Robert Morris of Uptown Messenger was once a regular Claiborne bus rider, using it as a shuttle to and from City Hall, until he missed scooping a fire and a shooting because he couldn't get there in time. Together we discussed the practicality of this bus line, explored places he's always wondered about and talked New Orleans journalism over lunch, while getting the lowdown from him on his neck of the woods and what it's like to be influential in tacos on Klout...
St. Charles streetcars at Carrollton and Claiborne
[Also, I'm sorry this is a bit late. My Internet was on the fritz last night. It's still moving pretty slowly, actually.]
After Robert offered to pay my bus fare (I already had a one-day pass.), we sat in the back at The Perch and planned our ride. I'm happy to report that he showed subtle signs of being an undercover bus stop conspiracy theorist: "I wanna make sure I know when this bus leaves exactly. I usually catch it down on Broadway, but it always comes early over there. The bus flies past everything 'til Audubon, since it rarely picks anyone up near there."
Robert Morris approaches the bus stop
Robert Morris on RTA's Claiborne bus
He pointed out that the bus reached Broadway at 10:01 a.m., a few minutes earlier than he was told on the RTA mobile site.
Other than Robert and I being undercover bus stop conspiracy theorists, the Claiborne line was void of any bus stop stock characters or riding stock characters. We believe this is because most people we saw were catching this bus to get to and from work, with little time for carrying on.
People wait on the Claiborne bus
Our favorite aspect of the Claiborne route is that it takes you from Uptown to Downtown quickly, stopping right outside of City Hall, the Superdome and the Riverwalk. Robert told me about how as a kid growing up in Hattiesburg, he and his family would often visit on the weekends to shop at the Riverwalk and Schwegmann's.
The only thing we don't understand about this bus is why even though it's named Claiborne, it doesn't go to North Claiborne or even all the way up South Claiborne. I guess it's like JeT's Kenner Local which spends the majority of it's time in Harahan and Old Jefferson.
Our first stop was to a building that had been catching Robert's eye lately, the old Tharp-Sontheimer funeral home at South Claiborne and Milan. The Tharp-Sontheimer funeral home was built in 1929 and was the first funeral home in New Orleans, but had been shuttered since Katrina. Robert isn't as shy as I am about exploring, so I followed him inside to see if there was anyone who could tell us the plans for this building. The very charismatic Project Manager Joseph Stebbins happened to be onsite to give us a tour of and some background on what's now Tudor Square, housing for ambulatory seniors.
Robert Morris, Chris and Joseph Stebbins at Tudor Square
"I tried to get the original clock from the Tharp-Sontheimer in Jefferson, but they weren't having it. So you know what, I got this new clock outside and it's made in the U.S.A., not in China like other stuff," Stebbins said. "We do a lot of that here, try to get what's made in America, hopefully what's made in Louisiana."
Clock outside of Tudor Square on South Claiborne.
The fast talking but never slick Stebbins, who was also Project Manager of the Constance Lofts, had been working on Tudor Square since 2008. When I asked why he named the complex Tudor Square, he replied, "There's a thing on the front of the building that says 'TS' for Tharp-Sontheimer and I didn't wanna have to explain it to people, so I figured since this building is tudor-style, I'll just call it Tudor Square."
See the TS?
Robert and I wanted to stop at Jazz Daiquiris at South Claiborne and Louisiana, but we thought they were probably closed and didn't want to walk in the heat in vain. We took at break from the heat at the new CVS on the corner of Napoleon and South Claiborne, while I looked for conditioner to complement the free Jason shampoo I scored from Klout. Robert didn't know about the freebies from Klout, so I explained how to get them, leaving him to wonder if he'll ever get free tacos from Klout, since he's influential in them.
He's also influential in pizza, which doesn't surprise me, considering how much time we spent talking about Midway Pizza and his old tradition of eating at Pizza Hut's lunch buffet back in 2001 when he was working at a daily paper.
We waited for the bus in the shade at the corner of South Claiborne and Cadiz, and I made sure I kept my feet elevated in case there were ants crawling. When we boarded the bus, I felt a prick on my leg and thought maybe it was a sticky burr, so I reached down to pick it off but soon realized it felt fuzzy. It was a fat, chartreuse caterpillar! After all these years, I had never been stung by a caterpillar. It really hurts! It was burning and itching and gave me a bunch of little bumps. This would have been a great time to finally try the Blue Star ointment I'd been wanting to use since I was a kid.
The round part is Megan juice, the green part is caterpillar juice.
The culprit! Chartreuse caterpillar!
Ted's was intimidatingly busy, so we decided to go to Bud's Broiler, passing by Forstall Art Supplies first. When I was a girl, my Paw Paw was the manager of the Delgado bookstore and one of his employees, Connie Whalen, worked at (or is maybe a part-owner or manager of) Forstall. I was so happy and surprised that she recognized me when I walked in, before I even said hello! After we caught up for a bit, Robert and I looked around and he remembered going to Forstall as a kid to get colored pencils and a huge sketch pad. This was back when they were located near the Superdome. I told him about all the origami paper I got from there and about how I loved to point out the colors that Bob Ross used in The Joy of Painting like Titanium White, Prussian Blue and Cadmium Red.
Life size wooden mannequin chillin' at Forstall
Robert paid for my meal at Bud's! That was so nice of him and I greatly appreciate it. While there, we talked New Orleans journalism and being starstruck at our first Press Club of New Orleans Awards, he over Angela Hill, I over Ronnie Virgets. We also talked about how much we love Pyramids Cafe next door and he told me that First Cup Cafe across the street makes one heck of an iced coffee.
Chili dog from Bud's
Burger from Bud's
I hope you enjoyed this week's Public Transit Tuesday! Since my Internet is still being slow, I'll post the outtakes on Facebook tonight when it speeds up!