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In Rappahannock
Several of us in town like that first table for two. This morning one of the waitresses was sitting there so I headed for the other “two,” over in the corner under the vent. It was cold. I turned around to orient myself to the crowd, it was just one other couple. The man nodded to me and I nodded back. It was Boss Hogg’s deputy, Cletus (actually it was roscoe p coltrane.) Later, the General Lee was seen circling the block. When I left it was out front, parked next to my truck. That’s a bitchin’ automobile, there is no denying it.
- jimlouis 8-11-2003 2:37 pm [link] [29 comments]

Brother, Can You Spare Five Dollars?
In my over zealous attempt to pay off the exorbitant fees owed the IRS I have over drafted my checking account for the first in twenty-five years. Coincidentally, the overdraft unbeknownst to me at the time, I made a substantial deposit the same day the bank was sending me the letter informing me of my carelessness, so I hope that substantiates the bank’s good judgement to pay the item instead of returning it.

I’m trying not to fall asleep because an old, um, hmm, uh, buddy, uh, from Dumaine, said he would come back with something that would make me glad I lent him six dollars. I showed him my overdraft notice but it didn’t really impress him. He was spinning all manner of tales to confuse the six dollars out of me and although at no time was I hopelessly confused, he did get his six dollars. There were these change cups with fifty or sixty dollars of coins right in front of the guy from Dumaine so the negative 644 dollars on the overdraft notice didn’t make him feel sorry for me in the least. He’s lost a lot of weight since I’ve seen him last and although I can’t be sure his story of kidney problems is not the reason for it I equally suspect crack cocaine abuse.

The neighbor lady across the street had come over to borrow five dollars just an hour before the guy came over to borrow six dollars. Or something like five dollars. I was working, putting up lattice underpinning around the vulnerable side of the house, and so hastily collected a handful of quarters that could have been five but might have been seven dollars.

I quit my job on Friday. That’s always fun.

I might go to Austin on Tuesday. From there I’ll go visit my mom in Dallas for a couple of days. Then I’ll come back to New Orleans so a few days later I can leave again, drive east, live in Virginia for awhile.

I saw BigHead today for the first time in ages. He looked good, clean, and free of bodily abrasions. He ignored my cooing solicitations and walked on by. It didn’t hurt my feelings. We were never exactly pals. It was good to see him though because I thought he was dead.

I’ve been watching tons of movies lately. The three best from last week, go figure how I went this long without seeing these, were: Bulworth, Pushing Tin, and holy cow what great fun–Trainspotting. I saw a pretty good Tracy/Hepburn flick on PBS this morning after Meet the Press. I can’t remember the title but the screenplay was tight. It was, you know, a love story. I took notes.

I don’t think that guy’s coming back. There are some who like me for just that reason, my gullibility.
- jimlouis 7-21-2003 2:07 am [link] [1 comment]

Two Lists, An Update
I waited as long as I could today before popping the top on my first Red Stripe. Twelve forty-six for the record. I went out to the front porch to watch the tow truck manage that car with no wheels onto its’ flatbed. It was anti-climatic, as most things are.

Things that haven’t been anti-climatic:
1. The Redwoods of Northern California.
2. Coney Island.

My desk is one of those six foot long cafeteria tables with the imitation wood-grain top. It is full of stuff: a cell phone, some cashews, a box of checks, some hand lotion, some baby powder, a couple of antique bottles, an Y Tu Mama Tambien DVD, three empty Red Stripes from yesterday and today’s one, half full. Okay make that four empty Red Stripes, a checkbook, a computer game called Alone in the Dark, floppy disks, chapstick, stamps, an extra mouse, an MP3 player, two sets of headphones, a letter opener, a PlayBortz, some packets of hot sauce from Taco Bell, a Steve Earle CD, a Lucinda Williams CD, and a pile of uncashed payroll checks which sit glaring at that last bill from the IRS, and a full Red Stripe.

This is my last week of work in New Orleans before I depart, probably via Austin and Dallas, for three months in the Virginia countryside. I’m out at English Turn doing call-back work on homes we’ve painted over the last several years. Most of these days won’t last until noon.

Kids steal cars and bring them out to the road that leads to the English Turn construction entrance and then they set them on fire. There’s still a crispy Volvo out there, been there for months, finally someone pushed it off into the weeds. Last week there was a Firebird up on the Intracoastal Canal Bridge, burnt as well as a car can be burnt.

There was a good bit of press over the beautiful teenage girl who last week got stabbed to death by two other teenage girls who thought maybe she too pretty, and popular. But there’s been six or eight murders here since that happened, one of them in the Iberville projects the guy ended up on his knees, shot to death, that’s how they found him, and onlookers speculated that maybe he was praying before he died.

Another murder yesterday (one of two in the city) on Banks Street, this time at Galvez, the Banks Street toll rises to several in a six block stretch for the year. One man emptied the 30 round clip of his AK-47, piercing the windows and doors of cars parked on the street as he chased down the victim, eventually putting at least one round in the young man’s head. A .45 handgun was found on the victim. The Banks Street area church people who planted crosses in the neutral ground, thereby claiming the turf between Broad and Dorgenois, and Dorgenois and Rocheblave, apparently succeeding in squeegeeing the crime to an area three blocks away. You can do that here, claim turf, and with some success I might add, but always, always, at the expense of some other adjoining, less civic-minded neighborhood. The other murder on Sunday was from a stab wound. The victim was a paraplegic as a result of previous gunshot wounds to his body.
- jimlouis 7-14-2003 10:27 pm [link] [2 comments]

Just Plain Wrong
I don’t always listen to Louise on the radio, 90.7, Wednesdays between two and four p.m. on WWOZ (.org), New Orleans, LA., but I do when I remember its Wednesday, which is a hard day to remember. For example I thought tomorrow was Friday, is what I told my nephew who called to offer free tickets to the Soul Rebels brass band at Dragons Den tonite, and borrow my truck for Friday to haul some stuff to the dump on Elysian Fields. “I’ll call you Friday,” he said. “Okay, that’s tomorrow then,” I said. He should have said, “no it’s not you stupid moron,” but instead he said, “today is Wednesday.” I might have responded, “who you callin’ a stupid moron, bastard?” But instead, over the din of WWOZ, hosted on Wednesdays by Louise, I said, “all right then, see you Friday.”

Some days here in New Orleans, Louisiana are more humid than others and this is one of those days, but I’m inside with conditioned air now, not outside on a construction site, so what do I care how humid it is, quit your whining all you sissies.

My nephew and his wife gave me a bed, which is a thing I haven’t had for several years, so I sleep in a bed now, which is a new thing for me. It’s not that much better than sleeping on a couch, or the floor, but it is some better. I don’t have it in the bedroom yet but I’m working on it.

I don’t know what I’m looking for inside these words, or inside the Red Stripe, but that doesn’t keep me from looking.

I’m not going to go on and on like Lenny Bruce obsessed with obscenity hearings but the IRS wiped me out this year, brutally. I thought it was over and then just a few days ago I got some more correspondence from them and they wanted more money. Bless their heart. I just wrote two more checks. I still owe them some more for this year so later they can get more penalty money if they want, all they have to do is ask. I’m a bitch for the IRS. Anyway, anyone says jimlouis doesn’t support his government is a goddamn liar. I support my governments. Monetarily, I live around the poverty line, but I own a couple of low rent properties too, and pay property taxes in three different states. I paid out over fifty percent of my total earnings in various taxes this year. But I’m not complaining. If you think I’m complaining, you’re just plain wrong. I’m not. I’m just saying.
- jimlouis 7-09-2003 8:59 pm [link] [3 comments]

A Thousand Singing Chi-Os
Shortly before midnight in Evangeline parish, Louisiana, I started dozing so I exited the interstate onto a farm to market road and drove about a mile until I came to a church parking lot. I backed up to a magnificent live oak tree, reclined my seat back, and tried to forget the last time, more than twenty years previous, when sleeping in a different truck in a San Jose, CA. church parking lot had led to my narrowly escaping a prison sentence in Huntsville, TX. I slept badly, with restless abandon, and when I did awake after two hours I was covered in a film of cold, thick, heavy sweat. And I was still way too tired. I drove back to the I-49, found a proper rest stop a few miles up the road and pulled in under the mercury vapor lamps across from the big boys with their diesel engines offering sweet lullaby. I slept until five a.m. when the muffled alarm on my cell phone packed away in my bag went off.

I put back on the too-small black dress shoes and although I did not fasten my too-small charcoal suit pants I made sure the sufficiently long tail of my white dress shirt covered the fact that my pants and belt were undone. I hobbled to the brick building which offered his/hers restrooms, did my thing, came back out and for five minutes tried to get a moist, flimsy dollar bill into the slot of the Coke machine. Patience was ultimately rewarded and after the fortieth attempt the machine took my money–and immediately spit back four quarters. The machine though would not accept it’s own quarters in payment so I took them to an adjacent machine and used them to buy a damn Coke. Squinting in the darkness I also hoped that E-9 was in fact E-9, which is was, glory be to God, the spiral mechanism released an Almond Joy candy bar.

I was checking out a false dawn to my left as I drove through Opelousas into Lafayette, where I would burn a doobie in anticipation of a spectacular sunrise, and could catch the I-10, elevated over swamp, into New Orleans.

At the wedding in Shreveport I was buzzing on only my second glass of wine so it was then I decided to go, before I found myself staggering to the dance floor and breaking through the interlocked arms of what seemed to be a thousand singing Chi-Omegas. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good Chi-Omega, am in fact myself a former neighbor and honorary member of the Chi-Omega sorority, but don’t get me started.

On the way out I tried one last time to get a lovely fifty-year-old Tri-Delt to show me the secret handshake but she was adamant–“No! In thirty years I haven’t even showed my husband that.” So that’s the way that goes. There are things some of us will never know.
- jimlouis 6-29-2003 10:41 pm [link] [1 comment]

Taxman
You can get gas at a number of different places in this New Orleans neighborhood but the closest to this house is the Chevron station at the corner of Canal and Broad.

I understand the rules of disengagement as they relate to panhandlers on the streets of New York–don’t make eye contact, don’t give away anything, don’t be friendly; kindness is weakness.

Things in the South are different though and it is just plain rude not to make eye contact, and it is my opinion that in some cases the making of eye contact can actually save your life or personal property–like in the sense that it shows that you are aware, not afraid, and not disrespectful. Of course, making eye contact does not infer any of those things but we can all hope for the best out on the streets with panhandlers and armed robbers.

I have a couple of overflowing change cups over on the windowsill to my left so if I’m going out to the corner for gas I will palm a few coins because I can see the future and the future calls for loose coin.

I’m getting out of the truck the other day to slide my plastic through the pay-at-the-pump slot and am forced to ignore the approaching taxman because there is a pile of not fresh vomit on the pavement between myself and the pump. “Ah, disgusting...”

“Excuse me...?”

I’m having to step over it now and my expression is one of total unhappiness. “Ah mane,” I grumbled.

“Excuse me,” the taxman said, “but could you help me out with a little change.”

“Maybe in a sec, brah, let me take care of my business,” I sneered.

“Why you lookin’ at me like that?” taxman said.

“Like what?” I said.

“Like all disgusted,” he said.

“I ain’t even lookin’ at you mane. I’m looking at this pile of almost dried up vomit on the ground here. Shit mane, it’s disgusting.”

“You want me to get somebody to clean it up?” taxman said.

“Nah, I couldn’t handle seeing it all smeared around,” I said.

“I hear ya,” he smiled.

I finished pumping gas, gave the taxman 78 cents, and started walking around the truck towards the little glass fronted booth where one can pay for gas if one hasn’t done it at the pump, or buy cigarettes, beer, candy, and other essentials by putting your money in a stainless steel drawer that gets pushed and pulled in and out of the building. Taxman was at my side.

“You my best friend now?” I asked him.

“No, uh uh, I’m just walkin’ with you,” he chuckled.

We were standing in front of the booth/mini-store, looking inside, and there was nobody there.

“Clarissa!” taxman yelled, “get out here, there somebody needin’ you!”

“Chill mane, let the woman do whatever she’s doing.”

“What are you lookin’ to get?” Taxman said.

“Man, you all up inside my business now ain’t you?” I smiled.

He smiled back. “Aw mane, you all right, I like you.”

“That’s good,” I said. “I’m not going to wait though, I’m going across the street.”

“Well all right then,” taxman said.

But the Rite-Aid is like the 7-11 and they don’t sell the item I was looking for. So, I went back to the Chevron. Clarissa was in her booth.

“So you come back,” taxman said.

“Yeah, Rite-Aid can’t help me,” I said. I got Clarissa’s attention. “I can get a pack of the orange ZZs?” Clarissa nodded and I put a small pile of cash in the drawer because those ZZs aren’t cheap. I waited for taxman to say something about my purchase but my wait was in vain. There was a good bit of change in the drawer though and the taxman’s eyes were glued to it, almost watering like he’s starving hungry and that change is really a bacon and egg sandwich.

“You lookin’ pretty hard at my money,” I said.

“He gonna get that money from you,” Clarissa said.

“Naw, I already took care of him. He’s not the greedy kind.”

Taxman smiled the smile of defeat.

“See ya around,” I said.

“See ya,” taxman said.
- jimlouis 6-25-2003 1:12 am [link] [6 comments]

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]