I've been a part of the French Quarter on a daily and weekly basis for the last 10 years and a regular basis for the last 25. I've seen it all. Trannies hooking, gutter punks begging, two bit strippers fighting, bums dumpster diving, debutantes puking, - nothing can shock me anymore in the Quarter. That is until last night.
Never before was I so alarmed, shocked and frightened than I was last night at approximately 1:55 am when the music went silent and the lights went on and the bartender in the "locals bar" at Pat O's yelled "Last Call." Last Call at Pat O's at 2:00 am???? What is that. The flow of foot traffic as my group walked down Bourbon to our parking garage was so heavy in one direction we felt like we were fleeing some sort of imprisonment lest we ignore the military curfew. We were even called by a friend who told us to avoid Carrollton on our way home because there was a military checkpoint! A military checkpoint! On Carrollton no less!
Anyway, the purpose of our evening, besides the celebration of a friend's birthday, was to spend some money in the Quarter for a nice dinner, go and have some drinks at a bar or two and just feel normal again, even if just for a few hours. Unfortunately there were signs all night long that nothing was normal. The half empty restaurant that at better times on a Saturday night in December would have been busting from the seams. The Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Oklahoma, etc...License plates on work trucks illegally parked on sidewalks. The trash and refrigerators on the sidewalks. The empty art galleries. The sparse crowds. The weird, cheesy, bad vibe from the people who had hijacked the courtyard at Pat O' Briens (no doubt some sort of gentrification effort established by the Kenny's Key West crowd). And the denouement, the coup de grace, the cherry on the cake of a weird unnerving night in the French Quarter: Last Call at Pat O's. Lets hope we can all clear this nonsense up soon.