Thursday, November 25, 2010

Back to Being an Old Fart

As a gentleman of a certain age who, in his younger years, was known to "git down" on occasion, I am predisposed not to pass judgment on the youth of today and the manifold ways in which they choose to display their cocks in public. I might even, now and then, have joined the general Lower Quarter fray when they rallied and proclaimed that there was and always would be a proud place for cock in this world. However, I must confess I am taken aback when I walk into my neighborhood bar for a Thanksgiving Day potluck repast and find said cock perched on the back of a bar stool, and that cock turns out to be a male chicken.

Now I am well aware that, at least since Hurricane Katrina, we in New Orleans have elevated the pet dog to the status once held by the women of this country before the passage of the nineteenth amendment; but is that same rank now to be conferred on our poultry? Residents there are who choose to adopt miniature horses and pigs of various persuasions. They frequently can be seen promenading them on leashes throughout the Vieux Carre, the Marigny, and the Bywater. But they do not, as a rule, bring them into their local taverns and prop them on the real estate.

So I say, if a young man who keeps himself in a style I would describe as Amish grunge and rides a six-foot-high bicycle and appears at my neighborhood bar once a year on Thanksgiving Day and orders a single Bloody Mary before getting back on his two-wheeler and peddling off into the night has the right to parade his bird in a drinking establishment, then, by God, don't be looking cross-eyed at me when I take up the venerable sport of inner-city falconry and show up hawking for drumsticks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On Giving Thanks When It's Not in Your Nature

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and everyone, it seems, is cluttering up the Internets with reasons to be grateful. Since I don't do holidays (I know, I can hear you now: "He doesn't do vacations, he doesn't do holidays; what the hell does he do?" Well, I provide, dear reader, I provide), I was steering clear of all the folderol.

But, you know me, I got to thinking. Why go on being that mean old man you hated and feared when you were growing up? You remember him, Mr. Clovis, who lived on the corner of W 6th Street and N Ave D. He used to sit on his porch and make you believe he had a shotgun right inside his screen door, and he would blast you to kingdom come if you stepped on his grass or otherwise invaded his consciousness with your foolishness. Then when he died they found a vase of flowers there instead. Remember him?

Yeah, well, I don't want to be like that anymore. And even though I'm mad all the time at almost everybody I know, and even though I'm pissed about the condition of the world we all have to live in for the time being (New Orleans included), I figured I would dig and find some reason to be thankful. So dig I did, and, believe me, it took some doing, but I finally found one thing I decided I could be grateful for.


Both blood and chosen, natural and un-. But what is "family"? Well, to paraphrase the poet, "Family is those people who, when you have to go to them, they have to take you in." I mean, there might be an inheritance down the road. They don't know.

"Family" are those people who, when you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand, will turn to you and say, "Oh, snap out of it, for cryin' out loud." And you let them.

"Family" are those people who never stop incessantly inviting you over for holiday meals, even though they know you'll never show up. And they're relieved about that, but never mention it.

"Family" are those people who nag you to drive them to a movie you don't want to see, and then keep waking you up every time you fall asleep.

"Family" are those people you don't have to always talk to. You can all just sit there and be quiet.

"Family" are those people who will one day stand around your casket and tell mortifying stories about you for the benefit of anybody in hearing range, stories about the time you did this or the time when that thing happened to you and can you believe he once said ... ? And miss you.

"Family" are all those people you're stuck with and couldn't live without. We all have them. Deal with it.

And for crying out loud, snap out of it.

Monday, November 22, 2010

If at First You Don't Succeed

A little while ago, I decided I needed to get into one of my bank accounts to see how I was doing these last few days of November. I do the same thing around this time every month, just to determine if I need to sit down and select certain objects from around the house to try and sell on the street so I can make ends meet. No big deal. All old people do this.

I go online and pull up my out-of-town credit union's website. I enter my account number and the gibberish they want you to repeat so that they know ... what? That I'm me or, at least, not a robot or something? I don't know. I do what they tell me to do.

In return for this, I get another screen that asks me to answer a private question, like who was my favorite rock musician when I was 16? Huh? "Rock" musician? Not "Bach" musician? We had "rock" when I was 16? Then I remember. Of course, we did. Why, I'm a part of that legendary generation that gave the world rock and roll to begin with. But I never got that question before. My questions usually have to do with my father's middle or my mother's maiden names - something no one besides me and my brothers would know. But I follow through. I think, rock musician, huh? Um, Paul?


They insist I start over, so I start over. Then they want me to answer another question: What is my favorite place in the world to vacation?

Huh? I don't "vacation". I haven't "vacationed" in thirty years or more. At least, not since that time Bobby made me go to Key West with him, and the airline lost our luggage, and we got inundated with a plague of insects our first night there, and when we went out to dinner, our waiter had a "personal crisis" that necessitated his declaiming Medea on the dining room floor. Loudly. In Greek. So, no, I don't "vacation".

Now I knew something was wrong with my credit union. No, not my credit union. Worse. My account number. Wait. Even worse than that. My memory of my account number. Those five little integers each of us carries around with us for a lifetime. I've lost them. As the beginning stages of panic start to bubble, I try to remain calm. I put my my mind in a "quiet place" and try to relax. I breathe. I breathe, breathe. I try again.

No luck!

It takes me eleven tries before I finally get it right. Of course, these are not eleven uninterrupted tries. No, I have to periodically close my browser, shut down my computer, and then restart it. But I'm a dogged man if I am anything, and so I persevere.

It's a frightening thing, though, forgetting your bank account number. The truth is, I should have seen it coming. A few years ago, I started to find myself going blank and then, like, waking up to see a group of faces looking back at me expectantly. Those "blank" moments were kind of nice, though, like lying down on a vast bank of grass in a glen somewhere far away. They were relaxing. Soothing.

But nobody wants to not be able to get at his money. This is serious. So I persevere until I get it right.

Did I mention I'm that kind of guy?

Once I've hit on the right combination of digits that compose my account number, I jot them down, just to be sure I don't forget them again too quickly, and I create a spreadsheet document. I create a file I will store in a secret folder on my PC called "My Stuff". I give my file a secret name, too, that only I will know. And, like I said, I stick it in "My Stuff".

I'm covered. No worries. And if the day ever comes when I will have forgotten the name of that file, I will surely have the sense to look into a folder called "My Stuff". Or, at least, to glance at the printout of this post taped to the side of my computer. Yep, I'm covered.

Mama didn't raise no fool, no.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thank God for Surgically-Enhanced Favors

You may not know this about me, dear reader - although both my friends do - but I'm what's called in the trade a "stat whore". Yeah. I'm not ashamed. Something in me just loves peeking through that back door. I like to know what's going on behind the curtain. 'S how I roll.

Go ahead, scroll down to the bottom of the page. See that little "Sitemeter" doohickey? Well, I can click on that and find out who's been visiting my website and why, where they're coming from and what they're looking for.

Sometimes when I do click on it, though, it makes me sad.

"Sad?" you say. "But look at all the hits you've got."

That's true. 94,564 at this moment and counting. But you know what? If it hadn't been for that time in June of 2008, when I typed those fateful words, "Carmen Electra", my count would be in the lower three-digits. It seems not many people are enchanted by my wit, moved by my lonely nights of heartbreak, or mobilized by my frequent Jeremiads against social injustice.

No, it's all about the bazooms.

Learn a lesson from this, young bloggers or tumblrs or twitterers or face-eating boogers or whatever the fuck you are these days. If you want to increase your traffic, don't be going to those websites that guarantee increases incremental to the amount of money you can drop on them, don't be adding all kinds of code to your HTML. Just type those words, "Carmen Electra", in a post, any post, and lay back and wait. Even better if you post a picture. You'll see.

The little lady will come through for you. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Do Sweeteners Dream of Electric Sheep?

4-ish in the morning. I wake up, sit on the side of the bed a moment to pass from sleep to wakefulness, then rise. I creak downstairs and set a pot of coffee to boil. Switch on the television set to catch up on some TiVo'ed programs from the week just past. Coffee brewed, I begin to mix the first of several cups of this long and what will probably be an uneventful Saturday.

I pour the milk into my mug, then reach out to the cookie jar where I keep my packets of sweetener. My fingers count for three but pull out four. Too much for this particular mug. I move to put one packet back. What happens next is what causes wonder.

I intend to return the topmost packet, but I drop the second one as well. It falls on top of the packet I meant to discard. I am puzzled. Do I retrieve the packet I was going to keep or the one I was tossing back? I select the one I had meant to relinquish.

And I wonder: Do packets of sweetener feel terror or exaltation at being selected for dissolution at the hands of this creature, me, this thing that must seem to be like God to them? Are they aware of what their fates have planned for them, that one day their bodies will be ripped apart and left behind and all their entrails poured into the swirling abyss of milk and boiling coffee where all becomes one in the great java brew of extinction or nirvana? Is that sound of ripping paper their final scream of horror and despair or rather a triumphant "Yes!" to the unimaginable union with the divine?

I wonder.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Just Sayin'

Where else can you walk into the hair salon down the block and ask the stylist if he has the time and inclination to play with your hairy parts, and he says, "Sugar, just gimme me thirty minutes to finish that man on the sidewalk"?

Thirty minutes later, while he's playing in those hairy parts of yours, he tells you how he misses the old Canal Baths. He says, "People don't believe me, but I was there one night, cruising this midget, and who do you think I see twirling 'round the corners of the hallways but Rock Hudson."

I'm just sayin' ...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Has This Love Affair Reached Its Tipping Point?

Are HBO and its local-flavored series Treme turning into something of an abusive spouse? This just in from the VCPORA:
Dear members and friends,

We literally just received this notice of filming in the French Quarter [day after] tomorrow and are passing the information along to you.

We have communicated our concerns about the lack of timely notice, and about the tremendous amount of parking being usurped (fourteen blocks in all) to the Film Office, and eagerly await some reasonable guidelines on productions in our neighborhood and across the city.
Following this preface is the letter from the HBO/Treme Location Manager which reads in part:
Dear Residents and Business Owners,

"Treme," HBO's television series set in New Orleans will be returning to your neighborhood at the corner of St. Ann & Royal Street - on THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18th.

Please excuse us as we will be moving working trucks and crew into your neighborhood early Tuesday morning and will exercise every effort to be quiet as we go about the start of our work. While the filming is going on, please ask anyone with a radio to contact Locations if you have any questions or concerns. ...

Parking will be reserved in the area for our working trucks and "picture" only and we will therefore be posting City Permitted "No Parking" signs in those areas. Please know, that we will rotate our parking configuration as we are able each time we come to lessen the impact on neighbors. The parking reserve will be posted for the hours between 8 AM - 10 PM in the following blocks:

We will promptly release all parking when is (sic) becomes available.


300 - 400 Royal Street (both sides)
700 - 800 Royal Street (both sides)
600 - 700 St. Ann Street (uptown)
600 - 700 Dumaine Street (downtown
300 - 800 N. Rampart Street (riverside)

Should you have any deliveries, events or appointments that we should be aware of, please do not hesitate to call us. We have kept our production vehicles to as small a footprint as we are able. If a vehicle is left in our round-up that we need to move, we will tow it to a nearby street and Location and NOPD will have a record of where it is - ask for Locations.

Thank you for your patience with us. We hope to film regularly in your neighborhood and look forward to getting to know all of you. At some point, when the crawfish get good, we'll host a good down home boil to thank you all for working with us to make Treme the best New Orleans show on television.

Evan Gabriele is the Episode Manager for this episode. He may be reached by cell at 917-288-4073.

A crawfish boil? Oh, goody. I can't wait. A little kindness goes a long, long way.

Update from VCPORA:
After noticing a discrepancy between the signage we'd seen on the street (dated Wednesday) and the date on the emailed notice (dated Thursday), we called the Film Office. The email flyer was incorrect; filming is tomorrow, Wednesday 17. Apologies for the multiple emails on this matter, but we want to be sure we're sending out clear and correct information. 

Crawfish boil, indeed ... !

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Y? Because We Like You!

I got this in my email yesterday from the VCPORA:
The HBO TV series “Tremé” will be shooting in the area of Chartres and Barracks streets tomorrow, Thursday, November 11.  The sequence being shot is the recreation of a criminal incident; there will be many police cars, people in uniform, and lights.

Although filming will start at 5 p.m. the activity will be from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., 1300 block of Chartres Street.

Parking is prohibited from 1 p.m. - 10 p.m. at these sites:

400 & 500 blocks of Esplanade Avenue
500 & 600 blocks of Barracks Street
500 & 600 blocks Gov. Nicholls Street (part of each block)
1200 Chartres Street (part of block)
1300 block Chartres Street
What I find interesting here is that each of these blocks is normally set aside for the Residential Parking Program (except for the 400 block of Esplanade), so all the locals who use these remaining streets to park their vehicles will have to find suitable "lodging" elsewhere. Missing from this list, however, is any mention of Decatur Street. There will be no movie trucks there.

Decatur Street, you see, actually bisects Esplanade, Barracks, and Governor Nicholls. Ah, but Decatur Street offers only metered parking. And metered parking has become sacred to our City Fathers and Mothers. It accounts for revenue. Violations account for even more revenue. It's what they live for. Without these meters - and speed cameras and red-light cameras - we'd all go under, into the "red", that heart-stopping zone of bureaucratic terror.

Even though HBO Is probably pissing hundreds of thousands of dollars into the city's back pocket, our leaders need the chump change they can only get from those of us who regularly pay property taxes, premium rents, vehicle taxes, garbage-collecting taxes, and, yes, the right to park near our homes.

After slipping out late last night to find a parking space away from all the kerfuffle, I found myself wondering about this; and I have come to the conclusion that it is this way only because our civic leaders love us so much. They want us to be a vital part of New Orleans' coming prosperity, to be able to say one day, "We did our part to make this city great, by gum."

Until then, I'll just have to space out my pressure pills. Of course, I could always get rid of the car. But then what would the rest of the world think of me if I failed to have the means to evacuate the city the next time a cataclysm roars upon us? Another shiftless no-account feeding at the government trough? Oh, that would wound.

For now, it's all copacetic. I found a secret place to park not far from here. Around the corner, in fact - a spot they didn't think to appropriate ... so far.

Come to think of it, I'd better go check.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Don't Get Around Much Anymore

It's true, I've pretty much become a stay-at-homer. Sure, I might leave the building once or twice a week, but I don't go any further than a couple of blocks. There are people around who are starting to call me the Beau of Amherst South.

I don't know why it is I've developed this geographical comfort zone - except that it really is comfortable. I'd think something might be wrong with me except for the visit this past Monday from my big brother Russ.

Russell was coming into town to watch his youngest granddaughter play volleyball at "the McGehee School", which he pronounced as "ma-GEE'-hee". Of course, he's probably right outside the four walls surrounding our city, but you know how we are. We work hard at being colorful in our language. Truth be told, we only say "BurGUNdy" in front of tourists and never say "how's ya mominem" to one another. No, within the confines of our private conclaves we're quite Cowardian in our communications. But you never heard that from me.

I digress.

Russell was coming into town and wanted to visit with me before the game and take me with him afterward. I could show him where this "McGehee School" was.

Well, okay. Sure.

Monday morning, I made Bob swear to support me when I would tell Russell I was sick and couldn't go with him to the game - or that Bob was sick so I couldn't leave him to go to the game. But it never happened that way. Once Russell got into town and made it inside the apartment, he and Bobby talked nonstop all afternoon - thereby proving that Bob was in fine fettle; and Bobby made me get him this and get him that so much throughout the afternoon that I could never pass as someone with an affliction.

I would have to go. With one stipulation, however. I would take our car. I even explained to Russ my reasoning that if the games (it was a tournament) went on too long, I could leave and get back home. To look in on Bobby, mind you, not out of boredom. I would drive. He could follow me to the school.

No problem.

McGehee School is a tiny school for privileged little girls in the heart of the Garden District. It is housed in a lovely set of buildings surrounded by stately Victorian homes. It is the kind of school that has off-duty(?) officers of the NOPD serving as crossing guards. It is the kind of school whose parents walk their daughters hand-in-hand to the gate every morning and return to fetch them there (by hand) each afternoon. McGehee School posses a tiny gymnasium that does not smell of sweat. This gymnasium provides its visitors tiny little-girl bleachers which nearly caused me tibia breakage when my brother decided we should sit in the upper tiers and not on the lower rungs.

I'm probably being too mean and classless in my description of the mean, class-conscious McGehee School girls. But my brother's granddaughter lives in a little country town in Southwest Louisiana called Iota, and she plays on the Iota High School Lady Dogs (Dawgs?) team. (I know what's clattering across the ticker-tape of your mind. I don't intend to go there. She's my brother's granddaughter, for Christ's sake.) Iota has a population composed of seven Cajun cousins and their kids. These people are generally sweet and good, god-fearing, with turnable cheeks. And those cheeks were spinning Monday night.

You see, two little McGehee School girls (no more than ten years old) chose to sit in the midst of the Iota fans and parents and mock the volleyball team, cruelly and mercilessly.This went on unceasingly until one Iota teenage boy, at his sweet and good, god-fearing mother's prompting, called them out as evil [dirty words].

Did they blanch? Did they speed-dial their mothers on their iPhones? Did they run off to order their personal off-duty(?) NOPD security details to take the Cajun family out? No. They moved. Tough? Don't make me laugh.

One Iota mother turned to me and asked if these children had ever been spanked.

"Oh, no," I said. "And it's a pity, too. Before you know it, daddy will be paying off the judges."

"Tsk-tsk," she said.

But we were there to see a game. Unfortunately, we didn't. The McGehee School team, the Hawks they call themselves, were far superior to the visiting team from the little particle-named country town. Those Hawks swooped down on our little Dogs (Dawgs?) and carried them off as carrion.

What's in a name indeed? Maybe those Iota cousins ought to consider a name change or at least an AKA. Back home in Acadiana, they can be the Lady Dogs (Dawgs?) but when they leave that territory and enter a pit of a place like New Orleans, they can refer to themselves as, say, the Battling Bitches, the She-Hounds from Hell, or the Rapacious Rottweilers.

All in all, I could find no reason to leave early, so I stayed till the almost-bitter end. The country girls lost every game, but when it was over and everyone had gathered on the court to comfort them, their coach came over to my brother's granddaughter to tell her she'd been awarded a spot on the All-District team back home. At that, she cried like a girl, but that's okay, cause she is. Did I mention she was good? She was. She is. Even I could see that. And she's only a Freshman, so she'll only get better.

Her name is Madison, and she's got what it takes. Of course, she does. She's my brother's granddaughter.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Blog Filler

Now that Back to the Future is back in the future with all kinds of new news, new releases, and new money-making schemes that would bring tears of anticipation to the eyes of Alex Keaton, I got to wondering after a week or so of such saturation if any other movies had come out in 1985. Was I in for a shock.

Along with that touchstone of cinematic history, there also appeared for a week or so at your local multiplex (or whatever your movie house was called back in 1985):
  • Brazil (Okay, so I never got into it, but everybody else I know did)
  • The Breakfast Club (Oh, remember what's-her-name? and that other what's-her-name? and that guy, that guy, and the other one? Sigh)
  • Cocoon (nobody else's favorite, but I got a kick out of it)
  • The Color Purple (Why isn't Oprah hawking a new Blu-Ray edition of this?)
  • The Goonies (Remember how icky you felt thinking Josh Brolin was so hot?)
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman (Remember how icky you felt just looking at William Hurt?)
  • Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Icky, icky, icky)
  • Prizzi's Honor (Be honest. When it was over, didn't you go home and "do it"? Right there? On the Oriental? With all the lights on?)
  • Ran (King Lear with action! Samurai Shakespeare! Dude!)
  • The Trip to Bountiful (Horton Foote's gift to Geraldine Paige before she upped and died and left poor Rip Torn on his own)
Not too bad a year at all. Let's hope Eric Stoltz can now put it all into perspective and get on with his life. Oh, he did?

Never mind.
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