Monday, May 30, 2011

A brief hiatus

I do have Marlon Brando's hat, if not his attitude.
Whalehead King will be offline until June 5, 2011.  Sorry to disappoint.  Over the next few days, feel free to sample the archives of all the wondrous tales told here.  Particular months of note:  August 2010, May 2009, and April 2007.  Links in the sidebar to your left!  There is plenty of real gold and fools' gold to be sifted.  Everything is safe for work, but I still wouldn't let the boss catch you reading this folderol.

Until next week,
With a handshake and best wishes for fair winds at your back,

Memorial Day and Saint Joan of Arc

The maid of Orleans, Saint Joan of Arc
Today is the day the US honors its war dead.  Serendipitously, it lands on May 30th this year, the feast day of the Patron Saint of Soldiers and France, St. Joan of Arc.  As we've described in the past,  St. Joan of Arc has no official connection to New Orleans, though she is honored and venerated here.
Saint Joan of Arc, a flattering portrait.
Her date of birth is celebrated on January 6, the starting date of Mardi Gras season, but her feast is celebrated on the day of her martyrdom, May 30.  I'm unaware of any gathering to honor her at the base of the gilt statue at the head of the French Market, but I'll be making my way down to the Quarter to pay my respects.
Saint Joan of Arc in full regalia.
Life in New Orleans is like that.  The city is peppered with shrines and reminders of people who are reminders of what is good and best about being human.  The city itself is a testament to the strength and hope that make human life worth living.  It is full of distractions and diversions, but at its core, New Orleans is about resilience and faith.
Saint Joan of Arc: an inspiration
For a pamphlet describing Saint Joan of Arc's history in New Orleans written and hand colored by Whalehead King, please send $4.00 via paypal (tax and shipping included).  I'll even throw in a medal and a silken cord to wear as a fond reminder of her heroism and the special place she holds in New Orleanians' hearts.

While Memorial Day is celebrated as the start of the summer vacation season (school in New Orleans ended its 2010-2011 session last week), it is a day intended to give due respect to those who perished during the wars that have, unfortunately and necessarily, been undertaken on behalf of us all.  As well as honoring Saint Joan of Arc today, visit a cemetery and put your hat over your heart when you pass the graves decorated by American flags.  Utter a prayer of thanks.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Hubig's pie cast aside?

I purchased an apple Hubig's pie today, intending to describe what it is like to eat one of these confections, but more pressing matters distracted my magpie attention span.  My mistress and I went to Story Land in City Park...
2006 Ninja 250 XR
Isn't she a doll?  I don't mean Bo Peep.

Afterwords, my mistress posed in the park, leaning to one side to show off her best profile...
That Ninja is a lady
The lady of the house and I took a ride to lunch, and I mentioned that I had been out with my mistress earlier in the day, while I patted my mistress' seat.  My wife said, "There's no competition here.  I know who owns your heart."  Then the three of us made our way deep into Faubourg Marigny to the Cake Bakery and Cafe for plates of fried oysters and scrambled eggs.

I don't know how the French describe a relationship in which three parties share mutual love and respect, and everyone is satisfied with the role they play.  I only know that love makes a family, and there is plenty of mutual love to go around at Whalehead King's house.  Is there room for a fourth cog in this blissful, domestic machine?  Does Savory Simon the pie-man have a key to open the front door and share in our homely, simple bliss?

Everyone loves a Hubig's Pie.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

How are Hubig's Pies made?

Hubig's pies are made with love, buddy, on equipment older than you are.  Money may not be able to buy you love, but one dollar and nine cents will buy you a Hubig's pie.

They are made by people older than you are.  They are made from local produce.  They are made with pride, New Orleans-style, at a New Orleans-style price.  

After you've tasted a Hubig's pie, you'll turn up your nose at Hostess.
Just the sight of a Hostess Fruit Pie package will turn your stomach, while a glimpse of Savory Simon on a Hubig's package will make you salivate.

The Gambit wrote an article on Hubig's post-Katrina recovery a while ago.  They also shot the video above with its appropriate soundtrack.

Happy eating!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


You know how in old movies, there are always pretty girls in swank nightclubs selling cigars and cigarettes from a tray?  I used to know a woman who worked her way through college selling roses in nightclubs, "A rose for the lady, sir?"

I know what would sell like hot cakes in New Orleans nightspots.  "Hubig's Pies, anyone?"
Apple, lemon, peach, pineapple, chocolate, coconut, and seasonal flavors (currently banana).  They will settle your stomach more gently than a Lucky Dog or a Rally Burger.
Click image to visit the virtual bakery.  Order a case today, or, if you live in New Orleans, visit any gas station or grocery!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coffee, tea, or Hubig's?

When planes are en route to Louis Armstrong International Airport, stewardesses should ask their passengers what they prefer, "Coffee, tea, or Hubig's?"

"What's Hubig's?" out-of-towners will ask.

"It's something you won't be able to get enough of after we land.  Hubig's Pies are sold on just about every street corner, but the little bakery can't keep up with demand.  They are good.  They are very, very, extra-ordinarily good.  Coffee?  Tea?  ... No, I didn't think so."

Stewardesses should also offer them to passengers leaving the fair city of New Orleans.  While plenty of people stock up on Hubig's Pies when they leave city limits, by the time they are over Slidell, that stash has a big dent in it.  A Hubig's for the trip would be just the kind of lagniappe New Orleans is famous for.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Everyone loves Hubig's Pies.

Are there any recorded songs that mention Hubig's Pies?  I don't listen to the radio, so I don't know if Hubig's jingles rain down from the airwaves.  I'm sure live, scat-laced rhapsodies are composed off the cuff in New Orleans parking lots every morning, and extended riffs are played out on saxophones and snares in smoky venues after the witching hour, but is there an official Hubig's song?  Something to march to while carrying one of these treats in one's hand?  A Marseillaise dedicated to the overthrow of pastry despots determined to thwart the common man from the food he loves as much as he cherishes liberty, fraternity, and equality?

The pies are ubiquitous.  I saw someone eating one with relish this morning down at the French Market.  By that, I mean gusto, not the condiment.

Sweet and neat, 
They're the treat that can't be beat.
Somewhat nutritious, certainly delicious,
Filled with fruit, they're the route to a hoot and a toot.
They'll put a spring in a step and some step in your boot.

You can trust what's in a Hubig's...
You can love what's in a Hubig's...
You can share what's in a Hubig's...
Or you can keep it all for yourself (boom-boom).

Twice as nice
As pies that need to be sliced,
They are savory and flavory, 
Extra-ordin-ar-ily favorite-y,
They're the pie that'll make a smile
on your face...
Any place! (hoo-ray!)

It's Hubig's, the name you can trust,
It's Hubig's, the pie that's a must,
It's Hubig's, with the quality crust,
Eat it up when you've got it, or share it with your chums (boom-boom)!
Just remember to save a bit and share it with your mum (Aw, Ma!).
She'll love you.

Every day is happier,
Slap-dappier happier, 
Effervescently, messlessly, carelessly happier,
when you put a bite of Hubig's past your gums (boom-boom) (hoo-ray!) (Aw, Ma.).

This lyric is not officially affiliated with Hubig's Pies, only in mouth-watering, soul-satisfying spirit.
Pick one up today!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pardon the inconvenience

A sign at the Bayou Bugaloo along Bayou Saint John summed up one of daily recurring thoughts.  It's a nice design.  It should be posted all over America.  It isn't confrontational, just a helpful reminder to automobile drivers that other people use the roads too.

Don't be one of those drivers who needs reminding.

Honorable mention of New Orleans' flag.

I've kvetched about the New Orleans flag before, here, but it was rated number 16 of best American city flag designs by the North American Vexillological Association.

Number 80:
Only one Connecticut city gets an honorable mention.  My favorite city in the state, after New London, and the largest one, with 144,000 residents...

Ladies and gentlemen, number 139:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Late nights and pillow fights

I'm a New Englander.  We still subscribe to wise Benjamin Franklin's advice that early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise.

Since I've moved to New Orleans, I've stayed out much too late twice this week.  Is past 5:30 PM already?  This is no time for breakfast.

Worse than the katzenjammers, is that I've had to engage in pillow fights each "morning," and I lost both times.  I was outnumbered in each encounter.  Tuesday was against two sisters, who I figure have had a lifetime developing teamwork and strategy.  This afternoon was two dames and cocker spaniel.  Oh the humanity!!

At least it wasn't as bad as a certain, regrettable, post midnight adventure last week.

Oh, the stories I could tell if I chose to.

Sleep tight, and keep your nose clean,

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Sad Circle of Life

The Circle of Life has rolled around my little nook in New Orleans.

I was in the back yard when I noticed something hanging in the bushes:

I maneuvered around to get a better look.  Let's linger on the gruesome details, shall we?  It's so rare for me to actually use the camera instead of just letting it take up space in my pocket.
Bluejays have been flitting around chez King recently and I now know why, besides the attractive surroundings, inviting atmosphere, and near-constant bossa nova soundtrack.  They have a nest.  One of their fledgelings escaped the nest and, unfortunately. met with misfortune, strangulated by a vine before he had a chance to hit the ground.

I disentangled the corpse and placed it on a bier of newspaper, exposed to the elements further back in the yard.  A Plains Indian funeral...
I was hoping, in a morbid way, that the worms and the scavengers would do their work and leave me with a bare, naked skeleton picked free of meat and gristle and even the brain.  I would walk back one day and find a bleached, museum quality specimen to mount in a shadow box.  So I walked back yesterday.  I didn't walk far when I discovered that everything might not be what I imagined.
A few steps further revealed a more ominous sign...
It was easy to deduct where the evidence would lead, especially since the lady of the house had mentioned that she heard some cats carrying on outside the bedroom window the night before.  The empty grave:
An old newspaper is as useless as the stale news it contains, good for lining bird cages or serving as the final resting place for adolescent birds who have met their maker too soon, before they have had a chance to soar.  An old newspaper is also good for wrapping fish.  Everyone knows cats love to eat fish and birds. I cannot fit a mouse into this poetry, but you get the idea.  There is a subtle serendipity to the events we witness.

The sun shone brightly and cheerfully, as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.  If it had been raining, I would have cried, but I didn't want anyone to be able to tell how I felt inside.

I've had time to come to terms with the inevitable.  I'm of a philosophic turn of mind.  It is all the grand Circle of Life.  Hakuna matata as they say in the Lion King.  New Orleans is neither celluloid, nor a broadway place, nor an ice capade.  It is not Disney-fied.  It's real life, gritty and muddled at its core.  Sometimes sad things happen in the real world.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Do gas prices affect motorcyclists?

Based on the smug look on this chap's mug, it can be safe to assume that gas prices do not affect a motorcyclist's ability to patrol around town.  He is often interrupted during petroleum fill-ups by other motorists, the kind who drive on four wheels, who inquire how often he needs to fill his tank.  "Once a week," is the reply.

"How much does that tank hold?"  Two and a half gallons.  "How much do you buy in a week?"  About a gallon and a half, give or take.

The Littlest Ninja had the air pressure in its tires refreshed this week.  Mpg has increased from 6o to 80.  Not bad, not bad at all.  To get 110 mpg, there are other options:
The wee Honda Metropolitan may be the most reliable scooter on the market.  Yes, that Honda reliability is all it is cracked up to be.  I don't drive a Metro anymore, mainly because after a year of heavy use, its top speed steadily decreases.  Most of the time 35mph is enough, especially on city streets.  20mph doesn't leave a lot of escape maneuvering when a spot gets tight in traffic, though.  Plenty of under-seat storage cannot be lauded enough.  The Littlest Ninja has no storage, but it easily achieves highway speeds. It is an equitable trade on capability.

The price of gasoline right now?  $3.69 a gallon.  Not enough to break the bank.  I wish it was higher.  That might get more cars off the road.

Drive safely.  May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.  Keep the rubber on the road.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hamburgers don't inhale

A bit of a hodgepodge today.

The Freie und Hansastadt Hamburg, the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, is a city state in Germany that is near and dear in spirit to Whalehead household.  The city has a very eye-catching flag.  Crisp, simple design.  Fortress Hamburg, the busiest port in Europe.  Remarkably, its sister city in the United States is Chicago, not New Orleans.  One would think these two major ports would share closer ties.  Perhaps some day.  I know one Hamburger who feels deep affection for the Crescent City.

Speaking of another flag that has caught my fancy recently:
Corsica!  That's a beauty.  There isn't any New Orleans connection here, except that the island was the birthplace of Napoleon, who is fondly commemorated in the Crescent City even if he did sell Louisiana to Thomas Jefferson.  Besides Napoleon Avenue, there are streets named after his major battlefield victories, as well as Marengo Street, named after Napoleon's horse.

I'm fascinated by the Corsican flag for reasons that may someday bear fruit.  Until then, keep that image in mind.  You saw it here first.

Speaking of the Hamburg flag, I've added a patch to my summer motorcycle jacket.  Here, our model looks suitably ready not to take any nonsense, as Hamburgers have sometimes been known to be when the subject of fast food comes up...
In other news, a parcel arrived at Chez King.  Some old-time, no-nonsense, pipe tobacco.  Sugar Barrel on your left, Sir Walter Raleigh Aromatic on your right.
I can't find these in New Orleans locally.  They aren't premier blends, just things that have been mass produced for longer than anyone reading this has been alive.  There's a reason these blends stick around from one century to the next, even if you don't see many people smoking pipes nowadays.  They are good.  They take no effort to enjoy.   

Anyone thinking of quitting cigarettes and taking up the pipe is encouraged to do so.  Either of these blends, or anything else available at a drug store, is a recommended way to start.  New Orleans is blessed with a surfeit of fine tobacconists that offer a wide range of pipe tobaccos.  Some of these are better suited for a more experienced connoisseur.  I've seen more people smoking cigars in New Orleans than anywhere else I've ever lived.  It would be nice to see a few more pipe smokers out and about.

New Orleans drug stores do carry pipe tobacco: Prince Albert, Carter Hall, Half and Half.  I would recommend the first two if you are thinking of taking up the briar.  Most drug stores also offer bags of generic tobacco.  You can give it a try, but I'd stick with a name brand that has withstood the test of time if I were you.  The local druggists also stock Dr. Grabow pipes for about $26.00 a piece.  I don't own one but they have their admirers.  Again, this brand has been around for seemingly forever, so it is a solid bet that it will treat you right.  If you can find one though, buy a corn cob pipe for $5.00.  Don't listen to the tobacconist who wants to sell you something pricier.  A corn cob pipe was good enough for Mark Twain.  Experienced pipe smokers swear by them.  I own three.  They are good enough for you.

The next time you see me on the street smoking my cob, you can greet me with the traditional Hamburg, "Hummel, Hummel."  I will respond, "Mors, Mors."  Then we can duck into a saloon to share a toast and a smoke.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Using my new power.

So, based on the epiphany I had yesterday, I tried out my new attitude and show of strength.  I took the motorcycle up to City Park this morning where I careened along the pathways.  On approaching one of the lagoons, I saw my opportunity.  I parked the Littlest Ninja and approached a group of ducks who were sleeping in the shade of one of the oak trees.  They sensed my presence and awoke, stirring to their feet and then waddling to the safety of the nearby lagoon where they assumed I would not follow.

It isn't that I couldn't follow them.  I chose not to.  Instead, I stood on the shore and declared "Baleana Rex!" to the ducks and any other bird within earshot.

I felt rather proud of myself.

Now I am off to a dental appointment.  "I'm here for a cleaning.  Baleana Rex!"

This is not me:
(photo courtesy of this site)

Baleana Rex!

I was doing some research this evening and I read the collected "essential" tales of Prince Namor, the Savage Sub-mariner.  Anyone familiar with this troubled Prince of the Blood, the Avenging Son, the Lord or Atlantis, knows that he often declares in the heat of battle or for no particular reason at all, "Imperious Rex!"

Every one of his tales starts by proclaiming it in the introduction, and Namor says it at least once over the course of an adventure.  I rather like the sound of it: "Imperious Rex!"

I think I'll adopt it, tailoring it to my own disposition, naturally.  Now, when I stop to buy gasoline or just debark from the Littlest Ninja to pick up a po' boy, I will exclaim my new catch phrase.  I've been trying it out tonight.  I sped through a yellow light and shouted, "Baleana Rex!" just before the light turned red.  You can translate the Latin.  It is rather self-evident.

I stopped by the Red Door on North Carrollton Avenue and placed my order, "I'll take an Abita draft.  Baleana Rex!"  The bartender looked at me oddly, but he poured my glass post haste.  I rode through City Park, careening along the curving roads..."Baleana Rex!"

I can't wait to say it more tomorrow.  It will be the first thing I utter when I open my eyes to the dawn.

All images copyright Marvel Comics.
Baleana Rex!

Monday, May 09, 2011

A New Orleans Testimony

There has been some loose talk that WK is in ill spirits, that he cannot write in his old style, that he cannot capture the spirit of a place, that he is suffering from separation anxiety, so far removed from the granite that underlies New England.  Your humble narrator may be a stranger in a strange land, but he is fitting in rather well.  Every day is a delightful day.  Assumptions of declining mental health are not only exaggerated, they are downright wrong.  To whit:

Life is not disposable in New Orleans.  It is vibrant.  It is robust.  It is as curlicued as a beaded string tossed in the air, it as ardent as the hands that reach to catch that string and place it around the lucky recipient’s neck.  There is pride in place.  There is pluck and gumption, and the stern stuff that makes waking up worth doing every day in every way.  Dreamers slumber in New Orleans.  They do not dream on the same scale as the sleep-deprived who hunker through the witching hours, the blue hours, the jazz hours, the riotous times, the hurly-burly, the hurdey-gurdey, the shimmy, the chamois, the velvet glove and the velvet fog, that fill the interstices between every one of New Orleans’ seconds, step by step, inch by inch, without flinching.  If you dream in New Orleans, you live.  If you sleep in New Orleans, you rest.  If you live in New Orleans, your skin tingles, your nose stings, your taste buds are afire, your ears prick, and your eyes are wide open to all the colors of the rainbow. 

There are plenty of projects in the pipeline.   

With a handshake,

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Odometer Update: Day 6

There are 117 new miles on the odometer.  It took three days of nonesuch to rack them up.  What did I do?

On Wednesday, I went to Sam's Club in Metarie.  It wasn't to buy food.  As someone who doesn't mind shopping at the grocery to pick up the night's fixings, I get overwhelmed buying anything by the case.  I went to buy some printer paper.  I like to go between 7:00 and 9:00 AM, business hours.  I don't bat an eye when I see a convenience store owner stocking up on cases of Snickers bars.  When I see a mother of three buying them, I have to pause and wonder why.  I prefer not to wonder about these things.

I donned full motorcycle armor for my trip to Sam's Club.  Padded jacket, thick pants with padding in the knees, and my Combat Touring Boots (pictured above).  The lady of the house asked where I was going.  I replied, "On business."  I wanted maximum protection because I intended to open up the Littlest Ninja and let it scream a bit on Earhart Highway.  Neither the Ninja nor I have had a chance to really fly the past few months, so I thought it would enjoy having its pipes cleaned.  Top speed was only 80mph, I'm too used to topping out at 45mph in city traffic.  The Littlest Ninja would have gone faster if allowed, but I had to reign it in.  I guess I'm too old to go 110mph anymore.  It's a good thing, I suppose.

Thursday, I went to the bank.  That's not really all I did, but the rest is just as dull.  My errands took long looping turnarounds.  I went to Terranova's Market on the way home, but they were closed.  I suspect they don't want to deal with the many, many, many people who are converging on the farther end of  Esplanade Avenue for Jazzfest.  It is a regular clot of pedestrians, bicyclists, and out-of-town cabs up there.  My end of the street isn't so much affected, but I do notice an uptick in traffic when I look out my window.

Friday led to a trip to New Orleans East.  The lady of he house wanted to take a little ride.  I wanted to go out to Saint Bernard Parish to open up the throttle on some empty roads, but its too much hassle to get there with one of the bridges to the Lower 9th Ward closed for repairs.  I said, "I'll take you to a place you never imagined is in the city."  We went along Old Gentilly Road in the East, where all New Orleans' motor vehicles go when they die.  We saw a fleet of discarded city buses lined end to end in the swamp with nowhere to go.  The lady's verdict, "It's so ugly out here."

No motorcycle today.  We used the pedal kind to go to the Prytania Theater to see the noon showing of "Marnie."  We went down to the Central Business District to take Annunciation Street to Audubon Park for a picnic lunch pre-screening.  To get home, we took Jefferson Davis Parkway.  Total milage: 15.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Odometer Update: Day 5

You'll never guess who stopped by to lean against the fence in my back yard to discuss my driving and writing habits.   We retired to the Fixin's Bar on Saint Claude Avenue to go over the details.  He doesn't approve of my devil-may-care attitude.  I tried to convince him that my intentions are pure and justified.  We parted amicably enough, as gentlemen tend to do.

Nobody pulled a trigger.

More tomorrow!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Odometer Update: Day 4

I know!  Yesterday, I didn't provide a milage figure from my touring around New Orleans and today I can't even post a fresh picture, recycling one from last summer with at least 5000 miles missing from the Littlest Ninja's odometer.  ...And it is the same picture from Monday!  To rub salt in your indignation, not only did I get sidetracked from reporting about yesterday's journeys in order to talk about my search for turkey cutlets in New Orleans, today, I haven't checked the most recent reading.  This odometer update is turning into something else altogether.

My journalistic skills mimic my driving.  I am easily distracted and led onto detours according to flexible whim.  I have other fish to fry tonight and other concerns that burn my hash (not really, I'm incapable of sustained anger).  I did check my odometer's reading this morning and I drove very little today (all things considered) and I'll detail it all tomorrow, Heaven willing.  In the meantime I have lost one half of two different things.  Let us take a little side trip down the stream of consciousness and focus, magpie-like on the latest shiny facts that hold my attention.

Firstly, I lost one of my gloves at the Bulldog Tavern on Canal Boulevard.  I lose things all the time, but this is particularly irksome.  I found these gloves on the side of the road probably ten years ago.  Good deerskin gloves, well-broken in.  A thumb (on the lost glove) has a scar on it from before it came into my possession.  Anyone finding this glove is encouraged to return it to its rightful owner.  If you are reading this, you know who that is and you can find my contact information easily enough somewhere on this page.  No reward is offered beyond the satisfaction of doing the right thing.  While it may have fallen out of my helmet, or I may have misplaced it (which is often the case and it may turn up later), my preferred explanation is that some lovely lass purloined it as a keepsake after seeing me in full motorcycle regalia strutting through the Bulldog.  Lady, I may be Whalehead King, but I'm no Prince Charming.  I may be a knight on a charger, but I'm no Galahad.  My steed is the Littlest Ninja this side of the Mississippi River, not a white horse.  I may come to your rescue, but it will only be by happenstance, not as the result of a quest.  If you are reading this, I would like my glove back.  Because of my confabulation, this loss is irksome in a good way.  I have a story to tell.  My personal mythology has an addition.  Somewhere, someone is sleeping with my dirty, oily, beaten-up motorcycle glove under her pillow.  Sweet dreams.

Secondly, driving to my current destination, I noticed that it seemed to be raining even though everything was as bone dry as it ever gets in New Orleans.  As it happens, I took off my glasses and noticed something was definitely amiss.  A lens is missing!  Now, I've been expecting this for the past week or so, a vague premonition.  There were no overt signs.  This lens has been cemented onto the frame with Krazy Glue for about three years and has shown no signs of seeking freedom.  This pair of glasses, like my gloves, is about ten years old.  Unlike my gloves, I paid cash money for them.  They are the least pretentious pair of eyeglasses I own (besides my US Navy issue frames which I obtained at no charge), so I've been wearing them often.  I've been noticing how roughly I treat them.  They got pulled off and pushed on willy-nilly every time I donned or doffed my helmet, and I've been amazed at the durability of a drop of glue dispensed from a 99-cent tube of glue.  I can't say I didn't get what I paid for.  Three years of abuse is a long run.

I do not suspect someone stole my left eyeglass lens to be able to see the world through my eyes, but nothing is beyond the realm of probability.  Even this conjecture, though, is more than I can plausibly accept.  That said, if you are reading this and have my left lens in your possession, I would like it back.  As a reward, I will give you 10% of the advertising proceeds from this blog for the month of May 2011. Don't spend it all in one place.

So, I am left lopsided with more equipment on my right hand side.  This seems fitting.  The lady of the house complains that the patches on my motorcycle jacket are all on the left hand side.  While I find this to be a pleasing asymmetry, she thinks they should be arranged more equally along my sagittal line.  My left ear sports three earrings and four holes, while my right ear has none.  Maybe Fate is telling me that it is time to pay attention to the left side of my brain, as if I needed that advice.  I don't know.  All I know is that I am in a conundrum.  I have to pick another pair of daily eyewear (there are plenty of options in my wardrobe) and that I need to make a decision about my gloves.  Should I keep the remaining lucky right glove and just replace the left, or should I wear a coordinated set?  Oh, the troubles I bear.

So what about the odometer update?  Tune in tomorrow to get up to speed, or not.  I fully intend to give a full report on how many miles I've travelled this week.  I'm sure I've burned though a gallon of gasoline.  Some say the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, but I've never found that to be the case.  I've found good intentions lead me to other roads and scenic journeys.  It isn't the destination that matters, it is how you get there.  Unless the destination is Hell, of course.  So far, I haven't arrived.

Have Ninja, will travel.
Keep an eye on your gear.
With a bare, left-handed, handshake,

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Buying turkey in New Orleans.

Turkey cutlets
It is too early in the day to report what the Littlest Ninja's odometer reads today.  The day's journeys are not yet done.  I do want to take an aside to discuss turkey consumption in New Orleans, however.  It seems to be impossible to get turkey cutlets in the Crescent City.  New Englanders know what I mean: just cuts of breast meat without bones or skin.  New Orleanians appear to only consume whole anatomical parts, based on my shopping experiences.

I got a flyer from the Ideal Discount Meat Market in the mail today (2436 Ursuline Avenue at Rocheblave Street).  The front page is dedicated to a preponderance of meat on sale this week.  There are also specials on noodles, milk, liquor, cold cuts, and soda.  Most of it is meat.  The turkey being promoted consists of turkey necks (5 lbs for $4.99) and turkey wings (5 lbs for $5.99).  I haven't been in the Ideal Market, though it is close enough to my home.  As mentioned yesterday, I don't eat a lot of meat.  The interior of the flyer is dedicated to meat combination specials.  I know I've described this New Orleans phenomenon before, but here is the Ursulines Special (named after the street rather than the nuns, I presume).

Ursulines Special:

5 lbs. pickled tips (I still don't know what this is but I assume it is pork)
5 lbs. leg quarters (chicken?  I don't know)
5 lbs. turkey wings
5 lbs. drumsticks (could be turkey, could be chicken... no illustration provided)
5 lbs. ground meat (I assume beef, but there may some truth in advertising here)
5 lbs. center cut pork chops
5 lbs. pickled tails (I believe this also refers to pork, I've seen jars of them on shelves)
5 lbs. gravy steak (beef?  I'm not familiar with this)
5 lbs. smoked sausage
5 lbs. pigs' feet
5 lbs. neck bones (I think these are pork bones)
5 lbs. chicken wings
5 lbs. turkey necks
5 lbs. seven steaks (again, I assume this is beef, but I'm unfamiliar with the teminology)
5 lbs ham seasoning (I cannot even venture a guess; it could be ham bones for beans or spices for ham)
Free 24 cans of Faygo (this is a fruit-flavored, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage I've never tried)

While I'm sure this would feed a family for a long while at a considerable savings, if my refrigerator was stocked with these things, even the ones I can identify, I would probably eat out or go hungry.  I am a stranger in a strange land.  I'm not complaining.  Not a day goes by that I don't say, "I love it here." Despite that, I do find it hard to get something that I look forward to eating.  While I am an omnivore, I'm a finicky one.  Of course, I haven't yet lived here a full year.

All in good time...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Odometer Update: Day 2

Crescent City Classic Race, last week.
That's not me in the foreground.  I used to run a few miles a day, but I gave it up to become a bon vivant.  I moved to the right city.  The real subject of this photo is that beautiful motorcycle in the background: The Littlest Ninja This Side of the Mississippi River.

I was busy for most of today.  Too busy to be out on patrol.  The odometer reads 25,506.  I traveled 27 miles since last measurement.  That's one mile less than when I was on patrol yesterday.  What did I do?  I went to Lowe's to buy some spray paint and brass nails.  The store is about a half mile from my house as the crow flies, if not the Littlest Ninja.

Then I went to the grocery on Esplanade Avenue in search of some turkey cutlets because I've had a hankering for turkey the past few days.  I don't eat chicken or pork.  I rarely eat beef, and then only if it is cut up small, preferably at a Thai restaurant or as Chinese Orange Beef.  The grocer only had ground turkey and I don't eat ground meat.  No particular reason; it's a personal preference.  Empty-handed, I walked across the street to the Italian market across the street.  No cutlets, only a frozen turkey breast for more money than I wanted to spend for my turkey fix and bones to boot.  Total distance traveled as the crow flies: another three quarters of a mile?

Then I got the bright idea to buy some turkey legs I saw the day before at the supermarket on Carrolton Avenue.  As I said, I've been thinking about turkey cutlets for a few days now.  I figured I could cut the skin off the legs and cook them in a way I was dreaming about:  broiled so that the meat is dry.  Another WK culinary fun fact:  I like my meat cooked all the way through and toothsome.  If I burn it, I don't particularly mind.  I save those parts for last.  So I went to the supermarket, about a mile away if an efficient navigator were plotting the course.

Trip home: lets call it a mile and a half, which I did the straightest line possible because I don't like to leave meat in my satchel with spray paint and brass nails and whatever sundry important papers I may be toting about.  

Total distance supposedly traveled: two and a quarter miles.  Odometer reading since yesterday: 27 miles.  How do I do it?  I'm not sure, but I am trying to become aware.  Your humble narrator shrugs, "A motorcycle invites detours."

So, to sum up my carnivorous habits, no chicken or pork outside of sausage, which doesn't bother me.  Rare beef, and then usually only when dining out.  Occasional turkey.  A fondness for a lamb, which I don't mind cutting myself on the plate, though I prefer to do it prior to presentation.  No veal.  Don't even get me started on seafood, which I consider meat and I am just as persnickety about.

I'm not sure why New Orleanians prefer the necks of turkeys over cutlets.  If I had a hankering for turkey necks, I would have dined a week ago without any searching.  Ah well, the trip's the thing, as my odometer tells me.

Another insightful odometer update tomorrow.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Even a motorcyclist can notice gas prices.

This picture was taken last summer.  Yesterday, the Littlest Ninja's odometer read 25,455.  I don't normally pay attention to gas prices.  As someone who gets around 75 mpg, and buys two gallons every two weeks or so, I've started to notice it takes a bit more to fill my two and a half gallon tank.

I'm used to being blithe about the supply and demand that governs retail petroleum.  No more.  Gasoline cost $3.69 at one station close to home, and $3.89 a little up the road.  I can't believe I'm quibbling over twenty cents, but, times being what they are, maybe it is time to pay attention.

As someone who uses his motorcycle as his only means of transportation, I've become curious how far I travel.  25,455 miles isn't very far in the scheme of things, all things considered.  Cars travel farther every year.  A five year old automobile with less than 25,000 miles clocked on its engine would be considered underused.  Not so with a motorcycle.  I've spoken to other motorcyclists, ones with Harley Davidsons and others with bigger engines than the Littlest Ninja's mere 250cc displacement.  Motorcycles of comparable age seem to log 5000 miles as a high average.

The only time I didn't drive my motorcycle was when I lived in Boston during a blizzard.  It didn't seem prudent so I took the T (subway).  Most motorcyclists are not snow riders, for obvious reasons, but those who are deserve respect.  A journey under adverse conditions feels like a journey worth completing.  Most people also wouldn't drive a 250cc motorcycle from Massachusetts to Louisiana.  I pity those souls.  This, gentle reader, is the only way to travel, back roads all the way, experiencing our great country with the wind in one's face.  See the sidebar on your left for the record of that memorable journey.

Since yesterday, I have travelled 28 miles.  That seems very far in terms of my usual routine.  Take a compass to a map of New Orleans, and I rarely venture far from HQ.  Of course, I never go from Point A to Point B in a straight line.  A motorcycle encourages taking byways and the roads less traveled.

I'll be tallying up my daily miles traveled this week.  It is just an experiment in measurement.  I probably won't learn much.  I already know I go out of my way to go anywhere.  Moving through scenery is one of my life's greatest joys.  It entertains me like nothing else, and keeps me sharp, aware of what is going on.

28 miles.  How many more till next Sunday ends?  I don't know.  We'll see.  As an urban rider, it can't be too far.  I have no plans to make a cross-country trip this week, though I do plan on visiting Alabama the Beautiful in a month or so.  With gas prices being what they are, I may forego that excursion, though.


Saint Expedite, New Orleans, LA

You may recognize the illustration from a few weeks ago.  Yes, it is the dead crow stomped on by Saint Expedite, the crow that says, "Tomorrow."

If you happen to have a Kindle, or a device that allows you to read Kindle books, I'd like to recommend the volume featured above.  It is written by a certain Matthew King, and I found it very enjoyable, informative, and entertaining.  It is a veritable sleigh ride of facts stitched together with Whalehead joie de vivre.  The price: a mere 99 cents, a steal and something that sticks in the publisher's craw.  It is like giving away fool's gold for free!

Snap it up while you can.

I have seen the future.

Two wheels set a person free.  Beware the forces of tyranny.  While I see no harm in police officers using bicycles, motorcycles, motor scooters, or Segways to chase perpetrators who break municipal laws, there is something in me that resents their taking advantage of the ease of access and freedom of movement that two wheels allow.

I like being one rotation of the sprockets ahead of the fuzz, even though I don't break any laws, well, maybe but some minor traffic violations that are in my best interest and harm none.

Jazzfest started this past Friday and bicycles have been traveling up and down Esplanade Avenue at a regular clip, more than the usual traffic.  There are more taxicabs than I've ever seen outside Manhattan.  Many of them are from out of town, which I believe may be illegal.  Horse-mounted police are on patrol and I have no trouble with that.  I like to see them.  I even don't mind the various two-wheeled posses that are circulating through Treme.  Parking became a problem this far away from the Fair Grounds only on Sunday.  What will next weekend bring?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Another night on patrol in New Orleans

The street lamps cast a yellow glow in the foggy gloom of night.  WK is on on patrol, his two legs astride two wheels that propel him forward, always forward, toward the next adventure.  Is it day or is it night?  It is New Orleans, where sleep is the opiate of chumps and suckers.  A rat race is no race.  No cage can hold humble ambition.

The night air crackles when the ignition is lit.  It thrums with the hum of the Littlest Ninja on the East Bank of the Mississippi River as man and machine careen through throngs looking for good times and finding less than they bargained for.  A man on a motorcycle owns this city.  He plants the flag of his disposition and salutes it as it waves in the placid breeze.  On Humanity Street, he pauses.  He licks his finger and heads toward Frenchman Street to delve into the heart of a city of mystery and marvels.

New Orleans' Sweetheart

Our Lady of Prompt Succor is depicted in two statues in her National Shrine located on State Street, just off Claiborne Avenue, in New Orleans.  One is the diminutive "Sweetheart" statue.  This is located in a small side chapel.

The other is gilded and enthroned in glory above the tabernacle in the main chapel.

Also, in commentary on yesterday's post, I would like to add that decadence is a form of innoculation.  Its shocks soon lose impact after repeated exposure.  Sensation becomes a dead end, ending in numbness.  That's not how I want to read, nor is it how I want to live.  New Orleans is known as a decadent city, and it is full of surprises.  Those surprises come from the common humanity that teems along the city's byways and thoroughfares, not from any sexual proclivities or violence.  New Orleans is a wonderful place in which to live.  


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