NOLA-ing: The Culturally Diverse Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard

Kurt and I spent yesterday in Central City, along Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard. OC Haley is a historic district, formally known as Dryades Street, where culturally diverse businesses flourished. Today, it has a distinct art and culinary vibe, with local restaurants, movie theatres, museums, coffee bars, and other cultural treasures. We visited a few businesses along the boulevard, but there are still so many more we hope to patronize soon.

We started the day around 10:30am at Record Raid. Record Raid is a mostly quarterly gathering of different vendors selling mostly records, though one can often find CDs, cassettes, music books, record players, and other such oddities. Last time Record Raid occurred, in April, Kurt and I offered to help its organizer, Hunter, staff the welcome booth. Since we both love to collect vinyl, we decided this was a great way to meet and talk with other likeminded people, in addition to helping out an event we both enjoy. We arrived early at the Peoples Health New Orleans Jazz Market to scope out the merchandise. With thirty vendors and forty-three tables, this was the biggest Record Raid to date; luckily, the Jazz Market was a fantastic venue for it. Created by the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which was founded by New Orleans jazz musician Irvin Mayfield, the Jazz Market is a performing arts venue that primarily focuses on jazz and hosts performances, music education experiences, and, lucky for us, private events like Record Raid.

Cristina working Record Raid

Cristina working the front table Record Raid.

The inside is gorgeous. When you first walk enter, there is a magnificent open space with a beautiful bar, The Bolden Bar, which served cocktails and coffees. Parts of the ceiling and walls are hardwood panels. There is a great space with TVs, a giant table with wooden board games, a sitting space with books, and then the giant open area where the performances take place. The record vendors set up shop in this space and there was plenty of room for patrons to walk around and explore. There were so many great records, as usual, that it is a good thing Kurt and I take only cash to forcibly give ourselves a limit, because as we learned the first time we went to a Record Raid, we can always find something to buy.

Record Raid

Aerial shot of the Jazz Market holding Record Raid. You can see Kurt mid-right!                      Photo credit: Hunter King

After buying a few choice vinyl, including The Cure, New Order, and The Beatles, we went over to the Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center. Zeitgeist plays mostly indie films, as well as alternate forms of art such as performance, visual, literary, and the like. Kurt commented that we really should check out more movies there, as there is always something interesting playing. Church Alley Coffee Bar is located inside of Zeitgeist. The last Record Raid was held at the Zeitgeist and we enjoyed Church Alley, so we ate some delicious treats again. Not only did I get a bagel with cream cheese, but I also ate an amazing toast with goat cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Kurt tried the avocado toast with olive oil, radish, salt, and pepper. Talk about heaven! We also tried different iced teas, almond for me and orange blossom for Kurt. The perfect simple meal. We went back to the Jazz Market around 12:30pm to help work the welcome table. We love talking with everyone and always meet interesting people.

Toast at Church Alley Coffee Bar

The amazing toast at Church Alley Coffee Bar.

About 3:30pm, we left and went to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. Today was free admission. When we were walking to the Jazz Market that morning, we smelled a wonderful smoked smell. As it turned out, SOFAB was giving a lecture about pork and smoked a whole hog all night. There were giving away free pork straight from the hog and even though by the time we arrived the lecture was over, there was still free pork. Delicious free pork, with white bread and Carolina barbeque sauce. It really made me long for Hogs for the Cause!


Kurt getting some pork from the whole hog at SoFAB.

We walked around and examined the different displays and vowed to come back when we had more time to properly read all of the displays. I did have to spend a while enjoying one of my most favorite things in the world, the Al Copeland/Popeyes display. They also do many different culinary events, many of which include tastings.

Al Copeland at SoFAB

The Al Copeland display at SoFAB.

We then checked out a pop-up shop. This amazing pop-up store, 66<100, is shedding light on the income gap between men and women in the workplace. In Louisiana, women make $0.66 to men’s $1. They are hoping to bring awareness and create a palpable situation to make it meaningful and real. Each item as two prices: men are charged 100% while women are charged 66% of the retail price. Kurt and I each bought something.The shop contains art, crafts, clothes, jewelry, and eats all made by women. It’s open Tuesday through Sunday until 11/30 and is located at 1612 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.

66<100 Pop-up Shop

66<100 at 1612 OC Haley Blvd.

66<100 Shop

Different prices for each gender at 66<100. Yellow is the woman’s price, green is the men’s price.

The treats we bought were from Cake by the Pound. I tried the salted chocolate chip cookies and Kurt had a local blueberry hand pie. Talk about melt in your mouth fantastic. I inhaled that cookie and immediately wanted to return and buy another one. Now there are two amazing reasons to revisit this great pop-up.

We then passed the Ashé Cultural Arts Center, which included a beautiful building with a full side mural, and added yet another place we need to experience. In addition, we want to eat at Café Reconcile, where at-risk youth are taught life skills to help them become productive members of society, and shop at the Trafigura Work & Learn Center Retail, which was founded by The Youth Empowerment Project and sells bicycles and bicycle accessories.

Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

Mural alongside a building of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center.

Needless to say, we had a wonderful day along OC Haley and were excited to spend time in a part of the city we had never truly experienced before. We will make it a point to return soon (especially for those salted chocolate chip cookies!).

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