Grand Duchess adds to her earlier Festival decree

Our good Duchess has contacted me during this year’s festival calendar with some new thoughts on her decrees. In her unusual way, she sent the information to me via messenger directly to my chair set up on Royal…or was it Bourbon? She must have spied me weaving fast and purposefully through the crowd and noting my destination, sent a card down her marvelous stick and basket system she keeps at the corner of the balcony, asking the neighbor on their stoop to hand it to me. I remember a tug and had a card in my hand before I had even fully turned. “From you-know-who” was yelled in an amused tone as the messenger headed back to their perch and it was true that the verbena fragrance had indeed given away its owner.
the original set of her decrees
My Dearest Darlene,
We are pleased to see your presence throughout the festive weekend, although chagrined at your choice of beverage.

(She had spotted my limed Go Cup; she rued my love of cheap gin)
However, we are glad to see you looking so well. We once again ask for your assistance in publicizing our words to the Vieux Carre citizenry and as always, thank you in advance.

We decree that all festivals held in the village should entertain the idea of using those adorable blow up couches, simple pine benches (for ease in storing after) or, temporary trees to invite our visitors to sit in places that do not block our service or retail doorways.
We explain thusly:
How lovely to see the citizens using the streets so well during the planned parties. However, when the day closes and the storekeeper tallies their sales, one would hope for the type of success which depends on feet entering the establishment.

We also decree that for that very same purpose all tents of our temporary merchants be set only on blocks in which 75% of the offerings are residences. And, that any storekeeper on those streets can register their disapproval of a particular temporary merchant when the items detract from the storekeeper’s sales. The storekeeper would be required to list the central items that their store has long sold that the temporary merchant is offering. This does includes food or beverages. That storekeeper(s) disapproval should be weighted to such a degree that the residents must explain why they would want that temporary merchant to stay in the face of the storekeeper(s) opposition.. If the temporary merchant is moved, then the next choice to allow in that block must be significantly unlike the first.

We explain thusly:
Our long time storekeepers should appreciate new ideas and welcome new merchants to the area, as the small stores are, if you will, the 5th chakra of the village and need new energy to thrive. However, this does not mean that storekeepers can or should overrule any and all temporary merchants. Those those who impede on their central business should be the only ones that they may oppose. In other words, two silver jewelry sites on one block (or two gelato offerings) can be confusing and unnecessary when we have so much space to offer.

We also ask that the Loyola staff continue their excellent work to study the needs of cyclists in our village and find ways to secure their property more carefully. Clearly, we need to invite more 2-wheeled conveyances and reduce the attraction of the 4-wheeled variety, as evidenced by the continuing stand-still every festival weekend on our Old Levee Street. (DW-Old Levee was changed to Decatur Street in 1800s).

Lastly, we must search for an expansion of sites for our musicians in non-festival areas and on non-festival weekends (see our earlier decrees) but not at the expense of the residents. We ask that Miss Darlene’s idea concerning adding busking stations be explored.

(DW-huh. Once again, she confounds me. I had raised the idea of adding busking areas in some areas of the Quarter, but how had she heard of it?
Buskers is a term used for itinerant musicians or performers and some cities or other public entities paint musical signs on the ground where musicians could set up on festival days and weekends. I thought we should close Wilkerson Row on weekends and allow buskers on that street, as well as on the Royal end of Pere Antoine Alley next to the Cathedral, as well as next to Bienville’s statue (with its hierarchy of the smaller standing priest and even smaller sitting Native American at the end of Conti) and in the corner of the Cabrini Park under the overhang; there would be painted musical signs where groups could set up for a half-day but then they MUST to move to another space on the next half-day . This is designed to offer more underused spaces for entrepreneurial musicians, while ensuring that merchants or residents don’t have to listen to the same musicians under their window every day.)
We hope that the Loyola staff can attend to some of our decrees in the midst of their busy Uptown paving schedule and in the meantime, welcome all to our village.

Program To Fight French Quarter Termites Nears End – New Orleans News Story – WDSU New Orleans

Program To Fight French Quarter Termites Nears End – New Orleans News Story – WDSU New Orleans.

 

Great. Now they will be returning, and since the city is working to find a way to make as much money from any group that visits that they can, we’ll have to wait for the “Formosa Festival” that will no doubt be added to the tent and table schedule on the FQ calendar.
Or maybe the termites will start a FQ Formosa walking club met by residents armed with Insecticide foamers and treated wood bats with battles held at dusk at the corner streetlights with sadly, no clear winners day after day.
Either way, we got trouble right here in River City.

Spring Fiesta Senors and Senoritas!

“hey, do you want a beer?”
I would.
“where have you been all day?”
I was at the Spring Fiesta.
“What is that? Some type of Latino festival?”
Umm no. Its a 75-year-old French Quarter tradition that celebrates the culture of New Orleans by offering $25 house tours of 5 homes each day.
‘I never heard of it.”
Well, they have a website. But I think you are just supposed to know, since it’s been going on so long.
“I guess I am not getting this. What do they do, this group? Offer tours?”
Oh, they have a parade too. They give flowers out while wearing period dress.
“Like crinolines or some of that shit? on carriages?”
Of course on carriages. How could it be old New Orleans without carriages?
“Well, so what is the point anyway?”
Well there is a Spring Fiesta Queen and a court.
“OH, NOW I get it. Why didn’t you say that to begin with?”
Well, the houses are really nice too.

Give me another beer, wouldya?

I guess I have to explain it.

When I was 15, my mom moved me to the French Quarter from suburban Cleveland Ohio (via a short stop in Mandeville). We had spent many summers in New Orleans and my mother, who had grown up in the Garden District, seemed to always find her way back to the Quarter when we came to town, even with the clear-as-bell disapproval from her parents. We never spent any time Uptown; somehow she had few memories of life there and less interest in showing it to us.
So, when we moved to the Quarter, she was in her own heaven and at the same time, loosened her hold on me, so it is pretty obvious why I initially liked being there. But soon I realized this was a special neighborhood of deep history and lively city street activity and that it suited me personally. I roamed every day and some nights and met shopkeepers, proper ladies, street-walker, schoolteachers, hustlers, nuns, old old people who sat on their stoops on sunny mornings, workers who told me gossip while they swept, artists who started the day with a drink at the dark bar nearest to their room, transient people who told very little about themselves and many more Herbert Asbury and Frances Parkinson-Keyes types.
I learned to have tolerance; that was not something that had been shown to me in suburban Cleveland, even though my mother heroically tried to overcome that culture with her own New Orleans attitude. I also learned about the entire city and its history both old and newer. Like the immigrants and states and nations and all of the companion events sweeping over us, as they do…
So I write about the French Quarter because I think it represents some of the best things about city life and has some fractures that, if we mend them, we could once again have a completely dynamic city center that everyone uses at some point.
So when a colleague this week said with a laugh (about the French Quarter) as we were discussing neighborhoods , “Oh that’s not real New Orleans”, I heard it with a pang. I realize again and again when I tell people I am writing about the Quarter, many think why? How is that valid?
I think it is for the reasons above and for these:

Small businesses are the real life of any region; they show ingenuity and application in a single space. I learned about what we made and what we valued here from watching those businesses.

Food is a significant part of our city diary. Check out the offerings that span the culture in that one neighborhood.

Conversations teach: Sit in a spot in 3 or 4 different times in a single week. You will see a cross-section of the city go by and hear some amazing conversations.

24 hours, 7 days a week. It has that going for it.

Public space is necessary: Tahrir Square showed us the significance of the use of public space. We may never have to resort to that (well let’s not say never), but our public square is around 120 blocks large and sits along the river, waiting for you to use it. If and when you need it.

As for tourists, they are some of the lifeblood of the city’s economy along with the port. I know almost nothing about the port, but I talk with America and share thoughts and disagreements constantly as they come to admire our city. I wish we had better things to offer in the Quarter for all of us to mingle and know each other, so that is also why I work to make it better. And don’t forget many of those tourists are interested in more than beads and hurricanes, they might actually offer something. Lucky for us millions come to visit us.

And finally, because it’s the right scale. I can walk the entire Quarter in a few hours (and have done it many times). I can find parts that are quieter than City Park, livelier than Frenchman (well on a Thursday; nothing compares with Saturday there), more beautiful than St. Charles (age has its advantage), more radical than Bywater and so on. I don’t mean to compare but for those who ask why the French Quarter, I guess I have to.
Those blocks signify New Orleans, my own family’s history, my history, the bad and good of city life, and the potential, too.

I hope that helps.