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







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


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.



  • 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!




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


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.

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?

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.