Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dawn of a New Day (In More Ways than One)

OK. Two months shy of two years since Katrina, and I finally have internet service at home. Someday, I'll have enough distance to find the humor in the long road to here...but for now, I am just happy to have service.

Of course, it did come at a price. Rather than getting to sleep in at all on a Saturday morning (and my apologies to all the parents who don't ever get that luxury), I had no choice but to accept their earliest appointment - 8AM today.

No complaints. I have wicked (for you Allison) high speed connection and the privacy of my home. Ahhh....

Let the blog-barrage commence!!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Something Bugging You?

Friday, June 22, 2007

It's been a tough year, even by New Orleans standards.

One of the things that I've always admired (and I must admit it's part of the city's appeal to me) about New Orleans is how it deals with tragedy. Some folks found their way to Louisiana through hardships in their homelands, others suffered upon arrival. So many different groups, with just about as many different kinds of suffering. Yellow Fever. Hurricanes. AIDS.

So much of what makes this region what it is today comes indirectly from the struggles it has endured. That will be what makes us stronger as we move through this ongoing recovery.


It's been a really tough year.

New Orleans is still way below it's pre-Katrina population of 450, 000+. Recent estimates put us at less than half that, depending on which survey and what agency is in whose pocket to set the numbers high or low. That makes us now officially a small city. Smaller than Plano, TX. Tinier than Anchorage, AK. Embarrassingly diminutive next to the likes of Jersey City, Lexington, and Buffalo.

(Not that we're obsessed with size.)

However, if you haven't caught any of our news recently, it seems that people are just dying to get into New Orleans. Or maybe that's not quite right. Dying to stay, perhaps?

This past weekend brought our fair city its 90th and 91st murders. A handful of arrests have been made. No convictions this year. This is not the post to dwell on why. I don't have that kind of time just now. Most of those are gang/drug related retaliation killings. I once thought that you could fairly easily avoid the parts of the city where all this is happening.

I was wrong.

And now it's personal.

Last week, Robin was found beaten to death in his Marigny home. The Faubourg Marigny is the wonderful sprawling neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter, and my home for many years now. Robin's house is a mere 7 blocks from my apartment.

It's all too close now.

There haven't been any arrests in his murder, although the authorities have questioned a "person of interest". Robin's car was taken at the time and found burned out some blocks away, either in an attempt to make it look like a robbery or some such act gone bad. Truth is we just don't know the truth and might never know.

But like I said, it's personal now. Robin rode the school bus with my friends Mark and Chrissie. He managed a bar that I frequented throughout my most formative years in the city. He was a champion of many causes, using his more recent success at the salon he owned with his sister to raise money for AIDS and breast cancer research. And as recently as October 2006, Robin had been interviewed by WDSU NewsChannel 6 regarding crime in New Orleans:

"Drive-by muggings -- I mean, there's guys riding around in vehicles just mugging people, jumping in their vehicles, going around the corner, mugging somebody else," Malta said. "I'd like to see the mayor actually walk Marigny Street, from Charters to Rampart Street, by himself at 3 o'clock in the morning. I guarantee you he'd get mugged."

No irony there, eh?

In 1997, Robin reigned as Southern Decadence Grand Marshall, and single-handedly scared the crap out of a whole hell of a lot of military guys when the parade he was leading intersected with the Labor Day Parade in the Quarter. In full "I Dream of Jeanie" costume, he mounted the running board of the nearest Humvee as it slowly cruised down the street. Holding onto the driver's side mirror and waving his free arm wildly, singing at the top of his lungs as the parade crawled along Decatur Street - I can still hear him belting out the theme song now.

It's up to us to remember in our own ways each person who's gone now. But it's more than murders. It's all kinds of death now.

It appeared to start with older friends - struggling with myriad afflictions, and exacerbated by the effort of recovery - started to succumb more rapidly. A shocker for me was Sandra. Sandra (whom I always pictured as 40ish) passed away at the tender age of 67 after struggling through the horror of Alzheimer's. I first met Sandra in 1991, weeks after I arrived in NOLA at a P-FLAG meeting - she was president of this chapter for 15 years and spearheaded the national meeting here in 1993. I had not seen her since the storm.

I sang with our church choir at a truly moving memorial service last week for a former choir member at my church. Chris was described during the service as a magnificently kind and elegant woman - and she was. But, oh...she could be salty when she wanted to be. It was her kindness and elegance that made her saltiness shocking and yet acceptable.

Arly, the owner of a local pub and grub, suffered a devastating 45 minute seizure that left her in a vegetative state for 2 weeks before she mercifully slipped away one day. My dear friend Venette's wife Cate worked for Arly for years - and I had the great honor of attending the wedding rehearsal dinner Arly and her partner Louis through for Cate and Venette. Lord, did they throw down some food that night!

An officer in a nearby parish died in an on-duty accident 10 days ago. During the car procession to his funeral, a violent summer storm blew up - winds so fierce they knocked a huge tree over onto the car of two officers on their way to the service...killing one officer and critically injuring the other.

A New Orleans officer took his own life just days before standing trial for brutally beating an unarmed 65 year old retired teacher in the early repopulation after Katrina.

So much death following so many months of struggle to bring this city back to life...

Before the week is over, New Orleans will have its 100th murder. Like other bloodier milestones, this is not one to celebrate.

Somehow, we...We will come through. We will grieve. We will deal with tragedy. We may employ some clearly inappropriate humor and drink a bit too much to do it, but we'll deal.

We - together - will get through this.

There are only two things certain right now in New Orleans. The first is daunting, but the second is much more powerful.
  1. More death will come to our city.

  2. We will rise.

(For those of you wondering where I've been and why I haven't been posting to the blog, it's been a really tough couple of weeks. And this post was trying to get out.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I get those looks all the time.

What is a guy his age doing, riding a bike to work?

Truth is, I've only ever owned one car in my life...and I sold that 15 years ago this month. Since then, I have owned six bikes of varying quality and expense.

And I get those looks.

Poor thing, he can't afford a car.

Actually, I can.

I just choose not to, and because I choose not to, I can afford to do a lot of other things. Like live in the neighborhood of my choice, near the Mississippi River...where it hasn't flooded in a long time. Travel. Regularly eat out at some really sensational restaurants. Maneuver through rush hour traffic nimbly. And when I really need a vehicle, I have many friends who will loan me theirs, all for the price of a home cooked meal.

Oh, and I can afford to rent a car for the weekend. If I so choose.

I choose to bike to work everyday. Yes, it's hot in the summer...and brutally humid. But, I leave for work a little earlier, keep a change of shirts at the office, splash my face (and head - shaving the dome is a blessing sometimes) with some cold water. And if it's raining, I have friends I can call on to hitch a lift with. Or - get this - I can take a taxi. Radical, eh?

I don't have a car note. Or insurance premiums to pay. That's how I can live in the apartment I love, in a part of town that I cherish, near neighbors I really care about.

Looks of pity. Hmm. All over a choice?

Now, it's other looks. These make me a bit more uncomfortable.

It's envy. I'm not spending $3+ a gallon on gas. As I pull up to the office building, deftly hopping off my cost-effective conveyance, I get that look. I don't spend an hour or two a day in road-rage inducing gridlock. At the end of the day, it'll take me 7 (yes, that's seven) minutes to get home...and that's only if I am puttering along.

Envy's a dirty look, no matter who it's coming from.

All this because I ride a bike to work?

Today's post is brought to you in honor of Dump the Pump Day. It didn't get a ton of publicity in New Orleans, partly due to the fact that our public transit system belongs in the Great Oxymoron File with jumbo shrimp, legal brief and Justice Rehnquist - but today is Dump the Pump Day "dedicated to raising awareness that public transportation helps improve the environment and conserve fuel. It also offers the opportunity for people to beat the high price of gasoline and support public transportation as an important travel option that helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil." American Public Transportation Association Website.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Today's Other Holiday

On this day in 1976, my 2nd grade teacher announced to the class that we'd be learning about a very special holiday that day. I thought, "Wow, she must be really smart! How in the world could she know that today is my parents' anniversary?!?!?"

Oh. Flag Day.

I was modestly disappointed, but it did give me a cool way of remembering both holidays.

When my parents divorced in 1980, I started marking the day differently..."If they'd stayed married, this would be their Nth Anniversay. The weirdest one for me was when we hit 23 years since the divorce - just as long as they'd been married

Both of my folks have remarried, Dad for 24 years and Mom for 1 year next month - what can I say, she's a particular kind of gal. I really like both of my step-parents, and there was a time in my college years that I got along better with my step-mom, Myra, than either Mom or Dad. Funny, that.

Today is Flag Day. And if my parents marriage had stood the test of time, this would have been their 50th Anniversary.

You know what? It's ok that it didn't. Life moved on, love came again to both of them in time, and it was by far the right decision for them and for the family.

Happy _____ Day, Everyone.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


You just have to throw a little beauty out there.

I was so lucky to have a brilliant sunny day to run around my neighborhood last weekend, taking pictures randomly here and there...this is the result.

I don't have a space that is large/sunny enough for waterlillies, so I headed over to a local nursery and was stunned by their new collection. I especially like the one above, because it isn't perfect - notice the browning petals.

Have you ever seen this many gradations of yellow in one blossom?

Now, when I shot this last one, I was just kind of hoping something interesting might come of it.

I wasn't disappointed.

This is the interior of an Angel's Trumpet bloom. I wish the resolution translated better to the blog, becuase the original is unbelievable.

I love the fact that stunning flowers like this grow in the hot-house climate that is Louisiana - there is a certain defiant thriving-through-neglect aspect to their existence that appeals to the survivor in me. The fact that so much of nature is burgeoning down here - despite everything - gives me hope.

Ah, the Power of Beauty.


Being a Dad

Our guest writer today is Dale from What Ever You Want, Honey as part of The Blog Exchange (it's a lot of fun, you should check it out!) - meanwhile, your Ambassador is romping over at Dale's site. Glad to have you here today, Dale, and Cheers! Ken

In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to write a poem about my experiences. Most are not the norm, others are short melodramatic recounts of what happened and yet others are an edited version of what I was thinking.

Being a Dad
For as long as I can recall, my heart dreamed of having a child,
Not a boy to carry my name but a girl that’s sweet and mild.
Never the fanatic of all the ball games or of tinkering with some cars,
But of lying in a pastel field contently dreaming with the stars.

Then I wed my dearest friend, set off to foreign lands,
To relieve our discontented minds of the work done by our hands.
We worked hard and played a lot and failed a pregnancy or two,
Kept trying to conceive but to no avail, still childless and so blue.

A call came from someone I’d not talked to in years,
Who asked us a question that brought us both to tears.
We accepted her gift of a child, who was as of yet, unborn,
But fear of reprieve of this gift kept us somewhat forlorn.

Til the morning came a boy was born with a medical atrocity,
We welcomed him in our lives, “Still precious.” our philosophy.
He spent a month or more encapsulated in a wall of glass,
To touch him and stroke his face was all that we could ask.

The next few years became a blur as children grow so fast,
From doctor’s care to emergency rooms, it was such a blast,
Skinned knees, daredevil acts like running in front of cars,
Surprises me to this day that I din’t wind up in the bars.

Talks of manners and good conduct and how to treat a lady,
Asking the pastor on Sunday, loudly, about the creation of a baby.
Inquiring to me about Yu Gi Oh and then telling me I’m wrong,
Other quips and foibles that he spoke could be the content of a song.

With all the dangers and death’s close calls experienced by my son,
It’s a wonder he can still breathe, eat, sleep, play or even run.
Still all his pranks and tender hugs, makes me glad that he’s alive.
All this energy and quirkyness packed into a spirited boy of five.

I’m not superdad, the king of the world or a special breed of man,
I’m just a guy who has a son and is doing whatever he can,
To raise my boy in such a way to win the perfect bride,
So he can experience the joys of life with a child at his side.

As I was reading this to my wife and best friend, life happened. My son threw a major screaming tantrum, took off his shirt and whipped it around in circles like he was brandishing a whip and snapped it at my wife. Then proceeded to throw it in the air until it was stuck at the top of a cabinet.

Isn’t being a dad great?!


This post is courtesy of the Blog Exchange Program (

About the Author:
By day, Dale Noles of, is an entrepreneurial business owner. By night, he is an up and coming blogger. Dale has many passions. He loves helping others create successful businesses, designing websites, writing, spending time with his wife and son but most of all he loves Jesus. Dale is never short on wisdom and feels that husbands can have better marriages if they care enough to get to know their wives.

Friday, June 01, 2007

On the other hand...

"...don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines..."

Satchel Paige

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