29 November 2010


The plane home after Thanksgiving was just a little late. No worries.

Last Wednesday, after some morning work, I took a nonstop flight to New Orleans to spend the weekend with Sarah. By the time I got to Baton Rouge, we had time to grab some Thai food. Then, S crashed. Me too.

On Thursday, we grabbed a quick bite at Starbucks (the only place open on Thanksgiving morning) before driving down to NOLA. If we drove on the interstate, the trip would have taken just over an hour, but since we had time to kill and a desire to see something new, we elected to follow the mighty Mississippi all the way down to New Orleans. The drive took about three hours, but we passed it quickly with plans for the future.

We got to NOLA in mid-afternoon, a bit peckish, but too close to dinner to merit lunch. Instead, we wandered the French Quarter, snacked on beignets at Cafe du Monde, and took photos. Dinner was at The Bourbon House, on Bourbon St. I had oysters, turducken, dressing, and a sazerac. S had turkey, dressing, and smashed sweet potatoes. The turducken was entirely underwhelming, but the drink and dressing made up for it. After dinner, the Carousel Bar for a nightcap.

On Friday, we walked about 7.5 miles from the French Quarter to Audobon Park, along Magazine St. There were plenty of shops all along the way, most of which we stopped in. The weather was cold and rainy, so we were thankful for the respite. Breakfast at Surrey's was rockin' - shrimp grits and biscuits! We were hoping to get some Xmas shopping done, but the only stuff we bought was for ourselves.

After Magazine Street, we took the streetcar back to the hotel and prepped for dinner: Korean BBQ with friends. After dinner, the Ritz for drinks and desserts and jazz!

Saturday was more low-key. Small breakfast, carriage ride through the quarter and cemetary. We also bought a painting for home. We had eyeballed it in October on my last visit, and this time, we pulled the trigger. Saturday afternoon was a nap, and then to dinner...

...which deserves its own paragraph. The Commander's Palace was epic by every standard. Our waiter knew our names when we sat down. He made good recommendations for drinks (though I think S prefers dark rum in her Mai Tais). I had a harvest salad (greens, cherries, citrus), duck (roasted and crispy, with mushrooms and savory bread pudding), and another world's-best-pecan pie. S declared her dessert to be the best cream-cheese cheesecake ever.

Then, back to the hotel for a siesta (finally getting the hang of how to pace ourselves in the Big Easy) before heading out to hear old timey jazz at The Preservation Hall. We were late to arrive, but standing in the back meant that I could dance. After that, we were going to hear a brass band blow the roof off of a club, but since the club was smokey, we abandoned that plan in favor of meeting up with some pals for a nightcap.

Sunday was a little lazier. We ate at a cafe in the Bywater neighborhood called Satsuma, took a quick disaster-tour of the lower ninth ward, walked in a swamp, and got back to Red Stick in time to watch Harry Potter.

This morning, I met S on set for a few hours. She introduced me to some cast and crew, including her bosses and some actors fro Friday Night Lights. Then, back to NOLA to catch my flight. I tried to find some Rowan's Creek bourbon (a discovery from Thanksgiving dinner), but was unsuccessful. Maybe S will find some next week when her mom flies out for a visit.

Flying now. Spotty internet.

Swamp flower

Swamp tree

13 November 2010

a mild facebook rant

Just got into it with someone on Facebook. I realized that my response was lengthy, rambly, and ornery. So, I thought it'd be a perfect blog post!

The thing that bugs me is that Americans want all of these things but don't want to pay for them. We want universal health care (most Americans do - they just disagree on some details of the current plan - and on the circumstances under which it was passed), good schools, a powerful military, good roads. We want our oil wells safe, our coal mines safe, our cars safe, our gasoline safe. We want a safe place to put our money, we want a good mortgage from a company that's not going to screw us. We want safe airplanes, clean air, clean water, beaches, recreation center. We want safe food.

But we don't want to pay for it! All this stuff costs money. Deregulation doesn't work - corporations go out of their way to find opportunities to avoid compliance, just like how individual Americans will go out of their way to avoid paying what taxes they owe (and by the way, NOT raising taxes 5% isn't going to get you that raise or convince the wealthy lawyers to pay their full tax burden). BP avoided regulation, and look what happened. Exxon did the same thing in '89 with the Valdez and refusing to address Hazelwood's alcoholism. Wall Street is fighting regulation, saying they don't need it. I guess they don't - they can't even follow the simple rules that they have in the first place (like, you have to actually own the mortgage in order to foreclose on it).

The auto industry fought regulation about seat belts. Can anyone say they're a bad thing? The military contracting industry fought regulation on their contractors, and now we have Blackwater employees being protected from accusations of rape in Iraq/Afghanistan (an American soldier, in a similar situation, would be subject to a court martial and penalties).

All of this stuff costs money, but are Americans interested in paying for it? NOPE. We want want want, but reject the idea that we need to pay pay pay. Everyone knows this, but the different parties address it in different ways...

Democrats say 'bite the bullet - we all gotta pay for what we want, but let's ask the rich (who have more disposable income) pay for more.' This makes everyone mad immediately, b/c they hate paying for stuff. But, in the future, when they don't have asthma/cancer/traffic deaths/foreclosures, no one ever says 'thanks, dems!'

Republicans say 'we'll lower your tax burden now, because we know you hate paying for stuff.' This makes people happy in the short term, b/c now I can go to Hawaii or order that extra Double Down, but in the future, when an oil spill destroys an entire ecosystem (and threatens multiple industries), no one ever says 'screw you, gop!'

The Tea Party is selling Americans a bill of goods. They want to lower taxes now, because they know that there's no way to be held accountable for the problems later. Rand Paul says he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act. If he had done that in '64, we'd be an entirely different country now, but without the ability to jump back and forth between universes, how could we evaluate where we are? He'd be a footnote in the history of how we maintained our segregated society. Sarah Palin wants to open up ANWAR to drilling. Really? Drilling for OIL in an unforgiving region, then having to pipe it halfway across a continent? That sounds like a great idea! And we don't need regulation from the government to ensure its safety - the oil companies do just fine policing themselves! And all of those Tea Party signs that say 'Keep your Government Hands out of my Medicare!' - really? Are people that stupid? I don't remember a single Tea Party leader pointing out the fact that Medicare IS THE DEFINITION of Government Hands.

I may be sorry to see money disappear out of my bank account every 15 April, but I'm happy to be able to avail myself of the things it buys: roads, clean resources, parks, schools (yes, even though I have no children), Medicare (even though I'm too young to take advantage of it), unemployment insurance (even though I don't need it anymore), food stamps (which I don't need), military protection (even though I disagree with their policies), police protection, the fire department, vehicle safety tests, safe food, anti-drug campaigns, etc. Some of these things affect me on a daily basis, some not at all, but I think it's part of my responsibility as an American and a human being to contribute towards a better society.

I believe that it was Cain, in the Bible, who asked, incredulously, 'am I my brother's keeper?' after killing Abel. To which God basically said 'yes, you are, you jerk.'

01 November 2010


Red Stick swamp


Baton Rouge and New Orleans

So, Baton Rouge is a hole.

S said as much, but I didn't believe her. It's the capital of Lousiana! And a big city! How could it be so empty?

But it was. Fortunately, New Orleans is close. On Saturday, we went down to the French Quarter for the afternoon. We wandered around, got some food, snapped some photos.

On Sunday, we drove around BR. We went downtown. Nothing. We went to the garden district. Nothing. We drove around LSU campus. Nothing. Finally, we found a swamp to wander through. And then, for dinner, mellow mushroom pizza! And, also, we started our Xmas shopping.