Thursday, July 26, 2007


A large black snake was coiled up along the stairs to our front door in the country. It was longer than this photo shows, it was coiled up on the pipes.

My Hubby, the Renovator

What a hubby! I hated these fruit tiles that were randomly scattered through the kitchen by the previous owner. Hubby was able to remove the offending tiles and replace with a close match.

below: BEFORE

below: AFTER. Flash makes the replacement tiles more noticeable than they are in person. Plus the new range hood has not been put in place yet.

below: Hubby ripping out ancient, stained linoleum and extra flooring. He has a tile floor planned.

below: "Whew!" Sweaty work, ripping up floors.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lafitte's, my Favorite!

Here's a photo of my favorite bar in New Orleans. Lafitte's. It has no electric lighting, just candles and a central fireplace that's open all the way through, so you can see from both sides. They claim to be the oldest bar in the U.S., and soak their maraschino cherries in Everclear. Once when I was in there, there was a dog at the bar named Kafka.

N.O.: Have You Been There? #1

Going to share a Foward my mother sent me, over the next couple posts. Hope you enjoy it!

(My answers: I've been to Cafe du Monde at every conceivable time of day, including 4 AM or more. Sipped hurricanes in the fountain patio at Pat O's but I prefer Lafitte's bar. Obviously I've been to Mardi Gras. Instead of Acme's, I favored Felix's, across the street. Walked around the Garden District, but wouldn't be caught dead inside the Cat's Meow. Been in the Dungeon, though, after midnight. John Folse - I'm more impressed with Leon Soniat. Risen at 6 am? Not voluntarily. Although I have been in the Quarter early in the morning going to work in the Jax - I wonder if the author of this piece is a transplant? Galatoire's, K-Paul's, Emerils?! Why the hell would I wait in line at those tourist traps when N.O. is full of good food? I ate poboys at the Come Back Inn in Metairie. I remember Zulu's coconuts, liability issue now (threw them off floats during parades.) New Orleanians are secretely sipping their daiquiris in more places than the street car...the daiquiri shops have drive up windows! And we don't have to be so secret, we can walk down the street with our drinks, unlike prudish Georgia and most everywhere else. Had drinks at the Columns. Marathoned through Audubon Park, been to City Park. Love going in St. Louis cathedral, but haven't been to Mass. I did participate in a Catholic wedding in a cathedral on the west bank, a priest stood high above in a gothic pulpit, proclaiming the Blood of Christ. It was ghoulish and pagan. Hell YES I know who Connick, SR. is. Breakfast at Brennan's? No. That was for the moneyed. Tipitina's, YES. Superdome, yes. Not for sports, though, for concerts...Prince's Purple Rain Tour, Stones Voodoo Lounge... Cheese fries at Fat Henry's? HELL NO! That place was for preppies. I was down the way sucking down oysters at COOTER BROWN'S! Thrown peanuts on the floor at O'Henry's. Rendon Inn? Never heard of it. World's Fair? Every night, darlin. Saw the Stray Cats there, too! Been on the Tulane campus? I'm an alumni. Crawfish boil? (stupid question for me...I'm a NATIVE!) On the lake, across the lake, in the lake. West bank, lived there. Been to Mother's and never had to wonder what debris's the meat flakes you get from cooking roast beef and slicing it. Good poboy is french fries with debris gravy. No more since I went vegetarian. Jazz Fest, second weekend always. Pontchartrain Beach, rode the Zephyr. Boy I'm old! Many memories of standing in line at Camellia Grill. Been to Mandina's. I CAN'T BELIEVE THIS PIECE DOES NOT INCLUDE BROCATO'S! Manale's, yes. Dookie Chase, no. Plantation home, yes. I can pronounce Tchoupitoulas, Thibodaux & Boutte. Been to Biloxi beaches, and Grand Isle more importantly. AHHH - Monsoon at Port O Call. That's how I survived UNO. Breakfasted at the Bluebird. Seen Charmaine Neville in person, Aaron walking around jazzfest...seen Cowboy Mouth, the Iguanas, DASH RIP ROCK...Bonerama... I know what it means, to miss New Orleans.)

Our Town

New Orleans. How wonderful those words sound when said with no quirky
emphasis on odd syllables. They always seem to elicit some response.

Have you been there?

Have you ever been to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait and gone back every morning of your visit?

Have you ever sat for hours in the piano bar at Pat O'Brien's sipping hurricanes?

Have you ever been to Mardi Gras - Bacchus? Endymion? Rex?

Have you ever had oysters at the Acme House?

Have you ever sat out on the "fly" eating crawfish and drinking Dixie beer?

Have you ever taken a walking tour of the Garden District?

Have you ever sung karaoke at Cat's Meow?

Do you know who John Folse is?

Have you ever risen at 6am to roam the streets of a "quiet" French Quarter?

Have you ever been to Galatoire's? K-Paul's? Emeril's?

Can you remember when Zulu threw gold-painted coconuts?

Have you ever ridden the street-car down St. Charles Avenue secretly sipping your strawberry daiquiri?

Have you ever had a mint julep on the porch of The Columns Hotel?

Have you ever been to Audubon Park? City Park?

Have you ever been to mass at the St. Louis Cathedral?

Do you know who Harry Connick, Sr is?

Have you ever had breakfast at Brennan's?

Have you ever been to the original Tipitina's?

Have you ever been to the Superdome? Saints game? Super Bowl? Final Four?

Have you ever had cheese fries at Fat Harry's?

Thrown peanuts on the floor at O'Henry's?

Have you ever been to the Rendon Inn?

Can you remember the New Orleans World's Fair?

Have you ever been to the campuses of Tulane and Loyola?

Have you been to a crawfish boil? Sucked the heads?

Have you ever been "on the lake"? "Across the lake"? To the "west bank"?

Have you had a Ferdi from Mother's and wondered what "debris" was?

Have you ever been an unexpected invitee to a jazz funeral?

Have you ever been to Jazzfest ---- first or second weekend?

Have you ever been to Pontchartrain Beach?

Have you ever stood in line at the Camellia Grill?

Had a po-boy at Uglesich's? Oyster and artichoke soup at Mandina's?

BBQ shrimp at Pascal Manale's? Gumbo at Dookie Chase?

Have you ever been to a plantation home?

Have you ever been to the French Quarter festival?

Can you pronounce Tchoupitoulas? Thibodaux? Boutte?

Have you ever been to Clancy's? The Upperline? Brightsen's?

Have you ever been to the Biloxi beaches?

Have you ever had a monsoon at Port of Call? Breakfast at the Blue Bird?

Have you ever seen the Neville Brothers? Cowboy Mouth? The Radiators?

Have you ever been to New Orleans?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Individual Bottled Champagne

Here's what I treated myself to after a hard weekend of renovating. An individual bottle of champagne. (Actually, I ordered a different one, but this is what came out and it was tasty, "Pop" name notwithstanding.)

Would have gotten a photo of the amazing scallops special I had, but the champagne and terrific company made me forget all about photos. Mitch had the halibut special.

below: I had to take apart this chandelier because it desperately needed a thorough cleaning. 90 handwashed crystals and a vaccuumed and dusted base later, it was ready to hang in it's new place. This wonderful fixture was given to me for free by friends who were getting rid of it.

below: my raspberry room looks like it will need FOUR coats to get the color even. ACK! The more coats it gets, the more it looks like red. I'm considering doing a top layer of whitewash to offset the encroaching feel of the deep color. Will wait until later to decide, since I also hated how the master bedroom pain looked while in process, but loved it once I was finished.

Athens Graffitti

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Weird Athens

Since we've been hanging out in Athens, my husband and I have been wondering about an unusual, boarded up building on Broad St. We finally found out its story from a book review in Flagpole (see below). Ultra-weird.

The building is in 3 parts, couldn't get a full shot of it for you.

below: the middle part

below: the left wing

below: the right wing

and detail shots...

article is from Flagpole at

An Investigative Reporter’s Take on Dwight “Malachi” York

originally published June 20, 2007

Have you heard this one before? Charismatic cult boss settles his legions in an out-of-the-way spot. They live weird and undisturbed until criminal misdeeds - white-collar tax fraud, building code violations, grotesque cases of prurience - begin leaking out to authorities. The feds come in, bring down the group, and divulge a laundry-list of Biblical abominations perpetrated by the pious leader. Remind you of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians? Beyond just being the template for cult activity, the story should have a ring of familiarity to denizens of Athens since it happened in Georgia, outside Eatonton to be exact, and one remnant of its legacy still stands here in the Classic City: in the deserted bunker daubed with neo-Egyptian pictographs on Broad Street. This particular local tale is about Dwight York, “Grand Master Teacher” of the Nuwaubians, thief, misogynist and monstrous pederast, as told in Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigative reporter Bill Osinski’s new book.

With its catalog of incest, molestation and even cannibalism, Ungodly: A True Story of Unprecedented Evil (Indigo Custom Publishing, 2007) is a grimacing read, and it takes a ponderous kind of self-motivation to push through each example of sexual assault. Osinski’s brisk style reflects his day job: his phrases are unadorned and breathless. A sentence often constitutes a paragraph. His reportorial method dispenses with the gruesome facts as expeditiously and efficiently as possible; but neck-deep in moral filth, the reader is left gasping for air. Such excruciating content begs for the author to pull back and editorialize, to posit and italicize his or her own subjective humanity as a foil to the evil on the page. As it is, Osinski gives us very little in this department. We’re not even rescued by the pneumatically-sealed analysis of the social sciences.

Understanding an Evolution

Osinski does expertly detail how Dwight York gathered his African-American congregation. With their communities and families undermined by crime, drugs, AIDS and dead-end jobs, and struggling to find their racial identity in postmodern America, they came looking for anything that smacked of authenticity and righteousness in a fallen world. Fashioned as a wise man, doctor, prophet, cowboy, priest, quasi-rabbi, god and, lastly, “guest savior” from Planet Rizq, York offered the keys to heaven through the mirage of religious virtue and the austerity of a separatist, communal life. Preying on their anxieties, he both dressed and decorated for the part. As Osinski describes it, his various fiefdoms in New York and Georgia were a farrago of atrocious kitsch, modeled after the tackiest T.G.I. Friday’s between Morocco and Zimbabwe. But they also utilized ornamental and architectural signatures intended to evoke lost historical roots. Thus, the compounds were populated with totems of African pride: inflatable palm trees in upstate New York; leopard skins; big-game heads mounted on the walls; Moorish domes and minarets; and eventually in Georgia, an Egyptian fantasy-land of tarpaper, particle board and polyurethane foam called Tama Re. York’s relocation to the old plantation country of the Peach State, in actuality just an attempt to retrench and renew where the money went farther and more covertness could be had, was construed as a move back to origins.

The giant, flashing question, which Osinski can only guess at, is why intelligent people stuck with it through exponential evidence of bizarreness and depravity. The United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors was just the last, most sensationalist phase of the illustrious career of Dwight York, when both he and his cult mutated into something so larded with cultural refuse it was past all resemblance - like a religious junk store of doctrine and imagery, piling up curios of UFOs, Native Americans, Freemasons, Illuminati and leprechauns. Osinski is quick to point out that York originally started out as a community activist with high ideals and good intentions in New York City. He was drawn to Islam in his own search for authenticity, and Mohammed’s faith seemed to offer an alternative to the colonial whiteness of Christianity. Nevertheless, Osinski paints York’s fall from grace like Satan’s precipitous tumble from heaven. Outward generosity and social concern devolved into self-grandiosity and delusion as York’s talent for persuasion ran amok. Minions hocked his plagiarized, stream-of-consciousness manifestos on city street corners. His Ansaru Allah Community annexed parts of the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. According to Osinski, they extorted “security payments” from local shop owners Mafia-style and acquired real estate by torching it first to reduce the price (religious and racial sensitivity would keep the cops away). A self-appointed mullah, York interpreted the Koran liberally. He took extra wives and concubines. When he got bored, he went after the kids, even his own. By the time York had made his lair in Georgia, Tama Re was a playground of perversion, where stuffed animals had been equipped with sex toys for grisly initiation purposes.

A World Unraveled

York’s evil finally caught up to him. Finally, some of the mothers of his hundreds of children could no longer stand his deviance. As Osinski enumerates the victims and the sins, it becomes almost impossible to comprehend why dissent took so long. But inside the cult, York’s followers truly lived a world apart. Some, who had been born into the life, did not understand the value of money. Everything percolated down from York: he was their source of spiritual guidance and earthly sustenance. Dethroning him would literally mean the end of their existence, and he galvanized his people by appropriating convenient bogeymen, the last of which were the local building inspector and sheriff of Putnam County. Borrowing a political tactic from the Religious Right, York portrayed his community as being constantly under siege from the outside, “secular” world. Gruesome accusations could always be attributed to the prejudice and racism of the Nuwaubians’ unanimous enemy.

Osinski only hints at it, but there is an infinitesimal apology that could be made for York. A recurring motif continues popping up throughout his biography: York as the lead singer of an R&B band called Passion, the Back-street recording studio in Brooklyn, the recording studio at Camp Jazzir in the Catskills, the recording studio at Tama Re, and the adjoining discotheque in Club Ramses. One has the sense that Dwight York just wanted to be some famous musical somebody, like Don Cornelius or Diddy, enjoying limos, magnums of champagne, easy sex, and all the glamorous trappings of celebrity. In the end, York got many of his wishes, but his Faustian deal earned him 135 years in federal prison for child molestation and racketeering. That’s where York remains, but as Osinski takes noble pains to illuminate, the uncountable victims remain scattered with us, living savagely disfigured lives.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More New Orleans

A few more New Orleans photos...

below: signs read, "Rex is King" and "We'll Be Back Come Hell or High Water"

below: beers served "Camp Street style" (if you were from here, you'd know)

below: houses near where my mother is now living

below: hubby on Decatur St. in the French Quarter

below: beignets from Cafe Du Monde

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bad Cop, No Loitering!

Saw this sign affixed to a CVS in Athens.

Athens Renovating

So, painting! Below is a photo of a primered wall that I "cut in" with fuschia. Luckily my husband insisted that I take a photo of this, since a friend later asked me what "cutting in" means. Cutting in is putting the paint on with a brush when you want to keep surrounding areas clear of paint. In the case, the white ceiling, the white shelves and desktops, and the white floor trim. You can see a good video of how to cut in with NO TAPE, which I've found through experience and the advice of pro painters, is the way to go. Look, Ma, NO TAPE!

below: then it's easy to fill in the wall with the paint roller. ROCK AND ROLLER! This wall only has one coat, so it's splotchy (I think that it's easier to see when it's a dark color like this.) I'll be applying another coat next weekend. This room is going to be my home office. Originally, as you can see, it was built as a kids' room with their two study areas. When we purchased the home, this room was painted school bus yellow, including all trims and the book cases. Just one room of unrelieved, Crayola yellow. I still have an intense color here, but the book cases and trim really pop. Credit goes to my husband for his advice on leaving the desktop and shelves white, but painting the space between the shelves and desk, and underneath the desk. The fronts of the drawers that will go into the desk will be painted cobalt blue, and other blue accents will be used in decorating.

My paint color matches the color of the "Raspberry Sundae" crape myrtle. We have two crape myrtles in this approximate color in our yard.

Below: here is a "Before" photo

Sunday, July 08, 2007

New Orleans Diaspora

Hubby and I were having brunch this morning at The Grit in Athens, GA. I spotted a young man wearing a very worn New Orleans Saints t-shirt and wondered about him. Then a woman across the room called out to him in a Y'at accent. The woman and her husband are here looking for a home, and I think the Saints fan said he lives in Sevierville. Sevierville is in TN between Gatlinburg and Knoxville, location of Dollywood. I drove through there once, and decided it is the Hell On Earth, never to be visited again. Now we take I-40 around to get to Knoxville.

So this morning in one small room of a restaurant in Athens, there were 3 tables containing New Orleans ex-pats.

"The world in gonna pay 'cause/We'll be everywhere/There'll be dancin' in your streets/and music in your air." --- from "Home" by Cowboy Mouth, written after Katrina.

Overheard in Athens

Sitting in Aromas wine bar last night, this is what I overheard:

A sorority girl to a bunch of sorority girls:

"If you were drowning on the Titanic, and you had to pick one of your friends to be a flotation device, who would it be and why?"

Friday, July 06, 2007

Metairie Muffler Man

One of my new hobbies is seeking out Muffler Men to photograph. You can find a link to the Muffler Men locator map in the right margin of my blog.

During my stay in New Orleans last weekend, we went to see the Muffler Man in Metairie (a suburb). My stepdad was with us too, but you won't see him in the photos, he does not understand this quest and stayed in the hot car.

The Muffler Man website categorizes this particular Muffler Man as rare, because he wears a crown.

Next quest will be the Atlanta Muffler Man. He's out by the airport somewhere. And there's one in Bakersfield, CA where my in-laws live, will get that one sometime this winter.

below: there he is, holding Mardi Gras beads.

below: my mom and DH with Muffler Man.

below: me with Muffler Man.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

New Orleans: Brocato's, darlin'!

While visiting New Orleans this past weekend, of course I had to stop in at Angelo Brocato's, where I used to make cappuchinos and dish ice cream when I was in college. They claimed you'd get used to the food and stop eating it, but that never happened for me. I gained 30 lbs while working there!

Here's a review of the place from Frommer's, before the shop's reopening. Brocato's reopening was a big deal for the city, because of it's longevity, style, and the fact that it is locally owned, not some national franchise. When I worked there, the entire family worked there also and was supported by it. The cannoli shells and cookies are all baked on-site.

Frommer's Review

A genuine ice-cream parlor, small but sweet, and that's even before you get to the goods. Run by the same family since 1905, in a replica of the establishments found in the founder's hometown of Palermo, they make rich Italian ice cream (made fresh daily on the premises, and tasting not quite like gelato, which they also make, but similar), cookies and candy in the kind of atmosphere that is slowly being lost in this age of strip malls and superstores. Their area of Mid-City was severely flooded, damaging both the store and the factory out back. Fortunately for all of us, the family is committed to returning to New Orleans, and has begun serious renovations, with an eye toward reopening at some point in 2006 and finishing up that aborted centennial celebration. Thank goodness: The chocolate ice cream is one of our all-time favorites, but the fresh lemon ice, and pana cotta custard have brought us to our knees. The fresh cannolis are also inspired. Right on the Canal streetcar line, it's not just nostalgia -- it's still vibrant, a local tradition worthy of continuing another 100 years. And on hot days, it's vital! Come back soon!

below: view of the counter from my window seat.

below: brass plate above the door handle shows the Katrina water line.

below: this photo gives perspective on where the water line was.

below: house near Brocato's.

below: former shopping center across from Brocato's, almost two years after the storm. This is a neighborhood my family once lived in. Many places in New Orleans have people living in them again, but stores and shops still boarded up. The huge mall in New Orleans East on Read Blvd. is being totally bulldozed.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Avatar

Here's my avatar from The Simpsons Movie website. Go create your own!

New Orleans

Took a weekend trip to New Orleans to see The Police in concert. It was a FANTASTIC show, and a great visit to a beautiful, if wounded, city.

The haters continue. Just last week, the manager at my gym told me that New Orleans should be allowed to drown. A student in my yoga class told me with disapproval that she didn't know why anyone would move back there. This from people who know I was born and bred there, and my family is still there. Lord only knows what people with more tact are thinking.

Today and tomorrow I will be posting photos from my trip. Hopefully they will convey some of the beauty and charm of our city, and ambiance not found in any strip mall plastic suburb.

below: a shop window display on Rue Royal in the French Quarter.

below: the Carousel bar in Hotel Monteleone. The bar is shaped like a carousel, with high back stools that have scenes painted on them. The whole thing revolves (slowly). I had a French 75 cocktail, a blend of gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, grenadine and champagne.

below: my DH in the courtyard of the Napoleon House. When I was 13, my mother and I shared lunch in this same spot with actor George Segal, who is the cousin of a family friend. I wish we'd gotten a picture then.

below: there I am.

below: more of the Napoleon House courtyard.

below: stairs leading up from the courtyard.