Archive for April, 2007

David’s House

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Artist, Susan Schroeder’s son was murdered here, at 3044 St. Peter Street, in 2001. The entire front of her property has become a shrine to David. The scope of her work is arresting. Susan’s painting spreads around you like a soothing cloud of melancholy. Every inch of the facade, her front yard, simultaneous messages of love, loss and rebirth of spirit.

It keeps going . . . the sidewalk and the cluster box at the corner. A mural covers the building at the nearby park. Her brush has touched the steps on the house across the street. And the mailbox around the block on Orleans . . .

More Photos on Karen’s Flickr

Demo by Hummer

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I was headed out to photograph the latest buildings on the docket for the Historic Conservation District Review Committee and ran into this fire. I was up early and heard the sirens. Apparently, there was a police chase and this Hummer ended up in this building which, subesquently, caught fire. I met the owners on the scene along with their relatives, the building was under repair, they were staying in Carrollton. Reverend Irvin Morgan and his wife Ethel stood by with tears in their eyes watching the tailor’s shop, which they operated out of this corner store property for years, burn to the ground.

Update:Karen and I went back this afternoon to try to photograph a property on our list and there was a police raid going on in an adjacent block. We proceeded around that to talk to the Firemen lingering at the scene. When I was there this morning, firefighters had done a cursory check of the scene and found no human remains. How the driver escaped was a mystery. This afternoon, no one on the scene had any more specific information regarding the situation. They only said, “It’s like Baghdad.” Upon listening to the local news, we have learned that this fire may have been the result of an improvised explose device (IED). As we saw first hand, the investigation into the incident continues. I felt uncomfortable taking photos of the police raid we watched unfold before us today on N. Miro St. out of respect for the NOPD and other agencies at work. We did not want to get caught up in an incident in which our safety, or theirs, was compromised. The Hummer itself had been removed.

More Photos

I also don’t get it

A couple months ago, a friend of mine called as he was running errands on the Westbank. During the course of these errands, he’d come across two separate vehicles that were painted with the artwork and logos of junk food. The first was a car painted to look like a can of Barq’s Root Beer, the second was a Hershey’s Cookies & Cream bar. This didn’t seem that abnormal to me, I’ve heard of companies paying people to drive cars wrapped in their logos. But my friend insisted that these were not those shrink wrapped cars you see, that they appeared to be amateur jobs and that apparently using junk food imagery is now an accepted form of “pimping one’s ride.” I was skeptical. A week later he called to say he was at the Uptown Wal-Mart, and there was a car in the lot painted like a Klondike Bar.

A Klondike Bar? Really? This was starting to get weird. Then one day I was coming home and I saw a silver car parked on Tulane Ave with the tricked out scissor doors open. On the side of these doors was painted a logo for Barq’s Root Beer. My mind was officially blown today, as I rode to work, when I saw the Skittles Car. It was also on Tulane Ave. Painted bright red, with the Skittles logo on the doors and hood. I was stupified.

What is going on here? Will somebody please explain? These cars really don’t look like your typical ad-car. Not only that, they’re all advertising candy or soda, and not insurance companies, websites, or whatever else. But as much as I’d love to believe that people are designing their cars to look like their favorite candies, because that’d be hilarious, I’m still not sure. Even by New Orleans standards of trends that just scream “WHY????”, this seems crazy. There must be some kind of payola involved, right? But how? Okay, let’s cut to the chase; how can I get paid to turn my car into a rolling billboard for Easy Cheese?? Or maybe I just want a giant Twinkie the Kid on my hood.

parking tickets

I was about to post a depressing little number about the slippery slope of pessimism that I have been riding in regards to New Orleans. But then I got a parking ticket and all of a sudden I feel like I can see progress happening around me again. Insane? Slightly, yes. The car was parked in Le Vieux Carre and after lunch there was a bright orange envelope on the windshield. Contained within the perky little sleeve was a digitally printed parking ticket. My parking offense was clearly (and correctly!) typed up. When I visited cityofno.com to pay, the ticket had been entered into the system within 24 hours! Not the 3-4 weeks it used to take. Okay, so it is strange that I am excited that the city has made distributing and paying traffic violations more efficient. But it is a sign of efficiency. And in the French Quarter at that (where last I heard, denizens were complaining of the new waste removal system). I am hoping this is a harbinger of new technology to come elsewhere in the city as well.

I don’t get it

We were invited to an Irish Channel Neighborhood Association meeting tonight. Something about setting up a “neighbor watch” program — similar to your more familiar Neighborhood Watch. So I decide to walk over there and find out what’s going on, since the speaker is supposed to be from the Sixth District police station. I figure what the hell — maybe I can learn something and be a part of Something Larger than just our little two-street, informal, cover-your-ass kinda thing.

There’s a park (I forget the official name of it) that’s between Annunciation and Chippewa and Third and Second Sts — and it’s a nice one. Playground equipment, a baseball backstop, some asphalt basketball courts — a good hangout spot that’s kept pretty nice for the most part (except the grass needs mowing a lot — and usually the neighborhood association takes care of it). More and more, it’s been a place where the neighborhood folks hang out. There is still a problem at night with some drug activity, but basically it’s been an okay place. We feel safe there (during daylight hours).

So anyway — I’m walking to this neighborhood meeting and I go by the park and there’s some kind of activity going on there with some hiphop music and lots of folks are there and everyone’s having a good time. Folks are out on their front porches and enjoying the music and there are lots of children running around and it’s good to see the nearby folks enjoying the park, right? Then I hear some sirens and all kinds of constabulary show up and they’re going the wrong way down streets and parking diagonally and cutting people off and bailing out of their cars and going into the park and telling people to clear the park and go home and get out and back off and otherwise get the hell out and go the hell home.

Huh? WTF? I mean, WTFF? All of a sudden I’m standing across the street from the park with like 30-40 other folks wondering what the hell is happening and what’s wrong and why things are being broken up and everyone was having such a good time and why the hell??????

Maybe the cops knew something we didn’t know — we’ve been having a few more crime problems here lately than in the past. Maybe it was simply a way of overenforcing the fact there wasn’t a proper permit for this gathering. I have no idea. And I like the cops around here — they’ve largely been good and nice and helpful and all the stuff you’d expect and want. But damn. I didn’t see and no one around me saw anything out of place or potentially wrong or otherwise out of place. Seemed to us the park was being enjoyed like a park ought to be enjoyed on a nice, mild spring evening.

At least for now, I don’t get it.

Sexy Cajun Cooking, Oh Yeah!

When looking around for information on Cajun history, I just stumbled upon this on the internet, God I love the internet. I don’t think I would learn much about Cajun history but I read reviews that the recipes are actually good. I want to see this book just to find out what’s really inside. The last thing the cover makes me want to cook however. Maybe playboy should come out with a cookbook with the girls in it, that’s a pretty good idea his girlfriends already have their own show why not their our cookbook. Well, when it comes to the Cajun cookbook if the reading is too much for you there is also a DVD, the Playboy girls definitely beat them to the punch on that one. Enjoy.

“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”

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I haven’t had much to say lately. To anyone really. Anything it occurred to me to say was awash in frustration and disgust so it seemed better in some ways not to say anything at all. Then today, er yesterday I suppose, Kurt Vonnegut, jr. died. Needless to say, I am a big fan of his work. I was thinking about some of my favorite quotes from him and it seems to me, his writing and story lines lend themselves very easily to life in Post K New Orleans. I’ve always thought of his writings as having this little theme: someone is trying desperately to hold onto the little bit of good in their life while something not so much evil, but rather ridiculous, tries to keep them from it. Eh, it’s just my take on it.

Getting ready for work this morning in the FEMA trailer, which I’ve now changed the name of to Schlachthof Fünf and intend on stenciling it on the street side of the trailer this weekend – though probably in English (Slaughterhouse Five), I really felt like Billy Pilgrim. So this Summer’s paperback extravaganza is to read a bunch of Kurt Vonnegut in the hopes that it will renew my sense of adventure and my sense of humor about the way the world works sometimes. So I’m inviting you all to read along with me. “Jack’s Book Club” as it were. so throw me some suggestions on what to read this summer – I’ve read a lot of his stuff but I’m sure I’m missing some vital pieces.

And I also thought it would be fun to have people post their favorite Vonnegut quotes especially if you think it describes some aspect of life here in New Orleans – but it doesn’t have to be. I’ll go first:

“It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead.”

Brian Denzer: Community Gumbo

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Serendipity led us to the opening of Dooky Chase’s on Holy Thursday. This also happened to be the celebration of the re-opening of Leah Chase’s restaurant since Katrina. Leah’s traditional Gumbo Z’Herbes was truly ecclesiastical. Saturday, Brian Denzer, from WTUL, aired an interview he recorded last year with Leah Chase, while she was still working hard to get her restaurant open. It’s a great interview and you can hear it here online, at Community Gumbo.

Denzer’s been a presence at WTUL for the last ten years, he started Community Gumbo after Katrina. It is a treasure of local stories. It airs Saturday’s from 8-10 am. WTUL has been gaining popularity in recent years. WWOZ changed programming, I have been rather surprised at some the complaints I’ve heard. I listen less than I used to but ‘OZ is a vital part of our collective identity. However, there is a gaping hole when it comes to places for citizens to have their voices heard in New Orleans. I can’t stomach the insulting right-wing talk radio that monopolizes most of the dial in New Orleans. There’s just no balance and it seems that being stupid is a strategy. I listen to Garland Robinette for two minutes before I just feel sorry for him and resign myself to the CD player again.
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18 months and a Right Leg

There has been a homeless man sleeping/living basically on my doorstep in the quarter for the last 18 months. He’s not just homeless, he is also mental. Looney Tunes all the way. When I moved in to where I live now, he was there. It did not matter who I called, what I did, what higher power I asked to help me get this guy some help, it just wasn’t happening. And I’m not the only one who tried to get this guy help. 18 months of 10 people calling everyone with an Orleans Parish government phone number. 18 months of living on the street, no medication (which he clearly needed) no food unless he dug it out the trash. Which of course he did. This isn’t to make light of his situation, I didn’t want to just move him to another doorstep, and I wanted him to get the help he clearly needed. No matter the circumstances, he is a human being.

Well to us he’s a human being. I’m guessing to the government, he’s just a nuisance. Another New Orleanian with problems who needs help. All the calls, e-mails, meetings with the neighborhood group, none of them worked.
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Nagin and the The Amazing Technicolor Ditch

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Eve Troeh recorded Nagin telling this story to a crowd of city recovery workers on March 30, 2007. You might have to crank up the volume. You might have to listen to it twice to get past your initial bewilderment.

Nagin Talking Out His Ass Again

Thanks Editor B. for handling the file for me on short notice.

Photo Credit: http://sweetness-light.com/archive/general-nagin-on-horseback/

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