Sunday, September 26, 2010

What else is on?

I have a couple of friends who are big fans of the show "Smallville" They were literally counting down the hours until the tenth season started. I tried to watch the show, I just can't get into it. Even though I am a cartoonist, the whole super hero comic book genre never interested me. How could I identify with those characters? Super powers? Defending mankind from evil villains? Give me X ray vision, I'll be downtown at lunch time watching secretaries.

If asked what my favorite Television show is, I can't answer. There is really nothing on TV that will cause me to drop the nothing I am doing to watch. You have to reschedule your life because "Dancing with the stars" is on? Never seen it my life, along with every other top rated show. Hell, I forget to watch shows that I'm a background extra on.

When pressed for an answer if there ever was a show that "I had to be home and watch, never missed an episode of" it was Moonlighting. I think that was the last time TV held my interest. I've tried to watch other shows, nothing else seemed as well written. I'll have to try and find all of the seasons on DVD. (Well except for the last season, I think I stopped watching it half way through.) If anything else ever comes on close to the calibur of Moonlighting, I may pick up the remote.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

LSU Medical Center

About five or six weeks ago a medical condition made itself known to me. Over the course of one week, I grew a third butt cheek. I'll spare you the vile details, but I had a boil on my ass the size of a golf ball. Like all medical problems I chose to ignore it and deal with the excruciating pain. I haven't been to a doctor since '04 and I wasn't going to break that streak. The sitting sideways on one cheek for the month of August threw out my back, leaving me shaped like a question mark.

My roommates noticed my irritability and sleeping about 16 hours a day. Fearing blood poisoning and the red tape of a death in the house, I was dragged from bed yesterday. Out numbered, my infected and putrid ass was forced to go to the hospital for antibiotics. I applied for and received a Louisiana Medical Assistance card two months ago. At my age, internal organs can start to go like a squeaky water pump on an old car. It's best to ready if it does.  I despise medical treatment. Survival of the fittest I say.  The flu, infections, injuries, if you can't heal it yourself than perhaps you should just croak and leave resources for the healthy.

Bum rushed out of the door to the Emergency Room of LSU Medical center I had little time to compose. Being told I should expect to be there a while, I underestimated the warning. I rolled enough cigarettes for 5 or 6 hours, swigged enough coffee for two. My landlady kept trying to give me a bag with sodas and candy bars. No, I can handle a few hours without a Snickers. It can't be that bad, it's not like we have socialized medicine. Long, inhumane waits and suffering indignities of a third world medical system as found in Great Britain and Canada. I've gone through the old New Jersey DMV, Inspection stations and municipal courts, I know how to wait.

I entered the Emergency room about 10:00 am, I did not leave until 10:00 pm. Twelve hours in a waiting room. I thought 3 maybe 4, 5 hours tops. By 3 pm, I was out of nicotine and my caffeine level was dangerously low.  Prisoners from various correctional facilities were ushered in ahead of everyone else. Most everyone in the waiting room took the hours in stride. I guess for people used to waiting on rooftops for rescue helicopters, twelve hours is nothing. I vowed to myself that I would choose death over this experience ever again.

I finally got in to see a doctor about 7:30 pm. Terrific lady who had the misfortune of having to look at my ass. Luckily for her the cyst had broken almost a week ago, sparing her the gruesome task of draining it.  I started to believe it might have been my mutant twin brother who had been stuck in my ass from the moment of conception. After nearly 50 years he decided to make himself known. I mean this thing was big and ugly.

The staff was great, professional and pleasant. I was returned to the waiting room by 8 pm where I sat watching a Saint's game until my prescription came out at 10 pm. The only way I will ever return to the hospital is unconscious and unable to resist.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

For whom the Taco Bell tolls...

I turn 48 this month. Somewhere along the way I went from worrying about friends who may O.D. or get killed in a car wreck, to having friends whom might croak of natural causes. Scary to think that it's gotten to the point where I'm more convinced nature will kill me before my own stupidity does.  Aneurysms, who the hell wants to go that way.

One of my first jobs at the temp agency was digging ditches in St. Bernard Parish at a strip mall. It was finally being put back together after Katrina. I got the job only because of my car, not because the dispatchers liked me. My coworker and I stopped for energy drinks and smokes after 8 hours of trying to pick thruogh clay and clam shells. Back in Jersey, concrete slabs were laid on blue stone. Down here clam shells are used on top of thick clay. Forcing shovels into it all day kicks a half century old ass.

Back in my car opening up a pack of menthols, I looked over at my coworker to see him opening up a meticuliously folded piece of wax paper. The contents was a very fine white powder. I snapped into Jersey Shore nightshift cab driver mode "DUDE! Wait until you get home, don't be doing that shit in my car. Keep it out of sight."  Confused, a southern drawl explained "Huh? Oh this, it's BC powder, strong stuff. Takes the pain away almost imeadiatly. Try some."  He handed me a second perfectly folded piece of wax paper.

Great stuff BC powder. I guess it's only sold here in the South. If a Jersey State Trooper found one of these in your car during a Turnpike stop, you'd be sitting in holding for two days until they finally got around to testing the suspect white powder. Ironically, at my age I'm hooked on over the counter pain relievers.  Today I was a junky walking around like Grouch Marx looking for a fix.

I managed to score a few hits of BC powder from my friend Russell. During the exchange he goes into a coughing jag. Russell turned all sort of wild colors. After he finally caught his breath. "Man, I thought my number was up on that one." That's what triggered this morbid blog. The general myth is that we all want to go of natural causes. That's more depressing than death by stupidity. At least we have some say with a needless death.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

meet the new boss

The other day I got a call from an old buddy who found me on Facebook. We had worked together at the sign company years ago. Richie seemed surprise that I had moved down here to New Orleans. Things were about the same for everybody back in the sign shop. Richie asked what I was doing for a living since I moved down to NOLA. I hemmed and hawed that the only work I could find was as a background actor.

I'm not sure if he believed me at first, but yea it's where I get most of my income. He laughed and said it sounded like fun. I then remembered my old boss Joe. He cut me a lot of breaks and I owe him. However, there were the occasional sarcastic or condescending comments from him. I told Richie to let Joe know that one of my new bosses is George Clooney.

In Jersey it's called Ballbusting.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wake me when September ends....

This blog is about moving from New Jersey to New Orleans, the differences and similarities. September is where they share ugly anniversaries. Every Katrina story holds my attention and captures my heart. Acts of kindness from strangers around the country. The need to return and rebuild, with a stronger community than before. The uncountable losses.

Equally, a person from New Orleans seems intrigued by my memory of seeing the thick black smoke on the horizon. The smell that lingered for days. A small suburban town that lost twenty plus residents in an act of war. Telling folks had never seen the towers how it was one of my daily stops when I drove a commuter bus.

What could these two national tragedies have in common? Both times we as Americans expected our government to protect us, and they let us down. We go to sleep at night believing that our tax dollars are paying for agencies to catch bad guys. We trust the infrastructure that our homes are built on will be there in the morning. In both cases when questions were asked, they started to finger point and blame. They fire a few people, shuffle around bureaucrats and reassure us they fixed the problems and we are now safe.

summer has come and passed
the innocent can never last
wake me up when September ends

One observation made by a long time New Orleans resident "We managed to rebuild an entire goddamn city in 5 years, why is it taking you all so long to rebuild a couple of skyscrapers?" You know, I didn't have an answer.

At Home

I'm very grateful to my current landlords. They are very cool people. Very private people so I can't tell you much about them. Enjoy this clip

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Shop and Compare

Thanks to HBO, you can get a fairly accurate idea of the difference in attitudes
between New Jersey and New Orleans.

Locals have asked me not to be inviting down everyone in New Jersey to live here.

The TOP TEN REASONS why I prefer living in New Orleans instead of New Jersey

10 Free highways - You can travel from one end of the state to the other without having to throw a handful of change out the window every 20 miles.

9 Food - You can dine on food that doesn't contain tomatoes, garlic or pasta. Some of the best fried chicken I've eaten has come from a local gas station chain.

8 People - You can go up to a total stranger and say hello with out them responding "Wadda fuck do you want?"

7 Music - Every type of music you could want, played well. Not just Springsteen wannabes playing his covers.

6 Weather - Yea the summers are very hot, but they last 8 months instead of 3.

5 Cost of Living. - When I left Jersey I was paying $175 a week to share a house with 2 other guys. My rent down here is $75 a week. Can't pay it this week? Just mow the lawn and take out the trash and we'll call it even.

4 Public Drinking - You can walk anyplace in the city with an open container. If you step out of  bar to make a phone call, bring your drink with you. When I left Belmar NJ, summons were being issued for drinking a beer on your front porch in public view. Did I mention the bars down here are open 24 / 7?

3 Lenient Marijuana Laws - During a parade you could walk up with a joint in hand and ask a cop for a light.

Parades - Any excuse to celebrate life, to have a party and be with fun people. It's not done for corporate sponsors, it's tradition.

And the number one reason I prefer to live in New Orleans instead of New Jersey...


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Southern Decadence Weekend

Southern Decadence Weekend in New Orleans. The French Quarter exactly. The difference between the Quarter and Greenwich Village is that the Quarter is a little less expensive and a lot less pretentious. The music is better down here too, my main gripe about hanging out with gay dudes up North is that they start to sing those damn show tunes when they get loaded.

In New Orleans, it's tough to offend people. Every life style, quirk, fetish, choice and hairstyle is tolerated here. The oldest city in America was settled by 'Pirates, Whores and Thieves', being just Gay doesn't even register on the double take meter. This weekend, a few hundred thousand gay men have come into town to party. The gay guys don't bother me, it's those nerds that are here the rest of the year who think that they're Vampires that I don't trust.

A few blocks on Bourbon Street has been openly gay for decades, long before it was as acceptable as it is today. "The Bourbon Pub is New Orleans’ largest gay nightclub. Operating continuously since 1974, it is the epicenter of the New Orleans gay and lesbian community, and is located at the corner of Bourbon and St. Ann Streets."

While drawing the above cartoon I was thinking about the gay and lesbian community. It takes a lot of balls for a person to come out of the closet and be openly gay. Despite changes in thinking, odds are most family members will reject you, neighbors will gossip and co-workers will snicker. In some areas of this nation, being openly homosexual is just asking for an ass kicking. Insecure heterosexual men find a false masculinity in abusing men secure in their sexuality.

So hats off to Southern Decadence for courage, style and great dance moves.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Damn Grits

I was a background extra today and I really don't have much of anything to write about. It's really kind of dull and boring after a few dozen times. A lot of waiting, sitting around, doing nothing but listening to some asshole brag about how he has Bruce Willis' wad of chewing gum at home. I find myself getting rude to asinine people down here. I guess it started back in Jersey when I was driving cab. That could explain why my tips went down.

I do meet some cool folks. A fight trainer from Los Angeles hung out and chatted with Russell this morning. The crew beat us background actors to the breakfast buffet and when I got there all there was left was grits. Damn grits. The guy from L.A. didn't like them either. He was the fight trainer for Zoe Saldana, he said she was a great student.

From the holding area we were driven to the set, where we stood around some more. I had to exit the same restaurant eleven times on cue, walk past Zoe on the sidewalk going the opposite direction. Then I was pretty much done for the day. Back into the van and rode to the next location where I sat in a tent with the first half of extras that were used at the first location. After a good  lunch, the other half sat in front of a bus station acting like they were waiting on a bus.

The only "excitement" all day was a rubber-necker who popped a tire on a curb while gawking. Damn near causing my friend Russell who was just a few feet away to crap his pants. I get so annoyed at pedestrians who walk up to the set and start asking questions. Russell and I had one walk up to us this morning at the sign in lot.
"Hey,what movie is this?" 
"Who's in it?"

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dress Code Blue

I'm starting to dress like these people. I have one room mate who has adopted the NOLA dress code of pajamas and funky tees to work. He literally jumps out of bed and sprints to a curbside bus. He's the one who got me this "Jersey Shore Fist Pump Champ" shirt.  Others have introduced us to this garb.

One of my friends has a job at a CBD office building. He's a visual special effects artist on a ghost film. Some of his lawyer neighbors in the building have been pissy about some long haired guy wearing pajamas in the smoking area. While they stand outside in a suite and tie.

I bet at night they were asking themselves "Where can I get a job that allows me to go to work in pajamas?"