Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Orleans Update

Ah the spirit of New Orleans lives on .... (taken from an email forward to me by a friend down in New Orleans)


Candy may be dandy, and liquor may be quicker, but on Monday, when the juice again began flowing in the French Quarter, it was the power that re-energized happy hour

Curfew? What curfew?

For the first time since Katrina, the streets of the French Quarter didn't go dark Monday as night fell.

Streetlamps and neon signs glowed, loud bars stayed open past midnight, and carousing patrons cheered the LSU Tigers on television. Local eccentrics were back in their element. And there were tourists, even if most of them were relief workers or law enforcement personnel.

What was strangest about the scene was that it was so strangely normal. But in the wake of two hurricanes, restoration of electricity in the city's oldest and most cherished neighborhood was like finding a pulse on a patient who was thought to have flat-lined.

"When the power came on, I said, 'Yea!'" said Bonnibel Byars, a part-time Ursulines Street resident who had just returned from her other home in Minnesota. She was impressed by the activity in the Quarter, the lodestone of New Orleans' tourism industry.

"I was skeptical," she said, having expected things to be "kind of desolate."

Byars was enjoying a cold beer with a friend at Stella, a Decatur Street establishment that was serving up smoked sausage sandwiches, cheeseburgers, salads - and blessed air conditioning.

On the upriver end of Bourbon Street, music, strobes and barkers lured passersby into several fleshpots and honkytonks that were back in business.

Rock reverberated from the Famous Door, where Deborah Richard, Heineken in hand, was one of a handful of patrons. "I'm surprised. I didn't think anything was open," said Richard, an off-duty corporal with the Department of Homeland Security. She had just arrived in the city from Philadelphia and had yet to learn her assignment.

Richard said she got the mistaken impression from TV media that New Orleans was flooded throughout. "The way the news explained it, I thought it was all under sea level," she said.

Famous Door manager Art Irons said the bar opened a week ago, only to be quickly shuttered by city officials and Hurricane Rita. "We had people. We had cold beers. We decided to see if we couldn't get back to normal," he said.

Irons said he wanted to give people something to do "besides looking at damage."

A block away, at Bourbon Street Blues Company, a female bartender climbed on top of the bar and gyrated to music before an enthusiastic crowd of about 18.

Another bartender, Bridgett Derdin, sang the praises of local residents. "During the summer, the local people pay our bills," she said. "We're trying to get Bourbon Street going again. New Orleans takes care of New Orleans."

Customer Wayne Williamson was happy to lend himself to the cause. "It wasn't a whole lot of fun until power today," said Williamson, a credit union manager who returned late last week to his French Quarter apartment. "The place has been dead," he said. "We can start the comeback now."

Along the Quarter's largely car-free streets, many storefronts and homes remained darkened, but streetlamps gleamed throughout the district.

Sidewalk trash bins had been emptied, but the stink of piled garbage was still inescapable. Closed pubs and boarded-up shops far outnumbered bustling businesses, but some, such as The Original Dungeon at 738 Toulouse St., posted signs promising a Tuesday reopening.

A small crowd gathered around the Royal Street Grocery, apparently the only store in the area selling staples such as cigarettes, aspirin, batteries and insect repellent.

Owner Robert Buras, wearing a Saints cap and a T-shirt with an alligator on it over the words "Cajun yard dog," said he left only briefly about four days after Katrina hit, when looting and lawlessness were at their peak.

"We had separation anxiety," Buras said.

After numerous trips in and out of the city to restock his wares, Buras was back in business within a week of Katrina, serving crawfish etouffee as well as red beans and rice.

On Monday, his wife, Fahreena, worked the kitchen and the counter, and their 3-year-old daughter, Ava, dashed around customers' legs and played drums on a plastic can.

One of his most loyal customers, James Stephan, 58, pronounced the chicken "delicious," then washed it down with a Coke.

The shop's inventory offered long-deprived locals such surprises as Starbucks coffee, lemons and peaches, postcards, and pints of Wild Turkey.

"I'm going to be resettled in the first place that's a community again," Buras said of the French Quarter, crossing himself as an expression of gratitude that the electricity was back on.

On Decatur Street near the Quarter's downriver boundary, laughter and conversation spilled from Molly's at the Market, a watering hole that, like Buras' grocery, had been operating even without electricity.

Before the power came on, Molly's honored the official curfew and closed at 6 p.m. On Monday, the bar stayed open until a more civilized 2 a.m.

"It's a regular Monday night crowd," said Uptown resident Greg Ensslen, who rode his bicycle to the bar with two friends and dined on donated burgers.

Ensslen said the bleak state of the city had been depressing. "It felt like when you break up with a girlfriend because you've done something wrong."

Shortly after 9 p.m., two New Orleans police officers pulled up to Molly's in a motorized cart. The crowd of about 18 grew hushed, and the jukebox stopped playing a Van Morrison song. Whether the bar was being shut down seemed an open question.

A moment later, the jukebox cranked up again and the officers were mingling in the crowd. Asked what time the curfew kicked in, officer S.M. Smith exhaled a cloud of cigarette smoke, shrugged and said, "Whatever."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself ...

Find a guy who calls you beautiful instead of hot. Who calls you back when you hang up on him. Who will stay awake just to watch you sleep.

Wait for the guy who kisses your forehead. Who wants to show you off to the world when you are in your sweats. Who holds your hand in front of his friends.

Wait for the one who is constantly reminding you of how much he cares about you and how lucky he is to have you.

Wait for the one who turns to his friends and says, "...that's her."

-Taken from an email sent to me by a good friend

Monday, September 26, 2005

To My Little Wonder,

This morning you were snuggled up beside me in my bed all cozy, and you did your cute little morning stretch which involves firmly planting that boney little elbow of yours into my right rib. Darling it was, no really it was. Quite possible that they (whoever "they" may be) are right, and now that you are almost 7 that it is time that you found your way to your own bed instead of begging me endlessly to sleep "one more time" with me in my bed. My argument has always been that all to quickly you will decide that me as your Mother is incapable of being anything closely related to 'cool' and you will want to only bond with your friends and return to me for basic living needs such as food, shelter, and of course $20 to go to the movies. At that time I will give up the idea that you will be content with a goodnight back tickle and a morning smile, your needs will include grander things in life such as that cute little sports car you NEED to have. You will no longer enjoy our "together" moments and you will be on the phone endlessly planning your all important life. I understand.

Until then, can I just have those few moments? Those ones that make all the hours of screaming over which style to mold your tangled hair into, or the hours of begging for whatever commercial item you now think it a vital need for your mountainous toy collection, or the one where you just give me the crunchy eyes and try to disintegrate me into thin air. Just give me the snuggles and cute morning smile.

Love always and forever, infinity and beyond,

Monday, September 12, 2005


Please don't hate me
Sometimes I fall
And look up from the ground
At the mistakes I have made

I am sorry

I know I can do better
And will try again tomorrow
A new day
A new start

I promise I am not bad

Just misunderstood sometimes
And confused by the surroundings
While trying to make sense
Keeping my head above water

I still love you

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Bush Administration - Hurricane Devastation

Mandatory evacuation, poverty and desolation, city mobilization,
Media dramatization, old timer ignored the recommendation,
Weak levee construction, oil refinery industrialization,
New Orleans vibration, and ocean storm vocalization

Flooding beyond imagination, housing and life demolition,
Roof tops and attic protection, survivors their own population,
Rescue workers past exhaustion, keep searching death laden saturation
Government officials leaving no notification, FEMA disaster abbreviation

Coliseum refuge collection, no water no food no rationalization,
Misunderstood no communication, tensions rise and aggravations,
Local government organizations, shoe string operations,
Bush gives an Air Force One ascertain, in political speak tradition

CNN coverage continuation, every story covers the desolation,
Mr. Brown of FEMA no redemption, lives lost due to lack of education,
His job to coordinate emergency motion, his efforts a destruction,
He knows nothing about hospitalizations, or conditions of deprivations

Shocked emotion, city submersion, family disconnection
Starving, stranded, fighting back in retaliation
Gov't types in their suits of admiration, a speech and story of justification
I can not sit in silence giving congratulations, speak up and demand eradication

Answer to your people of accusations, answer to your promise of function,
Turn on CNN to see malnutrition, read the paper to hear cries of frustration,
These are our people, our nation, we won't let loss our connection,
Be the leader you promised during election, save these people, survival is an action

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Remembering New Orleans ...

(If the image doesn't load, click it to start the slide show)
These photos were taken during our trip to New Orleans earlier this summer. Remembering the city for what it was at its core. The life, the people, the heartbeat of the crescent city. Any donation made to the site will be forwarded to the people who need it most, the people of New Orleans. Please do not copy or redistribute these photos. If you are interested in a print, send an email to