Showing posts with label new orleans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new orleans. Show all posts


That Time My Mother Mailed Me a Mardi Gras King Cake from New Orleans

King Cake from Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans
Fedex delivered a king cake in a box
from Gambino's Bakery in New Orleans.

Unfrosted King Cake from Gambino's Bakery
King Cake Before Its Frosted
With Green, Purple, and Gold
Today, Mom sent a king 👑 cake to me from @gambinosbakery in New Orleans. @ceiacrema helped me to open and decorate! Who’s ready for a king cake party? And who’s gonna get the baby? As a kid, we used to have Mardi Gras classroom parties. Think a colossal sheet cake from @winndixie covered in purple, green, and gold, and your entire first-grade class goes into a diabetic coma. Thankfully teachers knew to save the cake as a Friday thing (at the end of the day). Otherwise, nobody was learning anything. I know it’s a crazy year to celebrate 🎉 , but it’s Mardi Gras season y’all. Be safe, stay masked, and do your part to stop the spread of Covid-19. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a slice, honey.


Thinking About the Roman God Janus On New Year’s Eve

The Roman god Janus as depicted on an ancient coin.
New and old faces to anticipate the new year.
     The Romans had a god named Janus. He had two faces - one looking backward into the past and the other looking forward into the future. For me, the New Year represents this paradoxical view - looking forward and 👀 looking back.
To be Janus-faced is to face this contradiction.
     And this time of year it’s customary to reflect on a year gone by and to make resolve for the upcoming annual. Now whether you assert that the 2010s are for sure done with or not (yes, there is a controversy about this) - I feel like a new decade has begun (and I’m anticipating a ton of jokes about 20/20 vision and Barbara Walters).
Faces - familiar and novel - to ring in a new year.
Stray Comments On New Year’s Resolutions for 2020
  • I want to walk more. That means 10,000 steps a day.
  • Read more books this year.
  • Write every day.
  • To remember my resolutions throughout the year (but wait - I don’t recall last year’s resolutions!)


Christmas Season Travel Report: A Balmy Winter Day in New Orleans (And It’s My Birthday)

Drag Queen
<Why, hello!> she said. Just another balmy Winter day in NOLA.
     Today is a balmy Winter day in New Orleans. Mornings in this city feel hazy and not quite woken up. It’s a city of the nighttime and in the morning everyone’s either leaving a bar to go home or someone’s yawning and stretching, trying to come alive. Here are pictures I took of friends and me coming alive in this crescent 🌙 city. It’s also my birthday today. I’m forty years old. Or, forty years young — as we like to say it.

I’m traveling with two teacher friends of mine - Michelle and Lauren. They both convinced me it would be a good idea to celebrate Winter break and my birthday in New Orleans. So here we are at the Palace Café on Canal Street. 
Trio of Friends
I have two old friends from New Orleans, Tony, and André to share the day. That’s me in the middle of the photo. It’s refreshing to see familiar faces in a familiar city. I’m happy. Let me know in the comments if you can read my shirt. 


Ten Things to Do in New Orleans for First-Time Visitors (From a Former New Orleanian)

What to do if you find yourself in New Orleans? Here are my top-ten fun things to do in the city that care forgot.
Iconic view of Saint Louis Cathedral with Jackson Square in the foreground (exterior)
Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash
Since I am from the New Orleans metropolitan area, friends, co-workers, and other such folks (who have never visited the Crescent City) often ask me for my advice on things to do and places to see. Last Summer, I hosted teacher friends from China who were in town to visit and it made me think about formalizing a list for first-time visitors. So here it is!

Replica of Colonial-era signage at the entrance to Jackson Square in New Orleans
New Orleans has been governed by the Spanish,
 the French, and the Americans in its long history.
FYI: New Orleans’s number one export other than oil is tourism. Except maybe for mid-August when even the locals complain it’s too dang hot - the city is abuzz with activity. My list just touches the tip of the NOLA iceberg. I do not even mention the numerous festivals and events that converge on the city each calendar year  Jazz Fest in May, Mardi Gras in February or March, and Southern Decadence for Labor Day  just to name a couple of popular events that pop into my head.
      Additionally, my list does not go beyond the traditional - so I don't mention trending spots or places that I have never visited. I lived in New Orleans as an adult for several years, and growing up I lived in the suburbs west and north of Lake Pontchartrain (in Saint John the Baptist and Saint Tammany Parishes, respectively). So I hope you enjoy the list and maybe you have your own contributions - which you should add in the comment section below.
Here's my unofficial list of things to do in New Orleans for first-time visitors:


The Killman Family Story Constructed Through Census Records, Oral Tradition, and Family Photographs

How I created a story of my family's genealogical history using data from the 1930 United States census - with help from family photographs scanned and labeled dating back to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and more.
An example of a census record as it looked like in 1930.

I was going through old papers, and I found this family project I had done based on the 1930 United States Census, that my friend Bonnie Bess Wood encouraged me to complete.

At the time, my great-aunt Ida Killman Spiehler had spent some time with me during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and because of our close proximity, I learned a lot about my maternal family tree. I wanted to learn more about my family, so I started to put together details. Thankfully, my Aunt Sandra, (who was also Ida's niece and my mother's older sister), had already done a lot of work. So we teamed up and created a fuller picture of what life may have been like in New Orleans, Louisiana from the turn of the century, to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, leading up the 1930 census.

Here is the letter I wrote to my Aunt, a kind of gift I had given her after I had done some genealogical research.

Dear Aunt Nen*,
A Story Gleaned from the United States 1930 Census 
I wrote the following ‘story’ based on information from the United States 1930 Census**. It’s neat what you can find out from genealogical research!

When a Census Taker Comes A-Knocking
On April 17, 1930, in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana, Mr. Frederick Schell knocked on the door at 5141 Arts Street (Between Elysian Fields and Franklin Avenues, and a few blocks South of Dreux Avenue) to get information for the United States Census (being conducted that year). 

This is what I found out by looking at the Census record (Combined with stories you had told me):
Mrs. Albertine Killman answered the door, and she told Mr. Schell that she was 41 years old and that Mr. Francis Killman, Sr. was the head of the household, her husband. They had married on July 9, 1913, when Albertine was only about 24 years old, and Francis was almost 30. Francis, Sr. was 46 years old at the time of the Census, and he worked a salaried job as an engineer at the local ice plant*** to provide for his family who lived with him on Arts Street. Mr. Killman had been in the Navy as a youth as a fireman first class from 1908 to 1912. His first assignment was on board the U.S.S. Colorado. 
A Postcard Depicting the U.S.S. Colorado (ca. 1908)
U.S.S. Colorado (circa 1908)
How Much Did a Family in New Orleans in 1930 Pay for their Rent Each Month?
The Killman family paid $18 a month for their rent ($509.07 in 2018 money) and did not own a radio of their own. They had four children who, in 1930, were all in school. It costs 7 cents ($1.07 in 2018 money) to take the streetcar to school. 

The Four Killman Kids (My Grandmother and You, Aunt Nen)
Everyone in the family was born in the United States, but Albertine’s parents, Margaret Frank, and Friedrich Burkhardt, were born in Frankfurt, Germany. They emigrated from Germany circa 1860.

Francis, Jr. was the oldest at 16 years of age, Frederick (Or, Freddie, as he was called) was 13, Ida was 11 and Dorothy was 7. All the children were in school at the time this census was taken, and the entire family spoke English.

Two months after this Census was taken by Mr. Schell, a tragedy struck the family. At approximately 14 years of age, Freddie drowned in the Seabrook area of Lake Pontchartrain near the neighborhood of Little Woods.


Eating a Beignet in New Orleans: Classic Portrait Photography

A photo of a cousin’s friend eating a beignet at the Café du Monde in the old casino building in New Orleans’s City Park.

I was home for the Summer. We went to the Café du Monde in City Park 🌃. A kid eats a beignet with glee. One rule when eating a New Orleans-style powdered fried cake - always eat it with glee.


Family Photograph: Throwback to A New Orleans Mardi Gras from the 1990s

I really like Mardi Gras. Even when I was thirteen. Throwback post to that time I went to "all dem parades" for Mardi Gras back in 1993.
For many years as a kid, I would go with my family 
to the "truck parade" on Mardi Gras day on Veterans
Highway in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. 
I wanted to save this post for actual Mardi Gras - but, heck, it's kinda too funny to wait - and I'm impatient.

For me, New Orleans Mardi Gras wasn't really celebrated in New Orleans. We went to Jefferson Parish, secured a spot on Veterans Highway in Metairie, a few miles west of the Orleans Parish line.

On this strip of highway, folks set up ladders on the neutral ground (the grassy median). We got there early, lugged ice chests filled with sandwiches, cola, and liquor (for the adults).

In the Metairie version of Mardi Gras, the first parade is run by the Krewe of Argus (compared to the Krewe of Rex which runs on Saint Charles in New Orleans). Argus is an interesting choice for a Mardi Gras pleasure krewe. Argus is the mythological creature with a thousand eyes - so he can sleep but keeps several eyes open. The signature Argus float is spectacular in my memory - a bust of the many-eyed giant flanked by papier-maché peacocks.

Maybe I caught the undies and bra at Argus? I don't remember.

In the photo, we're waiting for the truck parade. It rolls immediately after the Krewe of Argus. The trucks number in the low hundreds. They're eighteen-wheeler cabs affixed to a flatbed converted into a Mardi Gras float.

Maybe I got the wig from home? I'm not sure - but judging from this picture it was one helluva Mardi Gras in Metairie, Louisiana.


Boy Dancing on Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Street Scene

I went home for Mardi Gras. I recorded a boy dancing in the street before the parades started. 

Slow motion video of a boy dancing in the street before a Mardi Gras Parade on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans, Louisiana. @mardigrasnola.
#boy #igersneworleans #mardigras #slowmotionvideo🎥#protectthedeck #louisiana #photography #louisianalife#nolaevents #sashayaway #travel #neworleans #nola #music#premiumnonskid #charleston #fishthedifference via


Photographs: "My Cronkite Toes"

I call these "My Cronkite Toes" pics. About to lie flat on my back on this four-poster bed. Try as you might you cannot fit me into a round hole.
                                               About to lie flat on this four-poster bed 
                                  in the Garden District neighborhood 
                                  of New Orleans, I ponder the meaning of life.

There is foliage in the background.

 I am trying to fit myself into this recycling bin at the Union Square Whole Foods Market.


Why Public Transit Must Be Integrated in New Orleans

There is no public transportation across one of the longest causeways in the world
source: googlemaps

The Airport is an Island   

   Last Spring I came home to visit New Orleans to attend a friend's wedding. At the airport, I had to rely on my friend to pick me up. There is no viable public transportation link from the airport to the Garden District of New Orleans. It is technically possible but I could not comprehend the bus schedules. Later I learned the E2  the Airport Express  leaves the airport but takes commuters to the parish line  where Jefferson Parish and Orleans parish meet. From there an Orleans bus goes downtown, but not after 7:00 and not on weekends. I needed to go Uptown, not Downtown. And it was Easter weekend. When I lived in New Orleans I had an apartment next to the Saint Charles Streetcar line. I boasted to my family that I would buy a monthly pass and go to work on the streetcar. While this is technically possible  and my boast was simply because I thought it so green to take the streetcar -- the reality is the wait is long even during rush hours. The car stops every four blocks. While managing the center strip of the street, the streetcar has to manage intersections and very often the conductor would get off to buy a cup of coffee at the corner store. I think every time I did take the streetcar to work I was never late, but the commute usually included me walking to school until I saw a streetcar puff-puff puffing and I ran to catch it  which amounted to me walking ten blocks or more. Once on the car, I saw a student whom I taught, a wiry kid with a penchant for snoozing in my class. I was a high school teacher at the time. I saw him seated on the car bench and asked him if he lived near. He said no. He took the bus from Saint Rose and connected to the streetcar. His route is possible. But it is a rather long ride. He said it took him an hour and a half to get to school. Now I realized why he was snoozing during first period.

The Improvements of the RTA

   Transit in New Orleans is improving. The bus stations now have glossy signage and the bus and streetcar lines have new number indicators showing their routes. The RTA, which is the transit authority that operates New Orleans buses and streetcars, has recently received new management and public monies after Katrina have boosted its ridership and capital improvements. If only the good things that were happening to RTA buses could happen to the rest of the region. I was also happy to see that the city was awarded Federal funds for an extension of the streetcar line to connect the Union Passenger Terminal to Canal Street. It is easy to see how much greater the city would be if it were to continue with such stimulating transit links.
    Transport for New Orleans, a local transit advocacy blog, imagines a city of New Orleans with amazing public transit service. I reproduce the fantasy map here.
This is the City Imagined As it Should Be: Connected!
It depicts a high speed rail connecting the city to the airport as well as a public transit link connecting the northshore to the southshore. Wow. If only this map were reality. While most of the improvements on this map are a far fantasy, it seems to me that there is a surging interest in the city to improve public transportation. First things first. While it may be years before a light rail system is built in the city, it seems to me that there should be at least a comprehensive bus system linking all of the parishes.

North and South Remain Divided

    It is an egregious oversight in public planning that there is no public transit link between urban New Orleans to the south and the suburban parish of Saint Tammany to the north. And as I mentioned above, the region's two urban parishes, Jefferson and Orleans, are linked at only anemic waypoints. I was reminded of this serious missing link during the evacuation of Hurricane Isaac that hit Louisiana and the Gulf Coast in September. An NBC news article reported that middle-class residents have the mobility and the extra income to evacuate on their own while the city's poorer residents must rely on public transit and public shelter to seek refuge. With the economic downturn nationwide, it seems to me that people in times of emergency look to public services like buses to get them to safety.
     The city lacks fundamental transit links between its major population hubs. In 2011 it is estimated that 236,000 people live in Saint Tammany Parish while a combined total of 793,380 people live in Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Not only is there no link between New Orleans and its northern suburbs, there is also no public link connecting the State's capital, Baton Rouge, to either New Orleans or Saint Tammany -- or anywhere else. It is bad enough that during hurricane season there is a major disparity in who can evacuate and who can't -- it is also mind-boggling that the civil parishes totaling the bulk of Louisiana's population cannot make a more concerted effort to link its quickly growing northern parishes with those south of the lake.
   A major reason for the gap is the large estuary, Lake Pontchartrain. The lake is traversable in two spots, one a twenty-four mile causeway linking the city of Metairie to the quaint lake town of Mandeville. Both cities are huge residential areas. The other link is an interstate highway that links Slidell to the eastern side of New Orleans. What this means is if I live in Saint Tammany Parish, stretched out across the shores of the lake, and I wish to commute to New Orleans, I have to either own a car or hail a cab. Most people who commute own their own car. 42,000 cars cross over the double-span bridge each weekday.

The Bubble Effect

     The problem stems from each parish acting as its own bubble. The New Orleans metro area is serviced by six parishes that have no clear public interconnectivity whatsoever. The bubble effect reaches the level of absurdity, for example, when shortly after Katrina, it was discovered that the man-made levees that act as the city's primary flood defense system, are often gerrymandered. On one side of the 17th street canal is in New Orleans and on the other is in Jefferson Parish. Two different entities of the levee board that oversees the system, control what is in effect one levee, but since it comprises two civil parishes the oversight of the levee suffers from severe redundancy. Each civil parish has its own public transportation system, its own levee board, its own public schools, and public library systems. Orleans and its neighbor Jefferson share linking transit lines at few junctions, but for the most part the city is a divided transit and public services nightmare. If I live in Lake View, a neighborhood of New Orleans, I have to take two different parish buses just to get to the mall. None of the parishes connect. Saint Tammany does not have a public transportation system at all. The parish website indicates that there is a transit system it calls goSTAT. But there are no dedicated lines. There is no timetable. Residents have to call ahead of time to request a line. The costs are reasonable. For three dollars (roundtrip) a commuter can go up to ten miles, but over that the price jumps to five dollars, and for trips over twenty-six miles, the cost is eight. But this is only within the parish lines. A commuter living in Slidell, for example, who calls goSTAT cannot call for a roundtrip ticket to the Algiers Ferry or the Union Passenger Terminal in downtown New Orleans. The system is two-tiered, one for rural residents and the other for the parish's urban areas. If I call for a ride, it is a first-come-first-served basis, and I cannot expect transit will be expedited in the case of an emergency.
     A dedicated bus line over the bridge connecting the state's populated northern parishes to the city of New Orleans and its urban cluster seems to me a no-brainer. Never in the history of the state has there been one single public bus that has traversed the twenty-four mile causeway since its first span was built in 1956. To take a taxi from the airport to any city north of the lake costs one hundred dollars. From the airport to downtown is thirty-three dollars.
    It may seem that what I am arguing for is a rather easy problem to fix. A dedicated bus route would boost the interconnectivity of the region. Call it the Lake Pontchartrain Express. It would go from the Lakeside Mall in Metairie to the courthouse in Covington. That's one possible route. A car garage could be built for commuters to park-and-ride. One has already been built next to Macy's, so it seems a no-brainer.
    I think the city has to allow for more inter-parish transit links. It is insane that a trip that would take me twenty minutes in a car would take over an hour by bus. By car, it takes roughly twenty-five minutes to cross the causeway bridge. Thousands of people every day rely on the bridge to allow easy access to work and an easy return to the suburbs. But this option is for those with cars.
White Flight: the Red and Blue represent White/Black, respectively
   White flight is partly to blame. In the 1950s middle-class white people moved from the city to the northern suburbs. Houses were built rapidly, first in Metairie, which was once a flat piece of farmland and swamp, and then crept upwards to the lake towns of Mandeville, Madisonville, Slidell, Covington, and Abita Springs.
    The Not In My Backyard approach prevails. A bus link? No way. The reason given: it will bring riff-raff and crime to the suburbs. This is code. Beneath the fear of crime is the fear of integration.
    New Orleans remains strangely segregated -- but not in ways at first obvious. Public services are funded mostly by property taxes. So areas with more expensive properties bring in more cash which includes more areas outside of the city center than within it. Public libraries are more visible in every parish except New Orleans. Transit is shut off from the rest of the state. It is a miracle that the streetcars are getting re-introduced. But this is mostly because it will boost tourism. When it comes to the people, the reality is the city is left behind.
    The hypocrisy is that on a public level people say they want to rebuild New Orleans. But when it comes to basic public services, the city is cut off. I think creating a transit link on the Causeway would be a step in the right direction.
    1. This link would serve as a symbolic "first start" to connect the metropolitan region.
    2. It would create more jobs.
    3. Not everyone owns a car. People rely on public transit.
    4. There needs to be a regional transit authority that governs the metro area.
 I don't see how the creation of public transit between New Orleans and the North Shore would cause a rise in crime rates. I think the city will continue to decline if it is not given the opportunity to connect to its surrounding resources. The region cannot exist as a bubble. If the tragedy of the collapse of the levee system in Katrina can serve as a fable, then let us not propagate the tragedy by continuing to limit New Orleans when such a simple way to connect the region is possible.
    If my student can get to his school faster, if an unemployed waiter in the Bywater sees a job opportunity in Mandeville  and can get there!  if a tourist without cash for a cab can get to the Superdome if I can take the ferry, the streetcar, and a bus to my Momma's house  any of these ifs would be realized if we just ifED a little more.


The B Train Don't Ride to the Beat of the Mardi Gras Mambo

A woman peers out the window
on a subway train (near Coney Island).
To be from the South. It's forever. The South is my ultimate frame of reference.

Some Yankee asks, "Why live down dere where it's below sea level?"

Anger is easy to erupt. But the Yanks don't get it.

Riding the B train I realize my heart beats to the rhythm of the Mardi Gras Mambo. All writers know that. Frank Levy taught me that.

It does not help that I start singing, "Mardi Gras Mambo"  a blonde hipster gives me a dollar. 

I admire her Trader Joe's bag.

Hey, I say. We got Winn-Dixie.

And she thinks I am talking about some fucking children's book.


Christmas Letter from New Orleans

For Christmas season 2011, I went back home to New Orleans to visit my family and friends. Here is what I did and saw. Read it!
An Ignatius Reilly Mardi Gras float
rolls through town / 
Image credit: Flickr

“I am at the moment writing a lengthy indictment against our century. When my brain begins to reel from my literary labors, I make an occasional cheese dip.”  
― Ignatius J. Reilly 
Anthony sits at a wooden table at the Balcony Bar, a place that looks regal during the daytime but becomes the center of considerable brouhaha at night. Having had a few cocktails, we sit together eating bar food. Anthony feeds me a French Fry. Carrying a tray with hamburgers, Andrew almost runs into a cadre of revelers who are talking so loudly the entire building seems to close in on itself with the noise. We sit and attempt conversation. This is our city every night. It has been a year and a half since leaving New Orleans. Having returned home for eight days I leave again with renewed something for the Crescent City. Martin says Nola (as locals call it) is the best city. He's right.


Quotation: Walker Percy on Gentilly

"The swamps are still burning at Chef Menteur and the sky over Gentilly is the color of ashes."  (p.17)

Walker Percy,The Moviegoer.

Source: Percy, Walker. The Moviegoer. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux. 1961. Print.


Photograph: "Make A Wish"

The Make-a-Wish Virgin

There are miracles around us. New Orleans is a city of the night. If you live here, it is imperative that you make your way through its streets with an open eye. You never know what you may find.


June Streetcar Ride on Carrollton

Folks here call the Carrollton neighborhood of New Orleans, Kar•ul•ton, a tract of land that extends from a bend in the river where Saint Charles avenue and S. Carrollton avenue meet.

For me, it has been home for the past two years.
I got on the car at Willow today, near the Nix branch of the New Orleans Public Library, God I love that small municipal library with few books but tons of character. I'd work here.

There were only three riders today on the Saint Charles Streetcar, so I sat at the back. The conductor's seat is located in both the front and the back of the car.
Conductor's seat inside the Saint Charles Streetcar in New Orleans
That way, the conductor can easily switch places without turning the car around when he gets to the end of the line.

Summertime is New Orleans's downtime. Everyone's at the corner pub downing a bitter IPA or a soft Magnolia lager known to be pretty damn tasty.


Feeling Strangely Rental: A Memoir of a Last Month Lease

Dorothea Lange, "Migrant Mother"
In the 1930 Census, there is a ton of data about how Americans lived during the Great Depression.
     Few people had radios in their homes and most middle-class citizens rented. My maternal grandmother grew up in a house on Ursulines in New Orleans and her family paid sixteen dollars a month for the rent.
       Today, renting is not so run-of-the-mill, at least, from my perspective. Two of my friends bought in the last several months, one a thirty-something with a professional job and the other, a couple, who bought a house after renting for thirty-five years. Wow.
       I used to joke that I would never own. Who wants to cut grass? I am not really keen on mortgage notes. If I can't pay the bill I rather be evicted than post foreclosure.

Renting is the only vestige link I have to my ancestors.
Is that the real reason I rent?
I decided to rent long before I knew Grandma lived in a rental and didn't have a radio.
     Renting is the only Bohemian side to my pretty complacent, post-MA existence. Renting says, "Hey! I am free, sort of. I may have tons of student loans to pay off but at least you're not going to take my house (because I don't have one!).
     There are obvious downsides to renting. The landlord is number one. Most complaints by renters can be traced back to the landlord. She doesn't fix the leak. He never installed that new water heater. Ya da ya da ya da.

There's more.
     Like, have you ever had your landlord walk in on you naked (yep, that's me)? What about when you are leaving an apartment, have you ever had embarrassing moments with what I like to call the prospective-tenant-old-tenant-landlord triangle?

It goes like this.
     Your lease is up. You got a raise. So you decide to take a bite out of the icing and do a "moving on up" gig. You get a better crib.
     Your last paying month is rather raunchy. You know you have thirty days. So you pack up slowly. You think you have all the time in the world.
     The landlord leaves a message that he's showing the apartment. Cool. You haven't stepped outside all day, so you take a walk to the local coffee shop. That day goes by fine. You are a little creeped out that the prospective tenant may be sizing up YOU rather than the PLACE, but you never met them, so who cares.
     It's a little worse, though, when the prospective tenant, you, and the landlord meet up despite your best attempts at preventative medicine.
     The door knocks. It's your landlord with a twenty-something wanting to look at the place. "Hey, can I show her around?"

"Sure," you say. 
     All of a sudden you feel naked and you wonder if everything is put away. Neat. In order, as if this is a blind date or something.

     "So, how do you like living here?" she nonchalantly asks?
     "Oh. Yeah. It's great." The landlord eyes you to shut-up but you keep going. "I love it. Here. It's great." And just when you think you're home free, you say something like, "Except for the showers. It's like running a marathon in there." Dammit. SNAFU.
     "Well, I'm just going to show her the laundry room."
     "Bye." The landlord gives you an even worse evil eye than before. You put your head down in shame and go back to whatever renters do in their rented apartments.

Have you experienced any odd triangulations with your landlord? Feel free to post and share! (See that comment button down there? Use it. Don't be a lurker).


Alfred E. Neuman and the Upstairs Lounge

This photograph (above) was taken in New Orleans at the Contemporary Arts Center Prospect.1 exhibit, "Remember the Upstairs Lounge" by artist Skylar Feins. The piece is an artifact from a gay night club, the Upstairs Lounge. The club was deliberately burned down in June of 1973. 32 people died. The exhibit memorialized the people who perished in the flames and also showcased memorabilia from the club.

Including this piece:
The exhibit is no longer showcased but if you want a good review, read the Times-Picayune op-ed piece.

Should I Move Now? — On Moving from New Orleans to New York City

A view of Carrollton Avenue from the streetcar
As I peer out onto S. Carrollton Avenue where I've made my home for the past two years, I decide to rechristen my neighborhood, "The Path Where the Oaks Begin".
At the intersection of Palmer Park and Carrollton, the palm trees end and the oaks begin (but they end too, further down and over on St. Charles).

I came to New Orleans after ten years (more or less, with a brief hiatus abroad) living in St. Benedict, Louisiana.

There my life was directed by an horarium (literally) and circumscribed by a 1200 acre loblolly and part deciduous forest (we had both low-lying magnolias and tall proud pines).

I was a seminarian destined to be a Benedictine and a priest. But, that career choice did not quite bloom into a permanent life decision. My advent into the secular world was a half transition.

I had a car and a bachelor's pad but I still worked for the Church - a la the Christian Brothers.

I like to say my last two years as a civilian have been my own Teach for America.

I turned in my last lesson plan last week, said goodbye to my adorable students, and have decided to rid myself of Nola.

The next few weeks will be a transition time for me.

If you've been a faithful reader of stones of erasmus, I thank you.

I will continue to post, of course. I disconnected my home Internet so my online forays are limited to iPhone 3G splendor and desperate dashes to the corner hot spot (password: shangrila).

I'll try to document the transition to the best of my ability.

Be assured unsolicited words of encouragement are welcome.

P.S.: I'm not sure where I'll be living in the Big Apple but I'm eyeing anywhere along the Red line in the Bronx or even Morningside Heights. I've even considered Staten Island, Jersey City, and Harlem.