Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. Durham

Plants Taking Over a Blighted Building at E. Oliver & N. DurhamThursday’s ride was one of those rides where you pedal around trying to get out of the post-first-day-of-school funk that always follows the heavy excitement of day one. I rode up the hill, ate a sandwich, and then rode down the hill, not sure of my destination. I decided to see if Pratt Street was closed for that boondoggle known as the Baltimore Grand Prix (thinking about the waste of resources makes me apoplectic–don’t get me started). I hate the thing, but if the road was closed to cars, maybe I could sneak in a bike race. No such luck, so I headed east, eventually ending up in Canton for some frozen yogurt and an hour of watching dogs tug around their owners. Continue reading

1929 Educational Film Still at the Presbytere at Jackson Square

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The sun has come out, the sun has come out! I wheeled my bike out of the apartment this morning and was shocked by how different everything looked in sunlight, and by the immediate need to put on some sunglasses. I pedaled to the Lower Garden District for a lovely brunch with A. After a quick stop at her place to see her cats–we are both resolute cat ladys and proud of it–I rode back down to the Quarter. I’m a Friend of the Cabildo (pardon my brag), so I decided to stop in at the Presbytere to avail myself of my membership privileges. After waiting behind some Swedish tourists, I got my free member ticket and headed into the Katrina and Beyond exhibit. I have been to this one before, but it definitely deserves multiple viewings; it is a really tense experience. Today I watched the entire 1929 silent film about New Orleans pout out by the Eastman company. It is all about what a beautiful place New Orleans is, the romance of our sultry air and elaborate ironwork, our outdoor restaurants and eclectic architecture. It showed our prime spot as a port, with easy access to the Mississippi, over 40,000 miles of railroad tracks, and a direct route to markets in the U.S. and around the world. And there was, of course, video of Mardi Gras parades. The last words of this silent film were, “Romance, work and play combine to make the charm of New Orleans.” True that. The rest of the exhibit makes claims not unlike this old movie, and the new film installation at the end of the exhibit echoes many of these scenes (though the 1929 movie didn’t make me cry). We are not telling new stories, though the old one about how great MRGO is doesn’t quite resonate anymore. Yes, world, New Orleans has a right to exist. I checked out the photography exhibition upstairs, but the Mardi Gras stuff just seemed out of place with the mood I was left in, so I headed home to work out of the sun before a longer ride tonight. If only they’d figure out how to put some bike racks in Jackson Square. Seriously, folks, we can park bicycles without ruining the historical look of the place, right?

Collapsed Roof on a House on Roffignac & Dorgenois

Ok, the weather is just ridiculous in New Orleans right now. I got up early, read for a bit, and then took the bike out for a ride. After a couple hours of grading at the coffee shoppe I pedaled out with no destination. I headed toward the Lower 9th but was thwarted by the bridge up at the Industrial Canal. Wait, wait, wait, and then wait a little bit more, and then I was zipping around, trying to trace as many newly-paved roads as possible. Continue reading

Speaking Out for Education at First Grace United Methodist Church

Today I got to ride my bike in a skirt and a tank top. Thank you, New Orleans, for giving me another day of summer, in November. I pedaled down to the Bywater to meet J. for a meeting to talk about planning a bigger meeting. And then I headed over to Canal and Jeff Davis to First Grace United Methodist Church, for a the event Post-Katrina Education in New Orleans: A Human Rights Violation. There’s a lot of talk about how education in New Orleans has improved since the takeover of schools by the state and their decentralization through charter schools. There has surely been improvement for some kids, but the picture is just more complicated than that. Continue reading

Piles of Phone Books at Calhoun and Magnolia

I had a long day at work today and was looking forward to a slow ride downtown for a quick stop at the gym and then dinner with friends. I didn’t make it far, though, before the skies opened up and raindrops the size of salad plates came falling down. I ducked under a loading dock on Calhoun and Magnolia and waited it out with these stacks of phone books–a real blast from the past. Continue reading

Blighted House on Mehle and N. Rampart in Arabi

I had a lovely day getting some reading and writing done before hopping on the Surly for a trip to the doctor’s office. At the end of our appointment I asked her how she was doing as the 5th anniversary of Katrina and the levee breaches that flooded New Orleans. She told me a harrowing story of her escape from the city, so terrible it seemed like out of a movie. But it wasn’t. And hers is one story among thousands and thousands and thousands. Continue reading

Our Recovery in Progress Sign at Evans Playground at LaSalle and Valmont

It’s the first day of school–one of my very favorite days of the year. I got up early, polished my apple, and hopped on the Surly to meet this season’s new recruits. Three classes and a burrito later and I was back on the bike heading downtown for a stop at the gym, which today was just an excuse to lounge in the steam room. Continue reading