Monday, August 31, 2009

Read It

Go on. Go read it. Read it now!

Quote of the Day

"I despise narcissists. How can I not? I'm the center of the fucking universe, not them."

Closed Doors

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

August 29, 2005

Today a lot of people here will be recalling an event that changed us all four years ago. They'll be writing new eulogies and further J'accuses. Which is a good thing. Whenever one continues to do, there is hope. It is when one terminates activities that danger enters the room.

Myself, I'm worded out. Not only that, I'm tired, tired of living in that place and end-time for the last four years. I'm ready to climb down off the roof.

The city I encounter when I walk out my front gate is lusty and ravenous. Gluttonous. Engorged. Enraged. Whenever I leave my home, my senses are pelted by new sensations, sights, sounds. Everyone, it seems, is making art or agitprop and displaying it everywhere you look. They insist on leaving a mark in spite of knowing that what it is they've hung may be destined to fade behind a stroke of gray primer or be torn in twos or threes by the stroke of an arm reaching up to rip it down.

We've learned the hard lesson of the futility of holding onto things, of holding on. We know that everything will pass, nothing will remain, memories will evaporate.

Yet, burdened with this knowledge, still we leave our marks, our tags, on the surfaces we pass.

We were here, we say, and as long as this thing lasts, you who glance at it will glimpse a sight of us and know that we once stood here, too.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Glad to Be of Service, Mr. Jerkoff

Sorry, I mean, "Chertoff".

You know, I've been kinda down in the dumps remembering that tomorrow will be the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and what we down here call the "Federal Flood".

But I just read this article, and, boy, do I feel a whole better about everything now.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Graffiti Next Door

Drawing Connections

Sometimes the workings of my own mind just stop me in my tracks. And I know it probably doesn't mean a damn thing to you, but, as for me, I see nipples.

Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned

I don't remember how long it's been since my last confession. At my age, you start to lose track. Of course, being my age is probably the main reason for me to be kneeling here in a little dark box not unlike some of the other little dark boxes I've found myself kneeling in before, like in my youth, you know.

Wait, I don't mean to be going there. That's too personal.

What I'm really meaning to say is I'm, like, you know, trying to make some peace here because - well, a person getting on to my age - you start to wonder, maybe even worry, about whether all those stories you hear all the time might turn out to be true, that whole heaven and hellfire thing. After a long life spent in the South, I wouldn't relish an eternity of August in New Orleans.

But I digress.

I've been having evil thoughts, father, very evil thoughts about some people I know. Not people I know well, not them, but more like people I know of. It's more about the ugly people I know of.

Now they deserve these evil thoughts, don't get me wrong. I just don't like being the one to be harboring them - the evil thoughts, I mean.

These people are mean and spiteful, petty and arrogant. They deserve all the really hateful things I imagine myself inflicting on them.

But it seems unseemly for me to be thinking that way. I'd like to let go of the hate. That's why I come to you, to get it off my chest.

What's that? What do I imagine doing to them?

Nothing complicated. Nothing detailed and involved. I'm a kind of get-to-the-point kind of guy, not the kind of guy that's into plans and blueprints and timetables and stuff. I just imagine them blowing up. That's all.

Oh, not blowing up like in a fit of anger or anything like that. I mean blowing up, like, you know, ka-boom! Flesh and guts and brain matter going flying and all.

I'm a simple guy. Just lots of booms, then peace and quiet, nasty people out of my hair.

Yeah, I realize it's not my place to determine who deserves to get blown up, that's God's job. I don't really think I'd act on this or do anything to speed up the process. I'm just kind of keeping a list in case God gets a little distracted and loses track of who needs smiting. He can come to me, knowing I'll be there to give him a nudge in the right direction.

Oh, you have people for that already, so I don't need to devote my time to it? Um, could I compare my list to yours to see if they match?

No? Okay. Trust you? Sure, okay.

Give you my list? Um, it's on my computer.

Sure, I can email it to you, yeah. Yeah, that way I get to keep my original, and I can check off the names as God pops 'em off. Sounds like a go, father. Thanks.

What's that? Ten "Hail Marys" and five "Our Fathers"? That many? You think I have an afternoon of nothing else to do, I can say a string of prayers like that?

Can I copy and paste?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Plywood Fairy

Sunday's Paper

Broken Pinwheel Garden Toy

And the Young People Are Stoopid Because ... ?

Let me preface this post by declaring that I consider myself to be as young-at-heart as the next old fart perched on his front stoop, spittin' at the whippersnappers. However, I have to admit that I grew up in an age when parents roamed the earth and kids were taught right from wrong and the proper ways of showing respect. Not to mention how to hold onto a job.

Imagine my positive delight when I recently ran across the following post from a blog I occasionally visit. The writer is a newly-certified pharmacist just out of college. This appears to be the youngster's first (of several) job(s). (I have withheld my natural, overbearing impulse to edit grammar and punctuation.)
I had the perfect storm of miserable working conditions this past week. It started with an hour's drive to a store I'd never been to. I kicked things off right by going to the wrong store. I showed up all cocky and ready to go and there was already a pharmacist in the pharmacy. She informed me that there are two stores on the same street and I needed to head east for 3 more blocks. Yeah. Probably should have checked the address...So I finally made it to the store where I was supposed to be working and walked in to relieve the night pharmacist. He greeted me thusly: "Your 8 am technician called in, your 11 am technician will be late, and these people here will eat you alive. And if anyone tries to rob you just give them the drugs, they're probably armed. Good luck." Seriously. So I introduced myself to the cashier and tech trainee and got to work! I basically had to do all the work the technician would have done, because the trainee was new. I realized in about an hour that our 9 am cashier had never come in...she never did, and she never called either. I noticed three things about the clientele of this store as the morning heated up: 1. No one can figure out the automated refill line. Every single person held to speak to a pharmacist just for a refill. 2. Mainly addicted. Lots of drug abuse going on, and frankly I am not that stupid people, your story that you dropped a full bottle of Lortab into your toilet is just not going to fly with me. 3. Subsidized. I never saw so many able-bodied people picking up Medicaid prescriptions in the middle of the day when they should have been either working or looking for work.
By mid-morning things were insanely busy and I could not wait for the relief pharmacist to show up at 11. She walked in at about 11:20...and it was someone I know. Someone I know and do not like. I had worked with her on a case study at school and frankly she did not pull her own weight at all. I was very disappointed in the shifty way she tried to get everyone else to do her work. I guess it was a character flaw and not some fluke, because she continued such behavior all day: she not only made multiple errors (always check your meds, folks. Always.), she got on the phone and made a 45 minute personal call right off the bat! As the lines were ringing crazily with people requesting refills!
I was dying for my eleven o'clock tech to come in, but of course she was late that day; she made it in at about 1 pm. At this point the pharmacy was mildly controlled chaos. In walks my tech...I am not kidding. She was a midget. Honestly. She could not reach any of the counters so I had to continue to do all her work for her! Did nobody think to buy this girl a step stool?!
God help anyone who bought medication that day is all I can say. Phew.
Phew, indeed.

Your assignment, dear reader, should you agree to accept it, is to discuss this young person's workplace errors and attitudinal misjudgments.

Won't that be fun? C'mon, it's an easy "A".

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Saying Good-bye

Al Shea passed away this morning.

Al was a great booster of New Orleans theatre and entertainment, perhaps a bigger booster than was good for it, certainly a bigger booster than it deserved.
Shea’s first theatre review on “Midday” followed a conversation with Scoop Kennedy, the longtime New Orleans journalist who did theatre reviews for the program.

“Scoop did a review of a play at the Little Theatre, which I had seen. It was terrible, and he loved it,” Shea recalled in 2003. “So afterwards, I said ‘Scoop, how can you say that about that show?’ He said, ‘I’m not going to say anything terrible about the Little Theatre. Those are my people, Papa.’”
We were all Al's people. We will miss his kindness, his wacky humor, his joy, and his love.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Can't Explain Myself ... Because I'm not Myself, You See

I haven't worked on a play since The Glass Menagerie. That was back in March. Ever since then, I've been focused on Bob, and our world has been growing smaller and smaller. It's pretty much just the two of us most of the time, and that can grind you down.

I'm not suited to be a recluse.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with a playwright and some actors, and we read a new script aloud. My brain began test-firing its synapses again. Images illustrating the action in the play flashed across my mind. It was like something in me started to vibrate.

Then it was over, and we all went back to our old routines while the playwright does more work on his script.

I'm really not suited to solitude.

Another Ubiquitous Hibiscus

Roofing Tiles

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Mother Always Said ...

... If you can't think of anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

So ...

Yeah, I've had a skanky-ass day.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Passing Thoughts

I really thought Barack Obama would have had a set of balls. Why else would he have run for the presidency of the United States if he hadn't had a pair to begin with? You've got to have some chutzpah to do that, don't you? You need to think you're better than most, if not all, the other people around who think they have what it takes to get what you believe should be yours.

But no. Maybe there are some other perks to being president that I don't know about than the opportunity to reshape the world by making it a better place.

Let's see. You've got your cool secret service guys always around making you the center of attention. No event you're scheduled to attend will start until you take your seat. Your rubber chicken will always be the best-prepared of all the other rubber chickens in the dining room.

It's clear the world today has given itself up to the bunglers and the inefficient. It's a wide expanse of missed opportunities and wasted efforts.

At least, I can still network with my Facebook friends.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Playing Tourist, Part 5

Ursulines Avenue at the corner of Chartres Street. The building on the left is the Beauregard-Keyes House. The building taking up the right side of the photo is the old Ursuline Convent with Our Lady of Victory Church in the middle.

Playing Tourist, Part 4

Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, 1116 Chartres Street.

The right-hand side of the church near the handicap ramp.

My maternal grandfather settled in New Orleans after immigrating from Sicily. In his old age, he became homeless and suffered from a mental illness of some kind. The priest here at this church took him in and provided a room for him in an adjoining building. It was his last home.

Playing Tourist, Part 3

Katrina residue.

In case you didn't know, after the hurricane had passed, first responders entered property in the city looking for residents who might need assistance or were dead. They painted these signs on the doors and facades to show what they had found.

Playing Tourist, Part 2

Carriageway at 921 Chartres Street.

Playing Tourist, Part 1

Jackson Square, the corner of Chartres and Saint Ann Streets.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Approaching Storm

Balcony Light-Fixture Chain

Wild Fern

51 Days

My body is different from yours. I believe I may be in some kind of minuscule minority sub-group as far as it's concerned, but I have found, through many years of observation, that it doesn't respond to received stimuli in any prescribed fashion - usually, it responds in the opposite way.

For example, several years ago, when it was de rigeur, I got myself a prescription for Prozac. My doctors told me it would make me happy and alert - why, it was even known to cause weight loss. Sounded good to me. However, I quickly doubled my size instead of fractionalizing it, but that was okay. I didn't care. I was happy and alert.

But this?

Just a minute ago, I was in the bathroom, and I caught my reflection in the mirror as I was passing by. Something I detected in the corner of my eye caused me to stop and examine what I was looking at.

I was beholding a terrain of wrinkles.

Now let me clarify something. All my life, I have been hearing tales about the damage smoking will do to one's skin. It's supposed to make it all splotchy and leathery and ... wrinkled.

Well, excuse me, but I quit smoking on Father's Day of this year. That was June 21st. That means today is the 51st day since I stopped drugging myself with the so-called cursed weed (I counted).

And my reward is to look my age?

Fuck that.

I need creams.

Monday, August 10, 2009

On Being Appreciated

I had another appointment with the dentist this morning and ran into a personage of some local repute in the waiting room. It seems Mr. Constantinople Offkey, like me, has been seeing this same dentist recently and couldn't help but enthuse, as he so often enthuses about things deserving of his enthusiasm, over the good doctor and how he runs his practice.
I've decided I really, really like this dentist.

I had a return visit this morning so he could remove the sutures from last week's extractions and see how my gums are healing. He was so excited by my recovery process.

Well, I can't express how much I appreciate a doctor who can appreciate, in his turn, my own ability to heal.

I had another dentist before who was nothing like this dentist I'm seeing now. That dentist viewed my teeth as just little things, objects formed of enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp. My new dentist sees them as so much more, as a tangible expression of who I am and of all that went into making me the vibrant person I am today.

That dentist can go to hell.

This dentist knows how to treat me as the bright and shiny person he and I both know me to be.

Why, the first time he saw me, he made it his business to discover that I had my own personal roots in a tiny farming community in some forever-more nameless place to which I shall never return. He tut-tutted and tsk-tsked as I recounted how hard it was to get a proper tooth-growing diet while living amongst poor-white-trashy people who had no knowledge of the finer things in life. I knew back then instinctively that I didn't belong there, that life had better things in mind for me.

Well, this dentist is so impressed with how far I've come on such a sad little set of chompers. He so admires my grit and gristle.

How could I let him go? He's not only a great dentist, he's also a great man.

And what makes a great man? The ability to see the obvious greatness in me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

At the Gate

I spent a relaxing, useless Saturday, doing nothing much of anything. Eventually, I decided to go out and cross the street to pick up a few groceries, only to find our gate blocked by the little guy you see here.

He's a gutter punk who's been hanging around the neighborhood for a couple of months or so. I couldn't wake him up, but he was breathing and is probably drunk. I've seen him swigging booze from pint bottles before while sitting on the street out front.

I've been checking up on him every now and then. He's changed position, so he isn't dead.

The last time I went out to see how he was doing, there was a group of other gutter kids around him, trying to get him up, but having no success.

They told me his name is Kevin.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Dollar Bill Won't Buy What It Used to Anymore

Guilty on 11 out of 16 counts.

I Slept in My Bed Last Night

I did.

For the first time since July 3rd, I managed to lie down and sleep for several hours' duration on my back, in my bed.

My left side now hurts less enough that I don't have to sleep in a chair.

Am I recovering?

'Bout fuckin' time.
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