San Fermin in Nueva Orleans, Part Dos

SFNO: Mio & Mike-ohMy loyal reader may remember my post about San Fermin in Nueva Orleans around this time last year. Los Pastores deemed last year's event a success once the unknown participants outnumbered the known participants. The 2008 incarnation was a slam dunk by the same standard considering that there were nearly 1,000 folks participating between runners, bulls, spectators and post-run partiers.

Where were you? Did you make it to the run? If so, lemme know. For those of you who couldn't make it down to the Vieux Carre from say...DC, here's a bit of behind the scenes scoop to make you feel like you're not that lame.

Thurday, July 10

21:10 - Meet Los Pastores at NOLA Bulls HQ in Algiers Point after flying in from DAL

21:12 - Bef (La Madrina) serve me a bowl of cassoulet; four bites later I realize that I've been eating sausage. RAT FARTS! I decide to write off the meal and continue dining on the deliciousness.

21:38 - Scan my own credit card through the reader to pay for my admission to the exclusive SFNO Pre-party

22:32 - Start helping Mic (El Padrino) silk screen bandanas and t-shirts

23:01 - Crack open my first High Life of the weekend. Did I forget to mention that High Life was the official beer of the event? They recognized the opportunity and contacted El Padrino about sponsoring the event

00:48 - Sacked out on the couch after drinking only two High Lifes and screening not nearly enough pieces of apparel

Friday, July 11

08:27 - Wake up, caffeinate myself and start doing real work so that I can get back to screen t-shirts and other prep activities

10:ish - El Padrino departs to deal with last minutia that needs attention

13:11 - Resume screening shirts

14:26 - Off to the Wal-Marts to get duct tape, OxyClean and other essentials

16:53 - Arrive at RioMar to set-up for the pre-party

18:00 - The pre-party is packed, and RioMar's regular dining crowd is trying to figure out what spectacle is beginning to take shape before them

18:07 - Fugett arrives after having driven in from Florida

22:15 - The party is done with clean-up nearing completion. The Manatee and I take the ferry to the Crown & Anchor for some Guinness & bourbon

01:11 - Sack out on the couch at NOLA Bulls HQ

Saturday, July 12

05:00 - El Padrino wakes me up

05:10 - Dressed and ready to go set-up

05:11 - The Manatee is in no shape to operate

05:20 - Man-sit The Manatee while MicBef are crossing the river

06:33 - Tuck in The Manatee for a last minute nap in an illegal parking space near the French Market

06:38 - El Consejero and I depart the Gazebo Cafe and make our way to Three Legged Dog to do whatever needs doing

06:42 - Gawking at the more than 120 people already gathered for the event. The official gathering time is still 18 minutes away.

07:00 - El Padrino is interviewed for a story by AP Reporter Janet McConnaughey

07:11 - The Hurricane questions me as to the whereabouts of The Manatee and attempts to convince me to go retrieve said animal as I slip away into the fray

07:44 - The Manatee has rallied and appears

07:45 - The invocation is delivered to a crowd of nearly 700 runners who are going rowdier by the minute

07:55 - The runners begin filtering themselves out along the course

07:58 - El Padrino and I are jogging at the back of the pack reveling in the turnout when the air horn signals the release of the bulls

08:01 - Run around the corner of Rue Bourbon to find the runners standing around at which point I start screaming "RUN! THEY'RE COMING!" while trying not to trample anyone

08:02 - My butt gets bashed by the wiffle ball bat of a bull

08:18 - Fugett finds me despite the chaos of the Gazebo Cafe. He hasn't slept yet but did manage to run. Here's some brief video evidence.

08:22 - Friends keep raising their beers in my direction. I can't tell if they are waving at me or flaunting the fact that they were able to get a High Life before the beer lines started to wrap around the park.

08:43 - Jump behind the merch table to help La Madrina & Jenny B before they pass out

09:12 - Steady selling t-shirts. O'Neil is still flaunting his High Life. I would punch him in the face if I wasn't in the middle of peddling some goods.

09:15 - A customer buys me a bottle of water. I slam it, but my tongue stills feels like I've been eating flour for an hour.

09:18 - Dispatch Big Sleazy to the bar with a $20 bill and tell her to get as much High Life as she can carry

09:44 - Big Sleaze appears with 10 beers just before I start to enter panic mode

16:ish - El Padrino, Fugett, Chad, Toni, NOA and I are among the final crowd group to depart the Gazebo Cafe & head to Molly's on the Market

18:47 - El Padrino & I head to the ferry, dine with La Madrina at Dry Dock

20:01 - Sacked out on the couch while watching news coverage of the SFNO

Sunday, July 13

08:00 - woke up feeling like a whole dollar and crawled onto the sofa to start Googling NOLA Bulls

08:03 - asleep on the couch. I repeated this pattern every 30 minutes until MicBef were stirring

10:12 - Pete SMSes me that CNN Headline news is running a clip of event

10:13 - Began a CNN HLN watching & TiVoing marathon to capture the footage

10:28 - Gave myself a headache trying to figure out how a gored Hurricane had become one of the most memorable images of the footage

12:30 - Dined on tapas with my bro-ham (Face) & three fourths of Team NOLA Bulls

12:33 - Observed as El Padrino & El Consejero began promoting the 2009 SFNO Food Fest (my words) to a Spanish restaurateur

14:45 - El Padrino and I run into Janet McConnaughey on the ferry back to Algiers and overhear her husband say, "Was that the NOLA Bulls guy?"

15:23 - Back at NOLA Bulls HQ to pack-n-go

18:00 - Asleep on the plane from MSY to DAL

San Fermin in Nueva Orleans is poised to become the New Orleans event of the summer in 2009.

Be there on July 11, 2009 for the third annual event.

Check NOLABulls.com or the NOLA Bulls Twitter page for more details.


Top 10 Things You Need to Know Before Attempting to Boil 500# of Crawfish

You'll need this, originally uploaded by JaseMan.

10. The right venue is key. And, by right venue I mean some place where the beer flows like wine and the owner, manager and staff are supremely laid back yet organized.

9. Estimate 3 pounds of crawfish per person if you're boiling in Houston. You may think it's too conservative, but you don't want to be staring at a shit ton of leftovers at the end of the night.

8. Have the crawfish supplier deliver your bugs directly to the venue. There's a reason that the detail shop doesn't offer "Live Crawfish" scent for your interior.

7. Be prepared for anything not in your immediate control to become a disaster. For example, your crawfish may arrive two-and-a-half hours before you're ready so have a pran - like eyeballing a shady spot outside of the venue for emergency stashing of the critters.

6. Pack a suitcase the night before the event and put it in your trunk so you don't forget it. You should include three changes of clothes and some smell good juice to mask the fact that you're going to smell like a seafood market

5. Plan to have at least three crawfish boiling rigs available so that you're not busting your ass for more than three hours. Beg. Borrow (thanks, Randy). Buy...from BoilCrawfish.com (thanks, Andrew).

4. Error on the side of buying too many veggies, seasoning and what not. You can always use it later.

3. Three propane tanks is enough. And, no you can not return the extras for a refund...unless the nice lady at the Lowe's return desk thinks you're sexy...or something.

2. Have a kickass team of helpers committed to making your berle a success. The Houstonist staff kicked ase at getting things done and managing the masses.

1. Remain calm. All is well.


Ponder This: Hometown

I have finally joined the 2005 crowd and created a Facebook profile. Facebook, like other social media/networking sites, tends to stress me out a little bit about the information listed on your profile. What if people don't think my favorite book (The Count of Monte Cristo) is cool because of that lame ass movie? Are people gonna judge me because I think WHOA KELLY CLARKSON! is great bubble gum pop? Are folks going to hunt me down because I declined their friend request? [Note: even writing that makes me feel like a pompous asshole.] These and other seemingly innocuous questions make me fidget.

The one real question that drives me nuts is: what's your hometown? That's tricky to answer. I lived in Baton Rouge for 20 years - birth to 8th grade and then seven years of college. All of my immediate family except for Mom live in BR. BR is where I go for most holiday type functions and funerals. But, whenever you tell someone you're from The Rouge, the first question people ask is, "Where did you go to high school?"

I went to high school in Ft. Walton Beach, FL. FWB is where I got my first driver's license, had my first kiss, skipped class, snuck into movies, worked at McDonald's and did all the things that I typically think of one doing while you're growing up. As such, that make me think of FWB as my hometown. Plus, it was the last place I lived before moving away for college. However, like Cusack in Grosse Pointe Blank, I rarely ever go there. And, no I'm not an assassin. At least not as far as you know.

At what point does the town your living in become your hometown? I've been in Houston for 10 years now. I certainly feel like I'm "home" when the humidity smacks me in the face as I exit airplanes and walk up the jetway. I think the Houston: It's Worth It campaign kicks ase and agree with many of the reasons given. I chose to live in Houston over Austin. Yet I respond, "I live in Houston" when the "where are you from?" question rears its ugly head.

To me this indicates that I should list either Baton Rouge or Ft. Walton Beach as my hometown. Plus, Ft. Walton has beach in the name so that makes it instantly cooler than BR or H-town. But, I feel like I'm cheating on Houston when I do that.

Anyone have any suggestions?


Fish. It's what's for dinner...kinda.

The Wasabi Triad issued a challenge in late July that I couldn't resist. We are spending all of July shunning meat in the name of "por que no?" Not eating meat for a month isn't as bad as it sounds buscept for:
  • getting hungry, after you have gotten drunk, at a pub on your first day as a wegetarian and the only menu option is cheese quesadilla
  • having to eat at the same two restaurants for lunch most of the time
  • having to remember to not eat meat when you're sleepy or distracted
  • the somersaults my tummy will do when I start to ween myself back on to the goods
  • having just been distracted and eaten a bowl of cassoulet con snausage
RAT FARTS! I hope the tummysaults hold off for at least another couple hours.


Ready. Set. Cook!

Lately Mom has been trying to convince me that I should host a cooking show or something similar. She got her wish last night, sort of, as I participated in an Iron Chef challenge hosted by Le Toms.

As in the show, the chefs wouldn't know the secret ingredient before hand. DFT would SMS the ingredient at an appointed time. We then had to cook, transport and present at the Le Tom abode three hours later. That may sound like a lot of time, but not when you've got a bachelor consultant pantry like mine. I planned to be parked at the grocery store well in advance to maximize my kitchen time.

During my drive to Central Markup, TP and I discussed teaming up on the challenge since Los Pedros couldn't make it. So, I called JLay to get a ruling on that.
"What do you think about me and TP teaming up?"

"Well, I'm sure that the chefs may be getting input from others....It's fine with me, especially if you think you can't win without him."

"That's it. I'm flying solo. You got no shot."
I'm pretty sure that the last line didn't come out quite like that, but there was no way that I could dismiss a challenge like that.

I arrived at the Markup feeling good with plenty of time to peruse my copy of The Joy of Cooking and open Maw Maw's Menu on my lappie. Feeling good that is until I got the secret recipe.

The password is: CORN.

CORN? What the? YGBFKM! I hate corn. Not hate like Brussel Sprouts hate, but at least a strong dislike.

Think quickly, knucklehead. What do you like that is corn related? Fritos? Nope. Anything ending in -ito had been disqualified. Tortilla chips? Nope. Too close to -itos.

I love cornbread. Then I thought:
Good cornbread is better than dessert.

Boston Market cornbread is sweet enough to be dessert.

What can I do to have a fighting chance against JLay and RayRay?

I snapped out of my trance and hauled ass over to the produce section. There, already digging through the bin of sweet corn, were Quoz, RayRay & JLay. "You're gonna lose," I said as I filled my cart with 10 ears (for $1) and before I ran off to find the three milks.

I arrived back home 35 minutes later after a side trip to Williams-Sonoma to pick-up a cake pan. Lemme just tell you that you should never come between an Iron Chef and the WS. I nearly took at a Camry full of sight-seers putt-putting through Highland village. Really? Do they not have strip malls where in your home land? Have you never seen a bunch of dressed up stepfords (and one bachelor) hot stepping to get gourmet bakeware? Dang. You need to get out more.

I'll spare you the details - oops, too late - and use the fast forward button. Chef's chocolate milk blows up in the freshly washed car on the way home. Parked car and puts water on to boil. Cleaned up the car and threw the cornbread in the oven. Put the caramel sauce on hot. Mixed the milks. Took corn of the stove. Whipped the shit out of some heavy cream. Pulled cornbread out of the oven. Power shower. Dressed. Piled everything in the car. Streaked toward JLay & DFT's.

My friends, acquaintances and competition are some forking good chefs. Corn & crab tortellini, my favorite, ended up winning. Other standouts (for me) were the corn & crab pie and salmon & corn cakes (fritters). The most creative were the fried green tomatoes, sweet corn ice cream and corn icee. You can check out photos on The Kwon's blog.

I never knew that corn could taste so good in so many different ways.


Scoot. Rain. Scoot.

Drenched on the Scooter

Drenched on the Scooter, originally uploaded by JaseMan.

My plan for the 4th (and the rest of the weekend) was to ride my hog as much as possible since I've not really been in town. Plus, the Memorial/Washington area gets PUH-ACKED, which makes parking a PITA. Thus, I ignored K-Not's warning that a rainstorm was unloading on The Heights.

The storm was gianormous enough for me to see the clouds and rain from just outside my place. "It's moving pretty fast. I probably won't get caught in it," I thought. Wrong.

I caught up to the backside (tee hee) of the drama when I was about two-and-a-half miles from The Bolivian's and quickly switched our plan to meet at his place instead of the lunch spot.

He snapped this photo just after I'd pulled into the shelter of his parking garage. Good thing I had spare clothes in the satchel.


Hold still while I punch you in the face

Everyone has to put up with stupid people at their job. It's a fact. I like to think that the stupid people I work with are extra stupid.

My client requires background investigations on all personnel working on-site. The BIs are conducted by a reputable company with details going to only to me and the client's security group.

The only steps requiring effort from my colleagues is them filling out an authorization form correctly. SSN. DOB. First name. Last name. Etc. None of these are trick questions yet some folks have not yet figured out their birth date or their name.

Failure to complete the form correctly results in names not matching SSN records and life history which results in a BI rejection which results in the client escorting you from the premises which results in you not working on the project which results you potentially losing your job with McCall, Gilchrist & Haynes.

My colleagues know this. One would think that they would figure out the correct way to complete the form. Wrong. They screw it up all the time.

Today a colleague demonstrated a higher MQ (moron quotient) than I had ever experienced.
"Hi. It's JB. I need to get your actual name."

"OK. It's [not what was written on the form]."

"Confirm your birth date, please." He had screwed up this the first time he completed the form.

"It's [blah, blah, blah, blah, blah]."

"What's the purpose of this test?"

"The client needs to verify that you're not a terrorist."

"Can't you use the BI from when I was hired by MGH?"

"No. It has to be this one."

"But I don't understand why you can't use my previous results."

"It has to be this vendor. It is a national security issue."

"But I've worked for other companies that have been able to use previous BI results."

"That's great. But, that's not the case here."

"I can't believe that I need to fill out the same forms that I just did for MGH."

"This is a Department of Homeland Security issue. You have to use this vendor."

"But, I just..."


YGBFKM. I slammed the phone slightly as a I hung up and then walked a lap around the building before returning to my cube cell.