Like A Virgin But Not Quite

Last weekend was hardly the first New Orleans rodeo for this group of 40-something moms, not by a long shot. Some in our group are nawlins born and bred, some live there now, others have a vacation pad there, several are Jazzfest regulars, others went to Tulane, and some of us just choose to spend an excessive amount of time in the big easy without the veil of one of these more appropriate excuses. Clearly I fall into the latter category.

I kicked off this special trip by meeting a college friend for lunch at one of my favorite uptown spots, Lilette…where I have proudly (or embarrassingly) lunched no less than four times this calendar year alone. I love their antipasto platter so much that I ordered it as my lunch, thus channeling my Italian mob princess alter that we will henceforth lovingly refer to as Lotta Burrata. (Foodies should get that.) Let’s just say my hotel roomie for the weekend is very lucky I’m not lactose intolerant.

The rest of the girls rolled into town and hype for the weekend continued to build. We kicked things off at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel, which became our unofficial headquarters for the weekend. Dinner was at John Besh’s restaurant Luke which has some fancy double-dot punctuation marks over the “u” but I don’t know how to make those from his keyboard. I loved my meal but definitely had serious pomme frites envy, I desperately wished I’d ordered them so learn from my mistake if you find yourself at Luke’s.

You’ll notice an uncharacteristic lack of photos so far in this post. As much as we’re practically New Orleans professionals (that came out wrong), somehow on the fist day we forgot that it’s always better to take pictures during the day or even at dinner while we still have hair coiffed, shoes on, and mascara coating lashes not cheeks. Instead, all the cameras came out late nite. Rookie move.

I don’t know who led us into this uptown bar called 45 Tchoup but it was a blast. We drank yellow beer and made lots of friends! Okay so we didn’t make any friends but one woman was magnanimous enough to scoot us out of the way of an active dart tourney. And the hilarious couple dressed as Arkansas football coach Petrino + his Sooie Mistress didn’t seem that irritated when we asked for their picture.

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Next stop…back to the lovely Roosevelt Hotel. Hey, where is everybody? What time is it anyway?

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How could the Sazerac Bar refuse us one more round of laughs? Turns out they couldn’t…

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Now every good girls trip needs a battle cry that emerges organically sometime during the weekend. Ours came the first night and while I’m thoroughly fuzzy on its original context/application, I think we can all agree on who deserves credit as being its author:

rise and shine bitches

We all adopted it collectively. It’s amazing how many times this worked its way into the weekend vernacular. Like when we were trying to figure out whether or not to meet Saturday morning for mimosas. Or when the restaurant gave us complimentary shots that tasted like Sunny D orange juice. Why just toast and say Cheers when instead you can toast and say “Rise and Shine Bitches!”. It’s the new I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar! It’s like a Gloria Steinem version of the old Army slogan, Be All That You Can Be! I will say, since the trip is over, my husband keeps telling me it’s not as relevant as often as I think it is.

It was a slow process but we did rise and shine to face Day Two. One member of our party struggled in the cab toward our lunch spot, begging for the windows to be rolled down and hanging her head out the van like a dog on the way to the vet. Within about 18 yards of the restaurant she had the driver pull over so she could walk al fresca. Despite his protests that we were almost there, as in just a few yards away, she simply needed air. Nothing a little sugary Coke couldn’t settle! She was AOK soon enough and gracefully deflected all the heckling about succumbing to First-Nite-Itis.

Lunch was at Coquette on Magazine Street and I have to say, Coquette might be my new favorite restaurant in New Orleans. Lord knows I had plenty of time to assess as we were there for about three hours and forty-five minutes! How much do we love a long lunch?

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Milk Punch. It Does A Body Good! (Probably not, actually.)

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Food was fresh and delicious. Veal scaloppini with succulent chanterelles, bistro burger with pomme frites, carrot ravioli, chocolate mini beignets and mint ice cream. No, this was not all mine. But for the record, I did have a wandering fork this time with the pomme frites….they had to have been cooked in some sort of special fat du cunard flown in from France yesterday. On the Concord. They were that good.

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Lots of laughs, lots of catching up, a very happy marathon lunch at Coquette…

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Before we knew it, the day was slipping away. The main event was still to come and like Superman we had to find a phone booth STAT to make quick costume changes for the evening.

And voila Hey Mr DJ, Lucky Star, Material Girl, and Lucky Star II. Sadly the aerodynamics of my wig were off kilter, the bow was too heavy for the cheap synthetic hair to hold it up. So I ditched the wig.

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Before the concert we needed a quick dinner and had a wonderful table at SoBou in the quarter. Based on the name I assumed it was Asian but it wasn’t at all. It’s a chic Commander’s family restaurant with an upscale tavern theme offering mostly small plates. Very fun scene “south of bourbon”.

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Sunny D shots, boudin balls, fancy mac-n-cheese. But hands down the Cochon du Lait gumbo (shown bottom right) is the way to go. Served old-school cajun style with warm potato salad dropped right in the center.

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Between Halloween, a plastic surgery convention, Voodoofest, and the Madonna concert, I think the restaurant was a tad overwhelmed by the crowds because the small plates came slowly. We logged another three hours at the dinner table, which means we spent roughly seven hours cumulative on Saturday sitting at meals. It’s a miracle no one developed saddle sores. Although I’m pretty sure of all places, a New Orleans pharmacy would have an all-purpose salve on-the-ready if needed. Luckily my hotel roomie and I — who had booked a room at the Ritz on points last minute and had to share a king — had the foresight to have ordered room service for breakfast, so we spent at least one meal of the day lying down. (By the way, sorry again for spilling some of my asparagus frittata on your side of the comforter.)

The meal was a blast and once we settled up we were raring to get ourselves to the New Orleans Arena for some MADONNA MANIA.

Turns out we weren’t the only midlife moms at the Madonna show. Gays and forty-something nostalgic white women seem to be her target audience. Scanning the crowd, it was pretty much all men in chaps and the land of a thousand book clubs. But we were clearly the most fun.

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The lights, the crowds, the smoke. It was all very exciting and hopeful…until it started. I’m sorry to burst any Material Girl Envy Bubble you might be floating in, but the concert was a bit of a bust. I realize Madonna has always been about provocative, edgy, shock value…but these days she is simply an angry old woman. Don’t get me wrong, she looks fantastic. Her dance moves are mind-blowing. But for the first twenty-five minutes we saw nothing but violent machine gun wars, blowing people’s heads off, songs about shooting lovers dead, paegan sex rituals, thwarted rape scenes in dicey motels. No one was singing along, because no one knew any of the dark bizarro lyrics. Apparently Madge has been recording, in vain, some new tracks since the 1987-1991 material we were looking for. It wasn’t even danceable music. My friend tapped me on the shoulder and shouted in my ear, “I think she’s misunderstanding why we’re here.”

After a few costume changes and more rounds of new music – gag – she took a break to talk with the audience. Her annoying political tirade laced with f-bombs wasn’t nearly as offensive as when she shouted to the right side of the arena and told them to “get off their asses and dance because it looked like they could use the exercise.”

Don’t look at us, we just had small plates for dinner.

At one point she was writhing on the floor in the dark blathering on when someone realized it was the Like A Virgin lyrics in weird ballad-monologue form. I was patient, she needs some variety after so many years performing, I get it. Artists need to change things up. She’ll kick into the real version in a sec.

But she never did.

It was two hours of new awful music, with only THREE classic songs! The crowd went nuts when she did Express Yourself, Vogue, and Like A Prayer. But that was it. There were some altered versions of Justify My Love and Open Your Heart which didn’t totally suck. Apparently the only thing Madonna is nostalgic for is her own derriere because at one point she walked to the front of the stage, pulled down her pants, and stuck it into the camera so it showed on the jumbotron….for like ninety seconds. Hello? People were laughing! It’s not that her posterior isn’t still great looking, it is. But a peekabo would have brought cheers. It lasted so long it started to feel like a fifty-something recently divorced once clubby pop star pulling out her only late nite party trick. It went about 80 seconds into pathetic.

Why in the world couldn’t she just give us more of what we all wanted? Everyone was talking about it as we poured out of the arena. I’ve seen Willie Nelson countless times, he always gives you 97% old stuff and like 3-4 new songs. My friend said the same about seeing U2. Diana Ross knows where her bread is buttered…the past! Her concert was a ball. And these examples are actual musicians with real talent, we probably could use more new music from them. Madonna is experiencing a grave perception-reality gap. Oh, and did I mention she’s taken to pretending to play the guitar?

Other than suffering through the painful result of Madonna’s recent time in the studio, the weekend was an off-the-chart success. And as one in our party noted, even the fail of a concert was a laugh we’ll never forget. It was late nights and good food with old friends that I love dearly…I could not have asked for more. Just like a prayer.

{Special shoutout to my Mobile AL girlfriends who stepped out with me last Thursday and helped me pre-kickoff the big weekend. Yall really got me “into the groove!” xo}

 

(Copyright 2012 by Christine Warren)

Express Yourself: Have you ever seen a Big Name concert that totally disappointed?  Or delivered? Leave a comment, can’t wait to compare notes.

24 thoughts on “Like A Virgin But Not Quite

  1. Pingback: Like A Virgin But Not Quite - Daily Bag Limit - Fish talk

  2. Had a blast with y’all!! Love your post about the weekend – especially the description of the Madonna concert. Dead on.

  3. I couldn’t have said any of it better myself! What a fantastic weekend! It’s hard to tell from the pictures who the “dog on the way to the vet” was…hmmmm. It could have been any one of us!

    Thanks ladies for creating some great memories!

  4. Oh the “dog” has nothing to be ashamed of! she avoided disaster b/c she saw the signs, knew the drill and had the wherewithal to get out for fresh air. I think we call that MATURITY. (read: EXPERIENCE)

    it was a BALL! xxoo

  5. The eating continued…The only thing I would add is a picture of our table of food at SATCO in Nashville after we returned Sunday afternoon!

  6. New Orleans AND champagne?? I don’t know whether to love you or be incredibly jealous….. well, hey, let’s try both. I MISS my girls’ weekends and I MIIIIISS (can you hear the whine in my voice??) New Orleans!! I can’t say I am jealous of the Madonna concert. Haven’t liked her since pre-Evita (though I did like her then). But you look like you had a blast… Time to detox my girl.
    The Detox Diva recently posted..#CTWW Zero Impact:: The Whole CoconutMy Profile

  7. @harkness — oh jen sent me a snaphot of the carnage. impressive. enviable.

    @detoxdiva — we DID have a blast and yes, the detox is much needed. kale chia smoothies start back tomorrow!

  8. Highlight of the concert, hands down, was Just Like A Prayer. Stage packed with a choir (robed sinner backup singers) that were dancing and belting it out. Madonna front and center. We pushed toward the stage and danced like maniacs. THAT was worth it!

  9. What scrumptious description of a perfect weekend in NOLA! I feel like I was there with y’all!

  10. Pingback: I Heart Alabama Music. (State, not Band.) - Daily Bag Limit - Fish talk

  11. Excellent blog about our weekend! Thanks for recapping it for all of us. Looking forward to getting together again.

  12. Pingback: My Pupusa Brings All The Boys To the Yard - Daily Bag Limit - Fish talk

  13. I just saw Madonna’s concert 2 weeks ago. We had a phenomenal time! It was by far the best concert I have ever seen – and I’ve seen about 50 other bands/artists. I LOVED that first 20 minutes! Wild!
    I loved that the concert made me feel everything from fear to utter joy, sadness, introspection, everything! Just like a movie in a way. It is more of an experience I found than a concert. I wish I could see it again.
    The old songs are okay and since she was younger then I understand why she had more hits because people her age (now) unfortunately do not get played on mainstream radio. But I love her music from the last 10 years the most, especially this past album so I was overjoyed with the songs sung. I can watch her sing all her old stuff on youtube from years gone past.

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