Sunday, August 29, 2010

five years later

pierce lewis called new orleans "an inevitable city on an impossible site." and there you have it; a history of storms, fires, floods, diseases, violence, oil spills, and one earthquake. somehow, despite it all or maybe because of it all, new orleans still stands. i have loved this city from the first moment i laid eyes on her. new orleans, the pleasure capital of the country. she is the lure of gypsies, bohemians, musicians, and artists. my new orleans, a fucked up, broken down, debauched, corrupt banana republic sexing up the steamy swamps and driving us all a little mad with her seduction.

the city was founded in 1718 in the middle of a sinking, sweltering swamp. in 1722, a storm blew through and knocked down most of the buildings in the city. bienville situated his colony near the mouth of the river in order to ensure french supremacy over river trade. by the 1830's, new orleans was the wealthiest city in the country. it quickly became the nation's 2nd largest port. it lured men with the promise of financial gain. fortunes were won and lost. despite new orleans' victorian era ascendancy, there was always an air of decay about the city, being both moral and physical. prostitutes brazenly plied their trade with carpets under their arms and when solicited, they unfurled them and took the men right there on the streets. in 1857, yellow fever claimed some 12,000 lives. bodies were stacked up in the streets rotting beneath the infernal haze of tar being burned to combat the swampy miasma. new orleans was dirty, dangerous, and terribly exciting. it remains so to this day.

i came to new orleans to escape the suffocation of my conservative, religious upbringing and here, i found a freedom that i had never known before. it was a freedom to love the things about me that my childhood had taught me to hate. i will always be grateful to this city for that.

katrina hit and the city flooded. i sat huddled around the battery powered radio, listening in disbelief as the reports of multiple levee breaches came in. i remember the announcer's voice breaking as he said, "it's all gone. the whole city has flooded." i will never forget the phone calls of people coming into the radio, saying they were trapped in their attics with the water rising fast and no way out. they had the sick. they had children. they had the old. the announcer was crying when he said that no help was coming and their lines, one by one, went dead. how can i forget the dead pit bull on the corner of my block that i watched decay until there was nothing left but the bleached out bones? what about my dead neighbor? all the hours i spent searching houses? all the times i had to flag someone down to report another one dead? it is five years later and sometimes it seems like it is still happening.

new orleans, you have survived the wreckage of your years. you stand up, only to fall again. yet when you rise, you rise like no other city. you rise up with music...the second line sweetness of jazz. you refuse to stay down. god knows you deserve a rest but you RISE up. we all rise up. we all rose up, the living and the dead...their ghosts parading our streets. so rise up new orleans. rise up like no other city can.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

why i hate home depot

i am painting the trim in my front two rooms and after days of inhaling the volatile compounds and being ever so high from the aroma, i decided to head to the home depot for a low-voc alternative. i walked up to the paint counter to be greeted by a bleached blond, heavy set girl that oozed a disgruntled, slovenly air while loudly smacking on neon yellow chewing gum. as a greeting, she collapsed upon the counter and grunted, "yeh?" i placed my order for no or low-voc paint. i did not expect this to be a problem. she stared at me for several seconds, blinking her eyes repeatedly before asking what that was. really?? i explained it. she had never heard of such a thing and since she was unaware that such paint existed, home depot could not possibly carry it. i could not help but notice that her bright orange apron not only gave her a vague resemblance to an over sized orange but that it also had "EXPERT" sewn into the fabric. i wondered what she could possibly be an expert in. i assured her that they carried that type of paint. it is after all hot to be eco-friendly. she shrugged. i suggested getting a second opinion at which point she hollered across the store like a pig farmer calling the hogs back in for the night. another supremely intelligent being approached the counter, mumbled something about "fresh air" paint, vanished in search of it, and came back empty handed. they discussed it for a few minutes, when orange number one said in between bubble gum smacks, "yeh so what then, i'll have to match it?" yes i thought, you will have to match it. you work at the paint counter. you have to match paint all day. that is the majority of your daily duties at the home depot. she called an off duty employee, another expert in the field no doubt, and vanished down one of the many aisles. at this point i noticed a display of clearly marked LOW-voc paint. hmmm, i thought. she returned to tell me they had discontinued such a thing. i repeated what she said because it was so nutty to me on so many levels. one, i was looking at the product behind her and two, in this "green" friendly state of things there is no way in hell they discontinued it. i took a deep breath and pointed out the display and what the display said. she grunted, shrugged and said, "Uh we don't have it. he said we discontinued it." well then if joe the home depot off duty expert-in-his-field employee said it, it fucking must be true. i quietly exited the building, drove to lowes where the wonderful gentleman did not greet my question incredulously as though i had spoken in an alien tongue.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


i woke up the other morning, stretched and was promptly stricken by a charlie horse. in my state of panic to get up and walk it out, i became tangled in the sheet and fell to the floor. this disturbs me on more than one level. first, charlie horses are stupid and painful. secondly, i must now face the fact that i have reached the age where i suffer from charlie horses. damn.

charlie horses are caused by low potassium so i set out for the kitchen to make myself a banana smoothie. the bananas are frozen so that the smoothie takes on the wonderful consistency of ice cream. i put all the ingredients into the blender and let it do its magic. when i poured the smoothie into my glass, the still whole, frozen banana hit the rim and fell to the floor. it fell to the fucking floor!! no potassium and my smoothie was bland.

days and days and days into this heat and i am murderously weary of it. i walk and walk and walk; conducting tours in the thick air, sweating out my body weight so that no matter how much water i consume, i still can only manage to urinate once or twice a day. my stomach is water logged and still the sweat rolls down my face.

is there anyone out there that practices voodoo or knows the secrets of native american rain dances?? if so, please call down the merciful, cooling, blessed rain onto our febrile brows...we who writhe in hellish agony,screaming out from parched throats. it is enough to make me rethink my climate choice.