Posts Tagged ‘New Orleans’

This was the third year I planned to spend my birthday in Italy; this time right down to the arrival date of the day before.  Of course I didn’t plan on all the chaos of bloody noses, missed flights and arriving late the night before.  We told Pasquale and Anna we would see them for breakfast the next day (my birthday) and our plan was to go to my favorite restaurant in Cusano Mutri for a celebratory lunch.

Best laid plans and all that jazz were laid to rest as were Peter and I.  It rained during the night and I am one of those people who find it extraordinarily comforting to hear the rain falling, probably because I imagine from my working days whatever was scheduled will be cancelled!  The bedroom in Nonna’s House is very dark at night and so beautifully old world Italian with outside shutters closed, glass doors closed and indoor wooden shutters closed.  Huddled under three blankets for warmth ( it was freezing in the house with no heat) and in the pitch black we slept and slept.  

Early in the morning (EARLY) I heard the tractors going down the street to go to work, for this is a village married to the land as they say. I just rolled over and went back to sleep, never heard the church bells either from the nearby church. The room was dark, the bed was warm and we slept….till 4:00 in the afternoon!

Well so much for Cusano Mutri, we went to the Bar for Caffe Americano where we met some lovely people from New Orleans.  I always feel like Pasquale’s Bar is like Rick’s Cafe in Casablanca; all the foreigners end up there eventually. Swapping stories with travelers near and far is a constant pastime in Guardia and done more often than not sitting around the outside table at the Bar.


Photo from Guardiaguide.wordpress.com. PASQUALE’S BAR

 But we decided we better go grocery shopping 🛒, the fun things one does on their birthday!  Off to the DECO supermarket where the manager beamed and heartily welcomed me like I was family- I still maintain it’s because no one else spends so much $$at one time in his store.  They are very weird about giving you bags too, I think you are supposed to bring some, because last year when the checkout girl was not putting groceries in bags he reprimanded her – again this customer just spent 95 Euros!  This year he asked me if I had bags? No, did we arrive last night?(in Italian), Si.  So bags for me and then a gift – a huge DECO shopping bag which we loaded up with beer, milk, orange juice*, tomato pasata, and some pasta. I give him my most charming smile and tell him Mille grazies, io ritorno.

Another stop at the 50 cent store to pick a few household essentials which I fully intend to charge Pasquale for and we are home and ready for a dinner out.  Our favorite restaurant in Guardia (admittedly not a lot of choices) is La Meridiana and you are almost always guaranteed to run into someone you’ve met before:  Sure enough across the room is the New Orleans crowd enjoying their last meal in town as they are off to Rome tomorrow.  

We ate like Italians with antipasta , primi piatti, secundo, Dolci and the manager brought us a delicious grappa flavored with arranciata. Delightful way to end my shortened birthday but I’v already decided to go to lunch to tomorrow in Cusano Mutri.

To be continued…



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There’s no way I’m going to sleep tonight so I thought I might try to write the next chapter in the Hurricane Hoopla of how we rode out the storm.  All I can say is “Thank God I was here!”

Normally an accounting of  a day in the life of  starts at the beginning but not this one.  Here’s what’s going on now…. my heart is still racing a little.

I just covered the chest in front of the bow window and everything on it with a sheet of plastic!  Then I put a basin and a pail on the floor to catch the drips that are dropping steadily.  Apparently the wind is pushing the water up under some of the shingles or where there is a seam in the roof of the bow window.   The constant dripping sound is so ominous and is competing for my nerves with CBS and Peter upstairs trying to tune in his radio and get it to work on batteries.  Add to that the sound of the rain pounding on the air conditioner in the kitchen and believe you me as they say, I am so uptight, I’m sure I’ll be writing this blog at 3am.

Earlier this evening we were watching a movie because we just couldn’t listen to any more news and Peter noticed a drip, dropping right in front of us on the coffee table.  Needless to say, I screamed and ran upstairs to see where it was coming in from the roof.  And Juanita, if you’re reading this, sorry but that is why I said I had to go!  Got upstairs, checked both ceilings and saw nothing.  Run back downstairs, move furniture and get the dish basin to catch drips.  OMG, my house is so out of order that I am in battle to the death with my own OCD and the storm and not sure who is winning yet.  Two of the porch chairs are in the living room, all the front porch tables are in the living room, and now that I had to cover the bow window area, the plant stand and books are in the middle of the room. Oh and the porch floor lamp is in the living room and the coffee table is now in the middle of the room.  However all that is a digression because I have to tell you the source of the drip.

I went back upstairs and walked over by the window in the bedroom and realized the carpet was wet! There was a puddle by my nightstand.  I threw books on the bed, grabbed a towel to mop it up and saw that the water was being blown into the room underneath the air conditioner.   Yelling for Peter to bring me towels, I stuffed some under the unit and he went into the guest room to check that unit and sure enough it was leaking water in also but not nearly as much.  More towels.   It only took 5 minutes for the towels in our bedroom to be wet so in the middle of this storm, we took the damn air conditioner out of the window!!!  Right now it’s in a trash bag but of course there’s no place to put it so it’s still in the bedroom and I hope I don’t walk into it in the middle of the night.   Wait, that’s not gonna happen because I’m not going to bed.  As soon as we got the window closed, the leak in the living room stopped

So then we checked the air conditioner in the kitchen and why are all of these goddamn air conditioners in windows facing East!! That one is much more secure, minor water collection around the base and I have stuffed dish towels around it and put plastic on the floor and moved the kitchen table away from the window which puts it sort of in the middle of the room and I had to remove the cafe curtains and where are they? In the living room along with the slickers, the clogs, rain ponchos and more plastic.  Oh yeah, the storm is winning!

By the time we actually got into Frank’s in Asbury Park it was noon so we had lunch instead.

We showered and drove off for coffee and breakfast, thinking a Starbucks and a hot breakfast  would help fortify us for the rest of the day But first I wanted to go the boardwalk and see what the shore looked like and the waves.  Lots of people were on the Fishing Pier taking photos.  I fed the sea gulls a lot of bread tossing bits in the air and marveling at how they are able to grab a piece mid-air.  The tides had already played havoc with the shore line; on the south side of the pier, a dune had formed and on the north side, it looked a like a giant with a shovel, scooped out the sand.

Hurricane Irene, Ocean Grove NJ
Waves Crashing

 And then the Beach Patrol came along and told everyone to get off the pier and they ran police tape across the access.   I had to mail a letter and yes the Post Office was open so we headed to Main Avenue and this is what we saw!

Ocean Grove bakery, Hurrican Irene, Ocean Grove, NJ
Bread and Board
boarded up fo hurricane Irene, Ocean Grove, NJ
Boarded Up

Seeing Main Avenue like this really upset me.  I KNOW they were only boarded up to protect the glass but now that the day was here and evidence of impending doom was everywhere, I felt my eyes well up with tears.  Maybe my nerves were already shot.

So going backwards in this day of days, Peter made several trips to the garage and deposited all the rest of the porch furniture along with some cartons of food designated for New York.   We moved the glass top table closer to the fence and I repositioned trash barrels, lawn chairs and our enamel table and anchored everything with bungee cords. And the phone kept ringing with concerned friends and family asking if we were safe or were we coming home?  Thanks for all the concern shown for us today!!!

Before all this (remember we’re going backwards in time) a sudden extremely strong rainfall woke me up-I had the door to the porch open to get some breeze and the door to the front porch on the second floor open for cross-ventilation so I heard it!  I jumped out of bed and screamed at Peter to get up and out because I had no intention of bringing wet porch furniture into the house.  It was already humid inside and destined to get worse.   In my pajamas I grabbed all of the cushions and brought them in.  Now I was racing against the rain to get stuff in the house and in the car and the water was already over the sidewalk.  Good morning Vietnam!

Go to this link to see photos of some of our worst hurricanes. http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2010/09/02/15-worst-hurricanes.html?om


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Tasty Tidbits Tuesday

Today I received an email from my friend Ginny, who had come across a tasty dessert recipe which she in turn sent to me.  I was surprised; this isn’t something she normally does so I was eager to read it.  It happens to be a very tasty tidbit from a famous pastry chef, David Guos.  He wrote a best-selling New Orleansinspired cookbook and now has brought a touch of The Big Easy to Virginia where he has opened The Bayou Bakery. Here is his recipe for  Bananas Foster Cheesecake


3 8oz pkg  cream cheese

1  1/4 cups banana puree (made from 5 very ripe bananas)

1 tsp. powered gelatin

2 TBS cold water

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, cut and scraped

1/4 tsp kosher salt

crumbled peanut brittle for serving


1  1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup water

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 TBS unsalted butter

2 TBS dark rum

David Guos, cheesecake, peanut brittle, cream cheese, Bananas Foster, rum

Bananas Foster Cheesecake

Make the cheesecakes.  In a large,  heat proof bowl, combine the cream cheese with the banana puree and place the bowl above a saucepan of simmering water.  Heat the mixture until the cheese melts, about 6 minutes.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl sprinkle the gelatin over the water and let it bloom for 1 minute.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with  a whisk attachment, combine the cream with the sour cream, sugar and vanilla seeds.  Whip at a high-speed until medium peaks form, about 3 minutes.

Whisk the gelatin into the banana mixture until dissolved and smooth.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the salt. Whisk in half of the cream mixture, then using a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining cream mixture.

Divide the batter between 6 six-ounce glass cups or highball glasses.  Gently tap the glasses to settle the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over medium-high heat, without stirring, until dark amber about 8 minutes.  Turn off the heat and carefully whisk in the cream. Whisk in the butter and then the rum. Transfer the caramel to a heat proof container, cover and let cool to room temperature, about 3 hours.  (Alternatively refrigerate the caramel for 30 minutes before serving).

To serve, drizzle the cheesecakes with the caramel sauce (save the excess caramel for another use) and sprinkle with crumbled peanut brittle.

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Carlos "The Little Man" Marcello (Fe...

Image via Wikipedia

Only 3 more weeks before we wrap up the twisting, turning, yet ever-inching closely to the highest offices in the country and to those whose very fortunes relied on getting rid of John F. Kennedy!!!


New Orleans Mafia don Carlos Marcello (born Calagero Minacore) was a protegé of New York mob boss, Frank Costello.  By 1963 Marcello ran a multi-million dollar empire spread over several states, including Texas, yet according to New Orleans FBI agent Regis Kennedy, he was a mere tomato salesman earning $1600 a month.  In 1961, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, aware that Marcello held only a questionable Guatemalan passport, had him abducted, flown to Guatemala City and unceremoniously dumped.  After sneaking back to the U.S. via Miami, Marcello was heard making threats against Robert Kennedy.  A Marcello associate to the HSCA that in 1962 Marcello had said, “Don’t worry about that little Bobby son-of-a-bitch, he’s going to be taken care of”.  He also supposedly spoke of using a nut, someone who couldn’t be traced back to him to kill the President.  But Oswald would have been a poor choice for Marcello, since his uncle and surrogate father, Dutz Murret, was a bookie for Marcello lieutenant, Nofio Pecora, and Oswald’s associate David Ferrie had helped plan legal strategy for Marcello’s deportation hearings and was with him in court the morning of the assassination.  Marcello also had strong ties to Jack Ruby‘s friend, Dallas Mafia chief, Joe Civello.

Marcello’s operations benefited greatly from the largess of Hoffa’s Teamster Pension Fund.  In 1965-7, with the help of lobbyist Irving Davidson, and $1 million dollars donated by his mob friends, Marcello spearheaded the “Save Hoffa” movement, later to become the “Spring Hoffa” movement.  Currently serving time for wire and mail fraud, and reportedly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, he is due to be released in 1994.

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cartoon, conspiracy theory,

Not Every Conspiracy is a Theory!


My friend Gail sent me this cartoon so I thought I would liven up this Wednesday’s installment in the conspiracy theory about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

For 20 weeks, I have been retelling the conspiracy theory known as COUP D’ETAT.  Stay with it, you  will be shocked if you’re not already by what you have read these past many weeks.


In 1067, New Orleans D. A. Jim Garrison arrested New Orleans businessman Clay Shaw for conspiring with Oswald and the recently deceased David Ferrie to kill John Kennedy.  The ensuing scandal laid bare Shaw’s closeted homosexuality, but although Garrison convinced the jury that Kennedy was the victim of conspiracy. he failed to prove that Shaw was involved with Oswald or Ferrie.  The case hinged on whether Shaw used the alias “Clay Bertrand.”  In 1964, New Orleans lawyer Dean Andrews told the Warren Commission that on November 23,1963, a client named Clay Bertrand asked him to represent Oswald, who had previously visited Andrews’ law office in the company of some Latin “gay kids”.  Andrews, who also represented Maia boss Carlos Marcello, refused to divulge the true identity of his mystery client to Garrison, saying it would be “Bon voyage, Deano” if he did.

In 1977, a CIA document surfaced showing that Shaw, a former OSS colonel, had a long history with the Agency.  Shaw was director of the International Trade Mart in New Orleans, a subsidiary of the Rome-based Centro Mondiale Commerciale.  The CMC was in tun linked to Permindex, a shadowy company with, according to French Intelligence agents, funneled $200,000 to the French Secret Army Organization for a 1962 coup attempt against Charles De Gaulle.  allegedly both Shaw and Schlumberger corporation president Jean DeMeni sat on the board of Permindex. Along with names of prominent European fascists, Shaw’s address book contained the listing: “Lee Odlum, P.O. Box 19106, Dallas, Texas.”  Oswald’s address book contained the same P.O. Box number, with no name attached.

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So says AMC’s popular new series, RUBICON. And I’ve been hinting at that for weeks now.  Read further into COUP D’ETATThe Assassination of John F. Kennedy. This is the 10th installment entitled:

coup d'etat, "Shitbird", Oswaldkovitch,Marxist, Marguerite New Orleans, Queen Bee night spot, Army's Monterey school

Juat a Patsy? Lee Harvey Oswald


While in police custody, Lee Oswald was grilled repeatedly by federal and local officials, but, incredibly, no tapes or transcripts were made of his interrogation.  His questioners said that although Oswald admitted to being a Marxist, a former Soviet defector, and a supporter of Fidel Castro, he steadfastly denied shooting anyone.  There has never been any hard evidence against Oswald, who claimed he was “just a patsy”, but over the years he has emerged as a mystery man who inhabited a secret world of spies and conspirators.

Born and raised by his mother Marguerite in New Orleans, Oswald enlisted in the Marines in 1956.   Known as “Shitbird” because of his poor marksmanship.  Oswald had another Marine nickname, Oswaldkovitch, in reference to his open espousal of communism.  Yet the 17 year-old was given radar training and a security clearance and sent to Atsugi Air Base in Japan, the CIA’s main operational base in the Far East, and home to the top-secret U2 spy missions over Russia.  Oswald often visited Tokyo, where he carried on with a Japanese hostess who worked at one of the city’s most expensive night spots, the Queen Bee.  His military record, which shows that he contracted venereal disease “in the line of duty”, suggests these trysts might have been an intelligence assignment.  After his return from Japan on November 19, 1958, Oswald took a crash course in Russian at the Army’s Monterey School (now the Defense Language Institute).  On September 11, 1959, Oswald obtained an early discharge.  A month later, he defected to the Soviet Union.

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