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Note: Immediately below was composed before the recent Fight the Blight day this past Saturday. Additional thoughts follow. BEFORE:
Recently in a bid to generate enthusiasm for keeping the Hornets in New Orleans, a campaign was launched with billboards, TV spots, and print ads featuring everyone from the governor, to the mayor to Fleurty Girl all pledging their allegiance to our city’s basketball franchise. “I’m in!” they all repeated over and over again. “Are you in?” “I’m in.” “Oh, I’m definitely in.” “You know I’m in.” On and on. To which I say “Great! I love it when people are in!” I’ve always said I’m a fan of fans. God bless the ones who make it all possible for whatever; without fans every successful franchise athletically or otherwise would be nowhere. Except, when I walk my neighborhood I feel like the being “in”-ness stops when the director says “cut.” Why? Have you seen the condition of some of our more visible parks? Especially the basketball courts? I do not profess to be expert of the city’s parks nor of the heirarchy that presumably should be keeping them in check. But my stomach turns just enough when I think of this campaign, and then visit my neighborhood park: Samuel Square. What the hell is this? An art installation? No. It’s a park. A city park. Maintained by the city. And it’s deplorable. I’m a fan of our neighborhoods and their walkability – and maybe you are too. Consider this my campaign to get you and the rest of the public “in” to making our greenspaces more usable and at the very least maybe not so embarrassing. Ocassionally picking up a park’s garbage and mowing the grass, while needed and done fairly routinely, is frankly not enough. The placard at the park states a renovation took place back in ’89. Eighty-nine. 22 years ago. By the looks of things the 21 years have not been kind. Who knows when the water fountain stopped working. The backboards are so rotten it’s a wonder they weren’t done in by the wind and rain of Tropical Storm Lee. And the red boxes on the backboards are handpainted, resembling functional graffiti. Yeesh. But I know what you’re thinking. “Hey Jean-Paul, that’s great our parks suck and all, but how can the city afford to improve them?” We’re still in a recession, right? The city always has budget woes, correct? Fair enough: two birds, one stone. Speeding tickets. People – you, me, everyone – speed down Napoleon. Ticket them. If NOPD can’t do it, set up a camera. And let the funds from the camera pay for both maintaining the camera and maintaining the park – properly. Simple, right? Only the proceeds from speeding tickets don’t go to the parks, do they? And isn’t this idea just a little too simple to be implemented? It has to be more complicated, right? Only because we let it, I say. Enough is enough. Keep it simple. I for one want a working park. I also want people to slow the hell down driving Napoleon. What’s the worst that could happen? People go the speed limit and the park becomes under or unfunded? Sounds like a great problem to have, and it can’t be worse than it is now. Maybe people will go slow enough they actually see the park, think how inviting it is, pull over and use it. Win-win. Now, I’m in.
A proposal to use a home on Maple Street as an office for two child psychologists was turned down by the City Planning Commission on Tuesday, but a Taco Bell planned for South Claiborne Avenue was given speedy approval. Dr. Lucinda Lang DeGrange said that the home she owns at 7513 Maple could already be used for her own practice, but that she had hoped to rent out one of its units to another psychologist, and for that needed a zoning change. Her house sits between two others at the edge of the Maple Street “neighborhood business” corridor, so that’s why she chose that zoning classification, she told planning commissioners. “That’s what’s already on the street. In theory, it would be an extension of what’s already there,” DeGrange said.
The big news at the Dog is that we are planning on expanding our menu with sausages from around the world. This is being done for the buildup to our opening across the street at 5030 Rue Freret which will allow us larger indoor and of course cafe’ seating outside with all the smutz. We are also in the process of working on new uniforms to greet the move: we’ll test Tuxedo Fridays as well as Fez and French Fridays over the next few weeks. Our fans and customers will have a chance to decide which style is best. We are proud to be a part of Freret St. New Orleans and we are proud that New Orleans now has a Quality Hotdog Stand in the top 10 rated in America. Go New Orleans. Go Freret. Go to the Dog.
In Uptown New Orleans, a run for the border may soon get a good bit quicker. On Tuesday, the city planning commission will review plans for a Taco Bell restaurant in the long-vacant Pizza Hut building on South Claiborne Avenue. Also on Tuesday’s agenda is a child-psychology clinic proposed in an old home on Maple Street. The Taco Bell plans call for the demolition of the graffiti-prone Pizza Hut to make way for a new building with a drive through. The property is already zoned commercial, but because it’s located in an Inner-City Urban Use corridor, it requires specific permission to become a fast-food restaurant and carries stricter design standards.
I’ve penned a new battle cry for the New Orleans homeowner: “The house will not win.” As a corollary, I’ve also penned another battle cry for the male handyman: “Common sense will not win.”
Recently, I’ve been performing all manner of work on my house. The stucco on my foundation cracked and began to fall off, so I had to repair it. I went to Harry’s Hardware, bought some stucco and mixed it up without checking the proper water/stucco ratio (because *real* men never read instructions). The end result was a watery mess that would barely stay on the house. Somehow I managed to get enough to stick to repair the holes, but because the old stucco had separated, it didn’t quite match up and my foundation resembled Manuel Noriega’s face. Worse, I had failed to wear gloves (because *real* men don’t use proper safety equipment) and my hands had become the consistency of hamburger. Next, I decided to tackle a more long-term project; painting the ironwork around my house. Since my house is on a corner and the ironwork didn’t appear to have been painted within my lifetime, this was going to be a massive task. First of all, I decided to start this task in the middle the August heat, and instead of renting a sandblaster or some other instrument to speed up preparing the iron, I decided to use a single wire brush with a scraper on the end (because *real* men don’t use machines when a more primitive and inefficient tool will do). Day after day I labored for hours, scraping the old paint off by hand until I was literally drenched in my own sweat and virtually collapsing from heat stroke.
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If you live in New Orleans proper, chances are you or someone you know might suffer from being ‘hood bound. You know the type, the friend that you who won’t meet you for happy hour because they’d have to make a 10-minute drive. Or what about the guy who complains about how much of a trek the Bywater is from Uptown? People become restricted to their neighborhood for a number of reasons. Transportation issues, sheer laziness, or just the convenience factor are all factors that play into turning into a hyper-local.