One word that might describe New Orleans' French Quarter is "cozy." Virtually
everything is small and tightly clustered. It is a neighborhood filled with nooks and
crannies, much like a Thomas' English Muffin. (The French Quarter is like an
English Muffin? The Alexander Home Page is aware that, in centuries past, such a
controversial statement sparked the Hundred Years War. Let us hope that, at the dawn of the 21st
Century, cooler heads will prevail.)
The French Quarter comprises the original city of New Orleans, and many of the early 19th Century buildings have been remarkably well-preserved. They are, however, being rapidly devoured by Formosan termites, the African Killer Bees of the termite world. These wood-chomping menaces arrived in New Orleans during the Second World War, as stowaways on ships from the Far East. Today, their swarms cause residents of the Quarter to extinguish all their lights and hide in tents in their living rooms. Alex's father was enthralled by a series in the New Orleans Times Picayune about the Formosan termites, and was frequently sharing termite tidbits. Finally, Alex had to say, "Daddy. Daddy! Enough!"
Fortunately, Alex and his family did not see any live termites in the French Quarter. They did see plenty of carriage horses, street performers, and other colorful local personalities in and around this historic neighborhood.
Many famous people have passed through the Famous Door on Bourbon Street.
There is a sign next to the door that lists some of the luminaries that have
entered the Door. The lists begins with
Vic and Honey from Oklahoma City. (If that doesn't
impress you, we'd like to know your definition of fame!) As one
scans down the list however, it quickly becomes apparent that not
all the names are as glittering as Vic and Honey. There
are many fringe celebrities, such as Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby,
Elvis Presley, Clint Eastwood, Willie Mays, and Thomas Jefferson.
As this picture clearly indicates, Alex did not want to be photographed in front of The Famous Door. Someday, perhaps, Alex will return to New Orleans, grasp the famous door handles, and boldly stride over the famous threshold. On that day, the name of Alexander will be added to the aforementioned list of immortals!
The full list of famous people who have passed through the Famous Door
|You may only know him as the scary face on the twenty dollar bill, but Andrew Jackson first achieved fame as the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, and later became the seventh President of the United States. A statue of Old Hickory is the centerpiece of Jackson Square. Alex showed his respect for this towering figure in American history by marching around his statue with a Blue's Clues activity book.|
|Looming over Jackson Square is the St. Louis Cathedral, which looks more like a New England Protestant church than a Catholic cathedral. However, since Pope John Paul II said Mass at the cathedral several years ago, one must assume that this church is kosher, so to speak.|
In New Orleans, street performers abound. Above left,
Alex and his mother check out a man who
spray-painted himself silver. The silver man stands immobile,
until somebody puts money in his pot,
which causes him to gyrate for a while. He then stands still until the
next donation. It's a living, we suppose.
Above right, we see Andrč the juggler. Andrč was a fixture in Jackson Square during the several days Alex was in New Orleans. In his act, Andrč rides a unicycle while juggling flaming batons. One consistent feature of Andrč's patter: He emphasizes that he is not employed by the City of New Orleans, and he depends on contributions from his audience to make his living. Andrč was very clear on that point.
Jackson Square is also inhabited by many fortune tellers, otherwise known as frauds, quacks, and charlatans. They sit at their little tables and dispense advice (for a fee, of course) gleaned from such scientific methods as palmistry and tarot card reading. Alex, wisely, chose not to use their services.
Alex did, however, take an opportunity to taunt a street clown. Alex's mother handed him a quarter to put into the bucket belonging to the clown pictured below. While it may look like he's depositing his coin in the bucket, Alex never actually released his grasp on the coin. The clown was magnanimous in defeat, and posed for a photo with Alex, below right. For his efforts, the clown earned a dollar from Alex's father.