happy carnival!

yes, it is now carnival season, officially. i’m always amazed every year how this town glides so effortlessly from christmas to new year’s to poof, now it’s carnival season, without missing a beat. and this year it will be such a long season – mardi gras isn’t until march 8th!

last night i decided to take in some of the 12th night/epiphany revelry which marks the official start of the season by scooting downtown to see the krewe de jeanne d’arc parade. i think this was their 3rd year parading, but for some reason i’ve never made it down to see it. i went solo, hoping to run into someone i knew, and voila, i did. in fact, i ran into lots of folks i knew, which was nice.

my photos aren’t the best – my now very old digital camera doesn’t do great with nighttime shots using flash – but you get the idea. joan was lovely on horseback wearing her chain mail, making her way through the crowds.

and she had several maids of honor who followed behind her on beautiful clydesdales. god those animals are gorgeous. i was impressed with how calm all the horses remained sandwiched in such tight crowds, particularly when the parade turned onto st. phillip from chartres towards decatur.

though these small walking parades are not the visual spectacles nor sensory experiences of the larger traditional krewe parades, they are so much more creative in many ways, particularly with throws. i did not score any of the coveted handmade items, but was happy to have ended up with some joan of arc matches and a lovely krewe card. i like what it says on the back:

“on this day of birth for joan of arc, the maid of orleans, we celebrate the rebirth of new orleans. we walk on this night to reflect on the past year and rejuvenate for the new year. we honor all those who have fallen by the sword, fire, and flood. we burn candles to brighten this twelfth night, lighting the way for mardi gras season. joan of arc, saint, warrior, leader, and honorary maid of new orleans, we thank you for shining your golden light on us and ask you to bless new orleans in 2011, on this, the anniversary of the 599th year of your birth.”

guess they’ll have a super rockin’ parade next year to celebrate her 600th!

by the time the parade reached its end, at the golden joan of arc statue by the french market, of course, the crowds had swelled to quite a large number. i wish there would have been more organization to the “party” at the end of the parade, as it seemed most folks were just standing around wondering what was supposed to happen next… and after about a half an hour, the crowds dissipated. but it was fine. i enjoyed my joan of arc experience, recalling fondly past moments with both the lesbian avengers and queer nation in the 1990s when we claimed joan as one of our own via street actions. if only her statue had been in its present location for those events – they would have gotten a lot more attention! (she used to be located over by the world trade center and rivergate, before harrah’s was built – it was moved in 1999.)

sadly, i ate no king cake yesterday. i’m hoping for some on saturday in tandem with the saints playoff game vs. seattle. but it was still a lovely kick-off to carnival season.

to market, to market…

freretstivus market, that is. TODAY! noon til 5pm – i will be there. come enjoy the beautiful day before we get more nasty weather tomorrow. and don’t forget about the last stop shop at the big top on thursday, 6-10pm (1638 clio street).

and remember, i do custom work also… so if there’s a clock or sign design you like, i can make it in your favorite color combo and have it done in plenty of time for christmas. i even have some blank scarf material in stock and could print up the scarf of your choice. so don’t be shy – just ask!

happy holiday shopping, y’all.

looking for a roommate

this is just a quick post to continue my process of putting out my feelers for a new roommate. fae and i have decided not to live together anymore and she will be moving out for november 1st. (everything is ok, really.) therefore, i am now commencing the great roommate hunt of 2010.

if you’ve already seen this on my facebook or livejournal, just ignore this post. you already know what it says. but do keep me in mind if you know of anyone looking for a roommate situation.

if you haven’t already heard my schpeal, here’s the quick details: 2BR/1bath shotgun in midcity near the cemeteries. one block from the streetcar. walking/biking distance from rouse’s, 2 banks, bayou st. john post office, and countless restaurants and bars in midcity. (right around the corner from mick’s irish pub, beach corner, herb import & yang’s po-boys!) on-street parking, cute front porch, large spacious rooms with beautiful light, great neighbors, quiet neighborhood.

rent is $500/mo + half utilities (entergy/water/cox cable&wifi). i have 2 neutered male cats, so i’d prefer new roommate not have any animals (though it is negotiable) and like cats (not negotiable). not interested in signing a year lease but would like at least a six-month commitment so i don’t have to sweat it for a while. if i know you or you are a friend of a friend, no deposit.

new roommate would get front two rooms to do with as they please; i will have middle room (office/studio) and back bedroom. we will share bathroom, walk-in storage closet, laundry room (washer/dryer stay with the house) and kitchen (at the back of the house).

feel free to pass on my email – artbymags@gmail.com – to anyone that might be interested. i also have a craigslist ad up with a few more details: http://neworleans.craigslist.org/roo/1980124362.html.

thanks y’all.

this too shall pass…

yes, those are my feet. (nice ankle-sock tan, eh?)

yesterday i went to a decadence pool party with some friends. the pool ended up being more of an oversized bathtub, about 6’x10′, though very pretty. i wasn’t really feeling like immersing my entire body in water, but i did dangle my feet in. hence, the photo. it somehow seems fitting for this entry.

i had hoped when i got back from fest this summer that i would get better about writing in this blog. but even though i hardly get any traffic to it on a daily basis, it’s ended up feeling way too public for me to write about what’s going on in my head and heart these days. i’ve mostly been relegating any writing i’m doing on those topics to my livejournal, which is more private, and really, i’m hardly writing there either. i write in my own private journal sometimes, but that’s not for public consumption in any way. just a place for me to work stuff out. and clearly, i need to be working some shit out right now.

without much of a crafty or other work life happening right now, i find i don’t have all that much to say. yeah, i went to decadence. there were semi-naked gay men in crazy outfits. lots of people were drunk. i’m glad i got out of the house on such a pretty day and went to the party and parade, and yes, a part of me does still enjoy these kinds of displays of public theater that are so commonplace here in new orleans… but mostly i wasn’t really feeling it. the parade was incredibly short, i saw only a handful of dykes that i wasn’t there with, and i clearly was not fucked up enough to be having all that much of a good time. (i chose not to drink too much because i’m trying to be nicer to body right now and not contribute to the depression i’m already fighting.) i did drink a few beers, but passed on the everclear jello shots being sold out of someone’s front door on royal street that everyone else was consuming like candy.

i took a bunch of photos. these guys were my favorites:

after the parade we all went back to the pool party and i hung around for a while, ate a brat and a burger (thanks y’all!), but after a bit, i just realized i should just go home. i just wasn’t feeling it and didn’t want to bring anybody else down. i was sad i missed the black men of labor 2nd line that went right by the house a little later after i’d gone, but oh well. it’s new orleans… there will always be another parade, another 2nd line… thank goddess.

so anyways. today i’m supposed to be writing my music column, possibly my last one for them, but i’m having a hard time getting going. i’m listening to this new disc by a band called the drums. they are kinda perfect for my mood today, retro emo a la the smiths or joy division, with song titles like “it will all end in tears” and “i need fun in my life.” <sigh>

yeah. i do need some fun in my life. i’m working on it, and for the most part, i feel like i’ve been doing a really good job of self-care and trying to be positive. i’ve been exercising regularly, taking my vitamins, and getting out of the house and socializing a LOT more. i’m taking the baby steps. i’m just having a rough patch. everybody has rough patches.

this too shall pass. hopefully sooner rather than later.

#kplus5 weekend

while feeling fairly overwhelmed by my own personal soul-searching and introspection that i’ve been engaged in since i got back from michfest, it is of course katrinaversary weekend here in new orleans. and not just any old katrinaversary – as if any of them are less harrowing than any other – but this one seems way more overloaded with media coverage and memorial activity than the last few, being the fifth anniversary.

i had thought the only k+5 type of event i would be partaking in this weekend would be the rising tide conference. i registered for it back in july and have been looking forward to it ever since, and felt like that was probably all i could handle. it’s an all-day event on saturday, plus i’m going to the opening party for it tonight, down at the howling wolf, with my new friend derrick, aka geekandahalf for those of you on twitter. so yeah, seemed like plenty enough for me in and of itself.

but, well, here i am, on friday the 27th, and i started my day listening to the rachel maddow podcast from last night’s show, which was shot live in algiers point and largely concerned itself with the topic of k+5. i always listen to something on my ipod while i’m out for my daily morning walk, and so this morning it somehow seemed appropriate to listen to that show. (it was really good, btw – i highly recommend taking the time to listen to/watch it. i just love her!)

what i wasn’t necessarily expecting was being inexplicably drawn to walk by the new orleans katrina memorial in the cemeteries on canal street. i somehow, even though it’s in my neighborhood and has now been there for two years, had eluded awareness of this until just the other day when i heard something about it on some npr show i was listening to in the car. and suddenly, i wondered why i had never noticed it before. so this morning, as i set out on my walk, i decided to go looking for it, just so i’d know where it was.

but then when i got there, i couldn’t not go in. i felt pulled in. it’s pretty intense, i have to say. from first noticing the awesome fleur-de-lis-with-swirling-water-below-it design that repeats itself in the iron fencing, to reading the marble marker that sits at the center of its overall hurricane-shaped layout, the memorial is certainly designed for introspection and reflection… and the blank marble vaults that house the unidentified victims of the storm and floods are a solemn reminder of the real human loss that occurred.

i obviously took a few pics on my smart phone while continuing to listen to rachel maddow, pausing for a moment to take it all in, and then i was off on a one-hour walk around my neighborhood that i love (mid-city).

i’ve then spent most of my day listening in on the tedxnola event happening down in the french quarter. i’d considered going to it, but in my present state of unemployment and dwindling funds, i didn’t feel like i could give up the $35 to attend. much to my surprise and delight, i discovered this morning there is a live feed of the proceedings online, so i’ve been selectively tuning in and out as my interest level dictates throughout the day.

the topic of this event is not exactly katrina nor is it a memorial – it is focused on creativity in crisis, or what good and creative things have come out of the disaster. so there have been some interesting speakers – james carville being my favorite thus far, and i loved kimberly rivers roberts (trouble the water) – but on the whole, i think i’m glad i did not give up my $35. i’ll just say… it ain’t no rising tide! (holla!)

i still don’t really have any plans for sunday. (guess i didn’t win tickets to see obama speak at xavier – oh well.) perhaps i’ll take the day off and just spend it at home, hanging out with fae. or maybe i’ll feel pulled out to one of the dozens of events happening around town on the actual anniversary day. who knows. i guess i’ll just have to wait and see.

k+5

i’ve had so much on my mind that i’ve wanted to get out, written down, since i got back from fest that i’m just now getting around to absorbing the fact that the fifth anniversary of katrina and the levee failures is right around the corner. i haven’t really let myself think about it all that much yet.

i’m not exactly sure what i’ll be doing on the 29th, the actual date of the anniversary, which is a sunday this year. i do know on the 27th and 28th, i hope to be simultaneously engaged and distracted by the goings-on of the rising tide conference, the annual so-called nola blogger conference. i went last year for the first time and really enjoyed it; it made me feel more connected to the online community here in nola, even though i only knew a handful of people in attendance and i didn’t really do much to introduce myself or meet many new folks. but i did pick up a whole new bunch twitter followers, as i brought my laptop with me and live-tweeted for much of the day, and in turn added dozens to my follow list… many of whom i’ve really enjoyed interacting with over this past year and have since met in real life. i think this year’s event is going to be huge, and i’m hoping i will be motivated to come out of my shell a little bit more and actually meet more people.

what to say about new orleans, five years after? i never really know how to answer the questions of “how’s new orleans doing?” i got asked that a bunch of times at festival. it’s a complicated question with a complicated answer, that, unless you are living here, is difficult to understand.

i read recently somewhere that my part of town, mid-city, is considered to be 95% “back,” whatever exactly that means. and if i look around my neighborhood, the immediate streets around me, on the surface, that seems to be true – particularly in my part of mid-city, near the cemeteries. life seems pretty normal and well-adjusted. but upon closer inspection, which i had the opportunity to do in my time with the census, as the first block i was assigned was my own, things are not always what they seem. as i walked my block and knocked on every door, i was amazed to learn that there were 12 vacant houses – some which had been sitting up since the storm, some of which were in some state of being repaired – in just my city block alone. (a city block means not just the side of the street i live on, but walking clockwise around all four streets of the plot of land that constitutes my block until i end up back at my house.) i have lived here for two years and i had never noticed there were so many empty houses!

so yeah. “back” means something different in different parts of town. of course, if you are uptown on the “sliver by the river” which did not suffer flooding for the most part, things might not look all that different than they did before the storm. much like the french quarter, which also did not flood. but if you are driving around, say, gentilly, or lakeview, or hollygrove – all neighborhoods i spent a LOT of time in while doing the census – you realize, recovery is a block by block thing. some blocks look great, and others are wastelands. many many empty lots where houses used to stand; many many dilapidated structures that really ought to be demolished but struggle to remain standing, mostly untouched since the storm; and many in-progress and recent renovations, for the lucky.

is the city functional again? well, probably slightly more functional, actually, than it was before… what with the new mayor working hard and the DOJ working to try to rehabilitate the NOPD. there is reason to be hopeful, though we’ve got a LONG way to go. but it’s hard to say unequivocally that new orleans is mostly “back” or that things are largely back to “normal.” because it really does depend on who you are, where you live, and what your circumstances are.

for me personally, it’s a mixed bag. on the surface, yes, i am “back” in the physical sense, living in new orleans, even in mid-city, two blocks down from my old apartment. i have a lovely home, a loving girlfriend, two cute cats and a dog. i’ve been able to pursue my dream of making my living as an artist/crafter for the past few years and have made a pretty good go of it – well, until the economy tanked. i’ve reconnected a little with many old friends and am slowly figuring out ways to become a contributing member of the community again. all in all, it would seem like the traumas of katrina have faded from my life, five years out.

but dig a little deeper, and well, life has its ups and downs. i find myself at a crossroads about my work/career life and my relationship with money, and i have sadly come to the realization that i’m lonelier now, being here in new orleans and not feeling terribly connected to those who were previously my closest friends, than when i lived in louisville and didn’t know anyone. it’s that proverbial “alone in a crowd” feeling, where i know so many of the people around me to some degree, having been part of this community since 1990, but don’t feel close really to anyone.

so the answer to whether i am personally “back” or not is… depends on which day you ask me. i don’t feel like i’ve managed to crawl back into my pre-k skin entirely and i fear i never will… but i’m working hard right now to transform the journey i’ve been on in the past five years into a better, new version of me, just like the city is trying to reimagine itself not simply as the city it was before the floods, but a new and improved city deeply rooted in its past but looking to the future.

the trick is to not get bogged down in what used to be and what has been lost, but to envision what can be, and what there is to look forward to.

wish me/us luck.