"Opium-Eater on Bourbon Street," 3 Quarks Daily, July 13, 2015.
One evening in early March, my husband and I ventured into the French Quarter in New Orleans. We were merely tourists, exploring that old settlement at the elbow of the Mississippi River, its strange contradictions of high and low, youth and age, Old World and New World—shop windows of silver sets and sequined masks alongside alligator heads and beads. We had walked through Jackson Square in the hush of a thick fog in the early morning. We had seen a subdued bronze plaque noting a slave market, though there is nothing to remind passers by of the men and women dressed in blue suits and calico and made to dance. That evening after nightfall, we turned onto Bourbon Street. Bar after bar, live bands blared classic rock covers. Young men strolled with their oversized hurricane drinks. A wispy silhouette of a woman danced in a window. On one balcony, young women danced topless and slung themselves over the ironwork while a gaggle of men ogled. A certain currency of bodies persists. Bourbon Street assaults the senses, alcohol numbs the effects. After a block of this abuse we turned the corner. Diminutive creole cottages leaned into the street with wooden shutters and prim geraniums. Down the way we noticed a bookshop. The light was on.
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