The Facebook

14 July 2009

UPDATED, Dammit!

As a newbie to it, and older than the typical user, I’m sure, I’m applying the obligatory “The” to show my cluelessness.  Still, I have a few observations that I’d like to make:

  • It’s pretty fun, and, as Adrastos noted, a big time-vacuum (I told him I thought I was “networking”).  But I’ve managed to find my first boss from the Silver Plow in Tulsa.  I was 15 and he was 25 and got me beer and took me to midnight movies and generally made me feel cool.  Treated me with respect, but put me in my place a time or two too.  And that was 25 years ago, so it obviously made an impression.
  • I’ve also learned that many of my high school friends are a lot different from me.  That’s to be expected, and it’s a good thing, but it was still a little jarring to see a buddy from the old days with his whole family wearing “Consistent Conservative” t-shirts.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  • But it’s also brought back some memories that I’d rather had stayed dormant.  One of the joys of going off to college, and then again to grad school, and then again to a job, is that you can leave the screwups behind and start over, trying to avoid them the second time around.  Now this thing comes along to shove that crap right in my face.  Therefore, I present the following haiku:

Long repressed misdeeds

Old shame and guilt, returning

All thanks to FaceBook

Ah, well, to everyone in my past, I’ll overlook any of your youthful indiscretions and cruelties if you’ll forgive mine.  I’m different now, I promise.

UPDATE:  I almost forgot, my most compelling innovation:  Instead of calling it “friending” people, I think we should call it EFPIEMing people.  This, of course, stands not for our friends, but “Every Fucking Person I’ve Ever Met.”

Students Can Surprise

14 January 2009

A few years ago, a student of mine I’ll call Del graduated.  He took several courses from me.  In fact, he took a couple of them multiple times, if you know what I mean.  Still, Del was a good guy, and I got a bit of a kick of his informality with me.  He’d say stuff like, “Hey Doc, do you have a minute, or were you about to get your walk on?”  He was funny and pleasant in class, but he had a knack for flaking out at the end of the semester.

Eventually, we talked about depression (I’m careful not to try to diagnose someone, but he clearly wasn’t right), which I suspected from his lack of effort late in the semesters, he got some help, and he did graduate.  I was happy for him, and now he’s a detective with the police department.  I’ll bump into him from time to time and enjoy catching up.  Good guy, Del.

One time, he asked me, “Doc, do you always have a student like me?”  I asked what he meant, and he said that he meant a student who was a pain in the butt.  I told him, honestly, that he was never a pain in the butt, and I explained why.  As I told him, he never tried to blame me for his problems.  If he struggled, he knew I was there to help, but he had to take initiative.  He never brought a bad attitude to class to infect other students, and he was always pleasant with me.  So I was serious when I told him that he was the least of my problems, and I was glad to have him, and I was proud of him for graduating.

Well, last month as we were on our way to a Hornets game, we stopped into Slice for some dinner and bumped into Del.  He was eating there with some colleagues, we caught up for a few minutes, and went back to our dinner.  Comes time for the bill, our server told us that it’d already been paid.  I was really surprised, and that kind of gesture makes me tear up.

I bumped into him a week ago and thanked him and told him how unnecessary it was.  He told me how important what I’m doing was and that I deserved it.  When you know you’ll be making enemies of some of your students when exams and papers start coming due, that kind of thing can keep you going.

So thanks again, Del, and what you’re doing is pretty damned important too.

Death in the family

4 March 2008

Not my family, per se, but in the family of a whole lot of New Orleanians.

Alfred was the longtime partner of Stewart, and he died yesterday from complications from pneumonia.  He’d been sick for a while now, and he hasn’t been particularly healthy since I’ve known him.  But I’m sad about his death, especially because I feel badly for Stewart.

The two of them have lived since the early ’80s in a great Creole cottage on Esplanade fondly called the Faerie Playhouse.  This place has been a haven for many people in the GLBT community in New Orleans (and the rest of us), and last year it was dedicated with a plaque from the Bienville Foundation.  The cremated remains of many of New Orleans’ GLBT activists and artists are scattered in a garden in the back.

Stewart and Alfred have always been very good to E and me.  We’ve known them through friends and and family and always enjoy seeing them at their house and the bar.  Alfred didn’t always like to get out, but he reliably went to the “Olden Lantern” and Cafe Degas with Stewart.

I have a ton of respect for what they’ve been through.  They’ve seen so many friends die of AIDS.  They’ve seen many friends suffer mistreatment and ostracism for their sexual orientation.  Stewart is older than Alfred was, but they came up with an ingenious way to make sure that they would be able to preserve their rights of visitation, etc:  Alfred adopted Stewart.

That’s indicative of the unconventional ways that they approach life.  Stewart gave up drugs a few years ago, but he continued to lobby for marijuana decriminalization, in addition to a number of other issues.  I’ve always enjoyed receiving their long and informative Christmas cards, one year for which I was privileged to have taken a picture of their house decorated for the holidays–you’ve probably seen the house between Rampart and Carrollton with Peace On Earth spelled out on the roof.  They have the most diverse and interesting group of friends you could imagine.  Although Alfred was sometimes plagued by disturbances that kept him from seeing friends’ motives for what they were, he was always kind, and Stewart’s affection for him is unwavering.  True New Orleanians and just good people.

Rest in peace, Alfred.

RIP, Mark

7 February 2008

Mardi Gras 2006 028

Originally uploaded by HammHawk

My Mardi Gras review is coming soon, but amid the great, we got some awful news. Stacy learned that her ex-brother-in-law killed himself Monday. His (adult) daughter went to look for him in the garage, and he had shot himself in the car. Yes, it’s that awful.

mark-beer.jpgJeez, what a tragedy. I didn’t know Mark well, and I don’t know if I’d ever see him again, but I liked him. He was a genuinely nice guy who had worked hard to build his own house in the woods near Atlanta that his family called Cruz Sonoya because it was so pleasant a retreat.

mark-e.jpgIndeed, it was for us when we stayed there for several days after a stint at my parents’ house in the early days of the hurrication. Mark and Lynn generously opened up for us and our dogs, and they didn’t think a thing about it. Then he came down for Mardi Gras 2006 and had a blast. I remember how much he got into it, the dressing, the bead-whoring, the marching bands. I love it when people like that come in for Carnival.  He was a good guy to be around.

mark-et-al.jpgBut something made his life too tough, and that sucks. It’s going to be a tough road for his daughter and grandkids, because he seemed to be a pretty stable force in their lives. Looks can be deceiving.

You couldn’t exactly say we were friends, and I’m sure he hadn’t thought of me in a long time, but I’m sure thinking about him now. We all are, and we’re really sorry.

L. A. in LA

18 January 2008

Last night was interesting.  A friend of mine from college is in town from Los Angeles where he’s a producer.  He worked on Godzilla, Eight Legged Freaks (yeah, it really shoulda been Eight-Legged Freaks), and so on.  He’s in town scouting for a TV movie he’s doing with Noah Wyle called the Librarian.  E is pretty psyched to meet him when they come back to shoot.  Despite the mundane title, it sounded pretty cool.

I’ve never had a dinner quite like that.  There were 9 of us, including E and me, and Jacques-Imo’s was booked, so we went to Emeril’s.  Everyone else was involved with the movie, including other producers, the cinematographer, a cameraman, and the director, who happened to be Jonathan Frakes (Riker on Star Trek).  I’m not a trekkie, but I have some friends and a brother-in-law who will be envious.  He seemed like a nice guy.  It was interesting to hear them talk business and talk about shooting in New Orleans, even though I know nothing about making movies.

They said that tax rebates make it very attractive to shoot here, but it’s become so popular that it’s hard to put a crew together.  But they seemed to be enjoying themselves and really scouring the city for locations.  And they were heading to see Rebirth at Howlin Wolf afterward too.

The guy who picked up the tab (thanks, Phil) is a member of the Director’s Guild, who just quickly reached an agreement on Internet issues, so it was interesting to hear his take on the writers’ strike.  He contends that sharing Internet proceeds would actually be a bad deal for the writers because people who buy on the web won’t buy DVDs, so the take will shrink.  So a fair proportion will yield less money.  I don’t know enough to tell whether that’s right or just a party line from a guy who’s frustrated with the strike, but it was an interesting perspective that I hadn’t heard before.

As always, Emeril’s did us right with the veggie option.  Really good combination of vegetables and flavors.

I was hoping we might be more help with their scouting, but they seem to have most things pretty well figured out.  They did need an old-looking library setting, and I suggested checking out Latter Library.  Also, heads up, because they haven’t settled on “the mysterious Simone” yet, so local hotties should be sending resumes.

Helen Hill

5 January 2008

I didn’t know Helen Hill, who died about a year ago (holy shit, I just saw that it was exactly a year ago), apparently at the hand of a deranged intruder. Her case was one that, along with Dinerral Shavers, galvanized much of the New Orleans community against crime. Like many, I haven’t felt as much remorse about the thug-on-thug violence around me, but Helen’s and Dickie’s deaths have made us all feel more vulnerable, and angry.

From what other people have said, I always thought Helen Hill and I could have been friends, if I could be so lucky, and that’s one of the things that haunts me about her death. She seems like a truly great person, the kind who deserves to be alive, and whom we deserve to be around today.

But she’s not. And I’ve just been tearing up at viewing of Helen Hill: Celebrating a Life on Film on PBS. I don’t purport to be an artist, but goddammit, her work has real charisma. I’ve never understood why certain filmmakers have hit me, but her works have. Yeah, I should have seen them before, but I didn’t. She was a true artist, and even an idiot like me can see that. Shit, why does this happen? Maybe so that assholes like me will finally see and appreciate what people like Helen have to offer.

Helen, I’m sorry I didn’t meet you when you were alive, but I’m grateful to know you now. You continue to be great. We (even those who never met you) miss you.

Are the kids alright?

13 December 2007

I don’t know if someone at the Onion got knocked up recently, but given B‘s new stage, I thought I’d pass along a few choice recent submissions and a couple classics:

Woman Overjoyed by Giant Uterine Parasite

Radically Less Cool Lifestyle Born to Area Couple

Miracle of Birth Occurs for 83 Billionth Time

Spoined, Doughy Brat Makes Local Parent Feel Spiritually Whole 

And, as an unofficial member of the V club, I enjoyed reading about Dan Gilbert‘s recent talk at the American Psychological Society (I based my dissertation on his work, but I had to miss the conference this year), which included this line:

Children are the best thing in a parent’s life, but only because they tend to get rid of every source of joy we had before they came along.

Nevertheless, a hearty cheers to B & Xy.

Homan Takes Care of Business

5 March 2007

The entire region will be on the side of my colleague Michael Homan Wednesday when he sticks it to the Man in DC.  If you haven’t read his remarks, do it now and be proud.

For a little perspective, it’s well worth reading his riveting and moving account of his Katrina experience as well.

Goodbye, WhoopyCat

1 February 2007

pets-16-may-06-025-small.jpgYesterday we put WhoopyCat to sleep. She had started getting sick about 3 weeks ago; our vet Matt said it was kidney failure. We didn’t want to do anything drastic, but we did give her fluids every 2-3 days, and that helped until a couple nights ago.

This is no tragedy or anything; Whoopy was almost 18 years old, but she had been through a hell of a lot with us. So it’s very sad for us, especially E. Her then-boyfriend “YuckyKen” got her for E in the summer of ’89. For perspective, GHWBush had been in office about 6 months. Hell, E & I didn’t even meet til ’91.

WhoopyCat was about the first cat I really liked. I was allergic to them, but somehow acclimated after E and I started shacking up. And Whoopy had a pretty cool demeanor, not as fussy and entitled as some cats. But she also didn’t care to be around people too much. She spent a lot of time trying to find new places to hang out by herself and left piles of fur there as a marker. McGuire, our other cat, is the real lover, so I’m dreading the day we go down that path; this one is plenty tough for me.

My hordes of longtime readers will note that we put Slim to sleep about 7 months ago. We had joked for a while that we’d have a tough spell when all the pets started running out of time, and now it’s happening. We’ll love McGuire & Denali that much more, but McGuire is 17 and blind, and Denali is 8 and obese (we’re working on that). Ugh. I hate death. I hope it’s a while before I have to post one of these obits again.

If you’re wondering about the name, I love this story. YuckyKen had misunderstood the lyrics to Misty Mountain Hop:

I didn’t notice but it had got very dark and I was really
Really out of my mind.
Just then a policeman stepped up to me and asked us, said, “Please, hey,
would we care to all get in line, Get in line.”
Well, you know, they asked us to stay for tea and have some fun; Oh, oh,oh.
he said that his friends would all drop by, ooh.

Now I’d never understood the lyrics either, so this isn’t a slam on YK, but if you listen for it, the “would we care” part in the middle of this stanza sounds just like “WhoopyCat.”

So that’s how she got her name. I don’t listen to a lot of the Zep anymore, but I’ll think of her everytime I hear it, as well as this time of year, when E used to swing her around and sing, changing “Mardi Gras Mambo” to “Mardi Gras Whoopy.” I think she enjoyed it as much as we did.

So thanks WhoopyCat. Cheers, and thanks for being so cool. We’ll miss you.

Austin City Limits

19 September 2006

Although some of my friends resent Austin because Cyril has defected there, I still love the city and was happy to visit for my 3rd round of the ACL festival with my brother (we did the 1st and 3rd together, but I missed the 2nd for a wedding and the 4th for K-Bitch).  It’s a pretty good festival to me because I enjoy Austin music, if not as much as NO’s.  For that reason, I expect, I don’t like the fest quite as much as JazzFest, but it’s solid (and infinitely better than it’s first year, when astronomical lines and sand burrs made the event pretty unpleasant).

Quick review:  Top act was Gnarls Barkley.  I know some folks don’t like them, and I’d only really heard Crazy, but I was intrigued.  Great showmanship, great humor, great tunes.  The whole band came out in nerdy costumes and lab coats and opened with She Blinded me with Science.  Nice.  C-Lo was a little to chatty for my taste, but there was some serious energy up there.

Other quality sets:   Thievery Corporation; TV on the Radio; Kings of Leon; Matisyahu (surprised how much I liked him, but I don’t know why he speaks with a Brooklyn accent but sings/raps with a Jamaican one); Son Volt; Tom Petty (what we caught of him before the deluge).

Bummed by the lack of volume for the Van Morrison & Willie Nelson sets.

Great to see my brother; nice to have that tradition.  And this year it only approached 100 degrees.  Also had a nice chance to catch up with Joe & Karen (& Jack & Lucy) and to see Mark’s old high school crew, Bret, Steve, & Lawrence.

Ready for next year.