We’ve been having a bit of trouble making ends meet ever since Xy changed schools and took a $20K pay cut. Sometimes it’s that last week of the month, sometimes, just the last couple days. A number of times I’ve had to draw off our savings to make up the gap. It’s occasionally embarrassing and always worrisome.

We were just getting serious about looking for ways to save on our monthly budget, and then this bomb dropped: Yesterday morning I opened some mail and learned that our mortgage payment will be going up. Substantially. Insurance has gone up, and so have taxes, because our home assessment more than doubled. That’s a bummer, but I don’t see any error there; it seems the house was radically under-assessed last year. It sucks that the bank didn’t anticipate this correctly at the time of purchase, but that’s water under the bridge now. I talked it over with our Realtor and she confirmed that we don’t really have any options. We can mitigate a bit by making a lump payment now, which we’ll do, but the increase in our monthly payment will still be substantial. It’s going to make the monthly budget a lot tougher.

In recent years we’ve counted on a big tax refund, but with our reduced income we rethought our withholding, and so I don’t think we’ll be getting money back from Uncle Sam. We might even owe more. Shudder. Sure is a good thing Obama extended the Bush tax cuts for the middle class. Oops, I said something political. That will surely distract anyone who reads this from my actual point. Why react to my petty personal problems when you can pontificate on massive federal issues?

I have to confess that we haven’t really done any of the belt-tightening I mentioned last June. I wish there was some obvious substantial luxury expense we could forgo. Perhaps we can do enough small things to make a difference.

We always look for bargains at the grocery, but we rarely shy away from a food item because of the expense. We go to the nearest grocery rather than the cheapest. Recently I’ve cut back on the premium liquors and have been mostly drinking Bota Box. I’ve felt at liberty to buy books whenever I want them, which is at least once a month. I indulge in the occasional MP3 download from Amazon. We have our subscription to Netflix, which I still haven’t gotten around to canceling. There’s my yoga class. What else can we cut?

I guess that new fire pit is out of the question.

I may also need to rethink my attitude toward freelance work. I routinely reject queries for basic web development and consultation. Sometimes I do the work for free. But yesterday, motivated by a recent financial embarrassment, I changed my tune and said “yes” when a friend’s husband asked for my help. I quoted PJ’s old rate, $40 an hour, with a three-hour minimum. I’m sure he charges much more now, if he even does this sort of work. Jeez, I need to raise my rates already.

Financial matters have never been my strong suit, but I’m frankly worried how we’re gonna make it.


Item #1: According to Editorial Anonymous (a blog of a children’s book editor):

Trend Watch: Persephone Is the New Zombies/Vampires
Well, I certainly wouldn’t have predicted this one. We’re seeing a lot of YA Persephone retellings. Maybe this is in part due to the greek myth renaissance effected by Mr. Riordan? I don’t know. Maybe it’s the appeal of the underworld? I just hope it’s not some nasty subconscious preference for kidnapping/rape stories. Whatever it is, between the undead, the walking dead, and the actually dead, there’s a hell of a lot of dead going around. Makes me a little wistful for the wizards and pirates.

(hat tip to Amøs Türnür)

Item #2: The theme for the first-ever New Orleans’ Witches Ball?

Persephone’s Descent

Persephone's Descent
(hat tip to Bartlett Meeks)

Minor Relapse, Electoral Politics, and Music

Last night FOLC had its annual board election. I was excited but also a little nervous. We had a bigger slate of candidates than ever before, fifteen in all, for eight open seats. I wasn’t up for re-election myself; our terms are staggered and mine ends next year. But I was nervous because there was a real prospect for the four incumbents who were seeking re-election to be displaced. In governmental elections I have a severe anti-incumbent bias, but this is not government, and I find I have a great deal of loyalty to my fellow board members.

We had a great turnout, with over sixty FOLC members in attendance, casting their votes. In the end, the incumbents were all re-elected and we have four new board members who will hopefully provide us with a fresh infusion of energy. I’ve posted the results on the FOLC site.

I ended up having to speak at some length at the meeting, and in order to be heard by 60-odd people I had to raise my voice. Unfortunately my poor throat is still on the mend from whatever viral assault I’ve been fighting; I’ve been getting better daily but last night’s activities set me back a day at least.

Sometimes, there’s a silver lining. Some sore throats seem to skew my voice lower by almost a full octave. Here’s what I sound like today, singing the first part of “Philadelphia” by Magazine.

Philadelphia [Sore Throat] by Editor B

Multiple Marches

If I was feeling better I would attend one of these marches today.

a campaign for peace in New Orleans

Friday, January 28th, Central City 3:00pm:
March to City Hall in memory of Magnolia Shorty, Jeremy Galmon, Jashawn Powell, and Mariah Woods.
START: Washington and LaSalle.
END: City Hall, New Orleans.
Featuring the Stooges Music Group. Attire: red and camouflage, in recognition of the battlefield-level bloodshed in our city. Sponsored by all of the uptown clubs and the New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force. Theme: Everybody Dies but Not Everybody Lives. Choose Life.
Downtown, 3PM
March to City Hall featuring Pit Bulls for Peace, featuring the Kinfolks Brass Band.
START: Franklin at St. Claude
END: City Hall.
Motorcade, 2:00pm:
Annual Memorial Motorcade, led by Ms. Nakita Shavers. Featuring the Free Agents Brass Band.
START: N. Broad and Dumaine.
END: City Hall.
Victims Memorial, 4:30pm:
Steps of City Hall.

But wait, there’s more. It seems that HBO is recreating the 2007 March for Survival for the second season of Treme. And they need your help. Here’s the information they sent me.


Stop the Violence
The Re-creation of the Historical
2007 Rally and March Against Violence on City Hall
Saturday, February 5, 2011, 9am

The HBO series Treme is honoring Dinneral Shavers, Helen Hill and others who have fallen victim to violent crime by filming a re-creation of the March on City Hall and inviting all residents and those who have been affected by violent crimes to participate.  Violence is again on the rise.  This has to stop.  Let’s stand together.

Let your voice be heard.

Look for a white tent in a parking lot on the lakeside of S. Rampart between Tulane/Common and Gravier Streets.

For more information, or to get your community group involved, call Karen at 504-940-7410.

In Partnership with Neighborhoods Partnership Network, SilenceisViolence and the New Orleans Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force

I’ll have more on this later.

Don’t Fear the Epigraph

Throughout my childhood my family made regular visits to my grandfather’s place, a doublewide trailer at the dead end of a long rural road, secluded acreage at the edge of Pottawatomi State Park in scenic Door County, Wisconsin.

On one visit, I excavated (from a drawer in a nightstand in a guest bedroom) a remaindered paperback of The Stand by Steven King. I suppose it was purchased by one of my aunts, uncles or cousins.

I didn’t manage to read the book. Not sure if I even tried.

But what I do recall, with crystal clarity, is the epigraph. Strangely enough, the epigraphs from The Stand are mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on epigraphs, but not in the entry on The Stand.

Actually I gather there are several epigraphs for the various sections of the novel, but there was one at the beginning that caught my eye back those many years ago. (It must have been 1981 because the book came out in paperback only in 1980. Surely a remaindered edition wouldn’t have been available until then. My grandfather died in 1981, and I didn’t return to Sturgeon Bay until 1992.) With the front cover missing I suppose the epigraphs may have been visible without actually opening the book. There were some other quotations, but only one made a lasting impression.

And it was clear she couldn’t go on!
The door was opened and the wind appeared,
The candles blew and then disappeared,
The curtains flew and then he appeared,
Said, “Don’t be afraid,
Come on, Mary,”
And she had no fear
And she ran to him
And they started to fly…
She had taken his hand…
“Come on, Mary;
Don’t fear the reaper!”
— Blue Öyster Cult

At the time, I had no idea who the Blue Öyster Cult was. They sounded mysterious and intriguing, and the lyrical quotation was dark and chilling. The name and the lyrics combined to create an atmosphere that was both dreadful and delicious at the same time. Eventually Blue Öyster Cult became my favorite band of my high school years, based on the records they’d put out in the 70s. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” remains one of my favorite songs. But at the time, I didn’t even know they were a rock band. I thought they were some sort of religious group. Their name alone evoked a mysterious image that still haunts me today.

I don’t know why this memory came back so vividly today. Perhaps it’s because I recently read Earth Abides, a novel which inspired The Stand. I’ve still never read The Stand, and really have no desire to do so, but Earth Abides is a great book.

The Foolishness of Man

I’m not quite in my right mind today, thanks to some cold medicine I took this morning. So this might be the perfect time to revisit The Good News Bible Hour #14.

The always-amazing Eric Spears (nee White) just excavated this video from his personal collection a few days ago, digitized it and posted it online. I believe this was produced in 1993, and I probably haven’t seen it for at least fifteen years.

Got a few minutes? Let’s watch this together.

I suppose it pretty much speaks for itself, but I can’t resist adding a few editorial comments.

The video consists entirely of an improvised performance by yours truly. However, Eric ran the camera and edited the program; he can also be heard lending a voice off-camera. Xy makes a brief appearance here in her “Mary Perkins” character.

Perceptive viewers will note that I borrow a few lines from Flip Wilson via Uptown Saturday Night.

The program aired on CATS (nee BCAT) and supposedly has garnered more complaints than any other video. I suspect that’s because people might think it’s a real televangelist sermon at first, though after watching for a few seconds it’s rapidly apparent that this is satire. That might make a viewer angry enough to call the station.

Of course, it’s also possible that some viewers simply couldn’t view this satire as anything other than an attack on Christianity itself. I can’t speculate on my frame of mind 18 years ago, but as I view this now I see it as a mockery of fundamentalism, which of course is a tendency that can emerge in any religion. I don’t see it as a mockery of Christianity or even religion in general.

Your mileage may vary.

By the way, you should definitely check out Eric’s Daisybrain blog.

Throat Challenge

I seem inordinately predisposed to getting a sore throat. (I also have a propensity for swollen nodes in the throat, which may or may not be related.) I’ve been making some headway in my ongoing battle, but I’ve yet to reach my goal of a year-round healthy throat.

My family doctor prescribed fluticasone propionate nasal spray last year, shortly after the great Good Friday healthcare debacle. (Yes, he started taking my insurance again.) This seems to have stopped allergy-engendered post-nasal drip from infecting my pharynx. So far so good, though I’ve yet to investigate the potential side effects of snorting a steroid on a daily basis.

Nevertheless, last month I got a sore throat of a different kind, lower in my throat than the pharyngeal zone. I went to see an ear, nose and throat specialist and he told me my tonsils were inflamed. He recommended gargling with a half-and-half mixture of hydrogen peroxide and mouthwash, twice a day. Sure enough, 36 hours later my throat felt fine.

This is on my mind right now because I came down with a little pharyngitis over the weekend. I hadn’t been using my nasal spray quite as religiously of late, as it’s not the season for my allergies, but I’m not sure that would have made any difference. I’m pretty sure Xy and I both a caught a virus from Persephone, something akin to the common cold, but not quite as severe. Nevertheless my pharynx was sore as hell yesterday.

I took P to the doctor this morning, and they had her inhale some albuterol for a while to combat the congestion in her lungs. But neither Xy nor P seem to have the sore throat I have. That’s a special bonus just for me.

And there’s something about having a sore throat that really gets me down. I guess feeling pain every time I swallow or breathe keeps me focused on the fact that I’m not well. I’m well-versed in a regimen of palliatives such as gargling with salt water, slippery elm bark tea and herbal lozenges. But prevention is what I’m aiming for.

So, the quest for the ultimate sore throat prevention technique continues.

Thirty-Five Months


Dear Persephone,

Oops. You made thirty-five months yesterday, but I didn’t realize it until I was lying down in bed last night. So this letter is one day late.

As I’m trying to type this, you are sitting on the couch behind me. You’ve got a book you want me to read to you. I’ve explained that I’m writing you a letter, and you wanted to see it, but when I explained it was just words you decided to wait. You’re waiting for me to finish the letter now so I can read you the book.

I’ll admit I’m not thrilled at the prospect. I love to read to you, as a rule, but the book in question is the Disney Princess Music Player Storybook. You love this thing — I hesitate to dignify it with the term “book” — and I hate it. But then, of course, you love everything at this age. We keep getting books and products like this, foisted upon us by well-meaning friends and relatives. I don’t think we would have ever given you a single Disney Princess product if left to our own devices. I don’t want to attempt to catalog my criticisms of the whole phenomenon right now. Suffice it to say that it’s just not our thing. What I don’t like about this particular item? I’m generally opposed to toys that make noise and require batteries, and you certainly have plenty of those; I don’t like the idea of a book that plays music, and I don’t like the music this book plays; and the stories themselves are insufferably cloying. Yes, I realize this makes me sound like a cranky old grouch. I think I will get rid of this one when you’re not looking. You have so much stuff and you’re young enough that I don’t think you’ll ever notice it’s gone. It’s something of a futile gesture against the marketing juggernaut that is Disney.

(As it turns out we never had our story-time session this morning. Your mother came in and asked me to make breakfast, and you helped me beat the eggs (from the community garden) and so forth, and meanwhile the book mysteriously vanished, and now you’re out on a play-date as I finish this letter.)

So, what has happened since last I wrote to you? I guess the biggest news is that we made a trip to Indiana and back. You had your first chance to play in real snow and experience what I still consider to be a “real” winter. We did a thirteen hour drive both ways with hardly any breaks; I was anxious about how you’d fare but actually you didn’t fuss much at all. And you certainly enjoyed visiting your cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles. While we were there, we also celebrated your 25,000th hour of life, which fell on your mother’s birthday. But I was hard-pressed to explain that concept in terms you could grasp.

Earlier this week, just as we were sitting down to dinner, I was trying to explain the concept of MLK Day, and you exclaimed, unprompted, “People was equal!” I was doubly amazed: first, that you had any grasp of the concept; and second, that you’d actually learned something at daycare. We didn’t do anything to commemorate MLK Day; it fell on my birthday this year so we celebrated that instead. I hope next year we can do something more meaningful.

I took you to the park on my birthday. The museum and the sculpture garden and the botanical garden were all closed for MLK, but we had so much fun running around the Peristyle, the playground and the Popp bandstand. Your latest thing is taking pictures with your “camera,” which you conjure into existence by looking through a viewfinder formed by your two hands and, when the moment is right, making a click noise. I guess you learned that from me.

Antisocial Networking

Here’s what I want: A social media platform which allows me to connect only to people who don’t know me in real life. As soon as we meet “in the flesh” we’re disconnected online. Yeah, that would be cool.

When I started my blog, very few people read it, and many of the those who did were people I never met in real life. In essence they became a second tier of quasi-friends, cyber-only friends if you will. Now my mom and dad read my blog, and my mother-in-law and father-in-law, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s constraining in a way I didn’t feel back six years ago.

(Oops, make that seven years ago. Have I really been blogging that long. I guess so.)

Social media has evolved since then. Now there’s much more emphasis on recreating one’s real life networks online. But there’s some value in the virtual network too. I still have a number of cyber-friends that I’ve never met in real life, and I have a passel of folks I know primarily through the ether though we might rub elbows on rare occasions. They feel like an extension of my own mind, in some weird way.

Part of the joy of communication is complaining, bitching, moaning and whining, and the primary object of such bellyaching is other people, and all the important people in what is laughingly known as my “real” life follow me on Twitter or Facebook or read my blog, so I can’t really vent without hurting these people’s feelings, and as we all know I may be a jerk but I’m not that much of a jerk.

Moreover, I seem to have a compulsion to communicate, to write about what’s going on in my life and share it with others, but I don’t necessarily need social media to share with real-life friends. Tried and true methods like conversation seem adequate to that purpose.

And so I wish there was a social network that allowed me to share only with strangers, and blocked anyone who knows me in real life.

Pangs Eased

It’s been well over a year since we moved to our new house, and the pangs of regret are finally starting to ebb. Regrets? Well, yes. It’s my nature to look back at important decisions and wonder. Did we do the right thing? The answer keeps coming up “yes,” but still I have to worry at it. I was attached to the old house and the old block and I miss it. Every time I pass by I feel a twinge of nostalgia and longing. When we were living there I envisioned that was my daughter would grow up. We enjoyed watching the Warren Easton High School Marching Band pass by our house most every afternoon. The proximity to Bayou St. John was nice, and I could go on, but I already aired my complaints. I guess the chief adjustment for me is the old place was more bohemian, and the new place is more bourgeois, and that’s a tough one for me to swallow; but this is all relative, because it is New Orleans after all, and what we think of as bourgeois here would probably pass for bohemian elsewhere.

I figured it would take a year before the sharpness of said pangs would ease. Now that it’s been a year, I just wanted to confirm that’s what’s happened. Pangs have eased indeed. We’re comfortable in our new house and new location. I’m not as attached to the place yet, but I suppose that takes longer, to associate new memories with a new place. Really, I’m not sure I want to develop that level of attachment to place again, but I suppose it’s inevitable.

Profiles in Bloggage, Part 1

In April, I’ll be making a presentation to a special interest group of the AERA titled “The Role of Blogs in the Rebuilding of New Orleans.” My plan is to tell five separate stories that have emerged in, around, through or about the local blogosphere since the flooding of the city in 2005. I thought I would share my notes here as I complete them. This, then, is the first of five stories. I welcome any feedback.

Karen is a Terrorist

I still remember the first time I met Karen Gadbois. It was at a recovery meeting in Gert Town back in May of 2006. I even wrote about it — the meeting, that is. I didn’t write about the crazy lady bending my ear. I didn’t know her name at the time but I’m pretty sure it was Karen who left this comment on that same post:

you have to go just to witness..it is like a farce played out as a drama with great lines tossed out by those who know..and the ones that wished they knew and the ones that hope you don’t know..i believe we should jam the process by over attending..go to every meeting for every district..pack the place..

Of course ultimately it turns out Karen wasn’t so crazy after all. She was pissed off and paranoid, as was I, as was everyone with half a brain.

Over the next year, I got to know Karen better. She started a blog called Squandered Heritage, with a first post on August 15, 2006. (Actually the original site was called Blighted New Orleans, but the Squandered Heritage title was suggested in the discussion on that very first post.) I have to admit I didn’t quite get the concept at first, but in retrospect Karen’s focus was clear. She was concerned with what she saw as a rush to demolish many buildings too quickly, destroying cultural assets without due consideration of alternatives. With great rapidity she began posting photographs of many homes that were slated for demolition. She was also an outspoken critic of plans for a drugstore at a prominent intersection, plans which would have required substantial waivers from the City’s regulations. She labored in relative obscurity, at first, though an editorial by Bryan Batt labeled such efforts as borderline terrorism.

By the summer of 2007 Karen’s work was getting some attention. Then the city published a list of over 1,700 properties that were designated as “imminent threats” to public safety, in need of immediate demolition, circumventing whatever legal process was in place. Some of these houses were truly unsalvageable wrecks, but some were in pretty good shape. Meanwhile, plenty of houses in danger of collapse were not on the list. My next-door neighbor was on the list, much to his shock and alarm. It was maddening. Karen and her compatriots were documenting the madness; local bloggers (such as Ashley Morris, about whom more later) helped by constructing interactive maps from the demolition lists or writing about the issue on their blogs.

The corporate media continued to ignore the story, locally. But then in August the Wall Street Journal ran an article on their front page, and so at last the issue got some local press, and (perhaps?) a measure of sanity was restored to the process.

Fast forward another year. In the summer of 2008, Karen began asking questions about New Orleans Affordable Housing (NOAH) on her blog. At first, it looked as if the City was allocating FEMA money to NOAH to gut and remediate houses, and later spending more FEMA money on demolishing the same houses. But it turned out to be much worse than that. Karen discovered that many NOAH houses hadn’t been worked on at all. But someone was certainly collecting the money.

Local television reporter Lee Zurik picked up the story from Karen. The mayor resisted fiercely, but soon the FBI was involved and NOAH was shut down. Here’s an excerpt from a story in the NY Times:

The F.B.I. on Monday raided the agency running the program, the local United States attorney announced last week he was investigating, and Mayor C. Ray Nagin, hauled grudgingly before the City Council, complained about what he called “amateur investigations,” a reluctant nod to Ms. Gadbois and her followers in the news media.

The investigative work of Karen and Lee garnered some awards, including a Peabody and an Investigative Reporters and Editors’ IRE Medal.

Here’s what Zurik had to say about Gadbois and bloggers in New Orleans (Where Yat):

They’re a valuable part of our community because first of all, they’re opinionated and they pay attention to everything. Where the media sometimes doesn’t get to watch over everything, they become another watchdog of what’s going on. It’s important. In the NOAH story, we got our initial tip from a blogger, Karen Gadbois (www.squanderedheritage.com), which shows the value and importance of that community. It’s different from what we do. We have to get both sides or we should. We should be objective. It’s different but they have still become an important piece of the city and how the city functions. I go to a handful every couple days just to see. For me, it’s good as a reporter. You want to get a sense of what people are thinking and what people are feeling in the community you cover . . . It’s obviously not the feeling of everyone here, but it gives you a sense of what some are thinking and feeling, and that helps on a daily basis when you do cover the news and try to decide what to cover and what not to cover.

Personally, I’m amazed at the tenacity Karen showed in pursuing her leads and sticking by her guns. When she started she didn’t have much support. Neighborhood activists are often dismissed as nutty, even by people who should know better (see above). It’s a real challenge to keep after something like this day after day, year after year, when the powers that be are arrayed against you. Karen’s courage and determination make her a hero for me and many others.

Karen has gone on to found The Lens with Ariella Cohen. It’s the first nonprofit journalism venture in the city of New Orleans.


Martin Luther King, Jr., was not born on the 17th of January — but I was. MLK was born of the 15th. So was Drew Brees. Unlike Drew and I, the celebration of MLK’s birthday floats around. That’s how you can tell he reached a slightly higher level than most mortals. In fact he’s the only American to be honored with a national holiday who wasn’t a president. As for Drew, he won the Superbowl. I’m just happy to be alive. I’m 44 years old today. My birthday only coincides with MLK Day when it falls on a Monday, which I would guess is approximately every seven years. The last time this happened was in 2005.

Just for the record, here’s a photo of me sitting in front of this computer writing these words.

Photo on 2011-01-17 at 10.54 #3

My hair is longer than it’s been in years. (Nine years in fact.)

So far, this birthday is looking quite a bit better than #43. (Hm, #44 better than #43, what could that possibly portend?) I got to sleep in a bit, Xy fixed me a nice breakfast, my daughter sand me “Happy Birthday,” and we’ve got some steaks to grill this afternoon.

But even better than that, I got to see the word “nonviolence” on the front page of this morning’s paper. That’s a very welcome present. It seems that in the wake of recent events in Arizona, Dr. King’s philosophies are being reexamined. I sure hope so.

Yesterday evening, just as we were sitting down to dinner, I was trying to explain the concept of MLK Day to Persephone, and she exclaimed, unprompted, “People was equal!” Give her a break on the grammar, she’s not yet three years old. I was doubly amazed: first, that she had any grasp of the concept; and second, that she’d actually learned something at daycare. That was another good birthday present.


I took these minutes on my 39th birthday, which was the day the University re-opened after the flooding of the city. What a strange day. We’d seen our city on the brink of annihilation, and the future was very uncertain. We came into our conference room, sat around the table, looked at each other and wondered, “What now?” That was five year ago today. I’ve edited this a bit to obscure individual identities and remove any information that might be considered sensitive.
Continue reading Minutes

Deaf Government Area

Deaf Government Area

This photo recently became my most “favorited” on Flickr. With 26 favorites it has surpassed Big Cloud, which is gratifying because I think this is a much more interesting shot.

I took this one on October 13, 2006 in Gentilly, on Mirabeau Avenue near the London Avenue Canal breach. In the background you can see vacant flooded homes becoming overgrown with vegetation. You can even see some waterlines on the sign itself.

Need I say more? I think the power of this photo is that it tells a story all on its own. You don’t really need any of my explanations.
Continue reading Deaf Government Area

Confessions of a Media Whore

The producers of HBO’s Treme have said that they are creating historical fiction of extremely recent vintage. Thus, while watching the first season of Treme last year, we were reliving the events of late 2005 and early 2006.

And I couldn’t help thinking of what the second season might bring. The focus would shift forward to late 2006 and early 2007. Violence returned to the city with a vengeance. Dinerral Shavers was killed just before the new year, Helen Hill just after, leading to the organization of what I believe was the largest public demonstration in the history of the city. It was, perhaps, a seminal moment in the history of our community, and certainly a key piece of the post-Katrina tale.

So, as I watched the first season of Treme, I wondered if the producers would soon be looking at video of that massive rally at City Hall. Of course, I spoke at that rally, and lots of people were listening.

Nagin Listens to Editor B

I was not the best speaker there by a long shot, but I may have gotten the most attention. My words were literally sent round the world, and on the local news a soundbite of me was played ad nauseum for the next few years anytime a story dwelt with the political aspects of our criminal justice system.

And so I had to wonder if the producers of Treme would in fact be looking at video of me. It was kind of an eerie feeling.

Thus it was not a complete shock when my coworker Edwin B. walked into my office yesterday and said he was working with some people who were working with HBO. Could he pass my name along? I said yes, and that evening I got a call from someone a little closer to the creative team, confirming that my contact info will in fact be passed on to the writers.

As soon as I mentioned this development, a number of friends have had an immediate reaction that boils down to “Cool!” or “Awesome!” but with all due respect I don’t think it’s an unqualified “Cool!” We’re talking about a story of violence, murder, pain, grief, loss, outrage, injustice and many other things that are not exactly happy memories.

And yet, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am something of a media whore. I must be. Sometimes it seems like I’ve been featured in every print and broadcast medium known to man. So the notion of talking to these folks is greatly intriguing to me. I can’t deny that. But my glee is dampened quite quickly when I remember how this all got started. This is sad and serious stuff.

Many friends seemed to jump immediately to the conclusion that this means there will be a character in Treme based on yours truly. Slow down, folks. We don’t even know if the march and rally will be depicted directly. I assume the writers want to talk on background. Deep, deep background.

So now I’m very curious to see where this goes. I hope they do get in touch, because I’ve got a lot to say about what that whole event — that whole series of events — meant to the city and the recovery. I can point them to plenty of other people if they want to do further research. I could talk about how that speech changed my life. I don’t know if they are interested in the particular murderous acts that led to the march, or the political aftermath, or what they’re after really. This could go a lot of different directions.

Photo credit: Nagin Listens to Editor B by Derek Bridges, licensed under Creative Commons

Long Underwear

Damn, it’s cold today. How cold? I think it may be 32ºF right now. The high is projected to be 44ºF. That’s the high, not the low. That is absurd.

After riding around in the cold too much yesterday, I wised up and pulled on the long underwear this morning. Some people are surprised that long underwear still has a use at our latitude. I know a guy who moved here from Minnesota and threw away all his cold weather gear. Man, did he regret that. He’d never been so cold as he was that winter. Because it does get cold here occasionally. Not always, and not as cold as the Great White North, but cold enough to put a chill in your bones. Cold enough to kill you, if you’re not prepared.

There have been winters where I didn’t need my long underwear even once. Unfortunately this is not one of them.

Of course, I’m more sensitive to the cold than some people. I don’t mean that I chill easily, though I do. I mean that since I mainly get around on a bicycle I’m exposed to the elements more than people who simply go from one climate controlled environment to another.

And, despite my complaints, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I think it’s all for the best. In fact, I bundle my girl up and subject her to the elements as well. Here’s a picture from a day that wasn’t even half as cold as today.


You should have seen her today. Warmer coat, warmer hat, only a narrow slit for the eyes. Alas, I didn’t take a picture.

As we ride the bike, we talk about how cold the wind is, but it can’t stop us. Why? Because we’re tough. Nothing can stop us. And then we sing a round of “Frozen Ones.”

Yes, New Orleans has a winter. Visitors who come in the warm months have trouble believing this, but it’s true. We live in the subtropics here. The very definition of subtropical is that we still have a winter, no matter if it’s mild.

At this time of year I almost always begin to yearn for the true tropics, to escape winter forever. I’d like to at least visit. I start reading about places like Dominica and browsing travel sites. Highs in Dominica are in the 80s this week, with plenty of rain. I always thought getting to the Caribbean would be easier from New Orleans, but there aren’t any direct flights that I know of.

So anyway, I’m staying here for now. I hear we may get back into some more reasonable temps in time for my birthday. I’m pulling for the 70s.