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Saturday, December 31, 2005

Good News/Bad News

Good: WYES is broadcasting over the air again

Bad: Fucking Antiques Roadshow is on.

Lib Chron 2005: So Much Loss

So I've been reading my own blog in the hope that there would be enough material there to put together one of those gay-ass-year-in-review thingies. This result is this exercise in metablogging in which I link only to my own posts. Conclusion: In 2005 things happened. Some of those things I wrote about grunted and linked to. In reading through this I notice that mostly what happened involved loss. Loss of things, loss of people, the near loss of the city of New Orleans. So here it is. For a compilation of items found in an inane semi-literate blog like this one it's surprisingly sad.

And I'll keep a light for 'em
Hold down the fort for 'em
And wear my maroon blazer
All the time
-Pollard


January



February



March


April



May



June



July
I hardly posted a thing in July. What the hell was going on?



August

And then I believe there were some..um.. weather related issues. I had an out of town guest when Katrina was bearing down. It seemed like an excellent opporunity to demonstrate rather than explain the annual hurricane hysteria that comes with the culture here. I didn't want to leave. Last year I spent Ivan at Igor's and, had I been alone this year, would almost certainly have spent Katrina there as well. Like everyone, I thought the evacuation would last one night maybe two. I packed a few things and set out to ride the contraflow to I thought maybe Hattiesburg or somewhere. We all know that it didn't quite work out that way. I spent the next month in Nashville nervously staring at my computer in disbelief. Here is some of what I posted.

September



October

  • If President Bush has taught us anything it is this: When the going gets tough the tough go on vacation. Taking this message to heart, I spent the last week of my evacuation in Baltimore where I was greeted by dignitaries and shown an unbelievably good time. Reading this now, though, I can see how homesick I really was by this point.

  • The layoff. Ok I've kind of skirted around this issue up to this point. The library system staff was cut by an unbelievable 90 percent. In one of those remarkable twists of fate, I ended up as one of the 19 remaining staff members. For the first few weeks after returning to work I spent most of my time crawling through the muck of our flooded branches trying to salvage what materials we thought we could save as well as whatever personal items that displaced staff requested we retrieve for them. This process was one of the saddest (not to mention grossest) things I've ever experienced. Anyone who works in a library knows the kind of physical and cultural landmark a branch library can be to its neighborhood. Visiting the flooded branches really brought home for me the severity of the damage done to the communities they once served. Photos of the damaged branches are posted on the library's website. Believe me it was that bad and more so.

  • Fridge art. There is a pretty cool book of abandoned fridge photos available in New Orleans. It is called Spoiled. Check it out if you get a chance.

  • Cops behaving badly

  • Skooks rescued!

  • Butter shortage

  • When Benson attacks

  • Library reopens!

November



December


Epilogue

New Year's Eve finds me looking back at the saddest year of my life thinking mostly about how unbelievably lucky I have been. I still have my things, my job, my family. While several close friends were scattered across the country, I haven't lost anyone close to me. Karmatically I deserve to be immediately struck by lightning, eaten by an aligator and possibly crushed by Skylab.

Above all else this year has taught me just how important this city is to me and that I'd be so sad if I lost it. I spent Thursday afternoon tooling around town playing with my slick new camera. Most of the oak trees on St Charles are still standing. These trees were stripped so badly by Katrina's winds that they now throw only half the shade they once did. But if one looks closely it becomes evident that there are things that still refuse to blow away.

Happy New Year

Thursday, December 29, 2005

City Gates


Welcome to New Orleans. Don't expect much help. Don't get out of line. And for God's sake do not brandish any kitchenware in public.

Thursday Debris Blogging

Late December and this traffic light at the corner of Napoleon and St Charles is still down.

Hidden State

C'est Moi

With Bush's defense of his wiretapping, the hidden state has stepped into the open. The deeper challenge Bush has thrown down, therefore, is whether the country wants to embrace the new form of government he is creating by executive fiat or to continue with the old constitutional form. He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law--I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is--and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Casting Call

Script in progress: Tom Benson's Christmas Carol

with:

Arnold Fielkow
as Bob Cratchit

Michael Lewis
as Tiny Tim

Paul Tagliabue as Marley

Buddy D as The Ghost of Christmas Past

Aaron Brooks as The Ghost of Christmas (almost) Present

Jim Haslett's Contract Extension
as The Ghost of Christmas Future

Ok this can get really stupid if given any serious thought. Ideas anyone?

Curfew may be ending

Just in time for New Year's Eve. Boy did 2005 ever suck!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

More Rebirth Pics

Crappily uploaded for your pixelated pleasure.




Make Way For the Reebirth

I dunno... maybe we ought to have a Mardi Gras this year if this keeps up. Sunday afternoon, during the fourth quarter of the latest Saints debacle I happened to stick my head out of my front door to find a second line a comming down my street. Not an unusual occurance in my Central City neighborhood but thoroughly unexpected given the state of things. I have no idea what the occasion or sponsoring organization were. Doesn't matter because they had the Rebirth Brass Band. I grabbed my camera phone and a couple of beers and tagged along for a while with a huge crowd as we made our way down Washington Avenue to Annunciation Street. The mood was joyful and somewhat purposeful (several times a fun if uncreative chant of "Fuck Bush" broke out in time to the music). People danced in the street, on porches, on top of paperboxes, even on the wall of the Lafayette Cemetery. (dancing on graves?) The procession stopped for a break at Laurel and Pleasant where I decided to separate and make my way back home. I didn't see any pictures of this in yesterday's paper. Here is what my crappy phone saw.
Note: Images obviously screwy. Sorry about that. I've tried numerous things but can't do any better than this for now. Or you can just click to enlarge.



Monday, December 19, 2005

Mayor backs scheme to bulldoze neighborhoods

In this case "letting the residents decide" means, we'll allow you to come back, but we won't support you, won't do anything to encourage services and investment in the area, and then after a year of neglecting you, come back and force you out on the grounds that your neighborhood didn't fully recover. It's like Tom Benson aruguing that he is justified in leaving New Orleans based on the Baton Rouge attendance numbers.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Encouraging rhetoric

Still not near enough money.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Bush will request $1.5 billion more to help rebuild the levee system in New Orleans, Donald Powell, the top federal official for reconstruction, announced Thursday.
Update: Here's why
And again:See here
Once more:And here

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rose is Wrong

I'm starting to come down on the "let's not have Mardi Gras" side of this argument... not because I'm worried about "sending the wrong message" or any such bullshit but because of reasons which I tried to outline in a comment to this metblog post but still don't have time to elaborate on until I get some actual time to write.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Post-K Data

The Brookings Institute has released "the first in a series of monthly snapshots" of the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans which will track the progress of selected economic and social indicators as the city attempts to get back on its feet. The full report is available in PDF format from the site accessed by the above link. A summary and snazzy graphic were provided to the New York Times here. Note in the graphic that 58% of public libraries are open in the metro area. At NOPL, we are only operating Main and two branches with extremely limited hours and services. The report concludes that the city is still in a "state of emergency." At the library, we couldn't agree more.

"No shortcuts to quality"

As a child, I first learned to handle standing in a long line with grace by reading that slogan as well as the assorted news clippings and pieces of memorobilia on the walls at Hansen's Sno-Bliz. How many more of these pricesless pieces of New Orleans culture can we stand to lose? I am very relieved to see that they're keeping the shop open. Seeing this story this morning, reminded me that the final T-P Laigniappe section before the storm included an piece on where to find the best snoballs in New Orleans. I remember finding the very idea of a debate over this issue to be laughable at best. Nothing ever came close to Hansen's.

Shifting, weeding, collection development

Going on in the links here. Still no time to finish the project in one day.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bell South Sucks

Hours after New Orleans officials announced Tuesday that they would deploy a city-owned, wireless Internet network in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, regional phone giant BellSouth Corp. withdrew an offer to donate one of its damaged buildings that would have housed new police headquarters, city officials said yesterday.
link


I don't know what they're upset about seeing as how 1) State law requires the city's connection speed to suck and 2) No one who has tried to connect from the library has any evidence that the thing even works.

Jump out boys

Reason number two hundred million not to stick around during a storm: You may be suddenly abducted by soldiers and forcibly shipped to Utah while your dog gives futile chase behind the truck.
Many, including Timmons, resent that they didn't have a say in where they were sent.

"I didn't choose this at all," said Timmons, 57, who lost everything when his home in eastern New Orleans flooded. "I was forced to evacuate."

A day after the storm, Timmons said, he waded to a friend's home on Prentiss Avenue near Old Spanish Trail, where it was dry.

He ventured out daily to make sure his mother's house was secure. Petey, the family dog, would follow. A week after the storm, he was on one of his walks, Timmons said, when an Army National Guard truck pulled alongside him.

Two soldiers jumped out and told him he would have to come with them. Timmons said he refused. The soldiers forced him onto the truck and made him leave Petey behind.

"It was almost to the point that I was in tears," Timmons said. "My dog ran for miles behind me and then stopped."

The truck didn't stop until it reached the airport, Timmons said.

Inside the terminal, Timmons said he and other evacuees were poked and prodded along like cattle, an experience that further clouded his mood. "You didn't feel like a person," he said.

News that they were being flown to Utah was the final blow.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Must have been a slow news day

But then what day isn't in De Kalb, Ill?

More on the Blackwater dudes

From Loki

Glad somebody said it

I was going to post a "shame on wwl for putting this bloviating crap bag back on the air" rant but Dave Walker's column handles the issue nicely.
The point of Limbaugh reading the story: To discredit the liberal media who would concoct such a horror story to discredit the swell job George Bush's FEMA did -- and is still doing -- to save the city.

All of which begs the question: After aggregating an enormous cache of goodwill among local listeners for the past three months, has WWL blown it by reinstalling a distant and obviously misinformed syndicated star?

And what of the national impact of such just-plain-wrongness, uttered by an icon whose fans consume his pronouncements as gospel?
link

Still no help from Cox

Won't be back to heavy posting until I get internets at home. By the way, is anyone able to connect to the city's downtown free wireless network? Library staff and patrons have been unsuccessful after a week's experimentation.

Blaming the victim

The feds continue to treat our people like utter garbage.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency pulled all its workers out of New Orleans's Lower Ninth Ward yesterday after threats of violence and planned to request additional police or National Guard support, a FEMA spokeswoman said.
I don't have a lot of time to comment. But suffice to say any threats against FEMA staff be they real or percieved have been provoked by their treatment of disaster victims in New Orleans. I have seen this first hand. At the library, FEMA has set up a disaster recovery center where they process aid applications from the public. Now I've never been much of a customer service whiz but even I know that if you make people who have just lost their houses or their loved ones or more stand in a long line to be funneled through a metal detector and frisked by Blackwater Security and generally treated like criminals from the minute they enter the building then you might expect that they won't take it so graciously when you tell them that you can't help them because they neglected to rescue a birth certificate from their flooded attic. But here we are with our neighborhoods being more or less treated like Fallujah... except without the billions of dollars of federal rebuilding funds.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Responsive Government

To help boost its stalled economy, hurricane-ravaged New Orleans is offering the nation's first free wireless Internet network owned and run by a major city.
Hey great, check it out, the city is taking a groundbreaking step toward creating a more egalitarian information distribution system in a time when those among us who rely on what few free services remain available are almost completely shut out.
The system will provide download speeds of 512 kilobits per second as long as the city remains under a state of emergency. But the bandwidth will be slowed to 128 kbps in accordance with a limit set by Louisiana's law once the city's state of emergency is lifted at an unknown future date.
Wait... what?
Phone and cable TV companies have fiercely opposed attempts at creating new taxpayer-owned utilities. The companies contend competition from government-run Internet service stymies their incentive to invest in upgrading their networks and services.
In a time when New Orleans is learning just how indifferent government can be responding to the humanitarian needs of its average citizens, here is another example demonstrating how quickly and efficiently it responds to pre-emptive lobbying from corporate interest groups. By law, city wireless networks have to suck. Brilliant.

Also, during yesterday's news conference, the mayor made one of the more remarkable rhetorical gaffes of post-Katrina times when he described the network as something that will soon "flow throughout the city". I seriously doubt anyone is interested in hearing about anything flowing through the city at this point.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Wireless Network

City is expected to announce this today. Would be a nice alternative since I still can't get Cox out to my place. Of course, then I'll have to buy a laptop.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Still Around

Sorry, kids.. still don't have internet access at home and I'm far too busy at work to say anything meaningful here. It's a temporary situation. In the meantime, remember three of your libraries are open.. sort of. We're open primarily for internet access and are not able to lend any items yet. On the other hand we are giving away free candy. Also keep reading Oyster who actually is able to blog about the NOLA situation on a regualar schedule... and also because he points out all the new blogs who unearth true gems like this.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Should be an interesting day

FEMA is moving in to set up a disaster recovery center inside the library. They have brought with them a squad of employees of the famous Blackwater security firm. Let's hope we don't get any rowdy patrons this afternoon... for their sake.

Answering Rudolph

This is what makes me sad.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You may have noticed

A slight reduction in activity on this site in the past two weeks. Don't fret. This is only a temporary situation. I'm a bit frustrated because I'm back in NOLA and the library is open and this means I have a great deal of stuff to dump here in my little yellow forum. Unfortunately now that the power is back on at my place, I've moved out of Daisy's appartment and away from her super-fast internet connection. Things will get back up to speed as soon as I can get Cox out to my place.

Monday, November 07, 2005

In which I tacitly endorse looting and vandalism

If these store owners are to be believed, then typically apathetic New Orleanians are more class conscious than they are assumed to be. This can be a good sign.

Monday, October 31, 2005

If you open they will come

Your library is open, folks. We're nothing near to normal but what is? We are running two branches and the main library with the most unbelievably meager staff. If a great city deserves a great library, then that library needs its librarians back. Part of restoring vitality to a community is restoring the kind of services that a vital community depends on. By that same token, it can be said that a community's vital signs are manifested in its demand for those services. Once that demand is established, the services can be expanded. The community benefits, the demand grows and the virtuous cycle begins. And so this morning as we prepared to open for the first time since the Second Grand Derangement, we hoped for the sake of our library, for the sake of our scores of laid-off staff, for the sake of our whole city, that we would hear something close to a heartbeat.

It appears that the patient does indeed have a pulse. A line at least 10 persons deep greeted us at the door of the main library this morning. At our current staff level, we are able to offer only computer access, in-house use of a limited part of the collection, and the most basic reference service. The first surprise this morning was a woman with her two-year-old in tow asking to use the children's room. At Main we're only allowing the public access to the first floor and the children's room is on the second floor. But, Christ, in a supposedly "childless city", one of our first patrons is a woman and her kid. It's a sign! Everything is going to be OK! I ran upstairs and picked out a stack of picture books (titles Daisy and I used regularly when we used to do storytime together.. you know back when we actually worked in a library) and found them a place to sit downstairs. It was the highlight of my month.

As we anticipated, most of our patrons wanted to use the computers but many also had books to return which we accepted. Most also asked to check books out; something we aren't staffed to handle yet. We are excited that the demand is there. Most of all we were encouraged by the warm greetings, the hugs, and in one case the cookies we received from our patrons throughout the day. It means they want us back which means, hopefully, that soon many of us can actually come back.

At closing time, I found myself unable to extricate myself from a conversation with an actual bona-fide crazy person. You see she's a musician from Georgia and she and her husband-type person have produced their own country music record. Only it's not country music per se because they're an interracial couple so they call it "funktry". And wouldn't I like to have a copy of their CD? Aw who cares! The point is the library is open, even the nutballs are back, and I couldn't be more pleased.

Yeah, what he said

Oyster links and reproduces the text of an op-ed piece by Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities director, Michael Sartisky. Um.. it's real good, y'all.. hits on just about every reason New Orleans is worth saving and why I came back. As a side note, Daisy and I attended an LEH function at Dr. Sartisky's house last year. I am certain he has no idea who we are.

Yup

They're hypocrites. A double standard in the code of conduct required of owners vs employees is demeaning and reprehensible... also probably racist. The players should strike over this.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Tonight's Tom Benson Follies

First, don't miss James Gill's column today for this nugget.
Far be it from me to knock anyone who buys a full-page ad in The Times-Picayune, especially a native son protesting his fondness for the city, but how come Tom Benson can't spell the name of his old high school, St. Aloysius?

The name was spelled out in the school cheer, but maybe Benson wasn't into football in those days and didn't get to hear it. The school is long gone, but one of its most successful alumni should never have written "Aloyisous" in the first paragraph of his lengthy apologia, right under the headline, "Tom Benson Wants to Return to New Orleans."
And then there's this. If the NFL doesn't fine Benson (as they would any player who behaves this way) they are little more than hypocritical scum. Oh wait a minute that's exactly what they are.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Question of the Day

Posed here by Richard.
New Orleans' citywide curfew starts at 2am, right? But this is the weekend that Daylight Savings Time comes to an end, meaning that at on Sunday at 2am, we wind our clocks back an hour. I wonder how many curfew-breakers are gonna try to use that one as an excuse.

Pictures From Happier Times

When babies acted like babies
And so did the grown-ups.


Today's Halloween rerun is last year's Halloween party! (may have to scroll down a bit..permalinks are funny) In an eerie Halloween coincidence, this post was also introduced by GBV lyrics.

More Book-Type Stuff

The 2005 New Orleans Book Fair will indeed happen. Back in happier times, I thought we would do well to open a neighborhood branch on Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. That part of town was just starting to come back from the dead.

NOLA Recovery @ Your Library

Since we got a blurb in today's T-P Metro section, I suppose it's not confidential info anymore. We're planing to open the Main library, the Algiers Point branch, and the Nix branch next week for internet access only. We're not quite ready to do circulation yet but people are welcome to return books. (No you won't have to pay overdue fines for books you had out during the hurricane... and yes I expect to get that question from now until the end of time) Getting back to public service in some form is a big step for us and we're very excited about it.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Strange Times

This also happened to me.
Tooker admitted that the lack of her own favorite comfort food has driven her to distraction: "There's no BUTTER," she said. "It's freaking me out. I'm all about butter. After five days of going to every (open) store and looking for butter and only finding squeeze margarine . . . . I finally stood in one store and started to cry last week because I couldn't buy butter."
Since then, of course, my power has been turned off so I can't really cook anything anyway. But New Orleans without butter... sheesh you might as well fill in the Mississippi River.

White House Reeling

Yesterday, Bush was forced to reinstate Davis-Bacon and now today there's this.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush on Thursday accepted the withdrawal of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, according to a statement from the White House.
Apart from what it says about the political stregnth of the White House, the Miers withdrawl may not be the greatest development. Bush has a few serious fire-eaters waiting in the bullpen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Frogmarch coming

I can't wait. It's like Christmas Eve. Now what will Old St Fitz leave under our tree? A Scooter? A Rove? How about a Big Dick?
The news of the eleventh-hour moves came as Cheney himself was implicated in the chain of events that led to Plame's being exposed. In a report in the New York Times yesterday that the White House pointedly did not dispute, Fitzgerald was said to have notes taken by Libby showing that he learned about Plame from the vice president a month before she was identified by columnist Robert D. Novak.

FEMA

Yeah, pretty much a dirty word in these parts.

Kos

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Post K World

I am crawling through muck and mold looking for salvageable dvds and inflatable tigers. Meanwhile it appears that Rudolph is doing something close to what was once my job.

Yeah screw 'em

They sure aren't rushing to help us. BFOP points out a possible perfect storm scenario for the Americans who don't give a shit when us third-world dwellwers suffer and die.

Update: Hey sorry, America. I was a little loaded last night. I really don't hope you die. Not all of you anyway.

Turn it up

Drunk... using Daisy's appartment until they turn the power back on at my place... means I get to use her stereo...

don't be told what you want
don't be told what you need
there's no future no future
no future for you

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Usufruct

Here's a creative proposal for dealing with the housing issue in New Orleans.
Authorities would locate scattered homeowners to determine if they have the means or the inclination to rebuild. There are believed to be at least 100,000 homes in New Orleans that are damaged to the point that they are not habitable. If the owner is not planning to return anytime soon, local officials would strike a deal.

The owner would sign over controlling rights of the property — but not the title — to the government. In most cases, that would likely be the city of New Orleans, but the program would apply statewide and could involve numerous municipal or parish governments.

Through contracts targeting hundreds of properties at once, the government would then pay to make the home habitable again, while assuming, in most cases, mortgage payments for the owner.

The home would then be rented out, first to displaced "essential workers" such as teachers, police officers and firefighters and their families, then to the public. Rents would likely be subsidized, and checks would be written to the government agency that signed the deal or to a company hired to manage the money.

The owners would be allowed to return after an agreed-upon period of time — perhaps three to five years — provided they could repay the government for repairs made. If, at that point, the owner did not want to return or could not pay for the fixes, the government would have the right to sell it. If the house were sold, the government and the owner could share in profits and losses.
Certainly seems like a program that can be abused in ugly ways. Also could be turned into a mechanism for wholesale bulldozing of neighborhoods. However, it does have potential.

Catching On

Unsurprisingly, I'm not the only one to think of this. It really ought to happen.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

In the dark

Yup, I'm one of these people. Particularly annoying when you're the only building on the block without power.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Salvage image of the day

The parking lot at East New Orleans is full of these.
Oh and yes, Virginia, Skookses do float. I managed to rescue the little guy myself.

Update:
Skooks recovers from his ordeal by relaxing next to a T-shirt featuring this year's eerily prescient summer reading club theme.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

No Doze

This Times piece paints a rather bleak picture. I don't think it has to come to that. There will not (or at least should not) be as much bulldozing as is currently expected. Many houses can still be saved.

Stealing a dead man's wallet

Quote is from Jim Henderson's commentary yesterday. Big Shot says all there is to say.

Salvage

Spent yesterday afternoon crawling through the muck and mold that has become the Keller branch looking for anything we could hope to save. Two points:

One: These photos like all photos of the damage simply do not convey anything near the experience of actually being in the midst of this continuing unreality. The heat, the smell, the palpable rot can only be truly understood in person. Nor does one truly feel the full weight of the devastation until one begins tourning the the flooded regions of the city marked by brown grass, piles of rubble, and the ever present tell-tale water line.

Two: No matter what you soak them in, no matter how meticulously you work to wipe away the mold, library cds by Celine Dion and John Tesh still suck.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Oh for crying the fuck out loud

Tropical storm warning; U.S. Gulf Coast likely threatened

It's a crime wave

The city is not safe. Tourists on Bourbon street are subject to random acts of violence. Citizens are harassed and bullied as they go about their daily routine. You can't call 911. The criminals have even become so bold as to steal our street signs in plain view of witnesses.
And who is responsible for the terror? We cannot look to the usual suspects. God and Richard Baker have "cleaned up" public housing. The "bad apples" erroneously reported to have run amuck in the Superdome are unable to return so long as the current housing market remains as it is. So how now do we rid ourselves of this scourge of crime and violence? Who will protect us from these out of control police hoodlums?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Quick Question

If it is okay to lift the midnight curfew, what exactly is the point of a 2-6AM curfew? Who is going to benefit from four hours of people forced off the streets? Why not just lift the whole thing?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Jeffrey's first post-Katrina big idea

New citywide art project in the spirit of the fish thing. Festival of abandoned fridges. I've noticed folks have been scrawling messages on the refrigerators they leave out on the curb. For chrissakes, people, get some paint some beads and a hot glue gun or something. I'm sure we can all do better than this.

Other news: Last night I supped on a hamburger at Igor's. While I was there I met an out of town contractor/carpetbagger type person who treated me to his theory about how New Orleans deserved what it got because it "got away from the lord." I very nearly punched him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Quick post

I don't have a whole lot of time to detail my experience since returning to NO. There's a lot to say which I will get to... but not today. In the meantime, add me to the list of people severely pissed about this completely unnecessary curfew.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Vacation Ending

Baltimore is alright. Certain things here are very much like home. The nice parts of town exist in close quarter with the trashy parts. Bars and churches every other corner although I am still at a loss over the Northern obsession with prohibiting folks clearly in transit between bars from drinking on the street. The people here like to hang out on their porches. They say "hon" where we might expect to hear "dawlin". They also eat a lot of seafood, although I'm still not convinced they quite know how to do it properly. I grew up with boiled crabs. While I'll admit that steaming them is another great way to do them, I won't go so far as to say that it's better. I'm told that the Chesapeake oyster is the same species as what we get from the gulf. They run a bit smaller here.. but oysters on the half shell are oysters on the half shell anywhere which is to say a delight I'm not sure we mere mortals truly deserve access to. On the other hand, from what I can tell, these people are truly at a loss as to how to fry an oyster. Yesterday I had an opportunity to sample what passes for an oyster po boy up here. It made me sad. The day before, I had stupidly ordered barbecue shrimp. This made me feel bewildered and incredulous as well as very very sad.

Spent Sunday at the Fell's Point Festival Something very like FQF except minus the Wild Magnolias and plus a metal karaoke band. I had part of a pit beef sandwhich, a fried plantain, the aforementioned oyster po boy debacle, and some kind of grilled mozarella and cornbread sandwhich. Not quite like what you get here, but I guess it keeps the alcohol happy. Managed to find the Saints game on in a bar. Live from San Antonio. This also made me sad.

Hoping to be in New Orleans this weekend. Half-expecting to find an eviction notice on the door.

Ex-library chronicles?

Might be longer back to work process than we bargained for.

Up to 3,000 city workers may lose jobs
Going home anyway.. probably this week sometime. Maybe I can tend bar for a while or something.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

No longer among the hillbillies


So I'm in Baltimore. Actually decided to drive the Tercel nearly 700 miles in one day figuring I'd make the most of final days of exile. It's a long drive; I think I pretty much exploded any illusions about someday becoming a trucker. On the plus side, the city has gone all out to make me feel welcome. My first night out on the town I went to a party where I was greeted by the Mayor of Baltimore, Kweisi Mfume, Joe Trippi, and several distinguished Marylandish elected type people. Okay so I got dragged to a Mfume for Senate fund raiser but still. Otherwise things are not so bad here. Baltimore seems to have a sufficient amount of character (read places to get drunk)and the weather is nice. Still, I need to get home. I hear tell that Goldschmidt and Shehateme were able to get into NO and inspect my place. My and Consuela's things are undisturbed and the power is on. Still, it hardly seems inviting enough to move back in just yet.


Spent last evening in D.C. playing tourist on the Mall and gawking at the city's uber-trendy denizens. Here is the Washington Monument dramatically backlit by a vivid orange and blue sunset very poorly captured by my crappy camera phone.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Among the Hillbillies Part 5

It's finally happened. No Saints on TV in Nashville today.

Hurricane Survival Rule No. 1

Stay away from domes.

Among the Hillbillies Part 4

In Nashville, unspeakable specimens of wildlife are allowed much liberty by whatever ineffectual government agency is responsible for their oversight to run free in areas that civilized metropoli would clearly wish to reserve for people (and maybe cats, dogs, pigeons and the like). Last week I was horrified to peer out through the kitchen window and discover a deer.. an actual friggin deer.. merrily loping through the neighborhood as casually as though he were out for a morning stroll. What the hell! I had naively presumed that it was safe to leave my Tercel out there in the driveway. I had no idea that the area was overrun with large four-legged animals who appear to be quite capable of kicking through an innocent windshield should the mood strike them. If I find one hoofprint before I leave someone is getting an angry letter.

And then there are the vultures. Back home I was known to complain from time to time of the harassment I received quite often from certain elements of New Orleans's healthy population of big fat nasty black crows. The birds tended to become a bit defensive if I happened to allow my jogging route to pass too closely to their nesting trees. Many were the days when I would find myself forced to pick up the pace in order to avoid a nasty round of swooping and squawking on the part of the indignant birds. So I was always a bit annoyed with (if not quite terrified of)the crows. They were well sized and probably disease ridden enough to make me wary. Little did I know that one day I would be faced with a winged adversary easily twice the size of the crows and from the looks of them quite capable of clawing through skull material. I hope they aren't nesting yet.

Did I mention the skunks? Okay well, there are skunks.

All of this is quite enough to cause one a bit of discomfort with one's living arrangement. On the other hand, my current quarters, under siege by all manner of malevolent fauna though they may be, have several distinct advantages over home at the moment, chief among these being electricity and clean running water. So I suppose it would behoove me for the moment to... wait a minute what the fuck is that?
Man I gotta get out of here!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Recovery Bush style

Following up on its opportunistic move to suspend the Davis-Bacon prevailing wage act in the wake of Katrina, the Bush administration is now requesting authority to wave EPA industrial emissions standards during emergencies. With recovery efforts like this, who needs disasters?

Eep

Some computer models have Rita back in the Gulf next week.

Trailer Parks

As service industry owners struggle to resurrect their plantation economy, help is on the way from HUD in the form of mobile slave quarters.

Rich and Poor

Needs to be said. Too bad the only one saying it is St. Bernard Parish President Junior Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said the repair job on the Industrial Canal levee was shoddy and accused the corps of exerting more of an effort to repair a breach on the 17th Street Canal at the Orleans-Jefferson parish line because it protects more wealthy neighborhoods than those in the 9th Ward and St. Bernard Parish.

"It's rich and poor,'' Rodriguez told a WWL-TV reporter, adding that St. Bernard Parish and 9th Ward residents are treated like "second-class citizens.''
As we have seen, no one listens to anyone from St. Bernard. TV reporters who continue to parrot the Corps' lie about "overtopped" levess as opposed to breached levees are doing us all a disservice.

Ghost Town

Chris Rose is lonely.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Stuff you can buy


Get it here.

Via Murph

Alright I'll say it

They fixed the rich people's levee. They didn't much care about the this one.

Yesterday I watched two of the most disturbing press conferences yet. The first one featured Bush bristling at reporters whining about how hard it would be to figure out how much hurricane relief would cost the feds. Meanwhile two Senators already had a pretty good idea as to that. Bush, in fact, seemed to be saying that the feds were working (it's hard work) to figure out exactly what was the bare minimum they were legally required to spend. And then there was this. Gets weirder every day.

Later in the day, we were treated to a similarly bizzare performance by Mayor Nagin. (So much later in the day, in fact, that reporters on the scene were wondering out loud if they were being kept waiting out of malice.) When the Q & A finally began, the mayor bristled angrily at reporters at one point wondering out loud, "Will you believe me?" before answering the first question. Then came this exhange:
Q: Mr. Mayor, what can you tell us about the leak in the levees at the industrial canal?
A: I haven't heard anything about that.
Q: Mr. Mayor, we've got some picures we can show you. We talked to FEMA crews earlier who said they're pulling people out of the Ninth Ward...
A: Well I haven't heard about that yet. The Corps hasn't told me anything.

This morning, the levee patch has completely failed and flood waters are rushing back into the Ninth Ward. The Corps is calling it an "overtopping" I don't believe that.
Looks more like indifference.

New Toy No. 2

Never Pay Retail.
Self-explanatory.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Assholes

Some soldiers and a California news crew play "haunted history" tourist while on duty in New Orleans. I hope they got a real big laugh out of this. They should all be punished/fired.

New Toy

Library Thing Create and (if you like) share an online catalog of your personal library. Now... where did I leave my books? Oh yeah.

via biblioblog

Dammit

I had one of these in the evacuation vehicle with me. I threw it out the next daw.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

See?

I'm not crazy. The bastards really are doing this. If this happens to you, you can tell Foti here.

Books of the moment

Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America John M Barry

I and many others have mentioned this one before. Most of us remember it as this year's One Book One New Orleans selection. The Katrina aftermath has brought one eerie reminder of the the book's themes after another. The problems of race and poverty, the political damage control operation, the power of the New Orleans Carnival aristocracy, the misuse of St. Bernard Parish residents, the ineptitude of the Army Corps of Engineers. It's all there in Barry's book.

Isaac's Storm : A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History Erik Larson

1900 Galveston, TX is wiped out by a killer storm. The city never really recovers. What will happen this time?

Just as soon as we finish with the worst storm ever

Along comes the worst storm ever. Scary times. She makes a pretty picture though.

O, I have pass'd a miserable night, So full of ugly sights, of ghastly dreams

Dreamt last night that I was at a Mardi Gras parade. (Krewe of Carrollton for no particular reason) It was muddy outside and threatening rain. The riders didn't seem very into it. The parade was cutting its route short. At some point it devolved into a procession of walkers half-heartedly handing out throws. I began to feel a sense of guilt for even waving to them. As they walked on solemnly, the crowd began to shift from shouting "Hey mister" and "Throw me something" to quietly nodding and saying only "God bless you." Mostly we looked away from it and began to wonder when it would be appropriate to leave.

I wonder how soon any of us will be in the mood to celebrate.

Blech

Remember, the mayor decided this was good enough for folks to come back to.
The east bank of New Orleans may not have safe tap water for up to two more months, Sewerage & Water Board officials revealed Tuesday, further jeopardizing plans to begin a staggered repopulation of unflooded Uptown neighborhoods and the French Quarter.
.....
But the water board is facing other handicaps. Only 430 of the agency's 1,200 employees have reported back to work, requiring that the many of the same employees who stayed on site for Katrina remain in place for Rita. The agency also lost its entire $35 million fleet of vehicles when Katrina flooded the maintenance facility on Peoples Street. FEMA has authorized the S&WB to rent vehicles, but not all have arrived, St. Martin said.

Fortunately, much of the slack has been taken up by private contractors who have been hired on an emergency basis. Most, among them Boh Bros. and Drennan Construction, have held contracts with the S&WB in the past and are familiar with the city's systems, she said.
..... Rent equipment? How neighborly! Who is making that buck? BTW this also means that your water services have been effectively privatized.....
While the east bank water purification plant is operational, Katrina caused untold damage to the 1,600-mile maze of underground pipes that carry water to homes and businesses. Lines were snapped, cracked and busted all over town when trees were uprooted, houses wiped off their slabs and fire hydrants toppled.

Floodwaters 20 feet deep also destroyed the only wastewater treatment plant that services the east bank, located on Florida Avenue near the St. Bernard Parish line. Repairs to that facility could cost $156 million and take nine months, during which time the city has no other alternative than to send untreated sewage generated west of the Industrial Canal into the Mississippi River, St. Martin said. East of the canal, sewage may have to be sent to Lake Pontchartrain through a newly engineered bypass system or possibly through open drainage canals, officials said.
.....
As for water, it is flowing through the taps on the east bank, but is not suitable for washing hands, bathing, cooking or drinking unless boiled for three to five minutes. Officials warn that harmful bacteria could be present from floodwaters or muck that has infiltrated broken pipes, and that residents run the risk of catching a range of intestinal illnesses if they consume the water in any way.
Again, I cannot stress this enough. As of last week, the mayor had determined that these conditions were good enough for you to come home and generate postitve PR for him.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Help

My landlord lived in lakeview and I am now unable to contact him and apprise him of my location/intent to return as soon as legally allowed, etc. Consuela has been in contact with her boss who also rents apartments and has been hearing rumors of landlords in the city evicting evacuated tenants in absentia, dumping their belongings onto the street, and putting the apartments back on the market at significantly higher rents. Is there anyone out there who reads this and can verify this info? I'm really worried about my stuff.

Oral Histories

Found this site on kos today. Good stuff. Just passing it on.

Quote of the Day

NOPD chief Eddie Compass at today's press conference.
"We are doing everything we can to disseminate our personnel."

Monday, September 19, 2005

America's Team

Back in action tonight. Corny as it may be, this really does make me feel better.

Update: Almost forgot. If you're out of WWL broadcast range and absolutely need to hear Jim and Hokie while the Saints are playing, WJBO should be streaming the Saints radio network. Last week, I noticed a significant time lapse between the game on TV and the streaming commentary but it's worth it for the little taste of home.

Unbelievable

Nagin just now: "Our reentry program has gone very smoothly. Now we are cancelling it."

He just stated his criteria for allowing residents back in was based on:
1) The EPA report on air quality (which was inconclusive to bad)
2) The quality of the water (which is undrinkable... he described it as "challenging")
3) The status of the hospitals (which are ruined)

The Mayor looked at all of this and then decided to give residents the green light to return!

Other things he said just now:
1) He implied that his return plan was meant as a "take a look and go" deal instead of a permanent return. This is a lie.
2) After stating that the presence of military personnel gave the administration confidence that they could "handle any problems that might arise" he began to set his plan for Rita evacuation in motion by asking people who know folks who returned to please call them and ask them to leave.

God help us!

Evidence that God Hates Me

1) Rita

2) Bruning's is destroyed but somehow Blue Dog lives on.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

The world turned upside down

Tulane's next home football game will take place IN TIGER STADIUM.

Flood Insurance

Forty percent of New Orleans homeowners had flood insurance. In a flood prone region where the home buyer's ability to obtain a mortgage is tied to the purchase of federal flood insurance, how can this number be so low? Answer: a large number of the houses in the city are not mortgaged to young homeowners but owned outright by absentee landlords and occupied by renters. Property owners in New Orleans are at liberty to decline flood insurance if their property is no longer under mortgage. Of course, the landlord always runs the risk of losing a building to a disaster like Katrina but the risk of losing one's cash cow slum is not the same as the risk of losing one's home. Besides, that risk always came with the possibility of a federal bailout or, at the very least, a chance to lay blame at the feet of "heartless insurance companies." Failing that, the enterprising landlord can always burn his way out and blame it on the looters.

Note: Far be it for me to rush to the aid of the beleaguered insurance industry. This Mississippi lawsuit, I think, does hold water (pun perhaps intended) since the property owners were told not to buy flood insurance due to the fact that they were not in a "flood zone." That seems a bit of an untenable premise at this point.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ethnic Cleansing

These are the people who have the Mayor's ear. Upstanding citizens like Ashton O'Dwyer.
In rich white enclaves like Uptown, residents are wary of sounding racist. But with their deep business and family connections, they say they are determined to ensure the new city will be very different than the old one, which for so long has been associated with crime, poor schools and corruption.

"Whatever you do, don't put people back in the city who are criminals and who are incapable of, or unwilling to, help themselves," said Mr. O'Dwyer, a volatile, white 57-year-old lawyer.

"What was once unacceptable in polite, respectable society has not only become commonplace over the past 30 years of Negro rule in this city, but it has become acceptable and I am not going to stand for it any more," said the fifth-generation New Orleans resident. "If we return to the same old, same old . . . I'm outta here."

Not safe

Opening the city at this point is an obvious safety hazzard. If the Mayor honestly cared about the city's poor and scores of renters afraid of losing their abandoned homes and posessions as much as he cares about the buisiness owners and landlords, he would not be jeopardizing the public's health for the purposes of this PR stunt.

Don't eat the soil

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new health risk emerged Friday from the sediment of New Orleans -- test results showing that diesel and fuel oils, which can take years to break down, make up as much as a 10th of the weight of some sediment samples.
.....
The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday it also found E. coli bacteria in the sediment -- the residue left from water, soil from backyards and road and construction debris -- as well as slightly elevated levels of arsenic and lead. It didn't report the levels of E. coli bacteria, and there's no health standard for how much E. coli can be in soil or sediment.
.....
Fuel oils such as kerosene, jet fuel, range oil and home heating oil irritate the skin and, if breathed, cause nausea, headaches, increased blood pressure, light-headedness, appetite loss, poor coordination and difficulty concentrating. Breathing diesel-fuel vapors for long periods can cause kidney damage and lower the blood's ability to clot.
.....
Scientists worry that as the sediment dries, the pollutants in it can evaporate and, as gases in the air, they could be inhaled by people. Some chemicals found in fuel oils can easily evaporate, while others more easily dissolve in water. The agencies plan to collect air samples.

Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst at EPA who has been a longtime whistleblower within the agency, called it "reckless and irresponsible" for EPA to imply that people moving back into New Orleans will be safe.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Help us rebuild the liberry

It's important. I work there.

Finally

Every major disaster comes with its obligatory pop-culture pronouncement. Katrina is no exception.

Snark is dead.

Bush Last Night

What Bob Harris says.

Carpetbaggers

Swooping in to ruin my city.
In some ways, Hurricane Katrina seems to have taken a vibrant real estate market and made it hotter. Large sections of the city are underwater, but that's only increasing the demand for dry houses. And in flooded areas, speculators are trying to buy properties on the cheap, hoping that the redevelopment of New Orleans will start a boom.

This land rush has long-term implications in a city where many of the poorest residents were flooded out. It raises the question of what sort of housing — if any — will be available to those without a six-figure salary. If New Orleans ends up a high-priced enclave, without a mix of cultures, races and incomes, something vital may be lost.
I'm afraid there's nothing that can be done to stop this. Welcome to the new New Orleans. Toxic Disneyland for and by the yuppies.

What are we going back to?

I'm beginning to think the mayor's plan to start allowing residents back into Orleans Parish next week is a poorly thought out PR move. I'm just as anxious as anyone to go home, but I'd prefer not to feel obligated to return until at least some of this gets sorted out.
Hurricane Katrina is rapidly becoming the worst environmental calamity in U.S. history, with oil spills rivaling the Exxon Valdez, hundreds of toxic sites still uncontrolled, and waterborne poisons soaking 160,000 homes.

New Orleans' flooded neighborhoods are awash with dangerous levels of bacteria and lead, and with lower but still potentially harmful amounts of mercury, pesticides and other chemicals. Much will wind up in the soil as the water drains, or in Lake Pontchartrain, hammering its already battered ecosystem.
......
At the EPA's request, the Army Corps of Engineers put out floating barriers to try to stop some oil and gasoline before it enters the lake. But they won't stop the two most immediate threats in the water, high levels of bacteria and lead.

One site sampled Sept. 3, an Interstate 10 interchange north of the French Quarter, had lead 56 times higher than the amount that would be allowed in drinking water. Other samples taken days later across a much wider area were also high, but not near that mark.
......
Tests also show that toxic substances in the floodwater will enter the coastal food chain.

Several water samples had mercury, a powerful nerve poison, above the amount allowed in saltwater environments in order to protect the long-term health of people eating fish or shellfish.
......
The air, too, is a source of danger in New Orleans. An EPA airplane equipped with electronic sensors to spot air pollution detected a plume of chloroacetic acid, an industrial agent and defoliant that poses extreme toxic risks when inhaled.
......
Another concern, he said, is that long-lasting pollutants will remain in higher concentrations and higher toxicity when the water dries up. "The question will be how much will get into people by the three routes, respiratory, gastrointestinal and dermal or skin."
By opening the city, the Mayor is basically obligating renters to return to an unsafe environment or risk having their slumlords clear out and dispose of their belongings left behind during evacuation. Don't think they won't do it? You don't know New Orleans slumlords.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Garrison Keillor

What a douche.
Via Kos

Natural Disaster

Uh oh.
Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort, which reaches across many agencies of government and includes the direct involvement of Alphonso R. Jackson, secretary of housing and urban development.