Wednesday, March 31, 2010

But by the grace of God

You can not become a great person, until you become the least.

When I was working the temporary agency I met a few men who were living at homeless shelters. Good men, generous and decent men whom I grew to respect. I'll admit a few years ago I didn't have a lot of mercy toward the homeless. I was snobbish and elitist. I figured they were there because they chose to be. In recent years I have seen how easy it can happen. I actually listened to them when they spoke which shelters were better than others, I took note of which soup kitchens they said were the best. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I was fortunate to have the help of friends to feed and shelter me. Does it make a differance if charity comes from strangers or friends?

Charity sees the need not the cause.
German Proverb

Five years ago I would say that a lot of things that have happened to me never would. I hope most Americans will pause and think. Situations can change fast, unforeseen events can turn a life around. I hope when things turn for the better for me, I won't forget how close to needing the help of strangers. May I remember those men I worked with and help them when I am able to.

And now abide in faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


Another blog of mine...

I never had a very good relationship with my father. An alcoholic who died when I was about 12. I spent the better part of my life either hating him or pretending he never existed. I could easily turn this blog into a project to bash him, however I won't. I spent my life demonizing him. Now let me search for the qualities he had. The purpose of this blog is to examine who he was, and why he was the way he was.

I started it last Father's Day. Being a Dad myself, I realize that it's the toughest role any man can take on. Now that I am a father, over the years I am a lot less critical of my father. I chose to forgive him for his short comings, and I hope my daughter will forgive me of my own short comings. Visit this blog, and meet my Dad.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I moved again

The following story is absolutely true, one name has been changed. Not because my ex-roomate is innocent, it's because he's a fucking scumbag.

5:43 am this morning, I was sound asleep. BAM! BAM! BAM! "United States Marshals, OPEN UP!" They must be here for one of my roommates. I turned on the light and went out to my second floor balcony, looked down. Five flashlights fixed on my face, behind the lights were five large men, five semi-automatic weapons and five badges.  Now I know why the rent was so cheap.

As I stumbled down the inside stairwell the flashlights fixed on me through the windows of the front door. I was looking down at my feet on the steps when I noticed several bouncing red laser dots skip around on my chest. Ok, they're not here for the expired inspection sticker on my car.  Moving toward the door with my hands exposed I opened the door and found myself surrounded by Kevlar vests marked U.S. MARSHAL. Behind the vests was muscle and adrenaline. "Now is not a good time to be a smart ass Styles" I thought.

"Are you Johnny (blank)?"  Squinting from the flashlights in my eyes to see who spoke, a wild eyed Marshal who looked like the actor Ed Harris on steroids repeated himself. "Johnny (blank)?"  "uhm, no, Eric Styles...."  "Where is he?" "Uhm, he said he was going to Florida or something..." "Sounds like bullshit, cuff him." Ed Harris snapped. I won't go into a word by word transcript of the repetitive conversation. My shirt was lifted up looking for tattoos, asked the same questions again and again in different variations. The U.S. Marshals still didn't believe that I wasn't my roommate Johnny (blank). "You're him, wanted in fourteen states on six warrants." 

I showed them where all of my I.D. was, W-2 forms, birth certificate, unemployment papers were, "I.D.'s can be faked" they snapped. "Then why do you guys always ask to see them" I thought.  I felt like the Dude in the Big Lebowski trying to convince thugs that they got the wrong guy. "I'm 'the Binge' man,  check my comic strip."  By 5:58 am I was told I was looking at fifteen to twenty years in a Louisiana federal prison.  Damn, I wish I had some coffee.

I heard them questioning the other roommate upstairs, his panicky Texas drawl echoing down the stairwell "Johnny's in Florida..." One Marshal with glasses, mumbled to Ed Harris  "Nothing on this Styles alias from the F.B.I., we'll have to print him."  Ed poked his finger in my chest "Johnny, when we get to the truth you're looking at an additional twelve months for trying to bullshit us."  "But I'm the Binge..."

Understandably Federal Marshals get lied to constantly by the scum of the earth. They were doing their job, I knew I was going to be cleared evidently. Still, it sucked being woken up like this, and the marks on my wrists from the handcuffs would be there all day. We rode to the Orleans Parish Sheriff's lock up to run my prints by Washington D.C. to prove that I'm the Binge. 

About 7:30 I was returned home by now two somewhat pleasant Federal Marshals. I explained how I was living there because it was all I could afford since I moved down from Jersey. My goal was to find steady work, save up some cash and move to a better situation. Confessing that when I first met Johnny I knew he was a meth-head and was probally dealing. The other roommate was a sketchy dopehead too. "That's not all that he is." Ed Harris quietly responded. The hair stood up on my neck.

As soon as I hit my room the other roommate was grilling me on my experience. Before I could even get my first cigarette of the day lit this flake was trying to find out what the cops sweated out of me. "I don't know shit, couldn't tell'em shit" I kept saying. The nervous Texan babbled on and on like the speed freak he was. Not an gram of cool in his system. Out of the blue he blurts "Yea, yea, they tried to say that there was child porn on my computer. But there ain't no child porn! I mean, not porn porn, you can't see no titties or anything like that..."

At 9:10 am I went downtown to H&R block to drop off my taxes. Afterward I swung by Waffle and Diane's to entertain them with how my morning went. Waffle dragged himself up to get dressed "Come on Dude, let's get your shit. You're moving back in with us." Stealthily we went back, gathered my stuff. The Texas roommate yelled through the door "That you Styles? I wanted to make sure it wasn't the fuzz. We showed them, huh partner?" With that I grabbed my last bag and drove off of Walmsley Ave.

I've been in New Orleans for just one month and I have been handcuffed twice and run downtown. Waffle never mentioned this in the travel brochure.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Juggling Beatnik

How many Beatniks does it take to change a light bulb? It doesn't matter, cause we never pay the electric bill.
I went down to the French Quarter yesterday and watched the other performers. Some great acts, five performers put on a small circus on Royal Street, I watch a very funny magician do a few incredible card tricks and tell jokes. I saw his act three times, each time exactly the same material. You don't need more than five minutes of material. For one show he made about $15 for five minutes work.
My juggling skills are pretty good, joke telling also. Every performer had a character or a gimmick. I need some sort of a shtick. A stoned, outdated hipster beatnik with a beret. Waffle helped, well actually sat there and critiqued my work on juggling props. I made three juggling pins that look like burning joints. I'll let you know how it goes.

Did you here about the Beatnik suicide bomber? He's on his fifth mission.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Butt Freaks From Outer Space

I've been working on Butt Freaks From Outer Space, now it's a "screen treatment." Down here in New Orleans there are a few low budget film production companies. Waffle knows a few people. If he gets me in the door, he gets the lead. I don't want to give too much away of the thoughtful romantic comedy, suffice to say it involves aliens, porn stars and anal probing. If I can't sell it as a film, it'll make a cool comic book.

Feret Street Fair.

Every weekend New Orleans has something going on, festivals, concerts, street fairs or disasters. This weekend was a small street fair at this end of town. Not a fashionable street by any means, but lots of good people. Food, today was the first time I spent money on food since getting into town. I almost went for the Catfish & fries, but the fries looked like just frozen supermarket fries. I went for three soft tacos for $5."> A couple of live bands played, on any given day you can find a Dixie Jazz band playing outside for free. Down here at street fairs and festivals they have Smoke Shop vendors. I could never see that in Jersey. As soon as you bought something there would be a Jersey cop behind you to bust you for "Possession of paraphernalia." In NOLA you could ask a cop for directions to the nearest head shop.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Let the midnight special shine it's light on me..

The other night after I worked ten hours digging ditches in hard clay soil, I stopped by Waffle House for dinner. Waffle & Diane are great cooks, I usually eat 2 portions to their one. I dragged my aching body up the steps to be greeted by Diane with Advil and Doug with a shot of Vodka about 7 pm. We had a great meal of which I made sure there were no left overs.

About 11:00 pm I crawled down the steps to my car and started to drive home. On the way a NOLA policeman noticed I had a headlight out and stopped me. He asked if I had been drinking, I thought one shot four hours earlier would not qualify as a "night of drinking" so I replied no. I've watched the TV show COPS and know if I said "Just one" it would open up a whole can of worms. Up on the side walk to start testing my motor skills.

The eye test following the pen back and forth, failed. The test of standing on one leg with the foot out, failed. I was handcuffed and thrown into the back of a New Orleans squad car and taken downtown for a Breathalyzer. On the way I kept thinking, "Damn, Waffle pours a big shot."At the station I walked nine steps on the line, more coordination tests that I couldn't even pass with a full nights sleep and an Olympic coach training me. My legs and back were throbbing from riding a shovel all day. Now it was time for the blowing in the tube test, first time I ever did it. Really. Honest.

I could not imagine even one large shot four hours earlier still being in me. So as the cop prepared the machine I promised God everything from never to drink again to never picking my nose. I blew in the hose and cautiously leaned forward to see the results. It registered 0.00. The cop who stopped me asked if I had ever been hit in the head or have a neurological disorder. I told him that people have been asking me that for years. He said I should get it checked out. Another cop in the room commented "I guess you just can't walk and chew gum at the same time, huh boy?"

Yea, whatever, just take me back to my car. I was again handcuffed for the ride back, yea, handcuffed for having a headlight out. Put back in my car and got home an hour and twenty minutes later than if both of my head lights had worked. With a ticket for failing to maintain mechanical, which will be about as I had made that day for 10 hours of work.

I must point out that the police officer was very polite and courteous. We had pleasant conversations to the station and back to my car. A very professional law enforcement officer.

If you ever go to Houston, you better walk right,
you better not stagger, you better not fight.
Let the midnight special, shine her light on me
Let the midnight special, shine her ever-loving light on me

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What we got here is....

I've been working through the temp agency. The past two days I have been digging ditches in St Bernard Parish. Literally digging ditches, Louisiana has this hard clay soil that you can only hope to chip at. Very hard work. I've been putting in 10 hour days, 8 bucks an hour. I'm going back tomorrow for another ten hours. I've been working at a strip mall being remodeled after Katrina. The entire area still looks a lot like what you remember from the news footage. Wrecked and vacant homes, boats just lying in the middle of empty lots.
Waffle understands how tough it is for me after being a cab driver for almost 5 years. As he puts it, "Being a cab driver is like being a veal." Today, about the ninth hour I started to think about this scene from "Cool Hand Luke."
Yea, it's kind of how I've been feeling, but it's still better than being unemployed.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

New Career Move

I went down to the French Quarter today. Very very cold in the low 40's and windy. I found a good location, pulled out my balls and started to juggle. I could only stay out for an hour or so. Once my hands got too cold, I had to call it quits. No one pays to watch a man drop his balls and run after them. I made a few bucks, bought a pack of smokes.
When the weather warms up a bit and the tourists feel like standing around watching a dude from Jersey juggle, I should be able to make a few bucks on the side. There are street performers who are out there day after day for years. So I figure they must be making some paper.

New Orleans week one

Slide show of photos I've taken since in New Orleans.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Job Appled for...

My buddy Waffle turned me onto a job a a dishwasher at a Mexican Restaurant. I'll be happy to take it. I just think it's ironic, that I, an American would be be working as a dishwasher at a MEXICAN restaurant. I'm about to be evicted from a crack house. Do you know how low your life has gotten when when you get evicted from a crack house?
I walked out of my room to to do my laundry and my roommates were loading up a hypodermic needle to shoot up. I mean, I've been evicted from lots of places, but a house where you have guys shooting heroin in their vein ask you to leave, that's a low point.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Standing in line..

5:30 am at the temp agency. I didn't get called up. I sat from 5:30 to 8:00 am listening to a jailhouse lawyer preaching about the evils of whitey. Considering I was the only Caucasian in a roomful of 15 to 20 men, I felt like a brother at a Klan meeting. I held my ground, I need work. Later on the Farrakhan wanna-be walked up to me outside while I was having a smoke. "Give me a smoke" "Sorry, can't help you" I got the nasty eye as he walked away. Dude, I drove cab in Asbury Park, I don't give up anything unless I see a weapon.

During his sermon I listened how "The Man" was systematically conspiring to keep the community down. I sat and thought about it. No one ever let me in on this conspiracy. First I ever heard of it. Over the two hours or so that Sharpten clone dominated the waiting room, I heard how whites and Jews were evil. Ironically, years ago I worked with a Redneck who said Blacks and Jews were evil. I guess the one thing all hateful and ignorant people can agree on is hating Jews. The only ones who don't hate Israel seem to be Conservative Christians. The same group accused being behind oppressing everyone else.
To the contrary, the overwhelming majority of white people I know want to see the black community succeed. All whites I talk to would want nothing more than all African Americans gainfully employed with good paying jobs. Most whites want to see all blacks live in safe, clean neighborhoods, black children in stable homes receiving good education. I bet the majority of law enforcement want to see a drop in black on black crime. They still can make money off of white yuppies speeding though town.

I listened to a local radio show here in New Orleans with a black host speak of the criminal acts of the NOLA Police during Hurricane Katrina. I'm sure there were civil right violations. Conversely, I have heard about the chaos and disorder in the days immediately following the disaster, I'm bet the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My first day of work

I stumbled into the temp agency this morning at 5:30 am. Having a car put me higher up on the list than about 60% of the workers in line. I was given a job with 5 other men, one whom I drove to the job site since I needed a navigator. We had to unload a truckload of furniture for a kindergarten class. I got assemble the little wooden stove and wooden sink.At lunch we were treated to fried chicken. Had this been jersey it would've been pizza. My navigator who rode back to the agency with me managed to scoff the remaining pieces which we chowed on during the ride home. Cruising through downtown New Orleans with Miles Davis playing on the radio, my navigator holdiong the chicken like the holy grail, pointed out on every corner the ones "Slingin drugs."Upon returning to the agency, paperwork done I was given a slip. I went to the back room, typed in a 10 digit code into an ATM machine and $51 magically pumped out. I like getting paid at the end of the day. Ten went into the gas tank, a pack of smokes for $2.95 and an energy drink. One day of work and I have half of my week's rent. Life is good.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Life imitates art...

Waffle and I have spent all afternoon cruising Craigslist. He pointed out to me a listing:

Local company seeking full time cashier to work at an adult bookstore in the metairie area. Be advice that the products thats sold is for adult pleasure. Please be confrontable working in such a setting. Call for an interview. 504-***-****

Now, we are competing. Ironically, this parodies a comic script that I wrote for my comic strip "BiNGE." Binge believes he is applying for a job as an adult actor, turns out it's a job as a mop boy at a peep show. Binge manages to make the best of the position and actually excels at it. At this point I would take the only job that Mike Rowe would probably turn down.

BiNGE the web comic "MEET THE NEW BOSS"

We already promised that if one of us gets the job, the other will come in and leave a real mess.


Eric T Styles
New Orleans, La.

A graphics design position that allows me to utilize and improve my skills with challenging projects and is open to my creative solutions with minimal direction.


Cartoonist / writer – 2005 to Present
Creator of the comic "BiNGE", storyline and characters of the web based comic as well as all promotional and merchandise. Currently involved with the marketing of the comic as a television animation project.

Freelance Artist – painting / sculpture 2000 to Present
Artistic works previously displayed at: A Mano Gallery, New Hope, PA and Lambertville, NJ, Lavender Moon, Belmar, NJ, Divine Madness Gallery Asbury Park, NJ, 500 Main Street Gallery, Belmar NJ, Greetingz from Asbury Park NJ. Six one man gallery openings.

Internet Graphics Artist
Designed and constructed and Logo design work completed for:,, WPDQ Radio; Howell, NJ, Automated Concepts Vending Services. Freelance graphic work for numerous internet web sites.

Newspaper Freelance
Weekly: The Reporter and The Observer 300+ works for Rockfleet Media

Belmar Car Service Belmar NJ
Cab Driver August 2005 to Present
Nightshift cab driver, twelve hour shifts, 5 to 6 nights a week.

Offshore International Point Pleasant NJ
Graphic Artist April 2005
Responsible for the design advertisements, and graphics for a sport fishing catalog.

Cat Fanciers Association Manasquan NJ
Graphic Artist August 2004 to February 2005
Responsible for the layout and design of over 300 advertisements and show cat yearbook pages. With creative license and minimal supervision completed assignment on time and on budget.

Garden State Sign Co. Howell, NJ
Sign Service Technician April 2001 to August 2004
Project managed the manufacture and installation of new signs. Factory trained for service of installed computer based signs such as time and temp and L.E.D. gas price signs. Assisted with the completion of computer designed corporate signs. Medium used: Neon, Vinyl lettering, gold leaf, router carved wood, and hand painted signs. Factory trained and certified technician for Milwaukee signs and Ever-Brite signs systems.

A&M Signs Farmingdale, NJ
Sign Service Technician October 2000 to March 2001
Assisted with the manufacture, installation, and service of signs.

TCT Transit Services Neptune NJ
Shift Supervisor June 1996 to October 2000
Started as shift bus driver, within eight months promoted to shift supervisor. Responsible for training, supplying, and scheduling 30 drivers.

The Leader Point Pleasant, NJ
Editorial Cartoonist 1990 to 1995
Weekly pen and ink editorial cartoon. Responsible for humorous word and picture interpretation of editor supplied topic. Also work done for The Observer, The Reporter, Toms River NJ

DDP Training Center Freehold, NJ
Software Training
Macintosh OS 9.2, OS 10
Quark Xpress 5.1
Adobe Illustrator 10
Photoshop 7.0
Image Ready 7.0
Macromedia Fireworks 4
Dreamweaver 4
Microsoft PowerPoint

References are available upon request.

Web Sites

Other areas of interests
I have been involved with and performed in live theatre. Juggling. Set up and operated theatrical and concert stage lighting. Road crew for rock bands. Worked as a film extra, performed as a costumed mascot and live "insult pupetry."

Looking for work

I've been hitting Craigslist three times a every day, applying for jobs I never even heard of let alone am qualified for. No response. This morning I went down to a local temporary employment agency and filled out endless paperwork. I even had to take a quiz.

•When is OK to punch your boss? A)If he's a jerk, B) If your paycheck is short, C) If you don't get to take lunch, D) Never.

•In the last month, how much have your stolen from your employer? A) More than $25, B) More than $50, C) More than $100, D) Nothing.

This is not an exaggeration of the questions asked in the quiz. Most of the guys in the office waiting to be called for work would ask for a price check in a Dollar Store. Tomorrow at 5:30 am I will be there waiting to be picked. I will take whatever comes my way.

Waffle and I traveled a few miles to another employment agency in Metairie. After finally finding the address different from their website listing, the door was locked. Upon knocking a very pleasant woman answered with a surprise "What do you want?" look. Employment was our response. She was the only one in the office and most of the desks looked vacant. The woman informed us that they weren't even taking in applications. The applicants she did have are still unemployed. By the look of things, the woman at the employment agency was working on her resume when we interrupted. Not a good sign.

Waffle and I, unfamiliar with the roads and interstates were like a Jersey version of Jake and Elwood trying to find our way home. Cutting off countless other cars to reach our exit, "We'd be alright if we could just get back on the expressway..."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vanity of Vanities

On the 26 hour drive from New Jersey to New Orleans I had a lot of time to think, and think. Think about what decisions and actions I made that placed me on the financial lamb to another part of the country. Like Tom Joad heading west in a beat up car looking for redemption. Patterns in my life mirror that of millions of other Americans, and we as a collective nation. Borrowing, going deep in debt, borrowing more, thinking tomorrow we'll be able to pay it off.

I watched it in others, saw it in myself and chose not to change. Denial of a self destructive behaviour, thinking I was different. I watched a woman go for a home loan ten years ago, admittedly exaggerate her income of her hobby-business. She joked how the banker doing the paperwork again exaggerated her income with a wink and a nod. The Freddie Mac loan for almost a half million came through and she was able to purchase the four bedroom home in a nice neighborhood that she and her kids deserved. Intrest rates were low and the economy booming. Vanity.

I watched a landlady embarrassed by her paid off 10 year old mini van take on the payments of a new SUV in a downward spiraling economy. A year and a half year later she was hiding the shiny new Blazer in a friend's driveway away from the repo man while vacationing in Puerto Rico for a weekend. Vanity.

A struggling artist certain of success runs up credit cards to keep an exotic dancer happy. Shopping sprees and expensive gifts, cocaine binges and over the top nights. Five hundred dollars at Victoria Secrets for double 00 thongs and 34 double D bras, now he seeks free meals from from kind friends. All is vanity.

Bigger homes, bigger cars, bigger boobs, vanity.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Streetcar Named Delayed

I observed the New Orleans streetcar system. As a former NJT bus driver I am still in confusion of the schedule. They'll have four running together in the course of two blocks, then none for forty minutes.

Classic transportation system, efficiant for shuttling tourists down to the French Quarter. If you want to get to work on time I recomend the bus system.

Although I hear they aren't much better. I asked Waffle if the Streetcars run 24/7. He said he has seen them at 4:00 AM in the morning, howerever it may have been the 11:00 PM streetcar finishing.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Street Walking Observations

Every building looks like it could be a film set. Maybe that's why so many films are shot down here. When a Pawn Shop goes out of business, who do they sell all of the stuff to?

This is what happens when you park your car on a parade route and are unfortunate enough NOT to get towed. Cabbage leaves and beads covered this SUV. It must've taken 20 minutes to clear it off.

I was walking down the street and passed a phone box with a crawfish sitting on top. Even though it was in front of a seafood store, how did it get there? Was it a failed escape?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My first parade in NOLA

I left Belmar Nj the day after their St Patrick's Day Parade. I went to a Belmar parade years ago, that was the last one. Obnoxious amature Irishmen drinking green beer and eating the tradiditional Irish delicacy of green pizza from Don's Pizza King. Loud, pushy and most looking for a fight, Belmar parades are just shy of a police state. In the seven or so I lived there I never went to one again. My first week in New Orleans we went to this St Patrick's Day Parade. A totally different green animal. First difference between the two, you can publicly drink alcohol at the parade. Holding a beer on the corner my reflex was to spin when I saw a NOLA cop approach. "Relax duuuuude" Waffle calmly said. "Check it out, folks are drinking, no one is acting like an asshole. This ain't Jersey." In the part of town we were in, family friendly. We didn't see any cops busting any jerks, no fights, no hassles. Marcher after marcher pelted the crowd with beads and throws. Diane brought paper bags to catch dinner. Before we left a corn beef was in the oven, now we went shopping. Along with the beads and trinkets, heads of cabbage were hurled from the 2 story floats. I felt like I had caught a baby dropped from a burning building when the leafy green hit my palm. All of the other throws seemed trivial. What a great town, they hold parades to throw food at starving artists. One float riders were throwing small covered plastic containers like what take out food places give you dressing in. Except here in New Orleans, they throw Jello shots. Is this a friggin great town or what?

Another great feature of a parade in New Orleans, women wear thier underwear on the outside. I noticed that those girls seemed to get the best throws. Glass beads, beads with shot glasses attached, roses, and kisses from drunken guys in kilts.
This girl on the left caught numerous throws directed at her, and my attention. With Waffle's prompting I walked up to a hottie on the street and ask "Excuse me Miss, may I take a picture of your panties?" "Sure." If this had been in Jersey, she probably would've called me a creep and turned away. (Well, don't call me a creep if you wear your panties on the outside)I asked Waffle "Why is this parade so much better than the one back in Belmar?"
"Dude, this is New Orleans!"

Friday, March 12, 2010

There is a house in Nor'Leans....

Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he's satisfied
Is when he's on a drunk

When I first tried to describe this house to my friends in Seattle, Colleen laughed "It sounds like the house from the movie 'Fight Club.' Well, yea, kind of.

Well, here it is. My latest temporary abode. $100 a week, I share it with a few other guys. One only uses it on the weekend when his band performs in town.
A Katrina house, the water marks are still visable on the outside wall. The floors are a little creeky, kind of musty smell and on the roof you can faintly read the word 'HELP' in faded house paint.
Here is a shot of my private entrance. Compared to the backhouse I rented in Belmar NJ on 11th Ave, it's not too bad. The 2nd story balcony in the front is right off my bedroom. I plan to get enough saved in a few months to get my own place.
Rents are reasonable down here. My last place in Belmar, I shared with two other guys. We each paid $700 towards the three bedroom house a few blocks from the ocean. $2,100 a month for a 3 bedroom winter rental. Durring the day, our landlord who worked in town would let himself in, use the bathroom and kitchen durring his lunch break. Last fall he told us that a friend of his would be in from out of town and was going to crash on our couch for a few days. All of that for $2,100 a month. Down here I've seen 2 bedroom houses going for $800 month. Also, I'm not sure but it may be a law that the landlord can't walk in anytime day or night without knocking, and he can't force you to share your rental with his drinking buddies. I don't miss Jersey.

Well, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chain

The morning Waffle

I go to bed considerably earlier than my hosts Waffle and Diane. Waff usually pours me a couple of shots of vodka and I nod off shortly after the opening scenes of a movie he knows I'll enjoy. I awake earlier than they do, tip toeing out for a smoke and a stroll down Magazine street while planning my near future. When I return, both night owls are still deep asleep. Never have I heard a man with a more fitful sleep. Imagine Chewbacca the wookie with sleep apthia. Noises so violent at times, first thoughts are to dial 911. Occasionally he groans out complete sentences in his sleep. I try not to decode his speech. Whatever is in this man's deep subconscious, should stay there like remains in a shallow grave.

Fear & Loathing in the French Quarter

Waffle and I went down to the French Quarter yesterday with Brian. Historic, colorful with grated cheesiness sprinkled on top. Great tourism spot, best of any city I've ever seen. I doubt I will be spending anytime down at the night spots there. There is no difference from the night time crowds on Bourban Street than on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights NJ. Loud, obnoxious jerks who have had too much to drink are about the same anywhere you go. Rude over the top behaviour that they would never dream of committing in their local hometown bar.

However, this is where the money is. What little disposable income America has left is being fought over by us with no income. The service industries are like strippers in need of coke who see a lottery winner walk in the door. We're all fighting to climb on his lap and grind.

Waff walked me around Jackson Square park, like some sort of Renaissance fair with a Pirate motif. Artists with easels out and artwork strewn about as if left by hurricane. Banjo players, puppeteers with James Brown marionettes, and the ever present psychic hucksters all hustling like ugly hookers at a Shriner's convention. We strolled by the donkey drawn tourist carriages as the drivers barked out for riders. "No different than cab drivers in Belmar Nj trying to steer drunks into their cabs."

Working for tourist dollars is a risky venture. Like a commercial fisherman your livelihood is contingent on weather and luck. Unlike being a plumber or a doctor, your services are easily cut from a budget. You're a bartender? Well Bubba and his buddies decided to stay home with a case of beer and watch the game this weekend because their hours got cut at work. Everywhere it's the same, Orlando, Jersey Shore, French Quarter, Times Square, we sell pleasure and escape.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thinking of Laura

Laura gave me her stuffed Brian to take to NOLA for good luck and to be close to her. So I took him out sight seeing today and sent her back these photos.

A faith thing

I once was a born againer, a number of years into it I realized it wasn't really me. My pendulum of faith swung the opposite direction. Perhaps it may be finding a center. Everything in the past month or so has too conveniently fallen together. Much needed money coming from very unlikely sources. Yesterday while talking to my daughter in NJ on the phone, she asked me if I found a place to live yet. I replied no, but I felt confidant that God would provide, that he hasn't let me down yet. After I hung up with her I sat on a street bench to finish my smoke. A dude on a bike was hanging out talking on a phone finished his call about the same time.

We struck up a conversation about the earlier film shoot. I explained I was new in town and staying with a buddy for a few days. "Do you need a place to crash? I have a room for $100 a week in Broadmoor." Perhaps I'll swing by a church someday and say thanks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Be it ever so humble...

I found a place to live. $100 a week. Sharing an house with 3 other guys. It's a Katrina house, water marks are still visible about 5 feet up the outside of the wall. The downstairs has no Sheetrock from 4' down. The front door still has a spray painted X on it. The numbers are for the date searched and the number dead found. It's cheaper than Jersey.


If I can't find work in this town, I don't deserve to call myself an artist. Every block, almost every building and flat open ground is somehow decorated with art. Things as simple as "OPEN /CLOSED" signs are hand painted, sculptures dot the landscape.

Diane, Waffle's lady showed me her collection of "throws." Throws are novelties thrown from parade floats. The vast majority are the beads. Coming into town I saw several warehouses specializing in just beads. The more coveted throws seem to be anything related to the parade themes. Spears and coconuts from the Zulu parade. Two things one would not imagine throwing into a group of spectators. The spears were rubber tipped and most of the coconuts were drained. Each nut was decorated with and glitter and paint. If back in Jersey, someone caught me gluing glitter onto Coconuts, I would forever be mocked.
Zulu nuts with Monster and Murderface the cats.

This hand decorated shoe was given to Diane by an all lady krewe whose symbol is shoes. Waffle explained some of subculture behind the parades. Politics, businesses and century old competitions are behind the numerous parades. This Saturday is NO's St. Patrick's Day Parade. During that one, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage is thrown. Buy your own corn beef and you can eat for a week. If I am still unemployed, at least I can eat.