Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: St. Claude

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Ever have a day where your mind is clouded with memories, one triggering another? That's the kind of day I was having when I was on my St. Claude bus adventure for the final Public Transit Tuesday, before I take my new position as a general assignment reporter for The Times-Picayune.

The only way I could transcribe the memories in my mind that day would be to use stream of consciousness, which would end up looking about as messy as the legal pad I took on my adventure, where I jotted down notes including "The Mack, Charles, PTSD about Mom," "New Kids on the Box lunchbox from Eckerd's" and "Te-Te's cocaine and Cuban sandwiches?"

Since the St. Claude bus was pretty full, as is usually the case, I was able to keep from reminiscing so much by paying closer attention to the people on the bus with me.

When I made it to the end of the line in Arabi, I was tempted to catch my favorite bus, the St. Bernard Parish bus, but was too busy trying to listen to the boys freestyling and beatboxing in the back — not that they were good.

My hearing isn't the best so here are what I think are some excerpts from their verses:

"I met her on crack, f*ck the n*gga head up
Driver off the bus, went and had a heart attack."

"Make a n*gga feel the way my Uncle Terry feel."

"Dat boy said, dat boy said, dat boy said, 'MAMACITA!'"

"I think Wayne garbage though — and THAT'S that sh*t I don't like."

"Dat boy said, 'I'ont want no HIV, yes Lawd!"

"She sent me nekkid pictures — I LIKEDED DAT!"

It was a pretty day so I decided to walk down St. Claude, but not before stopping at a restaurant that's — get this — actually run by native New Orleanians...

Glad my bus only caught the bridge and not the train, too!
  • Glad my bus only caught the bridge and not the train, too!

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Elysian Fields

Posted By on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 at 7:31 AM

I met a woman today who was (rightfully) suspicious when she saw me in the 7th Ward, digging under a house, snapping pictures and writing in my legal pad. After chatting for a while, she asked, "What are you going to write about? This article, what is it?" I said, "Well. I don't know. A little bit of everything, really. I can delete the pictures of you if you want." She looked at me for a little while, trying to see if I was legit, before saying, "Alright, sista, Imma let you have this one...But if you see what's going on and don't write about it, you're a part of the problem."

I agree. I've mentioned the issues that we were venting about (gentrification, euphemistic neighborhood names and discrimination) and others that would have come up in the conversation eventually (hate groups, homelessness, accessibility, the stigma in the black community associated with seeking mental health care, blight and the lack of love for New Orleans East), but I'll admit that I haven't really gone into detail as much as I can and should. She correctly guessed that I try to keep my power-fighting to a minimum because I don't want to ruffle feathers.

When I started this column, I was used to writing for CUE, our monthly fashion, home and beauty magazine. I love writing for CUE because I love glossy magazines; like CUE intern Angela Hernandez, I have stacks of glossy mags all over the house. (I know a girl who slipped on a magazine and broke her arm, though, so be careful and keep those stacks off of the floor.)

But writing for glossy fashion magazines is different, because there are advertisers that you don't want to upset and relationships with retailers that you want to build. Minus basic journalistic principles, the writing is so different that someone even called me out on it on the debut of Public Transit Tuesdays. And I was pissed. And hurt. Via Twitter, the guy accused us (me, really) of trying to disguise advertising as content. He wasn't mean, though, so I responded to him and he basically said he'd give it another shot.

I'm not linking the actual Twitter conversation because I know this person doesn't like to mix Twitter with his actual blog. I know that because I ended up getting really angry about his accusation later that night. Not because of him, but because I was venting to someone about the accusation who said that someone else said that my writing "sounded too much like ad copy" and that set me off. (The person who told me this was trying to be helpful, not gossipy.)

I didn't think the person who originally said my writing sounded like ad copy liked me anyway (well, I thought the person did at first but then I thought the person didn't), so I tried to brush it off, but I kept hearing it play in my mind: Ad copy. Ad copy?! I wondered to myself if the person had ever read a magazine; my CUE writing and glossy magazine writing are pretty damn parallel, which is a good thing.

I searched all over the Internet and found out who was behind the cartoon avatar on Twitter and was pretty happy to see that I wasn't the only journalist — not even the only Gambit writer — that he openly critiqued.

(Update: He liked the next installment, we follow each other on Twitter and he likes my Facebook journalist page and all of that good stuff. And I'm pretty cool with the person who didn't like me back then. We're not best buddies or anything, but we like and respect each other.)

Still, I wanted to cover hard news in addition to my CUE writing. That's a big part of why I created Public Transit Tuesdays in the first place — I could cover anything I wanted.

Riding the bus today with Apptitude founder Chris Boyd, we discussed the importance of doing things for your community, even when they are often literally more trouble than they're worth. He said, "It's a good motivation when you remember that you're doing something for New Orleans."

Steps in the 7th Ward, on N. Robertson.
  • Steps in the 7th Ward, on N. Robertson.

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Lake Forest

Posted By on Tue, Aug 7, 2012 at 11:59 PM

The East is coming back and it's pretty close to what I remember. Ah, the East. Aside from having to live with my Mom's emotionally abusive first cousin and his even more emotionally abusive wife from October 2002-May 2003, after my Mom died and my Paw Paw took ill (He died in February 2003.), I have nothing but fond memories there: shopping at the Plaza as a kid and boy-watching there as a teenager, visiting family and friends of the family since practically every 7th Ward household engaged in the New Orleans East exodus and doing suburban family things like going to Denny's and Wal-Mart without having to go to Metairie, Kenner or the Westbank.

From what I gathered on this bus adventure, the majority of the East is back and there's not much blight — except for businesses. There were so many abandoned businesses and overgrown lots where businesses once stood. And it wasn't Mom and Pop places — these were strip malls, schools and other businesses that, if I had to assume, have the means to rebuild.

The fact that the Lake Forest bus was "oh-my-God-is-someone-else's-sweat-dripping-down-back," "please-mister-bus-driver-don't-make-a-sharp-turn-because-I-don't-want-to-fall-out-of-the-back-door" packed not only illustrates the rebounding population of the East but provides quite a few quotable moments...

Read near Morrison
  • Read near Morrison

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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Leonidas

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM

The second accompanied installment of Public Transit Tuesdays brings us from City Park to Audubon Zoo on the Leonidas bus, passing through Hollygrove, Pigeon Town and Gert Town, proving to be a fine continuation of my Uptown education which began years ago when I was a student at Lusher Extension. This bus adventure opens with difficult questions: How do you pronounce "Leonidas" anyway? What are the boundaries of these neighborhoods? Good thing my bus buddy and best friend Jenny who was raised in all three neighborhoods was there to help answer them...


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Friday, July 27, 2012

We love you, Hubig's

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Hubigs owners Lamar Bowman and Otto Ramsey.

And you will rebuild.

In the meantime, why not re-read our Hubig's cover story, "The Value of Pie: Simon Survives"?

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Dump the Pump NOLA Triple-Bus Adventure Recap

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 7:38 PM

To celebrate National Dump the Pump Day on June 21, I bought a $3 RTA day pass and rode around the city on the Broad...


Morrison Express...

and Franklin buses.

Unlike my typical bus adventures, I didn't stop at any places along the route and instead just enjoyed being chauffeured around the city.

Those who are hesitant about using public transportation should first try exploring like this, riding without getting off, just to get accustomed to bus travel without fear. Riding like this is like dipping your toes in the pool before getting in.

Of course, as with taking any other trip, there are things you should know before you go...

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Tchoupitoulas

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 10:19 PM

Since the Tchoupitoulas bus comes only once an hour—with the exception of coming once every half hour in the early morning, late afternoon and early evening—this bus adventure was more of a walking tour. A very exhausting walking tour. Still, I explored different socioeconomic areas, stopped at some fun places and met some nice people who were eager to talk with me...



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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Canal Streetcar

Posted By on Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 10:21 PM

Canal Street is the hub of public transportation in New Orleans. In fact, most of my Public Transit Tuesdays and non-Gambit bus excursions have me crossing Canal Street at some point. Also, if you're ever lost on a bus adventure, you'll be halfway home if you can find your way back to Canal Street. Sadly, this doesn't work for the RTA's demon seed, the Kenner Loop. The Canal streetcar demographic can't be explained, as it's full of tourists, locals, students, working people and the unemployed. That inexplicable demographic is one of the best parts of riding the Canal streetcar, as you never know who you'll meet. The only depressing thing about riding the Canal Streetcar is that it makes you long for the New Orleans that was...



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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The artist's mother

Posted By on Wed, May 9, 2012 at 10:34 AM

“Aren’t you happy?” asked my uncle of Marie Rodrigue on the night of my engagement to her son. “You’re going to have a daughter-in-law!”

“I had one,” she replied, her face deadpan. “It didn’t work out.”

Marie Courrege Rodrigue at her sons exhibition, Louisiana State Archives, Baton Rouge, 2001
  • Marie Courrege Rodrigue at her son's exhibition, Louisiana State Archives, Baton Rouge, 2001

When she died in 2008 at age one hundred and three, George Rodrigue’s mother still wanted to “go home” to New Iberia. She wanted her car back, to remove her grandsons’ hats and cut their hair, to lengthen my skirts and overcook my Thanksgiving turkey, to visit long-dead friends and family, and, most important, to see her son get a real job, “with the telephone company,” she said, as she worried about his pension:

“When will you realize that nobody’s gonna buy those pictures?”

She was tough, ‘solid,’ as George used to say, with legs like tree stumps (her description, not mine, although…)…

Marie Rodrigue watches the Atchafalaya River behind her sons then-studio in Butte La Rose, Louisiana, 1997
  • Marie Rodrigue watches the Atchafalaya River behind her son's then-studio in Butte La Rose, Louisiana, 1997

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A 1960 newsreel proves that Louisiana oysters thrive on oil

Posted By on Tue, Apr 3, 2012 at 12:03 PM

The Political Desk has unearthed a real gem — a 1960 "public information service" newsreel by the American Petroleum Institute, which debunks the crazy theory that the oil industry might have some deleterious effect on the Louisiana oyster population ... as proven with a "two-million-dollar oyster research program!".

Back then, something was retarding the growth of oysters in the Gulf, so oil company scientists put some oysters in a tank and fed them a diet of crude oil and other gunk.

Surprise: "The test oysters were so happy they brought forth new generations – they never had it so good!"

Must be seen to be believed.

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