A storm rolled in from the West. The sky churned and blackened. Revelers, dressed in garish costumes, ran for cover beneath hotel lobby overhangs. They huddled together, staring into the dark sky, faces streaked with rain drops and mascara and multi-colored face paint. Royal Street was a milling multitude of drunks, zombies, drunken zombies, and people headed to the Golden State Warriors game.
Earlier in the day, I had walked down Rampart Street, thinking about this young NBA season. Thinking about the heavy chip that has been bored into the collective shoulder of this (still) young team. The night before, the Dubs took on the Rockets in Houston. My dad, watching in California had sent me a few increasingly exuberant texts.
Dubs up 15 going into the 4th. Ezeli continues to shine
Army of reserves in for our Boys...105 to 83 with 2:14 to go...Houston fans shoving each other out the exits...SWEET...Goodnight and good luck!
But walking down Rampart Street in the early Halloween half-light, I was overtaken by the darkening solemnity of the New Orleans morning.
Rampart Street was all torn up. I believe they are installing a brand new street car. That old institute of New Orleans public transportation. The road was a dirt swath of small puddles, ground water seeping up from the earth below. Sea level is oh so close everywhere you look.
I turned in to the Quarter. It smelled like the jungle. "Man, you leave a corner in the Quarter alone for a year or two you got yourself a goddamn forest, you know?'" a man had drunkenly said to me the night before. "Shit. Up in the north, north of the fairgrounds? They's was couple a old tennis courts or something? Man, Katrina came through, wiped that whole shit out. I mean, completely. And now it's a goddamn nature preserve! Animals grazing and shit."
Life teemed around me. The smell of plants and the smell of old houses -- paint peeling by the handful -- mixed in with the smell of the night before. You could see it on the ground. A broken beer bottle. Cigarette butts everywhere. Cockroaches that had been crushed underfoot.
I walked down Bourbon Street, curious what it held at 7:30am on a Halloween morning.
Street cleaners stood in front of buildings, spraying down the sidewalk with hoses. As I got closer to the center of the Quarter, I encountered more and more people still up. Clutching their plastic cups, weaving through the gray streets, trying to avoid the street cleaner's hose water puddles and failing. Some bars stay open all night down here. The ones still open were packed. In New Orleans, much like in New York, sometimes you can't tell if an outfit is a Halloween costume or just someone's get-up. Chains and iron neck shackles and such. A bare chested man in such attire nodded solemnly to me as I walked past. Raised his glass in solidarity and then turned and shuffled back into the bar.
Last night, after a full day at the conference, the storm finally broke. The sky opened. As I approached the Hotel Monteleone, I felt the first rain drop hit my face. A great green-orange-purple mass rolled towards the city.
I took this picture of the radar at 6:28pm.
The Warriors - Pelicans game started approximately two minutes later.
I was a mere half mile or so from the arena. It would've been so easy for me to keep on walking and go get a ticket, but I could not go.
--- = ---
Full disclosure: I have been in New Orleans since Wednesday morning.
Tuesday night, after watching the first half of the Warriors' opening night game, I finally forced myself to sleep (around 12:30am), and then woke at 3:30am to catch an early, godforsakenly early flight down to New Orleans.
I've been participating in the Faulkner Society's Words & Music literary festival.
Each day has been a whirlwind of conferences, group lunches, intense one on one meetings with editors and agents, and cocktail parties. I feel wined and dined.
Yet I did not see Stephen Curry drop 53 points.
I did not see him do this:
what you don't see in this Vine of Curry casually hitting a 30 foot 3 over the Brow is his sly smile as he runs back https://t.co/pxUhCDf9bW— a lone shrill shriek (@theshrillest) November 1, 2015
We witnessed Steph Curry MAGIC last night: https://t.co/WJd66K6IWh https://t.co/zyvJJCo4Rj— SB Nation (@SBNation) November 1, 2015
Or any of this, when he exploded for 28 points in the 3rd quarter:
Making it look easy, @StephenCurry30 scores 28(!!) in the 3rd quarter for the @Warriors! https://t.co/Ju6mqDromq— NBA (@NBA) November 1, 2015
I was less than a mile away, wearing a fancy suit, drinking fancy wine, and watching dear newly-made writer friends accept awards from the Faulkner Society.
It was a bittersweet night. I was at the gala to be recognized for my work, and I've made connections that could potentially last a lifetime, and yet all I wanted to do was strip off my goddamn suit, put on a Dubs sweatshirt, brave the storm and watch Steph blow up the world.
Oh well, next time.
The season is upon us. The Warriors are playing smart, they are playing hard, and they are playing with a chip on their shoulder the size of Zion Canyon.
Next game: At home versus the Grizzlies on Monday night.