In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead. . . and Other Stories

In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead. . . and Other Stories

We spent a week in #NewOrleans and enjoyed the #culture by taking two unorthodox tours. The first #tour took us through cemeteries and other eerie, supernatural spots. The second tour was filled with #alcohol and #history. What could be better than that?


‘Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues, In the middle of the pouring rain.’

Marc Cohn’s lyrics rang true as the Good Wife and I arrived to a good ol Southern downpour. Should have expected it. July 2015 has been one of the wettest Louisiana summers on record, and all smug tourists know to stay away during hurricane season, deal or no deal.

But it was something about Hurricane Katrina, flashbacks of Angel Heart, neon ghosts of Confederate generals, Voodoo queen Marie Laveau and The Interview with the Vampire history, that makes the Big Sleazy the kinda place you just have to check out, at least once every lifetime.

And what better place to start than the French Quarter. Our hotel was the 3-Star Hotel Wydnham New Orleans smack bang in the Quarter, with a McDonalds across the road and within walking distance of all the best Vieux Carre attractions.

from  $109.15

Hotel Wyndham New Orleans - French Quarter

 124 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
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Purple Thunderclouds Roiling

Emerging after check-in into the humidity and purple thunderclouds roiling on the horizon, we soon spotted Gallier House, built in 1857 and one of the architectural icons of the French Quarter. Gallier House was also New Orleans’ born Anne Rice’s inspiration for Louis and Lestat’s New Orleans residence in Interview with the Vampire. 

We arrived late, just after 5pm, and so we had the place to ourselves. In the sun-stippled gloom of the late afternoon, the beautifully restored period furniture and surrounds created an ambiance in which we could sense the contented presence of ghosts, such as James Gallier, still believed to actively haunt this fine old building.

we could sense the contented presence of ghosts, such as James Gallier

With the sun rapidly sinking, we gained late access to The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, crouched between Bourbon and Royal. Voodoo has played a genuine role in shaping ’N’Awlins,’ and this museum provided us with a straight-talking insight into the rich religious culture that still has deep roots in the city.

Shriveled Alligator’s Foot

It also called to mind a line from JLB’s Dixie City Jam: ‘Your friend wears a dime on a string around his ankle. He carries a shriveled alligator's foot in his pocket. He had bones in his suitcase. The murder has all the characteristics of a ritual killing. If you were in my place, who would be your first suspect?'

While the person being discussed here is a Catholic Creole, there is nevertheless a deeper mysticism that pervades the Crescent City, enhanced no doubt by its candied scent of jasmine with Caribbean notes and hint of garlic. It was in this expectant twilit mood we arrived at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, along Basin. 

In this cemetery, Louis of The Vampire Chronicles fame sits on his tomb and broods, while rumour has it Anne Rice has purchased a tomb here.

Witch Queen of New Orleans

While this is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans, it is certainly not one of the quietest, although it’s not surprising that St Louis No.1 draws visitors of the unconventional, artistic type. Aside from the vampire film connection, the legendary Witch Queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau, is supposedly interred here, while Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda famously dropped acid here in the Sixties classic Easy Rider.

Purple Drank

How then could I resist a friendly offer of a pull or three from a Sprite bottle, laced with ‘somethin good’? 

To this day, I believe that that bottle contained not spiked Sprite but ‘sizzurp’ or ‘purple drank’, the promethazine codeine cough syrup apparently favoured by Lil Wayne, eulogised by Far East Movement in ‘Like a G6’ ("Sippin sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6") and generally abused by Southern rappers. 

In no time, I’m starting to feel like Detective Dave Robicheaux in JLB’s In The Electric Mist With Confederate Dead just after he had his Dr Pepper laced with LSD.

Bewitched by the Eerie

Encircled by a river and a lake, New Orleans is basically under sea level, which explains the wispy mist that suddenly rolls into the open spaces of the city, like it was now rolling into the cemetery. 

Unlike Robicheaux, who went off in a daze where he encountered Confederate soldiers and their General, John Bell Hood, I am simply bewitched by the eerie, religious sculptures in this huge, labyrinthine cemetery. I can safely say it has an atmosphere that is very, very unearthly. . . ‘purple drank’ or not.

I can safely say it has an atmosphere that is very, very unearthly

For an excellent two hour guided ‘Cemetery and Voodoo Walking Tour’, including an authentic souvenir gris-gris bag, Grey Line New Orleans is a great choice. 

from  $26

Gray Line Voodoo Tour

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 French Quarter, New Orleans, LA, United States
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Immortal City

My final memory of that first and best night, was coffee and sugared beignets at the Café du Monde at some ungodly time of the morning. With jazz still playing and people seemingly out of every era imaginable walking past, it seemed at that moment that New Orleans was indeed an immortal city. . . beloved of residents, ghosts and globetrotters alike.

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