Friday, February 27, 2009

Tea Parties: From the Mouths of Babes

Today saw "Tea Party" protests against the recent economic stimulus legislation taking place, literally, all across the country. (I'm not going to refer to us as a "nation" anymore because we are nowhere near being united). Michelle Malkin's blog posted a number of photos that protesters sent her. One of my favorite photos shows a little girl in Cleveland, probably 5 or 6, holding a sign that says: “I read as much of the stimulus bill as my congresswoman.”

Okay, so she didn't really write it herself -- the point remains the same.


And that, my friends, is beyond irresponsible. It is approaching criminal.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama-Speak: Ouch! Healthcare

The young president's inaugural proposed budget contains, among other things, another gargantuan bank bailout and $634 BILLION dollars that he characterizes as "a downpayment on universal healthcare."

Sounds like a prostate exam to me.

The Greatest Free Show on Earth -- Mardi Gras in NOLA

I have to get politics out of my head for a little while because I am seriously, genuinely fearful of what is taking place in Washington at breakneck speed. So, I think I'll focus on family fun laced with a titch of debauchery -- Mardi Gras in the CBD (Central Business District) and French Quarter!

We started our Mardi Gras morning early with the Krewe of Eggs at L'il Dizzy's at the Whitney with fun, frolic, and fabulous food. The Royal Rooster XIX and his Loyal Hen (Pepper and I were #XVIII last year, "Live or Let Fry!") entertained and feted our group of 70+ in royal barnyard fashion, a la Dr. Suess: The Not-So-Mystic Krewe of Eggs Presents A Celebration of Green Eggs and Ham! (Yep, the scrambled eggs and omelets were green!!) We all wore red-and-white striped Cat in the Hat hats and we were lei-ed with beads sporting eggs with green yolks and rubber piggies. The Royal Proclamation's closing paragraph decreed: "[All] members of the Flock shall enjoy themselves to the fullest. They shall avail themselves the pleasures of the coop, embracing friendship, fellowship, and alcohol as warranted. I further enjoin thee to add to the legacy and good name of this worthy Krewe by not exposing what no one wants to see. Leave no stone (or glass) unturned, no bead unclenched, and let there be no doubt which Krewe possesses the most Joie de Vivre rooster for rooster and hen for hen than any other!"

We then flew the coop down the block to watch Zulu and Rex parade down St. Charles, past Gallier Hall, and toward Canal, from the second-floor balcony of the Parc St. Charles Hotel. More food, more mimosas, and beads, beads, beads! Thanks to the Lupo family and Marine Forces Reserve!

Next on the agenda -- trying to figure out how the heck to get around the parade barricades so we could get to our friends' houses in the downriver side of the Quarter -- an adventure worthy of its own tale! Suffice it to say that we made it. Bobbie and David's light and airy, whimsically decorated shotgun house sits one block off Bourbon, on a street where many of the costumed participants in the gay St. Ann's parade cut through, so we got quite a view! Not all of the costumes were "family friendly" so I won't post pictures of them here (picture a young man dressed as a Sperm Bank, clad in little more than a creative jock strap, handing out little plastic King Cake babies! His companion was dressed as a naughty nurse carrying a turkey baster with which she occasionally spanked him. Vivid image, huh?). There were a number of interpretations of "Economic Stimulus Packages" (use your imagination!) and an unexpected number of pirates and Vikings (What's in your wallet?). A group of us sat in the driveway -- David told passersby that we were tired, old Streetwalkers who now had become Streetsitters. Ha. (Do you recognize me?) More food, and daiquiris. And beer. And more food. Whew! Then on to the last stop.

Pat and Greg's home is an exquisitely elegant antebellum building with deep, rich colors and thirteen-foot ceilings, and things were much calmer there -- china, silver service, a breeze wafting in from the second-story balcony. It was a nice "cool-down" from the excitement of Dumaine. But there was yet MORE food and wine. We didn't really need to eat for days afterward!

On the trek back to the car (which did NOT have a ticket on it!), a gaggle of giggling young women skipped past us wearing long sleeves and head scarves. Young muslim women in the French Quarter on Mardi Gras. That juxtaposition of the pure and the absurd kind of sums up New Orleans. It's like nowhere else on Earth. Thank goodness!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras Magic Moment

It truly was the best of times in a Moogie's World -- or perhaps I should say a Mommy's world.

(I'm taking the opportunity to beat Shay to the punch by posting this as she is driving home, before she can get to her computer!)

Ronni and Tim and their friends Marlo, Jessica, Lauren, Bobby, and, of course, Nick, worked so very hard to make this weekend a joyful surprise and they pulled it off with flair and aplomb!

One night last month, Tim and Ronni and Nick were enjoying one another's company at one of their favorite watering holes (Shay was sick at home) when they hatched a plot for Tim to propose to Shay. After several phone calls to me for info and advice (and a few beers!), they decided that Tim would propose to her in New Orleans during the Tucks parade with all of us as witnesses.

The next day I shipped my Mama's engagement setting and wedding band to Boompie's apartment (just a little bit nervous about that! Thank you UPS!), and Ronni picked it up the evening the package arrived. They plotted to check out several jewelers to reconstruct the ring, bearing in mind that there was a very short time frame -- they were heading to New Orleans in a little over 3 weeks! Jessica and Lauren joined them. Jones and Sons was the first stop, and they were so impressed that they didn't go anyplace else and left the treasures there for an estimate and getting the work done. No worries! The jewelers were so quick and so skilled (and they did everything in-house) that Tim had the rings in hand a week later!

When Tim made "THE CALL" to Pepper, Pep told him that he could have her if he thought he could afford her, but that all sales are final and there will be no returns!

Tim and Ronni came up with a plan to keep Shay from snooping -- he and Shay would go to Will's Pizza Lazer Tag birthday party and Ronni would sneak over to their house and pick up the rings to hide at her house. Pictures were taken at each step along the way and Ronni put together an Engagement Scrapbook for Shay. It looks great -- and there are pages for Shay to fill in with pics from this weekend and the days ahead.

I planned a big shrimp boil for after the question was popped, inviting Tim's family and a few neighbors, including a banner for the front fence to share the news with the thousands of Mardi Gras revelers that wander down Perrier Street on parade days, and a celebratory cake decorated in the colors of the wedding -- orange and hot pink (I know, I know -- how did I know the colors in advance? Remember, this is Shay we're talking about -- she's planned this wedding for years and Ronni knows it all!)

Tim had a slight change of plans -- he decided to propose in our back courtyard instead of during the parade, so we all sweated it out while catching throws and Tucks toilet paper and Tucks toilet plungers. I've never seen Tim's leg jitter so much! Several calamities (including a trip to the emergency room and an over-extended nap) and a few hours later, and after talking softly to her so seriously that she thought he was breaking up with her, Tim got down on one knee (on her foot, I might add), asked her if she would marry him and she said yes amid the clicking of at least four cameras. And one digital recorder. Ronni and I cried, of course (I think Pepper teared up a little, too), and we prepared to party!

Tim's grandmother and aunt (other relations were ill or had just given birth on Thursday. Happy birthday, Max!), plus neighbors Bob and Marguerite, came over for a nice visit and champagne toast, and the celebration and wedding planning got down to some serious business.

I even found time to get Marlo and Jessica to Feet First so they could satisfy the "shoe monkey" on their backs -- three pairs apiece -- and pick up some bride-ish magazines. Thanks for the boost to the local economy, ladies!

Yesterday saw Sunni and Mike join us for four fabulous parades, Marguerite's red beans and rice, and more cake re-purposed for Mike's birthday. Unfortunately, Tim, Jessica, Lauren, and Bobby had to leave in the morning to be able to make early appointments at work and to liberate dogs, so we told folks that Tim bolted after proposing. Ha! This morning, Shay hit the phone lines early and we now have St. Andrew's Cathedral booked.

Get ready for April 24, 2010, 7:00 in the evening!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Did he mean Translucence?

Transparency in a world of changeable hope. The young president's administration promises a new era of transparency in government, but there's a catch.

It's only transparent from the inside out.

I wonder if he can see the protesters and the states lining up to declare home rule?

Someone remembers the 9th and 10th Amendments!

Misery Before Company

Misery. Both Pepper and I are sick, sick, sick. And we have a houseful of company on the way! Even Bouie is sick! We are swimming in a sea of pathogens around here. At least mine doesn't involve repeated trips to the little girls' room. Since we're both in the house, and Pepper doesn't like Food Network, and I don't like to OD on Golf Channel, we've kinda reached an unspoken compromise about television -- FOX News all the time! That can make a body a little depressed after awhile, but MSNBC would just make us sicker.

I think I'm turning the corner -- no temp today so far, but very little energy available. Thinking back, it's probably been going on for a week because I remember sneezing last week at the Hornets game, so I'd BETTER be getting better by now! There's too much fun around the corner!

Ancient Druids rolls tonight -- cross your fingers for no thunderstorms!

Monday, February 16, 2009 -- not!


Secretary Geithner's website -- the one that'll assuage all our fears by being so transparent -- is still unavailable.


Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's Eve on the Uptown Parade Route

It's Friday afternoon! Not just any Friday -- it's the Friday when the first parades roll on the Uptown route! Police are erecting the street barricades at this very minute. Ha! As if the masses in search of trinkets pay attention to any silly ol' police barricades! I vividly remember when people actually moved the orange cones I had set out by the curb to try to save a spot for the girls -- one even ran over and crushed the cone! I'm beyond that blood pressure-raising endeavor now. It's every guest for himself!

And so, Pepper came home early this afternoon. Trying to get from Point A, Downtown, to Point B, Uptown, can be a daunting task while parades are rolling, and especially while half of southeast Louisiana is trying to find legal parking places on the street so they can enjoy the parades in the family-friendly spots.

I took advantage of his early arrival and suggested we take a walk up to the neighborhood ice cream parlor. Bouie accompanied us -- he didn't get to chase the tabby cat, though.

While en route, we heard the prettiest music! Someone was getting an early Valentine's Day gift -- a serenade on her front porch by a barbershop quartet! I wish the whole world could have seen the delighted expression on her face and the breadth of her smile -- she appeared to be transported back to the days when she was a mere girl being courted by her beau. Pepper's and my eyes met, and we smiled, too.

The ice cream was pretty tasty! I couldn't eat all of mine, so I popped it in the freezer to tempt me later. Pepper let Bouie have a few licks in between his own. Then Bouie got to eat the cone. I don't recall sharing my ice cream cone with a dog before -- at least not on purpose. I guess maybe Bouie really isn't a dog!

Cross your fingers that the rain skips the Uptown route. I can't wait for the drumlines to begin!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Ain't No Sunshine in D.C.

A post on notes that a Democratic Aide, when discussing yesterday's compromise economic stimulus bill and disclosing that the dollar amount of proposed tax credits had been reduced, "spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are private."

Private. Folks, this isn't the Constitutional Convention in 1787 where the delegates' very lives were in jeopardy and there was a legitimate need for secrecy. This is a discussion about how to saddle future generations with debt; a discussion about actions that will have the side-effect of rendering untold numbers wholly dependent on Government for their daily bread.

So much for sunshine.

So much for details.

So much for us being able to know what's really in that Bill.

Have you read the provisions that relate to healthcare in the version that the House sent to the Senate? At LEAST two new agencies with enormous names (the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research -- this'll be the one that decides whether it will be "cost effective" to treat your health issue, and if it's not, then it's R.I.P. for you; and the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, to be created by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, or HITECH, -- this'll be the one that transmits and stores all your personal, medical information in cyberspace) are in there. Can you spell Clintonian Universal Health Care? How about Tom Daschle's Critical: What We Can Do About the Healthcare Crisis?

Atlas Shrugged?

The healthcare issues alone deserve to be debated fully, fairly, and IN THE OPEN -- not buried in some behemoth tome full of boilerplate and bureaucracy-speak. This is nothing better than stealth legislation.

There's also a planned Accountability and Transparency Board, chaired by the Chief Performance Officer (you remember that brand new position -- it's the one that our Young President's first-choice nominee was bounced for failing to pay taxes). All the other members are also appointed by the Young President. Let's see -- this is a product of the Legislative branch, yet it refers to positions and bodies that don't really exist yet, and that will be created and staffed by the President as a function of the Executive branch. And it's pre-budgeted!

And all this "debate" takes place while our Young President is back on the campaign trail, mesmerizing the masses with his silver tongue.

Folks, we're being snookered, hoodwinked, and rooked by professionals that we pay to do it to us. Without lubrication.

Happy Birthday, Will!

Nine years and some hours ago, at roughly 3:00 in the morning, my phone rang. I was let in on the joyous news that William Steele Paulson had successfully entered this world.

I cried, of course.

Then I called Pepper.

This was in the middle of our long-distance romance; he and Wendy were in New Orleans and Rosie and I were still in the apartment in Little Rock.

We talked until 5:00. We talked about our past, our future, and how the future of everyone in our extended family was somehow suddenly and miraculously brightened. It's simply unimaginable -- the effect of one simple birth.

Happy Birthday, Will! We love you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Geithner's Got My Doctor's Attention and Now I'm Really Getting Scared

Treasury Secretary Geithner addressed the nation this morning to give us details about the pending financial recovery plan being hammered out and tortured by Congress as I type.

He's going to spend $500 Billion and "expand" his bail-out program up to a Trillion "based on what works." Among other things. Really.

In his first televised press conference last night, our young president declined to answer questions about details on the implementation of the stimulus plan because he didn't "want to steal [Geithner's] thunder." What I heard this morning was more akin to a spring shower than a thunderstorm, but you can bet that the thunder is on the way -- picture Geithner as Thor, hammer and all. Really.

I heard very few details this morning from Secretary Geithner, and precious little that differed much from the Henry Paulson effort last fall -- other than G's idea of "transparency" (setting up a website, Not yet available. Probably not available until after the YP signs this anathema into law.) and spending much more money. And telling us that the spending will be Painful. That's re-assuring. Oh, and the administration will also be wiping out any level of privacy we have regarding personal health issues under the guise of making medical records "more accessible." Really.

The young president and his minions have dramatically expanded the federal bureaucracy in less than a month -- except for the administrative office that hasn't gotten off the ground yet because the nominee to head it up got bounced for failure to pay taxes. Way too much is being way too centralized in way too few "insiders," along with way too much power. The healthcare initiatives, alone, are terrifying. (For a good discussion on the improbability of successfully transitioning to interstate electronic records, see "You Thought Hillary Was Scary?" Where are all the HIPAA fanatics? Why aren't they screaming bloody murder?! Who in Congress has the foresight and the cajones to help us?! We've now heard about the coming forfeiture of our individual freedom to maintain privacy in medical matters -- better hide your guns 'cause they're probably next. Really.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Mardi Gras Finery for the House

Menus are in the works and decorations are up (interior decor is much more "pronounced", and you can't see the purple, green, and gold twinkle lights on the hedges in this picture)! We'll start catching beads to hang on the fence this weekend. It's time for a Bananas Foster Cocktail on the front porch. Bring on the parades!

Thugs, Beware!

The Neighborhood Watch sign is up! We made sure to put it high enough to discourage its theft, as instructed. I'm certain the thugs will be shaking in their boots.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mardi Gras Madness Comes to the Quarter!

The parade season kicked off this weekend with all cylinders firing. There were Slidellians and Little Rascals and the only parade permitted to roll through the French Quarter, The Krewe de Vieux.

The Krewe de Vieux is not what you would call exactly "family friendly entertainment." Bawdy doesn't really even cover it. It's hysterically satirical, however, and there's not a sacred cow in sight.

This year's theme: "Krewe de Vieux's Economic Stimulus Package."

'Nuff said.

O.S. -- If This is How He Refers to His Former Colleagues . . . .

Our young president was caught making a funny on January 31st, according to the D.C. Examiner.

The YP was addressing a group at the annual Alfalfa Club dinner, and noted that he had frozen the salaries of everyone in the White House making more than $100,000. Then he threw out the zinger: "no one has frozen that much money since Bill Jefferson." ("Dollar Bill" Jefferson, my former Congressman, is currently under indictment for corruption and awaiting trial. Among other critical evidence -- $90,000.00 + in currency found by the FBI in the good Congressman's home freezer.)

Tee hee. Good one, Mr. President.

Friday, February 6, 2009

O-S: Covering the "Spread"

I'm listening to the Spud McConnell show -- "Talk Gumbo" -- on WWL radio. He's doing a "smack" show -- listeners call in to say who they'd just like to smack across the face (it's a family show, so he can't say "bitch slap!"). Some of the calls have been pretty funny.

One guy called in to say he'd like to smack the young president because of his insistence that salaries for upper-level management in financial institutions that received a bailout be capped at $400,000. His rationale? This proposal is just an extension of the young president's desire to "spread the wealth" -- only the salary cap is "spreading the poverty!" Makes sense to me -- the YP is doing an end-run!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama-Speak: Phrase of the Day

Our young president's way with words is appealing. I think I'll post things he says from time to time that amuse me, for whatever reason.

As quoted by AP special correspondent (isn't that special!) David Espo, the young president, speaking in response to Republican criticism of the latest iteration of an "economic stimulus" bill, said:

"Let's not make the perfect the enemy of the essential."

In other words, don't try to do your best -- let's move fast and I'll decide what's essential.

Mardi Gras -- A National Holiday?

Yesterday, posted an article with the headline, "Zatarain's Starts Its Own Petition to Make Mardi Gras a National Holiday." (

Even though the petition is obviously a marketing ploy (McCormick's bought out Zatarain's years ago, even though there is still a local production facility on the West Bank), it sparked a firestorm among bloggers! Overwhelmingly, the posters decried the notion that anyplace else could do justice to Carnival and its deep New Orleans traditions. I even kicked in my own two cents:

"Nope. Mardi Gras just won't work right anywhere else.

While you couldn't pay me to go to Bourbon Street again during Carnival, I surely do love the compulsion that overcomes me when the drums start beating and the floats start rolling -- I MUST grab MORE worthless plastic trinkets!

And I enjoy people-watching the characters in the Quarter on Fat Tuesday (from a safe distance, of course!). The character factor -- that's probably key to the inability of anyplace else hosting a successful Mardi Gras celebration -- the rest of the country is simply too stodgy! No place on the planet knows how to cut loose and laissez les bon temps rouler like our NOLA. Friends and family from across the nation still don't "get" that we don't have mail delivery on Mardi Gras, much less why we stand in the cold and rain on the muddy neutral ground to yell at costumed and masked people to 'throw me somethin', Mista!'. My daughter was aghast when she transferred from LSU to UALR and actually had to go to classes during Mardi Gras week! Yep -- the rest of the world that only experiences "Tuesday" couldn't get it right.

While Zatarain's is a nice little business to have in Gretna, its products have WAY too much salt! Let the rest of the world eat Zatarain's -- we'll keep Mardi Gras."

Imagine. Someplace else in the country thinking that it could carry off even one day of celebration, much less an entire season! Why, other places don't even believe in kowtowing to faux royalty! Those of us who live in NOLA appreciate the significance of a crown.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ah, New Orleans!

I attended a neighborhood association meeting last night. I expected to get some good information and to meet our new District 2 Police Major. I didn't expect irony.

Those of us who had donated money to purchase "Neighborhood Watch" signs were told that we could pick them up at the close of the meeting and receive instructions for mounting them on our block. You know the sign -- the one with the shadowy "Boris" figure leering at you, obviously up to no good.

So, with my sign in hand, I asked Nell about the mounting instructions. She replied that I could attach it to any utility pole on my block, but I should be certain to mount it high enough "to discourage anyone from stealing it."

Steal the Neighborhood Watch sign. New Orleans to a tee.

Clinton-speak, Redux

There is a word-ly and delicious, if not wholly unexpected, aftermath of two Washington insiders removing themselves from consideration for positions in the Obama administration. Our young president wants to send the message that there aren't two sets of rules for those Americans who dwell inside the beltway and those who don't know where the beltway is. The young president's choice of words to communicate that message is "interesting," to say the very least.

One source, Charles Babington of the Associated Press, quotes the young president as desiring not to suggest differing standards for "prominent people" and "ordinary folks." (BTW -- Mr. Babington is identified in his by-line as simply a "writer," but I would characterize his article as op-ed. Maybe journalism school ethics classes distinguish between "reporting" and "writing" these days, and "writers" are ethically permitted to slant their stories.) But, I've also seen the young president quoted on at least one blog ( classifying Americans as "powerful people" and "ordinary folks." The word "powerful" isn't nearly as condescending as "prominent" and, therefore, not as offensive to us "ordinary" ignorant yahoos who live in fly-over country. I wonder who got whom to spin the word ever so slightly. Ah, what the future holds for wordsmithing! Bye-bye "misunderestimated" -- I smell the entertaining ol' days of Clinton-speak!

Now, birdwalking just a bit, insofar as the most recent iteration of "economic stimulus legislation" goes, I would like to see more discussion -- or revelation -- of the certainty that this new "assistance to the unemployed and struggling families," once enacted, will never go away. You can't take the raw chicken away from the alligator once he begins munching on it. And, is anyone else "troubled" by the term "Troubled Asset Relief Program?" Troubled Asset?! How about "tortured acronym?" Talk about wordsmithing.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Yellow Brick Road Leading to D.C.

The man behind the curtain has shamefacedly returned the cookies he filched from the forbidden cookie jar after admitting he had taken them accidentally.

Former Senator Tom Daschle pulls many puppet strings, and undoubtedly will continue to do so, even if he must remain behind the curtain.

But for now, Senator Daschle and Nancy Killefer, the scofflaws chosen by our new president for cabinet and senior advisor positions, have followed Governor Richardson's example, and not only owned up to their wrongdoing (failing to pay a substantial amount on federal taxes), but also stepped aside to permit someone law-abiding to be among those who will help lead our nation in President Obama's changeably-hopeful, highly ethical, transparent administration. Let's "hope" those next up at bat are indeed more ethical and law-abiding, and not simply more accomplished at covering up their misdeeds.

Do we see the continuation of a pattern here? The pattern has existed since well before the fiascoes during the campaign involving Rev. Wright and other mentors of the candidate. But, did our young president learn nothing from those choices that threatened to de-rail his campaign on more than one occasion? I think we are left little choice but to come one simple conclusion: the young president's judgement remains suspect.

In his interview today with Katie Couric, when speaking of Daschle's withdrawal from consideration, the young president was most abashed, claiming the failure to vet the Senator adequately as his alone. And he apologized to the nation. So, I suppose we must also conclude that our new young president will adhere to the doctrine that it is easier to seek forgiveness than permission. That's a frightening prospect.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Musings on New Orleans and Transience

A charming column from today's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Paul Greenberg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Demo-zette editor -- quite the wordsmith. The photograph is mine. It was taken November 10, 2007 -- the day the St. Charles line extended as far as Napoleon Avenue after post-Katrina repairs. It took another several months for the entire line to re-open. I didn't shed tears of joy on that November day, but I did in late 2006 the first time I saw a streetcar round Lee Circle after Katrina. It only ran between Lee Circle and Canal Street for more than a year, and many people had no transportation as a result. Stinky old buses ran up and down St. Charles. Yuck. Such a long, long time.

A streetcar named St. Charles
NEW ORLEANS Like good ol’ Binx Bolling in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, I am addicted to repetitions—to going back to the same city to see the same things, order the same meals, and experience the same sensations to see how much not they but I have changed. It is a habit I must give up, for it can be disappointing. And when it is, it’s almost enough to make me consider trying something new. Almost. For when nothing seems to have changed, especially me, the experience can be assuring. And familiarity breeds not contempt but contentment. I’m happy to report that taking the St. Charles Avenue streetcar is still just about the greatest bargain in the world, not just commercially but emotionally. As befits the world’s oldest, continuously operating streetcar line—it dates back to 1835—it still goes clang, clang, clang down the tracks, affording the rider a view of simple cottages and then grand old mansions as the palms along both sides of the tracks on the median seem to lean back for the passing car. Only a rare McMansion mars the view and the sense of time suspended. And for a brief while all manner of people aboard become part of a single, civil, gracefully mobile community, however densely packed as you approach downtown and the French Quarter. On this line the conductors still conduct their passengers, not just drive a trolley. There is no question about their route that they will not answer earnestly and authoritatively, but only when asked. For this is no Disney ride but a working streetcar line that people depend on to get to work and then back home. Exact change ($1.25) is required, at least formally. When a shy young man climbs aboard with only a $5 bill, and is about to get off again abashed, the conductor tells him to stay on and see if a passenger won’t make change. All of us go searching through our purses and wallets for singles, and when I come up with five of them, I feel a great benefactor at no cost. All on board seem gratified. The sense of civilized community—of understated bonhomie, unlike the vulgar show of it on Bourborn Street—is palpable. And that’s what I like about the South. On the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, she yet lives. At one point, as we pass the old houses in the Garden District, their every unrepaired gate or splotched wall adding to their character, there appears an ad for some kind of new-fangled paint guaranteed not to fade. Use Permacoat, the sign says, and never paint again. How un-New Orleanian, for here rot is an art form, decay a testimonial to the passing of time, and cemeteries an attraction. Outlaw decay? What next, shall we outlaw mortality? Or at least tax death, like any other offense against decency? For this is America, the land of the ever new, where you need never paint again, and death is considered a preventable disease. But New Orleans is scarcely America. The whole city is a memento mori, a cheerful reminder of our mortality, an Angel of Death stopping time on St. Charles, or hiding behind a smiley face on Bourbon Street. If New Orleans is anything, surely it is the antithesis of the new. No wonder it is the perfect city for repetitions of experience. At one point in the long ride that goes by so fast, an aged black man gets on and settles down across from us on one of the old, perfectly worn wooden seats, which are probably as old as he is. He adjusts his leg getting into the streetcar just the way I do when climbing into my little convertible back home. I diagnose the gentleman’s condition immediately. I know it well, for my bursitis, too, will act up now and then. I identify with him at once. Our common disability sweeps away any superficial difference like race, creed, color, age, residence, class, accent, history, you name it. . . . The ills that all flesh is heir to make us one. It is a privilege and assurance to report that the New Orleans streetcar remains home to a literally transient but assuringly permanent community. It’s a short ride but still an educational one. And I can chalk up a successful repetition, having learned something. Or at least having been reminded of what I should have known all along. For as Dr. Johnson put it, men more frequently need to be reminded than informed.