Running the decrepit sidewalks of New Orleans

  Photo:  From yesterday in the Garden District.

Photo:  From yesterday in the Garden District.

Out the revolving door of the Sheraton onto Canal Street.  Run across two lanes of traffic, the street car in the middle, two more lanes of traffic and reach the other side.  It's late in the afternoon.   A nice assortment of unfortunate ragged souls line up against neon lit buildings.

A woman's high pitched yelling penetrates my headphones. Have gone just over a block.  She is ahead of me to the left.  Crying.  Her male companion and another man are fighting.  As in fists flying boxer style.  The other guy is a big brute and a much better boxer.  I keep running towards them.   Cristina would not be happy with me.  But it is a wide sidewalk.

 The little guy goes down.  Woman yells.  Little guy gets up.  Big guy says you want more.  Woman yells stooooop.  Little guy wants more.  Excited bystanders come bounding over to get a better look.  I keep going.   The next building down is the custom's office.  A guard is on the steps watching them slug it out.  As I approach, she decides it's over and looks the other way.

And this is the good part of town.

Am heading for the riverfront.  Have to pass several intersections to get there.  This normally wouldn't be too much of a problem.  But there's something missing - the bulbs in the pedestrian lights.  Try to figure out if can go or not based upon the traffic lights.  This is a bit of a guessing game.

Get to waterfront.  There are fences and tarps everywhere.  They are fixing it up.  A cruise ship is docked at one end.  Am going the other way.   The water is not that lovely to look at.  Brown water rarely is.  But there are no cars.  Pass a group of happy hippie kids with rings in their noses who are lounging on the water's edge getting high.  Reach the end of park, by the flea market in the french quarter.  Travel past the tourist section.  Into the residential district.  Very few cars here.  Like it better than the Garden District which ran yesterday. That district is nicer, but too busy.  And the sidewalks are even worse than here.

Actually there is no such thing as an actual sidewalk.  Bits of brick, slate, mud, or concrete chunks pave the bumpy, pock filled, hazardous way.   Sometimes with tree roots growing up out through and around them.  Looking like giant petrified tentacles.

A woman passes by on a brown bicycle with big white wall tires.  Workers are excavating a building.  A man is walking his two dogs.  The aged bassett hound turns and lift his head up towards me.  His sad left eye is opaque from a cataract.

The houses are generally ramshackle.  Some have given up completely and fallen into total disrepair.  Some have been revived quite nicely.  Others are painted brightly in garish colors.  Like tangerine orange, with blue and green trim.   Gates are rusted.  Or covered with paint that still shows the rust.  There are no straight lines.  Everything is crooked or bowed.  Mardi Gras beads slung over banisters.  A super-sized mask pinned to a screened door.

My eyes are focused downards almost always.  Watching out for holes and puddles and other booby traps within the broken bits of sidewalk.  Then of course, it darts out from under the car scurring across the sidewalk.  Disappearing under a garbage can.  One big fat rat.  Gross.

Gross.

Neighborhood taverns dot street corners.  Rumpled patrons hanging over the bars.   Round the next bend, and there's a coffee shop.  A preppie dude is sitting on the ground in front of it.  Earbuds in.  Talking on his cell phone.  Typing on his apple computer.  Look inside the windows - more of the same.

Weave in and out of all these little streets.  Back onto river trail.  Cross the non-pedestrian lighted intersections.  Through the revolving doors.  To the elevator.

Guy from AAJ convention is chatting with me on the way up.  Says he is going to go for a run too.   But in the gym.