'Easy' does it 

I've been robbed. Of my money. And my dignity.

I'm in New Orleans, where pure grain alcohol is the base stock for a spicy gumbo of a city. I've had a 190-proof daiquiri in my hand seemingly constantly since picking one up at a drive-thru (!) just outside the airport.

Slurping sweet oblivion through a straw is not how I lost my economical and emotional valuables, however. I didn't overindulge and get rolled in an alley or anything like that. I managed to lose my grip through running the courtyard gauntlet of shot girls at Razzoo, a high energy Bourbon Street anchor flanked by strip clubs that were as abundant as push pins on a map of tourist traps. Ah, the pure grain Pied Piper, it almost makes Mako's make sense. Almost.

At Razzoo, where my friend Chastity 'tends, I managed to receive four blowjobs (whipped cream and jello shots, of course). And I haven't had so many girls put so many things deep in their throats for me in a long time (OK, they were just test tubes of liqueur poured down my throat). Yet I still left frustrated, probably because I'm a cheap bastard with a surprisingly high tolerance. I was disappointed I didn't end up seeing a flurry of fleur-de-lis in place of stars. Though having Ricki's cans (and not the overpriced beer kind) on my nose was a highlight.

Now, I'm not condoning the extent of alcohol abuse in this booze-steeped bayou, but one thing I admire is that once you reach the French Quarter's fringe, this is a city where everybody's not simply out to get theirs, it's a place where they're out to be themselves, not part of the scene. In New Orleans, you may be dosing yourself to avoid reality, but you're likely not doing it to feign sophistication or any other trait.

It seems there's a bar for everyone to be with their own kind. Over two nights, I visited almost a dozen of them, including The Bar, a haven for gamers and geeks in Metairie's "Fat City District" (a poor man's French Quarter, vaguely exhibiting Confederate pride); Circle Bar, a homey, former home-cum-hipster performance space known for its "Mod Dance Party"; Lotsa Luck, a converted, decrepit double-wide trailer randomly dotted in a residential neighborhood; and Tyler's Beer Garden, an Orleans Street depot offering a hella good po'boy in the early a.m. There are also bunkers of debauchery for nearly every taste, whether your threshold stops at strippers (at, say, Scarlett's, like the Cheetah) or full-on sexcapades (Colette's, like Trapeze).

Something about the weekend gave me an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, however. And it wasn't just because of the Bacardi 151 and the shots. I guess I actually am a year older and a year wiser and am beginning to recognize the folly of coveting the shot-fueled exhibitionist life best left to 22-year-olds or martini minglers. The more I travel, the more I appreciate the stability of the unassuming neighborhood bar, and the more I value my dwindling dignity.

Greetings from the Big Easy. Which isn't always.

Keep one RedEye open. And send all comments, questions, observations and invitations to redeye@creativeloafing.com.

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