Saturday, December 22, 2007
If that wasn't enough, a neighbor just informed us the former apartment building next door that got sold, flipped and condo-ized, has filled; all the condos have been bought. The condo-izing process started before Katrina. Hopefully this won't lead to a parking war on our street. The house on the other side of us is still empty (has been for years) though today the owners were over there moving stuff out. And lastly, the FEMA trailer park in the city park behind us is slowly being taken out. I noted that the trailers were installed Dec 05 and sat empty until March 06. Some less compassionate people in the neighborhood were acting all NIMBY. I want to say, for the record, we had no problems what so ever the whole time - and the park backs up to us. It's always been quiet, you wouldn't even know people were living back there. All we heard was the occasional crunch of tires on gravel. I actually started to miss the sound of kids playing and finding the occasional ball in our back yard. One last odd development... a stop sign has appeared at the corner. It wasn't there when I left for work Friday morning but was when we left for dinner that evening. I don't think it was placed "officially" I think some one came across a stop sign and decided to put it there. I have mixed feelings; it is a bad corner - our street has the right of way, but you can't see around the house to your right. I always go through there very slowly since some people on the cross street seem to feel the stop sign doesn't apply to them. So while this may slow down those who go flying down our street at 80 mph, we'll have to listen to the earthshaking BOOMBOOMBOOM slightly longer. And one of these days I'll figure out how to thwart the guy with the super charged muffler who drives down our street every morning at 6am.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
While I was there, I stocked up on FSU wear - I got a t-shirt, long-sleeved t-shirt and sweatshirt. You don't find much FSU garb in Louisiana. It hasn't been easy to follow FSU football since we don't have cable. I've been rooting for LSU Tigers - I like their team colors, I like their mascot, the don't play FSU in football, I know a ton of people who went there, and they play against the Gators. What's not to like? Granted the team hasn't been as stellar the last few years, and, though I love Bobby Bowden, I wonder if he shouldn't have retired on a high note, back when they won their last championship. I was horrified and demoralized to read about the cheating scandal. I await further developments as the investigation continues. Ironically, after reading about the scandal on ESPN.com, someone sent me a link to a fellow New Orleans blogger, Florida girl and FSU fan. She has some nice posts about the GOOD FSU football players, the link to those post I share with you here and here. A not so great football year is one thing. Academic fraud is an embarrassment to all FSU alum. A good friend who is also a Gator fan shared these words:
May the following well-worn words of Gator fans everywhere give you some comfort - "Wait until next year!".
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Here's some photos of the on-going renovation. This is the sitting room/dressing area. It's the link between the bedroom, bathroom and closet. It used to be a hideous Brady Bunch kitchen.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
I just finished reading Clancey Dubos' article "It never ends" where he talks about how "there's never a recession in Louisiana politics" and all the upcoming special elections on top of regular elections. Pshew! It wore me out. Since I'm registered "Independent" I pay a only a slight margin of attention to the on-going presidential candidates. I vote in every presidential election, but I don't feel like my vote holds as much weight as in local elections.
Slowly the election signs on the neutral grounds are starting to dissappear. I actually saw someone from Cheryl Gray's camp (he was wearing a Cheryl Grey t-shirt) picking up her signs on Louisiana Ave at St. Charles. Jalila's signs seems to the be the one mostly left around. According to an article in the T-P it's not clear what the law is in regards to the signs. I had decided if the signs were still up yesterday after work, I'd take it upon myself to clean them up on LA Ave. I also wanted the metal stands the signs sit on for another project. Low and behold when I drove home down LA Ave. someone had taken the plastic (coroplast in the biz) signs and left the metal stands! In a matter of 15 minutes, covering 3 blocks I had 35 stands. They sell for $.75 each and works out to $26.25 before tax. Sweet!
I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And leave you with this gem; Nola.com has a "Turkey of the Year" where they encourage people to upload their candidate.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Well that's not too bad. Must have been all that gushing about The Police and updates about Ms. Mae's (which had it's grand re-opening today, at 9am. I drove by at 9:15 and there were people there! Only in New Orleans....)
So for the fun of it I put in my all-cat blog Gonzo for Cats and got:
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Good Grief! How can it be November already? Time changes always mess me up and I still feel out of sync. Nothing really exciting to report, and weekend football watching seems to have sucked up a good bit of my time (Go 'Noles/Wave/Tigers/Saints!). Instead, here's some upcoming things to note:
1) Tomorrow night is Women & Wine on Wednesday, come by Zoe at the W hotel.
2) If you live here, go VOTE this Saturday.
3) Sunday is the first
New Orleans Po-Boy Preservation Festival
November 18, 12 noon - 6:00pm
There's gonna be po-boys and music and po-boys and beer and po-boys and awrt....
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Sometimes it's strange to live in a part of the country where lack of water is not an issue. Atlanta and surrounding areas are facing a "water crisis" and fear they will run out of water in 3 months. Southern California sure could use 8" of rain right now. We here in gulf south feel sympathy towards everyone in SoCal dealing with the fires and evacuations. A friend in LA has been in San Fran on business and his wife and daughter have joined him. His parents get conflicting reports as to whether or not their cabin in the mountains has or has not burned down. One of the worst things about events like this is the lack of communication and all the miscommunication; I learned not to trust the media following Katrina. My sister, who lives in Hollywood, has been in Iowa (or is Idaho?) for the last few weeks for work so she's thankfully missing out on all the drama. NOLA blogger Editor B posts a chilling email from a friend of his from San Diego. When we were in SanFran last year, it was the 100th anniversary of the 1906 earthquake and there were signs and billboards everywhere prompting people to make sure their "disaster kit" was ready. Disaster kits ain't just for hurricanes and earthquakes y'all. I was about the use my hurricane stash of bottled water, but after Monday's deluge, decided I better not. We didn't lose power and the water supply was fine but... you never know next time.
Friday, October 19, 2007
For those of you uptown, swing by China Orchid on S. Carrollton Ave. They've been renovating the place, including a fancy new façade with a neon sign. It's still a work in progress but if you ever set foot in the place before, the change will take your breath away.
Pistolette left a comment on my earlier post about dives and such and I too agree that in some cases, the dive-iness of a place is what makes it. Saturn Lounge is a prime example. But some places have spiffed up and retained their sense of charm, like Pascal Manael's. I wouldn't say it was ever a dive, but like many older establishments, it needed some love. I was in there this past Mardi Gras and it felt the same. I haven't been to Madinas's since they reopened, but I hope it feels the same as it did before the storm and major renovations.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
G and I have been busy (G more so than me) working with a committee to put together a forum for the candidates running for the City Council At-Large seat, vacant after Oliver Thomas resigned. We had a pretty good turn out, especially for a rainy day and considering how hard it is to navigate Loyola's campus. One candidate who never confirmed, showed up, which required some scrambling, and Kimberly Williamson Butler was 28 minutes late! I enjoyed Adrastos' commentary on the event.
I wish I had gotten a better picture of the candidates. Cox Communication is supposed to air the forum and I think video is also supposed to appear on NOLA.com. I saw a FOX8 camera guy, but can't find anything on their website.
The group that put on the forum started with the City Council District B seat race a few years ago. It was great they way a group of concerned citizens, faced with 6 candidates no one knew anything about, pulled their knowledge and resources together. It feels good to be doing something positive and also learning more about candidates.
Tuesday, we present a forum for the candidates running for State Senate District 5.
Date: Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Location: SJ Green Charter Middle School, 2319 Valence St.
Candidates: Cheryl Gray, Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, David Williams, Irma Dixon
Thursday, October 04, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
- Louisiana has the tallest state capitol building in the nation at 450 feet.
- The Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans is the largest enclosed stadium in the world.
- The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest over-water bridge in the world at 23.87 miles.
- Louisiana's 6.5 million acres of wetlands are the greatest wetland area in America.
- The oldest city in the Louisiana Purchase Territory is Natchitoches, Louisiana founded in 1714.
- The first bottler of Coca-Cola, Joseph Biedenharn, lived in Monroe, Louisiana.
- Delta Airlines got its start in Monroe, Louisiana. (But before it was named Delta, it was Chicago & Southern.)
- Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the largest predominantly black university in America.
- Baton Rouge was the site of the only American Revolution battle outside the original 13 colonies.
- The formal transfer of the Louisiana Purchase was made at the Cabildo building in New Orleans on December 20, 1803.
- The staircase at Chrétien Point, in Sunset, Louisiana was copied for Tara in "Gone with the Wind.”
- Louisiana is the No. 1 producer of crawfish, alligators and shallots in America.
- Louisiana produces 24 percent of the nation's salt, the most in America.
- Much of the world's food, coffee and oil pass through the Port of New Orleans.
- Tabasco, a Louisiana product, holds the second oldest food trademark in the U.S. Patent Office.
- Steen's Syrup Mill is the world's largest syrup plant producing sugar cane syrup.
- America's oldest rice mill is in New Iberia, Louisiana at KONRIKO Co.
- The International Joke Telling Contest is held annually in Opelousas, L ouisiana.
- LSU “The Ole War Skule” in Baton Rouge has the distinction of contributing the most officers to WW II after the U.S. military academies.
- The Louisiana Hayride radio show helped Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash achieve stardom. It was broadcast from KWKH Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana from 1948 to 1960.
- The term Uncle Sam was coined on the wharfs of New Orleans before Louisiana was a U.S. territory as goods labeled U.S. were from “Uncle Sam.”
- The game of craps was invented in New Orleans in 1813 as betting was common activity on the wharves.
- When states had their own currency, the Louisiana Dix (French for ten) was a favored currency for trade. English speakers called them Dixies and coined the term Dixieland.
- New Orleans is the home of the oldest pharmacy in America at 514 Chartres Street in the French Quarter. These early medical mixtures became known as cocktails (guess they were good for what ails ya?) coining yet another term.
- New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz the only true American art form. Jazz gave birth to the Blues and Rock and Roll music.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
A little Miss Mae's update for those who care... I obviously shot this out my open car window. I could smell the wet smokiness (fire smoke not stale cigs) as I sat waiting for the light to turn green. There was a hand lettered sign posted by the open back door "closed due to fire."
I wonder if they will take this opportunity to fix the place up a bit? I've only stepped foot in there once so it doesn't really matter to me. Guy's Po Boys on Magazine had a fire a couple of months ago. When I drove by a few days ago they had a sign that said "2 weeks" and you could tell they have really spiffed the place up. I used to live catty corner from Guy's and it didn't have much ambiance before - dirty white walls, big open room. Now it looks like there is color on the wall and artsy blue glass drop lights. Most places in New Orleans are resistance to change, but really, a lot of places are just plain dumpy. I loved the old Cafe Atchafalya on Louisiana, the food that is, but it was like sitting in your grandmother's kitchen that hadn't been touched in 30 years. Even upstairs where you dreaded being sat, is cozy now.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Blaze damages Uptown barroom
Fire started next door to Miss Mae's
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
From staff reports (T-P)
A three-alarm fire damaged popular nightspot Miss Mae's at Napoleon Avenue and Magazine Street on Monday night.
Fire officials believe the fire started next door at Cafe Bayard and jumped the 18-inch gap between the buildings, according to Chief Glenn Trainor of the New Orleans Fire Department. The owner, Marc LoCasio, was in the 1905-circa cafe building at the time and called 911 to report the fire at 9:07 p.m. The extent of the damage to that building was unclear.
Fire officials say they had some resistance from bar patrons who were reluctant to evacuate because they were watching the Saints game.
Most of the damage was confined to dead space between the walls and between the first-floor ceiling and second floor, Trainor said.
The fire was declared under control at 10:15 p.m., Trainor said.
He said there were no injuries to bar patrons or to firefighters.
My favorite part is the Saints fans who didn't want to leave because the game was on!
I drive by most mornings on my way to work. I've seen curious people looking in the back (side?) door. Today, Miss Mae herself was sitting next to the open door, in her preposterous wig, talking to well wishers. Or at least that's the story I made up in my mind.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
And this is what G did today - installed the wood panels. This is taken from the same angle as the photo above. The bed will go directly in front of this. Which means soon we can go shopping for a new bed - woohoo!
G also made an area rug for the dining room with Flor tiles.
This line is called "House pet" and Hana LOVES it. She likes to pick a square, like she is here, and hangs out in to. Gonzo does it too - if we get a few more cats, we could play cat chess!
Saturday, September 22, 2007
G has been busy installing flooring in what will one day be our bedroom. Every couple of hours I pop my head in and take some photos of the progress. It's looking great.
I wanted to get started on my fall garden this weekend. I cleared out all the weeds last weekend and figured out what I will plant. With heavy rains forecasted for the weekend, I had decided to postpone planting seeds for fear they'd get washed away. But now I may go ahead. On the topic of gardening, about a year ago I heard "Don't buy cypress mulch because they are cutting down Louisiana's cypress forests." I thought that cypress wood would be too valuable to cut trees just for mulch. But then the Sierra Club came out with:
Cypress mulch was always a by-product of lumber mills that were producing flooring and such. But now entire forests are being cut down, and a study by the Governor's Science Working Group and Advisory Committee concludes that up to 80 percent of the areas being logged will be unable to regenerate. The Louisiana Forestry Association says no unsustainable harvests are taking place.From Save our Cypress:
The Save Our Cypress Coalition, a group of Louisiana conservation and environmental organizations, is calling upon Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe's to stop purchasing and selling all cypress garden mulch until a verifiable, third-party certification program is operating to ensure no cypress is being sourced from non-renewable coastal wetland forests.I've always used pine straw for my garden - you need live trees to have pine straw. Once it starts to break down, you can just turn it under and mix it in the soil. I encourage everyone do not buy cypress mulch.
I got a link to the below YouTube video from a friend today that does a good job explaining the situation in common terms.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Some of you may have remembered the t-shirts I put up on Cafe Press after Katrina. I updated the design on "New Orleans c'est moi" because I thought the original one was boring. The super simple "NOLA" design had been very popular and the "Laissez les bon temps..." also continues to sell. So there's my plug.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I saw that on a law office sign on Carrollton Ave. while driving in Mid-City yesterday. A good reminder. We had a neighborhood association meeting Monday night and we have some very frustrated people in our neighborhood. We had 2 candidates come speak to us. Most people asked intelligent questions but there were a few that made you go "huh?" and feel sorry for the candidate. Maybe I shouldn't say "stupid" - isn't the saying "there are no dumb questions"- I should called them uninformed or just not thoroughly thought through. After the candidates left, it became more of a free-for-all, which is weird for our little laid back group. G was pretty good talking people down with facts and logic, though with a few it wouldn't sink in - that's what happens when you close you mind and refuse to consider a different perspective. Or maybe our group of neighbors have always been this way, now that I think about it; it was me and my patience (or lack of) that was different. When I got home from work that day, the front gate and the side gate to the back yard were both wide open. The side gate has a padlock. I called G to see if he was expecting anyone. No... and that's when I realized our copper downspouts had been stolen. I carefully looked around to make sure no one was still in our yard and if any windows looked broken. The coast looked clear. G came home and we checked everything else to see if anything was missing. Didn't look like it. I don't know if this is a problem in other parts of the country, but with the high cost of copper, people have been stealing stuff to sell at scrap yards.
So this is why my temper was short Monday night. I was pissed. And I have to say, our neighborhood was relatively unscathed by Katrina with no flooding, so I have little patience to listen to these people bitch and moan about the recovery and crime. And when our president asked if anyone wanted to head up a neighborhood crime watch, the room fell silent. Typical. Whine about stuff but don't step up the the plate. Yeah, I'm frustrated too people. Suck it up and if you can't, shut up, you're bringing me down. Argh...I'm getting myself all worked up all over again-can't be good for my blood pressure.
Whenever we travel, people asked "Why do you stay there? Why not move to another city?" All the cultural riches here and other good stuff aside, that would mean starting over somewhere else: new city, new friends, new jobs, plus, it's next to impossible to sell a house right now. So leaving, to us, is harder than staying. I'd be lying if I said I haven't thought about leaving because I have. We've invested ourselves in this city and we've just got to hunker down and ride this out.
Hmmm... maybe I'll make a new t-shirt "Suck it up and if you can't, shut up, you're bringing me down." What do y'all think?
Sunday, September 09, 2007
The women's networking group I help start, Women & Wine on Wednesdays, got noticed by New Orleans Magazine and I, along with the other three founders, were named People to Watch 2007. I never thought any sort of good recognition would ever come from my drinking! If I may be vain for a moment, it's a terrible picture of us. Though I like the Srgt. Pepper's-esque photo they photoshopped us all into.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
Have you ever been choked up over a restaurant? Not choking but choked up, full of emotion. The T-P has been running a series of articles about Mandina’s Restaurant. It’s one of the classic New Orleans neighborhood restaurants, whose cuisine is referred to as “Italian Creole.” It’s one of the places I always take out-of-town visitors. It’s been in the family for 4 generations, opened for 75 years and flooded after the levee broke post-Katrina with up to 6 feet of water.
It’s a typical Post-K story. The owners went back and forth about whether to rebuild or throw in the towel, tear down or renovate, how to finance since the insurance company wasn’t coughing up. They got some insurance money, but have filed a lawsuit against Lloyd's of London in an attempt to receive the full amount of their wind and business interruption policies. Luckily some local banks have faith in the business and has loaned Mandina’s money, even after the renovation costs more than doubled what was originally estimated. They reopened in February to a full house, a line around the block.
So why get choked up? It’s just a restaurant, right? It’s more than that; it’s symbolic of all the people and places that make New Orleans, New Orleans. A hope that if they can do it, so can someone else. It’s kind of like a loved one walking after being told they’d never walk again. If Mandina’s decided to call it quits, of course life would have gone on. It’s the same if the Superdome was never reopened, the Saints moved to another city. However, it’s these seemingly trivial things that make life here worth living. They are unique gems that are special to the people of New Orleans. They are part of the city’s long history.
I bet no one had ever said that about a StarbucksTM®.
Saturday, September 01, 2007
I'm glad THAT's over... August that is. Now to get through September. Last night we were out with friends at our new hangout, the Rendezvous on Magazine, G played "Wake me when September Ends" by Greenday on the jukebox. That was sort of a mantra September 2005 and holds true still.
The eve of K+2, we got together with neighbors after dinner. We stayed in contact with our neighbors through out our Katrina imposed exile. I'm the secretary of our neighborhood association so I had the email list of everyone. A couple of our neighbors also ended up in Houston and we got to see them there. It was nice Wednesday evening, sitting around and talking about normal stuff and not talking about K+2. G and I agreed that ignoring the anniversary was a bad idea. We needed to do something; getting together with the neighbors was good. We also drank a bottle of good wine we brought home from California last fall.
School has started, the college students are back, football season has started and we have elections coming up. People are starting to shake off their summer hibernation and the energy in the city is starting to pick up again. Thursday was a football first - the Saints and LSU Tigers were playing at the same time. I know there were many people attempting to watch both (we didn't watch either). Of course the LSU game actually means something. I don't pay attention to pro pre-season. Speaking of college football (Go Seminoles!) Gaby and I did the media guide for Tulane football this year. Our client has promised us tickets to the first Tulane game. Not that tickets are particularly expensive (I take taht back, looking on -line they . And they play in the Superdome so it's unlikely they'd sell out. I still say football played indoors is wrong. I've been to one Saints game and a couple of Sugar Bowls, and it's unnatural watching football in air conditioning.
Hmmmm... searching on-line for Tulane tickets and I guess I was wrong! The first home game is against Mississippi State and there are no individual tickets available for the game. I remember when I was at FSU my roommate sold her ticket for the U of Miami game one year for $50. Cha-ching. I went to the game. It was good and FSU won . If they had lost I would have been kicking myself for not selling my ticket too.
This is a little shrine, if you will, on our mantle. The guy on the left is William the Conquerer, G bought him and the Bayeaux Tapestrey playing cards on our Normandy trip. On the far right is a Russian Icon, "Mary the Eternal Bloom", I bought at NOMA at a great exhibit recently. In the center is St Gertrude, Patron Saint of Cats, "protector of cats, fever suffers, gardeners and pilgrims." I may have to buy one for my garden.
I love the internet. I Googled St. Gertrude and I found the Patron Saint Index which says she is Gertrude of Nivelles (not to be confused with Gertrude the Great) and is the the patron of:
- accomodations; against mice; against rats; against suriphobia; cats; fear of mice; fear of rats; fever; gardeners; insanity; mental disorders; mental illness; mentally ill people; pilgrims; recently dead people; suriphobics; to obtain lodging while travelling; travellers
Back to the Saints index... all of these saints are for "lost articles"
But St. Zita is specifically "lost keys" and "Against losing keys" I'm going to make St. Zita key chains! I'll make a fortune! I just have to find a better image of her.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
So not only does August suck because of the unreasonable heat, but its also when hurricane season get active (remember Dean?) and the anniversary of Katrina, but my mother passed away in August back in '99. If I hadn't taken a vacation earlier this month, I'd probably be huddled in a ball in the corner. The conference Saturday was held at the NO Yacht Club (never been there either) with blessed cool AC and it was... uplifting might be too strong of a word, but it was educational, funny and poignant. The organizers, who liked to point out they are not event planners, did a good job. Good speakers, good topics. The fee was only $20 so you can't expect something super-slick; but the conference was intimate, unpretentious, and had integrity. Kudos. I wanted to post some of my thoughts from the conference but just haven't had the chance, but if you go to the links page of the conference web site, local bloggers have been doing a good job.
Today marks "K+2" the second anniversary of Katrina and the "Federal flood." All sorts of politicians and celebrities in town. There are parades, memorials, vigils and so on the mark the occasion. Like the videos, I shy away from all that. Is that healthy? I don't know. On the flight home from my vacation the women next to me asked me "Were you affected by Katrina?" This is one of those questions that make me, and others, want to roll our eyes into our head and maybe throttle the asker. I just replied "Everyone was." Short, simple, to-the-point. If the nation has "Katrina fatigue" what do you think New Orleanians are feeling? I have an new, also simple and to-the-point reply for the question "How is the recovery going?"
One step forward and two steps back.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
For your entertainment, I suggest you surf over to the New Orleans Levee web site "FREE Satire in the city" "We don't hold anything back." It's pretty darn funny.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Sclemeel, schlemazel, hasenfeffer incorporated. We're gonna do it!
We done did it. Milwaukee that is. I've been laid low buy a nasty cold that seems to finally be going away. Traveling will do that to you. So about our adventures. Well, for starters, we missed our flight. How you ask? There were a number of small delays that added up, but the nail in the coffin was the stupid "Park n Fly." I usually park at USPark.net but I was in a hurry and the entrance for Park n Fly was first. Bad move. USPark, you pull up, get directed where to park, and there's a shuttle ready to pick you up usually before you can get all the luggage out of the car and you get whisked away to the airport. Not PnF. There was a sign directing you to a section waaaaay in the back that had zero empty spots. We drove up and down looking for a spot, finally cramming the car into a spot in the "compact" area. I had to squeeze out the passenger side door since I was too close on the driver's side. We scanned the lot - no shuttles, so we hoofed it to the entrance, and finally board a shuttle. The driver drives around picking more people up. The last was an elderly couple who took their own sweet time getting organized and finally on the shuttle. I wasn't wearing a watch and for some reason clocks are not conspicuoius at Louis Armstrong international. We sprung off the shuttle, flew to the United counter, no line at the self-check-in kiosk! I punch in the flight info... "Too late to board. Please speak to a representative." Wha? I pick up the receiver. As I'm talking to the rep. I notice the tiny clock in the corner of the screen: 2:15. Our flight was at 2:30. I guess we are too late. Our only option was to fly stand-by on the flight at 7:30. We'd also be stand-by on our connecting flight from Chicago. I figured, if we could at least get to Chicago, we could always pick up a rental car and drive the 1-1/2 hr to Milwaukee. My nerves were shot and we had time to kill so we had a beer. After calming down and the beer, we decided to walk around. We still had our bags with us. Walking around took all of 10 min. so we stopped back at the ticket counter. I've never flown stand-by before and had no idea how this worked. Greg on the other had, used to always fly stand-by when his father was a commercial airline pilot. He knew the lingo to use to get the info we wanted. Our flight was 92% full and it "looked good" we could get on. They can't say for sure you can get on but Greg seemed pretty happy with the answer. We decided to check our luggage so we wouldn't have to schlep it around. We might not make it to Milwaukee but our luggage would. Hung out and had coffee at a cafe that said they had free wi-fi but we weren't able to connect. After we were bored of that we went through security. We decided it was time for a second beer... hey, we are on vacation after all. The lounge was packed and the woman behind the bar couldn't chew gum and walk if her life depended on it. Even though it was only around 5:30 I was feeling peckish, so we moved on the the "cafe" where we picked up some dinner and cold Abita beers (at $5 a pop!). As it got closer to 7:30 we sauntered over to the gate and chatted with the ticket agent. We were first on the stand-by list. The last 3 letters of our last name were cut off and he took a guess "Hackenberry?" He was a jovial chap and we chatted for a bit and I told him maybe we should change our name to "Hackenb" since it is so long.
They start boarding the plane. We hear "Hackenbee party please approach the podium"-such the jokester. Finally! We are on the plane! We left behind schedule, about 15 late. When we land in Chicago several hours later, we run though the airport to our connection. Just as we are approaching the gate we heard "Hackenberg, party of two" I yell "we're here!" they scan our boarding pass and we walk through the door. Down the stairs. Across the tarmac. Past a few other commuter planes. Up the stairs. We were only in the air 15 minute but take-off, landing, taxing added about an hour to the trip. I figured out that had we flown in and out of Chicago and drove, we could have slept in an extra hour on the return trip. Why I booked a 6:30 a, return flight is beyond me, must have been $. I won't go into the return flight, exacerbated by nasty weather, but I won't be flying United anytime soon if I can help it. I'm not sure what I did to piss off the travel gods, but my flying mojo this year has not been what it used to be. One last tip on flying- always, always bring something to eat. You never know how long you'll sit on the runway or be circling and there ain't no food on domestic flights no more.
We got in around Midnight. Picked up the rental car. Got lost trying to find the interstate so I followed the signs back to the airport to start over. Pulled over to talk to my cousin on the phone for directions when a sheriff tapped on the window. This would be my first brush with the law on this trip. Finally we were on our way.
Friday was a lovely, sunny day. My cousin Dean, who we were staying with, suggested taking us on a driving tour in his convertible. Grand idea! We followed the shore of Lake Michagan, drove around downtown. We stopped for a beer and snacks at a Mader's, German restaurant downtown. Sadly, Dean says the true German restaurants are disappearing. I guess everyone's too health conscious.
Here's some views of downtown from the pier. I finally got a new camera. I didn't take a lot of sight seeing photos though, because the camera came with a woefully small flash card and I had to use the space for the family reunion.
Downtown with art museum in middle
Dean picked us up and we had to hurry back to his place because our cousin Roy had arrived. That night we went to the typical Friday night fish fry. Fried fish and seafood is popular in New Orleans because of the Catholic influence. But down here the fish is catfish. We had some lovely fried cod. Greg was disappointed they didn't have malt vinegar, but they did have Tabasco. I also had the most amazing cole slaw.
Saturday was the family reunion which took up most of the day. After the reunion dinner, a group of us went back to Dean's to hang out, drink and swap stories. That was my mother's father's side of the family. Sunday we visited my mother's mother's side of the family. They were south of Milwaukee in Racine county. It's farm land and beautiful. Rolling hills of corn, big red barns and old farm houses. And some subdivisions that are starting to creep in.
Monday Greg and I played tourist. Well first, back to my second brush with the law. When my mother passed away, I knew of her wish to be cremated. But after that I had no idea. I decided she should join her family in Milwaukee and there were two empty spots in the family plot. Monday morning we had an appointment to meet with the cemetery director to make the arrangements for mom. I had wrapped mom and her wooden urn up carefully with bubble wrap and packed her in my suitcase. I figured it would look suspicious to the screeners, so I taped a copy of the cremation certificate on it. Yes, my bag was searched. Anyway, we were running late, got off the interstate and got turned around. I started down a wide, 4-lane road, and just as I noticed the 25 mph speed limit and hit my brakes - I was doing about 40 - I also noticed the black and white. Damn. Milwaukee's finest pulled me over. He was very stern.
"Margaret (my first name) do you know why I pulled you over?"He let me, Margaret, off with a warning. A stern warning. He did not crack a smile at all. No "have a nice day" or tip of the cap. "I'm sorry sir. THANK you sir." Now I know why Milwaukeeians are such good, curtious drivers. The cops don't mess around and they are everywhere.
"Yes sir, I was going way too fast sir."
"And why was that." I explained why I was going too fast.
"Do you still live in New Orleans Margaret?"
"Margaret, do you want want a ticket here."
"No sir, I do not."
After we handed mom off, we headed back downtown to visit The Spice House and buy some spices we don't get down here. It smelled wonderful and everything is well labeled with extensive notations. We also visited the cheese shop and the sausage shop. Today was also beer day. We drove by one brewery, but it didn't look like it had a pub and we were getting hungry. We found the Water Street Brew Pub. Greg had the "Old World Selection" Fresh Usinger Bratwurst and Stuttgarter Knackwurst are simmered in our brew and spices, charbroiled and served with German potato salad, fresh sauerkraut. I had the "Smoked Sausage Platter" Flavored with our Lager Beer, Usinger smoked beef sausage and smoked link kielbasa are charbroiled and served with red cabbage, freshly sautéed spaetzle. Yum! And we washed it down with house brews of course. We decided was needed to walk around a bit and let lunch settle. Downtown is quite nice. The river runs through the middle of it and the lake is to the east. We strolled along the riverwalk. After a while, we stopped at another brew pub and had a beer. Then we drove out to the award winner microbrewery, Sprecher. No pub but we bought some t-shirts and beer and went back to Dean's to sample.
So that was our trip. Greg held up under repeated family exposure very well. It was good to reconnect with family. We had a rather nice, relaxing time and really enjoyed the mild weather.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
And if you enjoyed that article, check out this one, with photos, by NPR.
Enjoy and Ein Prost!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
It will also be nice to escape the suffocating heat and humidity (NOLA's high 94 degrees, low of 76 and 72% humidity vs. Milwaukee high of 76 and low of 59 55% humidity. brrrr!) and the depressing newspaper headlines:
"Vitter had five calls with D.C. Madam"
"Police, DA battle over dropped murder case"
"N.O. water hasn’t had fluoride since storm"
"Parent faces accusations in school money theft"
"A federal grand jury looking into a bribery scandal at the Orleans Parish School Board continues"
And that's just the front page. *sigh* No wonder this city is in such a mess. Too many people looking to make gobs of money, illegally, or can't keep their you-know-what in their pants.
William Jefferson is probably relieved all this other news is keeping his name out of the head lines, though his brother is connected to the bribery scandal. Political dynasties, some good, but most not.
So to leave on an up note, I quote Homer Simpson: mmmmm..... beeeeeeer....
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Culture: We've been watching a fascinating series on PBS "SIMON SCHAMA'S POWER OF ART." As it is described on the PBS web site "Series Explores Dramatic Turning Points in Lives of Eight Artists and the Masterpieces That Changed the Way the World Looks at Art." We've seen the episodes about Caravaggio, Bernini and Rembrandt. Watching the first two I thought the host was being dramatic, but once I saw the Rembrandt one, I realized, no it's just the hot tempered Italian artists who were the dramatic ones. The episodes are really well done and I encourage anyone with an interest in art to catch them.
Culcha: There's a new cultural event in New Orleans, I didn't attend it because it started at 7 am but it looks like enough fun I may have to check it out next year. It was "San Fermin in Nueva Orleans" on July 7th, the same day the event occurs in Pamplona, Spain. But instead of real bulls, hoards of people dressed in white ran through the streets of the French Quarter chased by the lovely ladies of the New Orleans Roller Derby, the "Rollerbulls" wielding rubber bats. There was one bull, mounted to a shopping cart. Hard to explain, just check out the pictures: http://bigeasyrollergirls.blogspot.com/ There is also a great video on YouTube, complete with editing bells and whistles and a sound track.
Saturday, July 07, 2007
It was harder back then to be the world's biggest (insert band name here) fan. You have to work hard to find obscure recordings, magazine interviews and personal tidbits. "I didn't know that about Sting. But did you know Stewart..." Today with the Internet, you just go to the band's web site and/or Myspace page and viola! It's all there for you. I've been boning up on my Police trivia reading interviews on their website. I've been sucked in.
It's time I drag myself away for a while and think about other things. Next weekend Greg and I are going Milwaukee for a family reunion. I get to engulf him with my relatives for a change. I need to buy a new digital camera. I need to find cool thing to do while we are up there. Any suggestions? There's got to be a beer museum, yes? Eat German food is on the list. And visit the art museum. I need to do laundry and pack.
Today it's hot so I'm inside on the computer (duh!) and was playing catch up on some NOLA bloggers. I'd like to point your attention to Maitri's VatulBlog - she's has had some great posts lately. Especially some insightful comments on the whole "below sea level" issue-she's a geologist and knows her stuff and slams a recent editorial proclaiming New Orleans should not be rebuilt.
I'm still giddy from Police overload to really write anything meaningful. babble.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
So right now, two of the the coolest things...in my book... um, the Police, of course, and the hype leading up to "The Simpson's" first full length feature movie. Who care is the movie's any good? The hype is great!
This is me as a Simpson's character - many of you are familiar with my "Christy as a South Park character." So with some Photoshop magic, voila! Moi, as a Simpson character, wearing a Police t-shirt.
You can make your own: http://simpsonsmovie.com/main.html
But what is even more brilliant is the turning 7-11s into Kwick-E-Marts! http://flickr.com/photos/rdr07/sets/72157600590001691/
Monday, July 02, 2007
More Police. A review from the Times Picayune - yes I know I can just link to it but I want to hang on to this. And I thought it was a good review.
By Keith Spera
The Police reunion tour stopped at a nearly full New Orleans Arena on Saturday and delivered a tight, 19-song set of nearly two hours that unabashedly pandered to their collective past.
The band neither unveiled new material nor even hinted at their post-Police pursuits. Instead, on a sleek, simple, open stage, they served up one hit after another with more precision and heft than in their heyday.
The Police -- lead singer Sting, easygoing guitarist Andy Summers and mercurial drummer Stewart Copeland -- were never an essential live band. U2 and Bruce Springsteen uplift arena audiences with grand gestures; Metallica and Rage Against the Machine incite them with raw power and energy. Not so the Police. Their strength lay in crafting pristine, enduring pop songs, the earliest of which they infused with lilting reggae chords and punk moxie. With no spectacle, no drama and no emotional peaks and valleys, their reunion show could have been played just as effectively -- if not quite so lucratively -- at Tipitina's.
Chatter and audience interaction were kept to a minimum. Sting made the obligatory Hurricane Katrina reference: "Despite what you've been through, the spirit of this city is not dead. The spirit of this city is alive and kicking." Otherwise, he said little; the other two were mute.
The threesome focused on invigorated, occasionally rearranged renditions of beloved anthems and an obscurity or two. Arrangements were strictly limited to guitar, bass, percussion and vocals -- no backing singers, no auxiliary players (alas, the essential piano in "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was absent).
All three musicians were in fighting shape. Sting strutted in black combat boots; with his chiseled biceps and slender frame, he is an advertisement for the preservative powers of yoga and vegetarianism. He shied away from the highest notes in his old songs, but his voice remains remarkably rich and full.
Summers, at 64 the oldest in the band by a decade, resembled an off-duty insurance salesman in an untucked gray button-down shirt, black slacks and shiny black shoes. In a break with arena-rock convention, he rarely swapped out his guitar. His robust fingerpicking jazzed "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic." He inserted bracing electric guitar solos in "Driven to Tears" and elsewhere, and scissors-kicked across the stage as "Can't Stand Losing You" built to a big finish.
Copeland's intense determination faltered only when he tripped while clamoring from his drum kit to a percussion set on an elevated riser. His hustle fleshed out the atmospherics of "Wrapped Around Your Finger" and "Walking in Your Footsteps," both highlights of the set.
The opening "Message in a Bottle" and "Synchronicity II" stuck close to the familiar recorded versions. "When the World Is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around" broke down to brief instrumental passages, a welcome diversion. A meandering "Don't Stand So Close to Me," by contrast, was flaccid. "Roxanne" was the obvious but underwhelming regular set finale. In the encores, a spot-on "King of Pain" and crisp "So Lonely" fared much better.
Save Summers' "South Park" guitar strap and the guy in the 14th row of section 113 snapping pictures with a new iPhone, this could have passed for 1983. But time does not stand still, and neither does pop culture.
Rock 'n' roll thrives on the energy of youth. When a band first taps into that energy -- as did the Police 30 years ago -- it is at its most vital. When that same band's audience can afford $200 tickets and a baby sitter -- and when the merchandise table includes a souvenir "onesy" jumper for babies -- that time has passed.
Saturday's sole emotional payoff was nostalgia. During a final charge through "Next to You," quick-cut images of Sting, Copeland and Summers from the 1980s flashed by on overhead video screens. Otherwise, they preferred to let the songs represent their considerable legacy. And they represented those songs well.http://blog.nola.com/living/2007/07/police_reunion_concert_an_80s.html
Sunday, July 01, 2007
The Police rocked!
This reunion tour isn't a stale, rehashing of old songs (well even if it was, it’s still the Police!). Because all three of them have continued to be working musicians, they are not like some bands on reunion tours where the playing and singing are not up to par. They reworked many of their hits, especially the intros, so you had to listen for a few second before picking up on which song it was. I was trying to recall all the songs they played when I discovered the set list in on their web site:
Message In A Bottle
Walking On The Moon
Voices Inside My Head
When The World Is Running Down
Don't Stand So Close
Driven To Tears
The Bed's Too Big Without You
Truth Hits Everybody
Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic
Wrapped Around Your Finger
De Do Do Do De Da Da Da
Walking In Your Footsteps
Can't Stand Losing You
King of Pain
Every Breath You Take
Next To You
The last 3 songs were the encores. Thank goodness they wrapped it up with "Next to You" since "EBYT" isn't in my top 10. Kristen commented the one song she wished they had played was "Spirits in the Material World." Because it was just the three of them, there was no one to play keyboards. Andy filled in the empty spot on guitar on several songs, though I did miss the keyboard on "ELTSDIM." Both Andy and Sting played the same instrument the whole night—no roadies running out between every song to hand them a new instrument. Sting’s bass looks like the first one he ever owned, with much of the finish worn off. Stewart had not only his sprawling drum kit, but also a whole menagerie of other percussion instruments on a rising platform behind him. At one point he popped up from his drums to dash back to the other stuff when he stumbled. There was a slight gasp from the audience. Stewart, always the comic, stood up, then did a mock fall, flailing his arms in the air before getting back to the task at hand, hardly missing a beat.
Our seats were directly left of the stage. We were pretty high up, but our view was unobstructed and there was also a screen above the stage. I love watching Stewart do his thing, flinging drumsticks everywhere. The guys looked like there were having fun and were very generous with the audience, not pretentious at all. I don’t think I sat still the whole time; a lot of the time it was one big sing-along. The opening band, Fiction Plane, is a 3 piece with Sting’s son on lead vocals and bass. They didn’t suck, but I’m not going to go buy their album either.
Hopefully they will do a DVD of the tour, it wouldn’t surprise me at all. I can’t believe I almost didn’t go. There were quite a number of people with tickets to sell outside, and the two seats in front of us stayed empty the whole night. I would probably be in a deep funk today if I hadn’t gone. If you missed it, you can still buy t-shirts on their website. I want one, but the lines were so long at the show so I’ll just order one. $35 for a t-shirt!?! Yowza!
Oh yeah,I didn't take the photos. They are from Stewart Copeland's website.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I can't believe it!
After all these years I am FINALLY going to see The Police live in concert!!!!! I was a huge Police fan back in the day. When their tour came to Jacksonville, I asked my mother "Mom, Can I go see the Police in concert?" She gave me an odd look and asked "Why would you want to see a bunch of cops sing?" I quickly filled her in and she herself became a fan of their music. Unfortunately, the tickets sold out too fast. I was sooooo crushed! (I was in junior high after all). I think it was the "Ghost in the Machine" tour but I'm not sure. I was able to get ticket to the Foreigner concert around that same time. Boy was that totally cheezy. I think only Styx's concert was cheesier. There wasn't much else to do in Jacksonville at that age - go to concerts or rollarskating.
Anyway... I almost didn't get to go again. Tickets went on sale and the "cheap" ($50 plus Ticketbastard's $15 fee) went fast as did the not as cheap $90+fees but still not the $200+fees most expensive tickets . Greg and I just couldn't justify spending over $400 on a concert. Plus, the tickets went on sale during JazzFest and our cash went to that. So I accepted the truth. I can't wait to see what they are going to charge for t-shirts.
Well... about a month ago I was getting my hair cut when my hairdresser/friend, Jeanne, took a phone call. She was talking to a friend about the upcoming Police concert and Jeanne said she's find someone to buy her two extra tickets. As soon as she hung up the phone I asked her "You have to tickets to the Police you needs to sell? How much? I'll take them!" I still didn't really believe it. I didn't become real until Friday morning I was reading the paper and saw the ad "The Police in concert New Orleans, June 29." I'm going to be there! Yahoo!
So... Scott and Kristen came into town from Baton Rouge last night to go out with us and some others, they stayed over, then drove back to Baton Rouge this morning. I drove over to Jeanne's this morning after they left to pick up the tickets. I was about 1/2 way to her house when she calls "Do you know anyone who might want the tickets to the two seats next to you?" I told her I'd make some phone calls and see her in a few minutes. I called Scott and Kristen - they were still on the road back to Baton Rouge. "Would you guys want to see the Police? The two tickets next to us are available." Of course they said yes. So they will be drive back to New Orleans tonight for the show.
Crazy how things work out sometimes. Can you say "Synchronicity?"
With one breath, with one flow
You will know
A sleep trance, a dream dance,
A shared romance,
A connecting principle,
Linked to the invisible
Logic so inflexible
Yet nothing is invincible.
If we share this nightmare
Then we can dream
If you act, as you think,
The missing link,
We know you, they know me
A star fall, a phone call,
It joins all,
It's so deep, it's so wide
Effect without a cause
Sub-atomic laws, scientific pause