Michael Stipe’s New Orleans Guide
This week we bring you a thoroughly researched piece on New Orleans by our very first guest editor, Michael Stipe. Aside from being the frontman in one of the most innovative and brilliant bands of all time, R.E.M., Michael is an obsessed foodie like the rest of us here at goop. Michael recently spent a good chunk of time in the Big Easy recording the band’s next album, and true to form, discovered his favorite culinary gems, which he has so graciously shared with us. My brother and father both attended Tulane in New Orleans and so the city has always been a special destination for our family. Now that we have Michael’s list I can expand from my usual route of Café du Monde, Mosca’s and my mother’s favorite, the old world Galatoires.
The “Michael-in” guide!
Saenger Theatre6 S. Joachim St. | 251.208.5600
The Saenger is where my Nana and her errant brother would escape Hattiesburg to see jazz and big bands in the ’20s when she was what she called a ‘weekend flapper.’ It was really when my band R.E.M. played there that she took pause, and said, “Honey, you have arrived.” I was so proud. The Saenger reopened this Fall. If those walls could speak it would be a glorious din.
Frenchman Street is the trashy fun part of good music, off and away from Bourbon Street, just this side of Elysian Fields (check out my band’s 1982 song ‘West of the Fields’…yep!). Here it’s mixed tourists with locals, but super genuine. This is where you can wander from a great bar with great bar band, to great cafe, to a great late night Middle Eastern restaurant, to a great bar with great bar band, in like 40 minutes, and not leave a two block radius. It’s fantastic on Thursday nights.
New Orleans Athletic Club222 N. Rampart St. | 504.525.2375
This is the second oldest sports club in the USA, the first being on Central Park South in NYC (they share members if you need both…). This place is a hard working museum with a tile-walled basketball court, chandeliers in the treadmill room, parquet floors, a giant pool, marble showers with immense skylights above them, and steam and sauna rooms. The walls are covered with photos of boxers and athletic stars from the heydays of the early 20th century, and of course it has a full bar, and I don’t mean protein smoothies; this is New Orleans, after all! Have a whiskey with your workout, and conjure Tennessee Williams. Why not?
I came upon these weird matching mansions walking along the water in the 9th Ward.
Tipitina’s501 Napoleon Ave. | 504.895.8477
This classic New Orleans stop has the best logo of all time. I’m going to silkscreen it onto a shirt for Patti Smith, I saw her there in one of the best performances I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen a few…!). Incidentally, merchandise sales benefit their awesome foundation which donates instruments to Louisiana schools and facilitates music workshops and internships for kids. Photo: © Tipitina's
The Joan of Arc StatuePlace de France
I must have wandered, driven, walked or (to be fair) stumbled by this a million times in the past 29 years, and it wasn’t until Patti Smith pointed it out to me that I stopped long enough to look up and see how very beautiful it is. On the main stretch of the French Quarter, it’s worth a pause.
Armstrong Park801 N. Rampart St.
Named, I believe, after my psychic godfather, Louis Satchmo Armstrong. There are great musical festivals here from time to time.