Can your products/services actually help me? Odds are, the answer is no. That doesn’t mean we’re not useful to each other. I’m a 65-year-old teacher and author. If you think your services would improve my businesses, pitch me! Otherwise, how about we explore other possibilities.
Endorsements and recommendations
I consider it a privilege to endorse and recommend folks I know. If we’ve worked together in the past, or have other personal connections, ask me to endorse your skills. Networking improves when we overlap our circles.
We don’t know each other, you say? If you think my endorsement can help, let’s fix that.
As an Independent Scholar and author of six books on the history of New Orleans, I am a font of NOLA trivia and minutiae. Working on something that needs details about New Orleans? Quick questions are always welcome. Sometimes it’s the little things, like checking a scene where your character orders a cappuccino at Cafe’ du Monde (hint: it’s not on their menu).
Yeah, you could check the menu of a place on Google, but asking a quick question nurtures a conversation, and possibly, a relationship. Feel free to ask. The questions often go beyond basic fact-checking, into restaurant recommendations, etc. These situations are often mutually beneficial. You get your answer, and you may be offering inspiration for a deep-dive article.
More extensive projects
I am always open to consulting work related to New Orleans. If you’re a content creator, journalist, or feature writer, and you have the budget to hire “experts,” let’s talk. This sort of thing often originates with the basic question.
I often receive emails and messages from folks that say, I’d love to buy you lunch and pick your brain. I’ve got an easy way for you to do that – click that “support me” button and buy me a coffee! Better still, become a patron of my History work, or my Fiction writing.
Hidden Talents by Edward Branley CHAPTER ONE Beer on the Lakefront Janet frowned as her friend pulled only one of the earbuds from his ears. "You're listening to that kook on the radio while we were hanging out, instead of me. Is his ass cuter than mine?" Renard Alciatore smiled, leaned over, and grabbed two fresh beers from the cooler. Tossing one to his friend, he sat back on the sea wall and gazed out over Lake Pontchartrain. At a quarter-to-five, the New Orleans air was crisp and cool this sunny April afternoon. Renard (Ren to his friends) had been listening to Talk Now! With Jay Hadley in the car on the way to his bi-weekly stress break...
One of my favorite/regular wallper images is “Molly by the Sea” by Milo Manara.
Molly by the Sea
This drawing depicts a woman watching as a British ship of the line leaves port, heading off to war. She wades out into the water, raising her skirts. The image originally appeared in the magazine, “Heavy Metal.”
“Molly” wears a dress with a ruffled collar. The sleeves are unbuttoned, revealing a white shift underneath. Her shoes are likely back on the beach. Clearly she’s not wearing much under her shift. It’s a breezy day. Molly’s tussled hair and the soaring seagulls convey the feel of the wind.
The ship is a two-decker, “Third Rate” ship of the line. Third rate ships carried between 64 and 80 guns, with most of the British third rates carrying 74 guns. So, Molly’s man was part of a crew of 500 to 650 officers, sailors and Marines. The ship flies the Red Ensign at the stern. The red flag flying on the main mast may be the flag of a Rear Admiral. Ships of the line derive that designation from their ability to stand in a line of warships. Squadrons of wooden ships approached their enemies in a line. This limited their attack profile. As they closed with the enemy, the ships turned. They presented a “broadside” to the enemy, hopefully bringing as many guns as possible to bear. Hard work and discipline enabled Royal Navy ships to defeat their French and Spanish foes in the Napoleonic era.
Realism versus fantasy
Manara is a fantasy writer and artist. His art is often erotic and tantalizing. It’s no surprise he sees Molly as a wife or lover who wants her man to return safe from the wars. While so much of the grand and epic art of the Napoleonic period avoids eroticism, Manara offers it to us. Since so many Royal Navy sailors served involuntary, their women struggled to make ends meet. Press gangs snatched men off the streets of port towns. All Molly could do is hike up her skirt and remind her man what he has waiting for him.
Jesus Christ Superstar is a blast from my teen past.
Jesus Christ Superstar
We saw Jesus Christ Superstar at the Saenger Theater last night. It was the first time I’d seen the opera live. That made for some interesting thoughts on my part. Andrew Lloyd Weber (music) and Tim Rice (lyrics) wrote and scored a wonderful show. I can see these two having drinks or some such, talking about the success The Who had with “Tommy” just a couple of years earlier. The libretto was easy and well-read: The Gospels. It’s no surprise that they couldn’t find financial backing to do their opera as a stage production. Albums are cheaper, so off it goes. Sound familiar? Think Hamilton and oh so many productions in between.
Catholic school teens
By the time I got to Brother Martin as an eighth-grader in 1971, Superstar wasn’t on my radar. New Orleans was one of the cities presenting an unauthorized/unlicensed production of the show. Still, as an thirteen-year old, my focus was on the Fab Four/Wings, and a lot of Mowtown on AM-pop (WTIX). I can’t remember which of the girls from St. Angela made a pitch to base the music for a Mass around Rare Earth’s “Celebrate,” but that was as controversial as things got.
While “Superstar” exploded with the release of the album and opening of the production on the West End, another “Jesus” musical, “Godspell,” opened off-Broadway in 1971. Now, Stephen Schwartz was no slouch, going on to create Pippin and Wicked. Godspell also had the appeal of being “more Christian,” if you will, than Tim Rice’s lyrics. So, you saw Catholic high schools producing Godspell more and more. I bought both albums in the summer of 1974, when I worked at the Breaux Mart on Severn and had disposable income. That was when my Album-Oriented Rock (AOR) phase kicked into high gear, listening to Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer nonstop.
By my UNO years in the late 70s, Superstar was pretty much off the radar for me. Local high school productions of Godspell were commonplace by then, and I knew folks who did that show. That continued all the way to my band-parent days, when Dominican did the show and several of my kiddo’s friends were in the pit. When Superstar came to town, we usually passed, saving the money for other shows.
So, this season for “Broadway Across America” included the 50th anniversary production of Superstar. It’s part of the subscription. Why not? At this point in time, I didn’t have much in the way of expectations or demands from the production. My biggest curiosity going to the theater last night was, how were they going to handle the music? I kept coming back to Yvonne Elliman’s beautiful singing in the original cast album, and the strings kicking in on “Everything’s Alright.” They made it work.
(Side note: For having never seen the show live, this soundtrack stuck with me lo, these fifty years. When the Magdalene sang “Everything’s Alright,” I had to remind myself I wasn’t at a Jimmy Buffett concert, and singing along like a Parrothead wasn’t appropriate.)
“I started the car this morning and the A/C kicked in!” he exclaimed.
“Of course it did the high was 74 yesterday,” she replied.
The pair of investigators walked over to a table at the back of the coffee shop after getting their drinks. They ran through the list of tasks for their current cases as they greeted people passing by. This particular Lakeview coffee shop was popular all day. It was just a few blocks off of an Interstate exit. That made it a good meeting place. Connecting with a colleague? quick hop off the highway for a Jefferson Parish deputy, or someone from the Bureau. The Joint Major Crime Task Force consisted of detectives from the city, Stella was FBI, Marie, NOPD.
One of the baristas brought a just-iced cinnamon roll over to the table for Marie.
“Don’t you guys sit the opposite direction most of the time?” She asked.
“Yeah, but it’s cold, so I get to people-watch. No women in shorts for Stella to ogle,” Marie replied, with a laugh.
“Hey! It’s fair, you can watch the guys in sweatpants on cold days,” Stella said. She resisted the urge to flip Marie off.
“OK, that’s true. But cold weather means you miss the stiffy action on the women, like that one at the counter now,” she said.
Stella whipped around so quickly, her chair squeaked.
Putting the phone down to see the world can be a challenge.
Putting the phone down
I like watching trains. I try to record the Amtrak trains that pass through New Orleans. Social media users enjoy the recordings. So, yesterday, I drove over to Central Avenue in Old Jefferson. Central Avenue is a railroad nexus. The East Bridge Junction switch tower stands a few hundred meters from the street. The tracks heading up to the Huey P. Long Bridge cross Central, as do the tracks of the New Orleans Public Belt RR. The main line for the Canadian National Railroad (formerly the Illinois Central) pass here. That’s the tracks the City of New Orleans trains use. So, there’s a lot of train action here.
Trains lured me Central Avenue as early as the late 1980s. I listened to a radio preacher in the afternoons. Watching the trains provided purpose beyond a guilty pleasure. Trains offer great photo opportunities. My Nikon EM captured the action nicely. Slow moving freights, the City zooming out of town, and the Sunset Limited presented photo challenges. To this day, I am a rank amateur, always learning.
Watching, not recording
The two City of New Orleans trains pass each other daily, just past Kenner. I recorded #58, the northbound train. That’s the video above. A couple of freight trains passed by, one going up the Huey, another heading into the riverfront area. Parking under the Earhart Expressway enables me to move up and down Central Avenue safely. The trains present colorful targets, the silver-blue for Amtrak, red, black, and yellow of Kansas City Southern, and the bright blue of the Public Belt.
When City #59 (Southbound) passed, I watched it with my eyes. The City lacks the “special car” appeal of the Crescent or Sunset Limited. It runs up to Chicago and back. The route rolls along, it’s not scenic like winding up the east coast or out through the western deserts. So, groups chartering private railcars choose other routes. Not so yesterday, as an 11-bedroom Pullman sleeper and a Vistadome car brought up the rear of #59. Charter Wire owns the cars.
The train rolled by. I didn’t record it. The City rolls by fast. To get photos/video of the back, you have to start as soon as you hear the bells of the crossing gate. I didn’t. I let it go, with those green-livery private cars going by.
Is that such a bad thing? I’ve got the memories.
Looking through the viewfinder
I get that the professionals see the world through their cameras. Chris Granger wouldn’t be the wizard he is without taking photos of literally everything. I’m a writer. The memory sticks. Now, I have a visual in my head of private cars going up to Chicago. I can write about that. I’ll show you those cars in a story.