Archive for May, 2008

Sissy Bounce: New Orleans Phenom Not Sweeping the Nation

Several months back, my friend Andy mentioned a New Orleans musical genre known as Sissy Bounce. Now, like most locals with a pulse, I know something about Bounce, and I’m totally familiar with sissies, having been one most of my life. But Sissy Bounce–that is, Bounce by tranny rappers–was new. Alas, Andy didn’t have too much info to share or any samples of the genre, so I kinda forgot about it.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, though, Mr. Toots flounced into town. As a boss-level expert in both boy-kissing and Bounce, he knew a good deal about the topic and directed me to this comparatively lengthy discussion of the genre. Embedded in that story is a link to the MySpace page of Katey Red–the only tranny-esque rapper in the piece–and a video of her in action that looks like it was recorded in Quintron’s basement (aka the Spellcaster). There’s also a link and a video for Sissy Nobbyy, who’s definitely a sissy, but not a tranny. (Check the split/booty bounce around 2:20 on the video: flexible and rhythmic.)

There are other links to rappers Big Freeda and the rather studly Vockah Redu–both of whom are pretty clearly gay, though not trannies.

At first, I was kinda disappointed that only one of the four performed in drag. I mean, hello? Tranny rappers? What could be hotter? But on the other hand, being an out gay guy in Bounce might be even more transgressive than rapping in ladyface. Either way, it’s a really interesting phenomenon.

If you’ve got more info or some mp3s, drop me a line, yo!

NCDC Update

2415 General Taylor St. (6)Denied  1010 Lizardi St.Approved

Sitting up on the dais in Council Chambers is a very surreal experience since Karen and I sat in the audience for so many months together. I sit in Stacy Head’s chair as I am the appointee for Dist. B., channeling her strength of public speaking. I am rather meek by comparison.

I promised Stacy and Carla, her legislative aide, that I’d do my best not to accidentally use the ‘F’ word. I did my homework to help get the committee rolling with Robert’s Rules of Order as best I could. I believe in the need to publicly and transparently address the issues that have plagued the committee in the past, since I know them so well already. Matt McBride, Karen and Michelle Kimball (PRC) have all been helpful in bringing things to our attention, since there are so many things that can slip through the cracks and either fail to end up before the NCDC for review or items that come to us that are under special moratoriums, like the LSU/VA area in Mid City.

I was terrified at the first meeting and got there an hour early. I got busy helping Nelson, the Chair, making sure that we got enough agendas printed for the public on the table, shaking Bruce Eggler’s hand and meeting my fellow committee members. Eric, the contractor rep from Beck, who is in charge of managing the Federally funded demos, now attends our meetings. This alone has been a huge improvement to the process. Eric answers all my questions via email, even late on Friday and sometimes on Saturday. He’s very responsive.

Also, having community level representatives from each council district has created much more of a team atmosphere in general, it’s not so much the public v. ‘the City’ anymore. We have a lot more help and we respect our individual votes. The street-level of expertise contributing to the meeting is refreshing.

Hosting the meetings in the Chambers has also been a huge improvement because there is room for all the homeowners as well as the audience and everyone has a chance to get on the record. Although, we do have to be ready to go fast toward the end of the meeting, when Hillary Carrere, the Housing & Neighborhood Development rep starts his ‘speed round’. He starts putting out motions before Nelson even announces the next property on the agenda. This is the sort of process issues we hope to correct. Thanks to my previous work with Karen Gadbois, this is old hat for me. I am very prepared for the meetings, going through some 70+ packets and checking Karen’s photos on Squandered Heritage and then heading out into the field myself for particular properties I am very unsure about.

The main factors we consider under the new ordinance are:
1) Current Condition fo the structure.
2) Architectural Signifigance of the structure.
3) Historical Signifigance of the subject structure.
4) Urban Design Signifigance as it relates to the pedestrian perception and movement and the height, area and bulk of the structure and how it relates to the street scene traffic.
5) Neighborhood context of the structure.
6) Overall effect on the blockface.
7) Proposed time/length the subject site is anticipated to remain undeveloped.
8) Proposed plan for redevelopment.
9) Stated position of adjacent neighbors, neighborhood associations or other interested individuals or organizations, either in writing(email) or during public comment at the hearing.(If you send me an email, I promise to read it into the record for you.)

This criteria is more holistic than the previous ordinance for the HCDRC. It’s still hard because I can’t help but wonder that if some people were offered the equivalent cash money being offered for ‘free’ demolition, they could use it to fix their house. But this is not the case. We’re all assigned this ‘do or die’ decision and once the houses are gone, an empty lot is all that is left.

Part of our purpose is also to ‘discourage underutilization of property in an urban environment’. We also have to be sensitive to the need to remove dangerous structures before hurricane season is upon us again. It’s not an easy task at all. Evaluating the possible eternal loss of the legacy of our unique architectural heritage along with the aspect of rewarding slumlords for years of neglect, and also the need to remove properties that are thwarting the ability for a neighborhood to thrive.

Another issue is that some properties are being quickly reclassified as Imminent Danger of Collapse (IDC). This maneuver exempts them from review of our committee and we are looking to be sure it’s not being abused. The problem with this is that the definition is vague in the ordinance under Article VI, Division V, Sec. 26-166: Minimum Housing Standards Code, there is no technical requirement here at all which needs to be fixed. While I am not one to distrust our Civil Service staff, this is so vague it’s useless. Basically, Johnny Odom decides. The only comfort I have to offer is that he’s better than Mike Centenio:
Sec. 26-166. Imminent danger of collapse.

The code official and the department of safety and permits shall determine as a matter of fact whether or not a public nuisance is in imminent danger of collapse and constitutes a menace to public safety. If the determination is made that a public nuisance is in imminent danger of collapse and constitutes a menace, then the code official is authorized to cause the demolition of the nuisance without previous notice to the owner, executor, administrator, agent, lessee, or any person who may have a vested or contingent interest in the public nuisance.

I know this is already far too long but one last thing I should tell you is that those chairs in Chambers are very large. After a couple hours your back hurts, because of this I sometimes sink back in the chair for a few minutes. I have taken to sitting on the large packet of applications given to us at the beginning of the meeting for the next meeting so I can sit high enough in the chair to get my face up to my mike for a clear smackdown when I have a point to make. It helps me feel a little less tiny while defending my well researched and sometimes big decisions.

If it weren’t for my work with Karen G. and Squandered Heritage, I don’t think I’d feel so good about taking on this duty. I take our collective knowledge up there with me when I hear the double-speak coming from the podium. I know I have a full arsenal of knowledge to do the best job possible for New Orleans. It’s a great honor, but it is still depressing work.

Someone gave me this quote of encouragement upon my appointment which is also useful.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in the worthy cause . . .”

Teddy Roosevelt. The Man in the Arena, Paris France, 1910.

Nick and I Do Blue Dog

NOMA Field Trip (16)

I have a group of tiny fans on Rocheblave who sit around waiting for me to come with a laptop to play games, print coloring pages and share snacks. There are a lot of kids who need attention over there but there are two who are particularly smart and have endeared themselves to me. Nick and his brother Josh. Their mom works over at Rouse’s and she is tired after her day shift. I sort of take over in the afternoon, so she can have a nap.

Today, I promised the kids I would take them to NOMA to see the Blue Dog Exhibit. Just as Emily said, it was fantastic. Plus, we brought the camera. Josh opted to play basketball at the Victory church, so Nick and I went and we had a blast. It was only $6 for us to visit with two sets of the audio headsets for narration, which really added to Nick’s enjoyment of the paintings. Especially fun is the audio story of how the Blue Dog began as George Rodrique’s interpretation of the myth of the Loup-Garou. He also really liked the replication of the artist’s studio. When Nick spotted the Blue Dog in his tiny Saints jersey with Drew Brees, he really began to grasp the far-reaching influence of the Blue Dog.

Nick’s so funny. I tend to let kids get away with murder, the quintessential aunt. Nick ran full speed across the mezzanine to get to the stairs so I could take his photo and I couldn’t bring myself to stop him. It was so funny to see him tearing along in the staid museum atmosphere. I just wanted Nick to be exposed to museums and to know the protocol but to feel comfortable. Taking photos is one of the limited activities in a museum. We were not permitted to take photos of the Blue Dog exhibit but we took some photos around the rest of the museum. So we had a two-tiered opportunity today; taking photos and just visiting NOMA. Nick said he liked the brass drinking fountain outside the bathrooms too.

On the way home, we went to visit his Mom at Rouse’s and pick up some snacks. Nick is hooked on taking photos and videos with my camera and I love to see the world from his perspective. What a great day! I decided that we would do the sculpture garden next time . . .

Thank you for being so Neighborly

Dear Neighbors;
Thank you for having us over, well really thank you for having the whole street over for BBQ. Thank you for offering us BBQ and for giving me some chilled white wine in a glass because wine is too good for a simple plastic cup. We were out when you decided to have a little get-together and when you started up the grill, thank you for noticing when we arrived home and taking the time to call our names and wave us across the street. We had a wonderful time meeting all of you especially the other children in the neighborhood. I am sorry that some of you are moving due to the crime in the area even though it is understandable, I guess. My husband and I have been together for nine years and this is the first time any of our neighbors have even invited us to any type of gathering. Out of all the places we have lived this is the first time I have ever truly felt like neighbors with anyone. You know in the old ‘50’s welcome wagons and “may I borrow some sugar?” kind of way. Thank you for being so nice to the little one. It was wonderful to be amongst people who did not feel put off by the baby. So often people think he is cute and then they go off to have a good time and leave me to tend to him alone only meeting up with me again at the end of the party long enough to say goodbye. You all made us both feel like part of the group. Thank you for helping me keep an eye on the little one and giving him high fives and pieces of your food. Those little things made me feel so comfortable and made the whole experience more enjoyable for me. We stayed out until his bedtime and the termites were starting to gather at the street lights. I just wanted to say thank you for being so friendly just like neighbors are supposed to be.

Foodies, sidewalks and the rest of it

Busy Memorial Day weekend coming up, since we’re once again involved in the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.

TBK has been lasagnaing all day and I’ve been working on the day-to-day at the restaurant, all the while trying to put aside stuff for Friday and Saturday. We’re temporarily a man down in the shop due to a tragedy, so some extra juggling is taking place. Whomever came up with the term “self-employment” obviously didn’t try it for themselves. You don’t work for yourself, you work for EVERYbody. So I’m a couple days late paying city sales taxes. I think Sugar Ray and his crew can handle it.

Speaking of taxes, we’re seeing them hard at work here in the Irish Channel. The streets are actually being resurfaced — including rebuilding of all corners. In most places (such as on our corner lot), the actual curbs sank into the pavement sometime back in the Rutherford B. Hayes Administration. But now they are being rebuilt — complete with wheelchair ramps and street nameplates (not sure if actual tiles will be used or not). Since the curbs disappeared so long ago, each corner has actually had what amounted to its own wheelchair ramp for generations — but now they are freshly concreted and the ramps themselves are an industrial yellow so even the most inebriated wheelchair drunks coming out of Parasol’s (and there are several, actually) can easily see where to aim. Can a drunk in a motorized wheelchair be arrested for DWI? Just askin’. What’s weird is to see these brand new curbs and ramps in front of some of the most derelict buildings in the neighborhood.

Oh — the reason the Hornets got bumped from the playoffs is that I went out and bought a Hornets T-shirt the day before their exit. Just so you know.

I rode with Death

Ever wish you had a camera in your head? I mean, when you could just snap a picture of something you saw and no one would know or you wouldn’t have to be obvious about it? Yeah. Like every freaking day.

Anyway, I had to take the bus from Magazine St. to the CBD today to get my truck. I had gone to La Boulangerie this morning to get some bread and they have this loading zone outside and the street drain at the loading zone has this sharp corner and my tire got ripped and the truck had to get towed to the tire place (no room to just change the tire) and, and, and…

…so I get on the bus at Magazine and St. Andrew at about 5pm and there’s a guy in one of the front seats who is Death. Honest to God. Black hood, drapy clothing, black fingernails, pallid complexion (even more pallid than your average Goth kid — it’s like he’d been cultivating it for a decade or so — he made the damn Winter brothers look Fresh From Florida). All he was lacking was the scythe on a long pole. I guessed he was done reaping the antedeluvian Uptowners for the day, so he was headed back to the CBD (where Death lives, donchaknow — I think off Julia or Girod).

He nodded at me. I’m not sure to feel scared, impressed or, well, lucky that’s all he did.

As I departed the bus (before he did, thankfully), I noted his rolling cart with a sign that said, “Palm and Tarot Readings.”

Oh. Hell, he ain’t Death. He’s just going to work.

If you wanna make a living, you got to put on a good show, y’know?

Things to love about New Orleans

#297: This video from WDSU, which is a follow-up to the drag queen/burglar item I posted last Thursday. In many places, this report would devolve into a string of smirks, winks, and gay jokes, but in New Orleans? Nothing but (ahem) straight faces debating the merits of high-end wigs. You go on with your stoic self, Norman Robinson.

Help, Their Swarming

When we purchased our new house last year it was under a termite contract and we have since let it lapse. Having a house in the south consisting of about 100% wood this is a stupid thing to do indeed however we are lazy and picking up the phone and actually making a call is hard on our arm muscles. Anyway, I am sure it was not just me that saw the huge swarm of termites the other night. At first we thought they were coming out of the wood by the window and the worst possible thoughts about our house falling down around us came to mind, then we noticed they were coming in at all the windows and were flying all around the outside of the windows and the worst possible thoughts of horribly and painfully being eaten to death by termites came to mind and then we got out the Raid.

It was ant and roach Raid but it did the job. After making a solemn oath to call the Terminix man on Monday and as Raid fumes filled the house we finally fell asleep. Today I stumbled upon this article. Turns out the termites were not coming from our house but were coming from everywhere a swarm of them blanketing areas of the city and they might do it “every few days” through the end of June. I do not know about anyone else but this does not sound good to me. I guess it is nature’s way of telling me to get off my lazy ass and call the Terminix man. I guess I will this time, besides I have been thinking of strengthening my upper arms.

More bad drag

Another of New Orleans’ cross-dressing thugs visited Burger King for an early morning order of fries and a supersize bag of Benjamins. But this guy hit new lows: he got into the store by crawling through the drive-up window. If you’re gonna knock over a BK in drag, you should at least have the balls to walk through the front door–not to mention, put on a little ladyface:

Employees said they were not free to comment on the incident, referring any questions to the store’s owner.

But one employee, who saw the security camera footage, said that since the suspect made the effort to dress the part of a woman, he should not have halfhearted it.

“He should’ve gone to the spa first,” the employee said.

full story at NOLA.com

In the guy’s defense, though, it was Mother’s Day, so maybe he needed the cash to take his mom to the spa after brunch.

Sparkling City.

Could we be America’s most sparkling city? Yellow tail, the champion wine brand for Casella Wines out of Australia wants to find out. They commissioned a survey of 900 adults over the age of 21 to be conducted by Greenfield Online. They survey asked respondents to rate a cities “sparkling” attributes on a scale from 1 – 10. The majority of survey respondents said that what makes a city sparkle is “breathtaking scenery” (61%), “great night life” (53%) and unique food (48%). Guess what makes a city sparkle is relative to the person but whatever.
Anyway, New Orleans was chosen by 59 percent of Americans. Putting our fare city in the running for America’s Most Sparkling City. Also in the running are Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Martha’s Vineyard (um what? Is that a city I thought it was a vineyard), South Beach-Miami, New York, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Monica. How do we pick the top city out of these ten, you ask. Well now we all get to vote, between now and the 15th of June all of America can vote (once each day) for the city they find to be the “most sparkling.”
You might be thinking to yourself, what do I get if my city is in fact chosen as America’s Most Sparkling City. Well I will tell you. A Party! Now there is one thing that I have learned about New Orleans in my time here and that is NOLA loves a party usually we are more into the crawfish boil/ Abita beer party but a party’s a party. If New Orleans gets crowned as the Most Sparkling City in America Yellow Tail is going to throw a party in the city on July 3rd the details of which I, unfortunately do not know but I am sure it will be “sparkling”.

To vote for your favorite city just follow this link.

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