View current page
...more recent posts
Have eight days left. Joe L walked by just now while I was sitting on the front steps. I was borrowing the Chauffeur's wifi signal to load up today's news on this miniature wifi-only device. I promised Joe I had not forgotten my promise to let him help me bundle up the large pile of limbs from my recent manicuring of the property. We will get on it one of these days I said. He was going off somewhere with umbrella in hand to help somebody else do something else. In parting he said, boy it's a nice day today. I had before he walked up been thinking that if you took a plastic quart bottle of Wesson oil and put it inside your black rental car parked in the sun and let it sit for three hours and then uncapped it and poured the hot liquid over your fully clothed body and then rolled around in tall wet grass it would approximate how the surrounding air felt to me sitting half naked on my front steps at eight o'clock in the morning loading up news on this device. He was right though, it did feel a little better today. †In New Orleans the month of August begins in June and ends sometime around Columbus Day in October. †It was the only side offered so I was checking it out, the back side of this blonde woman bent over the open hood of her Mercedes parked in my driveway. You will learn the lesson to limit your exposure or regret the consequences so this woman and her Mercedes I was viewing from inside, looking out the front door glass. It turned out to be some charitable soul coming to help my accidental houseguest move her belongings from the front room. The houseguest was sitting in the front seat, obscured from view by the open hood. Upon closer inspection this Mercedes had seen better days but this days problem was just a bad AC fuse. I helped them load half the belongings and accepted as potential truth the Muslim woman's assertion that she would be back someday for the rest of it. She did at least leave me last night to my solitary self and I slept better because of it. Was on the side landing taking pictures of two of the cuter under house cats, feeling my resolve not to feed them weakening when the mother of the jailed boy called out to me from Rocheblave Street, asking if she could speak to me. This trip is getting more expensive than I had anticipated, knowing that her wanting to talk to me means only one thing. It is so hard sometimes to separate the hustle from the legitimate need but I got up and walked through the house to meet her out front. Sitting down on the front steps again I listened to her story. She said had just gotten back from OPP. The boy had been given a year, which somehow, including the four months already in, equated to him being out for Thanksgiving. †He had to have white t-shirts and underwear (I gave up another twenty dollars hoping it might be spent on t-shirts). The lawyer was telling her that he would come up on the other charges in a couple of months. When I asked what were the other charges all she would say is that he would beat it because there were no powder burns on his hands and no fingerprints on the gun. Also that the police had beaten him up and another boy had been beaten to death last week. Perhaps I caught her in a lie or two but I'm not sure how that necessarily refutes her story in total. For lunch I drove by OPP without really thonking about the boy, on my way to Bode's Catfish Shack †If you look at the color of the Sculptors flood line that is pretty much what the entire east side of my house looked like due to the natural tendency of shady painted surfaces to mildew in this climate. †I washed it down with laundry soap and bleach water solution and it came out so shiny I have decided not to paint it this go around. Working on the inside painting and cleaning now. †I ended up putting some food out for the two cute cats but when I looked under the house there was a whole mess of ugly ones too. I don't really think you should feed stray cats, cute or ugly. †I should have loaded up the rest of that girl's stuff in my rental car and followed them to wherever they went is what I should have done.
Have nine days left. The waitress said as a question you're good when I said I was good to mean no more coffee. It was too cold in there and I was hacking up pieces of lung. At least it's not a dry cough. Need to get up on the roof and finish trimming overhead branches before it gets too hot or starts to rain again. The houseguest said someone was coming to move her stuff out today and I said that would be helpful which was the short version of a rant running last night through my mind. The rant was entitled a conflict of agendas. Those cats are fighting again. Saw a saggy titted pit bull bitch roaming free last night. Was coming around the back fence when I gave it the evil eye and it turned around. There are chew marks on my front steps looking like a shotgun blast made from dogs trying to get under the house to eat cats or what was once their food stash. Corner boys have a friend who makes drunken siren noises during their sidewalk happy hour. Remembering what the kid's mother said the other day when I asked which of the boys to men where hanging out on Dumaine. It was my subtle way to ask which of them are not in jail or dead. She told me oh so and so and so and so. But they disappear when the sun goes down cuz they afraid of those shooters coming back. Forty some odd shell casings recovered last time but no one injured. She got a ponderous look on her face then and said if those shooters had been real men they would have walked right up...and she pantomimed a gun to a head and then pulled the trigger three times. It is my goal to argue less so I did †not disagree. Anyway, how would I know what is a man. Feeling some distance south of stupid these days. I bet it already got hot while I was writing this.†
Have ten days left and head cold, zero energy. Cats under the house are going unfed. They will need to start considering alternate means of nutrition. Am not sure eating each other is out of the question. Saw a helicopter fly over yesterday that looked like something out of Buck Rodgers. A dated analogy for sure. The street sign at Bienville and Rocheblave is leaning, house on southeast corner is still boarded up. Epictetus is around, just a little gray on the edges. I would like to speak to him but don't really know what to say. Am down now on bare mattress on floor, under ceiling fan. Cleaned cat hair off all blade edges on the three fans. I imagined it was irritating me and making head cold worse. Slept ok last night. Could have been worse. Used towel borrowed from nephew as a cover over my chest. It made me feel a little more secure. Dreams were a bit strange but not markedly more so than reality. Friend and excellent tenant has moved out but has a few things still in house, including a Muslim woman who apparently has nowhere else to stay. She knocked quietly on front door last night even though she still has own key. I had thought where she would stay other than here had been resolved but apparently I was mistaken. We split up the haphazard bedding and she took hers to the bedroom and closed the door. And then left out early this morning. We have agreed on a two day deadline. I wish Bernadette was here but she has gone back to New York. We stayed at my nephew's in Lakeview for about a week. Part of me wants to stay on this bed all day but staying in bed takes considerable will power. I can hear sea gulls and crows but not yet the monk parakeets. I need to drink much more water because my urine is dark yellow, signifying dehydration. Am seriously conflicted about which is more important, doing something or doing nothing. It is one of the subjects that perhaps I could discuss with Epictetus. The cats are crying, or fighting, again. †This mattress is oriented where my desk used to be and the palmetto fronds in the side yard are moving in the humid air and casting upon me slices of sunlight. One of the mothers of a Dumaine child is renting sort of next door to me. I was cutting limbs from the sycamore that got topped in the 05 storm and has since grown into a frighteningly tall and bushy somewhat leaning tree when she called out to ask me was I who I appeared to be. I admitted I was knowing it would cost me (in this case 5 dollars, make note to carry more singles). She was walking back from the OPP at Tulane and Broad where she had just visited that boy who was one of that core group I used drive around the city for Sunday outings, if they cleaned the garbage from the street. Never that good at math I said oh he must be 16 or 17. †She said oh no he 21. I'm not sure she was debating that he stole the car but those guns were not his. When I said I follow things around town via the Internet she seemed proud. But she thought I meant that I was accessing his rap sheet, which one can do online, and she wanted me to know that some of his thirty odd charges are not his doing. She said he asked about me sometimes, which I neither doubt nor wholly believe, and that when he got out she was sending him over here to go to work for me. I explained to her the limitations of that but said that if he got out in the next 10 days and showed up here wanting to work, I would give him some. He was in truth, as an 8 year old, a very good worker. Although I can't help remembering it I hold no grudge that he once lifted the razor knife from my tool bucket and tried but failed to eviscerate his older cousin.†
Dozens of shots fired Thursday
on troubled block, no one injured
(by Leslie Williams, NOTP)
The intended targets of a shooting Thursday afternoon were perched on the steps of a house in the 2600 block of Dumaine Street.
It is the same block in which two people were shot dead in April 2008. The targets were sitting on the steps of house, which has a no trespassing sign as well as "No sitting" hand painted on the front of the house. "Don't sit on steps" is written on the building's columns. "Nine dead" is painted on the structure. And there is the hand-painted plea: "Help us."
Shortly after 5 p.m., a group of boys began firing automatic and other handguns at people who were sitting on the steps of that house on Dumaine between North Broad Avenue and North Dorgenois Street, according to residents.
Law-enforcement workers placed at least 40 cones marking evidence in the block in view of a crime camera.No one was shot, though, police said.
None of the neighbors saw what happened to the people on the steps.
The shooting began while a handful of residents were chatting outside another home on the block, residents said
"God was with us that's why those little boys had some kind of heart," said a woman who was visiting her mother.
When the shooting started, she said, her older sister was in the street on the passenger-side of her truck -- and in the line of fire.
She said she pleaded for her sister's life, asking the armed boys to allow her sister to get out of the street, away from the shooters and their intended targets.
Her sister ran, but injured herself when she slipped and fell near the sidewalk while running into her mother's house, her mother said.
She then hid behind a garbage can along the edge of Dumaine Street while relatives ran indoors.
The shooters were firing in the direction of Dumaine and Broad, residents said, in the direction of the crime camera.
Officer Hilal Williams said she does not know if the camera works. Residents insisted it does not.
A girl in the fifth grade of a New Orleans elementary school and an A-student said the shooters had "some nines and automatic guns."
Police so far have no suspects or motive, Williams said.
The fifth-grader's 52-year-old grandmother insisted the police "just need to sit around here."
"It is out of control on this block," she said, Her daughter and others who sought safety during the shooting agreed.
Lock The Bastards Up
City to crackdown on use of trash bins
Residents who fail to use them will face
fines, possible jail time.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
--Bloodshed greeted with outrage, apathy
In a modest Baptist church in eastern New Orleans, friends and family gave a young man in a mocha-colored casket a teary sendoff.
Though Terry Hall, 29, on April 2 became the city's 53rd homicide victim of 2007 -- one of four in a single day, the most in one day this year -- few outside his circle of friends and family marked his death. No one blamed the police or the mayor. No one marched in protest or demanded action.
Unlike some of the victims in a similar string of killings in January -- one that sparked a citywide protest and endless promises of action from police and politicians -- Hall did not go out a martyr, nor did any of the other three people killed that day, nor did the three people killed in the previous three days. (By Brendan McCarthy, NOTP)
Another Email From NOLA
marquin got shot in the hands about 2 weeks ago, got him antibiotics, he didnít take them, hands got infected. i hauled him back to childrenís hospital, and they havenít let him out yet. shawn (donít know if you remember him) took 13 bullets on the corner of dorgenois and st. anne last week. heís on life support. jamal [shot in January] is out and limping around.
The New Page
In 1994 I moved to New Orleans. In 1997 I began writing emails to a few friends around the country about my life as a blue-collar working white boy in a mostly black New Orleans ghetto. The ghetto was represented by the 2600 block of Dumaine.
In 2000 one of the email recipients in New York introduced me to a brilliant webmaster who was hosting his own website and I was invited to begin posting here. The email recipient came up with the name email from NOLA. In that same year I bought a burnt out abandoned crackshack on Rocheblave, six blocks from the Dumaine house, and began a learn as you go renovation.
In 2003 I was offered a soft gig in Virginia caretaking a Shennadoah weekend property for a childhood buddy. The next three winters I found reasons to spend them mostly in New Orleans, last winter, stretching from October to June, so that I could look after my Rocheblave house and do a few necessary post-Katrina repairs.
The Dumaine house is still occupied by a friend who has remained all these years very involved as a freelance mentor and tutor to neighborhood children. She was boat-lifted from the house last September and evacuated to the west coast before returning recently in hope of receiving Road Home grant money to fill the gap left by being screwed by her insurance company.
The Dumaine neighborhood was always a little rougher than average. An average that to many of you would itself seem unacceptable. And while murderers did live and recreate on the block, the block itself was more or less murder-free for the last 13 years. So it is unusual but unfortunately true to say that in the last two months two young men have died by gunshot in the street in front of the house. And one other near the Dorgenois corner.
It is this type of drama that made up parts of the original emails from NOLA (of which only a few samples are posted here) but I don't myself have exposure to such drama now, nor do I live in New Orleans. So I've been working on a new page with a different name which you can access at--
Or perhaps I could offer you an actual link to get there.
M, not that this would be all that unusual but I haven't heard from you since you moved back to the block, I guess you got rid of the Oregon cell phone. Hope you are all right. Sorry the craziness is starting again. It was really quiet for awhile after the flood. Drop me a line sometime if you get the chance.
Better Late Than Never
Elloie suspended by La. high court
Russia, Fresh Spinach, And The French Canadian
I don't know enough about avante garde film to make valid comparisons but after watching Dziga Vertov's Man With the Movie Camera last night I'm going out on a limb to say he rose the bar pretty high 75 years ago. If only for its documentation of 1920s Russian images it is a must see. It is a silent film and I don't know if the sound track is original to the time period (or added later) but if it is original to the film, the bar goes up a couple more notches.
I seem to have rather convenient access to a bucket load of fresh music these days and the Outkast (Idlewild) album is fresher than a bag of raw spinach (according to the FDA).
Twenty-eight years ago I was standing on the side of highway 290west, aimed towards California, but only at the time just outside Austin, TX., and this French Canadian kid with a deep south Georgia accent approached from a distant store up the hill. He had just shop-lifted some snacks and these he shared with me. We hiked all the way to Los Angeles together. After a week or so he headed north up the coast and I headed back east, to Texas. I ran into him some months later, in Austin, and he suggested a high risk caper that would finance a trip to Europe, but success was not in our cards and we got busted for some misdemeanor foolishness and spent two or three days in the Dallas jail, and after that, again went our separate ways.
High On Ladders And Bocce
Jimmy the pool guy came by early this morning to get the final word on important pool matters and said he had just seen a guy on early morning exercise TV who reminded him of me. I said, oh no, not that awful energetic, long haired, buff, exercise guy? No, the guy has short hair, he said. And he does yoga. Said it was just the way the guy moved and his demeanor that was reminiscent of what I had always hoped was inimitable. I will look into this imitator even though as often as not it is through TV viewing that your illusions are shattered.
It has been overcast and rainy out here for three days but that doesn't keep me from climbing the 28 foot extension ladder and bleach cleaning the bighouse facia and soffit. I really need a 32 foot ladder to reach a couple of areas but instead of acquiring another expensive ladder I have saved the Mt. Prosperous bank account hundreds and hundreds of dollars by simply adding those four feet to the existing ladder, sticking it in the bed of the 4wheel drive utility vehicle and then leaning it up against the 150 year-old brick underneath the higher paintable wooden faced gables.
Not wanting to overwhelm the property with too much of my "work smart, not hard" ethic, I took off the rest of that ladder set up day and studied and practiced the formal rules for bocce (for there is now a proper bocce court), then set out to master the game and beat all comers, or just that one blithely acerbic NYker, who had recently, some weeks previous, won top prize at the Mt. P bocce doubles freestyle tournament, even though that championship is under review due to what was a fairly obvious and very cloudy score keeping by said opponent and his pony-tailed partner who couldn't be bothered with the details of his cloudy-headed teammates' scoring acumen. I am not a poor loser in general, but I will at the very least be demanding a rematch at some point in the future when all four members can be made to face the reality that a slightly tarnished win, a win that is shown in the books with an asterisk by it, is not the type of win you want on your resume.
As that inaugural evening of bocce on proper court wore on and I frankly became weighted down by the embarrassing heft of my bocce mastery, the blithely acerbic NYker snuck in a win to tarnish my opening day prowess. If it is true you learn most in life from your defeats, the NYker could prove to be a dangerous opponent in the future.
The clouds are low today, the Shenandoah hills erased, and there is fog in the hollows. As for me, I will continue to eradicate mildew with my bleach-filled garden sprayer, and possibly spot-prime the gutters I scraped yesterday.
A man out here recently known for his philandering with a much younger girl (girl then confessing the deeds on a Sunday in front of the entire Baptist congregation), has a wife who in the past has done periodic cleaning of the bighouse, but I just received grapevine news that the man has in the last few days been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and I am hesitant to contact his wife for menial house cleaning, so I am doing it myself.
Picking up rubber bands in the kids room I hear the words of Mrs. BC upon last leaving--you boys better pick up all those rubber bands before we leave. If Jim has to pick those up he's going to be plenty mad and will by all rights be forced to put your little heads in a bench vise and turn turn turn he will until your little heads pop like ripe cherry tomatoes. That may not be a direct quote.
The bighouse is not inaccurately named so this detail cleaning is taking some time. I am vacuuming and wiping all ledges, above doors, windows, along sashes and window sills, across 6 fireplace mantels and sucking spider and cobwebs from corners and sucking up bugs and dead wasps (which is unusually gratifying), toothbrushing gunk marks on the wood floors, and shop vacuuming the fireplaces free of creosote droppings. Mopping, washing sheets and towels, and searching out mouse doo-doo wherever it may lie.
My insurance on the New Orleans house has lapsed because obviously one year after devastation the mail system is still not operating flawlessly and 17 days is not enough lead time for mailing in a renewal check for an amount obscenely more expensive than last year. I have left a voicemail with my agent. Why she or someone else is not in the office on a Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. I have no speculation. I did finally take care of that back taxes thing, with much help from L, and also received reimbursement from that bitch realtor/lawyer who was supposed to take care of it 6 years ago, with escrow funds.
Just went down to my PO box and my renewal notice was in the mail, so that was some pretty damn fast response time. I called my agent, she was in the office, and said, forget that earlier message.
Parked in front the Post Office and that guy who rides his lawn mower around town and along the highway was walking out of the cafe and giving me the look while I perused my insurance documents. He wasn't going to be ignored so when I looked up and pretended like I was seeing him for the first time he motioned for me to roll down my window and he then bummed a ride to the Co-op for chainsaw parts.
I called Geico and got the Jeep and trailer covered. Now I think I need to drive into Culpeper, drop off that trailer license plate at the DMV because I forgot to do it last week when that ad man was driving me there, running every stop sign in town, until he got corrected by smokey bear. I think I'll get new tires for the Jeep and then drive into Remington and see if that guy can mill me some siding to replace that which is rotted on the bighouse because evidently whatever they used on this house doesn't exist at any of the local lumber yards (a slightly modified version of german clapboard).
I really need to get on the stick though because I still have to get back here and finish cleaning this big house, before the cocktail hour
List Of Lists
An advertising man and a real estate man came to the farm over the labor day weekend and I'm not saying which one and I'm certainly not saying it was the one that owns the farm, but one of them set off a package of firecrackers in the house, right under the bedroom I have been sleeping in. And in which I was sleeping at the time, so that the first two blasts echoing well beyond their intended outdoor potential because they weren't set off outdoors but instead as I keep mentioning, indoors, in the acoustically triumphant foyer of a 150 year old house, well, they, those first two blasts made me wake up in New Orleans, which is quite a bit of instantaneous transporting, but then I was awake and realized it was just firecrackers as the final 18 blasts did that audible dance very unlike gunfire. I did not at first know they had set them off indoors, right below my room, until a minute or two later and all that noxious firecracker smoke started seeping into the quarters where I had been perchancing to dream. I do not know how giants of business behave in your part of the world but out here it is becoming increasingly obvious that you can't really know a thing about human potential until after the last act is written. Until each and every individual giant of business has explored their inner insanity.
It has been suggested by more than a few that as a way to address the unique lack of structure to my life out here that I keep lists. Lists of accomplished tasks and lists of tasks to be done and lists of materials to acquire. I could also make a list of lists.
Yesterday, a day I don't feel I was overly ambitious, I got up and unloaded the dishwasher and loaded the dishwasher. I went out and clipped the dead hydrangea blossoms. Clipped or dead-headed the daisies. Turned off the new sprinkler system which did not seem to be accessing its computerized potential of knowing that it was raining, and has been raining off and on for several days. I checked the pool skimmer and found no baby marmots floating. Added some chemicals, skimmed off a few floating leaves. Trimmed off the tops of the seven foot tall round bushes in the center island out front and raked into piles those trimmings. I had a mid-morning business meeting with the guy who mows the 5 acres of lawn and sent him off with promises of future lawn cutting profit. I tested Mr. BC's new fly rod for a few minutes on the pond. Had late breakfast of hanger steak, lentils, and swiss chard. After breakfast had a brief business meeting with the advertising man's wife about local real estate potential. Then I went out and removed the 12 purple martin apartments from their pole and loaded them into jeep for storage in the barn because there are no resident martins yet and the pole will have to be moved elsewhere, away from the soon to be constructed outdoor fireplace and bocce court. I think the pole took a little knock from the backhoe and is bent so I'll let those worker guys extract it. I trimmed back the bushes from the side of the house by the pecan and walnut trees and set up the ladder and ran the extension cord and put on my dust mask and set to ready my Makita disc sander and then it started raining. I went inside and installed the new toilet paper holder and toilet handle in one of the bathrooms.
My lovely guests left--and I peripherally count as my accomplishment--without blowing off their fingers or sinking a barbless fly hook into their lips or initiating a lawsuit for slipping on the bath mat. I located and removed from premises some mouse doo-doo.
As it has been a guest-laden couple of weeks I paused and luxuriated in the solitude while gazing at wispy white clouds moving across the green mountains surrounding me 360.
A car comes up the drive and it is my tennis pro friend just stopping by to chat. Who gives a damn if I'm all chatted out? Followed shortly thereafter by my hay-cutting friend who needs a new kidney, and in his own right is quite the chatterer. They left and I watched some tennis for awhile until Mr. BC's brother shows up with his French girlfriend. He brought me a 300gb hard drive just because they were on sale and he is wonderful and thoughtful human being. He did not set off fireworks in the house but he did bite the tip off what could have been but wasn't a deadly hot pepper. At least he didn't intentionally step in a pit of fire and then accidently fall in nearly frozen pool water, which I'm not saying he ever did anymore than I'm saying his brother set off fireworks in the house. I shared a couple of roma tomatoes dipped in sea salt with the French girlfriend, then said, ok, its time for yall to get the hell out of here, and forced on them a bottle of champagne and some pistachios, for the road.
So Much Of Everything
So much of everything regarding writing is about timing and place unless you are disciplined and or professional which I'm not and don't consider necessarily bad but it could be and can explain the lack of writing here. Don't think I'm writing behind your back even though I am in some fashion but it's really none of your business at this point in time. Stay tuned or don't, you have to be comfortable with your own decisions.