Archive for the ‘Reviews’ Category

The Curious Ghost

by on Saturday, May 14th, 2016


One morning, from the balcony over my cafe at la Coquette, I spotted something new across the street. My curiosity became so strong that I had to take my coffee with me for a stroll. On Shotgun Row, we seem to have a sweet, slightly creepy toy museum.

Belina’s Little Toy Box Museum seemed totally invaded by mice when I peeked in. They live in the dollhouses and on the shelves. Adorable rag dolls are sitting around, watching them intensely. Outside in the garden, several happy little bunnies hopped around.
I really love the garden here. To sit outside on the veranda, feeling the wind in your hair and watching the lovely tree’s leaves swaying reminds you that it’s a good day to be alive (or undead, depending on your preference).

Visiting the toy museum made me think of another place here in the city. In Gloryville, right across from the St. Louis Cemetery, there is a dime museum called Professor Inglewood’s Grand Observatorium. The sign outside says, “No children or unaccompanied women” and “Not for the faint of heart!”

Of course this means I can’t share any photographs from inside, but I’m fascinated by the preserved mermaid and all the other strange mummies here. On the walls you’ll find ghost photographs, drawings of dissected bodies, and other interesting stuff. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many skeletons and skulls in the same place. Indeed, it’s a nice place to go before bedtime to conjure those special cozy, scary dreams.

The Ghost of Liza Veliz fell in love with New Toulouse at first sight. She publishes books by various authors; find them at her reading cafe on Shotgun Row. She also operates a tattoo parlor in Gloryville, at the corner of Royale and Rossignol.

Mondieu Reviews

by on Saturday, December 20th, 2014


New Toulouse on a Budget

Various locations
New Toulouse

Woke up at predawn with a terrible thirst. I’m at the Hôtel Sur le Toit, a Gloryville rooftop flop. Drank a couple cups of joe and breakfasted on marshmallows roasted over a burning Christmas tree. Need water or something, maybe some toast. Checked my pockets: L$30, less L$10 now for the room and board. At the alleyway entrance to the hotel, some derelict has set up house in a crate. My accommodations last night were practically posh in comparison.
Passing by Lafitte’s. Ugh, fish nog is responsible for the evil elves tapdancing behind my eyeballs. I’d tell Morty the barkeep to go to hell, except I think he has a vacation spot there already. Anyway I can’t afford hair of the dog right now.
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Fishy business in the city

by on Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

As I was taking my customary stroll around the French Market the other day, I noticed Crawdy’s, a recently opened seafood restaurant. Feeling hungry after my walk, I decided to see what this establishment had to offer.

My first impressions were favorable—the place was clean, bright, and fresh. I sincerely hoped that this was reflected in the food. My order was taken by a somewhat vacant-looking youth, and I wondered what might turn up on my plate.

Waiting for my meal, I noticed an old copy of the Tattler. As I leafed through the classified ads, my eye was caught by a heartfelt appeal from Miss Gigi Lapin asking if anyone had found her pet crawfish, Jimbo, who had disappeared near the docks. I recalled the numerous posters I had seen around town with a picture of the missing creature.

At that moment my meal arrived, and despite the boy’s gormless appearance, my “Crawdy’s Surprise” was everything I could have hoped for. As I chewed hungrily on the tasty crawfish, my mind turned again to poor Miss Gigi and her loss. A shocking thought occurred to me, but I decided to wait until I had cleared my plate before considering it further.

Miss Alva, engaged in a liberal application of hot sauce

Miss Alva, engaged in a liberal application of hot sauce

After a second helping, I asked the boy where he got his supplies. Becoming suddenly shifty, he mumbled that someone called Miz Vee took care of all that. Hardly surprised that he was not the owner of the diner but “juss the mannijah,” I asked him who owned the place. He told me that he had been shucking oysters on the docks one day and watching the unloading of a freighter from San Francisco. An elderly lady was particularly anxious about some crates and shouting at the longshoremen to be careful with her merchandise. The boy could not read what was written on the sides of the crates, because it was in Chinese characters (or maybe because he couldn’t read, period), but seeing the stencil of a smoking pipe, he assumed that she was in the tobacco industry. She gave a long sigh and said that it was good to be home. Noticing the boy, she asked him what in tarnation he was doing staring at a lady, and then to his surprise offered him a job at the diner.

Who is the mysterious lady behind Crawdy’s?

What are the ingredients of “Crawdy’s Surprise”?

Will Miss Gigi and her beloved Jimbo ever be reunited?

Francesca Alva is the proprietor of the Green-Eyed Fairy, a select establishment in the Rue du Bayou. She is entirely unconnected with Frankie’s, a miserable juke joint on the old site of the infamous Tarantula Arms.

Mondieu Reviews

by on Tuesday, August 12th, 2014


Not Just for Kids

Gamaliel’s Vintage Toys & Dolls
French Market, New Toulouse

You may know Mr. Gamaliel as the person who cracked the radio code and who, together with his wife Arijah Ankh Khalid-Zyn, operates Ravenwood Arts & Curios on Shotgun Row. He can be seen around town in various elaborate costumes. Now he has a new venture: a toy shop in the French Market district. Since was giving away free popcorn, naturally I had to take a look.

Why open a toy store in New Toulouse? He and his wife recently made a wooden doll for a little girl who visited Ravenwood. “I’ve done a lot of things in my life,” said Gamaliel. “Some good, some bad, and some … well, we’re not gonna go there. But it felt good making that doll—to know that someone will enjoy the hard work put into it. It also reminded me of my dad. When I was little, he carved me a wooden toy boat. It was probably the best gift I ever got from my old man, who lathed fine furniture by hand. So in a way, it was like living that all over again.”
Gamaliel has in stock a fine selection of handmade jigsaw puzzles with pictures of local scenery. He also sells toy planes and is giving away a special New Toulouse version as a gift. “It’s made of a really thin, lightweight strip of wood. The propeller is wound tightly by a flexible band that makes the propeller move, so when you toss it, it flies like the real thing. On my travels I met one of the Schweizer brothers, who was exhibiting a glider prototype. This is the best I could replicate it, but I figured I’d make it look like a biplane.”

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Mondieu Reviews

by on Thursday, June 19th, 2014


The Slammer

New Toulouse Parish Police Department
Pontalba Street, New Toulouse

Ah, the city jail. Who among us has not spent the occasional night in its warm embrace? Who among us is so staid as to have avoided any brushes with John Law?

Realizing that the answer is probably “a whole lot of you,” I headed to the parish police department to talk to some of its current guests. My camera was confiscated by an officer, so you will have to make do with this snapshot of the station’s exterior:
Meet Mr. X, inhabitant of the first cell. Estranged from his wife because of his sottish tendencies, and unable to afford a room because of his prodigious thirst for the demon rum, each night he drinks heavily and publicly misbehaves just enough so that he is collared by the law and thereby has a place to sleep. It’s a terrible solution, but one might have a grudging respect for the man’s ingenuity.

In the next cell over is a fellow accused of insulting a lady’s dignity. He loudly denies having insulted anyone’s dignity (“Whatever that means!”), and he equally denies ever having met a lady.

The other cell was unoccupied when I arrived, but I was quickly booked in for a comfortable stay. Earlier I hadn’t really been all that inebriated when hunger pangs struck as I was passing a vegetable stall at the market. For the record, potatoes aren’t meant to be eaten raw, and always pay the merchant when you take her wares. I don’t know if the potatoes were responsible, but I had the distinct feeling that my cell was haunted by a ghostly presence. I asked the officer on duty, and he said that yes, my cell was completely haunted. I ended up spending a restless night and checking out as early as possible.

All in all, the local lockup isn’t a terrible place to stay. The food is passable, the cots are firm and solid, and the rooms are pretty clean. Just try to avoid Cell #3.

Jack Mondieu is a bon vivant, a flâneur, a belletrist … but he also needs to pay the rent.