Preacher’s Cart

How did this shopping cart full of miscellaneous hardware come to be parked in our yard for three months?

Preacher's Cart

Therein lies a tale.

One day in late May, a guy came walking down our street. He started talking to Xy and somehow convinced her to hire him to cut our grass. Before I knew it she had him in the house and she was showing him a broken window pane. Could he fix it?

I scoffed, but I guess he had a way with words because the next thing I knew we’d agreed to hire him to fix the window pane and the drainage under our kitchen sink to boot.

The guy was a bit of a character. Called himself Preacher because he’s a man of God. A fast-talker, but likeable. Charismatic. Slightly tenuous grasp of what is laughingly referred to as “reality.” Seems like I’ve known a few guys like Preacher over the years. I drove him to his house, just a few blocks away, so he could get his tools.

He did fix our drainage, and he cut our grass once or twice. But he also seemed to keep asking for more money, and between Xy and I being generous and not communicating with each other, we ended up paying him more than we should have. He was still “working” on the the window pane project when he showed up one day with this cart load of stuff he got on discount somewhere. He asked if he could stow it in our yard while he ran some other errand.

Then he disappeared.

After three months we were really getting tired of having this cart around. I took this photo with plans of posting it to Freecycle.

But lo and behold, Preacher showed up the very next day. He had been in the hospital. He took the cart with a promise to come back and trim our grass one more time. No charge. He seemed to have forgotten about the window pane entirely.

But that’s fine by me. I wish him well.

The Theologians

Michael Homan has concocted another short movie of inscrutable strangeness. This one is called The Theologians.

This one’s got a lot of academic in-jokes that are over my untutored head, but if you watch carefully you’ll see me in one brief scene, along with Xy and Persephone who are particularly adorable.


I also provided vocals for the theme song. Please don’t hold that against me.

Michael said he values this movie mostly as a sort of elaborate snapshot, a time capsule if you will, capturing the essence of a circle of friends at a particular moment. A number of Bloomingtonians have described the first season of ROX same way.

It’s great to have creative friends.

Saving Grace

Mid-City Community Dinner

It’s come to my attention that the Episcopal Diocese is planning to close Grace Episcopal Church on Canal Street in the first Sunday in January. This would be a major blow in my opinion. Below is a letter to the bishop urging him to reconsider this decision. Though sent on behalf of my role in FOLC, I feel a strong personal connection to Grace as I’ve attended so many meetings there. My daughter had a wonderful time at Grace Child Center until it too was closed by the diocese under circumstances which I never fully understood. I find church politics very confusing. The Executive Board of the diocese is meeting this Wednesday; I sincerely hope they can find a way to keep Grace open.

Dear Reverend Morris Thompson,

As the President of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, I am writing to you to express how important Grace Episcopal church is to my organization and to many other organizations across the City. This church is far more than a space for worship, it is a place that inspires residents to give back to the community. By hosting and advertising many community meetings and functions that contribute to the improvement of our society as a whole, Grace Episcopal is a true gem in New Orleans and should not be closed. My organization has had monthly meetings here for over three years. I have attended numerous citywide meetings and neighborhood meetings at this venue as well. This church brings communities together to help address societal issues, and if closed, would leave many residents and organizations at a loss for a gathering space. Therefore on behalf of the Board of Friends of Lafitte Corridor, I am requesting that you reconsider your decision to close such an active and important church.


Bart Everson
Friends of Lafitte Corridor

Cc: Reverend Canon Mark Stevenson

Called the Cops

I called the popo on a neighbor last night. Hated to do it, but he was apparently intoxicated, enraged, and going after his brother with a damn shovel, yelling that he intended to kill him. Three cop cars showed up. Fortunately I don’t think anyone was hurt or arrested.

There is data indicating that “violence against women spikes after the home pro football team suffers an upset.” I don’t think the Packers victory was an upset, and the target here was not a woman, but still I have to wonder whether this would have happened if the Saints had won.


One of my core values is the idea of respecting others. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But like many deeply cherished values, it tends to get a bit complicated under intense scrutiny. In fact I have often considered myself a misanthrope, which might seem to be at odds with respecting others.

It’s easy for me to feel respectful in my typical daily routine, because I have the good fortune to be surrounded by people whom I find it easy to respect. For the most part, the people closest to me are not domineering assholes nor extremely needy nor highly dysfunctional. A lot of them are in fact beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, righteous people. I love them, and it’s easy to respect those you love.

If I deviate much from my social comfort zone, however, I’m liable to encounter people where the ideal of mutual respect is much more difficult. Sometimes, such deviations are thrust up unexpectedly, and I have a crisis of conscience.

For example, Friday morning, as I rode to work, I encountered a man who appeared to be sleeping on the bike path.


The reason I started this off by writing about respect is that I realized I do not know how to act respectfully to this man. One might say that he was not treating himself with respect, and therefore not deserving of respect from others. Perhaps there’s some validity to that perspective, but my thoughts don’t tend to run that way. I feel like I should do something, but I don’t know what the respectful course of action might be.

At first glance, it would seem he had too much too drink and was sleeping it off. I don’t know that for a fact, of course. Perhaps he fainted. Perhaps he has a medical condition. Perhaps his life is in danger. At the very least, he’s in danger of being run over by a bicycle, or getting dehydrated under the Louisiana sun. It’s August, after all.

I don’t want to interact with him directly. I don’t have any medical training. I’m on my way to work. What am I going to do, prod him in the ribs? “Hey, buddy, are you OK?” I’m afraid he might be incoherent or surly or even dangerous. Again, he appears to have been engaging in behavior that is so far outside my experience that I’m at a loss. I don’t have the first clue how to approach him.

It would be nice if I could just call on someone else. After all, I live in a society, right? It seems there should be some means of helping people who are in immediate need. But calling the cops is out of the question; he’d likely end up in jail or maybe even worse. Could I call 911 and get a medic on the scene? Are they equipped to deal with this scenario, or are they going to want cops present for their own protection? If he in fact is simply drunk, is he going to be handed off to the police anyhow? I’d assert that someone who drinks to that level of excess needs medical help. Possibly he needs a home. But what are the chances he would get that if I call 911?

I keep envisioning scenarios wherein any intervention actually makes matters worse.

I mentioned I was on my way to work twice already. Maybe that’s the primary factor here. I’m going about my business, usually running a little behind the clock. I don’t want to get into someone else’s business, especially when it looks like it might get messy.

In the end, I did nothing. Well, that’s not quite true. I realized I had my camera, so I turned around and snapped a photo. But I didn’t do anything to help him. When I passed by again he was gone.

What do you do in a situation like this?


My week as a bachelor is drawing to a close. When we did this last year it was pretty tame. I saw some movies, which was exciting enough, and a notable highlight was a trip to the doctor to get some meds.

This year things have been a little different. Still not frequenting the strip clubs — that’s not my style. But I’ve been staying up a little later, drinking a little more, bathing a little less, and generally letting it all hang out.

The week started off with a bang, when the Krewe of Palmyra. Did I mention I was propositioned by a somewhat intoxicated and nearly-naked second liner? It was a joke, I’m sure, but my ego will take what it gets.

I put in almost a full week’s worth of work, but I did take one sick day. My right ear had that “unpopped” feeling which was making me feel off-balance and generally disorientated. I went to see my ENT about it and got some meds: an oral steroid, dexamethasone, to complement the nasal spray steroid I started on this time last year. That gave me some extra time to sit in my underwear here at home editing ROX #96. I’d completed a rough cut by midweek.

I was also kept busy with community meetings: one planning for Rising Tide VI and two related to the Lafitte Corridor. One evening I got together with a Green Party person from Philly who was in town for a conference. We didn’t know each other, but she found the old webpage for the GNOGP and got in touch. We had a good dinner at Mandina’s and some great conversation.

Yesterday morning I rode uptown for my monthly book club, where we discussed Dying Inside by Robert Silverberg. (I found the book disturbing, unpleasant, and absolutely exquisite.) Afterwards I was able to enjoy a leisurely lunch with the group at that Ethiopian place on Magazine Street.

Summer is finally in full effect. I love riding around New Orleans on a hazy, muggy summer day.

But the perfect bookend for this week came on Saturday afternoon in a one-two punch. The first punch was the 610 Stompers Ball Crawl. I didn’t sign up for the fun, but they stopped pretty much right in front of our house for an extended shenanigan which included a Mustache Contest. It was reminiscent of the Krewe of Palmyra, except on steroids. It seemed to be about ten times as big.

And of course, these guys have the moves.

The sheer nutty audacity of these guys is amazing. Of course the 80s workout getups are funny, but it’s truly astonishing to see them moving in unison.

Xy will be jealous. She loooves the 610 Stompers. At least I’ve got some video for her to get a vicarious thrill.

The second punch? Chef Menteur. I threw down some jack (a paltry smidgen to be honest) for their new recording project on Kickstarter (and encourage others to do the same) and that got me an invite to a party/show on a Mid-City warehouse rooftop. Had some of the best pulled pork since I was in the Carolinas, enjoyed some Pilsner Urquell on tap, renewed some old acquaintances and made some new friends, and generally had a blast.

The music was even awesomer than anticipated. Certainly they rocked harder than I expected. Sort of artsy mostly instrumental spacerock.

Xy would have liked that scene too. It reminded me a lot of Bloomington.

All in all it’s been a fun week, but also a full week and a productive one. I’ve hardly had time to miss my girls, but miss them I do, and I’m looking forward to their return which should be sometime today.

Now if you’ll excuse me I really should mow the lawn before Xy gets back.

Update: OK, that took about twelve minutes. I usually leave the yardwork to Xy so this was my first time handling the new push-mower we bought a couple months ago. This was easy, dare I even say fun?

Mid-City Market

There is an unfortunate pattern which sometimes emerges in local reportage, wherein community groups are incorrectly depicted as opposed to economic development. In reality, most community groups merely want to be engaged in the development process to ensure the highest quality outcome. I’ve seen it happen before, and so I get a little nervous sometimes.

Happily in this morning’s paper we have a different scenario. It feels like we got out ahead of the story for once. Rather than being framed as obstructionist we are actually taking credit for generating investment. The reality is of course more nuanced than a single newspaper article will convey. I can’t say more without undermining the win, so I’ll shut up. You can read the story, in which I am quoted, and decide for yourself.

And don’t forget to read between the lines.
Continue reading Mid-City Market

Krewe of Palmyra

Yesterday afternoon I heard the sound of a brass band. I stuck my head outside and saw the Krewe of Palmyra coming down Alexander to make a stop at Banks Street Bar.

I thought I’d seen it all. I thought I knew what was going on in my neighborhood, at least, but I guess New Orleans still has a few surprises for me. This is the sixth year for Krewe of Palmyra but I never knew of them before.


So there I was in my bathrobe taking some pictures and one of the second liners had the audacity — the effrontery — the unmitigated gall — to make fun of my scanty attire. Mind you, she wasn’t wearing hardly any clothes herself, so I hardly felt she should criticize me. Also, I want to go on record that I did pull on a pair of undies before leaving the house.

Apparently there’s some overlap between Palmyra and the Krewe of Space Age Love. According to their website, “In early June we participate In The Krewe of Palmyra no more parades in Mid-City and another reason to party protest parade.” I had to read that five times before it made sense.

Spread the Love

They were using the same float they used in the Krewe du Vieux parade. Someone was supposed to remove the penis to make it more “family friendly” but they never got around to it. Oh well.

Sometimes I really love this place.

Loose Endz

Recently, after a couple beers, Xy let it slip that she’s not really into the funky weird ponytail I’d been growing out for the last year or so.


I can’t say I blame her. It started as the ultimate anti-mullet, long on top, shaved everywhere else. But when it finally got long enough, it started looking like a mullet after all. In fact, this hair had become something of a liability. I worry how my personal image reflects on my other activities. For example, as the president of a small grassroots organization I often speaking to the public. I have to wonder what the Rotary Club thought when I show up sporting that ridiculous ‘do. I don’t mind making a fool of myself, but I don’t want to make our project look bad.

So, yes, I’ve been looking forward to chopping it off. The question has been when. Xy’s offhand comment was the only excuse I needed.

The other key question has been how. I could have just shaved my head bald on the porch. I can do that myself, and the price is right.

But I like going to a barber when I can. Since Katrina I have been struggling to find a regular barber. I’ve got a guy I can go to for a cut who’s pretty good, but he’s kind of unfriendly and he’s not close to home. Proximity is key. I want to be able to walk to my barbershop. i want to be able to pop in without a great deal of fuss. I also want a barber with whom I can develop a rapport, someone who will understand what I want, eventually. And finally, there’s a little feeling of community that can emerge in a barbershop. I like talking to, or just listening to, or just being the same space with people I wouldn’t otherwise have met, neighbors I wouldn’t otherwise know.

That’s why I was happy to see Loose Endz open up just a couple doors from our house back in early March.

Corner Shop

Incidentally, I wrote Vincent Marcello a letter about this property last October. He wrote back and assured me that any lead paint issues would be handled responsibly. I would have gone ballistic if I’d seen any sanding, but I never did. Somehow they got it done. From what I can tell, Mr. Marcello was good to his word.

Since they opened, I’ve stuck my head in the door a couple times, but Saturday morning I went as a customer.

I’ve patronized African American barbers for years. My pre-K barber, Louis E. Claverie, had a sign above his door that advertised “Serving All Nationalities.” (His shop was put out of commission by the floods of ’05. I don’t know what happened to him personally. I often wonder, and I hope he made out OK.) The barbers I’ve visited post-K have not been so versatile. I went to Unifiers only once, but I got the impression I was the only white customer Mr. Percy had ever had. I worked with a couple guys at Hair Ideas, but just as soon as they got up to speed, they vanished — and then Hair Ideas was foreclosed, sadly enough.

If you’re wondering why I’m making such a big deal about race, well, hair really is pretty different between the races. What’s more, it’s different in tricky ways that are significant when it comes to cutting and styling. The art of cutting Afro-textured hair is distinct from the art of cutting straight hair.

Saturday morning, I decided to get the question out of the way. I asked Tim straight-up if he much experience cutting Caucasian hair. I don’t normally call myself Caucasian, but talking about “white hair” is even more confusing. Tim confessed he wasn’t too comfortable with the scissors, but that’s OK. Clipper cuts are what I prefer anyway.

I often aim for a flattop, a somewhat technical cut which is hard to pull of without a lot of practice. In this case, given how much of my head was shaved almost bald, I’m not sure a flattop was possible. What I ended up with was more like a rooster’s comb, almost like a mohawk with a very accomplished fade. Even so, I don’t look half as wacky as I did before. I’m happy with this for now, but I’ll probably take it down a little shorter next time. I like having an ultra-conservative, military-style haircut. It’s like a spiritual mullet: business on the outside, party within.

Twenty bucks got me a haircut and a shave. Tim proved to be both personable and a skilled barber. I think I’ll be back.

Here’s a photo.

New Haircut

It’s not a very good shot, because I’m backlit, but I like it anyway because it was taken by Persephone. I helped her steady the camera, but she pushed the button herself. You can’t really see here how the hair comes to crest, but there are more pix in my photostream if you’re really curious. Self-portraits are a challenge.

Post Scriptum: Tim told me Banks Street Bar will soon be closing, temporarily, so that the building can be straightened, because it’s leaning like a gangsta.

House Next Door

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned it, but the house next door to ours was finally purchased. I believe it went for around $40K after sitting on the market for a year. The initial price was twice that. It needs a lot of work, which is underway. The new owner’s intention is to renovate and sell. The house is comparable in size to ours. If it sells for around the same price ($250K) it should be a good return on investment.

So once again we are living next to a construction site, which kind of sucks — but it sure beats the alternative. That house has not been occupied since the floods of 2005, at least.

Here are some pix.


House Next Door

View from Our Window

Smokin' at the Ice Cream Truck

The work crew consists mainly of three guys of Honduran origin. They like to listen to classic rock on the radio. They patronize the ice cream truck. They seem to know what they’re doing.

Today I saw they were putting up Tyvek. That brought back memories. Three years ago, at our old location, work on the house next door stalled out for months. (Same as our house, actually, just later.) Some of the house wrap came undone and would flap in the breeze. Because our houses were so close together it was like the flapping was right in our bedroom. It was driving Xy crazy, and finally I had to run out with a ladder and a staple gun and secure the errant wrap.

Samedi Blues Redux

Baron Samedi (encre et crayons de couleurs) sold

Misery loves company, and this year I’ve got plenty.

To recap ever-so-briefly: Over the last few decades, all the big parades have been consolidated onto what’s now known as the “traditional uptown route” — except one, the biggest of ’em all, the gaudy spectacle known as Endymion. It’s the one time the festive spirit of Carnival comes to Mid-City, and I love that. Back in our old house we threw some really fun parties on Samedi Gras, which is the day Endymion rolls. Now we live too far from the route to justify having a party, and yet paradoxically we’re now closer to the really crazy crowds which I personally don’t want to deal with, and besides I’m not really a fan of the parade itself. So last year I was singing the blues, and this year I was fixing to do the same. In fact I figured I’d just stay at home today and do my taxes. Seriously.

Friday I was surprised to learn Persephone’s daycare was closed, just in anticipation of the Endymion madness. Oops. I ended up having to take her to work with me, which was actually a lot of fun, but I digress. The point I’m trying to make is Endymion is a big deal to folks ’round here. How big? About a million people show up to see the parade. Yes, that’s right — a million people. Friday morning the earliest arrivals were camped out on the Orleans Avenue neutral ground, in the rain. Some had tents, some had umbrellas, some were just exposed to the elements. Yet Endymion doesn’t roll until Saturday afternoon.

Only it turns out this year Endymion won’t roll on Saturday — or in Mid-City. This rumor had been circulating for a couple days, but the official announcement came last night.

A few minutes ago, and with great regret, Endymion founder and Captain, Ed Muniz, announced that Endymion will parade Sunday night behind Bacchus. This decision comes after many hours of discussion with the NOPD and every weather person and service available.

The bottom line, gang, is that there is an 80% chance of heavy rain and storms, especially right at 4:00 PM. It’s just not safe, nor will it be comfortable, to go.

The good news is that we have secured marching bands and will have a great parade and fantastic weather for Sunday night. We are and will be working on details through the night so check your email often.

Though it will be smaller, the Extravaganza WILL have a parade! Train, Kelly Ripa, Anderson Cooper and Mark Consuelos will ride as Grand Marshalls and The Wise Guys, Train, Pat Benatar and Party on the Moon will perform as scheduled.

It breaks our hearts to make this decision, but based on the information that we have, we feel it is the only decision we can make.

It gives new meaning to Hail, Endymion!

Far be it from me to second-guess this decision. I’ve never even ridden in a parade, much less organized anything as big as a superkrewe. Nevertheless I have to point out that of the last nine years, Endymion has been shifted to the “traditional uptown route” four times. This situation makes no one happy, except perhaps law enforcement. Uptowners don’t want Endymion, and Mid-Citizens feel cheated.

Here’s a couple quotes from my neighborhood discussion group.

Why are the uptown parades not moved to mid city for Sunday instead? Given its the only one that rolls through mid city?

As long as this is NOT the start of the slippery slope toward a permanent move to the uptown route!

And some more choice quotes from

BS!!! I will be boycotting endymion. It is completely unfair that uptown gets all the parades. It is a cash cow for all the businesses uptown and no others get to benefit from the parades. Spread the wealth.

we are just disappointed and are really logical people, however this is the only parade that rolls outside of uptown. If we had others we probably wouldn’t be to upset.

To our boys in Endymion: How very sad that instead of moving your parade later into the evening Saturday, when the weather may be better, you sold us out and moved Uptown. We are your faithful fans, who came back in 2006 to see you behind Bacchus, and rejoiced when you returned to your Mid-City home and hundreds of thousands of us. Our Mid-City businesses, the mom and pop businesses, the schools who sell food and bathroom passes, all of us willing to endure the worst that Mother Nature throws at us, counted on you to hang tough. Do right by us. And you didn’t. You have no idea the pain this causes, to our wallets, our still-struggling Mid-City. We would have sat through the deluge for you. 7. 8. 9 p.m. We would have waited. This is as hurtful than so many of us losing everything after Katrina. We had faith in you, boys. My God, you threw us under the floats…for an uptown ride. How sad, our boys of Endymion.

I’m not saying these people are right or wrong, but such comments indicate the level of passion some of my neighbors have. Me, I was planning to pull a “bah humbug” anyhow, so now I’m just glad for the company.

Baron Samedi (encre et crayons de couleurs) sold / cecily devil / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

No Thanks but Lemme Ask My Roommate

I was alarmed to see this report because the location is not far from our house, but the details are kind of interesting.

Armed Robbery, 3900 Block of Banks Street

On February 21, 2011 at approximately 10:15 AM, First District Officers responded to an armed robbery in the 3900 Block of Banks Street. The victim reported an unknown black female wearing a purple shirt and blue jeans knocked on the back door to the residence and asked the subject if he wanted to have sex for money. The subject told her no but stated he would ask his roommate who was asleep.

The subject woke the victim and went back into the kitchen. The witness stated when he came back into the room, the black female had a small black revolver in her hand and the victim’s wallet. The subject stated the female left the residence with the wallet.

A spanish speaking officer arrived on scene and spoke with the victim. The victim relayed the same information received from the subject # 1 including his wallet had been sitting on a small table near the door at the time the female grabbed it.

A neighbor stated the female left in a blue minivan, possibly a Dodge. Both the witness and victim stated they had not seen this female before. The victim stated he had approximately $600 in his wallet.

Sent by Officer Melody Young -1st District NOPD.

As I read this a second time, I kind’ve gotta wonder if the subject #1 or the victim can be trusted in this case. It kind of reminds me of an incident at our old homestead.

Fixed Vote = No Vote

Fixed Vote = No Vote

This sign is on a house on Canal Street. I’m not sure but I strongly suspect this may have been placed by a guy calling himself shaman_nation who popped up on the Mid-City discussion group and started posting the most inane conspiracy drivel I’ve ever read.

He’d post some links and then add:

But, I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of stuff we need to worry about before the FIXED VOTE…


One neighbor very politely tried to make the point that such assertions were off-topic.

Imagine you’re at a meeting in which everyone is dicussing agenda items relavant to How to Fry Bananas. And you are stand on your chair shouting about DOOR WAYS !!! DOOR WAYS !!!!

Does that make any sense, to shout about door ways in a meeting about frying bananas?

This email group or listserv is about the quality of life in MidCity. Crime stats, zoning, water main leaks, what number to call when VooDoo parkers block your driveway, etc. Not about affecting changes in how this country’s Government operates.

Also, please stop shouting. ALLCAPS is generally considered the equivolant of shouting and in a forum such as this listserv is considered rude.

Of course he had one answer for all such criticism. He accused them of being part of the conspiracy.

Thanks for the lying scam BS about all caps…






Fascists, that need to be on trial for Crimes Against Humanity, and since WE ARE AT UNOFFICIAL WAR – based on lies/torture/rendition/etc – TREASON via subversion of the vote. THE ONLY POWER THE PEOPLE HAVE.

These exchanges led Michael to post the following which still cracks me up:

Since MCNO is now the forum for voting conspiracy theory, I would like to add that I have some serious questions about the Kennedy assassination. Single bullet? YOU ARE FOOLING YOURSELVES PEOPLE OF MID-CITY!!!. I also have good evidence that the annual Mid-City bonfire that used to be so much fun was squashed not because of permits, but because of secret documents Lee harvey Oswald buried in the walls of Thurgood Marshall (Beauregard) UNEARTHED DURING THE RESTORATION POST FLOOD which proved that Jacqueline Kennedy choked Marilyn Monroe with a banana purchased from Mr Okra. I SAID IT—MR OKRA!!!!!

Need I add that the URLs on the sign don’t work?

Recreating a Moment

As previously mentioned, HBO’s Treme is recreating the 2007 March for Survival. I’m trying to “drum up” some support for recreating the Mid-City contingent. In particular I’m hoping someone with a snare drum turns out. As you can see in the photo below, the Mid-City contingent included a snare drum in honor of Dinerral Shavers.

Marching Down Canal Street

I wish I knew who the guy with the drum was. I remember Ashley had a snare too…

Note also people were wearing white. I hope we can recreate little historical details like that.

OK, herewith is the official call from Jeniffer Farwell, president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization.

Honor Dinerral Shavers, Helen Hill, and all the other loved ones lost to violence this Saturday (Feb. 5) as an extra for the show, Treme.

This march will be filmed for the show, but it also gives you a chance to express continued outrage with violence problems that persist in our beautiful city and the failures in education, recreation, and other programs that perpetuate a culture of violence among the youth of the city.

Furthermore, it gives Mid-City and its surroundings national coverage, especially when we carry our Mid-City yard signs and/or wear Mid-City t-shirts.

Wednesday morning I will have the details on where and when to meet (early Saturday morning; somewhere in Mid-City).

If you want to participate, please email [email protected] as soon as possible, and send this to all your friends. Treme MUST have everyone’s names and contact info before the event – preferably by Thursday.

If we get 50 or more people, Treme will make a $500 donation that will be used for a neighborhood get-together later this year.

I plan on being there.

I guess this would be a good place to recount my Treme experience thus far. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t actually get to speak to the writers after all. It seems that by the time I got into the loop, things were already pretty far along. That’s too bad, because I flatter myself to think I might have had some insights that could have informed the creative process — but oh well. I did get to speak to Karen-kaia Livers who’s doing specialty casting and helping assemble extras for the recreation. Maybe she passed some of my pearls of wisdom on to others. As for what’s in the works, I really don’t know much, except that I understand Dinerral Shaver’s sister Nikita will be the only speaker depicted at the rally. I don’t know if she’ll play herself or if it will be some other actress or if maybe they’ll use archival footage. Also, I understand the overarching aim will be to portray a moment of unity, which I applaud.

Perhaps you’ve been inspired by seeing the people of Egypt unite in mass protests this past week. The 2007 March for Survival is the closest thing to that I’ve seen here in New Orleans, or anywhere in the United States. Though it was born of pain and outrage, in some ways it represents our city at its best. Here’s your chance to reenact it.

Celebrating Saturday, Morning and Night

Saturday morning I was out early conducting a short tour of the Lafitte Corridor. I was skeptical about how many people would be up for a hike at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, but pleasantly surprised when a dozen people showed up, plus a half dozen more who joined us in progress.

Edgar & Vance


Lindsay & Helen

We walked from Sojourner Truth Community Center to Bayou St. John and back. Actually we had to turn back before we reached the bayou. I was worried I wouldn’t have folks back to Sojourner Truth in time for the main event, namely the Walk and Roll Louisiana Summit 2010. I was supposed to be on a panel at the summit titled “Building successes from the ground up: The legacy of walking and cycling advocacy in Louisiana.” But thankfully I was able to get one of my esteemed FOLC board members, namely Edgar Chase, to represent us.

See, I couldn’t stick around for Walk & Roll because I had a prior commitment. The second Saturday of the month is my book club. Don’t get me wrong, I think Walk & Roll was a fantastic event, and bike/ped issues are near and dear to my heart. But I’ve been going to this book club for almost ten years now. I’ve missed a few meetings here and there because of levee failures and the like, but as a rule I do my best to be there. Second Saturdays are sort of sacred to me.

Drawing boundaries like this is important to maintaining my sanity and my sense of balance. There are many needs in this community, and I try to do my part, but in order to stay happy and healthy I have to know where to draw the line, to say “sorry” and enjoy my personal pleasures as opposed to serving the elusive public good.

(As another example, I was recently asked to serve on some neighborhood committees. I was on the verge of saying yes when I remembered that in 2008 I essentially made a vow, to my wife and my daughter and myself, to limit my involvement to one organization only. I chose Friends of Lafitte Corridor and resigned from two other boards. It was a good decision, one I need to continue to honor, so instead of serving on one of those committees I made a counter-offer. I’m going to recruit someone else as a Greenway Liaison for Mid-City. I suspect there’s a FOLC member living in Mid-City who’d like to get more active with FOLC and/or MCNO. This might be the perfect opportunity for getting started. I’m hoping that this will be a way to expand the circle of neighborhood involvement for a net gain.)

So that’s what I did Saturday morning, and I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed talking about Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others with my fellow club members. Even so, I felt slightly guilty about not being at Walk & Roll to show my support, and about not being home to help with chores and looking after my daughter, especially after being gone most of last week.

But only slightly.

Actually, that may have added to my enjoyment. I felt like I was getting away with something.

I’m still planning to write more about the trip to St. Louis, by the way.

Saturday night, Xy and I dropped Persephone off with a sitter and celebrated — I wasn’t sure exactly what we were celebrating, but we had a good time which included dinner at Crescent Pie & Sausage. It wasn’t until Sunday that I realized it has been a year and a day since we closed on our new house. I wonder when we will stop calling it “new”?

Santa Muerte

I recently noticed a small backyard shrine in my neighborhood.

Backyard Shrine

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it at first. I thought maybe it was related to Vodou or Santeria. Then, last weekend, I noticed the owner had put up a sign (English and Spanish) saying “Welcome to the Shrine of Santa Muerte.” The gate was open and you could go into the yard and visit the shrine.

The sign rang a bell. I seemed to remember reading about the Mexican government suppressing this religious expression sometime in the last year.

Sure enough, this Wikipedia article explains Santa Muerte is (maybe) a syncretism between Catholic Christianity and some indigenous Mesoamerican beliefs. Santa Muerte has been underground for a long time. Fascinating stuff.

Her day is November 1st, which is of course the Day of the Dead. If you care to pay your respects, perhaps you can visit the shrine in Mid-City and leave some cigarettes or fruit. I haven’t spoken to the owner and I really have no clue what’s appropriate beyond what I’ve inferred from reading online.

I’m not sure of the propriety of disclosing the exact location publicly. I’m thinking it’s probably alright, but I’ll err on the side of caution for now. If you really wanna know, contact me privately.

Inexplicable Benediction

This morning as I rode to work, just as I approached the overpass, I saw a man who was pushing a wheelchair near the bike path. He wasn’t sitting in the wheelchair, he was pushing it along, with a pile of some clothes or other stuff on the seat. But as I passed near him he had stopped pushing and had lifted both arms in the air. He was saying something. As I passed I heard a few words, a snippet only, a brief fragment: “…everyone, this man on the bike, everyone…”

Comiskey Shot

Comiskey Park Brandsource Community Center

Now that school’s back in session and my daughter’s back in daycare, I’m back to riding on the Jeff Davis bike path each morning on my way to work. That takes me past Comiskey Park and a sad tableau of signage for a community center that never materialized. I thought to myself a couple times over the past couple weeks that I should stop and take a photo. It would be one of those shots that tells much of the story all by itself.

Then, yesterday morning, I opened the paper to discover Eliot Kamenitz beat me to it. Imagine — scooped by a professional photographer.

So on the way home yesterday I snapped my own version. Better late than never.

I remember in late 2006 that a company named DNA Creative Media approached Mid-City Neighborhood Organization with a somewhat unusual proposition. They wanted to make a “reality show” about building something in New Orleans. One idea being floated was a community center at Comiskey Park in Mid-City, but they were also looking at other sites. MCNO rallied a bunch of neighbors to turn out and greet the producers when they visited Comiskey on November 29th of that year. I stopped by on my way home from work to support the cause. Many neighbors had made signs with slogans like “DNA + Mid-City = A Perfect Match.” In short, as a community we pulled out all stops to land this deal.

Apparently the producers were impressed by the warm reception. In some other neighborhoods they’d visited, people were more skeptical.

Perhaps we should have been more skeptical too. The whole thing struck me as bizarre. But remember, we were still in full-on recovery mode. Our future was far from clear. We were still living in a surreal landscape of destruction. We were desperate.

For a while things looked like they were proceeding according to plan. It was announced that Louis Gossett Jr. would host the show. Neighbors developed a wishlist for features they wanted to see. Soon, plans for a beautiful community center were unveiled. Here’s a description from the neighborhood discussion group:

The center will be a 2-story building which will include an indoor NBA-sized basketball court; a 4-station kitchen with commercial grade appliances (to be used for cooking classes and demos); and a general purpose room for meetings, theater, dance & exercise. A state-of-the-art computer lab with Internet access will encourage research by students of all ages as well as allowing families and friends still divided by the Katrina evacuation to keep in touch by email. The contract between DNA and the City was signed on February 6th. Demolition of derelict buildings on the site and construction of the new center is planned for later this year.

You can even listen to Damon Harman of DNA describe the project.

Some preliminary work began. In May of 2007 I took this photo.

Cranes on the Skyline

Some time after the piles were driven, work stopped. In October we read in the paper that the project was bogged down in governmental red tape. In March 2008 we learned that DNA was filing for bankruptcy. They were also facing a lawsuit from Paul Davis National, the contractor (based in Wisconsin) they’d hired. Paul Davis claimed DNA still owed them money for work completed.

And that’s brings us back to yesterday’s article by Masako Hirsch and Gordon Russell. It seems the City of New Orleans will have to pay the $700,000 owed to Paul Davis National.

Doesn’t seem quite right, does it? What I have to wonder — was the whole thing a scam from the beginning, or was it an “honest” bit of incompetent business, or did this run afoul of the global economic downturn, or did government bureaucracy slow things down so much it wrecked the project?