Work Stops

Siding Redux

As abruptly as it began, work on our house is stopping for a while. Mark and Tony, the carpenters, will be working on one of Mike’s houses tomorrow. Hopefully they will be back at our house in a week or two. In the meantime, the plumber might come by to do a little demolition.

Mark and Tony have accomplished quite a bit already. They have replaced practically all the wood on the “downtown” side of our basement. Not bad for seven days of work.

What Is Your FEMA Number?

Red Cross came through and gave me accounts
Now I’m at your town getting golds in my mouth

I got this New Orleans bounce track off a compilation CD which was given to Xy by one of her students. I can’t ID it, and of course that’s driving me crazy. Googling the lyrics gets me nothing but a bunch of MySpace kiddies quoting the refrain: “What Is Your FEMA Number?” Anybody know who dropped this?

9 3 1 0 5 with the dash
That’s my FEMA number so give me my cash
I’m headed to the mall to shop at all the stores
Don’t matter if I go broke, you better get yours

Update: I did a little more poking around on the web, and I’m pretty sure this is by 10th Ward Buck and Da Dream Team. Check out his website and buy his DVD about Katrina!

District B

NOCC District B

I live in New Orleans City Council District B, which includes part of Mid-City, the CBD, the Garden District and Irish Channel, Central City and Gert Town, most of Broadmoor and a little bit of Uptown. [PDF map] We have six candidates running for this council seat in the next election.

The League of Women Voters has profiles of all the candidates. Laureen posted interviews with Quentin Brown and Shane Landry.

Rev. Marshall Truehill is the only candidate I’ve actually met. He came to an MCNO meeting a few weeks ago, and made a good impression. As a friend of mine said:

I think Truehill is serious about getting City Council out of the planning process and that should be something all of us push for as one of the single best things that could happen for our future quality of life (along with fixing the schools). Truehill was on the City Planning Commission for a number of years and I think he saw the damage done by our current system.

That being said, I have at times disagreed with his support of certain projects. He seems a little too connected to the old-guard New Orleans way of doing things for my taste. Maybe it is just the post-K thing, but I’m ready for a complete changing of the guard.

Speaking of changing the guard, there’s also Renee Gill-Pratt, the incumbent, but I have to agree with Mr. Clio on this one: ABIEMO.

That leaves Duplantier and Head as the two candidates I really know nothing about. Duplantier is the only candidate who explicitly mentions the growth of the university where I work in his LWV profile. Gotta like that.

If I had to vote today, I’m not sure who I’d vote for. I need to learn more. Hopefully I will at the upcoming Candidate Forum.

Work Continues

Work Continues

The carpenters are going great guns on our house. The termite damage and the rot are more extensive than I realized, so they’re essentially replacing all the supporting wood on the lower level, from top plate to sill and everything in between. (They’ve kept the original sill in some place, actually.) This involves using a temporary wall to support the upper level of the house while they replace the wood. It’s frightening and impressive, and the house hasn’t collapsed yet, so that’s a good thing. They usually get to our house before 7am, and I might have a chance to talk with them a bit before I head off to work around 7:30. By the time I get home they’re gone, and I marvel at how much they get done in a day.

I’m compiling pictures of the process as it continues.

Down with the Virus

I was just feeling overwhelmed by how many, many New Orleans blogs have appeared since Katrina. Then I got bitten by this viral linking campaign from Link Think New Orleans. So I suppose I should say a thing or two about myself.

I started this blog a couple years ago, and then filled in some posts back to when I first moved to New Orleans, so it actually looks like I’ve been blogging since 1999, but I haven’t.

Yet, in another sense I have been blogging for even longer. I just didn’t know the word “blog” back then. I’ve always had an impulse to keep journals, and I’ve always had an exhibitionistic streak, and I’ve been a fan of the web ever since I first surfed it. Check out, for example, Stone Cold 97, a collaborative journal I kept with my dad.

Good lord, that was ten years ago.

Then there’s ROX which is kind of like a blog, except it’s a television show with mixed drinks. I’ve been producing it (with my friend and compatriot J) since 1992, and we just finished our 93rd episode.

Other things you should know about me: I have been married to Xy for a dozen years and we still don’t have any kids, which is kind of amazing. We have three cats. I live in Mid-City. Our house was flooded but it’s a raised basement style so we’ve been living there since November. I work at a university here in town. It’s historically black and also Catholic. If that doesn’t narrow it down, you must not be from around here. I gave up alcohol for Lent but I’m not actually religious.

But back to the explosion in the local blogsphere. How am I supposed to keep up? How can I read all these blogs? It’s impossible. I can’t do it. So you will have to do it for me. I’m linking to two New Orleans Bloggers and hoping they will do the same.

Let’s see:

And there are so many more, but I’m going to limit myself to two as suggested by Link Think New Orleans. Pass it on, y’all…

Yes, Virginia

Mayoral candidate Virginia Boulet spoke for about ten minutes at a neighborhood meeting I attended last week. I really liked what she had to say. She talked about issues and little else. She didn’t indulge in any of that self-aggrandizing prattle that politicians often use as a substitute for actual substance. She seemed intelligent and energetic. Her very first idea blew my mind: “We need universal healthcare in New Orleans. That’s how we’ll entice people back.” (Not an exact quote.) She suggested this could be paid for with a bond issue of some sort. She also spoke of holding Entergy accountable for their actions and diversifying the local economy. She talked about building the “knowledge economy” — music to my ears, since I’m a multimedia artist at a local university.

I need to learn more, but if the election were today, I’d vote for her.

Intruder Alert

When Xy came home from work yesterday, she saw a man on the street who gave her a “nasty look.” He was headed between our house and the next. Xy entered our front door; I was at the opposite end of our long hallway; she told me to look out back. I went out the back door onto our deck, looked down, and saw the guy standing immediately below in our neighbor’s yard.

I said: “Can I help you?”

He mumbled something, it might have been “no,” and walked back to the street rather quickly.

This all happened in less than a minute.

So what was he doing back there? It’s about 60 or 70 feet off the street, clearly private property, a rather tight space which leads nowhere. He had to open a gate to get back there. Since our neighbors were burglarized recently, we felt it likely that he was up to no good, looking for stuff to pilfer. It’s difficult to imagine any other explanation.

Five minutes later, we noticed he was still sitting with another man in a white car in front of our neighbor’s house. I grabbed a pad and pen, walked outside and stood behind the car, very obviously taking down their license plate number.

They drove away.

It was unsettling, but I’m not too worried. My theory is that since there are so many vacant houses in the vicinity, they won’t be back to bother with one that is clearly occupied.

Prison Beds and Reading Levels

The meme seems to go something like this: In our state, officials use third-grade reading levels to project the number of prison beds that will be needed in ten years. Do a Google search on prison-beds third-grade or prison-cells third-grade and you’ll get a couple hundred results.

Xy wanted me to find an authoritative reference for her principal, but my instinct tells me this is bogus. It is attributed to many different states: Louisiana, Indiana, Illinois, Arizona, California. There are variants: sometimes it’s fourth grade, sometimes it’s second grade.

But most of all, it’s just too pat. Who ever heard of such sophisticated planning? And it’s easy to see why people would repeat this. Like the (bogus) idea that Eskimos have 200 words for snow, it makes a good point. If we build better schools, we might build fewer prisons.

So I think it’s an urban legend, but I can only find one source that says so. Anybody know different?

Feeling Better

I was happy that work had begun on our house at long last. But I was also anxious and unsettled for the last couple days. Now I’m feeling better. Much better. Not sure exactly why, but I think it’s a combination of several things.

  1. I found the lost item I was looking for, a picture from my youth. The demolition crew didn’t junk it after all.
  2. They pulled all the lath down, so now the basement is really gutted, and you can really start to see the potential for a nice renovation.
  3. I finally decided to refurbish our existing windows rather than replace them. I believe they are the house’s original windows, so they’ve lasted maybe a hundred years. I would feel like an asshole getting rid of them.
  4. Mike finally gave me a written estimate. It’s very reasonable.
  5. Mark, the carpenter, is getting started today. He’ll be replacing the termite-eaten timbers around our basement, including some fairly major structural elements. Here’s hoping our house doesn’t collapse. I think he knows what he’s doing.


Hmmm… Guess I’ve found something new to worry about.

A Helpful Hint


Helpful rebuilding hint: If you have any possessions you’d like to keep, remove them from the area before the demolition crew goes to work.

Yeah, most of our stuff downstairs was ruined in the flood, and put to the curb months ago. Those few items not ruined got moved upstairs — except for one or two things, with some sentimental value, which I’d left down there after I finished my initial gutting, for some idiotic reason.

So this morning I spent some time shoveling through the latest pile of debris in front of our house, and I still didn’t find what I was looking for.

Hmm. Maybe I need to revisit that “Stupid B” moniker.

On an even more unpleasant note, we found a dead rat outside our bedroom door this morning. The fact that its hind legs were chewed off suggests that one of our cats got it. I’ve been trying to convince myself that Lucy caught it outside and dragged it in. It’s possible, but it seems unlikely. I imagine all the demolition work downstairs has got all the critters in an uproar.

Dead Rat

Work Begins

Ho hum, not much new to report… except that work is finally beginning on our house!

I had just about given up on ever hearing back from Mike. I last spoke to him in January, I think, when he gave me an estimate to rewire the house. Then I asked him to coordinate the entire renovation, and I’ve been waiting for a quote ever since. I was collecting numbers for other contractors and was planning to call them this week.

But then, yesterday morning at 6:30 AM, Mike calls, and he sends Mark the carpenter by, and the next thing I know there’s a big load of lumber and a table saw in our house.


I think he’s sending a crew to finish the demolition today. I did most of the gutting myself back in October, but I didn’t touch the ceilings and there’s lots of little things that I didn’t take care of.

Mike may be disorganized, but he’s a friend and I know he won’t try to screw me or do a half-assed job. At least I think he won’t. Please?

And now I have to make a decision about all those windows. We have 15 windows (damn that’s a lot) on the lower floor of our house, all of which were flooded, and I have to decide whether to refurbish or replace…

Food, Sacred & Profane

The Sav-A-Center in our neighborhood finally re-opened last week, and I went shopping there for the first time Saturday morning. There’s a write-up at Metroblogging that sums it up nicely. It may not seem like much, but it provides a huge boost of confidence for the neighborhood. Most of the other big supermarkets in the flood zone are simply vacant, gutted shells. Not only has this store re-opened, but it’s much fancier than it was before the storm. We used to be mad at Sav-A-Center for destroying the late lamented Movie Pitchers, but that seems like ancient history. All is forgiven now. I bought some steaks to celebrate.

St. Joseph's Altar

Speaking of food, Sunday was the Feast Day of St. Joseph. Xy and I walked over to Holy Rosary and Cabrini to check out a couple St. Joseph’s Altars. And of course I took pictures.


I recently got an update to our homeowner’s policy. It’s something like a hundred pages long. Past updates were only a few pages. I’m supposed to wade through all this legalese? I’d have to hire a lawyer just to find out how badly we’re getting screwed. A quick glance reveals there’s a “trampoline exclusion” and a “hovercraft exclusion.” I am not making this up.

And to quote:

A specific exclusion for hovercraft liability is added. Hovercraft are also known as ground effect vehicles or air-cushioned vehicles and were excluded in your former policy as motor vehicles or motorized land conveyances.

On the other hand, I note that our policy covers our grave markers (or mausoleums) for any damage caused by fire, lightning, windstorm, hail, explosion, riot or civil commotion, aircraft (including self-propelled missiles and spacecraft), vehicles, smoke, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, falling objects, weight of ice, snow or sleet, accidental discharge or overflow of water or steam, sudden and accidental tearing apart, freezing, sudden and accidental damage from artificially generated electrical current and volcanic eruption — for up to $5,000.

No coverage for nuclear hazards, though.

Fast Food

Inside Rally's

Intrigued by a post over at e-mail from NOLA, I took a tour yesterday afternoon of a few local fast food joints, all within a few blocks from our house.

  1. Billy K’s Seafood: debris removed
  2. McDonald’s: cleaned and gutted
  3. Burger King: cleaned and gutted
  4. Rally’s: untouched and stinky as hell

None of them are open, obviously, nor do they show any sign of opening. Score one for the Mom & Pop joints.

If you’re so inclined, you can see more of the photos.

Blog Posts Via E-mail

If you’d like to be apprised of new posts to this weblog, you can now subscribe (through a plugin I’ve installed) and you’ll get an e-mail whenever I post something new.

Alternatively, you can subscribe via FeedBlitz. The difference is that with FeedBlitz you’ll get an e-mail sometime within 24 hours after a new post. You can also get more fancy formatting, but they are a third party and I know virtually nothing about them, so proceed at your own risk.

Of course, it’s probably better to use a news aggregator, but if you know what that is you probably don’t need any help from me. Then again: If you use MyYahoo, you can add headlines from this blog to your custom start page just by following this link.

A Disappointing Reunion

We got a call from Crystal, one of the girls who used to live across the street from us. She is now living in Houston. She was in town for the weekend, and wanted to visit. Xy has been missing the girls, and so she was pretty excited about the reunion.

Yet, somehow, it wasn’t much fun.

Pizza Party

For one thing, it turned out that Donika and Danielle and Willanita were not in town after all — only Crystal. She brought along a bunch of her friends, most of whom we didn’t know. There ended up being eight people in their party, including two infants; I don’t know how Xy fit them all in her car. It was pretty chaotic. Crystal herself was preoccupied with other stuff, like retrieving some possessions from her flooded home, and visiting with other people. She hardly had time to exchange two words with Xy. But ain’t that just like a teenager?