archive

email from NOLA


View current page
...more recent posts

Truth?
Ok dammit, I can’t go on living this lie. I didn’t accidentally fall down and hit my face on a bedpost. That’s what you wanted to hear, right? You’ve broken me. Happy? Your unbelieving eyes, your smirk, your questioning was I drunk or stoned, your constantly asserting that I needed to come up with a better story--have all contributed to my shattered, nerve racked state. I can’t go on fighting you. You are right, I am wrong. I am a liar, you are a truth seeker.

What really happened?

Can you handle the truth, the absolute truth? It’s like this:

I got into DC late. I interrupted a dinner party. Everyone stood up (would you please f-ing sit down.) I was served first wine, then salmon, some veggie lasagna, some fried spinach balls or something, more wine, and then inexplicably I got all dry throated and I almost hacked up a hairball right in front of everyone. I excused myself not quite gracefully and got a glass of water. Everything was cool. All the people at the table were professional heavyweights, and interesting, and likeable. In the end they made me feel one step closer to meeting Maureen Dowd.

The party broke up, one couple hung around. We drained all the partial wine bottles, nibbled on cheese and grapes, and talked. Politically, the division of all of us drunk (there was some experimental shooting of Grey Goose with raspberry sorbet) stragglers would not be accurately summed up as half Republican, half Democrat, but we’ll go with that just to make things more interesting. There was talk of America as the most successful republic in the history of civilization, there was the suggestion of a currently shameless, disingenuous leadership, there was talk of Ghandi, and then I had to make fun of Gw/junior for that implausible bullshit story about the time he choked on a pretzel, nearly lost consciousness (how would one know the difference?), and scraped up his left cheekbone.

I smugly asserted that is was more likely George Sr., or junior’s wife, Laura, had punched him for being a pompous prick.

The next night someone I cannot and will not identify as George Cheney, snuck into the basement guestroom in which I was staying, dipped my fingers in warm water while I slept, and waited in the shadows as I staggered to the bathroom. When I returned the bedroom was darker, and colder, than it had ever been before. Perhaps it wasn’t Cheney, and I can’t say it was Rumsfeld, or Ashcroft, and I doubt Tom DeLay would stoop so low, but someone from the opposing team sucker punched me twice, in the leg, just above the knee. I went down, hit my face on the bedpost, stitches, so on and so forth, you know the rest. The weird thing is, and I don’t know if this happened before or after I suffered the mild concussion of face smashing against metal but someone hissed in the darkness–“We’re listening, don’t diss the chief.” And that’s the whole truth.

So, I feel a little better, unless I’m lying, in which case the truth is still out there, somewhere, waiting for me to come get it.
- jimlouis 6-18-2003 1:19 am [link] [2 comments]

Early Burial
Three a.m. seems to be the magic hour these days; it’s when I wake up and need to pee or just wake up to realize I’m awake, dogs are barking, or not, or hey I still have that crick in my neck from days ago at 3 a.m. when I crashed into a bedpost. I’m even in a different time zone from when that happened and it’s still 3 a.m. when I wake up.

This morning the chained up neighbor’s dogs are barking in that way they do when the free and feral canines are about. I heard a free one clamber up and off my porch like they like to do. I don’t want to get up though. I don’t want to throw my misguided superiority around. I don’t want to get the BB gun.

I’m patient but not without limits. I get up and get the BB gun, go out the side door (because in New Orleans going out your front door with something that vaguely looks like a real gun can become what would later be called bad judgement), and I hunker down looking for targets. I see a couple of dark shadows and shoot wildly, at least hitting my neighbors chain-link fence across the way. I shoot some more, scare dogs away.

This morning, at sunrise, I’m up for good (or worse) and see another dead cat over near where I was shooting at the dogs. Some blood and abrasions around the neck but not as savage as I’ve seen it before. With the vacant lot all graded and smooth there’s really nowhere to just toss a carcass, as has been my custom with all the other dead cats. I know the longer I wait the stiffer and more unpleasant the former cat’s shell will be to maneuver but I wait just the same. About 7:30, before going out for breakfast, I get a shovel, dig a shallow trench next to the former feline, and push the stiff black and white shape into it. The tail doesn’t want to fit so I dig a little under it and cover it up separately.
- jimlouis 6-14-2003 3:32 pm [link] [add a comment]

Another Cat Came By
The theme park, Sahara on Rocheblave, is coming along nicely and is already a big hit with neighborhood cats, who are back on the prowl now that the latest pack of dogs has either moved on or been captured. I speak of the vacant Pentecostal lot next door to me, with its hauled-in sandy coating, through which the broken oyster shells (part of the land-fill mix of long ago) have risen and now dot the site with their whiteness. And giant weed clusters have emerged and tower several feet above every other thing. And some little webbing of scattered Bermuda grass seed has sprouted and really for the most part the site looks pretty much post-apocalyptic.

Ok, for real, tomorrow, Thursday, I’m getting the stitches out of my face. The story of how it happened never got any better and even in its most shortened version I could never get the last word out before the eyes of my audience would glaze over.

Yesterday two hours before dusk I’m looking outside and notice an unfamiliar cat digging in the sand next door. I’m not talking about a little scratch n’ squat plot but a real all the way to China kind of deal, and I’m thinking boy oh boy this cat must really eat well. But he gets spooked by something and runs across the street, leaving a hole in the sand as big as his head. Today it rained hard and the hole filled up with water and a migrating bird shat a seed that sprouted a little palm tree. Within minutes a whole family of chameleon lizards were lounging on miniature beach chairs and were being served silly coconut shell drinks by those giant flying cockroaches who were literally hovering over the scene.

It wasn’t long, just before dusk I think, when foreign speaking tourists arrived. Who did battle with the locals, and lost. A contingent of hippies saw opportunity and moved in. They faired somewhat better but ultimately lost faith in the Pentecostal vision of Sahara on Rocheblave. They too moved on.

I hope those fighter jets shrieking overhead are part of a practicing air show. There should be an air show in town, right?

The sun came out, the hole dried up, the palm sprout blew away, and with it all residential interest. One day another cat came by...
- jimlouis 6-12-2003 1:24 am [link] [20 comments]

Cross Dressing
People are afraid to talk about the weather because they think it makes them seem like uninspired dullards. It stands to reason then, if you are an uninspired dullard, you have nothing to fear regarding weather related conversation. Boy, is it hot.

On the Banks Street neutral ground, at Dorgenois, and at Rocheblave, there are planted simple wooden crosses, to signify I can only guess, death.

On the southwest corner of Canal and Rocheblave is a boarded up government building. Waiting at the S. Rocheblave stop sign I was letting traffic pass before crossing the six divided lanes. The lanes are divided by a neutral ground and streetcar tracks which duly separate North and South Rocheblave, even though the street pretty much runs east/west. To the right, up on a grassy knoll, were two beefy men in t-shirts I immediately made as cops. There was another male best described as pedestrian. There was a dog. And there was a blond woman dressed in a red and blue Michelin suit. I mean some sort of puffy suit that made her look like the Michelin man.

The Michelin man is an icon for a tire company.

The woman in the suit climbed to the top of the knoll and then the pedestrian man let loose the dog, a german shepherd. The dog raced up the hill and when he was close he leapt at the woman and knocked her on her ass, and began chewing voraciously on her Michelin flesh, which was really protective fabric. The three men then raced up and tried to stop the dog but the dog was intent on hurting the Michelin man who was really a woman.

I had to cross and they were still working on fido but they should really sell tickets if they are going to perform stunts like that in this neighborhood. I would buy one and I bet a bunch of other people would too. They could raise money for a good cause.
- jimlouis 6-11-2003 1:01 am [link] [add a comment]

Morning Notes
I was looking down on an amateur in a Red Ferrari in the center lane, in New York City, as we went nowhere in a cab in the Village, late on a beautiful summer night, maybe school’s out fever, the streets were raucous, people checking in from all the boroughs, and it wasn’t raining.

Today someone commented you don’t look like you rested much on your vacation. I had too much to do, things to bump into, ideas to formulate, super heroes to entertain. I can rest later. Like today at work when the boss isn’t looking.

But really my boss has been very good to me over the years, and lately has been taking it very easy; all the other trades look at us suspiciously when we pack it in at 1:30.

I found a couple of fist-sized bruises on the inside of my leg, just above the knee, further testament to the possible rewards of being a klutz. I can get the stitches out of my face today, or Thursday.

Last night I flirted with a woman, and she with me, at the Canal and Carrollton grocery store buffet at which I often eat. It started when she pleaded for me to give up the last of the cabbage, let her have it, of course, why wouldn’t I let her have it. At the checkout she tried to buy my dinner but I stuck to the autonomy of my current formulation. It seems clear though, that there is the beginning of a shift in that alignment.
- jimlouis 6-10-2003 10:08 am [link] [add a comment]

Fall Down, Go Boom
Ok, let's see how this goes. It now seems pretty definite that two months from now I'm starting a new life on the East Coast, basing out of a guest house on a country estate situated just above the town of Washington, Virginia, an hour west of DC. This area, while not a ghetto, will I hope offer enough stimulation to make the move seem worthwhile. And that's that.

Ok, this next thing. Last night, in a basement guestroom in a DC suburb, I fell down went boom. I wish I could embellish the truth but lies require so much maintenance and I don't have the energy for all that. Three a.m., coming back from a whiz, I leaned forward and reached out for the foot of the bed, but my hand, instead of gaining firm purchase gained nothing at all, I was farther away than I thought, and my face crashed into the square, tubular steel edge of the bed's footboard. The room was pitch black but I saw the white light of concussion, and was soon tasting liquid copper in my mouth. Blood. In the end there really wasn't so much of it but I was scared and panicky and only wanted to not bleed on new carpet, sheets, pillows, etc., so I went back to the bathroom in blackness, wet a towel, and got back in bed to staunch the flow. I thought I had rearranged my nose in spectacular fashion and the first few moments of intense pain I wasted in the world of vanity. Of all my parts that need swelling my nose is not one of them. After about an hour the pain subsided and I got up the courage to go back to the bathroom and light it up. Oh, not so bad, maybe just split the edge of the nostril where it meets the upper lip and there was also a moderately obvious but not so severe gash running along below the cheekbone at what would be the smile line if I had been smiling, which I wasn't. The gash seem a little deep at the bottom end but not that severe. I did a little Martha Stewarting to the beach towel, wow cold water really does wash out blood, and exchanged it for a handier wash cloth. I went back to bed. Between five and six I think I actually slept and about seven I was up telling my friend about the boo boo, got any anti-bacterial goo? His wife wanted me to go to an area walk-in clinic but I wasn't all that hip to that idea and when she said at least a butterfly bandage (the gash is opening every time you talk, she said) I thought that sounded like a good idea. She later finessed me to accepting the clinic idea, and my friend dropped me on his way to dropping one of his kids at school. I could tell with the first needle injected into the wound that the doctor was pretty good so I layed back and enjoyed the ride. Twenty-five stitches later he said well that's about it and for good measure started swabbing the blood boogers from my nostril. When he said oh there's a cut in here too I acted all surprised even though I kind of knew there was. He started injecting that wound with anesthesia and then started sewing a little too soon but I didn't want him to slow down so when he saw me wince and asked was everything Ok I asked him how many more would it be and he said four or five so I said just go ahead. The rest didn't hurt as much as the first. Thirty total. You can cover the whole wound, except for the nostril part, with one standard band-aid, if you don't mind the adhesive part covering half the wound, which obviously the nurse didn't, because that's what she used.

Sometime tomorrow, 6/4, me and my stitches will take the train up to NY to see friends there. I'll mostly keep a band-aid on it but the doc wants me to air it out as much as possible so for those of you who have to look at it, sorry.
- jimlouis 6-04-2003 1:38 am [link] [5 comments]

Shorty And Esnard
I forgot this until now. A billboard in Vidor, Texas that I saw last week driving from Austin to my home in New Orleans. It said: “Terrorists, don’t mess with Texas, remember the Alamo.” What’s my point you may ask? I swear I don’t have one, but, the Alamo is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Vidor. If terrorists knew what the lesser of Vidor’s citizens were capable of the message could be shortened to: Don’t mess with Vidorians.

The trio of wild dogs that had inhabited this neighborhood for a few weeks were not around when I got back from my trip. The second night back I was on the side landing digging a rare summer phenomenon of cool, dry air and Shorty was in her spot. That same spot from which she was photographed (above left.) She looks so frail, but I’m not feeding her. I don’t want to be her pusher. If she would let me coax her inside I would let her have a go at that mouse which sneaked in recently. I might add that the mouse would have never had a chance if the wild dogs hadn’t temporarily scared all the cats away.

I saw Kitten the other day. She is still cute, but looks to have lost some of that weight of affluence. I don’t know what has happened to BigHead.

Still a fair amount of killing going on in New Orleans. Judge Elloie is being criticized again for his lenient bonding policies for violent criminals. I don’t know all the details but I think it may be time for Elloie to retire. His name is synonymous with bad judgement. Two of his suspected murderers out on lenient bonds were involved this past week in an inner-city joust/shootout–two moving cars approaching each other on Washington Ave. in Central City began shooting at each other and succeeding in wounding two pedestrians and killing another. The dead girl had recently attended her junior prom.

Yesterday I was out on the side landing, daydreaming at dusk, and out from under the house bolted this black shadow of stealth and speed, which then attached itself to the trunk of an Elderberry tree growing alongside the house. Shorty. With a Chameleon in her mouth. That could be nutritious I opined. But she’s not as hungry as she looks because she did that cat thing, dropping and pouncing on the terrified lizard repeatedly, until I grew bored and went inside.

I passed by Dumaine a minute ago. Nobody around. Except for the card players set up in front of the decrepit burned out shell that was once, before the Civil War, known as Esnard Villa.
- jimlouis 5-30-2003 11:01 pm [link] [add a comment]

Slim's Opportunities
Last day of a week of work as the high end housepainter of English Turn. Then dammit I have to take another week of vacation to DC and NY. I am going through a stage where I will be pretending to have endless options. Someone is offering the possibility to work for a few months in a somewhat high end country setting near the Appalachian trail in Washington, VA. So it would be email from WAVA for awhile. I already passed up an opportunity to work on the coast of France this year. I don't think I can afford to pass up many more juicy opportunities. There is some limit to their availability, the opportunities. I would have to take care of some stuff on the Rocheblave house I have been putting off for over a year so it will be interesting to see what happens to Slim. Can he get off his lazy ass? Don't be afraid, Slim, ride that wave. Opportunities ARE endless for those who aren't afraid to choose.
- jimlouis 5-30-2003 10:13 am [link] [add a comment]

Caution And Sports
I was two over, in the 6th Ward, a few days ago, and I was talking to a young man I have known for some years. He said he was hanging around looking for the person who stole his bag. “It had a .38 in it,” he said.

This young man was not of the criminal element, is positioned in such a way that he will likely rise far above his rather difficult environment, and had purchased the gun because things were “getting kind of crazy” in the town in which he spends part of his time. I took an invisible big deep breath and wondered, with no visible expression, just how much crazier could things be than they are in this neighborhood he grew up in?

“I got the papers for it,” he said.

“Really?” I said.

“Yes,” he said.

“I know you don’t want to do this anymore than I would want to but you really have the call the cops about this.”

“I know, but...”

“Yeah well, maybe you wouldn’t want to have them show up right here on this street but you could go down to the station or...”

“I have some friends on the force I could call,” he said.

“Please call them...you know...if it gets used in a crime and traced back to you...you don’t need that...there’s nothing good about that.”

“I’ll call,” he said.

We then talked about sports for awhile. He likes Carmello Anthony over Lebron James. I tend to agree
- jimlouis 5-29-2003 12:34 am [link] [8 comments]

Kids, Babes, Trucks, Pizza
I seem to have a slight kink in my back from slinging my two-year-old nephew around like a sack of potatoes. Lucky for me a friend offered a possible solution in the form of a short-acting, alpha2-adrenergic receptor agonist.

I've been remiss in the visiting of my Austin brother, wife, and four kids. The kids age three months to seven years and are a lot of fun and more polite and reasonably well-behaved than I would have expected, being as how I tend to start off thinking about most things from a "expect the worst" perspective.

I was out with sister-in-law shopping at one of those popular chain stores with obnoxious theme songs and she let me buy each of the kids a piece of clothing (since I've been kind of a slouch buying them anything in the past.) I got the five-year-old girl this cute little dress and she tried it on immediately after we got home. When her mother asked her how she liked it she said, with no irony whatsoever, "oh, I love it, I can't take my eyes off of it." This despite the fact that she was concentrating on her Play-Do factory and/or giant "make me up" Barbee head at the time (the giant Barbee head is testament to how great a father my brother is as he has nurtured a life long fear of certain realistic dolls, mannequins, ventriloquist dummies, etc.)

So, not only did I survive two days at my brother's small house inhabited by four small children, but I relished it.

Back at Jose's last night I had pretty much not done anything towards my effort to have Jose help me find a new used truck so I was telling my friend R. Blond Bomber, who was returning my call, that I would probably have to at least put new tires on my beat little Toyota before driving it back to New Orleans. When I got off the phone Jose said let's go look at a truck, and let me tell you, you have never seen a master at work until you have seen Jose practice the art of the deal. This evening we are meeting the guy and buying a really clean, slightly dented 94 Mazda B4000 extended cab pickup with 66k miles and only one owner, for $2,400.

The Mexican food here in Austin, Tx., predictably, is great, certain aspects of the local scenery, even better, and tonite I get to eat at a pizza place I often long for, Conan's, at 29th and Guadalupe.

I should come here more often.
- jimlouis 5-22-2003 1:37 pm [link] [7 comments]

Disrepaired States
Yesterday with friends I went out to check on my Austin area real estate holding which I haven't checked on for several years and it was still there, the raw isolated land with shack, except shack was no more, having imploded into a pile of wood and nails and tarpaper.

It looks as if someone maybe needed my rafters and after they came and took them the house just collapsed in on itself. I had occasionally over the years worried about squatters, even though the shack was moving towards a state of irreparable disrepair for years and was almost unliveable, and had seen myself cleaning up the property by burning down the shack on a rainy day. So to see the shack no more was not as much of a letdown as you might expect. I still have all that remaining wood to clean up even though it looks like the ever-growing forest, and time, were well on their way to cleaning it up in that slow way that archaelogists notice when they are out noticing things.

Once, after I had been gone for a few years, a welcome squatter, a beautiful, troubled spirit, with more talents than she could properly manage, died of a heroin overdose in that shack, and I hope at least to someday honor her last living moments and the woods that surrounded her by cleansing the area, and erecting a small memorial. Margo, please RIP.
- jimlouis 5-19-2003 3:52 pm [link] [add a comment]

Good Gide
In Austin, free from my usual New Orleans dinosauric internet connection speed, am humming along on Jose's DSL, getting to know better the site from which I base, hello everybody, and so far checking out all of the links suggested by jimslog have stuck longest at Russ Kick's Memory Hole and from there like this best: "Listen to those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who have found it."
> Andre Gide
- jimlouis 5-18-2003 4:08 pm [link] [2 comments]

Cheap Talk
I’m pretty well packed I think, have left various written messages and beer money for my house-sitter, have changed the batteries in the smoke alarms, have screwed the windows and back door shut, have set bear traps around the house, have put some fluids in the car and emptied piles of trash and roaches out of it, am trying my best not to think about the viability of my tires and the fact that 500 miles is a long trip in a car that won’t go faster than 60 mph, am not worrying about the lack of air-conditioning headed for a city that hit 96 degrees yesterday, don’t even want to think about the number of redneck communities my long-haired self will be driving through in a car with a right tail light that won’t stay lit, with a left head light that points upward, and which hasn’t seen a valid inspection sticker for two years. The failing brakes are something that concerns me least of all having years ago zig-zagged cross country almost six thousand miles in a car with only the emergency brake.

I am drinking Guinness Stout in preparation because I am traveling to the city where a Rastafarian learned me about Guinness Stout as a nutritional supplement. I won’t drive drunk, so, I won’t be leaving soon.

I can’t remember when last I was in Austin but it’s been awhile. I’m going to tell you this in advance: the Mexican food will be simply delicious, the people there will try to intoxicate me, the memories may overwhelm me.

Well, in New Orleans (pop. 477,000) yesterday, there were three murders. Our police chief, whom I support, and others of his ilk have addressed this problem by suggesting that we, as members of a caring community, must get more involved and report crimes as we see them happen. There is talk of witness protection-type programs to protect those who show the courage to stand up against violent criminals. Alas, talk is cheap, and the day to day reality is harsh. For example, two of yesterday’s killings are described in today’s Times Picayune: “Shortly after she testified Thursday before a grand jury as an eyewitness to her younger brother’s killing in March, a New Orleans woman and her longtime companion were gunned down outside their home in the 2800 block of Pauger Street.”

Pauger Street, that’s the 7th Ward, not far from the Fairgrounds, and the killings occurred at 12 noon as the couple returned from the courthouse. The gunman stood in front of their car and shot through the windshield, then walked around and shot repeatedly at the couple before fleeing in a waiting getaway car. The dead boyfriend was an activist. These type of killings are hard to forget and perhaps are explanation as to why the final four words of most murder reports in the paper are–no motives, no suspects.

Well, so, there’s never a lack of perspective here.
- jimlouis 5-17-2003 12:15 am [link] [4 comments]

Vertical Halo
When I stopped shooting at that trio of dogs–the two German Shepard siblings are just big puppies really–the neighborhood became devoid of cats.

The chained up dogs of my neighbors don’t even bark anymore when the trio, the black and brown Shepards and the long red haired mutt, show up periodically throughout the evening to forage for things they missed on the previous one hundred visits. I heard a cat yowling the other night but that’s as close as I’ve come to seeing a cat in this neighborhood for three weeks. The cats are alive, I believe, most of them anyway, and not being seen during difficult times is how they survive difficult times.

The Pentecostals recently hauled in some river sand to finish out the leveling of the vacant lot next door. Then it was windy without rain for many days and the sand blew into drifts up along the fence of the auto title establishment. Its like Padre Island, or Cap Ferret (if you’re the type to suffer regrets), without the water. Or sure, like the Sahara, or the Mojave, or like those dunes inside the missle testing grounds of White Sands, NM., where I trespassed in sleep one night of my youth. Except, come to think of it, not exactly like that because this sand next door is kind of yellow, or beige, and that sand in NM is, that’s right, you guessed it–white.

I’m watching the Spurs/Laker game. Yesterday I was on Dumaine talking to a former Los Angelian who doesn’t care for the Lakers, except Kobe, and she said Shaq looks too much like Baby Huey. He looks just like him, she said. For the life of me I can’t quite conjure up who is Baby Huey. And yesterday when I had the chance to get the answer to that I did not seek the answer.

That trio of dogs will lounge on the waterless beach next door. It was them in that state of repose that caused me to quit shooting at them. They looked so harmless, and why shouldn’t they get to claim that lot for themselves?

The chained up watchdogs are barking so I get up to see what, what, what, maybe it’s the free and feral trio, but no, it’s just some boys trying to ride their bikes through the sand. It’s very hard to ride a bike through deep, soft sand, so the boys get off and push their bikes.

Last night the trio had to dodge small flying boulders as some crack headed cat lovers across the street threw bricks in their direction as hard as they could (um, okay fellas, those bricks are coming real close to my car, uh fellas?)

Sometimes at work, if I’m alone, I will do a kind of spastic ballet to stretch my muscles. I am not all that limber. Last week I’m doing this move, like a very untalented ballerina on the exercise bar, stretching my torso sideways, with my arm curling over my head as a vertical halo and the same side leg off the ground attempting to stretch beyond it’s limit. I can tell, even without a mirror, that this is not a pretty picture. Then I remember where I am, turn around, and see out the open window two burly construction guys sitting in their car outside, parked head on to my window like I’m the drive in movie. One of them is reading a newspaper, but the other one isn’t.
- jimlouis 5-16-2003 12:29 am [link] [5 comments]

NO Road Block
I came to a road block this morning, midway up the on- ramp for the Earhart Expressway, near Clearview. Regrettably, it appeared as if it was time to pay the vig on my relatively good borrowed luck, driving around with a 10 day temporary break tag (inspection sticker) that’s almost two years old. And just a week away from driving the car to Austin, where it will probably stay if I can find something better. I had my seatbelt on, which looks good at a roadblock, and I was getting my papers and license together as the two cars in front of me were being motioned off to the side of the road. Their papers obviously were not in order. There’s three cop cars on one side of the ramp and two on the other. I idled forward a little just as the cops are turning away from me, acting as if I did not exist. There was the glimmer of good fortune in this, and even when the cops did appear to be looking right at me, still they did not like me for anything, and so clearly I am one of the freebirds of today’s random process. I kept moving on up that ramp and onto the Expressway, driving the exact 50 mph speed limit, a mature, perhaps even borderline senior citizen with my papers still in hand.

I say senior citizen because getting up early on a Saturday to shop at the Walmart Supercenter in Harahan strikes me as, well, elderly behavior. But the AC on the car is busted and if I wait too late in the day the driving conditions and heat can contribute to a road rage-like mentality that results in nothing less than boorish behavior–the least of which would be my fervent wishing of bad things on perfectly, or not so perfectly, innocent people.

But yeah, I’m a Walmart shopper. Where else can you go and get a tube of toothpaste, a battery operated box of Glucosamine Chondroitin, and a USB cable any time of the day or night, all at a low, low price?

Later, my neighbor comes knocking. Behind him I can see a long black Mercedes Sedan blocking my driveway. I’m ignoring whatever it is he is saying while squinting at the tinted windows, hoping to catch movement inside. “Who the hell that belong too?” I insisted he tell me. “Oh that’s me, that’s what I’m saying, my boss left it and I was wondering if you could follow me up the Bayou a bit and then bring me home?” I have to tell this neighbor exactly what I’m thinking which is–“That sucks.” I do it anyway though.

Right before we get back here he’s telling me about this renovation outfit he used to be part of and this job they did at St. Philip and Dorgenois. I know exactly what he’s talking about and I ease him around a little before telling him just what I think. “Well what the hell happened with that?” It was a defunct turn of the century police station located on one of the deadliest corners in the 6th Ward. The idea was to turn it into a youth center with a neighborhood cop shop inside. It was a good location for such a place and was a beautiful red brick building with limestone trim before they ruined it by painting it a color like coffee with two creams. They got city backing and money and still f***ed it up. First long delays–which at the time I had read in the paper were due simply to the fact that the firm doing the renovation did not realize how difficult it would be. Then when they finally finished it, there was no management plan in effect and so whatever the hell goes on inside that building now is having little positive impact on that corner. And no cops moved inside. “Yeah man, that’s my old neighborhood and I had high hopes for that deal but that was a total bust. No impact whatsoever on that neighborhood. In fact, two weeks before the John Mac school shooting a few blocks up the street, a 16-year-old kid shot a cab driver right in front of that building. And ya’ll stole the job away from a woman with better vision, but unfortunately fewer contacts at City Hall.” This guy has heard me vent before and I doubt he took it personally but between this guy’s bungling of the community center and the Pentecostals scorched earth method of neighborhood improvement (the torn down dancehall was once briefly slated to be an Aids Hospice), I am fit to be tied. I should talk though, master renovator/bater/slacker that I am. Lucky for him we were in my driveway now so I just went inside and waited for my nephew and his wife to arrive.

Anyway, lucking through that road block this morning was a sweet way to begin the day, and starting next weekend I’m driving to Austin for a week, so I got that going for me. There’s a corner near the University in Austin where 25 years ago, in love, I etched one of my nicknames, and that of my girlfriend, in wet cement. I might see how that’s holding up, and maybe have one of those burgers with alfalfa sprouts and avocado, next door.
- jimlouis 5-10-2003 10:08 pm [link] [6 comments]

Garlic And Hustlers
That hustler at the corner of Rocheblave and Bienville is trying to eye-f*** me as I wait to make the left turn on my way to Dejeans for crawfish Yeah well, eye-f*** you too, lover. Ya'll thinking this quiet little war torn block is going embrace you is wrong, wrong, and dumb.

Crawfish are boiled in big pots to which are added about 2 cups of cayenne pepper, a bunch of lemons cut in halves or quarters, some crab boil mix, salt, bunches and bunches of unshucked, unpeeled garlic, small red potatoes, corn on the cob, and turkey necks. There are lots of other things you can add.

At Dejeans, like most take out seafood outlets here, the side items are separated and priced accordingly. The red potatoes are a dollar a pound. The corn is such and such a price and being new to Dejeans this year I today for the first time realized they sell the garlic separately too. The sign said 3 for a dollar or one for fifty cents. I'm thinking that's a little pricey, 3 cloves for a dollar, but I gotta have some so I order the three. The thing is when I get home with my five pounds of crawfish, my one pound of potatoes and my three garlics I realize three did not mean cloves, but bunches. That's like 30 or 40 thoroughly cooked cloves for a dollar. I ate three or four large cloves along with the juicey crawfish, and several potatoes. You can always tell the next day when a guy has been to a crawfish boil and overdone it with the garlic. That'll be me tomorrow, sweating it out, stinking it up. Hey, why're ya'll sitting over there? Let's be friends. I could have easily eaten twenty of those cloves, but I didnt want to go completely toxic. I'm tempted to go outside and laugh at mosquitoes.
- jimlouis 5-07-2003 1:05 am [link] [1 comment]

Golfing Buzzards
Not a lot of the big name golfers come to New Orleans for the HP Classic, formerly known as the Compaq Classic, which was formerly the Entergy Classic, or something. It's out at English Turn, a gated community w/ golf course east of Algiers, in Orleans Parish. I've started a job out there painting a newly constructed home in the Parks section. I don't know how they run off the buzzards for the big golf classic but they do, I feel sure of it. There are perhaps a hundred, or probably more, large buzzards that sun themselves on the roofs of half million and million dollar homes along a very particular stretch of English Turn Blvd., and just inside the Parks. I forget, if buzzards regurgitate or defecate their waste matter, but whichever it is, they leave long white streaks of it on the roofs of a handful of select two-story homes. I did not however see a single buzzard this morning. They are not always there in the Turn but I'm sure it's not a coincidence that has them missing for the golf classic. It is a little bit obscene the money surrounding large professional sporting events. I'm not sure why the big time golfers eschew the New Orleans classic except maybe most of them want to be in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area for the Byron Nelson Classic, which is like the week after, I think. And I don't know, maybe the prize money is lacking in New Orleans. This year's winner only walked away with 900,000 dollars. I am not so much a buzzard lover, and as a homeowner myself, I feel for those afflicted English Turners with multiple carrion eaters on their roofs. But also, it is with a sense of wonderment that I see this phenomenon from time to time, and invariably, it seems to make me smile just a little.
- jimlouis 5-05-2003 8:16 pm [link] [add a comment]