Archive for the 'New Orleans' Category

August 21st 2008

Neighborhood Story Project on NPR!

Neighborhood Story Project on NPR!

Besides 4Cs, the most interesting thing I did in New Orleans was take a tour of the devastated area hosted by the co-founders of the Neighborhood Story Project, a nonprofit helping to rebuild and revitalize New Orleans communities.  They publish a series of books by and about the various communities hardest hit by Katrina and in so doing give the residents a voice and, because many of the books are authored by young adults, empower a huge underserved population.

Rachel Breunlin led the small van I was in and I became fascinated with the dialect lilt in her voice as she caught us all up on the aftermath of the hurricane and the, frankly, dim future for most of the poorest denizens of the city.

Driving today with the news in the background, I heard her!  Turning up the radio, I listened to Neda Ulaby’s report on the Cornerstones project, NSP’s latest book.  Her report is in two parts on the NPR web site:  Part One is called Charting New Orleans’ Everyday Landmarks and Part Two is New Orleans Empty Lot Brings Neighbors Together.

Listen to the episodes and then check out my experience with NSP at 4Cs.  When you’re done with all that, buy one of their books to help them help New Orleans.

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April 2nd 2008

4Cs NOLA Wednesday — The Streets of New Orleans

My wife, Lorraine, and I hooked up with Jane after her sessions and we hit the French Quarter for eats. Earlier, Lorraine and I made it to Mother’s for down-home cookin’. I had baked spaghetti pie and Lorraine had a Po-Boy with cabbage greens. Best food I’ve had yet. It rained so hard yesterday that I just had a fried shrimp Po-Boy in the hotel and it was awful. In fact, the Hilton is so bland you could fall asleep just looking it. The coffee spot inside, which probably has the best menu of the lot, is hardly open.

Inside Mother’s

Tonight, I had a decent jambalaya and we wandered about afterward, down to Bourbon Street, around to Preservation Hall, etc. We didn’t go in, but I want to go back tomorrow.

I forgot my camera, but of course Jane had hers, so all is right with the world. If Jane goes somewhere and doesn’t send pictures, I’ll know the end is near.

They are shooting a movie here, so we watched a bus slam into a truck (a second time), and cars swerved about, all on cue. People milled about watching and there were rumors of a possible future Brad Pitt sighting, but all we saw were extras. The crash dummy in the truck did a fine job, even on the retake.

Movie Crash

One thing I’ve discovered is that New Orleans doesn’t care about coffee the way I’ve become accustomed to on the West Coast. There’s a Starbucks nearby, I’ve been told, but that may have been just pullin’ a tourist’s leg. I’ve decided to brave another foray in search of it tonight.

Apologies for the poor picture quality, but I’m using my cell phone instead of the camera… I’ll see if Jane can send me some pix to post.

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April 2nd 2008

4Cs NOLA Tuesday/Wednesday — In New Orleans!

Our flights were uneventful, except for having to drag our daughter out of bed at 4:30 to take us to the airport! A layover in Dallas wasn’t long enough to get a sense of the atmosphere, but the weather here in New Orleans is significantly different from CA! Humid and close, the air is a palpable entity. A thunderstorm downpoured on us at dinner-time, so instead of wandering the French Quarter as would-be vagabonds we ate at the hotel–ugh.

There’s a Miller (beer) convention going on here at the same time as 4Cs–people stroll about clutching cans and bottles of Miller Lite and Genuine Draft. No wine drinkers–and perhaps it’s just as well: the zinfandel I sip with my wife next to a boisterous crowd of Millerites leaves much to be desired. Our waitress is young, cold, and very bored. She’s holding up the bar, huddled in a jacket, yawning every few minutes. Occasionally she looks over at the bar tab she’s laid on our table (not at our drinks) to see if a credit card is sticking out. When the Millerites leave at 8 (exactly), she grudgingly cleans up and, after a bit, we retire too. It’s been a long day.

I’m excited, though, in spite of the somewhat disappointing first night. Jane should be here tomorrow and it’ll be fun to have someone else we know to hang out with. My friend and mentor Tony Michel will be presenting on Thursday, so I look forward to catching up with him. Some Fresno State students are also presenting Thursday and one got an award for her Composition work, so there’ll be plenty of excuses to celebrate.

Wednesday, I’m in a special half-day session on community ethnographies in the morning. Since that’s exactly what I’m doing in my English 1 classes, I hope to come away with ideas and new hope for student buy-in! We’ll see.

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