Archive for December, 2005

Thy daily bread

I swear, the has to be the bread-eatinest town I ever saw.

I got to Sav-A-Center on Tchoup at 8:15 this morning (they open at 8am these days). The parking lot was already full and all trace of baguettes, French bread and pistolettes were gone. I loaded up on a few other items, then headed to La Boulangerie to find a line out the door. Then I went over to Laurel St. Bakery to find the baguettes and challah already gone.

Damn.

I finally found some pistolettes at the A&P on Magazine, and they were going fast. Mission accomplished — and I don’t mean in the Dubya sense. And I didn’t even need one of them olive drab jumpsuits.

Christmas Eve finds Uptown busy as all hell. Most places I saw plan to be open the full day. Glad I got out early to get all this stuff done. We’re loaded up with holiday food, the appropriate libations and (most important) some new music to add to the already loaded playlist on the computer. One guy in the (long) line at the Sav-A-Center mentioned to me, “Wow. Looks like everyone came back after all.”

As many of us who could, dude. And, for those of us standing in line or battling the thin strip of busy traffic in the good areas, we plan to make it as special as we can. But you can bet a lot of glasses are going to be raised in coming couple of days for the far too many who can’t be here just yet and those who can’t come back at all.

We miss you.

She give me love, love, love, love, crazy love

Lucy Lawless loves New Orleans. Which is awesome. And very very welcome. Sure, there’s some random craziness in there, but a kick-ass lesbian super-hero without a little crazy is like a beignet without powdered sugar. I couldn’t find a permalink to her message, so I’m including it after the jump.
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A Settled State of Disarray

My body and mind are in a settled state of disarray. I

Our Lady of Lafayette tree-topper

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This is what’s gracing our tree this Christmas. It had been available from the Times of Acadiana website, but might not be there anymore.

Our Lady of Lafayette tree-topper

Just in time for the holidays! Put our governor atop your very own tree!

Get yours here!

They said what?!?!

Like everyone in New Orleans I have friends and family out of town. It�s been brought to my attention that some of these people are having a very specific kind of hard time. They are almost constantly being confronted with people who find that faced with someone from New Orleans is the perfect time to share their criticisms and abstract questions about all the issues facing New Orleans. This can be difficult. At least being in New Orleans there is a sense of community and for nearly every person that�s feeling down and buckling under the strain and stress, there is at least one person around to pull them out of it a little. This is very helpful. It�s helped me on more than one occasion.

I keep getting phone calls from people asking for advice on how to handle the criticisms and other, sometime ignorantly uninformed comments when there�s no one around from New Orleans that can lend perspective to the whole thing. My advice has ranged from �fuck�em, they don�t matter� to �well, then set them straight�. In the end though, it seems like just being able to talk about it with someone who might understand helps more than anything. With that in mind, I thought I�d post some of the things I�ve been told are being said and see if anyone else out there is hearing similar things. If so, how did you handle it?

Here�s a short list:

Why are you here in [insert location here] if your home was in Louisiana?
Do you ever want to go back?
There’s a lot of crime down there, huh?
I bet you’re glad to be up here?
I’m sorry about the Hurricane, but I’m happy to have you are here.
I bet you could make some money down in New Orleans in Real Estate. Oh, wait, they were a bunch of crap homes that were destroyed anyway.
I don’t know what the appeal is. Why would anyone want to live there?
Why don’t those people just move out so we can bomb the place?
If the town wasn�t so full of sinners then God wouldn�t have done that to you.
The only reason people choose to live there is because they can�t make it anywhere else.
As long as the French Quarter is alright, who cares about the rest of it? That�s where all the money is anyway.
The city should have never existed to begin with. It�s just nature correcting things.

As you can see, some of the questions are genuine and sincere while others just seem like bait for a fight. Feel free to share some of your own interactions with people, how you handled it, and how it worked out. Is it possible to change peoples� minds when they feel strongly that New Orleans isn�t worth the money to rebuild? Is it possible to convince someone who may have never even stepped foot in New Orleans that there�s something worth saving? I�m not really sure. If people aren�t using proof, experience, or logic to construct their opinions, I�m not sure you can use those things to change their minds. But what I am sure of is that sharing these experiences will help others out there trying to get by until they can get back home.

Wendy Cope, I’m not…

LIMERICKS FOR CHRISTMAS
New Orleans, 2005

The Ladies of 70118
have been politically minded of late,
petitioning holiday hordes
for one levee board
as we buy gifts for relatives we hate.

Arnaud’s has reopened its doors–
So have Lilette, Dick and Jenny’s, and more–
but Commander’s remains clad
in locks, which is sad,
’cause that bread pudding shit is to die for.

Our postman is walking his beat,
and garbage trucks now roam the streets,
the power stays on,
and the curfew is gone…
a new mayor, and life would be complete.

….really???

I’ve always had the attitude that I won’t choose someplace to live unless I feel I can be proud of it — there has to be something grand or mystical or otherwise intriguing about a place before I’d want to put it down as my address. This is the same feeling that leads me to devour everything about its history, its architecture, its surrounding areas and whatnot.

I’m therefore amazed, over the past two days, to have talked with two people who remained in the area through the hurricane and its aftermath, yet are just learning about the depth and breadth of the destruction. We talk about how most people around the nation have no concept — but there are plenty who live here who also just don’t know.

I’m not saying this in a negative way. These folks had their own hassles to deal with and haven’t had or haven’t taken the time to get out and see. One lives in Mandeville and finally crossed the lake just yesterday to do some business. Or so he thought — until he pulled up in front of a Lakeview office building to find the place gutted. Not only was he speechless about all the gaping buildings, but also at his own cluelessness. He kept muttering, “oh my God,” and “I had no idea” and things like that. Then there’s the store clerk in Gretna this morning, who talked in hushed tones about the things her husband had seen yesterday on a drive in from Slidell, through New Orleans East. She talked about these things as if they had just happened overnight.

This holiday season is bringing a lot of people back to New Orleans for the first time since the storm, including one of our former neighbors. She and her boyfriend have happily taken up residence in his hometown of Tucson, though she is a Metairie native and a veteran Orleans Parish dweller. Like many others, they’ll actually get the time over the coming week or so to get their first personal look at the New Realities. This will account for the many thunks we’ll be hearing, as their collective jaws hit the pavement.

There will be many extra tears shed by these folks. It’s okay, babygirl.

Mid City to the Rescue

I’ve read and dealt out plenty of bellyaching about the lack of progress being made in the city these days, but I think I can safely say this week I’m starting to feel optimistic about things. Little things seem to be falling back into place, the traffic light at Jefferson and Magazine has finally stopped flashing yellow, the curfew is being lifted, Frankie & Johnny’s is open… But by far the most hopeful sign for me is the progress being made in my own neighborhood. Mid City has made some significant strides in the recent past, among them:

  • Parkway Bakery & Tavern now open and serving the best damned roast beef poboy in the city
  • Liuzza’s by the Track open – had a beer there yesterday
  • Two families on my block now living in their homes– not in trailers– one of these homes having been flooded
  • Plans for traditional New Years Eve bonfire in the works
  • Finn McCools (my corner bar) rumored to be selling beer out of a cooler when they’re around. They plan to re-open with full kitchen serving traditional Irish pub grub – I’m so psyched about that.
  • Banks St. Bar open
  • Rock ‘N Bowl open
  • Juan’s Flying Burrito opening soon
  • Sign on Mandina’s to assure people they’re coming back
  • Sav-A-Center on Carrollton scheduled to re-open Feb. 9
  • New grocery store in old Whole Foods building to open soon
  • Terranova’s market, Lola’s, Cafe Degas open
  • Cork ‘n Bottle wine store open
  • Italian Pie on Bienville open
  • Electricity seems to be restored to 95% of the area – not many houses have it yet, but the street lights and some traffic lights are working

This may not seem like much, but it’s a whole lot better than what we had even a month ago. Keep in mind that many of these businesses aren’t making a shred of profit due to a severe lack of customers– they’re open because they want to bring this neighborhood back, and I can’t commend them enough for that.

24/7

I’m just not creature of the night.

Sure, I’ve tried: back in college, I’d take disco naps after class, throw on some clothes around midnight, and carouse ’till the wee hours. Then came grad school, and with it, years of restaurant jobs; after a long night of workin the line at Lucky Cheng’s, screaming at busboys and cranking out an endless stream of meals for Midwestern tourists–many of whom never caught on that their waitress was really a guy in a dress–going immediately home and to bed was never an option. But despite all my efforts and lifestyle changes, I can still count on two hands the number of times I’ve been out long enough to see the sun rise.

That said, you’d think I’d greet the mayor’s announcement that most of New Orleans will be curfew-free as of tomorrow with a drowsy shrug of the shoulders, but nothing could be further from the truth. It may not have much of an impact on my social life, but it’s the best news I’ve heard all week.

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