We have arrived in the much talked about New Orleans, Louisiana. Nicknamed ‘The Big Easy’ or shortened to ‘Nola’. New Orleans is known for its round the clock live music and eclectic characters and it sure does have a ton of both.
I have to be honest, Bourbon street is not my bag, it was like a sleazy version of Magaluf and that really is saying something. We heard that Frenchman street was the new place to be so we headed there in the hope of better things. Unfortunately still not bowled over. It felt super set up for tourists and when I ordered a cocktail in a nice looking bar with live jazz it arrived in a plastic cup with a thimble full of alcohol and a hell of a lot of ice. Oh and it cost $10. Unfortunately this gave me a disappointing first impression on a city I have longed to visit.
Thankfully the area we are staying is super nice, we are renting a house on the lovely Burgundy Street. Right at the end of our road is Buffa’s Bar. It is grimey as hell but it is local, is open twenty four hours a day and has continuous live acts. Every one we saw was pretty incredible.
I began to notice this Koi Carp street art on the pavements around the city and became intrigued about the meaning behind it. It turns out that the street artist is a guy called Jeremy Novy. Like many street artists, he uses his art to explore and voice social and political issues. His personal goal is for the gay street art community to flourish. In his own words “street art itself is a dominantly male heterosexual community; being out of the closet is not accepted”. Gay street artists have been bullied, their equipment stolen and their art covered up and Jeremy Novy is playing an active role in exposing this and cultivating a change in attitude by bringing gay imagery into a prodiminantly heterosexual environment. If you see stencilled street art of drag queens, care bears or shirtless men, this might well be him.
The Koi Carp represent something different though. Whilst in the last year of his arrival degree, Novy had the opportunity to travel around China for three months and study ancient and contemporary art. He became fascinated by the communist propaganda artwork and the influence it had on people’s minds. This art made people think differently and he decided that that is what he wanted to achieve in his artwork. He began to look into Chinese scrolls and the hidden messages and iconography behind the Koi Carp. The Koi represents several lessons that people learn throughout life: they have the ability to swim upstream again strong currents and have powerful life force energy. They are said to symbolise good fortune, success, courage, ambition and longevity which is probably why many people choose these as tattoos.
The number of Koi Carp is also significant as it correlates with chinese lucky numbers.
1. One represents strength, courage, friendship, success, longevity & overcoming of obstacles.
2. Two means double happiness or good things come in pairs.
3. The word three sounds like the word birth so represents the three stages of life; birth, marriage & death.
4. The word four is an unlucky number as it sounds like death so is never used in China.
5. Five can symbolise transformation or the five elements in the universe; earth, wind, water, fire, metal.
6. Six is the symbol for business relationships and also sounds like the word flow so is linked to a flow of wealth.
7. Seven represents more personal relationships like family and friends.
8. Eight represents good fortune, often used in new businesses.
9. Historically the number nine is linked to the emperor as it is believed that the dragon had nine children. It also represents harmony.
Cafe Du Monde is a New Orleans institution since 1862. I can see why, the chicory coffee and beignets are to die for.
This has to be the best Chinese restaurant name in history…
Our last night was the real highlight of our stay here. We were taken to a gay bar called The Friendly Place. We met some of the loveliest people there who called Coop’s Place for us which is a Nola must try. When we arrived there was a queue to the end of the street but thankfully our new friends sorted us out with a queue jump. After sitting down, the very confident, slightly offensive, but totally hilarious waiter told us he knew what he was going to serve us so there was no need to order. He simply asked beer, wine or liquor in his gruff New York accent. The next thing you know we had a beer and a whiskey followed by 4 plates of some the best food I have ever tasted. The Cajun pasta is an absolute must if you visit.