Wednesday, November 30, 2005


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.


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.


"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 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


When Martian Law is imposed, sporks will be mandatory.

Ask and ye shall receive.

Friday, November 18, 2005


"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.


Monday, November 14, 2005



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.