Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017.
Back To Work.
“We are rid of February, and good riddance, if you ask me.–E.J. Kahn, Jr.
I have long believed that if you want to get anything accomplished in New Orleans, you have to begin on Ash Wednesday, and keep at it until you and the people who contribute to your projects run out of gas, invent a new holiday, and have an extra drink.
An advantage I have this year is that my radio imperatives are very clear. I host four hours every weekday to an audience which largely doesn’t know how to tune in to our station. Except for serious radio fanatics, most of my potential listeners–especially the ones who listened to The Food Show before the new concept took over–find it hard even to identify “105.3 FM, HD2” as a radio station. That phrase of letters and numbers is certainly unfamiliar.
Nevertheless, I see is a glowing future for this undertaking. For example, an article I read today says that Norway will soon ditch FM, to move its radio broadcasts to their equivalent of HD. It’s been a long time since Norway (or almost any other European country) used AM radio. Sweden and Finland are also considering this step into a better-sounding, less expensive future.
Now all I have to do is talk New Orleans listeners into it. But we hate to make changes, even when the benefits are obvious.
I go into town to make it appear I am working for real. The radio show is fairly busy, with many calls about how to rig a car radio so it can pick up my HD signal. That may seem a circular death (and dearth, too) of conversation. But in the early days of radio, listeners talked about the medium of radio rather that its content. That also happened in the early days of the Web. It almost didn’t matter what you put on your website or message board, because the site and the board were themselves Topic A.
After the program, I grab a couple of mini-mufulettas from the surplus that the radio stations brought in for people who worked Mardi Gras, as I did. It winds up being enough to stave off my appetite for the rest of the day. I am digesting the big sirloin strip I had yesterday at the Crescent City.
Speaking of which. . . yesterday, while we were both waiting for a tangle of cars that made it hard to exit the parking lot, I had a conversation with Henry Patout. Background item number one: he pronounces his last name with a hard final “t.” He says that when people call him by his nickname “Hank” without the final “t” of the Cajun style of saying his last name, it sounds like a noise you’d make when you’re in end days of a cold. I never thought about that until he pointed it out to me. I’ll never forget it now.
Henry (I’ll play it safe) is in the water business. After growing up in Slidell, where his parents had a well to supply water, he was put off by the industrial look of most faucets and pipes in buildings. When he bought his first house in the Rosedale section near City Park, he disliked the chlorine in the water so much that he decided to have a water well put in to his back year.
He found out that water wells are against city codes. It didn’t stop him. He found that one can buy all the pieces needed to drill a water well. The major part of it was a power drill about twice the size of the home-tool model. He got water flowing up without a pump when he was down about 175 feet. He kept going to about 740, sealed it off, added a pump and a filtration system, and didn’t tell anyone about it, not even his wife.
I have a water well at the Cool Water Ranch, but so does everybody around there. The water it supplies is very clean and lacks any peculiar tastes. Better than the Slidell water, I’d say. Henry wants to talk everybody in New Orleans to pump their own, as a post-hurricane resource. He says the flood has to rise above ten feet to contaminate his home well.
This talk got him excited. He started naming restaurants that had his wells. The steak house wasn’t one of them. “Chefs always talk about making everything they cook locally,” he says. “Why not their water, too?”
Thursday, March 2, 2017.
My Book Publisher Still Likes Me.
Yesterday I found a number of e-mails from Lisa Ekus, my literary agent in Massachusetts. She was instrumental in getting my cookbook picked up by a New York publisher after Katrina. Now, after ten years, the publisher (Abrams) is showing an interest in reworking the book, creating a new cover and adding twenty pages of photographs. I am invited to add or change things that needed updating.
A lot of this discussion took place outside my ken: I was fully engaged with Mardi Gras when the emails came through. Did I blow the deal? I spoke to the publisher herself, and she was pleased to tell me that the project had been accepted and my cookbook will be in the spring promotional calendar. She seemed to be pleased with sales through the ten years, and thinks the momentum may well go on a long time.
Something to pass down to my grandson (and, I hope, more TK.)