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The NOLA Chronicles


The Wizard Joseph:

The train ride from LaCrosse Amtrak Station took me first to Chicago, Then all the way south by way of Memphis to the station on Loyola in my fair Nola, though I did not know New Orleans, Louisiana by that Name at the time. I truly did not know Her yet at all.

It was almost a solid two day trip with the layover in Chi-town. I wish I could say it was peaceful but some sadistic young woman played an obnoxious audio file on her phone nonstop. It was all noise and even had the horrible "worst sound in the world" from Dumb And Dumber. Apparently this was her idea of retaliation for my snoring, but this claim did not come to light until near the end of the journey. I and the other passengers endured it until she finally disembarked about 5 hours out from my stop.

By this time I was struck first by the trees being DIFFERENT as I looked out the window at the scenery rolling by me. It helped me to not think about how few people I had been in company with wore their masks correctly and consistently. Thinking had become something of a burden by this point anyway. The poison I had been exposed to in March of 2020 had demolished much of me, and my physical and mental health were on very shaky ground indeed. Now in mid November I was at least no longer in freefall in this regard. My time spent guarding the dojo had allowed me to see to my wellbeing as well as possible. No small thanks for the spiritual part of this was owed to a dead man, a Master honored by the dojo's kamidana named Takamatsu San. He alleviated the bitterness of my grief for my poisoned friends and recently slain Igbo brother Justice Ihechi Raphael. More on him and Justice later. Suffice for now to say that Takamatsu San rode with me, as did many of The Dead Masters, because I had invited him and them to accompany me on my Way.

The station in Nola was hauntingly empty. The evidence of charming shops closed down due to the pandemic would prove to be the tenor of my first days here. A kindly elder gentleman with a sharp sense of business was just outside the station waiting for someone exactly like me. I asked for a ride to Jackson Square. He helped me with my rolling luggage, packed for urban survival, and $15 and ten minutes later I found myself on a park bench awaiting my contact, a woman I shall here call Gabby that has a great many Names.

Gabby was at work until evening and so I found a bench between the Square and the Cathedral in the heart of the French Quarter. The air was to me extremely pleasant of temperature and filled with the noise of people, and a brass band played for hours rather expertly. I was soaking in "the vibe" of what I hoped would be my new home and finding it quite to my taste. At least I did until dusk slowly began to descend. I was suddenly acutely aware that I was in a haunted place, but I had never seen a haunt SO BIG that it enveloped an outdoor area entirely. The dead here were the sort that happen with MASSIVE amounts of violence and rage. I knew nothing of the history of Jackson Square at the time. I just knew that a haunt like this was no place to be drawing attention to myself and switched off my "vibe soaker".

Not too long after night had fully fallen Gabby appeared out of the crowd wearing a long, modest, and simple black dress. There was no mistaking the person that I had gotten to know through chance encounter on FB that had sparked a meaningful friendship in the hard months of desperate doom scrolling that had kept me occupied in the worst year of my life, perhaps of all my lives. We embraced briefly and slightly awkwardly. I mentioned the dead on and under the Square as she led me and my luggage down to Decatur St, and she laughed pleasantly with a slight exasperation as if I had told a rather tired old joke.

We meandered through streets that were empty in a rather visceral way indeed having at last opportunity to speak on many subjects frankly that were none of Zuckersnitch's thrice-damned business. She had a friend in the St. Roch (pronounced like rock) neighborhood that she was fairly sure would put me up for the night there and I absolutely could not wait to catch a shower and change clothes after nearly 3 days. We made our way in no great hurry by way of many then nameless back streets and along Elysian Fields to North Roman. As we passed the massive crypt-walls of the St. Roch holy cemetery I sensed another powerful haunt, but VERY different in nature. She seemed amused as my gaze lingered through the iron gates to one of two whole city blocks that comprised the site. She also warned me that many local practitioners used it as a ritual space of the not-very-nice sort, and that an Entity even she would prefer to let be was bound under the Chapel of St. Michael. I resolved to visit at the very first opportunity available of course.

We went on to the home of her friend Arkicide. He seemed a bit exasperated and none too sure of me, 10 years in Nola will make you VERY wary and even weary of people, but he consented to put me up for the night. I have seen Gabby only a small handful of times since that night. She seemed to prefer to just let me run free in Nola without her, and I have been content with that. This journey is mine, and I am never truly alone anyway.

The Wizard Joseph:

The streets are non-euclidian and it would be unduly generous to describe the driving of locals and tourists alike as"erratic". Riding a bicycle is highly favored, but not necessarily safer. There is literally a monument made of bent and broken bike frames painted white dedicated to the cyclists slain by folly. If you are hit you can expect the driver to bolt in most cases. Insuring a vehicle is prohibitively expensive as such. A great many locals either register out of the area or just plain don't register or insure at all.

Along those lines very often the roads and sidewalks undulate and/or are broken. Despite the only drinking law being "no glass containers" shattered glass is as common as discarded bead necklaces. ALWAYS watch your step as you go.

In the French Quarter there are 3 public bathrooms still in operation. 2 are along Decatur St between Latrobe Park, near the French Market, and Jackson Square. There is another tucked in back of the mini-mall in the JAX brewery building. The only other facilities will cost you a drink at a bar or restaurant, minimum.

If you hear a man with a Honduran accent yelling "Hot tamale ba-by!" Get you them tamales! They are $4 and big enough to feed two people. The Tamale Man is one of the best and brightest souls I have encountered here, and a powerful practitioner of a very low key sort.

Expect people to panhandle for money, cigarettes, and sometimes food. Polite refusal is not wrong as they will simply move on to the next person if they're running a hustle. If you can do give to those that you sense need in, but do NOT flash much cash under any circumstances. The panhandlers may be harmless, but you will immediately be noted as a mark by the not so benign sorts to be found most everywhere. That said asking for help is often very fruitful as the VAST majority of the locals are very friendly and well used to helping visitors and newcomers.

Tip well the performers and the musicians. Do not be an asshole and take pictures of the artwork or performance artists without permission. Do this and Nola will bless you with the opportunity to make friends fast. If you choose to be a dick hole Nola has a way of getting you paid up in one sense or another.

The Wizard Joseph:

At the time of this writing, it has been nearly 3 years since I set my feet on the streets of New Orleans. It probably happened immediately, but it took me about 3 days to realize that I was fanatically, irrationally in love with The City. It's the kind of unquestionable, and even combative, love that you might see out of a 3rd grader, and it's at this time every bit as strong as ever. It's not abstract or passive. I work. I wage war of a sort for this love. I love and will go TO THE WALL because I came home when I came here.

The first day in St. Roch was a blessed and guided one, for sure. Eris had my back harder than I ever could have conceived, much less expected. I had packed a backpack and rolling luggage for urban survival, but I found housing that first day in St. Roch by the hand of Eris and the graces of Lady Nola. Quite by seeming chance, I was led to a particular street corner when, on whimsy, I followed a tiny lizard that was on the sidewalk. I was quite unused to such a sight, and it seemed to be trying to get my attention, oddly but truly.

A few minutes of this led me to a corner by a park where I was approached by a young man that clearly saw an opportunity. I was weary, back then the remaining flourotoxins and vascular damage had me always weary. I decided to see if this guy was a fool ass mark willing to show a stranger several times his size where he lived after mentioning having "acid" for sale. I offered to smoke a bit of weed, and indeed he proved a fool. This was not to say I intended harm, but I noted it. The shotgun house he brought me to to meet his "landlord" was a trash heap, but it beat the alternative by a long shot indeed. The kid didn't actually wind up staying in the picture long, but it turned out my landlord was none other than Verthaine, Polyfather of New Orleans and all around swell guy.

Hail Eris!
I have landed!
In safe harbor!
Not stranded!

We struck a rental agreement that would endure over 2 years of both triumph and hardship alike. Although, at the time of this writing, both Verthaine and I struggle to find housing in the high summer. This because of low treachery indeed.

More on that later.

It must be said
Though unhoused
Neither of us is ever

Lady Nola
keeps well
her own

Hail Eris
She brought
me home

Brother Mythos:
It's good to read that you've been blessed by Eris in NOLA, Joseph.


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