Friday, October 19, 2018

More or Less

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
            Hey, hey hey! Welcome to the December issue of Where Y’at which, as you know, will encompass Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanza and Festivus for the rest of us (I think I might have not made that up). I’m partial to the fat man coming down the chimney and this year we gonna have a talk. If it takes a bottle of tequila, some of Holly’s Tamales and even some Peruvian Marching Powder, we have to get this year’s gift straight. I want my illusion back; right now I’m so disillusioned with New Orleans I could kick sand. I’m tired of pretending that we have sweet pretty party people instead of seeing that in actuality they are wet brained functioning alcoholics who live in their own subjective reality. Don’t stop me now.
            I am weary of seeing the ‘homeless’ fly cardboard on most intersections telling me that “anything helps/God bless” as if my donation to their existence comes with a benediction; or watching the same scammers fleece a new crop of tourists, the same scam artists that I’ve seen  ply that trade for fifteen years with impunity. The second-line that passes, weaving music and frivolity on their way and leaving a trail of littered bottles, wrappers and plastic cups enough to choke an elephant.
            It’s all fun and games until it’s your bike that gets stolen; your car that gets broken into or you’re the one face down on the pavement being mugged; wouldn’t that tend to take the sheen off your brogans? It’s done that to me and if it takes Santa to bring back the love… so be it.
Yes, if you were passing on the nine hundred block of Dumaine St. at two O’clock in the afternoon last Sunday that was me yelling for help as some stranger on a bicycle tried to part me from my hard earned; that was me waiting for the police that didn’t come; that was me the next day getting a CT scan of my head and X-rays of my foot and ribs. Just some guy on a bike who believed that what I had should be his and decided to take it. Where did he come from and what created that thought process in the year 2018 in a ‘great American city’? You tell me.
            It does not fail to flummox me that I witness sexism, ageism, racism and speciesism coming from all hues of complexion. Pick a color, pick an ethnicity or social strata and sure enough you’ll find an exclusiveness in their attitude and make up that just doesn’t like, trust, respect or downright give a shyte about anyone that is not  just  the same as they are. Covertly AND overtly.  And I’m not against looking at that man in the mirror to see if I’m not resembling that remark myself.  And don’t get me started on inconsideration.

            Vehicles that weave in and out of traffic ignoring safety and turn signals now royally piss me off. People that leave dirty diapers as they drive away from city parking spots madden me; I’m getting incensed when someone loads up their groceries and leaves the shopping cart in the middle of the parking lot. How about making groceries and the checkout clerk wants to put your purchases in fifteen additional plastic ocean clogging wildlife strangling bags. You’re killing me here.
            My neighbor wants to use RoundUp on his weeds, the guy across the street is scraping lead paint from his shutters into the street, the worker down the block is cleaning his paint brushes into the storm drain and the kids walking home from school are throwing candy wrappers and drink cups like they’re Mardi Gras float throws. My ex-landlord decries the outlawing of DDT to kill termites. Somebody is spraying my Cheerios with cancer causing chemicals and that hippy dippy grocery chain has been taken over by Amazonians.  Can I get a witness? I’m supremely disillusioned when I realize that this is a microcosm of the city, state, country and world that we live in. Please, somebody, give me back my Grace; and while you’re at it, where is my Sewerage and Water bill--eight months now and NO bill?  
            There are too many good people here to put up with that pre-Katrina nonsense; do we not know what year it is? Wasn’t there some rumor way back that this was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius? No, this is the age of poverty, substandard education and a lapse of any moral compass in our elected leaders. Mass shootings.  Global warming. Poison in our drinking water.
            I hate it when anyone says “affordable” anything. Affordable housing means subsidized rent. Affordable healthcare means the government is paying for it. Affordable groceries means: reading the sale fliers and shopping at five different stores; varying your eating habits to whatever is on sale that week. Prices go up, wages stagnate and the powers that be tell us that the economy is booming; for whom?
            On a personal level, the city that care forgot is the city that forgot to care; unable to raise the minimum wage and BTW when you do see wages go up, it’s a sure sign that hours are being cut. Do you find it amusing that most family providers have to work more than one job; that there are no longer any stay at home Moms and Louisiana leads other states in obesity, teen pregnancy and infant mortality? 88,000 city service workers mean that we’re sending our kids out ignorant to become dishwashers, porters and garbage collectors; great, legitimate employment for sure but with what future? Have you considered renter’s rights or rent control? Don’t, there is no such animal.
            Man, I can’t wait to catch that red suited, bearded, “Ho Ho Ho” yelling jerk and have him dig deep in his bag; he aint leaving without me getting my Mojo back. Happy Holidays

Friday, October 12, 2018

Cats and Dogs

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Cats and Dogs
            “Dogs are like people are and cats are like people want to be”. That’s what Nonna LaMancusa told me so many years ago; before I could understand what she meant by that statement, I became it. Observe your critters and see for yourself.  Cats and Dogs.
            It’s been a long day; a long year, a long life; you drag yourself home dog tired (no one ever gets ‘cat tired’) and count on the solace of your pets. You open your door and there the pup sits, wagging and gazing into your eyes with nothing short of unconditional love and admiration. The cat wants to know where dinner is and why it’s late. The dog has chewed up your favorite unfinished novel and/or your leather skirt/baseball glove and looks ashamed knowing that they’re in for some “BAD DOG!!” discipline. The cat has just peed in your fresh laundry and try, just try, to correct its behavior and you’ll get hissed at like a snake and clawed into shredded wheat.
            It’s time for medicine and you reach over to Fido’s mouth, pry it open and in goes the meds; try that on Tiger Lily and be prepared to get that Tetanus shot, seriously. Good Ole Rover will happily go to the vet, he’s cool as long as there’s treats; will endure any embarrassment or invasion. Weigh him, spray him, spay him, prod and poke him; it’s all good as long as something that tastes like bacon is on the other end of where the thermometer happens to be lodged. What treatment does Little Mittens get? A carrier with a towel or blanket, catnip and maybe a favorite toy and you stuff her in like toothpaste back into a tube; get to the clinic and you have to dump her out (you dare not reach in) in the manner of the trash pick-up guys with the Doc and two Vet Techs ready to hold her down by whatever appendages are the least likely to end in human bloodshed. The growl that she emits will chill you to the bone, there is no reasoning with that feline.
            Off to work you go in the morning, leaving Boomer with sad eyes slowly wagging his tail and getting ready for another day filled with separation anxiety and sadness, while Fluffy and MiniPuss are planning a day of sleeping, grooming and possibly a little Oprah watching; perhaps they’ll shred the curtains while Pluto pines. While you’re gone Scooby Doo will hold himself until his bladder bursts while Mistress Taffy can saunter to the litter box, relieve herself and then scatter the litter like confetti for you to step on in your bare feet.
            It’s a NoNo for Deputy Dawg to jump on furniture and the most he can hope for is to be able to sneak up onto the bed after you’ve passed out; try to keep Sylvester off the top shelves in your kitchen, the dresser drawer that you left open or taking up a perch in front of your computer screen (while you’re working) and witness attention spans in nanoseconds as he resumes the examination of his domain, top to bottom with impunity.
            Huckleberry Hound will bark at a branch rubbing against your window or the mailman or that new person in your life and hide and wet himself during a thunderstorm or fireworks; cats will hide under the bed or in the closet and let burglars strip your house as clean as Thanksgiving turkey in the home of starving Armenians. It’s true, a dog will give its life protecting you and yours; a feline will run like a rabbit and contemplate where the next meal will come from. There are stories of canines visiting gravesites and waiting at train stations; there are stories of cats that will travel for miles after being separated from their territory. Dogs are ready to destroy their enemies on sight, on the other hand, cats like to torment their prey, sometimes for long periods of time, watching them suffer futilely the ping pong batting that leads them to their personal circle of heaven.
            There are exceptions to all this; a dog that seeks spiritual enlightenment, a cat that doesn’t already have it. There are cats that can be trained (even herded) and dogs that don’t pick up chicken bones on their walk.  There are outdoor cats that wait for the sound of your car and will purr for you as you feed and love on them, sitting on your lap drooling in ecstasy. There are dogs that will run as far and as wide away from home (and you) at the drop of a hat like Io being chased by gadflies; open the door, off they go.
            Very seldom do you hear someone say that they want to come back as a dog; it’s a dog’s life, they do the work, pull the sleds, herd cattle, jump into cold water to retrieve that duck that you shot; cats are definitely not of that ilk. Yep, we want to come back as cats. Cats create territory, nest, pick their caretakers (no one ever really ‘owns’ a cat) and settle in until death do you part; if you cross a cat, they will drop you faster than a hot potato and find greener pastures. A dog will keep coming back for more of whatever treatment you give them, returning unconditional love and loyalty without question.
            Of course, the biggest suckers are the bipeds that love, care, clean, feed, and pay the veterinarian bills for these creatures that we take in as our surrogate children and mourn inconsolably when they cross that Rainbow Bridge; you know who you/we are.          

Thursday, September 6, 2018

How's Bayou (Road)?

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
How’s Bayou Business
The Road
As they say on the block: “if you don’t know, you betta ask somebody!”
So, you wanna know? Come down my street; come visit, come set a spell. Come with me down Bayou Road, the oldest road in New Orleans. Venture into the enclave of a real Chickaen Geau-Geau New Orleans fiyo by the bayou melting pot gumbo salt and peppa with some chicka ma cranny crow thrown in turkey neck of a street.  A corner of our city getting along quite nicely without you for three hundred years; stretching, growing, contracting and stretching out again, behind your back, in plain sight. Welcome to one of the mostly overlooked secrets of New Orleans.
            At the confluence of Broad Street, Grand Route St. John, Gentilly Blvd, Seventh Ward, Esplanade Ridge and Mid City; Bayou Road is generally part of everything but, uniquely and independently a world apart. From when the indigenous peoples showed Bienville how to get from Mobile, Alabama to the trading markets of what is now the French Quarter to when we (now) stroll up in the spring to The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, opening day at the racetrack, back down again for Mardi Gras madness or caroling at St. Louis Cathedral at holiday time this magical street leads us from where we want to go to where we want to be. Many times, travelers, blasé and half blind to the folks that have chosen to remain and dig in small business roots here, promise themselves to ‘check it out later’. Well, it’s ‘later’ now.
            Starting with McHardy’s Fried Chicken, Pirogue’s Bar and Bistro, The Broadview Crawfish House and Journey Allen’s Sip and Paint Instruction Classes; follow the red brick road to Miss Emma’s Nail Studio, Bayou Road Justice Center, Domino Sound Records, The Dufresne House, Saint Rose of Lima Church (the new home of Southern Rep), Kitchen Witch Cookbook shop, The Community Book center, The Half Shell and Coco Hut Restaurants, Material Life Gift Ship, The Cupcake Fairies, Whiskey and Sticks and EGOS Men’s Spa across from King and Queen Emporium and Pagoda Coffee and Eats; you can’t swing a stick without hitting a hot spot
            Club Caribbean hosts nightly live music performances while food pop-ups flourish with alacrity; Artistry For Her and Keyes To Beauty salons are there to get you in style and keep you in the mood to celebrate life. There’s even a $6.99 all you can eat Cajun buffet if you’re so inclined and Joan Mitchell’s enclave of artists to round us out.
            These are who I call my Neighbors and call them out by name; Albert at Pirogue’s is gonna have the game on tonight; there was just a birth in Ms Emma’s family and yes, the Justice Center has a notary. Sister Bonnie at Dufresne is hosting a group of volunteers for Habitat and Sergio has discovered a feral chicken in the yard. Matt at Domino Sound has a vinyl sale coming up; is it Taco Tuesday already? Ask Debbie.
            Vera and Jennifer are having a book signing at Community Book Center with fried chicken from Mr. Kermit at McHardy’s; Mark at Half Shell has icy cold oysters and fried catfish waiting for me and at Coco Hut there’s that vegetarian Jerk dish as well as meaty ones; mild, medium or hot. Ms Jenny’s getting things organized for Southern Rep’s maiden voyage at their new digs; Whiskey and sticks for the discerning imbiber;  cupcakes from the fairies for the kids, café au lait at Pagoda and fresh fruit cups from Manny. Get it all on Bayou road.
            They’re sprucing up our appearances, sharpening up our minds, filling our bellies and our souls and saving seats for performances in a grand century old church; yes, while you weren’t looking… they’ve been cooking!  Domino Sound has 10,000 LPs, while kitchen Witch has the same number of cookbooks and we’re wishing Southern Rep that many shows with lights, action and “places everybody!” Ten Thousand instructions for our kids will be imparted, that many meals will be served and consumed here in our future and I’m looking for that many lights to brighten The Road this holiday season; and as we know, in New Orleans, it’s always holiday season!
A book by Ron Fisher, Mid City Errands talks about Bayou Road in the 1950s; the landmarks and businesses have all changed but the vibe remains the same. You would think that, what with a stretch of two blocks  of  shoulder to shoulder, in a virtual mélange of independently owned businesses (as diverse and varied as they are), smart money would garner odds against their concert; not true, a few years back the gang of them formed Bayou Road Business and Merchants Association and with the aid of Jeff Schwartz at Broad Community Connection and the guidance of Beverly McKenna and her group at Le Musee de f.p.c. (Free people of color) acting as cohesive mentorship, they are indeed, in harmony. The shops and folks on The Road have mapped out a pathway to success without the aid of big business or box stores and have been patiently building a solid foundation, including periphery businesses and organizations supplying support and shine. Jewels in a necklace of local flavor.
With Southern Rep’s opening performance on October third this year, the street will come alive for the 2018-2019 season and for many seasons to come. Heck, you could write a whole theater performance about us!
All of us on The Road do what we do in style and in stride; we keep regular hours, close on regular days and pretty much are as normal as our identities allow and foster. We’re a sleepy little shop small neighborhood bunch who support and cheer for each other’s successes. The best thing about opening a small business in a community is…. the community. Y’all come on down; and, while you’re here, ask for the map. Yep, we got a map.


Sunday, August 5, 2018

Not Today Seitan

Not Today Seitan
Waltzing Wheat Free  
            Back in the mid 1800s, Madams Begue and Tujaque cooked for New Orleanians of every stature and circumstance. Their specialty was five course meals that you could have one of two ways: take it or leave it; that’s mainly because, back in the day, we were Roman Catholic Glutarians (semi-religious people who ate whatever was put in front  them). We had no dietary restrictions and we would eat virtually anything that was available. No vegans, paleos, vegetarians, ketos, pescetarians, non pork and/or beef, gluten intolerant or food allergy sensitive persons survived; back then it was ‘eat anything (edible) or die’.
            As usual, I got to thinking, since the majority of the above dietary concerns would be a hardship to me, I thought of trying out the only one of those diets that I would have a challenge with maintaining: gluten free. I decided to give up gluten in my diet for two weeks and see what would happen to me. I’m not gluten intolerant, quite the opposite, I have a gluten addiction; so this experiment is the only diet discipline that will cause me any discomfort (unless I went on a chocolate free diet—then I would probably throw myself into a well).
            Gluten addiction? Yeppers. I read a book called Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD that explained how it’s the way that we have genetically manipulated the grain that gives us the reaction from a person’s bodily revulsion of gluten to an actual dependence on it and I pondered that I may exhibit all the signs of addiction on gluten products (and possibly to yeast as well). On a daily basis I want bread, pasta, cereal, cake; I prefer beer to wine; cookies to ice cream; malted milk to ice cream sodas. I adore thickened soups, sauces and lick my lips at a fragrant roux in gumbo. I crave Couscous, flour tortillas, crackers, barley, brewer’s yeast, donuts, beignets, stuffing of all kinds, breaded and fried anything and pastries in general. I judge a sandwich by the bread; a pie by its crust; a hot dog by its bun.
            Naturally, for this exercise, I take the most immature tack: I substitute non-gluten ‘alternative’ products that imitate gluten products instead of just religiously not eating gluten; but… I have to start somewhere. I also ease myself into this thing by eliminating wheat first just until I get the hang of it and then eliminate the world of foods that still have gluten in them. Naturally, I drag Debbie into this experiment, misery, can and will accept all the company it can get. Non-gluten bread, pasta and pastries (waffles) are a no-brainer and whatever I can’t purchase outright I can make. Mostly make because if you think that Vegans have a hard time eating out or buying prepared foods, being gluten intolerant with a fistful of dollars to spend will get you precious little on the open market. Plus, when you do find gluten free products, either they are so mundane that they’ll drive you to distraction or they taste like caca, plus they are more expensive than their glutinous counterparts.
Eating as a gluten free vegetarian or vegan? Quit your day job because it will take your entire waking hours not to starve to death; hunched over, muttering to yourself on the side of the road munching dandelion weeds and thistles.
            Some say that there are a lot of non-gluten foods already out there and basically it’s only a matter of eating what you normally eat and just eliminating the gluten stuff; e.g. meatballs and spaghetti: use a different binder for the meatballs and sub non-gluten spaghetti which tastes nothing like pasta.  You could opt for a Mexican diet: rice, beans, corn tortillas, carne asada;  Asian dishes that use rice and rice noodles; or, avail yourself to the myriad of products that now proclaim their non-gluten status: Cheerios, potato chips, canned vegetables, wine, salmon, broccoli and I just bought a liquid dish soap that proclaims itself  “Non Gluten” (go figure).
            Basically, I can eat non-gluten all I want; however, if I carry my gluten heart to the dinner table, I will never be satisfied, let alone satiated, with what I’m eating. It’s a whole new mind set. It is healthier, and it’s also healthier if you watch your cholesterol, saturated fats, and sodium intake; get plenty of exercise, cook at home and drink distilled hooch, but who (aside from the ‘drinking hooch’ part) does that? Eating out takes being ready to give the waiter the third degree and wind up with boiled vegetables and a baked potato; other people will not share their dinners with you and they want none of what you’re having. You will continuously be explaining your ‘affliction’.
            Many food companies are currently getting on board now that they’ve realized that gluten intolerance is not a fad and that market shares are to be had by getting out ahead of the pack.  As it stands now, at a ball game, your once frank (hot dog) and stein (beer) is now replaced with you only being able to have, with certainty, the yellow mustard on the back of your hand, as paper napkins may contain traces of gluten and even some toilet tissues are suspect  (I kid you not).
            For sure there are a number of GF cookery books, but sadly most focus on desserts; what we need are books that tell us how to put GF meals together, some pretty pictures and a hundred and one ways to make quinoa and millet not taste like birdseed.
            At the close of two weeks I can tell you: I can’t do it! I’m addicted to gluten and I LIKE IT! Gluten intolerants… I salute you, yours is a hard (buckwheat) row to hoe. Good luck.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Moving in New Orleans

Po Boy views
Phil LaMancusa
Moving In New Orleans
            I’ve had a series of ten personal moving experiences in New Orleans in the last twenty years, I’m not talking about dancing steps, psychic breakthroughs or intestinal functions; I’m talking about the whole relocating ‘pilot experience’: “pick it up here, pile it there”. Granted the moves were from not only my living quarters, but my brick and mortar shops as well; in both cases, in a word, it sucks. Angrily I threatened with this last move, that if there is a next time, in another insultingly short stretch of inhabitational tenure, I’m gonna pack the wife and critters in the car and drive out of town, leaving everything that we own for the termites and the trash men. I am tired of being pushed around by the Fates and Furies; I’ll move to Gretna and begin life over as a virgin.
            No matter how good a relationship you have as a tenant with your landlord it’s still a tenuous situation at best; only one move was made voluntarily, the rest have been a case of me being forced out against my will, either by monetary demands or uninhabitable living conditions. Moving in, moving out, moving in, moving out, moving in; it’s enough to drive a person sober.
            Money situations in general occur when the landlord believes they can get more rent than you’ve contracted with them, and the conversation goes: Landlord: “either pay the increase or move”. Generally these increases are structured to get you out or misuse you financially like a redheaded stepchild (am I allowed to say that?).
The living conditions that may force you out is generally the landlord who is more concerned with taking your money without reciprocating by performing logical necessary maintenance of their property. That can include everything from inadequate protection from the elements (leaking ceilings, faulty plumbing) to lack of protection from other invasive life forms (roaches, frogs, rodents); and all that falls under the expansive category of ‘demolition by neglect’.  It boggles the mind how landlords can rent out property then turn their backs on it; conversely, it’s a darn shame that tenants have been conditioned to the mind set of ‘if I complain about needing something fixed, they’ll either raise my rent or throw me out’ which is very warranted. My personal philosophy is to pay the rent on time and contact the landlord as little as possible (like never). 
            All of these moves come at most inconvenient times, cost money, time and mental/emotional upsets; it’s unsettling and psychologically demoralizing to wake up in the middle of the night to take a leak and have to re-acclimate, recalibrate and remember in which direction the bathroom of reality and not memory lay.  Yes, we’ve recently moved again.
            What has become tradition in New Orleans for folks relocating within the parish is that you’re ousted from what has become home (10 years) by forces beyond your control (termite infestation); what you do is find someplace smaller and more expensive. In our case we found a lovely place with a terrific landlord (who lives in the other half of the double) in the same neighborhood that we’ve been living in. So, we’ve lost our house but not our neighbors. Win win?
            So we ‘downsized’ five rooms into four; five bigger rooms with taller ceilings in to four smaller wonderfully well maintained rooms. Central air and heat, washer/dryer of our own (new for us), great place. The first months the cats went from bewildered stares to feline ‘stink eye’ glares. The dog kept wanting to go back to our old place; the feral cat that we’d been feeding was/is discombobulated by our departure, as well the possum that used to visit our porch for evening feedings. Our mail has not come through; our water bill is somewhere in limbo; somebody stole our recycling container.
            We moved two bedrooms, desk, piano, armoire, the entire kitchen and living room and 125 banana boxes of ‘stuff’. We look like a mobile garage sale. Our old furniture looks like a herd of mastodons trying to elbow their way through a Salvation Army shop. Even our car looks like it feels out of place. After four months of us vacating the old place, virtually no work has been done on it; we could have stayed and enjoyed Jazz Fest and Fourth of July as we had done for ten years; but nooooo. Our neighbor on the other side likewise was thrown out.
All of our yard plantings had to be uprooted or abandoned as well as the three cats that are buried in the back yard.
            I am in fear that I’m going to be moving for the rest of my life. Floods, fires and the destruction of the city have all come with moves already; what’s next? Plagues, the overthrow of the government, free tickets to Paris? “Sorry, I have to wait for the cable guy”.           A cure for what ails me; a kidnapping; scholarship; dinner for two in a fine bistro?  “Can’t tonight, I have to get up early to rent my U-Haul”. Let’s go fishing, to a ball game, I’ve got tickets to see Beyonce!  I’d really like to but, I need to catch the produce guy at Rouse’s and beg for some banana boxes so I can pack”.
            Yeah, it’s gonna go on forever; I’m gonna miss the Zombie Apocalypse, Alien invasion, winning lottery payoff and the epiphany of our elected officials; I’ll be at the bank getting a loan for my first down/security deposit. Years from now it’ll be summer by the beach, an evacuation, tornadoes, and the second coming that I’ll be missing; I’ll be hauling boxes and making out changes of address for the mail that will never reach me. At least one thing I know for now: come hell or high water, there’s nothing that’s gonna chase me out of my city. New Orleans: you’re stuck with me!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Dirty Old Man (unfinished)

Shall We Dance
Sitting here, he looked at her. He looked at her, sitting there. Betrayed by his body, he could not speak; would that he could, he again practiced his speech: “huggrumpf” (he would first clear his throat) “I beg your pardon, I couldn’t help but notice you there and wondered if I could have the pleasure of this dance, a foxtrot if I’m not mistaken. My name is Charmichael, Joseph Charmichael”. And that would be that.
But he would not be getting up, he would not be walking across the small space that separated them, he would not speak, could not speak. He would sit in his wheelchair, dumb as a mute. He would look at her.
The days dragged on like the walking wounded except for the time when he could look at her and practice his speech. Every morning he was roused from his bed and changed and shaved and fed something both vile and tasteless. He would be talked to like an imbecile. Every morning. “Good morning Mr. Charmichael, my we’re looking chipper today, ready for a big day? Music in the rec room after lunch…your favorite! Now, lets see what you have for me this morning”.
His night shirt would be lifted to his chest, his diaper would be changed as if he were no more than a rag doll and he would be lifted into his wheel chair like a sack of potatoes. Him, Joe Charmichael --The Dancing Caballero—star of stage and screen; and now being shaved and fed pap by a bubbly, disgustingly cheerful young thing that he could’ve had spread eagled on her back in forty seconds in the old days. Moaning, purring, breath coming fast through bared animal teeth, head thrown back, scarlet painted nails raking his back. It would serve her right if she lifted his night shirt and found a woody the size of Rhode Island winking at her; 'let's see what you have for me this morning' indeed!
She held him from behind as she shaved him, his head between her soft breasts, the smell of soap, perfume and sweet young sweat reminding him of a song. “The very thought of you…and I forget to do…the little ordinary things that everyone ought to do…” He smiled at the thought of her legs wrapped around him.
“Why Mister Charmichael, I do believe you enjoy being shaved, don’t you?” she whispered in his ear. “Here, let’s see what we have for breakfast. Yum yum; oatmeal, buttermilk and look, applesauce!” She drew the words out slowly as if she were describing candy in a candy store. “Here take the straw in your mouth… good”
‘Yeah, take the straw in your mouth’, he thought, ‘yum, yum suck on that, girly’.
Next: a ride to the day room (with Sentimental Journey playing in his mind), past cubicles of unmade beds and smells of stale urine, medicine and defeat. His brain was playing a Strauss waltz as he perused the usual suspects assembled, wheel chairs circled like wagons around a blaring television watching a dandy with dandruff making nice nice with a peroxide blond bimbo in living color. He preferred to stare out the window, plotting his escape. There, in the clock on the wall over the TV it’s just past nine, he thought. The staff is busy doing anything but watching a bunch of old farts around the boob tube tied into their chairs to shake mutter and drool through another morning piece of crap that they call entertainment. Just once couldn’t they show something with class like Fred Astaire (with or without Ginger) or Gene Kelly? Hell, he’d even be glad to see Sinatra and Crosby schticking like the morons that they were.
Just past nine and the doctors don’t show their asses until ten, he mused. Lunch at eleven and it’s downhill from there. Yeah, right about now is the perfect time, before medication. Quietly to the side door, furtive look over the shoulder, open the door only enough to slip out, exit stage left. A confederate in a black limo waiting, motor running and off we roll back to the Hills of Beverly. Dom Perignon and maybe a light pate for the drive back home with some young starlet riding him like Dale Evans on her horse Buttermilk.
But not today. Today was music in the rec room (wreck room, as he thought of it) and, if he was lucky it would be Bob Bentley and The Swinging Six. She would be there.
He had always had the music in him even as a kid. Growing up, it was if he could complete lyrics before hearing them sung, could fully hear the tune completed even upon a first listening, had composed the soundtrack of his life even as he was growing and eventually prospering.
Rough and tumble from dirty streets, he had won a couple of dance contests with his sister in his early teens, had followed his older brother into the service of his country during the great war and had been mustered out in Los Angeles after Japan’s surrender only to find himself behind a lunch counter at Manny’s down the hill from Hollywood.
He was young, tall, strong and good looking when he got his first break in movies

Waitering in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Turpentine and Dandelion Wine
I had another restaurant dream last night, I usually get one when pulling double shifts or training new recruits, which I did last week. For those out there that have never had a waiter’s job, it goes like this: it’s a super un-naturally busy restaurant night, the place is packed, the kitchen is three miles away, your station is full and everybody wants something. You’re racing full tilt to get things done and nothing is what it should be, food is coming out wrong, customers are asking for strange things, have strange questions and identical faces. You can’t tell where you are except that you’re balls to the wall busy and running your ass off and nothing is getting done.
It’s really loud, by the time you make the distance to the kitchen, other waiters are rushing everywhere, you’ve forgotten what you came for and the cooks are screaming in a language unintelligible to you.
I imagine if someone was to look at me in the midst of this nightmare, I would appear like my dog Ginger does when she has her dreams: whimpering and jerking like she’s hooked up to an electrode. Perhaps dogs are reincarnated waiters. Things that make you go hmmmm.
I did not waken refreshed. Pensive and not refreshed. I went on a wonder and this I wondered:
What is this thing about waiter’s nametags or introductions? The “Hello, my name is Jeremy and I’ll be your waiter tonight” type of action. Personally, I go with the guy who doesn’t want to know a waiter’s name unless the waiter is going out with his daughter and maybe not even then. Specifically, I don’t go out to eat to make friends; that’s what I go to bars for. I go out to eat to be with good company, have someone cook me something yummy to eat and then have somebody else do the dishes. That’s what I’m in a restaurant to do, and unless the waiter (male or female) treats me like either one of us has the intelligence of a box of rocks, that’s what I’m here to tip well for. Customers should be like me.
Let’s start with this, what’s with these parties of eight, ten or more that think they can get a table with no reservation on a busy night and who are the boneheads that move heaven and earth, and the chair that my date has her purse on, to seat them? Those people are gonna get loud, they’re gonna throw the kitchen out of synch, with my food, and, they’ll never get the good service smaller parties do. AND, a word to parents; your two, four, six, eight, ten or twelve-year-old does NOT want to come fine dining on a Saturday night. They want to go to Burger King, Don’t get me started on split checks, cell phones or hot tea.
How about those people that drink bottled water? Don’t they know that every food they eat and every cocktail they drink is made with our local sludge? I want to say: “would you like local water, bottled water or a margarita? because you’re gonna pay as much for foreign water, with or without carbonation, as for some first rate tequila: get a clue .
And while we’re at it, what is it with the lemon with water? to me, it’s like kissing your sister, and what waiter has not spied a customer slipping some Sweet and Lo into it (or into their pocket, I might add).
Allergies? I don’t understand them. I once avoided going out with a stunning woman after she volunteered the fact that she was allergic to garlic! What kind of future could you have with someone like that? Diets? Listen, if you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise or be comfortable with who you are. Period. Especially when you go out to eat: Going out is either a sensual experience or a forage, and hopefully you know the difference. In either case, and above all, you should know why you’re there. Attention shoppers: it’s only dinner! Rule number one: the Chef knows what they’re doing. Chef know that smoked pork chops go with greens and mashed potatoes, and that Adkins was a culinary misanthropic sexually repressed pervert and the Pastry Chef considers Sugar Busters an abomination to nature. Deal with it, like I said: it’s only dinner!
You’ll be hard pressed to find a waiter that will sing the praises of most of their client’s cognizant reality concepts in and of real time. Mostly, it’s like they’ve been dropped from outer space into an eating establishment with no clue as to how they got there. Example: “Hello, (with a flourish of napkin) welcome to Chez Nez, I’m your waiter Anthony and I’ll be serving you tonight (and kissing your ass for money); can I get you a wine list or a cocktail before dinner?” Blank stare. You’re who? I’m what? We’re what? And do I want a huh? How do I work this?… You get this very very very often.
I’m of the school of “I don’t care who you are, I’m here with someone and I want strong drink right now!”
And here’s the big one: tipping. They (whoever they are) should pass out this information at our borders: waiters are paid less than half our minimum living wage by owners who insinuate that gratuities will make up for that inequity and are taxed by a government on that assumption. Simply put, I, as a server, depend on you, as a customer, to supplement my meager wage with money based on my knowledge and expertise of service. Tips (To Insure Promptness) is how I make my living. It’s a sick concept; but, it’s in place and a reality to me and the people that I am financially responsible to. To stay afloat, unless I’m a complete bonehead, you need to consider, as a client, that my service is worth a reasonable compensation, at least fifteen to twenty percent above your tab. That’s the reality of it. If you think that this is easy you’re welcome to try it. Me? I’m gonna go soak my feet and wonder why, if that overweight turkey with the cigar minded me looking down his trophy wife’s cleavage, he didn’t think to dress her better.