Monday, May 9, 2011

July in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Summer Fresh
Some Are Not
One way that you know that it’s summer in New Orleans is when your eyeballs sweat, or when you look at your watch and it resembles a terrarium, complete with moss growing on the northern side. Another is when you take your dog out to the lake and she just stands in the water and doesn’t want to move. Still another is when any outing that you plan must involve a place with arctic type air conditioning; e.g. Prytania Theater. In the summer here the smart investments are in talcum powder, sunscreen and Boudreaux’s Butt Paste. Oh, and that awful stuff that you spray on your body to prevent you from becoming a mosquito buffet selection.
Wardrobes change drastically as well, as evidenced by the use of ‘no’ as a fashion descriptor. No socks; no long sleeves or pants; no drawers; no bras (how do I know that?). Personally, I don’t want much clothing on at all anyway and surely my only prerequisite signature fashion accessory is a traditional cool beverage, adult in nature. At home my diet involves cool salads (especially fruits in season) and pyrotechnics on my outdoor grill. Woe unto those without FWPs (Friends With Pools).
Another sign of summer here is the seemingly inordinate amount of time that I spend watching the weather; in the newspaper, on the television and over my shoulder. What am I interested in? I’ll bet that you can guess. I’m looking for any advanced warning that will keep me from the ass whupping that I took from that last big hurricane. Taking-into-account the weather beating that the rest of everywhere has been taking this past year-- floods; tsunamis; cyclones; earthquakes; tornados; fires; blizzards; sh-t storms and the like-- I figure we’re in for our own share of misery whether we’ve been pure of heart and said our prayers at night or not. It seems as if ‘disaster immunity’ has become an oxymoron due to the ubiquitous nature of our planets ire toward humans as a race. In other words: with the planet’s tendency to want to shake us off like a dog with blood sucking ticks, what less can I expect this storm season than to have a gale force tragedy flaunting her ‘hundreds of miles per hour windy titty burlesque’ ( with impunity) heading straight for my assets (and everything I love and hold dear)?
Chances are that no serious calamity will occur and we should look forward to a nice safe sweltering miserably hot and brutally humid summer and storm season. Chances are that there will be some storms in the gulf battering third world countries and those smug people on the east coast and we’ll blithely go about our crawfish boils, trips to the coast and plans for naked drunk monkey love. But an ounce of precaution is worth a pound of ‘shoulda/coulda/woulda/ain’titafrigginshame regret.
So, when I pick up this issue in the beginning of July, assuming that nothing too catastrophic has occurred beforehand, I will want to make sure that I took the following precautions for our very own storm season. Whether my preparedness is warranted or not, for me it’s a ‘once burnt- twice learnt’ scenario: I call it the
Katrina Inspired OCD Mambo.
Numero uno: when push comes to shove, the main item of importance is to have a way out of the area. What I learned on that last memorable summer evacation was that my blasé attitude toward owning a vehicle in New Orleans could have cost us our lives. Period.
Right now, I’m the proud guardian of a 1994 Lincoln Towncar, Cartier model; bigger than some apartments that I’ve lived in and more powerful than a locomotive. So, a trip to the mechanics; engine tuned up; tires examined; fluids topped off and backed up; spare checked; insurance and AAA paid up; battery updated; full tank of gas; basic tools packed and anything else that the law of unavoidable havoc can challenge will have attention paid to. Remember: before you have a destination you have to have a reliable way to get to it, reliably.
Which brings up the next point: where are you going to go besides ‘the hell out of town’? Suggestion: plan a place about a four to six hour (normal) drive away. Far enough to be out of harm’s way and close enough to make getting back semi-painless. This also helps when it comes to provisioning yourselves.
Speaking of which. Provisioning yourselves: two considerations: are you planning on leaving or are you planning on staying? Both alternatives call for having the stuff in your refrigerator at a minimum; basically only having what you can consume or carry: pate; wine; cheese; olives; cornichons and perhaps a cream puff or two. Same goes for freezer; clean it out, save the cubes for the cooler and eat the ice cream on your way out the door. Dry goods are also a consideration; remember, some people were in contraflow evacuation for twenty hours or more and not even a hundred miles away. So, snacks, water, ice chest with sandwich stuff, flashlight, paper products, battery operated fan and radio, food for the critter(s), entertainment for the rug rat and music for your mind. Also bring any important papers (including your pet’s), an amount of cash, medicines, can and wine openers, cell phone charger and photos that you might want safeguarded. I recall that some folks thought that they’d be home in a day or two and were gone a month and a half. Don’t forget yer toiletries; for god sake bring some deo for your B.O. and also consider your need for eating and drinking utensils and paraphernalia.
And lastly, there’s no putting lipstick on the pig when it comes to the matter of safety and protection for you and your loved ones.
In the wake of Katrina, the phrase was coined ‘civil disobedience’. Which is to say that, unlike the Japanese disaster where everyone is orderly and honest; in New Orleans (before the storm winds had died down) there were citizens in our streets taking things that were not being freely given to them (looting, robbing, breaking and entering). There were citizens in New Orleans that had weapons and used them to inflict bodily harm on other citizens. Whether you leave or stay, you need to have a contingency plan for safeguarding everything that you love and hold dear; from your main snugglebunny to your mama’s sapphire and your mutt Sophia.
Good luck and Goddess’ blessings.