Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The past lies just past the Soulvaki...

I had an interesting weekend... but first, in my email box today I got the following image from my friend Ray:
Apparently, Captain Chaos and his sidekick made quite the impression because I've been told that there are many, many more pictures out there.

Anyway, I went to greek fest this weekend, which was as usual quite awesome. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping and the smell of ouzo and garlic filled the air. At some point though, I realized that sunscreen was a good idea, and so I went for a quick drive through the neighborhood in search of an open drugstore.

I used to go to UNO, which is not far from the festival, and so I am intimately familiar with the neighborhood. (I apologize to those of my readers that didn't attend UNO with me, because I'm about to go into detail and describe landmarks you aren't familiar with... please bear with me.) On my little quest for sunscreen, My heart sank as I drove past houses that looked like they were on the ass end of an ass beating. For those of you that remember the house where my first apartment in N.O. was, that entire neighborhood looks like it hasn't been touched since Katrina. Overgrown shells of houses that look like they're about to fall over loomed on either side of the Buick as I pulled onto Robert E. Lee. Here it is, almost two years after the storm and there was almost no sign of life on the river side of Leon C. Simon. Blvd.

Still I soldiered on, slowly realizing another way that the neighborhood looks completely different: all the trees are gone. That close to the lake, I'm not really surprised, but when I turned onto elysian fields my heart sank again... the supermarket... blanking on the name... something italian begining with a "C"... regardless... like the song says, ain't there no more. Nothing but a vacant lot where it and the local chineese place once stood. As I pulled into Walgreen's parking lot though, I saw this sight... which brought to the surface all the tears I had been fighting back:
This, boys and girls... is what is left of the Checkmate Lounge.

Again, for those readers unfimiliar with the place, this was the finish line for Kahunahhunt 1, the starting line for Kahunahhunt 2, and the site of many fun, happy nights with my closest friends.

I bought my sunscreen and decided to get my sorry butt to Greek Fest, ignoring the way all these sights made me feel. Plus that, by this point I really needed a good stiff drink handed to me by a pretty woman.

I was a little dissapointed that the live band didn't play for the bulk of the day like they usually do, but hey... I was there in the company of friends, in a shady spot with a cool breeze on my tummy... and the past (for the rest of that afternoon at least), decided to stay there.


Melinda Barton said...

NOoooooooooooooooo! Dude, the Checkmate gave birth to the Cult of Melinda! That place is a national historic landmark! Dangit! I so miss that place. I have had so many nights of making out with hot chicks there, especially that one tall, leggy bartender who looked like Xena. Damn, she was a good kisser.

lauren said...

Wow, the Checkmate. I wasn't a regular, but I do have some pretty fond memories of it - like at the beginning of KH2, running out the back door and shortcutting through the parking lot to the Wendy's drive-through, where we made an illegal left turn directly in front of Gothic Ranger's team, who was trying to pull out of the same drive-through, except he wasn't as daring about cutting off other teams or the oncoming traffic. Wussy-boy!

Not long after the storm, I drove through your old neighborhood and thought then that it looked like a bombed out wasteland. It's been more than a year since that visit, and even longer since the storm. It's a shame it's not getting any better out there.

In the mean time, how goes the guitar practice?