Wednesday, September 17, 2014

It's time to start taking down the post-Confederate propaganda

Rising Tide 9 NOLA Historical presentation
 Kevin McQueeney and Jessica Dauterive presenting at Rising Tide 9

A century later, we should be ready to move on.
The popular Palmer Park — surrounded by an array of diverse neighborhoods including Carrollton, Fontainebleau, Pigeontown and Hollygrove — was given its name during an era of nostalgia for the Confederacy to honor a pastor so passionately in favor of slavery that Gen. Robert E. Lee described his oratory as more powerful than “an entire regiment of troops,” according to a presentation by a University of New Orleans researcher.

Benjamin Morgan Palmer was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of New Orleans during the Civil War era, and his 1860 Thanksgiving sermon after the election of Abraham Lincoln is credited with spurring Louisiana’s secession. In it, Palmer describes slavery as an institution created by God to benefit the “black races.”

“We know better than others that every attribute of their character fits them for dependence and servitude,” Palmer said. “By nature the most affectionate and loyal of all races beneath the sun, they are also the most helpless; and no calamity can befall them greater than the loss of that protection they enjoy under this patriarchal system.”

The park that bears his name at the corner of South Carrollton and South Claiborne avenues was originally called Hamilton Square when it was created as a formal gathering place for the former city of Carrollton, said Kevin McQueeney, a University of New Orleans graduate student in history who presented his findings Saturday at the Rising Tide conference. Hamilton Square was originally named after Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers, but after Palmer’s death in a streetcar accident in 1902, New Orleans city leaders decided to rename the park after him.
This isn't about "erasing history" it's about reclaiming it. New Orleans is riddled with monuments and streets and place names that the Jim Crow aristocracy applied as deliberate political statements.  We can and should refute those statements now. Everyone knows the famous Orwell quote about, "Who controls the past.."  This, right here, is what he was talking about. 

Glass half full, Prison over-full

Louisiana still incarcerates more people per capita than most countries.. but, hey we're getting better.
Louisiana remains the country’s prison capital by a long shot, but a federal report released Tuesday shows the number of people imprisoned in the state has dipped slightly.

The report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, indicates Louisiana’s prison population fell by 2.2 percent to below 40,000 last year after eclipsing the threshold for the first time in 2012.

Jimmy LeBlanc, head of the state’s Department of Corrections and Public Safety, expressed cautious optimism about the trend in an interview this spring.

“We’ve never been on a trend like we’re on now for so many months, where it continues to drop,” LeBlanc said at the time. “So some good things are starting.”

In a statement on Tuesday, LeBlanc partly attributed the incarceration decline to work being done by the state to improve re-entry programs that help integrate recently released prisoners back into society. In addition, expanded pre-release education is being provided to inmates preparing for freedom. Also, an effort has been made to enhance services available to offenders who are out on supervised release, Leblanc said in the statement.
Hell we're even "bucking the trend."
The change in Louisiana contrasted the national trend, in which the country’s population of incarcerated people increased slightly 
But let's not kid ourselves.  As long as the incentives to house more inmates exist, we're going to keep putting people in jail. 
Today, wardens make daily rounds of calls to other sheriffs' prisons in search of convicts to fill their beds. Urban areas such as New Orleans and Baton Rouge have an excess of sentenced criminals, while prisons in remote parishes must import inmates to survive.

The more empty beds, the more an operation sinks into the red. With maximum occupancy and a thrifty touch with expenses, a sheriff can divert the profits to his law enforcement arm, outfitting his deputies with new squad cars, guns and laptops. Inmates spend months or years in 80-man dormitories with nothing to do and few educational opportunities before being released into society with $10 and a bus ticket.

Fred Schoonover, deputy warden of the 522-bed Tensas Parish Detention Center in northeast Louisiana, says he does not view inmates as a "commodity." But he acknowledges that the prison's business model is built on head counts. Like other wardens in this part of the state, he wheels and deals to maintain his tally of human beings. His boss, Tensas Parish Sheriff Rickey Jones, relies on him to keep the numbers up.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"Museum quality"

The French Quarter is a Neighborhood

Oh well,
During the Funky 544 trial, the defendants' expert witness on sound, Eric Zwerling, testified that he took sound measurements inside Yokum's house and that music from the club could not be heard when the air-conditioner was turned on and was "inaudible to somewhat audible" when it was turned off.

The plaintiffs' sound expert, Arno Bommer, did not take measurements inside the house and their attorney didn't produce any evidence that Funky 544 had been cited by the city for noise violations, Halpern said.

There are so many other sources of sound in the 700 block of Toulouse Street including street musicians, second lines, traffic, car stereos, large crowds and dozens of other bars and nightclubs that it is impossible to blame one business and ask it to pay millions of dollars in damages, Halpern said.

"Our guys did everything they could to be good neighbors and they do operate in an entertainment district," he said. "(Yokum and Anderson) live just 170 steps from Bourbon Street. We suggested they do something to their house to mitigate the noise but they said they want it to remain museum quality."
I'm all for maintaining the French Quarter as a liveable neighborhood.  I'm also certain these guys can afford to work with their neighbors and take steps to make their living situation commensurate with the realities of that neighborhood. 

But they would prefer to live in a museum.

You can pretty much demolish anything you want to

This came up last week in Uptown Messenger and hasn't gotten a tremendous amount of attention since.

The story, initially, was about an application to demolish a property on General Pershing street.  The demolition was reviewed and rejected twice by a panel known as the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee.
Created in 2008, the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee (NCDC) governs the demolition of significant buildings outside the city’s official historic districts. The NCDC is made up of 13 members — one appointed by each of the seven City Council members, one appointed by the mayor, and the five representatives from various city departments such as Safety and Permits or the City Planning Commission. Anyone attempting to tear down a building within the NCDC area must make their case before that panel first, though if they are rejected, they can appeal the decision to the City Council.
In this case, the appeal went to City Council where District B councilwoman Latoya Cantrell  flipped her position. Cantrell voted for the demolition after having proclaimed it "essential to the the residential fabric of the community.”  What made her change her mind?  Uptown Messenger tried to find out and came upon something interesting.
Several residents who attended the meeting, however, said that Cantrell explained her position on the General Pershing property as related to ongoing questions about the validity of the NCDC process.

She says the NCDC process is not legal,” said Faye Lieder, a neighbor who has spearheaded efforts to preserve the General Pershing property.

The concern among city officials, according to the residents’ account of Cantrell’s explanation, is that a flaw in the structure of the NCDC process leaves decisions made by the panel so open to legal challenge that they cannot be defended in court.

“Right now, anybody can demolish anything,” Lieder said.
The specific reason for this isn't made entirely clear but the article does say that Stacy Head has proposed an ordinance which she believes will close whatever this legal loophole might be... even as she sort of denies it exists. 
A draft of a new ordinance would rename it the Neighborhood Conservation District Advisory Committee, and its function “shall be limited to counsel and advice.” All of the mayor’s appointees to the panel would be removed, leaving only seven members appointed by each City Council member.

The goal of the new legislation, Head said, is to “remove an argument” that developers use in court against demolition denials, placing the board that reviews them under the purview of the legislative branch instead of the executive branch. The existing process is sound, she said, but her ordinance will strengthen it.
So is the problem they're trying to fix related to the make-up of the committee or its function?  If I understand the process correctly as it stands, any denial or approval it issues now is still pretty much just "advisory" given that property owners can appeal to the City Council.   As to whose "purview"  the thing belongs, I'll have to assume that must involve the charter somehow.

Someone will have to go back and review the process by which NCDC came about.  Back during 2008, Karen Gadbois was closely tracking the demolitions appeal process at Squandered Heritage. That site has been pulled down but you can still browse its archive at The Lens.  I went looking through there because I was hoping there would be some record of the reasoning behind NCDC's creation.

I didn't find what I was looking for.  Although there is the occasional complaint against dysfunction at NCDC's predecessor entity (HCDRC). What I did find, though, is probably even more relevant in the larger sense.

Remember 2008 was the year of the Gustav freak-out. While that storm didn't re-flood the city as many feared it might, it did cause significant coastal flooding and knock everyone's power out for several days.  More importantly, it inflicted a certain quantity of structural damage to properties around town.  The demo-happy Nagin administration moved quickly to take advantage of this.
For those of you not familiar with the story, here’s the nickel version. Four days after Gustav hit on Labor Day, Mayor Nagin issued an executive order – claiming powers under a state of emergency – suspending the operations of the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee (NCDC). This is the committee tasked with reviewing demolitions from individuals and the city to ensure that the city’s historic fabric will not be negatively impacted. The Committee also often catches errors in the city’s applications for demolitons, such as incorrect addresses or lack of notice to homeowners or the fact that the property is already demolished.

In issuing the order, Mayor Nagin claimed he was attempting to speed demolitions of properties damaged by Gustav. He claimed the extra step of Committee review would slow the recovery from Gustav.

There’s two problems with that though: 1) His Safety & Permits department was already in the process of issuing over 100 “imminent danger of collapse” (IDC) permits on properties severely damaged by Gustav; and 2) Those IDC permits are specifically exempted – by law – from review by the Committee.

Nonetheless, Safety & Permits started handing out additional “executive order” permits. Those other permits that got issued specifically under this executive order were on properties that related to Katrina – or perhaps to nothing at all (some appear to not be candidates for demolition for any reason). They had nothing to do with Gustav. The mayor’s real justification for the executive order appears to simply be impatience, not any actual emergency.

Anyway, why is this important?  Well, if you've got this process set up to limit what people can do with their property but can be easily submarined by anyone with the resources to hire the right lawyer, you've got a seriously inequitable situation on your hands.  But a review of the Gustav scenario should be sufficient to demonstrate that this isn't anything new. If someone wants to knock a building down, and has the money and/or connections to put to the task, they're going to get permission to do it one way or the other. 

In the meantime, though, the various conservation boards like NCDC, HDLC, and the like retain power sufficient to intimidate anyone besides wealthy individuals or developers.  The cumulative effect of this is an inflated cost of housing in New Orelans's "historically significant" neighborhoods. 

And as interesting as the minutiae of these boards' function might be, it's important to remember that the most siginificant problem facing New Orleans and its housing stock is not, "Who will save these precious buildings?" It's "Can we afford to live in them?" And if we can't, why should we care?

They don't want to be in the horse-racing business

Churchill Downs is trying to sell the Fairgrounds.  Nobody cares about horses anymore.
Louisiana State Rep. Patrick Connick said the largest stakeholder in Churchill Downs could be interested in owning the property.

"Churchill Downs has changed from being a horseracing company to a gaming company. They don't want to be in the horse-racing business, at least in this area," Connick said.

According to its website, Churchill Downs Inc. purchased the Fair Grounds in September 2004 for $47 million.

A spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Who is the "largest stakeholder"?  Article doesn't say.

Is there any other kind?

Pretty sure Bobby Jindal knows the answer. His 14 year old speechwriters and handlers, on the other hand.. :
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal dodged three questions on Tuesday about whether he personally believes the theory of evolution explains the presence of complex life on Earth.

"The reality is I'm not an evolutionary biologist," the Republican governor and possible 2016 presidential hopeful told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.



Seems like yesterday, really.  This event was blogged for posterity.

Word games for dumb people

Bobby Jindal's 14 year old intern speech/op-ed writer is pretty lame even by internet troll standards.

Monday, September 15, 2014

What Would Roger Goodell Do?

It's a fun game to play.  Here, you try it, Chinese seaman cook.
Xinguo Chen, a cook aboard the Genco Mare, was booked with one count of assaulting a federal officer during the routine inspection late last month. Deemed a flight risk, he was ordered detained without bond. He waived his right to a preliminary hearing last week.

The incident happened after a U.S. Immigration and Customs inspector walked into the ship’s cooler to examine a box of mangos, one of which “had a known invasive insect protruding from the fruit,” according to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in New Orleans.

Chen hovered over the inspector “in a dominating and invasive manner” and snatched the fruit from her as she was about to place it in an evidence bag, the complaint says. He then shoved the inspector into some shelving, the complaint says, and slammed the door of the cooler shut, trapping her inside.
Close.  That is certainly very much in the spirit of things, anyway. But we were also looking for, continue collecting $44 million salary afterwards.  Maybe next time. 

It was probably my fault

I promised a Week 1 recap and was unable to deliver on time.  My excuse is I was knee deep in Rising Tide 9 last week and so my football time was limited.  (Thanks, by the way, to everyone who supported or helped out with RT9.  Everyone who participated reports an all around positive experience. More on that later.)  I'll try and make up for it in the customary fashion by incorporating some Falcons material into the Cleveland post.  There are some.. uh... common threads.

Meanwhile, everyone is running around with their hair on fire today so I'd like to just bring up a coupla quick things to which you may want to pay particular attention. First, there's this quote from just after the game yesterday.  Saints defenders were asked to describe what went wrong on the game's penultimate play.  (The one where nobody knew or cared where Andrew Hawkins might be running to even though he was an eligible receiver and sometimes people throw balls to those.)
Robinson was flagged for holding on the play, but it didn’t matter. Quarterback Brian Hoyer found Hawkins down the right side for a 28-yard reception, setting up the winning 29-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff.

Why did two players go with one man?

“We were trying to figure that out right now,” White said after speaking with his fellow defensive backs, including Lewis. “We’re going to go watch the film and figure it out from there. We don’t know.”

What the Browns knew is that the coverage fell apart, and they were ready to take advantage of the blitz after the Saints sent extra men on the play before and batted down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

“We were surprised they all-out blitzed us two plays in a row,” Hoyer said. “I’m reading (Austin) first, then you just see everyone fly down; it’s almost like you throw a punt and just let him catch it.”
Not only were they confused as to what they were supposed to do, they don't even know what it was they were confused about.   Remember all those jokes we made after preseason about how it seems like this team hadn't spent much time... you know.. practicing?  Maybe we were actually on to something with that.

Also today there is this. 
Running back Mark Ingram has broken his hand, and that will keep him out of action for about a month. ESPN first reported Ingram’s injury.

Saints coach Sean Payton declined to discuss Ingram’s health Monday and said the team would evaluate the running back’s situation.

It is not immediately clear when Ingram suffered the injury. He was on the field during New Orleans' final drive during Sunday's 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns and recorded his last carry with 8:26 remaining in the game. He spoke with reporters afterwards for several minutes, and it was not obvious anything was wrong with him.
Knowing what we already know about the Legend of #AngryIngram, it stands to reason that the temperamental young fellow may have taken some frustrations out on a wall or some similarly hard and (hopefully) inanimate object after leaving the stadium yesterday. 

2014 is turning out to be waay more interesting than we expected.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Stop and say hi, kids

Rising Tide 9 is happening today at Xavier.  (Yay!)

If you're staying at home to watch it on the TV, consider clicking the donate button.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Made the big city papers

Special event this weekend you may enjoy.
New Orleans education expert Andre Perry keynotes the ninth Rising Tide conference Saturday (Sept. 13). A frequent commenter for the Hechinger Report and other news outlets, Perry ran New Orleans' first charter school network before shifting into academia.

Locals have eyed him as a potential Orleans Parish superintendent. Perry has chosen, however, instead to found a school of urban education at Davenport University in Michigan.

Perry focuses on the social purposes of education, saying the point is a stronger community, not just higher test scores. His speech Saturday will call on New Orleans private and parochial school parents to come together and create a "unified school district," according to the Rising Tide website.

The conference starts at 9:30 a.m. at Xavier University. Perry's speech is at 2 p.m.
This was on the front page of NOLA.com about an  hour ago.  If you go post a bunch of comments they might bump it back up.  Try signing in as "campstblue"

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rocking the boat in the little pond

The problem for The Lens is, despite all the talk about the "entrepreneurial boom" in New Orleans, this is still a small town with a limited pool of money in too few hands. Inevitably, your revenue model depends on keeping those hands open to you.  All it takes, then, is one asshole to fuck your shit up.
The source of The Lens’ recent financial shortcomings has been two-fold, editor Steve Beatty told me. A local donor was unhappy with some of The Lens’ coverage and decided to pull a significant pledge that The Lens had been counting on and used to make new hires.
Unfortunately the lesson a lot of people learn is, don't piss off the wealthy assholes. I don't think this is what The Lens will take away from it. At least I hope it isn't. I try to help with my little donation. But I am a poor whose money doesn't count for much. 
The Lens has about 500 individual members, and most give in smaller amounts. Altogether that accounts for less than 10 percent of the outlet’s total revenue. 
One way or another, the news you read is determined by what the money people want you to read.  

Probably not allowed by the new zoning ordinance

The birth of Rock N Roll, basically
An Italian-American and New Orleans native, Matassa's father John emigrated from Sicily in 1910. In 1924, Matassa opened a small grocery store at the corner of Dauphine and St. Philip Streets, which remains a fixture in the French Quarter. Young Cosimo grew up working in the grocery store and after graduating from McDonogh 15 and Warren Easton High School, he enrolled in Tulane University's chemistry program, but dropped out after about two years.

"When I finally realized what a chemist was, I decided not to be one," he once said, according to the LEH profile. Since he was ineligible to be drafted into the military for physical reasons, his father gave him a choice: go back to school or start working.

He started working, but not in the grocery business. In addition to the market, John Matassa and his partner also ran J&M Amusement Services, placing jukeboxes in bars and restaurants. Cosimo began selling used records from the jukeboxes, and after noting the interest from customers in buying records, in 1945, he bought recording equipment and converted a room in the back of the family's J&M Appliance Store & Record Shop into a "studio."

The room was only 15-by-16 feet in size, with a control room "as big as my four fingers," joked Matassa in a story to mark his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the early years, Matassa recorded direct to disc until he could afford a tape-recording system. At first the equipment was used by amateurs to make personal recordings or demos. Soon, the dearth of recording studios in town led professional musicians and record producers to J&M.
Later the studio moved to a slightly larger space on Gov. Nichols Street.  Here's some of what Matassa recorded.
The list of other songs recorded by Matassa at his studio is another testament to his importance in music history. In addition to dozens of Domino's hits, the seminal recordings "Lawdy Miss Clawdy," "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," "Tipitina," "I Hear You Knocking," and "Long Tall Sally" were all recorded by Matassa. Three recordings identified by some as the first rock 'n' roll records were also his work: Domino's "The Fat Man," Roy Brown's "Good Rockin' Tonight" and Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti." Other local and national R&B hits recorded by Matassa included Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is," Frankie Ford's "Sea Cruise," K-Doe's "Mother-In-Law" and Robert Parker's "Barefootin'" as well as Art Neville and the Hawketts' "Mardi Gras Mambo," Clarence "Frogman" Henry's "Ain't Got No Home," Al Johnson's "Carnival Time," Shirley and Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll" and many other landmark 1960s recordings by Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, Benny Spellman and Chris Kenner.
Cosimo Matassa passed away today. He was 88.   Please read the rest of that WWLTV article. What stands out the most is Matassa's humility.
"I don't want to come across with false modesty, but I always want people to remember that I didn't play. The musicians played. It was my studio and I did what I could to concoct what I could," he told WWL-TV anchor Eric Paulsen in a 2007 interview. "A record is a performance frozen in time, so I was looking for good performances and trying to put performers on record, and happily the guys out in the studio performed."
More from Gambit
"All through my career, the one thing I tried to do was be transparent. I heard them in the nightclubs, and just wanted to stay true to the original, to get what they did on record. I didn't try to shape it — I just did my damnedest not to mess it up." 
More like those to come, no doubt.  Here's one more from The Advocate
In Matassa’s opinion, Roy Brown’s “Good Rockin’ Tonight,” recorded at Matassa’s studio in 1947, was the first rock ’n’ roll record. “It was the first one that had a wider appeal than just a straight R&B record,” Matassa said told The Advocate in 2001. “It was more like a shouting, big-band blues kind of thing than what we now think of as R&B or rock ’n roll, but it had all of the elements.”

"It's really sad that we have to grow up being scared of the cops"

This is a WDSU report on last night's meeting of the Congress of Day Laborers. The mayor was in attendance and spoke briefly.  The members there were airing concerns over an NOPD policy of racial profiling Hispanic immigrants and turning them over to ICE.  This was reported in The Lens yesterday.


Times-Picayune sports columnist Jeff Duncan, January 22, 2013:
At Super Bowl 2013, Roger Goodell should be hailed as a New Orleans hero for helping to save a cosmopolitan city
Some day, a few months down the road, when this has finally flipped off of the news carousel and Robert Mueller has completed his whitewashing, and all the NFL owners have rallied around him, Roger Goodell will still have his job.  And when we get there, he'll still be able to help the careers of all the hype men who've done their job running interference for him over the years.  Don't worry about Duncan. He'll be fine.

Update: Really, there was no call for the flashback. Here's Duncan this afternoon.
If Goodell lied about seeing the video footage of the Rice incident inside the elevator or conspired to cover it up, then he deserves a pink slip. But something just doesn't add up.

While it's unbelievable to think that Goodell or league officials would not have seen a copy of the tape, which reportedly was sent to the league office by an unidentified law enforcement officer in April, it's equally incredible to think Goodell would lie about seeing it. Why would he lie about it? What's the motivation? He's already said he botched the investigation and admitted he "didn't get it right."

"My disciplinary decision led the public to question our sincerity, our commitment, and whether we understood the toll that domestic violence inflicts on so many families," Goodell wrote in an Aug. 28 letter to NFL owners outlining the league's new domestic violence policy. "I take responsibility both for the decision and for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values.  ... Simply put, we have to do better. And we will."

If he's already fallen on the sword, what is there to gain by lying about the tape?
OK that's pretty funny. If the Bountygate saga taught us anything it's that Goodell will definitely lie, and lie stupidly, about evidence he has or hasn't collected.  What's his motivation?   At the time, he thought it would be the most convenient way to sweep an ugly incident under the rug.  It's well established that this is a guy who cares far more about "optics" than facts.

But, hey, at least Duncan allows that Goodell "deserves a pink slip," if he engaged in a cover-up... which he clearly did. It's the most likely explanation. 

But nevermind that. That's all beside the point of this column. The topic at hand here is the general impudence of the NFL's ungrateful current and former employees and their fans. 
Until the investigation is completed -- and it could take months -- Goodell's job appears to be safe, despite the demands for his head from the social media lynch mob.

Dozens of current and former NFL players launched a fusillade of criticism on Twitter toward Goodell in the wake of the Associated Press report Wednesday that said the league office received the video in April.

"Anyone who went thru the 'bounty' BS knew entire time Roger goodell had seen that ray rice tape," former Saints linebacker Scott Shanle tweeted. "He's a piece of crap! #ownersfirehim #liar"

The public derision of Goodell, no matter how incendiary, is ultimately no more consequential to his job security than, say, fan dissatisfaction with a player's on-field performance.

NFL owners hired Goodell and they are the only ones that can fire him. Not the media. Not the public.
And, look, that last line is absolutely correct. Goodell works for the owners. They're the ones who can fire him and they probably won't.

But the division here, as usual, is between an ownership who only care about image control and the players who, time and again, find themselves subjected to an arbitrary disciplinary system.  As for the fans, most of them tend to side with the players these days.  And so do many among the press.

Some of the press, however.. for whatever reason.. perhaps cynical careerism.. or maybe just general denseness.. prefer to side with management at all costs.  And that's how we get to read columns like this.

Big Nickel

Defense of The Future really isn't all that futuristic... or new.
One other things teams can do is put a third safety on the field in place of a linebacker, which is something the Saints did a lot of last season during Rob Ryan’s first season as defensive coordinator.

This wrinkle to the nickel defense was hailed as something new and exotic when the Saints began rolling it out last season, but it has been around since at least 1992 when Fitz Shurmur was forced to use safeties as linebackers due to injuries in his Arizona Cardinals defense. Shurmur took the wrinkle with him to Green Bay in 1993 and continued to use the package with success.

Known as the “Big Nickel,” many teams, such as the Saints, Chiefs, Patriots and Cardinals, use some variation of it. What’s the advantage?

“You got a guy that can also cover if you need to adjust,” Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro said. “You can also fill in for the run game, too. So, just a ‘Big Nickel,’ really.”
One of the things I thought we might start to see happen in response to this trend would be teams begin to feature a bit more of a power running game in their offense.  This is one reason everybody is counting on Hall of Fame Running Back Mark Ingram to have a big year.

This week's opponent Cleveland Browns have a pair of powerful young backs coming off a pretty good game in vs. Pittsburgh.
The NFL is a next man up league. Rookie Terrance West has found that out quickly in the early portion of his professional career.

On Wednesday, Browns head coach Mike Pettine announced running back  Ben Tate will miss some time with a sprained knee. West has been chosen as Tate’s replacement in the starting lineup.

In his first-ever NFL game last Sunday, West gashed the Pittsburgh Steelers for 100 yards on 16 carries. Cleveland’s 183 total rushing yards were the most since November of 2010.

Flanking West will be fellow rookie Isaiah Crowell, who has been flying off the fantasy football waiver wire. Crowell pounded two touchdowns into the end zone and ran with authority against Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s illustrious scheme.
Prior to the draft this year, Sean Payton mentioned West a few times when discussing the players who piqued his interest
For West, there was no sneaking up on the Saints, whose coach, Sean Payton, knows very well what the Browns' rookie can do. Payton, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, watched his alma mater give up 354 yards and five touchdowns to West last season.

"It was in the snow," West recalled. "It was the only game played that night. I think the Eagles were playing in the snow and (LeSean) McCoy had three touchdowns and ran in the snow for a whole bunch of yards, so I just looked at that game, and said, 'If he can get the job done, that's enough.'"

It probably won't be snowing in Cleveland on Sunday.  That's a plus. 

What if Camp Calliope showed its Green Wave spirit?

By all accounts last weekend was a sparkling success for fans and neighbors (really more neighbors than fans) of the Tulane football program.  According to Uptown Messenger, the campus and immediate vicinity were transformed into small festival.
The university was successful in coaxing the majority of the game-day mania onto campus, where the main quads designated as official tailgating zones were brimming with Green Wave fans partying under tents with tables laid with all kinds of grilled food, tossing bean bags while bands played on a small stage.

The closest residential street to the stadium, Audubon Boulevard, was the center of much of the opposition to the stadium when it was first announced, but it was largely quiet on Saturday, perhaps even moreso than usual. Tulane fans walked in small groups down the sidewalk toward Willow Street, but virtually no traffic passed on Audubon, where printed signs politely “reminded” against tailgating in the neutral ground.

The corner of Hickory Street and Audubon Boulevard, where the edge of Yulman Stadium rises over the rooftops, had a dozen or so residents and their guests sitting in lawn chairs and grilling on the front porch. The residents — many of whom had moved onto Audubon Boulevard within the last year or so — were pleased with the way the first game unfolded.

“We’re excited about the stadium, but the construction process was tough,” said Audubon Boulevard homeowner Christian Chauvin.

The boulevard was only accessible to residents or their guests with parking passes, with police and parking attendants posted at each entrance to it, in keeping with a promise university officials had made to residents before construction began.

“It’s actually nicer on this street with the game going on,” said Madelaine Feldman, a guest at the gathering near Chauvin’s house.
They put of a few tents, obstructed a few rights of way, pretty much moved their living situations out into the street and had a great time of it.

So why does the city want to shut down all the fun?
The clock is ticking for the residents of a homeless encampment under the Pontchartrain Expressway to pack up their tents and other items.

Hours after homeless advocates held a press conference denouncing Mayor Landrieu and the New Orleans City Council for passing an ordinance last week making such tent cities illegal, a sign taped on an expressway pillar in front of a collection of tents warned of a 72-hour deadline to remove "obstructions" such as tents, tarps, couches and mattresses from the area.

"I really don't have an idea where I'll go," Juston Winfield said Wednesday night (Sept. 10) outside the tent he's been living in for the last month or so under the expressway at Calliope and Camp streets.

Winfield said he saw the sign go up around 7:30 p.m. He and others of the camp,which they dubbed "Camp Jesus Christ," previously lived in a larger camp under the bridge between South Claiborne and St. Charles avenues. The city cleared that camp on Aug. 14, sending its residents either to local shelters or - like Winfield - further toward the river.

"Anywhere I go in this city, I'm breaking the law," he said, just steps from the sign that read, in part: "Any object that obstructs a public place or right of way is prohibited under the law."

"We're breaking the law right now, just standing here," he said.
On the other hand, last weekend's activities suggest that "just standing there" in anticipation of a Tulane football game might be some sort of exception to the law.  So here's what we should do.

I spent a little time fumbling around the Tulane athletic department's "official store."   I can't find any tents with the school logo on them.  That was kind of a surprise to me but I guess they are pretty new to this tailgating business over there.  If you know where I can find a Tulane tent please send that on.

In the meantime, though, you can get these car window flags for only $13.95  a piece.

Here's a lawn chair for $32.98

Maybe throw in a few of these folding tables and garden flags. Then we'll set all that stuff up under the overpass. Suddenly we'll have transformed an unlawful obstruction back into a pleasant tailgate. Is it okay if we bring our own keg?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

And now, please, enjoy

I had planned to put up the weekly Saints re-cap tonight but I kind of want to wait until RogerMania runs its course a little.  So instead, here is Olbermann ripping the hell out of Rog tonight.  Keep an eye out for the Bountygate moment of good feels.

But if you need more Roger schadenfreude (you do) you may want to check our Reid's book.

Or, at the very least, the "Fire Goodell" tag at B&G Review makes for some convenient casual reading.

This is also pretty fun

Is this all they got?

So far I confess I'm underwhelmed by Americans For Prosperity's much talked about entry into Louisiana politics.  So far all they've come up with in the ads I've seen is, "Mary Landrieu travels a lot and owns a house in Washington."  Pretty sure that's not gonna get it done.

It's all very rational and serious

The rush to bomb the shit out of whatever
The news media may already be in the process of exaggerating the public’s desire for military action, which could accelerate the cycle in which politicians perceive a public desire and rush out to meet it, thereby feeding the perception that more aggressive action is both necessary and inevitable. As you watch all the coverage, keep in mind that the media loves war. It’s too simplistic to say this is just because it attracts readers and ratings. War is everything the news thirsts after: it’s big, it’s important, it’s historic, it’s dramatic, it’s full of conflict and excitement and uncertainty.
Therefore Obama will say comforting things to us tonight.  That way we'll all feel really good about ourselves when we bomb the shit out of whatever anyway. Unless he wears an ugly suit. Then we'll all be really mad.  We'll still drop some bombs, though. 

Big Bad Hog

Please publish this and send me a copy
Symposium attendees rallied around the idea of creating a campaign to convince state lawmakers to enter the fight against feral hogs. Randy Lanctot, retired executive director of the Louisiana Wildlife Federation, proposed the creation of a picture book, “Big Bad Hog,” to illustrate the problem to legislators.

The title sounds fitting for a SyFy movie, but there’s nothing funny about the plot to Lanctot.

“We need to show this animal in a very negative light to the decision-makers,” he said. “They need to see that this is a bad animal.”
For now, they're just trying to put out hog poison.  But the hogs are too smart to eat it.  As long as it doesn't render the animals inedible I'm ok with it. Sometimes we manage to get a hold of some.

Update: Not waiting for the sanctions to take effect, Jefferson Parish snaps into action.
A half million wild pigs are roaming Louisiana, and there have been few predators to curtail their numbers -- until now. Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office sharpshooters will take on the porcine population soon, to stem the animals' damage to the West Bank's hurricane protection levees.

Sheriff Newell Normand signed a cooperative endeavor agreement Aug. 29 to send deputies out for hog eradication. The sheriff and Susan Maclay, president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-West will soon discuss the arrangement in a news media event, officials said.

The state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has added feral hogs to the Sheriff's Office permit for nuisance animals, said the flood authority's regional director. The first hunt will take place no later than Oct. 1, he said.

Somebody go check the pumpkin patch

Not looking too good, Rog.
Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the N.F.L., sent a letter to team owners and presidents Wednesday reiterating the assertion that the league had not seen video of what transpired inside an elevator between Ray Rice and his fiancée until it was made public by TMZ on Monday.

Yet The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation, sent the footage to an N.F.L. executive three months ago.

Spoke too soon about the end of the lawsuits

Last week, the Mayor's Cousin Gary survived a legal challenge to his candidacy for Cedric Richmond's 2nd District Congressional seat.  So you'd think he'd be all set to fire up the ol' campaign apparatus and get after it, right? 

No, not so much.  Instead, Cousin Gary is headed back to court suing his opponent in the upcoming for.... wait for it.. you'll never guess really.
Louisiana's 2nd Congressional district candidate Gary Landrieu is suing incumbent Cedric Richmond claiming he filed a "frivolous" lawsuit aimed at getting Landrieu knocked off the ballot. Landrieu is seeking more than $150,000 in damages in the suit, filed Tuesday (Sept. 10) in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Landrieu's lawyer, Henry Klein, said Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, knew his legal challenge against Landrieu was specious, but filed it anyway in order to smear Landrieu.

Ike Spears, Richmond's lawyer, did not immediately return a message left at his office.

Klein's suit reads like it's aimed at publicly shaming Richmond as much as it is aimed at collecting a monetary award.
Some chutzpah there, Cousin Gary.  On the other hand, it's not as if he was going to win the actual election. 

I don't ever let a robot tell me shit

I use Twitter. A lot of people do.  It's a fun thing. You can use it to share links, make jokes, stalk and harass strangers, rage into the void about improperly prepared food, and many other things you might enjoy. 

One thing I don't like to do so much on Twitter is spam people with links to this blog. Every now and then I might reference it in conversation but mostly I try not to be that guy constantly yelling at people, "HEY LOOK I POSTED A THING ON MY SITE."  If people want to be notified every time a blog updates, they'd subscribe to the rss feed, right?

Well, it turns out, not everybody does that.  And it turns out a lot of people just ping their Twitter feed whenever they post. Which is fine, I guess.  But I still don't want to do that.  Instead I'm trying this. 

@TheYellowBlog is a robot I made.  All it does is post this blog's rss feed to Twitter.  If that's the sort of thing you want to see in your Twitter timeline you can follow it. If not, no big deal. The worst that can happen is nobody gets spammed.

Almost done with the lawsuits

Judge Marullo will be allowed to run again for his seat.
Frank Marullo, the longest-serving judge in Louisiana, has won the legal battle over whether he can run for reelection at age 74.

The Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to take up the lawsuit over Marullo’s eligibility, letting stand lower court rulings in his favor.

A group of voters backing one of Marullo’s election rivals, Orleans Parish prosecutor Graham Bosworth, tried to have Marullo declared ineligible because he will turn 75 before he would take office again on Jan. 1. The mandatory retirement age for judges in Louisiana is 70.

But Civil District Court Judge Kern Reese ruled for Marullo earlier this month, deciding the retirement age applies only to whether a judge may actually take office, not whether a candidate can participate in the election. State law requires only that a candidate live in the district where he or she is running and have eight years of experience as a lawyer in order to qualify.
Which means, and this is the fun part, that should Marullo be reelected (which he almost certainly will)  then opponents might be able to sue to keep him from taking office. Which would be a pretty clearly anti-democratic move on anyone's part.  But then again, so is an age limit for office holders in the first place. 

Stop and deport

NOPD is participating in a federal immigration enforcement program resulting in a policy of de-facto racial profiling.
Late last year, the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice uncovered a pilot program, the Criminal Alien Removal Initiative, reportedly implemented in and around New Orleans by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The program is designed to go after undocumented immigrants with serious criminal records. An official with ICE is quoted in the report as saying “ICE only conducts targeted enforcement. The Criminal Alien Removal Initiative teams go to a pre-selected location, looking for that individual.”

But the immigration advocacy group contends the program has moved well beyond that mission and has become a “stop and frisk” program for immigrants.

The group wrote in a report that “ICE squads are conducting indiscriminate raids at apartment complexes, grocery stores, laundromats, Bible study groups, and parks — often working with local law enforcement — based purely on racial profiling.”

Stories in the report include an allegedly race-based raid of a grocery store on Broad Street, where ICE agents allegedly “kicked a Latino man in the knees until he was bleeding through his pants,” and a traffic stop on Canal Street where an agent allegedly admitted he stopped the subject because he appeared to be Latino.

In August, The New York Times editorial board said the New Orleans program shows how the Department of Homeland Security, working with local law enforcement, “has vastly increased the numbers of low-priority minor offenders and noncriminals it sweeps up.”

More here.


It's early but unlikely anyone will beat this.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Budget time is in the air

The kids are all posturing in anticipation.
Criminal District Court Clerk Arthur Morrell warned Tuesday that, as of next week, his office will no longer have enough staff to process overnight bail bonds due to what he said is the refusal of Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration to adequately fund the office.

With frustration in his voice, Morrell accused city officials of waging a personal vendetta against him in the form of a hiring freeze that has pushed the Clerk’s Office to the brink of being incapable of fulfilling its statutory mandate.

Beginning Monday, he said, people seeking to bail someone out of Orleans Parish Prison after 11 p.m. “may as well wait until the next morning, because we do not have any bonding clerks available to do that.”
I know I'm being flippant there. For all I know, Morrell's situation really is exactly as desperate as he says.  It's highly probable that most departments* are going to have similar things to say.  And it's likely there will be a great deal of truth in their complaints.

The disputes probably won't all be as publicly acrimonious as this one is, though. 
Andy Kopplin, Landrieu’s chief administrative officer, responded by accusing Morrell of “political posturing” on the eve of a hearing before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal, which has been asked to weigh in, for the second time in as many years, on the budget feud between the city and the Clerk’s Office.

Kopplin said he met with Morrell a few weeks ago and told him “that he could now start replacing folks as they leave,” adding the city would approve the hiring of new bonding clerks.

“The good news is that, after a couple of years of a hiring freeze on the clerk, he is now operating within his budget,” Kopplin said. “I told him that he has now got his personnel spending within the budget and, as people leave, now they can be replaced.”

Asked to respond to Kopplin’s remarks, Morrell said, “He’s a liar, and you can quote me saying that.”

Morrell said he has never been told the hiring freeze was being lifted. “Not mistaken. Not misunderstood. He’s lying.”

*Morrell, technically oversees a state entity but his budget is still dependent on the city. The dispute is in litigation.  It's complicated. But read the rest of the article.

On 9/9, here are some notes on Rising Tide 9

You might have noticed the button has been over in the sidebar for a while now. But if it's somehow escaped anyone who is already reading this page, yes, the ninth Rising Tide Conference; New Orleans's original, most talked about, loosest, smartest, weirdest, and just all around best grass roots social-media based public affairs conference... is this Saturday at Xavier.

Take a look at the schedule. I think it's a pretty good one. There's a panel on hidden local history.  There are presentations on community organizing and civic engagement.  There is a "religion panel" where representatives from a diverse sampling of faith based communities will talk about their role in post-Katrina recovery. Not to mention also the "Tech School" component where local internet activists, businesspeople, and hobbyists share tips and tricks.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Andre Perry. Here is some of his bio lifted from his web page.
On July 1, 2013, Dr. Andre Perry became the Founding Dean of Urban Education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Perry is responsible for planning and launching Davenport’s new College of Urban Education. Dr. Perry serves as the chief architect and advocate for the College, building relationships within the University and collaborations with external constituencies in order to build a program that will be a pioneer in urban education. As the strategic leader of the College, he develops and implements a vision and a plan for the College of Urban Education as an innovative and dynamic new force in preparing teachers and leaders for success in urban schools.

Prior to, he was the Associate Director for Educational Initiatives for the Loyola Institute for Quality and Equity in Education. Dr. Perry created academic and enrichment opportunities for Loyola University as well as for primary and secondary students in the metro area. Before Loyola, he served as the CEO of the Capital One-University of New Orleans Charter Network, which was comprised of four charter schools in New Orleans. In 2010, Perry served on Mayor-Elect Mitch Landrieu’s Transition Team as the co-chair of the Education Taskforce.
A couple of years ago, Perry turned his experience with education reform in New Orleans into a fictionalized examination of its many challenges.  The Garden Path: The Miseducation Of A City  is just out of print although, at that link there, you can see there are two copies available at Octavia Books as of this writing.  Also the public library has a copy. Peruse the remainder of his bio for Dr. Perry's many other credits.  He has been a frequent commenter on education in local and national media.  

Dr. Perry is an idealist. His latest column for The Hechinger Report where he is a regular contributor is titled "How the ideal student experience would look in NOLA
This public school is not designed to build up poor children, and a picture of the parent association could not be lifted from a society page. Local history is honored, but its curriculum is built to not repeat the man-made disasters of the past. Its rigorous liberal arts curriculum is rooted in five pillars. Chief among the pillars is: all students will responsibly pursue truth. Second, resources are equitably dedicated to the intellectual, emotional, and physical wellbeing of every child. Third, depth is preferred over breadth. Fourth, the values of fairness, generosity and tolerance must be demonstrated in teacher, student, and caretakers’ behavior. And fifth, teaching and learning should be documented and assessed with tools based on student’s performances on real tasks.

Dr. Perry is also a realist.  This is from a recent Washington Post article by him titled, "The attack on bad teacher tenure laws is actually an attack on black professionals"
Blacks are more likely to live in states where teachers cannot bargain collectively, and Southern states still have a higher share of black teachers. Labor laws have not been favorable to black workers.

My work in New Orleans showed me what can happen when black teachers lose protections. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans School Board summarily and illegally fired its 7,500 teachers and staff. Based on 2000 census data, nearly 5 percent of New Orleans blacks lost their jobs with that decision. Then, citing the absence of  teachers (who had evacuated), the board chose not to renew the collective bargaining agreement with United Teachers of New Orleans. The (mostly black) teachers were gone, and there followed no systemic effort to recruit the best ones back.

Nine years later, New Orleans reformers rave about growth on test scores. But the quality of any reform must be measure against other quality of life measures to see the broader impact. The share of New Orleans’s black middle- and upper-income households dipped from 35 percent to 31 percent, while their white counterparts increased from 60 percent to 68 percent.Whites on average are paid  twice as much as blacks. Education reform, by extracting so many working-age blacks from their jobs (and, subsequently, from the middle class), has exacerbated these trends.

The speech Perry has prepared for Saturday is titled "Education is like water; put down your reform rake"
Rakes don’t organize water very well. Likewise, charter schools, vouchers and lotteries aren't the proper tools to deal with the root problems of New Orleans education. New Orleans public schools must become a “unified school district” if the needs of children, families and communities are to be met. Getting, private and parochial school parents to believe we’re all in this together has been and will be the essential problem that needs solving. 

Rising Tide 9 is this Saturday, September 13 at the Xavier University UC (1 Drexel Dr.) Tickets are ridiculously inexpensiveHere is how to register.

McAllister has been stripped of his Duckdom

I'm still not convinced "Zach Dasher" is a real person's name, though.
Ever since Congressman Vance McAllister, R-Swartz, was caught on video kissing a married staffer in April, the reaction from the reality TV family that endorsed him last year has been quieter than the early-morning opening hours of duck season. But after a few carefully called quacks and a bit of patience in the blinds, the inaugural shotgun blows are loud and clear.

“The last dude last year fed us a lie. I don’t even know the dude.”

That’s how “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson eased into the topic Friday night at a fundraiser in Lake Charles for Zach Dasher, who he described as “my little nephew who came from the loins of my sister.”

Also, ew. 


Louisiana is dissolving into the sea.  The best we seem capable of doing about it is coming up with more and more striking creative visualizations. Here is Brett Anderson's turn at it.
While the kind of state map that might have been useful for navigation or perspective was elusive on the road to Morgan City, the image such maps project — the iconic “boot” shape everyone recognizes as Louisiana — was impossible to escape. The map’s outline was ubiquitous on my drive: on bumper stickers (with the boot standing in for the “L” in “Love”), engulfing T-shirt fronts (my favorite emblazoned with “I drove the Chevy to the levee but the levee was gone”), and glowing on Louisiana-shaped neon beer signs in barroom windows.

But the boot is at best an inaccurate approximation of Louisiana’s true shape and, at worst, an irresponsible lie. It has to be.


We're about to get into the thick of campaign season. But the Orleans Parish DA's race is still embroiled in the JurocraticTM stage.   It looks like Lon Burns is going to get another chance to show his paperwork is in order.
Judge Dennis R. Bagneris, who wrote the majority opinion for the 4th Circuit, said Judge Tiffany Chase erred when she did not extend the trial an extra day to allow Burns to call his tax preparer, Monica Jackson, to the stand.

Burns, a former Orleans Parish prosecutor, told the court he filed returns for 2010 to 2014 in August of 2014. He submitted copies of those returns into evidence during the hearing.

However, an employee from the Louisiana Department of Revenue testified that after performing an updated search he still had no such records.

Chase ruled against Burns, barring him from the race.

In his ruling, Bagneris said that by refusing to allow Burns to call Jackson, the district court violated his due process rights. He remanded the case to the district level.
Burns might already know a thing or two about violating due process rights.  He honed that particular skill back when he worked for Harry Connick. James Gill recounted this story in a recent column.

Open-file discovery, Burns explains, will “help to prevent wrongful convictions as well as expensive retrials.” He certainly will recall one expensive retrial, because he caused it.

That was in 2000, when an ex-New Orleans cop named George Lee was in the middle of his third trial for rape. His second one had been abandoned because the prosecution team, which included Burns, had withheld witness statements from the defense.

Next time around, Burns, now the lead prosecutor, put a cop on the stand and asked him to check the back pocket of some pants seized from Lee. When the cop pulled out a bunch of napkins, the courtroom was abuzz with astonishment. The scene of the rape had been littered with napkins that Lee allegedly used to wipe himself. Although no semen had been found on the napkins, the discovery of the napkins was clearly calculated to incriminate Lee.

Judge Arthur Hunter was convinced that Burns had planted the napkins and sentenced him to six months in the slammer for contempt.

The appeal court upheld Hunter, but, when the case came up for a Supreme Court hearing, Connick himself put in an appearance to declare Burns guiltless. “No one has to tell me if my prosecutors did anything wrong. I will not tolerate it,” he said. That remark seems most humorous in light of subsequent revelations, (Ed: Reginald Adams link added by me) but maybe Connick’s views did carry weight, for the justices wound up delivering an opinion that employed some far-fetched reasoning to give Burns a break.
This is not to say that the the challenge to Burns's candidacy on tax filing grounds isn't  a waste of time. Jarvis Deberry says that it's possibly even an abuse of power on DA Cannizzaro's part.
Burns is fighting to get back on the ballot, but even if he's successful in that regard, the chances of him unseating Cannizzaro are slim to none. That's why the thought of somebody in Cannizzaro's office working - privately or otherwise - to get Burns off the ballot is all the more disturbing. Why should getting Burns off the ballot be anybody's aim? Can Cannizzaro not tolerate anybody challenging  him?

See what I did there? I linked Martin's actions to Cannizzaro because - whether Martin likes it or not - that's what happens when you are the assistant to a high-ranking public official. What you do, on and off the clock, reflects on the person above.

Martin might argue that he gets to be something other than the first assistant to the district attorney whenever it's convenient for him not to be.

On the other hand the question of whether a candidate for DA can be counted on to execute his office in an ethical and constitutionally sound matter is far more relevant than whether or not he remembered to file a tax return on time. Clearly Burns's own record with regard to evidence suppression, not to mention simply having been employed as a deputy to the notorious Connick, reflects on him. Right, Jarvis?


Russel Honore:
After a BP executive lambasted “opportunistic” environmentalists and journalistic “sensationalism” from a podium in front of hundreds of environmental journalists in a New Orleans ballroom Wednesday evening, Russel Honore could not hide his disgust. Taking the podium some time after, Honore, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General, had harsh words for the oil and gas industry. In the four years that has passed since the BP oil spill, Honore has run out of patience with energy companies that he says have “hijacked” his state.

They have hijacked our damn democracy. They lobby, they write the laws.”

Can't make it any worse

Edwards Now more than ever
Very trippy photo of a Krewe Du Vieux "Edwards Now More Than Ever" float circa 2007

Yesterday, the Louisiana Democratic Party endorsed former Governor Edwin Edwards in the Sixth District Congressional race.
“I am pleased to have this and other endorsements from groups that are helping people who have an interest in promoting a better life for our nation and the district,” Edwards said in a statement. “I appreciate the vote of everyone because I am going to serve everyone.”

Louisiana Democratic Party Vice Chairman Shane Riddle said Democrats see a path to victory amid the crowded Republican slate.

“The 6th Congressional District is more challenging terrain for Democratic candidates since it was redrawn in 2011,” Riddle said. “I am impressed with the team and the energy coming from Team Edwards — and I have often been told to never count out Edwin Edwards.”
Can't imagine anyone would be surprised.  Edwards is the lone Democrat in a crowded field and presents the party with a legitimate chance to steal a seat.  The whole thing is a fascinating story.

Naturally there are pearl-clutchers.

Seriously that's a bit much.  Not that I don't sympathize.  There are legitimate reasons to be fed up with the Democratic Party.  In national politics, it is far too cozy with the financial industry.  I know it's a tall order for any President to put the brakes on our leviathan national security/surveillance state, but the current Democrat in office has only opened the throttle wider.   In Louisiana, our most prominent Democrats wholly owned by oil and gas.   It can be very frustrating.

But there's absolutely no value in laying down for the sake of "optics" or the "state's image" or whatever that nonsensical vanity issue is.  As Edwards himself says, electing him certainly can't make it any worse.
Edwards has no illusions about the state of partisan politics in Washington D.C. Still he is baffled by the inability to find common ground on some issues. “I find it difficult to understand why the Republican controlled House of Representatives won’t address equal pay. Won’t address minimum wage. Won't make at least an effort to provide a solution to immigration.”

Despite the realities, he is an optimist rattling off a classic EWE quip, “I tell people don’t worry I can’t make it any worse, but maybe I can make it a little better.”

As the interview wound down, Edwards spoke softy and earnestly about his reasons for running. “I like public service. I like to be in a position where I can get things done. A lot of average citizens have noone to turn to. I have experience being someone that listens and helps… I believe that I can make a contribution and I’m going to try.”

Monday, September 08, 2014

I dig the flashy beanie

Owen Courreges has drawn us a little cartoon of the the "NOLA Patrol" citizen quasi-cop units soon to be deployed in the French Quarter.  His column accompanying the drawing is pretty good. It picks out some of the obvious problems with the idea such as those the police unions have already expressed.
Donovan Livaccari, spokesman and attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police, also raised concerns that Nola Patrol might get in over its head.

“Police are equipped to handle whatever comes at them, and things aren’t always as they seem,” Livaccari told the Times-Picayune. “They could utilize civilian personnel effectively, but what amount of an officer’s burden that’s going to lift is unclear.”

Mayor Landrieu’s plan is ostensibly designed to replacing the 50 state troopers that have been temporarily patrolling the French Quarter.  Alas, with money tight, he wants to do it on a budget.  The budgeted funding only amounts to $48,000 per NOLA Patroller, so with infrastructure, equipment, and administrative costs, we can expect their wages to be pretty minimal.

This has the police unions up in arms, because trying to pawn of their formal duties on civilian employees earning slave wages doesn’t exactly add to their reputation or the value of their jobs.  Glasser believes that this is yet another scheme by Landrieu “designed to undermine the department and drive officers out.”
He's a bit off with this observation, though. 
The second potential problem is that these pseudo-cops could become the chief enablers of the Quarter’s resident killjoys, i.e., the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents, and Associates (VCPORA). 
 Even if VCPORA ends up taking a hard position in favor of the Citizens On Patrol, any "enabling" they receive in return would be incidental. The fake cops were organized and paid for by the local tourism industry. VCPORA doesn't always see eye to eye with those guys.


Sean Payton needs Uber:
“We had one sack and one hurry,” Payton said. “With the amount of times he threw the football, we’d like to see more disruption than that.”
I'm gonna put a game re-cap up later.  (I swear to God!)  Meanwhile here are some other quick reactions from the illustrious internet.


Malbrough: DOOM.. maybe not, though.

Some blogger: Don't overreact. It's probably not all DOOM yet.

So that should provide you with a nice variety of opinion for now.  More later.  

Years could pass

They keep saying that BP's Clean Water Act fine is going to help save the Louisiana coast.  I keep saying by the time we finally figure out what that fine will even be worth, there might not be Louisiana coast left to save.
Uhlmann said it is “still possible” that BP will reach a negotiated settlement with the federal government, but he noted that several pieces would have to come together, including that attorneys representing the Gulf states would be “willing to accept more modest natural resource damage awards or settlements” than they have said they are seeking.

“The settlement value of the case’s civil penalties went up, so BP is going to have to pay more next week to settle the Clean Water Act penalties than they would’ve been required to pay last week,” he said.

Industry analysts say years could pass before BP is forced to start paying the fines, given the anticipated appeals process and its likely effort to negotiate to make the payments over a span of several years.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

How green is your brier? Is football really something you have to practice? And other Saints kickoff questions

A few weeks ago the (not quite yet officially) New Orleans Saints met the (group of people hoping to become) the Tennessee Titans at the (what used to be known simply as the Louisiana) Superdome for some good old fashioned fake football.  As we welcomed the team home, the city went out of its way to ensure that no fans approaching from Uptown should have to step over any homeless people to get there.  Well, they tried anyway.

The Saints, themselves,  had barely had enough time to set up their own tents having just arrived  in town from what they told us was "training camp." But those of us who watched them that night have questions about that. The Saints-Titans fake game was an excruciating 17 hours long war of attrition fought with penalty flags on the field and much much booze in the stands. I actually have very little idea of what happened after halftime. But I know it wasn't pretty.   It says here that Sean Payton was angry about it.

Strange, though, that he should have been surprised. The team had chosen to spend their late summer at the exclusive Greenbrier golf resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Virginia.  They say they were there to practice football, but mostly they seem to have sat that part of the program out. Which was confusing because it seemed out of character.

Remember back during the 2011 lockout, this was a team so eager to practice that they took it upon themselves to meet on the Tulane campus, without any coaches, wearing workout clothes they brought from home, and.. do some jumping jacks and play catch and stuff just to prove they were working.  It was kind of weird but they seemed to think it was important.  And, hey, no one can argue with the record-setting results.

This year, for whatever reason, they've taken a different approach.

Instead of practicing, they've been enjoying the mild Appalachian climate, engaging in typical frat-boy hi-jinx, and inventing ridiculous ways to waste their time, right up to and including attempting to throw punt a football over them mountains.

So as they prepare for the greatly anticipated 2014 football season, we have to wonder if they're going at it with the appropriate sense of urgency.   On the one hand it looks like they've spent a lot of time just horsing around and not taking the job too seriously.  On the other hand, even when they are very serious, they're still just a football team.  So really, how bad could it be?  We'll find out soon enough. 

Are you also doing your best to prepare?  If you are, you probably already have some questions on your mind regarding this year's team. Here's what I imagine those questions might be.

What dumb slogan will Sean Payton apply to this year's motivational T-shirt?

This is from Drew Magary's "Why Your Team Sucks" post about the Indianapolis Colts.
Your coach: Chuck Pagano, who knows the key to long-term success is wearing a new shirt:
Issued to all Colts players, it has the picture of a Lombardi Trophy on the back. To [D'Qwell] Jackson, who spent the first eight years of his career with the Cleveland Browns, it was just one of the many indications that things are different with the Colts.
Whoa hey, you mean a football team out there wants to win a Super Bowl? GTFO. That's such a remarkable new perspective—I feel like I'm seeing football in a whole new way.

Seriously, Pagano's shirt has the Lombardi on the back with the word DECIDE. That's it. It's not even clear. Like, does he think a player would decide to not win it?
So it's not exclusive to our team but Saints fans might remember their own head coach from such motivational T-shrits as "Smell Greatness," "Our Time," "Finish Strong," "Be Special," and "Earn it," not to mention, "Do Your Job" which was actually a gigantic Mao-ist poster and not a shirt.

But, in keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of a training camp where hardly anyone actually trains, no one has rolled out a dumb slogan as of yet.  So as long as it's an open question, allow us to suggest, "Ready To Get Weird"
Now league insiders tell Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal that coordinator Rob Ryan is "quietly crafting an unorthodox" scheme with the potential to change the way defenses play in the future.

"I'm always ready to get weird," Ryan said, per Clark.
More on that Wall Street Journal article in a bit.  But first...

With no stupid T-Shirt ready, what other delusional behaviors are the Saints exhibiting in order to make up?

Well, for one thing, Drew Brees believes he is immortal
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. -- New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees said he was being serious when he said last week that he wanted to play until he was 45.

Brees, 35, said he knows that playing in the NFL for another decade wouldn't be easy.

"I'm serious. I'm not delusional," Brees said after practice on Tuesday at the Greenbrier resort. "I know that that's something that would be extremely difficult to do. Not many have done it....It could be done, but a lot of things have to fall into place."
We're actually pretty used to Brees's brand of goofy Tony Robbinseque jibber jabber. We follow his heavily branded Twitter feed. We've read his new age Christian self-help inspired memoir.  We've come to see him as our go-to Saint whenever we're in the mood for a canned motivational aphorism tinged with just the right amount of banal commercialism.  Oh and touchdowns.  He's good for lots of those too.

But to this point the story has been that Brees produces well on the field because he's also such a obsessive compulsive nut job dedicated leader at practice time. It was Brees, after all, who organized and led the famous independent calisthenics sessions during the lockout. But this pre-season things have been different.

Brees hardly participated except for only a couple of series during the third fake game. He also missed a significant amount of practice time with a strained oblique muscle.  Unsurprisingly, he came up with a typically Breesian Power Of Positive Thinking inspired rationalization for this.  Brees told reporters that he was OK with having missed so much time because, inside his mind, he actually hasn't.
Brees admitted that it was a little hard for him to miss out on his usual amount of preseason reps because he's a "creature of habit" and "very routine-oriented." But he's also admittedly a master of optimism. Brees even referenced the "optimism bias" on Wednesday while talking about how he tried to make the most of his practice reps and mental reps over the past month.

"I think I've tricked my mind into thinking I took the reps," Brees said. "I think if you approach practice as if it's game-like, so your mind is there, and the speed and the intensity with which you're playing is there, it's as if you did take the reps."
Intellectually, we know that this is stupid.  But it's also such an adorably earnest brand of stupid that we kind of want it to be true.  We want to believe, along with Drew, that he can imagineer his own practice reps just like we want to believe he'll still be our quarterback ten years from now.  These are ridiculously exaggerated expectations, of course, but they are pleasant ridiculously exaggerated expectations for Saints fans to contemplate.

We hear them so often that they've become their own genre of Drew Brees specific literary device. Call it HyperboBrees.  It lives in the tension between the dimly inspiring and the slightly unsettling.  A kind of Chicken Soup For The Unhinged Soccer Mom. We like Drew Brees. We're grateful to have been Saints fans during his time with us here.  We also have little doubt he is a mentally ill person.

Is Pierre Thomas the best all-purpose back in the league?

Yes he is... according to Drew Brees, who, remember, is clearly an insane person. So take that for what it's worth.  Pierre is pretty good, though.  It might be more accurate to say he's the best all-purpose back on the Saints roster.  Of the three players expected to contribute as ball carriers this year, Thomas is the one the Saints are most comfortable assigning to run, block, or.. most notably.. catch screen passes.

This year the Saints may be looking to change that up a bit.  Andrew Juge has written and talked a good deal this preseason about the Saints' desire to get more of an all-purpose performance out of their other backs as well.
There’s clearly still a lot of talent at running back with Mark Ingram, Khiry Robinson and Pierre Thomas. The Saints offense had become a little predictable in the last year with the clearly defined roles each back had. Whenever Sproles was in the game, it was almost always a pass. Whenever Thomas was, the Saints’ offense probably had the most variety, but passing, play action and screens were common. Whenever Mark Ingram or Khiry Robinson were in it was almost exclusively run plays. Each back had their specific role on the team but their mere presence in a formation gave a big tell to the opposition pre snap about what was coming. On some level that was by design to expose a defense into believing something was coming, but unfortunately the Saints didn’t really have enough field stretching ability last year to expose that. Having Brandin Cooks will help. But I think the Saints should lean on Thomas/Ingram/Robinson in a much more versatile way this year. They should be all three able to do everything in the playbook, and who is in the game should not affect the play call.
Also, Pierre Thomas spent a good portion of this preseason on the sideline.  Probably because practice is for jerks. 

I'm sorry.  I hate to keep at this topic, but don't the Saints subscribe to some other absurd cult behaviors?

As a matter of fact, they do.  For reasons having mostly to do with Sean Payton's Goodell-imposed 2012 Rumspringa and concurrent midlife crisis, the whole team has gotten into Crossfit.

For those of you who are not familiar with this, it's a lifestyle fad somewhere near three quarters of the way to the end of its pop culture life cycle.  It's basically a workout regimen but one specifically designed to appeal to high achieving personalities with disposable income and sufficient leisure time to join specialized clubs who participate in a competitive circuit of strength and endurance exhibitions.

It's also weird.
Browse the digital pages of our nation’s finest periodicals, and you can read about the cult (or is it more like a church?) of Crossfit, that attracts “Painiacs” who have either joined an ordinary conditioning program or a bona-fide cult that feeds you Kool-Aid.

These critics do have a point: CrossFit gyms—called boxes—tend to nurture the kind of close-knit communities more commonly associated with desert-bound Mormon sects. CrossFitters work out in groups, moving to the demands of a benevolent taskmaster. They pepper their conversations with a strange, clubby lingo—the Yiddish of fitness—and they undertake special workouts to honor comrades who have fallen in combat (CrossFit is especially popular among military personnel.)

CrossFitters can buy apparel that plays on this reputation: “Like a Cult, Without the Creepy Leader” reads one T-shirt. There’s even a gym in Connecticut that’s called CrossFit Religion. The name, they assured me, is tongue-in-cheek; their motto, a play on the acronym for CrossFit’s Workout of the Day, is “In WOD We Trust.”
I guess it shouldn't be very surprising that professional athletes would buy into a fitness program.  But if anything ever screamed out for Drew Brees to #spon the ever-living shit out of it, this is that thing.

It turned out, though, that Brees was already shilling for a just as goofy product called TRX. 
First, a bit about TRX’s odd origin. Hetrick, who is now 44, was a Navy SEAL–one of those elite special-ops military agents who conducts clandestine warfare. A lifetime super-jock, he got really frustrated inside ships and submarines and other tight quarters where he was unable to exercise. So he concocted a harness system—initially out of parachute webbing stitched together by boat repair tools–so he could use his own body weight as resistance against gravity.

Hetrick’s fellow SEALs took to using the harness system, and they invented  a dozen exercises for it. But it wasn’t until Hetrick quit the SEALs, after 14 years, and went on to Stanford Business School that it dawned on him that his training gizmo could lead to his next career. Working out at the gym at Stanford, he realized that the exercise system was a hit with the strength trainers and other fitness fanatics too. “That’s when I thought, ‘I wonder if there’s a business in this,” he says.
So many great stories begin with a highly motivated narcissist type wondering aloud how many idiots he can separate from their money. Sports-Illustrated thought so, anyway.  They ran a feature on Brees's TRX workouts in their NFLcamp preview edition. The cover featured Brees pretending he's working out on a submarine.

Brees TRX

What the SI story didn't mention, though, was that Brees is also an investor in the company and was technically using their magazine as an infomercial.  I haven't decided if it would have been better or worse had he paid SI for the advertising opportunity.

Probably doesn't matter anyway because... look how stupid that thing is. I'm no fitness guru but, just speaking as a human being who has limbs, I'm pretty sure lifting any heavy thing accrues consistent physical benefits regardless of what the thing is for the most part.  Chances are the heavy thing you should lift has already been invented and produced and made available for a much more convenient price than.. whatever this thing goes for. 

But, OK fine, Drew likes it. He sunk some money into it. What does he think?
“A full workout on the TRX can absolutely destroy you,” Brees tells the magazine. SI’s Austin Murphy writes that the TRX Rip Trainer “looks like fun! But it’s serious fun.”
TRX does kind of look like it might "absolutely destroy" a person's oblique muscle and keep that person from getting too much football practice in.  But not practicing football does free one up for some serious fun so I guess it all makes sense.

Does Tom Benson also do Crossfit?

Sort of.  The octogenarian Benson may not be able to perform vigorous exercises such as running up a flight of stairs.  But as Louisiana's Wealthiest Person, he is allowed the privilege of erecting a statue of himself at the top of those stairs which is kind of the same thing.

The added benefit here is that this could usher in a new tradition for Saints fans who may wish to spit on the Benson statue on the way into the dome.. you know for luck.  There's bound to be a significant store of karma in such an act. 

Please do click that link and look through the list. I'm thinking of printing it out and pinning it to Bronze Tom before the home opener.

What should I wear to Mark Ingram's Hall of Fame induction?

Well we know tan suits are all the rage right now but Hall Of Fame Running Back Mark Ingram will already be wearing a tan blazer that day and you will probably want to wear something of a contrasting color.

Do you doubt that he will be there?  Well you had better adjust your attitude because he does not doubt it.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. -- Mark Ingram's expectations have not diminished one bit heading into his fourth season with the New Orleans Saints.

“The sky’s the limit, man. I want to be the best back to ever play the freakin’ game of football,” Ingram said.
Wow what a delightful display of HyperboBreesTM.  Hall of Fame Running Back Mark Ingram has learned well from the best.  And, as is the case with Brees's ridiculous statements, we also would very much like this to be true.

Much has been written about Ingram's chances to turn his sorta meh career around this season, but the truth may be that this has already happened.  Here are two articles you should look at regarding the Saints' experimentation over course of the past year with a new zone blocking scheme.

This is from the Advocate's Nick Underhill from just a few weeks ago. The Saints linemen talk about how much better they feel running the scheme now.
“Guys understand landmarks, footwork, how we’re trying to hit these guys,” offensive line coach Bret Ingalls said. “The runners are doing a great job, tight ends are doing a better job. I just think over time it’s improved because you work at it and things get better.”

“I think we are much better than we were last year,” guard Ben Grubbs said. “We understand what the coaches want. As far as an offensive unit, I think we’re all on the same page.”

The question now is if a full season of zone will better help running backs such as Ingram. He ran behind a zone scheme while at Alabama, where he rushed for 3,261 yards over three seasons and claimed the Heisman as a sophomore.

He hasn’t had the same success in New Orleans. Over three seasons, Ingram has rushed for 1,462 yards on 356 carries, though he did average 4.9 yards per carry last season.

“Yeah,” Ingalls said when asked if Ingram looks more comfortable running behind a zone scheme. “If it’s blocked better, it’s even better.”
Here is another article that ran in Canal Street Chronicles back during the spring. It uses game photos to illustrate how zone blocking works and provides examples of the Saints offense getting better at executing it toward the end of the season.  It's really great for football nerds.

For more casual Saints fans, let me harken back to what I think is the actual moment that Hall of Fame Running Back Mark Ingram's career path shifted last season. It happened during the Dallas game.  I remember because it was one of the few games I actually finished writing about last year.  Here's what happened.

Mark Ingram's night, in fact, captures this spirit well. After seeing him booed for dropping a pass early on, and then watching him go through something of a public breakdown; slamming the ball to the ground, beating himself in the head like a frustrated 5 year old; we couldn't help but wish for something good to happen for him.

And then, true to our intentions, we went out and got that touchdown for him.  And a whole bunch of yards and stuff too.  We delivered it all to his doorstep and sang Christmas carols. It was a touching moment. We did that for him, not because we've suddenly reversed our opinion that he's a mediocre player and a disappointing first round pick, but because he's our mediocre and disappointing first round pick and we don't want him to be sad.

I wanted to find a concise summary of Ingram's night from the paper to quote for you here. But instead I found this badly off-the-mark description James O'Byrne wrote for the TP.

Here's a game ball nobody expected this season. After an incredibly frustrating two years, Ingram broke out with the first 100-yard game by a Saints running back since the second game of last season, gaining 145 yards on 14 carries for a 10.4 yards-per-carry average. It was not a fluke, as Ingram, perhaps for the first time as a Saint, ran with passion and anger, hit his holes hard, made good decisions, protected the ball and didn't go down easily. In a game in which it was clear the Saints wanted to establish a running game, Ingram was dominant in racking up the lion's share of the team's 242 yards rushing.
Apart from the statistics, I don't see how that's in any way accurate. Saints fans have complained about Ingram's lack of productivity, sure. But I don't think anyone has had a problem with his attitude. He appears to try very hard when he has the ball.  Our concern is that he's just not very good.

This was the night that Saints fans finally accepted Ingram, for better or for worse, as one of their own.  He has not been booed since. Also, O'Byrne's somewhat inaccurate version of these events led to the creation of the #AngryIngram hashtag which is still in use today.

There's an overused phrase that sometimes describes athletes with potential who disappoint early in their careers.   "We're just waiting for the light to go on with that guy," goes the cliche.  In most of these cases, the light never really comes on.  This time it very well might.

On the other hand, we sure have seen a lot of Mark Ingram practicing and playing football during this preseason.  That doesn't seem like the thing most of the good players are doing.  So maybe he's still got a few things to learn.

Will Patrick Robinson's Hall of Fame induction come in the same year as Mark Ingram's?

It should.  P-Rob is the Ingram of the defense. We're just waiting for the light to go on. The signs there are less encouraging. But there's hope.  There pretty much has to be. B&G Review explains.
In two preseason games so far, the Saints’ defense has allowed opponents to complete 70 percent of their passes for 562 yards (more than eight yards per attempt) and six touchdowns, with only one interception. That is terrible.

Part of the problem has been the fact Jairus Byrd has spent most of the off-season in Marques Colston’s hyperbaric chamber, probably, but then safety isn’t the issue. The problem is cornerback, where the Saints have only one good football player. Beyond Keenan Lewis the Saints’ depth chart is a mess of has-beens, wannabes, and Patrick Robinson — and Robinson is the one who matters.

Even before he settled into a daily routine of not being present, Champ Bailey was inspiring he-won’t-make-the-roster rumors. Robinson, however, has had a good camp, and seems to have played his way into the role of — my next phrase can vary depending on my mood — either cornerback who is always getting burned, or Comeback Player of the Year.

The point is, in two first halves of preseason football combined, the Saints’ defense has given up 412 yards and 34 points. Those numbers are not good, and most of the damage has been due to what is, right now, a terrible situation at cornerback.
One post-script to this concerns actual future Hall of Famer Bailey who did not, in fact, make the team.  Which is really weird seeing as how he barely practiced or played at all which seemed to be the proper mode of conduct and all.  Someone should investigate this aberration.

Please share with us a really strange fact about Andy Tanner

OK. This is from B&G Review. (A lot of links from them in this post, it turns out.  With good reason too. It's a very pleasing site that posts a lot about football. You should get a subscription.) Anyway, Andy Tanner.
Andy Tanner is on his fifth training camp with the Saints, but he’s accrued so little official time that he’s still classified as a first-year player. Andy Tanner has been a Saint longer than every player on the defense, other than Junior Galette, who was also an undrafted free agent in 2010, and Patrick Robinson, the Saints’ first round pick that same year.
Did Andy Tanner make the team?

Ha ha, no of course not!  Look at all that practice time he's logged. Does he even know how this works?

Uh oh does the kicker suck?

Maybe! This fucking team barely even has a kicker. Shayne Graham and Derek Dimke spent the whole summer pretty much underwhelming everyone until finally, both of them were cut so that the Saints could hide a third string quarterback for a few days. This left the team in the unusual position of beginning preparations for the season opener with zero kickers on the roster.

They brought Graham back eventually.  He was still available which doesn't inspire a great deal of confidence. Dimke is available now.  As is Garrett Hartley but let's not get into that.

This could end one of two ways. It could either end very very badly or it could.. just end up being something no one really notices. We'd hope for the latter but the Saints play Atlanta in Week One and, usually, you kind of would like to have a kicker for that.
There have been a few blowouts in the series. The Falcons won 62-7 in New Orleans in '73 and broke 35 team records. The Saints won 38-0 in '87, the first year New Orleans made the playoffs. The Saints won six in a row in the mid-'80s, and the Falcons won 10 straight in the late '90s. But add it all up and it's basically even. The Falcons lead the all-time series 47 games to 43. The average score: 22-21.

Are there any extruded pork products we should be aware of this football season?

In recent years a tradition has sprung up in New Orleans where, just prior to the football portion of the year, a local icon introduces a new sausage for people to enjoy.  Former Saint and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Rickey Jackson has sponsored a sausage.

Rickey Jackson smoked sausage

Former Saint wide receiver Joe Horn has done likewise.

Both men have also been good enough to present us with barbecue sauces in case we want those too.  For the most part, this has all worked out for the general benefit of the public.

This year, though, things may not end so happily.
Beginning next Friday, August 8, Lucky Dogs will be available in all Rouses across the city, marking the first time the hot dogs have been sold as a retail product.

The Lucky Dogs will come in a five-pack, and be the same version served from the iconic, hot dog-shaped cart.

"We are very excited about the launch of Lucky Dogs into Rouses Supermarkets," said Lucky Dog co-owner Mark Talbot in a statement. "Rouses has been very helpful in this endeavor, one local family business helping another local family business. When my brother and I approached our dad about going retail with Lucky Dogs, we all agreed that Rouses was where we wanted to be. They are local, like us. Now you don't have to go to the Quarter to enjoy Lucky Dogs."
Yeah.. okay.. someone else should enjoy this first and then report back, maybe.  If they're feeling up to it, that is. 

And if that's not bad enough, this happened.

The Superdome caterer introduced its most... um.. tasteless food item to date.
The Superdome debuted its new lineup of concession food last week. Among the new dishes: a "Category 5 Hurricane Dog." After a photo appeared on The Times-Picayune website and was circulated on social media (to reactions ranging from guffaws to horror), Centerplate, which caters the Dome, told the paper the name was never "approved" — despite a printed nameplate displayed next to the hot dog. Shortly thereafter, the paper's original photo vanished from its own website, replaced with a Centerplate-supplied shot of the same frankfurter, now downgraded to a more generic "Jumbo Louisiana Chili Dog."
The "unapproved" theming actually went beyond just the nameplate. According to this story, there was also a "Hurricane Sauce" involved as well as a smaller hot dog named simply a "Hurricane Dog" presumably of a lesser category.

The tone-deafness of whimsically naming something a "Category 5 Hurricane Hot Dog" and selling it in the building the building where so many people suffered after gathering there for shelter during Katrina is obvious.  (Even Sean Payton will tell you, "It used to be wet there")  But then later when we discovered that Centerplate's CEO was a man who actually sometimes kicks puppies, we at least understood how such a thing could have happened.

That's kind of a downer.  Would it lighten things up if we let the Lucky Dog people ask a question now?

Okay sure.  In the process of researching the previous item, I discovered that the Lucky Dog website features a trivia question.  Here it is.
What is the most Lucky Dogs a person has ever eaten at one time?

Unidentified French Quarter policeman ate 32, Mardi Gras 1998.

Why can't this team decide on an Official Chicken? 

Let's take a moment now to appreciate the enduring emblem of the New Orleans Saints' 2013 campaign. There are three moments that define that season in memory.

The first came during Week 5 on a Monday night while the Saints weren't even playing. They had just convincingly dispatched the Bears in Chicago the day before and were sitting 5-0.  Fans were giddy. Sean Payton's return was exceeding even the high expectations it had encouraged.  The Legend Of Rob Ryan was coming into full bloom. And, on this evening, we were watching the Atlanta Falcons' season already circle the drain as the Jets embarrassed them at home on national TV. The Chronic Podcast from that week was recorded while this was happening and the reactions to the score update reflect what everyone was thinking.  On Twitter we wondered out loud if the Saints had already clinched the division. These were good times.

Later in the season, certain uncomfortable truths about the team began to emerge.  Fans, perhaps a bit spoiled by the 2011 juggernaut, were coming to terms with an offense that.. while still very good.. didn't always dominate people.  The Saints were an exciting team. But as the year went on, the creeping feeling  that they were losing momentum became more palpable.

This was especially the case when the running game wasn't working (a lot of the time) and even more especially the case on the road. It was even extra-more especially the case when matched up against a talented secondary content to sit back and guard against big plays, take Jimmy Graham out of the game, and make Brees check down all day.  Which is why the Monday Night loss at Seattle was such a downer.  Hell by the end of that one, people were already tweeting about "next season."  The Saints had only fallen to 9-3 but that loss was when we all admitted we were lowering our expectations.

The loss at Carolina three weeks later was really just an aftershock.

And yet there was a third act to this drama. Saints fans had more or less resigned themselves to the unlikelihood of a deep playoff run.  But, if they could manage at least one post-season win on the road in harsh conditions, well that might be something to take a little pride in after all. Here in a frozen Philadelphia, was an opportunity.  What was really needed now, though, was  a gimmick.
The Saints also know the challenge that lies ahead on the road, where they've struggled to a 3-5 record this season. But they cheerfully suggested solutions to the road problems.

"Popeyes!" yelled wide receiver Robert Meachem.

"New sweatsuits. I think that'll be motivation enough for us to play well on the road," added receiver Lance Moore. "I think the sweatsuits will be the difference."

"We need to change our Gatorade flavor, travel sweats and the beefy mac recipe night before the game," summed up Brees.
And, of course, we know the rest of that story.  All of the stupidity mentioned in the above passage: new Gatorade, new track suits, etc. was put into play.  But the thing that resonated most with fans was the Popeyes.

The Popeyes brand was born and nurtured in New Orleans.  It had long comforted many a local family too tired to cook after work. It was there for us at many greasy hungover Mardi Gras morning parade route breakfasts.  It watched cartoons with an entire generation of New Orleanians after school.  And now, in perhaps its finest hour, it was there to rescue an important but flagging season of Saints football.

And it worked.  The road win in Philly validated the 2013 season in the minds of (reasonable) Saints fans. The loss the next week in Seattle was easier to take after having participated in the goofy giddiness of Popeyesmania. (Oh and BTW, that loss wasn't as bad as you probably remember it.)

So, once again, thank you, Popeyes. Thank you for making life fun for us once again.

But also, screw you.

According to the oldest news item I care to google up right now, Raising Cane's has been "The Official Chicken Of the New Orleans Saints" since at least 2011 and that status has not changed as of this writing.  The Popeyes insurrection of 2013.. however glorious... appears to have been put down.  The oppressive thumb of Saints Marketing Officialdom has stricken it from the record.  Perhaps there's a karmic price to be paid for that.  On the other hand, maybe Cane's has already covered that.

In any case, we'll always remember you, Popeyes. Even if we've already forgotten you.

Any other food related marketing issues we should be aware of?

Well there was this Slap Ya Mama thing... look, nevermind. Next question.

How bad is HBO's Hard Knocks Featuring the Atlanta Falcons?

Terrible. Hard Knocks is a terrible show already and the Falcons are the absolute worst.  Next question.

Rob Ryan is pretty great, isn't he?

Rob Ryan is pretty much the best there is. Here are two reasons.  First, he's not an asshole to his players.
What he never wanted to be was a "my way or the highway" kind of coach.

"It's just being honest with people and I think that makes it easier to get to players nowadays than ever before. They don't want to see somebody that's up there who says 'This is the way it is,'" Ryan said. "If that's who you are, that's who you are. But if you're me, I think the best way is just being myself, coming in there, knowing my football and being able to present that in a way that people can understand."
Second, last weekend, I attended part of a Rob Ryan March and Pub Crawl.  The march began with an invocation at the Gleason Statue and then bar-hopped its way uptown to Ms. Mae's.  The purpose of the event was to celebrate all things Rob Ryan and to "buy a stranger a drink."  I encountered the group at Igor's.  Here are some of them in a photo.

Rob Ryan March 2014

Anyway, I was told that the group had somehow managed to inform Coach Ryan of their event and  invite him along.  Ryan was busy cutting people that day so he couldn't actually be there. It was claimed, however, that, in politely declining the invitation, Ryan also offered to leave the group a generous bar tab at Ms. Mae's.  Unfortunately I didn't follow the march to the end and have been unable to confirm this part of the story as of this writing.  Either way.. Rob Ryan is pretty cool.

Is Brandin Cooks already the rookie of the year?

Depends.  Did he practice much during training camp?  If so, then he's probably screwed.  I kind of remember him skipping some time to finish college back during OTAs.  Also he did miss one preseason game. So he's got that going for him.  Sure, Brandin Cooks, Offensive Rookie Of The Year for 2014.  He's probably pretty good from the looks of things. There, now you pretty much don't have to watch the games.

What will football be like in The Future?

Well, as Rob Ryan has already hinted, in The Future, football will not be afraid to get weird. According to the Wall Street Journal, Ryan's defense may be "The future of defense in the NFL." Here is what they mean by that.
The idea was hatched by accident last year, when injuries to linebackers gave Ryan a dilemma: play bad linebackers or get creative with positions. Ryan went the latter route and stressed the safety position, playing as many as four safeties at once and playing three at a time in his default defensive package. In the NFL, some teams play as few as one safety and almost no team ever employs more than two.

Safeties are bigger than cornerbacks, who typically cover wide receivers, but faster than linebackers, who are built to stop a running back and take on offensive linemen. They can be 60 pounds lighter than some linebackers but 20 pounds heavier than some corners. They can cover the insanely athletic crop of tight ends now in the NFL and take on the league's rising group of tall receivers all while giving up only a little bit of speed from a cornerback.

A bonus in Ryan's mad-scientist scheme is that he can position the safety anywhere from 20 yards away from the quarterback to right on the line of scrimmage, rushing the quarterback off the edge.

The idea is clear: Find as many players who can do everything and let them do it.
I'm not sure exactly how I feel about this insight. In a way it feels like a concession.  If you are playing a bunch of guys who are only kind of good at multiple things, doesn't this mean you don't feel confident that you're very good at any one thing in particular?   There's almost a dystopian ring to it, really. In The Future, no one is special. In The Future, no one is an individual. In The Future, everyone is a safety.

On the other hand, it is kind of egalitarian. Almost idealistically so.  Like the LEGO Movie
As a result, something rather politically loaded, almost transgressive, emerges. It’s a downright proletarian LEGO revolution — right at the climax of that most capitalist of film genres, the toy-based children’s movie. (Remember, the movie’s villain is named Business.) It is, of course, a fantasy of equality and revolution, but it’s in keeping with the disruptive, anarchic spirit of the film itself. In other words, after exploring the simmering debate between stories of self-esteem and stories of exceptionalism, the movie settles on the self-esteem side, but with a self-aware wink. Narratives of exceptionalism argue that if everybody's special, then nobody is. To that, The LEGO Movie offers a sly retort: Everybody IS special, BECAUSE nobody is.
So I guess what we're saying here is The Future of Football is either soul-crushing conformity or a workers' paradise depending on the way you want to look at it. 

Also there will be Dippin' Dots.  The Future always has Dippin' Dots.

Ok but what will football be like in the immediate future?

Well, this season there will be tablet computing on the sidelines. That's kind of futuristic. The tablets will be pretty useless, though.
But just as the NFL preseason is football in name only, the devices that the players will be using aren’t tablets in any normal sense of the word. The league reached a $400 million deal with Microsoft last spring to make its Surface tablets the exclusive computer of the NFL sideline, albeit with several conspicuous alterations made to the company’s standard tablets. The NFL’s Surface tablets have had their cameras disabled and can connect only to a private in-stadium wireless network. The devices can only run a single program, which allows people to browse through digital game photographs.
It's probably better this way. If anything useful were on the computers, Mickey Loomis would inevitably be accused of hacking them. 

As for the Saints' immediate future, it could be very bright. Many many media experts are picking them to win the Superbowl.  Of course that kind of sucks since those guys are always wrong about stuff. Earlier this week, I even got out the whole NFL schedule and tried to predict every game.  I had Green Bay winning in Seattle on Thursday so I'm already wrong.  Plus, somehow the Saints came out of that exercise winning a ridiculous 14 games! That's obviously not going to happen so I had to throw all that garbage out. Instead, I'll do what I always do and make a random guess.

There are plenty reasons to be high on the Saints.  Their running game should be better.  Their quarterback is already good. This might also turn out to be the best group of receivers Sean Payton has had together on one roster... although we might not know it yet since some of them don't go to practice.

On defense, they benefit from a young and dynamic group of linemen and a potential superstar pass rusher in Junior Gallette. They have many talented safeties, of course, including marquee free agent Jairus Byrd who.. yeah, he missed a lot of practice time this year too. The defense also benefits from being The Future Of The NFL which is nice.

Where they run into problems are at corner where they aren't very deep and at tackle where one bad injury can more or less fuck up the entire season. But overall, it's hard not to imagine a healthy version of this roster outmatching most teams. But, you know, winning football games is actually pretty hard. And the difference in talent team to team is much more of an illusion than we admit when we do this handicapping stuff.  Still I think 11-5 is a reasonable expectation.  Unless it turns out that pro football players really do need to practice after all.  In which case, this team might be in trouble.