Friday, November 30, 2007

Caution: weird interweaving of thoughts here...

I saw this today. I also saw bayoustjohn's (not BayouStJohnDavid, as I've recently been informed) comments on it. Scroll down a little.

Sometimes, I get so full of the contents of a good, good book that I see things through its prism for a while. I hunt down all kinds of things pertaining to that book. In the case of the book I'm talking about, I've been looking at most everything recently with ideas in my head concerning salvage of the work of our hands. What is worth saving? What is clearly not in that category? Why in hell are we designing things that are destined to fail, stuff that seems to be headed for dead almost as soon as we create it? Are we accelerating that process? Is it in our best interests to do so, really?

I think about these things knowing full well that I am going right back into working with a material that has the reputation of being frighteningly fragile, depending on how it is used. And yet, glass is all around us, in our windows, our cooking and eating receptacles, on our cars, our TV screens and monitors. It's what we make of it. And what I've seen of it for many years before taking the time out to be full-time mom is still enthralling to me. I still dream about it. I still think about it a great deal. And I'm sure I still have a good amount of raw glass in my veins. Silicosis, anyone?

I'd be interested in what Jeff Byles has to say about the state of New Orleans. In his book Rubble, he comments on the experiment of "urban erasure"* that is the city of Detroit. If anybody wants to talk about blatant man-made disasters, there's one right there that can't be smoke-screened by the whole idea of flooding and storms as primary forces at fault for the devastation of an urban landscape. Industry and manufacturing bade Detroit good-bye a good while ago, contributing to drastic population decreases, surges in crime of all sorts and the creation of wonderful events such as Devil's Night to highlight the massive numbers of abandoned and blighted properties all over the city. Demolition of those properties is a problem that has plagued city government there ever since. Detroit's City Planning Commission had prepared a report in the 1990's calling for "a revolutionary program of urban nonrenewal."* Byles talks of how Detroit could have looked to New York City for a possible model of returning neighborhoods back to their natural states, and this is where BSJ's comments on the Times-Pic article struck a chord with me.:

Byles: "The stretches of empty blocks may then be knocked down, services can be stopped, subway stations closed, and the land left to lie fallow until a change in economic and demographic assumptions makes the land useful once again." It was strong medicine for an American dream obsessed with building up and growing ever bigger..."I surely cannot underestimate the fears engendered by this notion of growing smaller in a social milieu in which growing bigger has been the hope of those who have not had a fair share."*

BSJ (from the T-P article comments): For those of you feeling nostalgic for the projects save one building on each site. Erect a sign on the fence around it that says. "This is how we economically and socially isolated our poor people at the end of the 20th Century. In a town where economic advancement is often built on personal connections we made sure they didn't know anyone who had a job who could tell them how to get a job. We ensured that they remained so dependent upon government assistance, that they came to feel so at home in their government sponsored ghettos, that they were afraid to integrate with the larger community until they were forced to by the closing of these projects." Put that on the signs outside when you are feeling nostalgic about the projects.

These days, we are not only downsizing a tangible, brick, steel, wood, and/or concrete edifice when we knock down a building. We are downsizing lives. Make no mistake: I don't think the projects have worked. This massive list of imploded projects all over this country and, indeed, the world, ought to attest to my thought as well. Nothing says "this experiment in low-income housing failed abominably" better than the experiment's demolition by wrecking ball or strategically-placed dynamite charges. I just don't see much that is being done to find a new way to house people who are trying with every bone in their bodies to "grow bigger". I see much, much more being done to squeeze blood out of turnips. I still see people in the streets trying to do the best they damn can and still be unable to have a solid roof over their heads.

Like glass, we are all a fragile bunch. Some more than others. I just get to wondering what it takes to get more empathy and less entropy in this world. Discussions such as this are helpful and constitute steps in the right direction. What must be emphasized is that one's journey is never just a couple of steps. It is never easy. It can be sharp and smooth, it can break you or cause you to bounce back, renewed and ready for more.

I am heartened by the people who are doing their best with all of this. All I can do right now is remake a rusty old shed into a teensy studio to reconstitute broken pieces of glass into something of beauty. What is so wrong with giving more people a chance to figure out what they really want to do with themselves, to grow, to change, to move onward wherever they choose and however they choose?

It seems that that has become one of the biggest threats to "homeland security" ever, when it is really the other way around.

*from Jeff Byles' Rubble:Unearthing The History Of Demolition

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Procrastinatrix has gotten off her rear, everybody!

Voila! The back shed, she is clean! *pop*

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


let's see...How does your average mom procrastinate?

First off: let your exhausted young 'un sleep in a little. Wake him up, get him dressed, stuff him with some breakfast, and get him to school, even though he's a bit late.

Then: head for a local breakfast place, finish up some light reading and continue on with some heavier reading. Try not to get too het up over the heavier reading, as it covers stuff that cuts too close to this mama's bones and usually has her throwing a book such as the heavier reading is against a wall someplace. As I am in a public place, however, I don't want to damage their wall or their furniture.

ANYway: Pay for the late breakfast and head off to the facilities. Come back and run into a local blogger. Talk about procrastination and other stuff and procrastinate some more. Damn, you're avoiding a great deal! Good...uhhh...bad job! Get in the car. Today!!!!

Head on down the road: walk the dog when you get home. Revel in the gorgeous day that has magically appeared. Try to ignore the headache that is sneaking up on you. Take your dog home and try to treat that abandoned cab in front of your home as though it is concealed behind an S.E.P. Oh, no, the fact that you've still noticed the cab is only contributing to your headache.

What else is contributing to your headache?: thinking about all the dinosaur-shaped cupcakes you are gonna make for the little guy's birthday and how you will approach their decoration. Think about the big job you have sitting in the backyard - the cleaning and overhauling of the back shed that you wanna turn into a studio. Think about the kiddie party favors - or no. There, now you've done it. Your head is ready to explode.

Gee. What will bring you back to feeling like a human again?

Will it be: procrastination with the help of the Internet? Here's something related to another good read of yours:

You are Schroeder!
Take this quiz!

Dude, I'm not Schroeder! This guy is!!!!! Sheesh...

Will it be: rest and then head for the pickup of the little guy at his school, even though you still feel like you're gonna puke from the migraine you clearly have?

Oh, hey! Check out this option!: a nice little something in your purse. Take some.

Guess what: it doesn't work right away, but it does help you through schmoozing with your little guy's teacher about how well he's doing. It gets you through shopping at the grocery store with him, and it gets you thinking about one of the doofus commercials you saw when you were visiting with your family over Thanksgiving. Monique apparently concluded on the TV, but not online, that having the contact lenses made her feel better about being a mom. What utter crapola! you said at the time.

Well: now, you are happy for the modern miracle of Excedrin for Migraines. Because it did help you out some today.

Tomorrow, though: get to that damn back shed!

Related news, 11-30: Mr Clio finds some good ol' Peanuts fun on YouTube.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I started the following a little before some fresh hell headed the way of the NOLA blogpocheh. The famiglia is making their usual hay with the news about the Walking Id's no-shows at the city polls (otherwise known as not voting in defiance of "you know, fire hoses and all that.") and the racism cards being dealt out in the game known as Big Limit Garbage Contracts-Hold 'Em.

I busted my tuchus to walk on over to City Hall and get my absentee vote sorted out a couple of days before I took the train from purgatory to DC. It wasn't that hard, really. My tuchus is still there. The Walking Id wouldn't have had to worry about that. He would have had to worry about something else entirely, however:

So, if anybody sees a house on the gray brick road whose color resembles that of the blue oceans on your average world map, well, that's my doing. The color ought to fade over time. Dan, the Illini alum, wants to have the front doors painted orange to show his team spirit. And, either my sense of smell was permanently altered by the application of the primer coat on the house, or the exterior coat simply doesn't stink as badly, but the smell doesn't bother me much now. I guess I'll have to test out my taste buds on some fine dining next month when my birthday comes along....

I headed over to Loyola Avenue to get some stuff from the main library and to register to vote absentee (largely because of this election, though I'm happy to see some folks responding to the dilemma I talked about in my last post). It was there that I got an eyeful and a noseful of the tent city of the homeless that has sprung up in the park across the street from City Hall. Other bloggers have commented on the import of this quite well, but it was my first time seeing it up close.

People are camped out under the trees in domed tents. They are also hanging out under the eaves of the buildings adjoining the plaza. Some 32-gallon city garbage cans at the edge of the plaza are overflowing with garbage. Certain areas of the plaza stink of urine. I saw some people sleeping inside their tents, some in the pavilion at the center of the plaza cursing pretty loudly and talking of all sorts of things to pass the time. The pavilion sports some signs - a big one saying "Homeless Pride" and smaller ones saying that just because the people there are homeless, it doesn't mean they are jobless. I thought of the many homeless in NYC who have jobs, but no wage that allows them to have a roof over their heads - unless it's the roof of a subway tunnel. Or a shelter that turns you out early in the morning. Or even a car.

I looked over at the building on the lake side of the plaza, where I'd once gone to obtain a marriage license. People in various states of mess and distress sat on sleeping bags. Some slept. A few talked to each other and kept an eye out for the piles of stuff that were unmanned. I walked past another stinking corner and made my way across the street to City Hall, where things were positively sterile. Hermetically sealed, compared to.

How in hell can people not want to do something about this? How can the Walking Id, hizzoner Da Mayor Nagin, walk past these folks and blithely talk about extracting more money from people who have homes in which to live for "unspecified projects" that most likely do not include finding places to live for the homeless in Duncan Plaza that are not made of polyester?

It certainly gave me food for thought as I passed my absentee voting application to the registrar. It had me wondering why the heck I was complaining about the paint fumes wafting through my house, when most of the folks in the plaza would be happy to have a house, period.

This kind of stuff is only the most obvious at Duncan Plaza. Where it is less obvious is in places like my neighborhood park, where no tents are set up, but the folks are sleeping in their cars parked right on the nearby streets, or right on the grass under the trees during the day. They are washing clothes in the fountain that was just repaired a year ago and talking to each other on the benches as well as to the folks who bring their dogs around to the park on a daily basis. Look carefully around your neighborhoods, folks, and these people will no longer be invisible.

Ladies and gents, I am no closer to solving the problems of the homeless in this city, short of donating my house to a number of them and putting me and my own out on the street, which would simply be a matter of addition and subtraction and not a lasting solution. I do know that pols who persist in their near-comedic ineffectuality and waste their time creating mountains of garbage that they assail with empty charges of prejudice in the hopes that the trash will go away or at least disguise itself are gonna end up on that same trash heap eventually. I just want it to be happening sooner rather than later, as do all of us.

Especially these people who are sleeping in tents or in their cars, or out on the cold ground. Thanksgiving just came and went, and all we can talk about is garbage contracts gone bad and our mayor's exercising his right not to vote better than he is doing his job.

It's all getting too easy people. I'm just sayin'...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ahhhhh, we made it to D.C. I managed to muster up enough strength to head out the door of our hotel, back to the Metro, and into the Air and Space Museum for all our benefit. They had a super cool exhibit on 50 years of space travel that is possible now that the Soviet Union is no more. The centerpiece, in my opinion, was the display of the hookup of the Apollo-Soyuz spacecraft, which occurred in 1975. The two tin cans from the ends of the earth met in space by way of an adapter that allowed the two crews to shuttle back and forth for a while. A number of the museum's displays need to be overhauled, and, indeed, many wings of the place are in the process of being updated or changed out. It was still kind of fun to see the funky late seventies-early eighties ideas of what dynamic museum displays were like.

We hopped across the street to the Hirshhorn Museum, a move that was done for Mommy's sanity, and I found that the little guy really got into some of the sculptural works. He was also mesmerized by a little Rube Goldbergian flick called The Way Things Go - nothing but chain reactions for 30 minutes, folks. The kid's attention span was something other art lovers remarked upon in passing, but all I could see, in the end, was that it most likely gave my son a lot of ideas that won't reveal themselves until a time in the near or distant future. It takes a pyro mama to know a pyro baby...

So we headed back to our hotel room, where I found this bit of information about the building in which we were staying at a reduced price, thanks to Priceline. The things I find when I'm actually looking for information about how not to be charged $35/hour for internet usage in the hotel's business center:

In the early 1970's, the Metropolitan Hospital occupied the site that is now the Renaissance M Street Hotel. Psychology was one of its specialties, and in particular, how the mind might affect the body. Adherents of Sigmund Freud, a number of the doctors were fascinated at the possibility that dreams could impact a person's health and more so, their daily interaction with others.

Findings indicated that the more vivid and timely the dream the more apt the patient was to positively relate with family life, their peers and work pressures. It was the advent of a new era in psychology - understanding the relationship between mental and physical well-being. Embraced by the medical world, the research offered the business community a new way to impact their customers. Creating a positive, tactile experience could affect a like mental reaction. No industry embraced this theory more passionately than the hospitality industry.

At the new Renaissance M Street Hotel, we uphold these tenets in a way that psychological pioneers would surely applaud. Distinctive amenities such as high-definition television throughout the hotel and state of the art guest room bedding and technology foster an experience that transcends the ordinary - the stuff that dreams are made of.

Oh, joy. Just what I need. A promotional blurb about my lodgings that gave the place an aura of having velvet straitjackets in hidden nooks and crannies in case they were needed to enhance your enjoyment of the distinctive amenities. I picked up one of those in-room guidebooks that was sure to be filled with the attractive attractions of the DC area and the numerous shopping opportunities awaiting me as soon as I stepped out the door and found this little article about our secretary of state's clothing choices:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine's dress uniform or the "save humanity" ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix."...Rice boldly eschewed the typical fare chosen by powerful American women on the world stage. She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps. She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame "Matrix" jump kick if necessary. Who wouldn't give her ensemble a double take -- all the while hoping not to rub her the wrong way?


I took a nice nap instead. Lord knows I needed it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

(It's) Stranger On A Train

Yeees, it is.

A friend of mine from high school tied the knot in her church in Washington DC, so we decided to get a jump on our Thanksgiving hollerdays and I acquiesced to my husband's request that we hop on the Crescent and stay on it overnight from Amtrak's Union Station here in New Orleans all the way to the Union Station in DC.

God, I must have been on something when I said yes.

After an unsuccessful overnight attempt to get the abandoned cab in front of our house stolen in the middle of the night (Crime? Who says there's crime in New Orleans???), we high-tailed it off to the station and got on the train. Dan hadn't been able to obtain a sleeper car berth for us, so we were back in recliner chairs with all the rest of us mere mortals who wouldn't pay those frickin' prices for privacy. The biggest problems once we got on the train? Well, the aforementioned lack of privacy, for one, the wanderlust of the little guy, and the highway robbery prices of the food in the lounge car. The dining car just beyond the lounge car was better in that they gave you more food for the prices. Otherwise, we were stuck with the parmesan cheese-flavored Goldfish crackers, the pretzel Goldfish, and the juice boxes we brought for the little guy.

Highlights of the trip:

- the quick study that is our little guy on matters of train movement and how best to handle walking between the train cars: He would admonish anyone and everyone who was about to head for a different train car to
"Watch out for the rubber tunnel!!!".

- the ease with which he made friends on the trip, and the ease with which darn near all of us settled in as traveling companions. It was pretty easy to talk with just about anybody on the train, something I'd forgotten about since my Northeast Corridor-surfing days on Amtrak trains at college holiday times. More on that later.

- late-night schmoozing with good-lookin' train conductors. More on that later, too.

Lowlights of the trip:

- the grunge factor. No showers + porta-potty-like toilets + all of this on a moving train rocking from side to side = ICK. Yeah, you can brush your teeth. I certainly did. I had to do
something to counter the stink of the commodes. Plus, it was nighttime. Which brings me to the fact that

I couldn't get a good night's sleep on those sorry excuses for barcaloungers to save my life!!!! I have no clue as to how my husband and son managed to sleep in the contortionist positions they were in, but they slept like the proverbial dead and I was a damned zombie. I brought my grungy self up to the lounge car, where there were many empty booths in which to sit and where it was much, much cooler than the hot box that was the coach car, and I began working on this cross-stitch pattern. The aforementioned good-lookin' good ole boy conductors ventured into the car and did what conductor folk do at one AM or thereabouts while I worked with glow-in-the-dark thread and accepted a free cup o' joe from one of them. After three hours of this stuff and a whole lotta headway on the pattern, I headed back to the coach car and managed to collapse from exhaustion for another few hours, until my son woke me up by running in the aisles with his newfound friends a little before I managed to corral him and get another set of clothes on him.

- running after children on a moving train is no fun at all. Dan and I finally did a tag-team deal in which I was in the coach car and he was in the lounge car just ahead, and the kids went back and forth in the rubber tunnel ("Watch out for the rubber tunnel!!!") while we simply kept an eye on them when they were in our respective zones and made sure they didn't decide to exit the train by any means other than the nonemergency ones.

The one neat thing about this trip: talking with the fellow sitting next to me, a career army guy from Crown Heights who is now an NYPD officer and an army reservist. He was coming back from looking for prospective law enforcement jobs in Tuscaloosa, which he described as being a "spread-out Brooklyn" because of the attitude he constantly got from the natives in the area. He'd had to show his police badge to get any kind of respect or consideration from folks there. When he heard I was from New Orleans, he told me about some of his army buddies who'd come straight from a tour of duty in Iraq and were sent there to help after 8-29. Some of them were actually shot at by some gang members they'd cornered. "
Damn, you do that to guys who've just been in Iraq, and you're just asking for all hell to break loose on your ass!" he said.

He also expressed his frustration with the army in general - the lack of discipline and the erosion of the can-do attitude that the armed forces used to have. He especially pinpointed the Army Corps of Engineers. It entered into a discussion of the fact that New York City could well be affected by the same sort of man-made insanity that is still affecting us here. From what he's seen, the A.C. o' E. could well put in place a lot of the stuff that needs to be done, or they could find other ways to do it without its costing a small mint. Bureaucracy and a change in the culture of the armed forces is what's holding things back there. Those are the things that have caused him to eschew the army as a career track.

I bade him goodbye and wished him a good trip back to Penn Station. In my zombie haze, as I lugged my bags and my family through the Metro and over to our hotel on M Street, I wondered how many more of these folks were out there, career military men and women who had seen the worst and then some (the fellow I'd talked with had been through George H.W. Bush's Gulf War) and who just couldn't take it anymore. Combat hadn't made them quit, but apathy and incompetency had done them in. "Can-do!" had become "what the hell
can I do, in all this mess?"

And we're just gonna send folks like these back to Crown Heights?

Hell of a trip, y'all. And the cold hard ground about me looked as though it was
still moving after twenty-seven hours on a train. I don't know how John Madden does it. Oh, wait, he doesn't even take the train anymore! Ha!

And, hey, if anybody's got any concrete ideas, aside from calling anyone and everyone on the city's bureaucratic ladder, as to how to get rid of the aforementioned abandoned, open cab, whose battery is stone-dead, that is still parked in front of our home, please let me know. No, we are not willing to pay to get the damn thing towed. Yeah, we are probably gonna be reduced to pushing the thing out into the gray brick road and blocking it just to get the cab out of our faces. Yes, I need a drink bad. I am, after all on a holiday from my hollerdays.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Turkey, all!

In thanks for my family and the naches they give me, I'm passing this bit of internet gold on to y'all straight from my granddaddy. It means I am fulfilling number 24 on the list below. It also means everybody needs to be grateful that I am the parent of a boy and that they are not. Ha!

Why Boys Need Parents:

And you also find out interesting things when you have sons, like...

1.) A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep.

2.) If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.

3.) A 3-year old Boy's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant.

4.) If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound Boy wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room.

5.) You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.

6.) The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan.

7.) When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it's already too late.

8.) Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.

9.) A six-year old Boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old Man says they can only do it in the movies.

10.) Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4-year old Boy.

11.) Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence.

12.) Super glue is forever.

13.) No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water.

14.) Pool filters do not like Jell-O.

15.) VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do.

16.) Garbage bags do not make good parachutes.

17.) Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.

18.) You probably DO NOT want to know what that odor is.

19.) Always look in the oven before you turn it on; plastic toys do not like ovens.

20.) The fire department in Austin , TX has a 5-minute response time.

21.) The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy.

22.) It will, however, make cats dizzy.

23.) Cats throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.

24.) 80% of Women will pass this on to almost all of their friends, with or without kids.

25.) 80% of Men who read this will try mixing the Clorox and brake fluid.

On reading the above list in an email forwarded to him by my mom, my college-age brother emailed back the immortal words: "I'm going to get the brake fluid out of my car right now."
Everybody have a happy and safe holiday out there. And watch out for them boys!!!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The downside to raising children? Try our PC-ized society on for size:

For Demarcus Blackwell, having the "sex talk" with his 15-year-old son was "kind of embarrassing." But that was nothing compared with the idea of explaining sexual harassment to his preschooler. "He doesn't have the slightest clue about sex anything," says Blackwell, of Waco, Texas, whose 4-year-old son Christopher was suspended last year for sexual harassment when a female school aide reported that the child buried his face in her chest when she hugged him. "How do you explain what's a better kind of hug?"

God, my head is spinning and my heart hurts.

The other day, the little guy was at our neighbor's house, and I was in the process of shuttling him out the door so's the family could eat dinner and make their bedtime preparations in peace. The two little girls in the family were definitely doing the overtired dance. The father of the clan told the little guy that it would soon be time for the girls to take their baths.

"Can I help?" my son asked.

He was being generous and trying to be a good guy. We couldn't help but giggle, because of what was on our minds when he made that comment. "Uhh, try that one again when you're seventeen or eighteen," the girls' father joked. I hate to think that if my son had said that around the sexual harassment Gestapo, he'd be penalized for it. Ugh.

Thank goodness for some of the upsides of raising children. I spent some time in my parents' backyard raking together a massive pile of leaves for the little guy to jump into. We spent a couple of hours at the local playground schmoozing with another little guy just his age and trying to keep my son from seriously hurting himself on his newfound friend's Razor scooter (I see a holiday gift in my son's future...).

Oh, and raising children gives all us parental units the perfect excuse to be watching stuff like this. Ah, to be able to assault all those who cast us aside with flapjacks and other assorted breakfast foods.

Maybe we should simply unleash the haunted coffee table on those who decided New Orleans wasn't sufficiently prepared to host a presidential candidates' debate. (Episode spoiler coming!) We do have all the power tools at hand to help with a coffee table-style revenge. (Sorry...) I say we flood the offices of those responsible for the decision with copies of Mr Clio's letter. Feel free to insert some egg for their faces.

Monday, November 19, 2007

More on my recent travels a bit later, if I'm not chased off the PC by my parents, but I am here in Oklahoma City now, land of the Will Rogers Airport, the Cowboy Museum, and sprawling ranch houses with decor tinged with eighties Miami Vice minus the color. Yeah, that last bit describes the house in which my parents currently live. It needs some work. They've acknowledged that fact. I just hope they can remove all the mirrors without causing too much damage...

This place is one wiiiiiide open landscape. The problem is, I can't get the things that were said years ago by a visiting lecturer at the college adjacent to the one I went to out of my head. A fellow experienced in the whole grind of getting public art proposals off the paper and out into the world was asked about the process as it relates to memorials. He brought up the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building as an example and said that one of the biggest forms of cruel irony was that Ryder rental's headquarters were in Oklahoma City, with a spinning Ryder truck atop their building. "Their memorial's right there, if you think about it," he said.

Knowing what I know now, I'm horrified by the example he gave and the way he thought about how the dead ought to be remembered. I'm glad the city didn't take his cue, thanks very much.

Check the plan and take a virtual tour here.

I can't tell you how much I wish this country could have learned more lessons from this tragedy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

In light of the A.C. o' E's recent hissy fit concerning the PSA of kids informing adults of the way the Corps directed the analysis of itself (reminds me of Mel Brooks' "Heil myself!!!") that I posted last week, I feel it is now my duty to play it again before they get the 17-year-old webmaster of the site to delete his handiwork.

Oh, dear. Seems they got to the young 'uns already. Oh, well.

But wait! It LIVES!!!!! Thanks, Scout.

Since I will be out of blog range for a time, I may post something else I've been working on for a few days, if I can get it out of the blender called my brain. Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Yeah, it's about how I've been feeling for the past week or so. And, unfortunately, I don't think it's over yet...

I'd say Ian sums it all up about the latest Saints' game. "Severed as head coach", indeed. I also spoke with many knowledgeable parents at the birthday party of a friend of the little guy, and they all agree with the black pants theory concerning the Saints' fortunes. Somebody also mentioned red pants as flag in that department as well. Anybody got any stats on that?

I want to clear out my back shed for my new possibility, my return to the glass grind. Problem is: my house is being repainted. The paint fumes are seeping into our home. We live in a sieve as far as all that stuff is concerned. Old New Orleans homes: live in a landmark, die from the upkeep. I'm having to stay out of the house as much as I can during the day just so's I can breathe.The primer coat is on the front of the house at least, but the painters will be doing the back, which means we'll most likely be sleeping in our living room for the next few days. Color suggestions are tolerated. Neither black nor red are options. Seriously.

Update, 11-12: Okay, so maybe I oughta reconsider on the red or the black...hmmmm...

I'm considering voting absentee on the At-Large council seat, since I won't be in town for the election. I haven't been particularly enthused at this point...BUT there's a bit of a dilemma that has presented itself, thanks to David's comments on Oyster's Jackie Clarkson post. If one votes for Clarkson and she wins, Cynthia Willard-Lewis is still on the council, right? What good will that do? On the other hand, if it's C. W-L that gets it, it opens up another council seat, correct? Does that call for another election? An appointee? Another opportunity to get someone with brains in the seat or an easy path to getting someone with brains IN their seat, where they clearly don't belong? As Vinnie Barbarino would say, "I'm so confused!!!!"

Oh, and to top it all off? Our rabbi, who has only been here for a few years, is off to a congregation on the East Coast come this summer.

Somebody get me some Long Island Iced Teas, please. Or, perhaps, the drink I resemble most. Which, strangely enough, I've never had, ever. Probably because it would be some bizarre from of alcoholic cannibalism.

*Above picture is the cover of this book. Gotta love the follow-up, too, especially the cover.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thirty-six years ago today, Dan was born. So of course we had to celebrate.

We headed to the World War II Museum for a free lecture given by our friend Pacrac on the early naval battles of the war, and then we passed the time over at Galatoire's, which neither Dan nor I had been to since before we moved to NYC. Good times, good food, good wine, great company.

The WWII Museum, formerly and still the D-Day Museum to da locals, is in a nifty seven-year-old structure, and its orientation room, where the lecture was given, was outfitted with a computer and a projection system that allowed Pacrac to control his PowerPoint presentation with ease. While waiting for Pac to finish schmoozing with some of the folks who came to hear his talk, one of the museum's employees saved his slides and exited the program. He pulled up the "Start" menu from the Windows desktop and I saw an icon I didn't expect to see.

"What's a Second Life icon doing on that menu?" I asked the guy.

Apparently, the folks at the WWII Museum are looking into ways to expand the museum. They're already doing some physical expansion, as evidenced by the demolition of a bunch of buildings across the street to make way for more exhibition halls and such. They are also seriously exploring the possibility of cyber expansion for those who are physically unable to schlep to New Orleans or who need to do research here and are unable to come due to terrorist attacks, unnatural disasters, flooding, or money woes.

So gee, what would be in store for Second Life visitors to the D-Day Museum for an admission fee (which is what I assume they are also looking into, and I'm not talking about Linden Dollars, though that is a possibility)? Something as pedestrian as a virtual tour of the museum facilities?

Or are we talking about virtual re-creation of the Normandy landings? Get to see what the inside of a Japanese submarine is like? Operation Torch, anyone...from Rommel's point of view?

God forbid - Second Life POW camps??????

The possibilities are creeping me out.

Oh, and reading a kid's storybook version of the story of Noah's ark got this round of questioning from the little guy:

"Mom, why'd God flood the world?"
"To get rid of all the evil in it, honey."

We read about how the rainbow became the symbol of God's promise that another great flood like that one would never cover the earth's surface again.

"But, Mom, what about hurricanes?"


Brain freeze....

"Weeeelll...hurricanes and their storm surges only affect some areas of the earth, not the entire planet. God said there would never be a flood over the whole planet ever again."


I tucked the little guy in, kissed him goodnight, and walked away, feeling like I drew on some kind of perverse technicality in answering his last question.

This world doesn't make much sense, sometimes.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Aid for Tabasco direct link is here.

Deja vu all over again for us in these parts. These people need help. For more links to organizations accepting donations for relief to the state of Tabasco, head for the Root Coffee link here.

This just in, 11-7: A much larger list of donors:

1. The State of Tabasco Official Site has many links to donation sites and account numbers for monetary donations

2. Root Coffee is collecting donations. You can send donations via Paypal to Root Coffee here. (Thank you all for your generous contributions!)

3. Red Cross International Response Fund, Make a secure online donation and visit updates.

4. UNICEF USA has opened an account for Tabasco's displaced children, UNICEF's donation page is here.

5. Operation USA is appealing to the public and corporations to aid in response to the flooding in Southern Mexico. Donation page for OPUSA is here.

6. The Mexican Consulate in Los Angeles has posted their Bank Account for donations here: Wells Fargo Bank NA, account 599253401, BBVA BANCOMER account 2280300127, and ABA 1-2222-05-06 for deposits outside California.

7. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has $1 million pledged to help its partners Caritas Mexicana and Caritas Tabasco. They are taking donations here.

8. Save the Children Moves to Assist Families in Flooded Mexico, they are taking online donations here.

9. In Canada, Bank of Montreal Account number.: 38748116488. Make payable to Mexican-Canadian Cultural Association Ottawa-Gatineau (ACMCOG).

10. In the United Kingdom, BANK HSBC Account Number: 81408224 SORT CODE: 40-03-22. Make payable to: Ayuda Tabasco 2007.

11. En France Ambassade Mexique Ayuda Tabasco, Banque Societé Generale #: 00050752139 66 Código del banco:30003 Sucursal Paris Bourse (03020)75002 Paris

12. En España BBVA, Banco: 0182, Oficina: 7911, DC: 65, Cuenta: 0201557408

Update, 11:23 AM: Speaking of deja vu...our house is being sanded today, with the fellows doing the sanding putting up blue tarps to catch the dust as they work, freaking out all my pets, and my son, a tad.

What really got me this morning was when the little guy looked at my orange juice-filled Krewe of Tucks plastic cup from Mardi Gras this past year and spied the picture of Friar Tuck sitting on the roof of a house surrounded by water. "What's happened to him, Mom?" he asked.

"Well, he's sitting on the roof..." I said, hesitant to go on.

"Because his house is flooded?"



"Because, when the storm came a couple of years ago, the government was supposed to be taking care of the big hills by the water, called levees, and they didn't," I said, surprising myself a little at how easily this came out. "Since they didn't take care of the levees, they broke, and they let in all the water that flooded New Orleans."

"All the houses got flooded, Mom?"

"No, not all the houses. Our house didn't get flooded. But a lot of houses did get flooded."

"Huh," he said, finishing his pancakes.

And believe me, this conversation is not done, by any stretch of the imagination. This will come up again, as he tries to understand what government is, what the levees are supposed to do, and, ultimately, how people can do this to other people.

Why does a four-year-old process this a tad better than most of the rest of this country?

Maybe, if the kids start instructing all the adults, might help get through to some of the thicker skulls out there.

But, hey, old habits die very, very hard.

(T'anks, E. T'anks, T.)

Oh, and watch out at Clay's, folks. It's raining whale over there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Where I'll be tonight:Finished her book today. She's one helluva writer. Help her kick the book tour off.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

When I was about the little guy's age, I got freaked by some scenes in this movie. Among the stuff that ended up in my nightmares were Raggedy Ann and Andy being dwarfed by the monstrous Greedy as he basically inhales himself in his massive taffy pit and the hallucinations of the Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, who is constantly searching for a mythical land of camels like himself, a place he can call home - but the camel will chase his mirages only to find that they vanish into thin air and leave him behind, lonely as ever.

My parents and I had a giggle when I was a teenager and we observed my brother's reactions to The Black Stallion. He got a bit upset when he saw Alec and the horse shipwrecked on the desert island. "He's all alone????" he worriedly asked my mom.

"Well, yes he is," Mom told him.

My brother watched some more, turning this information over in his mind.

"But, where's his mommy and his daddy, and his sister?????" he asked fearfully. He couldn't conceive of a world where someone so young didn't have those people in his life, and he was scared of the prospect.

So which movie recently opened a window into the deepest, darkest reaches of my child's psyche?
The question that haunted me during "Herbie: Fully Loaded" involved the degree of Herbie's intelligence. Is the car alive? Can it think? Does it have feelings? Can it really fall in love, or is its romance with that cute little yellow VW bug just a cynical ploy to get publicity, since it has a new movie coming out?

That question might have haunted Roger Ebert, but it was no question at all as far as my son was concerned. Herbie was indeed alive to him, and, because of a stupid move on the part of Lindsay Lohan's character, the car became the target of competitors in a demolition derby. It took everything we had to keep from laughing too hard at how hysterical my son was getting over Herbie's plight. My son tearfully advocated turning off the movie immediately, as he had no wish to watch Herbie's demise at the fenders of all those cars in the arena. The best we could do was to change the channel for a little bit until Lindsay Lohan helped rescue Herbie from a possible junkyard fate, change it back when it was clear that the VW Beetle wasn't about to be mashed by a monster truck, and give our little guy some big hugs and some time in our laps until his anxiety passed.

I shouldn't have been so surprised. The kid clearly identifies with darn near everything on wheels. It was no stretch of his imagination for a car to be a living thing capable of feelings and expression.

I do a lot of TV and DVD monitoring for the little guy. These days, I myself am watching less of the tube than ever before because I have not found the news programs to be all that informative or kid-friendly, prime-time is no longer family time, and we don't have cable. I found with the little guy's experience of Herbie:Fully Loaded last night that sometimes there's no predicting what he will be afraid of the most. Close examination of the situation, however, shows that the kid is afraid of abandonment and of being consigned to dangerous and potentially life-threatening situations against his will.

Aren't we all?

As he ages, I will be less and less able to physically shield my son from those possibilities. I myself have NO plans to abandon him, but I'm really not sure which decision of mine, which action I take, which of life's unpredictable turns will somehow tell him that I am not acting in his best interests. I know this is inevitable once puberty sets in - I certainly felt that my parents were somehow standing in my way at that time in my life. I simply worry about how the heck I'm gonna handle that from him, as I'm finding I can barely handle it myself when it comes from authority figures, and I could never handle it well when it came from people I have known on a personal level. "Oh, you're acting in my best interests? Ever think to ask what they even are?"

"Huh. You probably don't even know what's good for you!"

"Well, give me a chance to figure it out!!!!!"

I've been damned fortunate to have been given that chance by my family and friends. I highly recommend it. I plan to give that chance to the little guy. Chances are, he may think I'm holding him back...but that's what family's for, in a way. Balance, balance - flights of fancy seem to mean the most when you can go home afterwards.

For a minute or two, the illusion of a living car in peril took our son to a place he didn't want to go. We brought him back home with our change of the channels, our embraces, our laps, our reassurances that things would turn out all right in the end. There are no guarantees that he'll be able to develop that place within himself and turn to it when he needs it the most...but I guess the best thing we can do as parents is to give him some idea of what that might be like.

At the same time, we have to sit on ourselves and stuff down the impulse to remedy every single hurt the little guy has. Balance...

...and the need to not get too freaked out. For all of us.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Connect the dots for me here, people, 'cause I have NO clue. I'm callin' 'em as I see 'em tonight.

I have loads of newspapers that I can't just toss away in our own personal 32-gallon monuments to city corruption and cronyism. Plus, I missed this event, so I must dispose of the papers in more creative laying them out on the floor so I can carve a suitably creepy smiling face into a pumpkin for Halloween. I had to save this article from being covered in pumpkin guts, however, because so many have talked about all of us running around the Gulf Coast with PTSD, but none have really checked out the physical implications of diving right into rebuilding our homes. Ladies and gents, let's be careful out there. As I found out via my dad's unfortunate chainsaw-wielding experiences, some things are best left to the professionals...and if they are not in evidence, don't rush things with your repairs, if you can at all help it.

I've been going back in time recently. In other words, I've been reading about events that happened slightly before my first time in New Orleans and were prosecuted coincident with my first six years here before my NYC move. Eddie Jordan apparently had to be convinced not to make a deal with former governor Edwin Edwards' attorney: ...Jordan told his assistants that he wanted to accept the deal. It would achieve what he thought was the most important goal: putting Edwards in prison, if only for a short period of time (eighteen months, according to the terms of the deal). After all, no one could guarantee that a jury would convict the charismatic former governor. But Steve Irwin, the lead prosecutor on the case, forcefully opposed the deal. Given the volumes of tapes and other evidence amassed by the FBI, he was convinced they had more than enough to convict Edwards.*

It was one thing to be skeptical of the FBI's ability to build a case against Edwards, since attempts to obtain convictions against him in 1985 and 1986 had failed. But this is another:
During this same period, Jordan was putting himself at odds with his law enforcement associates on another highly sensitive matter: whether to indict Cleo Fields, who had lost the 1995 governor's race to Mike Foster while in Congress and was now back in the Louisiana State Senate....On March 24, 1997, the video camera above the desk in Edwards's law office had captured Fields stuffing into his pocket a thick wad of $100 bills - totaling $20, 000 - that the former governor had just handed him. Freddy Cleveland, Geoffrey Santini, Steve Irwin, and the other Feds thought that Edwards had given Fields the cash to pay off a member of the gambling board to help secure the fifteenth and final riverboat license for DeBartolo Entertainment/Hollywood Casino. This videotape was enough to prompt the Clinton administration to withdraw a top White House job that Fields had accepted.

...Jordan told his assistant prosecutors that he didn't think they had grounds to indict Fields. Practically all of them disagreed. When Fields appeared before a federal grand jury, he took the Fifth Amendment, bolstering their case...Later, after Fields' brush with indictment became public, critics would say that Jordan was protecting Fields' political career. Jordan would reply simply that he was not sure why Edwards had paid Fields the cash.*

Jordan should have been gone in 1998. It was his association with "Dollar Bill" Jefferson that most likely helped keep him in office. According to Adrastos, his friends are certainly helping him out with life after public office, so, as my husband has said (and Swampwoman says in the comments) his friends most certainly can help out this city by paying the $3.7 million Jordan now owes all the folks he fired. Eddie, pass them resignation papers into the more-than-capable hands of Madame Dangerblond...or get 'em to my husband early in the morning, as he makes that trip to Baton Rouge every day without incident.

And finally, this fellow is lamenting that the ghosts of 8-29 have stolen his words, and, ironically, he's still writing about it so well. I should be able to write about writer's block so eloquently:

There are heroes here among the shades, and their stories are as inseparable as Odysseus' is from the shades of the heroes of the Iliad he encounters in the underworld. The heroism of the people of New Orleans (not my sorry self, but those who lost everything and came back again) is measured in part by the depths, the darkness from which they are rising up, by the ghosts they struggle to leave behind so that they can live something like the lives they had before. Only by remembering all of the horror and suffering and loss the ghosts of the flood represents can the true measure of their heroism be taken. This is what I must remember, why I must remember, why I must keep writing.

Mark, none of this is a mark (heh) of abandonment, but of reassessment. An attempt to keep up certain struggles without completely losing yourself in the upkeep. You, too, like all of us, are human. I'm right there with you in spirit. I am also confident that you, as a creative individual and a helluva writer, will find your way. The disasters of 8-29 will always be imprinted on our psyches in one way or another - the trick is, indeed, to live with it and to even help ourselves and others transcend it in some way.

*from Tyler Bridges' Bad Bet On The Bayou. Check the comments below to get Sheckrastos' skinny on this book, as well as a couple of important points concerning lawyering. I think Miller Lite might be in order for Shecky - he seems to be confessing some yellow-tinged thoughts lately...


Oh, I spoke too soon on the "finally" part. This is Oyster's shame, shame, shame on the NOLA blogpocheh post, which probably ought to be subtitled "I don't think you're happy enough!" Okay, everybody went berserk when they saw their property assessments in these parts, but Oyster did tell us all that the millage rollbacks would help balance everything out. Thankfully, the city is staying the course on those rollbacks despite the Walking Id's attempts to reverse that momentum in order to finance a bunch of nebulous, unspecified projects.

Not bad for a treif bivalve, folks. Happy Happy Joy Joy!