Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Audubon Park

A little lunch break to show off New Orleans' Audubon Park, which I've always thought is the prettiest example of municipal recreational landscaping in the world (with perhaps some competition from Buttes Chaumont in Paris). It was, I believe, developed for the 1884 World's Fair or World Cotton Centennial, oh yes sir. It boasts swampy ponds traversed by stone bridges and stoic swans, islands now occupied by sunbathing turtles but previously inhabited by escaped zoo monkeys (true!), and grassy avenues flanked by hundred year old live oak trees that stretch their branches to the ground.

To clarify, the "live" oak is distinguishable from the ordinary oak tree in that its gnarled and weathered limbs have been smoothed and polished by children's bottoms sliding down them. The smoother the branches, the more aged, loved, and lived ("live") the tree. To clarify further, there may be some botanical explanation for the nomenclature that I don't really care to search for. But then, since this is New Orleans, probably not.

And thanks, Caroline, for taking the picture of me with my oldest (tree) friend in the world!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the moon


A cheating post today: some stolen photographs and derivative aspirations. Here I am now, on my balcony with far too much wine and perhaps far too much of a full moon (is it full? I don't even know..). And all I'm feeling now, or so much of what I'm feeling, is that there's so much to absorb here. By here, I mean of course New Orleans, New York, all of the places where I've been carried away, but more distantly I mean this entire co-existence we all experience .. like I said, far too much wine. But truly, there are so many incredible but true stories happening all at once in our lifetimes, and how lucky we are (storytellers, listeners, witnesses) to be touched by even one of them.

I'm thinking now of Didion (how perfect are those photographs with her car?), and a moonlight desert canyon drive, Thelma and Louise-like in that convertible, or one very much like it. One day I'd love to be sun-wrinkled and story-full like that.

These are my moon-thoughts.

My wonderfully wild and alive friend Liisi always says that the moon does things to her. I've seen the sorts of things it does .. she was my co-bad-girl in Paris when we both lived there (really lived I guess the way we do when we adopt new selves in new places), and I have in my memory in a special rendering-unforgettable spot those moments of utter release and abandon, some unmentionable. And here is the moon now, looking at me the way a stranger does in a room and you just know you are being watched.

I've planned a trip to the North to see this girl next month, and oh what joy. So, love to you, Lady Lii, as Cecilie calls you and as I have now adopted for eternity. You are both mine.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

a few thoughts on hair

I've been thinking, in between heavy criminal-justice-related thoughts this week, lightly about hair. My favorite hair blog (I have yet to feel comfortable using the word "blog", though I am now, shudder, a blogger..) is She Lets Her Hair Down, which I found through friends at The House that Jack Built. Isn't it funny imagining how all of this would sound to someone out of the nineties? Like a real trip.

So I've decided to cut my hair. I know, you're obviously fascinated. The styles I'm considering are the ones pictured above. Two, of course, are French. As I am, in the soul, approximately two thirds française.  For those of you who haven't seen me let my hair down recently, it's long and wild. In the summer, I like to put it in perfectly arranged (but seemingly effortless, obvi) piles of tangles on the top of my head. Otherwise I wear it in a four-way braid, une tresse, as my French selves so elegantly call it.

My hesitation at letting it all go comes from insecurities about my facial structure. Am I pretty enough for short hair? And for short, untamed, un-styled, messy hair? What about my noticeable lack of chin? Go on, now's the time to tell me I'm gorgeous. I'm looking at you, Mama.

Insecurities withstanding, it's time for a change. Hair can be symbolic in that way, so full of story. Samson, Rapunzel, my orthodox landlord with the side ringlets .. our hair is conflictingly our power, our prison, our way out. I remember being tormented by my hormonal frizzy locks in my early teens. When I discovered salon-strength straightening irons, I thought God had spoken to me.

My friend Tom has written an illustrated novel that explores the power of hair -- I won't reveal anything because it should be coming out soon, but the images (both literal and literary) are positively Safran-Foer-esque. In other words, magical.

So in the spirit of the recent changes in my life, lawyer to journalist, New York to New Orleans, hapless internet wanderer to hapless blogger (ew..still hate it), I'm welcoming a new flapper era of dancing with my hair down and spending a great deal less on conditioner.

Also, while we're on the subject, thank you to my dear friend, Sofy, my everstrong defender of equal representation, who showed me this excellent video of hair tutorials for black hair.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


A couple of days ago, my friend Cecilie and I had a Comme des Garçons moment. We were looking at the SS 2013 collection (upper left) from opposite ends of the earth, dreaming, and I was reminded of just how beautifully Rei Kawakubo's mind works, often as though unaware of conventional form. Oh? A sleeve? Sure, I'll just put one, hmm...over there. And then, when she does make a conventional dress, one with sleeves in the right places, it's so lovely it hurts.

Cecilie, one of the best fashion curators I know and a former stylist/model for Moonspoon Saloon, pulled up some images of the famous FW 2005 show (see above, all but one), which, let's just cast our praises into the infinite sea, can you imagine anything prettier? The odes to Victorian dress, to painted Geisha faces, to Edith Wharton (I sensed some House of Mirth there) .. it's all so transporting and, in my reality, exactly why fashion and art were invented.

Will somebody marry me so I can be a Comme bride? We'll go to Tokyo in April for our honeymoon and just be wonderfully ridiculous and starry-eyed under the falling cherry blossoms.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

down in the river to pray

Saber Dane Walker

Saber Dane Walker

Saber Dane Walker

Adam Shemper

Calhoun Photography Studio

This week was a big one for work, an alighting week for the personal/professional projects I've come down to New Orleans to work on this summer. 

On Monday, I attended a rare prison conditions court hearing about the summer temperatures on death row at Angola. These kinds of cases are almost never litigated because there's no money to fund them. But there I was in a federal court room in Baton Rouge, listening to a discussion about my beloved Eighth Amendment and responsibilities of the state and the dignity of man. The suit was brought by the Promise of Justice Initiative, directed by Mercedes Montagnes, with Nilay Vora from the law firm, Bird Marella, delivering oral arguments. At one moment, Vora pointed out that we were a couple of days shy of the birthday of our country and our constitution, indicating how enduring and sacred these rights are. It was almost cinematic.

And then on Wednesday, I had an incredible, touching-all-things phone conversation with Phyllis Mann, the woman who helped orchestrate the legal effort to identify all of the inmates displaced after Hurricane Katrina, which is the story-subject of a radio show I'm producing. I didn't think it would take more than an hour, but we spoke for two, and now it feels like I have one more partner in this slightly crazy endeavor to record a forgotten moment of this country's legal, incarcerative history.

Finally, I'm hosting a screening of the documentary, Herman's House, on Monday, July 15th at 8:00. Thank you to my lovely, ever-so-tolerant roommate and friend, Johanna (of MAJO fame), for allowing me to fill our apartment with strangers. If it's cool enough (don't hold your breath), we'll project the film onto our backyard fence and sit out with picnic blankets. Bring friends, drinks, and an open mind. We'll provide some refreshments as well. Round table discussion about solitary confinement to follow the film. Please RSVP ( so I know how many to expect!

Being here, contrary to what I expected and braced myself for, has been amazingly energizing. There's so much good work being done (here and everywhere), and I'm deeply grateful for this opportunity to wield my little pitchfork in the fight.

P.S. Also thank you to my (non-genetically) tech-inclined brother, Arun, for providing the technological wherewithal to host the film screening!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Snake and Jake's

John DiLeo

Charlotte Strode

Photo credit: Yelper Eddie "Crabby" C.

Last night, I took my friend Amadeus to what has become my favorite bar in New Orleans. Possibly my favorite bar in the world. I'm not a bar aficionado, so that doesn't mean very much. But I do have a thing for fairy lights (red ones!) and sleepy dogs (pets allowed!) and a low tolerance for pretension (except when it comes to fancy vocabulary .. love that).

The outside of Snake and Jake's is pretty unbelievable. I mean, it's just difficult to believe the city (even this city) hasn't shut it down. It's a literal shack, the diviest dive bar you'll ever encounter, and an institution in a neighborhood that has put a moratorium on new liquor permits. Amadeus pointed out that all of the lighting inside is red. Can you imagine? So sleazy and wonderful.

And just when I was feeling super happy with my Schlitz beer and the Supremes wafting out with the air conditioning, a chocolate lab came and fell asleep on our laps. He seems to be a regular, as I was able to find a photo (by Eddie "Crabby" C.) on Yelp.

The only downside is that smoking is allowed inside. Smoking in bars is a New Orleans tradition, which like many New Orleans traditions, doesn't make very much sense and will not catch on to evolving standards of civil decency for a very long time.

As a New Orleanian and a former occasional smoker, I feel I'm entitled to say the following: smoking indoors sucks. For everyone. This is obvious to all non-New Orleanians, but the smoke gets in your hair, your clothes, even your bra! Which is why almost every other city in the world doesn't allow it. Consideration for undergarments. And what about the romance of taking a cozy cigarette break outside? That's how I got all my dates when I lived in Paris!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

wild at heart.


Let me just take a minute to say .. I am over the moon in love with Wild at Heart. Before I had this blog (like, yesterday), I used to check the mysterious collection (who is Wild at Heart? does anyone know?) every day or twice a day or whenever I had some nasty law school assignment to put off. But now! Now, this little list at the right of the screen (the one that says "Sara likes" or "ITE likes" or something like that) tells me which of my favorite websites has been updated lately. I know, there must be some handy gadget somewhere that predates or obviates the need for my blog list, but let's not complicate my understanding of the internet any further.

Monday, July 1, 2013

she's making jewelry now

It's true. Coming to Etsy soon! File under "get it".
And for those of you who don't spend your time as nonsensically as I do, a primer:
Portlandia love