Oh, we’ll be watching!
From “The irredeemable Chris Rose”by Michael Patrick Welch published in 2015 in the Columbia Journalism Review:
While shaking off his writer’s rust with Rouse’s, Rose has also begun studying for the French Quarter tour guide exam. “I have a passion for public speaking,” he says as we wander said Quarter, past a band of young street musicians struggling to sound and look like old street musicians. “I see people paying $20 apiece for some guy to spend two-and-a-half hours telling stories while he’s drinking a beer—that would take me three restaurant shifts of eight hours apiece to make that much money. Plus, these guys are making up ghost stories, when there are so many true stories in this town.”
His name, he hopes, will be part of the draw. “If I was nobody, there is no way I could pull it off,” Rose admits, lighting a cigarette on the corner of Burgundy and St. Louis. He looks awkward smoking—like’s he’s old enough to know better. “I am counting on the fact that I can go to the concierges and have instant credibility. And what I love is there’s also a lot of writing involved: I’m gonna publish a book with each tour, so you can also just buy the book and take the tour yourself.”
As Rose explains his new plan to me, a man with Louisiana plates rolls down his truck’s window to interrupt us: “You still writing? You in any newspapers?” he asks Rose. “You were in the Gambit last I saw you.”
Recent Facebook post from Chris Rose · New Orleans
I am pleased to announce that I am now a legally licensed tour guide for the City of New Orleans. With that in mind – and given the season — I want to invite any Jazz Fest visitors – and locals, of course – to consider a fun and easy going romp through French Quarter history and lore.
At this point, I am offering a Rock and Roll themed French Quarter walking tour, featuring tales of madness and extravagance involving Led Zeppelin, the New York Dolls, The Animals, The Kinks, LeAnn Rimes, the Grateful Dead, Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Jeff Walker, Lenny Kravitz, Emmylou Harris, the GoGos, REM, Fats Domino and many, many more.
I also have a general catch-all omnibus French Quarter tour that covers history, architecture, literature, true crime, politics, the movies, celebrities and pop culture. (In the near future, I will be offering extensive tours dedicated solely to each of these topics as well.)
* Please note: I do not offer ghost or vampire or other fictional tours. No offense to my friends in their chimney sweep hats and capes, but the truth is so much more interesting than what you could make up in this town.
If you are interested in such an adventure, I am available any time, day or night, for individual or group bookings. The tours are confined to the French Quarter and take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, depending on how slow we walk and how many bars we stop at. The cost is $25.
After decades of writing stories about New Orleans, its characters, history and quirks, I have decided to speak them directly. I would be honored to host and entertain you and any friends and family who might be interested in a genuinely offbeat and original look at this city.
For private or group bookings – or further information – please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me directly at 504.352.2535
Lastly, please, folks: Feel free to forward this message on down the line to friends and family. This is not a lark for me but the start of a new business enterprise and career and one more way for me to do what I love most and do best: Sing the sweet, sweet praises of this crazy, beat down, sexy, beautiful, misfit city I call home. New Orleans.
My friend John is currently searching for a natural indicator to mark the end of summer in order to bookmark the termites swarming at the beginning. If I know him, he’d be pleased if it could be another pest.
I always think the summer season is hard to decipher in New Orleans. Used to be that once JazzFest was over, people began to shut up their apartments and stores and head to other cooler places for a month or two, coming and going throughout August. With the arrival of the casino downtown, that changed. Or maybe it changed with the addition of thousands of hotel rooms downtown through the 1980s and 1990s or maybe it just changed. In any case, visitors come year round now and festivals like Tales of the Cocktail and Essence are big draws in July and there are things in August too that I cannot remember at this moment, but I know I am always surprised when they come-oh yes, just remembered one: Satchmo Summerfest.
Maybe summer is really here when the figs ripen and drop and draw flies and make walking in alleys a distinctly squishy experience, except that fig trees are largely gone from the Quarter, courtesy of part-time residents and non-Sicilians who tore them out at the beginning of their renovations.
Or maybe it’s when the children finish their school year at McDonogh 15 and St. Louis Cathedral School, except that Cathedral is no more; soon to be condos I am sure.
Probably many locals would identify the start of summer with the official beginning of hurricane season, which is today, June 1. That’s as good of a choice as any, since summer is a largely hostile time here, unlike the land of my childhood, the shores of Lake Erie. There it is a glorious and kind season with lightning bugs in jars, sailboats always on the water and cool walks in the dark before bedtime.
Tonight in my adopted hometown, I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood with my hard cider in a koozie cup as I do many evenings before heading in for the night. The Quarter seemed different, slower and more neighborly than I have seen in many recent evenings. Lots of people on stoops with the front door open, dogs pausing on their walks with their people attached (when did huge dogs become a thing in the Quarter? and why usually 2 of them?) The Square is quieter, but will have more overnighters than the spring does. Lack of air conditioning at home will drive many to catch any night breeze they can out there and hopefully pick up a buck or two or make some friends.
The chalkboards in front of restaurants and bars praise their fruity drinks and their cold air conditioning and hope for a few big groups to come in and spend and tip well.
Seeing the row of smokers in chairs in front of Cosimo’s Dauphine Street windows was lovely even though I know they don’t think so, in these new days of no smoking inside. Of course, sitting out there may also just be a leftover experience from their crawfish boil season. In any case, a great bar with the best well drink in the Quarter in my estimation.
The tourists in town this Monday are quiet and mellow. Few whoohooers or Hand Grenaders seen (or heard). These kind of folks are always welcome as they proudly take a photo near architectural details rather than of the silver guy or the drunk passed out woman.
On Royal, I counted 4 tours and 2 more on Saint Ann this evening. I remember once a friend of mine hissed at me as we passed a ghost tour, “You know they make it all up” and I laughed out loud and said, “really? you mean they don’t just stick to the truth about our ghosts?”
Let’s hope the entire summer is as quiet and as sublime as this first June early evening was.
Here is a list of nola.com’s “favorite” summer festivals.