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Thursday, October 29, 2015

A HAUNTED HALLOWEEN TOUR OF THE FRENCH QUARTER


The past of a place shapes not only its literature but the very psychic nature of its shadows.

If ever you should go to New Orleans looking for Victor Standish and his ghoul friend, Alice, 


breakfast at Brennan’s,

visit the Aquarium

enjoy drinks at Pat O’Brien’s, dine at Antoine’s and wrap your spirit in the jazz at Preservation Hall.

You should continue down Bourbon Street. 


(it got its name not from the drink but from the dynasty)

following the music and revelers until St. Philip where the crowd thins.


{Image courtesy of the genius of Leonora Roy}


 If your sixth sense prickles your scalp, it’s time to chart a new course.

The Soyoko, evolved raptors who hunt in the French Quarter's shadows, may be following you.

One block to your right is Royal Street
At this time of night it seems like another world. 
And it is:



Rue La Mort.

If you see a fog-shrouded building of iron balconies and heavy moss, bearing the name, Meilori's,

listen for a young boy's gypsy laugh and an upbraiding British girl's voice. 

Listen closely, if there is gravel in the girl's tones, keep on walking.
 
Alice is growing hungry.

Head instead toward Canal Street in the thick humidity and 


soon find yourself in back of the St. Louis Cathedral.

The large garden behind the 215 year old church is surrounded by an old iron fence, scarred and pitted by the elements.
 

Oh, what stories could this fence tell!

Stories of love and honor, of the duels fought on the grounds it protects, 

stories of betrayal and murder as well, of plans and plots by patriots and treasonous cowards as well.

And how one foggy night down Pirate's Alley, 


Victor Standish ran laughing as Hell hissed at his heels. 

Along its balconies, roof-tops, and streets, Victor raced taunting his reptilian pursuers.



{Courtesy of Stevie Z's Photography}

But that is for him to describe.
 
Pirate's Alley you ask?

Oh, there are spirits there!

Souls from long ago who lived and died in these streets with such passion 


that they refuse to hide in the dusty ruins of the past.

As you push ahead to the end of the fence the air is heavy with a scent of the damp vegetation 


and you will find your skin is wet.

You breathe deeply, swallowing that thick hot air as if you are drowning, 


and you begin to melt into the city itself, the Vieu Carre, the heart of New Orleans.

Look now to your left, up along the side of the Church. 


You have discovered PIRATES ALLEY!

Pirate's Alley is the subject of much legend and lore, some true, and much false.

Pirates Alley, about 600 ft long, and 16 ft wide, is not even shown on many of the French Quarter maps.

Wisely so, for many tourists have walked down its foggy length at night never again to be seen.

If it is so dangerous at night, why do tourists dare this avenue?

The sight of the alley at night is unforgettable:

Every surface is covered with moisture giving a shine and a reflection of the dim lights ahead along your path. 


On your left, St. Anthony’s Garden

on your right, the old Fleur di Paris hat shop faces Royal St. 

with its beautiful window display that brings to mind a more elegant time.

But further along, you discover that a plaque on the wall of one of the Creole houses identifies this 


as the residence of the great William Faulkner, indeed, the very house where he wrote his first novel "Soldiers Pay."

And should the Soyoko find your scent pleasing, you may find "Unwary Tourist Pay."

Or you may find salvation in the form


of the legendary undead Texas Ranger,

Samuel McCord, the man with the blood of Death in his veins.
 


The Lafitte brothers were no strangers to Pirates Alley.

They came to New Orleans about 1803 the year of the Louisiana Purchase, at 24 and 26 years old. 


Soon they went about with the Creole gentlemen of town and were seen in the streets and coffee houses.

Jean Lafitte spoke several languages and was educated. 


A familiar sight on these streets, people would regard him with curiosity, and whisper the word PIRATE!

In reality, Lafitte considered himself a Privateer.

Of course, smuggling had been going on in the city for 50 years before Lafitte,

and it eventually became the main business, 


but soon, Lafitte and his band of Baratarian Pirates controlled black market commerce and all transactions went through the brothers.

Goods were sold openly in Pirates Alley and eventually it became so congested 


that the "vendors" were allowed to display their goods inside the garden behind the iron fence.

The locals would walk along outside and money and goods were passed through the fence, giving rise to the expression


"Fencing stolen goods"!

We imagine that the brothers made regular charitable "donations" to the church for this convenience.

And should you walk this alley at night, 


keep your eyes over your shoulders. 

Sometimes Alice the ghoul grows hungry. She, too, looks for donations ... of human flesh.

6 comments:

  1. Sounds ghoulish indeed. Are you hiring out as tour guide, Roland, or will one of your ghost friends show visitors the interesting places? I have seen the Preservation Hall Jazz Band many years ago, but never have been to N'Orleans..

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    1. If you are lucky, Samuel McCord will be the tour guide -- safer for you that way!! New Orleans has never fully recovered from Hurricane Katrina sadly. :-(

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  2. I've never been to New Orleans, but love the atmosphere I hear of it. I think it's definitely a place to be experienced, though. :) You are very knowledgeable!

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    1. New Orleans is a one of a kind city - but go out with friends and not alone!! :-) Midnight says I'm very something! LOL

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  3. Excuse the accent, S'il vous plaît. 'Nawlins,' from what little I've seen, was the cultural epicenter; Jewel of the South. In ways 'Nawlins' reminds me alot of Frisco, in the respect Nawlins is the One Southern City with Culture unlike most; and alot like San Fran, in this respect...

    ....either way, I've been looking for my good friend Constantine. Not sure if He is still lurking in McCord's shadow, or hath traveled to another dimension.....
    He survived Katrina, and has been seen once or thrice, around Jackson Square. Tell me McCord hath not left John at the bottom of the Gulf Of Mexico....

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    1. Actually, our friend, John Constantine, will pop up in the next episode of Arrow next week. Hell will be a popping. :-)

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