This entire past week has actually been an usually non-digital week for me. I headed south to New Orleans for a personal trip and savored coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde (www.cafedumonde.com), mounds of spicy crawfish and shrimp, and beautiful weather.
Of course, you're never more than a dial tone away from logging in to the rest of the world. My hotel room had instructions in the Hotel Services book on how to use the data port. During a stroll through the French Quarter I spied an Internet cafe on the second floor of old Kaldi's coffeehouse and museum near the French Market. This wasn't just any ol' Internet cafe, though, this was "New Orleans First Cyber CafÈ." Realm of Delirium (www.realmofdelirium.com), owned by Shane and Krissandra Kretzmann, offers many services in addition to coffee. People can come in and get e-mail, surf the web, create web pages, and play games. The atmosphere was a delicious combination of old New Orleans French Quarter and New Age Hippie-ness. Psychedelic banners hung on walls and knitted caps, mystical and voodoo books and objects were for sale. The computers, sitting on old wooden tables, were spray painted to give that crackled/alligator skin look. One man sat in the corner with his own laptop, which he worked from. Another man was using PhotoShop on another dedicated machine. Krissandra told me she just got ISDN lines and is waiting for them to be installed. (I guess some things never change!) The environment was very calming. The room was softly lit by sunlight streaming through windows, antique oriental rugs lie the floor, antique lights hung from the ceiling, and a fabulous red-velvet gold-paint-trimmed loveseat sat under big old windows. Trees and plants outside added to the exotic feeling. There were newsletters on an old coffee table and a flyer for the new monthly i-zine Surfgurl (www.surfgurl.com).
The trip to New Orleans was fabulous, and this little gem added a charming spark. My trip across the country as part of the Alley to Valley Rally (www.avr.org) made me aware of how the internet biz is alive and well in all sorts of nooks and crannies of our nation -- not just the digital coasts.
(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)