I ride my bike. A lot. I always have. When I was kid I used to ride all over Beaumont, Texas, the towniest of towns. I collected comics then, and there were few places that offered the medium. I’d hit Parkdale Mall, or I’d venture out to mom and pop shops like Mike’s Coins & Books in old town. Between there, the mall bookstores and Jack’s Pak-It I fed my comics craving well enough, and years later we finally got an honest-to-goodness comics shop, Comics Kingdom. But as a kid we never conceived of the monolithic book emporiums that now litter America’s landscape. And litter in the literal sense. Some are closing. With more to follow. Big, big boxed behemoths once bustling with beaming readers, now lay in wait for the next highest and best use of the space.
Two weeks ago I wrote on the etiquette of tipping and festivals, and it lit a few fires. Apart from festivals I have an ongoing “discussion” with a friend about whether one should tip at a cafe. Mojo’s, Rue, Starbucks, PJ’s, or CC’s, wherever you secure your crank: do you tip? And if so, how much? And if not, why not? My friend does not, and here’s why: most if not all cafes already pay their servers minimum wage or higher, while restaurant waitstaffs and bartenders still make considerably less per hour. That’s her rationale. She gives at the white linen table cloth but not to the green apron. “It doesn’t make sense to tip at a coffee shop,” she says. But I disagree. Why? Because it (almost) evens out, that’s why. It does make sense.
If you know anything about New Orleans in its post-Katrina journey you should at least have heard something – or some things – about Freret Street. Good or bad. Beyond bisecting the city from north and south as a fairly well-traveled thoroughfare, it’s been in the press for various reasons, too. There’s blight, but new businesses keep popping up. Shootings happen on occasion. Monthly there’s a market. And on. But what you might not know is that starting this Friday night, April 1st, a veritable Freret extravaganza is set to unfold over 24 hours of relatively epic proportions. No, this isn’t some sort of April Fool’s prank. It’s all a part of the engine that has been pushing this “little corridor that could” from relative obscurity to well, to quote Beck, “where it’s at.” And it starts with a delightful evening of (wait for it) – - – boxing.
In a few short days festival season will be well under way, and as much as you may want to flask it or roll in a cooler, chances are for one reason or another, it ain’t happenin’. Now I know there are big talkers out there who can’t brag enough about how at one Jazz Fest they snuck in a whole case of beer or some such nonsense. But is that really what you want people to know about you? That you undermine the system, filling water bottles with vodka, or whatever alcoholic chicanery you bestow upon the world. Really? It’s not rocket science, and while you think you’re saving a buck (admittedly ticketed events can be steep), your undercutting the system in reality isn’t cheating the event so much as negating the tip you should be leaving on the purchase you should be making. People work for tips. People survive on tips. So, let’s talk tips.
This week on Monday the 14th – 3.14 or Pi as we call it – my wife and I celebrated 13 years of marriage. Thir-teen. That’s two years longer than the lifespan of the average American marriage. To some that’s a feat, and to others we’re rookies. But who cares? We’re not married to each other so we can see how long we can be married to each. It’s not a contest, is it? There’s no winner, right? I mean, is there some sort of marriage competition I’m unaware of? Who can be married to who the longest? Probably not the ideal motivation to get or stay married: “Okay, let’s see how long we can do this.”
OK, New Orleanians, repeat after me: a paved patch does not proper parking make. Now, say that five times fast while holding your tongue. (pause) How’d you do? Feel stupid? You should. And so should all the drivers that park willy-nilly all over this town. What am I taking about? Illegal driveways. That’s right, I said it, er, wrote it. Illegal. Driveways.
When I was kid growing up in Southeast Texas, each morning my dad would drive us to school. We lived in the West End of Beaumont and took a main street, Dowlen, to get across town. At the intersection of Dowlen and Gladys was a school (at that time Marshall Middle School) and subsequently a school zone. Each day as we turned off of Shakespeare onto Dowlen toward Gladys, my dad quickly slowed the car to a crawl – as did most of the other informed drivers. Why? Because not only was this a school zone, it was an enforced school zone, and like clockwork there was always an over-eager officer sitting idly in the median just itching for you to go just a hair over the posted limit. Now, I’m sure my dad got a ticket or two on this very stretch of road, but that’s what happens when you break the law – you change your behavior. At least, that’s what society hopes you do.
When people think of food and New Orleans, pizza isn’t first on the list. Gumbo, po-boys, ettouffees, all bubble up to the surface first, followed by a little brochette this and goose-fat-rendered that. But pizza? Other cities get the goods there. Not any more. New Orleanians and pizza lovers, welcome to the 21st century.