Friday, March 30, 2007

Louisiana Oil in the Backyard

No, not the oil rigs in the Gulf. A guy in Lake Charles literally found high grade oil and natural gas in his backyard. Watch this at CNN

Opens up a whole bunch of questions about the slowness of the rebuilding here, but then maybe I'm just a cynic.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Ya know, this just doesn't seem fair

Higher fees for second lines than for krewes? What are we doing?
Read this article
This is just wrong.

I was trying to stay out of this but I'm a BITCH

I live in the Marigny, just two blocks from Esplanade. One day two weeks ago, we heard a lot of clunking and banging. Everyone on my little street went outside, and thinking it was a film shoot we didn't know about, (hey we're easily entertained over here!) peered into what we thought was a grip truck. No. It was two guys in an open huge truck tossing out 96 gallon trash "carts." Up and down Burgundy was a sea of black, HUGE black carts. One building with four units and a nice porch had four of the damn things tossed in front of it. The next day they did our little street, which is only about 2 blocks long. We all stood there astonished and had a de facto block meeting right then.

First we looked at the sheer size of these things, big enough to hide a couple bodies in easily, and after the expected jokes about that, we started talking about how much actual trash we put out each week. We are not huge families over here, and we figured on a really busy week of spring cleaning or yard work, maybe we'd fill it up, but mostly we were all talking about maybe two kitchen size trash bags per week. One of the neighbors called the head of Sanitation, as she had talked to her earlier in the week about the FQuarter bins, explaining patiently that there simply wasn't anyplace for her to put the albeit smaller FQ trash cart at her place of business. Madam Sylvia told her, "Well then, just put it in your living room." Our neighbor dialed the number as she was telling us the story, and asked upon getting connected with the office, whether we in the Marigny would have the option of asking for smaller carts. We were told NO. PERIOD.

At that, the rest of us were incensed. (BTW, we have a different trash company than the Quarter does, part of the "new improved three company-costs three times as much as it used to" contract Nagin signed.) Some of us decided that perhaps we should all just use one or two for the whole block. That seemed more reasonable, then one of our number, a very astute guy said, NO. If they're going to make us have these, then put your one little plastic bag of trash in it, don't use anyone elses and make them pick up every damn one of them every damn time.

Most of us over here are fairly ecologically minded, and we thought that combining would make sense, send the rest of the gigantic petroleum product carts back, but another of our neighbors thinks that they're expecting us to do that and that in five years or less there will just be one big dumpster on every block to make it more expedient for the mechanized trucks to pick it up. It's possible I suppose. Speaking of the mechanized trucks, the parking situation here is very dense, short of putting our carts out IN the street, the guys are still gonna have to come get them off the sidewalk, take them to the mechanized arm for emptying and return them.

So we've decided to decorate ours. We are going to have a get together, come up with a theme, and decorate all our damn carts with slogans asking HOW MUCH DID THESE COST? WILL OUR PARKING TICKET PAYMENTS COVER OUR TRASH BILLS? THINK WE COULD GET SMALLER ONES? and of course, lots of pretty flowers.

I know Varg has weighed in on this, and there's a piece over at Suspect Device. And yes, I do understand that bitching about this when some people can't get trash pickup seems ridiculous. But what we see is what appears to us to be an overpriced, overkill approach that's costing too much, and offers no room at all for compromise, at least when it comes to the Sanitation Department head. And all the talk about "Hey I live in the French Quarter, up yours" that I'm seeing is ignoring the very REAL issues business owners are having. The place where we go to get our hair cut has no place to put these bins, at all, period, finito. He will have to leave his bin out in front, put it IN the shop, or eschew the cart altogether and take the trash from the shop home, which is what he's thinking of doing. Another little shop on Royal has no alley and a very narrow sidewalk in front. She has no room inside for this cart, and if it's on the sidewalk, people will have to walk single file to get past her shop. Her concern is that they will do just that--walk PAST the shop which is barely squeaking by anyway. Oh yeah, and she's in her late 60's, takes a cab home and can't take her trash with her.

Not all of us who live in this area are a bunch of "up yours the rest of NOLA" snobs, nor are we all monied property owners. (Our block is half renters, half owners.) One commenter on Suspect Device's blog said, "at least the black plastic bags were picked up and GONE, the carts will stay out." And yeah, it WILL change the look of the French Quarter, and YEAH, that is a problem. I've already heard tourists asking if they can move the damn things to take a picture. No kidding. I mean, hey, they wanna show the folks back home the lacy iron work, not the behemoth trash bins. But some of what I'm hearing has a tinge of screw the tourists and the business owners who exist thanks to them. Lupin called her a bitch, how petty, how typical of all those snobby FQ/Marigny folks.

Well ya know, he was RIGHT. He could have been more politic, but my guess is he's heard more stories about "keep it in your living room" than the rest of us have, and I know he's been trying hard to find a compromise which apparently is impossible even though the Sanitation Dept originally said they'd give waivers to people who couldn't accomodate the carts, and now they're evidently taking that back.

Those of us living here care deeply about the problems of other parts of this city, things like no garbage collection, or the gigantic hole on Magazine Street. Ya know why? Because we LOVE New Orleans, all of it and cuz WE are the ones on our bicycles riding through the bewildered tourists, being asked, "Hey you know a good place to find. . . ." Know what we do? We send them to Uptown, we send them to Magazine Street with lots of praise for all the fabulous shopping they'll find there saying, "There's way more to New Orleans than just the Quarter." We patiently look at their maps with them, we explain that the street names change once they cross Canal, we tell them about NOMA, we tell them about City Park, we tell them they'll love the city. We're also the ones who have to move the damn carts out of the way while they hand us their cameras to "take a picture of us, will you?"

Oh yeah, and for the record, I loaded up my cart for its first pickup: All the trash I could find, including an old vacuum cleaner and all its parts that had been sitting around here for a year. (Yes, the entire vacuum, its parts and three bags of trash fit with room to spare and the lid went all the way down.) The following week there was one bag in there. What a waste.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Quick list of things overheard, seen, experienced

In the last couple weeks, there have been little weird things showing up in various ways in my life. Thought I'd just give you a quick list:

1. A knock on the door last night about 9:30PM. Sheriff's Department. The car had been left unlocked and someone had rifled through it stealing all my CD's but leaving the registration, for which I was grateful. Cops had seen the light on in the car, waited to see if we were coming in and out, and after seeing that we weren't, knocked on the door and checked it out with us. I thanked them. Still mourning the CD's.

2. Went to the Maple Leaf on Sunday, via cab. Got caught in the glorious colors of the Mardi Gras Indians that I had so wanted to see, but couldn't fit in. Found out that Taxicab Medallions are running at nearly $500K/per and are considered property that can be inherited.

3. Overheard at a parade, spoken by someone who has been in meetings with our Governor: "She has a DINNER bell that she rings when she wants to say something." Laughter all around, along with the question "DINNER BELL?? NO SHIT????" "Does it work?" "Yes, people are so shocked that they all get silent." "Is this done to get the meeting kinda called to order?" "No, she just rings it when she wants to say something, even if it has nothing to do with what we're discussing." That's discouraging, ain't it? Or would that be the Army Corps of Engineers and the PUMP/LEVEE situation? What if she stands in St. Bernard and rings it REAL loud? Will that help?

4. Our Mayor, stating the obvious in incendiary terms, while being one of the "thems" that he's talking about. Nothing more to say about this that can be said in polite company (not that that's ever stopped me before.) He needs to do something about the housing situation here, and I don't mean having the developers polish his, um, head. (No, you dirty minded people, the OTHER one.)

5. Learned a new term, "Going Bare" and thought maybe someone knew of a cool swimming hole or something. Found the term in an article here about people unable to afford insurance. I can hear the population of the upper 47 clucking about irresponsibility right now. Too bad they're not talking about the insurance companies. Wonder how many of those folks would do the same thing in the same situation? Um, ACoE, PUMPS??? LEVEES?

6. Having my hair cut, guy says, "Oh yeah, I talked to my homeowner's guy. Was told that if I rebuild on a slab, I can't get flood insurance, but if I raise the house like they want, I can't get wind insurance. No way to get both." Yoo Hoooooooo, blink blink, raising my shirt so my saggy boobs at least get their attention: ACoE guys, yeah, you cuties! PUMPS???? LEVEES????

7. Mortgage brokers in a panic. No insurance, no mortgage, no mortgage no commission. The insurance companies will shortly put mortgage companies out of business if they can't close loans. Having my daughter raise her shirt, that oughtta do it---Hey, sweetie, I'll show you a GOOD time (hey, kid, you're still my daughter, don't get out of control here, geez, you were raised up better than that!) if y'all give me some good PUMPS and LEVEES! (Still no response, but her father is having conniptions.)

8. Haven't actually counted them yet, and remarkably the Sheriff's didn't say anything as they peered into the interior of our car with flashlights last night, but have gotten maybe 20-30 parking tickets while parked in front of my own house. Don't have the "Marigny" sticker yet, was waiting for the registration, which finally came two days ago (thus my relief at finding the thieves hadn't stolen IT.) Lately the Ticketmeisters, not to be confused with Ticketmaster, have been out in force, even ticketing beer trucks and UPS or FedEx delivery trucks in the Quarter. The passenger side floor of my car is a really cool red/orange sea. I'll have to deal with all that here at some point. A cop friend said "Just go to court and get it all over with at once." Hey there, Officer, if I PAY them will the money go for PUMPS OR LEVEES? No? That's too bad.

9. Am hearing the spring birds and seeing yellow pollen all over, so for all of you sneezing from morning til night, it's time for the claritin, or the zytec or whatever you take.

10. And finally, if you're feeling old, fat, in need of a facelift, or something, please buy makeup and a copy of Photoshop instead. This will make your day:

Oh yeah, and I've had to breakdown and put the Comment control thing on the blogs. I really don't need spam for Asian porn or some of the other stuff that's been dumped en masse into the comments sections lately. I don't have time for that. I have tickets to pay.

And maybe a raft to build:::::::::muttering::::::Fix the PUMPS::::::::::Fix the LEVEES:::::::::Hey, am I talking to myself?::::::::

EDIT: Governor Blanco isn't running for re-election so may have to retire her dinner bell. And most of my CD's are still in my possession, but my husband can never again holler at me for not putting them in their cases. The cases were gone, but my lax CD storage techniques saved most of the discs.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Louisiana in Words Book Release and Book Signing

Forwarded to me by someone near and dear to me, Sam Jasper. Sam contributed a very small piece to this book, and so I am broadcasting it. This is from the email she received:

Please join us for a very special event.

The book release party for LOUISIANA IN WORDS will be at the Maple Leaf
(8316 Oak Street) on Sunday, March 18, 3 - 6 pm. It's totally free!

Artist James Michalopoulos’ New Orleans Rum and Abita beer will sponsor
the event, so there should be plenty of free libations, plus a cash
bar, as well as the live Dixieland Jazz of Some Like It Hot. Come spend
the afternoon with us and have some fun!

Please see for info on the book, or
keep reading.....

“I have those flying dreams--cruising low over the ground. In
Louisiana in Words I can finally hear the voices that rise from the
land. Joshua Clark has tapped into the soul songs of Louisiana.”

--Judy Conner, humorist and author of Southern Fried Divorce


Although there have been plenty of “day in the life” picture books,
never before has a book sought to capture a single day in a state with
words like this. Created from submissions received from the world over,
this anthology offers an authentic diary of Louisiana. One hundred
twenty nonfiction selections from known and unknown writers run
chronologically from dawn to dawn, each one minute in time. From
Tallulah to Thibodaux, Shreveport to St. Martinville, New Iberia to New
Orleans, together these minutes provide a mosaic of the landscape,
heritage, speech, and traditions of Louisiana unlike anything before

“A clever, revealing, earthy collection, as spicy as Louisiana home
cooking, this book is a must for lovers of unquestionably the most
hilarious and unselfconscious state in the union.”

--Ken Wells, Wall Street Journal Front Page Editor

“Louisiana in Words is a Book of Hours for a place that’s more like a
religion than a state. Witness within the worshipful attention to
sunrise and sunset, the madness of LSU football on Saturday, and the
calm of Ash Wednesday on St. Charles Avenue. From Caddo Parish way down
to Plaquemines, Louisiana is like no other state in the union, and
Louisiana in Words offers up minute-by-minute proof of that fact.”

--Josh Russell, author of Yellow Jack

For all of you who have asked me WHY, or what's UP with me. . .

. . . . here is your answer. I can't possibly express it better than American Zombie, a fellow NOLA blogger did in this beautiful post.

He says what I'm feeling, why I feel it, and why I stay. It's an important piece.

And yes, I hope he's wrong about the inevitability of another Federal Flood, yes, I hope he's being overly pessimistic in terms of the long term sustainability of this city, but when he explains the draw of this place, the reasons we stay, our responsibilities if we stay, he nails it. He GETS it.

I've been sick for three weeks, now on a course of some perfectly awful and incredibly expensive antibiotics. The other day I had to run some errands, so got on my bicycle and resentfully went off to do them. Within a block of riding, my attitude changed. I still felt terrible, and the peddling was hard, but my heart was happy and I was grinning. After an hour, with most of my errands complete, I stayed out, going around on my bicycle, watching people, taking in the smells, watching history go by, feeling a connection to the centuries old footsteps that had walked the corner I was locking my bike up on. For me there is no where else in the United States where I can truly feel that way.

The Zombie put it perfectly. If the Gulf reclaims this land a century from now, it will reclaim my ashes with it.

I'm not leaving.