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Behind Enemy Lines

Rod Amis - Unbound

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Our Palladin logo. NEW ORLEANS, 5 March, 2002 ‚ "The last two years of your life have certainly been an adventure," my friend Darryl said near the end of our conversation. He meant it ironically, much like an ancient Chinese wishing you a life in "interesting" times.

Two thoughts popped into my mind, one after the other, not simultaneously. The first was that the adventure continues. The second was the memory of my horoscope that day. "You are behind enemy lines. Keep your plans secret and look for a way out."

It sure felt that way on Monday, as everything around me seemed to conspire toward my frustration. I was out of the loop again because Cox Cable was having yet another outage in my area of town. I did receive e-mail for about ten minutes, then, when I dropped the connection so that my new roomie, Carlos, could try to get his connection up with a reboot, I was out of the loop again. Some of the messages I received asked for immediate answers. Or nearly so. All I could do was hope that the senders could wait another 24-48 hours. (Not a lot of time in the analog world, but when you're used to near-immediate responses from "Mr. Always-On," you tend to assume the worst when he's silent for more than ten hours. In other words, I've trained people to be impatient with me.)

My job stuff was/is weird, too. I was getting the distinct impression that maybe three jobs is one job too many. If I were ten or fifteen years younger

maybe I could juggle all three demanding jobs.

But being who I am and being human being what it isä
it is clear to me that I must relinquish one job or another.

I am wrestling (Give up, Jacob!) I am wrestling. I am wrestling with this decision and others.

The job requiring me to arise at 4 in the morning is most in jeopardy. It's murder for a typical "night person" to have to conform to those hours. What conflicts me is that, on an hourly basis, that job is my second highest paying right now. It's only physically demanding and would be less so if I could devote the time to it that they would prefer. But I have to dash off to my "real" Day Job each morning --- unless they rotate me into a Saturday or Sunday, which has happened only three times thus far.

A raise from the regular Day Job would be nice, but you know how people (i.e. bosses) are about raises. I can try to make my best case, as I think they appreciate I'm a good worker, but I'm concerned right now that my near-constant exhaustion might undercut part of my argument.

It's inevitable that one job must be relinquished. But which one?

That's usually when it hits me that it's difficult to make a good decision when you're always tired. But you're always tired as long as you put off making a decision and working three jobs. So maybe any choice is a good choice?
(See how circular reasoning begins?)


The area where I work on Bourbon Street can be charming early in the morning. The historical buildings, centuries old, are more easily savored when the reveling crowds have gone home, leaving behind only the detritus of their madding. You notice the inevitable broken bottles, yes, and the beer trucks lined up like tankers to replenish the establishments that cater to the trade. The quiet and glamour are nonetheless evident. You can almost imagine an older New Orleans not so damnably codependent of tourists and enforced partying. You can imagine it must have been a better place to live than this new New Orleans that is a mecca to the reprobated and the unscrupulous.

The stories of the disreputable and larcenous abound in this city but they are cheek-by-jowl with those of the honorable and romantic. Like the story I shared of the Romanoff prince who gave Mardi Gras its colors, or that of Jean LaFite saving New Orleans in the war with the British, or that of an early mayor of New Orleans planning a home for the exiled Napoleon, each stands as counterpoint to the John Laws and Baron de Marigny's of New Orleans storied past.

In this city where the dead also must dwell above ground, ever a reminder to the living of our final dwellings, the ghost stories abound, too. Even O'Flaherty's, where I sweep and mop in the morning, clean toilets, is a stop on the weekly Ghost Tours. My boss told me jocularly "not be bothered" by what might sound like people walking around upstairs of the place in the wee hours. "You'll get used to them." I normally take stories of ghosts and spirits as fanciful but they're hard to pooh-pooh in this city, where you can't know anyone for long without hearing about presences in the bar(s) where they work or the house(s) where they live. Some are silly, but some have credibility that make you wonder.

It came up in a conversation with Matt, before my flight from Casa de Caca, that I have now lived in every city (save Hartford) that one of my lodestars, Mark Twain, had lived. He had as many ascerbic things to say about New Orleans as he had about the other cities, with the exception of Hartford, Connecticut. I'm not sure Mr. Clemens would like the Hartford we inherited as much as he did the one he found. But then I doubt I'd like the Cairo of today as much as I did the one I saw in my youth.

Like most cities I've sampled, I find myself warming to New Orleans now that I am getting away from the transplants and transients and spending more time with natives. They see a different city, not so committed to debauchery as profiting from the commitment to it exhibited by others. Perhaps that accounts for their fabled clannishness and the saw that you can't get anywhere in New Orleans without "being named Beaudroux or Thibodeau."

A likely explanation, for my lights, is that Thibodeau is considered more trustworthy because his family is here and he'll want to stay around them, as opposed to the tens of thousands who just come here and leave. The governor or Louisiana is always working on initiatives to keep talented young people from leaving this state but there's nothing for them here. What passes for an economy is laughable to the rest of America and only finds comparison in banana republic. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone here has told me that coming to New Orleans is dropping back ten or fifteen years in time. The constant lament is that things here only get worse. This city is still reeling from when the oil boys picked up their toys and went back to Houston. Unlike places like Denver, without the oil boom New Orleans has nothing left but Mardi Gras, casinos and twenty-four hour bars. The big chain casinos, it could be argued, have done more harm than good to the Louisiana economy cutting across industries (hospitality, imbibing, lodging, gambling) as they do. When I blew into town last summer the big news was that Harrah's casino was laying off hundreds of its workers. Harrah's is still always hiring, just not as many locals as they ever promised or the incentives they wrung from city and state would justify to any fiscally responsible person.



ASIDE: As I was thinking all this, my boss called me out to update a Point-of-Sale database for one of the properties the company owns. I had almost forgot, while being a cook and beertender during Mardi Gras and designing menus early on, that one of the reasons I'd been hired was because I used to play with databases. (That sometimes seems like a lifetime ago, though it was less than ten years.) The basics of most databases are the same. It's like "riding a bike," as the saying goes. I actually found myself enjoying what most people would consider tedious work.

It's sort of like the way people shy away from glazing windows or cutting in quarter round in the construction trades. I find it a way to relax, get out of my own head, almost like meditation. My Irish boss noticed that. I work best when left to myself. I like focusing on exactly what's in front of me for hours on end without having to listen to my own head.



FRIDAY, 8 MARCH - Our new Mayor here in Nawlins, Ray Nagin of my tales from last week, is putting up a Web site on Monday (when you'll probably be reading this) at nagintransition.com, you might want to go check it out if you're interested in our local doings down here and the man who would bring business to this city. Meanwhile, the big news of today is that the Saints have lost Ricky Williams, of the much-touted "Ricky Factor", to the Miami Dolphins. Oh well, word is Ricky never really took to New Orleans anyway. Bye!


It's been a strange week, full of emotional ups and downs and the decision to let go of the janitor's job. Part of that might have to do with my taking on more responsibility at my regular Day Job with the restaurants and nightclubs on Bourbon Street, and the fact that we're having raise talks in the coming week (I believe.)

I dropped the keys to O'Flaherty's, along with my resignation, off tonight. I left a very politic and polite note, but the truth is that they applied too much pressure for more of my time and changed the playing field one too many times. Not to mention that 4 a.m. thangä That money thing was never explained very well. As the brothers say, you don't mess with a man's money.

I need a lot more sleep. I look forward to that and eating a bit more. My body is sending me subtle signals that it thinks food would be a good thing. Subtle as a flying mallet.



FRIDAY, 15 MARCH - I had a dream about Mt. Olympus on Wednesday. Zeus and Hera were reclining on their divans, not at odds with each other for a change.

"What about Rod, My Lady?" the King of the gods asked his consort.

"Who?" she asked.

"That bastard hasnt' shown me props in years," Aphrodite grumbled.

"He's a man of his honor!" Apollo said.

Hera yawned. "Oh, that one. He's such a tool. Do with him as you will."

"What do you think, Daughter?" Zeus asked Athena after a belly-laugh.

"There are billions of them for us to toy with, Father," she said.

The collage from our Anniversary cover.When I awakened, I showered and shaved and did my mornng ablutions as usual. Before I left for my Day Job, I checked my e-mail. I had received an e-mail from the Novi Sad School of Journalism, in Yugoslavia. It informed me that IREX had approved a grant for me to teach the first-ever interactive, distance-learning course in "Editing Internet Publications."

I was on Cloud Nine. I was especially happy that the gods had decided to ignore me for a while in favor of some other schmoe...

None of this changed the demands of my Day Job, or the contract job I picked up last month designing the Web site for the people in California. Everyone still expects me to bust ass. But I'm happy for the recognition. It makes The World's Magazine, which I've labored tirelessly over these six years, seem somehow more worth it. Somebody saw the love.

Six Years Before the Masthead

Every year I think I have to have something profound to say at our Anniversary. Every year I fall short.

This cathedral of words, your World's Magazine, speaks for itself better than any pontifical statements I might attempt to make.

You have to look no further than PETER BENNETT's wonderful and humorous piece from Oz this week on our RDR page to see that we can be both thoughtful and provocative.

BOB POWERS has been a loyal friend and turned you and me on to more good music from the 20th century than either of us could shake a stick at. (Why he loves the G as much as I do I'll never understand.) This is his one hundred and thirty-first music review for The World's Magazine. Just imagine: before that he produced umpteen book reviews!

MATTIE LENNON rounds out the mix of great writing in this issue with "The Churchyard Gate." It's a great piece of work and explains why Ireland doesn't charge writers taxes. God bless the Irish!

How many years have I whined about being the editor here? TOO MANY.

I'M the only one who didn't get that being a good editor ALSO means that you have the respect of other people who put one word beside another day-after-day. I've learned -- (Duh!) -- that there's no shame in being a person that other writers respect enough to entrust their work to before showing it to the world. In the process, I've made some wonderful friends on five continents.

FINAL ADMISSION(S): The best thing I could ever have done was take to the road last year ("G21 World Tour") and meet some of the writers I've published here face-to-face. I used to hide behind this masthead. (There! I said it.)

But, during this last year, sharing meals with the people whose words have appeared here, in angst, in dudgeon, in our cups, sharing their cities and their lives, I have been enriched by their faith in me and the G21 Credo --- something I've only be able to put into words succinctly for this sixth anniversary edition.

I almost died last year. It was only the writers who trust me and support me who brought me back. Now I plan to kick some major ass -- after I pay my bills.

I'm gonnah find a new woman real soon. My hormones are raging again. I got a woody the other day just looking at this chick across the street. WHEN I used to get woodies, they were always specific. (A certain woman made me horney.) Now I find myself getting generalized woodies. (Lots of women get me horney.) That's a bad sign for all of you with daughters. Classify me under the Dirty Old Man category henceforth.

Thanks for staying with us, Pilgrims.

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LIFE OF ROD THIS WEEK

1. BEING relieved about *finally* delivering our Anniversary edition.

2. HOPING that my Day Job approves my request for a raise so that I pay my debts off faster.

3. PRAYING for a new girlfriend and being able to live up to all the expectations of the people I'm obligated to perform for.
Thanks for coming back this week.

"Work like you don't need the money,
"Love like you've never been hurt,
"Dance like no one is watching..."
Rod


This is another Web site made on a Macintosh.

Apple Computer's Think Different logo.

ROD AMIS has published this magazine since 1990. It first appeared as a hardcopy 'Zine. In March, 1996, he launched it here on the Web. Rod was a Contributing Editor at Suite101.com, where he wrote the " 'Net Publishing" feature. His work has been featured in the San Francisco Bay Guardian Online, NRV8, and at WebLab's Reality Check site. Rod was also a contributing writer on technology for Faulkner Information Services. He wrote Web issues for MethodFive.com's Hyper newsletter.

Rod was a columnist for the Andover News Network, where he wrote over two hundred articles on web design and development issues. He was also principal writer and Editor for IT Manager's Journal, where he reviewed technology issues weekly, producing 383 editorials. He became the Managing Editor for Electronic Mail/Newsletter Publications at Andover.net at the end of February, 2000, and left in September of the same year. He was a contributing writer for ACCESS magazine, which appears both on- and offline for 10 million readers in 100 newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Post, Boston Herald, Austin American-Statesman, Denver Post and Orlando Sentinel, among others. Rod was the US reporter for Silicon.com, a division of Network Multimedia Television in London, UK, reaching 3.5 million European readers, until May, 2001.

This year he's working as Assistant to the General Manager of a Big Easy company that does restaurants and nightclubs. Oh yeah, he's designing Web sites for other people. And he's the instructor in Editing for Internet Publications at the Novi Sad School of Journalism in Yugoslavia. In his spare time, he chases women. Our winking 'Smiley'.

Rod lives in New Orleans, Louisiana, right now. The new home of the magazine. He wants to live somewhere civilized when he grows up. Wish him Luck.

He continues to be committed to integrity, chastity and a dose of humility.


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