Monday, July 12, 2021

Baby Driver

 

Po-Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Street Wise

Or

Baby Driver

This is my inside voice on the yoga mat “Om Mane Padme hum (praise to the jewel in the lotus)” This is my outside voice driving the streets of New Orleans “Nice turn signal, F**K Face!!”

You/I can only be courteous driving here for just so long, and I’ve been driving here for so many decades, I’m jaded up to my gills. I’m able to tell you that, not only do we have bad drivers here, but, that I am one of them; Oh, I’ve never succumbed to a road rage exhibition, I tend to keep my anguish inside and wisely stay at a silent wonder as to how we, with God’s blessing, are allowed to operate 10,000 pounds of twisted steel that have the ability to go fast and do damage. Now that I’m in my stately and mature years, I observe how inane, consciously or unconsciously, the driving public (including myself) actually is; basically, it’s as if once we got our licenses to operate  moving vehicles, we developed amnesia pertaining to rules, regulations, manners or instructions that allowed to get behind the wheel in the first place.

I’ve had my share of cause and effect traffic mishaps; I’ve never hurt anyone or gotten a DWI, but I have managed to put bumps, bruises and sometimes major damage to the vehicle I’ve been at the wheel of. If I drink and drive nowadays, a single beer is my limit, if that.

I adore the open road but not freeways or interstate highways. I harken back to the days when I could fix my own car; when the windows operated with a crank handle, when we had side vents for air flow, nothing was electronic, gas was cheap and families had only one car. It felt safer.

Now it’s almost cartoonish. That Yosemite Sam that cuts you off from the left lane to make a right turn; Elmer Fudd at the stoplight that decides that it’s taking too damn long and they’re gonna go for it; Bugs Bunny on a bike that’s not stopping for anything; Daffy Duck deciding that you’re going too slow so they’re gonna pass you from the bike lane that some Pepe le Pew is using it as a motor scooter lane, while Foghorn Leghorn is deciding to amble across your path as you see another road signer asking for spare change (God Bless/Anything Helps) and you look up and witness a sign that reads End School Zone and you know for all the Looney Tunes around you that there’s gonna be a seventy-five dollar ticket arriving in your mailbox this week.

It’s true I have an old car, a big old car; an old big heavy iron car that other drivers should give as much respect to as if they could see a bumper sticker on it proclaiming: “my insurance covers nothing and it’s your car that will get damaged not mine”; but they don’t: a YIELD sign means nothing, they’re going through it; a No Left Turn sign (?) no problem, they take it anyway; a yellow light means ‘Speed Up and try to make it before the light turns’: they speed up, crossing my path, and go through the red light anyway. Sheesh.

Debbie always acts as my copilot when we drive and alerts me to dangers that I may miss; there are plenty, and she is aware of my driving shortcomings, she knows that if I turn my head to the right to look off road, the car will start to veer to the right (same goes if I glance to my left). She sees the bicyclist that’s coming from my right when I’m turning left into one way traffic. She reminds me to fasten my seat belt. We stop when the light is yellow for more than ten seconds. The other crazy drivers get angry at me. So what, it’s our asses that I’m saving.

Advice: It’s important that you have a good mechanic for your car as well as knowing where the salvage yard is that has spare parts for your vehicle. It’s important to have a ‘tire guy’ that knows you and what your needs may be. Renew your AAA religiously.  It’s also important to be up on your registration, insurance, brake tag and driver’s license just in case. In case what? In case Wile E. Coyote decides to blaze through the stop sign, T-bone you and say that you’re in the wrong.

My car, The Duchess, in town, drinks gas likes a fish. I’d love to go electric but my finances are so tight that if money were dynamite, I couldn’t blow my nose; as it is, I have to save some dough every year to get my shock absorbers changed from the damage stemming from the conditions of New Orleans streets; The Duchess has a propensity for finding all hidden potholes.

I keep The Duchess gassed, tuned and ready to roll in the case of evacuation or escape even though there’s always a chance that she won’t fire up when the key is turned; you see, with any vehicle, I’ve found that you’re really at their mercy as well as being at the mercy of other drivers.

To stay safe on our streets nowadays, the best advice is to be paranoid: they ARE out to get you.

 

Shoe Whore

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Sole Search

Or

Shoe Whore

        I read a book when I was much younger (actually, I’ve read many books throughout my life as well as when I was much younger); this one was about a boy my age, at the time, eleven or twelve, who had run away from a cruel orphanage and went and (not surprisingly) joined up with a circus!

        Well….the orphanage wants the boy back for further nefarious and malicious endeavors on his psyche, spirit and fragile physique and they send some goons out to find him. Big, mean, hulking, slobbering knuckle draggers wearing military storm boots and ill fitting beige woolen suits, employed by the sinister reprobates that run the facility; they want the kid back. So they send out these thugs to find him, search for him until they do and drag him back by the scruff of his neck or the heels of his feet, sadistically  bruised and battered if necessary (at least that’s how I remember it).

        Well, the boy is happy as a clam with his new circus family, a cute and smart boy just like I was at that age; here he is taking a rest under a picnic table after a morning of cage cleaning, scoping out the crowds passing on their way to the Big Top and analyzing people’s footwear: farmhands, schoolboys, fancy ladies and housewives; bankers, brokers, clodhoppers and kids from the boondocks. And then he spots a pair of those prison guard boots walking by and he knows that the carefree days of cleaning up elephant poop and breakfasting with the clowns and high wire dames in tight clothing is in danger of coming to an abrupt end. A wild and wacky adventure ensues (naturally with a happy ending) and I’m left with a future of checking out what people wear on their feet as a past time and a habit in case someday some goons might come after me.

        Everybody’s gotta have shoes; when I was younger there were gum chewing girls in Oxfords, penny loafers or patent leather Mary Jane’s; bluster boys with tasseled slip-on’s, Buster Browns, Chuck Taylors or heavy leather Florsheims with cleats nailed on the heels to make arrogant sparks on the concrete outside the pool hall as they slouched by. Nurses in white polished sensible shoes, risky teenage girls in high heels; Moms in mules around the house; father’s go-to work shoes, my go-to school shoes (hand me downs) and our Easter Sunday new ‘go-to church’ shoes. I remember taking shoes to the cobbler for heels and soles (Cat’s Paw brand); my mother’s high heels for ‘lifts’; the smell of the glue and the pounding of nails into leather. There was a time when you could tell an American abroad on vacation by their shoes (running shoes) and now when you see someone wearing Nike slip-ons in public, you know that they’re garnering ‘Street Cred’. Older guys with Velcro shoes mean that they cannot bend over; scruffy youngsters in hundred dollar Birkenstocks, CT’s are still a hit and Shoes for Crews de rigueur for restaurant workers. Sensible shoes on blue collar workers and durable boots on construction guys. Did I forget Doc Martins? Introduce me to someone and I will invariably and quite naturally look to see what they wear on their feet. As Forest Gump says “you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes--- where they’re goin’, where they’ve been”. I was attracted once to a woman because of her thigh high black boots (and admittedly, her reputation of what she did in them). Shoes carry a stigma of class; the rich kids have fancy shoes and the poor kids go without. 1916 movie; a girl trades her virginity for a pair. And on and on and on.

Here I will reveal that I am a shoe whore. I am aware of my footwear wherever I am; fuzzy slippers in the house and a closet that has talking shoe personalities: my high tops want to go for a stroll; my huaraches want to go to the beach; my Topsiders want to go to sea; my Capezios want to tango and my Tony Lamas are ready to line dance. I have tan work boots and Kung Foo slip ons; Birkenstocks, Vans, two-tone Zydeco dancers and shined Cole Hann’s that are ready for an interview. In my past I have unashamedly housed a variety of twenty plus pairs, again, unashamedly, and there’s more that beckon me.

        I learned to ‘spit shine’ shoes in the Navy and I keep black, brown and neutral cans of Kiwi polish with a rag and brushes; also a bottle of that liquid stuff in case of an emergency. Pumps, flats, courts or thongs, everybody needs shoes; ever worn Tom McCanns or Keds? Ever fantasized about finding a Princess with a glass slipper (or being one)? Do you know the story of the Red Shoes? Puss in Boots? Wizard of OZ? Maxwell Smart?

        I wonder why you never see what shoes someone is wearing in their casket (that’s weird, I know); but, there’s an old gospel song that ends with “when I get to Heaven, gonna put on my shoes, gonna walk all over God’s Heaven” that’s not a bad visual for me, I’ll just have to specify in my will which shoes I’ll wear on that final journey.

         

       

 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Udaipur or Woke (Imagine That)

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Woke

Or

Imagine That

            The difference between then and now; the difference between the haves and the had nots of yesterday and today; the repurposing of the real and of real estate. The entirety of the mad dash clash of past, present, future and the ones who move up and the ones that fall down. “They are the same people only further from home, on a freeway fifty lanes wide on a concrete continent spaced with bland billboards illustrating imbecile illusions of happiness” (Ferlinghetti).

            I’ve changed over the years of my lives, escaping from the projects and parents, side stepping prospects of prisons and poisons pursuing a profession and being always on the cusp of the finer positive points of prosperity; relying on personal progress for peace/a piece of my mind that is being continually blown by me the hungry gatherer constantly overtaken by the successful hunters.

            Folks my age, our experiences lost in the space of time and the lessons and larks that lead us from relative comfort to an eventual downsizing ‘retirement home’ abandonment with one foot in assisted living and the other avoiding the slippery slope of a six foot hole all the while hoping that the next one to go is not another one that we love or worse, us ourselves. You didn’t know me when I was a younger man and I won’t know you as an old person. So it goes.

            Million dollar condos and high priced essentials; shaving with a brush and a bar of soap while my taxes line the pockets of manic mansplainers telling me how good they have made life for me and mine; property values continue to become fatter and my pockets leaner; my spirit contentiously swimming against the undertow of historic mendacity concerning the salvation of my eternal soul, as if the promise of heaven will fill the bellies of hungry children while the rich donate to rebuild cathedrals dedicated to a carpenter’s son who died for their sins. The picture of the ragged man sitting on his milk crate at the intersection; his sign reading “Anything Helps, God Bless”.

            The rent for one month of an apartment two blocks from where I grew up would have paid our living expenses for almost five years and that would have been for a family of six. Where does the time go and where does that kind of money come from?

            The great recession of 2018 is coming to bite us in the behind as the bubble is busting while our credit cards get maxed out trying to rob Peter to pay Paul and finding out that Peter has been financially kicked to the curb; even the low spark of high heeled boys cannot escape the percentage we’re paying while we’re living beyond all our means because the man in the suit has just bought himself a golf course with the profits he’s made on our fears and our dreams. The sound in the distance is not a dog barking but the laughter of Anubis taking our coins for our ride with Charon.

            It matters not because we’re witnessing islands of plastic debris as mega companies use solar power to make frakking less expensive. They rape and we must pull up our pants and stumble on being the last generation to walk freely on this planet; the impotence of our good intentions paving the road to hell.

            I have a neighbor who walks to the bus stop once a week to go to Walmart; he rests on the stoop next door to us and happily explains how he’s looking forward to celebrating his ninety-fifth birthday. May we all be so fortunate; from our mouths to God’s ears; walking to the bus ride to Walmart amid the chaos confusion and detritus of a collapsed planet; walking to the bus ride to Walmart.

 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Writer's picks 5/21

 

Phil’s Picks

Best First Date Place

        So you want to know if they’re the one that you want to know; here’s the real test. Pull-A-Part 4401 Peters Rd. Harvey, La. 504-243-6660 Call it a salvage or a junk yard, I call it wonderful; you know you can always use some spare parts for your ride. They have vehicles laid out like a cemetery (one by one); they’re computerized for easy finding of your prey. Bring tools and patience and that new friend; believe me, if they pass this test, they’re worth holding on to. Worth the price of admission ($2.00) and you’ll get your picture taken.

Best Vegetarian Lunch Date

        Want to really score big on the vegetarian dating scene? Take them to Burger King  2727 Canal Street 504-681-9367 drive thru for a couple of Impossible (veggie) Whoppers and some shakes, go sit in the parking lot at Goodwill, 3400 Tulane Avenue 504-482-1046 eat your delicious lunch while chatting about this and that and then go do some light shopping ( you’ll always find something!). I guarantee this outing will bring a smile to any veggie’s face and if not, let them fade like denim from your life. Reward them with a PBR at Pal’s 949 N. Rendon 504-488-7257

Everyone Knows But You Best Local Meal

        Kebab 2313 St. Claude St. 504-383-4328 From ketchup to kebabs all made in house, fresh baked bread daily for sandwiches, hummus, couscous, pickles, beets and nine house made sauces (including the infamous Skhug, Coco-habenero and Harrisa), craft beers, cocktails in coconuts, Portobello po-boys with Spanish garlic sauce, falafel and friendly service. Eating in house, pick up, bicycle and Uber-eats delivery service. Tall towers of rotating pork and chicken turning slowly on spits and specials on weekends. A neighborhood place with high standards and local roots. Mention them to friends and they’ll say “Oh, I know that place, I love it”.

Claiborne overpassass

 

Po Boy views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Claiborne Confusion

Or

Junction Misfunction

        Okay, I’m no personage of importance, knowledge or authority; in fact, the older I get, the less that people want my opinion or wisdom of experience. I also only know the basics of history, but I do possess degrees in sensitivity and logic from the School of Hard Knocks. So be it. Here goes and I’ll say this in bold:

“DO NOT TEAR DOWN THE CLAIBORNE OVERPASS!!!”

        The back story of that two and a half mile carbuncle is that over fifty years ago big government was giving away butt loads of money to cities to promote roads and bridge construction and New Orleans wanted their share of the booty. At that time a plan for a highway connection for our interstate had its proposal resurrected, in fact, there were two plans; one plan had an overpass hugging the river, going through the historic French Quarter, the other would dissect the historic Treme neighborhood. This was way before we had our first black mayor (Ernest ‘Dutch’ Morial 1978-1986).

        In 1965-6 we made a deal with the devil; while the African Americans of the Treme neighborhood were focusing on civil rights, the white “historic preservationalists” surreptitiously argued against ruining the Quarter with construction which would take up to three years. In fact, I’m told that at one time both plans were floated to occur but one had to be decided on and guess which one did? The residents of the Treme had no idea of their screwing until the first bulldozers appeared to plow down the hundred year old oaks that lined the street. While the French Quarter remained sacrosanct the Treme was eviscerated, cut in two like a grill cheese sandwich. Needless to say the Quarter flourished while Claiborne Avenue in all its history, commerce and traditions faded like denim.

        Now big government is giving away more money and we have contractors and construction companies salivating at the thought of getting some of that booty. Well I say:

TURN IT INTO GREEN SPACE!

        Why not? Think of how long, how much of a mess and how much environmental impact tearing that monster down will have on that area; look at the examples of the Napoleon and Louisiana Avenue digs that took years. Look how it took about a year and a half for us to get one body from the Hard Rock site and then more months to tear THAT sucker down. Look at the conditions of our existing streets and tell me if that money couldn’t be spent better on your block.

        Now, think of how bike paths, greenery, walkways, mini-theaters, playgrounds, music venues, food kiosks (above AND below) and access for Indians and second lines to really parade could impact that panoramic structure; think of the greenery that it would encourage. For every dismissal of this idea there is a positive rebuttal and the nay saying falls flat when answered with

“WHY NOT?”

        Hard to get to? No, we have overpasses that challenge bike riders as much (consider the access to Crescent Park, the bridge climbs on Wisner and/or Broad St.). Hasn’t been done? New York City’s High Line is an example and Google cites eighteen urban projects like that: Chicago, Atlanta Toronto, Rotterdam and damn Paris even! Is the space too wide? How about some tennis courts, exercise fields or children learning agriculture projects?

        I was in San Francisco when the highway running along the waterfront was torn down; it took years and destroyed businesses and housing and I foresee that it will do the same here. I predict a failure of marketable real estate only to be replaced by a repurposing that will put the final nail into the coffin of America’s first African American community. What do you suppose will happen to Circle Foods or the Mother In Law Lounge or other businesses and housing for the Black community that have weathered the gas fumes and noise? And where are you gonna put all that damn debris? Landfill it?

        Once again, I’m no expert on these types of things; however, don’t you think that instead of putting our people to work destroying and hauling two and a half miles of construction detritus to the dump that we employ them as gardeners and builders of an elevated green space to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike? Community groups would love a chance to put a thumb print on this newer, saner, alternative to the chaos and noise of demolition; wouldn’t you?

        So, what can we do? How can we work this? How about this: call 311 and/or City Hall and tell the Mayor that you are for the Claiborne Green Space plan and then get (at least) two more people to do the same. Tell these two (or more) people to each get two more people to call and tell two more people etc. etc. With this geometrical sequence in two weeks we would have 32,768 callers and that might get some attention and all we have to do is each get two people to call. I mean, if this isn’t an infrastructure project then what is and why not?

        And if we don’t, we abet a graveyard instead of a playground. Think about it. Talk about it. Share and expand.

       

         

 

       

 

 

Monday, April 5, 2021

Swamp Ass June 2021

 

Po Boy views

By

Phil LaMancusa

June Bug

Or

Steam Tea

        Surprise, it’s June, named for the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and the wife of the big guy Jupiter. And at this point the year is either half empty or half full depending how you look at it, and in New Orleans it’s the start of a long hot summer. Crock Pot hot; sidewalk egg frying, wet blanket, steam room, Swamp Ass Hot.

        Now, you readers that were lured here from northern climes may still have the biorhythms of a race of bipeds that have been conditioned to four distinct and separate seasons; not so here.

        Autumn is like a drunk on a park bench that wakes up only to doze again; winter, like a guerilla, forays in to strike when we least expect; zephyrlike Spring makes cameo appearances in April and May while the Dire Wolf of Summer, after butt dialing us in those months appears, for true, in June to nestle its 600 pounds of sin into our otherwise fun loving auras. Besides that, our seasons are shrimp, crawfish, gumbo and football.

        In June, the heat and humidity are amplified by the street stupidity as if folks here have not realized that again any clothing is too much clothing, you should avoid getting drunk by daylight and if you’re not using hot sauce for anything else, you use it to cool yourself down. That’s right, it’s time for tee shirts and shorts, stick to one (maybe two) beers with that barbecued shrimp poboy and smother everything you eat in Crystal Hot Sauce; ergo, the weather will bow down to you. Dig your capsicum high and don’t forget your SPF 50 sunscreen. You really want cool (?) go to a movie.

        I’ve spent many summers street level in the French Quarter; June is when people start wishing to go back to May, better yet February or maybe December. June is when brains start melting, psyches explode and peoples’ hair catches fire; June is when the reality of summer sets in. June is when Louisiana’s Mother Nature says “tant pis pour toi, Chere, summer’s returned, I’ve turned up the thermostat and I’m coming for you with my unique heat and humidity can of Whup Ass (ready or not); relax and flow into it or draw the shades and live in that space under the air conditioner in your bedroom with cool condensation dripping on your heated brow. You complained about it being cold last winter? Suck it up, Chuck, it’s only gonna get hotter!”

        June is when ghosts come out because it’s too warm to stay inside wherever they’ve put you when you die; Madame Delphine Lalaurie comes strolling up Royal Street with her daughters; Tite Poulette is meeting her lover Kristian Koppig on Dumaine Street; Bill Faulkner is having a game of chess with Lyle Saxton in Jackson Square and the infamous Raspberry Mahogany is back chain smoking his Camel straights. The lovers, the muggers, and thieves are out as well as additional clandestine revelers immuned with absinthe and other liquid spirits enjoying the relative coolness of the after dark. Vampires hum ancient mesmerizing melodies luring you in for a nibble, as do all manner of insects that inhabit our tropic clime: mosquitoes buzzing, cicadas singing and those gigantic roaches that we call Palmetto Bugs that can take wing and fly into your face, sometimes stinging, going clickity clacking around the walls and ceiling fans. Welcome to New Orleans with stinging caterpillars, spiders and all manner of nocturnal, sometimes marsupial in nature, critters; summer is not for the faint of heart. And the breeze whispers “Stella!”

        June is when the specter of storms past herald storms in your near future and smart money starts thinking about tempest preparedness; it’s our simultaneous eyes in the rear view and on the road ahead weather outlook. We tune in regularly to watch our favorite climate forecasters, judging their level of excitement when a blower in the gulf looks like it’s gonna eat our lunch. It’s a real Russian roulette of doom and gloom and each spaghetti model will always include a direct hit. Good luck, this goes on until November, don’t let it affect your blood pressure. Check your battery supplies, eat what’s in your freezer and get the car tuned and gassed.

        June is also when we take stock of water to immerse ourselves in; whether it’s a weekend getaway to the gulf, across the lake or sussing who will give us ‘pool privileges’. The city provides free swimming pools and the hip get to enjoy moments of aquaculture gratis. Smart money always knows someone that can sneak them into a hotel for a couple of hours poolside (women are great at this) and you’ll learn sooner than later that you’d better be on your best behavior or you’ll be back on the street with the rest of the melting masses.

        So this June when you turn on the cold water tap and get Luke warm, ask yourself: “who is this Luke person anyway? Was he moderately warm, tepid? Lacking convictions, half hearted? This faucet says cold; what am I to believe? Who can I believe, who can I trust? Oh hell, I’m going back to the bathroom and lie naked on the cool tile floor!”

        Also in June, and at all times, never purchase a tomato that’s been refrigerated; also, drink cucumber juice, stay hydrated and have some Viet Cajun crawfish which is like other boils only this one is drenched in butter with fresh ginger and garlic. I don’t know what else to tell you, June’s here and today is the first day of the rest of your long sunshiny summer; be brave, start looking forward to a healthy Jazz Fest and plan on attending every day, even if you have to quit your job. Happy coming up solstice y’all!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Covid Purgatory

 

Po Boy Views

By

Phil LaMancusa

Covid Purgastory

Or

Suspended Animation

        Am I mistaken or did I just lose a year (plus) of my life? It seems so; a year. Gone. What happened....? What happened was/is a worldwide epidemic that is innocently enough called a ‘pandemic’ (it’s less tragic sounding on the mind, I think) that threw a monkey wrench wet blanket buzz buster of a life style reality change at me and then kicked me to the curb and under a bus and I still am not allowed to hug any of my friends for commiseration, compassion and/or consolation!

        The rumor of our collective disruption began January 2020 and the hammer came down in March: “wear a mask, practice social distancing, avoid large gatherings, and wash your hands; rinse and repeat”. Folks are catching it and dying; this shyte is hella serious!

        Mardi Gras 2020 was the last hurrah before the curtains started to close in like a fade to black B movie scene. No Jazz Fest (we had already purchased tickets for ALL the days). No French Quarter Fest or any of the other ‘Fests’ that happen around our area (crawfish, strawberry, boudin, Satchmo etc) that I may or may not have attended given my ability to freely choose. Any travel plans that we might have had hatching in our fun and fantasy musings got smothered at birth as the rest of the country, and the world, closed for business and pleasure; I admit that that only made my wanderlust more acute.

        In the summer our local city’s free swimming pools began taking only on line reservations for attendance; the Stallings pool (Olympic size, outdoor venue) was limited to eight people at a time, down from an all welcome affair; the Treme Center down to six. Museums, galleries, theaters, aquarium, Zoo and any other alternative activities shut down like a cafĂ© with a rodent infestation. Restaurants were closing (some permanently), reopening and shutting down again in an endless covid19 threat level tango. All around people shopping like we’re under attack; there were shortages of paper products, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and food products such as baking flour and yeast.

        Our lives became upended as the unemployment rate skyrocketed; the gravy train rolled in and we caught a ride at six large a week which we did our best to give away, our stimulus check went to a Latino church, we gave freely and even got mostly out of debt ourselves, we got the car fixed.

        Debbie assures me that my shopping has not abated but I don’t concur; I haven’t been to any places that pose a health risk which, until very recently, have been corner markets, convenience stores (for lottery tickets) and any place where people who don’t take precautions as they shop; you see, a lot of folks around here did not take the plague (that’s what it is) seriously and it was suspect that we could venture anywhere with safety and security because of these ignoramuses that could very well be walking virus spreaders.

        The weather didn’t help either. We had heat, street flooding, power outages, hurricanes, and this winter we had freezing cold. We had a political landscape that mirrored our weather: ups and downs and downs and downs and with it my optimism and my faith dove for the covers and hid. We hunkered down as much as humanly possible while still trying to carry on in some type of normalcy; shopping became for the most part, a weekly affair, buying in quantity meals ahead and stocking up on essentials (critter food) just as the rest of the city did.

        We watched the news incessantly. We watched the numbers go up. We lost a friend and a few acquaintances to the disease. We got tested as often as possible. We have morning coffee with the New York Times (delivered). Happy hour became potato chips and a cold beer in bed. We bake bread, cookies, prepare meals and muse of things lost. Even our staff meetings for Where Y’at are on Zoom now.

We’re damn near aliens to our friends and families, socially distanced, you might say. I catch up with my family through electronics (cell phone, social media); my grandkids are getting bigger and are getting virtual educations.

        We ask each other “What do you miss most?” “Where would you go eat?” “What trip would you take?” “Who would you hug?” Pick the first three that come to mind; GO!

        I finally scored a job, Debbie is still looking, it’s not been easy; sure the government is still willing to kick in, but we enjoy gainful employment, the interaction, the productivity, the work. I work with a dozen masked people; the other day I realized that I don’t know what any of them look like, I wouldn’t recognize them on the street (unless they were masked).

        New Orleans is a tactile city; we hug, bump, kiss, hustle and show affection to each other and to people we just have met. We dance together and close. I’m wrapped in a social cocoon, unable to touch or be touched; luckily I have a house full of critters and a woman who loves me dearly. But, it still feels like I lost a year (plus) of my life and still no one knows when our lives, as we knew them, will return or if this really is the new reality.

        We collectively imagine our future to look like our past but I’m not sure that that’s ever going to be possible. They talk about herd immunity. They talk of political harmony. They talk of environmental and social safety and nurturing. They talk as if this is the first year of the rest of our lives; they talk of shaking off the past and bravely pulling up our big boy pants after taking it in the shorts. They talk and talk and talk about striding boldly where no one has gone before. Me? I just don’t know.