Chris Champagne, “Secret New Orleans” (Jonglez Publishing)

reviews-chrischampagneThis is a most unusual travel book: a guide for New Orleanians who’ve lived here for decades. There are 113 places listed; I’ve lived here 34 years and have been to only 16 of these sites. While some can’t really be considered “secret,” to musicians at least (The Music Box Village, the Dew Drop Jazz Hall on the North Shore), others are truly, fetchingly odd: The Irish Channel Tiny Museum, the Saint Expedite Statue and the Lee Harvey Oswald Memorial Plate, to name three.

Oddball museums, massive artworks hidden away outside of museums, celebrity oddities (Groucho’s beret at Antoine’s, Nicholas Cage’s pyramidic plot in St. Louis No. 1); the strangeness doesn’t stop. I suggested to Chris Champagne (one of the city’s star stand-up comedians and author of three books) that he must have collected these tidbits for years. He answered: “Some I knew about but I did quite a bit of research. Plus help from friends. My daily life luckily takes me all over the city and I do have an eclectic group of friends.”

Here’s to eclectic friends and fascinating books.