Things to do at World Horror, Other than World Horror


I have a special level of jealousy for those who are attending World Horror this year. Until February, I was going to be among them, but having a ninth month old never made it the best idea and being involuntarily thrown into the job market made the timing awkward. If all goes well we’ll be there in Portland next year. But I was hoping for a chance to meet Ramsay Campbell. Here’s a short story:

Few years ago my wife (then girlfriend) and I were at World Fantasy in Saratoga Springs, where the theme basically made it World Dark Fantasy. Campbell was there to get a lifetime achievement award, and we made sure to go to every reading he did. Shortly after coming home I was poking around eBay, curious what a copy of Campbell’s first published book went for. I found a copy, and knew I had to have it when I saw Campbell had signed the book on the day I was born. Not in the same city, or even continent, but the same day. I got myself the book as a Christmas present, and fully hope to have him re-sign it some day.

I know some of my friends going to World Horror are already in New Orleans. New Orleans. What better place to have World Horror? As someone who has been to New Orleans once for a grand total of about five days, I feel uniquely qualified to serve as your remote tour guide of the city, so much as I did for San Diego, may I present the things to do at World Horror other than World Horror.

1) Eat! If you’re only doing meals at the hotel or convention center you are doing something seriously wrong. I’m not even going to bother looking up where in the city World Horror is before I say, unequivocally, that there are ten fantastic restaurants within walking distance. Because there are ten fantastic restaurants within walking distance of any particular spot in New Orleans. At least. Get some seafood, get some beignets, and for goodness sakes find yourself a snowball stand. They’re more than just snow cones. And say yes if asked about sweetened condensed milk on your snowball.

not_the_bees2) St Louis Cemetery #1 There are any number of walking tours of the cemeteries of New Orleans. Because the cemeteries of New Orleans are fascinating. Tombs built above ground, used and reused, ornate, beautiful and spooky. But if you do a tour, make sure it includes St. Louis #1. Seriously. It’s one of the oldest in the city, probably the most fascinating, and includes as points of interest the crypt (probably) of Marie Laveau, Homer Plessy (as in Plessy v Ferguson) and a white pyramid built to serve as Nicolas Cage’s future crypt. If you get creeped out easily, you’ll be walking through narrow alleys that weave between crypts, you may or may not see this as a selling point.

3) The French Quarter It’s interesting to walk the French Quarter during the day. It feels more quiet, more historic. It’s certainly interesting to walk it just after dawn as the streets are getting hosed down from the night before and everything smells a bit of beer and daddy issues. I skipped Bourbon Street at night while in New Orleans, just not my preferred kind of insanity, but there’s obviously that, too. But if your only mental picture of the French Quarter is Bourbon Street at night, there’s plenty more to do and see, so just wander for awhile.

4) Don’t get on a cruise ship! Seriously. Don’t.

5) Stick around. This is my advise for almost any city. Hang around a few extra days. There’s really no point having conventions like Worldcon and World Horror in fantastic destination cities if everyone is just going to fly in, do the con, then fly right back out again. Go to the aquarium. Get on a bus and do a swamp tour. Be prepared to drive past areas still devastated by Katrina on that bus ride. I understand some people have busy schedules and lives, but nothing makes me sadder than the idea of going to New Orleans and not actually going to New Orleans.

So…know I’m seething with jealously back here in Northern Virginia, and enjoy World Horror. Next year in Portland, I promise. I’ll just have to pack an empty suitcase for my trip to Powell’s.

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