Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deja Vu

At Rising Tide I, one of the keynote speakers, then Wall Street Journal reporter Chris Cooper told the bloggers in the room that "the difference between you and me is I have a 401k" I tend to think that Cooper was trying to give everyone a compliment there although I've read where some of the bloggers found the line to be condescending somehow.

Anyway, it's the first thing I thought of when I read that it's this very distinction which is currently being written into the legal definition of journalism.

Well, read the fine print to see how citizen journalists are left legally hanging out to dry. Schumer’s amendment draws a distinct line between bloggers and “real journalists” that:

limits the definition of a journalist to one who “obtains the information sought while working as a salaried employee of, or independent contractor for, an entity–

a. that disseminates information by print, broadcast, cable, satellite, mechanical, photographic, electronic, or other means; and

b. that—
1. publishes a newspaper, book, magazine, or other periodical;
2. operates a radio or television broadcast station, network, cable system, or satellite carrier, or a channel or programming service for any such station, network, system, or carrier;
3. operates a programming service; or
4. operates a news agency or wire service.”

Personally, I much prefer Matt Taibbi's definition which I think I'm going have framed and hung on the wall somewhere.

Journalists are supposed to be assholes. The system does not work, in fact, if society’s journalists are all nice, kind, friendly, rational people.

You want a good percentage of them to be inconsolably crazy. You want them to be jealous of everything and everyone and to have heaps of personal hangups and flaws. That way they will always be motivated to punch holes in things.

Also, we've just been informed that Cooper, himself, is now actually a lobbyist(!) I wonder what aspect of his benefits package helped define that transition.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Wake and Bake With Dan Gill

Who knew it was actually that kind of garden show?

Now that the new and improved NOLA.com social networking bazaar has become fully functional, I wonder if this means Dan will have the most "followers".

Must have somthing to do with Halloween coming

Because that's just about the only circumstance under which we can conceive of Joe Cao aspiring to "scare" anyone.

This morning's football teaser

Because the long form Saints post is... you know... almost like work, we present you with the following observation.

Saints QB Drew Brees and I have three things in common.

1. We are both under 6 feet tall

2. We both have relatively weak throwing arms

3. We've both recently had our annual haircuts. Here's Drew looking like he's ready for Uma Thurman to deliver the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.

Drew Brees as David Carradine

And here he is in the latest version of the same ad.


Oh and mine didn't come out so bad either.


Coming up in this week's Saints review: How is this college football season like the 2010 New Orleans Mayoral election? Can the Monday T-P do anything right? And is Swine Flu really the next step in human evolution? That and more whenever I happen to get to it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Happy Birthday, Craig

Yesterday, our favorite Saint of all time Craig "Ironhead" Heyward would have been 43 years old had he not been tragically lost to cancer in 2006.

The only Youtubed action video of Heyward I could find was this Pitt vs Miami play from 1987. It'll do though.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In which I am called a "pussy"

Frankly I'm too busy reveling in the glory of being named "worse than Pete Rose" to gin up much of a response to that right now. Anyway, if you're a Saints fan who doesn't read GW's commentaries, I really have to question whether or not you're even participating.

More pizza

This week's football review featured notes on a hippie pizza joint we tried last weekend with mixed results. One tangential result of this is that some of our East-Coast-based readers have challenged our authority on this subject. And maybe they're right. Maybe there's something in the water here that prevents NOLA natives from being able to taste grease and cheese properly. I kind of doubt that, though. But since I've spent my young adulthood collecting a never-ending series of lectures from transplants on the many things that New Orleanians are unqualified to do I don't find it very surprising. Boston born Rudolph, for example, continues to insist that none of us have a clue what "real ice cream" is supposed to taste like. I mean... it's ice cream. Get a grip, already.

And this is also how I feel about pizza. It's bread, it's cheese, it's baked grease. How nuanced does this conversation really need to be? My own East-Coast-born transplanted wife, in fact, insists that any deviation from the most basic crust-cheese-grease formula is a pretentious abomination. While I have sympathy with the spirit of her argument, I can't say I fully buy in at her level of orthodoxy (I sometimes like to order a few vegetables on mine).

Anyway my purpose here is to point you to Blackened Out where they're also discussing pizza this morning and running a survey of everyone's favorite. I can't help but notice that the hippie pizza place is not an option in the poll.

Update: Cousin Pat offers a treatise of his own on the subject here.

Not surprising

Politically charged sensational circumstances here may not be quite so politically charged as they once seemed. But by all means let's continue to assume the worst about the unwashed hillbillies under our beds.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The people who put Bill Jefferson in jail

An FBI agent who worked on the corruption case of former Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson resigned after superiors found a list he wrote of his sexual conquests with agents and a confidential source, according to court documents.

The same agent, John Guandolo, who is married and who unsuccessfully solicited a $75,000 donation for an anti-terrorism group from a wealthy witness in the Jefferson case with whom he was having an affair, resigned from the FBI and appears to have landed on his feet on the speaking circuit playing up the threat of Islamic terrorism.

The affair list was first reported by Allan Lengel at ticklethewire.com

The relationship between Guandolo and key government informant Lori Mody, a former tech executive for whom Guandolo worked undercover as a driver, failed to derail the Jefferson conviction after a judge ruled it irrelevant this week.


GOP hardliners against Net Neutrality

Because it's there, I guess.
A top Republican senator introduced legislation Monday to block the Obama administration’s attempt to impose formal net neutrality rules, just hours after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced he would seek groundbreaking new limits on ISPs — both wireline and wireless.

The new rules are intended to guarantee that citizens can use their choice of devices, services and applications, and to prevent ISPs from discriminating against services or creating high and low roads on the internet. Supporters say net neutrality rules will protect consumers and sets fair rules for all.

I say "because it's there" in jest since we know Senators like Hutchinson are just representing the big communications companies they're in bed with. The fight over "net neutrality" rules is actually a fight to preserve the egalitarian nature of internet communications against a push by the telecom industry to gain control over the kind of content available to users. Without net neutrality rules in place, your cable provider would be able to charge varying rates for users and content providers in exchange for access to their network. The effect would be to make the internet more of a commercial-driven entertainment tool similar to cable television.

Personally, I happen to think think that the taming and de-democratization of the internet is an inevitability since it seems to be what most people want whether they know it or not. The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook demonstrate the public's appetite for centrally controlled content provided through a "channel" they all watch together. But that doesn't mean there's no reason to try and slow down the process. You can read more at Save The Internet.

This week the Obama FCC announced its support for strengthening net neutrality rules and, as we know, whenever the Obama administration announces anything it emboldens the GOP hardliners to make a show of their opposition. Oh, who are the GOP censor-the-internet hardliners?
Hutchison, a Texas gubernatorial candidate and the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Technology committee, was joined by five fellow Republicans: John Ensign (Nevada), Sam Brownback (Kansas), David Vitter (Louisiana), Jim DeMint (South Carolina) and John Thune (South Dakota). While the amendment is unlikely to stop Obama’s drive to deliver on his campaign promise to back new limits on ISPs, it does show that the adoption of the rules will not be a bloodless fight.

If it's a crappy idea, Vitter can't be far from it.

Story via First Draft where there is more.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I do not want to be NOLA.com's "friend" Oh and also here's some football

It only took us two weeks to reach the first crisis point of this football season. No, Drew Brees's arm hasn't fallen off, Tom Benson hasn't backed out of his contract, and as far as we can tell, Jeremy Shockey is maintaining a safe hydration level. The Saints look a little beat up in the backfield this week but all in all they seem to be doing okay. The crisis we're dealing with is actually an off-the-field issue. The new NOLA.com is screwing with our football blogging.

Over the weekend, New Orleans' most visited (and most universally reviled) website began rolling out an "upgrade" which seems bent on making an already confusing site more convoluted. NOLA.com is the online partner of the Times-Picayune which supplies it with news content and its basic reason for being. The site then takes this content and makes it as difficult as possible for users to access and navigate. Some articles are posted oddly late in the publishing cycle while others seem not to make it online at all. The search function is virtually useless.

Worse still, the site appears to be edited in such a way as to intentionally cultivate the bilious idiocy which frequently bubbles up in its much-criticized comments section. The problem isn't so much the site's poor moderation. I'm generally in favor of stupid or mean people being allowed to say stupid or mean things. But at NOLA.com the stupid and mean seem to be the target audience. I don't know what NOLA.com's actual business strategy looks like but my guess is that they're going after a niche audience similar to what most AM talk radio stations have owned for some time now. The highlighted headlines and photos tend to emphasize either sensational stories from the paper's crime reports or national political stories with a heavy red meat appeal to conservative commenters looking to tee off. It's a ready-made template for building an audience to sell to advertisers but it doesn't make for the most constructive or thoughtful online community and it certainly doesn't make it easy to access the paper's content.

Instead of addressing any of these issues, the NOLA.com "upgrade" adds a new dimension of unnecessary crap to the already impenetrable wall that exists between its readers and the news content they visit the site for in the first place. The new NOLA.com asks users to create profiles where they are encouraged to provide personal information, "recommend" stories, share photos and videos, and "follow" other users via their "dashboard".

Now you may be tempted to ask yourself, why do we need this at all if we already have Facebook? But I don't think that's quite the point. For one thing, I'd much rather ask why do we need Facebook when we already have the internet, but that's a question for another time. At the very least, though, it's worth asking why the local paper needs access to its online content unnecessarily impeded by yet another superfluous layer of "friends" "followers" and "funwalls". But above all else, the NOLA.com upgrade presented us with a crisis this week because, for 72 hours, we were unable to access and thus steal their Saints photos for use on our blog.

    Saints vs. Eagles (game photos shamelessly hotlinked directly to the crappy new NOLA.com site)

  • Right off the bat I think we need to acknowledge that the Saints were pretty lucky to win this one. Fans are talking this week about the play of the quarterback and the apparently lopsided score but the fact of the matter is this game was decided by a series of lucky breaks at the beginning of the third quarter. Ellis Hobbs' fumble of the second half kickoff set up the Saints' third touchdown of the game and gave them a comfortable lead. When Kevin Kolb turned the ball over on the Eagles' very next possession, it was obviously going to be difficult for Philly to overcome that.

    But they very well could have had a few other balls bounced their way. It's not difficult to see exactly where this whole game could have gone another direction. During the second quarter, with the score tied at 10, Jeremy Shockey jumped on a Drew Brees fumble at the Saints' 30. Had he not done so, the whole game could have gone another direction. Late in the third quarter, the Eagles had just pulled to within 14 points and could have generated some momentum had an apparent fumble by Heath Evans at the New Orleans 27 not been reversed by replay. If the ruling on the field had been upheld, the whole game could have gone another direction.

    So there you have two lucky breaks that made a huge difference for the Saints and two that could have made a huge difference for the Eagles but didn't. And therein lies your football game. Leaving the disastrous start of the third quarter aside, the Eagles played either as well as or better than the Saints for most of the day.

    Coach Soupy protests the official's ruling of Evans' fumble on the grounds that it isn't anywhere in his laminated copy of the script.

  • Just as they did in Week 1, the Saints continue to surrender game-changing big plays to the opposition. The Eagles' first touchdown came via a 71 yard pass from Kolb to DeSean Jackson. The play looked at first like a blown coverage but after watching a few replays I think the Saints just got out-schemed in a situation where they left Roman Harper responsible for both the short middle and deep corner of the field.

    The Eagles' second touchdown was set up by a 63 yard kick return by Ellis Hobbs. The Saints' kick coverage has been atrocious during these first two games. This is a shame because it diminishes the contribution of an emerging star in rookie punter Thomas Morstead. Morstead continues to boom most of his kickoffs into the endzone. Morstead's 60 yard kick with less than two minutes to play in the first half pinned the Eagles deep in their own territory and set the stage for the Saints'go-ahead touchdown with 43 seconds left in the half. One could argue that Morstead won the game for the Saints right there.

    Thomas Morstead (Not pictured. Dammit, NOLA.com!) 2009 Saints Most Valuable Player candidate

  • One good thing about road games is that they can be viewed from the comfort of one's own living room. It's not that we don't like going to the Superdome it's just that there are certain advantages to nursing your Sunday morning hangover on the couch as opposed to against the wall in Section 617. Key among these advantages is the ability to call people on the telephone and ask them bring you pizza. This week we opted (against our better instincts) to order our lunch from Naked Pizza.

    If you're in New Orleans and you use the Tweeter Tube at all, chances are you've already heard of this outfit. They're a prime example of this city's supposedly rising Twitterpreneurial class.* Meaning they use social networking websites like Twitter, Facebook, and, I guess, now NOLA.com to turn our personal communications and relationships into the commercial marketing vectors dystopian science-fiction always told us they could be. There really is no room for the unspoiled individual in our society anymore.

    The Twitterpreneurial business model functions through a complicated bit of alchemy which, I am given to understand, converts "friends" into "buzz" and buzz into some kind of virus, I think. But eventually it all turns into money somehow. I know it's weird but if you're interested, Tulane will soon be offering a degree in this stuff. It's what they do now instead of civil engineering.

    If you're a non-degreed layperson looking to spot Twitterrpeneurs on the street just stick to the regular hipster hangouts and listen for anyone using the words diverse, capital, mash-up, tweet, creative, investor, and innovative in any order that seems to defy the usual rules of comprehensible speech. A Twitterpreneurial business is often identified by the inordinate amount of Earth-humping faux-hippiespeak that appears in its advertising. Naked Pizza, for example, is an overtly "Green-conscious" pizza parlor as its blog (of course, there's a fucking blog) attests,
    As an industry, fast food is punctuated by a history of successes and achievement, but also plagued by paradoxes, shortcomings, and challenges that require increasing acts of marketing desperation. These desperate acts often result in short-cuts and compromises that have, and will continue to, undermine the health of the very customers the industry depends on. We are fast approaching the day when the current, dominant business model in the fast food industry of “you give me money, I give you taco” will be replaced by one of equity and the realization that the business of food is interlinked with social, cultural, environmental, political, and economic disciplines.

    Good Christ I hope not. When I am hungover in my living room and Jeremey Shockey is on my teevee, I am in no mood to ponder the interlinkage between "equity" and tacos for the sake of your "business of food". Howsabout you give me the pizza, I give you the money, and you get the fuck out of my face you phony hipster fuck.

    What was I talking about? Oh yeah the pizza. Actually it ain't bad. We ordered a "Mediterranean" style pizza which came with feta, sun dried tomato, olives, and artichokes. All of these toppings were fresh and generously portioned. The sauce had a rich, dark, garlicky spice to it which I liked a lot. The "glutten-free, multi-grain, prebiotic, probiotic" crust was unusual but not intolerable. Taste-wise it isn't a comparable analog to real pizza crust which we tend to like sweet and slightly burnt. This was noticeably more bready and grainy. Not bad just not... pizza, I guess.

  • Unusual numbers: Scott Shanle 2 Interceptions in 2 games. Heath Evans 2 Touchdown receptions in 2 games. Evans scored this week by performing a one-legged half pirouette along the sideline before plunging the ball over the goal line. It's a move we'd like to describe as graceful but we're not sure we're allowed to say that about a fullback.

    Overheard at "The Linc": That's a unicorn, right? No it's Scott Shanle with the football. No way, that's just ridiculous.

  • Mike Bell left the game during the second half with a sprained knee. Because we did not trust the Fox announcers to update his status in a timely fashion, we "turned down the sound on our TV and turned up Saints radio" as per what WWL's marketing department has chosen to label a "tradition".

    While Bell was out, the Saints found their offense forced to scrimmage from their own three yard line. On three consecutive plays, Reggie Bush demonstrated his unwillingness to give up his tentative backward stutter-stepping running style even in the shadow of his own goal line. Bush hesitated and danced for 0, 1, and -2 yards. (The third down play should have been ruled a safety as Bush was tackled in the endzone but NFL officials have a strange aversion to making that call and will invent any excuse not to.) Hokie Gajan described Bush's style as "fiddle-fartin' around back there". We're grateful for Hokie's contribution of this colorful phrase because, frankly, we've grown tired trying to describe Reggie Bush's brand of non-football week after week. If you're looking for one characteristic of this year's Saints which distinguishes them from last year's it has to be Bell's determined, hard charging running style. If he misses a significant amount of time it will be a while before you see another 40 point performance from this offense.

    saints eagles
    Oh fiddle-farts, this can't happen. Hey does anyone still have Deuce McAllister's number in his cell phone?

  • It's also hard to overstate the impact Darren Sharper has made in the Saints' secondary. Late in the game, Sharper returned an interception 97 yards for a meaningless but fun touchdown. Anyone who was tuned in to the WWL broadcast at that time knows that when I say fun here I mean fun in a disturbed, embarrassed-for-someone but still fascinated sort of way. Jim Henderson's call of that play was... look just click here and listen to it yourself. Did that really happen? Should that really happen? Ever? What are the chances that it might happen again this season?

    saints eagles
    Yeah, "He gone" alright. You so crazy, Jim

  • Quote of the week: "That brace is kind of big" Pierre Thomas describing the status of his sprained knee. If Bell can't go this week, Frenchy will need to be ready to play in his stead. Frenchy sounds less than confident here. I'd like to point you to the NOLA.com article I culled this quote from but I didn't save the link when I noted it and it's nigh impossible to search for anything on freaking NOLA.com

What would Pete Rose do?
So we're looking ahead at the schedule and we see Buffalo, New York Jets, a bye, and then the New York Giants on Monday Night. (It's the Empire State trifecta) The good news here is that even if the Saints lose their next two games, 2-2 going into the bye week really isn't that bad. We thought this looked like an 8-8 or 9-7 team going in so we'd feel pretty good about 2-2. The bad news is there is no way in hell the Saints are going to win that Giants game. 2-2 isn't bad but 2-3 makes us all a little frowny so, on second thought, it might be a good idea to try and finagle a win out of one of these next two. And that's where the really bad news come in.

Despite the fact that their quarterback is a rookie from USC, the Jets look like this year's breakthrough team to me. The problem is, a "breakthrough team" can't be 2-2 after four games. The Jets are 2-0 now. This weekend they play Tennessee. Tennessee is too good to go 0-3 so the Jets are likely to play the Saints at 2-1. But the Jets can't go 2-2 ergo the Saints just aren't going to beat the Jets. So the key is the Buffalo game.

But that's also trouble. I mean, look at this Bills team. They barely lost to New England in Week 1 on a stupid fluke of a play and are fresh off of kicking the crap out of Tampa in Week 2. Some guy named Fred Jackson has 337 all-purpose yards so far (including 165 on the ground vs Tampa) and we haven't seen enough of this Saints defense for that not to be a concern. Lee Evans and Terrell Owens are still big-play threats and we have seen enough of this Saints defense for that to be a concern. Plus something about this feels like what college football fans call a "trap game." It's the key to Saints keeping their heads above water over the next three games and even that looks like a long shot.

Still if the Saints manage to win 1 out of the next 3 they're a game over .500 which puts them right on course to end up where we thought they would. So it's nothing to worry about. Here's where it gets weird. You see, while I'm (optimistically, mind you) trying to convince myself that the Saints could possibly win one of these next three games, Dambala is certain they'll get two. And so now we have a wager. Which puts me in the uncomfortable position of betting against my own team. For a minute there I was unhappy with this because I thought it made me look too much like Pete Rose. Happily, the Zomb has disabused me of this notion.
no way Pete never bet against his own team...you're much worse than Pete.

That, I think I can live with.

*The term "Twitterpreneur" is not actually of my own coinage. Unfortunately, at press time, I was unable to recall exactly where I saw it first.

The race to not be Mayor of New Orleans

Another contender out: Karen Carter Peterson won't run for mayor

Will the last one to drop out of this race please turn out the lights?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More unnecessary announcements of future bloggings that may never get posted

I've also got a draft of a long, obnoxious, irreverent post about the current state of the IG's office in the works. But Eli has written a less rambling, more thoughtful and useful post on the same subject already so, for now, you should just go read that.

Football teaser

This is going to be one of those weeks when the big Saints post gets done later than sooner. In the meantime, now that NOLA.com photos are again available, feel free to write your own captions here. I'll go first.

Reggie: "See what I would have done is stutter stepped backward two or three yards. Keep that knee where they can't hit it, see. And if that doesn't work just drop the ball on the ground. It's all they're after anyway."

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Jude provides us with a jaunty history of American civil discourse. But I couldn't read it because he used the word "fuck" too much which really hurt my feelings.

Update: Link fixed. Sorry it got all fucked up

Deus Ex Camera

Popping popcorn

A company trying to intervene at the last moment in the closely watched civil trial over the city's crime-camera contracts alleged late Wednesday that it was jilted by the plaintiffs in the same way that they claim computer giant Dell Inc., former city tech chief Greg Meffert and his friends filched their work.

The plaintiffs -- local firms Southern Electronics Supply and Active Solutions -- say they had a 2004 agreement with Dell to sell crime cameras to New Orleans, but that Dell, Meffert and firms owned by Mark St. Pierre conspired to use Southern and Active's product for their own deal with the city.

Attorneys for CamSoft Data Systems Inc. of Baton Rouge, which served as a subcontractor to the plaintiffs during the project's pilot phase, appeared a day before this week's trial began to say they actually designed Southern and Active's system and deserve at least one-third of anything they might win in the lawsuit.

Off to a fittingly crazy start

It's too early to tell but we may now have the 2010 Mayoral race's answer to the Kimberly Butler candidacy of 2006. Butler, if you will recall, launched her campaign just as she was turning herself in to serve a brief prison sentence for contempt-of-court. We thought of her this morning when we read this in the Times-Picayune
Sean Hunter, the top administrator at Louis Armstrong International Airport for the past three years, resigned Wednesday in the wake of a federal probe that airport officials have said involves "possible insurance violations" involving a family member.

Shauna Hunter, Sean Hunter's wife, contacted The Times-Picayune to confirm that she is the family member under investigation and dropped this bombshell: Her husband resigned not because of that controversy, but to run for mayor of New Orleans.
Yesterday, we noted that Arnie Fielkow's decision not to run could be compared to the starter's gun finally firing on this year's "Race to the Punchline" Combine this with another unverified Facebook rumor we're hearing and we'd say the silly season is off and running.

Update: Hunter now says he's out. Doesn't anybody want this job?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Okay I'm all for "killing the bill" now

If it's gonna be this crappy there's no point in doing it.

Jay Rockefeller sez of the stupid Baucus Bill:
"It seems to me," he scolds, "that, if you are proposing to implement consumer health insurance co-ops on the scale contemplated by the Finance Committee, then you certainly should know what has been the experience with them so far.... I believe it is irresponsible to invest over $6 billion in a concept that has not proven to provide quality, affordable health care, when we know that a public health insurance option will rein in costs and save taxpayers billions of dollars."

Upperdate: Athenae sez:
What fourth grader couldn't tell you they were never gonna vote for it no matter how many concessions it included? Baucus could have put forth whatever halfass Sudoku puzzle the Republicans were waving around during Obama's speech the other night, and the wingnuts would still oppose it for no other reason than that they want Democrats to suffer. This is how it works.
This was never difficult to figure out in the first place, but given the Democrats' recent experience with this phenomenon during the stimulus debate, you'd think they'd know how to make this work by now. Unless they just don't give a shit, which is probably what explains Baucus anyway.

One more time, just for fun, let us review the GOP legislative strategy so that we may wonder again at just how crappy Obama and his party have been at combating it.

Uppestdate: NOLA.com headline pretty much sez it all
New health care proposal is industry's favorite so far

They should have just handed him a starter's pistol

Arnie Fielkow says 'no' to mayor's race

Fielkow's declaration Tuesday sets the stage for several fence-sitters to state their intentions.

Among those mulling the race who could be influenced by Fielkow's decision are state Rep. Karen Carter Peterson, the House speaker pro tem; former City Councilman Eddie Sapir, who left City Hall in 2006 after serving two terms in an at-large seat; lawyer Rob Couhig, who made a failed bid for mayor in 2006; and businessman John Georges, who ran for governor in 2007.

Meanwhile, Civil District Court Judge Nadine Ramsey resigned Friday, reinforcing speculation that surfaced a few weeks ago that she is about to announce plans to run.

The last comprehensive look at the Mayoral field was done by Eli here.

That article lists a few of the tongue-in-cheek celebrity candidacies but somehow omits the culinary ones.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christians and Lions Or Lions thrown to Christians in a weird man-bites-dog sort of story, if you will

It was a dark and stormy Sunday....

Last week, a news update on RTA's "floating" of its proposal for three new streetcar lines had us speculating on the potential for "floating streetcars" and their utility in case of citywide street flooding which is prone to happen around here from time to time. On Sunday, as our (regular) streetcar made the turn onto Carondelet street from a fairly flooded Howard Avenue, I began to wonder if we might see one of these floating vehicles sooner than previously expected. Although we managed to make it to the Girod street stop without our car coming untracked, we disembarked right into the middle of a freaking monsoonicane.

The rain was coming hard and fast and at windblown angles which rendered my umbrella useful only for the sake of producing comic absurdity. Not having access to "Monster Truck Shcrimp Boots" I was forced to wade through the flood in my off-brand canvas sneakers (the right one having a small hole in the bottom) which not only fail to repel but actually absorb a fair amount of water themselves. My legs were soaked from the knees down. The conditions were deteriorating to a such a point that only Jim Cantore would have been fit to endure them. Luckily, I remembered that the Louisiana Superdome has, on occasion, been put to use as a storm shelter. And so, despite the looming potential for horror (both Reggie Bush and Jeremy Shockey were expected to be on site), we decided to take our chances there anyway.

Saints Vs. Lions (Game photos by David Grunfeld stolen by me from NOLA.com)

  • Everybody else is saying it so we might as well get in on this too. The Lions' points total is not reflective of the play of the Saints' defense which was actually quite good. Two of the Lions' three touchdowns were set up by a long punt return and a big pass play surrendered by a rookie DB just off the bench. The third was a defensive score.

    Yes, Detroit started a rookie quarterback, but it's been a long time since Saints fans have seen a three interception game from the home team and the sight was a welcome one. Even more encouraging was the defense's ability to limit Kevin Smith, one of the more talented and underrated backs in football, to 20 yards on 15 carries. The key to winning football games consistently is not getting shoved around by the opponent's running attack. Maybe this wasn't the most difficult test one could devise for the Saints but it should be noted that they did pass it. One nit we could pick is with the still underwhelming sack total but we'll let that go for this week.

    Jonathan Vilma sacks Matthew Stafford Sunday. The Saints' D may be starting to Smell the Greatness

  • Good Malcolm Jenkins: Prior to this game, Saints coaches had determined that 2009 number one draft choice Malcolm Jenkins would see the field only on special teams. This proved to be a wise decision during the third quarter when Jenkins ran down Detroit's Aaron Brown from behind on a kickoff return saving a touchdown. After Brown's 87 yard return the Saints held the Lions to a field goal. A touchdown there would have closed the Saints' lead to 7 points.

    Bad Malcolm Jenkins: Prior to this game, Saints coaches had determined that 2009 number one draft choice Malcolm Jenkins would see the field only on special teams. The wisdom of this decision was in evidence during the third quarter when Jenkins was forced into action on a third down play while Tracy Porter was momentarily shaken up. As we watched Jenkins enter the game, we wondered if the Lions would find a way to exploit the rookie. As the teams set up at the line of scrimmage, we noticed Jenkins lined up directly accross from Calvin Johnson. Hmm, that doesn't seem like a very good idea, we said. It wasn't. Johnson shook free of Jenkins to make the catch and then broke Jenkins' weak attempt at a tackle before rumbling 64 yards to the Saints' 2 yard line. This play set up Detroit's second touchdown. Well that and a bogus personal foul penalty which awarded the Lions extra downs with which to work. Okay and also a blown call on Sedric Ellis' stripping of the ball from Kevin Smith on the first of those extra downs. But none of that would have been possible without Jenkins' screw-up.

  • This week's Dome complaint: With a little over three minutes left to play in the first half, Poochie caught a touchdown pass. I needed a break. I still had half a flask of rum left but was out of coke and if Poochie was going to be scoring touchdowns I would need to mix a few more cocktails.

    Now I'm not usually one to complain about waiting in line. I recognize that I am just one of many people who might want a coke during the football game. But if we're going to spend the remainder of the first half waiting in line to pay $5.00 for mixer, then the least stadium management could do would be make sure the closed-circuit television in working at the concession stand. Thanks to the malfunctioning TV, I heard but did not see Darren Sharper's first interception of Matthew Stafford which kind of sucks. On the other hand, it also meant that I didn't have to watch Poochie score another touchdown. So I guess this is really a push for this week.

    If I didn't see it, do I get to pretend it didn't happen?

  • Uh oh the kicker doesn't suck but everybody else on special teams does: John Carney is old. HOW OLD IS HE? John Carney is SO OLD that he has had his name legally changed to "“45 year-old John Carney”"... or at least that's what Varg reported. I had no access to the Fox broadcast (or even closed circuit TV) from inside the Superdome so I can't verify this. So Carney is pretty old. But, unlike numerous other recent specimens Saints fans have examined, he's still a pretty reliable kicker.

    The rest of the Saints' special teams: Not so reliable. Robert Meachem had one nice return to open the game and proceeded to look ridiculous the rest of the day tripping over his own feet and dancing indecisively like... well sort of like Reggie Bush. Bush also participated on special teams. (I wonder if he received one of those "Be Special" T-shirts last week) His performance was so essentially Bush-like that it seemed almost too perfect to be real. Reggie Bush managed to run ineffectively from scrimmage, give up ground unnecessarily on punt returns AND fumble three times. (One fumble was overruled by replay, but don't think we don't know what you did Reggie.)

    Meanwhile the Saints' kick coverage was horrendous. The Lions had an 87 yard kickoff return and a 43 yard punt return each of which led to points. Add to this a protection break down leading to a blocked Carney field goal attempt and you end up with a very, um, Bush-like day for the Saints' special teams altogether. I wonder if all the persons involved got those shirts.

  • One other exception to the special teams suckery was the play of Thomas Morstead. Although the coverage let him down a few times, his punts were hit and placed well. And five of his kickoffs made it into the endzone. The Saints traded up with Philadelphia in order to acquire Morstead in the draft this year. I wonder if the Eagles would be willing to take Bush off the Saints' hands as an amendment to this deal.

    Thomas Morstead gave us a whiff of Greatness on Sunday which we thought was pretty Special

  • Drew Brees threw 6 touchdowns. We think Brees is a pretty good quarterback which is unusual for someone who looks so much like David Carradine. It's also unusual for someone with such below-average arm strength. Brees was asked to throw two passes Sunday that are really meant to be thrown by someone with an NFL caliber arm. He got away with it when Robert Meachem came back to catch a touchdown pass which seemed to hang in the air forever. He didn't get away with it when he was asked to throw a pass off the flea-flicker from Reggie Bush. (WTF Payton still allows Bush to participate in trick plays that call for tossing the ball backwards?) This interception was actually described in Monday morning's T-P as having "amounted to a punt" It certainly resembled one in its trajectory.

    Drew Brees throwing the ball for all his sorry little arm is worth. Dude is the weakest ass awesome quarterback in history.

  • The worst thing about the flea-flicker interception was that Brees was trying to hit Devery Henderson who was well covered by four Lions in the middle of the field. Meanwhile, we noticed Marques Colston running wide open toward the corner of the endzone. Since we know that Brees gets away with being such a poor thrower on the strength of his superior vision and field awareness, we are tempted to conclude that Brees was ignoring Colston on purpose. At this point in the game Colston had already dropped two passes, one of which nearly caromed into the hands of a defender. Was Brees putting Colston in timeout? And, more importantly, what's up with Colston dropping the ball all of a sudden?

    Yes, I'm sure we love you too. But catch the damn ball already.

  • Stat of the game: Mike Bell in the fourth quarter: 11 carries for 56 yards. Bell and the Saints needed to put the game away by grinding out the clock and the Lions couldn't stop it from happening. Replicate that performance against non-Detroit competition and we may have to upgrade our pre-season expectations for this team.

    Note to Superdome management: This Anita Ward song contains a universally recognized signature effect that we suggest you may want to sample and play over the PA system, say, whenever Mike Bell does something of import. But not every time he touches the ball. That would be annoying. Otherwise we will be forced to continue making the sound ourselves for the benefit of the people sitting in our section... which we already know is annoying.


  • Disturbing Trend: Saints fans are usually treated to two standard scoreboard games during the course of the afternoon. The first is a McDonald's commercial wherein we play Three Card Monte by following an electronically generated hamburger concealed within one of three virtual french fry boxes. I've become quite good at this game (particularly since my latest eyeglass prescription) and look forward to the small victory of finding the hamburger during every home game. Lately, though, this satisfaction has been diminished by a disturbing trend in the second scoreboard game.

    The second round of virtual Three Card Monte is an anti-drunk driving promotion which asks us to follow an ignition key hidden beneath one of three empty go-cups. The cups dance, and even blur a little, but, with a little concentration, the key isn't hard to follow. The problem here is that the creators of this ad are purposely out to shatter our confidence in our ability to concentrate. They want us to fail this test. "Now, are you sure you're okay to drive?" the smug bastards want to ask. And so they lie. Through the magic of computer animation, the key is never actually under the cup it's supposed to be under.

    Unfortunately, if they're trying to use this game to convince someone like me not to trust my inebriated decision making abilities, they've failed. I mean, now that I know which cup the key definitely isn't under, I'm left with a 50/50 choice and dammit I'll take those odds every time, especially if I'm a little tanked.

    The disturbing trend part of this is that, stretching back to last season and including this year's pre-season games, I've now taken and lost this gambit ten consecutive times. I'm like the Detroit Lions of the drunken find-the-key game. How is this possible? Or more importantly, what does it mean? You could say that maybe it means I really am too drunk to drive by the fourth quarter of a Saints home game, but I ride the floating streetcar to the Superdome so there's got to be something else going on here. The Saints are on the road for the next two weeks, so we've at least got that long to try and puzzle this out.

Now whose medium is dying?

Despite all the bullshit techno-speak and false narratives about trends and generational differences, the only point about the rise of the blogosphere worth paying attention to was the way in which it created a public discourse driven by independent non-commercial voices instead of for-profit ad-farming institutions. Obviously, that couldn't last forever. Sooner or later the "creative class" finds a way to make it all about selling Red Bull again.

Maybe we could have prevented this by not saying fuck so much. I guess the world will never know.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I gotta say

I do like David Hammer's new gig

Also, the worst thing about football season finally beginning in earnest is that means the end of the ridiculous but fun smack talk that's been going on between Saints fans and Lions fans (or at least people posing as Lions fans) on NOLA.com for the past four or five months.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Bring something back for Saints fans to consume too

8.00 draught beer

My favorite Trend-bucking newspaper is on to something serious as we head into the NFL's opening weekend.

Dome foam gets pricier
by Richard A. Webster Staff Writer

When the Saints' 2009 season kicks off Sunday thirsty fans may notice a slight change in the price of their favorite beverage.

Instead of paying $7 for a 16-ounce bottle of beer, they're going to have to shell out an extra 50 cents.

And if they're in the mood for something stronger, maybe a Grey Goose vodka, it will cost them an additional $1 as cocktails have increased from $8 compared with $7 last year.

But other than that, all other alcohol prices remain the same. The only other item to go up in price is the hot dog, which rises from $3.50 to $4.

"With the recession we're trying to hold the line," said Jeff Tandberg, general manager of Centerplate, the exclusive concessions provider to the Louisiana Superdome and New Orleans Arena. "And as a small-market team, we can't get the pricing that large-market teams with higher per-capita incomes can get."
So Tandberg is telling us that if our local economy hadn't "bucked the trend" so much we might have gotten in on a bigger recession discount or something like that I guess.

I've highlighted the $8 cocktails because this includes the famous Superdome Bloody Marys which were recently named by Gambit readers as among the Best of New Orleans. But this rating is based solely on reputation since, last season, the NFL instructed Superdome concessionaires that they were no longer allowed to sell their "double" sized drinks (which were actually equivalent to a "single" in civilized society). In their heyday (two years ago), the Dome Bloody Doubles were, in fact, among the best available anywhere and were priced at $9. Today Saints fans are paying $8 for a greatly diminished micro-sized imitation of the drink that was once an indispensable element of the Saints gameday experience.

The worst of this is that most of the revenue generated from this fleecing of the football fan bypasses the coffers of the State whose people paid to make its generation possible (not to mention the pockets of the contract employees who dispense the sad watery swill), and goes directly to Tom Benson.

What would Huey say?

Friday, September 11, 2009

This clarifies absolutely nothing

Looks like the 8th Circuit has ruled that Pat and Kevin Williams can continue with their lawsuit because of specific Minnesota drug testing laws but such laws would not apply in the cases of Deuce McAllister, Will Smith, and Charles Grant. Those three players could appeal to the Supreme Court but given their previous public comments on the matter they would appear disinclined to do so.

Meanwhile, it's difficult to say whether or not the league will enforce their suspensions before the Williams' case is resolved especially since all of this is happening during the run-up to CBA negotiations. Stay tuned.

Deep Thought

James Perry is the Ron Paul of the 2010 Mayoral campaign. Tremendous appeal to a highly committed circle of goofballs and pseudo-intellectuals who play on the internet a lot. Which means he's got a lock on about 2.5% of the vote.

Moving on

What Eli said.

Stop feeding the trolls. It's what they want.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Saints 2009: Now we can haz cheezburger? Or the end of all things, whichever comes first?

On yesterday* the President welcomed America's schoolchildren back from vacation. Now I know that there's been a lot of crap in the news about whether or not the contents of his speech amounted to an inspirational pep talk or a cryto-commie subterfuge but, to me, the only real significance here is that Summer is officially over**. The President has declared it so.

And not a moment too soon either because, seriously, what the fuck was that all about? When we look back on Summer 2009 (and with access to the proper drugs we may not have to) what will we think on the most fondly? The Death Panels? The Michael Jackson funeral? The Uncle Rico Scandal? The Bill Jefferson conviction? The car bombings? Buying the Chevron building? Not buying the Chevron building? Abita Satsuma? The oil spills? (no one will remember the oil spills) Jesus Christ all this AND my cat died too. The President doesn't just need to declare this thing over, he needs to reimburse us for this clunker.

In all fairness, though, we really shouldn't blame the weirdness on the summer. For one thing, the crazy isn't isolated to these past few months. For another thing, I think I already know who to blame. I blame the Saints for all of this and here's why.

I'm not interested in turning this into yet another mediation on the scene in New Orleans as many of us returned in the wake of the Federal Flood. Each of us has his and her own personal experience with the life-sized surreality-in-the-round to ponder on from that time so I won't presume to describe it to you. I only ask you to draw upon these experiences so that you will know in what context I mean to say that, of all this, the most bizarre and irreconcilable fact of our post-flood world to me is the fact that we're actually still here.

I mean, the world ended, didn't it? Those of us who grew up here had been told for most of our lives to expect that one day our sinking marsh metropolis was going to be wiped away and we along with it. Many of us had actually kind of resigned ourselves to that fact. Some of us pretty much spent our twenties just kind of goofing off and waiting for it to happen, really. Call it a secular version of what the Rapture Ready crowd does. But then the Rapture came and went and now, four years later, those of us who are Left Behind wonder, what do we do now? What are we waiting for? Is something else supposed to happen? I think, yes.

Something is supposed to happen. Or rather something was supposed to happen. The day after the Saints' loss to Chicago in the 2006-07 NFC Championship game, I wrote

Sports fandom is ultimately a fantasy that we all give.. I think.. a little too much power as a metaphor. I know I certainly do. For example, had the Saints indeed won yesterday, I am certain I would not be sitting here this morning. I was prepared to declare life as we knew it officially over and revel in the post-apocalyptic morass until my corporeal self expired.. probably within the week. If a Saints Super Bowl appearance isn't your classic opportunity for a "From Hell's heart I stab at thee" moment I don't know what is. I'm not joking. Yesterday was a glorious opportunity to destroy this rotten world by fire. What a bummer it was to find out that the rapture was snowed in.

And yet here I am again.. in this same place trying to make sense of it all once more. I remind myself that life as we know it already ended in August 2005. The fact that our very real post-apocalyptic morass is distinguished from the muddling life of mediocrity that existed before only by the thousands of displaced disrupted or ruined lives and the dwindling hope for relief does not speak well for continued eschatological enthusiasm.
After having had a few more years with which to reflect upon these issues, I have determined that the apocalyptic cycle, due to be completed that day, was foiled by, of all things, a Saints loss. At first this may strike you as an inelegant theory but I've come to believe it's the only thing that makes any sense.

The more I think on the progress of events that followed the Saints failure to end it all in Chicago, the more convinced I am that we're not really supposed to be here anymore; that we've moved into a realm of existence beyond what we formerly understood as reality but not been allowed to pass entirely on to the next plane.

We live now in a shadow world where the highly improbable becomes possible. Consider the following facts selected from recent years:

  • The Saints have sold out their fourth consecutive season and have formally agreed to stay in New Orleans for another 15 years

  • I have accurately predicted their exact win total in each of the previous two seasons

  • I got married

  • Clancy Dubos bought me a beer

  • The U.S. President is an African American man named Barack Hussein Obama

  • Ed Blakely

  • Sarah Palin

  • Dambala turns out not to be a mysterious undead snake worshiping zombie thing, but is instead some guy named Jason Berry However, for one day, he was also Jacques Morial

There's more but I won't belabor the point. Search your own personal life for more examples. I know they're there. The obvious fact remains. We've been removed from normal time-space and left to fumble about blindly in a strange and incomprehensible ghost world and it's clearly Sean Payton's fault. And all this time we thought he just wanted to kill grandmas.

The good news is, now that the President has declared the end of another summer, Payton and the Saints are presented with a new opportunity to finish the job of putting us out of our misery. Is the 2009 squad finally ready to do us this service? Probably not. But this is the time of the improbable so let's try and sort out the truth from the illusion as best we're able. Here is an arbitrary list of ten items aimed at accomplishing some of this:

  1. Anthony Hargrove will have the greatest impact of any newcomer this season. Quick, versatile, and motivated, Hargrove looks like a guy who knows he's getting a second chance and wants to make the most of it. The Saints' coaches think he may be another LaRoi Glover and I'm inclined to agree with them.

  2. Marques Colston will play at an all-pro level. That is, as long as he and his quarterback remain healthy.

  3. Poochie and Bush are still on the team. Bush is blissfully irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. But, since the Saints have no other healthy tight ends, Poochie will get plenty of opportunities to turn the ball over and throw hissy fits. This worries me.

  4. When and if the Smith and Grant suspensions occur, Smith will be missed. Grant not so much.

  5. Question: Why are Saints coaches so high on Jermon Bushrod? Answer: They don't have much of a choice. Bushrod is the only healthy left tackle available at present. Would you say anything in the media to damage his confidence? Still, if they aren't bothered by the fact that the left tackle on opening day is making his first career start, they're nuts.

  6. I'm not sold on Pierre Thomas this year. It usually looks like a mistake to me when an athlete who relies primarily on agility decides to suddenly put on an extra ten pounds. I wouldn't be surprised if his current injury has something to do with his overloaded frame.

  7. As for Mike Bell, how many star running backs can you name who switched teams in the prime of their careers with much success? Let's see there's Marshall Faulk and then... um... The Saints will continue to struggle to run the ball effectively this year.

  8. Fire Miles 2009: Okay this item really doesn't fit here but I had to get it in somehow. Surprisingly I find myself among the few LSU fans actually not freaking out this week. Washington gave the Tigers all they could handle and I think they responded well. The more I see Jordan Jefferson play the more convinced I am of his ability. He's still young but he's as talented as any quarterback in the SEC and that includes the uber-douche Tebow. Here's one knock at Miles just for the hell of it. LSU won the opening coin toss but Les Miles decided to put his shaky defense on the field first allowing the homestanding underdog Huskies to set the tone early. I never understand why any coach elects to kick the ball away to start a game but Miles is an idiot anyway so let's not act too shocked.

  9. Gregg Williams is not Jesus. I've been resistant to the argument that all this defense needed was one more chubby guy screaming at them from the sidelines. But, dude, Williams is "emphasizing turnovers" the kids say, as if he's the first defensive coach in history to think of that. I hear the offense is "emphasizing scoring" this year too. It's brilliant if you can do it. If the defense improves at all it will be because of Hargrove and Darren Sharper. Positive, yes, but how many wins is it that really good for?

  10. Meanwhile, how many wins will the kicking game cost? It seems we're asking this question every year. And every year the answer is at least 3. This season, things could be worse than ever. Garrett Hartley was inconsistent this pre-season hitting a couple of 50+ yarders but missing twice from inside the 30. I can't decide if his four game suspension helps or hurts matters. It leaves things in the care of John Carney and his advanced age for at least a quarter of the season. Plus, there's always the possibility that the new "fuckn snapper" is less reliable as the old one, and that guy was selling bogus "tac creits". If the Saints can't win it all this year, at least let them lose one on a botched snap at some point. Surely this will help restore at least some cosmic validity to the universe.

Look, I tried to do one of these deals where we look at the schedule and try to guess which games are wins or losses but I thought better of it because guessing at match-ups in December from here seems ridiculous. Also the print on my key-ring schedule is too small and difficult to read.

Three things we can say about these Saints are the same three things we've said for three years now. The offense will score but can't dominate anybody physically. The defense needs to show improvement before we believe in it. The kicking game is severely fucked. Depending on how the luck goes, these Saints look like they can win as many as 10 or as few as 5 games. Obviously it would take more than that to win a championship and free the universe from limbo but nobody said that had to happen this year. The other day, my boss pointed out to me that, according to some interpretations of the Mayan calendar, the world isn't actually scheduled to end until 2012. So there's time. Maybe we'll get there but for now let's call it 9-7 with a hopeful toast to the eventual end of the world.

*This is a tribute to a fourth grade teacher of mine who was exceptionally fond of the phrases "On yesterday" or "On tomorrow" which always sounded strange to me. She also often referred to alpha-indicated items on the blackboard as "Numeral A", "Numeral B" etc. This also sounded weird. (When I began writing this post, the Obama speech to children could still accurately be described as "On Yesterday")

**equinox shmeequinox

I think it means 6 more weeks of Hurricane Season

Mike the Tiger won't go in his trailer, might miss LSU's football game against Vanderbilt

That's a different lie, do you remember what was said?

Already the overreaction to South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson's minor heckle of the President is becoming ridiculous. Personally I think Congresspersons ought to be allowed to holler out loud as much as they want to. I've never been one to give much of a shit about decorum or protocol, particularly in politics. Preoccupation with style over substance is, after all, precisely where facts get lost.

Not good, Perry

The Labor Day picnic for the AFL-CIO often signals the start to the political season.

“Summer's over, kids are back in school, people are starting to look at both football and politics in this country and Louisiana,” said longtime political consultant Ron Nabonne.

But Nabonne said this has been a strange and slow start to next February's mayoral race.

Only two announced mayoral candidates tried to line up early votes at City Park on Monday: State Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, and state Sen. Ed Murray, D-New Orleans.

Wait. I thought the third "announced candidate" in this race was a young "Progressive" with an interest in social justice and change and all that stuff. At least that's what a bunch of people keep posting on his Facebook page anyway. One would think a guy like that would pretty much own the AFL-CIO Labor Day event. Where was Master Perry, then?
Attorney James Perry has already announced he is running, but told Eyewitness News he wouldn't be campaigning Monday, instead spending the day with his family.
Dude, seriously, even John Georges was there and he's not even in the race yet. Perry, it seems, is still trying to run an entire mayoral campaign from inside the Tweeter Tube. Why is that? Is he grounded? Does he have Swine Flu? Even in the age of the internets, a successful candidate for office will have mastered the mysterious political arts of going outside and talking to people. If he's not going to come out now, he surely can't expect anyone to come out for him on election day.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I figure some of the readers are expecting some sort of football comment this week

I've got the big post sitting in the hopper but wasn't able to finish it today due to other business. However, here is something I cannot let go unshared.
Black T-shirts bearing "Super Bowl 44" and inspirational phrases as "Smell Greatness," "Be Special" and "Finish Strong" were distributed to players in the locker room Wednesday.
Those sure are some inspirational phrases!

What Adrastos Said

This has been an exceedingly rare edition of What Adrastos Said.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Smith and Grant to play Sunday

A lot of Saints fans probably would rather just get the suspension over with now. But I think I'd rather see the whole team there on opening day. So... yeah... good news.

London Avenue Canal

Yeah I know that I tend to have a less than sunny attitude about stuff but I can't be the only person who reads this and immediately knows which floodwalls not to stand next to.... whenever it might be less than sunny outside.
The Army Corps of Engineers announced today that it will close floodgates in the London Avenue Canal when the elevation of Lake Pontchartrain at the canal's mouth hits 2.5 feet and is still rising -- even during heavy, non-tropical rain events -- a major policy shift in operation of the gates built after Hurricane Katrina.

Update: Much more from Clay

Mid- morning news spittoon

  • Last week, Michele Krupa reporting on the newly "Institutionalized Recovery" wrote the following.
    Three days after Austin Penny was named a top director in Mayor Ray Nagin's next-generation recovery bureaucracy, a city spokesman confirmed Thursday that Penny is poised to leave city government, setting up another leadership transition in New Orleans' ongoing rebuilding effort.

    Meanwhile, Kenya Smith, a former top advisor to Nagin who quit last year to run for Congress, is returning to City Hall as a recovery manager and may replace Penny in the high-profile post, spokesman James Ross said.
    More like re-generation recovery bureaucracy, thought I. Today we see this process continues unabated.

  • Meanwhile, la la la, MWI, pumps shmumps. Whatever. All this stuff is soooo 2007, right?
    A federal whistle-blower continues to claim that temporary hydraulic pumps in New Orleans outfall canals aren't properly tested and contain potentially fatal flaws that could cause them to fail catastrophically in a hurricane.

    Since late 2006, California resident Maria Garzino has repeatedly lodged these complaints against some of her Army Corps of Engineers co-workers, mostly in New Orleans, and the Florida company that manufactured the 40 pumps in question.

  • RTA's new streetcar proposals are continuing to be "floated" Personally I think floating streetcars in New Orleans is a pretty damn good idea, especially given the questionable status of the pumps. Probably at least as good as levitating trains anyway. There are three proposed routes here. Typically, the proposal that makes the most sense to locals is the one with the least solid funding status.

  • A contrarian's view of the Obama speech to schoolchildren non-issue:

    When I was in grammar school, my classmates and I were routinely subjected to various assemblies where a supposed role model... or often just the school principal... would belt all sorts of propaganda at us about the value of "study and hard work" and how we were all expected to "succeed" according to some ill-conceived definition of "success" or whatever.

    And then it was back to school where we were subjected to soul-crushing regimentation, absurd discipline, and the unspoken truth that "success" was really just a matter of keeping one's head down, causing no trouble, and muddling through.

    The day-to-day grind was fine, though. It was a fair approximation of real life and one could find ways to cope with that if one was creative or thick-skinned enough. But the assemblies and the celebrity speeches, those were the difficult times. Those were the times when the transparent falseness of the whole arrangement was most in evidence. If I were still in school and had to sit through the President's delivery of one of these Big Lies, I would never forgive the fucker. So it's a bit of a surprise to me to see his political opponents so up in arms over him being given an opportunity to lose a generation this way.

  • The city's plan for redeveloping the Municipal Auditorium is...
    The administration's request for proposals, or RFP, says it wants proposals "for an alternate adaptive use of this historic structure" and its operation "as a long-term economic commercial business enterprise."

    The document says the city is interested in turning the still mold-infested building into "a world-class state-of-the-art multi use sound and video production facility for . . . the creative media industry and other traditional uses while creating an incubator for the next generation digital media entrepreneurs."

    It says the redevelopment plan "should incorporate a vibrant mix of uses that are sensitive to and fully integrated into the surrounding historic Armstrong Park and Treme community." The plan must also respect the building's architecture and "historical significance."
    Beyond, "well at least we aren't knocking it down" what the hell does this even mean? Does "incubator for the next generation digital media entrepreneurs" mean we're building a warehouse where we can lock these people away? Because, yeah that would actually be pretty awesome.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sending in the A Team

In preparation for tonight's season-opening match-up between the LSU Tigers and the Washington Huskies, I refer you to this anecdote from Rene at Blackened Out about a 2003 dinner in a Seattle restaurant with a traveling party of Saints' team officials and friends.
From the moment we walk in, you would have thought we each had two Aaron Brooks heads. Service was slow, food was poorly cooked, and getting a drink was harder than king crab fishing. At some point, someone (might have been Councilman-at-Large Arnie Fielkow) got up, and delivered a speech thanking the city of Seattle for wonderful hospitality and wishing for a great game tomorrow. Hear Ye, Cheers, and Bravo's all around. Had this been in Galatoire's, not an eyelash would have batted.

Unfortunately, we soon realized we were not in Nahlins no more. Within 5 minutes, the bill had been delivered, and the proprietress was ushering out of the place saying, "your behavior is inappropriate, GET OUT NOW BEFORE I CALL THE COPS, Scram, Skidaddle." We left the restaurant, vowing to never return. And I haven't but mostly because I haven't been to Seattle again.

So if you are an LSU fan and in Seattle this weekend, kick their ass, and make a lot of noise. Its called payback, Seattle, and its a bitch. You thought Saints fans were obnoxious, alcoholic show offs? You aint seen nothing yet.
According to the T-P, there could be as many as 20,000 rowdy LSU fans in Seattle this weekend. And it's a night game. This could be fun.

Two items we could not let go unquoted

  • James Gill on PBJ's Holy Helicopter adventures:
    Although Jindal is a Catholic, he has an ecumenical streak and takes Protestant services in stride. The Advocate viewed a video of Jindal among the Baptists of north Louisiana declaring that it would be "arrogant to do anything but get on my knees and worship Him."

    His humility does not come cheap for the taxpayer. The helicopter runs $1,200 an hour, meaning that just the 14 trips documented by the Advocate cost $45,000, and that does not include the salaries of the aides and cops who are obliged to spend Sundays in such burgs as Coushatta, Robeline and Rayville. Perhaps these guys are all pious too, but they'd still need the patience of Job.

  • Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand on the subject of teenagers dancing atop the hoods of JP squad cars.
    "We're looking for any information relative to these three knuckleheads and the shenanigans that they (play) on that automobile,"

    Unfortunately for us, the video of the the "knuckleheads" has been removed from Youtube.

    BTW, what is up with JPSO cruisers suddenly becoming the hot new dance venues in town? Knuckleheads are doing it, strippers are getting into the act. I call shenanigans!

Friday, September 04, 2009

One-sentence book notes

Zeitoun Dave Eggers

The next motherfucker I find "thanking" all the hillbilly paramilitary fucks who came to "help" us a week after the flood is getting a kick to the head.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Three Questions

How long did it take for Cerasoli to release his first report? (Seems like a long time given the incessant "Wait til the IG report comes out" comments I had to read) And, from a certain point of view, couldn't his tenure here also have been described as "embattled"? And, forgive me if I'm wrong, but he also resigned somewhat suddenly, didn't he?

One of three candidates to be interviewed today for the post of inspector general for the city of New Orleans resigned his current post as inspector general of Baltimore on Monday, according to a story in the Baltimore Sun.

The Sun article described Hilton Green as "embattled" prior to his resignation, saying that his office had "developed a reputation among some city officials as unproductive." It took Green 18 months to release his first report, the article said, and the report had few if any major revelations in it.

Here are some interesting quotes from that Sun article.

The long-awaited 18-page report included a two-page introduction and a four-page summary of Green's prior work as a city housing inspector. It showed the office, a staff of five that includes a sheriff's deputy, has investigated 67 complaints since July, closing 54 of them and referring four to the city state's attorney's office for prosecution.

Nilson said the report was not fully informative and "didn't say to me that [the inspector general's office] was knocking the city's socks off."

Many City Council members agreed, and a week ago voted 9-5 to slash $200,000 from the inspector general's $500,000 annual budget. It was the only agency they cut, though Dixon quickly said she would likely veto that move and reinstate the office's funding.

It's like Bizzarro World or something. Didn't we just go through a bloody battle over our City Council's push to increase the IG's funding? Also of note, the Baltimore IG looks from this article to be a direct mayoral appointee.

Update: It's all moot since they went with this guy.
NEW ORLEANS -- Rev. Kevin Wildes announced that Edouard Quatrevaux has been named the New Orleans inspector general.
More later Got a fake football game to catch.

House of Fail

I'll have to see about giving this a try soon... before it goes under like everything else in that location ever does.

At least these people have a fall-back plan.

Krantz said the Magazine location features 15 tables for lunch and dinner crowds, up from five tables at the Metairie location, but filling all the seats has been a challenge.

“It’s been slow, but I think everybody’s pretty much slow right now,” she said. “We had a nice established business going in Metairie, so it’s really tough losing that right now.”

Once the insurance claims from the fire are settled, Krantz said she hopes to return to Metairie.

Something you don't see every day

The mail carrier just walked in and asked us what our address is before retrieving the appropriate items for delivery.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Peter King buys the Favre hype but not the Gregg Williams thing so much

Pegs the 2009 Vikings at 10-6 and the Saints at 7-9

I'm not ready to say what kind of team I think the Saints have quite yet. But King loves quarterbacks a bit too much. So much that even the addition of a so-so guy like Jay Cutler is enough to get the Bears in the Superbowl, apparently.

Slow painful death

Via Oyster we find Matt Taibbi complaining about the NFL's ever-tightening rules governing the use of hands by defensive backs and hitting upon one of the best descriptions of good football I've ever come across:
Add in the fact that offensive tackles are allowed to hold on virtually every play, and you have a game that’s more and more like basketball every year. Football should be like watching a slow, painful death, and not in the “I’ve had to watch 500 Subway five-dollar footlong commercials in three hours” sense of slow, painful death, but real, terrifying, on-field death.
It says something about either the patience of the average sports fan or, more accurately, what is expected of it, that it's no longer assumed that some of us are actually watching for nuance and substance rather than for the sake of seeing things light up.

It's one of the reasons I'm not such a big fan of Coach Soupy. Sometimes I think he'd rather be playing X-box than coaching actual football. Certainly he's not the "slow painful death" sort. He tends to go for swiftly killing Grandma instead.

"News douche"?

Wow the catch-phrases are coming at us rather quickly as of late. The most recent comes to us from Wayne Curtis via Kevin Allman in this essay about reading the newspaper on a Kindle.

Marshall McLuhan, or somebody like Marshall McLuhan, once said that you don’t actually read the morning paper, you slip into it like a bath. That about nails it. But reading the Times on the Kindle feels nothing like taking a bath. It’s more like getting a news douche.

Apparently you can get your news douche from the New York Times for the rather douchey price of $13.95 a month. Meanwhile, yesterday's T-P contained this notice stating that, beginning in October, you can receive home delivery of the Monday "Viewpoint" section and the decidedly douchey stylings of Chris Rose for a whopping $18.95


That looks more like a news enema than anything else.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Institutionalizing the recovery

Whatever the mission might have been, it seems to have been accomplished
In the latest reshuffling of his administration's often-reorganized bureaucracy, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has announced that the 2-year-old Office of Recovery and Development Administration, the far-reaching agency formerly headed by Ed Blakely, is being dissolved. Nagin said the realignment is aimed at furthering the city's transition from recovery planning to implementation.
No time like the last 6-8 months of an administration to start implementing stuff. Seems like somebody was saying something about this recently... just before he became a celebrity.
I bring JC (Johnson Controls) up now, because I want to remind folks that the biggest shennanigans in an Executive public official's reign usually occur in the last leg of his/her tenure. We are approaching that last leg with Senor Nagin. I think we may be on the verge of another Johnson Controls scenario...Nagin's version that is.
Back to Nagin

"We have overcome many bureaucratic challenges over the last several years that have allowed us to change our focus from planning to programming dollars 'in the ground' to institutionalize this recovery, " Nagin said this week. "This is what the Project Delivery Unit has been created to do: implement!

For now we will resist the temptation to ruminate upon the possible meanings of the fun phrase "institutionalize this recovery". Suffice to say, it's one of the best things to come out of the mouth of a local public person since Bob Cerasoli told us he was going to sophisticate up the corruption.

The upside of this is... we hope... that "implementation" means some of the money about to be thrown around will end up in some places where it can do some good. And, I mean, the law of averages says some of it has to, right? The article lists a few projects that may soon get underway including parks and playgrounds and "$3.9 million for the Fire Department" although it doesn't say specifically what that money does.

On the other hand, it also mentions that more properties have been cleared for FEMA funded demolition. It's maddening that the city continues to classify demolition funds as "recovery dollars". And since a separate news item informs us that Kenya Smith has returned from his quixotic mission to defeat "citizen complacency" and taken some sort of position of importance in the Implementation Institution, we aren't quite as confident as we should be.

Discussion question

I was recently privy to (or perhaps tangentially involved in) a discussion which momentarily featured the following statement.

99% of blogging is inane

Now I happen to agree with this statement wholeheartedly but it seems that some participants in this discussion feel that there are individuals who may possibly find it insulting. So I want to be clear about the question up for debate here. It isn't whether the featured statement is true (because it quite obviously is). And it isn't whether or not some people might find it offensive (because I'm beginning to think that this is quite possible). The question is, wouldn't these offended persons then, almost by definition, be spectacular self-awareness-deficient turds? And why does anybody care what they think?

The whole episode inspired me to trot out this "Statement of Audience" I originally copied and signed off on when I read the definitive essay on blogging waay back in 2003. True today as it was then... perhaps moreso.

When the fire that burns in the predator's eyes takes another disguise with a different face*

If we continue to tell ourselves that there really is such a thing as a "non-politician" candidate, then we're going to continue to be burned when the supposed outsiders start to suddenly act all insidery... as though nobody could have predicted it.... except some people did.

At Rising Tide this year, John Slade got a big round of applause when he told us the lesson he had learned from the Ray Nagin experience was the folly of electing a "businessman" rather than a politician. I think the lesson is that all politicians are politicians. Although some of them like to sell themselves as something else. Rest assured at least one candidate in 2010 will run as an "outsider" based on his/her business credentials or extra-NOLA nativity or enthusiasm for Twitter or some such thing. Rest assured that candidate will be full of shit.