A year and a half ago, I had a handful of sidewalk conversations with one of the most interesting women the Marigny has to offer: Eva Schneider. In halting English — weirdly broken for someone who’s lived in the U.S. for most of her life — she told me about the years she spent working at Disney Studios. Shortly thereafter, I began receiving little missives in my mail slot: short letters offering more detail of her career as a professional animator. They were sometimes hard to follow, so I skimmed them and filed them away, hoping to transcribe them at some point.
Apparently, I’ve reached “some point”. I recently sat down with Eva’s letters and started to type, keeping her curious capitalizations, spellings, and punctuation intact.
In the end, I’m sorry to say, there’s not a lot of new information about her or about Disney & Co. In fact, sometimes, she repeats herself, occasionally on the same page. And her story follows a predictable path: an artist working in a medium that’s changed by emerging technology — technology that she finds cold and inferior. She dismisses the computer-animated Disney films of today, and it would be easy to write her off as yet another person who’d rather bash technology than adapt and use it.
Unfortunately, she talks very little about her experience as one of the few women working in a field dominated by men, or about her impressions of Walt Disney’s political/world views. But even though I didn’t get what I was hoping for, the act of writing seems to have been cathartic for her. And so, I kept transcribing. Because I know that when I’m her age (90, I’m guessing), I’d want the chance to be heard.
I haven’t seen Eva on the street in months — maybe a year. I don’t know if she’s still alive, but I can’t find an obit for her. Perhaps she was taken in by her relatives. Or maybe, knowing her, she’s taken them in. She’s kind of spunky.
If you’re interested in what she had to say, the transcriptions are after the jump.
Check out what showed up at my house the other day.
That’s right, it says “recyclables only” on the top. To say I am excited is an understatement in fact it’s probably wrong to be this excited about something such as a garbage can but I can’t help myself. I have a hard time believing it took this long for the city of New Orleans to revive it’s recycling program which is just a sign that we are still recovering every day. Now that it is here I am overjoyed.
Recycling pick up begins on May 2nd for those who have already registered. Find out which day of the week they will pick up in your area by visiting the WDSU website (I couldn’t actually find the info on the city’s site, weird.) If you haven’t registered not to worry you can still register on the city’s website
Some extra awesome things about this recycling program is that nothing needs to be separated, as residents we just throw everything into the bin and they take it away. Also, they accept pretty much everything, here is a list of what they will pick up according to the city’s website:
– Paper products (Examples: office paper, newspapers and color inserts, magazines, catalogs, junk mail and telephone books)
– Plastic containers coded #1 through #7 (Examples: water, soda, juice, detergent containers, etc., plastic pots from nurseries)
– Metals (Such as: aluminum, tin or steel cans)
– Cardboard (Examples: brown corrugated boxes used for moving or merchandise packaging)
– Boxboard (Examples: cereal, food, detergent, paper egg cartons)
– Waxed cartons (Examples: juice boxes and milk cartons)
Last night we went to see Gal Holiday and the Honky Tonk Review at the Botanical Gardens in City Park. At least that was the plan, it was going to be a family affair we had even invited a couple other friends with kids to make it a concert playdate but when we arrived the set up was a bit different from the last time we attended one of the Twilight Concerts at the Gardens. Last year when we went the concert was held outside in the gardens with plenty of room to let the little guys look around and still not bother the other audience members. A perfect way to listen to some great live music with young children.
Last night however they held the concert inside the pavilion at the Gardens. At first we thought it might be due to weather even though the sun was shining and it was warm there were a few grey clouds floating about but we soon debunked this theory with the simple fact that none of the people entering the Gardens had blankets, chairs or anything else that would be needed to sit on the grass like last year. They obviously knew something we did not. We let the little ones run around in the grass for a while before going into the Gardens and as we watched the people file in we realized one other thing. The age of those in attendance had a posh retirement home feel to it, there wasn’t a single person even remotely close to my age let alone my son’s age.
It was then we decided it would probably be a bad idea to take five kids under the age of five into a room full of senior citizens and expect them to sit quietly for over an hour, so we bailed and went to the playground. Although I was looking forward to hearing Gal Holiday I’m sure the playground was the right way to go.
Now what I wonder is if all the concerts will be inside this year. I hope not, last year it was a great family outing and it can be again if they just move it back outside into the actual Gardens.
Note to self: If I’m going to be posting more I need to make sure I take pictures while I am out.
Last night my husband and I went to our first meeting at Audubon Charter School. Our first meeting after getting in of course there was a meeting before the lottery even happened which was only slightly more informative than the one last night.
This latest meeting was to talk about tuition. For those of you who don’t know Audubon is a charter school within the Orleans Parish School System. Which one? Honestly I don’t know though I should look that up as it’s info I “should” know…the school’s website says New Orleans Parish School Board. I’m not sure that really answers the question at hand however, let’s move on. Since the school lost federal funding for it’s Pre-K program last year they were forced to cut the K-3 grade all together and charge tuition for K-4. We will be heading into K-4 next school year so we will be paying tuition. The up side to this over private schools in which we would also be paying tuition this year is that every year after next is free. That makes paying $4,570 by July 15th much more appealing if not actually easier.
The long and the short of last night’s meeting was we all have to go to an independent website (sss.nais.org) type in our financial information and that will tell us if we are eligible for reduced tuition. I am pretty sure we are not eligible though I will be plugging our numbers into that little website just to be 100%. They also mentioned a loan that is available but of course couldn’t really answer any questions on that since it is “official bank stuff”. The whole shebang lasted half an hour and I didn’t learn a single thing I couldn’t have learned easier from an e-mail.
I was reminded of one thing though, this is going to be a long bumpy ride. I love to learn, I enjoy taking classes and I always have but what I just can not stand is all the bureaucratic crap that goes along with school. I am not the lowest common denominator and I have worked hard my whole life to surround myself with intelligent people in intriguing situations, I do not enjoy being spoken to as though I am a child. I didn’t like it when I was a child and I sure as hell don’t like it now. But there I was in a room full of people asking a question two minutes after someone across the room asked the same exact question. And I ask myself what am I doing back in this place? I worry I will not be able to deal with the system even for the sake of my own child’s school experience. Is this a worry all parent have or is this just me?
Man it’s been a long time since I posted on here. I am going to change that, I promise. Have I said that before? Probably, but I mean it this time. I have been out of town for a while but I’m back and the weather is beautiful so I am going to get out and explore and I am making it a goal to share those explorations with you in the metblog universe.
There are so many fun and interesting things going on in the NOLA area, things that are in my plans to attend like this weekend (French Quarter Fest), this Thursday (Gal Holiday at the Botanical Gardens) and tonight I am on my way to a meeting at Audubon Charter School. My 4 year old son was accepted into the French program so there will be a whole new set of adventures in NOLA starting as we traverse the public/charter school system.
The whole prospect of school is scary for any parent but tack onto that the fact that my son will be going to school in French (I don’t speak french) and that adds a level of scary I am not at all sure I am ready to deal with, I hear they have some french classes for the parents and I hope beyond hope that I can keep up, languages are not my thing. I don’t want other parents to be left out in the cold, there are so many questions that I have about this whole thing and it isn’t so easy to find the answers. I will do my best to share with all of you the answers as I figure them out, how can my son learn the basics in another language and not fall behind in his day-to-day English speaking world? There must be a way kids do it all the time and Audubon is hailed at a great school in these parts, It’s just hard to wrap my head around. Of course no one ever said this was going to be easy.
Carnival officially begins on January 6 (aka Epiphany, aka the 12th Night of Xmas), but most of us in New Orleans don’t really get into the Carnival spirit until much later. For me, the trigger is usually the Krewe du Vieux parade, which happens about two-and-a-half weeks before Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras).
This year, however, I’m late — late like Rizzo in Grease, to use a theatre queen simile. I’m just not in the mood yet. Maybe the balls and parades this weekend will tip the scale.
My friend Elizabeth, however, is full of the Carnival spirit(s), and she’s penned something to commemorate the season: “The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto”. Whether or not you live in New Orleans, whether or not you celebrate Carnival and Lent, whether or not you sip the Devil’s Urine (as my Sunday school teacher used to call it), it’s well worth your time. Here’s an excerpt:
Sometimes life is terrible. You get divorced. You get laid off. Your loved one dies. Your heart breaks. Your city floods. When it does, most of us soldier on, waking up to a bleak future, plodding through the day, trying not to cry in public, keeping it together so we don’t lose our jobs/annoy our co-workers/scare our children. Merely being alive exposes us to failure, fear, regret, and loss. Most of us endure these moments, these weeks and sometimes these years, managing to not kill ourselves, until little by little we make life better or, by the grace of time, it just gets better. But during these terrible times, it is perfectly appropriate to want to get the hell out. To get away from the bad that seems like it will never end. And getting drunk can do that for you. Granted, sometimes the drinking can make problems seem worse than they are, but when they actually cannot get worse, when they are really, really bad, go ahead. Get drunk. Forget where you live, whom you live with, your name (old or new) your job (old or new), someone’s absence, someone’s presence, your own presence. Line them up and knock them back. Don’t flip through the old letters, the old photos. Don’t watch the DVD for the 100th time or listen to your song. Don’t try and do the ugly math that is your bank account. They will all be there tomorrow to remind you to remember. Instead, stare blankly ahead of you, don’t look back, and for now, forget.
See y’all on the neutral ground.
Yes, it’s true: there is a problem with Hubig’s mini king cake. It pains me to say it because (a) I love Hubig’s pies, and (b) I love the smell of the Hubig’s factory, which sits just around the corner from my house. But love and geographic proximity cannot mask the fact that something is deeply wrong with this thing.
As I see it, the problems, they are three:
1. The Hubig’s mini king cake has the texture of a bialy, or possibly a yeast roll: powdery and wheat-like. This is confusing to king cake consumers expecting hunks of dough glued to a carry-out box with pounds of sugary-sweet frosting.
2. The Hubig’s mini king cake looks kind of a like a bagel – granted, a bagel covered in goop and decorated with purple, green, and gold hamster pellets, but still: bagelish. It is a visual conundrum of sweet and savory. (Those of you who eat blueberry and fruity bagels may think this sounds delicious, but remember: blueberry and fruity bagels are a travesty not technically part of the bagel family. Well, not my bagel family.) It is the sort of thing that M. C. Escher might’ve created if he’d become a pastry chef and not an overachieving mathlete-cum-sketch artist.
3. The Hubig’s mini king cake is not as delicious as I want it to be. It doesn’t taste like a bialy or a bagel (thankfully), it is sweet, and yet…. Well, do you remember McKenzie’s king cakes? The “traditional” ones? To me, they tasted like three-day-old cinnamon buns thrown in a blender with some cardboard, then baked into a hard, rubbery loaf. The Hubig’s king cake is not that bad, but it is definitely not good.
Now, I admit, I may have been expecting too much. When I first heard about Hubig’s king cakes, I envisioned a pint-sized version of a Hubig’s pie, which, for the uninitiated, is kind of like a fruit pie, but magnified. It is like the Bugatti Veyron of fruit pies. It is the Balenciaga of convenience store pastry. It is like a tardis filled with passion fruit and served piping hot. It is THAT GOOD. The mini king cake, she is not. Not yet, anyway.
Back to the drawing board.
Prospect New Orleans may grab more headlines, but its architectural equivalent, DesCours is just as important — not to mention breathtaking. If you haven’t taken a look at the map of activities and installations (on view through this Sunday), do yourself a favor and make plans to visit at least a handful of exhibitions over the weekend.
Of course, like Prospect, DesCours has spawned ancillary, “fringe” events. And of the many press releases I’ve seen, Hypothetical Development‘s event called “Implausible Uses For Unpopular Spaces” seems among the most entertaining. It’s Friday night at Beckham’s right across from House of Blues on Decatur Street. Some of us will be in performance, but for the rest of you…
* * * * *
Hypothetical Development Preview Party
Beckham’s Book Shop, 228 Decatur Street New Orleans Friday
December 10, 2010, 6-10 PM
For ONE NIGHT ONLY – The Hypothetical Development Organization will preview a selection of our renderings of IMPLAUSIBLE USES FOR UNPOPULAR PLACES. See selected works from this newly launched public art project, featuring signage advertising hypothetical uses for abandoned and derelict buildings. Get an up-close look at our contributing artists’ convincing renderings of The Museum of the Self, The New Orleans Loitering Centre, a Velvet Rope Artisan Workshop, and who knows what other absurdities?
H.D.O. is a group of people creating signage that advertises blatantly implausible future uses for neglected buildings. The inspiration was noticing the sorts of signs of that developers put up on buildings depicting what they will (supposedly) become in the future — condos or boutiques, for instance. Since the economy and real estate market crashed, it’s become clear many of these developments will never happen, so those signs seem to be little more than stories about hypothetical futures. We decided this is an interesting medium, and we would use it to tell stories, too. But instead of boring condos, we would tell more imaginative stories that are interesting, engaging, provocative, fun.
I don’t go out much these days because I am often sleepy and easily disappointed. Between my work schedule (I get up at 5am) and my hard-to-shake-off, been-there/done-that jadedness, nightlife doesn’t usually keep me awake.
But Saturday night’s party at the New Orleans Candle Factory — hosted by New Orleans Airlift — was EPIC. With a lineup that included MC Sweet Tea and sissybounce star Big Freedia and cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs drag queen (and closepersonalfriend) Christeene, it was bananas up in that place.
And best of all: the bouncing baby bear who did as Big Freedia commanded and put his ass in the air, ass in the air. Jonno has video. Awesome video. (FYI, if you get an error message after clicking that link, just refresh. Tumblr has been hemorrhaging fuckups for the last 24 hours.)
See if you can spot the contingent of Uptowners who bailed on the New Orleans Museum of Art’s Odyssey Ball and ventured downtown for fun.
And Katrina was a tornado, I guess.
Oh, Italy: you’re so adorable when you’re confused.
Advertising Agency: JWT/RMG Connect, Milan, Italy
Executive Creative Director: Daniela Radice
Associate Creative Director & Copywriter: Davide Boscacci
Copywriter: Jack Blanga
Art Director: Giulio Nadotti
Illustrator: Giulio Nadotti
By now, most of you have seen the video clips — the ones recorded as part of the “It Gets Better” campaign. On the off-chance that you haven’t: the campaign was begun by author Dan Savage in response to the recent spate of suicides by LGBT teens. Savage conceived it as a way of assuring those kids that, although life may seem rough now, things will get better.
So far, most of the clips in heavy rotation have come from celebs — and that’s to be expected. But there’s a local element to “It Gets Better”, too, which gives everyday people like you and me the chance to share advice, encouragement, and coming-out stories. And it’s coming to New Orleans this weekend.
This Saturday, October 16, cameras will be set up on the patio at Cure (4905 Freret Street) from 5pm – 7pm. There, you’ll be able to record a testimonial of your own to share with LGBT teens. The event is being organized by Megan Hargrode, who’s put together a Facebook page to publicize the local element of the campaign.
Admittedly, I’m not a fan of Cure (or any place with asinine dress codes). And holding an event like this at a hipster haute-cocktail lounge isn’t the best way to ensure diverse representation from the local LGBT community — nor is it the best place to generate sober, intelligible testimonials. However, Hargrode deserves tons of credit for pulling it together, and Cure earns a begrudging pat on the back for allowing her to do it.
If you have time this Saturday evening, drop by and say a few words — tomorrow’s LGBT leaders need to hear them. Just be sure to dress appropriately.
Remember the Burger King bandit? The one who crept into a New Orleans-area BK restaurant by slithering through the drive-up window in booger drag? Well, on Friday, he was sentenced to 247 years in prison. Maybe by then they’ll have finished his special-order BK Big Fish, no pickles.
We just got a very nice note from one of the higher-ups at the Documentary Channel alerting us to tonight’s premiere of A Bridge Life: Finding Our Way Home. It debuts at 8pm. (I assume that’s CST.)
Unfortunately, Cox doesn’t carry the Documentary Channel, so a huge chunk of New Orleanians (including me) are SOL. If you subscribe to other providers — and if you have the stomach for it after everything churned up yesterday — you’re in luck:
DISH Network – Channel 197
DIRECTV – Channel 267
In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to make do with this YouTube trailer (which I can’t embed thanks to our wonky WordPress system) and a brief synopsis:
A Bridge Life: Finding Our Way Home follows one man’s efforts to come to the aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina in September, 2005, when New Orleans’ levees failed, causing a devastating flood that engulfed the Crescent City and forced hundreds of thousands of residents to flee for their lives.
The focus of the documentary is Dan Sheffer, a middle class Florida loan officer who travels to Houston’s Astrodome, where most of the evacuees were transferred immediately after the disaster. His goal: transport 10 evacuees to Plantation, Florida and help them get back on their feet by providing aid, shelter, and temporary jobs–in essence, ‘a bridge life.’
While at the Astrodome, Dan meets Cynthia and Edwin Pierre, an African-American couple who had managed to find each other after being separated by the storm. They agree to go with Dan to Florida with the aim of starting over. Along with five other evacuees, they board a United Airlines flight the next day. And what follows changes everyone’s life forever.
Through the prism of one tragedy and six success stories, A Bridge Life tells the tale of Dan’s Good Samaritan mission and how his band of survivors made a new life for themselves in the months after the catastrophe. In the end, through ordinary people doing extraordinary things, the film underscores the importance of hope and the indomitable human spirit as America struggles to find its way home from Katrina.
When things were still in chaos; when the streets of Lakeview and the Lower Ninth were drier but not dry; when all we knew about our city came from fifth-hand reports of neighbors who’d stayed or first-hand reports by journalists who’d just arrived; when no one was in charge, right before everyone was in charge: then they broke the news. And the news was this: things won’t be normal in New Orleans, not for a while. Five years, maybe ten.
“Five years?” some gasped as they shoved soggy remembrances into cars and U-Hauls, rushing to move on with their lives. “Five years?” others shrugged, happy to have something to look forward to, an endpoint, no matter how elusive. The thought of half a decade became a dividing line: the patient and the rooted dug in, while the overwhelmed, the anxious, and the helpless surrendered to the fact that their migration was permanent.
As it turns out, five years hasn’t been enough time for recovery, except in places where it has. In certain parts of the city — some rich, some poor — life resumed its usual pace within a few months. In other areas — some poor, some rich — people still check the mail with crossed fingers, hoping for insurance settlements so they can rebuild what the floodwaters spared. But for a tragedy this broad, this pervasive, this everywhereyoulook, there is no normal, only “normal”. It is the same as before, but different: a life made special because we’ve come through it with scars of varying size and shape.
Some would like to go back, to inhabit that pre-Katrina world that was always a gamble anyway, but most of those people live elsewhere now — theoretically safer places like Atlantadallasnashville. Many others, myself included, refuse to budge. Us, we look to our unofficial patron saint, Lafcadio Hearn, who crafted our unofficial novena 130+ years ago:
Times are not good here. The city is crumbling into ashes. It has been buried under a lava flood of taxes and frauds and maladministrations so that it has become only a study for archaeologists. …But it is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes, than to own the whole state of Ohio. (1879)
With all due respect to the good people of Ohio, of course.
We have learned so much in these five years, so much that we can share with others affected by calamity, so much that those from other places — Kobe, Istanbul, Amsterdam — once tried to share with us, only we couldn’t hear them. We can’t be guaranteed that anyone will listen to us either, but we’re obligated to write.
And so: some not-so-simple rules for surviving disaster.
1. EXPECT THE WORST
This is the easy one. Anyone can see superficial havoc after it’s been wreaked by earth, wind, air, or fire. Anyone can grasp the complicated baby steps of rebuilding infrastructure. Roads, homes, doorways: all means of communication are fragile, and there’s no guarantee that you and your neighbors will be at the top of the government’s priority list. Your electricity and drinking water could be restored in three weeks or maybe four, but don’t bank on it.
And it gets worse: the warrens of bureaucracy. Permits, grants, insurance claims, and lawsuits all take time and paperwork. You will be told five different things by six different people. There will be a surge of information and a void of it, all at once. If you’ve ever been to the DMV, you’ve seen the tip of the iceberg (which is itself another potent symbol of things gone terribly, terribly wrong).
Your response: patience and more patience. And watch what you eat. Lots of us still carry ten extra pounds thanks to stress-snacking.
2. EXPECT WORSE THAN THE WORST
After the obvious problems come things you hadn’t expected. Depending on the tragedy, you may have already lost loved ones. But beyond that — yes, there is a beyond that — you will lose even more. You will lose friends and family who cannot be there, cannot walk the same streets, the same hallways, the same gardens they did before, because they don’t have the time, will, energy, or means. They will leave, and you will have to navigate a new, unfamiliar landscape with fewer shoulders at arm’s reach.
As they shuffle off, other tragedies will befall you. Bills, unseen physical damage, crime: the world will be a closet of boogeymen, and some will escape, even in broad daylight.
Your response: grief and slow acceptance. And a lot more patience.
3. EXPECT LITTLE FROM YOUR LEADERS
There will be many, many people vying for a turn at the podium. Far more will stand behind them, one eye on their fearless leader, the other checking the TV monitor to gauge how much screen real estate they’re getting. There will be a lot of talk and some action.
There are exceptions to this rule, but they aren’t common. Rudolph Guiliani comes to mind. He wasn’t perfect, but he did what leaders must do, what they are meant to do, especially in the face of disaster: he was compelling. He was a figurehead. He was a champion, around which the people of New York — the nation, the world — rallied. Maybe the extraordinary circumstances of September 11, 2001 made Mr. Guiliani stand out, excel. But then, every disaster is extraordinary to the people who live through it.
Your response: organize, communicate with neighbors, and make yourself be heard. Shout, but shout in chorus.
4. EXPECT CRITICISM AND INTERLOPERS
Some — mostly those living far away, mostly those who go to sleep with full stomachs in warm beds, who have never known another life — some of those people will attack you. They will accuse you of expecting handouts and of expecting others to come to your rescue. They will ridicule you for being lazy, for not being prepared, for playing with fire. This is especially true in America, where Calvin and his work ethic still work hard, except on the Sabbath.
They will blame the victim: “You live on a fault line, what did you expect?” Which is, in fact, the same as asking, “Your skirt was too short, what did you expect?” But humans aren’t always prudent or rational, and that’s partly what makes us human. What’s more, and what these people forget, is that no place is truly safe apart from a presidential army bunker. And would even the president want to live there?
There will also be interlopers, people who come to help. Most will have their heart in exactly the right spot, but some will tell you that you’ve been doing it wrong all along and their way is better. Which is one letter away from bitter.
Your response: hold your head high, ignore the critics as long as you can. Accept help from those who offer it. Listen to those who offer advice. Then put your head down and do the work you have to do.
5. EXPECT THE BEST OF YOUR NEIGHBORS
Or maybe don’t “expect”. But don’t be surprised when it happens. Those next door will step up to the plate and organize. Those across the country will offer comfort and support. They will fill the gap left by the boutonniered politicians at the podium and mend the wounds caused by detractors.
Some of you may not believe me. And that’s fine, be pessimistic if you like. But here’s the thing, the Very Big Thing: humans are social, and when there’s a rip in the social fabric, we tend to get out the needle and thread. Laugh all you want at that terrible metaphor, but what’s underneath it is true.
Your response: live up to your end of the bargain.