Friday, March 30, 2007

Lordy, I'm exhausted.

I have learned two things this week that I'm itchin' to share before I collapse in a heap, though.

1 ) The devil's in the frickin' details

Yes, it's true. I am at the edge of one of the most anal-retentive of the Jewish holidays, that of Passover, so I know all about details. Let's see you try to clean all the leavened bread and non-kosher for Passover items outta your home, switch out all your eating utensils, pots and pans, and, in some cases, entire kitchens out so that all of your stuff is no longer contaminated with leaven, and then symbolically burn some of said leaven out in the backyard - all so that you are like the wandering mixed multitude in the Sinai desert, eating manna and yelling at your relatives that you've got sand in every pore of your body (well, you may not have that actually happening to you, but close proximity to family members, coupled with the major change in diet, will certainly fray anyone's nerves), for all of eight days.

So yeah, I'm up to my armpits in details. The NOLA blogpocheh has been, too. Not only are the final details of this weekend's Geek Dinner being nailed down (and everyone there had better eat all of the pound cakes I'm bringin' because they are leavened bread, and I cannot bring 'em back home with me), but there has been more than enough harping on the pithy, the piddly, the infinitesimal specks, the merest possibilities of thoughts...

Where was I? Oh, right.

NOLA bloggers have been up in arms over minutiae, brought on by something that has caused 'em to take their eyes off the ball - but only momentarily. Which leads me to Thing #

2) Calling a tree a nasty name calls attention from the surrounding forest.

This began with a column that rightfully condemned our walking id of a mayor and, as a sidebar, it introduced a separate train of thought that included Google searches concerning the columnist's ego just a tad. I'm happy to say that the fella who was referenced in that egotistical Google search is still doing his thing, and it hasn't changed him one bit (unless he's gonna get some vanity plates, a la Seinfeld's "Assman", that say something about a women's sanitary product on 'em for his car - but I don't think so).

Oh, but it gets a little crazier. And a little ruder. The gloves came off for a fella on the Vieux Carre Commission, who, frustrated at the obstinacy of the mayor's office and the Sanitation department head on the subject of humongo garbage cans in the French Quarter, dug down deep and called Sanitation's Veronica White the truly impolite name for a female dog. (I'm dancing around and trying to keep the epithets outta this blog, but our city paper has obviously taken off the gloves in their own way and is printing it all in its obscene glory...but I digress.) The details are frustrating, yes. They are more than enough to make you curse so heavily and loudly that your descendants will be excommunicated several times over from your chosen religious sect - but the problems are NOT gone.

How do I know this? Check the people who are in the forest, fully and completely:

New Orleans Slate : ...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.

Da Po' Blog on recent Road Home stats. The Himalayas are still looming, y'all, and that goat path is mighty rocky. Also see No War, No Money. The war in the sandbox overseas and the war in the mud right here at home are NOT completely separate entities.

Don't nobody tell me that this Moldy City post makes no sense...although the money quote in it is certainly questionable in its meaning. The DA and the police commish are not bosom buddies at all, and they are helping ensure that this city suffers in no small way because of it.

So watch out for the little things, and don't trip up on the name calling. This whole shell game called recovery is still going strong, and we cannot afford to keep our eyes off the prize. We can, however, take a little time to hang with family and friends, regain our strength with some good food and drink and some rest, and keep our skewers sharpened and at the ready to pin down some weaselly, wascally wicked individuals and events that are NOT contributing to our this Loyola event here (update 11:24 PM).

Monday, March 26, 2007


Sorry to be so loud about it, but hey, look at the subject matter.

Dateline: College Years
Location: McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville, TN

I am making my way to airport security. This is in the days when non-passengers could accompany passengers right to the gate (oh, how so long ago...), and after a nice visit with my maternal grandparents, my parents, and my little brother, I am more than ready to head back to school. I put my bags on the conveyor belt and walk through the metal detector only to set it off. I am made to empty my pockets, and, aside from loose change and keys, I pull out a pocket knife a boyfriend had given me.

My father, who is seeing me onto the plane, takes one look at the knife and practically yells, "A knife?!!!?? Where's your MACE???"

Oh, lovely. He's referring to the little canister Mom gave me when I went off to the northeast. The one that's packed away in my carry-on. The one that the security people are referring to when they say "Yeah, where is that mace? Hand it over, toots!"

I dig it out and hand it over, like they ask me to. I walk to the gate as fast as I can, with Dad after me saying, "What? What'd I do?"

You only had security take away a misty line of self-defense that Mom gave me, for God's sake! Hello!!!!!!! Nice going, Dad!!!


Dateline: pre-New York City move years
Location: New Orleans

Dan and I are passengers on the St Charles streetcar as it makes its way downtown.

Most of the operators of the streetcars are pretty nondescript folks, shouting out the names of the stops that are at major intersections along the route and saying little else unless asked about directions or stops closest to attractions. Of all of these operators, there is one in particular that stands out, and we are riding with him at this moment.

He sticks baseball card-sized pictures of the saints right near his controls. He yells, in a loud, gravelly voice reminiscent of Howlin' Wolf, at the cars attempting to cross the neutral ground in front of the vehicle he is steering, as though his very voice will hold them all back, in tandem with the bell he clangs with his feet.


"MOVE THAT WAGON! (clang, clanggggg)"

The streetcar slows up to take on another passenger, and his voice beckons.

(to a passenger) "GET ON THE WAGON! GET ON THE WAGON!!!"

As we move through the Garden District, a tour group is amassed on the sidewalk near the Washington Avenue intersection. It is at this moment that all the streetcar passengers are treated to an extremely rare assessment from the operator. He gazes out to the right, sees the group and yells out,


The divide between locals and visitors is instantly exposed. Locals on the streetcar laugh uproariously - tourists emit a nervous giggle, or smirk uncomfortably. At any rate, we are all in the same boat, so to speak, until we reach Canal Street.

Dateline: High School years
Location: Auditorium, small-town PA high school

The best part about making Regional Choir is the rehearsals take you outta class. Although I am having to learn ten-plus choral pieces on the fly, my sight-reading is abominable, and reading music is akin to running in quicksand, I'm enjoying hanging out with all kinds of people from schools all over the area. I haven't made it to State Choir, but that was the first thing that got taken care of, and it doesn't bar me from the Regional rehearsals.

The usual choral music suspects are on display, including John Rutter's Requiem, a jazz piece that is mostly a lot of choral scat, except for an a cappella movement that jokingly goes:

No, no-n-no, Nooo (no no!)
No, no-n-no, Nooo (no no!)
No no no no
No no no no no (bing!)
No no no no no (bing!)
No no no no no words!

...and a piece that is giving the conductor fits, because we haven't got it quite right - Daniel Pinkham's Wedding Cantata, which takes its lyrics straight from the Shir HaShirim, the Biblical Song of Songs. We are slogging through the music, which is technically demanding, and the concentration on the notes and the dynamics is so great that we seem to have forgotten something.

The conductor stops the reharsal. Hands on hips, he stares us all down. "Come on guys, what do you think this song is really about???"

Dead silence.

A voice wells up from the back of the bass section, snapping the quiet in two.

"Couldn't be about SEX, could it?"

Forget the music. Forget the dynamics. Forget the words, even. The beginning of the song at every rehearsal thereafter was guaranteed to have me in a giggling fit. I couldn't do that song with a straight face until the performance itself.

Why do I recount all this now?

1) I sometimes think about this stuff when I get in front of a crowd like I did yesterday (see the previous post) and speak my mind. At worst, people will get angry. At the other end of the worst, people will laugh in my face. Someone will listen somewhere, some way, I figure.

2) It's my blog, and I'll write - and YELL - how I want to. Ha.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I didn't realize until I was at the Jewish Federation of Greater N.O.'s planning meeting this afternoon that this had made the Times-Picayune's front page.

My initial reaction to the Federation's idea to pay a $15,000 no-interest loan to families who want to move down here (among other incentives - see here) is: great beginning. My husband's half-joking reaction was: "We should have waited to move down here, then."

I must emphasize the word beginning.


I stood before everyone at that meeting after the initial presentations of the five task force leaders, after Frederick Weil's stats on the Greater N.O. Jewish Community, after emphases on what the community itself must do to strengthen itself. I stood up, told 'em my name, said that my husband and I had moved back here a year and a half ago after four years in NYC. I told them that the reason why we moved away was because it wasn't good for us, job-wise, to stay. I told them that Dan's workplace is not in the Greater New Orleans area, that he has a monster commute to Baton Rouge every day. I told them that they can talk about attracting young families in my age group all they want, they can talk about how to bring more unaffiliated and intermarried couples into the existing Jewish organizations all day, but when there are no jobs to support these people, all of this talk becomes moot. I sat down, feeling as though everyone could see the smoke coming out of my ears.

Dan and I are here because we love the community and always have. We met in this community. We got married here. We bought a house here that we had to leave. We were fortunate to be able to hang onto it, because we could rent the whole thing out, but, in all the time we have lived in New Orleans, pre-NYC and after, we always keenly felt the absence of other Jewish singles and couples who were our age. Most of our friends here in the Jewish community are older than we are... they are closer to our parents in age. Because Dan and I had a strong identification as Jews, because we became affiliated with a synagogue when we were young...well, it marked us as significantly different people in the scheme of things locally.

Mind you, on a certain level, this is a problem in secular Jewish communities all over this country. Dan and I were active in a synagogue in Queens where we lived. I became a board member nearly a year before we moved back down south, and when I told the board at the last meeting I attended that we were moving, a member indignantly stood up and asked me if I knew that Dan and I were going to move back, after all the time we'd spent in Queens as active members. I told her that because of Dan's job prospects, and the high cost of living in the New York area, we knew we were going to have to move eventually, just not as soon as we did. Her question hinted at betrayal, but she knew the answer. And this lady is one of many who are wringing their hands over the problem of how to get people our age involved and primed for leadership positions in Jewish communities all over this country.

At the planning sub-meeting I attended, the meeting's focus was how to get the people our age to become affiliated, involved, and ready to carry the torch of Jewish leadership and involvement. Secular Jewish communities are reaping an assimilationist whirlwind that actually has its roots in the nineteenth century, when Reform Judaism was developed in Germany by Abraham Geiger. Reform took its cues from Protestant Christianity and the emancipation of German Jews and remade its worship services. Prayers were chanted in Hebrew and in the vernacular. Sermons were given in the vernacular. Men and women were allowed to sit together in the sanctuaries, part of the buildings which were called temples, rather than the shuls of the Judaism of old. Many other alterations or outright omissions of Jewish law were woven into the fabric of Reform - all in the name of moving towards what was thought to be the future.

(An example of this is worded into the Pittsburgh Platform of 1885: We recognize in the Mosaic legislation a system of training the Jewish people for its mission during its national life in Palestine, and today we accept as binding only its moral laws, and maintain only such ceremonies as elevate and sanctify our lives, but reject all such as are not adapted to the views and habits of modern civilization. )

It was Judaism without Israel. It was Judaism as a religion and not a cultural identity. And, over time, it served assimilation well. Because large numbers of several generations of Reform Jews have received their heritage in this way, they haven't grown beyond their earliest impressions of temple life. They have turned away from Jewish life in large numbers, and have channeled their energies into being successful in the non-Jewish world instead.

It is why there are beautiful, empty temples such as this one in small towns all over this country. Money is much more important for people to pursue. It is a fact of life, period. Reform Judaism and other secular forms of Judaism, coupled with America's reputation as a land of opportunity free of cultural and class constraints (yeah, right...) have helped do what Nazism never could - it has ensured that the Jewish population here stays on a plateau, never increasing in large numbers, but constantly causing the community to reevaluate the numbers it has and monitor them closely for signs of shrinkage.

New Orleans' Jewish population went from 9,500 to 6,600. We lost a third of the donors and leaders of our community here due to the levee breaches. But the ties to the community here are very strong. The cooperation between different denominations of Judaism here is truly something to behold (my NYC friends are incredulous when I tell them of interdenominational activities held down here - it's a rarity). People who have had to leave and relocate really do want to come back. Cold hard reality, however, dictates that the people who come have to have jobs that will support them. Jobs that will enable them to raise families. Not to mention a standard of living that will help this all out, too.

Job fairs and networking were afterthoughts at the planning meeting. They should not have been.

When I walked over to the room where the sub-meeting was being held, I was stopped by many people, mostly older ones, who said that what I had said was right. "It's just that it's a problem this city has had for decades - it didn't start when the levees breached," I told them. "I don't want it all to go down the drain this way."

These were fathers, mothers, grandparents, who nodded their heads. They want their children to come home. They want to see their grandchildren.

It starts with a little bit of assistance with moving expenses. It had better not end there...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Our good, departed friend K. F. was interred in a mausoleum at Metairie Cemetery yesterday.

K was truly in the non-Jewish equivalent of the "lamed-vavniks", one of thirty-six righteous people without whom, it is said in my tradition, the world would come to an end. The thirty-six are not conscious of their status in the world at all, which is one of the many reasons why we thought the minister's eulogy on K's life delved a little too much into "Jesus was K's friend - is he yours? K embraced the son of God - have you?" The man was just a sweet, intelligent, thoroughly caring individual who made friends of all ages for life - and those friends were out in good numbers for his memorial service. He loved playing the trumpet, he loved animals, he gave of himself a great deal to all kinds of organizations, and damn it, he will be sorely missed.

On entering the mausoleum and checking it out, Dan discovered an unusually named neighbor across the way from where K's remains will be : a dear lady named Lillian Rose Pizza Buras. I'm sure Ms Buras and K will have a lot to talk about in the afterlife. Rest in peace, good man.

Later on in the evening, after a lovely meal at a French Quarter restaurant, Dan and I met up with some of his former co-workers from NYC and escorted them through Pat O'Brien's, and, from there, over to Snug Harbor and Irvin Mayfield. Unfortunately, we turned into parental pumpkins and couldn't stay to take in the music. We did have to explain the whole recovery mess to our friends, however, while at the same time extolling the virtues of being able to take one's alcoholic beverage through the streets in a plastic cup, to listen to great music on a regular basis, and to enjoy warm weather in March. God-given rights, I say, but they are coming at a heavy price these days.

I get tired of sharing the bad with the good, especially last night, when I knew that at least one person in the whole group was quite a skeptic. I'm just glad that I could let her and the others know that taking a disaster tour, like they were going to do in the following day or two, was a good thing for them all to be doing, even though I have these moments when I feel like I'm recommending a tour of Auschwitz.

Both tours have the same objective, however: never forget. Sixty-plus years after the Shoah, there are people who do their best to deny that the killing of millions never happened. A year and a half after the levee breaches and the tragedy that affected the Gulf Coast and this city, and our alleged leaders are in a different sort of denial. All it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing. The truth hurts, but I'm all for these folks getting to know the whole city - the WHOLE city, not just the Quarter or uptown. It is only then that they will get a panoramic, Technicolor view of all that they have simply glimpsed through the pinholes of the national media, pundit-steered opinions, and thoroughly biased politicos.

(I guess I've got the Shoah on the brain in part because of the following tidbits of news: the tree that Anne Frank gazed out at from her Secret Annex is being felled, and this - I don't even know how to describe it - it can't be news. It's more like a sad, misguided attempt at revisionist history. Awarding Frank posthumous American citizenship is closing the barn door sixty-plus years after the cows have left. This should have been done during the Shoah - go back in time and do it, idiot.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Politically, things down here are weird...which really ain't unusual.

Our walking id of a mayor is backpedaling about his alleged " 'anti-black repopulation of New Orleans' conspiracy" comments. It looks like our governor is caving on embarking on a reelection campaign (Todah rabah, uncle Sheckrastos!) under the weight of the mismanagement of that winding goat path through the Himalayas - i.e., the Road Home program. And folks who live outside of this area still have no clue as to what life is really like down here - how colossal the problems are, how overwhelming it all is.

Hell, I've even read some judgment on the recovery process in New Orleans from somebody located halfway around the world (thanks, Mr Mel - and I'm glad you gave the guy some hell of your own) only to see that the cyclone they're talking about in the post is named after my dad. Nice. It means that, as the daughter of two storms, I must doubly atone, I guess. Fate is sure messed, sometimes. My mom didn't ASK to have her name used in August 2005.

I'm gonna go recover from my son's preschool's field trip to the Botanical Gardens now. More on that another time. One thing about that trip, though...

Let's just say that they have to get outta the school building so that the LEAP test takers can do their thing. Standardized testing rules my son's world, and he's not even taking them yet...

Monday, March 19, 2007


Check the link here and see Hana and Ashley's Mardi Gras Indian photos from Super Sunday.

Only one place on earth, indeed...

And stop by this fellow NOLA blogger's spot and give him a hearty mazel tov on the latest addition to his family. There's more than one way to repopulate New Orleans, folks... ;-)

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A wild, wild weekend down in my neck of the woods. It began with a madhouse...

Every Friday, I have a voice lesson with my synagogue's choir director. I have to keep up with cantorial soloist duties, and I am now saddled with half the solos for a special Shabbat service that's coming down the pike - it coincides with the first weekend of JazzFest, hence its "JazzFest Shabbat" moniker. Since my husband and I don't own a piano, we have the lessons at my friend Edie's house. That way, she can have her lesson, too, usually after I have mine.

This past Friday, however, fate and scheduling conspired to make the usual lesson a little crazier. Choir Director couldn't come until much later in the afternoon, it turned out - we agreed upon a new time that had to happen after I picked up the little guy from school. Okay, well, we'll just have to deal. Added wrench in the works: Edie had to leave the house around the same time I'd be commencing my lesson to pick up some teenagers staying at her house while they attended the regional synagogue youth conclave at the synagogue. Oooo-kay, so no one would be watching my son while I'd be singing...I'll have to deal. Fine, I'll put Finding Nemo on the DVD player for the kid. It would have worked out well, except that the little guy pulled the plug on the surge protector for the TV, DVD player and VCRs. OOPS. No problem, I'll just stick the DVD in the iBook upstairs. I got that started and had to let the choir director in the house. My voice lesson began, and I cringed a little every time the little guy ran into the room - and relaxed every time he ran out, because all he wanted was a toy from his backpack. Whew!

The piece de resistance to all this: the conclave teenagers came into Edie's house and were greeted by Edie's two barking shepherds, a piano man, a short, squat broad singing the Hebrew liturgy strong enough to raise the roof, and a four-year-old kid who immediately planted himself on the teenaged girls' guest bed and tried to chat them up. Welcome to New Orleans, ladies!

I got roped into two singing situations. One was leading Saturday morning services, which was not a problem. The other involved teaching a bunch of kids - 2nd to 5th graders - some of the songs they were going to sing at the aforementioned JazzFest Shabbat. That was trickier. I had to walk among a crowd of forty-some-odd kids and get them to repeat parts of the song after me, and to sing it all together. The walking amongst the kid masses is essential to get them all singing and keep 'em from slacking...and I am sooo glad I didn't trip over a one of 'em. After a good half-hour, I think I got the kids started on one song, at least. Ever since our full-time cantor left for other saner worlds, it's been tough getting someone to teach the kids Jewish music and liturgy, because there really isn't anyone who can fill the former cantor's shoes in this regard. Edie wondered why I wasn't doing it full-time, and I told her I couldn't do it and teach the religious school first graders. If she's wondering why I'm not doing it full-time, I guess that's some kinda compliment...

In other news, I got a response from my dad on the link in this post (see the comments!) . Now if only all 'a us NOLA bloggers could yank on the ears of the mainstream media outlets...we'd certainly give dudes like Matt Drudge a run for his moolah. We only caught six cabbages at this year's St Patrick's Day parade (thank GOD!...I'm so happy it won't be a complete repeat of this).
And I had this little conversation with my neighbor on the disposal of his old fridge to make way for a new one:

"So, what kinda graffiti are you gonna write on it when you put it out on the curb?" I asked.

He laughed. "Oh, I think the landlord doesn't consider this fridge a lost cause just yet."

"My personal fave said, 'Warning: Insurance Adjuster Inside'."

"Hah! I was think more along the lines of saying something about its being (William) Jefferson's fridge..."

I laughed. "Ohhh, yeah!"

If he does that, the thing will be picked up in two seconds, I'm sure...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I've poked around the NOLA blogosphere a great good deal now, and I fear that the blogpocheh is becoming like that relative in the family of the United States.

Everybody knows that relative. He's obsessed with every ailment, real or imagined, and complains about it incessantly. She's always got a reason why whatever is going on is not her fault - that forces outside of her control are calling the shots. He will read every scrap of news pertaining to his health and diagnose himself - he will even diagnose whoever is close at hand or within the sound of his voice. If she decides the fault is really within, she'll go a little overboard in a search for the cure - which could entail any, and possibly all, of the following: homeopathic medicines, ashrams, spa retreats, loads of yoga, and activist meetings concerning passing on the cures to everyone on the planet.

Anyone who recognizes the abovementioned traits in any of their blood kin, please stand...oh, some of you have several relatives that exhibit these traits...oh, dear...

I don't want to be that relative, thank you. That relative is a drag, and, after a while, great pains are taken to avoid that relative. I wanna be Shiny Happy Mommy, deep down. In that spirit, I'm glad that this event is coming down the pike, because it is guaranteed to be fun. A blogger's blog ain't the sole aspect of his/her personality, ya least, I hope not. I'm really looking forward to it.

Until then, I feel a need to pass on a sorry as hell attempt to deliver some bad news whilst removing the stinging, torturous pain of it, simply because all gloom and doom and no fun makes for a dull as dishwater blog. Make no mistake: this news is pretty bad, but this is what we all suffer through down in these parts. You can suffer some through reading my attempt at easing the pain instead.

NOLA Blogger News (And Other News) As Seen Through Ferris Bueller's Day Off

"One: You can never go too far. Two: If I'm gonna get busted, it's not gonna be by a guy like THAT."

We asked for flood protection, we got a hinky deal on defective pumps "- how's that for being born under a bad sign?"
(For more detail on this God-awful news, go to Matt McBride's Fix The Pumps, or Da Po' Blog. This one still has me hopping mad.)

"CAMERON: Why'd you hit me?!
FERRIS: Where's your brain?!
CAMERON: Why'd you hit me?
FERRIS: Where's your brain?
CAMERON: I asked you first."
(Okay, this one's more about recent conversations between myself and/or Dan and the little guy when the little guy gets a tad too punchy. Usually occurs when our son is overtired or overexcited or both)

Danke schoen, darling, danke schoen...

"Now, I'm gonna do it. I'm taking a stand against... my family, against myself, against my past, my present and my future. I will not sit idly by as events that affect me unfold to change the course of my life. I will take a stand and I will defend it."

Heard that you were feeling ill
Headache, fever, and a chill
I've come to help restore your pluck
'Cause I'm the nurse who likes to (door slam)
(I hope the government NEVER sends any of these kinds of people to help out with the health care problems down here. Even though I know large numbers of people who wouldn't mind that kind of therapy in place of X-rays or colonoscopies one bit...)

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
(This last one is in honor of the little guy's new red wagon.)

Save New Orleans. Save Ferris. Thank you.


You just can't buy a basic metal red wagon at a toy store any more.* It has to be one of these funky chunky thick plastic things with no edges, and, once you get it home, you have to stick the wheels and the handle on it.

It took a half hour or so to put the whole thing together, while simultaneously trying to keep the little guy from banging the heck out of it with the hammer. I got the thing upright, stuffed some snacks and drinks in the seat compartment, and shuffled off to the dog park with Gilda and wagon containing my son in tow.

We managed to get a good-sized break between bands of rain, long enough for Gilda to run around with the other dogs, and for the little guy to take his new wagon on a test run. I haven't seen him so happy to just yank something around on wheels in a long time. He pulled it all over the place.

I can't wait to drag it to a bigger park just to see what he does. Knowing him, he'll want to pull some passengers along like he did with someone else's wagon a while back. He'll pretend it's a truck, or a train, or a car. He'll do his best to be a perfect host - on his terms, of course; he's not that far out of toddlerhood. He's already anticipating dragging it out to our parade spot for St Patrick's Day (which was the reason why Dan wanted the wagon in the first place).

So yeah, it cost some dough. It was kind of a pain to assemble. It has a big "please don't sue the manufacturer" label on the back of it warning us that this, that, and the other thing should NOT be done in, on, and around the wagon. But the joy in having a little red wagon, I'm happy to report, has been passed on to the next generation in my own family.

And I'm glad I didn't miss that moment.

*My mistake. This was before I found this link. Even so, it just doesn't feel right to have this many variations on a classic...

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Clay at NOLA-dishu is right about this one. Good ol' common sense is in short supply in these parts, as well as the need to ask the toughest questions and get 'em answered.

I ought to send this to my dad. Mom, once you read the Metroblogging link, forward it on to Dad. He might find it interesting.

Talked with Dad on the phone last night, and the prime topics were the idiocy of the re-elected local officials in these parts - and, by vice/virtue of the fact that many locals elected Nagin and Jefferson, the NOLA populace - and the drive-by cancellations of Allstate homeowners' insurance policies here. My dad thought that the way the cancellations were done was idiotically priceless. Adjusters driving by, noting whether or not they thought the place being investigated was inhabited or no from behind their car doors, and then driving off to happily cancel policies isn't what most homeowners have in mind when they expect their homes to be "in good hands".

I know Dad thinks we're nuts, deep down. I guess we are.

When all he sees on this area in the news is how much we are overstaying our welcome in terms of aid in the rebuilding and recovery effort from the rest of the country - well, what the hell else is he supposed to think?

On second thought, I'm forwarding that Metroblogging link myself...

Oh, and Viacom is suing YouTube. As a result, the Dr Seuss Bible is on indefinite hiatus. Get thee to one's video store/Netflix queue/whatever and search it out on some Kids In The Hall DVDs. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

In partial response to Mr Clio of World Class NOLA, I offer up this lil' exchange I heard in passing on CNN's In The Money about the capitalist nature of Daylight Savings:

VELSHI: But what -- can we -- I really have avoided studying in on all of this. What's going on? What is it supposed to do? It's supposed to save energy.

WASTLER: Basically, that's the theory. It's that, oh, we'll have longer daylight hours and it will save energy, you know, because people can do stuff more without the lights and everything like that. But what it's really about, if you trace the history, which the guy who wrote the book did, what it's about is it's about letting people be out of doors a little bit more so they go to the store. They drive around a little bit more. So you end up actually using more money to, you know, basically go in to the coffers of the retailers.

I love how much the anchors of the show sound like Walter Cronkite. I love the fact that I am not shelling out money on a monthly basis so that these people can stay on CNN. Cable is truly not for me.

I think "the book" refers to this book. Looks like a lot of fun. One of these days, I'll get around to it. I'm too busy reading some of these, however, and laughing my head off in the process.

Oh, and I ran into Perfesser Not Dr A and his wife at the Fete Francaise on Saturday. I walked up, introduced myself and the little guy, and we talked of the blogging life a tad while balloons were passed between ourselves and the youngest of the Perfesser's clan. Later on, when Dan came to the Fete, I introduced him to the Perfesser and told Dan that he commutes back and forth from Chicago, the source of Dan's ancestors' roots and a former workplace. Dan immediately evinced a guffaw from the Perfesser when he said, "Oh, that's great! I love the drive!"

Not everybody drives on their commutes, Dan, my love.

It was lovely meeting all of y'all. One of these days, we'll all have to get together and talk over preschool admissions processes and how best to beat 'em. Until then, the blogosphere will just have to do.

I have updated this post a tad, too, since my friend J emailed me the vital info.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Sorry, people, I couldn't resist this one. In honor of Dr Seuss' birthday, and in reaction to all the Seuss-honoring activities at the little guy's preschool, I give you this link. Hold onto your sides.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Today is Blog Against Sexism day. So hey, here goes.

Louisiana is one of three states that has legalized the option of a covenant marriage for couples seeking a marriage license. My knee-jerk reaction to this is that, if this idea were strictly taken on by couples wishing to wed in the spirit of true love, and wanting to keep everything equal in case that love goes bad, then hey, go for it. Keep it optional, above all. Because love is one hell of an emotion - dizzying highs, palpitating hearts, undying expressions of devotion to the one with whom you are in love - and then reality sets in.

Marriage is a marathon. Add children to the equation, and it is a marathon with an obstacle course tacked on. Tempers will flare. Situations will crop up that cannot possibly be foreseen until they are right on top of you. Finances will be stretched. Love will be tough to find in all of this, sometimes. When it becomes next to impossible to find, the lovers can and will turn on each other. Some reasons for this will be valid, and some won't be. If it gets really serious, then the couple will elect to live apart.

Society is constantly trying to manage the fact that some couples will want to opt out of the marriage marathon. Of course, everyone wants a happier, healthier world in a mental sense for all the parties involved... so now, more than ever before, it seems, every effort is put forth to work things out. The last thing we all want is a War of the Roses-type situation. And I'm glad that the effort is being put out there. What I hate is when the process is biased from the beginning.

Covenant marriage is a nice idea, but I'm glad it's optional for all of us in Louisiana, Arizona, and Arkansas, and that it hasn't gone beyond an introduction of legislation in twenty-one other states, because I cringe at the backers of this concept, who are largely Christian, and who are supporting a narrow definition of marriage to begin with. Yeah, I'm Jewish, and the Christian part just doesn't sound good to me anyhow. But that definition of marriage under a religious umbrella can have consequences for one party in a marriage that is also under a narrow definition, religiously speaking - namely, woman.

Jewish law, through millennia, has traditionally treated women better than most other religions have treated women. Traditional Jewish divorces, however, are very much under the control of the man in the relationship. A woman can sue for the notice of release, the get, but the man is the one who has the final say. If he has not given her that vital piece of paper, she is what is called an agunah (a chained wife), and she can't remarry.

I would give anything to yank back the email I deleted (damn it!), sent from a friend (J, if you're reading this, send me the blurb about this book again, please) from our synagogue in Queens, concerning the publication of a book about the first female chalutzim, the first of the women to help settle what was then British-controlled Palestine and reclaim what was mostly desert and swamp, with the hopes of turning it into a Jewish state. Men and women came to work in such harsh conditions to escape persecution in Europe - but their ideals were not strictly religious ones. Shaped by emerging Marxist and socialist ideologies, many of these people had no clue what they were getting into, but they came, filled with hope and a willingness to work their tails and women. Equal partners, ideally. Workers on the same footing, for a common cause... right?

Somewhere along the way to Jewish statehood, these folks had to make a deal with the Orthodox sects of Judaism. It gave the emerging state an extra legitimacy in a number of ways (it would require another post to go into all of it here). That link with orthodoxy is a mixed marriage of sorts - and women in that marriage have suffered. There are many, many agunot in Israel and in any place in which Jewish orthodox sects live and pray, and it is becoming a huge problem. Organizations such as Agunah International have come into being to help with this problem, and groups such as the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance are throwing their support behind the herculean efforts to release these chained women, but it's tough to cut through centuries of rabbinical rulings that, quite frankly, have failed to recognize the rights of women in the majority of cases. These organizations are fighting a good fight. Support 'em.

If people think that covenant marriage is going to cut the divorce statistics, well, fine, it might. It will also be much more likely to cut everyone's psyche to ribbons. As long as people try to insert measures into our legislation that automatically exclude or denigrate one sex over the other, or define how we should all be together, we will all be prejudice, to hate, and to other unhealthy views of each other. I can't turn back the clock on the three states in which this is an option (and oh, if I could turn the clock back a few decades, geologically, for New Orleans...), but I can urge everyone to keep it an option. DON'T make it into an absolute law.

Off the soapbox. 'Night.

Update, 3-11: The link to a synopsis of the book on the chalutzot (feminine tense of the noun chalutzim - stand back, I'm gettin' technical...), Redemption in Chains: The Women Workers' Movement in Eretz- Israel, 1920-1939, is right here. And the stories it tells of these first pioneers are indeed harrowing and disillusioning. History, in the case of early modern Palestine/Israel, is indeed "his story". Thanks, J!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

I'm a weird broad.

Stuff I've been contemplating:

- Why is it called a "May-December romance"? There's seven months between the two, which is an odd number. Why not "May-November", or "June-December"? Does the odd number automatically doom the relationship, or what?

- My son has added new tidbits to his pop culture blender of a brain. I blame Sesame Street once again (Grover has turned into Ty Pennington) for the little guy's constant yelling of "OUTRAGEOUS MAKEOVER!" at odd times, and he now sings "What's New Pussycat" because of the movie Flushed Away. Yeah, yeah, I know...ultimately, I am responsible. At least I haven't taught him to say, "Toonces, the driving cat!" every time he sails a Matchbox car over a table's edge. Dan did that.

- In the French Quarter the other day, I heard the calliope on the steamer Natchez playing "Shortnin' Bread", and all I could think of was the Cramps' Lux Interior singing the hell out of that song. I'd dig up the album on which it's on and play it over and over again, except I don't want the little guy to start singing "All Women Are Bad" on a regular basis. Gotta be responsible, you know.

- Am I the only one who thinks that this is downright criminal? Grandmaster Flash is gonna be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before the singer of "Working in a Coalmine"? The second Lee Dorsey opened his mouth, he shoulda been in that shoddy I.M. Pei thing in Cleveland. Even the frickin' Beastie Boys have paid tribute to Dorsey. As far as I'm concerned, his "Yes We Can Can" ought to be the theme song for rebuilding this city. Huh. Do y'all think I'm sufficiently ticked about this? Read the article and read about all the other NOLA musicians who've been left outta the club. Grrrr...

- I got all nostalgic and roamed through some websites looking for some favorite old flicks of mine, stuff I haven't seen since I was in college, and, though I found information about them, obtaining them so that I can access Memory Lane through celluloid is gonna be waaay tougher, so I will need people's help on this, I guess.

Glass India- I was a teaching assistant for a continuing education course in college, and right after the first class, this one was shown as an example of what not to do safety-wise: "Of special note are the workers who toss the blowpipes to each other" - blowpipes with hot glass fresh from the furnace on the ends, pipes that gatherers are throwing to gaffers on the working floor as though they are javelins. It's all fun and games 'til someone burns the heck outta themselves, one would think - except this is the way these people work. I was also struck by the crushing poverty of those who are making the glass. I've been thinking about this documentary ever since I caught some beads off a float that were labeled "Made in India".

It's A Complex World - The people who know me might have wondered how I ended up in New Orleans in the first place, and there are many reasons...a tiny, subliminal one is this flick. I saw this movie ages ago, and loved it. I now wish I'd gotten the video, it's that good. I look around me now and realize that New Orleans has become the Heartbreak Hotel club, in that forces in and around us are conspiring towards our demise, when all we wanna do is party and live (with or without the help of drugs or alcohol). The music in this movie is hysterical, the antics of Morris Brock, the musical terrorist, will have you rolling on the floor laughing, and all the little subplots will make your head spin - in a good way. Yeah, the next time I get a menacing phone call, I want to say, "Sorry, we don't take bomb threats over the phone."

If anyone's got a lead on how to get ahold of these films, let me know. Until then, I'll be singing "Why Do We Feed The Broads?" to myself.

I told you I was a weird broad.

Wait a second...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ladies and gents, blogpocheh all, I've got an announcement.

This site is now sporting a blogroll. (smattering of applause)

(drily) Don't everyone go storming this place all at once, now.

Oh, and my mom is now reading my blog on a regular basis, which means everyone has to say, "HI, MOM!" somewhere in their comments for this post. And give her some advice on how to take this whole blogging thing. To give you an idea, I had to explain to her what this means:
Hey, everybody's gotta start somewhere.

Mom, I try to keep this site PG, more or less, but there are...heh... no guarantees concerning all the other wahoos I've linked to. Surf with care. Love from us. 8-*

Monday, March 05, 2007

This Times-Picayune series is the talk of the NOLA blogosphere.

It ought to be the talk of the nation.

Read it and weep for everyone in this country...and in the rest of the U.S.

And if that doesn't make you hopping mad or extremely upset, I direct you to these people's takes on the problem of obtaining insurance for your home.

If New Orleans and south Louisiana follow"business as usual" (preparing for the last hurricane, not the next), something worse than Katrina happens the next time.

But it's not just New Orleans that has to worry about this. From the RMS study:

Then there is a much longer list of cities at risk from rising sea levels and more intense storms, including cities all along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

And yes, the above quotes date from December of last year. They still apply, y'all.

I can't help but think that eventually, we'll all be living like the people in E.M. Forster's short story "The Machine Stops" - living underground like moles in our own little cubicles, with the only human contact being made through technology, all so that we can continue paying premiums to the almighty insurance companies. They won't refuse to pay out a claim if you catch no diseases, right? They won't dare drop you like a hot potato because you live on a coastline, right?... because you live underground in a NORAD-like compound.

The wrong kind of green is talking a little too loudly, and, though it doesn't surprise me much, it makes me hopping mad...

Update: And, as if the Road Home program weren't bad enough, Offbeat magazine gets a rebuttal from Branford Marsalis and Harry Connick Jr. on the bad press and other knotty details surrounding the Musicians' Village. It's sounding like yet another winding goat path through the Himalayas, to me. A telling quote, highlighted in the mag, too:

Connick: One thing New Orleans is really good at is waiting. They are good at that; they have certainly shown that in the post-Katrina thing, waiting for the city to come back and it doesn’t seem to be happening.

Uhh, Harry, don't say that one in public again. People will take you at your word, because you are a celebrity. Then, this town will never get rebuilt. Thanks, dude.

Yet ANOTHER update, 3-9: Ashley dissects this whole thing waaaay better than I have.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Tomorrow night, Dan and I will be attending this stellar event. Tell me, folks, what's an adequate tip to leave a celeb waiter? Do you leave the bare minimum tip, as a signal that they shouldn't quit their day job? Do you tip 'em right anyhow, because it's the right thing to do?

Oh, well, the questions are moot. It's just a fundraiser...

I'd much rather be giving some of these festival guests a tip, especially John Waters. My personal fave is Serial Mom, in which Kathleen Turner is Emily Post run psychotically amuck, killing people for things like failing to rewind rented videos and for wearing white shoes after Labor Day, despite the wearer's insistence that no one follows those rules anymore. And who's starring in a film remake of Hairspray? None other than John Travolta, in the Divine role as Edna Turnblad.

My husband is waaay more interested in the question of: can he, or can't he? Will he be able to enter our son in the Stanley and Stella shouting contest on April 1st? The kid watched one episode of "Elmo's World" on Sesame Street yesterday that left him yelling "STELLAAAAAA!" for a little bit before he headed for the bed, which gave Dan the idea to enter him in. We can't figure out if there is an age requirement or not...and I'm still struggling with the whole concept of entering him in, as I'm sure it will expose to the world that we are closet stage parents.

"Come on, honey, yell up to the nice lady on the, it doesn't matter that you don't know her, just yell her name...Mommy, Daddy, and you will get a lot of goodies if you can yell it like you yell when we put the wrong DVD on for you...I know we keep telling you that that's rude, but right now, it's not rude, just yell up to the lady...Just...Just...scream it, kid...STEEEEEELLLLLLLLAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Yecccch. Not for me. Dan can do that.

I'll be up on that balcony, having a mint julep or something stiff.

Oh, and check the sidebar, y'all. This fine blogger tipped me off to March 8th, and since I know that women and men might not be all that separate in many cases, they are still unequal in this world. Work for that change. Be the change.

Update: After services tonight, Dan and I surveyed the dining area, noticing the different cards on the tables posted with the celeb waiters' names.

"If I sit at (local fitness guru) Mackie Shilstone's table, I'm going to make sure to stuff everything I get into my mouth. I'll make it a point to eat as much as possible," he said, grinning.

I started laughing. "I can just picture that."

"And then, when he asks me why I'm stuffing my face, I can tell him that it's all right, I work in health management!" Dan said as I laughed harder.

God help the people who will be waiting on us...