Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Heading Toward the Light

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent. Because I have a thing for certain generally pointless rituals I chose to attend the main service at Christ Episcopal Cathedral not far from where I am presently living because I knew they would begin the service with what is known as The Great Litany. In the Anglican Church, this long, drawn out, and rather tedious ceremony is only read (complete with processions around the church and choral responses and bells ringing) on the first Sunday of Advent and the first Sunday of Lent. It's far too involved to deal with here, but all I really have to say about it is that the ritual feeds me for some reason that I really can't completely explain. This is particularly true in the present moment.

The other thing about last Sunday is the ritual of lighting the first candle (there are a total of four, five if you count the Christmas candle at the center) in the Advent Wreath. While this is symbolically rife with long standing ceremonial christian and non-christian elements, mostly it's a consideration of the dim light, far off in these dark months (at least in earth's northern hemisphere) as we approach the turning of winter. It's a symbolic gazing into the darkness to squint and see the dim little light far away, but coming closer. Each week for the next four weeks we will light an additional candle, gradually increasing the light until at Christmas (four days following the Winter Solstice when the sun stops moving away from us and begins to approach us again) we will light the fifth candle and celebrate the coming of the Presence of God in the world.

I've loved these rituals for years, much to the confusion and chagrin of many of my friends, but I don't think I have ever had a year where these things meant as much to me as they do right now. Walking around this still devastated city (three months to the day since the levees broke and the water rose to the tops of the houses that friends and acquaintances of mine used to live in) continues to feel like moving through a movie set, or a ghost town, or a bad dream. Each day there are people returning; each ride on the bus reveals more people trying to make a life. Every day another store, or office, or restaurant reopens, usually displaying some form of thin hope that they won't be closing again. We need the light to return, but it's still very far off and frighteningly dim. The coming of Advent signals to me that there actually is life out there, and it is returning steadily, even if ever so slowly.

Right now, this morning… that's almost enough to live on.

Friday, November 25, 2005


Well... It's not exactly my perfect plan, but then what is?

I'm BACK... 6:37 pm on Friday night with a Blue Moon wheat beer at my right hand as I sit at the end of the bar at Molly's with the web in front of my face!

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

I've got so much to lay on ya and so little time to lay it down. Needless to say, I've got three weeks of reportage to make up for... and damnit... it;s almost Advent.

Be Prepared.... Much to come!

Oh baby... the boy is BACK!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Monday, November 21, 2005

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Three weeks and counting...

I talked to my computer guy this afternoon and the standard explanation remains the same... "Some of our order has come in and some of it hasn't."

It's beginning to feel a little like an excuse rather than an explanation and that wouldn't be all that unusual for New Orleans. At its speediest and most efficient, this town operates like a city in a third world country. On some of its BAD days (or Mardi Gras) things can become completely shut down and non-functional. SO... under the circumstances A.K. this is really not all that hard to believe.

What I am learning out of all of this is PATIENCE; not something I have previously been very good at, but necessity is a MOTHER.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What can BROWN do for you????

Apparently not much if you live in New Orleans these days!

The ubiquitous advertising question has taken on new meaning in the Crescent City A.K. It seems that the hard drive that I was supposed to receive by Friday last week is listed as HERE, but it is in fact NOT HERE. The UPS guy's answer...? "Well, we're running a bit behind right now."

So... there you have it! Your update du jour on life in The Big Easy. Nothing has EVER moved rapidly in New Orleans. These days just getting up to a reasonable pace is an obvious challenge.

But what the hell... I'm off to join Irvin Mayfield's second line parade to honor his father (and the other dead of the storm) and to remember that LIFE does indeed go on!

It's interesting... as frustrating as all of this is, I am finding myself to be the most settled, most content, most happy and most sane that I have ever been.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Frankly... I've lost count

My computer is still not in my possession and I don't even know at this point WHEN it will be in my possession, but I'm hoping that will happen sometime over the weekend. On the one hand I've moved to that place of resignation where I'm actually not minding being without the computer, there is a lot of work I'm getting done that I often don't get done because it's so easy to avoid it by doing something else online.

Busy week next week though... I'm gonna need to be wired.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing...

But I didn't finish the whole Margarita...

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Paradise Found

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Another Afternoon in the Dead Zone

It is NOT normal in this town and like I said in the previous post, it's Paradise Lost. One of these days things will come back to normal (and hopefully beyond it) but right now it's pretty much two steps forward and three steps back. I just came from the post office which WAS open until 4:30 but is now (unannounced) open only until 3:00. Needless to say, I was not the only person who was put out by this.

The thing is... it's still New Orleans and it's still home, but it's looking more and more like exile is going to be the way of the world for some considerable time to come.
this is an audio post - click to play

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

this is an audio post - click to play
this is an audio post - click to play

Greetings from the Asshole of America

Just for clarification... I am not referring to MYSELF.

The mayor of New Orleans would like you to believe (would like citizens of New Orleans far and wide to believe) that things are coming back to normal. For a week and half I have been trying to believe it myself.

The fact of the matter is that this town is not coming back anytime soon and anyone who tries to tell you that it is is either lying or wishing. Those are the only two choices. The basic infrastructure, whether we are talking about getting computers fixed, or getting basic services - my refrigerator is broken and has, after two months, still not been replaced, my friend's house (where I used to live) still doesn't have gas or power and the makeshift setup for power that was put in place last week so that her mom (an 83 year old veteran who is wheelchair bound and legally blind)could exist is about to be disconnected at any moment, piles and piles of garbage cover every single block of every single neighborhood and refrigerators sit with rotting food on the street (you can smell it for blocks) - or getting any answers from any government official.

This city is beyond chaos, it is living and breathing on hope and faith and lies.

If New Orelans is going to come back it's going to need more from somebody who actually gives a damn and less from the people who have the single agenda of putting a good spin on the surface.

Someone needs to give a damn or this place is doomed.

A Hard Drive Worth 1,000 Words

Computer broken... big time broken... NOT "Crashed" by the way.... Broken hard drive, mostly due to the nature of my travels from hell and back over the last two and half months.

Have a listen...
this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, November 04, 2005

Living In the Digital Divide

I'm sending this post from Kinkos because my computer is still dead and I have not been able to get things squared away. At this point I am hoping and praying that when I finally get the machine fixed it doesn't wind up killing off the 60 gigs worth of stuff on the hard drive (most of which is not backed up), including ALL of my music (old cds I digitized before leaving California as well as approximately 100 downloads from iTunes) and a significant number of irreplacable audio files for stories I was working on for Blues Routes, FoodFetish, and PRX. I am even afraid of losing the great interview I had just completed with poet Stan Bemis; the very files I was on my way to load up online when the crash occured.

Despite all of this, I am choosing to simply hold everything lightly. I am choosing to smile, to laugh, to meditate and to remember the simple fact that I am HERE.

What's the worst case scenario? I lose everything on my computer and have to start over... The digital equivalent of what I seem to have been heading toward since I started this journey three months ago. It's kind of ironic, for the very things I am now in danger of losing are the last things - the only things - I was really concerned about saving. It seems that I better keep a better handle on my thoughts right now.


By the way... During this current digital breakdown, if you need (or want) to contact me, it's best to use my cell phone (knock on wood)... 707-235-5434.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Place of One's Own

After a week in town, I have moved into a new (though still temporary) place. For the first time in three months I have actually unpacked and hung up my clothes (ALL of my clothes) and I am in a reasonably sane, relatively quiet, and almost completely uncluttered place to live. Like I said, it's still temporary (three weeks to be specific) but it's a step in the right direction.

As I was walking through town last night (the buses, such as they are, stop running at 5:30) I was struck by the almost total silence and lack of population. Twice in the last week I have rounded corners into areas where, in the past, I would have been a little dubious of walking, but there are no people to worry about (except for the fact that there are no people to worry about) and so the form of the dis-ease morphs into a strange aloneness, an odd sense that I would rather be afraid than have nothing to be afraid of.

After a week I am still unclear as to whether I can stay here over time, or whether, like so many others, I will have to temporarily abandon this place again in order to find temporary sustenance (and necessary income) elsewhere.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A.F. Journalist - Vampyre Reporter

My vampyre reporter costume included fangs (of course) but they don't seem to have made it into this picture. You can see the "blood on my hands" however.

As for Molly's Parade, it was a huge success and a definite sign, as was the whole weekend (more on that later), of the return to life as something approaching normal in New Orleans. As expected there were lots of takes on Katrina from dozens of walking refrigerators (one even containing the head of Mike Brown), to the Mid-City Baywatch lifeguard team, endless FEMA workers, an oil guzzling sheik and even a FEMA check wrapped in red tape (pictures to come).

We've got a VERY long way to go, but beginning the journey with a party like that is definitely starting out on the right foot.