Monthly Archives: July 2006

VINCE WELNICK, R.I.P.

Tue, 18 Jul 2006 03:30:50

I just learned from my new friend Lisa Palumbo that an old acquaintance of mine Vince Welnick committed suicide on June 2 2006. Vince was one of the original Tubes later played with Todd Rundgren and had a 5 year stint as the Grateful Dead’s 6th and final keyboard player. The keyboard slot was to the Dead what drummers were to fictional rockers Spinal Tap: JINXED. Vince also fronted his own band Missing Persons.

When I knew Vince back in the heyday of the Tubes he was usually the coolest guy in the room and always the best pianist. Vince was known for his bushy hair wraparound shades and slightly goofy smile. Vince suffered from severe depression in his final years and was embittered over being excluded from various re-groupings by the Dead. It’s a very sad story indeed.

Despite his time with the Dead I’ll always think of him as the token sane member of that gloriously insane band the Tubes. The Tubes were known for their elaborate stage show and Vince was the straight man just like John Entwistle was in the Who. And like the late great Who bassist Vince was a brilliant musician. When Vince tickled the ivories they tickled him back y’all.

I recall Vince as a sweet and kindly man and a generous musician. He was a joy to play with and it’s a shame that he came to such a tragic end.  Au revoir mon ami.

SEND IN THE FEMA CLOWNS

Fri, 16 Jun 2006 21:12:08

Kicking the little guy when he’s down is as American as apple pie baseball or gas guzzling Chevy SUVs. We like to think that we love the underdog but that’s not true with the possible exception of sports. Anyway Chief FEMA Clown David Paulison has decided to crack down on minor grifters in the wake of yesterday’s Congressional hearing about waste and fraud. Why? Two words: porn and Hooters. That’s what some of the FEMA dosh was used for.  Kicking around small timers who *may* have chiseled $1 billion from FEMA (visit the Wetbank Guide for some unconventional wisdom about this) is a helluva lot easier than going after the Shaw Group and other big ass contractors who raped FEMA post-K and then bragged about it.

Finally Maitri has posted a detailed rant about this at the New Orleans Metroblog thingee. Thanks for allowing me to keep it short dawlin…

GEEKED IN THE QUARTER

Sat, 15 Jul 2006 17:47:45

I’m pleased to report that there was nary an old school geek in sight at last night’s Geek dinner in the Quarter. George (Loki) Williams of Humid City fame does however seem to have old school geek potential. He’s the tersest of bloggers but was one of the most garrulous and flamboyant people there last night. That’s quite an accomplishment in that crowd where your humble (?) blogger was one of the shy ones. Thanks to George I violated my pledge of being nicer than nice: he’s an irresistible target. George is one of those people who was born to be teased and I believe in respecting the processes of natural selection. Just call me Shecky Darwin. <rim shot>

I took my life in my hands and rode over with my pal Dangerblond. She drives a big ass Gill-Pratfallesque SUV that she calls an Exploder. I suspect the name comes from past experience. Dangerblond is a very fast driver which is something that doesn’t bother me a bit: I come from a family of leadfooted drivers my 85 year old Aunt is still speedin’ after all these years. Anyway Dangerbroad *is* an excellent parallel parker. She’s not quite as expert as Dr. A who could park a moving van in a space intended for a VW beetle but she was able to find a space not far from the party which in the Quarter on a Friday night is quite an accomplishment.

Our charming host for the evening was Alan Gutierrez computer geek extraordinaire and the driving force behind Think New Orleans. I made the mistake of introducing myself to Alan by my real name instead of by my nom de blog. At some point he came back and said: “Why the hell didn’t you tell me that you were Adrastos?” It’s because I have an unhealthy fear of tar and feathers…

It was fun encountering Oyster Ashley and Maitri again. (My-tri I’m trying o ferocious chana making bad movie loving small world singin’ person.) I met  many of the bloggers whose work I admire and whose company I really enjoyed last night: Editor B, Karen, Markus,  Ray, honorary NOLA blogger Sophmom, and Gentilly Girl. Anyone whose name I omitted is free to send me a threatening email. I enjoy a good poison pen letter y’all. I’ll post it if it’s particularly spiteful.

I have to single out two of my blogging colleagues and new friends in particular: Lisa and Schroeder. Why? Because I spent much of the evening hanging out with them. Schroeder is very blond and very intense. The only thing I don’t like about him is that he doesn’t sweat, the bastard. And it was steamier than a dime novel at the geek dinner. I enjoyed having the opportunity to thank Schroeder for helping to popularize my blog. Before he Oyster and Ashley began linking to me I had an eeny weeny teeny tiny yellow polka dot bikini readership. Then there’s Lisa who is one of the few people who gets most if not all of my obscure pop culture references. Last night Lisa was the belle of the ball such as it was. We traded music stories and had a profoundly intellectual conversation on the comparative merits of Fee Waybill and Jello Biafra. Neither of them has many merits but it was a lively if somewhat loopy conversation.

It’s quite interesting to meet people who read your blog. They already know certain things about how your mind works and at first greet you like a minor rock star. I got the Rick Astley treatment several times myself. (In the immortal words of Nick Lowe “Do you remember Rick Astley? He had a big fat hit it was ghastly.’) Mercifully it was an indulgent and kindly crowd so I was never threatened with ostracism or being ridden out of town on a rail. Several people inquired as to Dr. A’s health and expressed regret that she couldn’t make it. Dangerblond of course made several crude remarks about our “date.” Back atcha toots.

Thanks to Alan for hosting the party and to all the geeks who made it so much fun. I’ll bring the six pack of live chickens next time…

THE GEEK DINNER GOES TO NIGHTMARE ALLEY

Fri, 14 Jul 2006 18:35:50

As you may have noticed I love old movies. I’m particularly fond of  the dark shadowy and cynical world of post-World War II  film noir. All this talk of the geek dinner has got me thinking of the uber weird big budget film noir “Nightmare Alley” starring of all people Tyrone Power. Power plays a carny who through a series of bizarre plot twists becomes the geek. In old school carny sideshows the geek was someone whose act usually involved doing disgusting things like biting the head off a live chicken. I know it sorta sounds like Ozzy Osbourne; well he’s an old school rock geek with more money than brains.

Now I know that modern geeks tend to be eccentric artists computer programmers techheads of all sorts musicians and I daresay bloggers but what if this party is full of old school geeks looking for impressionable bloggers to recruit? There are some major weirdos who will be there after all. I plan to keep a low profile and watch my back. I’ll let y’all know if anyone hands me a live bird…

COMFORTABLY NUMB

Thu, 13 Jul 2006 19:22:01

Syd Barrett’s death got me thinking in Pink Floyd song titles. A scary concept I know. “Careful With That Axe Eugene” didn’t fit the situation here in NOLA but one title nailed it: “Comfortably Numb” from “The Wall.” Comfortably numb describes the state of our political judicial and socio-economic systems here pre-K.  We were muddling through at all levels but as long as we were comfortable we were numb.

Then came Hurricane Katrina which by analogy was to New Orleans what the last part of “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens was to Pip the hero of the novel.  Pip had always thought that the bitter recluse Miss Havisham had been his financial benefactor. He was wrong. His real patron was Magwich an escaped convict turned magnate whom Pip had helped while a child. There are two scenes that complete the analogy:

First   Pip confronts Miss Havisham who had led him to believe that she had helped him. She had also cruelly used her beautiful ward Estella to torment Pip. Miss Havisham lived in a large and spooky house but spent most of her time in a dining room wherein a wedding feast had been laid but never served. Miss Havisham’s fiancee had jilted her. The table remained untouched including an aged wedding cake that had been gnawed upon by vermin. Miss Havisham always wore her wedding dress as a badge of shame and delusional martyrdom.

Pip let Miss Havisham have it: telling her what an evil and horrid crone she was; especially the way she’d used Estella as an instrument of vengeance against the male gender. Miss Havisham being a Dickens character realized the error of her ways but then a coal rolled out of the fire and set Miss Havisham’s dress ablaze. Pip tries to put the fire out by using the venerable tablecloth but it crumbles and Miss Havisham dies; a victim of in her case being uncomfortably numb.

How does this apply to NOLA? Miss Havisham is a perfect symbol of the city. For years we allowed our city to rot and decay and instead of trying to do something about it we turned to drama drugs booze food and apathy. If I had a hundred dollar bill for every time I’ve heard “you can’t change fill in the blank it’s New Orleans ” I’d be as rich as Pip’s portly solicitor Mr. Jaggers. I’ve heard that line applied to government litter crime you name it; it’s the catchall excuse. The city and its people were all comfortably numb.

Second at the end of the book Pip returns to Miss Havisham’s house in an attempt to prevent his first love Estella from turning into her step-mum Miss Havisham. Pip finds Estella sitting in Miss Havisham’s dark and filthy dining room where else? The curtains had not been opened since the day Miss Havisham was jilted. Pip rips the curtains open and flings the windows open. The curtains crumble from years of dust and disuse. But Pip has let the sun and fresh air in. Having faced their demons honestly Pip and Estella go on to a better life.

Hurricane Katrina swept our old systems away; exposing them as rotten corrupt and structurally unsound. Post-K everything has collapsed; especially the criminal justice system. The criminal courts no longer function. There is no place to house juvenile offenders so they must be put back on the streets even those who pose a danger to the rest of us. Debrisville is like Miss Havisham’s decrepit mansion but there’s no Pip to level with us and help us to pick up the pieces and start anew. Why? Because for nearly two centuries New Orleans was comfortably numb and content with and downright proud of its apathy and backwardness. The storm *should* have provided a jolt to the system but the future remains unclear. One thing *is* clear: being comfortably numb is no longer an option. Instead we need great expectations.

YOU SAY PLAN-O AND I SAY PLAY-NO

Tue, 11 Jul 2006 05:00:00

Dr. A mildly chastised me the other day for writing a post entitled Plano 9 From Outer Space without mentioning one of our favorite neighbors Jan the Electrician. Jan and his charming wife Victoria live across the street from us in the smallest house on the block. It works for them: they’re both quite petite. Jan is originally from Poland and once lived in what is now my house back in the days it was more or less a flophouse for drunken Polish sailors. Victoria has lived in New Orleans for most of her life but retains a strong  Mexican accent or more accurately a variation thereof. English is their common language which has led their accents to sort of blur and merge. I call it Pole-Mex.

You’re probably asking yourself: what is he on about now? What the hell does this have to do with Plano Texas? Here’s what: It turned out that when we were in exile post-K Jan and Victoria were staying about 15 minutes from my cousin’s place in that very Texas burg. When we finally met again Jan told me: “We’ve been in Plan-o.”

I said: “Play-no?”

Jan fired back: “No Plan-o.”

I nearly launched into “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off” but Jan has always been kind to me so it seemed inappropriate to torture him with an off-key rendition of that Gershwin classic. I was however tempted by the fruit of another pun. Oops that was written by Difford and Tilbrook not George and Ira Gershwin.  Oh well let’s call the whole thing off…

PLANO 9 FROM OUTER SPACE

Fri, 07 Jul 2006 05:00:00

The title of this entry is faintly Billy Preston-like: “Nothin’ from nothin’ means nothin’. You gotta have something if you wanna be with me.” That was the long way to say that it’s a punny nonsensical title. Of course I stopped making sense years ago. (I’ll  skip the obvious Talking Heads joke.) This is the pun: I arose like Lazarus from my semi-deathbed and had lunch at a very good Greek restaurant in Plano with the cliched name of Zorba’s. The food is very good and relatively uncompromising Greek cuisine. My cousin Tina is friends with everyone there so it’s sort of like going to Cheers with Norm.

I was a bit shaky but my other cousin Bill wanted to see me so I decided to try sitting up for awhile. The last time I saw Bill was last September when he sounded like he’d swallowed Fox’s Katrina coverage whole. I wanted to throttle him. This time he was on his best behavior which was a good thing since I’m too weak to throttle anyone. Mind you Bill is still a wingnut but if we skip politics we get along quite well. He’s a rascal and a major BS artist which are traits that run in the family. I don’t have them but I hear that other relatives do. Anyone buying this?

I just took a peek at  NOLA.COM and was pleased to see that there’s a furor about ex-Council Clown Gill-Pratfall’s big ass govmint SUV. The Feebs are actually looking into whether or not Dollar Bill’s lackey has violated any laws. I see that Oliver the Actor and Cynthias Windy-Lewis and Hedgehog-Morrell have returned their “donated” cars. Why on earth should City Councilmembers be given access to free vehicles? New Orleans was strapped for cash pre-K and is on its knees now. The Council needs to start cleaning up its act pronto. The one I’m disappointed in is Oliver the Actor I would have thought that he’d know better. I was wrong. Get your shit together Oliver. You can’t expect citizens to make sacrifices when you’re riding around in a free car.

This is my last screed from Texas. We’re motoring home tomorrow. I only hope I feel well enough to help with the driving. Hmm maybe I should ask City Hall to provide us with a driver. Hey Oliver can ya do that dawlin’?

WHILE ADRASTOS SLEPT: BAKLAVA & GUNFIRE

Thu, 06 Jul 2006 05:00:00

We’re still in Dallas and I still have a vile summer cold. The one good thing is that  I’ve been sleeping a lot over the last few days. I’ve had a bad case of insomnia for the past 10 months; I can’t imagine why…

Anyway whilst I slumbered Dr. A got a lesson in baklava baking from my cousin Tina. I do most of the cooking in our house but Dr. A bakes. I’m inclined to improvise so my style of cooking is incompatible with baking. Dr. A is fussy about baklava ever since eating my mother’s variation on the family recipe. She quite correctly finds most baklava way too sweet but the version made by my mother and aunts is just right. We have my mother’s recipe but it’s big enough to feed the Albanian army and I for one have no desire to feed them. They always tramp mud through the house and smell like sheep shit. I draw the line at the smell…

Where was I? Oh yeah baklava. Dr. A was convinced that it was a failed experiment because it was a bit messy but filo is hard to work with. (I recall hearing my late mother grumble every time she worked with filo; it was almost the only time she ever swore.)  Me I thought that it was yummy. Of course my taste buds are somewhat off. My mouth feels as if the aforementioned Albanian army marched across my tongue in full winter gear…

There was some disturbing news from home yesterday. There was a shooting on the 500 block of Valence which is just 2 blocks from Adrastos World HQ. The minute I heard about it I knew that it happened at the house where 3 teenage crack dealers can usually be found. I was right. Once again this was a hit: the shooter stood on the sidewalk and talked on his cell phone for 10 minutes before opening fire. It seems as if some bystanders got hit but that’s a trademark of NOLA gang violence: they don’t care if civilians get hurt. This is the first shooting in our area in many years. I hope that it’s just a fluke but when it comes to gun toting morons I take nothing for granted. My buddy Herb was featured in the Picayune article and summed the situation up very well:

“Herb Sayas who lives on Laurel Street around the corner from the shooting said the neighborhood is usually very quiet with few disturbances much less violent crime. Because such incidents are rare he said he did not fear for the area despite the resurgence of crime in other parts of the city.

“People have a right to sit on their porch and play cards on a holiday weekend ” Sayas said shaking his head as a light drizzle rinsed the gray scene. “

As the friendly neighborhood association spider-man I expected a deluge of hysterical emails but most of my peeps seem to agree with Herb. And since I feel like warmed over shit I’m glad that people have opted to be calm instead of shrill. Panicking  never helped anyone and I’m way too groggy to panic.  But not apparently too groggy to post. Blogging is as addictive as heroin but not as dangerous; at least I hope not.

HOSED AGAIN

Sun, 02 Jul 2006 05:03:10

Even from the road I know a hosing when I see one. The story in Saturday’s Picayune about the Corps report on the levees is disturbing but not surprising. The Bushies have slimed screwed and hosed everyone they’ve ever dealt with: just ask Tony Blair. Blair was bulletproof before allying himself too closely with the Beavis-Duce administration. He now finds himself on the politically endangered species list.

After a night of drinking with maniacal Puerto Ricans and crazed Texican fishermen I’m even more incoherent than I was last night so for more on the hosing of Lousiana go to Your Right Hand Thief for Oyster’s typically incisive analysis.