Rest Easy, Ms. Foxworth

When I first met Ms. Foxworth, just 18 months ago, I was taken aback by her manner. She was quiet — very quiet. New Orleanians are known for many things, but being quiet is not one of them. Yet here was this woman talking so quietly I could barely hear her.

My confidence was a little shaky. This would be my daughter’s first public school teacher? Could this woman handle a room full of rambunctious pre-kindergarten children?

Another parent reassured me: “She’s great,” I was told. “They call her the Child Whisperer.”

Ready for 2013

Very quickly I learned how ungrounded my misgivings were. Without raising her voice, Ms. Foxworth commanded the attention and respect of every child in her class. Maintaining order amongst four-year-olds is no easy task, but she managed to make it look as natural as breathing. I was in awe of her.

Ms. Foxworth also welcomed me into her classroom. The kids were doing an International Baccalaureate unit on plants, and I came in to share a lesson on wheat. It went so well that I came back six more times throughout the course of that school year, to share seasonal celebrations with the children, often tying them into the larger curriculum. At every juncture Ms. Foxworth gave me encouragement and appreciation.

She even participated in the activities. One year ago today we planted a “light garden” for Candlemas.

Ms. Foxworth

My daughter’s moved on to kindergarten now, but when I saw Ms. Foxworth last week, she asked if I couldn’t come in to her class again and share a lesson with her new crop of students.

As it turns out, that was the last chance I’ll ever have to speak with her. Over the recent two-day snow outage, news came that Ms. Foxworth had passed away.

I didn’t really know Ms. Foxworth all that well, but I do know a few things.

She was a veteran teacher, at the pre-K level for two decades, and her experience clearly showed. These days there are a lot of Teach for America kids in local schools, but there is no substitute for long years of experience.

I will also say this: She wasn’t paid or respected nearly enough. I hasten to add that I was never privy to her salary information, nor was I ever aware of anyone disrespecting her. However, I know that as a rule we do not pay teachers highly in our country, and we do not accord them the deep respect that other cultures do. Let’s face it: In America respect and salary are often correlated, and teachers are not at the top of either list, but they should be. That’s one of the most troubling aspects of American society.

It makes me sad to know that Ms. Foxworth is no longer with us, that I’ll never see a child run up to hug her again. What truly breaks my heart is the knowledge that we, the American people, could have done better by her while she was alive. Some things are inevitable, but how we treat our teachers is not. Sorry to get political, but I feel this is an important point, something we must insist on at every turn.

The best way to honor a great teacher is to uplift the teaching profession.

Ms. Foxworth’s untimely death is a tremendous loss to our entire community. Ms. Foxworth didn’t just teach our kids. She taught us all by her example.

As another parent put it, she “embodied the power of gentle, calm silence.” It’s an ideal to which I still aspire. Even if you never met her, I think we can all still learn from her.

See also a far more eloquent tribute from Joie d’Eve. It’s funny how we hit the same themes.

Dead Time

Over the last few weeks I’ve been fiddling with constructing my family tree on (Thanks to my old high school friend Georgie for getting me hooked.) I managed to trace one line back as far as Torvild Ljøstad, my great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather (that’s 17 greats) who was born in 1370 in the Norwegian county of Aust-Agder, possibly at the site of present-day Vegårshei.

I take that with a grain of salt. The further back you go, obviously, the more chances for error. I haven’t double-checked every link in that lineage. Still it’s interesting to think about.

At the same time I was playing with that, I seemed to find myself making more trips to the local graveyards, which led me to contemplate the untimely demise of a young woman named Virginia. I even started actively searching for certain graves. And generally I have just been enjoying the cemeteries.


We also discovered the shrine to Santa Muerte — Saint Death.

Sheer coincidence? Perhaps. But this is, after all, the time of year associated with such matters. The Day of the Dead, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, Hallowe’en, Samhain — many names, many cultures, many traditions, but sharing a common theme of remembrance and reverence for ancestors, those who have come before, those who are no longer with us.

Fittingly, Persephone had the idea that she wanted to be a ghost princess. That led to a costume idea for the whole family.

Ghost Royalty

We attended a Samhain ritual. It was focused on remembering ancestors, and it was quite beautiful — or at least I think it was. I was distracted by a certain toddler who was getting antsy. The “Samhain for Kids” celebration was fun, even though our girl was the only child there, but by the time the full grownup ritual was underway, well, it was just too much, too long, for a two-year old, and we were not familiar enough with the surroundings or the proceedings to really cope effectively as parents. I hope our daughter’s behavior was not too distracting to the other celebrants. It became more of a “learning experience” than a spiritual one for me. I wish I could have been more fully present, but in this case I guess you could say my descendant trumped my antecedents.

Nevertheless I got a good snippet of video from before the ritual began.

Here’s the moment I want to hold in my memory of that night: dancing barefoot on the grass with my wife and daughter dressed in ghostly white robes while a dead geisha played the drums by a bonfire. That was magical.

We cut out early and got back home in time to receive several troupes of trick or treaters. I was surprised by the number of kids making the rounds (under adult supervision) despite the big Saints game underway at the time. But the all the kids were home by the time the second half began, and that was a much more exciting half as it developed.

And so yesterday morning, on the Day of the Dead, Persephone and I visited the shrine of Sante Muerte.


When I posted about the shrine to the Mid-City discussion group, a neighbor reacted as follows:

I’m don’t really want to judge any religious beliefs but just so people know, the SANTA MUERTE (Holy Death) is considered almost devil worship by most of Mexico. It is used by most criminals in the narco trafficking, kidnapping, & underground Mexican world to legitimize their activities. It is why the country of Mexico has not recognized it as a legitimate faith. Like all religions or political idealogies, extremists can twist anything to legitimize their activities. Just thought people would want a little perspective. For Americans who don’t know better, in Mexico, it would be similiar to glorifying Islamic terrorists & their warped string of Islam…. I travel to Mexico a lot & enjoy studying the history & culture of the country. But I admit, the statues & shrines are pretty weird & cool.

I’m not sure what to think of that reaction. I do know that I misquoted the sign when I wrote about it the first time. It actually says, “Welcome! To the Shrine of La Sante Muerte and the Dead.” I had forgotten that last part, “and the Dead,” but it’s crucial. Clearly, whoever erected the shrine is thinking about the same thing as the Wiccans who devised the Samhain ritual we attended and the Catholics we saw at the cemetery whitewashing the family tomb.

We left three satsumas.

I wonder what Torvild Ljøstad would have made of it.

Virginia Lazarus

On Friday, with a little time to kill, my daughter and I stopped by one of the many cemeteries clustered in our neighborhood.

Dispersed of Judah

I’d been in this one before, but I came through a different gate, so I had never seen the name “Dispersed of Judah.” I hadn’t noticed it was a Jewish cemetery, though several Hebrew headstones make that abundantly clear.


And I had not seen one particular monument, the tallest there, or taken heed of the story it tells.

Virginia Lazarus

This monument was erected in honor of a young woman named Virginia Lazarus.


The grief of her parents must have been tremendous. The river side of the monument bears the following inscription:

In cherished memory of our dearly beloved and precious daughter Virginia, who was called away in the fullness and freshness of her glorious young life on October 27th, 1897, aged 18 years 11 months.

Her nobility of character endeared her to everyone. Her presence filled our home with sunshine. Her absence leaves it in impenetrable gloom. Our weeping hearts yield her the tribute of eternal grief.

But there is more to the story. Her father is commemorated on the uptown side of the monument.

In cherished memory of my dearly beloved husband Henry L. Lazarus, who passed away on Nov. 2, 1917, aged 64 years.

A native of Syracuse, N.Y., but a resident of this city from boyhood, he was an eminent lawyer, an upright, God-fearing man, a devoted husband, father and son, a staunch and loyal friend.

If everyone to whom he lent a helping hand should bring a blossom to his grave he would sleep beneath a wilderness of flowers.

That loving inscription was obviously written by his wife, Virginia’s mother. She is commemorated on the downtown side of the monument.

Sallie Solomon,
beloved wife of Henry L. Lazarus
July 13, 1853 — May 28, 1931

It would seem that when she passed away, there was no one left to memorialize her. No fancy inscription — just her dates of birth and death.

I was already moved to tears. Then I saw the lake side of the monument, and I learned that they also suffered the loss of three infant children, one in 1876, one in 1877, and one in 1885 who lived for nine days. Virginia must have been born in 1878. After that I was devastated and amazed. So much love, so much pain. I never knew a stone marker could convey such sadness.

There’s a row of small stones placed on the front of the monument that suggest I’m not the only one who has come and read these inscriptions.

I think I may have hugged my daughter a little tighter than usual after that.


Later, I did a little internet research. It seems there is a Virginia Lazarus memorial scholarship at LSU. Could it be the same person? I don’t think so — turns out it’s actually the Adrian Virginia Lazarus scholarship. That name led me to a recent obituary:

Beverly Albert Lazarus March 3, 1926 – August 28, 2010 • Beverly died on Saturday, August 28, 2010 at Chateau de Notre Dame. She was born in New York to the late Abraham and Lilly Albert. She attended Brooklyn College and worked in the retail business as a buyer for A&S Department Stores. Beverly was married to the late Eldon Spencer Lazarus, Jr. for 54 years living in New Orleans. She easily acclimated herself to the New Orleans lifestyle and loved to show her southern hospitality. In New Orleans Beverly was the buyer for Gus Mayer’s Children Department and Godchaux’s Department Store. She was preceded in death by her beloved daughter Adrian Virginia Lazarus, and her brother Henry David Albert.

Note that last sentence. That makes two daughters who passed away before their mothers here in New Orleans — both named Virginia Lazarus. What are the chances?

If any relatives read this, please know that you have my deepest sympathies.

Update: My old high school friend Georgie, who does genealogy for fun, tells me that indeed, the latter Virginia is related to the former. Virginia (1878-1897) had a brother Eldon Spencer Lazarus Sr who had a daughter in 1908, who was also named Virginia Lazarus. He also had a son, Eldon Jr, and Eldon Jr had a daughter named Adrian Virginia Lazarus. Apparently all three daughters died before their mothers. That is heartbreaking.

Also I have to note that I am currently in the middle of reading “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang which seems to be about a mother who outlives her daughter. Coincidence? I certainly hope so…

Requiem for a Cat

We adopted Archer back in 2002, I think, when we were living uptown. Actually we didn’t so much adopt her as take over feeding her when some guys down the street abandoned her. I’m not sure how old she was at that time, but she was already full grown.

When we bought our house in Mid-City she came with us, but remained an outdoor cat. She lived in various places, but her favorite seemed to be in the attic of the house next door.

Other strays came and went but Archer hung around. We even took her up to Indiana when we evacuated. She was never particularly friendly with me. She and Xy shared more of bond, but as a rule she preferred to keep her distance from people. She gobbled down her food with the nervous air of an animal that doesn’t know where it will get its next meal. She packed on a few pounds.

Here are some pictures of Archer which I took over the years.

Sleepy Archer

Archer on Craig's Roof

Archer's Got a Mouse

Down & Out in the Morning

Archer Jumps

Thanksgiving Archer


Come and Lay on My Rug!

When we moved to our new house, Archer came inside for a while. She never fully adjusted to domestic life, though. For example, every night she pooped on a certain rug rather than the litter box.

Then, a month or two ago, Xy took her outside and she bolted. We’d catch glimpses of her every now and then on the perimeter of our property. But she seemed intent on staying outdoors.

On Friday, the same day Nicky died, Archer turned back up. Xy found her lying in the sun, covered with fleas. She took her in, cleaned her up, and began squirting water down her throat. But it seemed clear she would not be long for this world.

Last night, Xy slept on the couch with her, and some time in the wee hours of the morning Archer passed away in her arms.

She will be missed.

Requiem for a Rabbit


Nicky came our way last summer, under circumstances that can best be described as silly if not stupid. I was never too close to him, because I frankly hardened my heart against all pets after Lucy disappeared. But even I had to admit this docile little lagamorph held a certain charm.

Alas, Nicky died this afternoon. We are not sure of the cause but dehydration is the prime suspect. Xy liked to let him roam around the yard and this afternoon he spent perhaps too much time out there. My co-worker Jim T. told me a cautionary tale once of how their pet rabbit died in the heat one day. We thought Nicky was safe because he wasn’t in the sun, but perhaps he spent too long a time away from his water bottle.

Or maybe it was something else entirely. One doesn’t tend to assemble an inquest upon the death of a rabbit.

We thought about burying him in the yard but that was complicated by an number of factors and so in the end we did not. Taking his little body out to the garbage can in a plastic bag… well that just sucked.

I have to admit I considered the potential for rabbit stew. No disrespect Nick, to me that would be the ultimate compliment. If anyone feels like sinking their teeth into my tired old flesh when I’ve kicked off, have at it. But since we don’t know the cause of death, it didn’t seem prudent.

Cue the mournful mix.

Bye Bye Folds

Bye Folds

Folds seemed to be doing better immediately after her surgery. But a week or so later she took a turn for the worse. She was lethargic. Then she got more lethargic. She couldn’t make it to the litter box. She didn’t have the strength to eat. She could barely take a drink of water. She was losing weight almost before our eyes.

We took her back to the vet. They gave her fluids intravenously for a couple days but she didn’t really improve much. It seems her kidneys were giving out. I guess this might have been triggered by the surgery. In any event, when I talked to the vet today he made the point that if she was a human being she’d be getting dialysis and would be on the list for a kidney transplant. But since she’s a cat such treatment options don’t exist.

I expressed concern about her suffering and asked if he recommended euthanasia. He said yes.

After I hung up the phone, I thought to myself: This is surely the right thing to do, and I don’t even like this cat, so why am I crying?

So I went there, signed the necessary papers, and then got to hang out with Folds for a while while the doctor treated another patient. She was in a truly pathetic state, skinny as a rail, and unable to stand erect.

I wondered, of course, if I was doing the right thing. I wondered if I should consult with Xy first. She loved Folds more than me. I figured she might appreciate me dealing with this, but then again maybe she’d want to say goodbye? I remembered how she had cradled Folds in her arms for a good hour or more Wednesday night. So I figured she’d said her goodbyes already. Maybe she sensed what was coming.

I stroked Folds’ head. She tried to nuzzle my hand but she hardly had the strength.

When the doctor came in at last he was very apologetic that it had come to this, and he took pains to emphasize that this was the humane course of action, as she wouldn’t have much quality of life going forward.

Then he shaved her foreleg, found her vein which was shrunken due to anemia caused by her kidney failure, and he injected her with a fatal dose of some barbiturate. I thought I might look in her eyes and see if I could tell the moment of her passing, but she turned her head away slightly, and the drug acted so fast she was dead before the doctor withdrew the needle.

So then I gave the doctor a hug, got on my bike, and rode away to pick up my daughter.

Post Script: This makes six cats we’ve lost in nine years. And yet only the third confirmed death. (The other three cats just disappeared. In some ways that’s more difficult.) I believe this is the closest I’ve ever been to any actual death. I mean I’ve swatted bugs but that doesn’t seem the same.


Here is a mix we listen to in our house when someone passes on.

We listened to this last night after getting news that Xy’s grandmother Pauline had finally slipped away after a protracted struggle.

My notes indicate Pauline appeared only in a single episode of our TV show, namely “A Day in the Life,” ROX #63.

Pauline made a brief appearance in ROX #63

Unfortunately this show isn’t on-line yet, but faithful viewers may recall Pauline was not very impressed with her granddaughter’s salsa.

Pauline’s presence loomed large in other parts of the series and my life. She designed the achingly hip jacket Xy wore in ROX #29. And of course it should never be forgotten that she footed the bill for our puppet-show wedding as seen in ROX #41.

It struck me that as Xy no longer has any living grandparents, so too Persephone now has no living great-grandparents. Since two of our friends and contemporaries also lost grandparents over the last couple weeks, it’s feels like the end of a generation.

I understand there will be no funeral. She didn’t want one.

So long, Pauline. You will be missed.

Coleen Salley

I just learned that Coleen Salley, the “Grocery Cart Queen,” passed away yesterday. I never met her, but I did encounter her (and her krewe) on Mardi Gras, 2007, and I took this picture, which I offer now as a tribute:

Krewe of Coleen

Rest in peace, Coleen.

Packing Up

I spent a few hours over the past week helping a friend pack up and move. Something I’ve done many times before.

Only, in this case, my friend already left. And wherever he is now, he won’t be needing his file cabinets or his shoes or his pipe collection… or any of his worldly possessions.

So, that was a weird experience. Packing up and moving… nowhere. Most of his furniture and clothing was going to a local charity (Bridge House) so we just carried it down the stairs and, instead of putting it onto a moving truck, we simply piled it in the driveway.

Moving that couch and sofabed down the narrow stairwell was quite an adventure. I’m not as sore today as I thought I might be.

Scott’s mother was in town from Birmingham. She didn’t have much use for all this stuff. The antiques and valuables were sold, but she was happy for us to take whatever we could use. I think Frank may have a new library (mostly science fiction paperbacks) to replace the many books he lost to the Federal Flood. I took home a coffee table, an old mirror, a toolbox full of tools, and more than a few odds and ends. A big hunk of coral for Xy’s classroom. A bottle of Murphy Oil Soap. A box of peppermint tea. A sword coated in glitter — which is not an unusual thing to find in any New Orleanian’s closet, really.


Anne McKinley phoned me this afternoon to let me know that our mutual friend Scott Speake quite unexpectedly died over the weekend.


We all knew each other through our book club. Anne sent this e-mail to our discussion group:

I have just been informed that Scott Speake, one of the founding members of the Octavia Books Science Fiction Reading Group, has passed away.

Scott was apparently complaining of a cold and took to his bed on Friday. Hearing no movement on Saturday or Sunday, Scott’s landlords checked on him only to find that he had passed away.

As a dedicated early member of the group, Scott was enthusiastic in his recommendations for “spaceship and rayguns” books and hard sci-fi. He loaned out books from his large library of science fiction old and new, and was a voracious reader.

Notices are expected to be in the paper Monday. Services and remembrances of Scott will probably be on Wednesday morning from 10-11 at Schoen Funeral Home on Canal Street. Scott is survived by his mother, who resides in Birmingham.

Anne says he was “one of the founding members,” but actually I consider him the founding member. The club started in the summer of 2001 as Scott’s idea. All I did was show up. In fact, at that first meeting it was just Scott and me and James Conrad, I believe. (It was through James that I learned of the meeting.) Scott was the most reliable member of the club, up until some point a couple years ago when he quit coming for mysterious reasons we never did understand.

Scott was quirky like that. He still kept in touch with Anne and me. He read this blog regularly, and he would surprise me from time to time by popping up at events where I didn’t expect him, like that first Geek Dinner. Here’s a picture of him talking to Sophmom.

This just seems very unreal to me.

They say death comes in threes. Olivia’s brother (also from Birmigham, strangely enough) makes one. Milo makes two. And now Scott makes three. Anyway, that’s how I’m counting it, because I don’t want to lose anyone else just yet.

Update: From today’s paper, Scott’s death notice:

Scott Lovell Speake

SPEAKE Scott Lovell Speake, a Board Certified Tax Attorney and a CPA, passed away on Friday, June 20, 2008 at the age of 59. He is survived by his parents, Mary Louise Lovell Speake of Birmingham, AL and Harold Layman Speake of Moulton, AL and a sister Ruth Louise Speake of Greeley, CO. Mr. Speake was born in San Francisco, CA, grew up in Birmingham, AL and had been a resident of New Orleans since 1979. Mr. Speake graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Alabama in Birmingham and earned a law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, also in Birmingham. Relatives and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Gathering at Schoen Funeral Home, 3827 Canal Street at N. Scott, on Wednesday, June 25, 2008 between the hours of 10:00 A.M. and 12:00 Noon. Guest book may be signed online at

Published in The Times-Picayune on 6/23/2008.


Our household has been diminished by one.

R.I.P. Milo

He doesn’t look sick, does he? But this is the last picture ever taken of Milo. He was lethargic and not eating much, so we took him into the vet just after this picture was taken. They confirmed he was having some serious issues, and kept him over the weekend for diagnostics. We were racking up a huge bill which was making us nervous. They had him on an IV and in a heated chamber because his temperature was dropping. This morning they called to tell us he’d expired. He was just two years old. A few weeks shy of two, I’d guess.

It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Seems like just yesterday he was a palm-sized kitten.


Seems like just yesterday we adopted him under strange and crazy circumstances.

He was a decent mouser. He had a penchant for nipping at us when he felt playful, but he could also be aggressively affectionate. He was the only other male under our roof. Milo is survived by Folds and Crybaby and Archer and various ferals, including his girlfriend Bronski. He will be missed.

But though it sounds cold to say it, I never let Milo too close to my heart, for reasons previously mentioned.

And so our run of bad feline luck continues. We’ve lost five cats over the nine years we’ve lived in New Orleans. I’m beginning to feel like there’s a curse.

[More pix of Milo.]

Nick’s Passing

Probably my oldest friend that I am still in regular contact with is J, famous to some as the bumbling bartender on ROX. I’m on a first-name basis with his family, though I haven’t seen much of them lately. I almost feel like they are a second set of distant relatives.

So it was particularly upsetting to learn that J’s dad Nick had contracted cancer. I’m not sure what type of cancer. Not the kind that gets better.

In the ninety-odd episodes of ROX that J and I have produced together, we have ranged over every subject that’s caught our interest. Whatever’s going on in our lives has become fodder for the show.

Even though we’ve touched on death in the abstract, we haven’t dealt with the passing of loved ones close to us.

Then Helen was killed, back in January of 2007, and I knew our next episode would have to account for her passing in some way. Frankly I was overwhelmed by that. Frozen. I couldn’t get started on that episode.

Then Nick came down with cancer, but also J & Day had a baby boy. And of course we had a baby too. And I came to see that our next episode would be about not just death but also life. Arrivals and departures.

Progress has been slow. We shot some video but the production been dogged with technical problems.

Meanwhile, J and Day and their infant son are traveling in China, a once-in-a-lifetime journey to cover a cultural exchange trip made by the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre. The timing has been difficult to say the least. Nick took the inevitable turn for the worse and passed away just two days ago, I believe.

I tried leaving comments at J’s blog, but it won’t let me. Somehow that seems appropriate. The technical problems with our video production, the glitchy internet connection via which J saw his father for the last time, my inability to comment on J’s blog, the cancer itself — it all seems of a piece to me.

I know Nick will be missed. What a fine, sweet man. I wish I’d known him better

You can see some frame grabs from his earlier appearances on ROX, or check out the video for ROX #65, “Flow.” Nick appears in a silly wig about three-quarters of the way through. (Of course there are technical problems. Video downloads are broken but the pop-up should work.) Rest in peace, Nick. And to J and Alan and Pat and everyone, my deepest sympathies.

Remember Ashley Morris

I’ve learned a bit more about Ashley’s passing. It’s distressing to realize that he left behind not only his wife but three young children (ages 2, 3 and 5). This family could certainly use a lot of help from all of us, so please consider making a donation. Xy and I did. We couldn’t give much, but every little bit helps, so please consider making a donation and passing the word.

Also, Ashley’s funeral will take place this Friday:

Friday, April 11, 2008
Public visitation will be from 10:00 am until 1:00 pm.
Funeral service 1:00 pm.
Interment to follow in St. Louis Cemetery No. 3

Attire is formal or Saints. Ashley was the world’s biggest Saints fan.

PS: Check out this video of Ashley and Oyster.

Blight Field Talks #1 / Rough Edit from humidhaney on Vimeo.

PPS: But if you really want to break yourself up, read this account of Ray’s friendship with Ashley. I can’t link to all the reminiscences in the blogosphere; there are simply too many. But read this one.


Everybody’s favorite passionately profane New Orleans überpatriot blogger Ashley Morris has passed on.

I really don’t know anything about the circumstances of his death except to say he was way too young. This is a tragedy.

And I really don’t know what to say, except that I sure will miss his voice. I didn’t really know Ashley in “real life” but I read his blog and he put so much of his heart and soul into his writing that I felt like we were buddies. And we collaborated on a couple geeky endeavors online, so I guess in a way we were. I’d bump into him from time to time at places like the Mother-in-Law Lounge or the Parkway Bakery. It’s disconcerting to realize that won’t ever happen again.

I still can’t believe this.

Copeland Ha Muerto

Yesterday Al Copeland died at the tender age of 64. Outside New Orleans he was primarily known as the founder of Popeyes Fried Chicken. Around the local area he was known for all sorts of things, but most of all for being a character.

My only real connection to Al is this: The judge he bribed in his custody case is the son of the old man who owns the house across the street from us.

I did feel a special pang of sympathy when I learned that Mr Copeland died from cancer of the salivary glands. Considering the current size of the gland on the right side of my neck — well, it gives a fellow pause.

The doctor has upgraded me to a stronger antibiotic (Cipro). He also stuck his finger down my throat and couldn’t feel an abcess so I guess that’s good news.

Cachao No Ha Muerto

Yesterday, when I was feeling like I wanted to die, someone named Israel Lopez was dealing with the real thing. Better known as Cachao, this Cuban dude basically invented the mambo and a few other Latin genres besides. I don’t really know that much about him, and I’ve never seen the film about him that I’ve heard exists, but I will never forget the first time I heard “El Son No Ha Muerto,” on WTUL. It’s not a mambo, it’s son, a old Cuban genre I didn’t even know existed. The title means “The Son Has Not Died.” It remains one of my favorite pieces of music, and I can think of no better tribute to the passing of Cachao than this fine song. Listen, then buy.

As for me, I’m still feverish and miserable with the lump in my neck growing to an alarming size — but I do feel better than yesterday.


I ordered a pizza for pick-up, but when I got there it wasn’t quite ready. To kill a few minutes, I walked down the street, and there on St. Anthony between Iberville and Canal I came across a cemetery I’d never seen before. The gate was ajar and I ventured inside. I’m wary of New Orleans necropolises at night, but this wasn’t the kind with above-ground tombs allow people to hide, nor was this an area frequented by tourists. I walked about halfway in. There was Hebrew script on many of the stones. I started to turn when a stone marked “Glucksmann” caught my eye. By moonlight I read:

Melanie Gorney and Infant

I did the math, and then I did a double-take. Apparently she died in childbirth at age 38. That’s Xy’s age. The proverbial chill ran down my spine. No, I’m not superstitious. I do not regard this as a bad omen. But I do take it as a reminder. Nothing is guaranteed.

John Scott

MaPó called me Saturday afternoon to tell me John Scott had passed on. I never met the great sculptor, despite his close association with the University’s art department, and now I never will.

His works live on, though: down by the river, over on St. Bernard Avenue and right in the middle of the University’s main quad, which I see every day I go to work.

Here’s a picture I took of that sculpture shortly after the floodwaters receded from campus.

John Scott Sculpture

He has works in many other places; those are just the ones I know off the top of my head.

I remember reading in the paper some months ago about how thieves broke into his studio here and stole some of his sculptures, hacking up what they didn’t understand to sell for scrap. Such an insult.

What’s so sad about Scott’s passing is that he never made it back to the city he loved. He suffered from pulmonary fibrosis and had a double lung transplant in Houston — twice, I believe. He watched the flooding of New Orleans from afar like so many of us, but his health never allowed him to come back.

I understand his wish was to be buried here. May he rest in peace.