Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the Black Cat Magic Club of New Orleans. New Orleans is a city full of secret societies, fraternal organizations, sororities, social aid & pleasure clubs, Carnival krewes, marching associations. They are people who gather once a week or once month to socialize and do good like committing to charities or committing good works on the fly. We are a city of joiners, lovers of New Orleans, all.
Some of these clubs only meet once a year, usually during Mardi Gras season. Laissez les bon temps rouler.
There are more semi-formal loose associations of people in New Orleans than there are in any other city in North America. Our city is that kind of a place, where people like to hang out together through mutual interest and mutual respect in order to promote the common good.
The Black Cat Magic Club of New Orleans isn’t a big organization, but it does have a state charter. It’s a non-profit organization established for the betterment of its members and the city at large. Members pay dues every year for administrative costs and to conduct charity work like buying school supplies for children or managing a rent-assistance fund.
The Black Cat Magic Club has a waiting list for people looking to join. If it grew too fast, it would become unmanageable so membership is limited. There are few things worse than success when that success gets out of hand. Just ask the Krewe of Nyx.
Everyone in New Orleans belongs to some kind of club or Krewe or association, even, by definition, the Mardi Gras Indians. Everyone has friends in New Orleans on which they can rely to watch their back. The loneliest person in New Orleans doesn’t have any friends. That is almost impossible to imagine in, this, the most friendliest of cities in which I have ever had the privilege to live. Home is where the heart is. 380,000 people call New Orleans home. We consider ourselves the luckiest people alive.
I am not a member of the Black Cat Magic Club but I know a few of the members by name. I know even more than a few members by sight alone. They know me, too.
I know the club’s hand signal, which I flash from time to time to get into places where I may or may not belong. It’s good to know people in New Orleans. Everyone knows somebody. We live in a city that is full of densely woven interconnections.
Last year, the Black Cat Magic Club gave me an award. The members voted and this very blog was declared by a wide majority, “The Best-Written Blog in New Orleans.” I am told no one dissented with the verdict after the election. In fact, I am told, there were three cheers when the results were announced.
I was notified by the club via USPS. A hand-written invitation arrived in the mail. It invited me and one guest to The Holy Ground for a general membership meeting. I am not a member of the club. I am not on the waiting list. I am not a supernumerary, so the invitation arrived as a pleasant and wholly unanticipated surprise. Frau Schmitt, who is the better half of this operation, asked me if we should go.
My answer: “Of course.”
We didn’t have anything else to do that evening, and, when the Black Cat Magic Club calls, you had better answer if you want to have a good memory instead of a lifetime of regret over what might have been. I RSVP’d. So we went.
The bar was packed with club members and hangers-on. When the meeting was called to order they requested my presence between the pool tables where all the club’s officers were seated.
“Mr. Matthew Boniface Gordon King, it is our district pleasure to tell you that the members of the Black Cat Magic Club of New Orleans, through secret ballot of all our membership, has awarded you the highest literary distinction we can, as an organization, bestow on any citizen of New Orleans for a job well done accurately portraying our fair city in print this year.
“Therefore, if I may have the honor of bestowing on you this token of our appreciation, please accept this plaque inscribed with our seal, your name, and your accomplishment with our gratitude. Keep doing what you are doing, Mr. King. Please know that your efforts on behalf of New Orleans are not unnoticed or unappreciated.”
The President of the Black Cats handed me the plaque and we posed for photographs. There were flashbulbs going off everywhere.
The plaque said that The Best-Written Blog in New Orleans was La Belle Esplanade for the year 2019. I have to admit I got a little misty-eyed when I accepted it. After that, the club picked up the tab for all of the drinks Frau Schmitt and I had that night. Those annual club dues were put to good use.
I have the plaque hanging in the lobby of La Belle Esplanade for all to see. It is hung in a place of honor because it was a real honor to receive it. I’ll never forget that night.
As a five-suite bed-and-breakfast hotel in New Orleans, our business, like our blog, usually caters to visitor to this wonderful city we call home. People who live here know the house, it’s a colorful local landmark, but they don’t usually know that it is the location of the TripAdvisor top-rated place to stay in New Orleans (and in all of Lousiana) since April 2014, or that is has been ranked the #2 place to stay in the United States, or that we’ve been ranked the #16 place to stay in the world.
People who live in New Orleans don’t have much reason to know the best hotels in the city. To be recognized as the best-written blog in New Orleans by some fellow New Orleanians, though, that came out of the blue. Talk about being on top of our game. Our blog has been made a few top-ten lists over the years from national newspapers and industry marketing publications, but never locally, like this. No wonder I got all misty-eyed. Local compliments are the highest of all because this blog tries to be true to New Orleans, describing to the best of my ability what it is like to go through life in an authentic New Orleans state of mind. That’s how I try to live my life.
When you are ready to visit New Orleans, you are on the right website. Visit like you belong here, not just as a tourist. You do belong here. Make a reservation early. We only have five suites so we tend to fill up early.
The best is yet to come when you stay at La Belle Esplanade. We look forward to sharing our part of New Orleans with you.