Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New venture, new blog

Dear Friends and Loyal Readers,
It's time to wander away from Calliope Street exclusively and explore wider realms in New Orleans with paying customers. For several years now, I have been a volunteer tour guide with a number of worthy nonprofit organizations here. Now I'm turning "pro" and launching Ask Arthur Walking Tours for alert and curious visitors to our city.  Attached to our Web site is a new blog called "Walkin' New Orleans." And you can also find us on Facebook.

Thank you for your support of Calliope Street. Now let's go for a walk!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Friday, December 12, 2014

At Café Ennui

cafe ennui new orleans, cherry soda
Some days are meant for doing nothing. Go for a walk. Drink a cherry soda with cream on top. Catch up on the news. Say, what's this on the front page? "America's Vanishing Male Workforce." Save for later maybe.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Epiphany, 2014

Twelfth Night New Orleans
On the window sill in the living room this morning, I spotted three kings heading toward the fireplace. 
Sharing the news on the mantlepiece. That was weeks ago now.
What a beautiful family! Hope they will stay with me a while.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Nightfall on Mother Cabrini's Dog Heaven

Dog friendly New Orleans French Quarter
 Heading home on Barracks Street. Sorry, folks, no cute Cabrini Park doggy pix this time. They were all running around like mad and wouldn't sit still to pose. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Long exposures on the 1000 block of Esplanade last night

New Orleans Nightlife Nightlife Nigthtlife Nightlife New Orleans
The side alley on my neighbor's house, two doors down. Love that brick wall!

Lions Patience Fortitude library Sacco Vanzetti
Sacco and Vanzetti, steadfast guardians of the Unione Italiana.
A stand-out sago palm.
Mr. Mistretta's vacant used car lot where Esplanade meets Rampart Street, soon to be a 450-seat late-hours chain restaurant called "Habana Outpost." The neighbors are up in arms about this development, and so am I. Farewell to peace and quiet on nights like this.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Doomsday Watch with Eugene Pallette

I see by the Mayan calendar on the wall that I better get cracking on a long contemplated new feature here on Calliope Street. That would be a series of brief profiles from my personal Pantheon of great Hollywood character actors. So let's begin -- while we can, ye pathetic short-timers of Planet Earth, while we can! -- with the corpulent and froggy-voiced Eugene Pallette.

The Big Street movie Henry Fonda Lucille Ball Agnes Moorehead
You all recognize the face on that hamburger flipper, don't you? It's Eugene at his lovably comic best as Nicely Nicely Johnson (opposite Agnes Moorehead as Violette Shumberg) in the 1942 classic The Big Street. As kids, my sisters and I must have watched this flick 7,000 times or more on WOR-TV's "Millon Dollar Movie" so that we knew every line of snazzy Runyonesque dialogue. And we adored Eugene Palette. Ever since, I have devoutly scanned the opening credits of old movies on TCM hoping for the pleasure of seeing him again. You might want to catch him as the forever flummoxed tycoon Alexander Bullock in My Man Godfrey.

Now to the fascinating details of the actor as uber-survivalist. In 1946, after a busy film career dating back to the Silent Era as a formerly svelte and handsome leading man, Eugene retired to his 3,000-acre ranch in Imnaha, Oregon to await imminent nuclear war with the Russians. Eugene was a ferocious anti-Communist. He developed the ranch as a fortress and stockpiled vast quantities of food. A man must eat, after all, even during Armageddon with hordes of godless Reds banging down the door.

A man with Eugene's views would be a pariah in today's Hollywood, of course. There is talk on many fan blogs that he was a racist and an anti-Semite too, mostly recycled references to a nasty run-in with Otto Preminger from the director's biography. Sadly, character actors like Eugene Pallette rarely get full biographies so we may never know the unbiased truth. Meanwhile, there is ample evidence that Eugene was exceptionally sociable and well-liked. He had many pals in the movie business. Clark Gable, for example, was a regular ranch guest and trout fishing buddy on the Imnaha River. And the industry thought enough of him to give him a star on Hollywood Boulevard in company with big-name right-wing Tinseltowners like Adolphe Menjou, Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck. Those were the days, my friends.

So perhaps it was loneliness that prompted Eugene to leave the hidey-hole. Or maybe he just got tired of waiting for the Cold War to turn radioactive. Whatever the reason, he moved back to Hollywood after a few years and died of cancer at his Wilshire Boulevard apartment in 1954. Eugene is buried in his native Kansas, beside his mother and father. Rest in peace you big, beautiful bullfrog. If things pan out as predicted, you were a man ahead of your time.                     

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Escaping Punishment: A Lazy Man's Work-out Guide

Nike's "Just do it!" just doesn't do it for me. No, I happen to be an all-pro procrastinator about physical exercise despite a long-standing membership and regular attendance at the New Orleans Athletic Club.

The grand old N.O.A.C is just ten blocks from my house, and maybe seven blocks from my office. Getting there is not the issue. It's what happens when I walk through the doors with all best intentions. So many opportunities for avoidance and delay of the inevitable greet this lazy-assed member.

C'mon inside and I'll show you.  
The N.O.A.C. library, a major distraction right off the bat. Nice big Christmas tree, comfy leather club chairs, quiet. Get my free cup of coffee? Catch up on the papers? New York Times? Wall Street Journal? Tempting.

So much history on the walls. I pause before the plaster cast of John L. Sullivan's mighty right arm, priceless relic of the Sullivan-Kilrain heavyweight championship fight of July 8, 1889 in Lamar County, Mississippi. Begin Joycean stream o' consciousness, a minor fugue on the theme of Celtic brutality: Holy Jesus, 75 rounds. Micks killing each other. Bare knuckles. Mississippi. July afternoon. Eight hours. The sun. The sun. Sweet merciful Mother of God, the sun! Blood. Kilrain near death. Sullivan trained here.  No. Uptown. Washington Avenue. The Behrman gym. Condos now. Wonder what they go for? Holy Jesus...
The obligatory male fantasy moment at the threshold of No Man's Land. Sorry, fellas, illegal spycams only beyond this point.

My goal at last, the fabled saltwater pool. Uh oh, what's this? Aquaciser ladies in session. Guess I'll hit the steamroom until they leave.

Friday, December 7, 2012

XXX-mas at the Kystal

Krystal Bourbon Street
I want all of you to know my joy in rediscovering the Krystal on Bourbon Street, just up the block from Galatoire's which is also much favored by the locals for that special-occasion lunch. I had two chili-cheese "pups" today (equivalent to one, grown-up chili-cheese dog) heaped with onions sliced as thin as toenail clippings. God, was that ever good!

And what restaurant in town has a view to match? I love taking in the passing parade through the big picture windows, especially shoppers darting in and out of Hustler Larry Flynt's leather, lingerie and love toy shop across the street. Scenes like this do much to promote XXX-mas cheer, I think, although not as widely or  effectively as the infamous Alabama teabagger of holidays past at the Kystal.


Sunday, December 2, 2012


The patio garden is an unending source of wonder for me. So many questions. Why does one schefflera plant always put out six leaves to a stem, and the other five, or seven? Ah sweet mystery of individualism.  

And why am I visited by so many Gulf Coast fritillaries on sunny mornings? I do know the answer because I looked it up. They come to lay eggs on the leaves of my passion flower vines, the the sole and exclusive source of nutriment for fritillary larvae. But how do they find their way to my patio? And why passion flowers? And how long has this been going on anyway?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Annals of the Hub Cap King, Part I: "Because We Believed."

Beowulf parody
To Hubcap the Dealer were granted great riches and wide realms along the Broad Street, north and south.
Sewerage and Water Board Baldwin Wood
In the Great Hall, warriors feasted past dawn's arrival, rosy-fingered.
New Orleans photos
"Just drop your tribute on yonder wall," the King would say, "And we shall leave peace to our sons, and to our sons' sons, and to many a son of a gun to come! Hahaha!"
It was not to be. One by one, vassals disappeared, dragged from their beds of a dark night. There were whispers:  "Who hath seen The Lawnmower Man, or knows his fate?" 

Annals of the Hub Cap King, Part II: Twilight and Fall

Nothing could save us. Not our stout ramparts...
Nor our watchtowers and battle fleets...
Baldwin Wood Sewerage and Water Board
Nor our fortress moats, deeply dug...

Obama cult
Nor our prayers in the temple of Obam, almighty Lord of Drones!

Annals of the Hub Cap King, Part III: Lamentations

Carver theater new orleans
The King fell here in Carver's Field, a place of piteous slaughter.

Terra cotta facade
Within the old Summer Palace, many are still enslaved. 

By cruel Edric's decree, childhood was abolished...
Abandoned properties New Orleans
...And the royal seat laid waste.

"O ye who still believe, do not forget us. Do not forget us!"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The best year yet

Canal Street New Orleans neon
Wishing all of you happiness and abundance in the year ahead. Thanks for stopping by every now and then. I resolve to be a better blogger in 2012. Promise. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Mais où sont les neiges d'antan?

Francois Villon neiges d'antan
This post is dedicated to Charlotte, the Mermaid, for reminding me of our last big snowfall exactly three years ago today, and to Brother Berryman, my high school French teacher, for introducing me to Francois Villon many, many, many years ago. Who could predict I would grow up to be a blogger in search of a headline one winter's morning in New Orleans?

Saturday, November 26, 2011


One of the things I like about living in a ground-floor apartment in New Orleans are the fluid borders between inside and outside. This little fellow was discovered on my bathroom window yesterday, looking out over the green and bug-rich world of the patio. That's where he is today. I took this photo, fetched a colander from the kitchen and coaxed him to jump. Seconds later, sweet freedom.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving thanks for Mr. Okra

Today, I am thankful for Mr. Okra. Because of him, we have PINE-apples...we have brocc-O-li...we have CEL-ery...we have MUS-tard greens...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Canal Street, late afternoon

Your blogger's mouse was on the fritz and, after many weeks of not blogging, he felt like blogging. What to do? Walk up to the Radio Shack on Canal Street and get him a new mouse. Good idea, blog-daddy-o. Bring the camera? Why not. Hey, you know what, Canal Street can be pretty interesting on a late fall afternoon. He reports, you decide.  

Cana Street New Orleans