Saturday, January 03, 2009

January 9th: Strike Against Crime

This is what the inside of my Element looks like when the seats are removed and 1000 yard signs put in. These "CRIME HAPPENED HERE" signs are set to be put out across New Orleans next week as part of our "Strike Against Crime". More signs, and stickers, arrive this week.

In a nutshell, here's what the plan entails:
1. On January 9th, everyone wear something red.
2. Organize an activity or memorial among your neighbors or community group.
3. If you are a business, consider pledging 5% to a local charity that contributes in some way toward solving the problem of crime.
4. Be creative.
5. Help distribute signs--use ours, or make your own.

Note: When Baty and I went to pick up the signs at a shipping depot yesterday, we had a no idea that they had been delivered on a palate, with no packing material or boxes. So we had to first unload the palate into our two cars, and then unload it again into the cafe, the office, etc. That knocked me out for the rest of the day, although it may have been the fumes rising from the freshly manufactured signs.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

On the other hand...

Just before my entry into the New Orleans of awful service, I had a great night out. I went with friends to Judith Owen and Harry Shearer's Christmas Sing A Long at the CAC. I had missed last year's show, so this year I bought tickets early, and still when the day came, I felt like I could take it or leave it. I'd been out selling pit bull calendars all day. I was pooped. But I went anyway and it was fantastic. They had a great lineup of musicians sing two songs a piece, including a hip hop number by Leah Chase, and then for the second half, it was a sing a long with required audience participation. The climax was a rendition of twelve days of Christmas in which we were divided into twelve groups and had a to collaborate on a pantomime to accompany our section of the song. I was in the "four calling birds" section, and I'm proud to say that I came up with the hand signal we used to represent "birds." Judith found it quite shocking--and then awarded us a small plastic toy called "Flip Off Santa."

But, what was really remarkable was this: The night before Judith broke her nose, spent the wee hours in ER, and still performed, sang and joked like nothing had happened.

Now that's service.

Monday, December 29, 2008

The worst service in New Orleans

I'm sitting in Juan's Flying Burrito staring at my plate: a chicken quesadilla served on large plate...with nothing else. Half the plate is empty: the spot where maybe some salsa would be is empty. I ask the waiter if there's a possibility that something is supposed to go in this empty spot. He's bewildered, stammers, offers a bottle of hot sauce. Nevermind I say, repeating the words I've used throughout town this past week. Service in New Orleans suddenly sucks--which is unfortunate since it used to be one of the things the city was known for.

A few days ago I got a bowl of soup and a soda at a local place at the Food Court at Canal Place. The soda tasted like sewer water, and when I brought it to their attention they said, "That's because you aren't from here." "But I am," I said. And at that, they refused to take the drink back from me. I left it on their counter, where they worked around it for at least fifteen minutes.

But the prize must go to House of Blues, where I went to see Aaron Neville's Christmas show, and left after about twenty minutes because people were talking so loudly that it was difficult to hear the show. Much of this conversation was the staff talking to their friends in the crowd. We mentioned this to the woman working the ticket area, and she began to make a scene, accusing us of trying to get our money back, even though at that point we hadn't even decided to leave the show. So then we did leave, and turned to see that we were being followed by a constant stream of other people who had, like us, paid for tickets to a show that was being ruined by the staff of the venue.

And I'm sure I'll add a few more examples as the season progresses. Anyone else?