Tuesday, November 25, 2008

One of My Ideas

One of the things that my friends and I considered was to start our own New Orleans style brass band.  We had a name and everything - N.O. Talent Brass Band (tm).  None of us knew how to play any brass instruments or even the drums, but we were going to be a gimmick band.  Sort of.  Our idea was to play brass band versions of TV show themes  - Little House on the Prairie, Wild World of Sports (you know, the agony of defeat), Newheart, Bonanza, whatever it would take.  Of course, this idea has never gotten off the ground.  But still, it would be interesting to take those 60s, 70s and 80s songs and funk them up a bit.  Maybe one day we will get it together.

A Good Week

George is celebrating his dad's good week. 

The Saints won, dismantling one of the NFL's best pass defenses, and kept their slim playoff hopes alive.  Deuce scored number 54 setting a Saints record.  I won my confidence pool for the first time in at least two years.  My wife's fantasy football team (I am general manager so it's really my team) won and is still in the playoff hunt.  My fantasy football team in the big fantasy league won putting me in first place.  Even though I lost in my other league, I still am in second place with the most points scored all season.  Unless I decide that I don't care anymore, I should make it into the playoffs. 

I don't have to work on Wednesday, my mom is coming to town tomorrow, and George and I are going to the allergist to get off the $25 a can formula since he has been determined not to have soy allergies anymore.  The only bad thing I have going is that I have to finish grades and writing end of term comments.  But when I am in this this kind of mood, everything is good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Free Agency

Brandon Jacobs will be a free agent next year. Should the Saints go after this hoss?

Where's the report?

Did anyone go to the Po-Boy Festival?  Tell me about it.  Who has the best po-boys these days?  Where should I be going?  What should I be ordering?  I need to know so I can plan my next trip!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Thanksgiving Miracle

The whole of my mom's family would come to New Orleans for Thanksgiving. All 3 siblings It was always great to have my cousins around since we were five or 6 boys all born within a couple of years. My aunt and uncle who lived in Jackson would come down and stay with us. Their son and I were the closest of all my cousins - we both played tennis, liked strange music, and were frequently partners in crime. During the day we would head to Terrytown to my godmother's house for an insanely huge dinner where we would try to see who could get away without eating peas, green beans, or anything else green.

After dinner we headed home where our parents promptly fell in to a post turkey dinner food coma. I am somewhat hyperactive by nature, so relaxing is foreign to me. I could not wait to go out and do something, anything, to get away from my parents and the eyes of adults. Wednesday was the big night to go out. What could we do on Thanksgiving?

It turned out that U2 was playing in Baton Rouge at the PMAC. We had mentioned that as a possibility while in the car home from dinner, but we didn't have tickets and it had sold out long ago. Then there was the directive from my dad as we were heading out - "Don't even think about going to Baton Rouge." We took stock of our situation - between us we had less than 30 dollars, the car had a quarter tank of gas, and neither of us had any idea how to get around in Baton Rouge. (There were no ATMs, and I certainly never had enough money to put it into a bank. I had what I had. Heck, my dad even gave me 10 dollars and we still didn't have 30).

That clinched it. U2 it was. As soon as we left the house in my 1983 Nissan Stanza (the same one from Halloween), we agreed to head to Baton Rouge. We hopped on I-10 and headed north and west. We had pilfered a few beers from the garage to get us up there and get us feelling good.

We got off I-10 wandered around for a few minutes while the gas gauge began to dip dangerously low. Eventually we found LSU and paid $5 for a parking spot in a field. Still, we had no tickets but we didn't mind. We were going to be content to stand outside and listen the best we could. We were there, and we were happy enough. Brit and I figured it would be best if we got out of the parking lot and at least headed up the ramp.

As we started walking toward the Assembly Center, a guy a few years older than me but with an extraordinarily good looking woman asked us if we wanted to buy his tickets. He and his date were going to do something better than listen to a U2 concert. I think I would have gone to the concert first, but it wasn't me. And I bet his story is pretty interesting, too.

"How much?" Brit asked.

"$20" the lucky man said.

Brit and I looked at each other forlornly. We were so close to getting into this concert, but money was going to be an issue. Damn it.

"Each?" Brit inquired.

"No, 20 for both."

Our wallets immediately came out of our back pockets and we handed over the requested amount. Thank yous were exchanged, Brit and I were giddy. Holy shit. We were going to see U2.

We made our way into the concert. The seats were not great, but they were the first row just above one of the entrance tunnels so we had totally unobstructed views of the concert.

I don't remember if there was an opening band, but I do remember that they played the Beatles on the PA. And everyone began to sing along. When they came out, the crowd went wild. I remember running around the entire stadium during Pride (in the name of love) and making out with a girl whose name I remember but will not say here. I still love that song.

When the concert was over, Brit and I still were in disbelief. We had seen U2 live. And the crowd sang 40 as we walked down the ramp. It was surreal but awesome.

When we got to the car, we drank the last of the beer and waited for the crowd to leave. We really couldn't spare the gas waiting in traffic. I have no idea what time it was but I knew our only real issue was how to get home before curfew. We thought.

As soon as traffic died down, we started up my little car. We were very low on gas, so we stopped at a Circle K to fill up. I had grabbed a handful of change on my way out of the house, so we had that to pay for gas. It couldn't have been over three dollars. It was always embarassing to pay for gas like that, but you do what you have to do. I filled up the best I could. Then I had a terrible idea. New Orleans is downriver from Baton Rouge. I could see a levee. I would just follow the levee down river as long as I could. Surely there would be tons of gas stations and convenience stores and traffic. How hard could that be. It would be much faster than trying to find my way through Baton Rouge to I-10. What if I wandered around Baton Rouge with no money or gas?

We turned left on River Road. I think. I figured left was downriver for some reason. It probably was. We drove for at least a half hour and all that happened is that it got darker and darker. There were no lights. There wasn't much of anything. In fact, I felt at one point that the road actually ended. So we turned around and headed back from where we came.* It was one of those moments in life where you realize that the amazing thing you just experienced was about to bring the pain of reality down on you. Yes! We saw U2 live! No! We weren't supposed to be in Baton Rouge and we were running low on gas. We had no cell phones. If we had run out of gas, we would have had to make a collect call to my dad who would have to come get us. I really didn't have an excuse - I was clearly told to exactly not do exactly what I had done. This amazing night was certainly going to end horribly.

Brit and I navigated our way back through Baton Rouge and wound our way to the interstate. We headed home, fingers crossed. 90 miles later, we got off I-10 in Metairie. The little yellow gas pump on the dashboard was shining brightly. It had been for some time. But there was still enough in the tank to get my back home. It was a Thanksgiving Miracle.

We made up some story about what we had done and we agreed to stick to it no matter how much my uncle tortured us for the truth. He would come and quiz us and grab the pressure point just above the inside of the elbow until we fell in pain begging to tell the truth. We didn't cave this time.

I don't know if my parents ever knew that we did that. Sometimes my dad would let me know that he knew what we had done, but he never let on about this one. Hey, dad, I know you told me not to go to Baton Rouge that time, but we went anyway. Sorry about that. But it was really fun. You would have liked it. And, if you knew what we did, thanks for letting me think I got away with it. It made it more for me.

Hey, Brit, I found this online - it's the set list and a bootleg. I think I know what I am getting me for Christmas.

UPDATE: Brit said he found his ticket stub. And he did. Check this out! And I even found out there is controversy surrounding this concert - did they play "With or Without You"? No one seems to be able to remember, and it's not on the setlist! Whoa!

*As I got older and became slightly more familiar with Baton Rouge, I think I was on Highland Road heading south. If I had gone five more minutes we would have been on I-10 near where the Tanger Outlets are today. But we were nervous, it was late, and there was nothing for miles. Or a sign that let on we were on the right track. So we turned around. Lucky stupid kids.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Who's Fault is this?

500 Cases sitting around without police reports.  I remember when my apartment got robbed in college on Upperline St.  It took a while for the cops to come, and then I had to go downtown and wait to be told the report was not available.  The stereo system my dad bought me for high school graduation was gone, and I had nothing to show for it.  When my car was broken into and stolen at the end of January in 1993, it languished in the tow lot off Downman for 8 weeks because there was no report even though the idiots who stole it were caught in it the night they stole it.  It took a lot of phone calls and several trips out ther to reclaim my car.  Now the police are waiting 2 years to do reports.  This system is broken, and no one seems interested in fixing it.  When my truck was broken into (3 times) I didn't even waste my time reporting it.  Shouldn't the police be working WITH the DA?  Maybe the don't like me, but isn't the DA their ally?

If you let the criminals go you are accomplishing three goals:  more criminals on the street to commit more crimes, reinforcing their belief that they are above the law, and reducing the public's confidence in your ability to protect them.  That's a lose-lose-lose.  How is that a good thing?

Monday, November 17, 2008


Some kid at George's daycare had some projectile vomiting almost two weeks ago. Last Thursday, George got it.  Then my wife got it.  I was able to hold out yesterday until the Saints game was over.  I had planned on going down to the bar to watch, but I am I didn't.  It's not just the nauseousness.  It's the heavy head and exhaustion.

Tomorrow we go to the allergist to see if his allergies are real or if he can go off the $25 a can formula.  Someone told us that we could potentially get reimbursed from our insurance company for it.  It's worth looking into, I guess.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

What do you do with a Bye Week

The last two weeks have been exciting, busy, and stressful.  I sure am glad I had a bye week in the Saints season to get some things accomplished. 

Barack Obama was elected 44th President of the United States.  Though I tend to have Republican leanings, I have been pretty anti-republican since Katrina.  Since this feeling has not abated over 4 years, perhaps they won't ever go away.  And though my father-in-law is a die hard conservative, my mother-in-law (who lives much closer) is a die hard liberal and educator.  I agree with her and her partner on most everything these days.

Last weekend instead of watching football, my wife and I went looking for nice towns and neighborhoods in New Jersey.  Sure, Pennsylvania is nice, but it's an hour from work.  I miss all the plays and games and special events because it's a two-hour driving sacrifice, one there and one back.  I like the school, the parents, and the children a lot, and I want to be part of the things that go on there.  But I haven't been able to justify it time wise.  And I can't commit a baby to a school if it means he's going to be in the car 2 hours a day.  So we went looking for houses.  We found a nice town with a train to New York and big trees and a cute downtown with an Indian restaurant and a coffee shop, all within walking distance of just about every house in town.  Now we need to start getting this house together so we can start really making a commitment to this move. (In contrast to New Jersey, there are three (3!) Indian restaurants in the entire Lehigh Valley.  I can only imagine life in Missouri.)

It's getting to the end of the marking period, and I have quite a few students that I just am not connecting with yet.  I feel like the kids and I have just missed each other.  I have too much work to do, and I think that I may be forgetting to remind them of simple things that I would not normally forget.  So between trying to figure out what I am missing, forgetting, and being consumed by my new history class, I am a little loopy. 

This Friday we played the seniors in touch football.  Since we don't have a football team, the kids usually get beat pretty badly.  This year, our quarterback was a little bit off.  For the first time in the 230 year history of our school, we tied. 6-6.  I feel like I kissed my sister. 

My wife has been traveling a lot with her work, and I have been home alone with Baby George.  I love hanging out with him, but its really hard to get any school work done.  Part of it is guilt for not spending time with him, and part is that he doesn't really nap all that much.  He sleeps through the night, and he goes to bed fairly early.  However, once he hits the sack, I am way too tired to do much except drool on myself and watch tv.  (He really hated the time change last weekend.  (I did, too.)

It's all I can do to keep the house clean enough to walk around in by myself.  Right now, the shop vac is in the dining room, test papers are on the island in the kitchen, leaves are all over the yard, and halloween decorations are everywhere.  I think most of my laundry is in the dryer, and the dishwasher is running.  The floor is covered with leaves and dog hair and dirt pieces.  If I had a minute I would vacuum or something, but I have no idea when I am supposed to do that.  I don't know how single parents do it.  They must be saints.

Tomorrow, I have to go grocery shopping, plan for school, and cook some good Louisiana food before the Saints play at 1 PM.  I know I can do it, and I will have fun doing it all with George.  But I sure wish I had someone to help me out so I could take a shower sometime this weekend.