Like Prince once said, there’s joy in repetition. Think of a chef, working the line in his restaurant night after night; a chess master, reaching to select a pawn for her first move; a basketball player shooting free throw after free throw on an empty court. Repetition is the key to mastery, “flow,” the elusive art of moving without thinking.
That’s what I think about, sitting with pilot Troy Delaney in the glass-windowed pilot house of the steamboat Natchez, little wavelets crumpling the river’s surface way below us. Delaney has been steering the Natchez for 12 years, working five days a week, making three voyages a day. Even considering the month or so the boat spends in “lay-up,” when it stops service for painting and other maintenance, that’s as many as 720 trips over the course of a year, making the run downriver toward Chalmette Battlefield, where the Natchez turns around, and back.
Delaney knows everything about the boat and almost as much about the glassy bends of the river. Together, they form a tranquil kingdom he takes pride in leading.
As chatter about Airbnb, gentrification and volatile rental markets flies fast and thick, a new exhibit at the Tulane School of Architecture's Tulane City Center/Small City Center (1725 Baronne St.) examines affordable housing issues in New Orleans.
Rather than focusing on what makes the city unusual or exceptional, this exhibit places local housing challenges in a broader national and international context.
“There are many ways New Orleans suffers from, and rises to, the same challenges as many other cities,” center public programs manager Sue Mobley says. “(Calling it exceptional creates) a write-off of learning from others.”
Waymon Morris and I sit on the bench-style conductor’s seat as the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park train pulls out of the station, into the dappled lawns and mossy shade of New Orlean City Park. The engine rattles crazily underneath us, like a piece of high-powered farm equipment or someone’s fixer-upper car that hasn’t yet been blessed with a muffler. Morris points to the timer on the rudimentary dashboard, which helps drivers know if they’re keeping pace with the train’s typical runtime, and pulls the shrill whistle, warning any wandering toddlers, errant ducks or distracted drivers of our approach on the 2-mile track. From the conductor’s perch, the whistle is so loud it could pop an eardrum, but literally everyone we pass — infants in Baby Bjorns, picnickers, a grandma out for a stroll with her Shih Tzus — smiles and waves.
“I don’t care how old you are,” Morris half-confides, over the chuff and rumble of the engine. “Everyone loves the train.”
If you were to drive east on Chef Menteur Highway, past the motley blocks of businesses in various states of well-being, past the Pleasantville-on-stilts development at Venetian Isles, and over the rickety truss bridge at Chef Menteur Pass, eventually you’d find a three-story waterfront building emblazoned with a comically large University of New Orleans (UNO) Privateer logo.
There, you might find, as I did, a large group of squirming third-graders vastly outnumbering their adult chaperones, all anxious to start one of science educator and UNO Coastal Education Program director Dinah Maygarden’s activities at the UNO Coastal Education and Research Facility (CERF).
N’Gai Smith is a popular guy. As we walk the grounds of the French Market, where he serves as maintenance superintendent, it seems like we can’t go 10 steps without someone waving, calling out, or stopping to shake one of his big hands. A woman on a cellphone standing over a table of pastel-colored bath beads flashes a huge smile and waves. An electrician in head-to-toe khaki buttonholes him on the sidewalk to shake and say hello. We “just happen” to run into one of his top lieutenants near Latrobe Park.
I’d suspect it being stage-managed, if everyone didn’t seem so genuinely overjoyed to see Smith. It’s like walking through the French Market with Santa Claus.
In the lived-in rooms on the fourth floor of a Camp Street building, the New Orleans Zen Temple is very quiet — so quiet you can hear the bristles of a broom brushing the carpet as one of its attendees prepares the dojo (literally: the way place, or the place where you practice the way) for evening meditation practice. Outside, the bells of a nearby cathedral ring faintly; inside, people begin gathering and removing their shoes to prepare for a different sort of seeking.
“The Buddha never talked about God. [Zen] is much more about the nature of life, suffering, and how you have to life in this life with other people,” explains Richard Collins, the temple’s recently appointed abbot. “It’s not going to give you the answer to life, but it will certainly give you the discipline to appreciate the life you have.”
In a metal outdoor stall adjacent to her enclosure, the 5,000 pound, 53-year-old Southern white rhino Macite bumps her big prehistoric head lightly against the bars. The horn at the end of her nose looks like an ancient relic, but she scrapes her giant flat feet in the dust just like a cow shuffling in a pen on a hot day.
Around Macite’s enormous backside, veterinarian Bob MacLean uses a hand brush and a gel to clean, disinfect and pack the chronic pressure sores (similar to human bedsores) on the elderly rhino’s back legs. She’s thought to be the oldest living female of her kind, and MacLean’s team is doing its best to keep the sores from growing. It’s part of a litany of tasks large and small that make up his role as senior veterinarian for the Audubon Nature Institute.
“We’re trying to keep it from going systemic,” he says, as he finishes rinsing the sore. “We’re treating her every day.”
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Rooftop Beer Garden. Sweet.
not on your list but should be!: https://www.facebook.com/events/803471016422223/
Come explore the past residents of LaBranch during the annual Haunted History Hike:
To Kezia--I don't think that a house in the Marigny that could rent for $2200…