Saturday, December 31, 2005

Burn, Baby, Burn!

Somebody tell the President to tune up his fiddle, because New Orleans is going to burn to the ground tonight. Well, hopefully not really, but apparently its a real concern.

New Years Eve is a dangerous proposition here, even on a good year. The annual tradition among many residents of firing their guns into the air at midnight creates a potentially lethal rain of bullets over the city. This year we have the additional threat of fireworks igniting the highly flammable blue tarps which cover damaged roofs all over town. Good fun. Maybe it will really finish the job.

Best wishes for an inferno free evening and a much better New Year.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Graffitis



Is "graffitis" (rhymes with tonsillitis) a word? If not, let's make it one. It can be defined as:
A condition marked by a compulsive need to write all over everything.
Right now this city has graffitis out the hoo-ha* (or gump stump).

* I'm also trying to revive the career of the existing term, "hoo-ha". It's a good'un and needs a little love. Your homework for today is to use it three times in casual conversation.

Are There Any Requests?

Sometimes I play music around the house, and Louise likes to make requests. She usually asks for one of three songs:
  1. "the alcohol song" - There Stands the Glass by Webb Pierce.
  2. "the Jesus song" - Why Me, Lord? by Kris Kristofferson.
  3. "the alchohol and Jesus song" - Another One for the Lord, a gospel / drinking song by yours truly.
Occasionally she will ask for "the cocaine song" (Cocaine Blues by Johnny Cash). It's too much.

Gump Stump

Crikey, I’m on the edge of my seat with anticipation. “Gump stump” is so close to being a slimbidyad, with Slimbolala currently taking the number two position. I can’t stand it. It just makes me want to say:

How much gump would a gump stump stump if a gump stump could stump gump. As much gump as a gump stump would if a gump stump could stump gump.

There. That should do it.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Homesteading

I was looking back over the votes and realized I’ve neglected “homesteading”. My profuse apologies, and please allow me to right this wrong (I also owe you “The Lost Painting at the End of the Earth” - I'll get there one of these days).

Back in Ft. Worth I was working on a Navy base for a couple of days, and, let me tell you, those boys run a tight ship. No detail is overlooked. There was a sign on the men’s room stall that read:
Please do not homestead in this facility. It is not conducive to good order. There are a large number of facilities in Building 1055. If you must homestead, please use those instead.

Thank you,

The Management
In other words, “if you gotta do it, do it quickly, or go somewhere else.” I like picturing “the Management” carefully deliberating their choice of words, trying to decide how to appropriately express their intent, and having a eureka moment, “Aha, 'homesteading'!” Or maybe it’s a well established term, and I just don’t travel in "homesteading" circles. I don’t know.

There was also a chart above the urinals telling you how much water you need to drink depending on the color of your urine.

Now aren’t you glad you asked.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Buggin' Out

The city is suddenly overrun with moths, little black things with white stripes and red spots. I don't remember this happening any other year. Apparently the floodwaters didn't adequately smite Gomorrah, so God has sent a plague of annoying bugs to finish the job.

Chicken Under House



My favorite Animal Rescue tag, which I sadly did not get a photograph of, is "FED FISH". There is something inescapably funny about a team busting into a house, commando style, to tenderly sprinkle flakes of protein rich food into Guppy's little tank.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Sign of Economic Recovery

It’s a curious fact of our present circumstances that the most obvious sign of progress in flooded out neighborhoods is piles of trash, giant mounds of moldy furniture or drywall spewed out onto the sidewalk. It means something is happening. People are gutting and starting over, and progress is being made towards a living neighborhood once again. The saddest places are where nothing is happening, where everything is frozen in time, looking almost exactly as it did the day it emerged from the flood waters.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

N.O.P.D Beat Me Down

"I Can Even Think While I'm Eating"

"You know what? I can even think while I'm eating."

"Really? What were you thinking about?"

"I was thinking I was so brave."

"Why were you so brave?"

"I was so brave because I had a bad dream, and I slept right through it."

"Wow."

"Papa"

After the recent "focky" post, Sarah reminded me that, at about the same age, Louise used to call coffee "papa". If you are what you drink, then I suppose she was pretty much right.

"Dear Santa"



I think 4 must be pretty much the perfect age for Christmas. You're old enough to fully anticipate and understand what's happening and too young for even the slightest bit of skepticism. Louise was ecstatic, waking up early and gleefully announcing that Santa had arrived, trying to tally the presents under the tree ("about a million"), and urgently pestering us until we arose groggily from our bed to begin unwrapping them.

Of course June had a good time too - eating marshmallow Santas, and ripping paper - what's not to like?

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Happy Holidays



Looks relatively festive, no?

Focky

Coffee is an everpresent entity in our house so it's not surprising that the word has entered June's nascent vocabulary. The only trouble is that she gets the consonants a bit mixed up so "coffee" comes out sounding like "focky". And "focky" sounds an awful lot like... well you know what it sounds like.

When I first heard it, I laughed so hard I almost snorted "focky" through my nose.

State Farm Adjuster David Thorn Trying to Screw Me



Brilliant.

Hello, Kitty

After an extended evacuation in rural Virginia (thanks Mom and Dad) our feisty little orange cat, Delilah, has finally returned home. Our trans-species nuclear family is once again whole. Meow, meow, yippee!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Home, Mobile, Home

FEMA trailers are popping up all over town, sometimes in groups - parking lots, parks - but often just in the driveway or front yard of an uninhabitable house. They offered us one but we declined.

Many are in the middle of really brutalized parts of town with no other inhabitants for blocks around. That has to be a weird life, waking up in the morning, brewing a cup of coffee on your little trailer stove, stepping out on your little trailer stoop, and taking in the sights of your devastated neighborhood.

I'm still waiting to see my first FEMA trailer decorated in Christmas lights.

Sounds About Right To Me

Another variation I heard to add to our list:
The Big Queasy
I hope they can get Dennis Quaid for the remake.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Honey, I'm Off to the..."

I was recently chatting with an acquaintance who, like me, has been displaced from her regular office and is currently making the coffee shop her workaday home away from home. She has come up with two very clever terms for this arrangement:
a) the "coffice"

b) the "offee shop"
I like them both very much. The problem is that I can only adopt one as my standard for everyday, conversational usage,* and I can't decide. Which do you prefer?

I should mention that, on Fridays, she sometimes likes to go the "bar-fice" at the wi-fi enabled tavern down the block.**

* The lack of proper terminology really has been an issue. When I say I'm going to work, people laugh. But if I say I'm going to work "at the coffee shop" they get confused and think I'm making lattes.

** This sounds like a good idea. My only concern is that one might be tempted to "work" too hard at the "bar-fice" and end up "barfing".

Harakiri



I should mention that this is the same house with "Martian Law" painted on the fence. Apparently, after the storm, somebody had a little too much too much paint and not enough to do.

My Apologies

I generally like to be an everyday blogger kind of guy, but recently it hasn't always been happening. The brain is doing a little better, but the phones are still dead. Until this changes (February-ish is the current assertion), bloggy-black-holes will recur. Alack alas.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Louise's Quote of the Day

"I misunheard you."
I like it. I think I'll use it.

Friday, December 16, 2005

"How Ya Doin', Baby"



The other night we went down to the Quarter and got beignets. It had been a long time, and they were so good.

Walking back to the car, we went by by the open door of a restaurant kitchen. As we passed, one of the old cooks nodded to Sarah and said "How ya doin', baby". It was our first "baby" since Katrina, and it was remarkably nice to hear.*

* I should probably explain to our farflung readers that I am not a swinger ("as in 'to swing'"), and I do not get off on other men hitting on my wife. "Baby" in the local parlance completely lacks any sexual or romantic overtones and is used strictly as a term of genial affection. Grandmothers call children "baby". Men call their guy friends "babe". It's funny and sweet, and hearing it again is very reassuring.

Sorry, Orlando

Read this editorial from yesterday's Times-Picayune:

Come back before we go all Orlando

It's well written, funny, and says pretty much everything I would want to say about the future racial makeup of our city.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

On the subject of Christmas decorations, people are getting a little cheeky around here.

I was biking through the neighborhood yesterday and stumbled across this:



an elaborately decorated refrigerator. Genius! And that was just the beginning. There was a blue-tarped stable, a fake neutral-ground sign offering carpenter's services, a flyer for three missing camels last seen at the Gonzales SPCA, etc., etc. Hardly a single trademark of the post-Katrina landscape was ommitted. Beautifully done.

And last night, when Miranda decorated her house with lights, sly devil that she is, she made sure to include the pile of sheetrock and roofing debris out front:



Lovely.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

And on the Seventh Day God Hauled Appliances



So, Sunday was a hoot. When it became apparent that the insurance company was never going to tow my truck out of the driveway, we decided to take matters into our own hands and tow it out ourselves. There was no particular urgency about the truck, itself, but it was preventing us from hauling the giant mound of dead appliances in our back yard out to the curb, and I certainly didn't want to be stuck with them when the deadline for FEMA "white goods"* removal rolled around.

So we borrowed Billy's big ol' Chevy truck (thanks, guys), hitched it up to mine, put it in low, and pulled. There were complications. My truck was completely locked up, and initially we dragged it like a sled which was fine (Billy's truck is a beast). Then the left wheels freed up, causing it to veer sharply towards our house. Lengthy shenanigans ensued. Finally, we put the parking brake on, effectively relocking the wheels, causing it to once again go straight (highschool physics, hell yeah!). Eventually, all of the wheels freed up, and we dragged it easily into the street. Unfortunately, it still wouldn't steer and was sitting there, perpendicular to the flow of traffic. With very few options left, we finally pushed it partially back into our driveway where it sits now, askew, and looking very tempting for any tow truck that might come by.

And this freed up a path for appliance removal. We disposed of the following:**

  • 2 refrigerators
  • 2 stoves
  • 3 washers
  • 2 dryers
  • 2 hot water heaters
  • 1 dishwasher
  • 5 air conditioners
  • 3 gas heaters
Ah, it's good to be an American!

And by Tuesday they had actually all been picked up. There's occasionally a startling bit of efficiency in this giant, chaotic quagmire.

* Big appliances. This is another recent addition to the local lexicon.

** I would like to state that, despite all evidence to the contrary, we are not crazy appliance horders. This included items from our tenants side, as well as various old things in the shed from when we first bought the place.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Like a Day Without Sunshine...

What would a city be without crazy street people? I'm glad to see that many of New Orleans resident weirdos have found their way back. Where did they go? How did they get home? Makes you wonder.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Carnie Roofers, Redux

What? Snivelling Google-games won't suffice? I owe you a story? Okay, but it's not much of a story, really just a reminiscence from earlier times:

You might recall me saying that the roof of my house was tarped by carnie freaks. In truth, most of them were actually just kind of weird, but one of them (Claire, if memory serves) really was the carniest freakedy-freak you'd ever care to meet. She had many notable traits. Let's enumerate.

I directly observed the following:
  • She was an emotional trainwreck. Within the first minute of my arrival at the site, she was in tears, complaining that there was nothing for her to do because there weren't enough safety lines, and the boss wouldn't let her on the roof.
  • She was the weakest link. If this had been an episode of Survivor: Carnie Roofers in Paradise, she would have been voted off the island. Clearly the crew had been hastily improvised, and, as best as I could figure out, she had been recruited because she was the sort-of-girlfriend of one of the other guys. She appeared to have no roofing skills whatsoever. This eventually led to a whispered conversation between myself and the boss in which I made clear that I was not paying their obscene hourly rate for someone to cry on my porch. His response was, "Yeah, she's not working out. I gotta lose that chick."
  • She was drinking bourbon from the bottle at ten o'clock in the morning.
  • She had tattoos all over her body, including extensive facial tattoos. Her eyebrows had been shaved off and had been replaced by ornate, tattooed curlicues. She also had an elaborate filigree pattern tattooed around the perimeter of her lips.
  • She had dozens of piercings, the most notable being through the flesh at her Adams apple.
  • Her hair was shaved in a strange, irregular pattern.
  • Her attire consisted of a spangled, rainbow-colored, sequined top and cargo pants (the latter was apparently a concession to her "roofing" work - normally, she informed me, she wore hot pants).
  • Her tongue was forked (the tip had been sliced down the middle for about three-quarters of an inch).
  • After her initial breakdown, she was quite good company.

During our lengthy conversation, she claimed the following:

  • She had run away from the circus several months earlier (see, she really is a carnie).*
  • She had been at Burning Man when Katrina struck.
  • While there, she had raised $30,000 for Katrina victims: "Man, I was right there with the best art and the best drugs in the whole world, and I didn't get drunk. I didn't get high. I didn't fuck anyone. All I did was raise money."
  • In addition to being a "roofer", she was also a stripper, working at Big Daddy's in the evening. I confess I had a hard time imagining anyone paying money to see her naked, but maybe the clubs had to take what they could get during the Katrina-induced stripper shortages. And maybe horny FEMA contractors aren't too picky.
  • She was going to be in Hustler (again, I found this a little hard to believe - see the previous item): "Yeah, I know this journalist for them who's working down here right now. You gotta promote yourself, you know. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I'm fucking him. Ha!"
  • In her free time she was operating as a "one woman welcoming committee for the city", getting drunk in the Quarter, parading around with a tinfoil parasol, being the life of every party.
  • As a part of her "welcoming committee" activities she would convince groups of drunken National Guardsmen to form human pyramids with her on top and take pictures of the spectacle.** Apparently, they never picked up on the political satire.
Alright, that's all I can remember. Although she was pretty useless as a roofer, her entertainment value almost justified the ridiculous price I paid for the job. Hmm, perhaps it was all an elaborate ruse...

* Why does everyone always "run away" from the circus? Can't you just quit? "You know too many of our carnie-secrets. You can never leave!"

** Sadly, she did not have any of these photos herself as they had all been taken with the Guardmen's cameras. But they're out there somewhere.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Truth is Stranger than Fiction

It's also stranger than my lame jokes. From the Footscray Historical Society Newsletter, August 2004:
The Saltwater River soon became a drain for the factories (abattoirs, tanneries, bone mills etc) on its banks anything and everything went into the river - and the place was called "Stinkopolis".
Fortunately, "Fridgebourg" is still available.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Carnie Roofers

Cool. "Carnie roofers" is now a Slimbidyad. My work here is done.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Stinkopolis

In keeping with the major changes that our city has undergone, I believe it needs a new name, a rebranding, if you will, that truly articulates its new identity. I have a few thoughts:

  • Stinkopolis
  • 'Fridgetown
  • New Venice
  • FEMAville
Other suggestions?

Once the list is complete, we'll ship it off to the mayor, and they can get it on the ballot for the next municipal elections. We're making history here, folks!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Weird Crap Painted on Cars



I like the graffiti explosion that has taken over our town. It started with law enforcement and Animal Rescue, but now every Tom, Dick, and law-abiding Harry has gotten in on the act, channeling their inner tagger, spray-painting political and personal gripes on anything that doesn't move.

And right now, there are a lot of cars that don't move.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

John Coltrane and the Death of Jazz

Billy asked about this offline in the non-virtual (a.k.a. "real") world. We'll count it as a vote.

This is undoubtedly the last post I will ever write. Shortly after it's publication, a fatwa will be issued calling for my death, and a jazz zealot will murder me in my sleep. But Slimbolala bows to no man. The truth must be told!

The day John Coltrane picked up the soprano saxophone was, in my not particularly well-informed opinion, the beginning of the end of jazz, the first cough in its slow, excruciating death-rattle, the first lungful of its drowning in a sea of splashy, off-kilter rhythms and overdense chords, the peeling loose of the last finger of its grip on melody before plunging to its demise, Wiley-Coyote-style, at the bottom of the canyon of cerebral, academic noodling.

That's all. I could try to justify this assertion, but that would require effort, and I'm feeling kind of lazy right now, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Oh, and it's been nice knowing you.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Word on the Street

There's a whole new bag of conversational topics in New Orleans these days. Here's a non-comprehensive list:
  • Abatement.
  • Adjusters.
  • Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Benzine.
  • Blanco.
  • Breaches.
  • Bush.
  • Canals.
  • Contractors.
  • Demolition.
  • Electricity.
  • Elevations.
  • Feet of water.
  • FEMA.
  • Gas.
  • Insurance.
  • Lakeview.
  • Levee Board.
  • Levees.
  • Lower Ninth Ward.
  • Mold.
  • Nagin.
  • Neighborhoods.
  • Petrochemical residue.
  • Phones.
  • Potability.
  • Refridgerators.
  • Remediation.
  • Roof damage.
  • Schools.
  • Spores.
  • Storm surge.
  • Tarps.
  • "When did you get back?"
  • "Where'd you go?"
  • Who's coming back?
  • Who "got Domed".*
  • Who's leaving?
  • Who's staying?
  • Who's still away?
Fellow residents, any additions?

* A new vernacular for the misfortune of having wound up in the Superdome.

Bring Back the Schlock

One of the notable traits of our city, lets be generous and call it a "strength", is its ability to turn any aspect of its history, good, bad, or wretched, into a schlocky tourist attraction, a part of its own self-perpetuated myth. The day is not far off when the "Katrina Tours" will start rolling: shuttle buses from the Quarter to the 17th Street Canal breach, horse-drawn carriage drivers telling apocryphal stories of "twelve feet of water in the Vieux Carré", full scale replicas of decimated 9th ward homes, a wax museum depiction of a rooftop rescue. It will happen, and, when it does, I'll know we're really back.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Roux the Day

Taints

Since posting my original “This Blog Is Your Blog, Redux” list I have come to regret the inclusion of the item, “taints”. I even wrote up a funny (I thought) little post on it but have since decided that little birdie will never fly. Suffice it to say that the entire point of the post was merely to use the phrase, “taint misbehavin’”.

I know there are those among you who aren’t clear exactly what a taint is and are undoubtedly irked by my refusal to, er, illuminate the matter. Alright, if you absolutely must know, here's a definition, but don’t come complaining to me afterwards, because I’m warning you, it taint nuthin’ nice.

Ask and ye shan’t receive.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Mold

It has been asked, "so what, exactly, are you supposed to use on mold?", which provides a perfect opportunity to kick off my new series of nifty disaster recovery tips, Hints from Slimbolala.

Though, at this point, I know more about mold than any layperson should have to, I'm still far from being an expert. I will simply tell you that in our case it involves removing all of the walls, ventilating everything for several days until it reaches 20% moisture capacity, and treating everything with a bleach solution and then a moldicide.

I do have it on a good authority from Harvard mold experts (seriously, I've been hanging out with some weird folks recently) that less severe cases can sometimes be treated with a 10% bleach solution. Non-porous items such as plates may simply need to be washed in soapy water.

Fascinating, huh? So, put that in your pipe and smoke it (no actually don't - smoking mold is very bad for your health).

Ask and ye shall receive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's Like a Gumbo...

So Mary T. came over last night and made turkey gumbo with the Thanksgiving leftovers. It was so good (she's from Ville Platte; you know I speak the truth).

And it gives me a perfect opportunity to make a really bad gumbo metaphor.* For you see, this turkey gumbo is a symbol of rebirth. From the carcass of the old comes new life, undeniably different from before, but very delicious, perhaps even more delicious. And similarly, from the demise of the old New Orleans comes... well, you get the idea.

So what's the moral of today's story? From bad turkey carcasses comes good gumbo. From good gumbo come bad literary constructs.** Bad. Good. Good. Bad. O bla di. O bla da. "If I was a bird and you was a fish...". Phoenix. Shiva. La ti da.

Got it?

* Gumbo metaphors are a pet peeve of mine. Everything around here that's any kind of mix of anything gets compared to a gumbo ("it's a gumbo of cultural influences...", "... a jazz, funk, hip-hop, fusion gumbo...", etc.). It was undoubtedly quite effective the first several thousand times it was used, but now it's wearing kind of thin.

** Actually I really had to restrain myself. I could have made the metaphor far, far worse - floodwaters, rouxs, on and on - there was really no limit to the potential awfulness other than my slightly dodgy sense of propriety.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Rivers and Tides

Apparently, my elder daughter, Louise (a.k.a. "Nest head"), is the next Andy Goldsworthy.

She was puttering out on the stoop the other day. When I stepped outside I discovered she had created this little gem of earth art:



I wasn't lying when I called her a pagan.

Nuevo Orleans

These days it is common to hear Spanish on the streets of New Orleans, spoken by migrant workers filling in the massive labor void Katrina has left in her wake. While this town was certainly never ethnically homogeneous, the Latin population was always relatively small compared to many other American cities. I'm curious to see if this changes that, if some of the newcomers wind up settling here permanently, and if hearing Spanish on the streets becomes a normal feature of the new New Orleans.

Blogo-John

Our dear John, wordsmith extraordinaire, has launched his vessel into the blogo-sphere, cast his hat into the blogo-ring, set sail on the blogo-seas. Um, in other words he’s started a blog, New Structures. John's spent a lot of time in out of the way, beaten down corners of our city and has taken pictures of it all which he's now sharing with you. Take a gander. It's good.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Turkey Al Fresco


The lady and me - photo by Nikki

Thanksgiving was top notch, both of them. In the evening we and a slew of good friends dined outdoors by tiki torch. There is in upside to living in the subtropics.

Yesterday we went to Audubon Zoo for their reopening. It looked remarkably unscathed and was packed with folks, all happy to be there, doing something they used to do. The gals loved it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Just Say No, Beardo

Since I'm already on a roll insulting people's fashion sensibilities, I'll go ahead and state for the record that I'm officially sick of scraggly little beards on scraggly little hipster kids.

A Very Slightly Military-ish State

These days it's pretty easy to forget that New Orleans is still technically "occupied by the National Guard". Until a huge, sand-colored humvee rolls down the street packed with Guardsmen in full combat gear. Or a couple of Guardsmen stroll by, machine guns slung over their shoulders.

Oh, yeah. And we still have a curfew, from 2 to 6 a.m. The primary impact this has is that most music gigs now really do start at ten o'clock instead of the former amorphous "ten o'clock" which really meant something more like eleven or eleven-thirty.

We Need Water and Food

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

My Cool New Bike

Alright, so my truck died a slow and moldy death, but now I've got a new ride:



Bad-ass, huh? A super simple, one-speed Schwinn Cruiser with coaster brakes. All black. No chrome. I love it! Perfect for zipping around town taking pictures of weird crap painted on buildings.

Now if I could only figure out a way to put my Johnny Cash bumper sticker on it.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Red Beans and Rice, So Nice

So we had our cousins over for dinner last night. They lost their home and had been living in Baton Rouge, but are now (sort of) back, in a new house. It was the first time we'd seen them in months, and Sarah cooked up a big pot of red beans. It was lovely.

More Chickens

This place is weird. So I was biking home for lunch yesterday through Central City and saw this:



Did you catch that?



Yep, a chicken. It was chasing a small gaggle of pigeons around through the debris. The owner told me it was the only one to survive of the seven he had before the storm.

I'm guessing Animal Rescue "liberated" the rest and cooked them up for dinner.*

* Just kidding.

Don't ask and ye shall receive.

Chickens



"It tastes like people."


Don't ask and ye shall receive.

Monday, November 21, 2005

And You Thought We Were Joking

This whole Martian Law thing just got a lot weirder. Check this out. Really. You'll like it.

Thanks to the Fungible Resource for the hot tip.

Our Town

Ms. Nola has presented me with bucketful of fine questions regarding the state of our beloved city, and I will do my best to provide a bucketful of fine answers in response:

are you + the fam going to the gretna heritage fest?

Alas, no. It gave me great joy to see that the fest was going on, and for a while we had every good intention of going, but the minutiae of life intervened.

what is your opinion on post-katrina chris rose?

I confess that I haven't read all of them. What I have read has generally struck me as spot-on, though he sometimes sounds vaguely unhinged.

has there been talk about lowering the drinking age so as to encourage a wider range of patrons to frequent the aching watering holes?

From my experience, the bars that are open are doing slamming business. Less competition. More sorrows to drown.

can we get an update on the local coffee house scene (ie: what's open? who's there?)?

Ah, a subject dear to my heart. The situation with the coffee houses generally parallels the situation with the city in general. Obviously many have simply ceased to exist, such as the PJs up in your neck of the woods at Paris and Robert E. Lee (I used to go there everyday at lunch to draw). Others are closed for now, but will presumably reopen at some point in the coming weeks. I think most of the mid-city locations remain shuttered (the CC's on Esplanade, oddly, seems to have given up the ghost even though it had little or no flooding - last time I drove by it appeared to be completely empty with no signs of life whatsoever). Magazine street on the other hand is up and running. Pretty much everyone is open although sometimes with diminished hours. The CC's at Magazine and Jefferson has become a wi-fi mecca with people sitting out at its sidewalk tables well into the evening, typing away at their laptops, even though the place currently closes at three in the afternoon (actually their wi-fi was running weeks ago, long before the place actually reopened for business).

I can imagine that rue is a very different place without the law students... or maybe it isn't so much a law student hangout as it used to be.

And the big Rue (Rue de la Course), my home away from home, my lovely new office. It's booming. True, there aren't as many law students (though I actually have seen quite a few med students), but it's packed all day long with a motley assortment of folks, including many like myself whose regular offices no longer exist, also a grab bag of contractors, adjusters, FEMA inspectors, etc. - various nomadic professionals taking care of paper work. It's an interesting place to be. At some point or other during the past week, it seems like practically every single person I know who is in the city has walked through the door at least once (for example John just walked in as I was typing this).

And I'm happy to say that Puccino's, the crappy, faux-Italian, shite-hole that kicked Rue out of it's original location across the street, is stunningly dead at all hours of day and night.


So there you go - a bucketful of answers, fine or otherwise. I'm always happy to rattle on about my broken little city. Anything else?

Ask and ye shall receive.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Skorts

Skorts irritate the crap out of me.*

True, this is less of a problem now than it was a few years ago when skorts were in their heyday. There was a time when I was regularly whipped into a seething fury at the site of the offending garment.** Now their frequency is diminished, but, really, even one skort is too many. And the vote has been cast, so let's talk skorts.

We must start with the understanding the that fashion is a language. So what does the skort say? It says, "I want to look like I'm wearing a skirt, but at the same time I want my bizness to be fully enshrouded in a protective layer of fabric." In other words, "I want to embrace my womanhood, but I'm completely terrified of my sexuality." This is an understandable sentiment in a pre-teen girl, which is the only group for whom skort-wearing is permissible. Among all others it is strictly absurd.*** Plus they just look plain goofy.

When Martian Law is imposed, skorts will be banned.

* Apologies to my skort-wearing readers.

** Much of my rage is directed against articles of clothing. Don't get me started on pleated pants.****

*** I dread the day I see my first ironic retro-skort (you know it's coming).

**** Apologies to my pleated-pant-wearing readers.*****

***** Apologies to my asterix-phobic readers.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sporks

When Martian Law is imposed, sporks will be mandatory.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Culottes


"Nice culottes."


Ask and ye shall receive.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This Blog Is Your Blog, Redux

What did I used to write about in olden times when I still had a brain? Where did I get all of my ideas? Oh, yeah. I stole them all from you.

So let's try this again. What do you want to read about?
  • Chickens.
  • Bad blues.
  • Taints.
  • Disaster and despair.
  • FEMA.
  • The Lost Painting at the End of the Earth.
  • Carnie roofers.
  • Skorts.
  • Culottes.
  • Frogman Henry.
  • Abscesses.
  • I Beat More Dead Horses.
  • How I kind of like the idea of Martian Law.
  • Men At Work.
  • Mold.
  • My cool new bike.
  • Grackles.
  • John Coltrane and the Death of Jazz.
  • "Homesteading"
  • Other.
Place your vote. All requests will be honored* or your money back.

Let the games begin!

* Of course, by "honored" I really mean, "I'll at least think about your request and if I'm not feeling lazy or grumpy will probably write about it, but it's kind of hard to say when, and I make absolutely no assertions about the quality or merit of the responses you receive". How 'bout them apples!

Katrina You Bit...



I like the conveniently placed poster keeping things PG.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Martian Law

Dead Phone + Dead Brain = Slow Blog

Logistics, logistics, logistics. They're very complicated here right now. Stuff doesn't work. Or it works over here, but it doesn't work over there. Or it works sometimes, and not others. Or it works, but only kind of.

One of the things that doesn't work is our phone, and consequently our internet connection. So I'm dependent on coffee shops for those delicious bits and bytes served up by the World Wide Web. One of the other things that doesn't work is my brain. As a consequence of these two facts, I don't seem to manage to post much of substance right now.

Fortunately, posting photos of weird crap painted on buildings requires almost no effort whatsoever, so that's mostly what you're getting.

Enjoy.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Danger

Shindiggin'



Saturday night we had our first official post-K New Orleans throwdown. Fantastique!

And I saw Mary T. (former and now, once again, current Bruiser and all around gal extraordinaire) for the first time since way before this whole mess. She's actually moved back to town in the wake of the storm. When our city is losing so many good folks, it's nice to have a little migration in the other direction.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Picked Up Iguana

Loot Under House

A Topography of Normal

When I talk to my friends and family who are elsewhere, they ask "what is the city like now?" And the answer is, "it's very hard to say."

The forces that have made New Orleans what is right now are so distinctive, so unlike anything that happens in normal life that there's really no meaningful comparison. The city has taken on a very strange shape, a widely varying topography of normal, which is strongly correlated to the physical topography of the city:
Normalish: Areas of the city which didn't flood, a band about 10 to 15 blocks in width running along the river from the Industrial Canal to the Jefferson Parish line, are moving forward rapidly. The contrast from when I was here a few weeks ago is startling. Then is was a semi-ghost town under military occupation. Now it's busy. There are people everywhere. Many, many businesses are open. Life looks something like it did in the old days. Although when I say "normalish" let me make clear that I really do mean "normalish". Traffic lights flash. Every intersection is a four-way stop. The neutral grounds are filled with signs advertising demolition, mold remediation, hauling, etc. Moving trucks are everywhere. "For Sale" signs are everywhere. Refrigerators are in the street. Houses have giant graffiti scrawled across the front. People hug and cry at the drop of a hat. Life is definitely back, but it's still pretty weird.

Borderline: Further away from the river are the neighborhoods that got from one to three feet. Because most houses are elevated, many homes are essentially fine. But the utilities are dodgy. The grass is dead. And some people did flood. Less people have returned. It's quiet. Where we are staying now is in one of these neighborhoods.

Flooded: These are the neighborhoods, like ours, with several feet of water: four, six, eight feet. Everything flooded. Nobody is living here. No traffic lights and few street lights work. At night, they're pitch black. During the day there is some activity, but it's not regular life. It's demolition and construction crews. Every house is either dormant or a construction site. The curbs are lined with heaps of rubble. It will be many months before these areas are alive, but they will come back.

Devastated: Lakeview, Gentilly, New Orleans East, the Lower Ninth Ward. The destruction here is of an entirely different order. To see them, it's hard to imagine anyone ever living here (even though much of it will some day rebuild). On West End Boulevard in the neutral ground, formerly a large grassy expanse where people jogged and walked their dogs, there is a massive trash heap three stories high, extending out of sight down the street. I stumbled upon it unexpectedly the other day and it took my breath away. I've seen plenty of trashed homes now, but the scope of this was different, huge, thousands of lives in a pile. It's awful.
So there really is no one answer. The city is all of these things right now, and trying to find some simple way to make sense of and encapsulate it one single summation is impossible.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Stick a Fork in Me...

I'm done.

Let's recap, shall we?
  1. New Orleans.
  2. Memphis
  3. Alabama
  4. Austin
  5. Mississippi
  6. New Orleans
  7. Austin
  8. Virginia
  9. Baltimore
  10. New York
  11. Virginia
  12. Austin
  13. Fort Worth
  14. Austin
  15. New Orleans
In what, two and a half months? I'm never crossing the parish line again.* You can come visit me.

* O.K. This is not technically feasible. All the damn stores are over in Jefferson Parish, so going there is unavoidable. But I'm never leaving the bi-parish-greater-metro-area ever, ever again.

Animal Rescue Took My Cat!!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hip Hip Hooray!

We're in New Orleans. I can't tell you how happy that makes me. I'm sitting right now in my favorite coffee shop, one of my favorite places in the whole wide world. It's full of people, full of familiar faces, ranging from dear personal friends to folks that I just recognize from around town. It's great to see them. There's plenty of more that still needs to be worked out, plenty more hard stuff yet to come, but our life is finally ours again. That's a really huge step. And we'll work out the rest.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Adios, Austin. Hola, New Orleans!

Today we're backing. Tomorrow we drive. Tomorrow night we're back in our home town. Yay.

Once again, catch you on the flipside.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Día de los Muertos



Happy (belated) Day of the Dead. The coloring* is by Louise. I think it's cool.

* You may have noticed from the last couple of posts that my scanner is truly up and running again. Adios, jar of peanut butter. Via con Dios.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The New People Project



Like a phoenix from its soggy ashes, the People Project has risen again - in a beautiful new notebook. Thanks, Armand.

By the way, the chick on the right was one of the carnie-freaks who tarped the roof of my house. Very funny, but that's a story for another day (remind me if I forget).

Oh, Sweet Jesus!

Apparently for us, making the best of our last week in Austin means eating as much barbecue as is humanly possible.

A couple of days ago we made the pilgrimage to Kreuz Market in Lockhart, about 25 miles away. It was stunning. The place, itself, is amazing, a giant shed-like building with immense smoke pits.



And then there's the meat, sold by the pound. There are lots of hilariously dogmatic rules, no plates, no forks, no sauce, etc. The ribs were genius. The sides were great. And the people watching was fantastic. The dining area is a huge cafeteria-type room. We were definitely in hard-core Texas country. It was fascinating just seeing how people ate there food (particularly in the absence of forks). Some people assembled little brisket sandwiches. Others ate tremendous quantities of sausage with sauerkraut. Everyone had a different combination.



And then there's the wood, the better part of an acre of oak stacked out back, a satisfying sight:



We're going again tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Spawn of Chucky



The Chuck fixation has passed on to the next generation. I want to make it clear that I did not initiate this. Louise insisted, "black, just like Papa's". Then, of course, we had to get the hot pink for June to round out the trio.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Halloween!



This picture was taken in Virginia. Louise was tremendously excited about the jack o' lantern. After we lit it she insisted that we all dance around it. That child's a straight up pagan. We didn't make her one. She just is.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Signs of the Times

Now that I know we're leaving, it's easier for me to fully appreciate Austin for what it is. Among it's many charms are lots of cool old signs*:



Lots of cool old signs:



* No, this is not a deliberate product placement paid for by Arby's. I have not sold out. I am not taking money from the nefarious roast beef cabal who is attempting to lure the elusive and coveted Slimbolala market. In fact, I resent the insinuation. Screw you.

Friday, October 28, 2005

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together*

It's all shaping up. A week from tomorrow we head back to N.O. (whoo-hoo!). We'll be renting an apartment (from our darling Miranda) and getting on with our lives: Lulu in her cute little school, me working remotely. And the contractor folks are getting started with the heavy duty work on the house. Very nice. Very nice.

* From A-Team to Wittgenstein, we've got all the references covered, baby!

Back in My Babies' (Plural) Arms Again

I've returned to Austin. C'est bon.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Beaucoup de Blogging

Judging from today's prolifitude, the answer to my question would seem to be "blogging and lots of it!"

Good night.

Barbecue Qua Barbecue



I've recently spent time in several of the nation's major barbecue regions, and I've come to the conclusion that the term "barbecue" is misleading, a misnomer that implies that these widely disparate food items are in some essential way the same thing. By my reckoning they aren't.* I'm no expert on either the detailed taxonomy of the various species or their preparation techniques, but a pork sandwich from North Carolina strikes me as a very different thing from Texas smoked brisket.

Is there a counter argument? Is there some unifying quality** of either method or result that sets barbecue apart from all other foods?

* The genesis of this thought came from a conversation in which someone made the same point about chocolate and white chocolate.

** If we wanted to get fancy (and why shouldn't we), we could point out that Wittgenstein has already covered this territory, although in his particular example he was talking about the definition of games, not barbecue. And his point was that no single unifying quality is necessary. And I agree. So I guess I just refuted myself in my own footnote. Damn!