September 3

Nailed it?

First off, I need to point out that I can bake- and I mean from scratch. Need a cake? Brownies? Cookies or cupcakes? I got that. And my rum balls will put you right on your butt.

Based on that experience, I decided to take on one of the Squidoo challenges- to make a lens on Halloween cupcakes. Starting with the assumption that most people were going to  focus on the decorations, I went a different way: I’d make the centerpiece of the project a game.

Off I went to the craft store to get little trinkets to put inside the cupcakes, and figured on making each like a door prize. If you got an eyeball, you’d get  toy#1, a bat would get toy#2, etc.

Even as I started to try to pull things together, Bianca knew that this was not going to end well:



Give it up, you sad, sad human.

   I’ll admit that  I went overboard – surprise! Michaels is a dangerous place. I even bought a mold to make skeleton body parts and filled them with the green and orange chocolate (front and center of the photo). Did I mention I’d never worked with that stuff before? Yeah. Harder than it looks.

setting up

All photogenic and ready to be included in a triumphant lens!

I cheated and used a box mix so I could focus on the ‘fun’ stuff. Got fancy, divided it up into batches and used food dye in Halloween-y colors, and based on my Pinterest research decided to use ice cream cones instead of standard paper cups. After wrapping the toys in mini baking cups and carefully pushing them to the bottom of the cones I was ready to fill ‘em up and go!

  They looked a little different coming out of the oven than they did going in:mess

Let us count the ways that this went wrong. First off, the orange batter cooked up brown, so the cones with the overflowing brown looks like…well…like it needed a plunger. The cones sort of melted under the lava-like heat of cake batter, collapsing in, and forming those lovely goiter-like protrusions. Oh, and the batter just oozed inside the toys, rendering them revolting.

I was ready to throw in the towel when a friend pointed out that “anything can be fixed with frosting!” Yup!


August 26

Even the Most Impressive Tombs Fall Down

This massive plot in Cypress Grove is in horrible shape, though the caretakers have gamely tried to arrange the pieces as best they could. Clearly this family was affluent and cared a great deal about their tomb, but they must’ve died off or moved away, because time has definitely had its way with the area.


A brick wall surrounded the plot

A brick wall surrounded the plot

The brick wall around the plot has fallen down, and there are two interesting pillars to either side of where the marble structure would have been, though there’s no hint of what the pillars held.


The only part of the tablet that’s whole with writing combines personal sentiment with Bible verse:

Fallen Stone

I go to join our darling

son in the spirit-land.

Beloved! Let not your heart

be troubled, you believe in

God, believe also in this,

“in my father’s house are

many mansions.” I go to

prepare a place for you

that where we are, you

shall surely come.


This is the only part of the tablet remaining, and the last name appears to be “Dickiy,” which would be an unusual last name indeed. I could find no mention of anyone with that last name in the Cypress Grove database, nor in online obit listings- nor anyone with any version including “Dick” as the first four letters.



Somehow, not being able to find a reference to the name made it that much more poignant. Next time I’m in the Greenwood offices (Greenwood oversees Cypress Grove) I’m going to inquire and see if I can find out more. I’d love to be able to search and find a picture of this as it once was.

August 22

Danger in the Cemeteries

Note: this post was moved over from my old site. Demolition of Iberville has been approved, and ironically its destruction is likely to hurt both St. Louis No. 1 and No. 2, old and fragile places. For now, however, the project remains open and occupied.

Iberville Housing project overlooking St. Louis No. 2 Cemetery



Okay, ya’ll, we gotta talk. This morning I went out early early to get a few pictures and swung into St. Louis No 2.


Now, when I saw ‘swung in,’ I mean that literally, as in ‘keeping close to my car, which was parked in the passthrough.’


And when I say ‘went out early,’ I mean ‘trying to in n’ out before the thugs and drug dealers get moving.’


I had something in particular to do, and figured it would take less than 5 minutes to deal with. That didn’t happen, because much to my amazement tourists kept wandering in, cameras in hand, looking around with no idea of where they were. This has never happened before- I’ve never seen random people in this cemetery, ever, but over the course of under half an hour, 7 people in 4 groups came in.

Each time I approached the people, introduced myself and gave them a little cautionary warning. 3 of the 4 groups were receptive and a little shocked, and I ended up giving an impromptu tour in the 2nd square, explaining the customs and making sure nobody stayed behind afterward.


That sucker's 10 feet high- nobody's going to see you if you need help

That sucker’s 10 feet high- nobody’s going to see you if you need help


St. Louis No. 2 has a lot of mystery- it’s quite decayed, and there aren’t dozens of tourists wandering around, so if you’re the type that wants to soak up the atmosphere it’s brilliant…but there’s an excellent reason it’s been left alone and the tour guides don’t go there- despite being less than a 5 minute walk from the French Quarter, it’s in one of the most dangerous areas of the city. Sitting between the mazelike Iberville Housing Project and the easy escape of the highway, you’re cut off from the Quarter’s patrolling police and although you are very visible from the high windows of the housing project as you walk around with your expensive camera, wallets and purses, at ground level no one passing by can tell if someone needs help because of the 9ft high brick walls that surround the cemetery.


As an alternative, I suggest taking the Canal St streetcar out to the end of the line- you’ll see more cemeteries off the beaten path with no tourists in than you can imagine. If you wanted something with atmosphere, you can walk around the corner to Holt or see if the Odd Fellows gate is open but you’ll be safe

Here’s a list of tips to make your cemetery visit better/safer.

And here’s a list of the safety of each of our cemeteries. (a work in progress.)


Although I hasten to add that I’ve never been accosted, and have spoken to many hardworking and kind people who live in the Iberville, the fact remains that there is a lot of violent drug and crime activity there, linked to dozens of murders in the last decade. If I do go, I make sure that somebody knows where I am, that my cell phone is close at hand, that I don’t carry a purse, I make it brief, and do my best to not go alone. I strongly advise tourists to please not go in at all. Please. It’s just not worth it.

August 22

Minksy – Dispersed of Judah

I was out on one my my dawn explorations when I came across this:


Which, honestly, I initially looked at because of the pinkish morning clouds, but when I looked closer I noticed the oddities:


I love the idea of simply defining oneself as ‘ARTIST,’ not to mention the artistic touch with the dates. I’ve never seen death displayed as a fraction before. So I did some checking and discovered it’s a mother and her predeceased son. I was unable to find very much on him online, except that he may be the grantor of the Joseph Minsky Young Lawyer Award, given to young attorneys who focus on immigration law. It’s hard to say, except that the award was created just before he died, so the stars seem to align, but there’s not so much as a death notice for him anywhere that I can find. His mother, however, sounds like she was one hell of a lady. From her obit:

Mrs. Neiman, An Internationally Known Painter, Was Born In The Vinnitsa Region Of Ukraine. She Lived And Worked In Kharkov, Odessa, Chernovtsky And Moscow And Was A Member Of The Union Of Artists Of The Ussr. She Participated In Larger Exhibitions Throughout Much Of Europe, Tokyo, Jerusalem And New York. Mrs. Neiman Moved To New Orleans In 1993. An Exhibit Of Her Work Was Hosted By The New Orleans Museum Of Art In January, 2002 And Most Recently By The Hanson Gallery.

I tried to find examples of her work, but there aren’t any online, though she still has several pieces in a gallery in Berlin- ironic for a Russian Jew.