January 10th 2018
Story originally written and experienced: December 29th, 2017, to January 1st 2018
If I really think about it, it all started with Oprah.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“I was just calling to tell you that we were really impressed with your résumé, and we’d love to offer you a summer internship if you’re still interested,” said the voice on the other line.
It was from Oprah Magazine.
I freaked out.
I told everyone.
Including my friend Al Reade who responded, “Does that mean you’re moving to New York…and you’ll host a big party for New Year’s Eve?”
I had no money in my pocket.
Not a single clue where I’d be living yet.
But in my blacked out excitement said:
This still reigns supreme as the best blacked out decision I’ve ever made.
Because 7 years later? I’m still hostin.
And this year’s destination?
New Orleans, Louisiana
Fast forward >>>
15 friends from all < s t r e t c h e s > of the country signed up to come:
Kelly & Adams:
Cincinnati, OH & Chicago, IL
Lark & Erica:
Ross & Jenna:
Sarah & Galen:
We stayed in a tidy and gorgeous AirBnb just near Frenchmen Street.
That we treated with nothing but the utmost respect…of course:
Night one was one of epic reunions. Jumping UP and down at the immediate sight of each other’s faces the minute a member of the crew would walk through the door.
But soon afterwards, the melodious brass bands of Frenchmen Street were calling our names, and we had no choice but to answer. So we switched out of our airplane outfits:
Threw back some Trulys:
And followed the signs and sounds to Frenchmen. First stop? Bamboula’s. A bar I once witnessed a drummer perform with absolutely no hands:
(he strapped drumsticks to his wrists!)
And I place I couldn’t wait to revisit again. The music, the dance floor, and the vibe never ever disappoint. And this time was no different. We danced our damn hearts out.
And we were ready for more.
We busted out of Bamboula’s wide-eyed and excited for where to go next.
But the decision felt impossible.
And we still wanted more. Before we could even think of which last-minute bar to cram into our night, we saw this:
A rogue trumpeter pushing through the crowd, who took a hard
into a bar called 30/90 where he jumped on stage (with the already performing band) and nonchalantly began playing with them.
“…Let’s go where he’s going,” we unanimously decide. And the regrets were zero.
Minus the fact that one member (who shall not be named) got kicked out of this bar not once…but twice.
Cuing us to head home and barely rest up for day 2.
We were hungry.
We drooled over their daily specials
Ordered most of them:
And based on this uncovered footage of us, we thoroughly enjoyed them all:
Onto the next activity >>
Where we went: The Bulldog Uptown (highly recommend if you like great outdoor bars/enjoying life)
What we drank: Many. Many. Pitchers.
What we played: “Think and Drink”
How you play: One by one, each person around the table names a famous person, alive or dead, and the first letter of the celebrity’s last name is the letter the NEXT person uses to name THEIR person. The catch? While you think of a name, you drink. And if you name someone dead, the entire table is required to toast. Immediately. That happened a lot.
One more place, please. >>
In all honesty, I can’t recall the name of the last day-drinking destination we attended, but what I DO remember…were the clever, unassuming bathrooms signs disguised in fake French.
“Le Cocanballes” & “Lava Ginas”
Mad respect if you can decode them. If not, shoot me a text and I’ll reveal.*
*Just don’t be offended by my raunchy response.
May I have your attention please
After this pithy pit stop,
I experienced one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted in my damn life.
St. Roch Market should never be on your New Orleans sKiP list. It’s a decadent yet affordable southern food hall offering an array of delicious eats, the charbroiled oysters with lump crab and bacon bits from the “Elysian Oyster Bar” JUST TO NAME ONE.
You must visit. And you must order everything. Especially the oysters. That way, you can be just like us:
The rest of our evening consisted of us screaming different things in different locations. Like billboard hits and Game of Thrones monologues in the backyard:
To wrestling chants in the kitchen:
Finished off with “Rich Girl” at a Bourbon Street piano bar:
Then we went back home again to muster up our energy for day 3.
Today was the day. The last official day of 2017.
Time to put the cherry on top of this remarkably chaotic year…Lord knows we have plenty to drink about.
It was dreary outside as we hiked from our temporary home
all the way – – – – – – – – – — > to our brunch reservation at Sylvain.
But at least we got to read motivational words like this along the way:
But the walk was well worth it.
And thus, with full bellies and boozy brunch minds, we managed to take the one and only semi-full group photo for the weekend:
Time for pirates.
Lucky for us “Pirate Alley” was only 2 baby minutes away.
This time being the third.
Time for games.
After satisfying our appetite for absinthe and pirate booty, we zoomed >> through the drizzly weather over to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop—the oldest bar in the United States that was once a…blacksmith shop in the 1700s.
It was pitch black when we moseyed into the back room to post up, only illuminated by candlelight. To take advantage of this ultra-romantic setting, we whipped out digital games and went ape shit for hours.
That made us hungry.
Time to eat.
Disclaimer: Earlier that day I had done something strange. I called a very random and very local crawfish joint named “Today’s Cajun Seafood” and pre-ordered:
10 lbs of crawfish
10 lbs of jumbo shrimp
2 orders of potatoes, corn, and sausage
5 orders of cornbread
2 bags of Zappos chips
for pick up as our New Year’s Eve dinner.
Here’s how that panned out:
Essentially, we ate and ate and ate and ate and played with our food:
Until there was just one man standing:
Fed and now fiercely energetic, it was
Time for games.
To continue on the NYE pre-game, we played a whopping 2 hours of Code Names.
Boys vs. girls.
Based on Jared’s face, I’ll let you guess which team won…
Victory determined, the dance floor was calling our post-game names.
2018 was less than an hour away.
And we needed to find a party ASAP.
We walked. And walked. And walked. And walked.
And just couldn’t find any good place to go.
Bars were bursting with crowds. Cover charges were bringing us to tears.
Until we found the perfect place boasting the the best tagline:
No cover. Incredible band. Endless dancing. The decision was easy.
Just in time to hear the band jam out.
II Stop II for the countdown.
And blast Auld Lang Syne over and over again.
Our 2018 started with a jazzy and emotional high. And I didn’t want it to end. So after our 2-hour dancing extravaganza, essentially burning off all 20 lbs of seafood we had eaten earlier, we brought the party back to our place and kept the feelings wide awake:
Our eyes felt heavy circa 3AM.
But we were sure to squeeze in one more party before we boarded our planes the next day:
And that was that.
I Ubered to the airport with a lot of thoughts.
Mostly, I was losing my marbles about getting older.
Would this be one of the last New Year’s celebrations we’d ever have together? Would people begin dropping out in the name of age? Is there a reason I’m freaking out so much?
I blame society for this string of thoughts. They make aging feel like a regimented thing.
Once you’re this age you do this, and after this age you stop doing that.
I don’t like it.
We’re made to believe that going all out and growing up aren’t allowed to play together anymore. The correct aging aftermaths should always include: you being too tired, your friends being too tired, and your desire to stay up late, sing, or dance your heart out live permanently live in past, besides momentary pockets of “special occasions” when you do muster enough care to make it out for a night.
I think I’m wrong.
It think it’s a choice.
And you can have both—growing up and getting older—if you give a damn about the combo. This trip being a prime example:
My Uber ride was relatively long so I kept thinking.
And I remembered a quote I recently read from the late David Bowie that struck me in the greatest way.
“I think aging is extraordinary. It’s a process whereby you become the person you always should have been.”
And I couldn’t agree more. Every year I become a better professional, a better friend, a better partner, and hell, a more creative party planner. Things I could only achieve if years went by.
So fuck the youth fountain.
And bring on the extra wisdom and extended friendships.
And in the meantime, I’ll be hanging with a crew that refuses to sacrifice tradition in the name of age.
Happy New Year from my family to yours.