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My Garbage Anxiety

I think one reason I’ve gotten so caught up in Garbagegate [TM] is because of my own personal garbage anxiety.

I haven’t put any bulky waste to the curb since August, when word came down that we weren’t supposed to do that anymore. But I’ve got bulky waste piling up here. After all, our renovation is ongoing, and waste disposal is getting to be a problem.

For example, when the tile guys tore up the old linoleum from the back room, I told them not to pile it on the curb, but to bag it instead. I didn’t want to be a part of the problem. I anticipated that I would have to dispose of this on my own dime. Meanwhile, other people are putting debris on the curb and the piles are sitting there for weeks and months. When news broke that maybe this was a service we’ve already paid for, you can bet it got my attention.

So they bagged the linoleum, and the two bags sat downstairs for a few weeks before I discovered a terrible secret: They’re super-heavy. I don’t know, maybe a couple hundred pounds each? I can lift them, but I can’t carry them. Not far.

So I was quite intrigued when Gold Star’s crew came back to our block late this afternoon. They scooped up Charles’ pile. I threw a couple sheets of plywood on the pile before the Bobcat came back, and Gold Star’s boss said it was OK but I needed to stay out of the way from now on.

I confessed to Gold Star’s boss about my two super-heavy bags of linoleum scraps. He instructed me to put them out on another pile across the street from Charles. He even went so far as to instruct me to put them on the pile of wood scraps and shingles rather than the pile of bricks and concrete because “they’re going to different places.”

I just about broke my back getting them out there. The heavy-duty contractor bags tore and I had to run and buy some more and double-bag the debris. But finally I did it, and tomorrow they should be removed.

Man, those linoleum scraps are some nasty dirty stuff. What I wanna know is this: What is the black tarry stuff used to stick ’em to the floor? They were put down some fifty years ago, sat under brackish water for weeks after the flood, and that stuff is still sticky. Amazing.

I asked Gold Star’s boss about the trash controversies, and he could only add that — like everybody else — they’re having a hell of a time retaining staff in this crazy disaster zone we call home.

Update: Monday morning the super-heavy bags of linoleum were picked up, not by Gold Star’s crew, but by our regular trash contractor — Richard’s. Now I’m really confused. What happened to the 25 lbs. limit on bulky waste?

Published inNew OrleansOur House


  1. Most tile adhesive is called mastic.

  2. Anthony Anthony

    Your very last paragraph pretty much explains why we are going to have a different New Orleans than the one we had before. We, as a city are going to be paid more to stay on the job and for real money we are going to have to rediscover our work ethic. And the fact that rents will never be back to pre-K levels, means that you gonna have to be some hard working man (or woman) making real money to stay. And that’s OK cause it’s not like we don’t have things to do in this town.

  3. The old stuff used for linoleum (if i really was linoleum), was often a tar based product, sometimes called fiberated asphaltic mastic or cement. The mastic and the backing of the linoleum often contained asbestos, but since it is bound in the mastic, it is usually not considered hazardous, although it is sometimes considered hazardous.

  4. celcus celcus

    That tar stuff is nasty. I pulled up a roomfull or two of an asphalt based tile…that was over a layer of vinyl asbestos tile, and the whole covered with the brown (originally not brown) carpet and disintegrating pad which seemed to stick in places better than the mastic

    And, you could just feed a stack or two of scraps into the trash every pickup. It’s slow, but eventually the stuff disappears.

  5. mikesmiley mikesmiley

    When I have to move a heavy contractor bag, I keep it in the garbage can and use a hand truck if possible. Don’t pull it out of the can until it has reached its destination.

  6. I know around here roofing paper is often used under linoleum, and it’s tarry. We pulled up old linoleum when we moved in and could not for anything get that black tar paper off the wood. We resorted to using oven cleaner to get it off, it was the only thing that worked. Probably not very healthy or safe.

  7. Civitch Civitch

    Here’s the latest insult: in our most recent water bills, there’s a handy, threatening insert from the Department of Sanitation. It beings with the now-familiar “we’re not going to pick up your big trash” stuff, and then goes on to tell us citizens that we can drop off bulky debris at the Elysian Field (sic) location – but only until September 30. And these notices were mailed in October….. The note names two other landfills but offers no directions or addresses, nor does it mention how much we’ll have to pay to take stuff there. But my absolute favorite part is the last line, which states, “The City will being Enforcement Action, including fines for those you do not comply EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY.” Would someone like to diagram that sentence? I think VW must have written it herself.

    So B, it sounds like you’re going to have to pile your tiles in a truck and head for the mysterious Gentilly landfill with a wad of cash.

  8. Strangely enough, this morning the super-heavy bags of linoleum were picked up by our regular trash contractor ó Richardís. Now Iím really confused. What happened to the 25 lbs. limit on bulky waste? Those bags had to be ten times that weight.

  9. in case you didn’t hear it – Stacey Head was just heard live on Garland’s show and said that the ordinance limiting garbage pickup to 25 pounds in weight originated from the mayor’s office and not with Cindy Windy – Cindy Windy just sponsored the bill since the mayor cannot initiate ordinances

    and Head said she did not read the initial ordinance limiting the weight back in April – she missed the vote anyway – and that vote passed 6-0

    but you might know this already

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