The Boboli Video

And now here comes a video from the unfathomable T Bill featuring Xy and yours truly at the Kroger grocery in Bloomington, Indiana, circa mid ’90s. I guess I gave this raw footage to T Bill when he visited years ago and then forgot about it. I never expected to see it again. But, lo and behold, he edited it together with some other appropriated video and posted it to YouTube yesterday. This was stuff we shot for ROX but never used. Never before seen! Enjoy.

Not Laughing Anymore

When I first heard about flooding in Indiana last week, and saw some pictures of IU students frolicking in the high water in Bloomington, with little indication of property damage or loss of life, I’ll admit I laughed. I used to live there, I’d seen canoes on Kirkwood before — I didn’t think much of it.

But now the situation has changed, as the rains keep coming. Seven or eight people have died, 29 counties have been declared disaster areas.

Suffice it to say I’m not laughing anymore.

Here’s a picture of my Dad wading. The water in this small lake on my parents’ property is overflowing the dam.

Walking the dam

Thankfully I don’t think they’re sustaining any real damage, but many others are not so lucky. Since we found refuge in Indiana when we were flooded out of our home in New Orleans, my heart really goes out to the Hoosier State now.

Bloomington Floods

Once again Mr. Magic writes with news of life in my former hometown:

I thought you might enjoy these pictures of the recent flooding in btown.

It was crazy here last night. I’ve never seen this town as wet in my life,

Maybe it can give you some comfort Katrina, as nobody is safe from flooding, even downtown Bloomington.

I found more pictures on Flickr:

Bloomington Flash Flood

Of course us folks in New Orleans have one universal reaction when we see pix like this:

How can those people live there?

Sorry, can’t help it. It’s become an ingrained reflex. From what I’ve read there was very little damage and no loss of life, for which I am glad. Stay dry, Bloomington.

DialAmerica Closes Shop in Bloomington, Indiana

Thanks to the Magic Man for pointing out this story in the Bloomington paper about the closure of the local branch office of DialAmerica Marketing. I worked there for seven long years. Truly it is the end of an era. Like the guy in the story, DM allowed me to keep body and soul together working part-time while I pursued my crazy dreams. To the dozens of people who are now out of a job with no advance warning — I feel for you.
Continue reading “DialAmerica Closes Shop in Bloomington, Indiana”

A Nite on the Town

Last night I went to a party for a friend’s 40th birthday. There was a giant screen in the yard upon which were projected videos from the early days of MTV. It was also a karaoke system. I’ve always been skeptical of karaoke as a concept, but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve ever really seen full-blown karaoke action until last night. It was actually a lot of fun — to watch. I didn’t give it a try myself, though I might have if I’d stuck around longer.

As it was, I headed out to the Circle Bar to see Bloomington’s own Early Day Miners. Great show. Afterwards I helped the band load their equipment up to their hotel nearby. We ended up back at the Circle Bar where a guy from Detroit named Lester struck up a conversation with me. We had an interesting talk, but it kind of bummed me out when he asked me for money. Was the whole conversation just a hustle? I probably should have gone home then, as it was around 2:00 AM, but instead I accompanied the band uptown to St. Joe’s in search of a good mojito. They do mix ’em good there. Afterward we stopped at The Saint for a last round, and I got home around 5:30.

Despite downing quite a few drinks over the course of the evening, I wasn’t too hungover today, but I took it easy nonetheless, napping and doing the crossword and really not worrying about anything, which was a nice change of pace.

Xy, on the other hand, has plenty to worry about because Monday is the first day of school. I took Friday off to help get her classroom set up.

As long as I’m catching up on recent events, I should mention that Friday was also the last day for my boss at work. By now I expect he’s well on his way up to the Great White North. He will be missed.

On Thursday we presented him with a gift of a pair of steel-toed Wolverine work boots, which he’ll surely need for the vast acreage he’s purchased up there.

On Wednesday he and I went out for lunch at Coop’s Place and then checked out the new exhibit at the Historic New Orleans Collection, which is titled “City of Hope.” Fascinating stuff, and I highly recommend it. It doesn’t leave one feeling very hopeful, however. The exhibit provides historical context for the Katrina disaster. After taking it all in, I couldn’t help but wonder. We seem stuck in the third world here — could it be because we’re always recovering from disaster?

From New Orleans to the Midwest

A few months ago I helped some students at Indiana University who were working on a short documentary titled “From New Orleans to the Midwest.” They got in touch with me through my video mentor and teacher Ron Osgood and asked if I could shoot some footage of New Orleans. So I shot some scenes of the things they needed: Superdome repairs, vacant houses around Mid-City, newspaper headlines about crime.

Their subject was New Orleanians who’d evacuated to Bloomington, Indiana. Since most of the people they interviewed in Bloomington seem to be staying there for the foreseeable future, they also asked me to shoot an interview to provide a little balance. After all, we evacuated to Bloomington but have returned to New Orleans.

Xy Evacuee

So I shot an interview with Xy in our kitchen, and for good measure I shot an interview with myself as well. That was kind of funny. To make it fit with the style of the documentary, I had to pretend I was talking to someone just to the right of the camera, even though I was in the room alone.

B Evacuee

This documentary also use of footage from ROX #93.

With gracious permission of the producers, I’ve uploaded the video as a QuickTime Movie [29MB] and as a higher-quality MPEG 4 Movie [54MB]. I’m pretty sure you’ll need QuickTime 7 (which is free) to view either one. It’s about 14 minutes long.

Hats off to Valerie Lisa Bartelt and Sang-Jin Kim for a job well done.

ROX in HT

If you’re a paid subscriber, you can read about us in today’s Bloomington Herald-Times. If you’re not paid up, you can’t access the article, because the newspaper has adopted an overly restrictive policy, and I would never, ever do anything to violate that policy. So I’ll just tell you that it’s a very nice write-up by Mike Leonard about ROX #93. Bloomingtonians with cable TV take note: “it will air Friday and May 16 at 10 p.m. on community access station CATS, channel 3 on Bloomington’s cable lineup.”

It Was Just a Tuesday in April

A tip of the hat to my brother-in-law and his bride. They’re getting married today.

Xy’s in Bloomington for the event, doing something she never does — taking time off. I had wanted to go myself, but I couldn’t, because all my vacation days were hosed by Katrina. Plus, after all the layoffs, I’d feel funny taking a vacation right now.

But really, who gets married on a Tuesday in April? If they’d waited ten days or so, it would have been the Easter holiday, and we’d both have time off. But no.

Not that I’m complaining. I’ve enjoyed the bachelor life these last few days. I’ve been able to do fun tasks which Xy selfishly hogs to herself, such as cleaning out the catbox.

As a weird footnote, I got an e-mail from a fan who spotted Xy at the Bloomington mall:

I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure [it was her], and well, I’d be a bit freaked out if people started coming up to me and saying, “Hey, I saw you on the internet, teehee.”

Letter to the People of Bloomington

Just submitted this letter to the Herald-Times:

My wife and I sought refuge in Bloomington some ten weeks ago when we evacuated New Orleans. The community here has been both gracious and generous. It’s hardly been a vacation, but the people of Bloomington have made our stay here as pleasant as possible.

As we prepare to return to New Orleans permanently, our thoughts are on the future. There is much to be done to restore our property, to get our lives in order and to rebuild our city.

Before we leave, we wanted to express our gratitude to all the people of Bloomington. It’s impossible to thank all the individuals who have helped us, but I did want to mention three organizations: Family Solutions, Harmony School and the Beth Shalom Jewish Community Center were very generous in donating supplies and cash, which I delivered to the Common Ground Collective in New Orleans.

Common Ground is still in need of supplies and volunteers. More information can be found at their website, commongroundrelief.org.

There is one more thing we might ask of your readers. Please, contact your congressional representatives and let them know that you support the fullest federal commitment to the rebuilding of New Orleans.

We’re taking off. See y’all in the funny pages!

Rainington, Tornadiana

It started raining last night around sundown. Kept raining all night long and into the morning. It rained all day. Sometimes hard, sometimes hardly at all, but more and more and more rain, until I’m thinking they should change the name of this town to Rainington.

Meanwhile we’re packing up, getting ready to go.

I drove from Bloomington to Monrovia to return my parents card table. The day has been spent on tasks such as this.

We decided to rent a second car for the trip back. Whilst picking it up at the Budget Rental Depot, it started to rain more furiously than ever.

And then the sirens started to go off. A tornado is headed our way at 60 mph.

I stop by the Monroe County Public Library to pick up a tape. Uniformed people with walkie talkies are at the door. “We’re under a tornado warning, sir. You’re welcome to come in, but you’ll have to go to go downstairs.”

So I went downstairs. Everybody in the whole damn library was there, in CATS. They wouldn’t let us out until the danger of the tornado was past.

For a brief moment, I was kind of choked up.

Meanwhile, a guy named Lee was delivering a DVD set of the first six episodes of ROX to our house. He was sitting out in his car waiting for me, and of course a car isn’t the best place to be if a tornado hits. Fortunately he had the good sense to drop the DVDs in our mailbox and get out of there.

So it looks as though our stay here has been bookended by severe weather: a hurricane brought us here and a tornado decided to see us off.

Stoptional

This morning I had a delicious breakfast at the Runcible Spoon with Ron Osgood and Thom Gillespie.

Afterwards, I blew a stop sign at 4th & Dunn. I don’t know if I was tired or fiddling with the radio or what. I just didn’t see the sign.

The good news is that this screw-up didn’t result in a traffic accident. The bad news is that there was a cop right behind me.

When he saw my Louisiana driver’s license with the New Orleans address, and I explained that I was headed back there in two days, I thought maybe I’d catch a break.

Not so. He wrote me a citation, or a “complaint” as it says on the paperwork, for an “infraction.”

He didn’t have a fine schedule for me, so I had to call the Monroe Circuit Court to learn what I owe: $113.50.

I wanted to go right down there and pay cash, but the clerk told me the officer’s paperwork won’t be processed for a couple weeks, so it looks like I’ll have to mail a money order from New Orleans.

Interchange

After we evacuated from New Orleans, I did a short interview on WFHB. When I made my first trip back to New Orleans, the city was still officially closed, and WFHB gave me a press pass. I did a longer interview when I got back, a full hour, for a program called Interchange.

It aired last night. To my surprise, I didn’t sound like a complete and total idiot — just a partial idiot.

You can download the program in MP3 format. But keep in mind this was recorded, like, a month ago. So much has changed since then.

Here’s the description from the WFHB News site:

11/8/05 – News Director Chad Carrothers spends an hour with former Bloomingtonian Bart Everson, who now calls New Orleans home…or at least he did until Hurricane Katrina forced him and his wife Christy Paxson, an Ellettsville native, to flee the “Big Easy” just before its utter destruction. In the first segment, Everson recalls his evacuation from New Orleans and timely escape back to Bloomington, where he finds a warm welcome yet worries about friends and neighbors who weren’t quite so lucky. In segment two, Everson comments on current ground relief efforts, including his own recent expedition back home to New Orleans to deliever material aid and survey the damage to his home and neighborhood. In our third segment, Everson ponders the fate of both his family and all families who bore the brunt of Katrina.

People often ask me if I’m “sick of talking about” our lives and the situation on the Gulf Coast post-Katrina, usually after they’ve been grilling me for a few minutes. I’m not sick of it, though Xy finds it wearing. Quite the opposite. I feel it’s important to talk about it. And it takes practice to learn to articulate.

Tornado Warning

The air raid sirens woke us up and alerted us to the fact that Monroe County is under a tornado warning. A fine how-do-you do at 3:30 in the morning.

This house has no basement. The only room without windows is the bathroom. I guess we could hunker down in the bathtub, but I tend to be more fatalistic about tornados. I think we’ll just go back to sleep.

Saved by the Bra

We went to see the Edgeweed High School production of Rebel Without a Cause. Xy’s godmother, Sally, is the drama coach there.

A weird thing about that theater is how high the stage is. Or maybe the seats are low. You can’t quite see over the lip of the stage, so the actors’ feet are invisible.

It wasn’t half bad for a high school production, but I confess I’ve never quite gotten the appeal of Rebel. It seems somewhat random and superficial.

But the most entertaining part of the evening came later, at an after-party at Sally’s house. Her sister from Atlanta was there, and she recounted a story from 1978. Seems she was a cop and was serving a warrant to an accused child molester. The guy pulled a gun and shot her in the chest, pretty much point-blank. (He immediately had his head blown off by her partner.) She went to the hospital, of course. Turns out the bullet lodged in her liver, where it resides to this day. It was deflected from her heart by her underwire bra. Her bra saved her life!

But as if that wasn’t weird enough, while in the hospital she discovers that she’s pregnant.

Her son is now 27 years old.

Being Here

Of all the places we could have taken refuge, I’m glad we landed in Bloomington. This is a wonderful place, a place I’ve always loved, a place I never wanted to leave in the first place.

Bloomington’s just enough of a city to be a city, to have that thrum of urban excitement, but it’s also small enough to feel intimate and mellow when you need that.

And where else can you get some damn good gumbo served “Hoosier Style” over mashed potatoes? New Orleanians are horrified by the concept and skeptical in the extreme — until they try a bowl.

I love the bohemian raggedness of Bloomington. Sometimes it seems everyone here is an artist or a hippie or a stoner or at least married or related to one. And I like that.

I see the problems too. I see the sprawl. I see the traffic clogging up State Road 46. I know about the lack of economic opportunity, and the PCBs. Honestly, it just makes me smile. Life’s pretty sweet if these are the big problems. These are real problems, but they seem manageable. People who care to take them on have at least a chance of success.

It makes me wish I lived here.

We’ve tried to enjoy our sojourn, to treat it like an extended vacation. We’ve run out to Lake Griffy and Cedar Bluffs. We’ve walked the streets and the campus of the Big State University. We’ve visited with friends and family, gone to parties, seen bands.

But all the same, I can’t really enjoy being here. In fact, I don’t really feel like I am here. I feel more like I’m in Limbo. My thoughts are 800 miles away. So is my heart.

Right now, our plan is to move back down to New Orleans, hopefully for good, in less than two weeks. Much as I love Bloomongton, New Orleans is where I need to be.

Time

My computer still thinks it’s in New Orleans, and so its clock has “fallen back” an hour.

But here in Indiana, clocks never change — as I well know, since I grew up here. Most Indiana clocks stay the same year ’round. The television schedule shifts an hour, just to remind us the rest of the country does things differently.

But that era is drawing to a close. Recent legislation means that Indiana’s getting in synch with the Daylight Saving Madness. (And make no mistake, it is pure foolishness.) Next time the country changes its clocks, so will Indiana.

What a shame.

If you’re interested in the issues at hand, check out What Time Is It in Indiana? I was impressed with this webpage years ago. It was started by a group of 8th graders right here in Bloomington. I’m happy to see it’s been maintained and has information that appears to be up to the minute.

James

Our friend James Conrad, not to be confused with the author of Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness, is staying with us for a few days.

[Update: It’s been brought to my attention that Joseph Conrad wrote those books. I knew that. Really, I did. I think I was confused because James and I discussed Heart of Darkness a few times. He even borrowed my copy to read it.]

James is half-Mexican, half-German, all American and 100% old school New Orleans. His apartment in Algiers is largely undamaged, but he hasn’t been back to the city since he evacuated, just before the storm.

He really has no reason to hurry back. Holy Cross college, where he was studying, is not re-opening until January. James was taken in by a Good Samaritan in Senitobia, Mississippi, and he’s been hanging out there or traveling ever since.

Now his travels have taken him to visit us in Bloomington, Indiana. Having grown up in New Orleans, he finds the fall foliage a special treat, and the leaves are pretty much at their peak right now.

So today we took James for a hike out at the Cedar Bluff Nature Preserve. Beautiful, but I was amazed at how rough the trail was. Not quite what I remembered. I was worried that James wasn’t going to make it.

It’s a little stressful entertaining a guest when Xy and I have so many serious things to talk about.

An exacerbating factor is the strange sense of humor James has. He seems to think that pretending to be a rude, misogynistic bigot is funny. He’s going for shock value, I guess. It’s just an act, but it gets really old. I’ve tried to tell him. I wish he would be real, just be himself, because he’s actually a nice person behind that crusty exterior.

James, if you ever read this — take the hint, please!