Owen Courreges: Dear Bland Landers (an advice column for the “new” New Orleans)

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Owen Courreges

Author’s Note:  Owen is inconsolable this week after the passing of yet another needless, paternalistic ordinance by the New Orleans City Council.  Following a mental breakdown, Owen now believes himself to be Bland Landers, an imaginary cantankerous brother of noted advice columnist Ann Landers.  Thus, the following advice column will run today in place of Owen’s usual rantings.

Dear Bland,

My husband and I recently moved in next to a longstanding juke joint, and as we anticipated, it’s far too noisy.  Adding insult to this complete absence of injury, they’re also having music more often that they used to because the bar has become more successful (which also means more people loitering around, which makes me nervous for reasons I usually discuss in vague, coded language).  I’ve called the police out several times without warning to harass them, but nothing ever gets done.  What do I do?

— Batty in the Bywater

Dear Batty,

I’ve got the perfect recipe. The first step is to squeeze one cup of fresh lemon juice.  I find this works better than the junk from concentrate you get in the store.  Put the lemon juice in a large mixing bowl.  Next, add five tablespoons of finely ground sea salt and one full bottle of iodine.  Mix the ingredients together and then pour the contents into a blender.  Finally, turn the blender on ‘high’ and jam your both of hands in as hard as you can.  I guarantee the juke joint will no longer be on your mind — problem solved!

Dear Bland,

I own a shotgun double Uptown just off of Magazine with no off-street parking.  Now obviously, I own the section of street in front of my house.  I mean, it’s right there.  Everybody knows that.  Nevertheless, people keep parking there anyway like it was public property or something.  I usually remember to leave a cone or an old sawhorse outside to block off my parking spaces, but it’s a huge pain and sometimes I forget (And some people even move the obstructions and park anyway! The nerve!).  How do I protect my spaces?

— Göring nuts about parking

Dear Göring,

I’m afraid the diagnosis is grim.  You suffer from Parkingnazitus, known by lay persons as “Parking Nazi Syndrome.”  It results in a delusional belief that proximity to a public parking space somehow endows you with property rights over it, whether legally or by social convention.  Unfortunately, the only cure is to lie down in the street that you irrationally claim to be yours and wait to be crushed by a passing bus.  Freed from your earthly body, your spirit will forever be bound to that spot to haunt those who use “your” space without your permission (For more information, please consult the famous 1982 documentary on the subject, “Poltergeist”).

Dear Bland,

I live across from an old corner store that, until recently, had been blighted for years.  Last year it was renovated, and now the owner wants to open up a coffee shop and is seeking a zoning change (it was zoned residential).  That’s spot zoning, which is evil and should never, ever be permitted ever because the law says so and the law should never, ever change.  Other than complaining endlessly at neighborhood association meetings and speaking in a contemptuous, nasally voice before the city council, is there anything else I can do to crush my new neighbor’s entrepreneurial dreams?

— Steamed over coffee

Dear Steamed,

Very interesting quandary you have there.  It used to be that I’d advise you to stick your own head up your keister for opposing such a low-impact commercial use in a historically-commercial structure.  However, that was before I found that the “Master Plan” being promulgated is less of a regulatory concept that it is an actual monster that breathes fire to destroy illegal land uses.  The following is an accurate artist’s depiction of the Master Plan in action:

(Illustration by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

(Illustration by Owen Courreges for UptownMessenger.com)

Obviously, with this abomination’s insatiable urge to eliminate illegal land uses and its near limitless power, there’s really no reason for you to fight that nefarious coffee shop from moving in.  Just leave it up to the Master Plan.  You’d probably just get in his way if you interfered.

[Another author’s note: Letters requesting Bland’s advice should be dispatched via carrier pigeon. Bland shoots every pigeon he sees and will probably get it eventually.]

Owen Courrèges, a New Orleans attorney and resident of the Garden District, offers his opinions for UptownMessenger.com on Mondays. He has previously written for the Reason Public Policy Foundation.

11 thoughts on “Owen Courreges: Dear Bland Landers (an advice column for the “new” New Orleans)

  1. Oh, let’s all move from boring parts of the country to the hip Bohemia of New Orleans (and get great equity in residential) to be “part of something” and then proceed to attempt to stamp out all hip characteristics of the city – because they interfere with our narcissism.
    Resist the influx! Keep New Orleans real.

    • There is a problem with this myth. Some of the worst players in the battles to silence and limit and curtail and obstruct and undermine, freeze 19th century buildings in aspic and call it “historic” and re-cast New Orleans society in the image of Southern Suburbia – are native New Orleanians or Louisianans. Check the pedigrees of some of the most virulent actors of the downtown neighborhood associations. Articulate idiots born and bred, big donors to Loyola included, re-writing history to fit their GWTW visions. A seriously stupid native bourgeoisie leads; blaming the new families can be a diversion.

  2. Dear Bland:

    Thank you for the recipe. I followed it pretty closely, although I used vodka instead of iodine. I called it a Bloody Batty, and took it over to the juke joint. They really liked it, and promised to only play the music of James Blunt from now on. A perfect compromise.

    Best regards,

    Batty in the Bywater


  3. Thank you Owen! That was an enjoyable piece of humor – Very sad that there are dozens of the characters you lampoon – doing just what the ‘fictional characters’ are doing. Moving from a suburb – somewhere in the USA and hoping to turn their new neighborhood into the quiet and boring from the wild irreverent and funky they all moved into!!

  4. I’m disgusted with people who park across the sidewalk in front of their houses, thinking that we should pay for their parking spaces … they bought houses that didn’t have parking but happened to have sidewalks adjacent to their tiny front yards: Bingo – parking spaces!

  5. This would be funny if it wasn’t so true & sad.
    Why is it that people move somewhere claiming to love it & then proceed to change everything about it? I find that happens across the lake too. People leave the city to move into a less congested area & then bring all their issues with them. They move to homes with acreage & then complain when others in the area don’t act like their former city neighbors.
    There was a house that was for sale across from a small family owned auto “junkyard”. It’s been here for years with no problem. The house across sold & the new people erected a HUGE sign wanting people to complain to the parish about the place. There’s no way they could have missed what was across the street so why buy there?

    It reminds me about dating someone & then trying to change everything about them once you get married. Why?

  6. That artist conception of the “master plan” was clearly what the people who proposed the thing intended. A potential catch-all of obstruction for anything anyone wanted to build at any time for any purpose. I’m not entirely sure it worked out that way. And like a lot of things in this town it is probably only one serious legal challenge from being swept out. And just remember the definition of “spot zoning” is “something the planners didn’t plan on that seems a blindingly obvious use to anyone who looks at it without the benefit of knowing whatever the latest fashion trend in “planning” is”

    As far as the rest of them are concerned I am loathe to propose more legislation but it seems that part of the issue lies in folks who steadfastly refuse to do their due diligence on a property before buying (and the real estate agents who’s only mission is to drive up property values to create bigger commissions). My proposal: A Due Diligence Ordinance – as part of the title filed with the city the purchaser signs a form, filled out by the real estate agent, that demonstrates that they are aware of any existing bars, clubs, parades, citywide festivals, industrial buildings, barking dogs, screaming mommas yelling at their brats, that might unsettle their calm or otherwise tip them off that they are living in a city and not a gated community miles from the center of town. This document would be filed with the city and accessible to anyone who has a complaint initiated against them by the purchaser.

    As I wanted to tell the lady who moved 2 blocks from Jazzfest a couple years back and now finds the whole thing too stressful. “If you move to a house on the parade route, it’s not the parade’s fault”.

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