The Annoyed Librarian always leaves for ALA dissatisfied with three things, and always comes back from ALA grateful for those same three things: her job, her library, and her bottom! As bad as they sometimes get, they could be much, much worse!
I'm now recovered enough from my grueling conference trip to regale you all with a minutely detailed report on the conference. This post will give you the highlights of the important stuff. Click here for the full 400-page report.
First and most importantly, best martinis: The "W." Sure, a good Hurricane at Pat O'Briens sometimes hits the spot if you don't mind all the sweaty tourists and librarians and you want to be a complete stereotype, but Cajuns aren't known for their martinis. Cajuns are good at making gumbo, jambalaya, and babies, but--to paraphrase the Louisiana icon Sheriff J.W. Pepper from Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun--they don't know no more about makin' martinis than a gooney-bird.
If you want a classy bar in the Quarter, check out the rotating bar in the Monteleone Hotel. Nothing says classy like a rotating bar! On the other hand, the drinks were good and it didn't have that vomiting frat boy motif that the rest of the quarter seems to have. Though I didn't notice as many vomiting frat boys as I used to.
Next, food! Really, this is about the only reason ever to travel to New Orleans. The gumbo, jambalaya, oysters, crawdads--all excellent. I nearly consumed my weight in mudbugs and boudin. [I bet you've never heard that sentence before.] I had some "barbecued oysters" at the Red Fish Grill that almost made me wet my pants with joy. I would have called them Buffalo Oysters, but I guess that doesn't resonate much down in Dixie. Anyway, I ate so many of them that my friends had to slather me with Oleo just to squeeze me out of the booth.
A lot of librarians--especially the large, poor ones--go eat with the vendors, because they know, as I do, how much the vendors love them, and librarians like to be loved. Unfortunately, I did not attend any of those vendor breakfasts, lunches, or dinners. No need, since everyone buys the Annoyed Librarian free food and drink wherever she goes anyway. You're probably thinking to yourself, "must be nice." Yes, it is.
Oh, an important thing I learned is that if you sweat too much in the wrong places, it really starts to chafe. The Annoyed Librarian's official advice on this one is: don't sweat too much in the wrong places.
New Orleans was a big mess outside of the Quarter, from what I heard. However, the flood improved one thing. The new smell of flooding, mold, and mildew definitely helps cover up the old smell of sweat and urine and vomit. Mayor Nagin has my permission to use that line in tourist literature. (Just be sure to attribute it to the Annoyed Librarian, Ray! Mayors don't fall under "fair use" copyright policy!)
Finally, on a semi-related library note, a great big heaping wadge of librarians in bright yellow shirts took the time to go out and help rebuild area libraries in New Orleans. The Annoyed Librarian was not among them, because she is lazy and selfish, but she wanted to say God bless 'em and it was a kind thing to do and they all deserve our applause.
Oh, and if you want the real story on all that stuff going on at the top echelons of the ALA (i.e., The Wasteland) go check out Greg at Shush instead of me.