartass. Okay, maybe I said that.

"And his consciousness wafted away on a green breeze......." Ted replies by email some days later, when I beg him to tell me what happened at the gathering. Kallisti likewise laughs at me, telling me I was already "slooshy" when she showed up around 8:30.

I wake up on Sunday with almost no memory of a party which lasted from roughly 7 pm until 4 am the next morning. I felt on Saturday, after the mini-session with Ted and Adam, as though my soul were tethered to my body by the flimsiest of ropes. On Sunday the rope is frayed, frazzled, reduced to a strand, and I feel I have to be careful lest a too sudden movement pop that fiber and send me floating to another world. I now know what the "out of body experience" referred to by some in the forum feels like. I wouldn't use that phrase to describe it, but it's definitely real.

The feeling persists for several days. It stays with me out in the bayou country, after I have retreated from the city, where I'm content to sit and watch pelicans on the water and bald eagles stooping to pluck catfish. I want nothing to do with absinthe - and I never thought I'd feel that way. I'm amazed at the deceptive, dangerous sense of clarity I felt in New Orleans that night when the truth was closer to "he couldn't find his ass with both hands". If absinthe does nothing else it does this. Ordinary liquor is just not like that.

"I am perplexed." - last words of Aleister Crowley.

Me too.

By Morriganlefey on Monday, March 26, 2001 - 10:01 am: Edit

It occured to me that Bjork would also make a charming, if overly-impish, Green Fairy.

Ah, a man who can properly and effectively use the wonderful word "purloined" in his prose. Artemis, mes amis....

- M

By Artemis on Sunday, March 25, 2001 - 01:52 pm: Edit

Part Six (I think ...)

The ghost of the Battle of New Orleans wakes me on Saturday morning. Jean Lafitte's artillery, under the command of Dominique You, is hurling roaring death at the redcoats. But the ruckus is not in its proper place, down the river at Chalmette - it's right outside, on Bourbon Street. The thunderstorms are here.

I open the shutters and poke my head into the passageway. Dawn has carried darkness on its back. The world is clammy and wet. Tourists are already in the street, identified by their muffled shouts as they flee for cover from the rain and lightning. I realize I've never heard an intense storm from within a city before. It sounds like the 4thof July fireworks show in Chicago, when every BOOM from a mortar out on the pier is quickly answered by the BOOM of the sound wave bouncing off the towering buildings along Michigan Avenue. There are no towering buildings on Bourbon Street, but the effect is similar, like being in the middle of a howitzer duel.

Fortunately the thunderstorms are scattered. Every break in the power and light show brings whoops and hollers from intrepid partiers entering the street. At eight in the morning on the Saturday *after* Mardi Gras, they are surprisingly numerous in New Orleans.

Last night's drinking session with Ted has fortunately left me with nothing like a hangover, but a strange, empty and happy to be that way, heightened sense of reality. Armed with my trusty parasol, I head for the French Market and the wakeup buzz that only a hefty cup of chicory coffee from the Cafe du Monde can provide.

Armed with the coffee, I enter Jackson Square. It starts to rain again, but I hold my ground, admiring Andrew Jackson on his rearing horse. Two umbrellaed Japanese school girls do the same. I make my way along the street with no particular motive and find myself looking through a shop window at some absinthe spoons and glasses. So this is Lucullus. I enter and check the stuff out, but it's WAY expensive and not particularly inspiring. They do have a container at the door for umbrellas, which is a classy touch. The whole store is classy, but bring a sack of money if you want to take something away other than perhaps a purloined umbrella.

On the same street, the pharmacy museum is WAY inspiring, but unfortunately nothing is for sale. How did they *get* all this stuff? Prescription cannabis cigarettes, (for "pulmonary conditions"), professionally packaged and labeled, from France. Similar packets of artemisia absinthium, next to a wildly inflammatory article about the deadly poison absinthe, from an 18th-century medical journal. A detailed recipe for Vinegar of the Four Thieves - I've wondered what the hell that was since I found it mentioned in Delahaye's "Histoire de la Fee Verte". Bottles of Vin Mariani (cocaine wine), personally endorsed by the Pope. Leech jars. More antique medicine bottles, mostly with contents and labels intact, in one place than I've seen in my life in all other places combined. It's a fine place to spend a rainy morning.

After lunch of a dozen oysters and a cup of Purple Haze (raspberry beer from Louisiana's Abita Brewery) at the Acme Oyster house, I return to my lodgings to sleep away the final hours before L'heure Verte. The rain gets so heavy along the way I'm forced to pop into a voodoo shop for shelter.

"How about that music this morning", I ask the proprietor, a young woman with many rings and studs in various body parts, as she hands me a cloth to mop the rain from my glasses. I know she'll know I'm not talking about Jazz.

"It was wonderful", she says. "Me and my boyfriend got up, had a bottle of wine for breakfast, watched the light show, and then dove back under the covers". Ah yes. Louisiana in the Spring time.

Near sunset, I emerge like a cheeseburger vampire and head across the street to the Clover Grill. At the counter, I sit between a businessman intent on the newspaper and a junky with needle tracks from wrist to elbow. Behind the bar is the Simpsons clerk again (is there a better TV show?) in the role of frycook. They all have a spirited, if not very informed, conversation about computer crashes, which I join with no lasting effect. The cheeseburger is good. My system fortified with grease as a barricade against the insidious wormwood, I strike out for Pirate's Alley (http://www.yatcom.com/neworl/feature/old/feature_1118.html).

By Thegreenimp on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 04:21 pm: Edit

I would much rather see Kate Bush as the Green Fairy....she is quite petite, and I consider her far prettier too.
Not to mention that incredible voice of hers.
Jay

By Wolfgang on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 01:43 pm: Edit

Lovely, even if a bit cheesy.

Wolf.

By Bob_Chong on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 01:29 pm: Edit

The fairy shown here is much more appealing than the "man hands" one in the Pirate's Alley picture.

By Anatomist1 on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 12:30 pm: Edit

Melinelly:

I think you may have to duke it out with Midas for the Toriphile title. I go through my Tori times, but I'm probably not a contender. I don't really see her as the green fairie, myself. I'm not that familiar with her mythological lexicon, but I would think 'the Green Fairy' would be too much of a minor, mild figure to capture much of her attention. She's usually talking about Lucifer, Hermes, Osiris, and such.

K.

By Melinelly on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 12:19 pm: Edit

well, i didn't find the ones i was looking for, but i did find a website someone has of nothing but artwork featuring Tori as a faerie heh

here's the url:

http://worldzone.net/arts/moonstorm/faeriesofsong/fos.html

here's a nice digital art piece i found too:

torifairy

By Melinelly on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 11:54 am: Edit

OK Justin, i kept my trap shut when you downed H.R. Giger, but you've just about gone too far with that "yuck" there!

i doubt there's a bigger Toriphile on this board than me, and them's fightin' words ;-)

Tori would definitely be my number one pick for green fairy. in fact, i've seen artwork depicting her as such (though the absinthine reference was unintended). i'll see if i can dig up some of those pics and post them for y'all... despite what J thinks =P pbtpbtpbtbt hehehe

By Chrysippvs on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 11:40 am: Edit

Yuck...Tori Amos is not my green fairy by a long shot....

I always imagine Melpomene, in a tattered victorian dress, rejected and now depraived intoxicating the minds of men with poison and leading them to tragedy.

By Petermarc on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 11:31 am: Edit

it is a perfect, if not painful, description...and tori never was a cornflake girl...

By _Blackjack on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 11:12 am: Edit

Tori Amos's facial structure is pretty classic for women of mixed Cherokee and white ancestory.

She also does a LOT of mushrooms...

By Artemis on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 10:59 am: Edit

I had no clue who Tori Amos was until last weekend, when I caught an episode of that TV show from the BBC with Jools Holland (ex Squeeze keyboard player) as the host for a number of bands, who play in "battle of the bands" format.

I was most impressed with Madness, but Tori was on that show also. EVIL green eyes, interesting facial structure. A most excellent green fairy, I thought.

By Morriganlefey on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 10:46 am: Edit

Agreed, Melinelly! And though I'm not a huge Tori fan, I do rather like Artemis' notion of Tori Amos as the green fairy. Weilds a strange surreptitious power...

By Melinelly on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 09:54 am: Edit

yeah, but isn't this the best description you've ever read of it:

"Sitting across a table from each other are a poorly embalmed Abraham Lincoln and an emaciated Rush Limbaugh. Glowering down at them in the role of the green fairy is Linda Blair."

to a "t"

By Petermarc on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 09:46 am: Edit

god, not the absente poster! how can anyone decide to even display it? i feel embarrassed just looking at it...sorry, continue...

By Artemis on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 07:54 am: Edit

New Orleans is different from most (maybe all) other cities in the U.S. with regard to alcohol. For example, it's legal to drink in public, as long as you drink from a safe (non-glass, etc.) container.

With that said, however, I don't think many establishments that have as their main source of revenue the selling of liquor would tolerate you bringing your own, even in New Orleans.

I think that what Ted is allowed to do at Pirate's Alley is due to his friendship with the owner of the place, and we can all be grateful for that!

By Wolfgang on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 07:38 am: Edit

Sorry to interrupt such a story but is it normal in New Orleans to bring your own alcohol to a bar or is it just because Adam is a friend of Ted ?

Wolf.

By Artemis on Friday, March 23, 2001 - 07:18 am: Edit

Part V:

"Ted Breaux", says the man with the paper bag, shaking rain drops from his spectacles.

"Artemis", I respond. He knows my real name, and he knows why I'm protective of it. He respects that, for which I'm grateful.

Ted wastes no time bringing goodies from the bag. First, a sampler of the products to be offered at L'heure Verte 2001. This because it was uncertain I would be able to attend and he was going to mail them to me.

After a period of mutual suspicion and doubt, engendered through cyber paranoia in the Fee Verte forum, Ted and I have only recently reached a mutual understanding, and we take right up tonight as though we were old friends. We retire to the darkest corner of the cafe and the bartender provides us with glasses. From the bag, Ted produces a liter or so of clear liquid and pours.

"Say when!"

It's evident he'll fill the glass if I let him, so I plead for mercy at two ounces or so. He prepares himself a similar portion. What's in the glass is absinthe of course, made, Ted says (if memory serves) that very day. The lack of aging is no drawback. This absinthe blanche will probably get better with age, but time is fleeting (madness takes its toll), so we aren't going to wait. The fragrance is floral, slightly medicinal, which is not a bad thing. Absinthe started as medicine and properly considered, still is. We top off the glasses with water, agreeing that sugar isn't needed. The absinthe louches to a pearly blue-white. The fragrance blossoms. I notice that the alchemy taking place on our table has the attention of everybody in the cafe. We toast each other and go to drinking.

The absinthe is dry at the start and even drier at the finish, almost astringent. It fills the nose with fragrance at every sip. It is perhaps closer to gin than any absinthe I've tasted before, in the sense of being dry and "botanical". Ted says it's a protocol he's messing with. I later learn it's an attempt at recreating an old Berger absinthe, but Ted is such a perfectionist, he's reluctant to identify it as such until he's sure he has it nailed. As if I would know the difference - I've been reincarnated several times since I last drank Berger absinthe, and the flavor has not remained with me! In fact, I'm not taking notes and I'm catching one hell of a buzz - I'm concerned I won't remember the flavor *tomorrow*.

Every break in the rain allows coming and going at the cafe, but I'm surprised at some point to look into the alley and see Goths sitting at three or four tables outside. There are faintly glowing glasses of green on every table. I bring this to Ted's attention and he points to a spot on the wall above my head. I turn to see a very large posterized version of the famous Absente advertisement from Cigar Afficionado magazine. It's more frightening in person. Sitting across a table from each other are a poorly embalmed Abraham Lincoln and an emaciated Rush Limbaugh. Glowering down at them in the role of the green fairy is Linda Blair.

It's possible to deduce that the poster is intended to represent a meeting of absinthe past and present in the persons of Toulouse Lautrec and Mr. Wall Street. It occurs to me that a dose of reality could be brought to the scene by seating Dr. Ordinaire and Ted Breaux at that table. And Tori Amos as the Green Fairy. It wouldn't hurt to retain a painter with skills past third grade level, either.

At some point, Adam, the proprietor of the cafe, makes an appearance and takes Ted up the offer of a drink. Adam is his guinea pig, Ted reveals, "practically married to the green fairy". I can think of several dozen people who would like to displace him. Adam approves of the clear absinthe also, as demonstrated by much revisiting.

Adam reveals that his bar has sold more Absente than any other. This achievement has garnered a personal visit from Mr. Roux himself in recent days. This raises my eyebrows, but Adam is pragmatic. Nothing is sold as something it's not, and people will drink what they're happy to drink. Not everybody settles for Linda Blair's glowering endorsement, however, and in the course of our drinking session, several people muster the courage to approach our table and ask for a taste. Ted, always the gentleman, turns no one away.

Ted himself seems preoccupied, which is understandable, since tomorrow's event is still very much in flux. An enormous array of thunderstorms is supposed to come through New Orleans and it threatens to wash the whole thing away. When the bottle is empty, Ted rises abruptly and says goodnight. I linger for a while and decide to hit the sack. It's already Saturday and the green lady will soon call me this way again.

By Admin on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 01:19 pm: Edit

Even if at a different venue, they were definately the fountains that served him up!

By Artemis on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 01:11 pm: Edit

Absinthedrinker, thank you. I didn't know the provenance of the fountains and I was too lazy to look it up, so I settled for what I saw firsthand. Kallisti is up on that stuff, however, so I'm sure her account is accurate. I haven't been in the "Crowley" bar, but you wouldn't want to sit in the daiquiri bar that now holds the fountains. Apart from the fountains, it might as well be a bait shop.

Morrigan, thank you. I would be honored if you used my words as you see fit. I don't remember any girls in the daiquiri shop - maybe my imagination created the Simpson-like clerk? And yes, the powerful AC in my room was mighty welcome. The spread of accoutrements merely reflected my love for utility. Which is the BEST absinthe? The absinthe you HAVE!

Heiko, thank you. You aren't off by even a hair, in fact, you have nailed me to the wall. If I couldn't have irony, I wouldn't write at all.

By Heiko on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 11:38 am: Edit

Artemis,
you're a really talented writer! I like your sense of irony - I'm far from calling what you wrote ironic, but I sense kind of a subtle smile in your words that makes me want to read more...
MORE! GIVE US MORE! So all of us who could not be there can at least enjoy the meeting in a way that exceeds a standard description by far - you give us the chance to dive deep into your memory and see the scenes through your eyes!

I'm more and more overwhelmed by the intellectual power that accumulates in this forum, all brought together alone by the charme of the green fairy...

By Morriganlefey on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 10:41 am: Edit

Seeing those lovely fountains in that unfortunate place really got my hackles up, so to speak. And the oblivious gals behind the bar had little interest in the fountains, or in anwering our questions about them. I briefly contemplated forming an impromptu vigilante thievery group to concoct an overly-elaborate plan to steal them and return them to their proper place and glory.

Artemis, your prose is just lovely and envokes the trip perfectly. I will be printing and keeping it in my journals (if you permit me to!)

Oh, and don't think that Kallist and I weren't impressed with your spread of absinthe and acoutrements - au contrare!! But the thing we were actually most pleased with, I do think, was your suite's ample air conditioning!!

- Morrigan

By Admin on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 09:28 am: Edit

Ha, and yes, we did finger the pitted marble lovingly.

By Admin on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 09:19 am: Edit

The Old Absinthe House on Bourbon & Bienville (the one that is still a regular bar) is the original. And the one Crowley sat in.

The Absinthe House Bar on Bourbon & Conti is the daiquiri shop. They got their name after they bought the marble bar (no gone) and the fountains from the Absinthe House when it closed for prohibition. The Old Absinthe House has been trying to reclaim them ever since. Up until 1998 the Absinthe Bar was a nice old bar and music club too, and it sold and was converted to a daiquiri shop, much to everyone's chagrin. The fountains seemed to disappear at that time, so I was surprised to see them back on the bar this trip.

By Thegreenimp on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 09:14 am: Edit

It was definately far too short, it being my first visit to New Orleans, there was too much to see in one visit.
Everyone there was a pleasure to meet, and of course the Absinthe was exquisite.
Hopefully we can all do this again sometime soon.
Regards
Jay

By Absinthedrinker on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 09:13 am: Edit

Great prose Artemis. Sorry to get hung up on a technicality but when I was in NOLA I got rather confused over the provenance of the two Absinthe Houses, the one that you mention which is now a tacky Daquiri joint and the other, also on Bourbon Street, which is now a regular bar. Both have marble fountains but which was the one that Crowley sat in?

By Artemis on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 08:49 am: Edit

Pimply faced bartender. Picture the kid on The Simpsons who works at Krusty Burger:
"Can I help you?"

"No, we just want to feel these".

We run our hands over the smooth green marble column, put our fingers into the moon
craters in the white marble slab at the base. The slab is cut in one spot in a straight line, as by a laser beam. History has risen, dallied, and collapsed into dust while water fell drop by drop onto this slab, lingered for a velvet hour, and returned to the clouds.

Tonight, the closest absinthe will get to these fountains is on our breath. We
could buy a daiquiri. But we don't.

The ladies are in need of a nap, having spent the previous night teasing male dancers at some club or other, so they retire to the Garden District and I return to my room to prepare for a meeting with the absinthe messiah.

Big fat raindrops, so sparse so you can count them, greet me as I hit the street, so I return to my room for an umbrella. As I head for Jackson Square the rain comes down in a torrent. Ghost dogging it through the street, weaving like smoke among the people taking momentary shelter under the balconies, I make my way to St. Louis Cathedral. There is a statue of The Maid of Orleans out front, shining golden in the rain.

Pirate's Alley Cafe holds maybe a dozen people, like bats cozy in a belfry. The rain continues to pour. The tiny bistro is essentially open to the street on two sides. If you sit on those sides, you have to keep your feet pulled in tight to keep them dry. Mine are already wet, so it's no big deal.

"Do you know Ted Breaux?", I ask the bartender.

"Yes".

"Is he here"?

"No".

But good beer is here, Timmermann's Cassis Lambic, poured into an authentic Belgian lambic glass. I retire to a corner to sip the sour purple. In the courtyard behind the church a Niagra-like column of rain shrouds a life-sized Virgin Mary on a pedestal. Shining white against the darkness, she welcomes the cleansing with outstretched arms. The footlights on the raindrops lend her a shower curtain made of diamonds. Elsewhere in the garden, under the giant magnolias, the rain only reaches the ground in dark sporadic drips. An urban tiger emerges from the bamboo under the trees and enters the alley without fear (no automobile traffic allowed - to get to Pirate's Alley Cafe, you have to walk).

Around 10:30, a muscular young man with wire-rimmed spectacles enters the cafe. Clark Kent comes to mind. He's carrying a large paper bag. He speaks to the bartender, who gestures toward my corner.

Messieurs, c'est l'heure!

By Artemis on Wednesday, March 21, 2001 - 06:56 am: Edit

A date with you is a treasure map by itself, my dear.

More chapters to follow (maybe). The muse has deserted me. If only I had some absinthe ...

By Admin on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 09:28 pm: Edit

Ooooo, how observant you are! Yes, it is a pirate wristwatch. The watchface is blue water and you hit a button and it lights up to reveal a hidden treasure map. And on the side of the band is a glow in the dark jolly roger.

I have a pirate fetish.

Can I just say, one more time, that l'Heure Verte in New Orleans was just too damn short!?!?! When are we doing this again?

By Artemis on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 06:26 pm: Edit

Thank you, Marcellin. It's a bon chance that *somebody* was a witness, because I'm soon entering the non-remembrance zone. I'm not going to make anything up, but I will have to build from fragments. I believe it's the thujone that did it. The stuff should be banned in civilized nations.

By Marcellin on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 04:42 pm: Edit

Dear Artemis,

I eagerly await more of your expressive and entertaining narrative. But alas, I hear my dinner calling - so I sign off for now with the vow of returning to discover how this delicate portrayal turns out. I believe that I was witness to the events to come.

p.

By Artemis on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 01:29 pm: Edit

Part next of however many:

"Looking for me?" As if the green beacon shining from the glass I'm holding isn't like a "kick me" sign.

The ladies are not impressed by the cheap arrangement of Absente glasses and faux spoons awaiting them on a table in my quarters. Even the purple Mardi Gras beads (found on the street) encircling the table aren't enough to sustain an illusion of class. Morrigan susses out the provenence of the beads in impressive sorceress fashion.

"You don't know where those have been", she says knowingly.

That's true, but that's true in New Orleans for almost everything. We'll have to let it pass.

The genie within the bottle, however, Dr. Ordinaire's gift to mankind, needs neither decoration nor explanation. We retire to the evening shade of the courtyard with the bottle of medicine. It's a quarter to six and the green hour is fleeting. We're going to have to sprint to catch up.

Morrigan takes hers on the rocks!! She promises to reveal her own extra special absinthe glass at the tasting tomorrow, but refuses to describe it. Both ladies are subtle, witty, delightful. Synchronicity: the Jolly Roger is evident on both women, somewhere on Kallisti's person (I don't remember exactly, a wrist watch?) and on Morrigan's socks. Japanese fans appear in the hands of both ladies as if on cue. They stir a breeze from d'autrefois, when Creole ladies sat in this very courtyard, cooling themselves in the twilight.

After a drink or four, the fairy having been well and properly invoked, I talk the ladies into an excursion onto Bourbon Street (honestly, I want to be seen with them) for some oysters. I can't get them to try the raw oysters at Felix's (ever watch a woman eat a raw oyster?), but I wear out a dozen mollusks in short order. Diversion is provided by a gang of tourists who stumble in, brandishing giant plastic carnival cups-o-beer. They shoulder the maitre d' aside while loudly demanding a table they perceive to be available at the back of the room (picture a drunken Tonto with his hand shading his eyes, scanning the horizon for the Lone Ranger).

Sated on seafood and back in the street, we walk along and spy an icon: AN ABSINTHE FOUNTAIN! Not just any fountain, but THE fountain, immortalized in Aleister Crowley's "Green Goddess". It's on the bar in a daiquiri shop! Actually, there are two of them, identical except for the brass statues on top - one has a god and one has a goddess. We enter worshipfully.

By Artemis on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 10:19 am: Edit

More to follow.

That should have been "Vieux Carre" (old square) Spirits.

By Morriganlefey on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 10:09 am: Edit

(GOING to be good? Dear, it's good already!!! *grin* More, please).

- M

By Artemis on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 09:53 am: Edit

Part two of I don't know how many yet ...

A short walk to Massimo's old fashioned grocery on Dauphine for bottled water and Peychaud's bitters, both of which are in stock. A cold black cherry soda hits the spot (it just turned March and the heat and humidity are already flexing their muscle in Louisiana). But they have no Herbsainte. Not a problem. A glance at the yellow pages points my feet toward View Carre Spirits, on Chartes near the river. They not only have Herbsainte ($12.99), but sweet mead from a California winery. A helpful gentleman in the delightfully old-fashioned store (did I say that already? - I love New Orleans) points me toward the Herbsainte.

"This is the American", he says, pointing at the New Orleans product. "And this is the French", pointing at a bottle of Absente, roughly three times the price of Herbsainte. It's not the last time Mssr. Roux will pop up this weekend.

I fall back into my room and phone to confirm meetings with Kallisti at the Green Hour (she say's she's bringing Morrigan Le Fey - all right!), and with Ted much later in the evening. All set. No turning back now. I've seen everything there is to see on Bourbon St. before, so I drink sweet mead, watch Jerry Springer on TV and wait for the clock to strike green.

L'heure Verte has come and gone; it's almost 5:30. The ladies are late. I pour myself a consoling measure of Dr. Nephilim's Brainwash Elixir and step out into the passageway. Two visions of feminine knock-you-off-your-feetness stand on the street without, wondering how they're going to get past the wrought iron gate. Kallisti, with hair as flaming red as advertised, sculpted into a pair of formidable horns. Morrigan, with hair as black as a raven's wing and ensorcelling green eyes. In fact, TWO green-eyed ladies, ocean ladies. This is going to be good.

By Artemis on Tuesday, March 20, 2001 - 08:17 am: Edit

Part one of several:

Friday afternoon, March 2nd

I roll into town from the West Bank around noon and check into my room on Bourbon St. The place (a restored 19th century Creole house) has an inner courtyard paved with red brick and cooled by transient late winter shadows and a resident population of lush azaleas, some already flowering in erotic shades of pink. This is going to be like the last of Goldilock's options: just right. I tell a man I meet in the courtyard that guests may call for "Artemis".

"If they're really pretty men, he'll have to share them with the housekeeper", he replies. I take it I have the honor of addressing the housekeeper, but he may just have been messing with me. It *is* that part of the Quarter.

There is a big crowd inside the Central Grocery, across the street from the French Market, but I squeeze my way to the counter and come away with the prize, a Muffaleta. It's way better than I remember it. Imitations of this sandwich are sold here and there throughout the country, but this is the real thing. Accept no substitutes. Unbelievably good. Larger than life. After four years' absence, I'm falling into the Big Easy as into a feather bed. I'm liking it. I'm glad I came.

Pirate's Alley Cafe turns out to be a tiny establishment tucked away more or less behind St. Louis Cathedral. They fly the Jolly Roger from the balcony. A black wrought iron fence separates the place from the garden behind the church. Most of the tables are outside in the alley. The alley is paved with big flagstones. This is the closest to Paris you could hope to come without leaving the United States, perhaps even the best match within NOLA. It gets better. While I stand around casing the joint, not a tourist comes into view, even though they're crawling all over the rest of the Quarter. Ted has chosen well. This is going to be good.

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