Memorial Day

I’m at work today. It is not a holiday here at the university. I’ve been told that it’s a Southern thing, or rather that Memorial Day is a “Yankee holiday,” since it was originally intended to honor soldiers who had died in the Civil War. Apparently Louisiana still observes Decoration Day on June 3rd. All Saint’s Day is also a big day to visit cemeteries around here.

I have a hard time believing that this historically black university is nursing a grudge against the North. But it may be a custom here in New Orleans to have people work on Memorial Day in order to make up for Mardi Gras.

Of course for many Americans, Memorial Day is nothing more than a three-day weekend.

On a completely unrelated note, I installed a Kenmore 10,000 BTU air conditioner at home last night. It works like a dream.


Someone hit the Jeff Davis statue again last night.

Pepto Davis

The last graffiti was cleaned up in a day or two. This morning, the red spray-painted “slave owner” tag was there again, in exactly the same place, plus a generous splash of Pepto-Bismol pink. By the time I came back with a camera, the “slave owner” label had been erased. The pink paint will be tough to remove.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this is the weekend of a big celebration all up and down Canal Street, marking the return of the streetcar.

Update — later the same day: They’ve already got the pink paint off.


My office window lets me gaze upon such marvels as the Big Lots store across the street and the traffic jams on I-10. The view has never been particularly beautiful, and now it’s getting less so. Someone’s putting up a massive billboard next to the interstate.


I think I read about this in the paper last week. I recall a story about a zoning exception being granted for a billboard that didn’t conform to regulations regarding height or proximity or something. I think it was this monster, but I’m not for sure.

My boss said he thought billboards were a thing of the past.

What Will It Be?

I wonder what edifying message will be placed upon this framework? Perhaps it will be an advertisement for daquiris, or a casino, or a car dealership. The possibilities are limitless.


My wrist was hurting this morning, and I was having a sneezing fit, so I took a hydrocodone tablet which was left over from my wisdom tooth debacle back in January.

OK, I’ll admit it: I took the tablet as much for recreational purposes as for these aches and pains.

I rode to work feeling fine, and at the office I felt better than fine — for a while. I tied up a lot of loose ends in the first hour.

Then the nausea began. I ate a sandwich around 9:30, and an apple at 10 o’clock. That helped, but I still felt sick. If I hadn’t had that food I’m sure I would have barfed in my trash can.

After drinking too much, nausea seems to increase if you lie down and close your eyes. But the hydrocodone nausea isn’t like that. I felt worse when trying to read or just look at a computer screen. I felt better when I closed my eyes and lay down on the floor.

So I locked my door and lay on the floor for about an hour. Normally I would have been bored silly, but as it was, I was perfectly content, except for the nausea of course. I was just as happy lying there doing nothing as I was getting lots of stuff done. Another aspect of the opioid buzz.

I almost went home sick, but instead I toughed it out. I thought that would be the mature thing to do. Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds from a guy lying on the floor of his office zonked out on painkillers.

By noon I was mostly functional.

Note to self: Do not do this again. Unless you eat a really big breakfast.

The Only One

I just read a quote in the San Jose Mercury News from Ben Manski, co-chair of the Green Party US, regarding the Green Party convention in Milwaukee next month:

It will be the only convention this summer that actually means anything.

It’s true. After all, Kerry and Bush have their nominations sewed up. But the Green convention will be a real nail-biter. I’m excited to be going. And a little nervous.

The current delegate tally, updated today, is Camejo 103, Cobb 143, Glover 4, Mesplay 9.5, Nader 39.5, Salzman 28, Other 10, None of the Above 61.5, Uncommitted 82.5.

That might make it look like Cobb is winning. But Camejo and Salzman have both been running on “draft Nader” platforms. Add it up that way and Nader is winning. And there’s an awful lot of uncommitted delegates and NOTAs.

Me? I’m one of the ten listed as “Other.” I’m supporting Jonathan D. Farley.

Critical Bush

Critical Path

Today I rode in my first Critical Mass. We rode from New Orleans to suburban Metairie where George W. Bush was having a fundraiser.


The main chant was: “No more Bush! No more war!” One sign said, “No more presidents.”

Solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance

I agree with those sentiments, but I think a simpler anti-war message might have been more effective. Bush-bashing just comes off as partisan politics, and it alienates many people who have a strong negative reaction to any disrespect to our president.

Still, some show of resistance is better than nothing. I was proud to be a part of it.

I don’t know if the president was already there or not, but Josh and I left early. I wanted to get back to work. We rode back on the same route we came, but it was blocked off now in preparation for Bush’s motorcade. There were no cars to get in our way. It was kind of spooky. A motorcycle cop told us to ride faster and escorted us to the parish line.


A couple of weeks ago, PJ mentioned he’d recently tutored a mutual acquaintance of ours on some of the finer points of Web authoring.

“Yeah,” I said, “I’ve tutored him many times.”

“But I bet you’ve never gotten paid!”

And PJ pulled out his wallet. Sure enough, he had a personal check for $120. Then he explained his policy: He charges $40 an hour for consultations, with a three-hour minimum.

Two nights ago, I got a call from a woman named Tammy. She said she was a friend of my boss. She had some questions about a website for her company, and my boss had suggested that she call me. We arranged a time to get together.

It so happened that PJ was there, at my house, when I got this call. I hung up, and his reaction was immediate: “I’d charge $40 an hour with a three-hour minimum.”

So this morning I met with Tammy and spent a little less than one hour looking at her HTML and answering her questions. She was friendly and intelligent, and I enjoyed helping her. I felt like she really understood what I was saying and got a lot out of it.

But I didn’t charge her a penny. And what I’m wondering is: Am I a nice guy, or just a sucker?

Gay Marriage

Gay people are getting married in Massachusetts today, and this straight, married man couldn’t be happier. I love weddings. In fact, the stories in the news today brought a tear to my eye. I can’t help but feel overwhelmingly positive about this development. Maybe I’m just starved for good news. But this feels like a historic day. Fifty years from now, I bet we’ll all be looking back and remembering.

Of course, the people of Massachusetts might amend their constitution to make gay marriage illegal again. But I don’t think they will. It won’t be on the ballot until 2006 at the earliest. During that period gay couples will have an opportunity to demonstrate that their legal marriages are not destroying the fabric of society. I suspect now that they have their foot in the door, people will be reluctant to slam that door shut.

Two Bills

There are two bills under consideration by the Louisiana legislature which have caught my interest. House Bill 1626 “prohibits wearing pants below the waist.” For obvious reasons, this bill has attracted the attention of people all over the country, and they are laughing at us. I even heard a segment on NPR this morning, during their regular half-past-the-hour humorous news spot. There’s been a lot of writing about this bill, mostly heaping scorn upon it, which it certainly deserves. (For some reason about half the articles refer to it as House Bill 1640, which is incorrect.)

Here’s the text of the bill as it now stands:


To enact R.S. 14:106.3, relative to offenses affecting the general peace and order; to create the crime of wearing pants in public below the waist; to provide for penalties; and to provide for related matters.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of Louisiana:

Section 1. R.S. 14:106.3 is hereby enacted to read as follows:

§106.3. Illegally wearing pants below waist in public; penalty

A. It shall be unlawful for any person to appear in public wearing his pants below his waist and thereby exposing his skin or intimate clothing.

B. Whoever violates the provisions of this Section shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both.

Patently ridiculous. It would be funny, except we’ve got serious problems in Louisiana, and our legislators should be working on solutions, not providing comic relief for the rest of the county.

But not everyone is the legislature is goofing. There’s another bill, House Bill 1605, which is positive and encouraging. It eases the requirements for minor political parties to achieve state recognition. Parties would need only 1,000 registered voters to be recognized. Plus some paperwork would have to be filled out, and there’s a $1,000 fee. Recognition means that the party’s name would actually appear on voter registration forms and on ballots.

Of course, this much worthier bill isn’t getting nearly as much attention as the “saggy pants” bill, although the Times-Picayune did write a good article about it.

Four More Years

Six months or so until our big presidential election. I’m going to be bold and predict Bush as the winner. This way, no matter what actually happens, I come out ahead. If Bush wins, I can say “told you so, knew it all along, saw it coming half a year ago.” And of course, if he loses, I can just be happy that he’s gone.


Today, just after noon, a teenage boy was shot in the head just a block and a half from our house.


He’s dead now.

There have been so many shootings in the past 24 hours that this only merited 15 seconds on the nightly news. But since we live in the neighborhood, we know more than what was reported on TV.

For one thing, we know the killer, who is still at large. He is also a teenager. His name is L—. Once he helped Xy carry her bags. She says he’s very nice.

He is also a drug dealer, and that probably had something to do with whatever dispute led to the shooting.

The boy who got shot is called Pissy, but we didn’t know him.

The girls who live across the street were disturbed by all this and so they spent some time at our house today. Apparently the rumor was going around that Pissy was shot by a white man. I don’t know what to make of that.

It’s sad, but I’ve gotten so used to hearing and reading about murders in the city that this doesn’t surprise or disturb me very much at all.

Update — May 12th, 2004: L— turned himself in:

An 18-year-old New Orleans man wanted in the shooting death of a 15-year-old on Saturday a few blocks from Canal and North Broad streets turned himself in to authorities Tuesday, police said.

L— H—, 1219 France Road, was booked with second-degree murder in the death of Preston Turner, who was shot not far from his home, police said.

H— is accused of being one of two occupants in a car that drove up to Turner in the 300 block of North Gayoso Street shortly before 12:30 p.m.

At least one of the men fired from the car, striking Turner several times, police said.

Turner died at the scene, police said.

Update — July 9th, 2004: L— has been charged with first-degree murder:

L— H—, 18, was charged with the first-degree murder of Preston Turner, a 15-year-old who was gunned down May 8 in the 300 block of North Gayoso Street. Turner was shot and killed about 12:30 p.m., after telling his cousin he was going out to get something to eat.

First-degree murder carries either the death penalty or life in prison upon conviction.


I’ve been off caffeine for six days or so. I feel generally run-down and tired, but I’m not, really. I seem to have the same amount of energy; it’s just my mood that’s tired. I’m a little grumpy and gloomy and irritable. I miss the sense of sharpness, a sense of heightened mental acuity. Actually, I’m probably more mentally acute without the caffeine, but I feel dull and sluggish.

Caffeine Molecule

I must have a pretty fuckin’ easy life, that I can sit here and worry about how I miss my caffeine.

Best Time?

Once I asked my dad what his favorite month was.

He thought about it and said, “Probably June.”

I found that I agreed with him. June in Indiana is a beautiful time of year. Late spring, early summer. School’s out, vacation begins. Even if you’re not in school, it’s easy to get a nostalgic whiff of that summertime magic.

Now that I live 800 miles to the south, June comes a little earlier. May in Louisiana equals June in Indiana, more or less.

It’s still a pretty good candidate for the best time of year. After a rainy and suprisingly cold weekend, this week has been sunny and cloudless, cool in the mornings and evenings, getting a little warmer eash day.

Yesterday it was so beautiful that I actually took off for lunch (I usually just work right through) and rode my bike uptown, where I had the best oyster po-boy ever at Frankie and Johnnie’s, washed down with a beer, and picked up a book order from my favorite neighborhood bookstore. It was a very enjoyable ride.

This time of year is also nice if you work in the higher ed biz. Here at the university, faculty get more stressed and depressed as the semester goes on. Don’t ask “How are you doing?” late in the semester unless you want to hear a litany of grief. Then, in early May, finals are over, grades are turned in, and summer vacation has begun. Suddenly all the profs are walking around with smiles on their faces — if you see them at all.


Xy got a call last nite from “Crafting Coast to Coast,” which is a show for HGTV that is currently in production. Apparently they go around from city to city exploring people’s craft projects. They originally got turned on to Xy through Greg “Pretty Pony” Der Arnanian.

Funny thing is, this is the third time we’ve been contacted by them. Each time has been by different people, none of whom seem to know anything about the others. The first guy asked us to e-mail some pictures of Xy’s crafts. (We did so.) In March we got an e-mail from a woman asking us where our video was, and that the New Orleans deadline was fast approaching. We shot a video and posted it on the Web. Then last nite we got a call from another guy who doesn’t know anything about the video.

Got to wonder where it will all lead…


Here’s some things that happened over the last few days:

Got drenched to the skin on the way to work Friday morning. It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. They cancelled Jazz Fest for the first time in thirteen years! I brought a change of clothes with me but I was still somewhat uncomfortable, so I left work a little early and ate a lot of sushi.

Friday nite Xy and I went to see Ghost Mice (Chris and Heather from Bloomington) at the End of Banks warehouse. They were awesome. I can’t adequately describe how good they were. You must see them. I talked to Chris before the show and gave him a VHS copy of “Fat,” which uses “Paper Dolls” by his previous band, Operation: Cliff Clavin.

I finished reading Islands In The Net by Bruce Sterling. The first three-quarters of the book was pretty slow going, but I slogged through and was rewarded by an interesting conclusion. I think that’s odd, because most books work the other way round.

Xy and I went to see Mean Girls. It sucked. OK, maybe I shouldn’t say it sucked; maybe I should just say it was mediocre. I understand it was the number one box office smash this weekend. This is probably because there was no competition.

I videotaped PJ & Gina’s band, Rabbit Hatch, at Gina’s art opening at the Marguerite Oestreicher gallery. It’s a tiny, ancient two-story building on Julia Street that I last remember as an abandoned ruin. Nice to see it fixed up. Unfortunately I was hungry and the weather was ugly and consequently I was just in a bad mood and unable to fully enjoy the event.