Episode 181 – Chris Rose

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Virtual Memories Show #181: Chris Rose

“After Katrina, I looked around and saw we had reporters out covering the destruction, but ain’t nobody looking around and what’s left. So that’s what I started to do to. I drove my car around the city until I ran out of gas. I got on my bike and rode around until I got a flat tire. And then I started walking. And I wrote about what was here, rather than what was gone.”

Chris Rose wrote the definitive book of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, 1 Dead in Attic. I caught up with him for his Magical Musical Mystery History walking tour of the French Quarter, and after we sat down in Harry’s Corner bar and talked about his life, his art, his three literary feuds, how he went from winning a Pulitzer Prize to waiting tables, going from celebrity-stalker to the Bard of the Crescent City, the myths and truths of the French Quarter, and a whole lot more. Give it a listen! And buy 1 Dead in Attic and book a walking tour of the French Quarter!

“My tour is like standup comedy, but we keep moving the stage. Drop all the pretension, and just start telling the stories like you do on stage.”

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If you can make it through my self-pitying ramble of an intro (just skip to like 6:45), and you’ll hear a great talk about being New Orleans famous and/or infamous, the catharsis of the 10-year anniversary of Katrina, the other walking tours he’d love to run, his literary and journalistic heroes, how he got blackballed by his college newspaper, the time he got a cease-and-desist letter from Richard Ford, and why he’s never leaving the city again. Now go listen to the show!

“I was an ordinary man living in an extraordinary time. . . . All I did was write every day about what it was like trying to live in an unlivable city.”

Enjoy the conversation! Then check out the archives for more great episodes! You might like:

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About our Guest

Chris Rose used to be a columnist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary. He won a Pulitzer for his contributions to the Times-Picayune‘s Public Service. He was a finalist for the 2006 Michael Kelly Award. His book, 1 Dead in Attic, was a New York Times bestseller. In recent years, he worked as a waiter. Now he’s a licensed tour guide. He lives in New Orleans with his 3 children. Chris Rose reigned as King of the Krewe du Vieux for the 2007 New Orleans Mardi Gras season.

Credits: This episode’s music is Nothing’s Gonna Bring Me Down by David Baerwald, used with permission of the artist. The conversation was recorded at Harry’s Corner bar on Chartres St. on a pair of Blue enCORE 200 Microphones feeding into a Zoom H5 digital recorder. I recorded the intro and outro on a Blue enCORE 200 Microphone feeding into a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. Photos of Mr. Rose by Amy Roth.

Unrequired Reading: April Link Showers

Bizarre! I was just settling in to collect my May Twitter-links for a big Unrequired Reading when I discovered that last month’s load o’ links never went live! So here’s all of April’s great stuff! I’ll post May’s tomorrow!

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It’s time for another month’s worth of Twitter links, dear readers! If you want to follow along, I’m at twitter.com/groth18!

First, the retweets:

RT @mookiewilson86 (paul raff): David Koresh had a better homestand than the Mets.

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RT @ESQStyle Esquire Style: And the best-dressed male guest at the #RoyalWedding is… not David Beckham.

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RT @felixsalmon (felix salmon): Wherein Martin Amis blathers on for 4,000 dutiful but unnecessary words about Christopher Hitchens.

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk): Client request of the year.

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RT @simondoonan (Simon Doonan): Creative factory: Simon Doonan, My Faves!

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RT @GreatDismal (William Gibson): “WE HELPED YOUR GRANDAD GET LAID” #daytonbootsvancouver

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RT @mattzollerseitz (Matthew Zoller Seitz): “‘After Hours’ exists to prove that ‘Taxi Driver’ actually displayed some restraint. @notjustmovies

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RT @JPosnanski (Joe Posnanski): In honor of touching CNN story, I write a little more about Nick Charles and a moment I’ll never forget.

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RT @asymmetricinfo (Megan McArdle): Why Europe won’t develop as an independent military power

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RT @kottke (kottke.org): Hilarious fake TLC promo

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RT @kylevanblerk (Kyle van Blerk): Bored at work. Photoshopping Bieber’s head onto things.

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RT @questlove (?Love of The Roots): Man. Not even “OJ Guilt” is the proper colloquialism for what I feel after eatin Cinnabon.

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And now, the links!

NBA Action: Bet On It! #IhadSpursandMagicinthefinals

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Ah, #vodka, with your “marketing gimmicks that make getting drunk seem like a gateway to fame and fortune

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The bowling alley of the #Frick: it’s no basement of the Alamo, but still.

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There’s now a computer as dumb as my boss. #thatswhatshesaid

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Joe Queenan goofs on the #gehry glut.

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Is anyone at the #royalwedding sporting a monkey-tail beard?

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Via @khoi, abandoned Yugoslavia monuments of awesomeness.

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Xanadu comes back to life! (Will #MichaelBeck and @olivianj be at the opening?)

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Xanadu: More of disaster than @XanaduMovie? #likedecoratinganuclearreactor #bringbacktheAlexander’smural

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In the movie, I see Billy Bob Thornton as the local, and Pesci as the mobster: #greateststoryever #trustme

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Tefillin: it’s like Jewish blood pressure.” Go, @MitzvahTank! #areyouJewish?

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Will nobody think of the #pistachios?!

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#AllStarSuperman never should’ve released the sun-eater from captivity:

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The Walk of Shame goes #StreetStyle, via @sartorialist

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So VCs are like the AIDS activists of our time?

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I’m all for taking advantage of gorgeous chicks, but sheesh! #modelscam (via @felixsalmon)

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#HaroldBloom and his “elite Europhile glasses” #agon

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Eat lead! #staedtler and #fabercastell at war

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Every so often, I remind myself why I find contempo literary fiction useless and stultifyingly dull

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Go read this #BenKatchor interview! Nownownow! #CardboardValise (just plow through the “what is comics?” section)

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@felixsalmon delivers a (much appreciated) Jonathan Franzen smackdown

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@witoldr on the secret language of architects.

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This #Houdini article escapes from the need to write in complete sentences. #escapeartistry

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I guess I oughtta get around to reading #GeoffDyer sometime, huh?

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In honor of tonight’s season 2 premiere of #Treme on #HBO, check out this interview with #WendellPierce (#BunkMoreland)

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#ChrisElliott has a DAUGHTER on SNL? #igrowold

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Dali makes aliyah!

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Ron Rosenbaum implores us to visit (Joyce’s) Ithaca (but not much else). (I admit I’ll likely skip #Ulysses)

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I’m awfully happy with my @allenedmonds, I have to say

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I look down on my wife. #shekicksmeintheshins

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#Starbury = Jim Jones?

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Is it good or bad that my TV/movie/prose diet is so similar to that of #StevenSoderbergh? #MillersCrossing!

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25 years ago: Graceland and the Gatwick Baby

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“People who drink coffee are different in many ways from those who don’t drink coffee” #whataboutgin?

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Geoff Dyer on being allergic to David Foster Wallace’s writing (his compare/contrast w/Federer is great)

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“You look into the fiery furnace and see the rich man without any name” #wallstreet

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Neat video of @billy_reid at home.

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@simondoonan on camp: “I am not the brightest Art Nouveau lamp in the room…” #needIsaymore?

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NOLA: The Big Hypothetical

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Fun interview with Glenn O’Brien, onetime Warhol employee and current #StyleGuy for #GQ: #howtobeaman #glennobrien

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Ah, get back to me around yer 20th reunion, ya young bastid.

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Neat take on Android, Google’s business model, and moats.

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Authors and broken promises. #Icantgetstarted

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I would prefer not to poke you. #groupmeh

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Um, the good news is that “cancer” doesn’t exist (the bad news is that it’s more complex than anyone thought) #uhoh

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Would it have more success if it were called a “scrodpiece”? #probablynot

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“It’s still real to me, dammit!” #soareconcussions #andearlydeath #wwe

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When Antonioni met Tarkovsky: #shakeitlikeaPolaroidpicture

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RPG = Rocket-Powered Genius (of design) #rocketpunchgeneration

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@rupaul answers all questions, except, “What’s up with the mustache?” #dragrace

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@david_j_roth speaks truth to pizza (I still don’t understand how @pizzahut stays in business here in NJ.)

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Is there a Damien Hirst level to unlock? #jeffkoonsmustdie

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By @mattnycs: Vote for the man in the small hat: a rabbi runs for office … in Uganda: Parts I and II #really

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Hot chicks with (old) douchebags: #Iblamesociety #Ialsoblamehotchicks

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No Shakespeare in Topeka? #talentnotgenius #billjames

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#Koppenburg: why I don’t bike. #whoneedstheexercise?

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Accidental Mysteries: masked #seenandunseen

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GREAT piece by @comicsreporter on a trip to the #centerforcartoonstudies

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Because, as we know from #chrisrock, books are like Kryptonite to… certain people: #padandquill

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The Perplexitude of Hilfiger

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Proto-Facebook

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Darkness at Noonan: #tomgoestothebar (happy 60th, Tom Noonan!)

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And I close this month’s edition with a non-link:

“I used to believe that worry was a talisman against something bad happening to you.” thx for the wisdom, @ConanOBrien (& @MarcMaron)!

Unrequired Reading: The Return!

At New Year’s, I decided to call an end to the weekly Unrequired Reading posts, figuring that it was easier for people to just follow my Twitter feed (twitter.com/groth18) and/or Facebook posts. But at that party I attended a few weeks ago, two other old acquaintances told me that they enjoyed this feature and were kinda bummed that I’d decided to stop posting it.

So I’ve decided to compromise: Every month (or thereabouts), I’ll post a mega-Unrequired Reading for those of you too goshdarned lazy to just add me to their Twitter feeds! Enjoy! (yes, I left the hashtags in so you’d have some idea of what the posts are about.)

Continue reading “Unrequired Reading: The Return!”

What It Is: 12/27/10

What I’m reading: I finished Black Swan Green on the 24th, read The Humbling on Christmas Day, and am undecided on what to start. Im tempted to begin Anthony Powell’s A Dance To the Music of Time, but it is 12 books long. I should probably write a post about reading/writing projects.

What I’m listening to: Not Christmas music.

What I’m watching: On the flight down to Louisiana, I watched a Ken Burns doc about Huey Long (which made me want to read All the King’s Men again), and started a second viewing of Danny Boyle’s Sunshine. Amy & I went out to a ratty theater to catch True Grit on Sunday. Of course, A Christmas Story was on its 24-hour rotation. And, if I haven’t mentioned this before, virtually all of my in-laws will watch college bowl games regardless of who’s playing. I also discovered that they would rather watch high school football than an NBA game. Boo…

What I’m drinking: Except for a Beefeater & tonic on Christmas night when Amy & i went to Bistreaux in the French Quarter to listen to my pal Paul Longstreth play piano, I’ve been dry for a week.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Playing with their grey-girlfriends, Ruby & Willow, while we’re away.

Where I’m going: Back to NJ, I hope. We were supposed to fly home Sunday afternoon, but the blizzard rolled up so quickly that Continental cancelled all flights for that day by Saturday evening. They put us on an early morning Tuesday flight, for which we’ve just checked in. Good thing I always pack a few extra days’ worth of contact lenses.

What I’m happy about: Not being home for the blizzard, which may have dumped around 2 feet of snow on our place.

What I’m sad about: That I started the year with a funeral (my pal Sang) and ended it with one (one of Amy’s elderly relatives).

What I’m worried about: The volume of snow waiting for me when I get home. Bad enough that I parked the car on the roof of the parking garage at Newark; I’m hoping my neighbors remembered to ask their snowplow guy to take care of my driveway, too.

What I’m pondering: Borrowing my mother-in-law’s car and driving in to New Orleans for a few hours today. Also, I keep thinking about Achilles and how that recent reading of The Iliad affected me.

On the Mark

While I was busy having a fantastic dinner at August last night, my pal Sam bumped into Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, in town to watch his team take on the Hornets tonight.

Sam  & I will be at the game tonight, and I’m hoping his new pal moves us up to the good seats. (Editor’s note: this is the fourth basketball arena Sam & I have visited, but we’re just friends. I swear!)

Also, I picked up some Cafe Du Monde for breakfast today and brought it back to my hotel room. I laid out a hand towel on my desk, nommed away, and left such a mess that I put the following note on the towel after I deposited it on the bathroom floor: “This is only coffee and beignets! No hazardous material!”

What It Is: 11/15/10

What I’m reading: The Odyssey.

What I’m listening to: The Lady Killer, The Point of It All, and some gorgeous jazz music, courtesy of my old pal Paul Longstreth, who was playing the club at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon St. last night (btw: I’m in New Orleans this week)

What I’m watching: Week 2 of season 1 of In Treatment, the finale of Eastbound and Down, and a catch-up of Bored to Death episodes. On Sunday, I caught The Social Network at The Theatres at Canal Place, and enjoyed that. I haven’t liked Jesse Eisenberg in any previous film, but he did a great job with the role. The movie’s last act was kinda weak and, well, it just sorta stopped, but it was a fun ride.

What I’m drinking: Beefeater & Q-Tonic (on Sunday evening; there’ve been various other gins over the course of the week, including Fifty Pounds, Citadelle, and an alleged Hendrick’s)

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Lamenting the lack of a farmer’s market and missing their Sunday hike, since Amy wasn’t going to jam them both in the back of her Mini while I’m away.

Where I’m going: I’m in New Orleans, after a delayed Saturday night flight.

What I’m happy about: Just being in New Orleans. I know New York is the Greatest City Ever, but New Orleans is still my favorite. Oh, and getting to see Paul play on Sunday. That was just rapturous for me.

What I’m sad about: Being here without my wife. I’ve traveled to a lot of cities on my own, but it doesn’t feel right to be here without her. When I got in late-ish Saturday night, I went out from my French Quarter hotel to get some dinner. I ended up getting a fried catfish po-boy and Abita at Primo’s on Decatur St. I had a table on the balcony, and looked out to the river, and realized that I was across the street from the place where we got married. I felt a few moments of elation, recollecting that weekend five years ago. Then a guy down on the sidewalk began bellowing in a rage at someone on his cellphone, and the moment snapped.

What I’m worried about: Getting instant-onset diabetes from those beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

What I’m pondering: Whether the idea I had at the jazz club Sunday night for a movie script is totally awesome or just the hack result of too many G&Ts and an excessive emphasis on the romance of New Orleans.

What It Is: 12/21/09

What I’m reading: Gould’s Book of Fish and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.

What I’m listening to: Lots of random iTunes shuffling. I was really busy last week, putting together our big Contract Services Directory print edition. Like, 14-hours-a-day-at-my-desk busy.

What I’m watching: Liam Neeson going bad-ass in Taken, Bottle Shock, and our annual tradition: Bad(der) Santa.

What I’m drinking: DH Krahn & Q-Tonic. Hmm.

What Rufus & Otis are up to: Not being happy about the snow we got on Saturday.

Where I’m going: Louisiana, for Christmas with the in-laws!

What I’m happy about: Finishing that year-end issue (later today).

What I’m sad about: Having to leave the doggies while we’re away.

What I’m worried about: That they’ll gallivant and debauch with the two female greys whose owners will be taking care of them.

What I’m pondering: The ironies of a) having a mid-day blackout and b) nearly burning the house down during the Festival of Lights.