Blood and Bourbon
The district of Bywater, so named because it’s “by the water,” sits nestled against the Mississippi on the eastern edge of the downtown core. Bywater is bordered by Faubourg Marigny to the west and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal to the east (which becomes the Intracoastal Waterway a couple miles further north). As rents on and around Frenchmen Street rise, poorer folks have been moving down to Fauborg Marigny’s up-and-coming neighbor. There isn’t much of interest in Bywater, but it’s an increasingly safe place to dwell, and some prime feeding rights can still be had in a few of the areas further out.
Perhaps the area’s greatest claim to fame, at least among the Damned, is its most well-known resident. For many years, Bywater has been home to Vidal’s Master of Elysium, Gus “Gutterball” Elgin. The quiet Nosferatu has dwelt here, somewhere along the river, for as long as many can remember. Perhaps ironically, he originally came to the area because he valued both privacy and peace of mind, and Bywater was only sparsely populated back then. With its recent growth, Elgin has had to make a number of commensurate sacrifices for the city, but if he has any axe to grind about them, he’s kept it entirely to himself.
Known Kindred Residents
• Gus “Gutterball” Elgin (10th-generation Nosferatu/Lancea et Sanctum ancilla)
• Janine Clairmont (Malkavian/Ordo Dracul neonate)
• Joshua Pacuad (Toreador/Lancea et Sanctum neonate)
• Few other Kindred are thought to hold feeding rights in Bywater.
Locations of Note
Bywater Country Club: This establishment is exactly how it sounds: restaurant, hot tub, bar, sauna, pool, cabana bar, and lounge. There’s a cover fee just to spend money on the expensive food and drink. The rooms to rent and breakfast that comes with them make this the ultimate little hangout and tourist spot. Though the venue refuses to call itself a country club in anything but name, their ‘humble’ claims are debunked by the pernicious little fact that a certain large sum of money will net one an annual pass.
Island of Salvation Botanica: This shop belongs to New Orleans’ most visible, if dubiously legitimate, “High Priestess of Vodou.” The Island of Salvation Bontanica was named 2004’s “Best of City” Award by National Georgraphic, and owner Cathy Gorbechuk won’t let visitors forget it. Sixty years old, the traditionally-ordained Haitian mambo is the face of New Orleans “Voodoo” scene, appearing in many documentaries and exposés on her people’s culture and faith. She merges tarot and voudou together by reading cards based on their “loa.” Her store is a hangout for local youth, and many enthusiasts and tourists stop by for her ingredients and books. Of the latter, she has written many, and if one asks nicely enough, she might even sign one.
Marigny Opera House: On the western edge of Bywater sits the Marigny Opera House, place of musical spiritually. The building was originally the Holy Trinity Catholic Church, founded in 1847 for German Catholics. Constructed in 1853, the former church was designed by architect Theodore Giraud. The church was widely admired for the quality of its music, but in 1997, the parish was relocated and the building de-consecrated (over local priests’ bitter objections). Musicians purchased the building in 2011 with the goal of restoring the historic building and offering it as a supposed “resource to the community.” They renamed the structure the “Marigny Opera House,” with all the pretension and money that comes with it.
New Movement Theatre: The Big Easy needs cheering up, or so claims the New Movement Theatre. Initially based out of Austin, Texas, the performers opened up a new location in Bywater several years ago and started one of the best comedy and improv spaces in the city. They offer classes and open mic nights, and host many of the Big Easy’s indie comedy trips—which of course means that every night is hack night. Enough time has passed since the Theatre’s opening that few people still talk about the fact that the building’s renovation was funded by charitable donations diverted away from the neighboring, Katrina-ravaged Ninth Ward. Though it helps that much of the talk of what goes on in the building doesn’t manage to do much but bog down talented young comedians and actors with ‘rules’ about their ’craft.
Satsuma Café: “The Satsuma Café opened its doors in 2009 with hopes of providing freshly-made juices, breakfast and lunch using "quality, local and organic ingredients.” This resultantly means that Satsuma is the café of Bywater where hipsters come to mingle. Spacious tables offer room for Apple laptops and hand-ground and -pressed coffee grown from local farms. It’s overpriced, and one investigative journalist even published a report claiming the farmers simply buy the food wholesale and resell it at a profit. It’s still where ironically self-described “cool kids” hang out to talk about how bad GMOs and artificial ingredients are for one’s health and the environment.
Villalobos: Villalobos is Bywater’s favourite media shill. This dog pound specializing in pitbulls supplies the animals used in the popular reality television show Convicts and Canines, in which Angola inmates are paired with a canine companion as they go about their daily lives on the Farm. This is ostensibly to help “rehabilitate” the inmates, but episodes invariably devolve to prurient spectacles such as the dogs urinating on their owners or literally fighting them for scraps of food. The jaded, schadenfreude-filled desires of a desensitized public have made Villalobos staff famous in Bywater, and any who object to the dogs’ treatment have learned to stay silent or be fired for slandering the pound’s public image. Indeed, Villalobos hypocritically bills itself as one of the few no-kill shelters in NOLA, and dogs come in and go out “faster than a hot sweaty night in the back of a Porsche” as the show’s main character Big Bobby Bunk is wont say.
Michelle Guillot’s House: Home of Michelle Guillot, proprietor of Guillot Books and Alice Guillot’s mother.