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April 09, 2005

New Orleans Diary: Day One

So I am in the Crescent City. I'm hungry as all get out. Just got into the Residence Inn on St. Joseph and the valet wasn't around. So I just dropped my rented Monte Carlo right on the curb and got up to my room. It's nice, meaning the broadband works and it doesn't smell funny. So I'll fill you in on all the details of getting here later on. Right now I'm in search of some fried oysters and a drugstore.

Weird. I have no idea what's going on in the news. Don't tell me. I'm actually digging the beads in the trees and people walking slow.

On the way to getting here, here being a software conference at the Morial, I had to close down a number of issues on the West Coast. You see, as everybody goes their separate ways, I have to notarize some documents to say that the parties involved have permission to be shepherding my offspring hither and yon. When it gets international, you never know. So I am taking this leap of faith and swearing oaths etcetera. Sorry Nolo Press, but I ripped off your verbiage. It would be nice to have an attorney in the family to deal with such matters, but it's just another lesson of emergence. Nobody pays attention to black things at this level, but enough of the self-pity.

Since I'm on the hook for delivering a consulting proposal for a huge company that's going to tie up a bunch of resources, I had to send out my spreadsheet on Thursday. I wanted more time, but everybody is on vaction or indisposed or otherwise out of pocket. I make my best guess, understanding that it's supposed to be a high level draft, and I make a huge mistake. Fortunately, the bossman catches my error. Somehow I calculated that we would be working 40 hours days. Aha. That's why adding bodies cost so much. Dumb spreadsheet error.

But it also turns out that I am not following protocol. Well that's to be expected, I haven't been on the job a month yet and I haven't even met more than 3 company employees face to face. I'm starting to learn the downside of the virtual and distributed corporation. No sweat really, but these are things that could be communicated instantly if it weren't for emails. What do I know about protocols? RTFM? More like download it.

So just 30 minutes before I get on the plane Saturday morning, all the stuff I did wrong Thursday afternoon comes back to haunt me. Fortunately, were' still ahead of the deadline. Unfortunately it means I have to put in work tomorrow.

Tonight, on the other hand, I was ready to party. I met two lovely ladies on the flight over here who are also going to the conference, one of whom is... OK I won't say it on the off chance that she discovers my blog-identity. I will say that she's a neck-snapper. It turns out that she happens to know some other ladies that know me. Damn. This world is too small among the young gifted and black. Anyway, I was expecting this to be the cool and casual, pre-conference chillout day. Everybody is out of touch. So it's just me in alien inspection mode, categorizing the life-forms of southern Louisiana.

My frequent flier miles have all expired and now I am at beige level. So no seat upgrades for me. No express car rental service either. I had to wait in line yet again, but I did get the silver Monte Carlo. I actually fantasized that I was driving a NASCAR auto on the 10 East to New Orleans. I suppose that a brother like me should be ambivalent about recognizing that my driving needs are fulfilled by Chevrolets. Sobeit. I'm cool. I realized, playing my time travel game, that only four years ago, one couldn't be sure that the car you rented would have a CD player. I brought some Biz Markie, so who cares about the outside of the car when the inside is bompin'?

The X calls. I haven't mentioned the X much. She's M11's biomom. She has him for Spring Break and they're cruising the Carib. She's a nervous wreck and didn't know I'd be out of town. So she's calling me on the cell for the fifth time telling me about his proper packing list. I mumble assertions. At least I hit the big thing. He's got to have new white sneakers. You have to understand that she is an ex-diva. Think Zsa-Zsa Gabor in high yellow with crinkle waves and attitude with a capital A. In truth, she used to be hotter than Lil Kim, but even Lil Kim had business sense - well until the conviction. Now she is all high maintenance attitude without the payoff. And more than a little bit batty. Not many men know what it is like to be stalked by a neck snapping psychotic. Buy me three martinis and I'll tell you the whole tragic story. Now suffice it to say that listening to her on the cell phone was quite sufficient to make me miss my exit, so where the hell am I?

I swear to God that if she cuts M11's hair just to satisfy her vanity she's going to have hell to pay, but I wouldn't put it past her.

I ended up in the Garden District 4 miles west of where I'm supposed to be. I finally grab a map. You see, my laptop has no batteries. Despite all the last minute BS I put the spousal unit through to get my boss's complaints onto the proper email address that could be retrieved on the plane, there was no way I could make use of the 3.6 hour flight for business purposes. So I ingested some Dan Brown. Decent stuff but I'm sure it would have been more powerful in 1998 when I knew less about Digital Fortresses than I do now. I'll still finish it. Just not tonight.

Tonight I'm going to watch Heat because I'm too damned drunk to make project plans on my laptop. The fault lies with the Rio Mar Restaurant on St. Peter Street which is more faboulously delicious than I expected to find wandering around the Warehouse District looking for an ATM. Well, it's also the fault of my colleagues who didn't bother to hookup with me on what I expected to be a casual night. Did I say that already?

So I'm right at the moment when the wine has entered my limbic system and the flavors are meshing just right and the cell phone finally rings. Boss Man says, have your shit ready. We have to nail this for Monday. Fine. I SMSed three colleagues for dinner plans and the worse call comes back in the middle of dinner. But nothing could spoil this meal. It's that good.

I've got this oyster etouffe that's the bomb. You know how macaroni and cheese casserole is kinda extra good when it's just a little bit crunchy on the edges? The chef at Rio Mar has taken the essence of that special flavor and turned it into a majestic assault on the senses. You've got oysters, you've got chorizo(!) and you've got spinach and cheese burnt just perfectly in this mix. Awesome. Then I've got the perfect consistency of sticky saffron rice on the side of my surgical stainless bowl of bay shrimp in boulliabase. Incredible. The apple-y chardonnay works right in, and I end it all with a martini and stagger back to my hotel. Yes ladies and gentlemen this is what it is like to be a middle-aged man, when you start thinking that sex is inferior to food.

And suddenly I'm thinking of fat people in a whole new light. You know the ones. Not the midwestern housewives who are just 30 pounds overweight, the morbidly obese ones who have made a deal with the devil. I've known the kind of dog-men that don't care if they get HIV, they just have to do chicks just to see the looks on their faces. They throw their hands in the air and boink 'em like they just don't care. Why? Because they're aesthetes of acrobatic sex. I used to be. Buy me an ounce of coke and I'll tell you the whole bloody yarn. Now I understand how people might do that for food. Like those two English birds. What's life if you can't swill the butterfat? I was like that tonight with shrimp heads and tasting the seawater in the 'base and in the salty sweat on the spinach. And I've got pornographic pictures of my food on my cell phone, so the waiter at the next station mistook me for a food critic. He actually wiped my Palm stylus for me.

I wobbled back to my hotel, a blessed five short blocks away, in one of those moods where it doesn't matter that I might get mugged. I just had a magical meal, dude you just don't understand. If I had my knife you'd be missing your bozack right about now, but today is your lucky day. Here's 93 bucks, go buy a hooker you piece of shit. I just ate my way halfway to heaven and everybody deserves a piece of happiness like that. Besides, I get to expense it.

So now I am back safe on the fourth floor listening to my suite's refrigerator make ice and coming out of the Smirnoff & Chardonnay buzz. And I'm not going to crack the frickin spreadsheet. And I'm going to go to bed early and get up tomorrow and find out how to register for this goddamned conference. We'll deal with business tomorrow. Good night dear readers. Too bad you couldn't have been with me in person.

Posted by mbowen at April 9, 2005 04:31 PM

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