Sunday, August 31, 2008

This Just In

On CNN--
"Breaking News: Levees Not Good Enough?"

A duh.

Paris for Pres, C. Ray for VP

I changed my mind: Paris for Pres, C. Ray for VP. Oh my god, ingenious. I can't even explain how perfect a combination these two would be. I don't think you need me to explain; I think if you just follow your instincts, you'll understand.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sandbags?/C. Ray for President

And the latest technology from the Corps of Engineers is...sandbags. Ill-designed levees, malfunctioning pumps, but heavy, blow-blocking high-quality sandbags. If the levees breach, the Engineers, hovering overhead in helicopters, will drop sandbags, silencing the thrashing, soil-busting storm surge.
Sandbags. I had planned to go to town on this word, punning like crazy, e.g. "The Corps of Engineers really sandbagged us" etc., but I'm really low on momentum.
Quite appropriately, the word of the day is "gubernatorial."

But hey, I am finding motivation in the words of our mayor, C. Ray Nagin. C. Ray is my boy. Calm, collected, loose-jowled and Deputy-Dog-moustached: "You need to be scared and you need to get your butts out of New Orleans right now."

And: "Looting will not be tolerated. Anyone caught looting in New Orleans will go directly to the Big House in the general population. You will go directly to Angola Prison, and God Bless You if you go there."


Now, I'm pro-Obama and all, but C. Ray, he charms me, he makes me smile. He doesn't bother with any of that "we need a change" rhetoric, and he has his own slow, regionally-attuned way of talking--which usually gets him in trouble. But this time, C. Ray is prepared. Those who normally criticize his free-wheeling, strutting, drawling style, won't be able to say he didn't evacuate the city as professionally as anybody could have.

I'd rather listen to C. Ray any day, over the Weather Channel forecasters who project like sportscasters--seriously, just get a job at ESPN, or direct some of that on-your-toes energy towards a pick-up game of football in your backyard, 'cuz with Gustav there won't be any intercepting, no chasing down winds and last minute save-the-day sacking before he reaches the end-zone; and over the CNN goons with their seriously expert skills at paraphrase and their facebook updates. C. Ray doesn't affect, scramble, or sweat. He just tells it like it is.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Gustav, WTF

Anonymous posted a comment on yesterday's post:

"I think now's the time for blogging on hurricane futures. Where would you go if NOLA flooded again? Would you ever come back? What are you thinking this week as Gustav approaches? How will you prepare? If you could loot one store what would it be?"

Right now, I'm in Boston on vacation, and as my flight back to Nola is scheduled for Sunday morning, I think I'm going to have to work out alternate plans with the airlines. Or else, kick it around here, breathing in the cool, weightless air, marveling at the sightings of slim cops on bicycles--huh?--watching Vicky Christina Barcelona every night using my friend's parents' membership passes to the local non-profit art house in walking distance--what? Maybe I'll fly out to LA, where my brother and my friends from college live; or catch up with my Dad in a hotel room in Houston; or to Phoenix with my mom.

I would never loot a store, ever, I can't even entertain the question. I'm nervous as hell and guilty, because I seem to always avoid the hellish evacuations everybody else has to endure--during Katrina, I was already up at college, beginning a drunken, irresponsible sophomore year, completely clueless as to what the fuck was going on with my city, and when I would see it or my family again.

Well, I'm bout to go by the non-profit movie house, keep up the pretenses of my vacay, although all I want to do is take pain-killers and numb myself with the weather channel's latest updates. Nobody up here will quite understand my obsessiveness, anyway...but stay tuned, because i will be using blogging as an excuse to dwell...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

All right Chris Rose! That's my boy.

Chris Rose, you got the memo. Aka you read my blog, took what I had to say to heart, and now you are back! I guess the tough love really did the trick. Your article Friday totally pumped me up!  Fist to the sky.  Now I'm ready to take on the city as your side-kick, the Tonto to your Lone Ranger, Robin to your Batman.  Together, whether lauding, lampooning or lazin', we'll always be witty-willynilly with our words.

Rose's recent column "Excellence in Insanity; Hizzoner the mayor isn't the only one worthy of faint praise," on 8/22/08, previewed that night's awards ceremony at the Ritz Carlton Penthouse Suite, hosted by the "Excellence in Recovery Host Committee."  Ostensibly a benefit to recognize Katrina survivors who have significantly contributed to the recovery of New Orleans, the night instead featured C. Ray, bestowing upon him "The Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage, and Leadership."  Friday night, the Ritz was surrounded by picketers, every-day-New-Orleanians incensed by the notion of bright lights upon our already too-shiny-headed mayor.  

The "Excellence in Recovery Host Committee" was led by Nagin's personal photographer, some dude who goes by first-name only:  Bernardo (no, not that Bernardo--"This girl has beautiful eyes....She thinks I'm an asshole....Come to my bed"). The committee is comprised of a few other folks, City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson and former Entergy New Orleans CEO Dan Packer, who both have told the press that they thought they were honoring survivors, not the mayor.  

Rose ridicules the event by creating fictional committees and awards to be distributed to our city's most recent governmental buffoons:  Eddie Price, David Vitter, William Jefferson, and Marc Morial.  (Why not Eddie Jordan, I wonder?)  In the case of Eddie Price, the Mandeville mayor who, intoxicated, rammed a city-owned vehicle through a toll-booth gate on the Causeway this June and escaped unticketed, Rose assigned "Mandeville's Magnificence in Magnanimous Munificence Committee" the honor of awarding him an "Excellent Adventures in Good Government Award." Senator David Vitter, who earned public shame through his exploits with prostitutes, received the "Listen up Dimwit Don't You Realize That People Are Going to Joke About this For the Rest of Your Life Award" from the "Excellence in Family Values Host Committee."  William Jefferson, the State representative most notorious for hoarding $90,000 in cash in his refrigerator during his 2005 term, was awarded the "Distinction in Fiduciary Refrigeration and Glaciation Award" by the "Excellence in Appliances Host Committee." Ex-mayor Marc Morial, whose term was a big crooked family party, was recognized by the "Excellence in Avoiding Prosecution While Seemingly Every Single Member of Your Family and Circle of Friends Trundles off to Prison Host Committee" with the "Distinction in Dubious Innocence Award."  And in a final disarming act of self-parody, Rose awarded himself the "Distinction for Indistinction Award," granted by the "Excellence in Vacuous Journalism Host Committee."

So, congratulations, Chris Rose.  Not only are you funny-looking, and funny, but you've learned to stop taking yourself so seriously.  Have you matured with grace?  Three years post-K, you've finally emerged from your stupor, righted your stagger and now you're turning on toe-shoes, tall and elegant around the room.   

...Almost. But you're hanging at Snake 'n Jakes? That's where you chill? Thanks for publicizing that in the paper; I'll be there. I guess Mae's must be so '90's for you, huh? (That's when you interviewed Mae, right? I saw your article on the wall, Christopher Rose.)

Well, you got it back...that fiya.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Fleur-de-lis--Enough Already

No more! Just say no! No more tattoos, no more earrings, no more necklaces, no more bracelets, no more bumper-stickers, no more graffiti renditions, no more paintings, no more hand-bags, no more t-shirts, no more perfume, no more soaps, no more furniture.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Orleans in August--A Dark Hole

First off, I apologize for thus far only blogging about the Westbank. I couldn't help it. I guess the muse comes in many forms...

August is a dark hole. I knew it would be, though I tried to counteract its inevitable effects with thoughts about how this year, August was going to be great, and there were all these things to look forward to. But this is no local tale of hamartia or hubris. It's very simple: August is a shitty, shitty, shitty month--as Martha Washington was a hip, hip, hip lady, man,--and there's nothing you can do about it.

(The Dark Hole, New Orleans's zodiac sign for August.)

Inside the dark hole, I found: a $350 Entergy bill (impossible, right?), tickets from the N.O.P.D., smoldering heat, no money, a drinking problem, bad decisions involving the opposite sex...

Thus far, I've tried really hard not to get all heavy and woeful and indulgent and full of shit about oh New Orleans, and oh we suffer and we drink and we're so intense, but sometimes August just does it to you.

What up, Chris Rose. Oh wait, I forgot, you got happy and you got just about as boring as fuck to read as when you were all really really broken-record depressed. Or maybe you're just laying low during these sad-bastard months.

I didn't mean for that to sound malicious...want to go to Mae's some time?

At least Mae understands The Apostrophe, unlike some people.

My housemates, co-workers, friends, everybody, are all grumbling about the malaise. I feel especially bad for those who have just moved here, suffering and misdiagnosing their pain.

"I feel like I am swimming around in water, my head is all foggy and drowning," says Frances Beck of Montgomery, Alabama.
"That's the dark hole," I say.
"I've never had such a bad August."
"Welcome to New Orleans," says Betsy.
"Nobody warned me about this. I wish somebody had told me so I could have planned for it."
"There would have been nothing you could have possibly done to mitigate these hellish circumstances."
"I exercise every day and I still am in a funk."
"I guess I'm going to go to the coffee shop."
"The coffee shop won't help you!" We call as she goes out the door.

And so on, we mope around the kitchen, poking at noodles, or lie strewn across the sofa like dirty laundry. At least the peeper is gone, and we can let light into our dark cave.

And at least I have had fun talking about The Dark Hole. It's been a good excuse for just about everything, and it makes me laugh. There is always humor lurking deep inside in the abyss. A deep stillness, and then a crystal-clear chuckle.

I think I just figured out how the world will end.

"What should we do?" I ask Betsy.

Our eyes meet, and we agree: LET'S GO TO MAE'S

This Just In

There are tunnels on the Westbank. The Harvey Tunnel. It seems I can officially join my Manhattan counterparts now that I too suffer from "bridge and tunnel syndrome." Hey, I live in Mid-town. Last night I went to a CBD roof-top party, everybody dressed up high-heeling around a swimming pool and not swimming. New York, we are more alike than we think. We cool now?

Friday, August 15, 2008

What the Pho?!

Did you celebrate Westbank Thursday? No? We did. (Maybe you were too busy catching up on the blog-posts you'd missed, and posting your own comments. I apologize for not posting yesterday, but it was a holiday and I was observing it.) We took a lovely trip to Pho Bang (Pho Tau Bay is closed on Thursdays) on Manhattan Boulevard. It's next to this place that sells gold teeth at the bargain price of 2 for $100, that is next to this other place that is "Pho Sale." Jude and I both ordered the vermicelli noodle bowl with egg rolls, and Betsy got a small pho.

After lunch, we went to Barnes & Noble to buy copies of Walker Percey's The Moviegoer for our book club meeting this Sunday night. Then we got daiquiris at the daiquiri place.

On past Thursdays, we have eaten at Pho Tau Bay and Nine Roses, and shopped at the Asian Market and Thrift City. All recommended.

Stay tuned for our Westbank Bar Tour, during which we will have drinks at The Naughty Knight, The Roaring Twenties, and other hot spots. If you'd like to come along, do post a comment with your name and number and we'll drop you a line at the appropriate time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paris Vs. Britney

I used to be all about Britney.  Homegirl could do no wrong.  Homegirl was real.  Homegirl can dance.  In high school, we always used to say that Britney would be so much fun to party with.
Now, I'm not about to rail against Britney, dwell on her bad decisions or expose her moral flaws.  All I care to say is that Paris is better than Britney.  Why does everything have to be a competition?  Because I said so.

It's very simple:  Britney is a dumb blonde, and Paris plays a dumb blonde.  Paris is the puppet-master of her own parody, while Britney is just a dumb-ass.  And I'm not ashamed to say that you just witnessed another exception to New Orleans's local=good mantra.  It's okay, we need it.

I endorse Paris for president. Check out her ad-campaign below:

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Monday, August 11, 2008

"I think I know you from somewhere, yeah"

As promised, a whole post dedicated to Lil' Doogie. And the sociological questions prompted by his existence ("Brah, I'm real?" "I am a puppet, but not really a puppet, I'm more like a man 'cuz I'm real, you know, I don't play no games...You know sometimes people look at me and think that I ain't really real, but I'm just out here to breathe like every other man.") Ok, not those questions...more like, is "wigger" a racist term? How far have we come from the days of minstrel shows, when white men wore black face and played characters that were caricatures of black folk? Is Lil' Doogie a social commentary on the petty caricatures of African-Americans in the media, and the plight of the white kid who mistakenly appropriates the media-inspired "ghetto" culture of the black man for his own identity? Or is he merely a perpetuation of these negative stereotypes, a contemporary version of those "minstrel shows"? Is it more a laugh at "ghetto" black people, then at the racist, misguided white youth who falls for the stereotype?

First off, potential offensiveness aside, Lil' Doogie is funny as shit. I did show his videos to a kid from the Upper West Side, Manhattan, and a kid from Princeton, New Jersey, and neither of them got it...but what do you expect.

So, who is Lil' Doogie? My boyfriend Odoms does the voice for the puppet, Douglas Fontaine, aka "Lil' Doogie," an aspiring rapper from Marrero, and, basically, a white kid(puppet) who thinks he's a "thuggish black guy." There-in lies the humor; everybody knows dumb-asses like this, and when reincarnated in puppet-form, we can hardly hold in our piss. Lil' Doogie is especially funny to New Orleanians, because he is our local version of this wigger-phenomenon, which occurs in pretty much every moderate-sized-to-big city.

I would argue the analogy that Lil' Doogie is to Marrero, Louisiana, (yah, dat Westbank) as Ali G, (aka Alistair Leslie Graham) is to suburban Staines, London. Both are white, or at least, not African-American, or any of the other ethnicities, or stereotypes of ethnicities, that they project. They affect, without any irony or self-awareness, a ghetto, thuggish demeanor, speak in slang, and aspire to be a part of hip-hop "ghetto" culture. However, the creators of Lil' Doogie (Ballzack and Odoms) and the creator of Ali G (Sascha Baron Cohen) do craft their characters with an ironic perspective. That's why it's comedy.

So how can we be sure Baron Cohen and Ballzack/Odoms are being ironic, and not just carrying the minstrel-show ideology into the 21st century? For one thing, Odoms gives voice to a white character who takes on the stereotype of an African-American, as Baron Cohen acts out a white guy who takes on the stereotype of an African-American. In the minstrel shows, white men wore black face, playing caricatures of black people. The satire of Lil' Doogie and Ali G works because it's twice-removed. The characters Lil' Doogie and Ali G are ignorant of the racial, sociological issues that they prompt, but their creators aren't.

Our times are more complex these days, the lines between class and race much more blurry than in the days of minstrel shows. Back then, the culture of whites and blacks was firmly divided. One could argue that a character like Lil' Doogie, or his real-life counterparts, occur because of the intermixing of black and white culture. Ballzack and Odoms, from the Westbank, aren't "wiggers," but they are heavily immersed in New Orleans "bounce" culture, in which they have picked up certain qualities generally associated with African-Americans (as "bounce music" is predominately black). Perhaps Lil' Doogie is more credible because there is a little bit of him in his creators, rendering them self-aware, and capable of self-parody.

Another Ali G/Lil' Doogie type of character that I found out about is Saul "Tre" Cohen, a Jewish kid from Berkeley, California who also thinks he's a ghetto rapper. Played by Rene Solomon, a Jewish kid from Berkeley, California, there might be a little bit of him in Cohen, lending more credibility to his satire.

All right, here are my favorite Lil' Doogie videos, so you can decide if you think he's funny:

Doogie Gras from lil Doogie on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Westbank Crush part 2--Odoms

Odoms, I know you have a girlfriend and all, but in the words of my friend Sascha, Ever heard of cheating?  Plus, in "Man-fuck" I took note of the fact that maybe your girl might be flirting too much with other guys.  "My girl knows a lot of dudes/they all like the way she moves/I know you're saying, you just friends/You better tell them little dudes 'bout your boy and them!"  Odoms, I would never treat you that way.  Now, I know everybody likes you; Ballzack says, "The ladies love Odoms 'cuz he so shy/He could get himself a dank blow-job."  And you say you're "handsome, come and talk to my face..." wouldn't I like the opportunity.  Anyway, I'm just going to use you to get to Lil' Doogie anyway.  See y'all August 16! (promo below):  

Lil' Doogie HOB promo from lil Doogie on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Westbank Crush

(Check it out, for y'all who don't know: the land south of the Mississippi river, labeled "Westwego, Marrero, Harvey, Gretna, Algiers" constitutes the Westbank.)

The time has come for me to blog about Ballzack and Odoms, Westbank heart-throbs. If you've gotten all my allusions thus far, then you're up to speed. I got ahead of myself, but now I'm gamin'. Usually they're in italics to give you a heads up and so I don't get accused of plagiarism or something. Can bloggers get accused of plagiarism? By rappers?

To me, Rami Sharkey, aka "Ballzack," and Adam Bourgeois, aka "Odoms," are the only New Orleans celebrities out there because I don't know them. I like it that way, it gives me something to hope for when I get out of bed in the morning. No, I'm just playing; really, I live for my blog. And my dog. But Jude knows them, of course, so that means it's only a matter of time before me and Jude are in the same place, I spot them, and I'll be like, "Oh hey, you know Jude?" or rather, Jude will be like, "What up Rami, Adam; you know Kate?" And then we'll know each other. I'll still bump Yeah, Indeed every day in my silver Mazda Protege, and I'll still try to convince Odoms to go out with me, but they will have descended down from Marrero to East Bank New Ahyens, where God has yet to show us a rainbow because he's still punishing us with flood.

(here they are in the video for track one, "Rainbow in Marrero," off Yeah, Indeed)

Angus Lind just wrote today on the subject of celebrities in New Orleans stepping down from the pedestal and scooting up the bar stool to mingle with the locals.  Yeah.

So, Ballzack and Odoms are kind of a big deal.  Times Picayune music critic Keith Spera recently featured the duo on as publicity for their July 12 One Eyed Jack's CD release party (I was there), and Gambit's Noah Bonaparte Pais wrote a cover story about them and Lil Doogie (who we'll get to later). Briana Prevost  interviewed Ballzack on's The Perfect 10. According to up-and-coming New York rapper Sleek, a New Orleans ex-pat, they "haven't made it to New York yet"...but I mean, who really wants to?

Why are they so great?  Think DJ Jubilee meets Cake.  Composed in the New Orleans bounce style, Ballzack's songs feature call-and-response choruses and goofy-ass rhyme schemes set to beats created by simple drum machines.  Self-proclaimed "tongue-in-cheek," Ballzack writes lyrics that are ridiculous, embarrassing, and ingenious.  His catchy choruses and local jokes make for great driving, sing-along music.  However, the shout-outs that make local listeners grin don't exclude outsiders, but instead create a setting in which to ground Ballzack and his subject matter.  How does a rapper define himself, if not by where he's from?  If Lyrics Born raps about crossing "that Oakland Bay Bridge;" Big Boi name-drops "College Park, East Pointe and Decatur they got my back,/So We gon' keep on jammin and stabbin off in the track;" Lil' Wayne both alludes to Outkast and sets himself  apart with the line "I'm a red and yellow thang old school Atlanta hawk/Like I'm from College Park/But I'm from Hollygrove;" then listeners can dig when Ballzack raps "steady bumming joes on Lapalco."  I'm a native, but an Eastbanker, so I had a lot to learn from Ballzack.  He opened me up to the joys of the Westbank (stay tuned, we will be blogging about the next Westbank Thursday)!  Its five boroughs (Gretna, Harvey, Westwego, Terrytown, and Marrero), the delights of pho, indigenous slang, like "shybe," "crustache," "Chalmetairie," etc. (Bonaparte Pais included a Gretnese-to-English dictionary in his article.

As I was saying, the lyrics are chock full of New Orleans nuggets.  Ballzack has fun with New Orleans's coffeehouse culture in the title track, "Yeah, Indeed," in which Ballzack and Odoms, after debating whose mama would drop them off or pick them up at the mall, decide "Let's go to the coffeehouse," and in unison, agree, "Yeahhhh."  Then, Ballzack rhymes "Let me get that iced mocha girl earn that tip/if I like the way it tastes give my boy a sip."  With the line "We drinking bubble teas eating Vietnamese/it's the middle of the winter I'm rocking short-sleeves," he hails the Westbank's culinary attractions.  In "Tadpole," a song about crossing the Mississippi River Bridge to get to the Westbank, Ballzack chants "That toll-booth lady got a new hair-do" three times, and then cries "Please, just let me through!"  And in the hit would-be-single, "Rainbow in Marrero," Ballzack dedicates a whole verse to New Orleans inside jokes:  "I don't go to Metairie unless I really have to/clothes smell of smoke and hands smell of shampoo/don't tell Cox but I'm stealing their cable/I got my name on a Bud's Broiler table."  Good stuff. Check it out!

Nobody likes Rouses

In New Orleans, we tend to believe that local is synonymous with good. Why do we believe this? Because it is our religion. Why do people have religion? That's another issue.

Of course, local does not always mean good, though we rarely admit it. One could argue that we are defensive because we are fault-ridden, literally, with deep motherfucking crevices in our city's would-be-bulwarks. A chink in our armor, if you will. And a million other perfect little idioms that help describe our failures to compensate for at once internal and visible weakness.

And of course, sometimes we take the angle, We're so messed up, but we have so much more soul than you, and we party, and that makes us so real that it's not entertaining. This you already know. But in the instance of Rouses, this is not that. Because Rouses is local, and it sucks, and nobody likes Rouses.

To understand why Rouses doesn't fit under our local=good mantra, we must trace New Orleans's history of changing businesses and our subsequent reactions:

1. K&B bought out by Rite Aid, 1997=the corporate/national usurps the local

K&B was good, and K&B was taken from us, and that sucked, and nobody liked it. K&B was our "heart's darling," you could say. Our purple dream. The local was usurped by the corporate/national, that old story so easily translated into one of good vs. evil, and a perfect opportunity for local clever sloganeering--WRONG AID!!!

2. Some Winn-Dixies bought by Sav-a-Center=local chain replaces local chain

We like Winn-Dixie because it is a Southern chain begun in Jacksonville, FL, Lil Wayne mentions it in the song "Got Money" ("I need a Winn-Dixie grocery bag of money"). Winn-Dixie declared bankruptcy February 22, 2005, selling or closing 326 stores, then restructuring, and resuming a smaller operation in the Deep South. Some Winn-Dixies were bought by Sav-a-Center, a local chain owned by A&P. We didn't mind Sav-a-Center, and it only took over a few Winn-Dixies, so we shrugged and shopped there. Local chain replaced local (Southern) chain, and the difference seemed arbitrary enough.
However, when Sav-a-Center replaced Mid City's Movie Pitchers with a parking lot in 2001, we were pissed, because when a local chain replaces a local gem, then you've got a small-scale analogy to the Rite Aid-K&B situation.

3. All A&P stores, including A&P's local chain, Sav-a-Center, sold to local chains Breaux Mart and Rouses in late 2007=local chain replaced by mediocre local chain

We didn't like this. A&P grocery stores, (as distinct from Sav-a-Centers), though national, had become dear to our hearts, local charms (think of the Magazine St. A&P just past Louisiana). What the hell is Breaux Mart? It doesn't even sound good. Plus everybody likes A&P because it's nostalgic, everybody read the Updike story in high school and thought it was awesome, even if you didn't like that story or haven't read it, what New Orleanian wouldn't jive with its youthful rebellious sentiment?

When Rouses replaced all of the Sav-a-Centers (A&P's local chain grocery), we were pissed. Why is Rouses more offensive than Sav-a-Center? The Rouses acquisition of Sav-a-Center is no different than Sav-a-Center's replacement of Winn-Dixie. However, Rouses is just that annoying, that the logic of "local=good," or "local chain replaced by local chain=no loss" fails to apply. Sav-a-Center was aight, but Rouses isn't.  Maybe the first time around was okay, but the second time, we were all like, "Stop changing our grocery stores, we hate change, we can't stand it another time it was hard enough to adjust when those Winn-Dixies became Sav-A-Centers."  Maybe our distaste for Rouses is explained by our city's other mantra, "Change=Bad."  Remember that world antidisestablishmentarianism?...when the establishment is a New Orleans establishment.

However, despite our dour take on Rouses, the fact that it's a local chain keeps us from openly booing it. There are no t-shirts that read Grosses or anything. Maybe because that just doesn't quite work. Our principle of being loyal to the local might surpass all the other mantras.

But to keep focus...

Reasons Rouses sucks:

1. Their product is bad and over-priced. ("They say that they have budget prices, but it's a lie, the prices are just as, if not more, expensive than at other stores."--Melissa Stein. "Their meat sucks, it's like...pussy meat."--Matt Davis)
2. There is no logical organization. ("I can't ever find anything that I need, it's so frustrating."--Betsy Foster)
3. They lack essential products. (In my experience: peanut oil, bean sprouts, Mr. Coffees, whole wheat pita )
4. It isn't charming. ("Now Mimi's Market--that was a charming grocery store"--Matt Davis)
5. Their parking lot is a death trap. ("I ride my bike there now just to avoid the dangers of the parking lot."--Frances Beck)
6. The name makes no sense. Not to be one of those annoying English Majors who has to assert herself post-collegiately by leading a rampage against each and every grammatical error and its perpetrator, but I found an easy target. Why the fuck is it called Rouses, and not Rouse's or Rouses'? The CEO's name is Donald Rouse. So the store is either Rouse's, meaning, (Donald) Rouse's, or it belongs to the whole Rouse family, meaning it is Rouses'. Did Donald Rouse intend to name his store after himself (Rouse) or his whole family (the Rouses)? If he intended the former, here follows a little grammar exercise to help explain why the store should be called "Rouse's."

"I am going over to Mooney's (Kate Mooney, here called by her last name) house for dinner tonight."
"I am going to buy some mediocre, over-priced product at Rouse's for my barbeque tonight." GET IT?

If Donald Rouse intended to name his store after his whole family, the Rouses, then here follows a grammar exercise to explain why it should read "Rouses'":

"I am going over to the Mooneys' house for dinner tonight." Mooneys is plural because all the members of the Mooney family live there, and it's possessive, because it is the house of all the Mooneys in the family.
"I am going to swing by Rouses' (supermarket) to buy some mediocre, over-priced product for my barbeque tonight."

New Orleans businesses are rife with grammatical errors. But sometimes these errors add to the character of the place (rather than add insult to injury, in the case of Rouses). Or maybe you just witnessed a New Orleanian defense mechanism in action ("We're illiterate, but that's an asset to character and soul!") or maybe it's just sense of humor. You decide:

WHO DAT NEED PAINT? (sign outside a paint store on Paris Avenue, past Gentilly Blvd, right before the entrance to 6-10.



Not funny.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


"I am so incensed."--Jude

Ever been peeped on? In our delightful little Mid City doll-house, I'm resting my service-industry legs on the living-room couch, surfing the internet, tweaking my blog to perfection, etc., when some lanky scraggly-haired white dude peeps in my front door window. Now, of course, I'm sure he's Jude, as he and my roommate are due back from some bywater haunt. Then the face is gone, and I return to my work, expecting to hear jangling keys and door-knob negotiations post-porch -cigarette.

Fifteen minutes later, Jude and Betsy arrive home. "You scared the shit out of me, Jude!" "What are you talking about?" Etc. Back and forth. It wasn't Jude!!! Jude and Betsy go to bed.

Fifteen minutes later, in my same position on the couch, wondering if I ought to relocate--the face returns to the window! "Stop it!" I scream and run into Betsy's room, picking up a loose hammer to hold in my hand for security. "We're calling 911," says Betsy. Jude dials:

"So, the has a window in it...there was this guy....Kate?"

"Yeah, give me the phone."

The police are there in five! Wow. We greet the middle-aged, mustached officer on the porch, and Betsy and Jude deliver slow, perfume-drenched accounts. I describe the guy--"She thought he was me," explains Jude--and officer dispatches two of his boys to drive around the neighborhood. A few words of wisdom, and the officer leaves us, we retreat back inside.

"Let's peeper-proof the window," says Betsy.

We thumb-tack a sheet to the window, and then laugh about "peeper-proofing" for a little while.

Betsy wants to go to bed, but Jude is pissed. "I was so drunk when I got home, and now I'm completely sober, I want to kill someone, I want to murder him."

"Jude, you should start lifting weights," I say, and then quote my favorite rapper for emphasis: "'I'm drinking milk, baby, I'm working out, and I want to love you with my mouth.'"

"No, no," he shakes his head at me, "That doesn't even matter. It's the sheer aggression that gets it done."

"Jude I have to go to bed," wails Betsy.

"I am so incensed."

"Let's watch a movie," I say.

We settle on The Muppets Take Manhattan. Kermit is so endearing, and Animal is hysterical. We all fall asleep together on the living room floor.

So, I ask, what the fuck is the deal with peepers? Are peepers a thing? I never read about peepers in the police blotter. What does the peeper want? Just a look? Just the tip. It should be a song, like Tubthumper.

Ever had a peeper experience? Do share your stories below.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Do You Know Jude?

There was a time when I didn't know Jude. But then one day I met Jude, and no matter how hard you try, you cannot unmeet Jude. The Jude abides. A lovely leech, a tantalizing tick, the band-aid that never lost its stick; Jude adheres. The paradisal parasite, Jude is the worm in my apple; rich and earthen, he's the shit that makes my garden grow.

Jude sticks, but I have learned if I know what's best for me, I gotta stick to Jude. Since moving back to New Orleans, Jude has been my most lucrative hook-up, with his twinkly eye, his gleeful gait, his mangled mane, ponying up (at around 3 pm) to settle the demands of each new day....Jude proves a better hook-up than any of my friends' lawyer-daddies, with their aura of legal reprieve and lure of daddy-start-up-capital, only made possible after hours of strained listening, patronizing that poses as deference, and the humbling act that is lip service. (I don't need money to blog--this is not a shoe store.) Jude lacks start-up-capital, but he's got Just-Add-Jude miracle grow. Jude is free-of-charge, he only asks that you donate your time--a straight-up chillin' fee.

What is Jude's magic? He is omniscient. He knows you, he knows your dog, he knows your mom, and they know him too. Your dad doesn't know him (but that's your dad). And what else? Jude was always here. Back when the poboy first defaulted on his payments. When the levee was only bruised, and the Corps of Engineers were still in school. Before the word, there was Jude. If myth comes before man, then Jude came before myth. Jude is legend--but he wants you to know Bra, I'm real(?).

Jude is a local muse for aspiring and actual musicians, artists, filmmakers--and everybody else. Chris Rose, pre-crack up, conducted one of his famous sixty-second interviews with Jude. (If anybody can find it, please let me know.) Jude is a video correspondent for DNO Video, directing and starring in videos such as Jude is Christmas, Jude Gets a Camera, Jude Goes to Thanksgiving, and my favorite, Jude and the Poboy, embedded below. Check it out; a really lovely slice of life.

DNO VIDEO - Jude and the Poboy from DNO VIDEO on Vimeo.

He also models in Terrence Sanders's latest issue of Art Voices Magazine.

At the center of history-making, Jude might be the Forrest Gump of New Orleans, except not retarded.

But don't think Jude is just around for your benefit. Jude amuses, but he also be mused. Jude is the thing itself. Jude is our mother, we must take care of her.

Still think you don't know Jude? You do, you just don't realize it yet. Jude is intuitive, instinctual. Jude is under your skin, in your bones. But if you'd like to meet your maker, I have some suggestions:

Tips for How to Get to Know Jude:

First off, Jude's hours: available from 12 AM til'

Now, You:
--Hang out at The Saint.
--Drop by Pal’s for the coldest Miller High Life in town.
--Cross that river, and pay that toll for weekly Westbank Thursdays, where you can catch Jude eating pho cuz' he likes the way it tastes.
--Never miss a day of reading my blog, where info about Jude is known to pop up pretty regularly.
--If you're really anxious, post a comment below with your name and number and Jude will get back to you.

Bye bye for now. Until Jude...