Sunday, April 29, 2007

Most Katrina Aid From Overseas Went Unclaimed

A must-read article from The Washington Post.

Thank you, world.

Screw you, George, and all your ilk.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

StageClique

In case you haven't noticed, there is a new link in the Bear's Den Blog Roll, StageClique. It's a new site for New Orleans theatre, and it has all the potential of becoming a massive database of information concerning the theatre community in this town. I have been busily uploading photos from the various shows I have been involved with over the recent past.

Browse the shows by year of production and title. You can also search by name. Who knows, in another day or two, you might find yourself there.

Try it, you'll like it.

Unfortunate Headline of the Day

The story is sad. So couldn't they have come up with a better headline than:
Fla. Woman Dies After Camel Sits on Her?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Phoenix Descending, Inflamed

Ramon has left Electric Ladyland and gone to Europe. I found this out when I went to set up an appointment to have my phoenix tattoo colored in. My boy Jay said not to worry, he had the perfect stand-in, a friend of Ramon's. Hell, they'd grown up together in the same 'hood and knew each other's work intimately. So he introduced me to Henry Rhodes.

Henry was an interesting guy. Seemingly tattooed from head to foot, he dressed almost formally in dress slacks, button-down shirts, and tattered Converse sneakers. He studied the outline on my arm and agreed to do it. We set the appointment for Saturday, April 21st, at 6:00 PM.

The day and time arrived and so did I. Henry took me to the same studio where Ramon had done his work and started coloring. In a short while, Henry actually started enjoying himself. I'd hear, "Cool," Oh, yeah," "I like that," Fucking hot," and so on.

I was watching the work as it progressed, and I agreed with him. I was leery about going with color, but I have to admit I'm glad I did. Here are two views of it, since it wraps around my arm.

Do you think it could use some background? Maybe flames rushing through clouds?

Aw, Ray

You need to shut the fuck up. Ed Blakely may be an arrogant twit, but he was right about our city's "buffoons".

All Cast

Nighthawks is now fully cast. Esmeralda Duncan can breathe a sigh of relief. More of this after tonight. (I want to make sure the new actor shows up for rehearsal.)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Touching on Matters of Minor Importance

I realize I haven't written anything of substance lately, but that's only because there hasn't been much substance in my life this week. I've been spending my time reading your blogs instead. (That doesn't sound right, but I hope you know what I mean). I guess that's what happens when you no longer have a job to go to, people to depend on you, or duties to fulfill. You sit in front of the television set, fall asleep, and grow old. Nature's way of preparing you for a slow, lonely death.

NOT!

I've been effing busy, man. I'm two weeks from opening an original play; one of the principal actors starts a week's vacation tomorrow; I still have to cast another principal actor for the first act; and I am calm.

I have actors calling me at all hours of the day or night, seeking me out in public places, all falling apart from nerves, asking, "What are we going to do?" And I am calm.

I should be stockpiling sleeping pills, but I am calm.

Like I told one of my boys last night, "I'm retired. I can always leave town."

I don't know for sure where this peace is coming from.

I don't think it's the Paxil. I only take that to prevent premature ejaculation. My doctor told me, "One of these babies can have you going for hours," so I agreed to a prescription. I've been on 'em for a month, haven't had the occasion to test them yet.

Maybe it's our producer, Timm Holt. He's always calm.

Or maybe it's just the knowledge that I cast the best possible people available, and I trust them. I think that's it.

Yeah, that - plus the fact that I can always leave town.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Nighthawks"

The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival's schedule has been published on their website. You can read a little about Nighthawks here.

I'm a Brass Band

In case you missed last night's Manhattan Chowder, allow me to recap. He mentions and points the way to a new website called BlueGobo.com, a site of uploaded video clips of historical musical theatre moments from the past. This is a must. I've already linked to it.

Thank you, Michael, thank you.

So go. Go. See you later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Letter from a Friend

I just read an email from a friend. In it, said friend declares that I must not put the email on my blog. Of course, I had not thought of doing that until this friend forbade it. So, here it is - but expurgated. Sort of like a government document.
I have a raging [censored] for this guy, [censored]. He is a [censored] and has an amazing [censored].

We met at the [censored], yes; but he made it clear that if I wanted to get to know him, we'd have to [censored].

He also requested a [censored] due to his [censored]. So ... I gave him a [censored].

If you print this in your blog, I will put you in the woodchipper out back. Love you, kiss kiss. Really!
I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself.

Aging God Fitted For Omni-Focals

This one's for you, Dave.

Monday, April 16, 2007

More Bad News for Post-K N'awlins

The Camellia Grill, New Orleans' pre-eminent pretentious diner, will re-open later this month. Uptowners are ecstatic at the potential for snooty abuse from arrogant tip-earners slinging unsalted hash at the old riverbend establishment.

Attendance at the earlier of this Friday's two private seatings is THE invitation of the season. Hair stylists are frantically rearranging and juggling their appointment slots. Mignon Faget fully expects to make a tasteful killing.

To fully appreciate the high regard in which New Orleans' elite hold the Grill, consider this:
Following Hurricane Katrina, loyal patrons covered the front of the building with notes of adoration and yearning for the doors to re-open. "These notes are just a small glimpse of what a beloved landmark this restaurant is to New Orleans" ...
Yes, Camellia Grill was missed, a vacuum in the stony hearts of the city's wealthy partygoers.

The Other Thing That Happened to Me

Yeah, something else happened to me yesterday besides my crying jag.

I got a big scrape across my forehead.

It's bright red now where the blood shows through the torn skin and should be purple and splotchy pretty soon.

Here's how it happened.

On my way to the theatre around noon, I had managed to leave the Quarter behind with all its Festival celebrants second-lining all over the place and had made it through the Marigny triangle. I was walking down Elysian Fields toward Saint Claude Avenue and had passed Washington Square when I heard a voice behind me from a fast-approaching stranger.

"Hey, bro, yo. Got a cigarette you can spare?"

I stopped and reached into my hoody pocket for my pack of Benson and Hedges as I answered, "Sure." Why die alone from cancer, right?

The pack turned out to be empty; but I am never without an extra pack, so I reached into my pants pocket to fetch the spare. I began to unwrap it as the brotha stood beside me, bouncing up and down impatiently while I seemingly took my sweet time opening the fresh packet of fags.

I was standing near one of our new SDT trash cannisters which take up so much sidewalk real estate. Not wanting to litter, I turned my back on the little dude to open the bin's lid and throw away the cellophane. I still had my back to him as I dropped the lid back down.

It was when I went to face my new friend again that it happened.

It happened so fast I never felt any pain, but I knew it had happened.

I had smashed my face into a chinaberry tree planted right next to the trash bin.

"Fuck," I said. "Am I bleeding?"

"Naw, bro, you fine. Thanks for the smoke, big man. So long."

I'll bet you thought you knew the punchline to this story, didn't you?

Nighthawks

At the Marigny, we have begun rehearsing Nighthawks by Evan Gilford-Blake. The play is a pairing of two one-acts inspired by the Edward Hopper painting shown above and is quite beautiful. It speaks of loss and change and loneliness, concepts with impact for those of us still living in, or having recently retreated from, this little leftover pocket of diminished population you can still find at the bottom of your maps of North America.

We blocked the second act yesterday afternoon. I had hoped to have it laid out on paper, but had not found the time to do it. I went in pretty unprepared, hoping the actors had some ideas. They did, and the play was blocked in little more time than it would have taken to actually run the act.

Something happened to me, though. As the play reached its climax, I found myself standing in the theatre with tears in my eyes. Before I knew it, I was blubbering like a baby in a soaking wet diaper. I must have been really tired, more tired than I thought. I need to start pacing myself since I don't have the luxury of my standard six-week rehearsal schedule. We open on May 11th.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Did You Hear the One about ...

Alberto Gonzales?
... In part because of my own experience, I know the real strength of America. It lies in our Constitution, our people and our collective unyielding commitment to equal opportunity, equal justice, common decency and fairness. ...

Friday, April 13, 2007

Same Old Same Old

Or, Looziana politics as usual. Johnny, we hardly knew ye, cher.

My personal opinion is that this man, with his decades spent in the House and Senate up on Capital Hill in Washington, would have been in a unique position to maybe get things done in this state. But that isn't going to happen now. That's not how things are done here. Who wants to have to go out and make a choice by voting anyway?

Hell, we're getting used to the mud and the dirty air and water by now. Let's bring down some more chemical companies to add more pollutants to the atmosphere. We're all gonna die one day, what matter which way or the other.

Oh, Shit

Last night, we had our first read-through rehearsal for our next Marigny Theatre production, the play Nighthawks. I'll be writing more on this beautiful work as time goes on.

Afterwards, I went out alone to the Latrine. Few people were there. A little while after I had arrived, Sam, a sweet young cub, came in and sat with me.

He asked me how I'd been, and I told him, "Sam, I've had a rough week, and all I want is to be the center of attention - so start catering."

I never expected this.

Casting Stones

I recently admitted to a buddy that I've had a harsh week. I wasn't the only one.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Published!

Daniel, the Guy In the Desert has published one of my photographs on his blog. See if you can spot it.

Turning the Other Cheek

Now kiss it.

Lovely News for the Lovely City

SDT LLC Waste and Debris Services, owned by the lovely Sidney Torres IV, otherwise known as "our new garbageman", was featured on WDSU, Channel 6, during their noon newscast a few minutes ago. (Sorry, no link or online video yet.)

Just in time for our lovely annual French Quarter Festival, which commences tomorrow, the company will begin spraying the French Quarter with deodorant. It seems the smells of rotting food and stale piss have gotten the better of our lovely leaders in their wisdom; and they have decreed the time is right to fix what has been broken for the past several centuries.

Beginning tomorrow morning between 4:30 and 7:00 AM, a convoy of lovely, displaced, high-end department store perfume spritzers will hit the oh-so-nasty streets of the tawdry Vieux Carre and make it scentedly lovely for our lovely treasured guests. Personally, I can't wait until our civic leaders start putting up some lovely beige fiberglass facades on the fronts of these cracking old buildings left standing for several hundred years. Let's all get pretty.

Enough with all this defeatist talk about leftover devastation and rising crime and non-affordable housing and broken levees and outmoded water pumps. Disneyfication is good for the soul. It makes the world lovely.

I'm so glad someone in this godforsaken burg has his head on straight and his priorities in order.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

NO!

Kurt Vonnegut, Writer of Classics of the American Counterculture, Dies at 84:
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died Wednesday night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.

His death was reported by Morgan Entrekin, a longtime family friend, who said Mr. Vonnegut suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago.

Mr. Vonnegut wrote plays, essays and short fiction. But it was his novels that became classics of the American counterculture, making him a literary idol, particularly to students in the 1960s and ’70s. Dog-eared paperback copies of his books could be found in the back pockets of blue jeans and in dorm rooms on campuses throughout the United States.

Like Mark Twain, Mr. Vonnegut used humor to tackle the basic questions of human existence: Why are we in this world? Is there a presiding figure to make sense of all this, a god who in the end, despite making people suffer, wishes them well?

He also shared with Twain a profound pessimism. “Mark Twain,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote in his 1991 book, “Fates Worse Than Death: An Autobiographical Collage,” “finally stopped laughing at his own agony and that of those around him. He denounced life on this planet as a crock. He died.”

Not all Mr. Vonnegut’s themes were metaphysical. With a blend of vernacular writing, science fiction, jokes and philosophy, he also wrote about the banalities of consumer culture, for example, or the destruction of the environment.

His novels — 14 in all — were alternate universes, filled with topsy-turvy images and populated by races of his own creation, like the Tralfamadorians and the Mercurian Harmoniums. He invented phenomena like chrono-synclastic infundibula (places in the universe where all truths fit neatly together) as well as religions, like the Church of God the Utterly Indifferent and Bokononism (based on the books of a black British Episcopalian from Tobago “filled with bittersweet lies,” a narrator says).

The defining moment of Mr. Vonnegut’s life was the firebombing of Dresden, Germany, by Allied forces in 1945, an event he witnessed firsthand as a young prisoner of war. Thousands of civilians were killed in the raids, many of them burned to death or asphyxiated. “The firebombing of Dresden,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote, “was a work of art.” It was, he added, “a tower of smoke and flame to commemorate the rage and heartbreak of so many who had had their lives warped or ruined by the indescribable greed and vanity and cruelty of Germany.”

His experience in Dresden was the basis of “Slaughterhouse-Five,” which was published in 1969 against the backdrop of war in Vietnam, racial unrest and cultural and social upheaval. The novel, wrote the critic Jerome Klinkowitz, “so perfectly caught America’s transformative mood that its story and structure became best-selling metaphors for the new age.”

To Mr. Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

Mr. Vonnegut eschewed traditional structure and punctuation. His books were a mixture of fiction and autobiography, prone to one-sentence paragraphs, exclamation points and italics. Graham Greene called him “one of the most able of living American writers.” Some critics said he had invented a new literary type, infusing the science-fiction form with humor and moral relevance and elevating it to serious literature.

He was also accused of repeating himself, of recycling themes and characters. Some readers found his work incoherent. His harshest critics called him no more than a comic book philosopher, a purveyor of empty aphorisms.

With his curly hair askew, deep pouches under his eyes and rumpled clothes, he often looked like an out-of-work philosophy professor, typically chain smoking, his conversation punctuated with coughs and wheezes. But he also maintained a certain celebrity, as a regular on panels and at literary parties in Manhattan and on the East End of Long Island, where he lived near his friend and fellow war veteran Joseph Heller, another darkly comic literary hero of the age.

Mr. Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis in 1922, a fourth-generation German-American and the youngest of three children. His father, Kurt Sr., was an architect. His mother, Edith, came from a wealthy brewery family. Mr. Vonnegut’s brother, Bernard, who died in 1997, was a physicist and an expert on thunderstorms.

During the Depression, the elder Vonnegut went for long stretches without work, and Mrs. Vonnegut suffered from episodes of mental illness. “When my mother went off her rocker late at night, the hatred and contempt she sprayed on my father, as gentle and innocent a man as ever lived, was without limit and pure, untainted by ideas or information,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote. She committed suicide, an act that haunted her son for the rest of his life.

He had, he said, a lifelong difficulty with women. He remembered an aunt once telling him, “ ‘All Vonnegut men are scared to death of women.’ ”

“My theory is that all women have hydrofluoric acid bottled up inside,” he wrote.

Mr. Vonnegut went east to attend Cornell University, but he enlisted in the Army before he could get a degree. The Army initially sent him to the Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon) in Pittsburgh and the University of Tennessee to study mechanical engineering.

In 1944 he was shipped to Europe with the 106th Infantry Division and shortly saw combat in the Battle of the Bulge. With his unit nearly destroyed, he wandered behind enemy lines for several days until he was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp near Dresden, the architectural jewel of Germany.

Assigned by his captors to make vitamin supplements, he was working with other prisoners in an underground meat locker when British and American war planes started carpet bombing the city, creating a firestorm above him. The work detail saved his life.

Afterward, he and his fellow prisoners were assigned to remove the dead.

“The corpses, most of them in ordinary cellars, were so numerous and represented such a health hazard that they were cremated on huge funeral pyres, or by flamethrowers whose nozzles were thrust into the cellars, without being counted or identified,” he wrote in “Fates Worse Than Death.” When the war ended, Mr. Vonnegut returned to the United States and married his high school sweetheart, Jane Marie Cox. They settled in Chicago in 1945. The couple had three children: Mark, Edith and Nanette. In 1958, Mr. Vonnegut’s sister, Alice, and her husband died within a day of each other, she of cancer and he in a train crash. The Vonneguts adopted their children, Tiger, Jim and Steven.

In Chicago, Mr. Vonnegut worked as a police reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau. He also studied for a master’s degree in anthropology at the University of Chicago, writing a thesis on “The Fluctuations Between Good and Evil in Simple Tales.” It was rejected unanimously by the faculty. (The university finally awarded him a degree almost a quarter of a century later, allowing him to use his novel “Cat’s Cradle” as his thesis.)

In 1947, he moved to Schenectady, N.Y., and took a job in public relations for the General Electric Company. Three years later he sold his first short story, “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” to Collier’s magazine and decided to move his family to Cape Cod, Mass., where he wrote fiction for magazines like Argosy and The Saturday Evening Post. To bolster his income, he taught emotionally disturbed children, worked at an advertising agency and at one point started an auto dealership.

His first novel was “Player Piano,” published in 1952. A satire on corporate life — the meetings, the pep talks, the cultivation of bosses — it also carries echoes of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” It concerns an engineer, Paul Proteus, who is employed by the Ilium Works, a company similar to General Electric. Proteus becomes the leader of a band of revolutionaries who destroy machines that they think are taking over the world.

“Player Piano” was followed in 1959 by “The Sirens of Titan,” a science fiction novel featuring the Church of God of the Utterly Indifferent. In 1961 he published “Mother Night,” involving an American writer awaiting trial in Israel on charges of war crimes in Nazi Germany. Like Mr. Vonnegut’s other early novels, they were published as paperback originals. And like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” in 1972, and a number of other Vonnegut novels, “Mother Night” was adapted for film, in 1996, starring Nick Nolte.

In 1963, Mr. Vonnegut published “Cat’s Cradle.” Though it initially sold only about 500 copies, it is widely read today in high school English classes. The novel, which takes its title from an Eskimo game in which children try to snare the sun with string, is an autobiographical work about a family named Hoenikker. The narrator, an adherent of the religion Bokononism, is writing a book about the bombing of Hiroshima and comes to witness the destruction of the world by something called Ice-Nine, which, on contact, causes all water to freeze at room temperature.

Mr. Vonnegut shed the label of science fiction writer with “Slaughterhouse-Five.” It tells the story of Billy Pilgrim, an infantry scout (as Mr. Vonnegut was), who discovers the horror of war. “You know — we’ve had to imagine the war here, and we have imagined that it was being fought by aging men like ourselves,” an English colonel says in the book. “We had forgotten that wars were fought by babies. When I saw those freshly shaved faces, it was a shock. My God, my God — I said to myself, ‘It’s the Children’s Crusade.’ ”

As Mr. Vonnegut was, Billy is captured and assigned to manufacture vitamin supplements in an underground meat locker, where the prisoners take refuge from Allied bombing.

In “Slaughterhouse-Five,” Mr. Vonnegut introduced the recurring character of Kilgore Trout, his fictional alter ego. The novel also featured a signature Vonnegut phrase.

“Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round,” Mr. Vonnegut wrote at the end of the book, “was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes.

Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes.”

One of many Zen-like words and phrases that run through Mr. Vonnegut’s books, “so it goes” became a catchphrase for opponents of the Vietnam war.

“Slaughterhouse-Five” reached No.1 on best-seller lists, making Mr. Vonnegut a cult hero. Some schools and libraries have banned it because of its sexual content, rough language and scenes of violence.

After the book was published, Mr. Vonnegut went into severe depression and vowed never to write another novel. Suicide was always a temptation, he wrote. In 1984, he tried to take his life with sleeping pills and alcohol.

“The child of a suicide will naturally think of death, the big one, as a logical solution to any problem,” he wrote. His son Mark also suffered a breakdown, in the 1970s, from which he recovered, writing about it in a book, “Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity.”

Forsaking novels, Mr. Vonnegut decided to become a playwright. His first effort, “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” opened Off Broadway in 1970 to mixed reviews. Around this time he separated from his wife, Jane, and moved to New York. (She remarried and died in 1986.)

In 1979 Mr. Vonnegut married the photographer Jill Krementz. They have a daughter, Lily. They survive him, as do all his other children.

Mr. Vonnegut returned to novels with “Breakfast of Champions, or Goodbye Blue Monday” (1973), calling it a “tale of a meeting of two lonesome, skinny, fairly old white men on a planet which was dying fast.” This time his alter ego is Philboyd Sludge, who is writing a book about Dwayne Hoover, a wealthy auto dealer. Hoover has a breakdown after reading a novel written by Kilgore Trout, who reappears in this book, and begins to believe that everyone around him is a robot.

In 1997, Mr. Vonnegut published “Timequake,” a tale of the millennium in which a wrinkle in space-time compels the world to relive the 1990s. The book, based on an earlier failed novel of his, was, in his own words, “a stew” of plot summaries and autobiographical writings. Once again, Kilgore Trout is a character. “If I’d wasted my time creating characters,” Mr. Vonnegut said in defense of his “recycling,” “I would never have gotten around to calling attention to things that really matter.”

Though it was a bestseller, it also met with mixed reviews. “Having a novelist’s free hand to write what you will does not mean you are entitled to a free ride,” R. Z. Sheppard wrote in Time. But the novelist Valerie Sayers, in The New York Times Book Review, wrote: “The real pleasure lies in Vonnegut’s transforming his continuing interest in the highly suspicious relationship between fact and fiction into the neatest trick yet played on a publishing world consumed with the furor over novel versus memoir.”

Mr. Vonnegut said in the prologue to “Timequake” that it would be his last novel. And so it was.

His last book, in 2005, was a collection of biographical essays, “A Man Without a Country.” It, too, was a best seller.

It concludes with a poem written by Mr. Vonnegut called “Requiem,” which has these closing lines:

When the last living thing

has died on account of us,

how poetical it would be

if Earth could say,

in a voice floating up

perhaps

from the floor

of the Grand Canyon,

“It is done.”

People did not like it here.

Whoa

Wow.

Stupid Is as Stupid Does, Part Deux

I was truly mortified over what I had done Monday night, even though I made light of my own feelings in the matter. So at 8:04 yesterday morning, I sent this to the reviewer:
I apologize for what I wrote to you last night. My words were written in the heat of the moment. I personally agree with your newspaper's policy forbidding endorsements. Doing so would be wholly inappropriate and would exhibit the appearance of unethical behavior.

I have been working at the Marigny Theatre for less than a year. During that short time, I have come to love the facility and the people who work there trying to make good community theatre.

But, as you know, words can wound and hurt; and I am truly sorry for having done such a thing to you.
My Sicilian mother - who is a saint in heaven today! - raised me to accept responsibility for wrongdoings of any kind, taught me the value of an appropriate sense of guilt, and made sure I knew that no one was exempt from good manners. No one, no matter how high.

Of course, a hack reviewer is pretty low, so what did I expect? Just an acknowledgment of my apology, that's all. But he has ignored me and dismissed my act of obeisance.

My Sicilian mother - who is a saint in heaven today! - also taught me that some people are poisonous and must be avoided at all costs.

So, mama, I'm going to do what you raised me to do. I'm going to avoid this poisonous person and remove him and his influence from my life. Instead, I will focus on the gifted people who surround me, the people I can help to grow and expand and watch move on, and whom I can love with a joyful abandonment.

I think you raised me well, mom. Fuck the assholes, right?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

When Nuns Go Bad


An order of Carmelite nuns is at the centre of a legal row over priceless religious icons which were taken when the sisters moved out of their nunnery.

When the sisters decided to leave their rundown, insect-infested nunnery, they surprised locals by taking more than just the furniture. But when residents of Grajal de Campos, in León, northern Spain, realised two large wooden religious icons had disappeared, an accusatory finger was pointed at the nuns.

The 17th-century Inmaculada and the 18th-century San José, which formed part of an altarpiece, and the 16th-century Cristo yacente, which was in a glass urn, disappeared when the nuns moved on six months ago. Their absence meant the neighbouring Brotherhood of the Third Order of San Francisco in Grajal de Campos could not take part in the Easter parades on Good Friday for the first time in 500 years as they carry the icons through the streets. Now the brotherhood has launched a legal fight to get the icons back.

The nuns come from a largely silent Carmelite order. But voices have already been raised among angry locals, anxious to retrieve the icons.

Two hundred protesters also took the fight to the doors of the nuns' new home in the more salubrious confines of Toledo.

The protesters shouted "Mother superior, pillager" and "Trust the termites more than the Carmelites" - a reference to the excuse used by the nuns as they claimed their building was run down and insect-infested. Francisco Espinosa, mayor of Grajal de Campos, said: "We've tried asking them nicely to return the icons, but they say that they've looked after them for years in the convent, and they believe that gives them the right to take them.

"We have documents from as far back as 1728 that show that they have been here much longer than the nuns, who arrived in 1881." Monsignor Julián López, the Bishop of León, wrote to the order suggesting that they "didn't keep anything that didn't belong to them" but it was ignored.

Julián Rodríguez, spokesman for the Brotherhood of the Third Order, said: "We suspect they have taken more than the icons - valuable furniture and other things. We have been forced to resort to legal action against the sisters." Rumours have arisen that the nuns left their nunnery because they want to sell the dilapidated building in an effort to cash in on Spain's building boom.

One resident, who was at the protest, said: "Now we know that they want to sell the convent to make way for a hotel. That's why we don't believe what they've been saying about the termites, because it would have frightened off any buyer." He added: "What's more, if that were true, they would have taken the bugs with them in the stolen icons they took to Toledo."

In an attempt to retrieve the icons which provide a valuable lure for tourists, the Brotherhood launched a legal case which will be heard in court in León tomorrow. Representatives of the Brotherhood of the Third Order will appear before a judge to try to settle the matter.

Until now, it is unknown whether anything else is missing from the convent, given that the only person with a key is only admitting potential buyers.

The Carmelite nuns in Toledo have refused to comment on the controversy. Mother Mari Paz, of the order, would only say: "We are servants of God [...] We've come here to be silent, to pray and to forgive."

A Coronet of Capitanos

Have you heard the one about rampant crime in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina?

I'm sure you've heard the one about the buffoonery of the officials in our city/parish government.

Well, the clowns are back up there in Washington appearing before another House Judiciary subcommittee.
The intention of the hearing was to examine what affect Hurricane Katrina had on crime in the city, and determine if federal involvement is necessary to quell the recent surge in violence.

Mayor Ray Nagin told the Congressional panel the city needs tens of millions of dollars to rebuild police precincts, buy police vehicles, revamp the city’s witness protection, and even construct new playgrounds to keep kids off the streets.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Virginia) responded to the mayor’s request by asking the contingent of city leaders if they had pursued any corporate sponsorship for those projects, and raised questions about New Orleans’ reputation for corruption.

Corporate sponsorship? Corporate sponsorship?! For playgrounds, sure, okay. But for rebuilding police precincts? To revamp witness protection programs? Yeah, that's sure gonna fatten some corporation's bottom line.

What the hell is the purpose of government? Speaking corporately, if I am not going to receive a return on my tax-dollar investment, why can't I keep those dollars and invest them elsewhere? Isn't that what the current administration has been telling us we should be allowed to do for the past six years?

And as for the Honorable Representative from Virginia and his concerns about our city's reputation for corruption, may I respectfully ask if he has ever heard of Congressional oversight?

Oh. My bad. Of course, he hasn't.

But I'm sure that, like pornography, he would know corruption if he saw it.

Oh, damn. My bad again.

Sorry.

Never mind.

Stupid Is as Stupid Does

Timm at the Marigny Theatre is applying for a community partnership grant from the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation to institute a series of educational forums on various topics appropriate to community theatre. One of those forums would involve a panel discussion on the function of the critic toward a finished production. It would involve the participation of three local reviewers who would be invited to expound on their methods of ascertaining the quality of a production.

Timm invited the reviewer from the Times Picayune newspaper to be a participant in this group. He also asked if the reviewer would be willing to write an accompanying letter of support for the project.

Last night, Timm forwarded me a copy of the reviewer's response. He wrote:
I rarely -- if ever -- do panels. I save my opinions for the paper.
Well, at least, he admits they are only his opinions, even though he does seem to treat them as revealed truth.
And the newspaper does not approve of its art reporters making recommendations for grant monies for organizations.
Absolutely appropriate. However, he might have said instead, "Unfortunately, my employer has a policy which prohibits its employees from endorsing a particular entity since this could give the appearance of impropriety. For this reason, I am unable to furnish you with a written letter of support."
I will continue, of course, to review your productions. And it would also help if you got us photos as early as possible, i.e., the Friday before the Friday publication date.
Oh, happy day! Timm did not spoil our chances of receiving more gleefully humiliating reviews from this pillar of the New Orleans theatre community. Sadly, he forgot that for our produciton of Tenn Times 3, he was given - on his demand - a CD of photos from the production for use in his paper on the day he attended the performance he reviewed. Timm personally placed it in his hands. The only other Marigny Theatre production he reviewed since Katrina was The Eight: Reindeer Monolgues, for which he had his photos well in advance of his publication date since he ran one with his review.
Best!
Doesn't sound like a wish for good fortune to me.

I wrote back to Timm:
This is just plain nasty and rude.
Sadly, I responded too heatedly. In other words, I fired off my comment as a response to the reviewer's email, not Timm's. He wrote me back:
This is my newspaper's policy. If you like, you can speak to my editor ...
I'm finished in this town.

Goodbye forever ...

Sunday, April 8, 2007

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Or, Just Another Day in the Looziana Countryside:

COVINGTON, La. (AP) -- A boxed bathtub fell from the bed of a pickup truck and slid into a motorcycle's path, critically injuring the 72-year-old cyclist, state police said.

[The cyclist] was traveling on Interstate 12 on Saturday when he was thrown from his motorcycle after hitting the bathtub, according to Trooper Louis Calato. Warren was being treated at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, he said.

Calato said the motorcycle, the box and the bathtub all ended up in the grass median.

The pickup's driver ... was booked with negligent injury and driving with an unsecured load, he said.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Empty Spaces Left Behind

Yesterday, I ran into a neighbor who asked if I had heard about Allen. I hadn't.

Allen was a balding, cigar-chomping Quarter rat who loved to run up to Harrah's a couple of times a week.

This past Wednesday, Allen got into his car and left his home. He left some notes behind, but took his guns with him. His notes said simply that he did not believe he could go on, nothing much else.

The police have not found him yet.

Some of us go like Allen. Others replace their life-sustaining meds with Crown Royal until their bodies become exhausted and stop functioning. Still others bludgeon their families before immolating their homes and themselves. Some plummet from high rooftops or bridges.

Fewer and fewer of us are going through our days without the knowledge of a personal acquaintance, friend, or lover who has surrendered to the palpable hopelessness of life here in the Big Easy.

It has been nearly two years since the devastation of our failed levee system, and progress is grindingly slow. The cost of living here is rising as more and more businesses strive to survive. Our leaders are either incompetent fools or arrogant carpetbaggers.

This Easter weekend, it is 47 degrees outside, but so much colder inside.

Sinking Unheeded into the Swamp

The WaPo wonders why there is no help for Louisiana.

Was it something we said? No, we simply had the misfortune to be devastated during the tenure of a criminally corrupt administration.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Some New Orleans Customs

My Canadian bud in Japan [sic] just alerted me to this website where you can destroy your blog of choice.

I have decided to go with something typically New Orleans.
Here is the way we celebrate a night on the town in the French Quarter.

This is a tourist during Mardi Gras.

And this is how most of you outsiders became acquainted with our fair city.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

New Orleans Councilwoman Has Run-In with State Police

This just in from WWLTV.com:
New Orleans City Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell has issued an apology for a run-in with State Police on the Interstate.

The incident happened on February 26, when a state trooper clocked the councilwoman flying down I-10 at close to 100 miles per hour just before 9 a.m.

When State Police pulled her SUV over and asked her the step out of the vehicle, Morrell refused, saying “Do you know who I am?”

Morrell was not issued a ticket, according to State Police.

Morrell issued the following statement on Wednesday: "I was rushing to a meeting with FEMA about the Holy Cross issue. I was driving beyond the speed limit. I deeply regret the incident and will try to be a better driver in the future."

How quaint. That trooper would have hauled my ass off to jail for treating him this way.

It's becoming tiresome having so many public servants forgetting their status as representatives of the people who elected them.

Ms. Hedge-Morrell, may I be allowed to mention that you serve at the pleasure of the citizens of your district. I hope they have the common sense to see you as you really are.

But then, judging from our recent history, I'd have to say, "Fat chance."

More here, here, here, and here.

Update, April 6, 2007, 10:45 AM:

Here is a really good point of view, this time from a former New Orleanian now working as a police officer in Harper's Ferry, VA, where they apparently pay their forces a living wage.

He also has the State Troopers' reports on view. You gotta go there.

Hell, I'm gonna steal them from him. Here they are:

Feb 26 LSP report
Initial Trooper's report
LSP Supervisor's report
(whitewashing the incident)
LSP Commander's report
Unbelievable.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Wow

I seem to have been nominated for a Storer Boone Award as Best Director of a Drama (I think) for Take Me Out. Mandi Turner was nominated for her supporting role in Dancing at Lughnasa - again. Mandi should win. She deserves to. I don't think I do, but it's a hoot, anyway.

I wonder if you have to dress up to attend this gig.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Thousand Hand Guanyin

Big tip of the hat to disembedded for this.

Can It Be?

Does this administration think Good Friday is an auspicious day to attempt to bring on Armageddon?

Kill the Lights, Bolt the Doors

We closed Tenn Times 3 last night. We had a wonderful weekend of decent-sized houses and perceptive audiences. My actors glowed. A reporter from CNN was there. The final curtain earned standing ovations.

Oh, well.

We hold auditions tonight and tomorrow for Nighthawks, the winning entry in the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival's playwrighting contest.

Time to embark on a new love affair.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Ben & Jerry's and Brad

Okay.

You've been to Verti Marte where you've bought two pints of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.

You're on your way home, walking down Governor Nicholls Street toward the river.

You near the middle of the 500 block where you spy Brad Pitt standing outside his New Orleans home, leaning against the wall, and smoking a cigarette.

When you come level with him, he engages you in conversation, asking you what you have in the bag.

You tell him.

He makes a lascivious suggestion about what you can do with him and the Ben & Jerry's.

Two questions:
  • What brand(s) of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream did you buy?
  • What do you do with those two pints and Brad?
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