Sunday, May 31, 2009

Katrina reminders in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Sturm Und Drang
Four Years Later
This month we’ll talk about tips and tipping. Your first tip is, as old school advises, ‘believe half of what you see and none of what you hear’. And it shows to go you, (as if to illustrate a point) that having been served cow patties up to our chins since Katrina, we still haven’t spoken up about it, and that leaves us only to swallow the crap that we’ve been fed. Folks, in the words of your neighbors and mine, ‘it’s been four friggin’ years and we’re still waiting!’ Don’t take my word for it… ask any recovery believer.
As far as tipping goes, in my estimation, you can never tip enough; that is, unless your service sucks. How can you tell when your service sucks? In case you’re a complete noodge, which is northern for idiot, I’m here to tell you that it’s the same as being able to tell when you’re being fed a recovery lie by powers that be. It is either inattentiveness, inexperience, lack of follow through or the attitude that you shouldn’t expect any better because you are nothing but a noodge yourself. Of course it could also be that nothing gets done around here unless some fat cat can make a deal and a butt load of money at the expense of the little guys.
In all cases you need a quorum--more than one person on your side and at your service. In the more professional businesses there are usually three or more persons to see to your individual near perfect experiences. If that is not the case then---if you have to rely on one person to see to your welfare---they had better be damn good.
Ever try to get your one waiter’s attention while they’re shooting the breeze with another server or on their cell phone? Ever try to get your elected official’s attention when your wishes and expectations are being ignored? Here’s a tip--- it doesn’t happen unless they’re your Mama, and even then it’ll be dicey.
Which, come to think of it, poses the question of whether or not our elected officials should work for below minimum wage and rely on tips to make their rent and spending money. I’m for it. For that matter, we should know no more about the workings of our legislature than we do about the kitchens in restaurants. We should give our orders to those who serve us and judge the results as they are delivered up. And tip accordingly.
Ever try to get an answer about your room service from a noodge of a bell hop or ask who you have to screw to get your drinks delivered that you ordered several minutes ago (and can see sitting up at the bar) or why you got blue cheese on your ice cream? It’s just like the government.
“Excuse me, but, where is my luggage?” “Sorry Sir, we have that one in committee and we should be able to get back to you sometime in the Spring.”
or “I beg to differ with you, this is NOT a well done steak!” “Sir, I asked the cook and was told that the DOW has just plunged and in this economy everyone should be eating meat medium rare to conserve energy”.
“May I have some ice in my ‘iced tea’?” “Sorry fella… global warming”.
“It’s about time that my trash got picked up!” “15% has been added for more than six trash bags”.
“The water is rising around my front door!!!”: “I’m NOT responsible!! It’s all a blur!!”
Here’s another tip: If you were complacent about the last big one… don’t be this time. We’ve been taking it in the shorts since then for being caught with our pants down, if you get my drift.
And about tipping; what is the protocol? Well, if they don’t piss you off, I’d say start working around 20%, but it depends.
For me a cup of coffee usually is at least a buck, drinks in bars: about 50%, barber shops: even numbers (fins or sawbucks). Any special requests or services get extra bucks, period.
In Restaurants it’s pretty gray. Does a meal with a super expensive bottle of wine require major gratuities? Does dinner for less mean you should tip chintzy? Should ethnic joints get less than, say, celebrity spots? Does ambiance count when you sign that bottom line? No, no and no again. It’s the service stupid!
Servers get paid half of minimum wage, if that; and, at two bucks an hour they are the most short shifted of all of the service industry and they rely upon their personalities and expertise to make up for the deficiency in their wages. Do restaurants pay people who get tips less and do they justify your tipping as a way to NOT pay servers a decent wage? You bet your sweet bippy! But that’s the way it is and you can only penalize your server by being cheap. UNLESS, as I said, they are not doing their jobs professionally.
I have a theory that if a person does not truly like their job they will perform poorly; and if they do not like working with the public they will not like a job in the service industry and should be doing something else for their living. It should not be an end of the line occupation.
Conversely you shouldn’t vote for a Bimbo or a Bozo to administer to your domestic infrastructure; and as a voter if a Bimbo or a Bozo gets the vote and screws up you should be doing something about not re-electing them or getting them out of the business of being responsible for you and yours.
The most common complaint that I get these days (and who am I to complain to?) is that service around here nowadays (across the board) sucks and we’ve been sitting back and taking that screwing because we’re still shell shocked and would prefer to not pay attention and just swallow it, thereby pissing off our inner citizen and get a frigging ulcer because we’re just too polite or impotent to become outraged. This is a thread of thought that you should pick up and run with. It’s your life.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

August in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
The End of Days
Twenty Questions
It gives one great pause when the term ‘muggy August’ is bandied about in this town; and although one can be mugged here at any time of year, one rightly can ponder whether August perhaps is a more auspicious month than others.
August is hot. How hot? Well, not only is it hotter than July… the heat here in August is enough to knock you down flatter than a snake’s ass in a well worn wagon rut. With the heat, folks become edgy and having time on your hands with no place to go and nothing to do is a sure workshop for the devil’s mischief. Besides, folks who suffer from the heat can and do become downright testy if they ain’t got no money for a cold drink.
Also, there is not much for you to do in New Orleans in the month of August; except maybe listen to your air conditioner in the throws of a coronary, watch the TV for an impending storm or be privy to the conversation of others while they tell you and the world how miserable the heat is making them.
Words like relentless do apply to our heat, unmerciful is how we describe our humidity. The same words are used to define our crime.
One of the things that we do here in New Orleans is shoot eachother. Don’t be taken aback; that’s not a brag…it’s a fact; and nobody considers taking our guns away from us, as logical as that may sound. Here we learn about shootings so often that we don’t even catch our breath any more when we hear or read about them. We’ve become desensitized, blasé, unmoved and impotent. Kids, as young as four, have shot and killed persons. Citizens in their twilight years are gunned down in home invasions for no apparent reason. Teenagers are shooting their peers with the abandon of the old Wild West. Carjackings, hold ups and rapes—if you have a weapon you are in charge.
This subject usually doesn’t crop up in conversations more than it’s necessary; but, if you live in our town long enough you will know of an acquaintance that has been physically accosted (mugged, maimed, murdered, molested), you will hear about someone near to you that has taken one for the team, you will come to know of the danger that you live with and the chances that you take to reap the rewards of being in the ‘City that care forgot’ or as it further known: the ‘City that forgot to care’.
Is there any hope for us? Is there any hope for anyone is the real question. Anywhere? We know that ours is the ‘most senselessly violent country in the civilized world’; but, what exactly does that mean…’senselessly violent’?
It means that there is no revolution, civil war, ethnic cleansing, religious zealotry or factional terrorism at work here. We kill each other for the pure meanness of it.
Okay, factually it is only a fraction of Americans that are criminals--albeit that with only 5% of the world’s people--we have 25% of the worlds prison populations. In terms of adults, we have one in every hundred behind bars (not to mention those on parole or on bail). So what is it? Ignorance, education, lead poisoning (not that kind!), or failure of parental guidance… and church …and state? Lack of positive role models? Poverty and social inequality? Racial division and plantation mentality? Alcohol and child abuse? Media sensationalism and entertainment that denigrates women and mocks authority? Drug and violence cultures being venerated? All of the above?
No, I don’t think so and yes, it’s probably true. However, you must remember that even with awful statistics and situations like those, we still do have 99% of adults that are not locked up; most of who have jobs, families and hopes and dreams for a secure and peaceful future… and…virtually at the mercy of those who would bully us on the rationale that what we have is theirs to take from us: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That one percent; and, locking them away does not made us any safer than the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder.
So what do we do this hot muggy August? The answer is “what the fuck do I know?”
You work hard and put your money in a 401 or the stock market and you plan on working for a company forever that gets it’s ass kicked by the recession and then your car is stolen, your daughter moves in with a drug addict and your house is broken into for what little cash that you have in your sock drawer. Your loved one gets real sick with no health coverage and the landlord decides that it’s time to raise your rent in the sketchy neighborhood that is a war zone at night and a pig sty in the day. You go to work for as little as the man can get away with paying you, walking past guys on the corner drinking tall boys at 8:30 in the morning and wonder about the American Dream. Laisser le Bon Temps Roulez and the second line on Sunday with a cold brew and a barbecued turkey neck celebrating the life of another death statistic. You know somebody that knows somebody that knew them and so it goes.
The heat comes down in waves and bounces off the pavement and insects buzz and the sweat rolls down between your shoulder blades to the middle of your back and you carry a towel to wipe your eyes that ache from the ruthless sun. Taking a long pull from your fast warming beer and doing a little dance step in the after dirge just for the pure ‘D’ hell of it and you don’t know if it’s blood, sweat or tears that is rolling down your cheeks.
That’s life here in August; muggy August; crying while we’re dancing and dancing while we weep. In a city that is as deep in our souls as our breath itself we maintain that love-hate relationship. Dance around the pitiless ground on which we live because if you stop dancing all you have left are your tears.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Medical news from New Orleans

This just in and sent to me for plagarism from Gossip Central, Rumor Control and the Office of the Absurd.

Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?
A: Your heart is only good for so many beats, and that's it... don't waste them on exercise. Everything wears out eventually. Speeding up your heart will not make you live longer; that's like saying you can extend the life of your car by driving it faster. Want to live longer? Take a nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?
A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does a cow eat? Hay and corn. And what are these? Vegetables. So a steak is nothing more than an efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to your system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef is also a good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And a pork chop can give you 100% of your recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: Should I reduce my alcohol intake?
A: No, not at all. Wine is made from fruit. Brandy is distilled wine, that means they take the water out of the fruity bit so you get even more of the goodness that way. Beer is also made out of grain. Bottoms up!

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?
A: Well, if you have a body and you have fat, your ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, your ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?
A: Can't think of a single one, sorry. My philosophy is: No Pain...Good!
Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?
A: YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! ...... Foods are fried these days in vegetable oil. In fact, they're permeated in it. How could getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?
A: Definitely not! When you exercise a muscle, it gets bigger. You should only be doing sit-ups if you want a bigger stomach..

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?
A: Are you crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Another vegetable!!! It's the best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?
A: If swimming is good for your figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?
A: Hey! 'Round' is a shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

And remember:
'Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways - Chardonnay in one hand - chocolate in the other - body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO, What a Ride'


For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies.

1. The Japanese eat very little fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats and suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.


Eat and drink what you like.
Speaking English is apparently what kills you.

Po Boy Views New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Theater of the Absurd
Chapter One
In my life I have been led, followed and plagued by generalities while in search of heroes; and, while heroes are in short supply… I AM mighty long on generalities.
My heroes have never been straight men… (I knew that that would get your attention). My heroes have always been sidekicks, wise guys, cut ups and the pie in the face guys that were the phunny phellows who inevitably got phucked by the phickle phinger of phate as their just reward. Eventually straight men grow into used car salesmen, politicians and movie stars: the people that you take at face value (with a grain of salt). Sidekicks turn morose when drunk, are lovesick at the drop of an eyelash and generally are too insecure to get anything that they really want. They’re never in great physical condition. Here’s more (uneducated) generalizations:
We tend to believe what ‘good looking’ people tell us. We laugh at their jokes and value their opinions and they can be the most charismatic and the most dangerous. The sweetest of women tend to fall prey to hot looking guys when they combine their looks with adequate hygiene and bad boy personas. Eventually they will be caught in lies and found out to be more in love with themselves than they ever could be with anyone else. Being in love with a ‘bad boy’ is a rite of passage for women and a lively topic of conversation in later years over cocktails.
Young sweet perky women eventually wonder why the majority of men that they meet think of them as sexual trophies without intellect or sophistication. If they smoke cigarettes they are viewed as promiscuous and guys find that it’s fun to ply them with drinks and look down their blouses, that is, until they start crying over that bad boy that they’re in love with and that happens just before they throw up and pass out. Would I lie to you?
Homely people have no talent; but, put eyeglasses on them and they become geniuses with a financially secure future. Overweight people are lazy unless they enter the performing arts, pet owners are generally trustworthy and gay men know all the words to show tunes and are great decorators. Interracial couples are on borrowed time, doctors are never wrong, that sweet old lady would never hurt a fly, you don’t want to know what a cook in a restaurant does to your food and those kids over there are on drugs and looking for something to steal. Salespeople will tell you whatever you want to hear. Jewish people are tight with their money. See how easy this is?
We tend to judge folks on their appearance and on pubic and private profiling; after all, what else do we have to go by? Black folks (and they don't like to be called 'folks' by the way) are terrible tippers and eat lots of fried chicken. Orientals are smarter than us but have no peripheral vision, Germans have strong body odor and the guy that pulled the trigger is surely of African descent. Italians are family oriented but are into organized crime, if he’s a cop he’s probably Irish, that girl behind the counter is probably putting herself through school and anyone who listens to rap music is a moron.
Nobody knows what people are thinking; if they’re too quiet something must be wrong, if they’re loud they must be drunk, if they’re in a hurry maybe they’re trying to avoid us and if they are coming toward us… they want something. If they’re frowning that means trouble, if they’re smiling they must be on something, an outstretched hand means that they want to borrow something and how do you know when, and if, someone is telling the truth anyway?
I’m the worst. Mostly because I am by nature selfish, paranoid and duplicitous, I have the need to question my opinions, intentions and motivations on a constant basis. Men that smoke cigars mistreat their women, girlfriends of alcoholics are never faithful (for long) and people that exercise incessantly are trying to work off some kind of guilt complex.
Parents that yell at their kids in public, beat them in private. The person that cuts in front of you in line would probably lift your wallet. The customer that waits until fully checked out to pull out cash is afraid of getting mugged, if they pull out a checkbook then they are just plain stupid. Anyone who uses a credit card for a small purchase needs a clout.
A whore is a person that will screw anyone, a slut is someone who will screw anybody… but you. We all have the same potential only some of us get breaks and some don’t. Intelligence is something that you have to work on and stupidity comes natural, ergo, stupid people are lazy.
Republicans are only looking out for rich people, French people all have halitosis and when you come back to the table and everyone is quiet, it’s because they were talking about you.
Hispanics are better workers because they’re poor; however, what money they make they send back home, besides, they’re doing work that we can’t get ‘OUR’ people to do anymore and ‘OUR’ people didn’t do it as well as the Hispanics. Middle Easterners either drive taxis (the same with ethnic Africans) or they run Quickie-Mart gas stations. Corner groceries are the domain of Asians and who knows what the hell white people do for a living? Shall I go on?
Greeks either open restaurants or become house painters, people that litter come from broken homes, most ‘hospitality industry’ workers don’t like people therefore they are un-trainable, affluent people are species specific and only mate with their kind and there is nothing common about common sense.
Those young folks who dress funny and act weird actually are trying to alienate the establishment, it’s okay not to relate to them, suffice to say that they’re doing a fine job. The fast track to your next fortune is to go into rehab, find god and cut a new album. Don’t kill me I’m only the messenger.