Advanced warning: in this blog I will sound like a cranky old lady. I grew up on fast food. I prefer a chicken nugget to anything that looks like it could have come from a bird. I ate American “cheese” sandwiches for lunch and dinner for the first two years of college–except for Sunday brunch, when I’d often have two grilled cheese sandwiches and a diet Coke. In short, I’m hardly a food snob. In fact, sometimes I stop by the drug store on a bike ride home to grab a snack. Continue reading
I didn’t plan to go back to the courthouse for more testimony in the Danziger Bridge case this afternoon, but after reading about the case and watching that Frontline episode this morning–I’m on vacation–I felt the pull of the courtroom. I hopped on my bike, leaving camera and cell phone at home (hence, no picture), and headed downtown. Continue reading
My excellent summer roomie E. invited me to join her to sit in on the Danziger Bridge trial that started Monday at the federal court building downtown on Poydras. I don’t know if you are following this trial against police officers charged with shooting and killing two people, injuring four more, and executing the most brazen cover up since the Henry Glover case, but if you’re not, I advise you read up. It is such an important case, about the extent of the police state, its limits or lack thereof during disaster (and if you haven’t had a disaster in your community yet, just wait–we do things by “disaster” now), and what justice will look like in a city that is, as J. often says, at war with its people. I had the day off, so I decided to hop on the bike and ride down to check out today’s witness. Yep, our trials take place in open court. I locked up on a street sign and headed in for two chilling hours of slow, tedious testimony about a seven page report, a seventeen page report, a thirty four page report, a forty six page report, and a fifty four page report (though the defense says that wasn’t a thirty four page report–those were notes) that taken together, painted a picture of a most elaborate conspiracy to obstruct justice. Michael Lohman, the NOPD lieutenant testifying today, when asked why he did it, said he didn’t want to get in trouble, or get his friends in trouble. His biggest regret is for the people who were killed, injured, and whose lives are forever scarred by these murders. They didn’t deserve it, he said. It is deep, this part where staying out of trouble was worth so much more than the lives and blood of others, a stark example of what happens when deep down, we don’t recognize that other people are real, and lead full, complicated, messy lives, just like we do . People are complicated. I stayed for part of the cross examination–Lohman acted alone, those were pages, not a report, and preparing a report means you wrote it all alone–before calling it a day and heading out for a bike ride. I snapped this picture out on Tulane Avenue. Relocation assistance is available for those affected by the new hospital project. Not hiring, though. This city, man, this flippin’ city.
I had the day completely free and I’m on vacation, so I figured I’d fill it with reading and bicycling, my two favorite things. I spent the morning reading–check–and then hopped on the bike for the super-quick ride downtown to meet L. at her hotel. Rumor was, she had a belated birthday prezzie for me. I locked up to a stop sign and headed inside. I live in New Orleans, so I never stay in hotels. Turns out, there are giant hotels with pools on their roofs! I snapped this picture between swims and before the rain started pouring. Yep, rain again, and it totally thwarted my afternoon riding plans. I ate my Pinkberry under the Doubletree Inn and rode home under light sprinkles, figuring I’d made the best of unpleasant weather. Tomorrow, tomorrow.
I woke up with leaden legs for the second day in a row, and I didn’t even bike anywhere yesterday! I guess lots of walking and dancing aren’t exactly rest, but I couldn’t imagine two days in a row without a little pedaling, so even though I deigned to drive to brunch this morning, I took the bike down to the Convention Center for another visit to the ALA convention. Continue reading
So I took a picture on my ride home tonight, but it wasn’t in my phone when I got home, so let me describe it for you. It was a picture of row after row of candy bars at the Discount Zone on Magazine and Washington, so many choices. I stopped there on my way home from the show, following a whole lot of dancing with students and friends and a couple of slices of pizza. The ride home was perfect–slow, fresh asphalt on Magazine, cool night air, empty streets. I’ve stopped at the Discount Zone so many times after nights just like this one, and sometimes the vast array of choices is dizzying–even if it is all kind of just the same couple things over and over again in different shapes–but tonight I knew just what I wanted: a Kit Kat. Not the white chocolate one or the dark chocolate one, and not the King Size one either, though I hovered over that one for a a hot minute–just give me a regular old Kit Kat. That’s what I wanted. And next time I forget, please remind me that along with Kit Kats and nighttime bicycle rides, I also want to dance. What a lovely evening.
Ok, the weather is just ridiculous in New Orleans right now. I got up early, read for a bit, and then took the bike out for a ride. After a couple hours of grading at the coffee shoppe I pedaled out with no destination. I headed toward the Lower 9th but was thwarted by the bridge up at the Industrial Canal. Wait, wait, wait, and then wait a little bit more, and then I was zipping around, trying to trace as many newly-paved roads as possible. Continue reading
Today’s ride took me up to campus for class, which was awesome, because the writer of the book we’re reading came and answered all our questions. How great is that? After getting some work done in the office and stopping at home to rest and read another book, I got back on the bike and headed down to Bayou St. John for the first meeting of volunteers for this April’s Patois Human Rights Film Festival. Continue reading
In all the hubbub of Mardi Gras, I almost forgot that I was on spring break. Huzzah! That means there is still more fun to be had, so after getting a little of this and a little of that done this morning, I hopped on the bike and headed toward the WWII museum to drop $23 on the exhibits and the Tom Hanks-narrated 4D (?) film, Beyond All Boundaries. I have ridden by this place literally hundreds of times, but B. is in town and wanted to go (he’s the kind of guy who always wants to go to whatever–I deeply appreciate that), so there we found ourselves, ready to learn how they wanted us to learn about the war. The displays themselves were an endless retelling of battle after battle with the persistent overtone of American Heroism, as is to be expected at a place like this. The film, dubbing itself an account of “the most important event of the 20th century,” tried, I think, to get us some of the embodied experience of the war: flashes of light signifying gunshots, a guard tower shining its spotlight on us, attempting to recall the guard tower of a concentration camp, a powerful flare that left a haze in the shape of a mushroom cloud in your eyes, and even fake snow–the Russians had it tough. I snapped this picture of a display of the armada, which I think was meant to overwhelm with its suggested size. The whole place is meant to overwhelm with America and pride and heroes, but there was a serious disconnect between that theme and the words of soldiers written out on displays, sounding in oral history booths, and narrating that truly odd film. Those words–about the brutality of war, the inhumanity of it, the way it required soldiers to break with their own souls in order to survive, the stories of the smell of death emanating up through the stratosphere and into the noses of pilots, the words of the man who refused to be called a hero for being one of the less than ten percent of his battalion to survive–that’s just chance, he said, those words undid the attempts of the museum to tell a story of American triumphalism. As one voiceover in the movie said, the quickest way to make a man a pacifist is to send him to war. The museum tries to recreate the war in some way for visitors, but it fails because it just isn’t an experience you can drop in and out of. And why would you want to? War is not a video game, and that’s how the museum seemed to represent it far too much. After that I needed a quiet ride in the cool evening air, and that’s what I got. I am immeasurably lucky to be here now as I am, and I know it.
I woke up early this morning, put on an old prom dress and some eye makeup, tossed my tiara in my bike bag, and headed out to see what New Orleans was doing on a Mardi Gras day. I rode up to St. Charles and took a left and happily swerved between the kids throwing their footballs in the streets and parents pushing strollers and people drinking and dancing and laughing while waiting for the last parade of the season. Continue reading