Archive for the Letters Category

Hello Entercom!

First off, THANK YOU for keeping the greatest genre of music ever, Classic Rock, alive in New Orleans. With all the great music our city has to offer, it’s easy to forget about good ole rock ‘n’ roll and the indescrible influence of bands like Led Zep, Def Lep, The Crüe, Skynard, Van Hagar and so much more. Classic Rock is healthy investment for your company because it never gets old and more and more Rock ‘n’ Roll keeps sliding into the “classic” realm.

Man, back when I was a kid, driving my Camaro Berlinetta around the straight, dark, Southern roads of West Pensacola, we called Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains “Alternative” rock but now those bands have joined The Stones and The Doors in the realm of “Classic Rock”! And I’m soooo stoked about it because it makes so much sense. I just can’t wait for more moder rock to be classic! Not much longer and we’ll be listening to The White Stripes, The Strokes and The Black Keys on Bayou!

Also, thank you for doing what you can to keep the disc jockeys local! I understand sometimes you got to put a show like Nick Carter’s on at night but it’s very refreshing to hear Harmon Dash and Kat talking about local stuff. It makes me feel like the old days when we could call in to a radio station and the actual DJ would pick up the phone with the current song playing in the background and say he would “do what he can” to get “Cum on Feel The Noize” on in the next hour. Then I’d listen for like 3 more hours hoping to hear it with my blank cassette ready to tape! Good times! So, keep the DJs local!

And thanks for playing the live version of “The Saints Are Coming” so often! Who Dat?!?

As part of the “workforce,” I listen to Bayou 95.7 while I am in my workshop making salvaged wood folk art most Wednesdays and Thursdays and can often be heard singing “Evvvvvvery roooooooose has it’s thooooorn…” by all my neighbors. Hey man, that’s a good song. Those lyrics are very philosophical. Think about it. It’s all like, Yin and Yang.

Anyway, I almost forgot the reason for my e-mail. I was wondering what was up with the banning of certain words in certain songs that appear on the station? First off, THANK YOU for protecting me against these words!

Ha, ha LOL. I’m being a smartass. I don’t care about that…shit! ;)

But, I do understand why “shit” is banned. It’s just part of the world we live in.

I’ve noticed the “bleeping” (not really a bleep I know) in ZZ Top’s “Legs” even though most people I mention this to don’t even realize “shit” is in there. And I get why “shit” is banned in both Pink Floyd’s “Money” and Alice in Chains’ “Man in the Box.” What I am wondering is, who decides what goes through and what doesn’t? Entercom or the FCC?

Reason I ask is I am perplexed as to why “shit” is banned from those three songs (compromising their integrity if you ask me) but “faggot” is allowed in Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”?

Now, to me, I’d allow everything because I’m not a fan of censorship on any level but, since songs are currently censored on Entercom stations, I am wondering why something as inoffensive as a bodily process that occurs every day would be banned from the radio while a deliberate epithet toward gay men is allowed? It’s the decision making that seems a little offensive. We don’t want children hearing the word “shit” but it’s okay to call someone a faggot?

I know Mark Knopfler was writing in the context of appliance store workers when he penned the song. He clearly was showing how MTV was glamorizing and embellishing rock ‘n’ roll and this was alienating some fans who simply wanted to rock. Hell, who DOESN’T.

But, gay men love classic rock too! And it may be offensive to them to hear words like “shit” banned from the radio but to hear “faggot” just a few songs later.

Just wondering.

Can’t wait to hear which new genres will be christened with the classic rock label next.

Like Neil Young said, “Hey, hey, my, my, Rock ‘n’ Roll will never die!”

Thanks again for keeping it alive in New Orleans!


Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S. I am posting this e-mail and any response on my bloc

Rev. Varg Vargas - Can PARTY professionally.

Rev. Varg Vargas – Can PARTY professionally.

Hello The Lens!

I noticed you had a job opening posted on your Web site…

Part-time event and sales manager

I think I am uniquely qualified for this position. I don’t know if I have an actual resume listing my qualifications on hand but a quick look at my social network accounts should give you a pretty good idea of who I am and what I can do. Or just ask around the office. Someone there will know me and can vouch for me. If they don’t, let me know who didn’t.

I can tell you I did some writing a decade or so ago, some editing for a paper, some other stuff. I hung out with rich folks in La Jolla. I wrote some cover stories for the Gay and Lesbian Times in San Diego. I was the managing editor of Gator Tales, my high school newspaper. Whatever. You don’t need to know any of this stuff. Anyone can work at a paper. Look at

The reason why I think I am uniquely qualified for the position is I noticed a huge part of the job will be PARTYING. Having just PARTIED last night and the night (and the day) before and the night before that, I can assure you I have not gotten rusty in the field of PARTYING. I am in my PARTY prime.

But I don’t just PARTY for fun. At my current job as a Jackson Square artist I PARTY a lot. A lot of the charm it takes to convince a visitor to New Orleans to buy salvaged wood folk art is conjured by PARTYING. I also mingle with local luminaries from all areas of New Orleans culture.

I can honestly say I have been PARTYING now for 25 years and I am getting pretty good at it. For instance, I have only fallen down twice in all that time. Once was on Fat Tuesday in 2011 and to my credit, I staggered and stumbled for a good 30 feet before finally touching a knee to the ground.  Also, it was on uneven ground and I was the last person in my group not to have fallen down up until that point.

A photo of Varg PARTYING in 1992. Note: Cisco!

A photo of Varg PARTYING in 1992. Note: Cisco!

The other was at a Benihana. I don’t really want to talk about that.

I also do not puke. In all my years of PARTYING I could count all the times I have vomited from doing so on one hand and those were all in the first ten years. I can hold my liquor and go drink-for-drink with anyone for the first 6 – 8 drinks. That just shows how good I am at PARTYING though. I will not achieve sloppiness nor go on 12-hour binges and ruin my life. I budget my PARTYING well.

I noticed that I will have to not only attend these PARTIES but also throw…excuse me, produce, these PARTIES. You will be relieved to know I have been “producing” PARTIES for years. Both in a professional setting as a banquet manager for hotels and clubs all over the I-10 Gulf Coast Corridor and privately for friends and family.

During this experience I was adept at pacing the event and handling the any emergencies that may come up. Like when that toddler caught fire. My quick thinking led to it only having 2nd degree burns all over its body instead of 3rd.

You may have heard stories of the annual sacred festival of Varg Gras every Oct. 27 – Nov.2 or my annual Moonshine & Heartpine Bivavle Bash every New Year’s Day. Just ask around and you will hear tales told of these great PARTIES. Many “culture bearers” attend each. If a bomb were to explode in the middle of them, New Orleans culture would be crippled for years!

There is also the weekly event know as Wiggy Wednesday. Sure, it’s more of a private thing taking place in a bubble bath in my home but I have consistently indulged in it most Wednesdays for the last ten years. Check my twitter feed each Wednesday night for evidence of just how spirited an event Wiggy Wednesday is!

A vision for possible future The Lens events.

A vision for possible future The Lens events.

Anyway, so you know I can PARTY both professionally and leisurely. I have shown my qualifications. But, if you need to schedule a showcase of my abilities, I could meet you at Mollys some night.

I can also offer my services as an officiant for any blessings, eulogies, ceremonies, toasts or sermons you may need.

I can also decorate The Lens offices with New Orleans salvaged wood folk art for $10,000 a room.

I do however have some questions for you.

1.) The listing says I will be “ reporting to the development director.” Does he or she PARTY?  I can’t work with anyone who doesn’t. I will make exceptions for someone who used to PARTY but quit because they PARTIED too much. I won’t respect them deep down but I will work with them.

2.) I will have to produce an event called “Breakfast with the Newsmakers” 10 times a year. Are there currently Bloody Marys and Screwdrivers served at this event? Because I will be adding them if not. Also, just how early is this event? It’s not on a Thursday is it? I often get a slow start after a Wiggy Wednesday.

3.) These ”3 evening forums open to the public,” when you say “evening” do you mean like happy hour, after work, “evening” or like Snake and Jakes “evening”? Because the later it gets the more solicitations from donors I could get if you know what I’m sayin’!

4.) What sorts of things were you wanting to do with the “Lens Birthday Party”? Because I have some ideas. Working on Jackson Square,  I know lots of street performers. We could get Robotron. There is a gold guy who holds a football (don’t drink after him). There is a guy who holds a picture frame and looks through it. There is “Bird Lady.” Also, all these people PARTY. It could be like an average Saturday afternoon at Jackson Square but at The Lens birfday party! I could get Tropical Isle to serve Hand Grenades. Think about it.

5.) I have some concerns where it reads, “Other events as they present themselves.” Just what sort of events are these? I am sure we both know how lurid Louisiana politics can be and I want you to know I don’t do kinky shit. I’m not going to any David Vitter diaper party. I PARTY but if anything you guys have in mind involves more than beer, whiskey or wine then I am going to expect a platinum health care plan, a lawyer on retainer and some sort of expense account, not to mention access to any favorable judges or politicians. If I have to dress in drag, I will, but it’s $500 as soon as I slip on the pumps.

6.) It says, “Assure maintenance of sponsor records.” I really do not want to do this. Could you transfer these responsibilities to someone else?

7.) It says, “Attend weekly staff meetings.” How early are these? Are they on Thursdays? I got this thing called Wiggy Wednesday see…

8.) It says, “Prepare brief weekly status reports.” How brief can these be? Will, “We’re good” be sufficient? I have a hard time quantifying things that are abstract.

9.) According to the listing I must be able to, “Handle detailed, complex concepts.” My question to you is, can YOU?

10.) I will need to establish “strong and appropriate relationships” with donors. Is blackmail “strong and appropriate”?

11.) How important is “being a team player”? When I bring a six-pack to a friends house and only drink 4, I leave the remaining two. Does that count?

These are all the questions I have. I think I have clearly showed my qualifications for the job. When can I expect to start? Please act quickly. The Advocate has an offer on the table and I don’t want to leave them hanging. Me and “Georgie Boy” are bros. We PARTIED so hard at Kagan’s back in the day.

I look forward to hearing from you.


Rev. Varg Vargas

Hi Lance, I conclude, per your comments, that I am not “up for making something of great value” because I disagree that art’s subject dictates rules to the artist. It’s a long, long discussion often started early in one’s career whether art has rules or is, in fact, the closest we can get to expressing completely freely…. in the name of art.

Additionally, you’re mis-interpreting that I didn’t include East New Orleans or the Algiers area because it was too hard, like travel to the moon. As I said in my last email, the decision was made for aesthetic reasons and to be able to render the neighborhoods legible. That is to say, I have to assume you’ve taken the time to visually inspect the true boundaries of New Orleans. And considered that the additional areas are 4 times the size of the area that is currently shown, so proper NO would be at least 1/6th the size as it currently is. Even to include the whole of 70114 and 70131 would render it less than half the size it is now and leave 2/3rds of the poster empty white space. We could have included only part of the southern strip, but I wasn’t comfortable taking license to determine where that arbitrary boundary is. After considering all of these things, we made the decision to include the proper area only. And that certainly wasn’t the easiest choice we could have made. I can see how looking in from the outside, one would be quick to assume that though.

Hope I’ve communicated better this time and you can find other artwork that more suitably satiates your desire for community pride.


Oh, I understand! But just for fun, will you indulge me in a bit of a discussion on the value of art?

Sometimes in the creation of my own art, I wrestle with the urge to take a shortcut and make things easier and more accessible. Though, I always feel like I would cheat the Muse if I did this. And after all she’s done for me!

My approach has always been, if it CAN be done, it SHOULD be done.

Also, it’s not about New Orleans responsibility to your artist but your artist’s responsibility to it. In your project, the city is the flowers in the vase or the abstract concept or the political point. Whatever the subject of your piece is, it dictates certain rules to its creator if it’s creator is up for making something of great value.

The creator is thus tasked by the subject.

I work in Jackson Square . Often, while in the French Quarter, I will inevitably walk into the photo of some family or couple trying to take a photo in front of Cafe Du Monde or St. Louis Cathedral. I stopped trying to avoid doing this long ago. When a tourist gets uppity with me about it I always remind them that even a casual photographer must understand that the Universe does not converge around our depictions of it, our depictions must converge on the Universe. That’s what makes great art, graphic or otherwise. It should be undertaken like the first trip to the Moon, not because it is easy but because it is hard.

Also, some folks are wondering where New Orleans East is?

Swiss Krissly,


Hi Lance,

Yes it was a hard decision to leave off Algiers and the other neighborhoods, but we did so because we didn’t want to propose in black and white (literally) where ‘New Orleans proper’ ends east of Algiers (include the whole peninsula, or just Algiers and then snub the people in the other neighborhoods by Algiers). We had to take some artistic license so as not to lose the legibility of the downtown area. It CERTAINLY was not political. Rather our goal is to present the city in an objective way. In this case it’s a bit of an oxymoron because we made the aesthetic decision.

Alas, it’s something to be considered in the future, maybe another version of the poster.

Thanks for your comments and glad you like the poster!

(Ork Posters)

Hello Ork!!!

My name is Lance Vargas and I am a blogger and artist here in New Orleans, the City That Care Forgot in the Neighborhood Ork Forgot!

See, a friend recently Facebooked (is that a verb?) me the neighborhood poster for New Orleans available for sale on your site (and thank you for supporting local charities) and I noticed a huge section of our city and greater than a half dozen neighborhoods were left out! Whoa! Hey!

Believe it or not there are many New Orleans neighborhoods on the West Bank of the Mississippi River (even though it is actually east of downtown). According to my estimations, the following neighborhoods were left out of your poster…

Algiers Point
Old Aurora
Fischer Development
Tall Timbers / Brechtel
New Aurora
English Turn

Perhaps your graphic artist had difficulty incorporating the river into his design? I am an artist myself so I can understand the difficulties this natural wonder may present. However, a truly gifted artist will see this as a unique opportunity to exemplify his or her skills! Let this be an inspiration and a personal challenge!

Look what your great artists did with the waterways of Seattle!

I was wondering, was the artist who created this otherwise fantastic poster a local New Orleanian? Because his or her omission of these New Orleans West Bank neighborhoods could be indicative of many attitudes of people around here. Many East bankers like to pretend the West Bank doesn’t exist. They like to refer to it as “the Wank” when really it is the “Best Bank” while their side is the “Least Bank.”

Way I see it, if Gentilly Woods can get on the poster, why not my neighborhood Algiers Point? We have some nice parks, a pizza place, a music venue, an English pub, a great levee to walk the dog on and the last three city council persons from District C have lived here in the Point. It’s also colloquially known as the “place bartenders go to die.” I guess a lot of French Quarter service industry workers buy houses and settle here. I do know a couple actually. William S. Burroughs lived here and there are even mentions of it in Kerouac’s great American novel, “On The Road.”

How about making this right yall?

Oh and hey!!! For an enlightening talk on New Orleans neighborhoods please see:

Thanks and keep up the good work!!!!


Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S.: I am posting the text of this e-mail on my blog,

Dear Gambit,

Love you guys. Love the paper.

I see you put the Blue Dog on your cover this week. George Rodrigue is a great artist. Always has been. A little repetitive lately but, as an artist I can’t blame him. So few us us ever achieve significant compensation for what we bring to the world, who could complain when one of us does so in spades? Well, some people do but they are what’s known as “haters.”

Rodrigue has done it all. He has truly made his mark on New Orleans’ cultural gumbo culture. His prints now go for $1500 dollars and his little loup garou can be found everywhere. It’s in Metairie. It’s on Royal Street. It hangs with Drew Brees. It’s got its own restaurant. It’s in The Sheraton on Canal. I guess I don’t have to go in to too much detail about its exposure because it is so prevalent everywhere we go.

So, Do we need 40,000 more printed images of the Blue Dog on your cover?

I’m not coming from a negative place on this. I’m not pissed at Gambit or Rodrigue. I used to be responsible for coming up with cover images for a weekly that were both visually stimulating but also thematically tied into the editorial. So I know how hard it can be to come up with cover images week after week.

The growing issue with the Blue Dog being overexposed is that now any artist who develops a theme or motif in their work or tries to convey an image across several pieces of work is being told, “Oh, that’s your Blue Dog!” For instance, “Be Nice Or Leave” is Dr. Bob’s “blue dog.”

Rodrigue is the king. We all know that. The locals know it. The tourists know it. The natives know it. The transplants know it.

I know The Gambit has always been a friend to local artists. I speak from experience here. I’m not saying they haven’t.

I’m saying, next time you need a visually adept cover image, there are many great artists of all types in New Orleans that would love to contribute their wonderful work to your great paper.

Also, I am posting this letter on my blog.


Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S. Some may see this letter as a veiled request for my own work to appear on your cover. Not so, if it aint on recycled materials, it aint me.

Dear Mr. Vargas,

Thank you for your e-mail. The Councilmember asked me to follow up with you regarding this issue. We have reported it to Traffic Engineering under the Department of Public Works. If we have not received a response in one week, we will follow up with them.


Mary Cunningham
Director, Constituent Services
Office of Kristin Gisleson Palmer
Councilmember, District C

Hello Kristin Palmer!

Congratulations on your election to the District C city council seat earlier this year! That’s how many in a row for Algerines?

My name is Lance Vargas and I am a found object folk artist, blogger and registered voter in your district. I am writing about a problem intersection in our district, Mardi Gras Boulvarde and Whitney Avenue. An image of the intersection is included in this e-mail. Google thinks the road is called Bringier but no one I know calls it that. Everyone just says Mardi Gras Blvd.

The issue with this crossroads is it’s the intersection of two four lane roads yet it is an all-way stop. As we all know, the law requires that the first vehicle to arrive at an all-way stop sign has right of way to proceed through the intersection. If two or more vehicles come to the intersection at the same time, each vehicle must yield to the car to his or her right. It requires a little bit of knowledge and judgment on behalf of the driver, more so than if there were a traffic signal at the intersection (cars would proceed when the signal was green), or if there were a stop sign at only one of the two 4-lane roads (cars would proceed when the roadway was clear).

The issue with this 8-lane intersection is it is harder to calculate who arrived at the intersection first when the driver has to pay attention to six other vehicles approaching the intersection. At a 4-lane intersection, it is easier to deduce who arrived at the intersection first because there are only three other vehicles to watch. With six, it is twice as hard to determine. This intersection is the only one I have every seen where there is an all-way stop for two 4-lane roads.

Further complicating matters is the amount of large vehicles that use these intersections. With the construction of both Federal City and L.B. Landry High School and the future expansion of the LSPCA and any other development that may be in store for Algiers (you probably know more about this than I do), the amount of large vehicles in addition to the bus traffic (I know of two transit lines that come through, “The Loop” being my favorite) there will likely be heavy use of the intersection for the foreseeable future. As these vehicles slowly make their way through the intersection, it is harder for drivers to see what the cars and motorcycles in the lane beside and behind them are doing. How would a driver know if a car arrived at the intersection before them if they never saw because a truck was in the way?

It should also be said that the intersection is wider than normal. Both roads are close to “Canal Street wide.” Whitney Avenue has a very large, grassy neutral ground as does Mardi Gras Boulevard. So it is that much harder to see what is happening across the way. Especially at night or in the rain.

I know before the storm there was a two-way stop sign there. If I remember correctly, the traffic on Whitney had the stop sign and traffic on Mardi Gras Blvd. was unimpeded. Then I presume the storm blew down the stop signs. A temporary all-way stop was put there and was then made permanent. That was the mistake. Hey, it was in the months following the Flood. Who can blame them? I know I was going craaaaazy (back on my meds now).

Check this out though, at the intersection of Nunez and Mardi Gras Blvd. further toward the river, there is only a two-way stop and traffic proceeds unimpeded into Gretna (a.k.a. ‘the Home Depot Trail’). This is the how the Whitney / Mardi Gras intersection could be.

I foresee a bit of a problem at the onset of the change as drivers adjust to it. This is why I recommend a traffic signal instead of just a stop sign. I know we have a budget crisis and they are more expensive but Federal City is supposed to bring 10,000 jobs to Algiers, many of these workers may choose live over the river (I don’t know why they would want to) and would use this intersection every day. Also, school-age kids from the Fischer Development on Whitney will be driving, walking or bussed to the new L.B. Landry High School and will use this intersection. So for the sake of new drivers, bus drivers and pedestrians, it may help for the City to step up and make life easier on them.

But if the budget does happen to be an issue, you may want to talk to whomever has the district that contains the intersection of S. Claiborne and Earhardt over the River. Because there is a light there where it isn’t needed. I am sure if S. Claiborne didn’t dead end there, a light would be needed but it does and the light is still there like some remnant of an era before the Superdome. So have some crews pull those out and bring them on over to Algiers and take our stops signs and put them at that intersection. That should help with the cost of materials.

You may also be able to pay for the light by putting one of those red light cameras there. People would be so confused at first it would be like installing a video poker machine! I’m kidding of course.

Fortunately, the problems caused by the intersection aren’t necessarily dangerous in nature, I’m mostly seeing fender benders, confusion, congestion and maybe some road rage. But it would be prudent for the city to correct the mistake made after the storm before traffic at the intersection increases.

I remember how frustrating it used to be to have to navigate this intersection before the morning commute. It was like an appetizer for the ensuing headache of bridge traffic! Man, I’m glad I became a folk artist! No more daily commute for me!

Anyway, just trying to help. I think a change here would be a logical next step.

Stop by and see me on Jackson Square if you ever need some folk art gifts for friends and family. I’m there on Saturdays. I’m the salvaged wood guy. The carved salvaged wood guy not the guy that paints on it. And not the bas relief carver but the abstract figures carver.


Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S. I am posting this letter and your response on my blog
P.P.S. Say hello to Arnie Fielkow for me, he helped me out a while back with some street lights when James Carter ignored my e-mail.

Hello Hubig Pies!

My name is Lance Vargas and I have a blog online called “The Chicory.” There has been a bit of discussion on the Web recently about the appearance of a Hubig Pie in the first episode of HBO’s Treme. Some say that pies weren’t being made at this time and therefore wouldn’t have been available. Others say the pie could have still been around since before the storm.

I decided to go straight to the source. If you good folks could answer these it would clear everything up and we on the Internet could go on to argue about other stuff.

1. Were any Hubig’s Pies being sold in New Orleans in December of 2005? Including either freshly made pies or perhaps ones that had been in store’s inventory since August of 2005?

2. When did Hubig’s pies start being made after the flood?

2. What is the shelf life of a Hubig pie?

3. Could a stale Hubig pie be made fresher by heating it up in a microwave and perhaps touched up witha syrup or sauce?

Thanks guys! Keep making great pies!

Lance Vargas
The Chicory


Hey Lance,

Thanks for your interest! To answer your questions briefly: we buy back any pie that’s still on the market 9 days after it’s made, and we didn’t resume making pies until January or February of 2006–so any pies that might have been available three months after Hurricane Katrina would certainly have been loooong expired!

We never endorse eating a pie that’s expired. A lot of customers do like to microwave pies, no matter how fresh (a few seconds will do it).

As for syrups and sauces, I’m not personally familiar with the use of any such enhancements on a Hubig’s. After the “drizzle something on it!” episode, I did post a poll on our Facebook page asking what folks might like to drizzle on their pies; we got some intriguing suggestions, but also many comments to the effect that a Hubig’s pie needs no embellishment!

Martin at Hubig’s