A Few Rats…and Benjamin Booker…

The steel slats from the bench dig into my legs, and we’re all damp in the air. A thicker layer of water combusts with a breezy diesel, filtering through the odor of overheated trash from the garbage can to my right…and I’m thinking about a few friends who died down here, and the sun’s going low behind down here and I lean back, facing the Mississippi’s crawl towards the Connection, and no matter how I shift, the slats still dig into my legs, my back.

I’m waiting for for the show, that exact moment of darkness when the brown lumps begin their scatter through the grass, humping up the levee to cross the Moon Walk, a run on the sunset when the really big rats exit the stony banks of the river to race towards the Quarter.

One of them used to live in the bar, when I bartended graveyard on Chartres.

And this is just one more shade of the city, the back of the bench digging at my elbows as I listen to the muddy river, as I listen to a rat left behind inside that nearby garbage can, scrambling for traction. It’s pretty close, but I don’t mind too much…a rat’s gotta eat, it’s what they do and the digging, frantic sound reminds me a little of:

Benjamin Booker – Violent Shiver

Have a nice day.

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Reflecting on a show: Ani Difranco…

The Fillmore gives free posters when the shows sell out...
Now featuring free posters!

I saw Ani DiFranco two nights ago at the Fillmore in San Francisco…great show, some songs I’d never heard performed before like “School Night” or “Overlap,” and she was in fine form, striking the guitar so hard during “Napoleon” or “Shameless,” you’d think it might break, and performing new songs that thanks to Youtube, I knew by name already, “Careless Words,” “Genie,” and more…and none of this was a surprise. Great shows from Ani Difranco are what I’ve come to expect in seeing her frequently over the past fifteen years.

What did surprise was the crowd…a good crowd, really good crowd and in this days version of San Francisco, these things are not a given. At the show, surveying the people who surrounded I saw a disappearance of the tech-entitled PBR types drunkenly sporting Google Glass or tech company logo’d hoodies. Not this time, the usual omnipresent forerunners of their own declared future instead gave way to what my friend described as a more “earthy” representation of the city…dreadlocks and patchouli oil, couples: straight, gay and lesbian couples (not singles) in jeans with a surprising lack of ornamental facial hair from the men or provocative spandex dresses from the women. It was like being in the city I loved again, and for a night the people seemed more real, genuine, less entranced with status and being seen, and serving more as a communal backdrop to the music Ani Difranco played…

It was nice, special, thoughtful.

And as mentioned above, it was a reminder of what this city used to be, and sadly, will probably never be again.

And it made me think of what this city was like when I moved here the first time, and who I was back then, or who I was the first time I saw Ani DiFranco perform and all the changes I have seen in myself over the years and the changes in the country, by way of all those performances in many other cities since…

Back in 99 or so in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was the first, on a freezing cold night and I was not prepared for what I was about to see, who I was going to see it with or the emotions the show might elicit. This was back in time when most everything I listened to was punk rock and death metal. An acquaintance had turned me onto an album called “Little Plastic Castles” and I used to listen to it alone, quietly and I never really talked about it, lest I be referred to as “soft” or “selling out.” This was a time in my maturation process where such things still mattered, and even though I do shake my head today at the thought this ever mattered, it did once. I even bought the ticket in silence and didn’t tell anyone I was going to the show. I just went quietly and over the course of Ani’s performance was amazed how, just by being there, I was suddenly a part of something so joyful, so genuinely political and real. I was surrounded by more women than I think I’ve ever been surrounded by in my life and most of them were wearing handkerchiefs around their head (standard at the time) and smiling, dancing. They were celebrating. At this time I usually only saw bands called Slayer, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM, etc…and the idea of celebrating music with anything but aggression was foreign to me, and it became surprisingly emotional to me and so very different. I remember when Ani sang the song “Napoleon” and the lights splayed across the crowd and all the movement, the moving heads and dancing and shouting and joy…without anyone clobbering anyone else or slamming into each other in waves of bloody noses and flying elbows and I remember feeling genuinely, very happy. Happy in a good way, a positive way, a way that I wasn’t used to, not then and this helped open my eyes to the possibility of maybe doing things differently…

Six months later, I left the Midwest and moved to Seattle.

And I saw her there too, at the Moore Theater on a usual, drizzly night. I went to the show not only to hear the music, but because I was homesick, nervous, scared about my decisions and intensely lonely. I loved the city of Seattle, but I didn’t know anyone, not closely except a woman I was dating at the time, selfishly because I was afraid of being so alone…and at the show that night, though I don’t really remember too many of the songs (I was drunk. I was drunk a lot of nights that first year in Seattle) I do remember that familiar feeling of inclusion, of being a part of something…a feeling that to this day is something I don’t get to feel too often, and when  this is a stranger to you, when this inclusion approaches, you treat it well, savor and enjoy it because you don’t really know the next time such experience will knock on your door…and I saw her twice more in Seattle and felt the same each time, a special security held in the joy of a resonating performance that though difficult to explain is very real, welcoming and welcomed.

The next concert was in another new city, another new home…in New Orleans. I saw her play at the House of Blues, just her onstage with a guitar. I had always seen her with a band, never alone like this and conversely, this is the first show of hers I went to see with other people. I went that night with a woman I was dating and another couple she was friends with…supposedly I was friends with them too, in name anyways though it never really felt that way. He was an asshole who ran around with a handgun worried the mob was coming after him and she was a willing victim, caught between her concerns about his drinking, his erratic behavior and her desire to get out of the relationship (she eventually did). So even though I was with others that night, oftentimes through the show I pretended I wasn’t, listening to this woman onstage with such strength, and a voice alternating powerfully between soft and huge, concerned and angry, in love and in politics and I was reminded of the night in Milwaukee and those nights in Seattle, who I was then and who I was in New Orleans. Concerns on being soft were long gone, concerns about being lonely were fading into my own growing sense of strength. Being independent in mind and life was a growing focus. I was in full swing on my second cross country move and had spent a month in New York, weeks in Las Vegas, a crazy weekend in Los Angeles and I loved living in, being a part of New Orleans. I was bar-tending there, which was okay but I really wanted to do social work. Just couldn’t find a job. The city that care forgot had yet to see Katrina, but it was still plenty uncaring, tight communities notwithstanding; it was the government that didn’t give a fuck.

I was living there when Nagin was first elected mayor: need one say more?

Two years later I was in San Francisco for the first time…and I saw Ani play at the Warfield Theater on Market Street. I was in a strange long distance relationship that I enjoyed, but couldn’t quite figure out. I was falling hard and it was probably more honest than any relationship before because I didn’t care at all about being alone anymore. I didn’t care about being accepted or included…and the softer parts of my personality were welcomed; they blunted the sharper edges of my cynicism and ever increasing anger at this county and the priorities contained therein: Iraq wars, political lies as fact, the forgotten homeless, alienation of the mentally ill and corporation city shopping for the best tax-breaking deal, workers be fucked. I was fully in the trenches of the Tenderloin by this point, working at homeless shelters and wandering my neighborhood of drugs and containment and prostitution and police reprisal, watching it all…all night long. It was around this time that I watched Katrina unfold on the television and at the show that night, those disastrous affects were still paramount in my mind. I felt a loss, one that still affects me at times today…the people lost during the storm, the loss of housing and resources during that storm and as I watched and listened to the show that night I thought about all of it…even as Ani herself reminded us all of the ongoing struggles in Louisiana.

And two nights ago I saw her play again, and I thought some more, about Milwaukee, Seattle, New Orleans and San Francisco…about how much I’ve changed over all these years and about how much our society and these cities have changed. The increasing inequality, the gentrification driving out longtime residents, the political games being played in some far away world while people are being strangled in their homes or on the streets by a lack of opportunity, lack of food, lack of health care and a corporation sought, and government enabled willful transition of money, up to the highest rungs of a ladder whose lower rungs were seemingly smashed for good by the financial collapse of 2008. A growing segment of America’s population gets willfully discarded or ignored, left to dwindling resources they are blamed for needing, shamed for falling victim to a system that has destroyed them through destruction of pensions, false foreclosures, cutbacks on energy and food assistance, skyrocketing rents and layoffs.

I feel fortunate to have the times for these reflections; they remind me to try to do more, to be more than I am on given days and I feel fortunate to see a performer and a performance that helps provide a medium and an open, musical space for these reflections. A life’s soundtrack is an overly used expression, but probably overused because of the truth behind it and there are several performers I would include on that list…the aforementioned Slayer, the Nine Inch Nails, the Dax Riggs and Dr. Johns…and Ani Difranco. So much corruption and decay in this world and she plays, singing about it all, with an energized, joyful anger…and a politics of reality that resonates with so many, myself included.

And of course, who can forget the mistakes…I’ve made so many mistakes over the years and her mistake on Nottoway helps reflect that as well and that’s fine, so long as we all learn and try to do better, be better. And move on once the apologies have been made. As stated before, it was a great show and I feel fortunate to have seen it for the performance, the stories she told from the stage and the time needed to think about who I was and who I’ve become, about the mistakes I’ve made and what I still need to learn and what I need to do.

There’s so much more to do…with joy.

And music.

And integrity.

Have a nice day.

Down: A little New Orleans in San Francisco…

Last night I attended a little shindig put on by Down, a great band from New Orleans.

Great show. Knew all the songs. Got some bruises. A lot of spilled beer. I suppose that’s all I need to say about it and if it had been a normal night, maybe that’s all I would…but when I got home after the show, a quick eight block walk through my beloved Tenderloin, I couldn’t get to sleep. I just laid in my bed, my ears ringing while I stared at the ceiling…thinking. On the street outside, people were shouting. I heard a scream. Maybe a gunshot? Don’t know for sure. Those sounds are pretty typical so no worries. Sirens. Ho-hum…but I couldn’t get to sleep. reminded me of my place many years ago in the Quarter where I would listen to the revelry on St. Ann below my hurricane doors and balcony and yeah, thinking…

Thinking.

Fuck I miss New Orleans.

That’s what was going through my mind. I miss the hell out of New Orleans.

Out here in San Francisco, I can watch all the Treme I want. I can go to Brenda’s for breakfast lunch and dinner. I can go see bands like Down when they come round, or Rebirth brass Band or Dr. John or whoever…but these things make me miss New Orleans all the more.

Where I work, at a support services apartment building for people who’ve been through the mill…or maybe four, five and six mills, I was actually put in charge of organizing the Mardi Gras celebration with and for the building residents. I was talking to one guy who asked about decorations. I laughed and said I’ll just bring in all the shit hanging on my walls for the day. He thought I was kidding until I described the things hanging on my wall…art, beads, posters. Hell I got a full sized City of New Orleans flag on my wall.

But no, none of that helps either.

And then last night at the show…don’t get me wrong, the music was great…beyond great. It’s the best show I’ve seen since I moved back to San Francisco but what really got me thinking about things were the band members and how much fun they were having. Down’s a pretty serious band, heavy stuff and dark moods, but when the singer leads the crowd in a chant of “Fuck the Falcons,” before they even play a note or when the guitarist mentions how he is envious of the 49ers defense because the Saints just have two offenses and then the general camaraderie of the band between songs: the laughter, the obviously long friendships and the feel. Yeah, that feel…for brief moments inside the Regency Ballroom last night, I felt like I was hanging out at the Maple Leaf or maybe the Spotted Cat, the Blue Nile or One Eyed Jack’s. Felt like community, that’s how it felt, and it’s a feeling still with me today, right now as I type this.

To New Orleans and the people I’ve come to know there…you’re missed and much as I love San Francisco…

I got some more thinking to do.

Have a nice day.

Down – Eyes of the South

It’s a love/hate thing…now featuring GoatWhore!

“Oh hell to the no…”

I woke up this morning in San Francisco, stumbled to the coffeemaker and then to my desk…and after turning on the computer, I put on the latest release by GoatWhore, one of New Orleans finest metal bands and leaned back in my chair. Coffee was good, not chicory good, but certainly Peet’s good. I heard shouting from the street, then police sirens and I turned the music up. I hear shouting on the street and police sirens every day, so much so that a lot of the time, they don’t really register and usually, that’s okay…

Today, I love San Francisco and am alright with not living in New Orleans. But yesterday, I was really annoyed with San Francisco and wished I could be in New Orleans.

This is the spectrum I drift across.

Oh, and the GoatWhore CD is called “Blood for the Master,” and it is crazy fucking good and imagine my surprise to hear GoatWhore mentioned in a recent episode of Treme…figures it would be the journalist from the Bay Area who wanted to see their show. But back to my point, what was my point?

Indecisiveness, that and 2001. And Albuquerque, yes, that’s my point…Albuquerque sucks.

But first, 2001 was a pretty big year in my life. I decided to leave Seattle and travel the country, writing. I wound up in Portland, Las Vegas, New York, the Black Hills, Los Angeles, but most important, this is the year I visited both San Francisco and New Orleans for the first time…and now in 2012, I’ve spent time living in both places.

The span I lived in New Orleans was pre-Katrina so rents were cheap. I worked 26 hours a week tending bar and this was enough to pay all my bills and go out, often. I didn’t really leave the Quarter much, where I lived and worked and I had a good time. Met a lot of good people and some not-so-good, but that’s to be expected. I was a bartender and the people who make up the service industry, at least back then were all drama, all the time. Kind of like living in a soap opera of who’s sleeping with who, who’s getting fired from where and who got beat up last night. I remember getting tipped with Saints tickets, with LSD, all kinds of fun stuff. Good times really, I enjoyed it. Funny to me that I had to move away to begin exploring the city more, leaving the Quarter’s comfy confines and heading Uptown, Mid-City or to the Bywater, the Marigny…wherever. But what I remember most about my time living in New Orleans, besides the amazing food and plentiful booze was that I was glad to leave…not because of any real dislike of the city, it was simply because I missed social work. I was unable to find a social work gig while I was in town and bartending, though definitely fun, was feeling overall pretty meaningless to me. I wanted to get back to work helping people and so I left for the Midwest, with plans to stay for a year and build up a nest egg before relocating again to San Francisco, a place where I may not have liked the culture as much as New Orleans, but it had the social work gigs.

And that’s what I did.

Did I mention GoatWhore’s new release?

Really good…and they’re playing One Eyed Jacks on November 19th. Do yourself a favor…go, and make me jealous for going. I won’t hate you…

Much.

Anyways…

So I moved out to San Francisco and stayed for about five years. It doesn’t have the culture of New Orleans and which culture is better would purely be a matter of taste, but I find mine more suited to New Orleans ease and friendliness and whatnot. Out here, people are less friendly, more isolated and really don’t appear to be having all that much fun. One of the bigger myths you might encounter is this idea of a progressive, liberal San Francisco and sure, there is an element of that, but it is not predominant. This city is about money. Greed. All the artistic freedoms so championed hides a big lie, being that the city is so expensive to live in the people who do live here as musicians or artists or writers really have two choices: live in a studio with two to three roommates or live in Oakland. Everywhere you look…every retail position, server, all the people who make this city run, they don’t live in this city. They commute in to serve the hipster-techies, the financial types and the oh so professional class. Even myself, with a good job…only way I can afford to live here is to reside in a small studio in one of the worst parts of town (worse being relative..I actually like it). But, the work I love to do is here. I have a job where when I get home at night, I feel satisfied and fulfilled for the most part and I have the time and a few dollars to do partake in that which I do enjoy. In a way, San Francisco is kind of like how New Orleans has become for a lot of people, post Katrina. The rents are so high, people can’t afford it. Property companies in San Francisco are buying up as many of the buildings as they can in my neighborhood, sometimes even sitting on empty apartments while they watch the rental market rate climb, then they hold open houses and charge each person thirty dollars to run credit checks, and a week later they’ll do it again, and again. On average, 20-30 people apply for each of these apartments, each time there’s a viewing. Do the math…

Yes, love/hate it is…the arts out here are something to experience…the art museums, all the concerts within walking distance, the scenery of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean, all the hills with their huge, majestic views of downtown or North Beach. Man, it’s really beautiful, especially if you ignore the police brutality in my neighborhood, all the tax breaks given to all the tech start-ups while the city cuts funding to social programs. That, and the drinks’ll cost you ten bucks, plus if you go to a bar with “Mixologists,” you’ll get some goofy drink with bacon in it for twenty dollars while everyone in the joint, mixologists and clientele alike take themselves really, really seriously.

Really seriously.

So yeah…it’s a love/hate kind of thing.

Just ask the guy who lives on the sidewalk in front of my building.

When I come home at night, he’s sleeping on cardboard. When I leave for work in the morning, he smiles and wishes me a good day and I like him, he’s one of the friendliest people in the City, but he’s got no home and I get it. The home he could have is an SRO room filled with crack, bedbugs, roaches, and other assorted predators. This is usually the housing solution for too many low-income people here and I get that it is the same most other places, but when your city lives on a bullshit myth of being “so progressive,” it does make the reality that much more glaring.

The spectrum:

I love New Orleans culture, the music, the history, the food…I can picture myself sitting down to a steak at Adolfo’s right now, or maybe lunch at Mandina’s, but there’s few social work jobs in town paying a liveable wage, plus I would more than likely need a car…and I hate cars. Cars suck worse than the San Francisco Police Department, or the NOPD for that matter. Meanwhile…I love San Francisco work, but the culture of this place is so much status, cliques and competition: two worlds of strikingly disparate haves and have nots. Ever see the Hunger Games? Think of all the regular people and the artists being bussed into Capitol City in the Hunger games. Hell, there’s a blog round here which pretty much exists to attack the unfortunate and a particular Chronicle columnist who seems to feel the best way to improve Capitol City would be a Wal-Mart in every neighborhood, built on the ashes of any non-profit and publicly naked person because you know, that’s just common sense.

Really, what an asshole.

Maybe there is a happy medium somewhere, but when I look at a map, that happy medium puts me in New Mexico, somewhere around Albuquerque and I’ve seen Breaking Bad…Albuquerque doesn’t look like fun: blue meth, bleak deserts and the plot lines get real complicated. So yeah, much ongoing in the thought process. Hell, there’s worse things to wonder about. I got a place to sleep, enough to eat and a job I enjoy. I just think a lot, probably too much at times…and I do plan to be up online more often from here on out, get back to the BP Spill…what? That’s still an issue? And more about San Francisco and New Orleans…two best cities in the country, problems or not…and GoatWhore. Much more to come about GoatWhore, spectrums, and the Saints, who won this morning.

Did you know Saints games start here at 10am?

Been a long time since I had a beer in my hand at 10 in the morning and now that I think about it, the last time was when I lived in New Orleans.

Ah, spectrums can be such dilemmas.

Have a nice day.

The GOP’s final solution…

Yeah, and when I kicked the puppy again, it's face went like this...ha ha, yeah, puppies are stupid...

When it comes to…

…disaster aid, clean air, clean water, financial regulation, voting rights, health care, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, mortgage reform, banking reform, union support and collective bargaining, jobs programs, unemployment insurance, infrastructure repair, fairness in taxation, energy assistance, coal, natural gas and oil industry regulation, overall environmental concerns including endangered species and especially global warming, state and national parks, wildlife refuges, storm monitoring, food safety testing and regulation, protecting the oceans…

…rebuilding the Louisiana Coast and true levee protection for the city of New Orleans and the state of California…

…taxes on hedge fund managers, honest protection of small business, rebuilding schools, funding education, funding for the CDC, the EPA, the NOAA, the NIH, the FDA, the ADA, privacy rights, 4th amendment rights, school lunches, worker re-training, protecting the constitution, protecting the first amendment, maintaining free and honest elections, funding FEMA, funding green energy, protecting American citizens from toxic pollution, protecting innocent men and women from a state sponsored death…

…reining in Wall Street, keeping commodities speculators from increasing the price of such commodities as food and oil through their trading so they can make a buck, the same extra bucks the rest of this country pays for their unlimited greed…

Yeah, the GOP solution to all of the above?

Simple:

Fuck the People – The Kills

Have a nice day.  

Wistful night on the crisis lines…

That's the place...

Yep, working the Adult Crisis lines tonight all by my lonesome, waiting for the phone to ring in an office building I’ve known off and on for twenty years, and thinking about being elsewhere…just missing a late night walk up Polk Street to California, take a right and climb up and over Nob Hill to Kearney, then take a left and run it straight up to Vesuvio’s across Kerouac Alley from City Lights Books…

Grabbing a beer and reading whatever book I have with me in the moment… or sitting back and watching the people moving in and out of the Italian restaurants, the Condor, Tosca’s, the strip club across the way…all that never-ending traffic at the corner of Columbus and Broadway and everybody shares the sidewalks: from the homeless to the tourists, the jack-ass fratboys to the Beat-writer wannabe’s, the night-time socialites to the forever San Franciscans thinking about the way the city used to be, the way it is now and comparing notes with those so newly arrived. Vesuvio’s, easily one of my favorites spots in the city, a place I used to frequent quite a bit, all times of the morning, day, and night, whenever the mood struck, and usually with jazz on the jukebox…

Have a good evening.

-Drake

Thelonious Monk – Everything Happens to Me

Always room for Jello…

Ah, screw it…have fun…at the 12 Bar in New Orleans

Have a nice night.

Jello Biafra & The New Orleans Raunch and Soul All Stars – Ooh Poo Pah Doo

Create disturbance in your mind…

Create disturbance in your mind…

Create disturbance in your mind…

…Create…

I couldn’t have said it better…so, I won’t.

The living legend…by way of Hermosa Beach and formerly of The Circle Jerks…I give you:

Keith Morris.

Off! – I Don’t Belong

“Your high social caste, privileged friends, you lure me in…

But I can’t be your friend.

Hit on Miss Liberty, under the cherry tree, drunk on hypocrisy

I’m standing in the shadows and I’m pissing in the punchbowl.

I don’t belong.

Cocktail party, pin the tail on the donkey,

Icing on my face, but I don’t like the taste,

Right wing mentality, God and democracy, red carpet royalty

I’m standing in the shadows and I’m pissing in the punchbowl.

I don’t belong.”

Don’t worry about it, you’re welcome.

If not familiar, Keith Morris is the little, older guy at the end.

My first Circle Jerks concert, after seeing show after show, year after year of privileged rock star types, it was rather different to see this guy wandering through the crowd watching opening bands, carrying a book and a backpack and just hanging out like anybody else.

It was really refreshing at the time…

And it still is.

Have a nice day.

Bourbon street, war, violence…and hey! Take it down a notch…with Rancid!

Yeah, they got a big fan inside...huge, it'll blow away your bar napkins.

I used to know a bartender at Molly’s on Toulouse, small bar on Toulouse (duh) between Royal and Bourbon, and I loved the place…small, pool table, open windows to the street…old feel, and it was close enough to Bourbon and all the idiocy contained therein one could step outside for a smoke and look the half block up to watch fraternities, sororities, christianit-ies, stupidities and every other -ies, along with the more amusing level of criminalit-ies, without actually having to deal with any of it firsthand. A good distance, the kind of proximity that lets you watch it like a television show, harmless and unreal.

One of my favorites illegal scams was the stripper(s) at the Bourbon Street joint(s) who would entice the traveler to go to her place for something a little “extra” only to lead him down towards Burgundy or Rampart where her “associate” would be waiting to rob the drunken guy blind. Hey, live and learn, you wanna get that drunk and that stupid…well… Was a time I used to hang out, wait, and watch the unsuspecting be led away…I took a few of their pictures actually, just for the fun of it…

Anyhow, one day I was hanging out, slow Sunday afternoon and I heard a clamor, and being sporting enough I looked down that half-block to see what was the matter…this was back during the build up to the Iraq War, GW hadn’t officially thrown out the first pitch yet but he, Rumsfield, Cheney and all those other assholes had been throwing warm ups for weeks and brother, opening day was coming! Turns out though, there were a number of people worldwide who thought the idiotic invasion of Iraq was kind of well, idiotic and a number of New Orleans residents were no different. That day, they’d decided to march against the war (don’t get me started on the ineffectiveness of political marches, really, don’t) and for some reason, the planners of that march thought Bourbon Street was a good place for their parade to head on down…

It wasn’t going well.

You see, a lot of people on Bourbon Street were rather intoxicated.

And a lot of intoxicated people on Bourbon Street thought invading Iraq was a swell idea.

So, I left the front of Molly’s and ambled on over to the corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, cigarette and beer in hand.

It was hot, really hot that day and the sweat, well, you know how you can swim in it, so I was trying to see through perspiring eyes and the parade was loose, the people marching were having fun, but they were taking it from all sides. Being so soon after 9-11, this was a particularly patriotic time for the country and anger (fear) was at an all time high (remember the whole sealing up the cracks of your homes anthrax deal, in a French Quarter apartment…right!) Well, being a person who errs on the side of logic, has a lot of anger of my own and kind of thought this whole Iraq thing was a bit incorrect, I sidled up between a woman dressed in denim, big blonde hair and the reddest lipstick I’ve ever seen and a man who I assumed was her boyfriend, American flag t-shirt, cop sunglasses and a red bandanna wrapped tight round his sunburned head.

There appeared to be a conflict of philosophy going on.

The couple thought the protest marchers were incorrect in their belief system, felt they hadn’t thought it completely through and they were eager to help these wayward souls understand the error of their thought process… that, and implying they all must be homosexuals, or a specific part of the female sexual anatomy who apparently had lost their way somewhere between Moscow and Beijing…communists of some sexual kind. Being fairly new to New Orleans, a place I liked and like very much, I was always trying to make new friends so I felt I might have something to add to this conversation, and holding up my beer between them, which drew their attention long enough for them to hold up their beers as well, I let fly… “Hey you reds, go back to fucking Zaire!”

The couple liked that, the guy clapped me on the back and we grinned together and took another drink of our prospective beers and the woman, she turned to me then and said something about teaching men who apparently find it comfortable to wear towels upon their heads a lesson, oh yes…a very important lesson, a lesson patriotic as fuck.

I took that opportunity to make eye contact, directly and intense as I could muster, which apparently worked for she looked directly into mine when I responded, “Whatever man, I’m just very pro-death, so war’s cool and all, really, guns and such but for me it’s all about the blood, a whole lot of blood.”

She looked at me then, questioning, but I smiled again to put her at ease and raised my beer, “Blood!”

It was about this time she took two distinct steps to the left, away.

I laughed, raised my eyebrows, maintained the eye contact, shrugged my shoulders and added, “Bloody violent as fucking possible, blood, blood, blood…”

Then I laughed again, and I went for my cigarettes.

By the time I lit one, they were gone. So, the moral of the story? Ain’t one really…except I suppose, love it or leave it, when you ask anyone what they think of when one mentions New Orleans, especially if they have never been there, they almost always say “Bourbon Street.”

That and the fact that the town runs a great deal on tourist dollars so all these killings/shootings on Bourbon Street of late, they gotta stop. And since every time I read about another shooting I seem to invariably hear “100 block of Bourbon” or whenever a club is mentioned, I read “Bourbon Street Blues Club,” which round my parts with the people who know the town, BBB club is one big fucking punch line to violent stupidity, and since I keep reading these things, it would seem how a constant police presence at the corner of Canal And Bourbon, and also at Bourbon St, halfway between Canal and Iberville might be a good idea. Oh, and Serpas? You probably want to put a few out front of the Bourbon Street Blues Club as well.

It’s a thought.

Because when I mentioned being pro-death, I was just trying to creep out a couple of drunken tourists, but these shootings, well they’re creeping out a lot more tourists than I ever could and that ain’t a good thing. Having lived in a lot of tourist cities, the toleration of their species kind of goes with the territory. Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco and New Orleans, I can think of a number of days I swung open my gate onto Royal Street, took one look at all the people in t-shirts and sandals and said, “Oh, hell no, not today…” and the gate slammed as I went back upstairs to my apartment.

Anyways, speaking of tourist destinations…love it or leave it and the subtle war between tourists and locals…I offer the following, which is  just one of many songs mentioning places where tourists thrive, and where much of the locale might not want them to, but need them to anyway…New Orleans and San Francisco…and the tale of Operation Ivy’s end.

Rancid – Journey to the End of the East Bay

“Matty came from far away,
From New Orleans into the East Bay
He said this is a Mecca, I said this ain’t no Mecca man, this place’s fucked
3 months go by, he had no home, he had no food, he’s all alone
Matty said fool me once shame on you, didn’t fool me twice
He went back to New Orleans”

And if I told you how many times I listened to that song on Molly’s jukebox, beer in hand…you wouldn’t believe me. Okay, and please forgive me one more, for the sake of being momentarily egocentric…about the neighborhood in San Francisco I miss, a neighborhood I once worked and lived in…

Rancid – Tenderloin

Realize you’re dehumanized, you criticize your existence
It’s your demise when no sun arise, when you’re paralyzed by your lack of resistance

She know she is, she knows she’s going, down below where the fire’s glowing…
Tenderloin

The tricks she gets them she’s not a victim, she makes a list of them and reads them all alone
For money she’s walking down on Larkin’, in the TL they’re rocking all night long…

See you soon, friends of both regions…

And astonishingly enough…the war I mentioned earlier in this post…who’d a thunk the blood would still be flowing, almost ten years later.

God bless…and good luck.

Have a nice day.