Saturday, February 28, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dad

I know you've been gone for 17 years now, but I think you would be proud of me.  I married a great girl, work at a great job, and have a great kid we named after you.  You would love him to pieces, and I know he would love you, too.  His temperament doesn't seem anything like mine (thank the heavens).  Mom thinks he's the best thing ever.  I talk about you to him all the time - I guess we would have named you Papa or Big George.  Ms. Toni is tickled pink, too.  She sends gifts every few months.  I think we all miss you more than we can say.  I hope I can be as good a dad to baby George as you were to me.  Thanks for being so patient with me when I didn't deserve it.  I believe it paid off even if it took a while.  And please keep looking out for us.  We could use all the help we can get.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tough Decisions

Everywhere else in the country, it's just Tuesday.  And it sucks.  I really hate missing New Orleans during Mardi Gras - there's electricity in the air, and there's nothing as fun as seeing all your friends and family and meeting strangers on the street. 

And Mardi Gras sometimes forces people to make interesting and/or difficult decisions.  Several years ago when I was not paid well for my work, I had to make a decision that I am not proud of.  But it was a decision that had to be made - it was either have a great mardi gras or pay for my car insurance.  Mardi Gras won.  But I only had to drive 13 blocks to work, if I actually drove there. 

When I saw Brian one of the last times last year, I sheepishly mentioned this to him.  I never told anyone because I was embarassed that I didn't have the personal will power.  He laughed and told me that he, too, had neglected to pay his car insurance that year for the exact same reason.  He took the additional step of not getting a brake tag.  For seven years. 

Make good decisions today.  Have fun with your family.  And be safe.  Happy Mardi Gras!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lost Post

Brian was a paramedic when I met him, and apparently paramedics don't always look kindly on the work that the New Orleans police do. I recently found a flash drive in a small case for something that Brian's wife sent me. I am a little nosy, so I stuck it in the computer and found this gem that I had never seen before. Here's Brian at his absolute pissiest in March of 2008

Well NOPD showed true colors again last week, and at one of my favorite old haunts, the Beachcorner Bar and Grill on Canal Boulevard.

The Beachcorner is located at the north end of Canal Boulvard, the second-to-last living thing on Canal before you get to the graves at the cemetery. I have spent many an hour and a dollar there. For one, they have some of the best bar food in the city, and that's a pretty bold claim.

My friend Greg and I went there this weekend, Saturday night (really Sunday morning) for a bite to eat after watching Bonerama at Mid City Rock and Bowl. We needed some sustenance, and the Corner was still open. So we ate some of those great hamburgers and cheese fries. Pepped us up for the last run to the house in the evening.

The only bad part of the bar is it is a cop hangout, especially for NOPD. The crew-cut white boys come in armed and dangerous, rowdy from a day of writing tickets and scaring the local citizenry, and want to eat and play pool or video poker. Once they are finished they go home to their house in Metarie, because they are mostly afraid to live in New Orleans. Too many blacks, they will tell you. Scared when the patrol car is no longer their ride, or the radio won't bring help immediately when threatened with a bum looking for a dollar at dusk near an intersection.

So the boys were in their usual form a couple of weekends ago, and some Regional Transit Authority (RTA) men were also enjoying a burger and some pool. These guys are the bus drivers, streetcar operators and such for the city. And most of the labor force for RTA is composed of African-Americans.

So apparently the RTA gentlement were about to leave, and some NOPD officer took umbrage at a passing look, or a word, or a brush against the shoulder. Rather than let it go, the officer pushed the issue, and somehow one RTA employee found himself being arrested while face-down outside on the curb as he was attempting to leave.

Officers quickly congregated to flesh out the story for the press and administration, making sure they were the heroes and had stopped a possibly robbery or shooting, which was hardly the case.

As NOLA attempts to recover, some of the sewer rats from before the storm are resurfacing, making their presence felt in all aspects of daily life. Apparently the NOPD rats found some driftwood early, and now they are back in form.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Random Observations

We have two dogs - Jack, a mutt, and Millie, a Westie.  Here are some of the things I have noticed about my dogs and some other things.

  1. Dogs love blue painters tape.
  2. George's favorite song is Kool and the Gang - "That's the way I like It"
  3. Shrimp boots don't work as well on ice as I thought they might.
  4. Friends who can paint cannot be underestimated or appreciated enough.
  5. Dogs can find blue painters tape anywhere.
  6. Babies don't have fingernails - because they have razor sharp talons from hell.
  7. Where on earth can you find AG13 batteries?  And what are the odds that they will come in pack of three?
  8. I am very bad at cleaning a house.  Unfortunately, the firm I work for doesn't fire it's employees; it simply retrains them.
  9. Blue painters tape causes nausea if consumed.
  10. Brown rice tastes much better if you cook it with chicken broth and a little chopped up onion.
  11. Kindergartners can feign interest in a Latin teacher with the best of them.  I taught them how to make abacus plural today.
  12. Painting the woodwork and trim in an old house that has as much as ours does is time consuming and takes a steady and patient hand.  Which I do not have.
  13. I am glad my wife is home from her week long trip.  Only two more of those to go.
  14. Three weeks in New Orleans over the summer sounds perfect to me.
  15. I think I like our new President.
  16. Blue painters tape does not digest very well.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pancho's Mexican Buffet

Pancho's was one of my guilty Metairie pleasures.  We used to go after work at the swim club and see who could eat the most items (flautas were the way to go).*  When I was a child, we had several birthday parties there for me and my brother.  I am sure we were members of the frequent visitor club.  The tacos were great to me, and I loved the refried beans and rice.  How could you not love a place where you raise the Mexican flag to get another order of tacos or cheese enchiladas?

It was so incredibly cheap as well.  I remember lots of people doing the old "Dine and Dash."  Why?  It was 4 bucks. 

On my wife's first visit to New Orleans, we went to a Saints game and met my brother at Pancho's after.  I am surprised she stuck with me, but I truly miss it.  It was the kind of place that felt like home to me.

After Katrina, Pancho's closed but according to this livejournal blog (blessed day!) they are reopening!  Send her your pictures - you know you have them!   I know it will be frowned upon and people won't understand, but I am going there on my next trip home.  I still want to hit all my other favorite joints, but I also love reliving my youth and eating as much Mexican food as I can stuff into my 165 pounds. 

*For what it's worth, the most items I ever consumed at one sitting was 18.  I did not win.  The winner ate 23 items.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Why I Am Not Going, Part II

If I make it to New Orleans for the JazzFest, I will only pay to go so I can sprinkle my best friend's ashes there.   I will do other things the rest of the time and go out at night.  At least at night the money will go to the local clubs, local bars, and local musicians (or at least musicians who claim to be influenced by New Orleans music and culture).  Jon Bon Jovi makes about as much sense on the JazzFest schedule as Rick Springfield or Tommy Tutone. 

It seems that the goal is to get people to shell out 50 bucks for a ticket rather than give people an authentic New Orleans experience.  I don't know what the mission statement of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation is, but I am nearly certain it does not say anything about middle-aged 80s rock stars from New Jersey. 

JazzFest was one of the few events where the impact and vitality of locally grown music was center stage.  And the festival did this by making local bands, foods, and culture the most important aspect of the festival.  Now sponsors and aging pop stars are the center.  To me, this is making a mockery of the intent of the JazzFest.  For people like me who love New Orleans in all its forms,  I think this is a slap in the face.   JazzFest was all of the best of New Orleans in one place.  Now it's a showcase for overpriced corporate swill, rich corporately connected people, and sponsors. 

The JazzFest was built on the backs of the people it is now pushing out so that it can "showcase a music legend."  Give me a break.

If I do go, I will be the first in the gate to see the New Orleans connected bands and leave before I get pissed at the number of people that think Bon Jovi is a "rock god."

And when did New Orleans become a destination to see Bon Jovi? 

Question:  Why doesn't he play at the New Jersey Heritage Festival? 

Sorry I can't make it

Bon Jovi is now on the second weekend of JazzFest.  Shit.  Now I can't go.  Seriously, what does Bon Jovi have to do with Jazz, New Orleans, Louisiana, culture, or any other goddamned thing.  They aren't even southern, for chrissakes.  I will not be wasting my money a) trying to get down there or b) going to the JazzFest.  They won't miss my money, I am sure, but this is a clear indication that the audience they seeking is significantly different than in the past.  I am going to probably go to Bonaroo now.  They will have a New Orleans stage, and there is no pretense that it is something else.  And Bon Jovi won't be there.