Friday, April 28, 2006

"Miss Literary"

Overheard in front of the coffice:
"You ever heard of Anna Karenina?"

"Yeah."

"Wow, check out Miss Literary, over here. I thought it was... heh... I thought it was a remedy for Montezuma's revenge."*
* What does that even mean? Do you get it? I don't.

Principia Aesthetica

Fashion Week continues here in Slimboland:

Matt disputes my claim of "aesthetic neutrality":

"But what can 'aesthetically neutral' mean besides 'neither beautiful nor ugly'? (cf Switzerland: neither on one side nor the other.) You clearly don't believe your shoes, for example, are neither beautiful nor ugly. At least, you'd be wrong if you did. I think you must mean that your shoes and attire achieve their particular beauty through plain and simple means. But that is 'aesthetic simplicity', not neutrality."
I understand your point, Herr Professor, and you are not the first to dispute my claim. Perhaps I would do well do adopt a less contentious term, but indulge me for a moment, and allow me to explain my intended meaning.

First, I use the term "neutral" in the literal sense as it applies to color. I love the browns, and blacks, and greys, and blue (this last is not technically neutral but may be treated as a de facto neutral for fashion purposes, particularly when it is the blue of blue jeans). Certainly, a little red or orange here or there, a bit of pattern, all of that is quite lovely and desirable, but I find it most beautiful when set against a backdrop of the quieter colors.

I also intended "neutral" in a broader, more metaphorical sense. The Beautiful/Ugly axis is one criteria against which a wardrobe may be measured. And true, I don't believe my attire is neutral in this regard. I believe it is beautiful, though not excessively beautiful. But there are many, many other criteria against which a wardrobe can be measured:
  • trendiness
  • skimpiness
  • preppiness
  • trashiness
  • gothiness
  • dorkiness
  • geekiness
  • nerdiness
  • Eighties-ness
  • Nineties-ness
  • Oughts-ness
  • phat-ness
  • shininess
  • resemblance-to-the-attire-of-Liberace
  • quantity of lace
  • quantity of spandex
  • Teeva-ness
  • etc.
Together, I imagine these as forming a sort of n-dimensional fashion-space in which any wardrobe can be plotted with reasonable precision:



Due to the limitations of the human intuition and the two-dimensional screen, I cannot depict fashion-space in all its multi-dimensional complexity, but instead, schematically represent it in simplified form with only a handful of the most critical axes.

I prefer to stay relatively close to the center of this fashion universe, wearing items not overly identified with any particular time, trend, or scene. I don't claim to inhabit the absolute origin ('cause that's Dullsville, man, strictly Dullsville). Certainly, I've got a touch of the retro, a modicum of geek, a splash of the prep, a little bit country and a little bit rock 'n' roll, but it is all, I hope, in moderation. Nothing "too too." Nothing très très.

Neutrality? Simplicity? I'm easy. I care not what motto is emblazoned on our banner, merely that the banner flies and that we rally around to defend it. As for your claim:
"[I]n the pitched battle between the beautiful and the ugly, the faction of aesthetic simplicity might be one of the most partisan and bloody."
'Tis true. 'Tis true. I would gladly spill a river of blood for our noble cause. Vive la révolution!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Get That Man a Record Contract!

Wesley is talking about absurd fantasy bands with ridiculous puns in their names. Here's mine:

I grew up largely in Virginia. I fall roughly within the long-tall-drink-of-water body type. I'd like to get myself an all-girl backing band. We'd call ourselves:
Virginia Slim and the You've Come a Long Way Babies
Of course, we would all have to smoke goofy, skinny, girlish cigarettes throughout every performance. And the corporate sponsorship would be a no-brainer. Come on, this is big money. We'll make a mint (menthol mint, that is), selling sleek sophistication and death to millions of debonair ladies around the world!

Bueno! Bueno!



One of the things we were sad to leave behind when we returned home from Austin was the incredible Mexican food (historically, New Orleans has had slim pickings in this regard). But now it has arrived, on wheels, following in the wake of our massive influx of migrant workers. Taco stands have sprung up where day workers congregate, and trucks travel from work site to work site, selling their wares out of the back.

Yesterday I stopped at a stand, El Chapparal, parked in the lot of the moldified Wagner's Meat on Claiborne at MLK* and got three beef tacos, a roasted jalapeno, and a Mexican Coke. It was the real deal. It was good.

* This flooded-out stretch of Claiborne has become a central hub of the migrant worker populace, with many living in the upstairs rooms of motels and apartments nearby, waiting for jobs in the parking lots of various defunct gas stations and business, and buying food from the several vendors that have sprung up to serve their needs.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

When the Vans Are Rockin'...



This blog truly is your blog and Teresa and Robo want to know about my new shoes. I know what you're thinking, "Oh, thank God! Slim you're an okay guy, and, hey, we all want to save the world, but Jeez! Can't you take a break once in a while? Enough with the doom and gloom, the heavy stuff, the great issues of our day. Lighten up. Yes, please. Tell us about your shoes, the new ones? We're all dying to know."

They're Vans slip-ons.

"What? Vans? Vans? You have abandoned the Code of the Converse? The everpresent Chucks? Is there nothing we can count on in this crazy, new post-Katrina reality?"

Please, no need for hysteria. It's okay. Really. Vans have been permissible, alternate hipster-footwear for some time now. Apparently, there was an article a while back in Hipster Nation, but due to the moratorium on periodicals, I, like so many of my fellow citizens, was left in the dark. So sad, an entire city stuck in perpetual fashion stasis, the endless Summer, 2005. But now we must move forward, embrace change, and build a brighter, trendier future.

And not to worry, the Chucks are not being supplanted, merely complemented. They are still de rigeur everyday-wear. The Vans will be reserved strictly for appropriate occasions: boating parties, boat-themed parties, boating accidents, and the like. I believe they will be a new and delicious element in my wardrobe, augmenting and enhancing the other elements while still preserving their own distinctive flavor... like a gumbo.

And the color? "Espresso," natch'! Solid, beautiful brown. No fancy doo-dads and loop-dee-loops for this obsessive compulsive, thank you very much. Like the Switzerland of fashion, I will continue to maintain my aesthetic neutrality.

Now, then. Aren't you glad you asked?

Ask, and ye shall receive.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Slimbo's Fashion Tips: the Error of the Evanescent Eyebrow

Our series continues. Today's tip:

Overplucked eyebrows are a mark of lunacy:



So, if you:
a. aren't insane
b. are insane but want to trick people into thinking you aren't
c. simply prefer not to look perpetually stunned
you will do well to avoid them. Thank you. That is all.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Eatin' Chevys, Shitin' Fords



I like to believe that the single "t" in "shitin" is not an accident but a deliberate use of the British variant, shite.* You know, to class things up a bit.

* Best pronounced with a crappy, faux-Scottish brogue.

The Wacky Mack-Attack-y

mack (mk) Slang v 1. to hit on

I was sitting inside the coffice at a table by the window. I noticed a woman walking down the sidewalk, wildly gesticulating and talking energetically to no one in particular. She stopped in front of my window and turned to face me. I avoided eye contact, not wanting to become embroiled in whatever she was embroiled in, but could see out of the corner of my eye that her gestures and her monologue had become particularly emphatic. I didn't know, nor did I want to know, if these were directed at her reflection or at me.

She came into the coffice, walked up to me and asked to borrow a pen.

"Um, sure."

"Can I borrow something to write on, one of those cards?"

"Here you go."

She sat down in the chair opposite me and began writing. She was small, with an explosion of tightly curled, brown hair, an oversized, shiny, embroidered jacket, and a look of bug-eyed wonder on her face. In the absence of normal stylistic and behavioral cues, it was surprisingly hard to pin down her age, but she wasn't old.

She muttered to herself as she wrote, "... lower case 'c'... 'o'...". I assumed she was writing some sort of note to herself along the lines of:
"To do:
  • Walk up and down Magazine Street, wildly gesticulating.
  • Talk energetically to no one in particular.
  • Make strangers uncomfortable.
After several minutes of intensely focused writing, she turned the card over, wrote "Thank you" on the back, and slid it across the table to me.

Oh, it was a note for me. She stood up, noticed the ring on my hand, nervously laughed and said, "You're married. Oh, well. Ha!" Oh, it was that kind of note for me. Then she sidled up next to me, gave me a little half-hug, walked out the door, and stood on the sidewalk, staring through the window, waiting for me to look at it.

I turned the card over, expecting some strange and detailed proclamation of love. It was only an email address with an elaborately scrolled filigree underneath. I turned to her, feebly smiled, and waved. She nodded and marched away down the sidewalk, continuing her earnest monologue.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Election Day



Well, we just voted in what is certainly one of the weirdest, most important elections of our lifetime. Good stuff.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Conspiracy Theories

Not so long ago, I was sitting outside the coffice, eavesdropping on a man at a nearby table. He was going into an elaborate laundry list of conspiracies he was quite sure had been executed before, during, and after Katrina by a broad range of entities: municipal, state, federal, and otherwise. I have this to say:

I have spent my share of time working for or in some capacity dealing with various government agencies, folks who generally fall under the label, "the powers that be." Certainly, the government and other large organizations do a lot of bad things. And sometimes these bad things are the consequences of sinister, malicious, premeditated, covert planning - conspiracies. But, in my humble opinion, in most cases, these people simply aren't smart enough to have devised, much less successfully executed many of the conspiracies attributed to them. More frequently ignorance, incompetence, mismanagement, lack of empathy, and systemic failures are the guilty culprits.*

That is all.

* No, this post is not part of some secret counter-smear campaign funded by an illegal grant from Karl Rove. What evidence do you have for that assertion? Utterly baseless. But maybe you should be a little more careful, you know. Bad things can happen to people who aren't careful. Hmm? Accidents. Terrible, terrible accidents....

Ask and ye shall receive.

Victor Olivier

Slimbo's Fashion Tips: Repeat Offenders

The metrosexual thing hasn't really taken off in New Orleans. We're a little too provincial. But there is one demographic that consistently bucks that trend: Tulane students. Many come from the Northeast and travel in a fashion world dominated by the trends of New York City. This disparity sometimes causes confusion. Wednesday, as I was sitting outside the coffice (which is, at this time of year, Tulane grad-student central), I noticed the man sitting just inside the window from me. He was dressed to the nines:
  • Hair gelled just so.
  • Little, angular, pearlescent-framed glasses.
  • A decidedly fancy, long-sleeved, button-down cotton shirt with an elaborate red filigree pattern against a cream backing.
  • Boot-cut jeans with just the right amount of "distressing," a noticeable whisker, and elaborately detailed back pockets.
  • High-end, black leather "sneakers" with yellow stripes.
I immediately, unthinkingly assumed he was gay. This was (I thought) confirmed when his "partner" sat down across from him sporting:
  • Hair gelled forward into a little peak above the forehead (the official hairdo of Gay Nation).
  • A just-so tee shirt.
  • Capri pants paired with flip flops.
Then they came outside for a cigarette break, and through various aspects of their interaction and conversation (including a discussion of a recent trip to a strip club) I came to the conclusion that they were almost certainly not gay, but simply dorky law students from the big city who read a whole lot of Details magazine.

So far so good - nothing but a bit of big city, little city, lost-in-translation fun. But now things get weird. Yesterday, the first man (he of the pearlescent glasses and bootcut jeans) was back at the coffice, and he was wearing the exact same outfit as the day before. And it wasn't a walk-of-shame, wild night and straight back to studying kind of thing. The hair was freshly gelled. Everything was neat and tidy. Clearly he had gone to bed the night before, putting everything away on its proper hanger, woken up the next morning, taken each item down, re-donned it, and headed back out into the world. Bizarre. Did Details not cover this point?

"Foul!" you cry. "I know you, Slimbolala, and you wear the same goddamned thing every day of the year." True, but mine is a uniform (a self-imposed uniform, but a uniform nonetheless). And as a uniform should be, it is aesthetically neutral. The elements are very plain and unspecific (and besides, I don't literally wear the same thing every day - I just have a closet full of identical items). This man's outfit was very specific and, consequently, not viable for frequent re-wearing. That ensemble needed a bare minimum of a week before making a reappearance (although I would recommend at least two - maybe even a month - or never - never might work). A day? Certainly not.

Slimbo's Tip: So what's today's lesson? An outfit may be worn with a frequency inversely proportional to its fanciness. In other words, if you're going to be a fancy boy, don't be the same fancy boy every day.

Next Up: Pleated pants and why a puffy crotch is not a good thing.*

* This is the part where I insult something you're wearing causing you to hate me and never read my blog again.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Challaballies

June likes strawberries. She really, really likes strawberries. But she doesn't say "strawberries" very well. It comes out sounding precisely like "challaballies."* Because I am a cruel and heartless parent, I torment her:
June: Wan' mo' challaballies.
Me: You want more challaballies?
June: Wan' mo' chal-la-bal-lies.
Me: You want more chal-la-bal-lies?
June: Mo' chal-la-bal-lies
Me: More chal-la-bal-lies?
June: Mo' chal-la-bal-lies!
Me: More strawberries?
June: Yezz! [she smiles]
I'm going to hell.

* I do find it interesting that although she quite clearly says "challaballies", she can't recognize it when she hears it.

Driftin'

I saw it on tee-vee, and I certainly saw the effects after we got back, but I never saw the floodwaters myself, first hand.* It's a curious cognitive gap. But then some little something happens that drives it home, suddenly makes the physical reality of those weeks vividly tangible again.

Yesterday, I was meeting with the contractor over at our house, and I casually mentioned something about the piece of driftwood in my yard (a big railroad-tie-like thing). I've seen it regularly for months but was somehow struck by the phrase "driftwood in my yard." Ridiculous.

And then we were talking about replacing the missing front steps to our porch. They floated away during the flood and have never been found. The image of our steps drifting down the street, caught in a slow, invisible current, working its way through the neighborhood for days and weeks is, somehow, hilarious. I joked that someday I'll be driving through some other part of town, and I'll see them. "Those are my steps!" The contractor joked that, more than likely, they'll be tacked on the front of some other house that also lost its steps, and it's just my hard luck that a new set didn't drift into our yard to make everything even.

* Well, except for what remained in our pots and pans and what spewed out of our refrigerator.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Gin Fingers"

Sometimes these days, a person needs a good drink. Last night Sarah declared she was hankering for a martini, and as resident bartender, I obliged. As she took the first sip, she leaned back and smiled. "Ah, perfect. I can feel the little gin fingers working down my limbs."

"Gin fingers" - lovely turn of phrase.*

* "Turn of phrase," by the way, is itself a lovely turn of phrase.

Hot

It's getting hot, not quite full-bore, sick-hot yet, but you can feel it coming in the breeze. I love it. I can't say why. It's not rational. It's miserable and sticky. But I do. Somehow, when that white-hot light blasts down on those brilliant-bright houses and streets, the city never looks more like home.

My, Don't "Dou" Say the Funniest Things

Many years ago, at my grandfather's funeral, a number of us were sitting around in the little coffee room at the funeral parlor. The conversation was quiet, mournful, and sedate. Then my darling great-aunt, Doucette, piped up in her loud old-Creole-lady voice:
"When I die, I don't want a whole lot of fuss. You can tell them, just put my casket by the side of the highway. Then everyone can drive by and say, 'My, don't Dou look natural.'"
Everybody laughed very, very hard (which was, of course, the point). The tension was broken. The conversation picked up. People launched into animated reminiscences. It was just right.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Resonant Dork Frequency

We all have some dork in us. In the proper proportions, this is a good thing. It is the part of us that gets goofy and excited and talks to fast and snorts beverages out of our nose and generally just forgets to be cool when something pushes our dork buttons.

Sometimes we find other people with a similar set of dork buttons (a similar dork bag, if you will). And when we interact with these individuals, the combination of the dorkinesses (dorki) is not merely additive. The dorki amplify each other. Dork A emits dorkiness. Dork B receives that dorkiness, amplifies it, and re-emits. Dork A receives that dorkiness, and repeats, forming a dork feedback loop. Before long, both individuals are complete, doofy spazzes, incapable of maintaining the slightest bit of cool. These individuals are said to share a resonant dork frequency.

Let's look at some examples. In the so-called "real" world, I share a resonant dork frequency with Jeff. We spend way too much time creating ridiculous faux-taxonomies of stupid stuff and absolutely bogus Venn diagrams of things we know nothing about. In the so-called "virtual" world of "cyber" space, I share a resonant dork frequency with Wesley, who not coincidentally was the first to vote for this topic.* We have both made independent forays into spam poetry, and I just love it when he does that emacs humor.

There are as many different dork frequencies as there are ways to be uncool. You might have a friend with whom you just go ga-ga when that certain Go-Gos song comes on. Or you get all in a tizzy about casseroles. Or... well, actually you might be the only one who gets in a tizzy about casseroles so you'll probably have to go dorko-solo on that. But you get the general idea.

Dorkiness is unavoidable. Resonant dork frequencies are dictated by the laws of nature. The important thing is to know it. Own your dork bag. Own your frequency. Be the dork you truly are. Let your dork flag fly.**

* But he used the acronym form, RDF, which is, of course, a very dorky thing to do. But of course, it was just a joke referencing my joke - which is to say a meta-joke. And I just love meta-humor. And I love stupid acronyms. And... Well, you see what I'm talking about.

** Just not too much, because that would be, you know, kind of dorky.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

My Most Awkward Subway Ride Ever

In this case, "awkward" may be read as "awful and stunningly obscene." Out of consideration to readers with delicate sensibilities or snoopy employers, I have omitted most of the lewdish details, leaving them to the reader's imagination to fill in as they see fit. However, if you have a particular distaste for the sordid and cruel underbelly of human nature, you might want to skip it altogether.

We had been living in New York City for just a few weeks. I was temping at a currency trading floor in Midtown. The day was over and I was standing on the subway platform at Lexington and 59th. Nearby I saw a couple, clearly not from New York, clearly not from anywhere near New York, staring at a subway map with furrowed brows, whispering back and forth, looking completely lost. I'm a like-to-know-what's-what kind of guy and had done my best to bone up the city's subway system. I decided to show these lost souls that "we New Yorkers" weren't as unfriendly as everyone claimed. I offered my assistance.

"We're trying to get to the Statue of Liberty."

"Oh, sure. You've got to go to Bowling Green. I'm on the same train. I'll show you."

We stood on the platform. No train came. We made chit chat. We stood longer. No train came. We stood a really long time. No train came. Finally I asked someone, "Is the 4/5 running today?"

"It doesn't stop here. You have to go downstairs and catch the 6, then transfer at 42nd Street."

Feeling foolish, I turned and relayed this information to my wards. We descended the long staircase, and just as we neared the bottom, the train pulled up. We ran on and squeezed in. It was incredibly crowded, packed with rush hour commuters. The three of us huddled in around a pole. Three teenage boys ran in and crowded around the other side of the pole, face to face with us. The doors closed, and the train started.

Immediately, one of the boys (I'll call him the Bully) turned to another (the Punk) and started trashing him. More specifically he started detailing the exact nature of his sexual preferences, exactly what he liked to put where, how he liked to put it there, how often he liked to put it there, how many places he liked to put it at once, and on, and on. It was stunning in both its creative detail and its cruelty. The Punk said nothing, giving a big, doofy smile, trying to act unphased. The Bully told him, "You should check your smile in the mirror, man, 'cause you got semen in your teeth." The third boy said nothing, watching the show, silently grinning.

I looked at the couple. The wife's face had gone bloodless white. The husband's was screwed up in silent fury, knuckles clenched around the pole. I nervously glanced from side to side, doing my best to maintain a blasé, "that's life in the big city" demeanor but feeling somehow responsible for this horrible turn of events.

I don't know if the train was moving particularly slowly or if time itself had notched down to one quarter speed, but it was the longest seventeen blocks of my life. The torrent of filth never stopped, never hesitated, never missed a beat. We reached 42nd Street and rushed across the platform to our connecting train. The boys went their separate way. For the length of Manhattan the husband sat with his arm around his wife as she hoarsely whispered "I've never heard anything so awful in my life. It was terrible." He leaned in, consoling her. I sat opposite them, staring with excessive interest at the advertisements overhead. Finally we reached Bowling Green. "Um, this is your stop. Enjoy the rest of your stay."

Ask and ye shall receive.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This Blog Is Your Blog, Redux... Again

It's that time again:

The days are getting longer. The weather's getting hotter. Summer's on its way, and Papa Slimbo needs a nap. So why don't you take the wheel for a while? Don't be shy. Go ahead. What's the worst that can happen?

What do you want to hear about? The choices are:
  • Avon
  • Resonant Dork Frequencies
  • Betty, Queen of Maladies
  • "Killer" Dreams of Cruise Control (and Other Crazy Capers by His Cooking Cohorts)
  • Mr. B.J.
  • Old Fashioneds
  • I, Fair Housing Spy
  • The Flood Club
  • Wesson Oil
  • My Most Awkward Subway Ride Ever
  • Slimbo's Fashion Tips (in Which He Talks Trash About Some Item That You Happen to be Wearing Right Now Causing You to Get Pissed and Never Read His Blog Again)
  • These Are a Few More of My Favorite Things
  • A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cemetery
  • Conspiracy Theories
  • More Maps I Would Like to See
  • The Flood of '98
  • My, Don't "Dou" Say the Funniest Things
  • Why We Came Back
  • "And I Am a Woman!"
  • What I have to say about the goddamned New York Times and all those goddamned articles it publishes about retired bankers who pay hot architects to build fancy vacation houses so they can show off to all their other retired banker friends and host tedious dinner parties where they brag about their art collections... Goddamnit!
  • Jim and Jenny
  • Creole Tales
  • The Wacky Mack-Attack-y
  • The Missie-Mama-Morph
  • Other
Place your vote.*

* The usual small print still applies.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Blackberries



This morning we went and picked blackberries down by the Mississippi. Louise was a great berry picker. June wasn't much help picking the berries, but she did an excellent job eating them. It brought back pleasant childhood memories for me and will hopefully create pleasant memories for the girls.

To Repay a Cow

"Daddy, I wrote a song. It goes:
I don't know how
To repay a cow
For a half an hour.
Dee-va-dee.
That's all the words. Then you just repeat them over and over. I don't know how..."

Friday, April 14, 2006

Willie, My Momma, and Me

I love Willie Nelson. My mom loves Willie Nelson. Back when I was a scrawny teenage whippersnapper, we heard that he was going to play at the West Virginia State Fair. We bought tickets.

The day arrived. We drove the multi-hour trip across the state line. We rambled around the fair for the remainder of the hot afternoon. Then the sun went down, and it was show time.

We found our seats high up in the bleachers. The band took the stage. And it was fantastic. I've seen Willie multiple times now, and they were all great, but let me tell you there's nothing like seeing him perform outdoors on a warm night at a state fair in front of several thousand delirious rednecks. The band was going full throttle, giving it their all. Willie sounded great. And the crowd knew the whole schtick. They threw hats and bandanas on stage. He would wear one for a song and then throw it back out into the crowd where they madly clamored for his sweaty castoff. He would put on another and do it all over again, smiling the whole time. He played the fast songs and the slow songs and the medleys. It was beautiful.

After a while, I got kind of jumpy sitting up in our seats and told my mother I was going for a walk. I ambled down the stairs, eventually meandering out on to the ground level and up the aisle. There were people crouched right down at the edge of the stage, mere feet from the man himself. And there was a space. "Hell," I thought. "That's for me."

I ducked in and crouched at his feet. I thought the show had been great before, but it was nothing like seeing it from that vantage point, the sheer visceral excitement of being that close to the band, feeling the music. I stayed, transfixed, for the rest of the show and through the foot-stomping encore. We were all giddy. Willie came down to the far right corner of the stage and shook someone's hand. Then he shook the hand of the next person. And then the next, working his way down, smiling at and shaking the hand of every single person at the stage's edge. Then he got to me, and I shook Willie Nelson's very sweaty hand (and smelled his very pungent B.O.) Damn!

Finally the stage was empty. The crowd started to disperse. I worked my way up to the bleachers. "Mom, it was incredible! I got right down by the stage, and saw everything and I shook his hand. It was so cool! And..." Oh, no. I saw her look of broken-hearted disappointment. Let me repeat. I love Willie Nelson. My mom loves Willie Nelson. How could I have left her like that? Why didn't I bring her with me or go back and get her? Oh, I felt so terrible - deeply, abysmally terrible.

And to this day I still feel a cringing discomfort every time I think of that moment. Someday, Mom, we're going to back and see him, and I'm going to get you to the edge of that stage even if I have to elbow a thousand honky-tonkin' hellions to get you there, and you too are going to shake his hand (and you too are going to smell his pungent B.O.). Then all will be right.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lost and Found Redux

Another one of the many things we lost in the flood was all of our wedding pictures. Many are lost forever, but on our recent trip to Miami, we reacquired some of the negatives, and now we've had prints made.*



Ah, scrawny twelve year-olds in love - so sweet!

Note: The wedding took place in the backyard of our cousins' house in the Gentilly neighborhood. They had about eight feet of water. The house is a complete loss, and this beautiful yard is now a desolate, abandoned, dead-zone. Seeing these photographs again makes the contrast more jarring.

* I'm also getting digital scans which I will make triplicate copies of and keep in geographically dispersed locations. Never again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

My Sweater Makes Me Wistful



Or maybe it's my tie. Or my haircut? No, not the haircut. I think it is the sweater. Hmm...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

No Loitering

Our House

So they're actually working on our house. Yes, the walls were gutted a while ago. A roof was put on. But otherwise it's been sitting in stasis for months. Now that's changed, and progress is being made, slow for sure, but something.

Does it seem ridiculous that seven and a half months out we're only just getting into the serious business of rebuilding? It is, but it's also pretty typical (and actually way ahead of some neighborhoods where nothing has happened). It feels like every single contractor from Texas is here in their big, white trucks (and half the nation's migrant worker population as well), but it's still not enough. Two hundred thousand flooded homes? That's huge - and it's going to take a long time.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Guess What's In My Pants



Sunday morning the whole family went out for croissants. As we were leaving, I noticed a woman standing in line wearing black, designer trackpants. And just to make sure you knew they were designer, they had "GUESS" spelled in rhinestones on the butt.* I gave Sarah the sideways nod-'n-glance telepathically transmitting "Rhinestone booty. Funny, funny." Sarah looked, nodded, and deadpanned, "Guess what's in my pants."

Zing! That's why I love ya, baby.

* And don't get me started on the ones with "Juicy" emblazoned on the backside. Yes, I know: Juicy Couture, fun-yet-fashionable, sassy-and-sweet, got-their-own-Barbies, etc., etc. Look, some things should be juicy. Others should not. How can you tell which is which? Easy. Is tomato juice good? Yes. Therefore juicy tomatoes are good. Is ass juice good? No. Therefore juicy ass is not good. Simple, n'est-ce pas?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Self-Portrait



... on a bike. With a helmet. And an entirely fictional bow in her hair.

Records from the Crypt*

The other morning I loaded June in the stroller and took Penny for a walk. We passed by a dilapidated old cemetery two blocks from our current residence. I've passed by it many times but never gone in.

Actually, I don't think anyone ever goes in. It has a rusty old fence around it, and all the walk ways and tombs are overgrown with weeds. But that morning the gate was open, and on a whim I went in. We slowly strolled up and down the paths. The names were mostly German. It was beautiful and tremendously quiet.

But as we ambled down the far side of the cemetery, I noticed activity back near the gate. A big, young, beefy guy in a white shirt, tie, and slacks was setting up a table and some sort of electronic equipment. What was he doing? Some church function? Some weird art event? I couldn't figure it out.

Finally we headed back towards the gate to leave. I nodded to him. He sheepishly nodded back (undoubtedly he thought I was some family member coming to visit Grandma's tomb). I couldn't help but ask him, "Just out of curiosity, what are you doing?"

"Oh, we've got a whole bunch of people coming to clean up the cemetery." It had flooded there. "And I'm dee-jaying."

"Oh, okay. Thanks."

Well, that explained that. I guess. Sort of. But it still left one burning question. What kind of music was he going to play?**

* Unfortunately, this reference probably falls flat on non-local ears. "Records from the Crypt" is a brilliant New Orleans R & B oldies show that comes on WWOZ every Wednesday night.

** This is real conundrum. Rock? Too disrespectful to the dead. Classical? Doesn't properly inspire the cleaner-uppers. Motown? Maybe Motown. Everybody plays Motown.

You Know It's Going To Be Ugly

So I was on the money with the destruction tours. Now I, Slimbolala, oracle of all things predictable and crappy, look into my dingy crystal ball and see a new shadow looming on the horizon, Katrina: the Movie.*

Just think, a harrowing tale of disaster overcome by the triumphant human spirit: strong-jawed actors wading through chest deep waters, itsy starlets with bogus Southern accents, the traumatic scene where Grandma is washed away, the lead and the lady finding love on a rooftop. [shudder]

What do we give it? Six months? A year? Maybe it's already in the works (I'm not up on such things). You know it's going to happen, and you know it's going to be ugly.

* Or maybe just a lame, made-for-cable mini-series? Slimbolala can only predict the schlock, not the format of distribution.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Lost and Found



Among the many things we lost in the flood was Louise's bicycle. We've been promising her a new one for months, and today we got it. It's bright, metallic pink with purple and white accents.* In the afternoon, we took it to the park. Twenty feet into the ride she took a spill, but after a few tears, she climbed back on, and a short while later she was a pedaling fury, a vivid streak of exceptionally girly colors flying down the path.

* Although I did strip off all of the crappy, product-tie-in stickers, so it's a clean, minimalist bright, metallic pink with purple and white accents. Nothing tacky, you know.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Happy I'm-Going-To-Provide-You-With-Diverting-And-Mildly-Amusing-But-Ultimately-Pointless-Ways-To-Waste-Your-Time Friday

This is a map of the states I've been to:*



The red ones, that is. I would have preferred blue, but whatchya gonna do?

Or at least I think it is (I'm a little fuzzy on a few of them). I've got it pretty well locked up east of the Mizzizzippi (damn you, Vermont! - and Michigan! - and maybe Rhode Island although I can't really remember!). Things get spottier out west, but that's alright. I don't need your stinkin' natural beauty, hiking trails, and comfortable fleece garments. If smokestacks and overfarmed land was good enough for our Founding Fathers, then by golly, it's good enough for me.

Go here to make your own.

* By which I mean, you know, physical states, like with boundaries, not states of being, 'cause, dude, don't even go there. Man, this one time I was so...

Note: Sorta stolen from Insaknitty.

My New Favorite Phrase

My new favorite phrase:
"nattering on"
Definition:
nat·ter - To talk idly; chatter.
Usage example:
"Louise was nattering on about something or other. I wasn't really paying attention. I think it was something about how she knows more than you, because she knows the part in 'Billy Boy' about 'She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother,' and you always forget it."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Diluvian Reign

If you live in New Orleans, go see Miranda's opening tomorrow. If you don't live in New Orleans, get on a plane and go see Miranda's opening tomorrow.

Small Victories

It's the little things that count. And since the storm, a lot of the little things have been wonky. For example, my coffice,the "Big Rue", has been serving all beverages in to-go cups - all styrofoam all the time.

But today that changed. Today, for the first time in seven months, they served coffee in a ceramic mug. And I... I... was the recipient of that first mug.

I'm so happy, I think I'm going to cry.

Cast of Characters

Each Indian tribe has a complex hierarchy of members: chiefs, flagboys, spyboys and the like, with specific roles to play. And in a addition to the Indians, themselves, there are various supporting characters with their own distinct costumes and roles. I don't know much about it, but I'm curious. Here are two notable characters from last Sunday's procession (the names are my own - I have no idea what the proper terms are, if any):

The Bone Man:



The back of the costume is embellished in an elaborate skeleton design. He would slowly walk about, staring sternly at the crowd. And note the flag rocking a bit of West Bank pride.

The Jester:



This man was both hilarious and terrifying (oh, by the way, the Indian on the right in white is a spyboy - note the "spy"-der designs in the beading). Actually my full name for him was "the Malicious Jester." He would energetically stride up and down the procession, periodically stopping to face the crowd, splay his legs far apart, raise his antlers, and shout hoarse, incomprehensible, menacing utterances at the people. But you've got to admit, those Spanish moss culottes are pretty snazzy.

I don't quite understand it, but I like it.

The Annotated World of Louise: Freakishly Large Vegetables Edition



Man, I just love those asparagus stalks. And the lone blueberry.* And the colors. And the moon. And the composition. And...

* Has absolutely nothing to do with the Lone Blueberry Kennedy Assassination Theory.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Man Against Beast V: Scorpion Rising



The latest installment:*

My first experience with the wholesale slaughter of the lesser species was when I was four. We were living in Kenya. During the week my mother and I stayed in Nairobi where I went to Kindergarten, but on the weekends and holidays we joined my father out at camp in the bush (anthropologist, studying baboons, etc., etc.)

During these visits, I befriended the local boys. Despite the lack of a shared language, we got on pretty well, playing the various sorts of games that boys play. But they also introduced me to a new game which was completely unfamiliar to me: scorpion hunting.

It's quite simple, elegant really. Go around the edge of camp, picking up rocks. When you find a rock with a scorpion under it, smash the rock down on it. Splat! Scorpion paste.

As the parent of small children, this game absolutely terrifies me (I don't think my parents ever knew), but at the time it certainly seemed like good fun. And really, those scorpions had it coming (damn venomous so-and-sos!).

* I'm a little alarmed. I wasn't aware what a large role inter-special warfare had played in my life until I started documenting it.

Slimbolala Exclusive: Mayor Nagin Responds to Plan!

In a press conference today, Mayor Ray Nagin was asked how the planned sale of New Orleans to France will affect local citizens. He responded that the French Emergency Management Agency (LaFEMA) has been on strike and non-functional since 1983 "so the people of New Orleans should detect no discernible change in services."*

* Ba-doom-cha! Don't worry. The new version of this site, Slimbolala 3000, will have a built in laugh-track, so you won't have to try so hard to figure out what's supposed to be funny.

I'll Be Your Puppet

The new WTUL CD* includes a track from the Bruisers. There are three good reasons to buy it:
  1. It's a 2 CD set packed full of local, national, and international underground/alternative deliciousness.
  2. It will support a beleaguered independent college radio station in a beleaguered independent city.
  3. Last and least, you'll get a little slice of our foot-stompin' love.
Make it so.

* Although their website currently links to the Boston-Oi!-band Bruisers, not the New-Orleans-honky-tonk-trash Bruisers. Yeah, yeah, they had the name first, but what did we know. We're just a bunch of backwater hicks. Shh! Don't tell the lawyers.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hoo Na Nay



A fellow can't catch a break around here. Just as I was wrapping up my second line picture-posts, Sunday rolls around again. And not just any Sunday - Super Sunday. As I was working through the back streets of Central City to pick something up at the store,* I ran into a whole mess of Mardi Gras Indians (not literally - that would have been bad).

So I have a whole new batch of photos, and I will once again be dishing them up throughout the week. Stay tuned.

* This is becoming something of a habit: running errands on Sunday afternoons that never get completed because I encounter one sort of procession or another. It's a rough life.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Slimbolala Exclusive: Bush Administration to Sell New Orleans Back to France!

Slimbolala sources close to the White House have obtained leaked copies of a Bush administration memo indicating plans to sell the city of New Orleans back to France for the sum of fifteen dollars.

When questioned on the memo, Bush responded "New Orleans? Yeah, we really screwed the pooch on that one. I mean, what the hell are we going to do with it. Pardon my French. Heh! Let me say, the people of New Orleans are a fine people, a proud people, a people that really knows how to party. But we need to face reality. They're a pain in my ass. So to them I say via con dee-os."

Asked if the astonishingly low $15 price was a symbolic reference to the $15 million price of the original Louisiana Purchase, he answered "There's nothing the least bit symbological about it. What you people fail to appreciate is depreciation. Two hundred years is a hell of a lot of depreciation. Pardon my French. Heh! And have you seen New Orleans? It looks like a nukular bomb went off. Fifteen bucks? That's a pretty good deal."

French authorities were also questioned about the purchase, but there response was in French and consequently incomprehensible (except for numerous urgent repetitions of the phrase "le hot jazz").

A formal announcement of the deal is scheduled for Monday.