Friday, December 09, 2005

My brief stop at the unemployment office

I stopped by the unemployment office today to see if there was anything I needed to do beyond the online application. There is only one office open in the city, so people have to come from all over to apply if they don't have access to the internet. But today the office decided to close, because they have too much work to do. If I had borrowed a ride or taken the very limited public transportation, I'd have been quite pissed. And I was anyway.

The woman guarding the door did say that I shouldn't expect to hear anything til sometime in January.

Meanwhile, it has come to my attention that the state's deadline for disaster unemployment was November 30, but they waited until December 2 to lay off their own agency staff. I asked the woman if this was intentional.

"Yes," she said, without hesitation.

Jambalaya in Ohio; Chicken Abitafeller in Lousiana

I got an email from the Ohio shelter that took in the adorable rottweiler mix that I found on the street here. They love her too (whew!) and have renamed her: Jambalaya.

Meanwhile, yesterday I rode with Case to Abita Springs to return the free keg of beer that was donated for the Press Street event on Tuesday night. We went to the brew pub, where I had Chicken Abitafeller, which I am sure I ordered purely for the chance to say that out loud. (Grilled chicken, fried oysters, creamed spinach, for those who would ask.)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Water Works

I have a feature in the Books section of Time Out New York this week. The subject is the surge of post Katrina books about New Orleans. The title, courtesy of Time Out, is "Water Works: Odes to New Orleans are flooding the bookshelves." My editor sent an apology email before it even hit the stands. But then I shared with him some of the Gambit's recent cover story titles: "Writers on the Storm" and "A Flood of Words."

When you live down here, you get used to it after a while.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Two out of three Press Street Men are unemployed

Brad, Ken, Case and Susan
Originally uploaded by kfoz.

Can you guess which of these three lucky guys has a job?

A note to Good Morning America on accuracy in reporting

Yesterday Press Street hosted a party at Preservation Hall to celebrate Tom Piazza's book Why New Orleans Matters. The hall is closed indefinately, not from physical damage, but because there are not enough tourists and, more tragically, the lives of most New Orleans musicians have been destroyed. Many lost their homes, their instruments, and still haven't returned to the city. ReganBooks/HarperCollins made a contribution to the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund in conjunction with the event, and contributions were taken from those attending.

Good Morning America decided to do a story on the event, yet this is what they reported:

"Among Hurricane Katrina's victims was a sacred jazz institution: Preservation Hall.

Preservation Hall was built in 1750 as a private residence. Since then, it has been an inn, a tavern, a photo studio and an art gallery. In 1961, it opened its doors as a jazz hall. Founders Allan and Sandra Jaffe wanted it to be a haven for the music.

It will open this evening, after months of cleaning and rehab work. It's a sign that perhaps the music of the city is coming back to life."

So, let's count the errors: Reopening? No. Damaged by the storm? No. Music coming back? Not really.

They might have taken this opportunity to mention the Musicians Relief Fund (, or to talk about how even as the city slowly recovers, its musicians remain scattered across the country. But they didn't.

Preservation Hall received a calls from around the world from people who were thrilled to know that life in New Orleans has returned to normal. Even the White House called, thrilled, no doubt, at this evidence that New Orleans is doing fine on its own.

The contact info is at this page:

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Could there be even more reasons to drive BellSouth out of business?

Hard to believe, but the answer is yes.

Shortly after the hurricane, I called and paid my balance over the phone. Two weeks ago, still without service, I received a bill for $2.50--the fee for paying a bill over the phone. So I guess I could pay that over the phone too, and get another bill for $2.50.

Then, last week, I received a check for $30--a refund for my final bill. What final bill? I callled Bellsouth, and spent another couple hours on hold, and ...they couldn't explain either thing to me. Meanwhile, they also can't tell me when I might expect service again.

Now, after the city announced plans for a city-wide wireless service (which,incidentally, doesn't seem to work), BellSouth has recinded an offer of an unused building to house police services.

I'm now waiting for Cox to hook up my cable phone and internet services. I hate the cable congomerates, but not as much as I hate BellSouth.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The pain of proofreading

I'm finally proofing the pages for "The Dogs Who Found Me," and as usual I am amazed at the number of errors that have made it into the galleys. Some of these are all my fault. Others are helpful but misguided corrections that have been inserted along the way. For example, I was surprised to read a description of running through orchids in Costa Rica. How does one run through an orchid? Perhaps it was an orchard? On the other hand, perhaps I should insert a scene in which my dog and I, under the influence of opium, run wildly in miniaturized form through a giant orchid.

I recently discovered another error in my Poets and Writers piece on Ernest J. Gaines. In my original draft, I was talking about the population of his stories being made of up "African-Americans, mixed race Creoles and white plantation owners." Somewhere along the line, the s was deleted from African Americans, altering the entire meaning of the sentence, and actually making it false. Instead of expressing the whole range of colors and cultures, the sentence now reads as if everything is literally black and white.