Ralph’s

Ralph's

Xy and I had dinner at Ralph’s on the Park. I think we just celebrated our 11th anniversary, albeit a couple or three weeks early.

A bottle of Gewürztraminer, Oysters Ralph, steamed mussels and fennel, roasted duckling, garlic chicken, pineapple crisp, theobroma, espresso… It literally brought tears to my eyes. It was that good.

(But remind me not to order the Ojen Cocktail again. Not a fan of the anise-flavored liqueurs. This particular potable is said to be a hangover cure, though, so I’ll keep it in mind for ROX #92.)

Pepto-Davis

Someone hit the Jeff Davis statue again last night.

Pepto Davis

The last graffiti was cleaned up in a day or two. This morning, the red spray-painted “slave owner” tag was there again, in exactly the same place, plus a generous splash of Pepto-Bismol pink. By the time I came back with a camera, the “slave owner” label had been erased. The pink paint will be tough to remove.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that this is the weekend of a big celebration all up and down Canal Street, marking the return of the streetcar.


Update — later the same day: They’ve already got the pink paint off.

Slave Owner

One fun thing about my morning ride to work is checking the Jefferson Davis statue on Canal Street to see if it’s been defaced.

Looks like someone scored a major hit last night.

Jefferson Davis, Slave Owner

Slave Owner

Uproar

(The “Uproar” tag actually appeared the yesterday.)

Murder

Today, just after noon, a teenage boy was shot in the head just a block and a half from our house.

Adams

He’s dead now.

There have been so many shootings in the past 24 hours that this only merited 15 seconds on the nightly news. But since we live in the neighborhood, we know more than what was reported on TV.

For one thing, we know the killer, who is still at large. He is also a teenager. His name is L—. Once he helped Xy carry her bags. She says he’s very nice.

He is also a drug dealer, and that probably had something to do with whatever dispute led to the shooting.

The boy who got shot is called Pissy, but we didn’t know him.

The girls who live across the street were disturbed by all this and so they spent some time at our house today. Apparently the rumor was going around that Pissy was shot by a white man. I don’t know what to make of that.

It’s sad, but I’ve gotten so used to hearing and reading about murders in the city that this doesn’t surprise or disturb me very much at all.


Update — May 12th, 2004: L— turned himself in:

An 18-year-old New Orleans man wanted in the shooting death of a 15-year-old on Saturday a few blocks from Canal and North Broad streets turned himself in to authorities Tuesday, police said.

L— H—, 1219 France Road, was booked with second-degree murder in the death of Preston Turner, who was shot not far from his home, police said.

H— is accused of being one of two occupants in a car that drove up to Turner in the 300 block of North Gayoso Street shortly before 12:30 p.m.

At least one of the men fired from the car, striking Turner several times, police said.

Turner died at the scene, police said.

Update — July 9th, 2004: L— has been charged with first-degree murder:

L— H—, 18, was charged with the first-degree murder of Preston Turner, a 15-year-old who was gunned down May 8 in the 300 block of North Gayoso Street. Turner was shot and killed about 12:30 p.m., after telling his cousin he was going out to get something to eat.

First-degree murder carries either the death penalty or life in prison upon conviction.

Streetcar Book

Edward J. Branley gave a talk at my favorite bookstore tonight about his new book, New Orleans: The Canal Streetcar Line. I rode my bike uptown to check it out, and it was pretty cool. One of the photos in his presentation was an aerial shot of my neighborhood from 1927, and you can just make out our house. We are a block from the streetcar barn, after all, but I hadn’t realized that there was a streetcar barn at that location since the beginning of the Canal line. The photo is also in his book and on the companion website, CanalSteetCar.com.

It was fun to meet Ed, whom I’ve conversed with on-line. He also maintains CitiesOfTheDead.net and some other sites, and he hangs out on the nolahistory list.

Streetcar

After a forty-year interruption, streetcar service has been restored to Canal Street in New Orleans.

The first stop, at Canal and Salcedo, is just a block and a half from our house, so I thought I’d check it out. Despite the early hour — 3:10 AM — there was a large crowd gathered there. People were handing out souvenir doubloons and commemorative pins. A guy with a clipboard was having people sign up in order. I was number 58.

There were plenty of people there who remembered riding this streetcar line back in the proverbial day, until it was discontinued in 1964.

As the big moment approached, people formed a line, and it may have approximated the numeric order on the guy’s clipboard, but it seemed like a big jumble. When the streetcar pulled up, it stopped short of where the line had formed, to the consternation of the people at the head. I’m not sure, but I think Warren Bell may have been the first customer, or close to it.

There were some boos but people were generally friendly and a good mood pervaded the crowd. Some guys were singing songs like, “O Lord I want to be on that streetcar when the saints go marching in.” I was busy videotaping, and I just didn’t feel like jostling to try to get on board, so I didn’t actually ride the streetcar. Instead I watched it take off, then came back home to write this. It’s a quarter ’til four in the morning, and I’ve got to get up in about three hours if I’m going to make it to Baton Rouge for the Green Party of Louisiana presidential caucus.


Update — I was on the front page of the Monday paper!

Streetcar Debut

What’s that? You can’t see me? Here I am:

Front Page

I’m famous!