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More Opinionated Rat-Laden Blathering
Only a dickless wonder when facing an unwinnable battle would utter the words Mission Accomplished. But at this point the only reason the trophy rats are even thinking about entering the Dumaine house is because the word on the street is-- there a little peanut butter to be had up in there, if you want it bad enough to die for.
That peanut butter is to die for said the one trophy rat to the other trophy rat.
The mission of a ratless world, while not accomplished, is, well, ongoing, but frankly, not that actively. We got 'em on the run though and if it were up to me I would spend billions, I mean billions of dollars, hunting rats in caves as far flung from here as--well, I can't see going as far as Pakistan, but I might venture out to the 7th Ward.
On Rocheblave the Sculptor has partial electricity, the Chauffeur has his trailer now fully electrified and I'm here on my porch electrified enough to type write, plugged into an actual outlet, not the converter running off the car battery (Oh man, if I could only get a wifi signal here).
I eradicated my tiny yet tenacious Rocheblave mice some time ago.
Rodents really don't get a lot of respect, and they have no religion, which makes them so much easier to kill, with impunity.
I was over at Dumaine the other day, just glancing around, and as I prepared to leave I heard voices over in the side yard, behind the wooden gate, which was closed when I came over, and, looking out, was still closed.
I read an article a while back about those crybaby Houstonians blaming all their violent crime on the bad boys from New Orleans, who had relocated there after the flood.
Houston--ya'll kick some ass when New Orleans needed you and you took in the people most in need, with a mere week or two of preparation, when New Orleans, with 300 years of preparation for catastrophic hurricanes, just fell down on the job. Fell down face in the mud while the rest of the world watched. So don't think I haven't respect for Houston (although, my dear God what a hellhole Houston is).
But Houston had an already rising crime rate that got a little bit exacerbated by some new gangsters and, in total, five or six or maybe eight murders were attributed to New Orleanians, between the flood and the time the article was written, about a month ago. Houston, I think, has ten times the population of New Orleans and they were crying about one or two extra murders a month? Two or three times a year or sometimes more, in the 10 years I lived here full time, we had 4 or 5 murders in a day, in a town with 470,000 people. You know, just for a little perspective.
I'm not saying Houston should not be upset about more murders. Murder is bad. I am against murder. Everybody I know (expect for that handful of murderers I've sort of crossed paths with) is against murder.
In the article there were descriptions by Houstonians about the New Orleans gangster, how you could tell who they were because they talked funny and because of their distinctive hair styles--the long braids as opposed to the corn row hair style of the Houston gangster. Newspapers can be so laughable in their political correctness but that's another harangue. So we're talking about black gangsters, no disrespect intended to my white gangster brethren with corn rows or long braids. Anyway, it was interesting to hear an outsider's view of what distinguished a New Orleans gangster. The long braids is definitely a trend here among black youth, gangster or choirboy. Ok, probably not choirboys.
I couldn't really see who it was out in the Dumaine side yard, I could only get a glance through the windows above the kitchen sink, but, OH MY DEAR GOD!!!, they were BLACK, and, I think I could see, BRAIDS!!!
I contemplated, briefly, suicide. I would put my skinny neck under the Gempler's rat trap kill bar and just end this pitiful existence of fear and misunderstanding. But, eventually, and I know this, crawfish will be affordable, and where there are affordable crawfish, there is hope. I then heard a faint, mocking voice--they won't be affordable anytime this year, pencil-neck, go ahead, Gemplerize yourself, before them gangbangers outside fuck you up. I will not be berated by faint, mocking voices. I went out on the front porch to meet my fate.
The gate pushed open. There were three of them, oh shit, all with braids.
I said, Hey Fermin, I thought that was you, what's up mane?
What you been up to?
I didn't want to make the two younger braided boys nervous so I just ignored them.
I said to Fermin, you working?
He said, yeh.
Where you at?
I may have some work for you if you're interested.
Oh yeah, Mr. Jim, for sure.
So we exchanged numbers and the next morning at 7:30 I got a call from Fermin, but I was already at work, doing the day job, and told him we would have to arrange something over the next few days, working on the Dumaine house, or my house on Rocheblave.
But I got to tell you, Fermin looked really good with his hair like that, and the two younger boys looked respectable with it too. Some people shouldn't wear it though, they should just shave their head so it looks more like their ass. That's right Treme Fatty, I'm talking about you over there disrespecting your Grandma at the laundromat on Dumaine and Rampart. Yeah I know it's been five months but I ain't forgot about you. You should go on a diet too. You getting too old for all that baby fat. All weight and hair issues aside though, you ugly.
In New Orleans pulling the truck to the curb I see a fellow who once threatened to burn my house down, preparing to smoke a blunt on the steps of Esnard Villa. I called out to him and he stopped what he was doing but I said don't stop on my account. We shook hands and bumped right shoulders together in that approximation of hugging that is popular among some men and then while standing at ease we caught up on that very limited piece of time and space when/where our lives had intersected.
He had once crawled under a car to escape a mad gunman but the gunman got eight shots into him and he went from critical to back on the streets in 15 days. At least one of the bullets had altered his face so that he looked like half of his cheek was just starting to melt.
On this day that I saw him, he had longer hair and some beard and he looked good and I told him so. He said he was in town for the parades, had seen another mutual acquaintance, one I am not overly fond of, and, that having already left New Orleans two years previous at the urging of a wife hoping to extend his lifespan, he had no intention of moving back to N.O. In only a couple of minutes we ran out of things to say to each other. I expressed with some heartfelt directness--It's good to see you, J. He said it was good to see me, too (calling me Mr. Jim, which you know I get a kick out of), and we parted.
It turns out this temporary Catholicism thing I'm embracing as a way to quit smoking (for Lent) has a troubling loophole, in that the thing you give up for Lent you can partake of (it) on Sunday's. Boy, boy, boy. Ain't that some namby pamby shit? I'm so close to trying it. If the Catholics say its ok then it must be ok. Four days without a cigarette and the Catholics are telling me if I want to be weak then go ahead, it's ok. I mean, namby pampy. It's enough to make you wish Saddam Hussein were running your life. I bet Saddam Hussein wouldn't let me smoke on Sunday's. The Pentecostals are tearing down the big pink house that fronts Canal, for more parking said the preacher's son and I don't know how I feel about that so I'm airing it out right here, next to Saddam Hussein's anti-smoking campaign.
My patience has limits. So I just went on ahead (with some advice from the Chauffeur) and pulled that meter out and removed the condoms from the male prongs and then pushed that meter back in and presto, house on Rocheblave is energized. So for the first time in six months you can flip a switch and a light will come on, or ceiling fan will twirl, and the electric glow plugs on the gas oven and gas furnace and gas dryer will ignite. I went ahead and paid Entergy that 225 dollars for the zero service they had performed and if they don't punish me for my renegade actions I won't begrudge them the extortion. We could try to say all's well that ends well but there is so much here in New Orleans that hasn't even begun, it's a stretch to refer to an ending.
Concentrating On Rampart
Continuing with a recent theme, I saw this morning a man walking up the neutral ground near Broad and Canal, and the man was holding by the tail a large dead smooshed flat rat. The man walked jauntily and appeared happy and carefree at
7:30 this morning, a 24 oz. beer in one hand, the crusty flat grey rat in the other. The man wore a black top hat, a black jacket and pants and black shoes.
After gassing up I headed for the diner on Bourbon St. but upon arriving there the doors were locked and through the glass I could see chairs up on tables. A woman who had just tried the locked door herself told me the new hours for the time being are 9 to 9, due to another employee shortage. She was an employee herself but evidently not one trusted with a key.
I walked back to my truck parked on Rampart and drove aimlessly, forlorn by the very thought of that bland and often cold fare from the Trolley Stop on St. Charles. I zigged through a construction zone at the corner of Perdido and tried to be more alert than I had been the other day on Broad, at Orleans, where I had pulled out into the intersection to purposely ram a car that was moving out of turn at the four way stop, but instead of ramming I just paused and gesticulated wildly, with arms stretched wide, head cocked, mouthing--what the hell are you doing?--only to realize Broad and Orleans is lighted, has been for awhile, and this I got when glancing up from the middle of the intersection I saw the light above me was red. And it was me who was the asshole, again.
But this morning, concentrating on Rampart, I turned left on Poydras and it came to me that I should see if Mother's has reopened. I got to the corner, I think it's Camp, and there was not a long line out the door which has always been pretty much the standard at Mother's, especially Saturday mornings. But there was a sign out front that said they were open so I U-turned a couple of times and parked on Magazine and walked over. There were just a few of us in there. A young black college girl with oversized sunglasses was ordering at the counter in front of me and the counter person was grilling her as to why she seemed so out of it. "Girl, what did you do last night?" The girl shyly reported back that she had been, you know, partying all night, and the other counter person just shook her head, saying her niece, who staying with her, had come in at 5:30 this morning and if she expects to keep staying with her, that shit will change.
I placed my order, the special--eggs, grits, ham, biscuits--which had to be served on two plates, and weighed about five pounds, and then slid on down to pay, and get some coffee with milk. The young college girl was in front of me again and a different counter person was trying to ferret out just what the girl had special ordered, and at one point said--"oh no, unh unh girl, that too much bread, you can't have that."
The ham served with my special was three or four gigantic chunks of tender meat, and not too salty and I got one of the slabs between the extra biscuit, wrapped in a paper towel, sitting in front of me right now, parked back at Rocheblave.
Thought I Was Wrong Once Before...
It is a thing that happens so rarely I am not upset, but, rather, bemused by it. I was wrong about something. Gosh, what alien words to hear coming from my mouth. I was wrong? That must be a misprint, a mis-utterance.
After getting up at five-thirty a.m. and spending a long hard day breathing paint fumes and construction dust I like to head to an American ghetto and dig through a dumpster where rumored there is the biggest f-ing rat ever attached to the phenomenal Gempler's reusable rat trap.
Because I appeared to be pretty damn serious about my beloved rat trap M had to suffer the mild embarrassment of asking the visiting general contractor via email where the hell did he put the rat w/trap attached that he reported removing from her house on Dumaine, like he a can-do man, not afraid of hard work, and fastidious with rats by putting them in dumpsters, give me the job. Not a bad angle really. Dead rat removal.
It's been about a week so the sun beating down on the black plastic top of that dumpster behind the shut down Magnolia corner store had caused this man's biggest rat ever to sort of decompose quickly. Maggots had helped to remove all the unnecessary fleshy matter and yet by shear toe to tail length I am giving this man his props. Although technically he didn't catch that rat, I did. I set the trap in a strategic locale. I waited patiently. All he did was carry it across the street. But I'm giving him his due for that because that rat could have re-animated while he carried it dangling heavy from the Gempler's reusable rat trap, and bitten his hand off, him thereafter writhing in pain, supine on the pavement, in a practically de-populated American ghetto, never to be seen again by his loved ones.
People, more than a few, hell, I've said it myself--oh, the nicotine fit only lasts three minutes, you can withstand that, be strong, you can do it, be a hero, be an inspiration to all the weak, fun-loving, doing what they want and enjoying it folks in the land who may or may not suffer any long term consequences from it.
I would badly like a cigarette.
I mean, holy shit, how long do you want to live anyway?
If this part of the city weren't still so devastated I would find an old used up and disease-ridden set of works in the gutter and I would round up some shorts, butts, squares or rounds and boil them down and shoot them up, straight into my veins. Okay, not so many words written but that was a lot longer than three minutes and I'm still feeling very crazy in an unappealing way. I'm chewing some nicotine gum now. Calm down. Not smoking cigs is better for a number of reasons, none of which I can think of right now. Only losers smoke, happy, doing what they damn well feel like losers, luxuriating in the smoke, it's sooo good, being a loser is the best thing in the world... I don't know if I'm going to make this happen. Just being honest. That's how I feel right now, knowing that I could walk a few minutes and buy me a fresh pack. Do you hear that? Jimmmmy, jiihimmmy? Come buy me, come smoke me. Love me Jimmy. I will love you if you love me.
So, the dude's rat was bigger than mine, big deal.
Mardi Gras is over, than God.
Now there is nothing left but work, thank God.
Oh, March 1st, six months after the rising waters de-energized and de-populated that 80% of New Orleans existing outside the tourist grid, they flicked that little fuse up on the pole in front of my house on Rocheblave, my street light is on, the street in on the Entergy grid, and If I wanted, I could play basketball at night, and I could also, with some assistance, illegally turn on my own juice, but Ima wait a little longer, because obeying the law is every bit as rewarding as not smoking.
I was going to tell you how frustrating it is to get through to Entergy but every time I mention it to someone around here their eyes insta-glaze because they have been there, done it, heard it, lived it, and are trying to think about something else. I have failed so many times at it I can confidently wave the consolation prize trophy of run of the mill failure, at unadoring fans. I got through to a human last night, I thought by a little trickery, but the trick was on me and she couldn't help me, wasn't even based in New Orleans, wasn't the kind of operator who could (or was allowed to) pull up my account. When she asked where I was from I said New Orleans, is there anyway you can help me with my New Orleans issues? and when she said no and I said okay I'll start over, it seemed she was someone getting a lot of these calls, and was feeling the pain of it, and it was really through an awkward silence that she communicated this and if only for that silent second or two, it was nice to be felt.
Money For Nothing
Since I have not done a change of address back to New Orleans, from my Virginia address (to which I will be returning in 3 months), I set up online billing from Entergy so I can be all good and ready when they turn my electricity back on. Gas service would be on the bill too, and as I mentioned in a previous post, gas service was restored recently. I have run the gas for a total of two or three hours to boil big pots of water.
I had called Entergy back in November and let them know I was back and that billing should be in my name, not the renter's, so they had me in their database, and when I called to get my account number to set things up online, the automated phone system informed me that I had a current bill of 22 dollars, which seemed fine to me.
Last week I got my first online bill and it was for 225 dollars. I can't call during the week due to long hold times getting through to a human at Entergy, so I have done all my previous talking to them on Saturdays, because I have unlimited weekend minutes on my cell phone plan, but very few anytime minutes.
I called this morning to politely ask what is up with my bill, seems kind of high, seeing as how I don't have electricity running to my house. Things have changed at Entergy and they can't help me on weekends. A human told me this, not like they don't have humans down there anymore on Saturdays, but they can't help me or the many like me, getting ridiculous bills, and only cell phones to communicate with, many of us budgeteers, with small minute plans.
Well ok, thank you, I said. Cussing is immature so I'm trying not to do it as much.
The Sculptor came over to Rocheblave (she is staying at a friend's house in the Marigny) last week and appeared very upset. Do you have electricity? she asked.
Entergy called her--which in itself is weird--and told her that if she didn't pay her 350 dollar electric bill by 5 p.m. that day, they would shut off her electricity. She said to Entergy, I don't have electricity.
Yes you do, said Entergy.
No, I don't, said The Sculptor (but she had been out of town attending her mother's funeral) and so maybe it had been turned on while she was gone and she told the woman she would go over and check and if she had electricity she would gladly rush down and give them money for the exaggerated bill.
Sculptor and I have both had our electrical work done by a licensed electrician, month's ago, and hers was a little more involved and they had to disconnect her wires from the house, whereas mine are all hooked up (and I'm just waiting for the flick of that little fuse up on the transformer in front of my property).
Sculptor still wasn't sure, so I said, Sculptor, no, you don't have electricity, period, running to your house, period. Those people are lying to you.
She got madder, and before I knew it she had convinced me to go down to the TV station and she vented to a person who took notes, and our phone numbers. My nephew later asked me if I had to be on TV to get my service restored, would it be worth it to me. That sort of stumped me. Frankly, I would rather just bribe somebody. Or if that extortion Entergy is trying to pull on the many of us without electricity is the price to pay for somewhat immediate restoring of service, I'm good with that too, but me and many others are getting these weird bills, after going months without any service of any kind, and, like I said, I'm trying to cuss less, which then just leaves me pretty speechless.
Some of the billing can be back billing, which is understandable, but when I called today, before speaking to the human, the automated part of the system recognized me from my phone number and then the punched in last four digits of my SS#. It told me that there was past due billing in the amount of 22 dollars. So what's with the 200 extra dollars? I guess I'll just have to borrow a land line telephone during the week and find out, or spend a frustrating hour or two getting through the hold period, and not really find out. And I'm cutting back on the cussing. And I'm going to try and quit smoking again, for Lent, even though I'm not Catholic, but my nails are getting a little long so I guess I can start chewing on those.
Oh yeah, it's Mardi Gras here. Don't believe what you see on TV. None of the really cool stuff happens on Bourbon street.
You know what chaffs my hide? Some man coming onto My hunting grounds and disturbing My traps.
I get this email from M this morning telling me that the general contractor had come over to look at what needs doing on her Dumaine house, and finding one of MY trophy rats in the Gempler's rat trap, discards it.
And then to sprinkle salt onto the slug-like consistency of my male pride, he informs M--it was the biggest f-ing rat I have ever seen.
Oh really, then where is it? The nerve of this interloper to enter my hunting lease, claim one of my monsters, and then suggest that it is the biggest rat ever, or to the point, bigger than mine. AND THEN he takes the evidence AND the trap. You don't throw those traps away man. Where did he put it? In one of those trash bags in the foyer? If in fact there is a rat. I can still produce my rat, mister. Where's yours? I can take a picture of MY rat and post it on the Internet. Can you?
I can show you my rat, mister. It still over there in Brianna's yard where I threw it. My rat is very big. I bet its bigger than yours, ok?, so maybe you think those little rubber rats in gag shops are actual size but those little things are mice compared to my rat. I'm taking my rat to the nearest taxidermy and immortalizing my rat capturing prowess for all time. Can you do that with your so-called biggest f-ing rat ever?
You better not have put that rat with trap attached in one of those garbage bags.
Don't make me put on my blue rubber gloves, mister.
In the last post I said wild dogs were not so much in evidence in New Orleans, like they used to be, but on the way Uptown after posting that spittle, I passed on Cleveland St., near Broad, a discard pile which included three mattresses and on top of those mattresses were three dogs, handsome and carefree and relaxed, and they smiled at me, I swear to God. And then the next day I saw that white dog which has been hanging around the PIB (Public Integrity Bureau, for the NOPD) building on Rocheblave, at Canal. That dog is very skittish and appears lonely and lost and I don't think he digging it here very much.
Yesterday, checking the rat traps on Dumaine, and I see pretty much the classic New Orleans mutt, and he is comfortably in the middle of the street eye balling that chicken/rooster pair down the block. A skinny black cat is right next to the yard birds and seems friendly to them, or perhaps scared of them. The mutt clearly ain't from around here because he getting all into the crouch, ready for the sprint. That dog will not catch those birds. After a pitiful attempt at a stealthy and rapid attack, he gives up and heads off towards Dorgenois. Those birds are really beautiful, especially the rooster, I wish you could see them.
I've been feeling a little dejected lately because I can't figure out this electricity thing, why I don't have it six months after the latest American Tragedy, that happened here, in New Orleans. I don't have enough cell phone minutes to deal with one hour holds to Entergy and my electrician just can't believe it, somebody else just called him to say that his permit filing was not showing up. Mostly I don't care, I'm not really suffering. But every so often all the weirdness of this new world balls itself up and throws itself at me. Eh, boo hoo.
Thelonious Monk Jr. is 30 minutes away from being in the WWOZ studio and I just listened to this chill number on the radio, from his dad, and jazz is pretty well representing my best moods so I listen to it when I can.
My boss was telling me that in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie some of the many people who easily got trailers for temporary housing are already done with them, their houses are renovated and they are trying to get FEMA to come and get the trailers, and are having as hard a time getting them off their property as people in New Orleans are having getting them on their property. I'm looking over at the Chauffeur's trailer, across the street from me on Rocheblave. It's still locked up, two weeks after delivery, waiting for electric hookup. Things are pretty funny here. I watched at a friend's house the Jon Stewart Daily Show repeat last night, riffing on VP Cheney shooting his friend in the face. I laughed a good bit. Laughing is where it's at.
Great White Girly-Man
I am the Great White Hunter, armed only with a pair of blue rubber gloves, a steely reserve, and a single focus. I have traversed through the thinly populated 4th and 5th Wards to get here, to the 6th (as called by it's residents, despite Ward maps suggesting otherwise), at Broad and Dumaine, the northern tip of Treme, yet as much a no-man's land as the neutral ground of N. Broad. A neighborhood claimed wholeheartedly by no one, although rumors, and crude etchings in the sidewalks, suggest there was once at this location a lively black market, ruled by an infrequently ruthless cadre of loosely organized gang members, whose omnipresence, while rarely dangerous, was said to border on the obnoxious. But no groups or powerful neighborhood leaders really claim, with any effect, this interesting and lovely, if at times slightly scary place. Not the Zulus, not that eccentric, emaciated czar of Louisville, not really any Treme association, nor Faubourg St. John, nor Esplanade Ridge, or godforbid, not even the bloated mid-city association. A wind-wobbling and aged neighborhood watch sign screwed to a telephone pole implies an involved citizenry at some point in the past. But there is little evidence of that citizenry, or that other rumored gangbangery, now, as I stand high above it, on Mount 2*46, seeing Dumaine as it has rarely been seen in the 150-plus years of its existence--without human influence.
Which brings me to the point of the blue rubber gloves. For although the humans are gone, the wildlife is not. Oh yes, the wild dogs have so effectively been rounded up by volunteer SPCA groups from around the country, that to see one in New Orleans these days is a rare thing indeed. The feral felines fared a little better (and are certainly happy for the absence of those dogs) and are seen, but in lesser numbers than before The Flood, and are skinnier by absence of the chicken bones, and crab carcasses, and shrimp shells, and crawfish heads (and animal rescue kibble) which used to line the gutters for many, many surrounding blocks.
The beautifully colored wild chickens, apparently, not within the purview of animal rescue teams, nor in need of rescue, can be seen happily hop-walking about; there now are five of them across the street, by the dumpster, which promises nothing, and delivers the same. The rotting meats from the Magnolia, at the corner, which delivered stench for weeks and weeks after the flood, have finally been cleaned up, and the northerly winds and what they brought with them up to this porch, are no longer a thing to be feared, and slack are the gag reflex muscles of passersby.
I unlock the metal grate and enter the Dumaine domicile. The floor is dusty from the gutting of the front room. My boot prints, and no others, are comforting imprints in the dust. The wind ruffles the curtains over the partially boarded up broken front window, broken last week, on a cold night, presumably allowing Goldilocks her entry, while the three bears remain far flung in other American cities.
I already know what is in the kitchen, my bloated prey, resting with broken neck. I walk past it and retrieve the trap by the washer/dryer, the blue rubber gloves superfluous, because the little mouse barely takes up any space on the trap. Death is death, but those poor little mice really suffer an indignity from the spring strength of those rat traps. After walking out to the front porch and flinging that little cut-in-two mouse into the dead banana trees, I have to wash the shiny, flaky red blood off the striker bar. I had to walk past the giant dead rat to do that. It's been dead for two days, but I wanted to be sure it was dead before I picked it up. Call me The Great White Hunter or call me a Sissy Girly-Man, it all the same to me.
From previous experiences I have a decent feel for weights measuring a pound or less, and when I picked up the trap with the gigantic deceased rodent attached, the digital readout on my forehead said, .75 pounds. Some are you are saying--well that doesn't seem that big. To yous people I say, well leave your phone numbers and I'll call your bitch asses when I get another one to discard.
But really, and this is to M, who isn't a stranger to the occasional rat or mouse in the house, the problem, by combination of trapping (although I've only got the one rat and two mice, in total) and cleaning, is noticeably less than it was before my reticent campaign (no, I didn't mean to say recent). At least, I'm less scared walking into the house these days.
Looks like Phillis is back (pulled back to the hood after her house in N.O. East got totally destroyed), got her place all fixed up nice, and almost ready to move in, and there is some action in that place next door, the one formerly owned by the hitman, Paul Hardy, and that brick house that sits high (except for the basement), two down from her, towards Dorgenois, looks like they more or less living there. And cars drive down Dumaine, at early rush hour, sort of like before, but different. It's mostly very quiet though, but my prediction, which will prove as reliable as a weatherman getting rained on, forecasting rain, is this--won't stay that way.
Oh, also, the other day, a, uh, Mister Bg Shw, was in the neighborhood, and asked after you. He said, now tell her it Bg Shw, not Little Shw. I said, I will do that. And so I have.
Sometimes I just ride around New Orleans with my bag of fried chicken obtained from the Ideal Discount Mart (formerly a Spur) at the Canal/Galvez corner, just relishing the aroma and thinking what a fine date this bag of chicken is. I wonder if there is a women's perfume as fine as the scent of fried chicken?
I say to my fried chicken, baby, what you wanna do? And my fried chicken says, oh, I don't know cupcake, whatever you wanna do. I say, we could just drive around a little more before we go to my place, cuz you sooo hot, I'm afraid I'll burn my mouth on your delicious flesh. My lovely fried chicken giggles girlishly, and says, oh you. And I say, no seriously baby, you are just on fire hot, and, moist, and, crispy. I mean I never thought I would fall for a crispy lover but you are so--it. My bag of fried chicken purrs and says, I got a honey dipped biscuit in here for you too, kitten.
I don't really know exactly what that pill I took this morning does but if it's anything good I'll let you know......................................
....................................two days later, note to self--don't take that pill again.
God Or Fried Chicken
I am frankly a little hesitant to even pass on this very big news, due to the immaturity of some of my male readers, and each of you, right now, know I'm talking about you, on the east coast--in Brooklyn, Jersey City, and the LES, and to my new readers, New Orleanians and otherwho's, whose immaturity I just assume but lack personal knowledge of, except for that of my Uptown nephew (its pretty much in the bloodline) And you out there in CA pretending to be a Hi-Def corporate giant, keep it shut. And don't think I'm not talking about you, you rock star looking lawyer in Dallas. And you, Mr. BC, in VA, flirting with the Lear and/or a better anti-anxiety biscuit, just shut your immature mouth and don't even think immature thoughts about this big news. Because I got gas, yes I do, I got gas, uh huh, I got gas mthrfkrs, got it down in the N.O. I shouldn't be a sexist pig so I won't be. To my female fart joke lovers, quit being immature, and possibly, you might want to name a band after yourselves, if Dave Barry hasn't already suggested it.
Yeah, so. I got gas running to my house. Nobody told me I had gas, even though to be honest, nobody had to, because due to illness or bad diet, having gas was lately a thing pretty damn evident to me. Lucky for others I stay often to myself. That was an example of the type of immaturity I'm trying to avoid here, on this momentous day. How it happened was that 85 year-old dude back living in his house around the corner, stopped his truck in the street today and we talked about him being back and I ask him if he and his wife had stayed there those few very cold days and nights (it's warm again) recently, and was it cold and he said, no, he had gas, so, after we talked, I went and turned my gas meter on and then my stove, and voila.
I was on a six week waiting list for a hot water heater about 3 months ago. My water heater is in a shed outside and evidently four feet of flood water renders them useless. I should have taken care of that business instead of whatever the hell else I've been doing, (which partly was just assuming I would never have services restored to my neighborhood) because if I had, I'd be taken a hot shower right now instead of typing on this little Sony Vaio (still powered by a hundred foot extension cord running off the converter plugged into my cigarette lighter in the truck) while a big crawfish pot boils just water, slowly on my stove.
I ran some cold water into my tub, but clearly too much, because I just poured the first pot of hot water in there and when I stuck my hand into it, expecting tepid, it was still cold. I got another pot on the stove now, while the sun sets and I get ready to light the candles so I can see what I'm doing.
Over in Metarie today caulking windows to Chicago brick and this guy from India next door starts chatting me up about caulk and I clued him in to the intricacies of pure silicone versus acrylic latex silicone caulk and before I knew it he was confessing his Katrina related emotions towards suicide (the suicide numbers are pretty high in these first 6 post-K months). I told him, man, there is nobody here, I mean nobody, who isn't having some type of extreme emotional reaction to the Great Flood and don't be ashamed or hesitant to seek professional help (some of it free) and he said he was just praying, and I said, cool.
The mother of the woman whose house we are working on said to me on her second visit to the job site today, was that pile of dirt here this morning? I just smiled at her and nodded and she blushed and I said don't sweat it, we all got it, that weird memory thing, evidently related to the unique stress of living in a world turned asunder. She said, yeah, and then you could tell she was trying to remember something and she said, I've got CRS, and then you could tell she was trying to remember what that stands for, and finally she said, can't remember shit. She then told me two jokes and here they are--Beaudreaux in St. Bernard Parish heard that all the churches were being shut down (because there ain't no people because there ain't no viable houses for them to live in) but Beaudreaux said he didn't care about that because he preferred Popeye's. The next joke is lame too, pretty much an old standard, but not as regional and has nothing to do with Houses of God or fried chicken. A man is talking to his buddy and confides--you know, I didn't have sex with my wife before I married her. Hoping for a reciprocal confession he says to his buddy, what about you? His buddy says, well, I don't know, what was your wife's maiden name?
Huge News From New Orleans
I'm sorry, what did you say? Viability? Studies? Commissions? I don't need all that. You want proof that my neighborhood is coming back? I'll give you proof. Go to the corner of Canal and Galvez, this is in Louisville mind you, and the corner store (with gas pumps) you will find there, which has been open for three weeks, just added a new sign on the front plate glass--open 24 hours.
In all the devastated zones of New Orleans, this is the first 24 hour establishment. That's right, baby. Beer, wine, and liquor, and you know, food, snacks, toothbrushes and detergent and stuff, 24/7, in Louisville. You want viabliity, I got your viability, right here.
Birds, Rats, And Asswipes
I'm sitting in the truck again, in Metairie, early, before work. The lights are on in that trailer next door to the new house I'm working on. The old man and his wife are starting their day. The man can barely walk but still rides his bike around the neighborhood. Later, I'll watch him step in a mud puddle created by my brush and roller washing on the side of the house. I can see five or six more trailers parked in driveways up the street.
The earthen levee holding back the lake is a block behind me, and the 17th St. Canal, which separates Orleans Parish from Jefferson Parish, is about ten blocks to the east. The Canal runs perpendicular to the lake levee and is defined by concrete flood walls. A portion of this criminally under-engineered east side fell down after Katrina blew through in August, the wind of which took off many a roof shingle, and knocked down a few houses here and there, throughout New Orleans. If the west side of the flood wall fails while I'm sitting here, I'll be pretty quickly under eight or ten feet of water, that is if I don't have sense enough to move to the second floor of the job site. They say they got a little water over here, maybe a foot or so, but I have yet to ascertain from where the water came. The United States Army Corps of Engineers built our flood protection system. The United States Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency.
There are good reasons our god of federal matters, George W. Bush, came here and talked a lot of shit in Jackson Square a few months ago. I can't myself enumerate them but... Oh, crapshit, that's not my thing,, political commentary, so let me just say--it just as well that incompetent fuckhead stays out of our affairs and stays forever more, the fuck away from us. If I say fuck one more time it will be a fucking trifecta. George W. Bush fucks up everything he touches, and there it is ladies and gentlemen, the trifecta.
I think the latest excuse as to why some 200,000 homes in the New Orleans area are rendered un-livable is that some flunky Corps clerk filed incorrect information, and all the subsequent sub-standard construction can now be explained away. When I talk to people out of state they shrug off the woes of New Orleans under blanket statements like--Well, you got all those corrupt politicians down there stealing your money, what do you expect? Why should our tax dollars go to support your fucked up situation, line the pockets of bad people? Let God Bless America, put Christ back in Christmas. Can you get me one of those Chocolate City T-shirts? Not all people who express such views are limp dick Rush Limbaugh Republicans, but what the difference would be I cannot say.
Work day done, weekend begins, although I'm too tired to stand up, much less trip the lights fantastic.
The Clothes Line Laundromat on N Broad is open but not selling their famous snacks, or for that matter, laundry detergent. I left my two trash bags full of dirty clothes on the Clothes Line floor and drove to the Spur which sells no beer on N. Broad. They are out of detergent too but got some on order for Tuesday. Galvez and Canal then, they got it, and, they got it going on. Pretty good chicken and biscuits out of there too. The Laundromat, that's where I'm at now. My washer and dryer, in the kitchen at Rocheblave, need gas and electricity to work and are just ornamental, shiny white objects at this point, six point five months after the flood.
M., I'm just going to assume you're not reading this, in Oregon, and will discuss with my usual selective candor, your rat problem, on Dumaine. Any problem can be solved, let's start with that.
I read a book about rats recently and so I can say that your rats are completely normal, not mutants, or in anyway acting out of character. It is selfish of me but you know I love it when the good news and bad news are the same. It is in a way comforting, and descriptive of the human condition in general.
So I got two rat size traps from the Gemplers catalog because I was so happy with the kill rate or their mouse traps, in my pursuit of the Virginia country mouse, but let me state the obvious, that little Virginia country mouse wouldn't amount to a pimple on the ass of a New Orleans rat.
I set the two traps in the Dumaine kitchen and came back a couple of days later and one trap was sprung, and licked thoroughly clean of its peanut butter bait, and the other trap was, uh....missing. But I later found the second trap, about six feet from where I had placed it. It was behind the dryer. When I picked it up it had not a rat in it but a half eaten mouse, which to add insult to injury and death, was nearly sliced in two by the overkill strength of the metal spring bar.
So I think the the rats are recognizing the new objects and are staying away due to this suspicion and the mice are just digging in cuz they stupid, and springing the traps, maybe getting caught, maybe not, and then the rats come and eat the caught mouses, and finish up with a little peanut butter dessert.
I think I'll go over today and start gutting your front room and check those traps, and see about finding you that general contractor info you asked for so you can have better ammunition to fight Allstate for the money owed to you, but which they are trying to fuck you out of, because, yes, you in good hands with Allstate, only thing is, one of those hands is flipping you the bird, always has been.
The Unlucky Pigeon
I park the truck sideways across my driveway, and close to the front steps so I can plug in the extension cord that runs from the CyberPower converter in my truck and into the house through my bedroom window, where it powers up my devices, and occasionally that single strand of Christmas lights I use for a night light in the bathroom, when I am feeling especially festive.
Today when I got out of the truck after work a Red Tail hawk flying six inches off the ground shot up Rocheblave toward Bienville and in it's talons was an unlucky pigeon.
Chauffeur came over with his grandson, Darius, who I the other day thought was his cousin, and they said howdy and looked at the new trailer they will both be living in once it is inspected and powered up and unlocked. It will sit there as the locked property of FEMA until the same pole that controls my house, and the Sculptor's, is switched on. Chauffeur said he called Entergy but he may have misinterpreted the importance of our pole in the equation and ya'll can hold your breaths but I'm just getting more and more used to the idea of living without electricity. For the Chauffeur and Darius' sake I hope it happens though, eventually.
I went to the Spur (gas station/convenience store) on N. Broad, between here and the Dumaine house, on Sunday, to get some beer to take over to my nephew's, Uptown on Carondelet, for the Superbowl. I walked past the counter by the front door and to the back of the store and stared and stared and stared and then turned around and walked back and the counter girl said, you looking for beer? and I said, you know I am. She said, you look just like everybody else coming in here looking for beer, you look like your feelings are hurt. She was so exactly right about that and I told her so. I went to the Spur at Galvez and Canal and got my twelve-pack of Heinekin and headed Uptown.
The kid from N. Tonti, Raheim, came by before the game on Sunday and we played Around The World some but I was so good, circling his world 'till it made him dizzy, that finally he said you wanna play that spelling game, which is Horse, but which I played with him the other day as Cat. I said, sure, and we played Cat and Stop and he beat me twice. On the third game I was about to crush him with my superior round ball skills and he tried an over the backboard trick shot and swished it home and I said I'll bet you this game you can't do that again, and of course he did. I don't care. I didn't want to win anyhow. Winning is for losers.
There are now more stoplights than temporary stop signs in the neighborhoods of Louisville (Bienville Corridor), Mid-City, Esplanade Ridge, and Bayou St. John, and that is progress. I said no way that Spur at Galvez and Canal be open this morning at 5:55 a.m., on the way to work, but I was wrong about that and I got coffee and carrot cake for breakfast before heading out to Metairie to caulk and putty and paint wood as quick as my boss could nail it up.
I'm getting my cold water bathing techniques down to a fine art and someday I'll tell you about it, except for one particular technique which may come under the heading of--More Information Than You Need.
I think that 85-year-old couple, The Smith's, are back, and camping a good bit of the time at their very fine house around the corner, on Bienville.
Raheim came by, ostensibly to humiliate me again, but he couldn't see me sitting here in the truck so he went back around the corner. The setting sun made the little studs in his ear lobes, sparkle.
The Crusty Sidekick
As I remember portable hoops were in the last couple of years banned from the streets of New Orleans, because of the criminal element's propensity for using them as a way to kill time, and each other, during the down time between drug deals.
A little bit overly sensitive to the perceived disadvantage of being a woman in a male-driven world, my new partner in crime, while helping me to steal one of these hoops from a next door neighbor's yard will be goddamned if she going to take the lead from my maleness as how to carefully relocate this hoop to a chained up position next to the telephone pole in front of my house. She is to me in this sense very much like a man overly imbued with his sense of maleness, and will throw out her back, or rip her flesh on rusty nails in her pursuit of the alpha-station, a station I will gladly relinquish to any woman, or man. She got the can-do attitude though and this is a thing only to my benefit, and hopefully hers.
I really think of this caper as a Rocheblave reclamation project, and the hoop will be gladly returned to the owner, should that owner ever show up, after now five months of absence. In the meantime Ima work on my three-point shot, and the delivery of my explanation as to how that chain they had around it got cut clean in two, leaving out the part about my purchase of a very effective pair of discount ($12.95) bolt cutters.
This is why New Orleans will never get the help it needs, because we all criminals here, and will abuse any assistance you send us. All of us. And one other thing. If you take George Bush's advice and bring your family here because you believe what he said about this being a "heckuva place to bring your family" I give you fair warning--we will eat your children. Crawfish are prohibitively expensive this year.
Before the hoop theft I stole a piece of plywood from the Sculptor's property and jumped the Chauffeur's fence and stole another piece from his property. With a 97 cent can of Walmart spray paint I made two signs that say NEED POWER, and leaned one against the Sculptor's house and one against the telephone pole in front of my house. I wrote the same message on the plywood boarding up one of the Chauffeur's windows.
Later, this guy came by looking for the Chauffeur and so I called him and said somebody looking for you. It turned out to be an old friend who was temporarily working with FEMA trailer delivery and he was front man for the actual delivery process, now happening after 3 months of broken promises. The two of them hugged. The trailer came and then a plumbing crew came and then right at sundown a crew of men came to block it up, tie it down, unlock the cabinets, and pull out the side extension. We toured the inside in between these visits and it pretty nice in there. Chauffeur had to test the bed with imaginary sexual maneuvers and I said well I'll be leaving you alone now.
Between the initial delivery and the plumbing crew, Chauffeur brought out his sorry ass basketball and bounced it once but it didn't bounce back. I went in and got my new ball and we shot around a bit. I said, Chauffeur, when I jumped your fence this afternoon I finally got a look at that hoop you've been saying we could set up and it's got a whole bigger than a basketball in the cheap plexiglass backboard. Chauffeur just shrugged.
A kid is down at the corner banging a fireplace poker against a metal pole at Iberville and Rocheblave. I already know how this turns out so I just sit tight, shoot poorly, and wait for it to happen. My game is coming on and I turn around after setting the net on fire with a high arced three-pointer and the kid is coming up. I toss him the ball and the the three of us begin shooting. The kid is better than Chauffeur and almost as good as me, which frankly, is not that good. But the kid is only ten or so and the hoop is at regulation height. He's got a white wave cap on his short cropped head and imitation diamond earrings in each ear lobe. He wears a clean un-tucked dress shirt over baggy jeans and an easy smile shows big white teeth.
When the plumbing crew came they gave our game a wide berth and Chauffeur went and talked to them while the kid and I played. I did not ask the kid too many questions because that is no way to get information from a kid. I did slip in a few casual questions though and know that his mama works, not too far away, he lives on N. Tonti, has electricity but no gas, that old woman with the dog is not his mama but just a friend, and he goes to school in Jefferson because there are not that many area schools open for ten year olds, in New Orleans.
He showed me a couple of his favorite shots--The Crusty Sidekick, and, The Twister, both of which he missed. He at one point posited that perhaps his wave cap was too tight and might be adversely affecting his game. I concurred. He went away around the corner for awhile and I glanced over there once and saw him talking to the old woman in the housecoat and she was wiping something off of his face. He came back without the wave cap and we played Around the World a few times, until I got so smoking good I was shooting and swishing them home, with my eyes closed. The kid expected no bones from me, which is good, because I wasn't giving any. I beat him, but just barely, and his spirit, when he walked away, seemed pretty well intact.
By many reports he was a good kid but last night somebody shot him dead anyway, in front of his old school, Life of Christ Christian Academy, on Dorgenois, in the 7th Ward. He was back in town helping with the rebuilding process at the school.
Also on Thursday, 3 tornadoes ripped through Jefferson and Orleans Parishes. The one in New Orleans started at Veterans and West End Blvd and traveled diagonally towards Canal Blvd before heading out into the lake. Homes in the Lakeview area that were decimated five months previous by Katrina were decimated in new ways, by 125 mph unnamed winds.
Three of my former young neighbors on Dumaine, are reportedly in jail, or still in jail for Pre-K crimes. One for his murdering, in Louisiana, and one, who once popped mean wheelies, for something in Houston, where he evacuated after spending the flood week with M and thirty others in M's Dumaine house. S, who one of you drove around in your BMW, was released on bail in Houston, jumped it and headed west and was then picked up in South Central Los Angeles, where he also had warrants for crimes committed during his many trips there over the years trying to evade warrants (attachments) in New Orleans.
We buried my mom on Wednesday, in Dallas, as part of that ceremonious process meant to bring closure to the bereaved. My cousin, the monsignor, spoke, as did a new guy pastor of the Methodist Church, who didn't know mom, but took good notes and delivered kind thoughts, and at the grave side people testified as to their connection to Clifford (there is no conclusive story as to why my mom was named Clifford, and no one wants to embrace the last thoughts relayed from her to me on the mattter--that she was named after a horse on the farm) and it was good, all of it.
If I gained a needed closure though, it was only in part by the many kind thoughts and heartfelt hugs. In equal part my closure on the life of Clifford Louis was gained from the passing of the backhoe operator parked at a comically discreet distance from the grave site.
The street light is on in front of the Dumaine house and somebody tarped the roof while I was gone and cut down the tree from the Esnard Villa property which had blown down and landed softly on M's roof. I was over this morning setting rat traps while unsuccessfully avoiding their dominant scurrying about.
The chauffeur got his temporary electric pole set up across the street from me over here on Rocheblave and waits patiently for his promised trailer, where he hopes to live with his seven-year-old cousin, who is causing problems at the home of his family. Chauffeur is being asked to leave his current temporary residence over by the Bayou St. John.
It's going to get a little chilly during the nights this week, in New Orleans.
The generator just shut off at the Bienville house where Killer used to live, the backyard of which backs up to my Rocheblave side yard. They have been steadily renovating both sides of that double shotgun for months now. Killer been long dead.
An old lady in a housecoat walks a dog down Rocheblave to the Iberville corner and disappears to a world of viability that may or may not exist outside my view.
A cat I have never seen likewise appears and disappears.
I started smoking again Saturday morning. I apologize to the people who were proud of me for quitting but I feel like I will quit again so feel free to be proud of me again in the future.
I was just at the lake with my nephew throwing the football and drinking Guinness while his son tried to make me be Eli Manning. I resisted. I don't want to be Eli Manning.
I have been more or less geographically rejected by the Mid-City Association and will not in the future ever refer to my neighborhood as Mid-City. I have in fact only been doing so recently as a convenience to outside readers who may need a little geographical crutch to picture my area. This exclusion makes me not even a little bit sad. I live in the Bienville Corridor or my self-named Faubourg Louisville, and don't want to be, nor did I ever, want to be, associated with the politics of Mid-City.
I haven't heard or seen a car on Rocheblave, Bienville, Iberville, or Dorgenois, all of which I can see from where I sit in the passenger seat of my truck in my driveway, for thirty minutes now. I am not disturbed by this at the same time it seems notable to me.
The Baptist church parishioners of that church on Bienville between Galvez and Claiborne were out front again this morning, sitting in folding chairs, and there was ten-year-old drummer backed up against the church building, but I could not see in my passing other probable musicians. I wish I has the guts to sit in with them, if they would even begrudgingly have me.
I was yesterday helping the chauffeur measure dimensions in the catastrophe that is his home across the street and a van from the Victory Fellowship people, who either are the people from, or are just associated with, that really cool church at the corner of Broad and Iberville, and let me tell you they give out plate lunches in styrofoam containers that rock the world of free food, and this cute young woman pulls up to the curb and says, want some food? and we say yeah. Victory Fellowship, thank you.
Speaking of great free food, some new friends got married to each other in the Irish Channel last night, in front of their home and thirty guests, and the groom is a fellow former Dallas boy with barbecue skills and had enough beef and pork barbecue, cole slaw, potato salad and baked beans to allow me three full plates over the evening and I was stuffed, except when I got home, when I wished I had taken a to-go plate.
This week stop lights have been powered up at Tulane and Broad and at Canal and Broad and at several of the intersections of Orleans Ave., between Broad and Claiborne.
There are notably a few pickup basketball games happening at area courts.
Despite the lack of what George Bush considers a master plan, people all over the city of New Orleans are rebuilding. At the wedding party last night a man described his innovative ways of just pushing ahead without insurance money and then presenting his work to the insurance representatives as a way to get the money owed to him, given to him.
It's almost February here and it hasn't been very cold this winter and as the sun sets on Rocheblave, I swat mosquitoes.
My mom died on Friday.
If you have been waiting on a trailer to live in and you wonder where it is, it is in Metairie.
All up and down those streets between the Lake Ponchartrain and Veterans Blvd. and the parish line and Bonnabel Blvd. the homes have trailers in front of them. I mean a whole bunch of them do.
I really don't know to what extent people are actually living in them (I have yet to see someone enter or leave one of them), but they are there, and unlike the few trailers dotted around New Orleans proper, they are hooked up to sewage, water, and electricity, all ready to go. I think many of the people who got them just couldn't resist how easy it was to get them and that in itself has nothing to do with how difficult it is for quite a few New Orleanians to get into trailers. Unless you are a conspiracy theorist and if you are you should give it up because believing in things you can never prove will only lead you to nocturnal outbursts as reported back to you by the person sleeping nearest. "You said 'shit' in your sleep numerous times last night."
Probably you could argue that people in need are people in need and Metairie residents are just as needy as some poor New Orleanian without a house, without insurance,or a pot to piss in. It's a good argument and you came to the wrong place if you're looking for someone to argue with. You should go home or into the other room and argue with your loved one about something that has nothing to do with what you are really mad about, have make up sex, and get back to me. Please don't tell me anything about the fight or the sex. I'm already bored and your frustrations and the heartfelt delivered explicit details about your love life might just push me over the edge.
I tried to buy beer at the Walgreens on St. Charles today. You wanna hear about frustration? Walgreens doesn't sell beer. Which to me, by itself, is worse than any conspiracy theory I could come up with, and let me assure you, I could come up with one regarding why Walgreens doesn't sell beer.
I'm spending a little more time Uptown than I normally would, and not just because this is where all the sex kittens are, but because I want to feel the pulse of the apoplectic Uptown hordes, and, I'm feeling it. Diagnosis. Simply, ya'll bitches need more beer, period. In Mid-City we may not have electricity or gas in most of the homes but we have a new convenience store opened at Canal and Galvez. If a store at that location tried to pull the "no beer" bullshit it would be the fuel for a neighborhood bonfire the next night. As for the Mid-City Walgreens, where that is? Jeff Davis and Canal? Ya'll can open up or not, I won't miss you or shop with you. Selling all those over and under the counter chemicals and getting uppity about a little alcohol...well...you make me want to...shop at Rite-Aid.