If you missed the introductory post of this five-part series, click here; otherwise, read on!
It was Friday the 13th. I should have known to expect the unexpected, but I’m not superstitious. I drove from Columbia, South Carolina to Charlotte, North Carolina without fear. I was and am stupid.
Since I’m all about efficiency, I spent my layover in Memphis inputting all addresses to the hotel and select galleries and museums into my iPhone. Between inputs, I ate one of the best BBQ sandwiches I’ve ever had.
It was so good that I almost made my final destination Jim Neely’s Bar-B-Cue restaurant in Memphis International Airport. I could have eaten the same meal there until Sunday morning. After convincing myself that New Orleans had food too, I boarded my connecting flight.
Delta 6152 arrived in New Orleans at 4:54 CST. What brought me to New Orleans in the first place was PhotoNola, the 8th annual photographic arts festival of New Orleans. I had a weekend of gallery openings and exhibitions planned. More about the photographic festival in the next few posts.
I was still calling it The Big Easy then, but it transitioned to The Little Difficult as I drove downtown in search of my first visual arts stop of the weekend, a portfolio review at Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
I found the Arts District with no trouble, but had difficulty navigating from my iPhone while driving in rain and darkness and in the newness of the city at rush hour. Enough excuses?
I made my way to the Arts District, two policemen stopped me at an intersection. One stood in front of me with arm outstretched in my direction. The other slid barricades in front of my rental car, blocking the street.
I opened the door to ask what was going on, but they motioned me to stay inside and stay quiet. These two cops were not cops. As I mentally counted the money that would soon be stolen from my wallet, a jazz band began to play in the street. Beads fell from balconies.
Masked people danced next to a single Mardi Gras float gliding down the street in front of me. It was December 13th. Mardi Gras is March 4th, 2014. The fake Mardi Gras stopped as soon as it started. The music stopped and the beads ceased falling from the sky. The fake cops removed the real barricades and motioned me forward.
At the next intersection, a white utility van with the logo, NolaFilms, on the side. Of course. A film crew. Costumed extras hung out on street corners. They laughed and talked and smoked and scanned phones and tablets. Behind me, the float was towed back for another take.
After making several passes near the Museum (according to the little pulsing blue dot moving along the small phone screen), I decided that “near” was as close as I would get without ditching the car and walking.
I parked in an abandoned factory parking lot about five blocks away (yes, yes I did), finding comfort in the little blue dot led me to the main entrance of the museum. I love technology… when it works. I left the museum and pulled out my iPhone to retrace my steps to the abandoned factory parking lot. The screen was black.
I hit the power button several times with no effect. I love technology… when it works. I’ve got an iPhone 4 with IOS 7. Go ahead and try to establish a full day’s charge on that device with that software, and actually use it.
I learned a valuable lesson once on a late night trip to St. Louis, Missouri, and I applied it to this trip. In St. Louis, I rushed from airport to rental car to hotel without noticing the make and model of the rental car. I woke up in a panic. I had not even paid attention where in the massive hotel parking lot I had parked.
At 3 am, I roamed the parking lot in St. Louis from row to row, hitting the panic button on the remote. The rental car keytag had the type of car, but that eliminated about three rental cars from a parking lot full of nearly identical rental cars. Eventually, I heard a horn that corresponded to my button pushes.
In New Orleans. I knew what make and model I was driving; however, I had yet to learn the lesson of remembering on which street I had parked. I relied on the navigation application in my trustworthy phone – the one with the dead battery.
I didn’t pass a single person on the streets. I felt like an unintentional extra on a huge movie set. I felt a little uneasy in the big easy. After a few hours of roaming the streets within five blocks of the museum in every direction, all the while pressing the panic button on the car remote, I finally heard a comforting sound of a panic horn from the darkness.
I pressed the button again and there was silence. I pressed again and again the horn sounded. I walked toward the flashing lights, tripping over large chains and pieces of wood and metal.
I drove through the parking lot of the abandoned factory dodging the debris that I just stumbled over. I drove past something that looked like human remains from the late 1990s. I’m sure it was not that, but maybe more like human remains from the early 2000s.
Now all I had to do was to find and check into my hotel. Did I mention that I had yet to learn the lesson of remembering the name and site of my hotel? Why remember when the information is safely stored in your smart phone? That’s called efficiency.
Next episode, I discover how much my life is really worth in money terms. Sadly, it’s not that much.