Monday, April 14, 2008


back from two days in new orleans - two dense, great, huge days in new orleans. somehow there was time to visit with friends, take a few long walks around the french quarter during the midnight hour, take pictures of plastic ponies galloping into the sky, ponder the fresh blood stains on the corner of the block where i was staying, ponder the city post-storm, meet the nicest electronics store man on the planet, enjoy my very first almond croissant, AND present radio stories to attentive ears at a cool old jazz club. (attracted our first mylar and boa-clothed listening room audience members, i do believe.)

i also encountered an impromptu etiquette lesson, very much sound-related. on the way back from that tasty croissant, katie and i wandered by one of countless junque shops in the french quarter. drawn in by the small, elaborately framed oil paintings of small barnyard animals in the window we entered the store to continue browsing. "those were painted by russian art students," i was told by an old-ish woman behind the counter. "they start at $55." too much for my budget, but i moved further into the crowded, dusty store and nearly unconsciously began quietly whistling a tune that had been stuck in my head all morning (by the bowerbirds, if you must know). almost immediately an even older woman sitting further back in the store in an ancient armchair, and wearing an enormous purple muumuu-type swath of fabric, launched into a tirade, "don't you be whistling in my house. there's a dog back here and you'll call him up to the front. and besides it's RUDE to whistle in someone's house." (huh? thought we were in a junque shop.)

the etiquette lesson didn't stop here. i kind of thought she was kidding at orleans is so filled with strange human behavior i couldn't imagine that someone who had obviously lived for decades in the thick of the french quarter was deeply offended by very quiet WHISTLING (what about the frat boys right outside her shop, er house, lugging around a case of miller light and shrieking about who knows what?) ...but she most certainly was, and continued to berate me as we exited the store/house, puzzled, slightly amused, a little bit indignant.

i've recovered enough to do some "research" and curiouly enough, found a few factoids
online which may explain where this grumpy old woman was coming from. could be i was standing there with my hands in my pocket, too. for shame! and let that be a lesson to anyone heading over to russia anytime soon, or anywhere else where such extreme behavior may get you into trouble. keep your whistles to yourself.

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