Tag Archives: Prehensile and Gretel Show

New Orleans ten years ago

Hello all,

Well as you can tell I’ve not been posting. Why should every post start with an apology? No one reads this, so I’m going to stop apologizing. Perhaps I’m apologizing to you in order to make excuses to myself. That has to be it. There. Problem solved without Dr. Phil or whomever is the latest TV psychologist. Except for Dr. Keith Ablow. What a douche.

Anyway, it’s now been ten years since the hurricanes swept through the New Orleans area, and there has been a lot on the news lately about it. I meant to try to dig up some pictures earlier so I could coincide with the media memories frenzy, but it didn’t happen in time. Besides, it all just seemed a bit too self-congratulatory to me, so again, I probably deliberately didn’t get around to it in order to avoid seeming like everyone else. Even though I’m not unique, I sure want to believe I am. I am comfortable with that delusion.

Back to the topic. I was in New Orleans four months after the storms, working with various health agencies that were determined to not only restore health services to the area but to improve on the delivery system. Prior to the storms, you either had insurance, and went to one of the big university hospitals, or you didn’t have insurance, and you went to Charity Hospital. Charity was where you’d also go for primary care. You’d go to the emergency room. Primary care for the uninsured was not prevalent. There were a scattering of privately run, donor-financed operations, oftentimes in collaboaration with a church, but not much. If you lived way outside of the city, you’d ride a bus for a couple of hours, sit in the emergency room at Charity, and if you were lucky enough to be seen that day, great. You’d get back on the bus and head home. If they didn’t see you, you still had to get on the bus to go home, but you’d be on it again the next morning to sit in line again. Great system huh?

In early January, 2006, I took these photographs in the lower ninth ward. The first one is of Fats Domino Publishing. He has since restored the building and it looks much better.


Fats Domino Publishing, January, 2006

Fats Domino Publishing, January, 2006

Kids used to play here

Kids used to play here

When the levee broke, it wasn't just water pouring into the neighborhood. This barge sits across what used to be several homes.

When the levee broke, it wasn’t just water pouring into the neighborhood. This barge sits across what used to be several homes.

Uninhabitable. You cannot just "go home." There is no home.

Uninhabitable. You cannot just “go home.” There is no home.

This used to be a street. Now there's a house there. Not a home. Just a house.

This used to be a street. Now there’s a house there. Not a home. Just a house.

This is what's left of the area near the main breach. Some sidewalks and concrete porches remain, but little else. This used to be a neighborhood.

This is what’s left of the area near the main breach. Some sidewalks and concrete porches remain, but little else. This used to be a neighborhood.

Four months later, there were still abandoned cars all over. The ones they had managed to move, were kept in a pile beneath the expressway leading in and out of New Orleans.

Four months later, there were still abandoned cars all over. The ones they had managed to move, were kept in a pile beneath the expressway leading in and out of New Orleans.



The thing I will always remember about my visits there was the utter lack of sound. In the lower ninth, where these photos were taken, there were no birds. No dogs. No children. No sounds of life. It was dusty, and the air still smelled of mildew and rot. Every once in a while you’d see a child’s toy, but it wouldn’t be next to a house, it would be stuck in a random tree. Powerful silence is quite the reminder of how fragile our little constructed corner of the galaxy truly is.

There’s also a new episode of the Prehensile and Gretel Show podcast available. On this one, Rita was unable to join, so I made up some stuff and then read from The Randy Scuffle Papers. This is your chance to hear it as it sounds from the mind of the author. Check it out here

-Phil Reebius



All photographs are copyright, Phil Reebius. I have the originals, so don’t try anything funny.

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I finally made it to Bad Grammar Theater!

I read from The Randy Scuffle Papers Friday night at Bad Grammar Theater. Thanks to Brendan, the other readers, and audience members for the warm welcome! This was my first time reading at this venue. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for months, but work, life and other annoyances kept popping up. But this time, everything aligned and it worked out beautifully. I will definitely be back with some new material. Or old. Whatever I have lying around.

Speaking of which, I still cannot find the story I wrote about 30 years ago. I know I have copies of it somewhere, and I will continue to search through the archives. The archives are really just a pile of boxes from when we moved here 14 years ago, and it’s a complete disaster since I cannot find anything. Something will show up, I’ll emit joy-sounds, and then I put it in a “safer place” where I know I will be able to find it in the future. Of course, it is once again missing; thankfully, the ocean currents are dependable, and in another 3 or 4 years, it will come my way again. I’m curious to find it since I suspect it really sucks.

In addition to the story I have misplaced, I am also looking for my old NRA medal I received when I was a kid at camp. We shot rifles at targets, learned weapons safety, and I got a “pro-marksman” medal for my efforts. I think I was about 8. Well, now if I could just find that damn thing so I can send it back to the NRA with a note describing my current feelings for their efforts to fuck this country up. It’s a small statement; I’d like to make it; but I lost the goddamn thing. I know it’s somewhere in the house and when I find it I will send it back. They probably melt down all the medals people send back and just say “fuck ’em.” I cannot believe the NRA gives a flying shit. It was fun when it was about gun safety, personal responsibility, and a right of passage into young adulthood. But now? Fuck me in the heart.

Watch for an upcoming episode of The Prehensile and Gretel Show; I’ll be reading from The Randy Scuffle Papers. This is hard for me. The self-promotion bit. I know some people love to get out there and say “buy my shit. I’m awesome!” But I have a hard time with that. So here’s my humble pitch: please check out the book. It’s on Amazon. I think you’ll like it. A lot. Bring a copy to a reading night and I’ll be happy to sign it for you. Someday, you never know…

I also plan to read this week at the No Shush Salon in Clarendon Hills. Michael Penkas will be the featured reader, with excerpts from Mistress Bunny and the Cancelled Client. It’s great!

-Phil Reebius


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Back up and running again

Even this post is late. I’m tired of deadlines. Even when self-imposed. But the podcast is back and the summer colds that kept us from the Prehensile and Gretel studios are gone with just a lingering bit of their effect. To celebrate, Rita and I play a quick game of “celebrity farts” and enjoy ourselves quite a bit. Yes, we are both 12 years old. There are people who take themselves very seriously and would never ever play a game like that because they are serious and grown-up and all mature and shit. Right? I knew a woman who claimed she had never farted. Ever. Why does everything I write end up being about farts? Okay, gotta go. Check out the latest podcast! I’ll write more later. About serious stuff…


-Phil Reebius

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Filed under Prehensile and Gretel

Missing In Action

Well the past month has been insane. Trying to prepare for vacation that I must take or lose it. This means trying to clear as much work as you can by either delegating to someone else or doing the work in advance. So in short, not much time for adding posts here. At the same time, we’ve been putting together a podcast for ourselves. Rita and I have always enjoyed goofing around and a podcast is an easy way to break out of the writing only world and get some audio in place. We created The Prehensile and Gretel Show because we just want to have fun. And if you have no place to blow off some steam, you end up in deep shit over the long run. We’re just starting out, so we’ll see how it goes!

Bittersweet days the past week as we learned our friend Jenny Seay would be leaving the Chicago area to head West for a new job. Jenny created and has been the force behind the Tamale Hut Cafe Presents reading series. This series has been well-attended and loved for over 8 years. Jenny you will be missed! Sheila Johnson has accepted the challenge (and the Picard figure), taking over as creative director. After a month off in July, it’s more reading in August. August already?

Here’s the problem with summer: you wait so damn long for it to arrive that you cannot possibly fit in all the things you want to do. I should write, work in the garden, wash the car, fix shit up, hang out, relax, learn to cook some new things, write another book, make some guitars…you know. Too many interests and not enough time.

Check out the podcast. I’m sure I’ll get around to discussing The Randy Scuffle Papers on a future episode, so watch for that.


-Phil Reebius


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