Thursday, October 6, 2016

Blood on the Bayou - Wrap-up

Not only is Bouchercon over (Has been for like two weeks, dude. Pay attention.) but these recaps are coming to a close. Below are my thoughts of things that didn’t happen in panels, in no particular order.

The new system for dispensing free books rules. This was far and away the best method I’ve seen yet. I come away from most Bouchercons with nothing new to read from the free assortment. This year I drove home with nine books. (The Beloved Spouse let me have three of her tickets.)

In another feature I first saw in Indianapolis 2009, the continuing conversation did not fare as well. This is a wonderful idea and fun for everyone involved, but its marketing was insufficient—I was unaware of it until arriving at the conference—and the location needs to be more in the flow of things. Keeping it on the Fourth Floor away from everything but the Green Room meant no innocent foot traffic ever wandered by, saw what was going on, and stayed. Let’s hope future planners see the value of these, but display them more prominently.

The elevators at the New Orleans Marriott are unlike anything I have ever seen. ‘Nuff said.

Possibly the best decision we made all week was to have dinner with John McFetridge and his lovely wife, Laurie, on Wednesday before things got frantic. Things did get frantic later in the week, and it was great to have time to sit and talk with them. Of course it was John’s idea to do it early, but I was smart enough to agree with him.

Speaking of food, I highly recommend the Chartres House. We made a deal not to look for any frou-frou restaurants and eat at local—well, local joints. We did very well. The Chartres House was excellent in a relaxing atmosphere. Lunch at Mena’s was outstanding both days. (Po’ boys for me; muffelatta for The Beloved Spouse.) Mother’s was exactly what we wanted, and going to Café du Monde for my first beignets was perfect. For a man who planned to eat pretty much nothing but red beans and rice, the varieties of said delicacy were outstanding everywhere we went.

Speaking of food, I saw something I dare say few, if any, of you have ever seen: Lee Child getting chicken in Popeye’s.

Friday evening was an adventure both before and after the Shamus banquet. On the way there in a cab with The Beloved Spouse, Peter Rozovsky, and Absolutely Kate PIlarcik, I managed to lose my wallet in my pants. I feel almost as laden as a paratrooper when I go to Bouchercon, carrying glasses, keys, wallet, cell phone, business cards, notebook, pens, mints, and change; with at least ten pockets, 5.11 tactical pants are perfect for me, and they never look bulky like cargo pants. Problem is, when I got into the cab I had my wallet in my hand and had to crawl into the back of a minivan. I put the wallet in a front pocket, forgot it was there while giving directions to the cabbie—who did not know how to get to a hotel three blocks away—and the damn pants hold things so discretely I never felt the wallet in the unfamiliar pocket. A couple of frantic minutes ensued as I crawled all over the floor looking for it. I was about to run back to the Marriott to see if I’d dropped it there when my hand brushed against the mystery pocket and the evening was saved.

Upon returning to our room we found the temperature to be 80 degrees. The Beloved Spouse called the front desk and requested maintenance. Receiving an affirmative answer, she said I should go on down to the bar if I wanted. I took my time, not wanting to be too obvious about wanting to get there while there was still beer left. Walking past the thermostat, I noted the temperature was now 81 degrees. “That’s your body heat,” she screamed. “Get the fuck out!” This tender display assuaged much of my lingering guilt over leaving her there. True romance such as ours is hard to find.

The party at House of Blues was great fun, even though we couldn’t stay long. They could have renamed the Voodoo Room the Womb, as that’s the only other place I’ve ever been that was as hot, humid, and crowded.

There’s never enough time to see everyone you’d like to see at Bouchercon, nor to spend as much time as you’d like with those you do catch up with. The trick is to make the most of those you do get to see. So, in addition to the organizers, I like to thank the following people for conspiring to make this probably my best Bouchercon of the seven I’ve been to: Scott Adlerberg, Eric and Gretchen Beetner, Jim Born, Rob Brunet, Rebecca Bush (at least that’s the name she’s going by now), Eric and Christy Campbell, Colin Campbell, Joe “Eight-Page Letter” Clifford, Jacques Filippi, Ian Graham, Michelle and Tommy Isler, Stewart and Debbie Laidlaw, Terrence and Rita Ramirez McCauley, John and Laurie McFetridge, Craig and Emily McNeely, Tim O’Mara, Scott Parker, Dale Phillips, Jeff Pierce (bonus points for us recognizing each other this time), Absolutely Kate Pilarcik, J.D. and Lynn Rhoades, Peter Rozovsky, Charles Salzberg, John Shepphird, David Swinson, and Lance Wright. I know I left some out; no offense intended. Considerable amounts of Bass passed through my digestive and urinary systems.

I’ll see you all—and then some—next year in Toronto, eh?


seana graham said...

Happy to read your closing thughts, as they sometimes overlapped but more often paralleled mine. Believe me, those elevators are going to spark crime stories. I told a friend once I got home and she immediately came up with a great title, which unfortunately I can't share in case she wants to write it.

I think I might be a party of one about the book bazaar, even though it worked out well for me. But I wondered how people who arrived later in the week fared as to choice.

I think really good advice for Bouchercon is to be aware that you have to seize the moment even more than usual there.

My two big regrets are first, that I didn't meet Absolutely Kate, who I was in quite good touch with virtually awhile back. And second, that Lee Child and I weren't at Popeye's at the same time. By now, we could have been besties.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I also had good luck with food near the hotel: The Palace Cafe, where I had dinner with Seana, and Mena's Place, where I had lunch twice, including with a group that included Dana. I didn't go out of my way to look for good food, but I found it, just as I didn't go out of my way to look for good music, but I found it.

That was the best of my nine Bouchercons.

seana graham said...

Yeah, I should have stuck with the Palace Café, Peter, because it was good and a nice atmosphere. I think that my favorite food was the Soho spread of shrimp and grits. They were even thoughtful enough to have a make it yourself variation if you weren't up for shrimp. I'm actually sorry I didn't cheat and go through the line twice. On the other hand, I was able to speak with Mick Herron, who was standing there giving out chances in their lottery and tell him how much I admired his Slow Horses series.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I did return to the Palace Cafe one further evening when I needed a quick meal, and I don't think I ate anything better than the andouille-encrusted fish I ate the night we went. But I don't regret visiting other pleas. Discovery is fun, whether of music or food. The only indifferent meal I ate was a quick lunch near the hotel before I left for the airport, but I'd call that a permissible exception. And Ali, Mike Stotter, and I ate a late meal at an IHOP Monday, if you can believe it, which was fun in its own way.

seana graham said...

I heard the IHOP mentioned in the closing speeches, as the last resort of a vegan, so I am not as surprised as all that.

Peter Rozovsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Rozovsky said...

Come to think of it, I ate a salad there. It wasn't bad.