Saturday, September 24, 2005


One recent morning near an abandoned Civil War cemetery, I encountered a friendly little bird with white feathers and orange legs and orange beak. About the size of a sparrow, he hopped about, alone and unconcerned. I thought he must be an escaped exotic, but emailed WarrenWoessner who guessed that it was an albino sparrow. Checking the birdbooks, I think Warren was right. Is this a portent of end-times?

And yesterday the bird of night did sit
Even at noonday upon the marketplace,
Hooting and shrieking…

Groucho a Peruvian grey-cheeked parakeet ruled by nipping my ear. He particularly despised the phone, and would disconnect it after three rings. If I beat him to the phone and foolishly attempted to converse with my free hand over the phone plug, Groucho would squawk and seriously rip my one free ear. It’s sad that he’s dead.

Grey-cheeked Parakeet

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Lake George

I just read John Bailey’s The Lost German Slave Girl: The Extraordinary True Story of Sally Miller and Her Fight for Freedom in Old New Orleans (Grove; New York: 2003). New Orleans has always been fucking over her Black citizens. The book can make you indignant about history’s wrongs. If God existed, He’d have flooded old New Orleans and saved only Sally Miller. Bailey’s a lawyer, and the book functions as a page-turning mystery. I read it alongside a Fodor’s guide to New Orleans: how could God be so cruel as to flood that wonderful city? God is not immanent, justice is not imminent, and the president, like God, was paring his nails after cutting brush in Crawford.

Monday, September 05, 2005

New York and New Orleans

Articles about French Quarter bars and restaurants now coming out of New Orleans remind me of TriBeCa in mid-September 2001. My cousin Wendy Warburton is an editor of the Ottawa Citizen. At her request, I escorted a Citizen reporter through police lines to my office in TriBeCa, then showed him around the community. He was fascinated by Yaffa, a restaurateur who transformed her business into lodging for a South Carolina fire department, gave away her food, then slowly, judiciously sold off the booze. Yaffa was an extravagant dresser in a vaguely Middle Eastern manner; she had been an Israeli paratrooper. She thrived on the crisis. She said mean things about Arabs with which we all silently agreed. The reporter’s final article was more about Yaffa than the World Trade Center. Meanwhile, in my world, Yaffa continued to issue mundane orders: “Make some more peanut butter sandwiches.” I was her scullion and eventually hid. Now, thank God, I have reverted to the status of old, faithful customer.