Friday, January 21, 2005

Visit with 1 Giant Leap, New Orleans, LA, USA: DAY 4

Friday, 21 January 2005

I met Ken and Jody for breakfast in the Renaissance Hotel lobby and we had a nice breakfast in the bistro. Afterwards, we sat down and talked about their having paid for my hotel rooms for the past 3 nights. Their generosity helped finance my expenses for this trip and I am so very grateful to them. I don’t know why they love me, but they do! At that point, we said our good-byes and I went up to get my suitcase to make a switch to the Burgundy Bed and Breakfast that I had picked for the last few days in the city. I had expected my interview to have been completed by Friday and planned to spend the weekend down in the "gay" quarters of town. Unfortunately, this location was further away from the hotel and even further from Tipitina’s, which I was learning was the base for most of the crew activities. The night before, when we arrived back at the hotel, Jamie had asked me where I was staying and suggested I cancel my reservations at the B&B so that I could move to the hotel where the crew were staying. I called and found that I would have to pay out the first night anyway because it was within the 24-hour cancellation period of the B&B’s policy. I mentioned this to Jamie and misunderstood our conversation, thinking that he suggested I just go ahead and stay there that first night and that I should cancel the second night. So, I had called on Thursday to tell the owner that I would only be able to stay in his B&B on the first night of my reserved time. He sounded a little disappointed, but agreed.

I took a cab over to the Burgundy and checked in, where I met Carl Smith, one of the owners. He checked me into my room and we sat down to talk about why I was in town. I explained 1 Giant Leap and 2s2e and how I was there to be interviewed about my experiences as a gay man and a long-term survivor of HIV/AIDS. He and I had a very good conversation about being gay and HIV+ in the US and how he had recently returned from a stay of about 20 years in Germany with his partner and where he left 2 very good friends who are also long-term survivors of HIV. We talked about the resurgence of the Christian Right in this country and their fights against gay marriage. As we are from the same community, I didn’t need to explain to Carl how difficult it can be for multiple-nationality gay couples to immigrate to the US. At the end of a nice discussion of the state of our world, I told Carl that I was not sure when I would be interviewed or what I might get into in the next 24 hours. I was going to call Jamie to find out where I was to meet them and then I would join the crew for the day. I warned him that I might be very late returning so that he would be aware it would be me coming in if he heard noise in his home.

After that, I got my cases settled into my room and took what I would need for the day. I also called to check in with Jamie. He told me to join Duncan and Speech at Tipitina’s in the afternoon. I took about half an hour to check my email and then set out on foot to walk from the Marigny district through the French Quarter to find some lunch. I walked up a couple of blocks to Dauphine Street and then crossed west over to Frenchman Street. There, I turned south until I reached Decatur Street and started west again toward the French Quarter. Somewhere along the way, I came upon a movie that was being filmed in the street. There was a crowd gathered outside a place called "Flakes" and they were acting a scene where they were being told that there would not be enough cereal to go around for everyone, but that they were going to get their share of some other food. At that they all cheered, the director yelled cut and I was able to proceed down the street. Maybe the talk on not having enough food to go around sunk in or maybe I was just hungry. Either way, I decided that lunch would be a nice thing to do about that time, so I began to look for a nice diner or restaurant.

The sun had come out and the weather was warm and nice. With the change in weather, there was an accompanying change in atmosphere. People were out in droves in the French Quarter and the people watching was superb! I found a place to eat called the Corner Café, just off Jackson Square. I was greeted by a very happy, very cute waiter who cleared a table for me by the window facing Decatur Street and then proceeded to ask me what I wanted to drink, "Baby". Hmm…..A few minutes later, he came back and placed his hand on my back and asked me if I had decided on what I wanted to eat yet, "Sugar". OK, so I was getting the idea here…when he came back a few minutes later and tugged on my shirt under my right arm he said "I’m not trying to feel you up, Sweetie, but you had a string hanging off your shirt," at which point he went to the table right across from me and leaned over it to take the order of the ladies sitting there, thrusting his rear into the air directly in my line of sight. Hmmm…I tell you, we had already discussed the fact that wait people in the US are poorly paid and work for the tips that they get from their customers. I reminded myself of this and that he could be trying to pick me up or pick my pocket in a clever way, and decided just to enjoy any eye candy that was offered and to eat my crawfish salad in peace. The waiter was very attentive throughout my meal, and when he brought my check, I paid and looked around at least to acknowledge him but he was no where to be found at that time, so I left the restaurant and a slightly more than modest tip.

I had a desire to ride a streetcar, this being New Orleans and all. I decided to walk from Decatur up to Canal Street and then over to St. Charles Street to take a streetcar out to the Hotel where the gang was staying. When I got to St. Charles, I was tired and couldn’t find the trolley stops, so I took a cab instead and just had the driver take me straight, I mean, gaily forward, to Tipitina’s.

On arriving at Tip’s, I found that the side door was open and went inside to find Ben and Duncan set up with Speech on the club’s stage and his wife Yolanda watching as they cut tracks. As the lyrics were worked out, I was again called upon to hold the laptop for Speech while he rapped and performed a beautiful song whose lyrics are about the love that we all want and need. It is a beautiful song and it has a way of sticking with you…..a real earworm at work! So I had a grueling day listening to fantastic music while holding a small computer for each take that was recorded. What a way to spend your time, eh? How lucky can you be?? In down time, I learned that Speech was born in, where else, Wisconsin!

I also learned that Jamie was going to be traveling to Texas the next morning with Indie and Josh and I realized that we hadn’t done my interview yet. I began to think that perhaps the interview was not going to happen. Jamie was planning to take Jess and the girls for dinner that night to celebrate Jess’ birthday and I figured that was much more important. At some point, Jamie asked me if I would join them for Jess’ big celebration. I said to him that they should have some private time just for them and that I should just go back to my B$B. He then looked at me as if I had said something pretty stupid…..and replied "Don’t be silly. Jess wants you there. The more the better."

After the session was over, we were on the way back to hotel and Jamie told me that we were going to the hotel and that I could go up to my room, freshen up and then meet them in the lobby for dinner. That is when I realized that I had misunderstood something. I told him that I was staying at the B&B across town. He looked really surprised, but took it in stride. He had some errands to run, so I suggested I go fetch my suitcase from the B&B and come back to the hotel before dinner. That was the plan, so I checked into the hotel there on St. Charles, went to my room and left a few things and took time to call Carl to tell him that I would not actually be staying at his home that night after all and that I was coming to get my bag.

I had an entertaining ride over to get my bag with a cabbie who had a heavy New Orleans accent and a strong dislike for George W. Bush. He told me he thought that my former Senator, John Edwards and Senator Hillary Clinton should have been the Democratic ticket! I pondered that for a second and agreed that anything would be better than the warhawks we have now. When we arrived at the B&B, he waited outside while I went inside to pay for my unused room, and then he took me back to St. Charles Avenue.

At 8:45, we met for a quick drive to dinner at Maximo’s. Jamie and Jess led the way, followed by Karen, Soph, Monique, Antski and myself. When we arrived, we were taken upstairs to a nice table overlooking the street and enjoyed a wonderful meal. After we finished up, Josh, Ben, Duncan and Adriana came to join us. Soon, we were off to do a bit of bar hopping. We found DBA on Frenchman Street and stayed there for about an hour before a few of us decided to head back to the hotel and call it a night.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's amazing how you seem to have great conversations with random people. :)

and gaily forward? muahahaha ;)


1/30/2005 09:45:00 PM  

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