Monday, January 31, 2011

Moving a New Orleans monument

Doughboys deserve to be remembered.
James R. Schindler of New Orleans makes a good point in a letter in today's Times-Picayune.  He suggests the massive and impressive WWI monument located on Burgundy Street be relocated at the terminus of the new Rampart/St. Claude streetcar line.

While I don't go down Burgundy Street that often, I knew exactly what he was talking about when I read his letter.  While one of the joys of meandering about New Orleans is discovering the memorials tucked away in the neighborhoods, I've always felt (for six or seven months since I discovered it really) that this imposing archway is misplaced in the dense confines of the Bywater.  It deserves some breathing room and it could certainly command the vista of Elysian Fields wide neutral ground.

In his letter, Mr. Schindler suggests that a traffic circle be built at where St. Claude Ave. intersects with Elysian Fields.  I'm not so sure about that proposal.  Something on the scale of Lee Circle would probably involve eminent domain and drive the project over budget.  I also don't know about Mr. Schindler's assertion that it would become the most photographed monument in the city.

Where we do agree is that this monument, supposedly the first permanent memorial for WWI servicemen (and one woman) in the US, deserves more prominence.  What was once known as The War to End All Wars is largely forgotten now since WWII took its place in the popular imagination.  It shaped the modern era in ways we no longer consciously realize.

I would like to add to Mr. Schindler's idea and suggest the statue of the doughboy on Tulane Avenue be also relocated to the Elysian Fields neutral ground, creating a hallowed ground to commemorate those who served in the first total war under modern battlefield conditions.  Along with Louisiana's Civil War Museum and the National WWII Museum, this would be a nice adjunct to how New Orleans honors its veterans .

If you are reading this, Mr. Schindler, let me know what I can do to help.   This is an idea that deserves better than withering away on the editorial page.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A peek inside Whalehead King's studio - New Orleans

A work in progress.  Oil on canvas.  The blue is placeholder acrylic for the brown oils that will make up the text.  I'm not thrilled with the forest green/burnt umber color scheme but it needs to be authentic. It is the color scheme of the streetcars themselves as well as the color of the iconic menu pictured at the bottom of this previous post.   Dimensions are 4'x2'.  Too large to sell off the fence in Jackson Square but suitable for reproduction on postcards and such once all the brushwork is completed.

I'll post regular updates of this painting as they develop.  Anyone interested in owning the original can contact me at whaleheadking(at)  Put "St. Charles Line painting" in the subject line.  I'll retain all reproduction rights, but it will be a nice piece of work for a foyer or over a couch.  I am also happy to take requests for similar works with your favorite stops featured in the list.

While I've got some other New Orleans paintings in the works, this is the first fully realized one from start to finish.  I think of this as my first "official" New Orleans painting.  That will give it a little extra collector's item cachet.

Thanks, and happy riding!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mardi Gras 2010 from Cottage Films on Vimeo.

The New Orleans Ladder hooked me up to this video.  I haven't experienced Mardi Gras yet, having moved here this past June.  I expect, this is how it will look.

It is the end of January as I write this.  Carnival Season.  Miracles unfold every day before the culmination.

Ah, New Orleans....

New Orleans Voodoo

Driving past the New Orleans Coliseum recently, I was reminded that arena football season is about to start.  No single game tickets are for sale.  The Voodoo are playing nine home games and as of now only season tickets are available.  I'm not sure I want to commit to the team that much since I doubt there's any scalp value to any individual ticket.

I'm an arena football fan though, as much as I'm a fan of any sport.  I watched a few games at the Mohegan Sun in Montville, CT and enjoyed them.  Fast paced and easy enough to understand.  A game lasts a little over an hour and a half, if I recall correctly.  Shorter than an opera.  Give it a try.

I'll see you there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Our Lady of Prompt Succor

New Orleans, and all of Louisiana's, patron saint is Our Lady of Prompt Succor.  Her shrine is located at the Ursuline Academy currently located Uptown.  The story of her intercessions on the city's behalf is located here.  

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Venezia Pizza Pie - New Orleans

No words today.  Just a picture to whet your appetite.  South Carrolton Avenue, just a block off Canal Street.  You can get here by streetcar.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Reading Radio - New Orleans

No illustration today because this is about a radio station for the blind and vision-impaired.  WRBH, 88.3 on my FM dial (link: here).

I wasn't terribly interested in writing about the Times-Picayune's comics pages yesterday, having enough on my plate.  When I go home though, I turned on the radio and found myself on 88.3.  What to my wondering ears should appear but someone reading those very same comics pages that I slogged through earlier in that morning.

The reader was very accomplished, describing what was happening in each panel and changing voices to define the characters' dialogue.  He really brought Dilbert to life, which is saying something for so static a strip.  The comics are read every Sunday at 6:00 PM.  Unfortunately, only a half hour is allotted so all the comics can't be read aloud.  Though all six pages only take me about 15 minutes, I can absorb the visual information without lengthy description.

I fetched the discarded newspaper out of the trash (no recycling on my street yet) and the lady of the house and I read along until the episode ended.  The host was eclectic in what he chose to read aloud.  Of note: he read Prince Valiant with relish and took extra time to describe the eerie scene depicted in the last panel.  More disappointing, Curtis was described at length.  While this wasn't the worst installment of Curtis (how can you tell?) the punch line was weak, eliciting a groan even from the narrator who didn't really know how to deliver it.  I feel that way when I read this strip silently to myself.

I don't listen to New Orleans' Reading Radio often, but often enough that it delights me when I turn the dial down into the lower register of frequencies.  The station has a very interesting schedule and I'll have to put this gift of the airwaves into my more routine.  They read the New Yorker and the newspaper but I've usually already read what's delivered by the time it hits the air.  There are other things that interest me.  Full program schedule here.  

Friday, January 21, 2011

How I met the Surly Writer

Everyone who knows me will attest that I am a sucker for a pretty face.  That isn't how I met Michelle Hickman, however.

In the usual, whim-driven serendipity that seems to rule my life, I was introduced to Michelle quite by accident.  Through channels as obscure and baffling as how I usually learn about anything, I was informed of a woman who had never received a Christmas card over the course of her life.   I'm no fan of Christmas and most of the Christmas cards I've ever received have been given a cursory glance and then ended up in a stack alongside my cluttered inbox.  I figured someone else should have the opportunity to do the same.  Besides, who doesn't like mail?  I love real mail, especially from strangers.  As much as I am a hermit, I enjoy learning about new people.  The die was cast.

I didn't use a Christmas-themed card.  I just took one of my usual cards, probably from a box I bought at the Boston Museum of Fine Art, filled its blank spaces with good wishes, and mailed it off to remote Pennsylvania.  The recipient's address was the intriguingly named Fenneltown Road.  I'm a big fennel-eater but I never knew it grew in the Keystone State.  I'm still not clear where Fenneltown is, but it seems like a slice of Heaven in my mind's eye.  Some people may disagree.

Since then, the admirable and esteemed (in my opinion) Michelle Hickman and I have continued an on-again-off-again, infrequent correspondence.  I learned that she is the Surly Writer (her blog is here) and that she and I both enjoy a dedication to crafting written words.  She now lives in a big Pennsylvania city, enduring all the travails that await a country girl in a crowded, impersonal metropolis.  She writes fractured fairy tales.  Maybe she lives a few of them, too.  These stories have a legion of fans that admire her creativity and ability to tell a tale well.  I admit I am not so much a fan of her fiction as I am of Michelle herself: her drive, her stick-to-itiveness, and her fortitude.  She has talent and a promising career ahead of her.

Though we don't correspond as much as we may, I am pleased and honored to count Ms. Hickman as one of my acquaintances.  When I drove my motorcycle from Boston to New Orleans, Michelle was a regular reader and commenter.  My reports from that journey and her comments are collected in the sidebar to your left, about midway down the page.  During that week, after I had spent ten or twelve hours astride my Little Ninja, propelling and steering it along highways and byways, it cheered me to know that Michelle was following my progress after I unpacked for the night.  What is an author without an audience?  What is a nomad without a fellow traveller, even if she is only seeing the passing landscape vicariously?  No man is an island.  History requires witnesses.  My history is personal and Michelle was my witness.

Will we continue our correspondence or drift apart?  Predicting the future is a difficult business.  I still owe Ms. Hickman a letter.  It's my turn and I promised one would be forthcoming soon.  The card is out and still blank, its envelope is addressed and stamped, lying idle next to my cluttered inbox.  It is time to put pen to paper and send her some real mail.  Who doesn't like mail?  I know I do.

A tip of the fedora to Michelle Hickman of Fenneltown, Pennsylvania.
Best wishes to her and many happy Christmases to follow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Man about the track - New Orleans

Not much going on today, just noodling around the house catching up on some light reading about New Orleans history and architectural styles.  You know, the kind of thing a man of leisure does while he's wearing a smoking jacket and slippers.  It's a good thing I have a fireplace mantle in every room of the chez King.  It makes it easier to pose, bored with the world but still looking my best, poised like a lion about to spring his cage.

The illustration is by Layedecker, a painter from early last century.  You know, the inventor of the Arrow Shirt Man.  I have a few Arrow shirts but not much reason to wear them at the moment.  They are pressed and hung at the ready should the occasion arise, however.

I went to the track to play the ponies today.  Put all my money on this steed:
No. 11 on the post: Wish-me-well-baby.
I didn't even see him in the running.  Call me a sucker.  I should have gone to the dog track.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Poor Man's Special - New Orleans

New Orleans is full of meat markets.  To this New Englander, the people of New Orleans seem to eat a lot of meat... a lot.  Many of these unimposing shops sell package deals of vast quantities of meat by the carton for a reasonable price.

The Orleans Center Food Mart (2707 Orleans Street at the corner of North Broad) tucked a flyer in my door the other day.  Of all the items advertised, only three of them were not meat.  They were: Mama's Chinese Noodles for $8.99 a case, a six pack of Busch beer for $4.99, and a twelve pack of Coke or Pepsi for $3.99.   Everything else featured on the flyer's four pages was flesh of some kind, the interior two dedicated to package deals.  Here's a sample:

Poor Man's Special: $69.99
5 lb smoked sausage
5 lb pig tails
5 lb ground meat
5 lb chicken wings
5 lb pickle tips (this seems to be pig's feet)
5 lb leg quarters (I assume chicken)
5 lb pork chops
1 free case of soda.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Julian Assange is not in New Orleans

I was at the laundromat this morning and a man came up to me and said, "Excuse me, has anyone told you that you look just like the Wiki Leaks guy?"
Julian Assange, "The Wiki Leaks Guy."
"No," I answered, "I haven't gotten that one before."
WK disturbed from reading at the Freret Street  coffee shop the other day.
I don't see the resemblance.  I've been mistaken for other people, but this is a first.  As far as I know Mr. Assange is still in the UK.  He is not in Louisiana.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A sting

Corvette Stingray convertible with the top down ready to catch the breeze on Tchoupitoulas Street.
Sorry to be remiss in posting recently.  The engine is humming in idle waiting for the transmission to be engaged.  Fear not.  There is plenty of horsepower under the hood once I decide it's time to put pedal to metal.  The pistons are pumping in all the cylinders.  I predict a wild ride for WK ahead.

Gentlemen prefer New Orleans.

The Littlest Ninja's speedometer in May.  Lots more miles clocked on the odometer now!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gentlemen prefer New Orleans

Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend.  Ladies speak highly of pearls as well.  Gentlemen prefer New Orleans.
No matter his vice of choice or his fancy, a gentleman prefers New Orleans.  Redheads, blondes, brunettes... coquettes, matrons, schoolmarms... librarians, debutantes, shop clerks, attorneys... dark, light, pale, dusky... calloused, polished, silky, hearty, demure, boisterous, shy or crafty... blue-eyed, green-eyed, gray-eyed, brown-eyed, doe-eyed, flinty-eyed... soft or coarse... dull or sharp... no matter his choice of vice or fancy, a gentleman prefers New Orleans.  
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but New Orleans, a city that glitters and sparkles during all hours of every given day, is full of Gulf oysters plump with pillows of succulent and slippery meat.  A man may talk to a woman’s cleavage rather than look her full in the face.  The hand is quicker than the eye and beauty is both fleeting and permanent.  Look around.
Serpentine New Orleans winds along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River.  It spreads inland along tortuous blocks sandwiched between dry ridges and moist canals, levees and sink holes... the lay of the land is less solid than it seems.  A day in New Orleans has made sinners out of nuns and it has made saints out of sportsmen.  A gambling man bets his life when he sets foot on New Orleans’s pavement.  Watch your step.  There are potholes and hurdles along the walkways that parallel New Orleans’ neutral grounds.
Baubles and bangles and buckles and beads catch the sun’s rays as it sets behind the East Bank.  No deposit is safe.  Shifting soils continually settle and resettle.  A visitor to New Orleans never knows where he or she stands.  A citizen feels more confident while being just as lost in the moment.  New Orleans is an continuously unfolding present.  There is never more than the weight of the past and future balanced on the fulcrum of this second.  There is never less than the chance to lose oneself in the parade that is New Orleans.  
Ladies love New Orleans.  Gentlemen prefer it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Needing a pep talk

I am very disappointed.  I've had a bit of a cold this week.  Since Tuesday, I've been eating Halls' brand cough drops.  I would normally just buy generic but, for no particular reason, I didn't on Tuesday.

It took me a half a bag to notice that the wrappers on these cough drops bear little slogans.  There is, in fact, "A PEP TALK IN EVERY DROP(TM).  Here are some samples:
     Don't give up on yourself.
     Take charge and mean it.
     Don't wait to get started.  
     Dust off and get up.
    Be resilient.

You get the idea.

I think this is a nice marketing touch and cheered me up to be reminded to take charge and mean it.  There was no indication on the package or boasting that Halls offers these pithy pep talks.  It seemed to just be something the company quietly does for the betterment of mankind.

I enjoyed these so I bought another bag of Halls last night.  I just opened it and these don't have a pep talk in every drop.  The wrappers are plain, just halls, halls, halls over and over.  I am disappointed.

My cold seems to be almost defeated so I don't foresee needing cough drops anytime soon.  Next time, I probably will buy generic.  After all, the only medicine they contain is menthol.  Its only the packaging that sets most cough drops apart.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Roman candy ages well (Part III)

So I pulled the Little Ninja up behind the mule-drawn Roman Candy cart and disembarked.  "What'll it be?" the man in the cart asked.  "What have you got?" I said.

"Strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate."

I know the lady of the house likes chocolate, so I ordered two sticks in that flavor.  The man pulled off 18 inches twice and rolled them and wrapped them in wax paper and handed them to me.  I handed over two dollars.   They were warm to the touch.

We sampled about a half stick that evening.  It was delicious.  It was as chewy as the candy claims to be in red letters on a white background: Roman Chewing Candy.

We revisited the leftovers of that stick about a week later.  It is still delicious.  It is harder now, more the consistency of New England salt water taffy.  It's a good treat.  I'm glad I have a whole stick left to savor at my leisure since I don't often happen upon the Roman Candy cart while I am on patrol.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Orleans: where centuries coexist

Where else but in New Orleans can you drive down a busy street in car traffic and find a mule-drawn cart parked by the side of the road?  Since 1915, the Sam Cortese cart has been plying this city's streets selling Roman Chewing Candy, taffy, in three flavors: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry.

If you see the cart, you pull up behind and step up to the window.  The current price is $1.00 for a sixteen inch stick hand rolled and wrapped in wax paper.  It is warm to the touch.  It lasts a long time too, keeping fresh and full of flavor.

The cart is a marvel of craftsmanship.  It is a little dinged and nicked but buying a stick of taffy is like standing in a picture postcard.  Only in New Orleans, my friend, only in New Orleans.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Roman candy, New Orleans (part I)

Since I don't live uptown of Canal Street anymore, I don't travel St. Charles Avenue as much as I used to.  I was there the other day though.  What to my wondering eyes did appear?  A mule-drawn cart selling hand-rolled taffy.

The mule was drowsy, indifferent to the traffic speeding by much faster than his four legs could carry him and the cart behind.  If I had to bet money on a race between the cart and the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, I'd put my cash on the mule.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Spending Sunday with the Times-Picayune

I'm going to start a new Sunday feature coincident with one that occurs in the Times-Picayune.  I read the newspaper every day.  It gets delivered amazingly early so it gives me a nice interruption from whatever it is I'm doing at 3:00 AM.   I look forward to Sundays, as I have since I was a child, because I enjoy the big color comics section.

Well, enjoy may be too strong a word.  I do look forward to it but I'm rarely entertained by the comics.  Firstly, there aren't enough of them and secondly, most of the strips don't make good use of the larger space they are afforded.  Comic strips are an indigenous American art form like jazz.  Unlike jazz, improvisation and craftsmanship are mostly missing from newspaper comic strips.   You aren't going to find Little Nemo or vintage Gasoline Alley.

I won't be providing illustrations to go along with my observations.  If you get the Sunday Times-Picayune, you can read along.  All of these strips are nationally syndicated and easy enough to find online if you are curious about the details.  I also won't be indulging in snark or making fun of the contents.  There are plenty of other sites that do that and I don't much need for another.

I went to see King Kong vs. Godzilla at the Prytania last night and it bothered me that some members of the audience wanted to talk to the screen and titter at the special effects.  I went to enjoy the movie, not to listen to someone trying to be clever.  I enjoyed the film: Japanese artistry.  It wasn't as good as when I was in the third grade and I would discuss it in the schoolyard with my chums, but it had its charms.

I am going to review the comics the same way I watched the movie, trying to enjoy them for what they are.  I admit, some of them are hard for me to enjoy and there are days when I skip whole pages.  I doubt I will dissect them, just view them with a critical eye.  You'll soon learn what I like and what I don't as will become apparent shortly.

Rather than take up too much space in the coming weeks, I am going to spend the first few Sundays describing the layout of the pages, and my general impression of the strips, one page a week in the beginning.  So, let's begin...

Page one of the T-P's comics section holds the following:

Down the right hand side, vertically, is "Dilbert."  This isn't a bad strip.  At first, I was put off by the simple and static artwork but it's grown on me and I find it is expressive of the workplace ennui it depicts.  It is well written and clever.  What it lacks in visual interest, it more than makes up for in guile.  This is one of the better strips being put out today.

The rest of the strips on the front page are in horizontal format.  From the top is "For Better of for Worse." The natural lifespan of this strip has run its course.  Rather than let it die a dignified death, the creator is running reprints in chronological order from the beginning.  It isn't bad but it isn't particularly good either.  Someone obviously thinks people can't get enough of it and so here it is, another legacy strip taking up space.  This will become a recurrent theme as we go along.

Next is "Zits."  This isn't bad either and uses the conventions of comics very nicely.  It is based on teenager-parent differences.  While the subject matter holds limited appeal for me, I appreciate the artistry and effort put forth.

"Baby Blues" is a crudely drawn story of a couple with three young children.  I don't usually skip over this one so much as read it to say I've read the whole first page.  I can't recall ever liking an episode.  It's just kind of there, neither adding to nor subtracting from the luster of the Sunday comics (or any other day for that matter).

Lastly is "Drabble," a strip which gets my bile up.  It seems to be drawn with a ball point pen without any preliminary sketching.  The artist is an adult but the artwork is what you would find on elementary school walls or in elementary school notebooks.  I wouldn't be surprised to see blue lines running through the pictures.  Compared to "Drabble" everything else in the Sunday comics seems to have been written by Voltaire and illustrated by Maxfield Parrish.  I don't understand why anyone would be paid to create this day after day after day.

...And that is the first installment of what will be an ongoing feature.  Just laying the groundwork now, folks.  I know it's a bit dry for what should be a dynamic medium.  Perhaps this is a reflection on me or it may be a reflection on the subject matter.

Tomorrow, we bring you a review of Roman Chewing Candy.  I had my first taste the other day.  Bought two sticks for a dollar apiece.  See you then.


Saturday, January 08, 2011

There are no New Orleans secrets.

New Orleans has a few reputations.  It is known as a party town.  It is also known as a gothic town, a haunted town, perhaps the definition of Southern Gothic.   Deep and troublesome secrets lurk in New Orleans' muck and mud.

As I have crisscrossed New Orleans' cityscape, I haven't witnessed much that troubles me no matter how much I read the newspaper.  New Orleans is atmospheric but it doesn't give me the heebie-jeebies or the shudders.  It is probably the least scary place in which I have ever lived aside from my boyhood home in suburban Connecticut.  While the businesses and shades of people's skins are somewhat different from what I grew up with, St. Bernard Avenue is little different from Main Street in Ridgefield, Conn.

I wouldn't say New Orleans needs a super hero.  It wouldn't hurt to give the city a more positive spin, however.
"New London needs a hero" c. 2005.  Courtesy of its current owner, Tambria Moore of that same city.
Some cities need a super hero but New Orleans isn't one of them.  New Orleans doesn't need anything.  It's got everything wrapped up in parti-colored paper wrapped up in a bow.  Content to go its own way, letting the chips fall where they may, letting the good times roll alongside the bad, raising itself by its own ingenuity, New Orleans stands alone.  It may be a bit bruised and scarred but it is set to defy gravity and deny the worst expectations anyone forms against it.  In New Orleans, the future offers 24 karat promise.

It is good to live in New Orleans.  It refreshes the spirit and puts pep in your step.  There are secrets here but there are also joys to be milked that no other city on earth can offer.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Cryptids are the most dangerous game

Anyone who has read this blog for the past six or seven months can be reasonably convinced that Whalehead King does, indeed, live in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Sightings of this elusive man of mystery have been impossible to confirm, however.  He is a reclusive creature, seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Like the bigfoot reputed to haunt the bayous in St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes just outside New Orleans, WK leaves traces (mostly in these pages) while direct evidence is lacking.

Unlike Pere Noel, WK does not keep track of who is naughty and who is nice.  He voyages back an forth from the downriver, downtown boundary of New Orleans to the upriver, uptown one, stopping short as soon as Mayor Landrieu's jurisdiction holds no official authority.  From riverbank to lakeshore, WK is on patrol, judging not lest he be judged, observing and tallying random observations.  His beating heart pumps as much incredulity to his brain as it does adrenaline, endorphins, and sorrow.  You cannot live in New Orleans without being overwhelmed by the majesty and spent chance this city embodies.

There are fireworks in New Orleans.  Some squibs are damp and they sputter while they spit sparks along the sidewalk.  Some soar to bombard the air with pyrotechnics that light up the sky and illuminate the streets for blocks and blocs and blocks, illuminating every living room and bedroom as if the sun were shining over the transom or somebody left a 1000 watt lightbulb incandescent.

I'm looking for a jackalope head to mount over my fireplace mantle.  If anyone has one they want to unload, let me know in the comments.  I'm only interested in the genuine article.  Fake jackalopes have no place in parlor.


Photo credit: Lisa Beth Darling-Gorman.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

New Orleans' flag

That's a nice flag.  It represents Indianapolis, Indiana, the state capitol.  The design means something.  Indianapolis was laid out so that the governor's mansion would sit in the middle of a circle where the two main streets intersected.  If you look at a road map of Indiana today, you will see that the layout of the state resembles the flag of its capitol city.  Wheels within wheels around a hub in the center.

Shall we look at New Orleans' flag?

Why three fleurs-de-lis?  To represent the sovereignty of France Spain and the US?  Why three fleurs-de-lis then?  That's the symbol of the French monarchy, not Spain or the federal government that has had jurisdiction over this former French colony for nigh 200 years.   What's with the narrow red and blue stripes?  I suppose the blue on the bottom can represent the mighty Mississippi River but why the red.  Why the white field sullied by three fleurs-de-lis?

Red, white and blue are good flag colors as any American citizen will tell you.  The French would reply that they are more properly listed as blue, white and red.  I find so much white on a flag a distraction.

When I was in the military I was stationed in Italy.  The Italians found it amusing how much reverence we showed the flag, running it up the pole at dawn and lowering it slowly and folding it with care at sunset.  "We use our flag as a tablecloth," the Italians told me.  There are worse uses for the Italian flag, I suppose.

There is no denying that the fleur-de-lis is a symbol of New Orleans.  I don't know about having three of them on the mast in front of city hall and every municipal building.  In a city with so many artists and that is currently driven to remaking itself, my impression is that the flag needs a makeover.  It will be a contentious subject of debate between traditionalists and modernists, old school and new branders, natives and transplants.  The city itself doesn't even use the flag's fleur-de-lis as its symbol.  The city's fleur-de-lis is a more baroque and whimsical-looking thing.

One fleur-de-lis on a flag is enough.  A better design would be better.  No black and gold please.  New Orleans is more than a football team though it is a city full of saints.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Pills in New Orleans

"A man who was fond of wine was offered some grapes for desert.  "Much obliged," he said, pushing the plate aside, "I am not accustomed to take my wine in pills."  -Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.

Bottoms up!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Is New Orleans a woman missing an eye?

"A meal without cheese is like a beautiful woman with an eye missing." -Jean Anthelme Billa-Savarin.

Some would argue that what is missing adds savor to what is there.  Like a bald woman who doesn't need silky tresses to be seductive.  There is something to be said for self-assurance and confidence being the most attractive attribute an individual or city can possess.  New Orleans has that in aces and spades.

I don't eat a lot of meat but I do eat my share of cheese.  Unlike the Chinese, I do no find it a barbarian food.  I don't think of it as a condiment but I also don't mind eating it on a Triscuit.  Some people eat omelets for breakfast, I eat a few crackers topped with cheese.

"A country producing almost 360 types of cheese cannot die." -Winston Churchill.

New Orleans is a town that loves to eat its meat.  There are meat markets on every other corner.  They are corner grocers carrying the usual selection of canned goods and pre-prepared meals but what they are proud of and what they advertise on their signage is their selection of fresh meat.  Meat in all its forms be it beef or pork or poultry, all kinds and all cuts.  Chicken Mart on the corner of Simon Bolivar and Jackson Avenues advertises its wares with an LED sign:  "Turkey necks: 30 lbs @ $25.99!  Tilapia: 25 lbs @ $30.99!  Pork hocks: 30 lbs @ $24.99!  Fresh cuts @ reasonable prices!  Chitlins: 30 lbs @ $17.99!  Beef ribs! Pork ribs! Spare ribs!  $25.99 - $35.99!"  New Orleans runs on affordable meat.

Some New Orleans-specific variations:
"A po'boy without dressing is like a beautiful woman with an eye missing."
"A city producing almost 360 types of po' boys cannot die."

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Comparing Andorra to New Orleans

The principality of Andorra, located in the Pyrenees between France and Spain, and Orleans Parish, the borders of which are coextensive with the City of New Orleans at the base of the Mississippi River, share some surprising similarities.

Andorra, comprises 180 square miles.  Orleans Parish is made up of 350 square miles, of which 180 are solid land.  Now some differences appear.  The population of Andorra is roughly 84,000 while New Orleans has an estimated population of 336,644 (we are breathlessly anticipating the latest official census count).    Andorra's unemployment is essentially zero while the New Orleans-Metarie-Kenner metropolitan area clocked in at 8.1% this past October according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.  While not exemplary, this is a pretty healthy rate compared to other areas of the United States, not to mention the world.  Andorra has the second highest global life expectancy rate (82) while New Orleans does not.

Similarities reappear when comparing the economy though.  Andorra's economy is driven by tourism.  10.2 million tourists visit this mountain principality every year and catering to their needs is what sustains the high employment rate.  Prior to Katrina and the federal levee failures, between 8.5 and 9 million visitors came to the Crescent City.  In 2009, that figure was 7.6 million.  85,000 people are employed in New Orleans tourism industry.

New Orleans is governed by a strong mayor charter with a city council that has its own sphere of influence.  It seems to balance out and be workable in most cases, responsive when necessary on the macro level if maddeningly bureaucratic in other aspects for the individual entrepreneur.  Andorra is a parliamentary democracy with a prime minister running day-to-day operations but the heads of state empowered to dissolve the government and call for replacement elections are two co-princes.

According to the city charter, here is how to qualify for being elected Mayor of New Orleans (Orleans Parish, Louisiana, USA):
Section 4-202. Qualifications.
The Mayor shall be a citizen of the United States and a qualified elector of the City, and shall have been domiciled in the City for at least five years immediately preceding the election. 

To become a co-prince of Andorra (a sovereign European nation outside the EU), you must be one of two things.  One co-prince is the Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain.  The current incumbent is Archbishop Joan Enrique Vives Sicilia, who is expected to continue in his post until the Vatican decides he is needed elsewhere.  He has been co-prince of Andorra since 2003.  The other co-prince is the head of the French Republic, this gentleman:
None other than Nicolas Sarkozy, the elected president of France.  The country that was reborn as a cradle of liberty, equality and fraternity has a prince as it's head of state, albeit a prince of Andorra, not of France.  The French did away with their own monarchy on-and-off but finally around the middle of the nineteenth century.  Andorra's constitution is a fluke of its incorporation in 1278, similar to New Orleans' history of being three municipalities in one during the early 19th century and it's just abolished tax assessor system.

Another similarity between Andorra and New Orleans:  Take this quote from Wikipedia and let it settle in: "Given its relative isolation, Andorra has existed outside the mainstream of European history, with few ties to countries other than France and Spain."  Substitute the word "American" for "European" and read again.


Related Posts with Thumbnails