Nov 072012

One up, two down. (photo by Jean-Paul Villere for

Jean-Paul Villere

There’s an artist among us, a modern day Rodin if you will, a sculptor with a keen eye.  And their chosen medium?  Mine and my neighbor’s green, over-sized garbage cans, 4 all told.  Twice a week I come home to some of the most amazing formations left in the wake of our city’s waste service program employees.  Among the explanations I can come up with is their creativity must be stifled, and the random placement of these utilitarian mess vessels provides an outlet otherwise unmet.  On the one hand, I’m happy to help, but on the other hand, give me a break!

From a lifetime of placing garbage on the curb, I know more often than not unless your discards are left streetside in a tidy fashion, the discretion of the average garbage collector errs on the side of fuhgedaboutit.  And before Katrina, a loose smattering of whatever you might want hauled away was often met with the mouth of salty expletives, a couple of times in front of my children.  Nowadays I have yet to encounter an assault of F bombs, instead I get functional sculpture, at times it may be known as GarbageHenge.

But doesn’t neatness count?  Didn’t everyone come up coloring inside the lines?  No and clearly not.  I know one thought that never surfaces though: who will disassemble these assemblages?  Well, it’s me.  But what if weren’t as able bodied?  What if I placed the next round of garbage in the cans exactly as the garbage collectors left them?  I’ll tell you what: a refusal to collect the refuse, and a hoot and holler over how unkept it is.  Maybe I’m wrong.  But I’d rather not tempt the garbage gods, avoiding any undue waste wrath.  I am known to dutifully reassemble the 4 cans after each visit to an orderly queue of green can inventory, as if there were some sort of dialogue we have.  You set’em up, we knock’em down, and you set’em up again!

Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty and Du Mois Gallery on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  3 Responses to “Jean-Paul Villere: Can Composition”

  1. Heeheehee! Love it. I miss SDT. They were awesome about replacing the cans right where they started.

  2. When I lived uptown, I often had to watch them load my garbage; otherwise, they would invariably leave things behind. And I even made them treats on holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) AND tipped them at Christmas.

  3. Thank you for your observations about the relationship between household garbage-pickup consumers and the providers of that service. Next time I pass a post-pickup scene, I’ll remember and enjoy your theory that the empty-can arrangement was deliberate and a creative effort of the hoppers.

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