Some soul searching, then redoubled commitment, and I'm still here and going strong. There is so much that has happened... I went to New Orleans last weekend, and met a cousin I learned of only recently. Turns out that's not exactly true, I had met him once before, when he was a few weeks old. His father, then 53 if I recall, somewhat shocked relatives with his new baby, and sadly, then in fact passed away 8 months later. Eli, however, went on to grow to 30 and we re-met last weekend. My cousin Mark, who is a very good friend, and the person who first suggested I might like New Orleans, had recently informed me that his half brother, Eli, moved here 3 months ago, and gave me the introduction via e-mail.
I went to meet my newly found cousin in a hip part of New Orleans which I think is referred to as the triangle. Lots of internet cafes on tree lined streets filled mostly with wood Victorian houses containing the up and coming and homesteaders, with bohemian art on their lawns displayed to the street; a sculpture of piled, huge rectangular solids (made of window screens?), figures posing, an enormous water slide and tree house. There is a wonderful sincerity about it. I think of Greenwich Village in the 70's (I was not there in the 60's.) Even in the 80's, it was possible for kids and creative people to find cheap space in the East Village or Brooklyn and pursue whatever. Now, NYC, Brooklyn, Long Island City, Astoria, Forrest Hills, Hoboken, Jersey City, event the Bronx, are all priced too high to allow any real bohemia to survive. But here in New Orleans, it looks like the kids/artists/experimenters have a good foothold in the depressed and somewhat abandoned, but rebounding City of New Orleans. It is intoxicating.
Eli reminds me of a Nicholas Cage character, any of several. Eli talks with intensity, irony, occasional sarcasm, and always a merciless frantic rapidity; no time to waste if you don't catch it, but then time wasted on repeats (my nearly consonant-free hearing making matters worse.) He has Cage like one liners, a cigarette lighter emblazoned with a fan of playing cards, and of course, a motorcycle. But Eli is an original, and I later found myself complimenting him for living an off beat life he was trying to invent.
Eli landed a job here writing for, of all things, a gun magazine. "I like guns" he says, tilting his head to one side with a half shrug of one shoulder, that self referentially acknowledges the take-it-or-leave-it-ness of that self evidently inadequate explanation. Pure Cage :-) Most of all, Eli recounts hopes, encounters, and exploits with the ladies, many of whom are locals, many tourists. "That's what they come here for", he offers with another tilt head shrug, and an outstretched palm up hand, for good measure.
We visit his apartment. The street door is wood. We pass into a very small court yard, maybe 20 x 20, contained on 4 sides by the 2 story apartment building. The yard has just enough room for some wood, some small planters, some bicycles, a spot for my motor scooter near a wood ladder, and a hose coiled and jumbled in the only path between bikes to the stairs leading up. The winder stairs, wood bare from age and decay, slope towards their center post, with the exception of a few near the top that seem to be letting go of that support entirely. We both avoid putting too much weight on these as we make are way up to the 2nd floor exterior landing in front of Eli's apartment.
Charm. Provance has nothing on this, I think, and I plan to come back and take photos.
The door in is just the one that works of a pair under an air conditioner Gerry rigged onto a shelf at the transom above. There is a lock, but it seems it's been years since the door fit within the frame well enough to align the bolt successfully. Inside, red walls. Pink walls. I recognize the kitchen by appliances, and the archeology of the debris from various meals. Bachelor pad. The next room has a mattress on a box spring, various anonymous used dressers, etc, and despite some clutter, a still slick computer desk of perforated aluminum, cantilevered in various clever ways from it's wheeled "A" frame support, and a laptop with a very large external screen, and i-pod accessories strewn about. Somehow, I am comfortable, and Eli and I continue talking and bantering as we have all afternoon. Eli is a brilliant and passionate conversationalist, and I am grateful for his generosity as a host. We divide the bed and box spring, set up a few incidentals and go out for beers...
Readers, I have pictures of New Orleans from last weekend, and lots of stories which I will get to posting. And in the intervening week since then, I have made two cyber connections with women who live in New Orleans and we'll be followin' up... And, I have recovered from a serious computer backup fiasco that deleted among other things, my single copy (which I was attempting to back up) of photos of my work for the last 10 years. Happily, this has all been restored from a combination of zip backups I made in Massachusetts in November, combined with the current drive contents not eaten by the back up program... several days of sweat went into that rescue. I have completed the design for the RV park, and I made a present of a drawing for a new friend.
I will elaborate on all, including my visit with Eli, my motor scooter trip accidentally through the 9th ward, and down a highway with loooong bridge over "The Canal" with traffic wizzing by at 70...I will, but I will stop now, because I want to post some pictures from yesterday, and then get some sleep.
I used to live in New York City. I designed homes for the tycoons of Wall Street; Park Avenue, Scarsdale, Greenwich. It was great fun. And, after years of saving up for a down payment, I was just about to buy my own little place in Fleetwood, half an hour north of the city, when the economy fell apart. Architects are like canaries in a coal mine when the economy slows, and true to form, there were massive layoffs in firms all over the country. Devastation of the profession. So, I decided to try to find something else to do for a while. I bought a 23' school bus and I'm on the road to see if I can figure out what that might be.