Daniella's Misadventures
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
In case you haven't figured it out

I just don't have time for this site right now. Don't worry, I'm not going away for good, it just has started feeling like "just one more thing" on my to-do list rather than as an enjoyable activity. If you would like me to email you when I start posting again, feel free to leave your name and email in the comments.

I leave you with the long overdue Jazz Fest picture album... click here.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
On my way

We're on our way to New Orleans for some sun, fun, music and food. Come back around May 2nd or 3rd for a write up and lots of pictures.
Monday, April 03, 2006
22 days, 21 hours

...till we go home for my favorite thing in the whole wide world (well, aside from seeing my friends and family!).

Jazz Fest.

I am a-blur with joy at the thought of being home and listening to the kick-ass line up of fabulous music and munching on some of the best food this side of... well, of anywhere.

Here's the line up for the first weekend:

Friday, 4/28
Dr. John, Bob Dylan, Keb’ Mo’, Ani DiFranco, Cowboy Mouth, Yerba Buena, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Anders Osborne, Cynthia Liggins Thomas, James Rivers Movement, Dukes of Dixieland, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Terrance Simien & the Zydeco Experience, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Charmaine Neville, Vivaz, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots, Los Sagitarios, David Egan, Spencer Bohren, Coolbone Brass Band, Mary Griffin, T-Salé, J. Monque’D, Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, Panorama Jazz Band, Moyuba, St. Joseph the Worker Choir, Topsy Chapman, Bester Singers, Louisiana Repertory Jazz Ensemble, Olympia Brass Band, Jonathan Batiste, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Loyola Jazz Ensemble, Hardhead Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, One A-Chord, Andrew Hall’s Society Brass Band, Shades of Praise Choir, Inspirational Gospel Singers, Bon Temp Roulez Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Pinettes Brass Band…

Saturday, 4/29
Juvenile, Dave Matthews Band, Etta James, Herbie Hancock, Hugh Masekela, Galactic, Darius Brooks & SDM, Eddie Bo, the subdudes, Terence Blanchard, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, World Leader Pretend, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Snooks Eaglin, Luther Kent & Trickbag, The Iguanas, Banu Gibson & New Orleans Hot Jazz with special guest Bob Havens, Belton Richard, Crown Seekers, Tim Laughlin, Kim Prevost & Bill Solley, NewBirth Brass Band, Leroy Jones, Val & Love Alive and the Dimensions of Faith, Ingrid Lucia, Poor Clares, The Elements, Ritmo Caribeño, Jambalaya Cajun Band, Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers, Lighthouse Gospel Singers, Jhelisa’s Tribute to Nina Simone, Mahogany Brass Band, Tony Bazley, Franklin Avenue BC Choir, Voices of Distinction, Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Charles Jackson & the Jackson Travelers, Connie Jones, Bill Summers with members of Los Hombres Calientes, SUBR Jazz Ensemble, Percussion Inc., Providence BC Choir, Nine Times Men Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Chops Funky 7 Brass Band…

Sunday, 4/30

The Meters, Bruce Springsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band, Yolanda Adams, Allen Toussaint with special guest Elvis Costello, Dave Bartholomew, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Rebirth Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, Walter “Wolfman” Washington & the Roadmasters, Sonny Landreth, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Papa Grows Funk, James Andrews, John Mooney & Bluesiana, D.L. Menard & the Louisiana Aces, Lil’ Band O’ Gold, Christian Scott, Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews with special guest Steve Turre, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Leah Chase with special guest Wess “Warm Daddy” Anderson, Leigh “Little Queenie” Harris, Mighty Chariots of Fire, Los Vecinos, Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express, San Severino of France, John Rankin, The Revealers, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, John Lee & the Heralds of Christ, Kirk Joseph’s Backyard Groove, Jo “Cool” Davis, Gregg Stafford’s Jazz Hounds, Furious Five and Untouchables Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs, Kid Simmons’ Local International Allstars, Greater Antioch Full Gospel Choir, Melody Clouds, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Carrollton Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Unstoppable Gospel Singers, Pinstripe Brass Band, Higher Dimensions of Praise, Pozazz Productions Presents…

Oh, I just can't wait!

To keep ya'll busy until then, here's my write up of Jazz Fest 2004, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Click through here.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Seven Months Later

Chris Rose is a genius. His writing is so very, very good.

From here.

Misery in the melting pot
Along Toledano, the only thing worth having is patience

It has been seven months.

I am walking down Toledano Street, the wide pitch from Broad to Claiborne, 10 blocks of classic urban American landscape: sad grocery stores, chicken, pig's feet and dirty rice to go, brick revival churches, funeral homes, auto parts stores and ramshackle row houses.

There was a time when optimistic paint jobs -- orange sherbet, burnt sienna and sea foam green trims, posts and porches -- did their best to cover the age and decay, but it's all laid bare and painful now. The optimistic veneer here -- everywhere -- was stripped by the water.

Seven months ago.

The corner of Broad and Toledano once marked a turf war for customers between Cajun Chicken and Cajun Seafood, two caddy-corner carry-outs owned by Asians in a black neighborhood.

Welcome to the melting pot.

But the war is over; both stores have been shuttered. For seven months.
Just down from the corner at Broad, there's a sign that says: "No Dumping: $500 Fine."

That's almost funny. Eight feet above the ground, the crooked sign has the brown water mark across it. And there are, about every hundred paces, big piles of debris, like a dump -- carpet, plaster, furniture and televisions, lots of televisions.

You have to figure the local Nielsen ratings took a beating in this hurricane. The revolution was televised, but all the TVs are broken.

This is one of those puzzling neighborhoods where you look at some of the houses and you tremble at their altered states of decline but you sometimes realize: This one or that one was falling down even before The Thing.

The Rhodes Funeral Home anchors this unwieldy boulevard, all stately, grand and white, looking like nothing more than a mausoleum itself. It is gutted now and masked workers are removing the floor with shovels.

You don't want to think about what happened in the funeral homes. The only consolation is that at least the people inside were already dead.

But still.

In the middle of the afternoon, there's a wan ghost town feel to Toledano, with weeds gone wild and power lines dangling and swaying in the breeze like electric spider webs and Styrofoam cups and potato-chips bags drifting this way and that as motorists speed by on their way to or from Uptown or the interstate, destination always someplace else -- anyplace else -- but here.

It's easy to fall into a listless state after a while out here on Toledano. You get an irritation in your throat or maybe that's just your imagination -- that Katrina Cough that people talk about, but is it real?

Work crews around here are spotty and slow-moving; there seems to be no urgency.

Many houses have been gutted but that's as far as the work goes in most cases while the residents wait to learn the future of Broadmoor, this neighborhood, designated "green" by many specialists who suggest that low lying areas such as this should be returned to their natural state and their natural state didn't include crawfish egg rolls or jazz funerals.

Or Bible study or happy hour, so both the Pleasant Zion Baptist Church and Tapp's II are gutted and waiting. Cap'n Sal's Seafood is cleaned out and cleaned up with shiny stainless steel counters in place and a fresh paint job, but there's no one on the premises, hardly ever is, all boarded up and waiting.

Inside the storefront window, on a table top: Work gloves, industrial wipes, small electrical fixtures and a book, "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential."

Indeed. Talk about self-help. Best of luck to you, my friend.

There's an unmarked green tin building down the block, the parking lot still full of drowned cars, but life and commerce stir around them.

This is Dooley's Auto & Wrecker Service but you'd only know that because that's what's printed on the brand new shirt that the man named Dooley wears in the office.

There's no actual wrecker visible on the premises but gospel music blares from the back auto bay where Dooley's grandson-in-law -- the only current employee -- busies himself with auto repair.

Dooley sits at his desk eating lunch out of a Rally's bag with "Guiding Light" blaring on a TV against the wall. After losing every tool and every machine seven months ago -- to say nothing of the eight cars he was working on at the time and all the old mechanic uniforms with names stitched on the pockets -- he's been back in business for three weeks.

New uniforms. Some new tools. Still need new machines, but can't wait forever.

"Need to get back to work," Dooley says. He's cobbling this thing back to life with no help from FEMA or the Small Business Administration or anything else that's government-related or spelled by acronym.

"I don't fool with that," Dooley says. "Just doin' it myself."

Doin' it with no sign and no phone; there is still no land line service in this part of town. Seven months later.

A customer walks into Dooley's shop. Broken headlight. Dooley loses interest in his conversation with a stranger and attends to the customer and the gospel music in the back bay blares and the sound of tools -- new tools -- clatters in the shade.

Moving down the block, more piles of debris. Big and small. A pile of riding lawn mowers stacked up on the sidewalk speaks of the loss of a small business. One small story. Many small stories make the big story.

Other places, little things, cosmetics, bedding, toys, small appliances. It's just stuff. Possessions. But it was somebody's stuff, and it took a long time and some scrap to get this stuff and in a lifetime, this stuff amounted to somebody's comfort zone. Their home.

We are Humpty Dumpty, laughing on a wall one minute, then cracked and flat on our back the next.

A work crew is gutting a home, its debris spilled out onto the traffic lane and marked off with police tape. A man in a mask delicately lifts and tucks strands of Christmas lights that hang from the aluminum awning on the front porch to keep them from getting tangled in the floorboards the workers are ferrying out. It's as futile and loving a task as you could witness.

Let there be light. Let there be life.

Most houses here on this stretch of Toledano are one-story and empty, but some folks here are living in the rare upstairs and there are some trailers dotting the landscape, though not much sign of activity in them.

Clara Hunter watches this world from her front porch. In a housecoat and plastic hair net, she is the only resident in view on this afternoon, one of the first back.

"I was in Metairie but I didn't like it," she says. "Didn't like paying rent. So I came back home. There is nothing like home."

Her front lawn, all 12 square feet of it, holds two new azalea bushes and one gardenia, the only living plant life other than menacing, spiky weeds you see up and down this street.

She regards the boulevard before her, silent but for speeding, anonymous drivers seemingly oblivious to the stirrings out their windows. They've got their own problems.

A retiree, Hunter has lived here for 35 years. She says most of her neighbors own their homes. From what she has heard, the neighborhood will rise again, but she doesn't hear much these days because there is no phone service and she can't afford a cell and there's no one on the stoop next door or next door to that or next door to that.

"I can't talk to my friends," she says. "But the lady up the street says some folks say they're coming back here soon. And some folks say they're not coming back at all.

"You got to be patient, I guess. You're not patient, you get a stroke or a heart attack."

Words to live by. Seven months in.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
That's it

I'm on strike from my life.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Why is it?

Why is it that the "low-battery" indicator sound that the smoke detector makes always, always starts beeping at 3 AM? You never have the low battery sound come on at like, say, 7 PM when you would get up, like a normal, sane person, go get the step-stool and change battery.

No, in my 33 years of living, it has only ever gone off between the hours of 2 AM and 5 AM, particularly when you have a 6 AM train to catch for a breakfast meeting in Philly, so that you are stuck in bed cursing impotently and trying to throw a shoe at the damn thing so it will stop beeping and you can go back to sleep.

This is my life.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Single handedly the funniest thing I've seen in a long time...

What people really mean at work. Click here and prepare to laugh.

**warning, not safe for work and needs sound
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Hey La Bas

Happy Mardi Gras, ya'll.

Laissez le bon temps roule!
Friday, February 10, 2006

A year ago, I found out my dear friend Mike Wolf had passed away. I'm not going to go into it in great detail, you can read about it and about him if you cycle back to last year's February archives. Suffice it to say, he was a remarkable person, taken from this world much too early, and this is a colder, darker place without his light in it.

A few days ago, I found out my Uncle Herbie passed away. It's not a tragedy--Uncle Herbie was elderly, but that doesn't mean I don't feel a tightening in my heart when I think that he is no longer with us. Uncle Herbie wasn't really my uncle. He was married to my grandfather's cousin. I guess that makes us fourth cousins by marriage.

Uncle Herbie and Aunt Sylvia were like a second set of grandparents to me. When we came to this country, penniless and alone, they reached out to us and made us part of their family. There were countless family gatherings and Thanksgivings and birthdays at their house, under the pretty ceremonial kimono that Aunt Sylvia had hanging on the wall in the living room. When I was nine or ten, they got cable in their neighborhood, before it was available in mine, so I always got to sit in their bedroom and watch MTV while the adults talked.

Uncle Herbie was funny and smart and charming. He could melt your heart and make you smile--even when I was a mean and cold-hearted teenager, I still liked going over there to see them.

The last time I saw Uncle Herbie was at my wedding a year and half ago. I hadn't seen him and Aunt Sylvia much in the last few years... people get busy and it's hard to find the time. They were always kind to me and remembered things about my life even with all their own grandchildren to keep track of.

They evacuated New Orleans last year for Hurricane Katrina, along with everyone else and ended up in Memphis, where Uncle Herbie was from and where they had lived before moving to New Orleans in the '50's. I hadn't spoken to them in so long.

I don't know what I'm getting at here, really... I'm just rambling because I'm sad.

There's so little time--for any of us. People leave your life suddenly like Mike or they slowly drift out of it, like Uncle Herbie. We get so caught up in the minutiae of our daily grind, we forget what matters--the people who you love.

Don't you forget it, ok? Don't let a year and half go by without speaking to the Uncle Herbies' in your life. Don't make plans for a month from now with your friends, like I did with Mike, and forget to tell them you love them. They may be gone tomorrow... or you may be.

I'm crying so hard now, I can't see the screen to type. I just miss them both a lot. More than I can express here.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Pokes head up, pokes head back down

Haven't abandoned the blog yet, just too busy between work and school to keep up with it. If anyone's still reading (helloooo? Anyone out there?), let me know. I'll try to post something pithy and urbane this weekend. Or not.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
My Date with John Stewart

After two years of being on the waiting list, we were informed via email that we had been selected to receive tickets to The Daily Show taping tonight. For those of you who have been living under a rock for the past several years, The Daily Show is the best damn fake newscast on TV.

Our adventure started with this email:

Dear Ticket Holder,

This is your email ticket letter. This letter will provide ALL the information needed. You do not need any further tickets but you do need to read over all of the information in this letter.

(1) Please email us back with the full name that the tickets were originally scheduled under and show date right after you read this letter- this is to confirm or cancel your show date. You will ONLY hear back from us if there is a problem.
(2) If you do not remember how many people you have booked then please look through your “booking date” letter. We cannot provide that information once we are at this point.
(3) We invite more ticket holders to our show than are actually allowed in our studio to insure full capacity for each show. Which means the first to arrive the greater opportunity in getting into our studio. These tickets “do not” guarantee entry. All T.V shows are free and with that all T.V shows are on a first come first serve basis.
(4) We “strongly advise” that you and your party arrive at least an hour prior to entry time. You may hold a spot on line for your party until 4:45. If they show up after that time then they must go the end of our line. Everyone in your party must be 18 or older.

So we cut out of work early and headed to the West side at 3 PM. Where we stood in line outside as the temperature dropped and dropped and dropped (I mean seriously, what the hell is up with this weather? 25 and snowing on Sunday, 61 this morning and 60 mile an hour winds and 35 by 7 PM. Really, can someone explain this to me? Is it the end of the world yet?). I started to have thoughts that maybe this wasn't worth it. Then I drank some hot cocoa from the deli next door to the studio and disabused myself of these thoughts.

Finally, after what seemed like a million hours, but in actuality was only about an hour and half, an official looking young girl (she had to be official, she was carrying a clipboard very, very purposefully) went around and checked everyone's names and then handed out laminated numbers. John and I were numbers 175 and 176. I had the evil thought that next time, I would just walk up to the head of the line purposefully holding a clipboard and get the first few people's names. Then, when the real clipboard girl came up, I would just get tickets without having to have waited two years on the waiting list.

Anyway, after another fifteen minutes or so, we were herded slowly towards the indoor waiting area. As we started to near the door, I heard Clipboard Girl asking who was 175. I said I was and she asked for me and "whoever I was with" to come with her inside. Everyone in line behind us was SOL.

I later found out that they actually broke the audience up into four groups (one for each section of seating), and I was actually the last person in group three, so another 50 people did get in after me, but nonetheless I was shocked -- there was a good 200+ people still in line behind me. Moral of the story: get there early or you may be SOL.

They then herded us down to the basement level and another Clipboard Girl instructed us in the finer points of Daily Show etiquette: use the bathroom now as you are not allowed up during the taping, turn off our cellphones, anyone using a camera would be ejected, if a audience wrangler tells you to do something or go somewhere, do it, no hugging, kissing or otherwise molesting John Stewart. After another 45 minutes in purgatory, we were led up into the studio.

I was very excited to have had the forethought to position myself near the door during our wait in the basement because we were at the head of the line as we were led upstairs to the studio and got rewarded by... FRONT ROW SEATS! I saw the people who had been in line directly behind us sitting in another section in the nosebleeds. I guess all that freezing in line was worth it!

The warm up guy was that comedian from the last season of The Apprentice (the dude who filled in mc duties when Joe Piscapo bailed out) and he was really funny and really good. The studio was a lot smaller than it seems on TV, but all the PAs and camera guys were really nice and smiled a lot. Everyone seemed pretty happy and relaxed.

Finally, John came out. He welcomed everyone and took a few questions from the crowd. One very young girl (19 at most) tried too hard to be funny and asked him if he was related to Patrick Stewart. He handled it gracefully explaining that he was J-E-W, but that he could see her confusion since to someone her age, they were just two old guys. A woman asked him what song and dance routines he was preparing to perform at the Oscars.

Then the show started. I won't give you any spoilers since it is going to air in about 2 hours, but it was great. He was really natural and calm and the audience was really responding to it--you could feel the energy of everyone in the crowd. During the commercial breaks (I was surprised to find out that they film in real time--with actual commercial breaks and no stopping to re-shoot segments), he either talked quietly with producers or reviewed those blue sheets of paper that you always see him shuffling. There is a teleprompter, but when I could see it (they moved it around depending on his angle and which camera he was speaking to), he had the flexibility to go off-prompter.

We did a test link to the Colbert Report which was a lot funnier than what they actually used for their link (Colbert pretended to be King Kong) and because it was Wednesday, we were treated to them filming the opening sequence to their once-a-week international edition that airs at midnight on CNN International. He even stopped to make fun of an audience member who mentioned having seen it when vacationing in Amsterdam and ad-libbed part of the intro by making psychedelic faces for his viewers in Amsterdam (that part was definitely not on the teleprompter.

And then he thanked us, told us that in case we were wondering what he was writing on those blue sheets of paper during the opening sequence every night, it was "I hate myself," and laughingly suggested we sprint when we leave the studio since this was a "shit neighborhood" and that was that.

Tons of fun. Next up: the Colbert Report, Saturday Night Live and Conan O'Brien. I think I like this studio audience thang.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Where did you go now, where did you go....

Ok, I promise, no excuses. I swear. Really. It's just that since I last posted, I:

1. had an unpleasant medical procedure (all normal, thank you)
2. hosted the parental units for a week (went great and they liked the house, now known as The Decrepit Love Shack)
3. cut off a lot of my hair (new year, new me!)
4. got a promotion
5. hosted both sets of parents for a post-holiday dinner party on a work night (yeah, can we say STRESS)
6. got a really big, exciting promotion
7. hosted a small new year's eve pre-party (was oodles of fun)
8. went to the Met
9. did I mention I got a promotion?
10. been super busy because of.... wait for it... wait for it... my humungous promotion

Ok, so obviously I'm happy as a clam and things are going well, so there hasn't really been that much to post about.

I'll get back to posting regularly once we hire someone at my office to take over my old job and I'm not doing both. Hopefully soon. I pinky swear.

Happy wonderful new year to all of you out there in that big ol' internet. Kisses.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Frickin' Transit Strike

I wanted to write a well worded acid rant about how ridiculous the transit strike is (do you even know why they're striking??? Because these guys, who make an average of $63K without the benefit if a college education or a skilled trade, want to continue to be able to retire at 55 years old with full pension benefits, continue to receive health care benefits with no cost sharing and want guaranteed raises of 8% annually. Um, yeah. That certainly is poor and downtrodden. My ass.)

But I'm too exhausted by my two and half hours spent in traffic (and note, I work in Newark, supposedly unaffected by the transit strike, except that everyone and their mother decided to drive into the city today because of the strike, hence my two hours in the car to drive my five miles home!) and too angry about missing my soccer game that I was looking forward to playing to write anything remotely coherent.

So I have one small thing to say to the Transit Workers Union Local 100... screw you.
Monday, December 19, 2005
That thing that starts with a W, ends with a K and we don't talk about here

I'm not an idiot, so we don't talk about that thing that I do every weekday and some weekends and that is going really, really well.

But it IS going really, really well. And, while it's pretty much all-consuming, I am really into it and passionate about it. And I'm kind of obsessing about it to the exclusion of a lot of other things, like this blog.

I promise one day, when all of this has paid off and I'm in the corner office with a view, I'll still remember you little people.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Make your own caption.