Category Archives: trips

Reporting Live, and Bleeding, from New Orleans.

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Why on earth am I back in New Orleans in July?  Mostly to show solidarity with Sister Mary Legs in the Air who is drilling down through the house renovation, but mostly because I need to pick out some windows and other detritus at the architectural salvage place.  I also want to take another run at antiques and, as always, I want some shrimp.

I got in late last night and somehow found myself up awake and at ’em early this morning, which is so very not my style.  Since I needed supplies, I wound up hanging around outside the Walgreen’s for them to open along with a most colorful gang of lowlifes.  It was like being on set at Warner’s between takes of some not-very-successful Bogart film.

Speaking of Not Our Sort At All, I flew Delta here and if you were wondering on which airlines people board without wearing their shoes (perhaps they didn’t understand they could put them back on after security, perhaps they just didn’t want to, perhaps they don’t have any.  Who knows) I have the answer for you.

And now my thumb has started bleeding mysteriously, like some stigmata.  I went over to the front desk for a bandaid and it’s telling that I stay here so much, I knew where they were when the clerk didn’t.

The temps and humidity combine to produce an ambience similar to a pot of water right before it boils.  Dear god, it’s good to be home.

Free to a Good Home, One Secret Agent

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Sister Mary Legs in the Air, Magda and me at the sketchy remains of my house in New Orleans, largely held together by blue tape.

Had I known what lay ahead of me just a few short hours later, I would have taken the chance to bury Fred in the backyard, dead or not.

The scene: mrpeene’s tasteful French Quarter hotel room, 4:30 AM as he bustles about, preparing to depart for San Francisco, becoming increasingly edgy as his calls to Secret Agent Fred go into voicemail, an exercise with Fred which is absolutely pointless.  One might as well write notes, seal them in old bourbon bottles and throw them in the Mississippi.

Finally, short lived relief as Fred calls in..  Short-lived because Fred’s contribution is nothing short of gibberish.  I could swear the phrase “argle bargle” is mixed in with the rest.

mrpeenee: “Queen, where are you, I know you are not packed, the car is waiting downstairs and we have to go.”

Secret Agent Fred: “aq;fhpovxcmsurg;dsajhfpentmbvhsd;dfhs,mfvhsf,snf.    Argle Bargle.”

mrpeenee, his voice raising with his blood pressure: “What?  Bitch what are trying to say, where are you?  This is the time I really am going to kill you and leave your body behind.”

Secret Agent Fred: “aq;fhpovxcmsurg;dsajhfpentmbvhsd;dfhs,mfvhsf,snf.”  and then, possibly, ” I’m right outside the hotel.”

mrpeenee, knowing full well better than to take this at face value, goes out on the balcony and sees no one resembling, even slightly, Fred. “Queen, I don’t know where the fuck you think you are, but it is not outside the hotel.  You get here NOW or I’m leaving you behind.”

Just then, I hear Fred’s dulcet tones coming into range and, sure enough, there he comes, shambling up Chartres street, still babbling into his phone.  At that point. I leave off talking into the phone and just start screaming threats and slurs down at him.  Fred is completely oblivious to many things, including the fact I am standing twenty feet from him so he stays on his phone.  Kids these days and their darn gizmos.  Despite the early hour on our very quiet street there are a great many onlookers taking this all in as some kind of colorful New Orleans street theater, like something out of Tennessee Williams.

Secret Agent Fred: “Drop a quarter in it, bitch”  I admit it, a phrase that has certain insouciant charm, but is not helping anything.

I run downstairs and grab Fred, still blabbering into his phone, and drag him past various street vagrants, neighbors, the house porter and the car driver, whom I assure, “We’ll be right back.”  He seems unimpressed.

Also unimpressed is the hotel night manager who only asks “Are you checking out?”  No, fathead, we’re rehearsing for the Golden Girls reunion.

In Fred’s room. I order him to take a quick shower.  He refuses and I explain he smells like he’s been rolling on the floor of a not very nice bar, a point which seems all too possible.  I finally yank his shirt off, give up on his pants since his belt seems to be welded shut and just give him a once over with a wash cloth and cold water, just to be mean.

As I frantically pack his suitcase and scream at him to get his goddamn clothes on, Fred takes the opportunity to critique my packing style by pulling out everything I’m able to stuff in, announcing “I want to wear that.”

I honestly have no idea how I got him out the hotel and into the car, but finally, we are on our way and Fred entertains our long-suffering driver and me with the details of his evening’s divertissements.  Choice snippets of my replies to this follow:

“You got punched in the face AGAIN?”

“Why would (our friend ) Levee hit a woman?”

“MUSHROOMS?  When the fuck did you have time to eat mushrooms?  How can you be tripping?  We have to get through security and on the plane in less than an hour.”

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh”

The last thing our driver said to me, as he bid us adieu, not doubt glad to be rid of us?  “He is never getting on that plane.”  Believe me, this was not news to me.

Amazingly we did, in no short thanks to my constantly hissing “Zip it” to Fred, who wanted to befriend every authority figure we encountered.  I can only assume the goons at the New Orleans airport have all seen plenty worse in their time.

God, they assure us, is a mill who may grind slow, but grinds incredibly fine and Fred got ground as finely as possible since airlines had cancelled our flight and wound us up hanging around the Dallas airport for SIX HOURS during which Fred mostly moaned and whimpered and I clarified that it was exactly what deserved.

When finally, finally, we got home Fred allowed as he thought he would stay home the next time I went to New Orleans.  “Who invited you?” was all I said.

Truly, it’s a good thing I love the old thing because I can’t tell you how many times drowning him in some mens room toilet seemed like a sensible idea.  It’s so nice to be home.

Again, Yo.

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Oh darlings, I’m so very sorry to have sort of drifted off like that.  Oops.  First there was my whirlwind tour of the south, then my computer died and then inertia won out once again.  But trust me, my thoughts were never far from you.  Except when I was thinking about snacks.

Austin was terribly amusing since I got to hang out with Diane von Austinburg and eat excellent Mexican food and I found a cock ring in a thrift store.

I visited with my white trash crazy family in Houston all of whom are still white trash, crazy and very amusing.  The less said, the better.

The night I got to New Orleans there was a parade.  Not for me, specifically, but for Halloween, but close enough.  It was the Krewe of Boo.  Is that adorable or what?

I had a lovely hotel.

And I got to visit with Jason from Night is Half Gone who took me out for the biggest banana split I have ever seen, cause the pound and a half of shrimp I had eaten for dinner shortly beforehand was apparently not enough.  He was charming as always.

Oh, and I bought a house.

My plan is to live there during the fall and winter and then flee back here to San Francisco to avoid the miserable heat, cause I have done my time with that bullshit.  It’s a block over from my best friend in a terribly cool neighborhood, has a huge yard and seems structurally sound, but shabby, just the thing an elderly poof needs as a hobby.

It’s been a rental for the last thirty or forty years, I’m sure we’ve all seen the equivalent dingy white paint and cheap bathrooms.

I intend to drag its sorry ass into the land of fagulous beauty.  My friend Stephen, who has lots of experience with renovations, is in charge of the remodeling and I’ve anointed myself as Queen Decorator.  Lots of turquoise.

I’m going back on Saturday for the inspection on Tuesday and unless that turns up a nest of alien invaders in one of the back rooms, I’m set.

News from Austin.

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I’m hiding out at Diane VonAustinberg’s for a few days as part of my 2013 World Peace and Enchilada Tour, which will also include a flying visit to my family in Houston and a longer one to New Orleans as a reward for putting up with the flying monkeys that comprise my beloved relatives.

Diane is,of course, the consumate hostess, aside from trying to kill me on her treadmill by luring me up on it backwards, like some crazed OK Go video.*  We had delicious Mexican food tonight and look forward to tearing it up in various thrift shops tomorrow.  The thrill of other people’s discarded crap!

*DVonA says:  I did nothing to lure Mr. P onto the treadmill (“I’m really getting quite good at this” he says, just before slipping off the end. “Except now I’m sort of dizzy.”).  I have done nothing but give him excellent directions to my house, which he ignored and which resulted in him taking an hour-long tour of the Texas hill country. Now, back to Mr. P.

Lies, all lies.  Although I am sort of dizzy.  Maybe I should go lay down.  Also, when I demanded candy to assist in the creative process, Diane denied having any and offered dried apples instead.  How am I supposed to sling wit and wisdom with dried up apples?

Possibly more travel bulletins as they occur.

More Southland

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Did Secret Agent Fred and I have a lovely time down in the southland?  Why, yes, yes we did.  Thanks for asking.

In Los Angeles, we repeated our “Fancy Ass Manicure and Mexican Food Tour” plus we added the thrill of making a pass by the Los Angeles County Museum to see the Big Rock.   Friends more in the know than little me had chastised me for going to LACMA last month and skipping said Rock so I was determined to show them up this time.

It’s supposed to be called “Levitated Mass,”but even the people that work in the museum refer to it as The Big Rock.  Here’s the scoop from the LA Times review of it:

  • “Levitated Mass” is a piece of isolated desert mystery cut into a dense urban setting that’s home to nearly 10 million people. A water-hungry lawn north of LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion was torn up and replaced by a dry, sun-blasted expanse of decomposed granite. A notched gray channel of polished concrete slices 456 feet across the empty field, set at a slight angle between the pavilion and 6th Street. Like a walk-in version of an alien landscape painting by Surrealist Yves Tanguy, quiet dynamism inflects a decidedly sepulchral scene.

Whatever.  It’s a big rock sitting on top of depressed (in every sense of the word) sidewalk and you walk under it.  It is just as artistically thrilling as it sounds.  As a big rock, on the other hand, it’s great.

We also drove out to Palm Springs where it was HOT, bitches.  I tried to enter into an appreciation of the blasto sun, like a lizard and that sort of worked.  Mostly I avoided it as much as you can in a desert, but I still got the blotchy red skin so very appealing in those of us descended from Vikings and other Northern European cabbage eaters.

Our charming bungalow was in a hotel very successfully decorated by Kelly Wearstler, the mistress of bold graphics and white paint.

I got to go swimming at night, which I love and ate hot fudge sundaes every night.  A perfect desert trip.

I also bought a painting by Chris DiVincente.  I love it, but I don’t have any room for it, so I’m negotiating for our friends Jan and Aaron to take a big ass photo off my hands to open up some space.

To Live and Die and Have a Birthday In LA

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I know some people, when celebrating their birthday with a trip, will go for a vigorous hike in the Cascades, or trek to Bhuthan to meditate with the monks.   Last week for my birthday (and sincere thanks to everybody who wished me a happy one, and all the rest of you miscreants also,) I went down to Los Angeles for a manicure.

It was well and truly the greatest manicure I’ve ever had.  The salon Secret Agent Fred and I went to had the severe white hush of a chic research lab and we each had a room all to ourselves so the technician could truly concentrate on our cuticles.

Also, tiny little fur brushes to whisk away the detritus from the emory board.  Dazzling.

Also quite charming was the always beautiful LA weather and lots of cute guys.

We were staying in a small hotel I quite like and which pretends to have a bar.  You sit down at a table, a server appears eventually, takes your order and then disappears.   One supposes they’re mixing drinks back in the laundry room.  I ordered a Lemon Drop because I am a Lady, I do Lady Things and it was served as a martini glass filled with Citron vodka.  That was it, no mixer, nothing, just liquor.  Turned out to go with my vicodin perfectly well.

And really great Mexican food, my favorite cuisine.  Why San Francisco is so lacking in it is a constant source of pain to me.

My favorite coffee place in the universe is a small San Francisco chain called Peet’s.  I was so glad to find one near our hotel and even more delighted to see they have valet parking.  It’s L.A. baby.

Thanks again to everyone for your birthday wishes, all of which came true.  It was a plenty Happy one.

Town and Country

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Secret Agent Fred and I just got back from a short trip to our friends Mark and Gaye up in Napa.  Napa was a sleepy farming burg which transformed, much like Aspen and the Hamptons, into a place where really rich people can go and complain to each other.  Nevertheless, it’s a lovely place and Mark and Gaye have a nice plain house there with a lavish vegetable garden.

The Wine Country.  This is certainly not Mark and Gaye’s  place.  It’s a snotty champagne winery that was rude to Fred so we left.

We hung out with chickens

And goats.

We ate such fabulous food, tomatoes and corn and basil and tarragon and lots and lots of squash all rushed from the garden to the kitchen where I was slinging serious hash.

As usual in the country, we found many dead things, like this ferret.  Fred’s the one on the left.

We picked tons of blackberries, just like when I was a sullen little white trash child in the wilds of Texas.

The garden was not just massively productive, but really pretty as well.  Because Mark likes to build things, every meal included a discussion about where to eat it, on the screened porch, on the patio, on the pergola, on the floating deck, on the terrace, yaddahyaddahyaddah.  This is one of the arbors.  The man needs to calm down.

But he very sweetly caught a bunch of little mosquito fish form their pond for the lily pond I’m  building.  He was srt of impressed until I admitted the “pond” is pretty much an oversized garbage can I bought and am filling up with water and lilies.  And mosquito fish, imported from Napa.

Normally I’m tepid about going to people’s “country place.”  I feel like if you’re sucker enough to get on the hook for a second house, I don’t know why I should be commandeered to come amuse you, but everyone I know who has one is always agitating for visitors to come justify the joint.  Still, I’m glad we went since it was a good time and Mark and Gaye are charming and we scored enough produce from their gardens to keep a small religious cult going for a couple of weeks.  What, exactly, Saki and I are supposed to do with it all is beyond me.

The mrpeenee That Care Forgot

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Vacation slide shows. Who doesn’t love them? I’m going to split this last little trip into the New Orleans and Austin segments to better drag it out. Whee! Let’s go!

We had a lovely time in New Orleans. Secret Agent Fred had never been and was most impressed with all the the charm, the architecture, the food, the cute boys, and mostly the law that allows you to take your cocktail with you out of the bar in a plastic Go Cup. There were many Go Cups involved.
Also involved was the ongoing misapprehension by about everyone we came in contact with (including the hotel desk clerk, who I’m pretty sure was an old trick of mine) that Fred was my spouse and that I was an abuser. Spousal Abuse! How hilarious. Fred had gotten in a brawl in a bar here the night before we left (oh, those Irish hooligans) that resulted in a broken jaw, a black eye, and various scrapes and bruises.


I thought about getting a tee shirt that said “Not My Fault” but I never got around to it.

It also resulted in us using a candy wrapper as an eye patch and a 40 of piss water beer as an accessory one late night in a patio at our hotel. It was a very late night.

The same night, same patio, I was a middle aged mutant ninja. I supposed it was result of all those people thinking I had popped Fred in the eye in some misguided homage to Rick James.
Speaking of happy times, we celebrated my birthday at one of my favorite joints, Liuzza’s, where we were joined by a gang of best old friends

Let’s just call them “The Girls.”

as well as Diane von Austinburg and blogger extraordinaire Jason from Night is Half Gone

who very, VERY sweetly brought my favorite birthday cake in the world, a New Orleans specialty called a Doberge. Rich and totally delicious.
We also got to hang out with Jason and his drastically good looking boyfriend at an odd bar outside the French Quarter. The joint had this bullet proof door you had to be buzzed in through, I suppose with the idea it would keep out the low lifes, but there were plenty more riff raff inside than out, so maybe that plan wasn’t working so well. Also, I have no pictures from that part of the evening because by then I was so loaded I apparently mistook my car keys for some kind of super spy camera and tried taking pictures with them. Again, another plan that so very didn’t work. Still Jason and his boyfriend John were funny and charming, just like his blog so it was fun.
Most of our time was just spent wandering around the French Quarter and the neighborhood next door, the Faubourg Marigny. During the prehistoric time I lived there, The Quarter was the gay neighborhood and Marigny a quiet little backwater, but time marches on and now The French Quarter is much too expensive real estate for impoverished poofters (like I was) and now all my friends have fled to the Faubourg, a charming area full of pretty houses that have benefitted from this migration.


My friend Cow Queen says the places that used to be cheap apartments in the Quarter are now vacation homes for out of towners. Certainly that would explain the odd, almost deserted quality its streets have at night now, so different from the crazy buzzing energy of my youth there.

It was sad and sort of poignant to walk them after midnight, as we did so often, and see so few people around. It reminds me how wildly lucky I was to be there when I was.
What else, let’s see….

At some point on every trip I make to the Old Country someone snaps a “I Walked with a Zombie” shot of me.

Our hotel, the Provincial, located directly across from where R Man and I used to live, had an unexpectedly charming bar in it. If you’re in town I recommend it.

You get home from a trip, look through your photos and wonder “Why did I take four pictures of a dumpster?” Then you remember you liked the color of the shutters and were, perhaps, a tiny bit loaded.

Our friend Rich has the most charming patio. Full of bananas and elephant ears and ginger, it’s like the definitive New Orleans setting.

So, yeah, a fabulous trip and a sweet reminder of how I love the old place.

Friendly Skies

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Darlings, I’m back. Fabulous, fabulous details abut my fabulous fabulous trip to follow, but for right now, let me cut to the bad news: traveling in other locales is great; traveling to them sucks. Especially on United. Should you have a choice between them and walking barefoot to your destination, let me weigh in strongly for the latter.
Our trip home was supposed to take about five hours yesterday. I got home this evening, 28 hours after I left our dear Diane von Austinburg’s embrace. We managed to get all the way to just above San Francisco Bay about the same time as a huge storm. The airport closed all but one runway which meant we circled around the Bay Area and other, less charming counties for two hours before we finally got our chance to take a crack at landing. That’s when our plane WAS STRUCK BY LIGHTNING.

I didn’t know that even happened except in disaster movies. Abort landing! Divert to Sacramento! Strand mrpeenee there so he has to spend the night in a very odd hotel and then take the train, a subway, and a bus to get home the next day!
I entertained myself at odd moments throughout the day battling with the evil United Airlines about the possibility of being reunited with my baggage, which apparently was meandering about Northern California in a carefree sort of way I can only envy. I finally wound up driving out to the airport here to retrieve it.
No wonder people turn into shut-ins. Right now it seems like a very attractive proposition. But I’m back and there have been times over the last day and a half when that seemed pretty unlikely so, you know, yay and all that.