Friday, December 26, 2008

Brad Pitt wrecked my car

Ok, so maybe "wrecked" is too strong a word. But I do jokingly blame him, and more specifically, his new movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," for my only fender-bender to date.

Long time readers of this blog will know that for its first year, I focused almost exclusively on Katrina recovery. The blog started as a personal journal of my three month stint in fall 2006 as an intern with the Diocese of Louisiana's Office of Disaster Response. I lived at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church on Carrollton Avenue and drove a car loaned to me by my deacon boss. All was well, at least until November when Brad Pitt came to town.

What brings this to mind now, over two years later, is yesterday's release of the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." This movie, starring Pitt, was filmed in my part of town. It was pretty cool to see dozens of vintage 1930s cars parked along St. Charles Avenue each night, but the traffic snarls the film created just weren’t worth it, especially once filming moved to Carrolton Avenue, right in front of St. Andrew's. Carrollton is a major road, and all its traffic was moved to side-streets which were way too small and bumpy to handle that many cars – many of them still pockmarked with hurricane potholes. While I was driving home on one of these roads, Short Street, a large van failed to give me my right of way and I had to pull over to avoid him – right into a parked car. (I readily admit that my defensive skills were not at their finest that day, and I should have stopped a few seconds earlier. That having been said, he was the only one who actually broke the law.)

Fortunately, Deacon Quin's car just lost some rearview mirror glass and passenger door paint, but the scrape did in one of the parked car's panels. The owner turned out to be a Loyola University law student who was very grateful that I had told him what happened rather than just driven off, so we had iced tea and cookies on his steps as we waited for the police – who never actually came. We wound up flagging down an office on routine patrol four hours after I called 911, and he gave me a ticket despite the fact that the cop guarding Benjamin Button said there probably wouldn't be one. (That opened up a whole ‘nother can of worms with the post-storm New Orleans justice system, but that’s another story.) To avoid an insurance mess, I paid for the damage to the guy's car out of pocket, which was harder than it should have been since the mechanic we got was a little shady (but I prevailed, yay bartering!).

Should I blame myself? Perhaps. Should I blame the guy in the van who didn't give me my right-of-way? Most definitely. But do I? No. I blame Brad Pitt. He’s done miracles for New Orleans and the Lower Ninth Ward, so God love ‘im and all he does, but if not for that movie I never would have been on Short Street in the first place.

To see or not to see? That is the question.

(Picture Credit. For more information about Pitt's work on Katrina recovery, visit


Grandmère Mimi said...

WE, I'm laughing, and I know that I shouldn't be. That cost you a bundle that you probably didn't have to spare.

Go see the movie, even if you cuss all the way through it. You will be exited to see the city, and it is a really good movie. On the other hand, it may be too painful for you. Do what you think best.

Why did you let Brad Pitt off with only a minor tongue-lashing?

Nathan Empsall said...

I just didn't have much anger left over for Mr. Pitt after all my seething at NOPD and the van driver...

I hope to see Doubt and Frost/Nixon, but if there's time and money left over after, I'll take a look at Benjamin Button.