Hair Ideas

Hair Ideas

We were sad to see a bank repo underway at the corner of N. Rendon and Iberville. That’s the site of Hair Ideas, where I sometimes got my hair cut. I forget the name of the lady who was the proprietor. I think she also owned the building, which contains some apartments. She made a couple years of effort to bring her business back after Katrina, but I guess it wasn’t enough. I’m sorry to see this local neighborhood business go.

Here’s a picture of me after my first visit, in July of 2007. It wasn’t exactly the style I wanted, but I was still a very happy customer.

Spontaneous Haircut

Earliest Photos

I think these are the earliest photos I ever took. They’re stamped “May 1975” but I think some were taken around Xmas 1974. They appear to have been taken with some sort of pinhole camera. My memories from that time are rather fuzzy — kind of like these pix.








When ROX #85 debuted on the internet, we sent out press releases every which way, and we got quite a bit of coverage, from Time magazine to local media outlets.

I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but Xy and I ended up on a drive-time radio show in St. Louis, live in the studio. That was fourteen years ago today, give or take a week.

I’m sure glad we hung on to the audio from that encounter. I think it’s worth a listen, not because of our lame attempts at humor, but for what it reveals about how people viewed the internet and the web back in 1995. Times sure have changed.

Fifteen Months

Dear Persephone,

You are starting to say a few words. Your pronunciation is pretty crude, but your points of reference are undeniable: Bird. Ball. That’s pretty cool.

Yesterday we were running so late in the morning that I rode my bike to daycare with you strapped to my chest (instead of dropping you off and doubling back for my bike per my usual routine). It seemed pretty safe for a one-time thing, and I think you enjoyed it, but I wouldn’t want to make it a habit.

You’re almost through teething with both your upper and lower canines. Not quite, but almost. Soon you should catch a break until your hind molars come in.

I suspect your allergies have been bothering you lately — I know mine have been bothering me — but fortunately you have not gotten sick for a while, though you still have that persistent cough that worries me.

I’ve noticed I tend to focus on the positives in these letters. I wouldn’t want to give the impression that it’s all sunshine and roses. I recall some people telling me the first three months were the hardest, or the first six months, or the first year. Either I misunderstood people, or they were lying to save my sanity. The truth is those first three months were the easiest. In fact, you’ve been steadily more and more difficult — a real handful, in fact. You require constant supervision, and you’re starting to develop a will of your own, and you cry when you don’t get your way, and you sometimes cry for no reason whatsoever, and when you do that in the middle of the night, man! It really sucks.

But you’re so damn cute it’s hard to feel any resentment.

Oh, one last thing: You love books. You will often take a book out and demand to have it read to you. Again, and again, and again. I have started to let you read them to me occasionally. You can’t actually read, but you can turn the pages and lift the flaps. When you see what’s behind the flap you laugh out loud, like someone just told a really funny joke.

Coffee Reduction #6


It’s time for me to go off coffee again. I enjoy breaking this habit as spring edges into summer. I try to make it a part of my yearly routine. However, last year I never got around to it, what with the girl being born. I haven’t gone off caffeine since 2007. I feel like my internal organs are being continually bathed in acidic hot stimulants. They need a break.

Over the last month I’ve cut back from a pot a day to just one cup. This week I’m gradually reducing that. A full cup on Monday, three-quarters cup yesterday, half cup today. This is how to avoid the dreaded headaches that keep coffee drinkers enslaved to the bean. Tomorrow, a quarter cup. Friday, an eighth of a cup.

And then I will be free!

Mystery of the Gas Rebate

We recently let our Better World membership lapse. I like Better World and recommend them to anyone shopping for an auto club, but our insurer offers roadside assistance at a price that can’t be beat.

I heard about Better World through Car Talk back when I used to listen to NPR. (Another Katrina casualty. After the storm I was only interested in local news. Though lately I’ve found myself sneaking surreptitious listens to All Things Considered when I’m in the car.) Better World is supposed to be an eco-friendly alternative to AAA, and I suppose they are.

But there’s one aspect of the Better World program that always mystified me. Actually I don’t know if it was offered by them directly. It might be a side benefit.

I’m talking about their gas rebate program. It’s exactly what it sounds like. You get rebates on the gas you buy. Every year they send you a sheet of four little forms, one for each quarter. The forms can be returned, along with receipts proving gas had been purchased, to a shadowy outfit somewhere in Florida. For each form returned you get a check for $10.

What’s especially weird, to my way of thinking, is they didn’t even require a minimum amount you had to spend, or minimum number of purchases, and in fact they accepted receipts which couldn’t even be clearly identified as being for gasoline. I mean, one time I sent in a generic receipt for a cash purchase without any identifying information of place or time or product — they accepted that, and sent me a check for $10.

Does that make any sense at all? I couldn’t figure it. Still can’t. Who would pay people to consume gas? Or does this actually have anything to do with gas? Where does this money come from? Is it some sort of nefarious scam, or perhaps a super-rich crazy guy who loves to collect receipts?

There was precious little explanation on the forms themselves. Nothing to explain the rationale.

I’ve got my final check for $10 sitting in front of me now. When I cash it, I guess I’m off the gravy train.

Or am I? There appears to be some sort of program at though I’ll be damned if I can figure it out either. Their FAQ doesn’t answer the most glaring and obvious question: Who’s paying for this and why?

So why all the mystery? Can someone please explain this to me? It’s making my brain hurt.

Hike the Lafitte Corridor

What are you doing for National Trails Day? If you’re in New Orleans, please join us for the 5th Annual Hike of the Lafitte Corridor.

Saturday June 6
10:00 AM: Meet at main entrance to Armstrong Park (Rampart St.)
Noonish: Lunch at Massey’s (509 N Carrollton)
1:00 PM: Finish at Canal Blvd. Shuttle back to Armstrong Park

It’s hard to believe this is the fifth such event. The first one only had three hikers and no fanfare. The second hike attracted sixteen participants and led to the formation of Friends of Lafitte Corridor.

Last year we had sixty people turn out. Amazing.


About last year: We advertised that event as absolutely the last chance to hike the corridor in its undeveloped state. Oops. Not quite. Here it is one year later, and there’s no tangible work done. There has actually been plenty of progress, but behind the scenes. Frankly we are now where we probably should have been a year ago. Everything has been slower than it should be, and the process got jammed up for a while. The promise I made last year — that by this time “there’s at least gonna be some pavement in place, for at least a portion” of the greenway — has turned out to be incorrect. Granted, that was a bit of a bluff, a little bravado on my part. At the time it still seemed possible that the whole greenway proposal would simply fall apart. I felt it necessary to raise the stakes a little. I offer my humble apology to anyone who trusted my word. I take that seriously, and it pains me to have been wrong.

And yet it’s hard for me to feel discouraged, because I was wrong in another way. I thought if my bold prediction failed to materialize it would be because the whole greenway project had been derailed (no pun) and that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, we seem to be on track (again no pun) at last.

Eventually this three-mile stretch of old railroad corridor will be a beautiful greenway with bicycle and pedestrian paths, park-like in places, tying together disparate neighborhoods and providing a great amenity to everyone in New Orleans. That grand scheme will take a while. But the City is (finally) taking the first big step in retaining the services of Design Workshop to design and plan the greenway, as well as a revitalization program for the blocks that surround it.

I’ve just gotten word that Rebecca Leonard and Kurt Culbertson from Design Workshop will be joining us for the hike, so this is a fantastic opportunity for the community to meet the planners and (perhaps more to the point) for the planners to see first-hand just how many people care so passionately about this project.

The reason I’m so passionate about this is that I have to be. Whatever momentum we’ve got is only because citizens — regular people like you and me — have gotten involved and pushed it forward. Lots of people have been pushing hard on all kinds of different fronts, and in many cases we’re only beginning to see the first signs of progress now. That citizen involvement is essential to the positive transformation of New Orleans, and this hike is a great way to demonstrate and celebrate that fact. It’s also a good way to learn more about the greenway project as well as the history and future of the city itself.

Plus, it’s fun. And there’s lunch.

Once again Massey’s Professional Outfitters is stepping up to sponsor the hike. They’re a business right on the corridor, and their support for this event has been fantastic. They’ll be providing lunch as well as transportation back to the point of origin.

It’s a three mile hike, and the weather is sure to be hot, and parts of the path are overgrown and weedy — though not so overgrown and weedy as last year, thanks to the efforts of Sheriff Marlon Gusman. So dress accordingly, and bring some sunscreen. You might want to bring a bottle of water to stay hydrated. This is a hike, not a garden walk. Flip-flops are not appropriate footwear!

Did I mention Massey’s is supplying lunch?

Hike the Lafitte Corridor Flyer

Please download the flyer and share with all your friends and neighbors. This is a grassroots effort and we need word-of-mouth.

Mark your calendar, and I look forward to seeing you there.

Five & Dime

It’s been a little over five years since I started blogging here in earnest. I thought this would be a simple extension of the journal-writing I’d done off and on for years. The main difference, I supposed, was that I would be less likely to write about the minutiae of my life, that I would omit mundane details in an effort to keep things interesting. I imagined my audience would be small and obscure. 1,760-odd posts later and my readership is indeed small, though bigger than I imagined, and not nearly as obscure. I know many of my readers, and many friends and relatives keep tabs on me through this blog. Which is great, only it gives the lie to my early naïveté. Writing here is not the same as writing in a private journal, not by a long shot. I’m no longer worried about being boring. My primary worry is being too honest. My parents read this blog. Nuff said? My years of writing here have overlapped Katrina, a big story arc which I am glad to make public. But there are plenty of personal details that I won’t put here, and generally speaking those are the juiciest parts. Sex, drugs and acrimony. Get the picture?

Once I started this blogging business, I stopped keeping a private journal, but I’m realizing the limitations of this approach. So now I’ve started journaling again. I will keep blogging too, but perhaps less frequently. For quite some time I’ve aimed to post here daily. But there are only so many hours in a day, and my current challenge is to find a way to juggle my several writing projects, to discern what goes where, and find other means to give vent to the peculiar pressures that drive me on.

Speaking of anniversaries, it’s been ten years since Xy and I moved to New Orleans. Most of those years were pre-Katrina. It sure doesn’t feel that way, though. These post-Katrina years seem heavier, they weigh on me more, and they tip the balance toward the present. I know Xy and I lived here for six years before the storm, before the flood, but those years seem so distant and faint. The damage to the city feels like damage to my brain. But that, after all, is why I keep a journal, and a blog.

Here’s to another five, and another ten.

Dear Aunt Ron

Dear Aunt Ron,

Thanks for Persephone’s birthday gift. It will probably take her a while to grow into those clothes, but better too big than too small.

I also appreciated the letter you included. Rest assured, I won’t “disown” you for the suggestions you make regarding Persephone’s religious education. In fact I am touched that you took the time to write about this.

Apparently you were disturbed by the picture I posted recently of the girl handling a tarot card. I hope to set your mind at ease somewhat, and was pondering what I might say when Persephone took matters into her own hands, so to speak. Of her own accord she grabbed a Bible off the bookshelf and opened it.

Bible Study

She’s too young to actually read, of course, but I was astonished when she pointed to a verse with great deliberation. It was Zachariah 14:1, “Behold the day of the Lord cometh.”

Zechariah 14

Was she playing Biblical Lot? Only heaven knows what question she had in mind. I tell you it sent an apocalyptic chill down my spine.

In all seriousness, though, we don’t want her to be unfamiliar with the Bible or a stranger to the inside of a church. To the contrary, we want to raise our daughter with a well-rounded exposure to the varieties of religious experience, to draw on all the wisdom traditions of the world.

There are certain things we will not do, of course. We will not pretend to know the truth about life, the universe and everything with absolute surety. Being honest about doubts and the limitations of our knowledge is very important to us. The only thing of which we’re totally certain is our lack of total certainty. And that has profound implications. We’re more likely to say, “This is what we think,” rather than, “That’s the way it is.” Please note that this doesn’t mean a wishy-washy perspective devoid of any moral spine. Quite the opposite. Our acknowledgment of doubt and skepticism springs from a love of honest reason as the best source for moral guidance.

As for baptism, you will be happy to know we performed such a ritual on the banks of Bayou St. John last year. I wish you could have been here for it. You can experience the next best thing, because I wrote about it, and there are pictures and even audio of the complete ceremony. I hope you can give it a listen.

And you certainly are welcome to come and visit us in New Orleans if you should ever get the chance.

Your nephew

Looking for Work

Xy is officially looking for work. She’s been teaching over in Algiers for six years, pretty much continuously, with a little interruption for that storm we had a few years ago. However, the principal that inspired her so much retired a while ago, and she’s decided she’d like to work on this side of the river. Personally, I’m about ready for Xy to quit teaching entirely and find some line of work that is less stressful, maybe something in the educational field but not on the front lines. But teaching is what she knows and what she’s actively seeking. She’s been teaching 6th grade science for a while, plus reading, but in her career she’s taught a number of different grade levels and subjects. She’s got a natural rapport with kids, works hard, and thrives under progressive leadership. Also she’s become quite handy with an interactive whiteboard and blends technology into her teaching in a way that’s impressive to me. I mention all this because the best jobs are usually found through word of mouth. If you know of any opportunities please get in touch.