As you know, we almost never do lists, but we'll break the rule for a special occasion. To mark the launch of our new book, New Orleans Historic Hotels, here's ten facts you may not know about, well, hotels in New Orleans:
1. The first recognised hotel in NOLA opened in 1799. It was called...drum roll please...The Hotel d'Orleans. Hey guys, we need to name this place something and we open in ten minutes...any ideas?
2. In 1956, Sir Thomas Beecham (at that point the world's most respected classical conductor, essentially he was the Kanye West of classical music conducting) was ejected from the Maison de Ville Hotel by the owner for complaining about the jazz music coming over the wall from the Court of Two Sisters. He should have known better, really.
3. A box containing over a million dollars could be hidden somewhere in the Roosevelt Hotel. As Senator Huey Long lay on his deathbed, Seymour Weiss asked him where something called the ‘Deduct Box’ was, a container containing a vast amount of campaign funds, collected in cash and stored at his Roosevelt Hotel base. “I’ll tell you later, Seymour” said Long, before promptly dying. The box has never been found. Check under the bed next time you're there.
4. The oldest swimming pool in the French Quarter is in the courtyard of the Audubon Cottages on Dauphine Street. Liz Taylor stayed there a lot so she's probably had a dip.
5. Each evening at 10pm, Le Pavillon Hotel serves a complimentary supper feast of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to its guests, along with ice-cold milk and hot chocolate. This tradition was started in 1988, when a traveling salesman ordered this very thing at the bar as a symbol of sharing in his daughter’s supper even though she was at home, many miles away. The bartender that night was by chance the general manager of the hotel, and as fellow bar guests began to notice and ordered the same thing, the manager was so touched that he decided to make it a nightly service.
6. Tennessee Williams often claimed he was conceived at the Monteleone Hotel. Truman Capote claimed he was born in the hotel, though the hotel states that he wasn’t and that although his mother lived at the hotel during her pregnancy, she made it safely to the hospital in time for Truman’s birth.
7. Huey Long was a famously divisive character. In June of 1935, the Long camp had allegedly learned from a spy of theirs that a plot to kill Long was being discussed at the Democratic Conference, which was taking place that year at the DeSoto Hotel (now Le Pavillon). The surveillance operation would seem almost comic if it weren’t for the fatal consequences. Long’s aides had planted a staff member of theirs as a hotel insider, setting him up with a job as a desk clerk. This helped them gain access to all the rooms, and they were easily able to smuggle their people into suites neighboring the room where the suspected meeting was to take place. Using a long pole and a recording device, Long’s people snooped on the assassination plot, which they suspected was being hatched by New Orleans mayor Semmes Walmsley, various other high-ranking politicians and Dr. Carl Weiss, Huey Long’s eventual assassin. The hotel was thrust into a controversial limelight as the transcript was made public by Long the next day. Long was shot dead by Carl Weiss in Baton Rouge just thirty-six hours later.
8. The St Charles Hotel - which no longer exists - hosted presidents Taft, McKinley and Roosevelt, and had a dinner service so expensive it was said to be worth over $16,000 when it opened in 1837. Today that would be equivalent to $350,000.
9. Tennessee Williams wrote much of (and completed) A Streetcar Named Desire in Room 9 of the Maison de Ville Hotel.
10. In 2011, the fourth generation of family took over the running of the Monteleone Hotel. It is one of the last family-run grand hotels left in the United States.
There are things I do. Things I do that I only do on planes. These include, but are not limited to:
- Read current issues of The Economist, GQ and Esquire Magazines.
- Consult novelty gift catalogues.
- Take melatonin.
- Watch episodes of network sitcoms.
- Congratulate myself enthusiastically on not having children (actually I do this pretty regularly on terra firma, too, but the intensity of the self-congratulation is multiplied exponentially in the air).
It appears that one of the most common things other people do in the air - and only in the air - is drink canned tomato juice. Now, I do this a fair amount on land as well, mostly out of the perceived need to combat all the cancers that the Daily Mail say I'm going to get from immigrants, opening letters and, er, tomatoes, probably. Looking at my habits, though, I do pretty much exclusively drink tomato juice on a flight AND it's the only real time I drink it with Worcester Sauce. So far from being a lone freak, I DO have tomato-juice-based idiosyncratic behaviour on a flight.
This article was recently published, based on research by "Guillaume De Syon, a professor at Albright College and an aviation historian." He submits that drinnking tomato juice is a long-standing aviation tradition (um, OK). The article goes on to suggest a number of reasons we drink tomato juice in the air - it tastes better at altitude, it's learned/suggestible behaviour, it's simply because it's on the menu...before settling on the deafeningly unedifying ALL OF THE ABOVE. Thanks for that. I hope in 20 years we'll have the same academic insight into why we're watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory.
Oh, how New Orleans loves to hate on the hipsters, moving to a city from places and living here with their clothes and their legs like it's the most natural thing in the world. Yet the animosity for their brethren is part of a dance that's as old as time, or at least as old as a 64-year old trombonist, as this newspaper clip proves. It relates the fist use of the word in this city's newspaper of record, as part of the Great Jazz Wars of the 1950s, when progressive jazz musicians took up brass against the be-bop hipster musicians, in a time that historians now call a watershed moment of jazz on jazz violence. Here, Stan Kenton is, perhaps, standing on the wrong side of jazzstory with his stance against be-bop, and name-calling of the "cool, phoney and pseudo" hipsters - words now reclaimed by hipsters and used freely on the streets of the Bywater.
Hey, did you see that guy who (perhaps by plagiarising) wrote about his flight in those $23,000 Singapore Suites? We thought we'd relay our own expensive trip, on the world's most priciest train ride: The Heathrow Express. We eat crisps and lounge around like kings. READ IT HERE!