One-Stop Shopping: Tuxedos and Po-Boys

Photo: Camille Martin

Photo: Camille Martin

        Along the road that leads from the Louis Armstrong International Airport to the City of New Orleans is an official sign welcoming visitors to “The World’s Most Interesting City.” That wording must have been composed by a committee of City Hall hacks who, after hours of posturing and heated debate, compromised with the bland descriptor “interesting.” Or maybe it was fifteen minutes and nobody really cared. Whatever. The sign is a wonder of pithy bureaucratic understatement in a city that regularly marries surreal flamboyance and insouciance—just not in City Hall.
        I would still nominate the sign for the Eccentric New Orleans Hall of Fame along with coordinates of surreal mergings and logic-defying oddities. Such sites have been known to render tourists into a prolonged catatonic state of befuddlement. But there they are in their laid-back glory for anyone to see. Cases in point: the Saturn Bar, with its mummy hanging from the solar system, and the Aztec tomb in a Metairie cemetery.
        One of my favourites among such “interesting” places is a psychic convergence of formal wear and fried seafood sandwich, the Carrollton Tuxedo Rental and Po-Boy Shop. It’s like something out of A Confederacy of Dunces. Imagine: with every fifth po-boy you got an extra day of rental. Their grease stain policy must have been lenient.
        Alas, this unassuming landmark of quintessential New Orleans sensibility has gone to eccentric retail heaven, along with the Used Car and Jello Shot Junction. But in its heyday it graced Carrollton Avenue in Mid-City, my old neighbourhood. R.I.P.

Camille Martin

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