On Ritual Time

When was the last time you coordinated a rendezvous with someone saying “I’ll meet you before sunset?” I did that with my New Orleans host, Dimitry Lukashov because he keeps Shabbat, and I wanted to make sure I got to his place before he turned off his phone, in case I got lost.

You should try a sunrise or sunset based  rendezvous sometime. It is interesting to look at the sun as an actual practical time signal instead of just a maker of beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Very calming. Scheduling around natural times tends to add a natural fuzziness which can be relaxing or anxiety-provoking depending on your relationship to clock time.

Post-Shabbat on Saturday, we went downtown, wandered past Bourbon street and the touristy French Quarter to a nightlife block preferred by the locals (I forget the name). I felt my age I guess. It was still too chaotically “happening” for me.  We wrapped up the evening with a 1:00 AM breakfast at a famous local diner.

I am starting to feel my age. One of Dimitry’s housemates (he’s a graduating Tulane senior) said to me, “you’re staying with Dimitry, right?…. and are you kinda older?” That cracked me up. “Yup, much older,” I said. It is curious how blogging gets you connected to people in age-agnostic ways. The ribbonfarm/Tempo readership seems to span the age range 18-70. In almost any other context, I’d find it very weird, as a 36-year old, staying with a college senior. The blog/book road-trip context reduces it to “only slightly weird.”

Hard Takeoffs and Landings

This morning, I left New Orleans after a creole-inspired brunch. The restaurant had the biggest selection of hangover drinks I’ve ever seen, including a very complicated DIY Bloody Mary bar. I am afraid mine wasn’t very creative. Dimitry’s (on the right) was a work of art. I can’t do okra in a drink though.

I’ve been mulling Alain de Botton’s evocative description, in The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, of the tempo of industrial age workdays: “the hard takeoffs and landings of coffee and alcohol.”

In New Orleans, where the day seems to start around noon and end around 4:00 AM (the town allows you to walk around with alcohol containers on the streets and there is no legal last-call time), Alain de Botton’s description must be modified for New Orleans to “the hard takeoffs and landings of alcohol. Period.”

Though the city has great coffee, overall it is a far more relaxed place than any similar-sized city in America I’ve been. The locals have a curious self-perception of the city as actually being part of the Carribbean. An embassy for island time in the middle of mainland time perhaps.

I am also surprised by the number of people I am meeting on my travels who have quit coffee. Maybe we are heading towards a softer tempo age.





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  1. etcwarrionr says

    “The locals have a curious self-perception of the city as actually being part of the Carribbean.”

    The hot, humid, and rainy weather much of the year reinforces the idea. And an economy supported, in part, by tourism and seafood does too.

    New York gets credit as being “the city that never sleeps,” but I don’t think that’s been true for a long time. When I lived in midtown a few years ago, I had to take the subway to Harlem to do laundry after 9 pm. By many measures, pre-Katrina New Orleans deserved the never-sleeps title, but I suspect Las Vegas has proper claim to it at this point (though I haven’t worked in Vegas since the economy tanked). It’s the direct result of not having a last call in cities with large numbers of people that work in the hospitality/service industry. Waiters, cooks, and bartenders like to go out for drinks after work too.

    • Yes, Vegas is definitely the city that never sleeps. To the point that they try to remove all visible time signals from the interior of the casinos (no clocks).

      If you go to the Venetian in particular, which has a fake blue-sky ceiling, it is completely surreal. Frozen in a perennial fake Venetian evening. They have one gondola with a Venice style singing gondola man on their little artificial canal inside. It struck me, looking at that, that he was like Charon ferrying the dead across the Styx. I’d like my hell to be the Venetian.

      • I visited Macau (Asia’s Vegas) recently, which comes complete with it’s own Venetian, with it’s own copy of Venice. If it’s true that the original Venice long ago turned into a touristified version of itself, that means I visited a copy of a copy of a self-parody!

  2. Loved reading what you said about blogging connecting people across age differences. I’ve had the same experience.