Sunday, April 15, 2007

New Orleans Day two

I woke up parked at N. Robertson and Ursulines and being in desperate need of a shower I headed to the Hilton hotel to use the Fitness Room and Pool for $15. It’s a little known secret about traveling that hotels do allow non-guests to use those facilities for a fee, usually 10-15 dollars, motels, truckstops and public pools cost $2-9. So when I need to I treat myself. I usually try to find a hot tub and sauna as I just use that and the pool. At high end hotels remember to ask for a robe if they don’t give you one. The Hilton was okay. Tiny outdoor pool and hot tub and lukewarm indoor hot tub and a tiny sauna. For $15 it’s not that great but it did the trick and I could at least face New Orleans washed free of grease and grime.

I spoke to Bill Daniel during my emotional meltdown that day. I was so stressed out and had not slept well, and I needed a plan. So many things came together to make me super emotional. Bill was helpful and came through with sound advice and also informed me that Kal Spelletich was in town, showing some work. Immediately I knew that Kal had been involved with the party I had briefly visited the night before. Bill and I both called Kal and left messages. I went back and parked just outside the French quarter on Chartres and took my bike to see if it could be repaired. I took it to Michael’s on Frenchmen and they said it wasn’t worth saving with the bent frame, bent forks and busted derailer. I asked if there was any place I could donate it and they suggested Plan B, a bike Co-op on Decatur and Marigny. I was laboriously pushing it up there when I reached the end of my emotional rope and left it, leaned against a parking meter on Decatur.

I went back to the van and with the sun beginning to set, knowing that I needed to eat something I walked down Chartres and introduced myself to Frankie and Pete who were sitting at Frank’s house, having a beer.

I asked if they thought I would be safe parked in that neighborhood and Frank told me to move over to his corner and that he could put the parking cones out for me that were being used by the crew that was working on his house. They then directed me to some cheap food at 13 on Frenchmen and I returned afterwards and parked the van right next to Frank’s house. I talked a while with Frank, his wife and the neighbors. Frank and his wife had not yet moved in to the house and before leaving to their home in the suburbs, offered me the key to the empty house we were sitting in front of.

Thrilled and renewed by their generosity and trust I felt ready to face New Orleans. Rufus Raxlen called me and said to go see his friend Steve, at the Sugarpark Tavern. A while later Kal called and said to meet him at the Sugarpark Tavern. When I met Kal at the Sugarpark Tavern I was so happy to see a friendly face. We talked about diesel engines, about the grease and about my project. Kal had been in town from San Francisco due to his involvement in The 2nd Annual Lower Decatur St. Transformation and Enlightenment League Street Festival.

Kal introduced me to Charles, from San Francisco. Steve, Rufus’ friend from Brooklyn and the co-owner of the Sugarpark tavern came out from the kitchen and bought us a round. What a friendly guy, a true New Yorker, generous and welcoming. Loved the bar, the music, the crowd and the neighborhood, France and Dauphine.

I went back to my parking place at Frank’s house and debated whether to stay in the van with a broken window latch that I tied closed with wire or to sleep on the floor in the house. I decided to stay in the van on the theory that people who want to rob you are less likely to break into the car if they see you sleeping in it. I slept soundly through the night and got out of bed a while after Frank and his crew showed up.

In the morning I met up with Charles at Sounds café at Port and Chartres and we set up an email account for Lester, who is an inventor and currently looking into applying for patents if anyone has any advice for him.

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