Friday, December 23, 2005
Here's a little before and after for ya. Willie White and his guys picked the rubble apart by hand and it's done. There are numerous posts and millwork pieces I have saved. Also window casings which will help so that we can match them or remill them. The ironwork is in the pod, which we now refer to as 'the office'.
We debated whether or not to pull up the floors and we are going to attempt to wait for a variety of reasons. One good reason to keep them is that it keeps the footprint solid and also avoids the need for an industrial container. The risks are water and thieves but I have a lot of eyes and ears in the neighborhood. These tarps are very thick and with some tweaking, should be
good enough. The grass is pretty ripped up so the good news is that I won't have to mow for a while.
The next big thing is the insurance settlement. We are still waiting for Lloyds to send some sort of number to us that we will most likely reject. We'd love to get in there and get back to work, as many property owners in New Orleans would like to do but the sluggish response from the insurance companies are causing a huge bottleneck in the rebuilding process.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
The Gables came down today. Wow, what a process . . .this is the only time Willie has had to use a power tool. All the rest has been taken down with crowbars. Eve, NPR reporter, came by, all excited. "This is a huge story!", she said. She has been researching all the aspects of preservation and salvage. It is fascinating and an industry unto itself. The interview should be on NPR later this week. It's beginning to feel pretty sad that my house will be gone. Well, it will be in a giant box.
Sorry if the photos are wacked, I had a heck of time with that part today.
Friday, December 09, 2005
So my neighbors, 4 of them, who are affected by my fallen house, had to be notified of the excavation so they can tarp, etc. Not surprisingly, only one person called.
She just wanted to know if my insurance was going to pay to fix her house. . . . I was waiting for these calls. I told her I would ask my adjuster and would do what I could to toss some
corporate cash in her direction.
No go. Gladys didn't have insurance. Pensioner,
has paid the house off years ago. I did tell her about the PRC's rebuilding together program but that was the best I could offer. She asked me if I could tarp her roof or something and Willie did mention he would do his best to seal the affected homes. So, I underpromised, overperform. That's my M.O. anyway.
The majority of the floor has been uncovered. The boards are way warped. Don't know if they, the very most valuable part of the house, can be reused. However, these tiles around the fireplace are intact in the the 4 fireplaces that had this original detail. Willie has also retrieved the millwork, some windows. It's really fascinating and surprising what survived !
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
The work of picking apart the house has started. Willie White is the best in the biz. He was recommended to me by the Dir. of the LA Landmarks Society and he really is great. He got my permits through the back-door in one day and is fine with me keeping some of my own wood rather than pressuring me to sell it to him. Some I will let him have, some I will keep and some I will donate to the Green Project. I am giving some tiles to a friend so he can patch his roof and they have a large pile of maybe 1500 bricks they have salvaged already. NPR did an interview with Willie and I about salvage, I hope it makes it to the air. He did a great job, I want to hear it.
There is an unscrupulous band of architectural raiders who steal this stuff from people's houses and a master pirate who pays people for these stolen items. So we are pretty worried about our
stuff over there being stolen. I am on the task of getting an industrial container for the wood which could be on our property for months before we can rebuild.
I have to head to the restaurant and am always under some sort of thing to do so I apologize for
the brevity today. I want to tell you about the damage to the neighbors....remind me.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
it hard to do anything regarding the house itself. Plus, we still have nothing in writing from the insurance company so it 's a war. I am not the only one. Much of the city is in limbo for this same reason.
So to keep up, here's the link: http://neworleans.metblogs.com/ It's linear, you can cruise the
articles for mine through the link on the left for the archives pertinent to the current month.
If you forget the link, just search blogs new orleans, it comes up. Don't be a retard and ask me a million times for the link...it's called a bookmark, if you can't use it yet, check into a nursing home.
I was approached by Mercy Corps to help salvage my item of desire from the home, then let them keep some wood for reuse through the Green Project here in the city. In this deal, they
would do the excavation for free. However, they can't touch the asbestos shingles. This is so ridiculous and it causing a lot of problems for many homeowners. As one person put it, "asbestos shingles are eating the lunches of a lot of contractors right now." If I could get up there I would pick them off myself. The whole thing is utterly stupid. The absurdity makes me just want to leave it. No one cares.
I did commmission my very dear friend, Jason Hawkins to do a painting of the house. He's not going to do the end result nor the blighted state, somewhere in between. He paints all kinds of
houses in New Orleans and has a degree in preservation. His work is on display all the time
at La Crepe Nanou and is for sale. Since the storm, his stuff is moving !
"Jason London Hawkins is a native of North Carolina and a New Orleanian since 1995. An ardent preservationist, Hawkins lives in the restored former residence of Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong's mentor and a leading jazzman of his day. His paintings are mostly of famous churches, whorehouses and gothic mansions. "http://www.bestofneworleans.com/dispatch/2005-07-26/art_review.php
Sunday, November 06, 2005
The building on the left is at the tipping point. It's so blighted that one small breeze is going to bring it down. This building is located on a hoppin' stretch of Magazine street, it's right across from Whole Foods. The window casings are all bent, it's a real life Michalopoulos. Check out his stuff here: http://www.michalopoulos.com/gallery.html
The photo on the right is the pocket park at Toledano and St. Charles. The neighborhood took it upon themselves to clean it up on Saturday. One man paid for a dumpster or two and everyone came out and got rid of all the tree debris and trash. It's so beautiful. We can't wait around for the city to maintain public areas here in the city so folks are doing a great job of doing things for themselves. The area was a dumping ground for the last month, this is such an enormous
improvement. I sure am glad the residents were able to come home and pitch in. It took about
10 people the whole day to get it done.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
So I have met with an adjuster, who was very nice and he told me that we would probably get close to the entire amount of our policy as this was trully destroyed. He then drew up an estimate that was about half of our policy amount. Now, this is not a half destroyed home....it's a totally destroyed home. We did not
pay only half of our premium. We are furious.
This week I lucky enough to get an excavator/salvage guy to come out and tell me what we could and should save. I have to attempt to contact the owners of the 4 other homes the house has fallen on before we can begin work. We need their permission to enter the property and some will need to get tarps on their roofs. This will not be easy. They are not there. Ever. Then I have to get a permit. Then they can begin picking this mess apart.
Someone will buy some of that old wood and later, I suppose I will be buying some of it back.
I have a feeling we will be making some big alterations in the scope of this 'renovation'. I may just do a smaller house without the camelback, I may go with those new metal roofs (pictured) on my friend Meg's down the street. They held up the best in the storm. And they make them in copper! Imagine that ~
Jill and Eva came to town to do some work on their homes. Things went really well ! Jill got
some major things done like cleaning up her yard, getting a new water heater, meeting with an adjuster. It was a very productive 6 days.
We toured the damaged areas of the city and saw the giant debris heap on Ponchartrain Expwy~ whew.
When they first arrived, like most people, they were pretty overwhelmed by what they saw. It was just a matter of days, however, before they were passing thru neighborhoods saying, "oh, this is looking so much better!". I had to laugh at this transition because we all swing very heavily between the emotions that accompany this shift in our perspective and many of us feel like we don't know for sure if we are ok with how we
feel about the city. Good, hopeful one minute, tired, fed-up, disgusted, exhausted, wondering if it's worth all the work, where is everyone?, who are all these people?, proud, indignant to those not here helping to get our services up . . . it's a wide gamut of emotions. With every friend we see again, we feel happy and reassured. I am putting a curse on everyone who bails on us right now. Sissies can just stay away. It's totally doable and it's not infinite and it's not dangerous unless you're stupid.
A fine example of daily life in New Orleans right now happened this morning. First, there are
3 coffee shops open uptown. One has no espresso, he is waiting for a new one to arrive, his
shop was looted. Each day I go to the one near me and I get and iced breve. Today, he has almost no half-n-half. I am tired. I put my head down and just order the espresso and figure I can just go buy some half-n-half at the store. Instead, I went and bought about 5 jugs and brought it back to the coffee shop because I know what it is like from my filling in at La
Crepe Nanou......you don't even have the staff to get supplies sometimes. Turns out that his
dairy man, a local distributor, Brown's Velvet, somehow shorted his shipment. That guy is probably working overtime too, so he's probably exhausted like the rest of us who are really
pitching in to help local businesses get back up and running in addition to our friends and our own homes. It's cars on a cable and some folks don't get it. I do, and I will be getting some free
coffees I am sure, they really appreciated it.
Some guy was giving the manager of CC's on Jefferson such a hard time this morning because they aren't able to be open on Sunday! What a jerk! Grab an apron, asshole. Help them, don't yell at the poor man. He is bringing employees in from Baton Rouge to help have the coffee shop
open 6 days a week and we should be thankful.
I see a lot of people who seem to have the time to sit in the coffee shop and linger. Boy, those were the days!
And those local folks who were always like, "you're not FROM here", meaning you weren't born here. Well, there are some of those "local" people who aren't here either and I can't wait to run into them some night! They can never say that again, I will kick them right back to their silly little high-school.
In an effort to give you a complete picture of the current status of things, another example is that at La Crepe, we can't offer a full menu because the two chefs and the dishwasher are doing all the prep work too. So anything that's high maintenance, like fondue or their signature french onion soup we can't offer. Mussels we are doing with great effort.
One of the owners said perhaps one night we should have only those high maintenance items
and none of the other dishes. I think it would be funny. I am getting a kick out of working there and I learn so much about how they make the dishes and how they make decisions.
I am also surprised how many people ask for alterations to standard offerings, which to me is
somewhat insulting to the chef. Jeff and Son go out of their way to make people happy.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Many many people are coming back and then having to leave again for obligations and so they are in and out and need to have someone on the ground meet people and check their houses, etc.
I am glad to do it but I had to start telling people no as of today. No new 'clients', I am getting too burned out. The restaurant work makes my whole body ache too, I am not used to it so I can't spread myself too thin.
So my friend Becky went to W. VA for her mom's birthday. Her cats were here during the hurricane as she was out for a short trip when it hit and they are outside cats and hard
to get a hold on. The cats were fine, it's a miracle and they don't want to leave.
The neighborhood is a giant construction zone and large machinery drones all day and the cats just stay. So I am feeding them while she is out. You can sort of see the deck is all messed up, it is detached from the house. She had about 5 feet of water. Her place is salvageable, Becky had someone gut the part that was flooded. This is north of Claiborne Ave., uptown. Helping the kitties actually cheers me up a lot. Pet therapy.
On Monday I went to see if I could help my friends get their restaurant open. They put me on as a food runner/dishwasher on Tuesday. I was terrified having not done this type of work for about 15 years. We only had 2 original kitchen staff, the chefs. Then we did have some fill in folks with much restaurant experience, like Mike who everyone knows from Dick & Jennie's.
Then we also had a few people like myself who just want to help. It was fun, we actually had a great opening night. The second night, the dishwasher broke. We barely kept up but we did keep up. The teamwork is unbelievable in that place right now.
The owner was washing dishes too. Here's a link to their website !
I need to get a photo up here of Son's AK-47 hanging in the kitchen. He's the Vietnamese chef and he returned to the city really early before many people were back and was there cleaning out the kitchen, he had to bring his own protection.
I arrived one week ago, on Friday, Oct.14th and I was struck by how bad things looked to me again, after being gone for a week. When I returned it was so depressing, I wondered, "Can I do this?"
Well, I am doing IT ! I have been so busy it's hard to impress upon readers that every day in New Orleans right now feels like it's only five hours long. The first thing I did was help out with a great project sponsored by the mayor's office called "Clean Magazine" on Saturday. It was great! Hundreds of residents helped bag leaves and trash along with hundreds of National Guardsmen. Then these guys came behind us with huge trucks and machines to gather bags, piles of debris and appliances.
By the end of the day the entire street was so much more beautiful and they even had a streetcleaner give it a wash. Now businesses are up and running. I also saw a mailman! I still have not received any mail but my friend Emily is getting mail regularly. I am guessing this is because her carrier has returned.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
You have to look up sometimes ~ this was great.
All over the city people from all over the world are here putting our city back together again. It's
up to our citizens to get back and help in that effort. I met people from everywhere from the Netherlands to Cuba and people who left their families for long periods to help us. I thanked
everyone I could personally.
This is around the Doubletree hotel in the central business district.
For those who have experienced loss, we share your sorrow citywide. The French Quarter is lucky but they are the ones complaining right now about curfews and fear of code violations.
I went to Harry Anderson's town hall meeting and I've already had it with the quarterites. Jim Monahan, the owner of Molly's is the only one I have heard with any sense. He understands how lucky they are to be able to operate at all and also understands he is part of the larger city.
There were 3 major fires uptown during Katrina and while I was there, another devasted a home
in the most expensive part of uptown, on a private street near Audubon Park. Another fire broke out in the Marigny, so it's a continuing
threat. I spoke to a woman in the neighborhood here who never left. She said these houses were burned by crackheads, she said that they had tons of looted merchandise in there. This fire destroyed 3-5 homes. It even jumped across the street. There was a cat who was still living under one of the half destroyed homes that I fed/watered.
Lakeview was pretty much wiped out by heavy flooding because the 17th St. Canal is in their backyard. The lake rushed in the cravasse wiping out everything in it's path. The toxic water killed everything it touched. It was hard to believe even looking at it. I drove through this area regularly because it was a nice 'safe' place that interested many of my clients as possible places to live. Now, it looks creepy. I have always said there's no such thing as a safe place.
Well, here's what's left of the house ! The photo we've been waiting to post. I feel like I need to change the blog title to neworleansrebuild.
Sigh. Grunt.....head begins to pound, feel kinda
When Emily and Brian and I visited the house,
the neighbors who were around (the city is still sparsely inhabitated) came out to express their sympathy and some reminisced about times they had spent there before it fell into it's neglected state. This sincere response compels one to persevere and rebuild. Another positive fact is that this property was not even close to taking in water because the piers are quite high, so flooding is not a serious threat and rebuilding would not be folly. One man said he heard the house fall. He said it was slow and graceful.
I travelled back to the city Oct. 1-6th to survey the damage from Katrina. Here's what's left of the house.
New Orleanians lament the loss of this unique architectural gem, but perhaps the worst thing about it is that it is resting against 3 houses/properties. In the very back, it's difficult to determine if it has damaged the 3rd home or if it's just in pieces on their property. The large building on the corner was not inhabited but the others were. We knew that winds around 100 miles an hour were just too much for this blighted/gutted structure. Our insurance adjusters have contacted us, as well as our
very dedicated architect, James Farr. The house was heavily insured and our ability to rebuild will depend on their assessment.
Saturday, September 10, 2005
This is the boat in Stephen's yard. 10/1/05
Stephen called on Friday, Sept. 2nd to tell he had been in New Orleans until Wednesday the 31st. I was horrified because Meg and I had thought he'd gone to Baton Rouge. His voice had a very haunted sound, all that he could say was, " It's just like on t.v. ". So, sadly told me he made it down our street in Treme and that our house had collapsed in the force of the storm. I knew that structure wouldn't have a chance against winds most humans cannot begin to imagine. We were prepared for the worst, I just hoped it wouldn't land on anyone.
The good news this, two weeks later, that once the federal help arrived, things would improve very quickly. It is.
We have reports that the water uptown is on and the pipes are being flushed and they have cleared some trees and they are putting the power lines back up on St. Charles Ave. Thank goodness that we are right on one of the most important streets in the city, they must get the streetcar up and running. Also, the headline in the paper today says there are the estimate of fatalities was higher than what they are finding so far. We can only hope that more people were rescued than we thought. They also estimate that they will get the water/sludge cleaned up in just a few weeks!
We have lost entire neighborhoods, and many beautiful, jewels that make our city unique. For me this house project was a dream come true. So if you had your hopes and dreams in New Orleans, you have to ask yourself, "have we lost our dreams?" Or exchanged them for nightmares? I say, no, of course not. You just adjust your definition of your dream a bit.
I hope we won't lose our memory and will rebuild New Orleans as it should be according to the cultural style unique to our city. Like clothes, architecture is a personal expression and we have a responsibility to carry forth the personal expression of those who had the vision to build our beautiful city. We must carry that vision forth. Now, we may feel closer to them and their stuggle to develop our graceful city on a festering swamp but are luckier because we have the wisdom of Then and Now. I can't wait to get back. Can't wait to smell the sweet olive trees.
Thanks to Jacques for saving Stephen ! He said he had a photo, hope to get it to you soon. Right now, what we have is this link to our aerial view of the downtown area.
You can zoom in but only if you know where to go.
Sunday, August 28, 2005
This is the one.
The essential personnel in the city are in our thoughts as they stand by to deal with the damage. We are trying to come to terms with the total devastation that we will see once we can return.
We feel nothing but despair for our beloved city.
http://www.wwltv.com/ for a live feed of local news.
Thursday, August 25, 2005
Stephen and Stafford, our neighbors next door inherited this creole style shotgun house. Stephen grew up learning how to shore up foundations and he is doing this to his house now. There was extensive termite damage.
Shoring is incredibly hard work and to pay a contractor is very expensive. They have to replace sills and piers throughout the entire house. I have been watching the progress over there and thought you should see it because it's not the fun type of esthetic progess that people enjoy but it is essential. It's hard to believe two guys can do this. Stafford spends all of his time under the house, it's tight under there but he says it's not too hot but actually somewhat cooler than the outside temperature. Unfortunately, Stafford had to return to college for the fall semester and Stephen's trying to find a contractor to help him get the job done. I always tease Stafford that he does all the work and Stephen just stands around talking to the neighbors and I said while he was gone Stephen would probably just put a lazyboy in the yard and be hanging out. We miss Stafford back in the ghet-to but I bet he doesn't miss being under the house all day. Stephen probably would like to have demolished most of the house and started from scratch and he teases the preservationists about it but he knows
he's doing the right thing.
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
I know ! How about that ! ? I can't believe it either.....the guys from Arrow Fence took a long time to get here but they were good. Swweeet ! The ironwork is going to have to be replaced. The cost of repairing is more than buying it new so it come out but we're going to hold onto it.
I was in Colorado when they finished but my spy boy, Derryck called me. He's great that way. It's a team project. There are going to be many people to thank when we're done.
The architect is working on full sets of drawings then we must get approval from the HDLC. I love it that we have a YARD. I think I can plant one Oleander! It needs flowers. Can running water be far behind?
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Joe'sCozy Corner is closed. It's taken me a while from the day the announcement was made, to believe it. Joe Glasper owned this bar and our renovation home. In 2004, he went to jail for shooting a man who insisted on selling beer illegally outside the bar. Here's a link to a nice history of Joe's: http://www.southernspaces.org/contents/2004/spitzer/1.htm
Joe owned our renovation project, he died in jail right before we went to the act of sale. It was in the middle of Jazz Fest. I went to Joe's jazz funeral, when they came through and they brought his casket in the bar. Then I went out Jazz Fest where I heard performers on stage acknowledging the loss of someone who had been a leader and good neighbor in Treme.
Much later that night, after that funeral, there were shots fired and someone was killed. Of course the neighbors caught flack from the hoodlums, accusing the neighbors of calling the cops. This rationale makes residents kinda crazy. Yep, we're the bad guys. We ain't the ones in the street shooting people. Unfortunately, Joe's had become one of the bad hot spots around the corner and while it used to be an institution, drugs and violence have taken it away. Now they have dismantled the shoe-shine stand out front and things are pretty quiet. It was Kermit Ruffins' favorite place.
Check out the news about the incident that landed Joe in jail: http://www.bayoubuzz.com/articles.aspx?aid=1533
This is a link to Nick Spitzer's first hand account. It's good.
Having trouble locating the story about the shooting post-jazz funeral but I will keep trying.
Stay tuned !
In addition to working with my architect and trying to get the fence krewe out to the property, a friend sent me a notice from the Faubourg Marigny list-serve that these tubs were for sale for $100 each. Today I was very very lucky that I could get the refinishers to meet me at the site to pick them up. Refurbishing runs between $600-$800 per tub depending on their condition and size.
Friday, July 22, 2005
Ok, this is the bag I found under the house on Sunday, the 17th. It's a bag from someone's personal effects, left under my house apparently on their way back from the pokey. It had some clothes in it, I would have thrown the whole thing out but thought you might like to see it....O.P.C.S.O. is the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff's Office. yep, probably the dude sleepin on the porch. Cindy wiped out the anti-napping glitter.....time to reload.
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is cathartic. Problem is, I don't have a mower and no place on the property to store one yet.
(Don't ask where the fence guys are....) So Stephen loads his in on the weekend and we sweat our asses off. Here he using the backup mower cuz we busted the new one already. He calls this trusty old workhorse "old reliable"....but I know I am going to owe him a mower.....and a weedeater.
His M.O. is to keep a low profile, we both dig that approach. He and his nephew, Stafford, have been under their house next-door jacking up the sills to stabilize the foundation/frame. It's nuts that they are crawling under the house for hours. I will try to get a picture.
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
Mourning rituals by the Indians and others began almost immediately.This weekend was his actual funeral. On Friday night he laid in stateat the city's opera hall, the Mahalia Jackson Theater, for visitationand Saturday morning a service was held at St. Augustine church in theTreme. Thousands gathered outside the church for the jazz funeralprocession to the cemetery. There was a brass band, with musiciansattired in traditional caps, shirts and ties, and what looked to beevery Mardi Gras Indian in the city turned out in their feathers andjewels. Naturally, the heat was broiling and even people in lightclothing were dripping sweat. The streets around the church were packedfor blocks around by onlookers and the area was buzzing with MardiGras-like energy. There was zero sadness expressed. The air was allbody scents, tropical blossoms from front gardens and wafting dopeclouds. Men were selling beers and mixed cocktails from tailgates,women hawking sweet potato pies and pralines from baskets held overtheir heads in the crowd. People were wearing hats decorated withclippings Montana's newspaper obituary.
The coffin emerges from the church and Indian whoops and tambourinerattles light up. The coffin is pushed into a black, horse-drawn hearsecarriage with a tuxedoed driver at the reins. The brass band sets up adirge and every one creeps forward with exaggeratedly slow steps as theprocession begins. The pace is miniscule, step by step in the blazing,crowded heat. Around the hearse, Indians and others in zoot suit paradefinery and ornate sashes chant and sing. The brass band picks it up alittle with "Didn't He Ramble" and "I'll Fly Away" as the processioncrosses under the bloodstream pattern of oak limbs lacing overEsplanade Avenue. Continuing through the Sixth Ward, shade disappearsand the heat intensifies. People run into corner bars and run out againwith beers and napkins to mop brows. Dancers and mourners wearing suitsare soaked to the lapels in sweat. Jostled in the crowded smallstreets, people bump into parked jalopies and burn themselves on thesun-sizzling steel. Dressy parasols and plain black umbrellas sproutup.
The procession makes a brief stop at Montana's home and loops around beneath the elevated interstate en route to the cemetery, St. Louis No.2, a walled and crumbling city of the dead fronting the Iberville housing project. The hearse clops slowly down the cemetery's main thoroughfare, past all the brick vaults and whitewashed tombs. The rotting smell of the recently interred is evident. People are crawling onto tombs of various heights and packing into the slim alleys between them to get a look at the coffin leaving the hearse, carried by soaking wet pallbearers to a tomb recently opened for the chief's arrival. He goes in, and last words are spoken, the Catholic lord's prayer recited. A kid falls from a tomb in a crumble of bricks and dusts himself off. Mourners pass by, placing a hand on the coffin inside the tomb and,when they're done, two workers from the archdiocese haul out a bucketof mortar and tools and wall in the coffin one aged brick at a time. Everyone disperses back through the Treme, where a repass reception is waiting in the community center. The criminal sheriff has sprung for lunch and at either end of the center's indoor basketball court twodozen prisoners wearing "O.P.P. Inmate" T-shirts spoon out bowls of redbeans roped thickly with sausage over rice, overseen by armed deputies. Around this time in the afternoon it became certain that Hurricane Dennis and its 130 mph winds would strike somewhere else along the GulfCoast, sparing New Orleans once more.