UPDATE: They're all fine!
August 2005 Archives
Jette is like me. Another Austin-based New Orleans ex-pat tracking her scattered refugee family members while she tries to focus on her job.
They don't give you bereavement leave at work when a city dies.
They should. They really should.
I am getting understanding from my boss and my co-workers today, at least. The software release marches on and I'm in the critical path, but at least I'm getting some love.
BATON ROUGE - Water levels in Orleans Parish have crested and are beginning to slowly recede as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prepares to begin an unprecedented effort to fix a 200-foot breach in the 17th Street Canal that has inundated the city, state and federal officials said Wednesday.
State Secrertary of Transportation and Development Johnny Bradberry said Lake Pontchatrain has receded by two feet since yesterday as water levels equalized between the lake and the flooded city interior.
"The good news here is that we've stabilized. Water is not rising in the city," Bradberry said.
Maj. Gen. Don Reily of the Corps of Engineers said flood levels are now receding at a rate of one inch per hour, but that it's likely to take at least 30 days before all the water is gone from New Orleans. "Lake level has equalized with interior water inside the city,. which means that it won't be any more flowing into the city except for a high tide," Reily said.
From nola.com. Click the link to read the whole article, it has lots of info on the physics of the issue. (And I hope that "500 yards" is a typo and that they really meant "500 feet". It was 200 feet yesterday.)
The catastrophic flooding that filled the bowl that is New Orleans on Monday and Tuesday will only get worse over the next few days because rainfall from Hurricane Katrina continues to flow into Lake Pontchartrain from north shore rivers and streams, and east winds and a 17.5-foot storm crest on the Pearl River block the outflow water through the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass.
The lake is normally 1 foot above sea level, while the city of New Orleans is an average of 6 feet below sea level. But a combination of storm surge and rainfall from Katrina have raised the lake's surface to 6 feet above sea level, or more.
All of that water moving from the lake has found several holes in the lake's banks - all pouring into New Orleans. Water that crossed St. Charles Parish in an area where the lakefront levee has not yet been completed, and that backed up from the lake in Jefferson Parish canals, is funneling into Kenner and Metairie.
A 500-yard and growing breach in the eastern wall of the 17th Street Canal separating New Orleans from Metairie is pouring hundreds of thousands of gallons of lake water per second into the New Orleans area. Water also is flowing through two more levee breaches along the Industrial Canal, which created a Hurricane Betsy-on-steroids flood in the Lower 9th Ward on Monday that is now spreading south into the French Quarter and other parts of the city.
Susan gave a link to a Houston Chronicle blogger with good info on New Orleans. He links to some great flickr photos (below) that use old aerial photos of the canal to explain the breach. Keep in mind, the breach is much larger than 200 feet now. (These are not current photos, they show no flooding, but they give you an idea of the geography involved.)
I'm at work this morning and I can get streaming video from WWL TV pretty easily now.
You have no idea how comforting it is to hear real New Orleans accents, real New Orleans voices.
I don't know if it's just better connectivity today, or if my powerbook just wasn't dealing as well as my XP box at work, I don't know, but the quality is good and there's real information there, if not any new news.
And even as I speak, WWL lost all lights in their studio. Still on the air. I heard a guy on ESPN Radio this morning (the only station in Austin with any Katrina news during my commute) say that every single person at WWL TV has lost their home. And they stay at their jobs.
They. Fucking. Rock.
The big issue with my family now is the real estate situation in Baton Rouge. There is a panic/bubble going on there right now, people buying and renting houses and office space way above market price, sight unseen. Corporations are buying up huge blocks of housing for their employees. We're trying to sort out something for Mark but having trouble reaching him, since his cell phone is a New Orleans number and thus useless, so we're playing constant phone tag on the hotel voice mail in Houston.
Governor is holding a prayer service on TV right now.
From WWL blog:
7:59 P.M. - Mayor Nagin: Pumps at 17th street canal has failed and water will continue pouring into the city. Nine feet of water is expected on St. Charles Avenue that will be nine feet high. Water is expected to spread throughout the east bank of Orleans and possibly Jefferson Parish.
6:41 P.M. - Efforts to stop the levee break at the 17th Street Canal have ended unsuccessfully and the water is expected to soon overwhelm the pumps in that area, allowing water to pour into the east bank of Metairie and Orleans to an expected height of 12-15 feet.
I feel numb. This is not a disaster recovery. This is an ongoing, ever-increasing disaster. This is like 9/11, only a new plane crashes every 6 hours.
I talked to Doxy for a long time on the phone tonight. There's not a lot she could say, but it was good to talk to somebody who understands.
Right now I feel exactly the same way I felt on the afternoon of 9/11. Horror. Grief. Numbness. Completely at a loss of what to do.
The only difference is that on 9/11, the whole world felt the way I did. Tonight, I feel very alone. I drove out to get some dinner, and the radio was playing an Astros game. Conservative radio hosts were talking about Iraq. There was some financial advice show on...some guy is upside-down on his car payments. The guys at the sandwich shop were half-watching CNN and half talking about Longhorn football. It's just like TV to them. They don't care. They watch, but they don't care. Not really.
Katrina has already jumped the shark on CNN Headline News. They were back on the missing white girl in Aruba last time I checked.
Tomorrow I get to go to work and hang out with people for whom the most important thing in the world is the next goddamn software release, and I am overwhelmed with grief for my city.
Tomorrow morning may bring the horror we thought Monday morning would bring. Between new flooding, and the out-of-control looting, in a city that is just on the edge of lawlessness even on its best days...I don't know, words just can't express. I feel in my bones that there are thousands of dead already, that we don't even know about, and thousands more may die tonight.
"Possibly more than we can bear."
God, please give us some good news to hang on to.
I have nothing but despair to give. I should stop blogging.
Shep just said "reports coming in from Plaquemines Count...er, Plaquemines Parish...".
That was fast. My blog has reach now, I tell ya.
Now about those MREs...
Shepherd Smith has been in New Orleans for two days now. Will somebody please tell him that Louisiana doesn't have COUNTIES, it has PARISHES.
Not county. Parish. Say it with me. P-p-p-parish.
He also reminds us that the "twin spans over the Mississippi River have been destroyed, and people should evacuate to the Westbank." He doesn't even understand the very basics of the geography there. The twin spans which have been destroyed go across Lake Pontchartrain to Slidell. Get it? If the bridge over the Mississippi River had been destroyed, you wouldn't be telling people to go the Westbank, now, would you? Would you?
Buy a fucking map, retard. Borrow one from a looter. Something. Anything.
[All in all, though, FOX News coverage of Katrina has been pretty good. At least as good as CNN (OK, not saying much) and definitely better than the staggering ineptness of MSNBC. Just somebody please take Shep's microphone away from him and put him to work passing out MREs at the Dome, OK?]
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin said hundreds, if not thousands, of people may still be stuck on roofs roofs and in attics, and so rescue boats were bypassing the dead.
"We're not even dealing with dead bodies," Nagin said. "They're just pushing them on the side."
I don't know what to say.
A lot of my blog hits are people looking for info about certain neighborhoods, so here are a few things I picked up off recent newscasts about neighborhoods that aren't the major ones in the news:
* During the governor's press conference an hour ago, some official (not sure who...might have been local FEMA, might have been a state Senator) said that several areas of the city are dry. He specifically mentioned that parts of Metairie are without water, including (quote) "Metairie between Bonnabel and Orleans" (I'm assuming he means Orleans Parish line, not Orleans Ave.) I also heard from a reader who read a news report where a resident of Old Metairie, near Metairie Road where it crosses the train tracks, says that his neighborhood has no flooding and almost no wind damage.
This bodes well for my brother Mark's house.
* Same guy also said that Algiers and certain other parts of the Westbank were relatively unscathed.
* I saw some brief recent helicopter footage that showed the Treme, Louis Armstrong Park, the Quarter and a little of the Marigny. Treme had water in the streets, but it looked to be not much more than ankle deep. The other neighborhoods looked pretty dry, but it was a pretty brief view.
The plan now is to evacuate everybody remaining out of New Orleans, everyone who still needs rescue and everybody who is already in a shelter. The shelters, including the Superdome, are rapidly becoming uninhabitable, and the Dome may have as many as 60,000 people in it now.
Jefferson Parish President said that people might be allowed back in a week very briefly to get essentials, and then will be re-evicted...for a month.
I'm gonna be seeing a lot of my nephews, I think.
CNN is showing footage of Orleans Parish Prison inmates who have been evacuated and are being held under guard right out in the open in a huddle on the partially flooded onramp to the Broad St. overpass. Jeezum. I mean, sucks to be in OPP, obviously, but that's kind of extreme.
The 17th Street breach is now 300 feet wide. Somebody from the Corps of Engineers was talking about an idea they have for blocking the levee breaches...air-dropping shipping containers filled with something heavy. Damn.
The flooding is not the typical pattern of neighborhoods that flood from heavy rains, because the flooding now is related to levee breaches, which are unprecedented.
Coast Guard spokesman says that they fly over deserted rooftops and when people hear the helicopters, they start popping up out of holes all over the place waving for help.
I dread the body count. The official body count from New Orleans is just 2, but I think that's just because they're too busy rescuing the living to think about accounting for the dead. The Governor's statement reminded me of Giuliani's speech from 9/11, calling the final count "possibly more than we can bear."
All in all, I wish Wolf Blitzer would just shut the fuck up and run the local news feed straight. They only use the local feed for helicopter rescue footage, and right when the local guy is starting to say something useful, Wolf has to decide to butt in with typical Wolf-commentary.
The Times-Picayune (including nola.com) is evacuating because of rising water.
Tuesday, 9:40 a.m.
The Times-Picayune is evacuating its New Orleans building.
Water continues to rise around our building, as it is throughout the region. We want to evaucate our employees and families while we are still able to safely leave our building.
Our plan is to head across the Mississippi River on the Pontchartrain Expressway to the west bank of New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. From there, we'll try to head to Houma.
Our plan, obviously, is to resume providing news to our readers ASAP. Please refer back to this site for continuing information as soon as we are able to provide it.
For those not familiar with the city, they were located here, I believe. The water would be coming from the north and northwest, assuming it's all coming from the 17th Street breaches. That neighborhood is pretty wet now, as seen in this photo from MSNBC.com. (Use the Superdome to orient the map to the photo.)
This is a big blow, nola.com has been providing the most useful information for what is really going on in the city. God forbid we be at the mercy of the mainstream talking heads to find out anything useful.
If anybody has any working links to audio or video streams from local media, please let me know. WWLTV and WDSU are inoperable from where I sit. High and dry in Austin. Another hot sunny school day. So incongruous with how I feel inside right now.
Finally heard from brother Bill in Baton Rouge. They lost a tree, lost some roof tiles, have no power, but the house is OK, no water damage or anything. They're hanging out at mom-in-law's condo; she's on the same part of the power grid as Our Lady of the Lake hospital, so power has been restored in that area.
Apparently the Mall of Louisiana is open for business, with power and AC and all, so a few of his friends with no power are packing their SUVs with food and lawn chairs and and going to camp at the mall and let the kids run around Sears all day to keep them entertained. That mall is gonna be a zoo, let me tell you.
Rumors going around in Baton Rouge about the Ninth Ward in New Orleans are pretty grim, so I'm not gonna repeat them here...but they're pretty grim.
Brother Mark's family in Houston has no word on their house in Metairie, but they talked to somebody who rode out the storm Uptown and apparently the power is back on Uptown, with lots of trees down but no real serious flooding. I don't know where exactly in Uptown that would be, unfortunately...it's a pretty broad area. Mark's house is in Old Metairie near the railroad tracks, but we can't find out anything about that neighborhood at all.
They're going to come to Austin tomorrow for a few days, then Dallas for a few days, then take stock on Sunday to figure out what to do. Clearly my nephews aren't going to be starting back to school any time soon, so do they get an apartment here and try to enroll them in a school in Texas? So many questions about the mundane aspects of life.
Even after the cleanup, New Orleans is going to be hurting. This city lives off its tourism money, and right when they're trying to rebuild, the tourism industry is going to take a huge hit. The practical aspects of day-to-day life are going to be affected for years.
First thing I did this morning was check nola.com, and it's a nightmare. A 200 foot section of the canal levee at the 17th Street Canal, which connects to Lake Pontchartrain and separates Metairie from New Orleans, has failed, and the lake is pouring into the city. nola.com is saying the water is pouring all the way east to Gentilly and south to Mid-City. CNN is saying the water spreads "All the way to the Marconi Canal, flooding Gentilly", which doesn't make any sense.
For perspective, the nola.com report would put almost everything on this map under still-rising water.
And while I'm reading this, somebody on MSNBC just said "As cleanup begins in New Orleans, all eyes turn to Mississippi". Christ, don't they read the fucking papers?
The hurricane is past but the biggest disaster may yet be upon us.
Ray Nagin's press conference says the twin spans of I-10 have been destroyed, a barge has hit the New Orleans East I-10 hi-rise and it may be structurally unsound. There are barge oil leaks.
It's just like experts said before the storm. The water rises, and because of the geography, there is no way out and no way for rescuers to get in other than by air. People are supposed to boil water, but there's no power.
I have no word on Mark's house in Metairie.
My heart is breaking. From nola.com:
Streets in the heart of Uptown once known for their canopies of old oaks -- Calhoun, Nashville and State -- now have carpets of oaks. The streets are impassible, wall to wall fallen oaks trees.
MSNBC.com has a surprisingly good summary of Katrina links...local media, local blogs, meta-blogs, etc.
MSNBC network, on the other hand, likes to say BiLOXi so that the middle syllable sounds like a bagel topping. Drives me nuts. Haven't heard any MetAIRie yet, though, which is a relief, and since they aren't giving detailed local coverage we haven't had to hear any butcherings of Burgundy, Cadiz, Decatur, or Melpomene.
And they had traditional Monday red beans and rice at nola.com today. Who was it that thought New Orleans would get washed away? Even the food traditions carry on during a category 5.
Same old New Orleans.
The Ninth Ward and Chalmette are normally the constant butt of jokes. Yat Central. Where Rickey and G-man grew up, if you've read Poppy's books. But my hearts goes out to them today. What a horrible tragedy.
Metroblogging New Orleans is a meta-blog with great coverage of the situation on the ground in the city, instead of just the non-stop coverage of Mobile and Baton Rouge that the networks are giving.
Some of the stuff there is at the level of rumor, but they source a lot of it so you can judge for yourself whether it's true.
A lot of the news makes it sound bad but not the end of the world that was feared. But a few things are horrifying/infuriating:
* Mayor Nagin's press conference reports there are bodies floating in the Bywater neighborhood. This is in the 9th Ward where people are reported to be clinging to rooftops. How awful.
* Levee breaches confirmed in Lakeview (by City Hall) and reported (but not confirmed?) on the Industrial Canal in the 9th Ward.
* WDSU and T-P both are reporting looting. Gawd.
I've been all over flickr and there's almost nothing. Which makes sense...anybody in a position to take up-close pictures is not yet in a position to upload them due to power/connectivity problems. The true extent of things will probably not be known for days, but I predict a flood of images throughout flickr and the blogosphere.
The CERT coordinator here in Austin says it's too early to tell if they will request volunteers from here, but they sent people to Florida in previous hurricanes. So I might get to go...assuming my oh-so-very-important SOFTWARE job lets me.
Fucking around with Java just does not seem so goddamn relevant this week.
I finally found a photo of the Superdome damage, here.
It looks awful from the outside, but this is mostly the outer covering. Another photo I saw earlier taken from inside shows that the actual holes in the roof that go all the way through are pretty small.
Still, that's horrendous. I remember when the Superdome was being built when I was a kid, driving by on I-10 on the way to the bridge home and seeing the roof being put on one panel at a time. It looked kind of like how it does today.
The tail end of the report I heard this morning about levees being overcome in the 9th Ward was apparently from N.O. Mayor Ray Nagin, so it's not just rumor. Here's a link to the complete story.
This is the vicinity of Chuck Taggart's family, he the wonderful creator of the Gumbo Pages. Send him much love and prayers.
I talked to Bill very briefly, and Gina talked to him again 20 minutes later. He was sleeping when I called, which I guess means it's not so bad in Baton Rouge, so I'm not too worried about him. They lost power at 6am this morning, and Gina says she lost the call with him. Eh, cell phones. For all I know that was just Sprint being Sprint.
Somebody at the Times-Picayune is blogging the hurricane from their bunker, here. They've still got connectivity, believe it or not, and enough power for mission-critical computers.
Apparently windows are blowing out of high-rise hotels downtown (where tourist refugees are hunkered down), there's a building collapse reported on Laurel near Washington, and somebody on Air America reported that levees are starting to be overcome in the Lower Ninth Ward. The next 3 hours are when the bad stuff will happen, if it's gonna happen.
I can't find any local NO live audio news feeds. WWL and WTIX both reject any attempts. Local news radio here in Austin sucks...mostly sports and conservative talk shows, and Sergeant Sam bitching about this causing high gas prices on KVET. No TVs at work. I fucking hate this.
It's a hot sunny regular work day here but my mind and my heart are 500 miles to the east.
The Superdome lost power at 5:00am. Including AC. 25,000 people are gonna get hot and cranky.
WWL TV is off the air, including the streaming video on their website.
nola.com is still updating. Those guys fucking rock.
Police, EMS, and fire crews have been dismissed from duty by dispatchers and told to take shelter. God, can you imagine? You can't call 911, they're just going to say "sorry, can't help you".
The national coverage on CNN and the Weather Channel sucks. I could give a fuck that the rain is going sideways in Biloxi or that there are big waves in Destin. What about the storm surge? What about the lake levees? Is there flooding from the rain, or are the pumping stations keeping up? Damn it, what's going on in New Orleans? You can only get useful info from nola.com at this point.
The Baton Rouge reporter was just on, and it doesn't look too bad there. He keeps talking about rain going sideways, but the camera doesn't show rain going sideways. I've seen rain go sideways, idjit, I know what it looks like.
Lots of trees down in Covington, north of the lake, from the looks of things.
Life goes on in Austin. Work, school, then I'll try to get an update from the Baton Rouge family.
Thanks for the love, peoples.
I don't know why I feel compelled to blog this stuff, since y'all don't know any of these people, but it helps to talk about this.
Stepbrother Mark's family is safely in Houston.
Stepdad's siblings saw the light and abandoned the Westbank for the relatively safer location of...Baton Rouge.
My little brother Billy's family...is staying put in Baton Rouge. All his wife's family is staying, his friends are staying, all his neighbor's are still there, and so the peer pressure on him there is just a whole lot greater than the peer pressure we can put on him long distance. Even though Doxy is telling me, "dude, this is Andrew all over again", and it doesn't matter that Baton Rouge is above sea level because this hurricane might just scrub a swath of Louisiana clean of all trees and buildings.
Really, I'm not panicking. Just a little queasy is all.
I'm trying to imagine New Orleans as a third world country. This isn't like a flood anywhere else where the waters will recede naturally. The water there will stay put, stagnant, filled with sewage, snakes, rats and alligators, until pumping stations can be repaired to start pumping it out.
I'm remembering one of the pictures of the 1927 Mississippi Delta floods, from John M. Barry's book Rising Tide, of refugees camped on top of the levee. An 8-foot wide swath of the top of the levee was dry, with the river rushing by on one side, and the town flooded to a height equal to that of the river on the other side. If I find a copy online, I'll link to it.
Streaming video of WWL-TV Channel 4 in New Orleans.
Various city cams from nola.com. Not much to see there yet, although it's starting to cloud up, whereas at dawn this morning it was crystal clear and sunny.
Latest word is that Billy's family is staying put, although this is just second-hand info from Mark. I can't get through to Bill, I get voice mail at home and cell phones aren't really working any more.
So...if you're in Baton Rouge and you see my brother (imagine me, no goatee, no tattoos, a little fatter, dressed like a good-old boy lawyer), kick his ass for me and tell him "Ray says to get of of town, ya dumb little shit." I can still beat him up, when I can reach him. He never could fight back much.
I worry about the people who can't leave if they wanted to. New Orleans is a town with much poverty, and your average housing project resident can't just book a hotel in Texas and scoot out of town. People without cars, people without money...where do they go? Shelters will definitely fill up.
Ray Nagin just declared a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans, and declared the right for city officials to commandeer any structure or vehicle. Says the storm surge will likely overcome the levees, and the Superdome will be used for a shelter of last resort.
Both sides of I-10 are one way going out of the city. In the city it's completely gridlocked. It's all bridges to get out of the city, so there are not a lot of options for alternate routes.
I checked in with the family. Mark and his family are already in Houston. Bill and his family are getting on the road out of Baton Rouge to Houston within the hour, but I-10 switches back to 2-way right around Baton Rouge so traffic is expected to be horrendous. It's all swamp to the west of Baton Rouge, so it's not like you can easily take back roads to avoid the freeway. I-10 is one long bridge through there.
Funny story: Mark says if Bill makes it to Houston, he'll stay there, otherwise he's bringing the family to Austin to visit with us and my sister. Backstory is that Mark and Bill work for the same law firm...Mark is a senior partner, Bill is a peon attorney, so Bill's take on this is that if he makes it to Houston Mark will drag him into the Houston branch of the firm and put him to work.
My stepdad's brothers and sisters, being the stubborn Gretna yats that they are, are staying put. I don't know how to explain it, it's just a native mindset there to ride it out, and whatever happens happens. Yeesh.
I worry about my high school friends who are still there, and I worry about my city being gone when I wake up tomorrow. New Orleans is special like no other place. I can't imagine the French Quarter being wiped out, the trees of Audubon park being levelled. My immediate family will be out of harm's way, but you can't rescue a place. You can't pick it up and move it to safety.
A Category 5 direct hit on New Orleans. It's wiggled around a little bit the past 24 hours, but only varied between "Will it pass over my old house in Algiers?" to "Will it pass over my brother's house in Metairie?"
Although this isn't the perfect storm scenario, where a major hurricane strikes from the East and pushes the storm surge into the lakes behind the city, it's pretty much almost as bad as it can get.
My brother Mark and his wife and kids are the only immediate family still living in the city. Brother Bill's family is somewhat safer in Baton Rouge, and the rest of us are scattered in Texas and New England. I haven't talked to Mark yet, but in recent hurricanes he's been remarkably stubborn about staying put...and he's always been right. There hasn't been a major hurricane to hit New Orleans during our adult lifetimes. Betsy was a moderate storm, and Camille struck a glancing blow, and both happened when Mark was a toddler and I was still in Boston.
In case you've never seen it, here's a fascinating NPR story about the devastation that a direct hit on New Orleans would cause.
And just across the Mississippi River, Walter Maestri is struggling to help New Orleans prepare. Maestri is the czar of public emergencies in Jefferson Parish (that's the county that sprawls across a third of the metropolitan area). He points to a map of the region on the wall of his command post.
"A couple of days ago," explains Maestri, "We actually had an exercise where we brought a fictitious Category Five Hurricane into the metropolitan area."
The map is covered with arrows and swirls in erasable marker. They show how the fictitious hurricane crossed Key West and then smacked into New Orleans.
When the computer models showed Maestri what would happen next, he wrote big letters on the map, all in capitals.
"KYAGB—kiss your ass good bye," reads Maestri.
"Because," says Maestri, "anyone who was here when that storm came across was gone—it was body-bag time. We think 40,000 people could lose their lives in the metropolitan area."
And some scientists say that figure is conservative. People have known for centuries that New Orleans is a risky spot — the biggest river in North America wraps around it; and most of the land is below sea level. But researchers say they've been learning just how grave the problem is, only in the last few years. And they say the city and the nation aren't prepared to handle it.
I've imported all my entries from my blogspot-in-exile, and the ones that weren't backed up that I managed to salvage from Google's cache. Blogspot is dead to me now.
The comments will have to stay behind, though. Sad, sad, very sad. I'll especially miss the guest panties talk and the pointers to the National Clown Museum on Pennsylvania Avenue.
But everything is back to normal finally. My avatar is back up, my reading list is up to date, all my blog entries are back in one place.
Now I'm going back to bed for a little while, to finish up Feynman and keep an eye on this hurricane thingy that's threatening the Crescent City.
And oh yeah: A big round of applause goes to Karl for busting his ass during this crisis. I owe you a few lap dances, buddy.
[Meaning, of course, that I will pay somebody else to dance for you. I'm not rubbing my naked rear on your hardon, I don't care how much you beg.]
My bimonthly week of hell at work is over, leaving me weak and now sporting a throat infection to enjoy all weekend, until Monday when some other crisis that can only be fixed by Ray rears its ugly head.
I'm going to spend the weekend in bed, mostly, and will pass the time reading real books and restoring blog entries to the beloved Moronosphere. It's good to be home.
You can quit reading my temporary digs at the blogspot, I won't be updating there any more.
In sporting news, Liam's Little League draft is over and he will spend the fall season playing for.....the Red Sox! Rawk! We've already got fan gear!
Carry on talking amongst yourselves...
From 16th Street in the Mission to Heinz Avenue in Berkeley, an iron curtain has descended across the chocolate world.
Somebody head over to Doxy's house with some smelling salts.
I am depressed.
The Pedazo Chunk memorial for Biscuit the other night was a very lovely affair. My Big Boys years were spent in Houston, so I didn't know the Austin old-timers very well, but there were still plenty of people there that I knew. I took Cassidy with me and we hung out for the first hour. Fox 7 News was there, and by the time we left, there were well over 100 people milling about and hordes of people still walking up. I wouldn't be surprised if several hundred people passed through over the course of the night.
Nuevo Anden has some pictures of the memorial on his flickr page, and if you dig around in there, you can also find a picture of Biscuit and Gary Floyd of the Dicks with their arms around each other at the Dicks reunion. It is the sweetest thing ever.
I also wanted to clarify something from my previous post. The quote from the Chronicle quotes the medical examiner's report about the cause of death, and from that quote you could easily get the impression that Biscuit drank himself to death. I've talked to several old friends of his, either in person or online, and they all want the world to know that he did NOT drink himself to death. He did have health problems from living a hard life in his younger days, but he had those problems under control, he had slimmed down, and he was not a drinker. At the time of his death he seemed healthier than he'd been in years, his friends say. All the more tragic that he had so much to look forward to, with his health improved and being on top of his game with his art.
I've been a mess all weekend about it and I didn't even know the guy personally. My heart goes out to all his friends.
I got more work done on the tattoo last night. Almost 3 hours without a break, but it wasn't so bad, really. I think I must be getting used to it.
These pictures show the color he added to the flowers last time, plus last night's work where he darkened the swan and background and added shadows under the waves.
I wish I'd brought my camera last night, because there were two people hanging out in the shop that had the most amazing works in progress by Chris. This guy named Troy who has a large back piece, with some of it done by hand instead of with the machine ("just like shootin' pool", says Chris), and a woman named Marny who has a full body Japanese piece with all carousel animals come to life, in amazingly intricate detail.
It's always nice to have people with such obvious good taste in ink ooohing and aaahing over your own. And Troy is also a hardcore music geek so he helped keep me distracted talking about Albert Ayler and Neu and John Zorn the whole night.
Bob Moreau, who started Perfection Tattoo back in the 70's and taught both Chris and Dave Lum, also popped by for a few minutes and gave my swan a thumbs up.
Next visit is on the 30th and should be the last.
For my next tattoo (oh good lord, I've got the bug bad now), I'm going to get the same half-sleeve design on my left shoulder, but working around the existing stained-glass window ink I've already got. Same lilies, but instead of a black swan it will have a couple of cardinals. That way the left arm will be my mom's side of the family, and the right arm my dad's side. Chris is jazzed about it. Gina is less so (mainly due to money), so it might be a few years before I can manage it.
Randy "Biscuit" Turner, former lead singer of Austin punk legends The Big Boys, was found dead in his home yesterday afternoon.
No details on cause of death yet. The Statesman article is here.
Last night Cassidy and I went out to eat and then picked up a few school supplies at the HEB, and on the way out I grabbed a copy of the new Chronicle, looked at the cover and went "Cool! It's Biscuit!" Cassidy said "Oh, that's scary!" (He's dressed like a very freaky looking clown...yeah, yeah, same old Biscuit.) I tried explaining to her who he was, and who the Big Boys were. Sometimes I can tell Cassidy about music and she gets it. This time I don't think she was getting it. I tried to explain to her how cool it was that a skate punk band could do Kool & the Gang covers. She wasn't getting it.
I first heard the Big Boys in 1983, when I was in the depths of my hardcore phase and trying to sort out all the doctrinaire "loud fast rules" naziism I saw at punk shows from all the other non-punk music that I liked. And then we got a copy of "Lullabies Help the Brain Grow" at the radio station, and my eyes, as they say, were opened.
Right around that time, the Big Boys came to Houston to open for X, and we went up to to a record signing at Rat Records in the Village. And I remember getting out of my friend's car right when the Big Boys were getting out of theirs, and they saw me and walked up and said "hi" and just started talking to me like we were buddies. They were just these normal, unassuming, friendly guys. None of your typical Houston snot-nosed punk attitude.
I liked that they did what they wanted. I liked that they wrote songs about flouting the rules that the punk scene tries to lay down for you. I liked that they made it OK for a kid in a flannel shirt and a mohawk to try to shake his ass to "Hollywood Swingin'". They were more than a band to me. They helped me get over and through a lot of petty bullshit punk attitude. They helped me grow the fuck up. They were a really big deal to me.
And now one of them is gone away, to play with Joe Strummer and Joey Ramone.
Last night while we were walking back to the car, while I was trying but failing to explain all this to Cassidy (and not yet knowing that he was dead), we both remarked on the sunset. It was one of those where the setting sun was showing beneath a line of clouds, with big golden rays of light, so spectacular it was almost like a parody of a sunset, like you expected the Monty Python version of God to come out of it. And then I noticed, off to the east, a huge glorious cloud, like a giant upturned scallop shell, like no clouds I'd ever seen before, and Cassidy noticed that the almost-full moon was just rising over the horizon beneath this cloud. I said I wish I had my camera with me, because we'll never be able to explain this to anyone, and Cass agreed. We just stood there in the HEB parking for five full minutes and looked at the cloud in the east, and then back at the sunset, and then back at the cloud and the moon.
And, y'know, you don't want to think that this was some big glorious send-off for Biscuit, because it was so not his style. But when I heard this morning that he'd died, I first thought of the Chronicle cover, and then of Cassidy, and then of the clouds. And y'know, it makes a good story, even if it's hokey. When I tell Cassidy tonight, she'll probably want to dig out my Big Boys records, and she'll want to talk about how cool the clouds were. Because that so is her style.
Supposedly there's a memorial tonight at Pedazo Chunk, on South 1st, at 8pm. If I learn more, I'll update.
Update from the Chronicle web site:
In the worst form of happenstance imaginable, Randy "Biscuit" Turner was found dead in his home late Thursday afternoon. Close friends had not heard from the local musician/artist for several days when Chronicle staff writer Marc Savlov, author of this week's cover story on the ebullient Austin icon, stopped by Turner's house to ascertain his whereabouts. Sensing something wrong, Savlov called the police, who arrived and found Turner's body inside. As of 11:30am Friday morning, the medical examiner's initial autopsy report attributes cause of death to "gastrointestinal hemorrhage due to cirrhosis associated with chronic [alcohol] abuse." Although time/date of death has yet to be determined pending a final report from the medical examiner, it's believed that Turner, 56, had been dead for at least several days. Needless to say, the entire Chronicle family is shocked and terribly saddened by this news. Pedazo Chunk, 2009 S. First, where Turner's art installation "Mental Volcano" was to be displayed this weekend, will instead host an informal wake tonight, Friday, Aug. 19, beginning at 7pm. 441-3505.
Newsweek has an article up about Irritable Male Syndrome:
Millions of lines have been written about how women’s hormonal changes can cause mood swings. But what about when men get irritable and withdrawn? Psychotherapist Jed Diamond believes they could be suffering from irritable male syndrome, a condition he says is affecting a growing number of men. No, it’s not a joke.You can take the quiz here.
The IMS term was coined by a Scottish researcher who found that rams became irritable, withdrawn and irrational when their testosterone levels plummeted. After visiting Scotland and reviewing the research, Diamond, author of the best-selling 1997 book Male Menopause, thought the syndrome might apply to humans as well. He analyzed data collected from more than 6,000 men and found that about half said they were stressed, gloomy or negative most or all of the time.
A total of 40 percent of the overal survey said they were often or always irritable. Many of those who reported feeling the negative emotions, he discovered, were also experiencing certain hormonal fluctuations--namely, a drop in testosterone--as well as changes in brain chemistry, increased stress and a loss of male identity.
I got an 85. They recommend that I definitely seek professional help.
Which really pisses me off.
"Never been crazy about Mexican food -- I'm a haute cuisine boy from way back." --Frank Firestone
I finished Prime the other night, Poppy Z. Brite's sequel to Liquor. Not as good as the first, but still an enjoyable read, enough so that I'm looking forward to book three in the series, Soul Kitchen.
Prime picks up with Rickey, G-man, and Lenny, two years after the opening of their restaurant, and tells a very complicated tale that manages to intertwine Lenny's shady business practices, the internal political maneuverings in the New Orleans DA's office, and the revamping of a floundering Dallas-based restaurant owned by a rich Texas businessman/yokel named Frank Firestone.
It wouldn't be possible to go into how all these threads are related without doing major spoiler damage. Unlike Liquor, which was basically a suspense/thriller story hiding behind a restaurant tale, Prime is a mystery novel. And that might be where its weakness lies, because all the secrets that drive the plot stayed hidden right up until chapter 25, where they were all just sort of awkardly blorped out onto the page in a big lump, right before the climactic scene. Some people can write these kinds of things and do them justice, and I don't know if that's where Brite's strength lies.
What makes it worth reading, though, are the characters, who are all rich and colorful and fully-formed and wonderful. I wanted to keep reading because I feel like I know these guys, and I want to know what happens to them next.
And of course, when Rickey travels to Dallas, all the New-Orleans-native-in-a-foreign-country scenes just tickled me to death, since once again they are so spot on, so exactly like my experience moving to Houston after growing up on the West Bank. Seeing grown men in cowboy boots, and "rivers" that don't have enough water in them to float a piroque, never mind a freighter. And wondering what the hell things like "last call" and "dry county" mean, and why you can't walk out the front door of a bar with your drink.
Rickey had been completely befuddled when Coop said Oak Cliff was a dry neighborhood. At first Rickey thought he was talking about the climate, and wondered aloud how it could differ from the rest of the city's.
"No," said Coop, "dry as in no alcohol."
"No alcohol? What the fuck do you mean?" Rickey hadn't meant to be rude, but it was as if Coop had suddenly started speaking another language. "Do they stop you at the border and take it away or something?"
Coop laughed. "Nothing like that. You can have it in your home. But the stores don't sell it, and there aren't any bars here."
"What about the restaurants?"
"I never eat over here," Coop admitted. "I think they can serve alcohol, but the customer's supposed to show a drinking permit. I hear the waiters never ask to see it, though."
"A drinking permit?" Rickey clutched his head. "How can there be a drinking permit? That's the most retarded thing I ever heard."
If you liked Liquor, you'll still like this one. It's still some of the best true-to-New-Orleans lit I've run across.
For most of my life I never wore any kind of scent, no cologne or aftershave at all. A few years back, though, Gina bought me a bottle of Activist from the Body Shop. But I wore it only rarely, generally on nights when Gina and I could get a sitter and go out on a grownup date.
The problem...well, not problem really, but the situation...is that those nights invariably involved some pretty hot activities after we got home from dinner or wherever our date took us, and so now the Activist scent is intertwined in my mind with...uh...well, it pretty much smells like sex to me. It totally gets my blood going.
So of course, that means that lately I've been wearing it all the damn time. Just because I can.
And now I'm about to run out.
And The Body Shop discontinued it last year.
Does anybody know where I might lay my hands on some of this stuff on the black market, or recommend something else that is equally studly, yet not tested on animals? I'm looking for sex in a bottle here, not just any old foofoo.
Via Off the Kuff: The brewers at St. Arnold's have a blog. Definitely more interesting than your typical work blog from a software company. Filled with intense beer geekery and heavy metal ...they're bottling the Oktoberfest, they're brewing the Christmas ale, they're wrestling with fermentation temperatures and listening to Celtic Frost and DRI.
OK, for my mental health I probably won't blogroll them, for obvious reasons, but I know some of my readers (do I have any readers since Black Friday?) are beer geeks. St. Arnold's is one of the best microbreweries in Texas. Check 'em out.
Richard Katrovas's Mystic Pig blew my mind. Thanks Karl.
A wholly different sort of New Orleans book than Poppy Z. Brite's Liquor and Prime. Katrovas is a poet and so his style is ornate and complex, in contrast to Brite's straightforward conversational tone. And while the Liquor series is about the interactions between an array of colorful characters, Mystic Pig is about the internal demons of one man with a mid-life crisis and a bizarre secret life.
It's so very hard to describe this book without giving anything away, and it's a book that you're best served going into without knowing much about the story. Quick summary: Nat is a restaurant owner with three children by two wives, and a secret life that involves a third woman. But the secret life is so much more than what you're thinking.
This book utterly nails the thought processes of the 40-something husband and father who feels like something slipped away over the past couple of decades while he wasn't watching. Like American Beauty or Lost in Translation.
This snippet is Nat talking to his newly discovered birth mother via email:
I'm a father, a dull, phallic signifier (how am I doing with the lingo?) in that odd Hell of unsteady yet enduring patriarchal determinants. But you know what? I'm also a night goblin, rousting about in the shadows while others sleep. I'm a silly monster my kids are not only not frightened of, but regard more in the spirit of a large pet who comes and goes, more or less protecting the hearth, than of a gray wall of intractable laws and their enforcement. Hey, I'm just looking for myself, like everyone else, trying to figure out who I am. Maybe we never stop being sixteen. Isn't that really when it starts? Right about then? Isn't that when suddenly you realize that the child you recently were, so sure of it itself, so sure of who and what it was, is a foreigner trapped inside you? It will always be there, must always be accounted for, even as you have become someone else. And there is no single moment marking the birth of that rattled self, that self wholly aware of how ordinary it is in most respects, but also feeling a uniqueness that would allow it to occupy the entire fucking universe all by itself, allow it to be God.
So you're fourteen or fifteen or sixteen and you could be God if the universe would let you, but it won't, so you have to be human and account almost daily for the child you recently had been, a child who will always be there and who will be the only immutable fact of consciousness unto death. But there's something else. An itch. A compulsion maybe? No, I prefer it to be an itch, one that can never be scratched or balmed. A sense that there is something of you, maybe the part that could be God, maybe not, that is knowable and that you should try to know. Why? No fucking reason. No fucking reason at all. There's just that itch. In my secret life, in those brief moments I indulge in that artifice, and yes I admit freely cheerfully unambiguously that it is an indulgence, the itch ceases.
But the revelations of exactly what slipped away and why--in Nat's case--is so shattering, so twisted...well, you have to read the book. I've said as much as I can say.
They're home safe.
Which is a great relief to the dog...we left with the kids two weeks ago and came home without them last week, and the dog has been on best behavior since then. Probably figuring that all that sitting on the red couch when she thought we weren't looking was finally gonna get her disappeared.
School starts tomorrow. Oy.
The kids are flying back from DC alone today. Their uncle put them on a plane which was supposed to bounce once in Raleigh-Durham before landing in Austin this evening.
Well, I just got a very panicky tear-stricken call from Cassidy (she borrowed the captain's phone). Apparently thunderstorms are delaying all flights out of RDU tonight. I think I got her calmed down, but the weirdness of it all...first they had to get off the plane (unplanned, and we had told them DON'T get off the plane). Then they got to sit through thunderstorms. And I know she's old enough that her mind is working..."what if we have to spend the night here? will we be alone in the airport? who will take care of us?"....and honestly, I've got the same thoughts. What DOES happen to unaccompanied minors if they have a layover til the next day?
So, I told her it's nothing to worry about, I told her I was proud of her, I told her about seeing Roky the other night (she's a big fan)...and then I got off the phone and started fretting. I know exactly one person in Raleigh Durham, the mother of my high school buddy Eric. Haven't talked to her in 20 years.
I hate hate hate feeling so helpless.
Just got an automated update from the airline. They're scheduled to arrive at 8:48 now, instead of 7:28. Ouch.
Too damn much stress this week.
Those of you who sent me love and halibut during my hour of darkness, I thank you.
This last entry is not a hallucination brought on by 36 hours of sleep deprivation. It's the God's honest truth.
I was sent home by my manager and instructed to sleep. On the way, I stopped in at Waterloo Records to pick up a few CDs (Gastr Del Sol, Mogwai, Sleater-Kinney, for those keeping track), and then wandered back behind the record store to Amy's Ice Cream.
And while I'm standing there waiting for my cherry shake, I look to my left and right behind me in line, waiting to order his ice cream, is Roky Erickson. Yes, THAT Roky Erickson.
I will sleep tonight, and I will dream of demons. Not software. Demons.
Yesterday morning I saw coworkers arrive, and then in the evening I saw them go home again. And then in the morning I saw them arrive again, and now I'm watching them go home again.
When an all-nighter extends into a second all-dayer and then your manager starts coming around taking orders for dinner...you give up hope.
Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines.
If you've been in the software biz for more than 6 or 8 years or so, you've already seen this, but if not, enjoy. I like to reread this during those brief lulls between builds, in the weeks when the bugs are infinite and the sleep can be counted in minutes rather than hours.
In the fall of that year the rains fell as usual and washed the leaves of the dust and dripped from the leaves onto the ground. The shuttles drove through the rainy streets and took the people to meetings, then later brought them back, their tires spraying the mist into the air. Many days he stood for a long time and watched the rain and the shuttles and drank his double-tall mochas. With the mochas he was strong.
Hernando who worked down the hall and who was large with microbrews came to him and told him that the ship day was upon them but the bugs were not yet out. The bugs which were always there even when you were in Cafes late at night sipping a Redhook or a double-tall mocha and you thought you were safe but they were there and although Enrico kept the floor swept clean and the mochas were hot the bugs were there and they ate at you.
When Hernando told him this he asked how many bugs.
"The RAID is huge with bugs," Hernando said. "The bugs are infinite."
"Why do you ask me? You know I cannot do this thing anymore with the bugs."
"Once you were great with the bugs," Hernando said. "No one was greater," he said again. "Even Prado."
"Prado? What of Prado? Let Prado fix the bugs."
Hernando shrugged. "Prado is finished. He was gored by three Sev2's on Chicago. All he does now is drink herb tea and play with his screensavers."
"It is true, my friend." Hernando shrugged again.
Later he went to his office and sat in the dark for a long time. Then he sent e-mail to Michaels.
Michaels came to him while he was sipping a mocha. They sat silently for awhile, then he asked Michaels, "I need you to triage for me."
Michaels looked down. "I don't do that anymore," he said.
"This is different. The bugs are enormous. There are an infinity of bugs."
"I'm finished with that," Michaels said again. "I just want to live quietly."
"Have you heard Prado is finished? He was badly gored. Now he can only drink herb tea."
"Herb tea?" Michaels said.
"It is true," he said sorrowfully.
Michaels stood up. "Then I will do it, my friend," he said formally. "I will do it for Prado, who was once great with the bugs. I will do it for the time we filled Prado's office with bouncy balls, and for the time Prado wore his nerf weapons in the marketing hall and slew all of them with no fear and only a great joy at the combat. I will do it for all the pizza we ate and the bottles of Coke we drank."
Together they walked slowly back, knowing it would be good. As they walked the rain dripped softly from the leaves, and the shuttles carried the bodies back from the meetings.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivs 2.5 License. Please feel free to copy, distribute, display, and perform The Bug Count Also Rises. We request that you include a link to http://www.workpump.com/bugcount/, attribute the author, John Browne, and include a link to the appropriate copyright license. You may not use this work for commercial purposes without receiving permission from John Browne.
Especially when they involve long periods of waiting on somebody else's build, punctuated by frenzied debugging. I am the rules engine god where I work, so when somebody screws up their rules, they come to me for salvation.
Good all nighters involve Orbital and Eno and Sasha & Digweed as drugs to put me in the programmer's trance.
But bad all nighters? Velvet Underground and Dirty Three. To shut out the world, the three different managers all coming by for status checks every 30 minutes, the coworkers panicking because their rulesets aren't deploying right, the voices in my head trying to convince me that I don't rock, I don't walk on water, I can't overcome this, a seven figure sales deal can go up in a puff of smoke and it will be ALL. MY. FAULT.
It won't be all my fault. Hell, we'll probably make the deal. We're that good.
But the voices are there. And the Dirty Three are gloriously louder than them.
Send me IM love. Send me email love. Send me chocolate-covered espresso beans. I'm here all night.
"If you despise yourself more today than when you began to blog, there may be a direct correlation. But remember, no one cares as much about your blog as you do. They probably have their own."
It's frickin' hilarious, but now I'm even more depressed.
My old high school friend Eric always wanted a sports team called The Nads, so that the crowd could yell "Go Nads!" during games. This was one of his many running jokes all through high school. Yeah, he was kind of a dork.
Well, now Eric has season tickets to the Washington Nationals, affectionately known as the Nats.
Sure enough, the crowd yelled "Go Nats!" all night long. Eric seems very pleased with himself.
The view from the seats under the press box:
Liam believes in the power of the rally cap (being a Red Sox fan, he has to):
At Luray Caverns, I was trying to avoid using the flash but had to use such a long shutter speed that it was hard not taking blurry pictures. This one came out cool, though, in an area of the cave they call Wonderland. The formations on the floor are not really on the floor...the floor is a smooth lake, showing the reflection of the ceiling:
I tried to take some pictures of the family at overlook points in the Shenandoahs, but they were in no mood for tourism. This is the only shot I got, while they all complained that the sun was in their eyes. When we got back in the car, I said, "That was a very Chevy Chase moment", and Gina said, "Yes it was."
When eating crabs in Baltimore, if you leave the touristy areas you find beautiful dives like this:
where you can create crustacean carnage like this:
At the Baltimore Aquarium, we decided to skip this dolphin show:
Today, Smithsonian. Tomorrow, the kids fly alone to Nana's house on Cape Cod.
I am always on the lookout for good (free) bookmarks. I have a big pile of cool ones from the Roky Erickson Trust. Be nice to me and next time I send you a gift, I'll include a couple.
And the free ones that our mighty indie bookstore Book People gives out always have great quotes on them. My previous favorite was this witticism by Groucho Marx: "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. And inside of a dog, it's too dark to read."
But now I have a new favorite which, with 100% perfect accuracy, describes me and describes how my relationship with books and with the outside world has worked since I was five years old:
Yesterday was our first full tourist day in DC. We were supposed to be meeting the family of the guy who was Gina's dad's bone marrow donor a couple of years ago...Gina had never met him in person before, and she owes him lots and lots and LOTS of hugs, but they cancelled on us at the last minute (sick kid), so we found ourselves aimlessly wandering at the National Mall.
Cassidy: "Cool, they have a mall there?"
Gina: "Yeah, but not that kind of mall. It doesn't have a Claire's or a Hot Topic."
Every vacation needs a running gag. This year, we have dubbed the National Mall, the great landmark between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, as "The Mall Without a Claire's".
Now we can all argue about the strict definition of the word "irony", but I think this picture sums it up. This cup was embedded in the scum floating on top of the reflecting pool at the mall...the logo printed on the side says "Take Pride In America":
We walked through the Vietnam Memorial. I had heard it was an intense experience, but I was unprepared for exactly how it worked. You start walking down into the slight valley with your eyes on the wall in the distance...and then you notice to your left, almost at foot level, that the names have already started. And naturally, you start reading the names. One, then a half dozen, then a few dozen. And as you walk, the sidewalk descends as the names pile up, too many and too fast to read, higher and higher and faster and faster until there are thousands upon thousands, rising high above your head until they blot out the sun. All you can see are names of sons, and fathers, and brothers in a great overwhelming blur...and at this point if your eyes don't well up with tears, then you haven't been paying attention. It was stunning and awful.
Later we also took in the Holocaust Museum. Another wrenching, overpowering experience.
And then, fearing for the kids' mental health (they looked a little stunned) and unable to find anything like a Clown Museum or a National Museum of Giggling and Fart-Jokes, we did the next best thing and walked to Foggy Bottom for ice cream.
Various pictures in the flickr blog.
* If you had told me in 1982 that some day I would be sitting on a blanket on a big grassy hill watching Elvis Costello, surrounded by middle-aged people sipping wine and eating their chi-chi picnic lunches that they bought at Whole Foods, I would have said, "What the fuck are you on?" Then I would have said, "Can I, like, buy some?"
* Country Singer Elvis Costello kicks Aging Punk Singer Elvis Costello's ass. For that matter, Country Singer Elvis Costello kicks Country Singer Elvis Presley's ass.
* It can be less than 36 hours since you left Austin and the sound of a pedal steel guitar will still make you homesick. I don't know what I'm gonna do when we have to flee to Canada in a few years; probably sell all my Derailers CDs, I guess.
* I don't remember Elvis' rock songs having so many guitar jams in them. Maybe the venue and the sound guy were giving it that Dead show sheen that I hate so much. The George Jones covers made up for it, though.
* Women who live in DC and see Elvis at Wolf Trap are not as hot, as a group, as women who live in Austin and see Elvis at ACL. They are also, as a group, almost entirely devoid of tattoos. Seriously, I didn't even see any suns on shoulder blades or butterflies on ankles or anything. It was freaky, for an outdoor rock show.
* Wolf Trap sells Murphy's Irish Stout in cans, and most people sitting around us who were beer drinkers have excellent taste in microbrews. Harpoon IPA. I can still taste it. I was jealous.
* While Gina was in labor with Cassidy, heavily doped up on Demerol and out of her mind with pain, between contractions she suddenly stirred and said "Where's Elvis going to sleep?", and then dropped off back into her 30-second between-contraction drug coma. The nurse laughed and in a thick Texas drawl said, "Ayulvis?!" (That's a phonetic spelling. That's how they say it down here.) Clearly the nurse was thinking Presley, which caused Gina to manage, through the drug haze, through the pain, without even opening her eyes, to muster up her best Snotty Punk Bitch snort of derision and reply "Ffftttt....CosTELLO!" Moments like that sum up why I married this girl.
* In DC, nachos do not come with jalapenos. You simply cannot have them. What the fuck? Just chips and cheese? No wonder the federal government is going straight to hell...
* Emmylou Harris is a babe. I don't care how old she is, I'd totally do her, if she promises to sing to me...during.
* Two hours of Elvis Costello will make three kids between the ages of 8 and 13 bored out of their skulls, and thus whiny. Cassidy refuses to believe that this old geezer could ever have been some kind of punk rock god. Kids.
Last year early in my blogging career I wrote about flying with Liam. About how take-offs and landings still made him nervous,and about how he liked to hold my thumb during take-offs, because he needed to hold on to something but I think he thought holding my hand was for little kids.
We just left on the second leg of our flight out of Chicago, and during the take off he gives me a big grin and holds out his hand and says "I think you need to hold my hand."
"Here, hold my thumb", I say, and he grabs onto my thumb like a joystick and turns to look out at Lake Michigan.
I managed to snap one picture.
I turned to Gina and said, "This is probably the last time Liam will need to hold onto my thumb on the plane, since they're not flying back on the same flight as us and by next year he'll be too big."
Gina gave me a big fakey sad smile and said, "Yes, that's why I told him you needed him to hold your thumb this time so you wouldn't be scared."
He's not holding my thumb because he needs to. He's doing it because I need it.