Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pure Escapism (Sometimes It's Good for You)


There's an oil spill in the Gulf, NOPD is going down, I'm looking at some bizarre bills to pay, and there's a mouse loose in the house. It's all so complicated. Time for a bike ride with Clint. (I know I've played this twice before. I don't care. It's my blog.)

From the YouTube page:
cmaedgen — September 13, 2007 — Originally written by Ray Davies of the Kinks, this song is performed by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band featuring Clint Maedgen on vocals. Filmed mid-2005, this music video features Clint Maedgen, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and a guest appearance by the New Orleans Bingo! Show.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Punch Drunk

I've been awake since three this morning. And not sitting around doing nothing. No. Been working. Working hard.

See, sometime between yesterday and the ungodly hour when I rose, unable to sleep again, I found myself dead tired of this Blogger template. Yeah, this one. The one you're looking at.

I figured, no big deal. I've gone through so many of these different babies, the changes won't drive me off my nut. Famous last words, you know.

I went searching, digging. Found one I liked. Liked it a lot. Did the download thing. Saved it, then loaded it  up.

You ever done one of these jobs?

No? Let me tell you what it's like. You never know, you might chance to give it a shot one day. Be prepared. Everything you've already set is going to end up scattered all over the place. Some of it you won't even be able to find if you go to your layout page in the Blogger dashboard. It's just there. In the wrong places. No way to move it around. No.

So you have to go into your HTML code, find the stuff that's hanging around, dump it, then do it all over with the widget gizmo back at the layout page. You have to do that with each one of them s-o-b's. Takes time. Probably more than you have. Which is why I was doing it 'round three in the AM today. Nothing else to do. What the hell?

Soon ("soon" - that's a laugh) a few hours have gone by. You take a look at the thing. It looks okay.

Now it's time to load your commenter add-on into the thing. You go to that website. Do the routine they tell you to do that's gonna set the code into your template. The program on the site tells you it worked. You reload the new template. Take a look at the thing.

It didn't work.

You go back. Look for answers. You find a spot that says here's how to do it manually. You do it. Doesn't work. You kick the cat.

You're sweating heavy now. You start all over. Same routine. Same result. Thing still don't work.

You end up putting it back together again the way it was. The way you didn't like it to begin with. The way you still don't like it now. Whatcha gonna do? Throw it out altogether?

Don't think the thought didn't pass my mind.

But I'm a fighter. I don't give in. Might look like I do. For a minute, a day, a month, or a year or two. But I don't. I bide my time. Then I come back.

A template's not important in the long run. It's a little thing. But you put a lot of little things together, you got one big ole bastard staring you down. So you do what you need to do.

Lot of us like that down here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Glenn Has the Day Off Today

Hi. This is Glenn's subconscious here this morning. Oh, don't worry, Glenn is fine. We - myself and the others up here in the cockpit of his mind - have put him into a short nap-state-continuum so I could talk to you for a little while.

We've given him the day off today. That's right, we're putting him out of the house and sending him off to a movie. A real movie, an old-fashioned one. The kind with movie stars, a plot, and production values. You may have heard of those. A couple of young friends of his called him up on Friday evening and invited him to a noontime showing today of Carol Reed's The Third Man at the Prytania Theatre, and we just thought that was a wonderful idea. We think he's really going to enjoy himself. The last time he went to the Prytania, it was to see Queen Christina, and that was many years ago. He was still young enough then to appreciate Garbo's crinkly-eyebrow acting style, so he has that pleasant memory to carry with him on this return trip to the little uptown theatre.

You see, we believe he's just been taking this whole care-giving thing with his partner so seriously. He never lets himself relax much anymore; and, to be honest, Bobby has been taking a little advantage of the situation. Why else would he sit in the living room for hours with all the house lights on until Glenn came down from upstairs and ask, tetchily, "Would you please turn off these lights? They're killing my eyes." Or wait for Glenn to make an appearance so he could ask for a glass of water when he's been lounging less than four feet from running water himself the whole time he was alone?

Therefore, for that reason, we activated the "Accept-Invitation" switch Friday night.

So, please excuse Glenn from the blog today. Thank you.

PS - You don't have to mention this little visit of ours. Okay? Cool.

Buh-bye.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Another Night, Another Cauchemar

I had another bad dream last night. Or rather, this morning.

I dreamed I'd woken and trundled to the computer to find that my photoblog had been invaded sometime during the night by some entity that had placed a series of tastefully-done condom ads all over it. Although I was bewildered by the plethora of prophylactics, I did not immediately consider them to be outright offensive or sophomoric - two things I could never abide.

I just didn't know why.

Could I expect revenue from this new development? I had no clue.

While wondering at this extraordinary event, I noticed all my fonts had been thrown askew. In order for these rubbers to assume their pride of place, they'd contracted all my typefaces. Nothing was readable anymore. It's true, I try not to publish essays on my photoblog. It's a place for pictures, and I believe that if you have to explain a photograph, well, what was the point in shooting it?

However, I do believe in titles. A title can designate a location or define what a detail is a part of. I see so many nice pictures around on the Internets these days that tell you none of these things, and I wonder, who, what, where, when, how ... and, subsequently, why? Well, maybe not why, but all the rest of them, yes.

And all of my beautiful headers were awry! I had worked hard on those headers, selecting the right font, its right height and weight. No selection of latex snuggies was going to penetrate my firewall and have its way with my T's and A's.

I went into my Blogger Dashboard tout suite to straighten out this mess, but Google was still asleep. It wouldn't load.

"Get a move on, damn you. People will be waking soon and rushing over to see what new image I've put up."

I clicked "Reload". Again. Another click. "Reload". "Reload". Over and over. Nothing would bring up my dashboard.

I screamed, "I'll prick these condoms with pins, goddamnit!"

That's when I woke up.

I rushed into my office and checked. No ads, Trojans or otherwise. Fonts okay. Should you, by chance, run across any (ads, I mean),  please let me know.

I will brook no entities pervading my space. Mark my words.

Friday, April 23, 2010

It's Bobby's World ...


... We just live in it.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Cost of Coffee and Principle

It was getting late when I realized I was out of coffee. This is not a matter of little importance. On mornings following nights during which I have not boozed it up, I enjoy a pot of coffee. I require a pot of coffee. Put a pot of fucking coffee on to brew; do it now!

Pardon that outburst. I normally don't like to show myself in such an unattractive light, but as a reflective self-examiner, I have a certain awareness of my faults. My name is Bigezbear, and I am an early-morning coffee-holic.

That is something I have to live with; but if my co-scribe, Honore de Balzac, could do it, then, by gum, I will survive, as well.

Anyway, like I said, it was getting late, and rather than walk the two blocks to Verti Marte, I figured I'd walk around the corner to the French Market instead. I'd seen some outlets there marketing New Orleans' blends to the tourist trade, and I figured, okay, I'll spend a little more, but I'll have my pound of "face-the-empty-endless-day-ahead-of-you" elixir.

I spotted a section of Cafe du Monde canisters. I don't care for chicory, but they carried the pure French blend, and I grabbed a can of it. My eye fell onto the price sticker, but I couldn't read it. The ink was pale (on purpose?). I hadn't brought my reading glasses. I asked the gentleman stocking the shelves how much it was.

"That's twelve dollars and some cents," he said.

I stopped in my tracks. Was my addiction now so deeply embedded I would spend twelve dollars and some cents on a pound of coffee just to get me through the next day? I decided, no, and said so, whereupon the man said conspiratorially to me, "Take it for ten."

That's how they snare you into the hard stuff.

But I stayed strong and put the can back in its place. As I was walking away empty-handed, I noticed a case of Community Coffees on the floor. Community Dark Roast. My brand of choice. They carried gold old C & C.

"That's what I'll have," I said.

"Good choice," he said. "That's what we serve." He turned to the woman working with him. "Honey, help him out."

She smiled at me and said, "Come this way, sugar, and I'll ring you up."

She did.

She said, "That'll be fourteen dollars and some cents."

My fingers locked in rigor on the top edge of my wallet in my left back pocket. Fourteen dollars and some cents? I can't pay that for a pound of coffee. I won't pay that. At Verti Marte, a convenience store, it's only six-something (closer to seven) dollars. My only reason for being here was to save my legs the extra block.

"I can't pay that," I said.

Her smile withered, and her eyes went deadly cold.

I backed away.

"I'm sorry, but I can't pay that."

I rushed home to safety, praying they weren't following me to see where it was I lived.

Now, we all know how much money people have to pay to rent a space at the French Market. The monthly rates these people pay the City are equivalent to what Emeril or the Brennans would be paying if they had to rent their restaurants. Not to mention the fact they have to serve up their offspring in an etouffee offering to the appropriate civil servants just to get their applications read. But in spite of all that - no, because of all that - I refused to pay.

Another thing we all know is we're supposed to support our local businesses. I do. For the most part. But sometimes you've got to take a stand and stick it to the man. You've got to say "No!" to fourteen dollar coffee. It starts small, that's true. These things always start small. One insignificant poor man, rejecting his addiction and its cost to his livelihood. But another will follow. He's sure to follow. Then more. Soon a movement will form, and before you know it, the citizenry will be storming City Hall, demanding "Liberte! Egalite! Fraternite! Six-Dollar Coffee!"

And the powers that have ground our lives into the mud will fall.

Now, if that lady had said to me, "Take it for ten"? ...

Well, I don't know.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

"China to Build Opera House in Algiers"

I have this morning routine. I wake up, put on a pot of coffee, go to the computer, and read the emails addressed to me that have accumulated overnight. Once I've done that, I pop on over to my Google Reader and try to catch up with all the news that's been found fit to print since I went to sleep the night before.

One of the news outlets I subscribe to is called "ArtsJournal: Daily Art News". It's an aggregate. That's like one of those Russian dolls that pops open to show you another Russian doll inside it that pops open to reveal yet a third Russian doll, and so on, until you can't take it anymore, and you throw the whole mess against a wall and smash 'em all. (The Cold War had its reasons.)

This morning, in my ArtsJournal group, I was startled to see the above headline, the one up there that says "China to Build Opera House in Algiers".

Well, gollee, I thought to myself, is this how they want to make up to us for all that drywall they've been sticking us with? Then I wondered, do the people in Algiers really need an opera house? I'd say they probably don't. I seriously doubt they'd even want one. Except for maybe Council-Member Jackie Clarkson, who would see the ground breaking in her home neighborhood as yet another great photo op. Jackie can smell a camera within a ten-mile radius and knows where all the shortcuts are to get to it before the photographer decides he's shot enough frames for this gig and leaves.

Nah, I figured, I know those people. They're going to accept this gesture in the spirit in which it's being given. They're going to apply for - and get - the jobs to build it, and they're going to build it good. They'll get that Spanish tenor (the older one of those two Spanish tenors) to come down and inaugurate it, then they'll let it sit and settle for a time before they gut it and turn it into an indoor flea market. They'll put food tents up in the balconies. They won't need port-o-lets because they'll already have the indoor bathrooms that went with the original plans. And, damn, there's already a stage up front for the bands!

This is going to be so cool. And what a great step up for Algiers. A "step"? Hell, no, a leap right up into the cultural stratosphere of 21st century Southeast Louisiana.

I decided to look into this article and clicked on the link.

I confess I found myself confused. The article was all about the Chinese government building an opera house in Algeria, not our Algiers. I didn't know there was another one. My God, somebody in some other part of the world takes on the name of one of our neighborhoods and builds their own town in it, and then the Chinese come and build an opera house right smack in the middle of it.

Then I wondered, do those people in that other Algiers really need an opera house?

I guess we're going to be stuck with that drywall for some time to come. And all the while, I thought our chocolate mayor had made some real good friends in China, what with those couple of trips he made over there to get away from the mold and clear his sinuses.

Or is that why they sent us that drywall to begin with ... ?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Consider This a Twit, a Tweet, a Twat ... Whatever

Yay! Leon won!

Yay! Lyla won!

Yay! My friend, Richard Read, won!

Everybody dance now.

You can see the complete list of winners here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today Is the Day, and Tonight Is the Night

It seems to have taken forever, but the day has finally arrived.

What day, you ask?

Why, it's Big Easy Awards Day! "The long delayed but always expected something that we live for."

The day when the city's theatre and music artists discover whether The Gambit's coterie of taste-makers will deign to grant them leave to continue to display their wares or declaim with Cyrano that they should "Get off the stage! Get off the stage at once!"

Certainly, no such ill-considered dismissal will have the slightest effect on the three nominees from The Glass Menagerie: Lyla Hay Owen, Liz Mills, and Leon Contavesprie. They know their worth.

Let me pause and take a moment in this early-morning hour to raise a glass and offer a toast to three of the most gifted actors in this or any other city. They astonished me and their full-house audiences the entire run of their show.

Break a leg, Lyla, Liz, and Leon. Astonish the rest of them tonight!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Is a Puzzlement

If you can't shoot 'em, what the hell do you do with 'em?
When news of last weekend's assault of Republican campaign fundraiser Allee Bautsch and her boyfriend broke on Monday, police logs detailing crimes and complaints reported in the French Quarter that night did not list the attack on the pair.

That's because the April 9 incident was first labeled a medical call, which meant no police report needed to be written. Indeed, according to the initial report released Friday by New Orleans police, it wasn't until Monday that a detective was assigned to investigate the incident -- in which Bautsch broke her leg and her boyfriend, Joseph Brown, broke his jaw.

Monday was also the day news reports and blogs began chattering about the attack, sometimes laden with the juicy possibility the attackers were anti-Republican protesters.

The initial incident report does not resolve the question of whether Bautsch and Brown were attacked by protesters, who had picketed the restaurant they were in earlier that night.

But the sequence of the NOPD's response to an attack that left Bautsch with a broken leg and Brown with a fractured jaw and nose, raises questions about why the department didn't deal with the incident as an assault from the get-go. Subsequent police statements and reports about the incident note that officers did respond to the scene, calling an ambulance to take Bautsch and Brown to the hospital.

NOPD spokesman Bob Young said the explanation is simple: The responding officer didn't know the extent of the couple's injuries. That officer knew the couple needed help and was told that Brown had been in a fight, but concentrated on getting them medical assistance, he said.

If the officer had known how badly they were hurt, the case would have been reclassified immediately as some kind of battery, Young said.
'Scuse me, but it sure looks like a "battery" to me. Seems like somebody's got a secret or two. You can read the rest here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guests

My nearest next-door neighbor has moved away. Not far away, only into the main house, third-floor front. Above the street. Where he'll never get a good night's sleep with all the late-night carousing that goes on in the Quarter any evening of the week.

I won't miss him much. He kept to himself for the most part. I will miss those nights when he would nail his girlfriend on the living-room sofa which was pressed against the wall contiguous to my stairway. The exhilarating, escalating cacophony of thumps was something you couldn't tune out. In fact, how could you want to? I always made a point of turning down the television volume whenever they took to feeling frisky. Those two kids were more entertaining than Cinemax.

I won't be missing him much for another reason. Seems that when he left, he neglected to leave his forwarding address with his little co-habitants, a large, jolly family of cockroaches. They, for their part, rather than wait interminably for any new residents to assume their places round a new dining table, simply shuffled the kids into the back of the van and moved in with us in Number 5.

They love this place. They're everywhere. They've set up a jungle-Jim in the pantry for the kids, and they're incessantly having cousins and in-laws over for dinner. Just this morning, I reached in to pull out a canister of protein mix, and one of the middle-aged cousins took such an immediate liking to me, she flew at my face to plant a kiss. I screamed and dropped the powder, whereupon she fluttered away in a panic. She's probably huddled in some dark corner right now, nursing a grudge that I hadn't found her as attractive as she'd found me and germinating a revenge fantasy worthy of Alex Forrest.

I don't care. I have a secret weapon now. My maid, Miss Tru DeMille, has a recipe, she tells me, that is second to none in sending roaches packing. It involves mixing up a batter of ingredients such as flour, powdered sugar, garlic, boric acid, and stuff like that. She says you knead it like bread and roll it into little hors d'oeuvres like you were throwing an elegant cocktail party then drop them all over the house like your guests would have done anyway. The roaches will invariably turn their noses up at your appalling housekeeping, gather their belongings, and seek more accommodating housing elsewhere.

Might I suggest the main house, third-floor front?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just One Little Mention from Mark Folse ...

... About an innocuous post I made concerning the HBO series, Treme, and all these people swarm my stoop. Thanks, fella.

And, by the way, Mr. Folse, that's really ... like, big, you know? Wow.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Speaking of Treme

North Rampart Street
I still haven't sorted out my own thoughts about the pilot episode from Sunday night. I DVR'ed it and intend to hold onto it for at least forever. However, I was struck by something Loki wrote on the Back of Town blog today. He re-posted a part of one of his earlier essays about New Orleans in November, 2005 (the approximate time of the series). That made me think and look back to what I might have written then.

There wasn't much. In fact, from September to November, there is a gap in my blog and very few posts during that early time back in town. I did find this post from September 25th, however, and decided to share a part of it.
Returned to New Orleans last Saturday. Had no trouble getting to my home in the Quarter. Not much mishap beyond mold downstairs and mildew. Upstairs had wind damage and objects flung about.

The television images do not prepare you for what you see when you arrive. Streets stripped of trees, buildings with sides shorn, abandoned doll houses empty of doll furniture. Here and there the figure of a person glimpsed in passing, then past and gone.

The weather, hot and sticky. The days belong to flies that draw blood, the nights to mosquitoes.

Visited Molly's at the Market one morning. It had recently reopened and had cold beer and ice. An NOPD SWAT officer stopped by to drop off seven bottles of vodka to keep the place hopping till curfew.

Later that same day, happened to be just beyond the parish line when the mayor closed the city down again for the advancement of Rita. Living out of my car since then.

New Orleans is dead. ...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Deep Sighs and Cigarettes

Treme
I awoke this morning to the low, soft sound of deep sighs and the sight of cigarette smoke slowly spiraling up into the haze hanging high up there below the ceilings of the bedrooms in the City of New Orleans. Treme premiered last night on HBO, and it was good.

Lot of people here were worried. You see, this drunken whore of a city had been pawed and mauled so many times before before being held up high for ridicule that she was hesitant to think that this occasion might be different. That this particular TV-producer man might have a kindness and regard for her she hadn't gotten much of over the last some years.

He was a slow seducer. That was new. Not flashy nor parading himself all over the city and the news. He was just here or over there, always within sight, watching her, looking at her deep like he could see inside her eyes when she slipped some glances at him from up on her stoop. He intrigued her, but he scared her. Would he be different from the rest?

Last night, he finally knocked on her door and paid her the visit he'd been promising to pay her.

His touch was slow and easy. He rocked and rolled her long and tenderly. Afterwards, he stayed the night. She fell asleep in his arms.

Friday, April 9, 2010

And He Can Write, Too

His name is James Meredith, or "Jim". We who know him get to call him "Jimmy". In real life, he works as an Inflight Crewmember for JetBlue Airlines. "Inflight Crewmember", that's what they call stewardesses nowadays.

Apparently, one has a lot of downtime when one is not soaring across the skies helping to hold up the plane you're riding in while assuring your passengers that they're all going to be just fine.

What Jimmy did with his downtime was to write a book.

Why someone who looks like Jimmy (that's him, by the way, in the blue sunglasses, jaunty baseball cap, and neck chains) would even care to write a book is beyond me.

In my day, if a young man looked like that, he would never have had to learn how to operate a retractable ballpoint pen, let alone the intricacies of fashioning a visual representation of a consonant or a vowel; and most people who knew him would have feared his ever putting that pen to paper and exposing their dark or, at least, embarrassing secrets to the world. Of course, Jimmy probably knows no dark secrets to cause anyone trepidation (one hopes ... ). What he does appear to have is a memory of childhood's mysteries and an imagination to paint its vivid pictures in words.

The book he's written is called Will Wadsworth's Train to Nowhere (sounds like a chapter from City of Night, no?), and it's scheduled to be released next month.

I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

I'm also looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of  the book he's bound to write sooner or later about his life with a certain wild bar maid and erstwhile nun ...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Just Askin'

What would prompt a person to seek you out and ask about your partner, expressing concern at how unwell he looks and hoping he's not the "next one to leave us"?

Just askin' ...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Strange ...

This morning, bleary-eyed from a deep sleep, belly and other hairy body parts itching, I sat down here at the PC and launched my Internets. One of the first things I do each morning is hop on over to Facebook to see what some of my little "friends" have been up to over night (you'd be surprised).

Nothing was particularly noteworthy except one flippant remark that got my mind thinking back to a few weeks ago. Someone had updated his status last night to read: "Census book was a snap!"

A snap? That didn't fit with my memory.

Oh, sure, there were the usual data questions that are really simple to answer. How many people in your household, what is your predominant race of choice, things like that.

Okay, in some households in America those would not be easy questions, but I found them pretty straightforward.

No, the question that got to me was at the end. It was the lengthy essay question.

I've spoken to friends about this, trying to get their take on confronting such a question at the end of what is essentially a data-gathering document. Some expressed the same surprise I felt, while others expressed surprise at the existence of such a question since they had not confronted it in their forms.

Hmm, this was an equine mammal of a different hue, a plate of vittles for cogitation.

The question soliciting this lengthy essay answer was phrased something like this:
In the unlikely occurrence of an event eliciting a response from the Department of Homeland Security which necessitated the relocation of American citizens to undisclosed locations away from their normal places of domicile, please furnish a detailed response regarding your preferences. For example, what household items would you find necessary to bring with your person to this undisclosed location? (Personal computers, weapons, cigarette lighters, and nail files cannot be considered as indispensable for the relocation process.) What geographical location in the contiguous United States would be most amenable to your personal taste preferences and health status? (Ocean sides are not an option. Those locations have previously been reserved for defense purposes; and Canada is not a part of the United States.) Detail the type of neighbor who would be most amenable to your own outlook, attitude, and lifestyle-choice. (Politically conservative, middle-of-the-road, or liberal; enlightened heterosexual, Bible-thumping illiterate, straight-acting homosexual [male or female], flaming fag or flannel-shirted bull dyke.; families with children: yes or no [disregard if you are Catholic clergy].) Your personal, handwritten answers to these questions will assist us in providing you the best accommodation available should the occasion arise in the very near future for your government to act in your best interests and take control of your existence for your own good.
I found the whole thing deeply thought-provoking.

I'd tell you my own preferences, but that would be against the law. As the booklet went on to say at the end, it was to my advantage that no one be aware of my disposition or eventual outcome.

I will drop this little hint, though. I've always loved that old Rodgers and Hart song Mountain Greenery. A part of me just can't wait.
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