Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Way that Jazz Go Down in New Orleans

The Way That Jazz Goes Down
I’ve come to believe that memory inhibits creativity and spontaneity. I kind of know this from experience; at least I think that I do.
For example, decades ago, a younger me, down on my luck, took a temp job as a dishwasher. I was sent to a club to bust suds.
There I was, up to my elbows in plate scraps, bemoaning my fate, when through the kitchen wall (adjacent to the audience) came the sounds of a gifted jazz artist and… viola, I had an epiphany. I was there, yes I was, (or at that time I was here, the lines kind of get fuzzy). And I was actually being paid to listen to one of the all time great performers of my time!
I remember this, and I remember Ahmad Jamal coming into the kitchen to scam a bite and me feeling special and a part of it all. I remember it like it was yesterday.
From that moment forward, I became a musiholic. I ate, slept, woke, dreamt, and lived music. No artist was too obscure, no venue was out of bounds, no form was ignored, no rolling stone was unturned, and I even put a full Nelson on Willie.
I started to, and still do, listen to Dylan and Dvorjak, The Beatles and Beethoven, Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, Doctor John, Otis Redding, Neil Young, B.B. King, The Spinners, Smokey Robinson, Clyde McFadder, Eric Satie, Bessie Smith, Peggy Lee, Marvin Gaye, Nat Cole, Elvis, The Dixie Cups, The Grateful Dead, The Doors, Vladimir Horowitz, Mendelssohn, Santana, Brubeck and a thousand other artists that you can but hope in your dreams to appreciate.
Listen up! I was actually paid to tend bar and see Miles Davis perform, not once but a half a dozen times (at least)! Top that!
But, I also recall Jazz Fest being twelve dollars, phone calls being a nickel, bus rides being a quarter and my pay being not much more than it is today.
Where does that leave me? I’ll tell you. In a quandary and quagmire. Am I still gonna try my damnedest to get as much time off from work to blow my hard earned to be out there at the Fair Grounds to cram more music into my already overloaded skull? You bet your sweet ass I am!
Do I understand why thirty five years of profit can’t be accounted for so that prices go up, tickets become more inconvenient to procure and Mother Nature more unpredictable, for the privilege of seeing performances by legends of the music world and be actually there when they do their thing? Yep.
Every year I make whatever sacrifice it takes to be there or be square. Sure, there are forces at work beyond my control or understanding that put on the greatest show on earth; but I’ve got to be there! My life, my soul and my heart beats to the sounds of Johnny Vadokovitz (SP) on drums at the Jazz tent. The Dixie Cups and The Dixie Chicks melt my shorts and to be in the Gospel Tent is truly a religious experience. And I’ve got to be in the audience! This year, as in all previous, The New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival will not be televised …Jazz Fest is LIVE!
My policy is to get tickets and worm my way into as many and any hours that I can squeeze in, I pour over programs and maps, make the necessary strategic plans to see my favored performers and then upon arrival scap it all and go where the sounds take me. And I travel light, fast and able. There’s gut in my strut, glide in my stride and no shame in my game.
Okay, I hate the car lot in the space where a stage should be, I don’t understand why the beer doesn’t give me a buzz or how come this year they’re going to build bleachers for high rollers to get a better view than us shmucks on ground level. I don’t know why thirty something’s carry poles with flags and travel in packs. I wonder why folks buy tickets and then claim real estate with blankets, folding chairs and tarps and treat you like a trespasser and interloper should you tread on their sacred ground. I also can’t fathom why people carry so much gear with them, like chairs and backpacks and jungle fashion. And you know what? I don’t care.
In my own warped mind, I don’t think that they really get it. This is not Survivor Twelve, it’s the friggin’ Jazz Fest!
Dig this; a few years ago my step was losing its pep, my ocean was losing its motion…my get up and go was getting’ up and goin’. So I spy this rain tent, you know, one of those misting places that you stumble upon and can never find again?
So I go in out of the din and the glare and all of a sudden it gets quiet; I mean real quiet. The fine mist of cool jetted water is not quite wetting me as much as it is centering me. I can hardly make out the shapes of people around me but I’m sensing that there are them and we’re headed in the direction of this light at the end of the tunnel, if you will.
Nobody’s in a hurry, so naturally I’m not either (you know, go with the flow..?)
So, I’m cruisin’ thinking everything’s cool and this light is getting brighter, all of a sudden I can see the forms in front of me and we’re headed for this opening and we get closer and closer and it starts to open up……SHAZAM!!
The sounds of people having a great time, music all around us, the sun is shining and I smell food cooking. My body temperature welcomes the Sun’s rays and I believe, yes I do, that I have just gone to heaven!
Every year I start my Festin’ with a dozen raw oysters and the hoisting of a beer to my loved ones who’ve passed on or merely passed on by and hope that their heaven is at least as good a time as mine will be; and like I said: be there or be square. See you at the Fair.

New Orleans Pagan Buddhists

Kumi Maitreya was an avatar and the last incarnation of the Buddha. If you believe it, it is so.
If you are not aware of whom Kumi was, you are not aware of a slice of New Orleans history that most grownups wish you to ignore. I say that because it was the grownups that had the most trouble with the Maitreyans. Then as now, grownups rule the world.
Incidentally, my spell check just wanted me to change Maitreyans to Martians, truly I have a grown up spell check.
Anyway, Kumi Maitreya was an ordinary Moss St. housewife here, named Geraldine Hooper, when somehow she achieved a state of spiritual enlightenment. Believe what you will; but, she formed a tribe of young followers from the fringes of society that for a time was in charge of the French Quarter. She could, and did, look within people’s souls and tell them the sound of their vibration and give it back to them as their one true name. Names like Ravi, Eldra, Elfren, Amzie, Angelica, Kutami, Dorje (yours truly), and Abraxsas.
She taught that since the Universe was infinite, everywhere (including ourselves) was, in fact, The Center of the Universe. And where exactly would God live? Exactly, in The Center of the Universe, which meant that God lived inside of all of us. Taking that thought a little further, we come to the conclusion that our bodies are temples, we are all ministers and our homes are churches. This latter conclusion had something to do with the law not being able to bust churches just because our ‘sacrament’ was a substance that was illegal in the grownup world (namely, LSD). It all made sense to me.
And so for a time, The French Quarter streets rang with the sounds of “OIA!” (pronounced OH EE AH!!) which is the sound of a positive vibration; and, the symbol of the Cardinal Cross was seen everywhere.
Kumi also taught us that war was wrong, that the Government was in fact our servants and that each of us should have an altar in our living spaces. That still makes sense to me. There was also a lot of drumming and dancing, if I recall correctly.
I have, and have had, altars at the many places that I have called home, call it a hangover from the old days. My altar is the last thing I look at before entering the asylum (the outside world) and my altar greets me when I am successfully able to make it back home from the outside world (where the crazy people live).
My altar is two and a half feet wide and goes up to a nine foot ceiling, it consists of seven levels, each level full is of holy (as I see them) articles.
On the top level is a portrait of Saint Expedite by local artist Shmeula that I bought at Grace Note, a small but perfect shop at nine hundred Royal St. The portrait depicts an aura-ed African American male with the caption “Please Help Us Immediately!”
According to legend (which as we know is not fact) St. Expedite is a New Orleans saint. It seems that we were having trouble, in the early days, getting statuary in from Europe to our fast growing number of churches being built here. Someone over there stamped one of the crates EXPEDITE, and when it was opened here, they naturally thought that it was the name of the saint. The statue is in the Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church on Rampart and Conti Street, which also houses the Shrine Of St. Jude (patron saint of lost causes).
Also on my altar are many pictures of various saints, the fender of a bike once stolen from me, three Mexican kewpie dolls named Lupe, Rosa and Pilar, silver quarters, a figurine of Batman that I found face down on Bourbon Street, dollar bills that I have made wishes on and a book titled ‘The Making Of Black Revolutionaries’ by James Forman.
There’s also a rubber snake, a sheet of stamps with the face of Audrey Hepburn on them, a photo of my dog Trudy who died, a box of marionette clown heads and a full nativity scene using everything but holy statuettes. A bottle with holy water in it (plucked from the trash), a ceramic Mayan god, tarot cards, The Book of Runes and a video made by the Dali Lama.
A Zippo lighter, a pocketknife, candles, incense, joss paper, alcohol, hot pepper sauce, photos of friends and the obituary of a close working companion. A SouthEast Asian broom, a bingo card, a head of garlic, rosaries and crucifixes. I’ve got a bottle of Holt’s Chill Tonic, the eyes of Buddha, playing cards, alligators, elephants, sea shells, safety pins, a Pabst Blue Ribbon bottle opener and a PBR tap pull. There’s also a hula dancer, some ververte weed, an empty bottle of cologne that my daughter gave me at fourteen that I saved the last of it until she married this year at twenty seven and a bear shaped container with about an inch of golden syrup that I greet each day upon reentering (“hi honey, I’m home!”). Am I superstitious? I don’t think so, a little excessive maybe, but not superstitious (did I mention the voodoo doll?).
Maitreyans believe that freedom and joy are essential components of daily life and that it is important to live a perfect life right now, not some time in the future. So what became of the Maitreyans? Well, you may call it the struggle of good against evil and you might say that, as Maitreyans, we got our asses kicked.
What remains of the Maitreyans, I don’t know. I’ve only connected with a handful in the last five or six years. I guess they’re out there somewhere. Kumi has gone on to whatever she was meant to do in her next life (if she didn’t make it to nirvana). And I sit at a keyboard wondering how I spent that many years high on life and why we couldn’t make more of a go of it. I guess once you’ve created that many centers of the Universe; it would be hard to get them to stick together. OIA!

Voting Thoughts From New Orleans

In my youth I was told that I could grow up to be President and furthermore, that I could petition the Lord with prayer. Thus far, all evidence that those are true statements are to the contrary.
On a 1975 album by the Tubes, a tune called ‘What do you want from life?’ promised me that as an American citizen I was entitled to, among other things, a heated kidney shaped pool, a Gucci shoe tree, Bob Dylan’s new unlisted phone number, Rosemary’s baby, a foolproof plan, an airtight alibi and a statue of a baby’s arm holding an apple.
According to recent emails, I also deserve lower body fat, higher energy levels, wrinkle reduction, sexual potency, better memory, muscle strength and lower mortgage interest rates. Also, at my request, I can have human growth hormones, relaxers, sedatives, university degrees, viagra, lower credit interest rates, and the ability to investigate any of my friends.
Add to that, I can get Heather’s (and her pre-pubescent friends) web cam shots, the websites of young Russian and Japanese women that are just frothing at the mouth to wed me, Paris Hilton’s xxxx video (with sound), breast enhancement, a gargantuan penis and staying power; and honey, I CAN BE COMPLETE!!!
What went wrong?
Me. I must have missed something growing up. This could be equated to our politics. I know that if I lived in a Democratic society I would have leaders that would do what I tell them is best for me. And, if I happened to vote Republican, I would get leaders that I could count on to do the best for me and that no one would tell me lies. This is simply not true. For leaders and example setters, I have charlatans.
Also, I’m told, as an American, I should be able to count on the media to tell me that there are limitations specific to my economic, physical and intelligence station, and not to jerk me off. This has also not been the case in my recent memory.
Is the media Republican or Democrat? Good question. By the above criteria the media is neither. The media is a Dictator. A dictator and, in essence, a vanity manipulator.
Don’t get me wrong; I have paid my buck at the kissing booths of life:
“Hate that gray? Wash it away!”, “Lose 20 lbs. in two weeks!”, “learn the love secrets of the stars’, “A cleaner closer shave”, “Good for coughs, colds, sore holes, puts hair on anything but a cue ball!, etc. etc. etc.”
Like a lot of Americans, I play the lottery, have lost my paycheck at black jack tables, bet my life on someone to love me for the rest of my life and read books on invisibility, physical immortality, gotten drunk on the elixir of patriotism and taken the Course in Miracles. So?
So, should I not be content with the words that my parents praised my birth with? “He’s got five fingers on each hand, he’s got ten toes and, thank God, he ain’t a moron!” I should be so flattered, I should think that. I don’t.
It seems to me that it’s become more important who it is that wins than what it is that’s right. I am suspicious that, as they say, ‘something is rotten in Denmark’, I smell it, I feel it, I know it. The world I live in demands that I should BE SOMEBODY, but it never tells me how to be that somebody; or whom that somebody is. I did not come with an owners manual; so, like a blind man in an unfamiliar space, I’ve been trying to feel my way through life.
I think that there are a lot of us lost Americans, the ones who didn’t become President, the ones whose prayers have not been answered, that may wonder these same things.
It’s as elusive as a fire fly, but as pervasive as planters warts. The rich get richer, the poor have children, the criminals take what they want, the mighty are felled to rise again and the downtrodden are snatched from the brink once again to be given one final flogging. Is this goodness being rewarded? Does God move in mysterious ways? Give me a break!
By all the evidence collected thus far, it’s not a reach to say that: some people get more than their fair share; not because they deserve it, but, by the fact that they’re willing to stick it to some smaller guy, the average Joe. Period. And there are more of us smaller guys than there are them, so go figure. Greed talks and the rest of us walks.
This is not a rant or a rave, but more of ‘I’m weary of folks telling us how fortunate we are instead of letting us in on the screwing that we’re taking. Dry, hard and up against a tree.
And I know that I should be grateful, yes downright grateful, and I remind myself constantly so, that it is a miracle that I am alive, six feet above ground and warm to the touch… BUT. I see people eating from garbage cans, I read about death in the daily papers, I know people who work abnormally hard just to stay financially afloat. I know people who will never get adequate health care, whose children will never be adequately educated and whose future (if not stopped by a bullet) will be to step into their parents miserable places unless we can find a way to break that cycle. Remember, these are also people that were told that they could be President, and not told that they would never be able to afford to visit the dentist regularly.
What do I want from life? I want what a lot of us Americans want: change for the better. The truth would be a start. And yes, I’m not as tall as I appear on film.

Proof of Life in New Orleans

The other night, The Weezel and I were snug as bugs between the cool sheets, half-dozing and idly chitting about the merits of sending Aunt Ethel flowers on the event of her one hundred and Third birthday. Weezel said that it might be a waste of money because of Ethel’s poor eyesight. We chatted about definitions of the words pragmatic, thrifty and cheap. I was just dozing off thinking that if Ethel had had her corneas rebuilt instead of that ‘female’ surgery last year…when I heard; “it’s not as if we didn’t have plenty when we was growin’ up; Cousin Bubba had a nursery and…”
“Yeah we had plenty of flow…”
“No, not that: You actually have a cousin named Bubba?”
“Well yes, but he doesn’t like to be called that any more, fact is; I don’t even know how he even got that name, his name’s Andrew”.
I started to drift off again thinking about the nicknames around me in my youth and otherwise. I unearthed enough theory to write a thesis and it’s kept me up nights.
Nom de nique is from the Greek nicken, to nod or wink, and its present form is from the Old English: neke-name for eke-name. I believe it to be the bastard child of slang.
Slang is all around us and we hear and witness it every day in every culture; of course most of us wouldn’t recognize slang in many foreign languages, (I’m not gonna go there) but I’m sure it’s there. Slang is a shortcut through language. Who of us upon hearing thoughts like: ‘Drove it like he stole it’, ‘Hotter than a snake’s ass in a wagon rut’, ‘Dumber than a box of rocks’, or ‘Pretty as a speckled pup on a red rug’ does not immediately pass go and collect two hundred dollars worth of visual? How about “All that meat and no potatoes?” “Think I can get fries with that shake?”
Indigenous Americans had slang and used it to name every thing around them, like Winnamucca, Minnesota, and ‘Tall Brave Who Eat Mushroom And Talk To Tree’. C’mon, where do you think Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse got their names? Fortune cookies?
Anyway, back to nicknames. In my definition nicknames are not forms of shortened names, such as Lori for Delores, Shelly for Michelle, Jim or Jimmy for James, or Stu for Stupid (add a descriptor word to them, like Jimmy Valentine, Flatfoot Jim, or Stupid Jerk-off and you’ve got something else going). I knew an Irish kid named Whitey; a Cuban named Blackey and a few Reds in my time. These are nicknames derived from physical attributes i.e. Lefty, PeeWee, Slow Eyed or Knobby. Again: Slim, Stubby, Twitch, Shorty, Gimp, and Thunder Thighs; these are all names that I can see and understand. My sister Alberta has always been called Bonnie, my sister Mary Joanne, Mickey, and kid sister Panagiota, Penny. Go figure.
I’ve seen nicknames in the media and music all my life: Scarface, Skinny Minnie, Flatfoot Floozy, Short Fat Fannie, Baby Face, Long Tall Sally, OO Poo Pa Do, and if you add descriptors you have Little Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Blind Lemon Johnson, Pretty Boy Floyd and Willie the dog faced boy.
There are also nicknames for temperaments: Shifty, Easy, Mellow, Hot, Feisty, Cuddly, Smooth and Asshole. And there are blanket nicknames that we give the world around us: Juicy, Betty, Case, Sweetie, Darlin’, Dude, Badass, Sly Fox, Bones, Elvis, Sugar Foot, Face, various canine terms and sometimes just plain ‘Sup baaaaby?’. There are also private nicknames that we use with loved ones like Sweet Cheeks, Sweet Darlin’, Sugar Tits and Honey Dripper.
There’s name names and there’s name games. Name games are like Sioux City Sue, Jake the Snake, Loose Lucy, Motorcycle Michael, Slammin’ Sammy Snead, Louie the Lump, Machine Gun Kelly, Billy the Kid, Easy Eddie, Broadway Phil, Sugar Ray, Dizzy, Duke and a boy named Sue.
Name names are when a person’s name is almost interchangeable with their nickname. The King, The Killer, The Songstress, The Iceman, The Chairman of the Board, the Godfather and the Queen of Soul. At work we have code names for management: The Preacher, Your Uncle, The Bulldog and Sparky (with all due respect) as well as for working areas: The Farm, Deuce Alley, The Gris Gris Room. I work with three Jennifers and names like Jen or Jenny are passe, instead they’re known as Jennifer/their last name or just ‘hot lips’.
Notice that very few if any movie stars use nicknames. They do use shortened names like Tom, Brad, Mel, Ben, Andy, Joe, Johnny but I think that’s to instill our confidence in them as people and mostly an affectation of male actors.
Also it almost seems obligatory to give a nickname in our TP obituary column (look for yourself, I ain’t getting sued).
We give names to our pets, for in essence, we can’t really know what their real names are; except, all dogs will go by the name of ‘Rover’, male cats can always be called ‘Tom’ and females will always answer to ‘Minnou’. ‘Old Nick was a term reserved for mules and who knows where they get the names for racehorses.
Point being, the Oxford English Dictionary took over seventy years to complete. It defines over a half a million words, and it is a work that can never be completed as long as any person speaking this language holds breath in their body. It was put together largely by the efforts of a professor and a convicted madman/murderer from the confines of an asylum. As long as you can take or make a word to describe your reality our definition of our language continues its evolution. Listen, learn. Your ‘Round’: that’s someone that lives near you. ‘Bounce’: getting out fast. ‘Betty’: a desirable good looking woman. ‘Cool’: a word with an attitude connotation, you either have it or you don’t; something that you cannot learn.
Here I am, drifting off to sleep, when the Weezel’s voice breaks through my reverie miasma. “Don’t you want to know what Bubba’s Daddy’s name was?
“Sump”. She says, “That’s short for Sumpter…… G’night Polecat.” And Goodnight to us all.

Scare me un New Orleans

It isn’t Halloween that’s scary; it’s everyday life
Thirty Helens agree: “there’s no disgrace like home”. In a nutshell, that about sums it up for me. No, rats are not gnawing at my brain; I’ve come down with a case of Mathematic Statistic Constipation (MSC) compounded by Sensory Media Overload (SMO).
Oh, I know that you think that I have it made with my girlfriend that drinks beer out of the can, a dog that plays pool for money and a monkey that cheats at cards; and you’re thinking “Plus, he continually gets paid to write drivel in a great urban publication, what are the odds of that?” I’ll tell you. About a hundred thousand to one.
You might add that I’m one of 4,300 people who has found space to rent in one of the 2,000 buildings in the french Quarter, that I’m not one of the 1,000 cases a day that need to be seen at Charity Hospital, or one of the ‘one a day average’ killings that take place in this city (counting those by law enforcers). What are the odds?
I’m not one of the half of the population that’s unemployed or the quarter of the population that live in poverty. I am not one of the more than 3,000,000 people that have lost their jobs since the current administration took office. I’m not one of the 46% of children born in Louisiana into single parent homes. The 60% that live in poverty and 17% that are reared in households with an income of less than $7,500.00 a year”. I’m not one out of every seven women in Louisiana that have been or are being stalked (up 20% over national average).
Statistically speaking, I am not one of the 30% of the adult population that cannot read above a fifth grade level. I’m also not part of either the 39% population stuck in illiteracy level one, or the 75% of the population (and this is all in New Orleans) stuck in illiteracy level two”. I am stuck up to my kiester in statistics!
I am part of the 56% of eligible voters that has registered and part of the roughly half of the registered voters that actually do vote.
Does any of that do me any good? No. 99% of the ideas that I have to save humanity are largely overlooked by 100% of the people who could implement those policies.
Where I work, there is a notice, posted by The Louisiana Restaurant Association about crime in the workplace. It says that there is one robbery every 46 seconds, one assault every 29 seconds, one rape every 5 minutes, and one murder every 21 minutes. Is this America?
I decided, hey, I can come up with statistics on my own. I funded a private study, retained an independent research team of expert (me), and came up with these startling, if not facts, at least, plausible statistics. This is only a small %
87% of the public wish Ben and Jen would just go away.
Of the 59 parts of my body that a glamour magazine says “I want ‘her’ to know about” I can only think of 2%.
Only 12% of cars (including cabs and cops) use turn signals.
Nobody likes rap music. It’s just that 85% of young people don’t know how to sing.
Like most screaming heterosexual men, I spend 57% of my time thinking about women and glasses of beer. What do I do with the other 43%? Sleep mostly.
The Universe
98% of people think that if indeed money can’t buy happiness at least it can purchase acceptable substitutes; of those 98%, 100% think that money can buy anything.
Only one person in Flushing, Queens, New York knows all the words to “The Tattooed Lady”. What are the odds?
94% of the population know what a ‘kit’ is; these same people do not know what a ‘caboodle’ is.
There is an editorialist that can use the term ‘87 Billion Dollars’ no less than ten times in a single article.
99% of dead people do not look like they’re ‘only sleeping’.
We’re all overweight.
Every government, at all levels, lies 78% of the time about matters concerning their credibility, capability, culpability or any other ability questioned.
There is a bookstore in Austin that has 1,000 different magazines, 0% are soft or hard pornography.
100% of all the money that I should have been saving for my retirement has been spent on sex, drugs and Rock and Roll.
There are only three degrees of separation between you and someone who’s been mugged. 100% true.
Everything Else
There’s no such thing as consumer confidence to 87% of people with incomes of less than $50,000.00 a year.
It costs a family of three roughly 50% less income than it takes a single parent with two children.
99.9% of everyone you know has had a bicycle stolen or knows someone who has.
‘Canoodle’ is not in the dictionary; but tell someone that you did a little of it last night and 66% will smile knowingly.
Winking with both eyes at the same time will only upset 2% of the population.
96% of people that are alarmed by American jobs that are lost to foreign markets buy goods from other countries without checking the origin on the label.
Public littering is a way of life to 81% of the population in New Orleans. Spitting percentages are higher.
New Orleans, as a city, does not have the highest % of murders in the
U.S.A. The fact is that New Orleans is 15,000 people shy of being called a city (We’ll have to be satisfied with having the highest homicide rate per capita in the country). Question: what happened to those 15,000 people?
Probably, you’re as scared as I am about answering your door on any night, including Halloween. Incidentally, the term ‘probably’ is defined as a 40-70% chance that what you expect will or will not happen. Think about it.

Bitching in New Orleans

Well, well, well. The proverbial three holes in the ground. That would be the pot hole, the sink hole and the hole that my mind fell into three years ago when the veil of illusionary normalcy was ripped from my eyes, mind and sanity. Has anybody else around here noticed that our pity party is over. Yeah, well, fires, floods, earthquakes, tornados, suicide bombers and assassinations happen, right? Why should we keep getting all the attention?
Public figures are disgraced, the crook is up for re-election and the blame gets shifted to the innocent. As usual. No good deed goes unpunished and the floggings will continue until morale improves and for god sake: hide the homeless! With a nick knack paddy whack give my kid a gun….And blah, blah, blah frigging blah.
Yes, I was gonna do another rant, but you already know the drill. You’re tired of hearing about it, talking about it and/or thinking about it and so am I, so I’m not. Got it?
No, I’m not part of the ‘Nation of Whiners’ and I’m not in a ‘mental recession’, I’m well aware of how sucky things are and how little chance we have of doing anything about it. You don’t have to use flash cards for me to know that we’ve passed the eleventh hour or that Jesse Jackson is capable of harboring thoughts of testicular mutilation on public radio about presidential contenders.
I do know that we Americans are better off than most of the rest, if not the rest, of the planet. We’ve got the Four Freedoms. We’ve got freedom of speech which means nobody can tell us to shut the fuck up about anything we want to say anything about. We’ve got freedom of religion; which means Christians rule and the rest of you keep a low profile. We have freedom from fear as long as you mind your own business and watch your back; and we have freedom from want, unless you wind up undereducated, under-employed or under the overpass. President Franklin D, Roosevelt told us about these Four Freedoms on January sixth nineteen forty-one, so blame him, not me, if your country sells you short.
So what about gangs in our streets beating and robbing law abiding citizens? Population control. What about our levees being stuffed with newspaper to fill the cracks; we recycle different from a other folks, that’s all.
I say re-elect the crook, let’s show ‘em how stupid we really are. Also let’s all start wearing clothes pins to signify how we’ve been hung out to dry by the powers that be; and, let’s re-institute the draft to give those poser kids something to really whine about. But above all: let’s quit bitching, Prudence, open up your eyes and come out to play.
Who cares if there’s no public restrooms, mailboxes or telephones? All I care about is whether or not I’m gonna get mustard greens for lunch on Sunday. I give up. I’ve got my own stuff to think about. If I don’t hear another thing about the election, the recovery, the price of oil or the war it will suit me just fine. I’ve got my own opinions and solutions and hey, they’re not doing anyone any good, not even me.
I’m falling back on my old family approach to life: “I’m okay---you’re not!” and “everyone in the world is nuts---except me”. I, along with others in my peer group, knew twenty years ago about global warming. We learned about it from Calvin and Hobbes. The controversy on bilingualism and Social Security can take a flying leap. On immigration I say ‘let everybody in!’ and on gay marriages I’ll go along with my kid sister who speaks for us all when she says: “who gives a fuck?”
What I care about is whether or not there is a friendly familiar face on the other side of the bar handing me a frosty Pabst Blue Ribbon and not about having a doctor who tells me that if I have more than two drinks a night my bones will shrivel and I will be an alcoholic loser that doesn’t deserve a decent erection.
I care that new things that I purchase either break easier or wear out faster than they used to and the instinctual reaction, now, to such substandard goods is to throw them away and buy more; and, I’m really pissed to see that there are grocery stores that want me to buy fresh garlic that is imported from China.
I care and hate the fact that our farmer’s market has such a small following, such slim offerings and such high prices. I also don’t want to see imported crap souvenirs of New Orleans (made in foreign countries) being sold in the French Market where we should have our own home grown purveyors of fruits and vegetables installed (in stalls) on a permanent basis.
And while we’re at it: open the breweries to make beer not to be cut up and sold as condominiums. What are they thinking? I know, they’re thinking that money talks and the rest of us walks, whatever that means. Does it not seem like something that everyone should care about is that New Orleans has become a pit stop for the world and were it not for the drunks, shoppers and snoopers of the world, we would have no reason or income to justify our existence. Is it just me or are we a city with a past and no future other than what some fat cat can get by bleeding our culture a little drier.
I further care about being able to sit in my yard and not be eaten alive by mosquitoes because the landlord next door filled in the culvert to increase parking for the people that have me keeping my cats inside because they’re scraping lead paint into my walkway and NOT cleaning it up properly. Is that not caring? Is that not American?
Yes, it is, because I have the freedom to bitch. I vote.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

New Orleans Sitcoms

Shove over Sarah Jessicas of the world, I’m not taking this insult to
my fellow fellows lying down. I’m putting to paper my own pilot
that I just KNOW HBO is gonna snap up; and yes, it’s called “Socks In
The City”! And yes, it’s about four lovable friends (guys this time) and their adventures in this big metropolis that we call ‘The Easy’. I, of course, will be the star and every episode will begin with me strolling down the uptown Frerret neighborhood past the rubble that was once public housing and I’m dressed in a cute ruffly shirt and seersucker trousers with sweet shiny saddle shoes, when BAM! a bus comes by and splashes a puddle that remains from yesterdays rain that the city has not turned the pumps on to clear, and I stare adoringly into the camera as the bus whizzes by with Emiril”s picture on it and jeering school children throw fried chicken bones at me and a sweet little ditty plays in the background by Barry Manilow because he does such sweet jingly tunes. Are you with me?
Next the tube shows me walking down a busy street (if we can find a busy street) with my three chums.
1.Miranda Pedro, my Hispanic lawyer buddy that was here under the radar until he married a stripper and moved to Metairie with his red headed step child. Miranda is his first name because his father is dyslexic and told the people at the hospital the baby’s last name first or something (we’ll get to that in a sequel episode). He’s an overachiever that adores hats from Meyer and wonders why he hasn’t had sex for the last six months and even at that, his wife is prone to faking orgasms and asking him if he’s done yet.
2. My next buddy we just refer to by his last name Carrlotte. He is a gay African American (actually half Sicilian) in a committed relationship with a sweet British bloke, Harold, with whom he has an adopted Asian child. They’ll go through some hilarious episodes as they try to get married, find a nanny, get profiled and try to find an apartment that will rent to them,
3. Then there’s Sam Hoover, a tall strapping blond fashion designer. A tall strapping oversexed fashion designer who splits his time between here and Los Angeles where he manages his cute but dumb starlet fiancĂ©e. Sam is nearing fifty and worries about ED, incontinence and going bald. His girlfriend works too hard and Sam feels neglected except when he’s around me and the guys or getting seriously laid.
Me? I’m Charlie Bradshaw. I sit around in my boxers and type one word on my computer and hope for inspiration for a column to inspire my hordes of readers who look to me to bring joy into their otherwise dull existences. I’m secretly in love with a woman that we all refer to as ‘Big’, but not to her face because she’d kick our collective asses up to our stylish collars. Ergo, I go to Paris with a ballerina and that doesn’t work out like all the other relationships that I have… do not work out (at least on the show). Big does something for a living that I clearly can’t figure out except that she’s constantly finding excuses to break dates with me. Big rarely smiles, but you can just tell that she adores me and is great in bed.
Here we all come walking down the crowded (we’ll get a crowd somewhere) street and we’ve gotten dressed to the nines with outfits from Rubinstein’s, jewels from Adler’s and as we sidestep broken sidewalks and body fluids and trash that STD is eagerly pursuing you can clearly tell that we’re talking about where to dine and how much we can drink, gossip and complain and still be our lovable selves.
Here we are sitting around the table drinking Kamikaze-poltans which are just like those other drinks (cosmopolitans) except there’s less cranberry juice and you have to drink them a lot faster. We’re all stylishly coifed and talk about relationships and orgasms and tend to get misty at the mention of movies like It Happened One Night and An Affair To Remember. Sam has his eyes on the waitress who later corners him in the john much to the annoyance of the man in the next stall trying to quietly shoot up.
Today is full of chatter because Miranda has found out that his wife, Stephanie, is selling her body on the side (explaining her performances in her own bed). Sam is explaining the best way to get those nasty stains from the crotches of trousers, and Carrlotte is ecstatic because his child has learned to fold laundry. That’s when I drop the bomb on them: “Big has asked me to move in with her” I remark, cool as the cucumber on my chef salad (dressing on the side). To which they all shriek like schoolgirls.
What do you think? Does it have legs? Of Course it does! I mean, I LOVE Sex And The City, I ADORE Will and Grace, I DIG Desperate Housewives and I think Ugly Betty RULES! I believe that I can show that guys are sensitive caring, funny and have great taste in shoes and fashion accessories.
In the show, I’ll start to get married several times in every conceivable (named) fashion designer outfit, have steamy love scenes without taking off my clothes and at the end of each episode be able to dash off another brilliant article for Where Y’at.
Sam will sleep with dozens of women of every conceivable description while searching for a true identity and inner peace instead of screwing pieces with little or no identity.
Carrlotte will redecorate his house a half a dozen times with every conceivable matching outfit, adopt stray animals, go to art openings with his lesbian chums and wonder why his husband has premature ejaculations.
Miranda will start taking a cut of his wife’s earnings, rent an apartment for his mistress, learn to tango with every conceivable guest star and become the first man to become pregnant from a toilet seat.
And Moi? I will sit back and let the money roll in, dream of syndication and practice my acceptance speech for the Grammy’s with my three new best friends.