Glimpses of life in and around New Orleans.
French Quarter Frou-Frou
Photo by Dawn Carl. You can follow Dawn and her photos on Google+.
Hey guys, the Louisiana SPCA had an incredible donor give us a Final Four Ticket Package to raffle off this week. The package includes Two Final Four & FanFest Tickets for the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Final Four:
Two Tickets to Semifinals: Saturday, March 31st at the Mercedes Benz Superdome
Two Tickets to Championship: Monday, April 2nd at the Mercedes Benz Superdome
Ultimate Final Four FanFest: One time admission during (March 30-April 2) at the Morial Convention Center
A $380.00 value!
Anyone can donate to www.la-spca.org/finalfour $5 or more to be entered in a chance to win this package. All the proceeds benefit the LA/SPCA heartworm fund, the benefits of which you can see below. If you can mention this in any way any where we would truly appreciate it, and so would the 100 dogs we’re able to save through this fund.
Please let me know if you need any more information, we’ll be picking a winner on Friday at 10am so donate now!
We’d met on an intermittently drizzly day in the heart of the Vieux Carré in January 1992, when I’d stopped to check out the poetry he was peddling at Jackson Square. He watched me reading, not saying a word, then turned and rummaged through a couple of banker’s boxes and pulled a short story he’d written titled “The Girl in the Black Trenchcoat” from a manila file folder which he handed to me with flourish as a greeting gift. The story obviously wasn’t about me (as we’d not yet met), but it resonated immediately. I still have those three type-written pages in a box of keepsakes, safely tucked away.
We were kindred — he’d recognized it from the get-go, and I’m still grateful that I was smart enough to roll with it (despite my New-to-New-Orleans wariness) until I eventually realized that he was absolutely right. I’ve never been good about keeping in touch with people as time passes and the scenery changes, but I somehow managed to keep in contact with Charlie over the years in between then and now, and he welcomed me back when I returned to New Orleans.
If love were enough to keep anybody on this side of the daisies, Charlie would have been a formidable, wry, growling, mischievous, and lively raconteur forever — a one-man court jester/Greek chorus hybrid who’d never pull a punch when he had something on his mind that needed to be said out loud. This man was family to me; he’s the reason why I took up deviling local politicians and community figures as my most favorite sport, and his ability to speak the oft-overlooked yet simple truth of a situation will continue to inspire me. I was delighted when he decided to throw his hat back into the lobbying ring and by the artful descriptions he’d craft for his most recent clientele; as the only lobbyist inducted to date in the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame, he was truly legendary, unforgettable, and unique.
I’m happy that the last time we kept lengthy company (blissfully grazing at a pig roast party at Pravda on Lower Decatur), he got to see me use my two minutes of unanticipated and impromptu face time with Louisiana State Senator Edwin R. Murray to my best advantage… Charlie just smiled and looked proudly amused as I excused myself from the conversation we’d been enjoying to address Sen. Murray directly after he’d taken the seat at our table across from me. Sen. Murray was visibly stunned (as if he didn’t know what had just hit him), and one could also see my date’s brain cells colliding as he watched me snap from relaxed & casual to being a political creature with a three-bullet-point agenda in the blink of an eye, securing a follow-up meeting on the spot. The guy I’d been seeing back then is history for all the right reasons (I remember noticing Charlie watching him quietly and I could see that he’d thought that the guy couldn’t keep up with me), but Sen. Murray hasn’t forgotten my name since, most likely because I’d been in Charlie’s company that evening.
I only knew Charlie after he’d paid his dues and cleaned up his act, and I loved him as I found him — I can only imagine who he’d been in the years prior from the stories he’d occasionally share. I’m pretty sure that I’d have liked him, had I known him “back when,” but I also suspect that I respected and admired him more for his having learned how to live beyond all of that. I think what I loved the most about him was that his smile always reached his eyes and I believe that this was true because of everything he’d experienced, not in spite of.
Here’s who Charlie was, in his own words from the introduction to his first poetry collection, before he chose a different way to go about living his life:
I was sitting, actually I was lying — passed out — drunk and stupid, in this place called the “Copper Bar” next to the Las Vegas Hilton at about three in the morning when this hooker woke me up and handed me my wallet. “You’re sure lucky I’m an honest hooker,” she said. “Don’t bother to count it, you’ve got $1,400 in there; I didn’t touch a thing.”
I thanked her and she said, “Look, it’s obvious to me that you don’t know shit from beans about Vegas or your wouldn’t have been so dumb as to fall out in this place. I’m off duty so what say I show you the ropes around town and you can throw me a chip every now and then… I mean, I just saved your ass $1,400 and all.”
She was right on all counts so we had a drink, and she showed me around Vegas. During the course of the night, or morning (there’s not much difference in a city that doesn’t recognize time), she told me her story.
She said she was a housewife in one of the Carolinas and, having read one too many Vivas or Cosmopolitans, had decided that she wasn’t getting her share of Life’s multi-orgasmic climaxes so she got together all the green stamps she could from her checking and savings accounts, left her hubby a note (just said “Bye.”), checked on a Greyhound Bus and headed to Las Vegas.
On arriving, she discovered that she really loved gambling and had no marketable job skills. It didn’t take her long to run out of money, so she turned to hooking for a living. Life can be hard on you anywhere, but in Vegas you’re operating at a higher rate of speed than anywhere else, and she was due to leave town soon. But, she told me, “At least I’ll have enough material for my book.”
I told her I also wrote, not books but poetry, so she told me what her title was going to be (with some people, titles come first). She said, “Since it’s going to be based on my life, I’m going to call it I GOT OFF THE BUS TWO YEARS AGO, AND I’M STILL WAITING FOR LAST CALL.”
To me, that’s the best title for hard living I’ve ever heard. The people I know, the street people, politicians, entertainers, bartenders, etc., are all waiting for the last call. I haven’t seen her book out so maybe she won’t mind me using her idea. She probably won’t see this book, either, so I guess we’re even.
This is dedicated to all the people who think what I write. The poems were almost all written in some confused state of mind, and a drunk that thinks in iambic pentameter can feel awfully silly the next morning when he looks at what’s been scrawled on the napkins, but that goes with the territory. I thought some of the poems would make great songs and had a flirtation with that idea, but nothing ever came of it. Maybe something will develop sometime or another.
Or maybe it won’t, but as Mr. Vonnegut might say, “So it goes.”
(From Still Waiting For Last Call… © 1987 by Charlie Smith)
Thanks to the magic of the ether and pixels, some of Charlie’s songs can be enjoyed here: Charlie Smith’s Songs.
Via a post from Charlie’s daughter on Facebook: “The service will be held at Jacob Schoen & Son funeral home [3827 Canal Street, New Orleans] on Tuesday, March 6, 2012, with visitation beginning at 5:00 PM until 8:00 PM, and then a service held in the chapel at 8:00 PM. Black is always the first choice at funerals, but we think LSU apparel would probably best honor Daddy, so please feel free to break out your purple and gold. This will be an obviously sad occasion, but it should also be a time to celebrate his life. We are not quite sure about the charity to donate to in lieu of flowers, but will post that when we know.” (Me? I’ll be wearing a Jazz Fest shirt, celebrating my memories of Charlie when he’d wear a flamboyant purple cape inscribed in gold lettering with “Defender of Arts / Pets / Historic Preservation / Coastal Restoration / King of Jazz Fest.”)
In closing, I offer this from the poignant-yet-funny write-up by political editor Clancy DuBos of The Gambit titled “Charlie’s Way”: “I once wrote that if Charlie didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him. Suffice it to say that Louisiana politics is cleaning up its act, which makes Charlie’s exit from the stage timely — but the story will be a lot less fun to watch without him.”
His obituary can be viewed here: Charles Leslie Smith — September 9, 1942 – March 1, 2012.
This is a photo of my sweet Peggy Sue. I adopted her from the LA SPCA last month and she has added so much joy to my life since she moved in. If you or anyone you know is thinking about getting a dog or cat, please consider adopting from the SPCA and give a homeless animal a home. This Friday all adoptions are only $11.00. Details below.
11/11/11 is a unique date and will be celebrated in a unique way at the Louisiana SPCA (LA/SPCA). All cats, dogs, kittens and puppies available for adoption will have an $11 adoption fee. Normally $80 or $150, the one day fee reduction will encourage adopters to make the trip to the LA/SPCA Animal Rescue and Care Center to find a new forever friend. The adoption fee covers spay/neuter surgery, all vaccinations, rabies tag and license, and a bag of dog or cat food.
The LA/SPCA’s Animal Rescue and Care center can hold 350 animals at any given time. Animals are brought to the LA/SPCA by the public or through our Animal Control operations. Last week (from 10/31/11 – 11/7/11) the LA/SPCA received 180 animals at the Animal Rescue and Care Center and placed 33 animals in forever homes. In an attempt to make room for the hundreds of animals the LA/SPCA receives each month the LA/SPCA has planned this special adoption promotion.
“The LA/SPCA staff will screen potential adopters carefully during this promotion to be sure these will be good homes,” explains Ana Zorrilla LA/SPCA CEO. “Our goal is to place the many wonderful cats and dogs in our care and alleviate the space crunch that we continue to experience.”
To add a twist, any potential adopter walking into the Animal Care and Rescue Center from 11am-12noon will receive a special adoption survey. These adopters will have the entire adoption fee waived – Free adoptions from 11am-12noon on 11/11/11!
The LA/SPCA’s goal is to place 111 animals in new homes by the end of the day. Adoptions open at 10am. Animals will be adopted on a first come first serve basis, so get there early. All puppies, kittens, dogs and cats are eligible for the special pricing. No holds will be placed on any animals throughout the day, so be sure to bring all the required materials for adoption including documentation that your property owner allows pets, and bring any other family members and dogs that live in your household so everyone can meet the pet you are considering adopting.
The LA/SPCA wants to get the word out to adopt don’t shop when picking your next pet. There are hundreds of animals waiting for you every day at your local animal shelter. For more information about this and other adoption programs at the LA/SPCA, visit us online at http://www.la-spca.org.
The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an organization devoted to improving the lives of animals and eliminating the homelessness, neglect and abuses that signal animal suffering. Chartered in 1888, our history has been paved with an understanding that only through an improved human-animal ethic can we better the lives of companion animals and that of our community. Our programs and services are infused with the highest standards of care and compassion.
In July we adopted a 5 month old puppy from someone whose son moved away without the dog. Hubby found the dog through a facebook friend.
I’m a cat person. I have had cats for most of my life and currently share my home with five felines. I enjoy their company and love the fact that cats make it easy take weekend away from home and not have to worry about them; cats are – for the most part – quiet critters. But I figured “what the hell”. Hubby and my daughter have been pining for a puppy. So we drove to Chalmette, Louisiana one rainy Monday to pick up our new pup.
While thinking about a puppy, I envisioned a small, fuzzy baby dog. I’ll never forget the first time I laid eyes on the Deuce. My first thought was “he’s very tall, look at those legs!!”.
The pup’s owners named him “Duke”, which really didn’t click for us. On the ride home we played with names and finally decided on “Deuce”, after the former New Orleans Saint Deuce McAllister. It fit and that was “dat”.
Deuce is quite a dog. He’s responsible for turning me into a dog lover.
The few months that we’ve shared our home with Deuce have not been dull. He has grown like a typical puppy: gnawing on furniture, full of energy. A few things that stand out in my mind:
- Deuce eating a pork tenderloin that I put out to rest on the counter (I forgot how tall he is)
– Finding my phone in pieces in Deuce’s bed.
– Realizing that I could not leave magazines around because the newly acquired dog is a live shredder.
– I have never seen a dog de-stuff a dog toy as fast as Deuce.
– He drops bones and heavy “chew toys” on the hardwood floor which causes my 17 year old cat to have seizures.
– He eats anything (wood, cloth, CDs, etc).
– When he jumps on me, his paws are as high as my shoulders.
– Dog spit is sticky.
– I have seen this dog eat things he regurgitated earlier (ugh!).
With that said, I would like to present the pictures of Deuce’s debut in da bayou today.
He made me a dog lover today. There is nothing like seeing a dog discover his calling, his breeding.
Deuce is part Labrador, part Chesapeake Bay Retriever, which makes him a true water dog. Hubby was worried that our pup would go brain crazy and swim away from us once he touched the water, so he tied Deuce to 50 feet of nylon rope to be sure we didn’t lose him.
It was a well-spent Saturday. Our adopted “puppy” experienced his first of many swims and we were there to share it with him. I’m glad that Deuce has come into our lives, making it a little richer.
I woke up today feeling very vulnerable and sad. I really can’t pin down the reason for being blue. I guess it has a lot to do with what’s going on in my life right now. All the thoughts and repressed emotions have bubbled up and today was the day that they reached the surface of my consciousness.
Don’t take this wrong, I’m not writing a “woe is me” post, just airing out these things to try to put them in perspective.
One of the oldest issues I’ve been carrying around is my impending loss of employment. It’s not the losing the job that bothers me as much as losing touch with people I’ve literally grown up with:
We will soon scatter to different parts of the country, perhaps never to meet again. Social media will help some of us keep connected, which makes it a little easier.
Actually I’m excited about my future. I have absolutley no idea what I’ll end up doing and that doesn’t really bother me. I’ve done the corporate things for more than half my life and I am over it!
My beautiful, sweet 23 year old daughter left for her last semester of school today. That makes me melancholy . While I truly enjoy my alone time, I cherish the time that she and I get to spend together. She has grown up smart and strong and I am extremely proud of her.
She will be graduating in December at a Chef/Nutritionist. She and I spend so much time talking about food, exploring grocery stores, creating recipes and eating. I miss her presence.
My husband’s 86 year old mother passed away last week and the services were on July 30th. I believe the catalyst for my sadness was the memorial services. While she led a fruitful and long life, I was saddened to see her family suffering emotionally, especially her 90+ year old sisters.
Life is full of changes and we get through them any way we can. We become stronger by surviving the not so good changes. Experience is a fantastic teacher. The good changes in life also mold our character as we go through life. We experienced a good change a few weeks ago when we adopted a puppy. A huge, excitable puppy.
His name is Deuce and he is five months old. 55 pounds. He’s part Lab, part Chesepeake Bay Retriever. He drove me to frustrated tears today. See, Deuce had a little sore on his leg so he had to have a the E-cone put over his head. The cone is falling apart because Deuce is such a goofball so he runs into things. I was trying to tape the cone together this morning and it was impossible to do by myself and I lost it. I am not a dog person. While Deuce is extremely smart, he’s still just a puppy and I don’t know where to start in calming him down. He’s fine right now while I’m sitting on the sofa typing. But the minute I get up he starts wagging his tail and wants to jump. Someone tell me WHAT is a way to get a puppy’s attention? It’s driving me mad! He will sit on command (for a second), but his puppyness makes him have a very, very short attention span.
So yeah, life is full of changes and I’m happy to embrace them. I guess we just have to take some days off and process all the changes and regroup our emotions so we can get through life. That’s what I’m doing today and that’s why I posted this, it helped! Thanks.
“However, without a new contract many services that the city is required by law to provide, including bite case management, stray animal pickup and assisting the city with its evacuation plans, can not be provided by LA/SPCA.”
That is only part of the scenario regarding animal control that will affect our city beginning October 1 because the city has not signed a new contract with the LA/SPCA. Do you think this won’t affect you? Read on.
NEW ORLEANS, LA – (September 26, 2010) The Board of Directors of the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) announced that effective Friday, October 1, 2010 the LA/SPCA’s contract with the City of New Orleans to provide full animal control services will expire. LA/SPCA will be forced to scale back Animal Control services to emergencies only for Orleans Parish residents until a new contract is signed with the City of New Orleans.
“The LA/SPCA continues to face a significant operating deficit because the current contract leaves us with close to $1 million shortfall that we’re forced to cover,” said Ana Zorrilla, LA/SPCA’s Chief Executive Officer. “With the continued increase in costs associated with employment, utilities and insurance, we can no longer rely on the generosity of philanthropic donors to pay for this critical city service.”
In December 2009 the LA/SPCA agreed to provide nine months of full services described in the Cooperative Endeavour Agreement (CEA) with the City of New Orleans for Animal Control Services concluding on September 30, 2010. The reduction to nine months was negotiated with the Nagin administration and was a result of the 10% reduction in funding as compared to the 2009 CEA.
“LA/SPCA is fully committed to working in partnership with the City of New Orleans to provide high quality services for our residents and the animal community,” said Ana Zorrilla. “We are concerned that the 2011 Cooperative Endeavour Agreement has not been enacted. We are hopeful that the City of New Orleans will recognize that animal control services are an essential city service that has to be provided. We don’t want to see animals or our city’s residents suffer.”
LA/SPCA has proposed a new 12-month CEA for 2011 that will provide a full level of animal control and enforcement services. The expiring contract was not funded at a level to provide these services for the entire year. Without the newly proposed budget, LA/SPCA will be forced to scale back services, meaning that the agency will be unable to lead, assist or be involved in any animal evacuation activities, as outlined in the City Assisted Evacuation Plan.
LA/SPCA will continue to provide its humane programs and services as a private non-profit organization, including cruelty investigations, adoptions, humane education and providing shelter and care for the hundreds of homeless animals that enter its doors everyday. However, without a new contract many services that the city is required by law to provide, including bite case management, stray animal pickup and assisting the city with its evacuation plans, can not be provided by LA/SPCA.
“The LA/SPCA’s will continue to fulfill its mission as an advocate for the animals of Louisiana by advancing their welfare, promoting their interests, and fostering the human/animal bond through innovative programs, education, and service. We deeply regret being forced into a position where we are not able to continue to provide the crucial service of Animal Control to Orleans Parish,” said Zorrilla.
The specific outline of services that will be scaled back effective October 1, 2010 are:
- Disaster/Hurricane Assistance: LA/SPCA will not open and operate a temporary shelter for animals during tropical storm conditions or lead the animal side of a City Assisted Evacuation prior to landfall of a major storm.
- After-hours Services: All calls received outside of regular business hours (Mon. – Fri) will be routed to NOPD. This includes weekend and holidays.
- Bite Case Quarantine: Animals that bite humans will need to be held by private veterinarians and billed to the City of New Orleans.
- Stray Animal Collection: LA/SPCA will not actively trap or collect strays roaming the streets in Orleans Parish. We will take in and provide care to strays brought to our shelter by the public and NOPD.
- Intact Dog Ordinance: City of New Orleans will be responsible for enforcement.
- Inspection of stables for mules used as transportation
- Owner requested relinquishment in the field
LA/SPCA will continue to provide the following services out of our commitment to the quality-of-life of our companion animals and our community:
1. Emergency response to humans injured or attacked by animals and emergency response to injured animals between 9 am and 5 pm (Mon. – Fri.)
2. Bite case investigation and management
3. Drop off location for found or unwanted animals 9 am and 5 pm (Mon. – Fri.)
4. Lost and found services
5. Housing and humane care (food, shelter and veterinary care) for animals brought by the public
6. Adoption and re-homing of cats and dogs
7. Humane euthanasia and cremation for unadoptable animals
Zorrilla and the Board will be reaching out to neighborhood associations and community residents to respond to any concerns and outline the essential services the organization continues to provide to residents. Headquartered in New Orleans, the LA/SPCA manages a total operating budget of $4.2 million and employs more than 60 full-times employees and hundreds of unpaid volunteers serving in a variety of capacities. The LA/SPCA shelters over 6,500 homeless animals each year. An additional 6,000 animals receive veterinary care via its community clinic and 3,300 students participate in Humane Education afterschool and summer programs through the LA/SPCA.
The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is an organization devoted to improving the lives of animals and eliminating the homelessness, neglect and abuse that signal animal suffering. Chartered in 1888, our history has been paved with an understanding that only through an improved human-animal ethic can we better the lives of companion animals and that of our community. Our programs and services are infused with the highest standards of care and compassion.
Photographed for NOLAFemmes by Julia Pretus.
Read about our project depicting the state of New Orleans neighborhoods in the 5th year post-Katrina here
All photos can be seen in chronological order by clicking “Katrina Photo Project” in the header.
Did you know pet owners are still looking for their misplaced or lost pets? Visit Lost Katrina Pets.com. If you adopted a Katrina pet don’t assume the owner callously left it behind to fend for itself and doesn’t deserve to have it back. I was forced to leave three cats behind simply because my mid-size car was packed with my husband, myself, my handicapped mother-in-law, 2 cats, two small dogs and a small suitcase of clothes. Although we left numerous bowls of water and food we worried for seven days, knowing they were sealed in a sweltering, boarded up house. It all ended well for us and the cats and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Here are some websites with good information regarding preparing your pets for a hurricane: