Friday, January 20, 2012

New Orleans or Bust {New Braunfels photographer}

World's Largest Fire Hydrant (actually, third largest) in Beaumont, TexasIt's been a bit of a whirlwind week for Lisa on Location. Today is my daughter's birthday and it always seems to hit me at a bad time. I'm coming down from the Christmas rush a little bit heavier around the middle and thinner in the wallet. My party planning energies are low and to top it all off, this is the month of the big PPA annual convention, Imaging USA. This year took us to New Orleans. I'm finally catching up on the laundry and getting ready for a houseful of 10- and 11-year-old girls to invade but I thought I'd take a break and recap some of my New Orleans experiences.

To set the scene here let me just describe my usual trip-going prep work. I usually painstakingly map our way--if we're flying I have the arrival and departure times memorized, I know how to get from the airport to the rental car place or whether or not there are shuttles to our hotel. I know exactly which sites we'll see which days and their hours of operation and ticket prices (which are usually pre-purchased online). If we're driving I know where we'll be at each moment calculating how fast we're going and stops for bathrooms. I have a Roadside America app on my phone and I have each of those silly stops mapped out. It's only two hours out of our way to see the second-largest ball of twine in the country--well, why not? I'll just include that in the itinerary. This time, however, was a total wing it. I knew we were going. I scheduled it back in June. I just failed to make the time to plan it out.

Discarded beads and litter filled the gutters of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
We hit the road and went. I did use my app to see the sites along the way. We found the third-largest fire hydrant in the world just a half mile from the interstate (it used to be the first until those darn Canadians went and made one bigger). We stopped to pose in the Frog Capital of the World. We had our fun on the way. We arrived at the hotel starving and ready for some good old jazz on Bourbon Street. Imagine our surprise when we hit Bourbon Street on Saturday night and were greeted by a group of drunk women in sparkly dresses and super high heels. I believe one vomited in the gutter and another fell down in front of a street band, giving a peep show to the trombonist. We ventured a bit further and saw the Hustler Club, a few prostitutes and drunk college guys. Lots and lots of drunk college guys. It didn't help the overall mood when the Saints lost to the 49ers in the playoffs. "Where are the jazz clubs?" we asked each other.

Everyone seemed to wear a Drew Brees jersey during the Saints' playoff game while on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
Apparently not on Bourbon Street, we were told. I finally met up with a New Orleans local on the second day of the conference and learned that most of the decent jazz clubs were a few blocks away from the French Quarter on Frenchman Street. I see. So my sudden failure in not planning our trip per my usual anal--er, I mean--thorough measures failed me this time. No worries, however. We saw a side of New Orleans that was not in the brochures. They don't tell you about the stench of urine and vomit that permeates Bourbon Street. "There's a reason it smells that way," my new local friend told me.

We had a great time at the photography convention. I learned a lot and made lots of new photographer friends. We even got to boogie to 50 Amp Fuse, "the world's greatest cover band" at Canon's big party on opening night. Performing with 50 Amp Fuse was Mark Rivera, Billy Joel's long-time sax player who has also toured with Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band and did the incredible arrangements of the horn section on Peter Gabriel's hits "Slegehammer" and "Big Time." Billy Joel's guitarist, Tommy Byrnes, was also in the band. For Jayme, a huge Billy Joel fan who's seen these guys several times in concert (from the nosebleed seats) getting right up there next to the stage was a very cool experience.

We did return to Bourbon Street on Monday night with some of our best friends who moved to Slidell a few years ago. We were a little wary about it after our Saturday experience, but we wanted to try the Acme Oyster House. After an excellent meal and some great conversation we went for a walk down Bourbon with our friends and found the atmosphere much improved. Not so much drunken debauchery and there was an amazing jazz band playing at Maison Bourbon, led by fantastic trumpeter Jamil Sharif. So, I guess it depends on the time of week and perhaps time of year that you make that trip. I can't wait to return to New Orleans. I totally missed Jackson Square and we never even saw the river even though we were right next to it while in the convention center.

Men throwing beads from a second floor balcony on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter
Now back to party planning of a different kind. I have a little girl who's going to be very disappointed if I can't get these candles to look just right.

Lisa On Location Photography


  1. Glad to see you did not get vomit on your camera on Bourbon St from that more than likely tourist who enjoyed herself a little too much. Probably a San Fran fan. There is still Preservation Hall just between Bourbon and Royal unless they moved it and there are several other jazz clubs on Bourbon. What happen to Al Hirts and Pete Fountain's clubs? Are they gone? In all my years in New Orleans and I am from there, I never once saw a prostitute. Maybe they are attracted on only certain people. Now is my turn to visit your city, New Braunfels next weekend for the railroad festival. I will be a vendor there. Visit my photos on my Facebook page. Just search my name, Jerry Sires or my other site at,la2.siresphotos

    1. Hello Jerry,

      Preservation Hall was still there. They didn't happen to have a jazz band on the night we visited. They had a band of banjos.

      Enjoy New Braunfels!