Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Marigny Vet makes a house call

First Sula ate her leash. Then two days ago Brando bit her on the ass and left puncture wounds at the base of her tail. It was time to call a vet. But most vets don't even have working phones. Fortunately the Marigny Vet is making discounted house calls while their clinic is readied for business again. They arrived at our house yesterday morning at 11 and treated each of the dogs in the backyard. Poor Sula had to have her ass shaved and get a shot of antibiotics. Brando just needed a quick physical exam before he renewed his anxiety meds. But Brando hates vets, so I gave him a xanax and a muzzle. He still ran to the back of the yard and refused to participate. Finally, he let me hold him while the vet listened to his heart and felt his liver. All was fine. And, for a moment, the world was filled with entirely normal concerns. If you can call my dogs normal...

The evictions begin

I was walking Sula down Royal Street today and we met a couple standing outside their house--a house I immediately remembered from a walk earlier in the week, when a crew of out of town laborers were throwing every possession out onto the street. This was a day BEFORE the official eviction day, and the amount of stuff they were throwing onto the pavement made me think that it was likely a house people were planning to return to. Now I was standing with these tenants who had just minutes earlier arrived home ready to rebuild their lives and the city itself. There were only a few damaged books and some trash remaining.

They told me that they had left a note for their landlord, who had never returned their calls before the storm, so they had barracaded the windows and doors on their own. While I was with them, they tried calling the man--he immediately hung up the phone on them.

Like many people they had been waiting for basic things like utilities to be confirmed before they returned to live here again. Now they are calling on friends to see if anyone can offer a place to stay.

Meanwhile, the half a double across the street from me is available. Two weeks ago it was renting for $900. Last week they raised it to $2000. There have been no takers, so its down to $1500 today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Neville hug

Almost twenty years ago, on my first visit to New Orleans, I saw Charmaine Neville perform as the opening act for her brothers at a club in Riverwalk that no longer exists. I often thought of going to see her again, but since she had a regular gig at Snug Harbor it was one of those things that I always put off. Next week, next month, another time...

Last night, after the awful Marigny/Bywater meeting, I caught the end of Charmaine's return gig at Snug Harbor. The crowd was rather small, particularly considering there was no cover. But the band and Charmaine were great--completely up beat and talking only of New Orleans's future, not the past.

After the show I wanted to tell her how I'd seen her perform all those years ago, before I had ever lived here, and how great it was to see her again, now. But before I got the chance she grabbed me and gave me a big hug.

"Thanks for coming back," I said.

"Oh," she said, shaking her head, "you can't keep me out of here!!"

Night Court

Last night there was another Bywater/Marigny community meeting with Jackie Clarkson and reps from the police force, the utilities, and Army Corps of Engineers, etc. While last week there were 60 in attendance, last night about five hundred showed up--and it was another embarrassing display of narcissism on the part of the community. While the local officials tried to explain how extensive the damage is to the infrastructure of the city and how the individual neighborhoods are connected to each other and what work needs to be done to safely restore service, angry "concerned" residents stood on chairs shrieking obscenities and crying like babies about their own situation--which was no different than any others. For about 90 minutes they made it nearly impossible for any information to be shared, and then one by one, having gotten the negative attention they were seeking, they stormed out of the meeting. No one had anything to offer. No one volunteered to help. One of the few suggestions to come from the crowd was that all garbage could be dumped in the "empty lot" between Piety and Desire--the park in my neighborhood. I objected, of course.

Worst of all was Harry Anderson of the old sitcom "Night Court." Harry has been running community meetings in the French Quarter, and came to the Marigny to accuse Clarkson of never showing up. He interupted the police to shout at her. She explained that the one time she had been invited to his meeting she was already booked for another meeting. She had asked him to give her a date in advance. He never did. At that Harry and his blond assistant stormed out, proving once again that it really is all about HIM. And we should never forget that.

Later, at Mimi's, I overheard one of the most obnoxious woman at the meeting telling a delusional story about how the crowd had applauded her when she left the meeting. The truth is that by that time no one was even paying attention.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

A Neville returns...but still no butter

I spent most of the past four days standing in line at the only Walgreens open on the East bank. I was trying to refill my dog's prescription for separation anxiety medication, and first there was a long line, then when I returned and stood in the endless pickup line I discovered it hadn't been filled. So each day I went in the morning then returned in the afternoon. Finally I left on Friday...but with just six out of 28 capsules. Then I had to go back into the line and have it corrected. Etc. Today it was finally filled, but filed under "D" for dog, so it took a while for them to find it. Seriously.."D" for dog.

But this is typical of the odd inconveniences that we have to put up with in the "new" New Orleans. Another is that the grocery store is well stocked but without a single stick of butter. Why? No one knows.

This morning on Frenchmen Street I heard that a number of legendary establishments are struggling to hang on while the utility companies drag their feet with the gas lines. No one has a straight answer on when service will be reestablished, which means that even the restaurants that would like to open can't cook anything--unless they covert everything to electric. So the master plan continues--a slow death for all New Orleans culture that wasn't washed away in the storm. Or so it seems. I was feeling a little depressed by it all, but then I spotted a sign at Snug Harbor announcing that Charmaine Neville will be performing two free shows on Monday night.

Meanwhile, Sula ate three feet of leash the other night, right next to me in bed as I slept. She seemed fine though. Elated in fact. Then last night, around 4am, she started throwing it all up. A few small squares of nylon came up and out onto the floor, then another piece with a long thread leading down her throat. I tugged at it gently, hoping it would come freely. But it wouldn't. If I pulled too hard, it might pull up her intestines too. Yet she couldn't swallow it again either. We both began to panic. Finally I got a knife and sawed through the thread while she held her mouth open. Yes, this may be the most disgusting thing I've ever written on this blog. She rested for a while. Then threw up another length of leash. Hopefully that's the last of it. UGH.