Day off in NOLA and the drive to Austin: leisure reigns

Kerri O'Malley

New Orleans

[Ed's Note: Our journey through the fruited plains continues from Memphis headed south for New Orleans, otherwise known as The Big Easy. If you're just joining us read the first Imposition tour entry here and follow along accordingly.]

On our day off, we leave Baton Rouge to hang out in New Orleans before we have to pick up the final member of our tour team, videographer Janet Alexander, at the New Orleans airport at midnight.

After a short drive in the early afternoon, we spend what feels like three hundred million hours searching for a proper straight shave for our hairy friends, Derek and Blake, who have grown so beast-like that no one has been able to look them in the eyes for the past few days. After wandering around riverside, down more neighborhood streets, even trying to locate a barber in a unmarked door in a bank, we finally find the authentic article, and the boys gain clean faces and a greater sense of calm in a tiny hole-in-the- wall shop called Mr. Jack’s. By this time, we’ve all built a hunger so great that when Johnny’s Po-Boy turns out to be closed, we stop our shuffling and go down the street to Café Maspero for the less specifically titled “shrimp sandwiches” and other classic New Orleans dishes.

Full and less frustrated, we emerge on the streets with the remnants of iced strawberry daiquiris in big Styrofoam cups. We head straight to Bourbon Street to check out the madness and stop for street-side $2 tequila shots. A small kid pogos for a dollar (and eats it as we walk past). Girls with painted St. Pat’s-themed outfits stroll the streets with a bucket. A midget doorman circles his arm around a series of half-naked girls that dip in and out of a strip club’s open doors. It’s all neon lights, streets thick with afternoon drunks, families, and hustlers of all kinds.

Blake and I drop into the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street and pay a large sum for two different versions of the delicious green fairy (mine’s actually green). They give it to us in real glasses, lighting sugar cubes on fire and going through the motions, so we’re forced to down them pretty quick as the group grows anxious to keep moving. As we walk, Derek runs into the street before anyone realizes what’s happening and lifts his shirt to reveal his nipples and gets smacked in the head with a silver strand of plastic beads from a few girls leaning over the balcony above.

Frozen margaritas in hand, we leave the thick of it and head back towards the car, making our way to Fair Grinds coffee shop to see California’s Permanent Collection play. Before the band takes the stage in a small, sweaty room on the second story, we walk to the grocer’s down the street to grab a bottle of wine and a few loose beers, sipping slow on Fair Grinds' balcony. Back inside, Permanent Collection bassist Megan Dabkowski thrashed around front and center in a blue lace dress, the band ripping their heads back and forth to their fuzzed-out shoegaze. After the show ends, we chat on the balcony and decide to race them to Austin. If Permanent Collection beats us there, they get to keep Derek, and if we beat them, we keep their guitarist, Brenden Nerfa. We’re all hoping this will make the trip the next day go quicker (or at least that Brenden’s willing to drive back home).

But before Derek has to run for his life, we drive to the Saturn Bar to watch a bit of the Summer Girlfriends, Bad Indians, and Heavy Times show. Tony Clifton (the once mysterious alter-ego of Andy Kaufman, for those not in the know) shows up for some inexplicable reason in a shimmering pink blazer and promises to send me a 45-minute- long cover of “Rhinestone Cowboy” he once performed because the audience “just wouldn’t let me stop.” I give him my home address without hesitation. We hang out with Bad Indians and watch the Summer Girlfriends set from the dark balcony level above the stage, leaning over god-like and tipsy.

After only a few songs by Bad Indians, we get the call from Janet and have to leave, mouthing goodbyes and backing out of the door. We get stuck behind a stopped train that moves backward in what can only be described as a bad sign and pull into the airport a few minutes late after zooming off course. With Janet in the back, functioning at a much higher level than the rest of us at that point, we return to Baton Rouge to sleep it off.

The next morning marks our final trek to Austin, which starts off with breakfast at Louisiana’s first Waffle House, taken on the go as we realize our journey to Austin will be a few hours longer than anticipated. Derek sits in the front, rapping along to Biggie as he shovels grits into his mouth while driving. Not at that moment, unfortunately, but before we leave Louisiana, we get pulled over for the first time on the tour by a state trooper in a funny hat who makes Derek leave the car to chat after he nabs us in a speed trap on 10 West. The trip just got $150 more expensive.

Later, we get stuck in a traffic loop and tensions run high as we try to figure our way out, going in circles until it looks like someone in front of us just blasted through the construction cones on the ramp and it’s fair to join the crowd following suit. Blake does an interview with Newtown Radio in the car, and him and Nate suck on The Great Divide ice cream pops while we pass around a dirty story to read and discuss.

Only a few miles outside of Austin, we stop at a Buc-ee’s and debate what animal a buc-ee is – its face plastered on everything inside the huge supermarket – (spoiler: it’s a beaver) and Blake purchases the first Lone Star of the trip.

We pull into Austin around 9:30 and meet our condo. She’s beautiful! Two bedrooms, a spacious living room with a futon, and a porch view of the pool and hot tub. Derek drops us off downtown and we all split for a bit – most of the team meeting up at Cheer Up Charlies to chat with other Impose-rs, Chris Powell and Chris Robbins. I hang out and catch up with friends after hours, beating the others back to the condo by about five minutes. Kayla Wroblewski, friend and partner in crime for my time in Austin, and I admire the pool from behind the gate until we realize it’s unlocked and we run in to wait for the others in the hot tub. When they arrive, the others scale the now-locked fence and kick off South By right with the Impose Hot Tub Party (still with Genesee).

Next: the Impose Austin Orgy. RSVP still open!

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