Wednesday, January 28, 2015

GO HOME HOLLYWOOD

I really needed to vent. Several months ago, a neighbor here on Toulouse tried to sue some of the clubs on Bourbon Street for noise and quality of life issues. 20 million or some totally ridiculous amount for noise. One place he named in the suit was the Court of Two Sisters and their acoustic jazz brunch trio that plays in the courtyard next to his. Emotional strain, loss of sleep, health issues, loss of revenue and impotency  I believe was the damages. He lost.

This week he has yet again rented out his place for a film production. NCIS New Orleans is shooting there. For the past two days our sidewalk has been clogged by production people laying cables, wheeling carts back and forth and just taking over between the trucks on the street and the sidewalk cluttered. Tonight on my way out, I had to ask people to step away from my front gate to leave to go to Rouses. They set up the craft table right next to my front door, blocked my neighbor's door and have reduced the sidewalk to single file pedestrian traffic only.

I worked as a background extra when I first got down and couldn't find any other work. I am not proud of it, I did it for the money. Now I feel dirty and ashamed and hope no one I know sees me in any of the movies I made, I feel like a dirty whore. I stopped watching television back in the 90's, been to one film in 15 years, so none of this Hollywood bullshit impresses me.  I may be biased with my complaint since I have total contempt and loathing for the industry as a whole. When I was snapping these pictures with a somewhat piss expression on my face, the caterer I guess thought that he could smooze me with a cup of coffee and a pack of potato chips. I M-Fd him.

I've pissing and moaning about it all night on facebook, mostly tongue in cheek as many of my rants are.  There is another film being shot around the corner tonight also. Royal Street is lined for 2 blocks by production trucks and St Peter is closed off.  A friend was visiting another friend in one of the apartments in my building. As he crossed Toulouse to come to the door, the caterer pointed at him and screamed. "DON'T EVEN FUCKING THINKL ABOUT IT! GET BACK OVER ACROSS THE STREET!" He was visiting this building that was lined with the craft table. 
Well, soon from a third story window, the visitor and myself were giving the production people a profanity laced reminder of who lives on the street and who is a guest. Shortly security was gathered around as we finished our lecture.  I live and work two jobs on this block, no pretentious fuzzy faced hipster production asshole is going to treat my friends, my neighbors or my street with anything less than respect.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Just another night on Toulouse Street

It was slow last night, blame the season, blame the crowd or just blame the band. I had started the closing chores early on and had another fifteen minutes to finish and go the fuck to bed. Fifteen minutes. As I was closing the very last shutters to the door at 2 am, I look left and right to see what crackhead Olympic event is going on now. Better than anything on television. Dramas, fights, sex and everything Springer. LIVE! I look to my right and coming down Toulouse are 4 fast walking black dudes being pursued by a ginger frat boy yelling "YEA! I'M TALKING TO YOU!" and doing the stagger / run to catch up to the four individuals who were obviously trying not to stop and converse.

"You are about to have a very bad night" I mumbled as I brought the shutters towards closed position. Half closed and the five of them are in front of the door on Toulouse. "Doing I really want to watch this?" I thought. About then ginger frat boy catches up to the four dudes in the middle of Toulouse, about 15 feet in front of me.  Frat boy staggers up sideways grabs a shoulder and yells "Hey I'm.." The four individuals never broke stride, one right cross to his temple and kept jogging.

Remember when Wiley Coyote would run out of cliff and just suspend in the air for a few seconds before the rule of gravity kicks in. That what this guy seemed to do.  Then he fell like a Redwood face first onto Toulouse street. That combination of the sound of a crack and the sound of dropping a pumpkin. Ask any Quarter Rat, they know that sound. My immediate thought was "REALLY?" My second thought was to continue closing the shutters and pretend I didn't see it. He's in the middle of the street, let some cabbie dial 9-1-1.

I remember the last time we had an unconscious body on the sidewalk with a head injury, Vic called the ambulance. I guess it's company policy on wino head injuries. It's just never good for business and Vic is just a cool guy that way.  I yell to the server Petey call an ambulance a dude was just knocked out in front. Twenty feet in either direction would not have obligated me, just sayin.

Google Map

Owen dashed out of the kitchen like some sort of Army Medic with paper towels and plastic gloves. The frat boy was face down in a growing puddle of his blood, the blood gurgling like a bad head cold let us know that he was at least breathing. Fortunately for him, he appeared to be knocked out before he fell. If he wasn't, then it hurt like hell. Owen was trying to communicate with him as I scolded a line of taxi drivers for blowing their horns. A guy lying in a puddle of his own blood and you're worried about your tip?

Owen asked me to grab his other arm as we dragged the limp body to the sidewalk as if it was a foxhole. A crowd gathered, snapped selfies with a blood covered face. Traffic stopped and took cell phone pics.  A guy who works at Funky 544 came over and asked if we needed help. Our server asked me if the man had been a victim of the "Knock-Out-Game"? I said "No, it was 'The Stupid White Boy Who Didn't Know When To Let It Go' game. He lost." I told 544 we had called 911. He knew it would be a while, he said he would send some over. Eddie trains his people well, in less than a minute two horse mounted cops strolled. Damn, when they send in the Calvary, 544 means it.

Frat boy became conscious and started talking, I wish he hadn't. I think we all wanted to smack him by the time the ambulance showed up. Forgive me for being a selfish bastard, you are getting blood on my sidewalk, thanks. Another 20 minutes. I went back to mopping until N.O.P.D. called for me. I must admit, most of my experiences have been decent with them. We are one of three people to cops, a suspect, a victim, or a witness. I prefer witness only if I have to. I think his name was Anderson, cool as hell.

I joked with a coworker that I was going to leave the huge blood stain and draw a body chalk outline around it. Leave one arm extended with a slice of our pizza next to it. I decided not to, Sicilian Restaurant owners don't dig that kind of humor.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Just one day of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras 2014

When I try to explain Mardi Gras to my former coworkers back at the cab company on the Jersey Shore, I end up comparing it to crowded and volatile summer weekends in the old Seaside Heights NJ. Memorial day weekend, the Fourth of July, Labor Day and Christmas for a week or so. That still doesn’t sum up the festivities. There’s more of a Biblical scale to it. Like some old Testament  city twerking it’s ass in a holy god’s face. Pilgrims flocking to worship a bronze bull, drinking, nudity, sodomy and all things that make for a great party. Thousands of years from now, Earth historians will write about New Orleans and get hard ons while doing so.


The only other city that might comprehend the influx of religious pilgrims is Mecca during the high holidays. There the analogy ends. It’s the one time we can look at all other tourist cities and say you Anita shit. New York, your Thanksgiving Day Parade is nothing more than corporate billboards that people die of hypothermia to look at and nothing gets thrown to them in return. I think this year we had a float rider toss an empty quarter keg off of a float. If you were to ask a fraternity to create a religious holiday, it would be just like Mardi Gras.

In preparation for the annual festival, the locals eagerly polish their goods, clean up the dusty manure strewn village, and open their arms to all who have come to help them worship their god. Temples illumined with fire and neon bacons the reveler to come and worship at this temple or that one. $20 cover charge. Worship the female form, worship the male form, worship the male dressed as a female form. Only in the French Quarter do you think you know some one and then they up and change gender on you. Sorry if I still call you “Dude.”  Everyone in the service industries are eager also, this is the last big money maker before summer sun brings drought and all of the locals are forced back to producing goat porn for the internet. We are a modest people.  Smelly beggars are sporting toothless grins, street performers are actually getting out early and there is work to be had.

Even an old fart like me can find regular work. In the mornings I do light maintenance and painting at a small five star hotel, evenings washing dishes at a Sicilian restaurant and regular days painting artwork on the walls of a bar. All on my block. I so love my life right now. I haven’t been writing much lately about my life in the French Quarter because I have been too busy living it. The real French Quarter. The ones that the visiting pilgrims will never see. I’ll just give you a brief run down of how my week has went.

I was the one who got to personally meet the National Idiot of the day while working at the hotel one morning. A tractor trailer driver came down Bourbon Street and tried unsuccessfully to make a right turn on Toulouse Street. The only thing that stood in his way of success was the second floor balcony to the building that the hotel leases next to itself. The driver’s side corner of his inter model container smashed into the corner of the old balcony above the former bistro. I was in the alley between the two buildings washing a paint brush when I heard the crash and the sound of broken pieces of wrought iron and wood trim shower down upon the sidewalk below. Not good I thought.


As I exited the alley door, I was about 10 feet from the front of a blue cab driven by a very shook up truck driver. He was already in the process of backing up rapidly. Very foolish thing to do. The entire balcony could have been torn off of the building. Above me. With his head twisting between mirrors as he backed up, one eye on the lucky dog guy setting up inches format his right rear axle, and the upper left corner of his trailer he pretended not to notice the tiny bits of black wrought iron bouncing off of the hood of his truck or the skinny irate white dude in painter’s pants screaming “YO DUDE! Stop the mutha fucking truck now. We’re calling the cops.” He backed up, corrected his turn and proceeded to continue down Toulouse Street. As I jogged along side of the cab, I pointed out to the driver’s attention that he had inadvertently destroyed a historic building in his travels. “Yea, yea! I know...I...I can’t stop in the street, let me find a place to park” he yelled. Oh hell no I said. A coworker Shane at the Sicilian restaurant that I work at recalls seeing me about 11:30 AM running down Toulouse Street yelling “Stop the Truck MFR.!” Yea, that was Styles.

Fortunately the traffic was a little heavy that morning, I was barely able to keep up with him with my flat footed asthmatic jog. The driver blew through the stop sign on Royal Street but got snagged in traffic at Chartres. Out of breath I chest up to the driver side door. The driver pulls on his air horn in order to expedite traffic. I huff as I calmly but firmly warn. “Man, don’t run. We called the cops, we have your tag number.”  As a former commercial driver and dispatcher myself, I was trying to reason with him. He might get leniency with a block or two for leaving the scene of an accident, but not all the way back to the depot.

The driver totally did not look at me this time. I stood in front of his vehicle and wrote down the front plate number and company name on my left hand with a Sharpie marker. I turned to see a NOPD cop on Chatres. I point to the blue cab of the truck 30 feet from him. “Officer, this driver just demolished the balcony of our building and drove off.” The cop casually looked up and asked “Did you call it in?” “Yea, my office did about three minutes ago.” “Oh, ok then.” The NOPD walked away from us. He was about 30 feet from the driver. The cop went one way and the truck started to roll the other. Traffic was moving. Do I want to try and reason with NOPD or try to stop an 80,000 pound truck with my bare hands. I stood a better chance with the truck I thought. A couple of hours at work had just turned into a cheesy action movie where they could only afford one vehicle for a chase scene.

The rear of the trailer was grinning at me as it was heading towards Decatur Street. Never in one day have I ever used the word “mother-fucker” so many times. I was pissed. I jogged up Toulouse as the truck waited at the light. He was trying to force a right on red. I reached the back of his trailer as he started a slow roll. At first I thought how I could reach the passenger side hand rails and running boards. Then it dawned on me that this guy is in such a flight mode that I could easily end up clinging to the side of his truck at 70 MPH on I-10. Besides, who the hell am I? Indiana Jones? Fuck that, I’m a house painter. I had his FRONT tag number off of the cab. At the time of the crash, patrons at Molly’s ran out and wrote down the license plate number from the trailer. I had a good description of the driver and company name.

Back at the circa 1794 hotel a group had gathered, hotel staff, patrons and staff from the two bars across the street. Molly’s and The Dive Bar. Being a very pleasant day, the doors and windows were all open so everyone inside of the bars were treated to a great floor show. Many ran out and took cell phone pics of his back license plate as he pulled away. We waited for NOPD to show up. The ones we called, not the ones that were actually there. I finally got a good look at the balcony placed under my care. Shit. The pole closest to Bourbon Street was at a 45 degree angle, pulled away at the top, severed 3/4 of the way trough at side walk level. Gallons of rusty water bled from the wound at the bottom. Water had filled that iron pipe for probably over a century, the bottom just tore. Authentic, historic pieces of cast iron artwork strewn the street. The entire balcony had shifted and would need to be torn down and replaced because an amateur driver failed to heed a no truck zone.

The crowd Toulouse shouted “Be careful” as I inched out onto the balcony to inspect the damage. Soon I was in the corner above the missing poll jumping up and down with a full 150 pounds of force. Not even a bounce, they knew how to build them back then. It saddened me to see so much of the iron work destroyed. What didn’t shatter in the accident was twisted and wracked so bad it probably can’t be salvaged. I call first dibs on the discarded. I’m redecorating. The moped cops were cool as hell with us. The one who took my statement shook his head in disbelief. They had called the building inspectors office and this hot little blond shows up to inspect the damage. I just pass on the info to my boss, leave me out of the loop please and thank you.

My first responsibility was to make sure the structure area was safe, a trip to the hardware store on Rampart for caution tape (which by the way you should always have on hand in the Quarter) I then went about trying to locate pole jacks for a 14 foot balcony. In this part of town there are hundreds. They are used during Mardi Gras to provide extra support underneath the crowded historic balconies. As if the narrow, crowded, pothole, urine, vomit, feces and bum strewed sidewalks are not enough to rapidly negotiate, we now add steel pipe as a slalom course. I could have a dozen by that night from most any other businesses on Bourbon Street any other time of the year, but not now. Not during Mardi Gras. 

The following morning my Toulouse Street cohort “Chicken Sam” helped me with providing support for the corner of the damaged pole. Pressurized 4x4 lumber and blocks are probably stronger than what had been there for the past 25 years. Sam is best described as an absolute mechanical and philosophical genius with a thin shiny coat of sleaze. The 16 foot piece of lumber had to be cut down, so I break out the circular saw. Sam said to put it away as he returned from his van revving up a chain saw on a very crowded French Quarter street. I chuckled as the blades wired a foot away from a very startled family and some kid’s balloon hat. Epic Zombie tourist visual. The damaged metal pole we were able to just twist and snap off. The balcony was off limits. The city building inspector insisted that I create a substantial barricade to the balcony. I did. Did I mention that the building inspector was hot?

My plan for that day was to do a few hours at the hotel in the morning, get some sleep that afternoon and go to my night job in the kitchen. It was turning into almost being late for job number two. I like my job at the restaurant. It’s the first time I’ve ever worked in the industry. New things to learn and experience. I like being the 50 year old dude in the apron bussing tables. Never thought I would say that, but the Quarter has shown me great secrets about happiness. The second wind came in handy for a very busy night flinging Sicilian slices at drunk revelers. A Jersey boy could handle this job, I already know pizza and dozen curse words in Italian.

About 4 am things slowed down enough to feel caught up and take a smoke break. I actually have a boss who will ask me to stop working and go on a smoke break with him. We hear of a dude passed out in front of our alley door so we go to investigate. I grab the hose just as reflex and my employer says not yet. Good thing. I knelt down to roust him, which can be risky at times. They can come up swinging, pull a weapon or god forbid projectile vomit on you. I looked at his face and saw blood trickling from above his right eye, just on the eye brow.  At first look under the gas light it looked like a small hole. Damn it, don’t let it be a gun shot. Unlike in the movies, when someone gets shot in the head with a small caliber round, there isn’t the dramatic and pornographic display of blood and brains. A fatal shot would produce very little blood. His crossed eyes open.

“Sir, are you ok? Do you need us to call an ambulance for you?”

“no, no ambulances, just let me lie here....”

“We can’t do that sir. If you do not get up and walk away, we will have to call 911 for you.”

“No 911111, just let me sleep....”

“We can’t let you. Get up and walk away or we make the call.”

I was hoping he would drag himself up and stagger away. It looked like he was a “local” train hopper who was in town to scam tourists. He probably had a good day and spent it all on smack and cheap booze. My guess is he fell and face planted against a building. I kept talking to him while waiting for the ambulance to push it’s way through the very dense crowd. Lights and sirens were about 2 blocks away, which in this crowd meant about 8 minutes.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Back Stabbing Rat

I really love living in the Quarter, it's the first place in my entire life that I feel like I belong somewhere. I love the people, they are my family. I plan to spend the rest of my life here and someday I want all of these brilliant misfits second lining behind my horse drawn hearse bottles in hand dancing. I hope to look down upon a crowded Mollys on Toulouse at my loved ones raising glasses in toast to one of their own. As of now my reputation is in jeopardy due to the actions of my former business associate, the former owner and editor of Quarter Rat Magazine.

I am amazed at the loyalty and zeal of the fans of the publication. It's more than just a humorous magazine for the service industry, it's a cause of sorts. About a year and a half ago, the former editor and I decided to think big,  go for broke and full throttle to bring this bizarre beast to a national level in the form of an animated project. I had already started to develop the characters back in 2005 for a web comic named "BiNGE" Those characters worked perfect in the French Quarter and months were spent writing and drawing to bring this to a reality. 

I under estimated the criminal and evidently sociopathic mind of my former editor. I saw his street thug bullshit as a potential asset in the sell of this project. Like an ambitious street hustler looking to make a big score. A LEGITIMATE future for us and our daughters. A chance to set up our two daughters for life so they will never have to sling drinks for a living, never have to go hungry. I felt as if it was for a bigger cause, something epic, a chance to immortalize this incredible place. It wasn't just about us making it big, but a chance to salute our family here in the French Quarter. 

During the months of our labor (mostly mine) my editor somehow managed to garner the attention of a television executive who expressed interest in the project.  To produce the needed sizzle trailer of our proposed project, we needed time, software and help. And an investor. A very good friend of mine with a heart of gold and a belief in my talent offered to front the money for the means to make this a reality. About $20,000 went towards voice talent, a new computer, sound technicians and other costs to produce our seven minute reel. Professional animation can run anywhere from $3,000 - $5,000 per minute to produce. Ours was rough, but good enough to show the potential and to high light the talent of all involved.

CUT TO THE CHASE... My editor was full of shit. He didn't have any contacts with television people, it was a scam. About a month ago, this con started to come unraveled and he had to flee New Orleans like the preverbal rat. I guess there were warning signs, ashamedly I'll admit that I was used by this piece of shit to scam my other friend out of cash. I was hanging in the Apple Barrel with a buddy when one of the voice actors approached me to tell me that he still hadn't gotten paid for his work as the voice of Otis. I informed my editor of the oversight, which of course was never reconciled. Promised deadlines kept getting pushed back, more work was needed, a few more scripts were required by the imaginary television producer. I foolishly ignored the red flags. It seemed that after toiling on my dream for eight years, hard work and belief in myself was finally paying off.

Low life maggots like my former editor will eventually be found out. His personal life soon started to spin out of control from his compulsive deceit and the scam started to be revealed. He fled town. In the following weeks, I was approached by several other people whom he had screwed, lied to, stole from and I ended up holding the shit bag while the street thug slipped away like a thief in the night. 

I intend to stay here, unlike him, my reputation is important to me, friendships are a greater value than any amount of money. Now I am forced to do damage control to salvage my life, career and reputation.  The magazine is under new ownership and direction. The magazine is too important to too many people to allow it to disappear. The new owner is also in a position to distance the publication from the former owner. Evidently a few advertisers paid for ads under the previous management and they were never delivered.  I am sure that we have no true idea of the depths of deceit and criminal actions taken by the POS.


HOWEVER, under the new management things are looking good. Not in the bullshit con artist fashion promised by Daniel, but in real tangible ways. An overwhelming amount of support has come from the  ones who really are the magazine's strength. Former talented writers, sales people and an Quarter Rats have rallied around the flag. Not only will the publication survive, but it will flourish. Also, just recently legitimate television people have seen the trailer and wish to talk. Ironically, with out the negative criminal mind in control, the Quarter Rat is building up momentum towards a real future.


Daniel, I hope you get to read this. I blame myself for trusting you, my bad. However I still feel like the winner in this out come. I got to keep the French Quarter while you had to slink out of town in shame. I get to call these magnificent people my friends. You obviously have now idea what friends are, you only see people as marks to be used and taken advantage of. I take back what I said about you being a good father, far from it. You used your precious brilliant child to win over and scam people. A father's greatest responsibility is to instruct a child in ethics and honor. You have absolutely no concept of right from wrong. Like a true sociopath, incapable of any sense of decency or empathy. So slink back to whatever Floridian swamp trailer park that spawned your miserable sad ass. You turned out to be exactly like those low lifes out on the street selling fake drugs that you always made fun of. At least a real drug dealer has some integrity. 

My only recourse of retaliation against you will be my success. I vow Peter will get his money back, those actors will get paid and we in the Quarter will only vaguely remember your sorry existence with contempt. I am sure that you will eventually find your place in life, a prison cell.  Fuck you, you low life piece of shit.




Monday, February 4, 2013

Oh. That's what that switch on my wall goes to....

I mean, there had always been duct tape over it and marked "DO NOT TURN OFF! EVER!" I got bored. Flipped it off and looked around, I didn't see anything happen. I went out for my smokes and energy drinks during the game because the streets would be less crowded. Everybody had found their spot. Returning home I passed the Dive on Toulouse and Jet the doorman mentioned that my good friends Dawna and Jeff were in there. That's when I found out about the black out.




I could honestly say that in my entire life, I never cared about, watched or paid any attention to a Super Bowl game. Up until the lights went out. I stayed to have a beer and watch sports casters look panicked while trying to fill the time without letting the world know the are truly the dimmest bulbs in the dome. I chatted for a while with two of my favorite people about what a "DERP" this is. We went from the coolest city in America to a national joke in 27 minutes. As a Quarter Rat, I'm pissed.

For well over a year now, the business and residents have been living in a construction zone. A daily barrage of jackhammers, pavement grinding dinosaur sized machines, asphalt machines and trucks operating dawn till dusk. Street closure pretty much means that your store is closed that day too. We were told to suck it up, take one for this great city. We want to look our best for when the Super Bowl gets here. Just live with the hassle, we'll all be rich.



If I wasn't so lazy, I'd Google the company that did the blocks and blocks of slate sidewalks. I can't remember where exactly, but they were out of Wisconsin or some place like that. When I first read the lettering on the white dump trucks I thought that was odd that a cheese headed contractor from up there got a city contract down here. We have unemployed down here too. Most of the guys doing the work looked like they might have questionable citizenship. However, I am not one to profile or ever be called a crazy birther. Just ignore it all I thought. The city probably got Federal funds when the congressman from Wisconsin said ok, but only if a financial backer of his could get the contract to do some of the work. This is New Orleans, sugar.



Did anybody in the past year drop a dime of corporate money to at least inspect the electrical system of the Dome?  It is kind of a key piece of infrastructure if you plan to host a Superbowl. I am only guessing that it was completely overhauled after the storm.  Sure there has been many events at the Super Dome since then. None with this many cameras, news crews, vendors, and countless other small power draws.  I'm not an electrical engineer so I won't even pretend to know. I do know that I can't use my bathroom heater and microwave at the same time. It's been tested. Hey Mitch, you went from "Pimp-Daddy-Mayor of all cities" to the mayor of Mayberry in the blink of an eye.

Just curious, did anybody notice if the lights ever went off on the Mercedes logo. A whole lot of money was spent on the exterior strip club lighting. One cheerleader plugs in a hairdryer and we lose a grid. What is this? North Korea? All this effort to improve and to promote us for tourism. Promising US higher revenue. Now folks won't to come down here out of fears of rolling black outs and the plague of Bourbon Street STDs. 



This was our conversation at the Dive. I chuckled "Speaking of electrical, remember that light switch on my apartment wall covered thick with duct tape?" As a long time resident of the building her eyes widened. "YEA! The one marked "Never Ever Turn Off!" 
"Uhm, yea, something like that..." 
"My god, you didn't turn it off, did you?" 
"No, no, no, of course not. I was just curious as to what it was for?" 
"After the storm, they were gerry-rigging things all over the city. One day the Entergy guy needed to tap into a free line temporarily to keep a relay on at the transformer that controls something else somewhere else. Why?"

"Nothing, no reason, got to go."