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.


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.


Yeah, pretty much a dirty word in these parts.


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


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.

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.


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.