31 May 2007

A Confederacy of Dunces

Over twenty years ago, when I was about to move to New Orleans, a coworker said I just had to read A Confederacy of Dunces because it was just great and really, really funny.

I didn't read it then. I'd hear about it from time to time, chiefly as a sad anecdote, since the author (John Kennedy Toole) committed suicide before his manuscript ever saw print and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize posthumously. His mother kept asking Walker Percy to read her son's manuscript until he relented, liked the book, and sent it along to his publisher. Toole died in 1969; the book was first published in 1980.

So here I am about to go to New Orleans for a meeting, and I thought: why not? So I picked up a copy. (Mine came from a used book store so it looked like the one on the upper right, but you can also get a newer edition, like the picture on the lower left.)

Well, I tell you, it's not necessarily the sort of book that will charm every reader. (What is?) Its humor reminds me of some of the other great comic/social/political novels of around that time -- say, Vonnegut and Catch-22.

The central character is Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy, self-righteous, prudish, gluttonous young man who is dependent on his mother and doesn't treat her well. He fancies himself a great intellectual -- he did, after all, get a master's degree in just four years -- and spends long hours in his bedroom writing screeds in Big Chief tablets that are scattered on the floor. He has only left New Orleans once, for a job interview at LSU that turned out to be quite traumatic. Through a series of unfortunate events, he is forced to find employment.

The book has lots of clever plot twists, bringing together a large cast of eccentric characters against the backdrop of New Orleans. At the time when it was written, it must have seemed much bolder and more risque than it does now. Ignatius J. Reilly's great political inspiration is a political party of homosexuals, who (he believes) would be too concerned with other things to bother going to war. The gay men and lesbians in the book are not portrayed in a flattering light -- but, by golly, they're treated as respectfully as everyone else and seem better than many of the other characters.

One piece of New Orleans color that I enjoyed was Toole's ear for dialect -- as I was reading, I could almost hear Ignatius's mother talking to her friend. (I'm a sucker for New Orleans accents -- and I do mean accents, plural: there are several!)

One fan of the book has developed Confederacy of Dunces: A Virtual Tour. Take a look: it's a nice sampling of New Orleans sights.

PS I saw a comment on Democratic Underground signed by "Myrna Minx" and smiled at the homage to a character in the book, Myrna Minsk (whom Ignatious calls Minx) who is, for most of the novel, off in New York, wearing black, smoking cigarettes, going to group therapy, and writing Ignatious letters about sexual fulfillment.

PPS I'm sorry for the trial practice posts that sometimes show up here. I have a couple of blogs; "AALL Second Line Blog" comes before "Trial Ad Notes" alphabetically and if I'm not paying attention my posts get misdirected.

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Stitching SIS Call for Donations

The "Stitching SIS" needs your help with donations of handmade items. With the sponsorship of SCCLL-SIS, there will be a silent auction set up in the SCCLL Activities area. The auction will run on Monday July 16 and close during the Refreshment break on Tuesday July 17. The proceeds from the auction will go to "Friends of the New Orleans Public Library Restoration Fund". Even if you are not attending the conference, and/or know someone that can donate an item, we will be glad to accept them on your behalf. For further information...
please email either Joanne Dugan or Carolyn Tanen.

Joanne Dugan
Assistant Director for Public Services
University of Baltimore Law Library
1415 Maryland Avenue

Baltimore, MD 21201

Carolyn Tanen
Serials Librarian
United States Court Library, Second Circuit
40 Centre Street

New York, N.Y. 10007

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Final Call for Volunteers

This is the last call for volunteers! The deadline is June 8, next Friday. The Annual Meeting needs volunteers to help everything run smoothly, so please consider donating your time if you can. You may access the volunteer form on the AALL website at http://www.aallnet.org/events/07_volunteers.asp or on the Local Advisory Committee website at http://www.lb5.uscourts.gov/AALL/volunteerform.html. All forms must be sent by email, fax, or U.S. Mail to:

Miriam Childs,Volunteer Chair
Law Library of Louisiana
Louisiana Supreme Court
400 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: 504-310-2403
Fax: 504-310-2419
email: mchilds@lasc.org

Thank you to those who have volunteered!

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29 May 2007

Bloggers Get Together

It's time to mark your calendars for the AALL's Second Annual Bloggers Get Together!

Time: 5-6 p.m.
Date: Monday, July 16th
Place: TBA (We are looking for a place near the convention center. Suggestions needed.)

Drinks and appetizers (Dutch Treat)

Come share your ideas and meet the other law librarian bloggers! Open to all bloggers and potential bloggers.

NOTE: Last year we had over 30 participants so we are anticipating a good crowd this year. For a headcount, please RSVP to me by Monday, June 18th to bfullerton@10kwizard.com.

Thank you!

Barbara Fullerton
DALL's Lex Scripta

AIM: gadgetarian

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24 May 2007


Carol Billings, Director, Law Library of Louisiana and Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal F. Calogero, Jr. second-line down Royal Street in the historic French Quarter during the 2007 Conference of Chief Justices Mid-Year Meeting. The Law Library of Louisiana is located in the Supreme Court Building at 400 Royal Street. AALL members be sure to come by!

Posted for Georgia Chadwick.

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23 May 2007

Dine arounds/no-host dinners

Join your AALL colleagues for a relaxing dinner Saturday, July 14 at 6 p.m. Ten AALL members have chosen a favorite restaurant and invite you to join them for a no-host dinner. Restaurants include Parkway Bakery and Tavern, Theo's Neighborhood Pizza, Marigny Brasserie, Feelings, Wolfe's in the Warehouse, the Pelican Club, Muriel's, Cochon, Herbsaint, and Commander's Palace. Donald Link, chef at Cochon and Herbsaint, won the 2007 James Beard award for Best Chef: South. Each group will meet at an assigned spot and travel together to the restaurant, generally by cab. Diners will need to bring cash and be willing to split the bill evenly. Everyone should be able to return on time for the Opening Event at 8:30. Details and sign up.

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Hubig's pies

How can you wrong for $.89?

The New Yorker
April 16, 2007
New Orleans Journal: The Pie Men
Dan Baum

Hubig's pies cost eighty-nine cents apiece, and can be found at almost every cash register in southeast Louisiana. New Orleanians adore these packaged, deep-fried pies, endlessly debating the merits of the lemon filling versus the apple, or whether the pies should be eaten microwaved or cold. Some locals even dress up as Hubig's pies for Mardi Gras.

During our first two months here, Margaret and I ignored the Hubig's pie. We wrote off its popularity as the irrationality of hometown allegiance; we never understood Atlantans' affection for the Varsity hot-dog stand, or Cincinnati's love of Skyline chili, either. We assumed that Hubig's pies were made in some vast, soulless
factory from the cheapest imaginable ingredients. The building on Dauphine Street that we rode our bikes past every day, the one with a big neon sign, was, we figured, a distribution point, a downtown office, or a cute condo complex that retained the old insignia...

Gradually, it dawned on us that this was the actual factory, and we grew intrigued. Commerce has been largely banished from American residential areas, and industry almost completely. It's the rare American factory worker who can walk to work.

Otto Ramsey, one of the owners, gave us a tour of the cement-block bakery, which Simon Hubig opened in 1927. (The company is owned by the son and the nephew of the men who bought into the company in the nineteen-forties and fifties.) Hubig's cooks all its fillings, mostly from actual produce evaporated apples, fresh-frozen strawberries and cherries, whole raw sweet potatoes in the fall and buys locally as much as it can. (Much to Ramsey's regret, Hubig's makes do with canned peaches and pineapples.) The company now uses liquid corn sugar in addition to cane, but otherwise its recipes haven't changed. Hubig's dough is made with ninety-nine-per-cent animal fat. "We've got the trans fats down to 0.65 per cent," Ramsey said proudly.

A single, clankety machine turns out all the pies between seventy-five and seventy-eight a minute. A wizened man hand-loaded balls of dough into a hopper. A long sheet emerged onto a conveyor underneath, and the machine folded these around dollops of filling and then cut and pressed them into pies. Lined up in echelons of ten, the pies entered a fryer for four minutes before passing under a curtain of icing.

After cooling on a towering multi-level carrousel, they slid down a ramp, and a worker fed them onto a belt. "Time from fill to bag, two hours," Ramsey said. The wrappers are stamped with a date one week hence, at which point they are retrieved from stores and destroyed.

Ramsey has invested more than the family fortune in these high-calorie snacks. He started telling us about the cold-storage company that had warehoused the ingredients before Katrina, and had done so for generations; overwhelmed with sadness, he had to stop. "I'm sorry," he muttered, as he struggled to collect himself. When we asked later how his employees had gotten back to work after the storm, his voice caught again and tears ran down from under his glasses. "I don't know how they did it," he said quietly. "Some of them had lost everything. Yet when we needed them they were here." Ramsey lightened the mood by giving us a Hubig's lemon pie from the carrousel; it was still warm. We told several locals about this, and their eyes grew wide with envy.

After the tour, Ramsey's son Andrew came down from the upstairs office to meet us. Andrew is a burly young man who attended the New Orleans Police Academy so he could volunteer as a reserve cop. (The night before, he said, he'd arrested a man wanted for beating his wife.)

Seven Hubig's vans, nearly half the fleet, were lost in the flood, Andrew said. One van, which had arrived a week before Katrina and hadn't been paid for yet, ended up five miles away in St. Bernard Parish, overturned and caked in mud. Hubig's has been buying vans from the same dealer for the past twenty-five years, Andrew explained. "I called him up when we were getting ready to reopen and had to say, 'Not only can't we pay you for the brand-new van you just delivered to us but we need two more and can't pay for those, either.'" He stopped, an odd smile frozen on his face, trying not to burst into tears. "And you know what he said?" He paused again, lip quivering. "He said, 'What color?'"

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15 May 2007

Reminder for Volunteers

There's still time to send in a volunteer form for the AALL Annual Meeting in New Orleans if you haven't yet done so. The Annual Meeting needs volunteers to help everything run smoothly, so please consider donating your time if you can. You may access the volunteer form on the AALL website at http://www.aallnet.org/events/07_volunteers.asp or on the Local Advisory Committee website at http://www.lb5.uscourts.gov/AALL/volunteerform.html. All forms must be sent by email, fax, or U.S. Mail by June 8 to:

Miriam Childs,Volunteer Chair
Law Library of Louisiana
Louisiana Supreme Court
400 Royal St.
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: 504-310-2403
Fax: 504-310-2419
email: mchilds@lasc.org

Many, many thanks for your help!

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11 May 2007

New Orleans Festivals

Throughout the year a number of literary festivals are held in New Orleans. May 10-13 the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is being held. The weather is going to be nice which is always a plus. Of course it makes more difference if it rains during a Jazz Fest weekend. Here is the link to the festival: http://www.sasfest.org/

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08 May 2007

New Orleans AALL Convention Newspaper, The Second Line, Deadlines

The Second Line, the AALL Convention Newspaper, will be published this year on Saturday through Tuesday (July 14-17) during the conference. Deadlines for submitting an article for consideration for publication in a particular issue are:

Saturday, July 14th issue deadline: Thursday, June 15 (that's right, June 15)
Sunday, July 15th issue deadline: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, July 14
Monday, July 16th issue deadline: 1:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Tuesday, July 17th issue deadline: 1:30 p.m. Monday, July 16

How do you submit an article, news, program/event review, photograph, etc.? A number of ways, including:

1. Send an electronic copy (Word or WordPerfect preferred for text; jpg preferred for photographs) through e-mail to the editor: mary.johns@law.lsu.edu

2. Bring your electronic copy to The Second Line newspaper office in the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center (room location details coming soon)

Note: You can also post your articles here on the AALL Second Line Blog.

To post on the blog, request a blogger invitation by e-mail from: Vicenç Feliú at vicenc.feliu@law.lsu.edu and agree to the blogger guidelines, which will be sent to you in a separate e-mail.

If you want your blog submission considered for publication in the newspaper, please send it to Mary Johns at mary.johns@law.lsu.edu as well, by the posted deadlines above. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you very much!

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07 May 2007

New Orleans for Vegetarians - A request for suggestions

I visited the AALL website today only to see in bold blue type that the annual meeting is in only 68 days! I have never been to New Orleans and am very interested to see what it's like. I can't wait to see new places, meet new people and see old friends. However, what I am not looking forward to is the food situation.

As you can probably guess from the title of this posting, I am a vegetarian. And contrary to what it appears most people believe (even here in Seattle), I do NOT eat seafood. Yes, this means I do not eat fish, oysters, crawfish, etc. Though I'm an ovo lacto vegetarian, so I do eat eggs and dairy (which expands my options but I'm not so sure how much in this case). While I can appreciate people's anticipation for the feasts that await them in a couple months, I am currently having flashbacks to my week of quesadillas in San Antonio.

I decided to see if I could find a few restaurant options. I searched Yahoo! travel, Citysearch, and went through a couple of veg-friendly lists and the handful of options I found seem to be too far to walk to. Looks like it might be a week of cliff bars and iceberg lettuce "salad."

So I'd love to hear about any places you'd like to suggest with good vegi options that are within walking distance of the convention center. Please feel free to make a comment and share. The entire AALL vegetarian constituency will thank you for it.

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