Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Burke and Tin Roof Blowdown

“So what are you reading?”

Sparkle’s question didn’t surprise me. It’s one of the things we share, a love of reading, anything really but especially mystery books.

“I just started James Lee Burke’s new book, The Tin Roof Blowdown,” I responded.

Her eyes brightened and she threw back her head and laughed! “I knew it! I saw he had a new book out and I hoped you had already bought it!”

What she’s not saying is “bought it, read it and will pass it along to me!”

It’s what we do. I am in the middle of a series she recommended and loaned to my son, he is 3/4 way through (the Hyperion series) and has passed along the first two volumes to me, which, when finished, I will return to my sis.

James Lee Burke’s newest book, The Tin Roof Blowdown, is Burke at his best. His last book ended with the ominous storm rolling in that has changed the face of New Orleans and this book starts with Hurricane Katrina. The stories are heartbreaking, and all the more so because they are true. New Orleans is one of the most corrupt cities in the United States, about one third of the police force LEFT the city they were hired to protect in the evacuation, and the poorest of the poor were left behind, to suffer, to struggle to live, or to die. Many did all three.

Detective Dave Robicheaux is called into the “Big Sleazy” with the rest of the New Iberia police force to help with rescue operations, and to try to bring some order into the chaos. He gets involved with a missing priest, two looters being shot, a robbery that includes cocaine, counterfeit cash and blood diamonds, and the usual cast of psycopaths and organized crime goombahs.

The book builds inexorably to a nail-biting climax.

This author can WRITE. He is head and shoulders above the average churn-em-out detective writer. Here is one of his less poetic, but more insightful entries:

” . . . the honest to God truth is that law enforcement is not even law “enforcement.” We deal with problems after the fact. We catch criminals by chance and accident, either during the commission of the crimes or through snitches. Because of forensic and evidentiary problems, most of the crimes recidivists commit are not even prosecutable. Most inmates currently in the slams spend lifetimes figuring out ways to come to the attention of the system. Ultimately, jail is the only place they feel safe from their own failures.

Unfortunately, the last people on our minds are the victims of crime. They become an addendum to both the investigation and the prosecution of the case, adverbs instead of nouns. Ask rape victims, or people who have been beaten with gun butts or metal pipes or tied to chairs and tortured how they felt toward the system after they learned that their assailants were released on bond without the victims being notified.

I don’t believe in capital punishment, but I don’t argue with the prosecutors who support it. The mouths of the people they represent are stopped with dust. What kind of advocate would not try to give them voice?


July 30, 2007 Posted by | Books, Crime, Detective/Mystery, Family Issues, Fiction, Poetry/Literature, Relationships, Weather | 5 Comments

BBQ in Memphis


I love the Memphis airport. We sometimes arrive from Kuwait via Amsterdam at o-dark-thirty and the BBQ places are already open. Even if we are running for our next flight, there is usually one on the way where we can buy a quick BBQ sandwich to eat on the plane.

The Memphis airport is sometimes a scramble, our flight out leaving from the farthest gate from our flight in; we always get enough exercise to work off that sandwich in a heartbeat. And, for some reason, we often get upgrades out of Memphis, upgrades we haven’t even asked for. The flights are overbooked, and they just bump us up. No wonder I love Memphis! They treat us like old friends!

I just had to share the photo above with you – it’s taken at 7:30 in the morning, they already have customers lined up for BBQ and there are guys in the bar drinking beer. Memphis.

July 30, 2007 Posted by | Cold Drinks, Cross Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Humor, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Travel | 1 Comment

Cactus Flower in Pensacola

The Cactus Flower in Pensacola is usually the first place we go when we get to Pensacola. They have some of the best Mexican food you can find, freshly prepared, and you better get there early or you’ll have to wait a while for a table – the secret is out!

Located in a small strip mall undergoing some serious renovation, the Cactus Flower serves lunch and dinner. You’ll see all your friends there – we can’t go there without running into someone we know.

This is the chicken quesadilla. It is more than one person can eat! We took the rest home for another meal.

This is the three taco dinner; you can choose chicken, beef or pulled pork, or any combination of the above. It comes with a choice of beans (these are the smashed beans) and rice, too. Usually, I order this a la carte, because I can eat the three tacos, but not all the beans and rice, too, and I hate to waste.

This is the tostada dinner, which also comes with beans and rice. Delicious!

As for gaining weight, so far so good. Haven’t done a scale check, but the clothes still seem to fit and the waists aren’t too tight, so I guess I am keeping it off by lugging my baggage here and there, and keeping moving.

July 30, 2007 Posted by | Diet / Weight Loss, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Florida, Friends & Friendship, Living Conditions, Lumix, Photos, Travel | 4 Comments