Thursday, July 26, 2012

What I learned today


Ya asked me how it was going test driving animation software. I figured out this much today. This sh#t is easier than it looks. I want to see and play with some more software before deciding on which one to use.

I got to get me some sleep, after I finish my last energy drink. Let me know what ya think.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Uncensored Voice of the Service Industry

"Oh, you should make it more tourist friendly." No, you miss the point. The Quarter Rat isn't about a sugar coated French Quarter and tourists. It's about the people who make it all happen. Those that are here day in day out dealing with what very few others on earth could tolerate. The Quarter Rat is not for tourists, it's for every bartender, server, bouncer, doorguy, barback, dancer, musician, shotgirl, cook, dishwasher, DJ, sign holder, Lucky Dog guy, street mime and even the hustlers on Bourbon Street. Workers with no unions, no clout, no security, no power and no voice.  The only strength that we have is comradeship, friendship, and common heart aches.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

the first time someone f*cked with 1/4 Rats

I have found myself taking an interest in American history since I have moved down to New Orleans. I never really had much before, perhaps because the history books made it seem dull and distant.  Walking the streets of the French Quarter everyday, history is never distant. In fact it trips your feet on a daily basis. In the Quarter very little has changed, not just the grand old structures but the souls who still dwell here. When I was working as a painter at the Pontalba Building I could literally turn around and see the statue of General Andrew Jackson tipping his hat to me. I found myself going on line to learn more about this stern looking man who was watching me work all day.

The War of 1812 was just some bit of history that seemed irrelevant and detached from anything that I knew.  After studying up on it a bit, I now realize that I am standing in the middle of one of the prominent places in American history, which eventually changed the course of world history in the long run. Even 200 years later, as much as our nation has changed, (perhaps not for the better) things in the French Quarter might not be that different.  At least the people haven't changed much, let me explain.

The War of 1812  was never certain for America, the British were a super power of the world at that time. They were the best trained, most disciplined, best equipped, best funded and most victorious military in the the world of their day. They had just kicked Napoleon's ass, they ruled most of the world at that time and were fierce about keeping it that way. Like the proverbial bully, they had been abusing and humiliating the young United States by going after our shipping and forced inscription of our merchant sailors. Once we had declared war on them, the British made it a point to try and put the young upstart nation it's it's place. We got our asses kicked from Canada on down the East coast.

Washington D.C. had been invaded by the Limies who burned the city to the ground after all of the pussy politicians fled. Some might say our first victory was at Fort McHenry in Baltimore. That was not so much a decisive victory as a stalemate. Really the only thing that came out of that battle is a national anthem that very few people can sing very well. If we had waited, the national anthem might have been written down here in New Orleans. Not only would it have probably have been a much better song, but we could have been able to dance to it.

The British knew the war was drawing to a close and desperately wanted to control New Orleans by war's end. That would have meant that they controlled the Mississippi River and about forty percent of America's commerce. Wars are always about money. Enter Andrew Jackson, orphaned as a child when his family were killed by the British, he had a grudge to settle. Jackson was a bad ass muthafucka, always looking for a fight and quick to start a duel with anyone who looked at him the wrong way. If there ever was a Dirty Harry in U.S. history, it was Jackson. 

As bad ass as Jackson was, he would need help, he enlisted QUARTER RATS. Of course in 1814 there was only the French Quarter and like today it was inhabited by the most diverse group of misfits, criminals and cut throats in the nation. Jackson was charismatic enough to enlist everyone who could hold a gun, when there weren't enough guns the rest were given farm implements. The only real professional soldiers were regular militia from Tennessee and Mississippi, some Marines and Navy, but the majority were made up of what at best could be called "rag tag." Frontiersman with muskets who were the homeless of their day, free men of color who were given equal pay and standing, Pirates, Indians, Creole farmers and shop keepers from New Orleans all stood along side Cajuns, and the French to protect our liberty.

Jean Lafitte is still highly regarded in the French Quarter. An enterprising privateer who was as much a politician as a pirate. Lafitte had spent a better part of his time eluding the British and Americans in the Barataria swamps while pillaging Spanish merchant vessels. When the war came to his city of New Orleans Lafitte sided with the Americans offering his men and looted Spanish munitions for a price and a pardon.  His offer had nothing to do with patriotism, he was betting on who he believed would win and who he thought would allow him to continue his plundering. A true mercenary and the start of the military industrial complex in the Americas. Men of his character can still be found operating in the French Quarter.

The British were appalled by the hit and run tactics employed by the Americans. Choctaw Indians and "dirty shirts" conducted gorilla warfare against the Red Coats which was unimaginable by those who fought in the well ordered ranks of Napoleonic battles. Snipers in trees taking out officers had a demoralizing effect on troops.  

Long story short, the strongest Army of the most powerful nation on Earth got it's balls kicked by the highly out numbered Quarter Rats.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Issue #28 - it's so great!

Issue #28 will be out this weekend, grab one tightly in your hand and squeeze all of the juicy humor out of it. 

Seriously, we believe that it's one of our best ones yet. This issue is going back to our smaller pocket guide sizes. Less likely to be dropped while bar hopping and we were able to double the circulation quantity giving the advertisers more bang for the buck. Between it be the slow summer season and a miserably piss poor economy, many businesses that we approached told us "We just can't do an ad this month." We understand, my landlady is trying to understand. Being sort of out of work myself, I was able to devote a lot more time to this issue. I have always been flattered when readers / fans would approach me and say how they wished the Quarter Rat had more of my artwork in it, this month you got your wish.

Some of our advertisers have asked us to make the Quarter Rat Magazine  a little more "tourist friendly" That would defeat the purpose, wouldn't it? We tried to on this issue (wink).  I am currently available for custom artwork and ad layout work. We've noticed that some of you advertise in the more mainstream competing publications, we're cool with it. Ya know, you don't HAVE to use their artists. Just sayin. I am also available for t-shirt designs, web graphics, chalk board menus, house painting, dog walking.........

Thumbs down

Not many positive cogitations to the word "Mass" Mass media, mass layoffs, mass hysteria, mass suicides... I figure if hundreds of millions of people are doing something then it can't be good. I am seriously contemplating deleting my Facebook account. A few of the folks are actual friends that I know in person, in the flesh. Most I no longer live near and I probably will lose contact with, quite possibly for ever. I survived with out FB for 47 years, I don't think my existence will end when I hit delete. If anything the quality of life may improve. Less time spent getting angry over what I perceive as another person's blindness to common sense in political arenas, and I will no longer be exposed to worn out memes of Gene Wilder, the beer guy or sickeningly cute kitten photos.

Recent events in Egypt and elsewhere had given me reason to hope that the social media may have been a revolutionary forum for the exchange of ideas, a media that could free thought and lead to change. Or not. I believe that it has been high jacked and manipulated by the same evil forces that have enslaved free expression in all other mass media. Instead of the exchange of fresh thinking and open mindedness it has been used to dissimulate propaganda and further divide and galvanize the masses into camps opposing themselves instead of the true villains. Facebook posts divide the masses, not unite. That plays into the hands of the sinister. Not much original content on FB, just regurgitated links and unsubstantiated stories of hate mongering. I refuse to be an unwitting patsy in the game, I wash my hands of it.

Conversely, the least offensive and mundane posts of "my latest tattoo" or a poor cell phone photo of "What I had for lunch today" are an incredible waste of valuable time. Constant daily self promoting of "Check out blah blah page...." I didn't look the last 75 time you posted the exact same link. If I thought that the link was anything new, I might visit it. One thing Facebook has done is caused us all to believe the world is far more interested in us then we are in it. My value as a human is not governed by the number of thumbs up that I receive.

I have made it a point to avoid having a television. Amazing when you go without one for a number of years, you notice how people that you meet in person are frequently quoting catch phrases from television commercials as if they were bits of wisdom from Greek philosophers. Please don't try and start a conversation about your favorite sit com, don't call me a liar when I tell you that I have never seen it, or insist that my life is somehow meaningless and empty because I don't share your infatuation with some show about vampires. I have a life. 

I am not putting down anyone who enjoys television or social media, I just want people to give pause and think about it. Does it truly connect you with people, or does it disconnect you from those people who are around you? I am fortunate enough to live in a small close knit community. I can walk out my door and be recognized by dozens of people, in person. Anytime day or night I can stroll with in a few blocks of this computer and chat in person. If I didn't need the internet for business, I would probably unplug from it entirely. It's a struggle not to get self righteous over the smart phone thing. I have to constantly dodge people who seem to think that text messaging on crowded sidewalks is a god given right. Being in the middle of  what I believe to be a rather interesting conversation only to have the other person pull out a gadget and start typing. It's at that point I excuse myself and walk away, evidently someone somewhere else is more valuable than the individual in front of them. Ironically, social media has created a less social society.

Any Facebook friends who wish to stay in contact, this is my E mail: Be well and think free.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lucky for you that I ain't your father...

Early this morning Uptown in New Orleans on Broadway an intoxicated 19 year old sideswiped three parked cars at about 5:00 AM. Most likely this never would have made the news except it was Mayor Mitch Landrieu's son Benjamin Landrieu. For those of you outside of the Big Easy the Landrieu's name is big down here in politics. The Mayor was called to the scene and acording to him, he watched from a distance as his son was cuffed and arrested. Mitch told the cops on the scene not to give the son any preferencial treatment. Well handled.

Some today argued that the boy was rushed through the booking because he was released with in three hours or so. If that was the case, fine, at least he was booked. I would be willing to bet in most small towns across America, the mayor's son would have been driven home by the cop and the matter of damaged vehicles would have been taken care of after the fact somehow. As a father of a teenager, I can imagine the mix of emotions that Landrieu went through, as a father, concerned for his son's poor decisions and  as a public figure in a town known to be ruthless to it's leaders. My heart went out to Mitch, but at least the boy didn't pull a Kennedy and leave some helpless girl drowning in an overturned car along the Mississippi. 

I was on the family's side until I saw his mug shot snapped down at O.P.P. "Benjamin, do you think this is funny boy? Think this is cute? You damaged three cars, belonging to three people who awoke this morning to a very bad day because of you. They might have missed work because you are an asshole. If you were my kid I would be bitch slapping that shit eating grin off of your face in the cop shop parking lot. Your expression says it all, you'll get out of this and you can't wait to brag to your buddies what you did." Your expression tells me that you have no idea that you committed a criminal act, could have killed someone and that you caused your father (who probably bought the car you wrecked) a lot of political embarrassment. You spoiled snot nosed punk.

According to reports the little shithead was charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Reckless Operation of a Vehicle, and Driving on Roadway Laned for Traffic (essentially, an improper lane change), no where have I read about a charge of under aged drinking. Usually cops throw everything they can at you and let the prosecutor and defense lawyers haggle down to one or two charges. This is New Orleans, the home of drive through Daiquiri shops, but still he is only 19 years old. Here is the kicker, Mayor Landrieu had already scheduled a press conference  for this morning about "nuisance bars" that allowed underage drinking.  Why do I have a gut feeling that this isn't the first time that little Benjamin has come home drunk.

It gets better. Of course there were news cameras waiting for him when he was released from holding. Evidently his old man's political career means nothing to the boy. Instead of showing a little humility and maturity Benjamin tells the press to "Get the fuck out of my way" and then proceeds to flip the reporters the finger after he gets into the back of an Suburban. HEY ASSHOLE! These are the same people that can make or break your father's next election. You are not a cool rock star, you are the spoiled brat of a politician who's credibility has just dropped a few points in the past few hours because of you, so what is your response? To be an even bigger douchebag.

I don't bother to write about local politics, nothing differant here than any other town. The Mayor is already dealing with waking up in the morning to hear about four people being murdered the night before and having to try and seem like he is doing something about it. I'm not writing about this to make a point about policy, just that Mitch's biggest headache right now is his arrogant spoiled brat.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A little flesh, a little history

One night in Bangkok makes a hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy

This town will either raise you up, or eat you up. No middle ground in the Quarter. You meet people going in one of two directions, up or down. You're predator or prey depending on what street you walk. Ten or twenty years ago I never would have stood a chance here. Some days I still am not sure how my day will end. Driving cab at night for five years on the Jersey Shore was a learning experience. That was just prep school for life in the French Quarter. 
Every night I walk Royal to Canal and Bourbon Street. After a year of living down here things do look different. Gone are the wide eyes of tourist awe, now covered with dark shades of suspicion for everyone. There aren't any more hustlers than when I first walked down Bourbon,  I can just spot them from two blocks away now. Fewer attractive women, just a lot more hookers. Fewer homeless, just a lot more crackheads. There can be naked 18 year old girls hanging off of balconies and I'm watching the rats dart by with pizza crusts. Tourists snap pictures of the blinding neon signs while they step in horse crap from NOPD's mounted.  Am I the only one who sees the hot dog vendor with his finger pushed up his nose to the third knuckle? I guess that couple from Minnesota placing an order with him missed it.

I watch people fall victim to the street scammers on all sides. There's nothing I can do for them, it's too late. Just keep walking. Shoe shine hustlers squirting polish on their shoes and wiping them down before the tourist understands what's going on. You shouldn't have stopped, now it will cost you five bucks to have a crackhead smear your new loafers with jism. A night manager at a fast food joint hurls a belligerent drunk out the front door and almost into you. The derelict spins to the foul sidewalk cracking his head hard do to the lack of motor skills. The manager returns inside, a naive tourist couple stop in shock and kneel to help the fallen. Bad move. With in 5 minutes the man on the sidewalk has scammed them out of $30 for more crack. 

Acting like a tough guy on these streets will get you killed faster than a tour of duty in Iraq. Too many times I have read news stories of some hyper masculine man's man trying to save face in front of people that he will never see again, only to end up dead. Trying to start shit with me? Did you just comment about kicking my muthafuckin white ass? I keep walking, you wanted me to stop so you could start shit, I didn't stop. I win. If you follow me, then I do the crazy ass muthafucka routine on you. Especially now days, I might be a bath salt Zombie who will eat your fuckin face off.

I return to Toulouse Street with my energy drinks and a fresh pack of menthols. The ride ain't over until I lock the front door behind me. Between Bourbon and my door there is still a gauntlet of penniless winos and crackheads sitting on the stoops eyeballing potential prey. "Hey man, ya got an extra smoke?" "Sorry dude, all out."

One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the Devil walking next to me

Monday, July 2, 2012

yea? what?

HEY YOU blog reading muthafuckas, how da hell are ya? Sorry I've been drinking. Evidently when in the French Quarter sickening quantities of alcohol makes you a better writer, or so the history books make it seem. Money has been tight but tonight I splurged on a four loko and got a decent buzz. Now you are reading the effects of it. Tonight started out as my usual evening stroll with a sales call thrown in because I need the money.  I haven't sold a fucking one, but had fun not doing it. I headed over to Mr Binky's on Chartres to see if they wanted to place an ad this month. Mr Binky's is a really cool adult shop with fuckin cool staff. I touched base with Vanish the clerk and he said to come back during 9 to 5 and speak with a manager. If I am awake between 9 and 5 I will go back. 

I walked past the strip cub / brothel a few doors down where about two months ago I had an encounter. A scantily clad female (?) tried to entice me with "Hey honey, want to party?" "No thanks" I replied "I have somewhere to go..." "You ain't got nowhere to go, you ain't got no money anyways mutha fucka..." Fuck you skank. Tonight I walked past the same fine establishment when I was asked the very same question. "No thanks, I prefer my women without a penis..." Three steps later a cup filled with ice hit me between the shoulder blades.

I swung by and chatted with Catastrophe Curt and Blind Troy the street bluesman. Curt watches over Blind Troy on one of the toughest corners in the Quarter. About a month ago a couple of thugs tried to rob Troy and Curt took out after them. He grabbed one around the corner of Bourbon and Iberville. Curt chased them down when he caught up with one the punk turned around and stabbed Curt in the side. A dozen  or so staples in the side later, we are all joking about it.  This is the Quarter, your final mark may be a chalk outline.

I bullshitted with a Lucky Dog guy, a couple of doormen only to find my way back home. I don't want to live anyplace else.