I'm really not anti-Semitic, I swear. Some of my best friends are some of my best friends. But I cannot not confess my love for two semi-un-PC terms: Jewish fireworks (throwing a cigarette out of a moving car) and Jewish lightning (arson to collect insurance).
With that in mind, what do you call Jewish lightning when its victim is an abandoned Catholic church and the abandoned next-door mansion owned by the church? The Stations of the Assessor? St. Allstate? Taking the Jewcharist? (wokka-wokka)
Hey, stop looking at me that way. I get to say things like this. My nose is enormous and hook-like.
Anyway, last night there was a 6-alarm fire (can someone explain the criteria for the numbering of alarms to me?) near The Saint where I was guilelessly serving drinks to my drunken friends and customers. I put a customer in charge of the bar while I ran down the street to make sure it wasn't my friend Kristin's house on fire, because it really looked like the sparks and flames were coming from her block.
It was close—the next block down Prytania—the beautiful old church across from Zara's grocery, and the beautiful old house next door to it. No one was hurt (as far as I know), and the fire was under control by midnight. But it was such a blaze that it knocked out two power grids. docbrite in Central City lost power for a few hours I believe. The Saint, in the Lower Garden Dist. was dark for about 45 minutes.
During that 45 minutes, we had a good time in my bar. I found a box of emergency candles and lit the dark cavern of a bar. (The only other light was the glow of the ATM machine which, oddly, is battery-powered. Priorities?) I played my iPhone as loud as it would go through its baby speakers (not very loud) while we rocked out, screaming and kissing-the-goat in whispers. One customer complained, "Can you turn that down? My ears are hurting."
"Can I have a Jack & Coke?" someone asked.
"I really don't know!" I replied, wondering if the soda gun would work with no electrics. (It did.)
I couldn't open the register, so I sold drinks by scratching down amounts on a pad and making change from my tip jar. When the change was gone, I put a new rule into effect: exact change only, unless you wanted to tip me the $12 change from your $20 bill. (A couple people did, bless them.)
We had a sing-along of Row Row Row Your Boat.
I made a round of Blackout Shots for everyone in the bar as thanks for suffering through the outage with me, and we all toasted to living life like it was 1820.
The moment the last shot was devoured, the lights popped back on.
Of course I'm sad that such a gorgeous specimen of New Orleans architecture is ruined—architecture is what brought me to N.O. 15 years ago. But the constant comings and goings of everyone to check on the fire and report the news, and the bonhomie of the mini-blackout party made last night very special, and helped remind me why I live here, and why I cling to my paltry 4-hour-a-week bartending job.
¡Viva sin luces!
[ETA]—My friend, housekeeper, and always-first-customer Annie just emailed me reminding me of the drunk guy she was talking to. This guy knocked over my shakers and bar gear onto the floor with his rucksack not once, not nine times, but three times in the space of half an hour. I kept sorta wanting to toss him out, but Annie seemed to be "enjoying" their conversation. Until she called me over to inform me he had just thrown up on her sweater.
"That's it. You're gone," I told him, picking up his luggage and handing it to him.
He argued (always a good thing to do with a NOLA bartender) and pleaded and whinged.
Annie's email reminded me what exactly I said to him to make him leave: "You can't throw up on my friends and stay."
the number of alarms is the number of fire stations they need to respond to get the fire under control
so a 6 alarm is 6 fire houses
at least that's what i learned from watching "rescue me"
we're heading to flanigan's for the game around 2:30
A fire truck's ladder knocked out the electricity when it rose and came into contact with some overhead wires (says WWL).
When I was growing up in my half hooked-nose family, we learned a song about Jewish lightning that went thusly:
"Moishe had a candy store, business it was bad.