Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tales from the kitchen

People never cease to amaze me, especially people who come to New Orleans. Right now, we're getting the tail-end of the family tourists and the first batch of before-school-starts tourists, so there's a pretty heady collection of classless waterheads wandering around unsupervised in the Quarter. They don't mean harm, I truly believe, but it seems like they've never been any place fancier than a Shoney's and the concept of "fine dining" blows their mind somewhat. That and they can be just plain rude, moreso than the most drunken Mardi Gras jackass or JazzFest ding-a-ling.

 Take tonight, for example. Keep in mind, now, my restaurant serves your typical New Orleans/Creole-American board of fare and does the whole "casual fine dining", which means you can get a pretty good meal but aren't require to wear long pants. There's a New Orleans-style double doors that leads out to the courtyard, but it's rarely used by anyone but staff. However,  About an hour-and-a-half before the end of the shift, right at the end of a fairly significant pop, some yayhoo walks right in through those doors and right into the kitchen and the following conversation occurs:

Guy: “Do you have foie gras?”

Me: “Do what?”

Guy: “Fois gras. Do you sell fois gras?”

Me: “Uh, no.”

Guy: “Well, it’s French.”

Me: “Okay.” [Beat as the guy just stares at me] “We don’t have it.”

Guy: “Do you know any restaurant that would have it?”

Me: “Hell, I don’t know, you might try Court of Two Sisters or Palace Cafe.”

Guy: “They don’t. Who else?”

Me: “I really don’t know. Sorry.”

The guy then turns and walks out the door, leaving said door open, without another word. Now, anyone who knows anything about me knows that, first and foremost, I'm an easy-going guy and more than willing to help out anyone in any way I can. However, there are three things anyone considering similar action as this dingbat should consider before just blowing through the door.

Number one, I’m a cook, not a restaurant guide. The apron should be a giveaway.

Number two, this is New Orleans, not Paris and “Creole” is not synonymous with “French”, cuisine-wise. It's not even close and serious epicureans would laugh, laugh if it were suggested to be so in their presence.

Number three, dude, don’t just walk into my kitchen, especially if you're going to bark orders and cop an attitude. That’s a good way of getting something that’s either sharp or recently exposed to flame thrown at you.

 Damn tourists.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My Maria

 The jukebox blared loudly, some song from some band from the seventies. "Should I stay or should I go", went the chorus, and that's all she could ever pick out because of the singer's English accent. Or was he Australian? She didn't know and it didn't matter. Not really. It just came up in the jukebox's rotation, she didn't know how it worked, if she didn't play something specific. Some nights, she felt like it. Tonight she didn't.

 Three-forty-seven a.m. One hour and 13 minutes until shift change. One hour and 13 minutes until she could go home, go to bed and simply not be at the Waffle House on Interstate 75 outside of Valdosta for another 14 hours. She hated... well, no that's not quite right. She didn't "hate" her job, but she sure didn't love it. It paid well enough and her co-workers were decent enough, especially since that creepy Eric got fired, but she sure didn't love it. She had to work and she had to work night shift, so she could be a mom at some time of the day, so she could go to school, so there she was.

 Five a.m., she could go home, drink coffee for an hour and then get Chrystal ready for school. Then sleep until Chrystal got off the bus, be a mom for a while, until her night classes started at six. Night shift, the nights she worked, started at midnight, and it all started over again. A slow parade of truckers, travelers, college students and random lost souls who had nothing better to do while waiting out the inky black South Georgia night than to come to Waffle House and make time with her or crack jokes with whatever cook happened to be on that night.

 Three fifty. She was alone. Jennie, the other waitress, called in and the cook, Stevie, left early to take his son to the hospital for some sort of something. He didn't know and she didn't know. Maybe it was nothing, but that was okay. Middle of the week was pretty slow and it's the middle of July, hot as hell, and no one was coming in. The last customer was a trucker around one, and nothing but her and the jukebox since then. It was hot, so hot, outside, and with the air conditioner roaring full blast, the windows were fogged completely opaque. She was in her own little world, just her, the jukebox and her sociology text book, opened to the chapter she was supposed to read but left unread in her boredom.

 Three-fifty-two, the jukebox kicked in a song by Brooks & Dunn, that "My Maria" song she liked so much. Jerry the stoner morning cook told her more than once, in his clumsy attempts to make time, that it was a cover of a song from the seventies, but she didn't care. The jukebox was a mix of new country and classic rock, and she liked most of it, but she loved "My Maria", the high, keening wail during the chorus, she didn't know what it was. Jerry was a nice enough guy, but she had no room. Twenty-five, going to school, raising a seven year old with just a sister's begrudging help, she didn't have time for nice enough potheads going nowhere but the marijuana dealer and the video store and the pizza place.

Four o'clock. One hour. She'd long finished her closing sidework long ago. The bell chimes, dammit, someone's here. Turning, she sees him slouching towards a counter seat. Not tall and not short, not fat and not thin, not handsome and not ugly, with dirty blond-almost-but-not-quite brown hair hanging over his eyes. Dressed in a simple gray t-shirt and blue jeans and carrying a book, he eased onto the stool. He shot her a shy, apologetic half smile, as if he knew she was breaking her peace and solitude and screwing up her sidework.

 "You want some coffee?"

 "Got any sweet tea?" Again the apologetic half smile. "No," she said, "but I can make some."

 "No, don't, that's cool. Coke's fine."

 "You sure? It's no bother."

 "Yeah, no, coke's fine."

 Okay. She turned to the fountain machine and got his drink, plenty of ice. "Know what you want?"

 He screwed up his face in thought as he scanned the menu. After a few seconds, he said, "Pancakes. Plain, no butter or syrup. Side of sausage. That okay?"

 "Sure, hun, be a minute." She turned to the grill and with a sigh got to work. The jukebox kicked into that "Ramblin' Man" song. The guy at the counter took a sip of his coke, disregarding the straw and cracked open his book. Out of curiosity, she looked at the cover as he read. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.

 "That any good?"

 Silence for a pause until, apparently, he realized she was talking to him. "Hmm? Sorry?"

 "Your book. Is that any good?"

 "I don't know," he said. "I just started it." Again, the apologetic half smile, like he was embarrassed he couldn't give her a full account of the book's merits. "It's supposed to be pretty good. So far, it's okay."

 "Oh. Didn't they make a movie of that?"


 "Is that any good?"

 "I don't know," he said. "Never saw it."

 Back to the pancakes and sausage. She cooked, he read and the jukebox played that Gretchen Wilson song, "Redneck Girl". After a few minutes, his food was done and she served it up. "Here you go," smiling a genuine smile for some reason. "Let me know if there's anything you need."

 Again, the half smile "'Kay. Thanks." He ate in silence for a while as she studied the back cover of the book.

 "You go to school here?" She couldn't tell his age. His boyish face was slightly marred by a small scar on his chin, making him look anywhere from a mature 18 year old to someone in his early thirties.


 "Just passing through, then?"

 "Yep. Heading to Florida. Gainesville."

 "Oh. You live there?" Please don't be a Gator, she told herself.

 "No. Visiting people. My brother, actually."

 "Oh. Where did you come down from?"

 "New York City."

 "Really? You live there?" Now, that was something. New York City.

 "No. Just visiting."

 "Oh. So where do you live?"

 "New Orleans."

 "That's cool. I went to JazzFest once. It was a lot of fun."

 "Yeah, it's a nice town and there's a lot to do there." He went after his pancakes in the resulting silence.

 Oh, my god, she thought. "I'm sorry. You're trying to eat and here I am blabbing away."

 The half smile. "No, it's okay. You're the first person I've talked to for more than 14 hours. Excuse me."

 He got up and went to the jukebox. Slipping in a dollar, he studied the selection for a while before punching the buttons. Returning to his seat, he gave another half smile and continued to slowly work away at his pancakes.

 "What'd you play?"

 "This and that, just some stuff." As he said it, a Willie Nelson song, one she couldn't place, came over the loudspeaker. "What are you reading?"

 The question took her by surprise. "What? Oh. My sociology textbook. Trying to anyway. I have a test Friday and I need to study and generally late nights are good for that." Babbling again.

 "You in school, then?"


 "What are you studying?"

 "Social work. I want to be a social worker."

 "Nice." The half smile. "Any particular field?"

 "Oh, umm, no, not really. Haven't gotten that far yet. I just want to do something to help people out, I don't know yet."

 "Oh. Well, good luck. That's admirable."


 He lapsed back into silence and pancakes. Four twenty-five. He finished up his meal. "What do I owe you."

 The sudden question startled her. "Ah. Um. Eleven-fifty."

 "Okay. Thanks." Standing, he reached for his wallet and laid a twenty-dollar bill on the bar and then headed for the bathroom. She laid his change on the counter for him when he returned and walked over to the griddle to study if it needed re-scraping. Behind her, she heard the doorbell "bing" and saw it close. He'd left the change on the counter, a nearly ten-dollar tip. No goodbye.

 The sun was coming out and the inky blackness lightened into a bland gray through the fogged windows as another day began and hers drew to a close. She saw the red lights of his car blink on, maneuver into position and head back towards the highway. Over the loudspeaker, the guitar chords to "My Maria" kicked in as the last selection played.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Damn tourists

 Back before Mardi Gras, I was drinking at the Chart Room with a rather nice girl named Veronica. I'd met her the week previously and we hit it off as folks in bars often do. I don't remember how the conversation got around to this, but she said something along the lines of the following:

 "New Orleans will fool you. It will be so cool to you and then knock you on your ass just when you get comfortable." Ever since then, I've been waiting for the shoe to drop. Either someone will steal my car or I'll get mugged or someone will break in or something will happen, and them that know me best know I can worry like nobody's business. I've just been waiting on it.

 So, I get off work tonight, and after having a sandwich and cleaning up a bit, I decide to go to Cosimo's to drink a few cold beers and get some reading done. I sit around for almost two hours, shoot the shit with Lauren the bartender and head home. I get maybe 20 feet from my apartment door and notice, for no particular reason, a red Nissan Titan pick-up truck with two fratboy-looking dudes in it and a GPS system. About the time they get to the corner of Rampart and Dumaine, I hear heavy footfalls coming up behind me.

 Before I can really react, WHAM, I see stars. Some asshole just hit me in the side of the face. He runs on and the truck door opens to let him inside. I holler out, "Why'd you hit me, asshole?" To which he wittily replies, "You're the asshole." "No," I come back, "What was the point of that?" I swear, he stopped to think a bit before he jumped in and drove off. The truck was too far away and I was still seeing stars so I couldn't get the license plate and all I could see of the attacker was a baseball cap, a blue sports jersey and khaki shorts. Had I been able to make a positive ID, I would have called the cops.

 Long and short of it is I have a pretty nasty cut under my right eye and it's starting to swell a bit. Plus, I have a roaring headache. It wasn't much of a punch, frankly. He drew blood, which has already stopped bleeding, and I was staggered a bit, but I didn't go down. He obviously wasn't in the mood to hang around and didn't try to steal anything, so it was a completely pointless act of unnecessary violence that will, at most, result in a headache tomorrow morning, some jokes from my co-workers and worry from Momma.

 Welcome to New Orleans, I suppose.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I want to pick up and move away from Athens and start my life, but I have no idea where to begin. I was wondering what you would tell someone who wants to follow in your footsteps and make a life-changing decision after 22 years in the same place -Megon

Well, for what it's worth, I personally wouldn't recommend following in my footsteps, as I can't walk a straight line on level ground without tripping over my feet. As I stumble towards middle age, I consider myself more of warning of what not to do. Still, a serious questions deserves a serious answer.

Before I start, though, I say wherever you’re planning on going, do it. Moving is stressful as hell but it’s also incredibly rewarding on so many levels, no matter where you go. A place like Athens is easy living, so just going through all the nonsense of uprooting your life will teach you so much about not only the world outside Clarke County but also about yourself, as clich├ęd as that might sound. And the best thing is you can always come back to Athens.

First and foremost, be deeply and thoroughly confident the reasons you're moving are valid ones. "Starting your life" is a good enough reason, but if you're running from something it will follow you and if you're looking for something you can't define you won't find it. Just be sure, and "because I'm bored where I am and it's time to go" is a good enough reason, as well. “It seems like a cool town to live in” works for me as well. Human beings are incredibly adaptable and we can exist anywhere, it’s just a matter of having fun when we’re there.

Secondly, this is a life-changing decision. After so much time in one place, you undoubtedly have roots put down, friends, habits, comfort zones, and such things. All that will be gone if you move and you'll have to start all over. It's pretty damn tough and it will change your life in ways you can't imagine now. Not ever town’s grocery stores sell your favorite brand of bread, for example.

Okay, so much for all that. First thing, pick a place to move to. I realize that sounds simplistic, but it's deceptively important. Again, this is a big decision and a huge change, so you want to make sure it's one that's rewarding. I can't tell you where to move, but find a place that appeals for some reason, be it for a career or just because it seems like a cool place to live.

Secondly, pick a date to move and stick by it. You will give yourself outs and excuses. I'd been planning to move to New Orleans since 2005 and found hundreds of reasons not to go. So, pick a date and make your plans around that date. Make it happen and do not let yourself dodge the move. If you truly want to move, you will regret waiting.

I'd recommend giving yourself at least six months and preferably a year. For one, you're going to need to save up plenty of money. Moving is ridiculously expensive, even if you do it on the cheap, and you'll have to take care of things like rent, bills and food even if you can't find an income source right off. Plus, you will want plenty of time to settle your affairs in Athens and say your goodbyes. Speaking of which, make sure you close all your doors behind you properly, both financially and personally. That stuff will chase you down if you don’t, believe you me.

Once you've picked the place and the date, start doing some research on the new place. Compared to just about any place else, living in Athens is ridiculously cheap. Many college towns are like that, granted, but bigger towns like Chicago or Boston will put a serious dent in that nest egg. Plus, the economy's pretty bad, making life that much tougher.

So do your homework. Check out the job market in your new town, especially if you have a specific career in mind. In your bigger towns, the service industry's usually a reliable bet, but many towns have busy seasons and dead seasons. Something to keep in mind. Also, learn about the new town’s layout and what part of the town has what your looking for. In New Orleans, for example, life in the French Quarter’s different from life in Bywater which is different from life the Marigny which is different from life the Garden District. Every neighborhood has a specific flavor, and living in one might turn you against the whole town.

Along with the job market and the neighborhoods, learn something about the prospective town’s history and culture. You probably have a reason why you’re moving there, but be able to back whatever emotional impulses with facts and solid information. Things like crime rate, public transportation and cultural events will also affect how you’ll feel after the move. Visit the town before the move as much as possible and connect with people you might know who live there. If you don’t know people who live there, the internet provides a myriad opportunities to get acquainted with natives.

When the moving day comes, I recommend traveling as light as possible. If possible, get rid of what you don’t need, store what you want to keep and just move with what you absolutely have to have. You know what that is better than I do, but it really does help. Not only does it cut down on the cost of moving, it gives you the opportunity to figure out what’s really important to keep and what’s just stuff. Material possessions are a drag on the soul.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, don’t lose heart. Again, this is a major life change and as exciting and exhilarating as it will be, the whole affair is pretty damn scary. You’re leaving your friends, maybe your family, your comfort zone, and all those little things that make life livable for a strange town full of strange people with absolutely no guarantee you won’t fall flat on your face. You’ll have doubts before, during and after the move, wonder if you did the right things, and consider that maybe you shouldn’t have left.

That’s perfectly natural and don’t let it worry you. Just don’t give in the first time the going gets rough. As long as you can financially make it work, stay at least a year and give the town a chance. There’s no shame in being scared, second-guessing yourself or even failing and having to move back to the comfortable so long as you give it your best shot.

Not knowing exactly who this is asking the question and what the circumstances are, I hope this pitiful gibberish is of some help. I’m assuming you grew up in Athens. It’s a great place to live and I miss it, but it’s a big ol’ world and I really believe that to fully appreciate a town you have to immerse yourself in it. We do ourselves a disservice, I think, if we look at the same scenery every day of our lives. Even if your choice turns out to be a bad one, you’ll gain so much just by trying something different and forcing yourself to learn to live in a new town.

Keep positive, make it happen, be smart, and give ‘em hell.

Ask me anything

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

How do you define love?

I have been thinking about this question since it was asked, something like two weeks, and I cannot come up with a good answer, one that either encompasses all my feelings about love or one that's sufficiently glib and humorous. So, I don't know.

I'm tempted to say that I don't define love, I just let it be, but that's a bit too flip and a bit of a cop out. Love is serious and shouldn't be passed over lightly. I could list things I love, I suppose, but that still wouldn't cover everything nor would it give a working definition. I can't think of anything better, though.

I love Momma. I love the "Anvil Chorus" from Il Trovatore. I love a good burrito. I love Golden Harvest kung fu movies. I love learning something I didn't know previously. I love to laugh. I love my friends even if I don't talk to them for years at a time. I love Hank Williams Jr.'s version of "Honky Tonkin'" that's on his MGM boxset. I love cool, sunny days when I don't have to work. I love listening to the rain. I love being part of a good groove. I love being stoned and sitting at the back of a big auditorium, as high up as possible, listening to an orchestra play. I love beagles. I love seeing my friends happy.

Are we talking romantic love? I don't think I can help you there, then. Twice in my life I've told women I loved them and I really meant it at the time, but hoo boy, am I glad both of them felt they had better things to do. I know people, friends and family, in love and I'm sure of it as I'm sure my hair's read, and I love seeing that. I just have absolutely no idea how it works.

So, I guess I don't define love. Maybe it's like what Justice Potter said about pornography, I can't define love but I know it when I see it. Sorry to whomever asked the question, but that's the best I can do.

Ask me anything

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Be mine? Why?

 Okay, kids, serious question time.

 Does anyone actually like Valentine's Day? I mean, besides greeting card companies and florists, to derail any smarty pants.

 Now, granted, I'm not a big holiday guy in general. I never cared much for dressing up in any form or fashion, I don't understand why a special day or season is required so one can be nice to folks, and I'm not particularly religious or into any other form of idolatry. I've long been of the firm opinion that the universe doesn't give a damn what importance we mere mortals assign to a particular diurnal period and I've never been one for ritual.

 That being said, I do dig that many folks really get into different holidays for different reasons. Religious observations,  personal days, and government holidays, humans as a group really seem to like the idea of picking out certain days and deciding to make a huge deal out of them. Right now, out my window, a greater-than-average number of drunken yay-hoos are raising hell in celebration of Mardi Gras. Athens makes a big deal out of Halloween, and Savannah goes absolutely insane on St. Patrick's Day. Furthermore, I've known way too many people, family members included, who get full of the milk of human kindness come Christmastime to complete disregard that otherwise irritating time of the year.

 Before calenders, clocks and the myriad other ways we yoke ourselves to modern life, humans used to use those special days to mark the never-ending turn of life. People were married at harvest or a child's birth was marked from the Solstice for thousands of years. We're used to the idea, in other words.

 But Valentine's Day? From what I can tell, the only people who really look forward to it are those looking to make a buck off it. Sure, some folks will use any excuse to party, but does anyone get pumped up about Valentine's the first of February or get wistful for dead flowers when the 14th rolls around? From what I can tell, people either tolerate it, hate it, or they're "past it" in some form or fashion. In one of those long-running excuses to not think hard that make sometimes ashamed of my Y chromosome, guys worldwide are letting themselves be portrayed in such a manner that they begrudgingly do something nice for the person who regularly touches their individual penises in hopes said person will keep doing so. Admittedly, my experience with "normal relationships" is spotty, both as a participant and observer, but that seems to be how "normal relationships" are supposed to work. An exageration, true, but this clip from Family Guy isn't far off the mark.

 On the other hand, there are those who think the opposite. Valentine's isn't so much hated as it's held in contempt, the overt commercialization of love, romance and caring is enough to turn most folks right off of it. Even if they haven't put as much thought into it as all that, seems like the great majority is past Valentine's Day by the time they hit drinking age. Some are obnoxious about it, like them that brag about not watching television, but that's pretty rare. Sure, couples might use it as an excuse to go out to eat or do something nice for the beloved, but even then it's just an excuse, not the reason.

 And of course, Feb. 14 is flat loathed by millions of single folks and not a few attached souls, I'd wager. Being single, and worse being alone, is tough enough without having to see red satin hearts, rapidly decaying flowers and ridiculously expensive pieces of knickknackery on billboards and in advertisements at every turn. It's like being repeatedly smacked with a big cartoon mallet marked "LOSER" and even knowing that there are other poor, lonely bastards out there - some even in relationships and getting candy - doesn't help much. It's not surprising bitterness boils up.

 But does anyone really like Valentine's Day for the day itself? I'm not advocating anything nor do am I really concerned about how big a nothing it is. I'm just curious. You never hear anyone say "Oh boy, can't wait until Valentine's Day" and it just struck me as curious. I do, however, think it says a lot about modern relationships in our culture - whatever the hell that means - when the day dedicated to love and romance and relationships and commitment is at best comically tolerated and at worst hated with the heat of a million dying suns.

If reincarnation was possible, and it happened to you, what would be your next incarnation?

Up until a few days ago, I would've said one of my old man's walker hounds. They don't have to work or worry about where their food comes from, he was always fairly nice to them, and the only thing they like doing is chasing stuff. Otherwise, they just sort of sit around, eat, sleep and bark. I could do that.

Then I read this Faulkner quote: "If I were reincarnated, I’d want to come back a buzzard. Nothing hates him or envies him or wants him or needs him. He is never bothered or in danger, and he can eat anything." That sounds like a pretty sweet deal, too, frankly.

Whatever it would be, I wouldn't want to be reincarnated as anything sentient. One trip through this veil of tears has been quite enough, thank you. Which means, of course, I could come back as a Republican, but being that actively frightened and outraged all the time seems awfully tiring.

Ask me anything

Friday, February 12, 2010

Would you rather vacation at the beach or in the mountains?

Mountains. Redheaded, sunburn, no fun, yadda yadda.

Ask me anything

What's the nicest thing someone's ever done for you?

All my life people have done things that've stopped me in my tracks when I consider my unworthiness to have someone be that nice to me. As curmudgeonly and anti-social as I am, I've always had people who not only put up with my nonsense, but regularly let me know I mean something to them. I'd hate to single out just one, it seems so ungrateful. Therefore, I'll mention the latest thing that someone's doing for me that's stopped me right in my tracks.

I won't name names, but a friend of mine is painting me a picture. This friend is an heavy art lover and really knows her stuff, but by her own admission she doesn't do a whole lot of painting. She also knows that not only do I not know a good picture from a hole in the ground, but also that I'm not really one for decorating. Anyone who's ever been to any of my domiciles know that my aesthetic tastes run to rather spartan to say the least.

Still, she's painting me a picture just because she wants me to have one now that we're no longer in the same state. Honestly, I was at a loss for words when she told me she was and I still get a goofy grin when I think about it. Ain't that sweet?

Ask me anything

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Who Dat, indeed

  The Saints have won the Super Bowl and New Orleans has lost its collective nut. Everywhere, complete strangers who'd just as likely as not have absolutely nothing to do with each other in the cold light of sobriety are hugging, slapping high fives, and generally proclaiming the Who Dat Nation's superiority over all.

  I went to a Super Bowl party at work and can't get across Bourbon. I've taken refuge in The Chart Room, a bar on Chartes with two dollar Abita and friendly shadows. A kid named Ben, a native no older than 25 and overcome with drunken emotion has spent the last ten minutes explaining why this game, this win means so much.

  After Katrina, the Saints almost gave New Orleans up to the swamps. So did everyone else, so who could blame them. But when the team came back and began to win - particularly the first win back in the Superdome against the Falcons - it was a sign, he said. It was a sign that said that neither the town nor the team was giving up. It was a sign that New Orleans could not only rebuild but be better than ever. "We're New Orleans," Ben tells me, "and we're not fucking around. Black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, whatever. We're all one tonight."

  Well, maybe so. I'm not a native and still finding my way around spiritually, and being the eternal Outside, I really don't have a dog in this hunt. Still, there's something undeniable in the cold French Quarter air tonight. Maybe it's just besotted delirium mixed with the normal human yen for tribalism and such bullshit. Or maybe it is, ad Ben claims, a sign, a line drawn in the sand for all that doubted The Big Easy wouldn't rise again and be the best place in the world. Right now in this crowded bar full incredibly happy people, I'm inclined to agree.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Who's the most overrated musician?

They all are.

Ask me anything

Cats or Dogs?

I grew up around a big pack of walker hounds but I like both, frankly, my roommate's cat notwithstanding.

Ask me anything

What was the worst job you've ever had?

I worked at the local Wal-Mart for a summer. Not only did the experience turn me against the retail business and Corporate America for the rest of my life, it also undoubtedly added to my already heavy disdain for being part of any sort of team or doing anything that required wearing a uniform.

Ask me anything

What was your favorite movie as a child?

Star Wars.

Ask me anything

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I honestly don't remember. I decided I wanted to be an opinion columnist when I was 11 or so, but before that, I don't think I wanted to be anything when I grew up. To be totally honest, the only reason I stuck with the writer thing for so long was that it was the only thing I ever did that I did well enough to get compliments from other folks.

Luckily, I've managed to avoid growing up in any real sense of the word, so there's no real regrets there.

Ask me anything

What's your favorite city?

New Orleans, of course.

Ask me anything

What kind of music can you just not stand to listen to?

Long as the song's in question got a good melody, is well crafted and competently executed, I'm pretty open. I find some stuff boring, like basically anything with "core" as a suffix, and frankly would rather hear a good singer like Sam Cooke or Irma Thomas than any indie rock whine, but I can put up with most anything. I don't care for atonal stuff or music that's intentionally bad in a "humorous" way, but that's about it.

Admittedly, I didn't always think this way but one does grow.

Ask me anything

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Who was the best teacher you've ever had?

Probably Mrs. San McLeod, my high school Accelerated English teacher. AE was my school's gifted program, and whether the designation was valid or not, Mrs. McLeod definitely opened my mind to a lot of new thoughts, ideas and avenues of interest. She encouraged my writing, my interest in philosophy, and to be honest my square peg-ness. I've also got fond memories of Mrs. Marilynn Clark (first grade), Mrs. Velma Ferguson (fifth grade), Mr. Sam Tucker (ninth grade) and college instructors Dr. Larry Armstrong, Dr. Julian Pleasants and, even though it'll give him the big head, Dr. William McKeen. All of them encouraged me to be me, and that always meant a lot.

Of course, special consideration must go to my favorite teachers: Momma and Aunt Diane.

Ask me anything

What was your favorite band you were in?

Hard to say. Every band I've been in, except for the last one (country/party band with a bunch of guys out in Bogart, GA, wherein I was just filling a space before the Big Move) ended on sort of a sour note. Therefore, all have a tinge of melancholy when I think about them. Sort of like my ex-girlfriends, frankly. I enjoyed the good times but the irritations make me glad we went separate ways. The only difference is I'm still friends with everyone I played with, which is nice.

Musically speaking, however, it has to be "The Big Lebowski" thing we (Scotty, Tom, Charlie, Fester, Diego, and me) did for Halloween '09. There were, of course, major headaches involved with that, but we tore it up.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

What was the best job you've ever had?

Prep cook at The Grill. I came in whenever I felt like it, left whenever I got done, could be in as alternated a state as I wanted to be, could listen to whatever music I wanted to, could slip away for an hour and read if I wanted to, didn't have to deal with anyone, and absolutely no stress. I'm almost ashamed at how easy to please I am, frankly.

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If the sun refused to shine, would you still be loving me?

More than likely. Thank you.

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If your house was on fire and you could only grab three things, what would they be?

My external hard drive with all my music on it, my bass guitar because it's actually Jenn's, and my book bag which has enough odds and ends in it to do me for a couple days.

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What was your favorite TV show as a child?

"Doctor Who". Some things never change.

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Do you believe in angels?

Nope, though the actual Biblical angels are pretty neat. Look them up, the thrones and principalities and whatnot. Cherubim have four faces, four hands, four wings and cloven wings for feet, and they're vicious bastards. Sunday school should've been a lot more interesting than it was.

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If you won a million dollars what would you do with it?

I wouldn't work for as long as it held out. Given my frugal lifestyle and lack of expensive interests, I bet I could get at least a decade out of it.

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What was the worst place you've traveled to?

Dothan, AL. When I lived in Gainesville, trips home would take me through Dothan and it was usually the halfway point. Something bad always happended. Either my car would break down or someone would rear-end me or I got pulled over. Unpleasant little town with far too many strip malls, as well.

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Why is it impossible to hate bacon?

Because it's so delicious. Some questions in life are easily answered.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Would you rather be a zombie or a mummy?

A mummy. At leas then, I'd get to rest a while.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If you were given a brand new yacht, what would you name it?

"Up for sale".

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What's the best place near you to get some ice cream?

I don't know, I just moved here. Anybody got any suggestions. Them that know me the best know I love me some ice cream.

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What do you think is the best way to defeat terrorism?

How're we defining "terrorism"? Are abortion doctor killers "terrorists"? How about anti-government militias and racist groups, are those terrorists? Or is the word reserved just for religious nutjobs who're wacky for the "wrong" deity? When the word's been used to describe elementary school teachers who disagree with Republican policies, then "defeating terrorism" doesn't really look like a promising prospect.

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Who was the best boss you've ever had?

Jeff Weinberg, though I've never really hung around a job when the management rubbed me the wrong way. Even the worst boss I had for any length of time - and I ain't naming names, so don't ask - I more felt sorry for him than actually disliked him. I've been lucky in that respect.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

What was your favorite book as a child?

The World Book Encyclopedia, 1983 edition. I assume "as a child" means preadolescence, and I never read traditional kids' books like "Goodnight Moon" or "Where The Wild Things Are". Matter of fact, I didn't read either of those until college when a girl I was fooling around with couldn't believe I'd never read either.

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What are you most excited about right now?

Absolutely nothing. I honestly don't remember the last time I was excited about anything, actually. Even the Big Move engendered no real feelings of excitement. It was more something to be done rather than something to get excited about.

Granted, when people asked me if I was excited about the move, I told 'em yes. However, that's because I've long since learned to not tell most people what I really feel because the vast bulk of them don't seem to be able to understand the way my mind works. To be fair, neither do I most of the time.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What did you eat today?

A bowl of Corn Flakes and a turkey sandwich from Verti Mart. Very tasty.

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I miss your writing in Flagpole. Why do you not write for them anymore?

Partly because I no longer live in Athens, but mostly because I don't write at all anymore. Long story short, I got burnt out a few years ago and decided to just quit it all together before the process of writing became not just difficult but painful. If it's no fun and it's not necessary to keep home and hearth together, don't do it is my way of looking at things. I haven't had a change of heart or mind since then, so I don't write anymore.

Maybe someday, but I'll let it come on its own instead of forcing. I really doubt I'll ever do music criticism ever again, though.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

If you could change one thing that happened last year what would it be?

I can't think of anything. The only thing I really did was move to New Orleans, and that's still too new an experience to judge. Maybe I wouldn't have stayed in Athens as long as I did.

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Do you believe in ghosts?

I've seen no evidence that would allow me to accept the existence of life after death in any form. There is much in this world we cannot explain yet and humans are awfully good at seeing what they want to see. There might be ectoplasmic spirits tied to certain points in this world, but I've never been able to make the leap from speculation to solid belief. So, short answer: no.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

What was the best concert you went to?

Clarence Carter at the Morton Theatre in Athens in 2005 or Al Green at Music Midtown in '03.

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Were you a Michael Jackson fan?


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Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies.

 I signed up for this nonsense if anyone's interested. Basically, you, whoever you may be, can ask me questions anonymously and if I'm in the right mood, I'll answer them. So go nuts, all three of you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Again, nature reminds us why we occasionally call it a "mother"

 You've undoubtedly heard by now about the massive earthquake that struck Haiti yesterday and the resulting damage caused to a country that's taken it on the chin ever since it ran off the slave-owning elite over two hundred years ago. If you can give, give. That's all I got.

Support Doctors Without Borders in Haiti

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The obligatory end-of-the-year ramble

 So, we're a day into 2010 and, of course, one needs to take stock at the year that was. Two-thousand-and-nine has come and gone, and the general conscencous is that is was a major bummer. Both the average Facebook friend and regularly read blogger is glad to see the back end of it.

 Me, I don't know one way or another. For the longest time, one year has been pretty much like the other to me. Some up, some down, I just try to plug on through one day after the next. New Year's Eve wasn't that big a deal, either. I worked until 1 a.m., and by the point the rest of New Orleans was too drunk for my blood. Then again, I've never been one to ring in the new year in any special way. We never did it growing up, and the last time I recall doing anything special was when 1999 turned into 2000 and I caught The Drive-By Truckers play the last show at the High Hat in Athens. Matter of fact, if you own Alabama Ass-Whuppin' you can hear me talking to Patterson during "The Avon Lady". But that's neither here nor there.

 Anyhow, 2009. Things changed, people left and the world turns on. I don't make New Year's Resolutions because, frankly, I don't believe the universe really gives that much a shit about the calender and, furthermore, since we all end up in the same place no matter what we do, life should be a never-ending journey of self-improvement in some form or fashion, no matter how minor. Even if it's just learning a new skill or learning something you didn't know previously, it's worth the effort.

 This time last year, I decided to shake myself out of the funk and rut I was in, continuing the efforts from the previous year. Then, I'd decided to give up my monastic existence and get something going romantically for the first time in four or five years. That, of course, failed miserably. Seeing how that wasn't working and, in fact, making me more unhappy than I'd ever been in my life, I figured something not quite as impossible was in order. The question of what exactly was still hovering in the air, and I briefly considered going back to school for a Master's of Library Science degree. I didn't really want to, mind, and still don't, but I needed something.

 Then in May, I went to New Orleans with Jaybee. She and I had kicked around the idea of visiting the Big Easy for as long as we'd known each other but had never been able to pull it together. I'd always loved the town but had never been able to spend more than a day or two there. After the visit, I knew I had found out the next path. I had something to do.

 So, here I am. First day into 2010 in New Orleans, and I have a place to live and a job I think is going to work out. I'm still surly and restless and prone to brood and can't figure out what the hell I'm supposed to do with my life, but at least I'm doing it in different surroundings. I've also decided what is the next path I want to take in my life. I'm going to learn how to dance. It's about time, I think.

 One final thought concerning this brave new year. We're now ten years into the 21st century. Where in sam hell are our flying cars and lunar colonies? Seriously. I sometimes wonder if we're not sucking up all our scientific fuel on making sure middle-aged men feel good about themselves.