Friday, April 30, 2010

Lake Landrieu

Cannot stress this enough Fuck. You. Mary Landrieu.
In two previous congressional hearings, Landrieu minimized the chance of such a massive accident occurring on an offshore oil rig and also downplayed the impact of any oil spill, saying it would hardly fill one-third of the reflecting pool outside of the Capitol.

At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last November to discuss the environmental impact of offshore oil drilling, Landrieu dismissed concerns about the chances of a blowout -- which occurred off the coast of Australia last August -- happening in the Gulf of Mexico:

You said it was the largest spill in Australia's history. It's true. It leaked 823,000 gallons of oil. As Mr. Cruickshank testified, it wouldn't even be allowed in this country because it doesn't stand up to our strict environmental rules.

But let's say we had messed up and allowed it to produce oil off of our shores, it would be one-third of the amount necessary to fill the Reflecting Pool outside of this Capitol. It's the largest spill in the history of Australia. It's a pretty long history. The rig that blew didn't meet our standards but if we had it slip through and we had allowed it to drill, the oil that spilled would fill up a third of the Reflecting Pool.

Or it might already be worse than it just was

WASHINGTON—The Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be leaking at a rate of 25,000 barrels a day, five times the government's current estimate, industry experts say.

WSJ (requires subscription)

We're gonna need a timeline of misinformation on this event. Every day we learn that what we learned yesterday wasn't true and that the truth is worse.

Update: No sooner do I write that than do I find this TPM timeline already in production.

In case you were wondering how bad it can still get

Pretty bad.

The worst-case scenario for the broken and leaking well gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico would be the loss of the wellhead currently restricting the flow to 5,000 barrels -- or 210,000 gallons per day.

If the wellhead is lost, oil could leave the well at a much greater rate, perhaps up to 150,000 barrels -- or more than 6 million gallons per day -- based on government data showing daily production at another deepwater Gulf well.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez spill was 11 million gallons total. The Gulf spill could end up dumping the equivalent of 4 Exxon Valdez spills per week.

I don't know how to comprehend 6 million gallons per day as compared to 210,000 gallons per day as I understand that the latter is plenty bad enough. But there are two items in this worst-case-scenario description that should be very alarming right off the bat.

"The loss of a wellhead, this is totally unprecedented," said (former NOAA official Ron) Gouget. "How bad it could get from that, you will have a tremendous volume of oil that is going to be offgassing on the coast. Depending on how much wind is there, and how those gases build up, that's a significant health concern."
"Offgassing" sounds very unpleasant and it raises the possibility in my mind of evacuation or relocations of a very large number of coastal residents which... well that's pretty darn apocalyptic right there.

Minerals Management Service data indicates that the deepwater Thunderhorse production platform, also owned by BP, has produced up to 150,000 barrels per day.
The company we are currently still entrusting with the bulk of the clean-up operation here named a piece of equipment Thunderhorse which sounds like a pet name Alex Rodriguez would keep for himself.

In either case, I am not impressed.

Enter Chief Zeno

Am I the only one who finds the repeated narrowing-of-the-police-chief-search headlines amusing?

BREAKING: They're down to 6

ITEM: Now there are 4

FUCK THAT: We actually meant 3

WHOAH: Now it's 2

I predict that the number will continue to divide on into infinity or until they say fuck it and hire one of those oil-soaked booms to run things on the grounds that it will do a better job of protecting us than did the previous chief.

Update: The Lens is naming names

Boom boom boom let's go back to the drawing board

Nobody could have predicted

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said this morning that a recent flyover showed areas where oily water was lapping over the boom set out to contain the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Also, he said, because of the rough weather in the Gulf, some of the boom appeared to have broken free and washed onto an area beach and other boom appeared to have sunk, he said.

"It's not keeping the oil out,'' Nungesser said. "And it's only going to get worse before it gets better.'

Thank god we've got "15,000 miles" of this stuff hanging around to protect ourselves with. I'll go back to remaining calm just like BP flack Mary Landrieu told me to do.

The good news is five years from now, we'll all get to watch this again on HBO. I guess we could line up a few disaster tours via airboat or something as well.

Palate cleanser

You can take that literally if you like given the smell outside yesterday. But I thought it might be nice to start today with some good news. I think the Saints did pretty well in the draft last week. GW thinks so too and explains why in his incomparable fashion here.

Meanwhile, I'm not sure what to do about the oil river. I feel like I should be out looting or something.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The goggles. They do nothing.

Mary Landrieu told us to remain calm
By sunset Thursday, the oil had creeped into South Pass of the river and was lapping at the shoreline in long, thin lines.

Booms in place to protect grasslands and sandy beaches are being over topped by 5-foot waves of oily water in choppy seas.

Profiles in courage

Mary Landrieu stands up to be counted in Washington on behalf of her constituents when they need her the most.

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., took to the Senate floor this afternoon to warn that the response to the deadly oil rig accident and spill shouldn't be to limit future off-shore drilling - as some environmental groups advocate.

While Landrieu said the spill is a major disaster and substantial threat to her state's coastlines and wildlife, at least the oil isn't the thick kind that caused substantial damage to the Santa Barbara, Calif., coastline in 1969, leading to an four-decade moratorium on drilling off the California and Florida coasts.

She said the federal government should spare no effort to find out the cause of the rig accident and make needed changes in regulations to assure "this never happens again."

I'm not saying that the Horizon spill should mean the END OF ALL DRILLING or anything like that. But certainly this is an occasion for our elected representatives to be applying pressure on the oil industry to make their operations less catastrophically dangerous to us and our livelihoods. Mary seems to be taking the opposite approach here. Which begs the question. Who exactly does she think she represents?

Nobody Could Have Predicted

Barack Obama:
"It turns out, by the way, that oil rigs today generally don't cause spills. They are technologically very advanced."

Generally, I guess he's right. But given that the second worst oil spill in history was caused by an oil rig and that, as we all can plainly see, it just takes one damn accident to severely fuck an entire ecosystem, is that sort of Pollyanna talk really the appropriate approach to deepwater oil production?

According to this morning's Wall Street Journal, American rigs are not required to be quite as "technologically advanced" as their counterparts in Norway or Brazil from a safety perspective.

The oil well spewing crude into the Gulf of Mexico didn't have a remote-control shut-off switch used in two other major oil-producing nations as last-resort protection against underwater spills.

The lack of the device, called an acoustic switch, could amplify concerns over the environmental impact of offshore drilling after the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig last week.
Now, upon close examination of what this acoustic switch is supposed to do, one can reasonably conclude that it probably wouldn't be any more likely to trip the well's blowout preventer than the robotic subs currently failing to perform this task. But, of course, we'll never know for sure because,

The U.S. considered requiring a remote-controlled shut-off mechanism several years ago, but drilling companies questioned its cost and effectiveness, according to the agency overseeing offshore drilling. The agency, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Service, says it decided the remote device wasn't needed because rigs had other back-up plans to cut off a well.

So far the other back-up plans are not performing. Which may, in fact, be the reason the industry opts for those plans over ones that, at times, tend to work too well.

Industry consultants and petroleum engineers said that an acoustic remote-control may have been able to stop the well, but too much is still unknown about the accident to say that with certainty.

Rigs in Norway and Brazil are equipped with the remote-control devices, which can trigger the blowout preventers from a lifeboat in the event the electric cables connecting the valves to the drilling rig are damaged.

While U.S. regulators have called the acoustic switches unreliable and prone, in the past, to cause unnecessary shut-downs, Inger Anda, a spokeswoman for Norway's Petroleum Safety Authority, said the switches have a good track record in the North Sea. "It's been seen as the most successful and effective option," she said.

I wonder how much weight companies give the risk of "unnecessary shut-downs" as compared to the risk of total destruction of over 400 species of wildlife in the fragile Louisiana estuaries when they do their analysis.

The area under threat produces the largest total seafood landings in the lower 48 states, is a vital wintering or resting spot for more than 70 percent of the nation's waterfowl, is used by all 110 neo-tropical migratory songbirds, and produces 50 percent of the nation's wild shrimp crop, 35 percent of its blue claw crabs and 40 percent of its oysters. Researchers say 90 percent of all the marine species in the Gulf of Mexico depend on coastal estuaries at some point in their lives, and most of those estuaries are in Louisiana -- endangered by an oil spill that could last months.

"This is a really important time for so many species in this ecosystem, because they're just begun spawning and nesting," said Melanie Driscoll, a Audubon Society staffer who is director of bird conservation for the Louisiana Coastal Initiative.

Deep water rigs like the Horizon appear to have brought oil exploration to a place where the technology necessary to do the drilling has outstripped the technology necessary to maintain the safety of the people who do the work and the people affected by possible mishaps. While it shouldn't surprise anyone that BP's strategy will always be to do the least expensive thing possible and then lie its away out of any (inconceivable) consequences, it should disappoint us to see representatives of a party ostensibly dedicated to protecting working people and their environment stupidly parrot those lies in the media.

Just yesterday, here was BP CEO Tony Heyward's description of the slick:
Earlier on Wednesday, Tony Hayward, BP’s chief executive, described the spilled oil as very light, like “iced tea,” and only one-tenth of a millimeter thick, as thin as a human hair.
In the above-linked post, Judy responds appropriately,
Sorry, Tony. We don't buy the description of the size. As of tonite it's being described as the size of Jamaica What you saw was from space. What WE ARE GOING TO SEE is going to be on our coastline. It is going to DEVASTATE our seafood industry. It is going to RUIN our wildlife refuges when the "iced tea" oil slick washes ashore. Louisiana already has an extremely strong dislike for you and your company, Mr. Hayward based on your slow-as-a-tortoise response to this tragedy. But we DO appreciate that you had your people add the "iced tea" reference for us 'ignorant' Southerners.

And yet this morning, I tuned in to WWL just in time to hear Senator Mary Landrieu scold the host and callers for "being hysterical" Landrieu angrily repeated Heyward's line about "iced tea" several times and insisted that everybody "remain calm" while we get the "15,000 miles of boom" in place that she seemed fairly convinced would actually do something worthwhile. Unless Mary is referring to some sort of super boom (perhaps stuffed with old newspapers?) Mr. Hayward has told her about, I seriously doubt what they will be able to contain the slick during this weekend's expected high seas.

In the meantime, we'll all try to remain calm just like our elected representatives have asked us to do. After all, if they haven't found any reason to get "hysterical" about ensuring the public safety then there's no reason we shouldn't follow their example.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Edge Of Oil Spill To Reach Miss. River Delta Soon

Does it really have to take that shape?

Hurricane Slick

What's the opposite of "Smell Greatness"?

A pungent fuel smell is wafting over much of the New Orleans area, and residents curious about its source have been jamming government phone lines for information.

Though emergency preparedness officials haven't been able to confirm the source of the odor, a Jefferson Parish official said he assumes the smell is emanating from the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that is creeping ever closer to the Louisiana coastline. The coast is about 80 miles south of the city.

State budget crisis solved!

All we have to do is sue BP


The Guardian:

The United States mobilised its military tonight in an attempt to help deal with the vast oil slick spreading across the Gulf of Mexico amid predictions that it will begin to hit the Louisiana coast within hours and could cause one of the country's biggest environmental disasters

Adding, it sure smells funny outside this afternoon

Weighing risks

On Saturday evening, Menckles and I had a lovely dinner at Coquette. Given all the lofty praise one hears around town, the chances were pretty good for a disappointing experience but I am happy to report that Coquette managed to overcome both her expectations and my suspicions generated by the universal plaudits. This isn't a restaurant review so I won't go into every detail but I will say that I was very glad to have had that meal for two reasons.

First, it helped to have a fresh recommendation handy when, on Monday night Ros and I overheard a bartender suggest Cochon to a pair of tourists. I actually think Cochon is pretty okay but Ros has made it something of a whipping boy as of late. She thinks of it as a kind of scam to sell cheap homey food to tourists at fine-dining prices. Tuesday morning, she still hadn't let it go and so was sending me random comments on the menu via text message.

Ham hock, sweet potato, greens, black eyed peas $18 No. Fuck them.

Oysters and bacon on toast $14. Fuck off!

I think she's got a point but I haven't been turned off enough by the food there to get all bent outta shape over it. Still I'm glad I was able to suggest Coquette as an alternative. Something tells me it probably didn't matter, though.

The second reason I'm glad to have had this trip to Coquette has to do with the fresh seafood on the menu that day. From what I understand, the menu changes frequently with whatever happens to be in season and that definitely seems to be the case as neither of our entrees appears on the website's sample menu here.

Here's what I had.

Softshell crab

That's a fresh Louisiana softshell crab perfectly fried and served over a tasso and lemon Hollandaise like emulsion with fresh vegetables.

And before that came, there were these.

Baked oysters

Roasted oysters in a fennel bacon sauce. Not my favorite oysters I've ever had but very good. And, more importantly, they could be the last Louisiana oysters I get a hold of for quite some time given the circumstances.

Underwater vehicles have not been able to stop the flow of oil from a damaged pipe more than a mile below the surface of the Guilf of Mexico after the explosion of an oil rig.. U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary Landry said today that authorities are considering a controlled burn of the oil floating on the Gulf's surface.

The oil is coming from two damaged sections of pipe from the Deepwater Horizon rig which exploded and collapsed into the Gulf last week. The damaged pipe is more than 5,000 feet under water. The underwater vehicles have been trying to trigger the well's blowout preventer, a 450-ton device resting on the seabed that is intended to prevent such leaks.

But so far efforts to trip the blowout preventer have been a bust.

Landry and other officials who spoke during a Tuesday news conference said the controlled burn has been used before on spills. Crews would light the oil on fire within containment booms.

There are risks, notably air pollution and ash clouds. Those risks will be weighed in tandem with the benefits of preventing the oil from coming ashore, officials said.

The article didn't go too far in the direction of spelling out what those "risks" might be so I googled up this NOAA document which generally recommends the technique but also paints a messy picture of its application.

In-situ burning of oil is going to generate waste. Even the most efficient burning will leave a taffy-like residue that will have to be collected and treated or disposed of. Burning the oil at sea will not be as efficient as burning it in engines, furnaces, or power plants, and will generate a substantial amount of particulates. However, by minimizing the solid and liquid waste generated by beach cleanup, and by reducing the energy required to support the response operation, burning even some of the oil at sea is likely to reduce the overall waste generation of a spill.

The article is pretty fuzzy on the hazard posed by gasses and particulates released during the process. Mostly it suggests that they will not exist in high enough concentrations to threaten the health of the general public although, if I am reading it correctly, this would depend on 1) most of the "plume" of smoke dissipating without returning to ground level and 2) the general public not being too immediately downwind of the event.

I also found this interesting.

A point to keep in mind is that leaving the oil in place will have a deleterious effect on air quality. Spilled oil left untreated would evaporate at a rate that depends on the type of oil, time elapsed from release, wind, waves, and water and air temperatures. The amount evaporated is substantial. For example, 32 percent of spilled Alberta Sweet crude would evaporate after 24 hours in 80 degree water, and after five days 42 percent would have evaporated. This evaporation pattern, similar in other oil types, emphasizes the need for quick action if in-situ burning is selected as the response tool.

The decision whether to burn or not to burn involves a tradeoff: burning the oil would reduce or eliminate the environmental impact of the oil slick and convert most of the oil to carbon dioxide and water. Burning, however, would generate particulates and cause air pollution. Not burning the oil would enable the slick to spread over a large area and impact the environment. Particulates would not be produced, but up to 50 percent of the oil would evaporate, causing a different kind of air pollution.

So, yes, there will be some sort of air pollution no matter what they do. Ultimately, what difference does it make? This evening, we learned that the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf could be as much as 210,000 gallons per day or five times the previously announced estimate. I know people are tired of hearing these Valdez comparisons but it's worth pointing out that the burn technique only managed to remove at most 30,000 gallons of oil in that event. Burning oil isn't likely to prevent a major catastrophe in this case either.
Kerry St. Pe, program director of the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, worked for years doing oil-spill cleanup with the state Department of Environmental Quality. He said the burning method is a worthy and well-tested approach, although it is not in any way a panacea.

"I don't think this is the solution to this spill. I think it's a solution that they should try, and if they do get it cut off then the burn has been a great success," St. Pe said. "When you have a spill like this, you try everything. You use all the cleanup methods you have at your disposal, and if the burn gets rid of even 5 percent of the oil, it's 5 percent that wouldn't have gotten rid of otherwise."

So the risks of burning are a definite but indeterminate negative effect on air quality which may or may not be much worse than the effect of doing nothing. Meanwhile the benefit could be as little as a 5 percent reduction of the total hazard. Looks like the risk of having to settle for more nights of $18 black eyed peas in the future is getting bigger every day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday, April 24, 2010

42,000 gallons per day

And it's been three days.

For days, the Coast Guard has said no oil appeared to be escaping from the well head on the ocean floor. Rear Adm. Mary Landry said the leak was a new discovery but could have begun when the rig sank on Thursday, two days after the initial explosion.

"We thought what we were dealing with as of yesterday was a surface residual (oil) from the mobile offshore drilling unit," Landry said. "In addition to that is oil emanating from the well. It is a big change from yesterday ... This is a very serious spill, absolutely."

Coast Guard and company officials estimate that as much as 1,000 barrels -- or 42,000 gallons (160,000 liters)-- of oil is leaking each day after studying information from remotely operated vehicles and the size of the oil slick surrounding the blast site. The rainbow-colored sheen of oil stretched 20 by 20 miles (30 by 30 kilometers) on Saturday -- about 25 times larger than it appeared to be a day earlier, Landry said.

By comparison, Exxon Valdez spilled 11 million gallons (40 million liters) in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989 -- the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Bullets actually very difficult to dodge


ROBERT, La. – Coast Guard officials confirmed that a drill pipe connected to the well head from the Deepwater Horizon is leaking oil. The amount of oil which has leaked is unknown, according to officials.

Nearly 1,000 barrels of oil is estimated to be leaking from the pipe every day, according to Coast Guard officials. Two leaks were discovered by a robot earlier.

I'm gonna go out and get some nice Louisiana seafood for dinner tonight. Just in case there isn't any for a while.

Quote of the day

Saints 7th round draft choice Sean Canfield on his fallback position.

If football doesn't work out, as far as something real specific... uh.. I really don't know. I have a philosophy degree. Maybe something related to that would spark my interest.

Toward the end of this video via NOLA.com

<a href="http://video.msn.com/?mkt=en-us&from=sp&fg=shareEmbed&vid=a779739a-a1a4-495d-a92b-bdc708269884" target="_new" title="Q's2B: Sean Canfield">Video: Q's2B: Sean Canfield</a>

Wow that's 4 video posts in a row. Doubt that's ever happened before. Also, Tyler Palko, Mark Brunell, and now this guy. What the hell is up with Sean Payton and lefty QBs? Oyster is kind of a lefty philosophy student. Maybe he should try out for the team.

Old fashioned country medicine

I'm sure you've all seen Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden's "chicken for checkups" comments by now.

For a few days, I was trying to work out some way to make a cock-fighting joke. Something about how Louisiana voters might prefer a system that allows them to make wagers with their insurance companies for treatment in a way that at least gives patients a sporting chance. But I gave up on that when I read that the unrestrained socialists in the Louisiana Legislature were not only criminalizing attendance at cockfighting events but also seeking to confiscate citizens' free-marketedly obtained gambling winnings for the benefit of some nefarious nanny state purpose. So the cockfighting for colonoscopies program is out. I'm sorry I even brought it up.

Instead, I'll just point you to this Krugman blurb on the compound absurdity of the whole concept.

But I think even the mocking critics are missing the main point. Sure, it’s funny to see a 21st-century political candidate pining for the days of a barter economy. But her remarks would have been breathtakingly ignorant even if she had called for payments in cash.

The key fact about health care — the central issue in health care economics — is that it’s all about the big-ticket items. Checkups don’t cost much; neither does the treatment of minor illnesses. The money that matters goes to bypasses and dialysis — costs that are highly unpredictable, and that almost nobody can afford to pay out of pocket. Modern health care, if it’s going to be provided at all, has to be paid for mainly out of insurance.

And then, of course, it's straight back to mocking. Here's a dramatic interpretation of the sort of medicine Ms Lowden seems to be advocating.

Nagin's last act

Suddenly he has no problem with people releasing his schedule

During his final 10 days in office, it seems, he plans to play host to the visiting president of Honduras, who arrives in New Orleans Saturday for a three-day visit; preside over the first meeting of the city's Revenue Estimating Conference in six months; and unveil the Roots of Music Cultural Sculpture Garden, the controversial $1.2 million collection of sculptures honoring famous New Orleans musicians and cultural landmarks that he commissioned for Armstrong Park.

Word has it that a last-minute addition to the sculpture garden will be this item originally unveiled back in February

Thursday, April 22, 2010

He hangs it on the wall and he looks at it to make him smarter every day*

Nagin unveils his official portrait for all posterity to enjoy.

From the actual description of this artwork
Inside the portrait, painted by Mr. Newt Reynolds, two symbols emerge from a shadowy background. A hurricane graphic, representing Hurricane Katrina, and an image of the Lombardi trophy, symbolizing the Saints first-ever Super Bowl victory, signify the challenges and difficult times as well as the unity and resiliency of New Orleanians.
Forget the "shadowy background" and the questionable decision to include the image of Hurricane Katrina aside the soon-to-be-ex-Mayor's smiling visage. Did they really try and include the Superbowl win in a representation of Nagin's legacy? Because um... Hey wait a minute I've got an idea.

This morning EA Sports announced that Drew Brees will grace the cover its Madden 11 NFL video game.

As most of us who follow such things are aware, the "Madden Curse" associated with appearance on the cover of this game is one of the most serious superstitions in all of sports. ESPN's Pat Yasinkas catalogs the curse's gruesome history here. The prospect of watching the Saints go through the 2010 season with their first "cursed" quarterback since Heath Shuler is unsettling for all sorts of reasons.

We're not so much worried about the Saints themselves. As I've said over and over and will continue to say, it just doesn't matter if they win anymore no matter what Teddi Bruschi thinks. What we're worried about are the numerous causes and organizations around New Orleans that Brees has associated himself with outside of football. Children's Hospital, the Krewe of Bacchus, several schools parks and playgrounds, Cox high-speed internet and many others are all in danger of incurring collateral damage from the Madden whammy.

My 2009 brake tag displays an ominous number nine in black and gold right here on my windshield.

Black and Gold Brake tag

How the hell am I supposed to Tweet while driving anymore when there's no longer any guarantee that I'm not taking my life into my own hands?

So here's what I think. Ray Nagin wants to appropriate the Saints' Superbowl victory for himself? That's fine. I say let him. He can have all the cred he wants. Hell he can even have the trophy as far as I'm concerned. I'm pretty sure that Coach Soupy is done riding around on floats and shaking it at people by now. At this point it's either hand it over to Nagin or bury it in the back yard at Saints camp. The more we do to palm all this off on Nagin the better. Which hopefully means, and I think you see where we're going here, he gets to take the "curse" off with him as well. It certainly couldn't do anything to "hurt this recovery" by this point. He's cursed that enough on his own already.

Anyway that's my idea. Because I'm lazy and I want to finish this post before the end of the day, here's the beginning of a list of ways the curse might affect Nagin in the coming years which I will leave to you to finish.

1) Announces sudden and immediate retirement from politics and public life altogether. Is rarely if ever heard from again.

2) Breaks leg and is subsequently arrested for operating an illegal crane-fighting ring.

3) Unexpectedly leaves New Orleans for good. Resurfaces two years later as the Mayor of a rival city (Perhaps Dallas) which he very nearly leads to spectacular new heights of civic bliss only to badly disappoint everyone at the very last second. Somehow this results in a harebrained change to NFL overtime rules the following season.

Enjoy the NFL Draft tonight. I have no clue what the Saints are up to. All I know is that they sure as shit won't be needing a punter.


Uh oh

Oil Rig Explosion Has Chance To Be Major Spill

Also the 11 missing workers are still missing.

Sort of like The Him Store but for dogs

No Stormy? No problem. The Louisiana Senate race freak show has a very deep bench.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

You can keep your David Simon

I am still a Matt Taibbi fan boy myself. Via Oyster, here's his NFL Draft preview.

Before the draft, teams spend far too much time worrying about the “character” issue, when the real question to ask is much narrower: “Can this player make it through his four- or five-year rookie contract without missing actual games due to incarceration?” Guys with drinking problems or who throw cell phones at their girlfriends’ heads or get pulled over driving 110 with loaded unregistered pistols in their glove boxes are bad bets. Guys who just stay home and smoke weed while giggling at Manswers are not. Thus: Always draft the guy who falls in draft position due to a positive weed test. In fact, if a guy is regularly smoking buttloads of weed and he’s still kicking ass in Division I football, grab that motherfucker quick.

That's fun writing. Or at least better than, "Red beans? It ain't even Monday!"

Drill baby drill

This is horrifying.

11 oil rig workers still missing after explosion, Coast Guard says

Twelve workers on an oil drilling rig that exploded and caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico late Tuesday are still missing today, the Coast Guard said.

Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser had said that he had received reports that the missing workers were found about 11 a.m., and it was noted that the Coast Guard could not verify his report. About 12:30 p.m., the Coast Guard's public affairs office said it was in constant contact with searchers in the field and had not received reports that the workers were found.

Oil and gas production has meant a lot to the Gret Stet. It has fueled much of the civic and industrial progress that pulled Louisiana out of the mud (sort of) during the Twentieth Century. At the same time it has poisoned many of us, exploded some of us, and wrought large scale environmental catastrophe that threatens to send us from the mud back into the sea. It's like one of those Faustian whaddayacallits or something. Whatever it is, it's not particularly useful to reduce the dilemmas it presents to simple slogans like the one at the top of this post.

For some reason I missed this yesterday (No I was not high)

Eli pinpoints yet another way in which Louisiana is "bucking the trend"

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Who gives a shit how many they win anymore?

The schedule has some fun quirks nonetheless. Week one on Thursday Night vs Minnesota (Will Favre have made up his mind about returning vs retiring by then? Seems kind of early) Week two at San Francisco on Monday Night.

I also like that we play at home on Halloween night. Not that Saints fans need any excuse to dress up. And then... is that... a Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas? Cool.

Joyous moments

Nothing like that first mumkin bite of the season. Whatever happened to Mumkinfest anyway?

Might as well find a way to cope

We can all pretty much agree that Drew Brees is going to be on the new Madden cover, right? The reigning Superbowl MVP is the media darling of the moment. Two months ago he was Bacchus. He has a second kid on the way. His team leads the league in merchandise sales this offseason. The announcement will be made days before the opening of Jazzfest. The embarrassingly pretentious HBO drama Treme is soaring in popularity. From EA's perspective, nothing is more marketable than New Orleans right now. Even if the fans don't vote him onto the cover (they will) he's going to be the guy.

The question, then, is what do we do about it? As anyone who pays attention to such things knows, the Madden cover spot carries with it a heavy and eerie curse. The T-P article notes some of its victims.
The most notorious examples were Detroit Lions tailback Barry Sanders in 1999 (abruptly retired before the season); Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in 2003 (broken leg in the summer); Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb in 2005 (season-ending hernia); and Seattle Seahawks tailback Shaun Alexander in 2006 (broken foot).
But there are many more. Neither Daunte Cullpepper nor LaDanian Tomlinson was ever the same player after appearing on the cover of Madden. Immediately after Brett Favre showed up on the 2009 cover in his Packer uniform, his Green Bay career came to its ignominious end and Favre himself became known as much for his selfishness as for his more purely football-related exploits. The point is, the Madden appearance is a turning point in a player's career and not in a good way so be prepared to preserve your memories of Drew Brees at his high point because pretty soon that's all you'll have left.

The good news is twofold. First of all, the Saints already won the freaking Superbowl so none of this shit even matters anymore. Secondly, the NFL draft is this week, and so there is ample opportunity to begin planning for the future. (hint)

Authenticity tourism

Katrina Cruise

When is a hot sausage po boy not really a hot sausage po boy?
The breadth and depth of food offerings at Jazz Fest is explained no better than by the grand dame of Creole cooking, Leah Chase: “You go to other festivals and they have rinky-dink foods like corndogs and hamburgers. Jazz Fest is unique because it serves food-food.”

For Ms. Leah, that means the absinthe-flavored oyster Rockefeller bisque or a hot sausage po-boy from Vance Vaucresson. Be mindful, though, that calling it a hot sausage po-boy will brand you as an outsider. To Chase, the proper nomenclature for any self-respecting Creole is a chaurice po-boy.
Here's something you won't read most places. Leah Chase, please STFU. Yes we all know the word chaurice. You still see it on grocery packaging every now and then. But when New Orleanians (yes, real, authentic, born and raised New Orleanians) go to order a po boy we all say hot sausage. The item is listed as hot sausage on every menu on which it appears or has appeared for as long as anyone currently alive can remember. Rest assured, ordering a "hot sausage po boy" will not "brand you as an outsider"

There are plenty of peculiar phrases New Orleanians do use on a daily basis without affectation. Neutral ground would be one. A lot of people still "make groceries" although I think that one is dying out a little bit. Some words and phrases like banquette, for example, are more or less arcane and out of currency. Use of such words is more likely to "brand you as an outsider" or at least a hyper self-conscious local than their more common synonyms.

But now we live in a time when outsiders, hyper self-conscious locals, and most importantly, people in the business of selling our image to visitors and to Hollywood are asserting more and more ownership over how we live our lives in New Orleans. And the local lexicon is being subtly redefined to meet those purposes. One particularly grating example of this I've noticed as of late is the new enthusiasm for referring to what locals call the CBD and Warehouse District by the vestigial 19th Century term "American Sector" in order to facilitate a clever branding effort by a locally-based national celebrity.

The Jazzfest, which opens next weekend, has for many years been the primary engine behind this kind of hip re-branding of New Orleans for the benefit of the smug segment of the tourist market. Like most of post-industrial America this city doesn't produce and sell things anymore as much as it sells services and experiences. In a tourism-based setting, this means we basically sell ourselves... or at least some idealized version of ourselves.

And that's demeaning for two reasons. First, by reducing your cultural touchstones to marketable commodities you allow your customers to redefine you and your traditions in ways that suit their understanding. Second, the traditions themselves become less of a celebration and more of a performance or worse a job. In a way we are really selling ourselves and in the process making the fact of being ourselves less enjoyable.

And this, ultimately, is what I think Treme will end up doing as well. Sometime soon, maybe a year from now, I'm expecting some outfit to start offering a "Treme tour" or some such thing. People will visit and want to see things as they were on HBO. And those things, although they are based on more realistic concepts than much of what Hollywood has produced on New Orleans, still distort things in irksome ways. But eventually the distortion becomes the consensus reality.

Here's a sort-of trivial example of what I'm talking about. Just last week, on the Back of Town blog, Treme was praised for its attention to detail in rendering the "first second line since Katrina" The impressive detail was the fact that some of the marchers at the parade in the show were carrying torn down street signs from the flooded 7th 8th and 9th Wards. The street names were poignant words for the moment like "Desire" "Benefit" "Humanity" and "Pleasure" Because I was at the event being replicated, I can tell you that this really happened. I took this picture of the signs as they were carried in front of me.

That's pretty neat but here's the funny thing. This actual parade, which was a big big deal "All Star" parade on Martin Luther King Day weekend and staged to help raise money for flood-affected musicians, happened in January of 2006. Treme presents the "first second line after katrina" in November of 2005. Maybe this doesn't matter much but I think it's likely that over the long term the lasting influence of Treme history can supplant the actual history in people's minds which leads to a fictionalized version of events gaining a place in the official record.

The punch line, of course, is that the real parade wasn't even the "first second line" The actual first second line I saw after Katrina happened in December 2005 and it happened Uptown, not in or anywhere near the Treme. If you read down in the BoT thread you'll find commenters cite other examples of earlier forgotten second lines as well. But because Treme depicts something like the January 2006 parade, people are now calling that event the "first second line after Katrina" So now we have a fictional history which causes people, in the process of attempting to reassert the actual history, to then misremember a crucial fact about the actual history itself. And so now not only do our cultural idioms become altered for the sake of someone else's product but our memories do as well.

Maybe the next time the Treme producers decide to film a second line scene, they'll remember to add the guy with the chaurice cart. I'm sure Leah would appreciate that kind of attention to detail.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tom and Rita Benson demand weaker protections for Louisianians hurt on the job

Worker's comp laws undermined because, you know, Who Dat!
BATON ROUGE -- A bill that started out trying to lower the New Orleans Saints payouts of workers compensation benefits to injured players was expanded in a House committee today to apply to all employers and employees in the state.

On a 6-3 vote, the House Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations approved House Bill 1097 by Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Jefferson, that would have prohibited Saints in the future from filing workers' compensation claims in a more liberal state like California and have the Saints pick up the tab in Louisiana.

Out of the mouths of... um... babes

From Stormy Daniels' statement indicating (finally) that she will not run for Senate.
The simple fact that David Vitter has $5 million in his bank account pretty much says it all. Against that shear accumulation of special interest dollars, I have no legitimate means of winning a race for the United States Senate under these circumstances. As a businesswoman, I know that better than anyone.

I am not running for the US Senate because I am an adult entertainment star. I am not running for the US Senate for the same reason that so many dedicated patriots do not run--I can’t afford it. On this day inparticualar (sic), we should all take time to reflect on the loss to our country that comes from the sad fact that those who may truly desire to contribute to our society are barred by those who only seek to unjustly profit off it.

From there it devolves into libertarian "fair tax" blah. But the above point is well made.

It's what you do when you've tried everything else

New Orleans - In 1996, the Department of Justice launched an 8-year investigation into the New Orleans Police Department.

The feds never assigned an official monitor to New Orleans. But now, there are some experts who say today's problems within NOPD are much worse than the issues in the late nineties and early 2000's.

Last time the Department of Justice was considering stepping into local police affairs in New Orleans, two NOPD officers, Len Davis and Antoinette Frank, were convicted for their roles in two unrelated murder cases.

Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission says today's crisis within NOPD is worse and the feds know it.

"To me it's not a question of whether the feds will step in and monitor. It's a question of to what extent will it be?"

Right now the jabber about Federal oversight of NOPD mostly addresses the question of whether or not this constitutes some sort of sudden radical step. Which is why I'd like to remind everybody that, since the flood, we've already turned these responsibilities over to the National Guard, the Louisiana State Police, Blackwater (now known as Xe or some such unpronounceable symbol... which is hardly surprising for an organization founded by a man named Prince but I'm digressing) Let's see who else? Oh yes, there were the Guardian Angels, some scary dudes running around Algiers with shotguns, and, of course, who can forget, the Ghostbusters.

After all that is there any argument that Department of Justice oversight would be the absolute last ditch gambit at reforming law enforcement in this town anyone could possibly conceive of?

Ray Nagin's Al Capone's vault

Show 'em what they've won, Geraldo.

None of the records -- 533 e-mail and calendar files created in Microsoft Outlook, plus 53 printed pages of e-mail messages -- offers much insight into the inner workings of the Nagin administration or the mayor's own activities.

Frankly I'm disappointed we couldn't have at least learned something about what the Mayor ordered for lunch everyday. Plus there appears to be no information whatsoever about Treme in there.

I decided to post this after seeing the dead tree edition of the T-P this morning. Turns out the online version includes a PDF of the actual emails here. And while none of them are really earth-shattering, one or two are at least diverting enough to make it worth a look through.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Circuitous route to a linear park

I really admire Bart and the FOLC for not just walking away from this thing in frustration. If you're interested in doing the Lafitte Greenway hike, you can register here.


In a manner of speaking anyway.
While MWH is the only firm to which state officials have suspended loan-fund payouts, "strengthening of their procedures and documentation, obviously that would apply to everybody," DiResto said.

Division of Administration auditors also are looking into the disparity between disbursements from the loan fund and repayments to it, he said.

The loan fund actually comprises two accounts, a construction fund from which the city draws money to pay for recovery work and the so-called "revolver fund" into which the city deposits FEMA reimbursements. As of Monday, the construction account balance stood at $78.7 million, about 40 percent of its initial $200 million balance, while $28 million had been deposited into the revolver.

"When you've got $122 million withdrawn and $28 million now in the FEMA reimbursement revolver account, that's about 23 percent," he said. "The overall question that we have to look into is: What are the reasons for that what looks like on the surface a small percentage being replenished into the revolver account?

And remember that's WITHOUT having spent revolver funds on the Chevron building as was once discussed.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (take 3)

If you've just clicked a link from NOLA.com we suggest you click this one to get back. They have actual news over there too. Although some of it is more well hidden than the TV stuff.

Workers and union organizers protesting what they call substandard wages and unfair labor practices at local public schools and universities by the international food-service giant Sodexo drew sympathetic comments but no promises of help Tuesday from New Orleans City Council members.

A parade of current and former Sodexo food-service and custodial workers at Tulane and Loyola universities and Recovery School District schools presented their grievances to the council's Economic Development Committee.

Several workers said that even after years on the job, their wages are so low they must rely on food stamps and free or reduced-price school lunches to feed their families and are unable to afford adequate health insurance.

Go go, read something worth reading.

Meanwhile, back in the real world (take 2)

Stop worrying about some dumb TV show and go read The Lens.
The New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council, a public body that sets annual priorities for spending millions in federal money, may have improperly gotten involved in recommending a recipient of that money: a member of the council.

Aside from the possible conflict of interest, the new contract also has consequences for the patients themselves.

That’s because the organization, with no history, likely will take patients from existing organizations that have made inroads with the traditionally hard-to-reach and underserved African-American population.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meanwhile, back in the real world

Clay reviews two books about former Governor Edwin Edwards.

I think the best books about the Edwardian era of Louisiana politics were written by John Maginnis about the 1983 and 1991 elections. Clay didn't care for Leo Honeycutt's recent authorized biography which is disappointing to learn. Still waiting on the T. Harry Williams of EWE to come along, I guess.

DOJ moving to take over NOPD

It's been the rumor for weeks now and it's looking more and more like it's going to happen.

The DOJ has the authority -- granted by Congress a few years after the 1991 Rodney King police brutality case -- to bring a civil action to force reform at the department if there is a "pattern or practice" of police violating the law or the Constitution.

So-called 14141 actions, named after the relevant section of the law, fell out of the favor during the Bush years, when enforcement of civil rights laws languished across the board. Attorney General Eric Holder has pledged to recharge the Civil Rights Division.

"The attorney general, myself, the U.S. attorney -- we will not leave the New Orleans Police Department until we have addressed the systemic issues and have ensured that the department is operating in a manner that reduces crime and respects the rule of law," Perez said. "We can, must, and will do both."

I guess the whole Task Force thing "only got one shot" and exceeded its "margin for error"

Monday, April 12, 2010

That ain't right

Okay so I didn't like Treme. I know nobody is surprised to hear that so I'll add that my wife, and my friends who watched it with me last night at the Milan lounge didn't like it either. I talked about it with some other people during the day today who weren't happy with it. So I'm a little relieved to report that this is not just me being a grouch. And, yes, I worry about being taken that way so I'll try to be as little of an asshole as possible.

After much discussion this morning, the "hater" contingent has two fundamental concerns. The first is kind of aesthetic and a little picky, I guess. The second is a bit more serious. On both counts we were more or less horrified.

First, the picky stuff. Even if your New Orleans references are a step more accurate than "I need Gumbo to think" beating your audience over the head with them in ways that distract from the story produces the exact same effect. (It would also be helpful to have an actual story from which to distract people but we'll hold back on that for a second) The characters in Treme say things like "Red Beans and rice? It ain't even Monday!" or "You know how I love your etouffee" or "(some character) will be back before Carnival season" In all seriousness, people, who walks around talking like that? It's as if the entire script were saying, "Hello, we're in New Orleans" over and over. We know that already, characters. Now please go do something and try to act like real people in the process. The four of us were laughing out loud at how ridiculous this sounded last night. The rest of the bar was cheering.

This morning, Ros and I decided we're going to write our own medical drama and set it in New Orleans. The doctors will say things like "Little Billy, I'm afraid you have cancer... here in the birthplace of jazz. The treatment will begin next week... which is also incidentally the beginning of Carnival Season. It won't be easy but if all goes well hopefully you'll live to enjoy more delicious chicory coffee and red beans and rice on every Monday for a very long time."

And even that would be preferable to what we watched last night because at least then the characters would be doctors and not the collection of cliched ideas of what Treme's creators imagine "uniquely" New Orleans people to be. I'm not excited about the project in the first place, but if you told me we just absolutely had to write a TV drama about the aftermath of Kartina I would at the very least request that the characters be more realistic representations of the sort of people who lived through it. Why not a show about a nurse, a school teacher, a cop, a veterinarian, and a plumber all trying to rebuild their lives after the flood? Are they somehow less New Orleanian than a DJ, a trombone player, a chef, and a "Tulane professor"? Did something less important happen to them?

I think Treme is telling us yes. And there's our second problem with the show. Treme isn't for us. It isn't even about us, really. It's for a certain intellectual, image conscious stripe of visitor and/or recent transplant and about those persons' cartoonish expectations about what life is like in New Orleans. It's for Ned Sublette and Tom Piazza and Chris Rose and about the imaginary people they wish they were or their Platonic ideal of what a New Orleanian is or something.

I'm a little taken aback at how happy everyone seems to be with the Indian scene as I think this is a perfect example of what I'm getting at here. This was also the point of greatest separation between our party and the rest of the Milan lounge. I had my head in my hands, Hope was giggling uncontrollably, Ros had to leave the room. Menckles, as is often the case, was trying to keep me from randomly punching people. Meanwhile, the kids in the bar actually cheered out loud. You would have thought Tracy Porter had appeared on the screen to intercept the lapsed Indian's reluctance to practice and return it for a touchdown. What the hell is going on here?

Would this scene have been even remotely possible in real life? Think about it. What actual chief would actually go over and carry on that way just for the benefit of one guy. How would that one guy have actually reacted? The scene we were presented with was so ridiculous, such an affectation, such a lame excuse to just show us an indian that everyone should have been insulted. We were. But the enthused reaction from among the young kids in the Milan wasn't related to the believability of the situation. Instead the shriek communicated only, "Yay! I know what a Mardi Gras Indian is!"

I think this is what's actually driving the positive reaction. It can't be the plot because there wasn't one. It can't be the characters because they are calculated archetypal jerk-offs. It must be this banal hipsterism. And, again, I know I sound like I'm being mean and I know I'm oversensitive to that sort of thing so let me try and explain to you why I think this is important.

As we were leaving the bar last night, I asked Menckles what the hell is wrong with these people. What makes them this content with an empty stream of forced inappropriate references in place of any actual story. "Some people just want to see themselves on TV" she said. I guess. Sort of. But I didn't see myself on TV. I didn't see any of the people I grew up with. I didn't see any of the people I work and play with either. I saw a parade of hipster psuedo-New Orleans douchenozzling. And I think that's what the crappy people in the bar wanted to see on TV. Not themselves so much as a validation of the pose they've assumed.

I talk with people around me a lot about our friends and neighbors who moved away after Katrina and the contrast between them and the people we deal with who have moved in since. In our experience, the newcomers have a knack for rather boldly instructing us in the art of how to be ourselves. As if being a New Orleanian means constantly talking about when Mardi Gras is coming or how much you like jazz music or whatever. And look, those things are all great. I just went to French Quarter Fest on Sunday and had a wonderful time. Everybody who knows me knows I do every damn parade during Mardi Gras. I chase after indians. I follow second lines. I'm a pretty decent cook too if I do say so myself. I love that stuff but it doesn't actually define the parameters of my life in any meaningful way. And the real people who grew up and live in work in New Orleans don't live their lives around those things either. They are ours, certainly. But they are not us. A better show about Katrina would tell us about people coming back to New Orleans, not because of the food, not because of the music, not because some guy in feathers is shaking a tambourine at them, but just because it's where they fucking live. Isn't that enough?

When David Simon appeared on The Colbert Report the other day, he showed a clip of John Goodman's Ashley Morris-like character ranting about Federal culpability for the flood. Afterward, Simon and Colbert both kind of sheepishly dismissed that as one of the "opinions" of the outraged people down there... or something like that anyway. I think if they really took that point of view seriously, they would have presented us with a show that argues in favor of saving this American city and not the unnecessary "Why New Orleans Matters" vehicle they've created. The case they're making isn't save New Orleans because people lived there and were fucked by the crappy flood protection system. It's save New Orleans because look at these cool things that we're interested in about it. I think that's a significantly weaker argument to make on our behalf. But, as I think I've made clear, these people really aren't speaking on behalf of us as much as they are their fantasies.

I think that's pretty damaging. It validates these misapprehensions about what it's really like to live here. It commodifies them in new and annoying ways. It encourages the slumming fetish of the "Cajun Expats" (Please click that link. Really. It's an enlightening little item.) It also belittles the experience of anyone who doesn't conform to this fetishized idea of what makes a New Orleanian. It, in fact, allows the perpetrators of these fetishes to judge your fitness to occupy your home on the basis of your willingness to play their phony roles. This, in fact, opens the door for all sorts of mischief. It facilitates the conversion of your neighborhood into Condo-Disney-Jazzland. It permits the not-so-subtle subjugation of everything to the tourism-based paradigm to such a degree that the recently revised mission statement of your civic institutions actually say things like this,

Like jazz music, the New Orleans Public Library is authentic to New Orleans. We embrace and utilize the fundamentals of jazz and the healing spirit of New Orleans through

* Improvisation: individual investigation and life-long learning
* Blues: the sound of American optimism
* Swing: quality and style with participation
* the Three C's of the authentic New Orleans experience: ceremony, celebration, and competition.

What does that mean? Who knows? I've pondered over this passage on many occasions and cannot say that I've fully penetrated its mysteries. What it suggests to me, though, is that substance has taken a back seat to coolness and that certain favored creative products of free artists are now the boundaries of a bizarre kind of conformity enforced upon the rest of us.

But does it matter? Not to Simon, apparently. Here's another favorite recent interview of mine in which he says,
"The culture of the city was its own weapon in the rebuilding of the city." Simon adds, "It was a war we won."
I am eagerly awaiting Simon's hosting of the next Excellence in Recovery Awards Banquet. The mere suggestion that the struggle of the past five years constitutes some sort of victory is downright disturbing. Who won this war, exactly? If Simon is saying "we" as in the culture vultures looking to sell off the last bits of the carcass, he's got a point. Five years after the flood, what is being trumpeted as a "recovery" is really just an acceleration of the same gentrification that was already underway. We are being swallowed up by Jazzfest. What we're left with is a stage where the festivals, music, food, folkways that that most of us rightfully took as sort of for-granted elements of life here, are now props arranged for mostly someone else's entertainment. And those of us who don't fit on that stage... well it isn't clear that we're really needed anymore. Spoils of war, I guess.

And maybe none of this is important. Maybe I'm overreacting to a goofy and obscure TV show. But I'm certainly not the only person reacting. Treme has been front page news and the main topic of all sorts of media including two very well written blogs dedicated solely to its discussion. (Seriously, the same thing I said when I found Back of Town still applies. Read it even if you're done with Treme) So if I'm making a big deal out it, I'm only following along behind the parade. In overblown Treme-speak you might say I'm in the second line of.. uh.. big deal makers here. And so to everyone worrying themselves over this business, here is my wish for you and for all of us. I wish that New Orleanians both new and old weren't so hyper-conscious about what the rest of the world thought that we give these occasional Hollywood representations of us the power we do. I wish we spent more time just being ourselves than trying to meet these romanticized and limiting expectations. I wish we thought a little bit better of ourselves overall.

In order to end the requisite gloominess here on a high note, I'll reproduce for you my favorite moment from his year's Carnival season. It happened immediately after the Endymion parade. I described it here.
We watched the people scatter and then stayed while the crews cleaned up around us. Then we stayed and watched the traffic. We saw some guys almost get arrested for trying to drive through police barricades. We gave directions to fellow stragglers trying to get down to the Quarter. People riding in the back of pickup trucks hooted and hollered at us. Other motorists honked and waved. Mostly we just stood around drinking while the world moved around us.

This is what Mardi Gras is all about to me. It's not about rushing to some specific place to see any can't-miss event. There's no ridiculous admission fee. You don't have to get dressed up and perform for anybody. It's just an opportunity to stand around in the street talking to people doing nothing in particular while random absurdities happen around you. Every year there comes at least one moment in the Carnival season where I'm fully aware that this is exactly what I'm doing and this year, this was that moment.

What I'm trying to say here is that being New Orleans at its best isn't about a beat or a taste or "the three Cs" of any specific recognizable product or brand you can dream up. For me, it's about living as freely and unpretentiously as can be managed in whatever way best suits. It's a simple thing but it's the one thing that belongs to everybody. And it's not something that Treme, for all its odd attempts at poetic representation, ever really hits upon.

Update: Jesus a lot of people are very serious about this matter. I take back what I said about maybe overreacting to a TV show because, if the general chatter is any gauge, this is very important stuff we're dealing with here. Anyway two things real quick. Last night, when I asked everyone to imagine a realistic reaction to the indian scene, I neglected to note that Cliff had already supplied the dialogue for us.
If I had written that scene it would have went a little different. The brother would have came outside after hearing that noise, saw his boy dressed in full yellow Indian gear and said something like this….

“ Man…what the F#$k are you doing walking around looking like Big Bird on this dark ass street? …. <<>> ….Get your crazy ass inside before the National Guard come by and shoots all our asses. You done loss your rabbit ass mind out here acting like a one man parade. Hey Bay, I’ll be back. I’m going around here with Albert crazy ass and help him with the bar before we all get locked up.”

Also at Back of Town, Alli is slapping me upside the noggin right now.
I’ve heard Jeffrey say how he didn’t like The Wire, either, and I suppose that’s fine, but that means he probably went into the viewing experience with a different opinion of David Simon.

That’s my first problem with his review – he doesn’t trust the storyteller.

Trust the storyteller? Are you nuts? That is always the first and worst mistake. (Imagine a smiley or something here)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Don't know what I want but I know how to get it

I've been looking for the appropriate R.I. (sorta) P., Malcolm McLaren article and have finally settled on this for, among other reasons

In later years, McLaren still could not resist stepping in and out of the public spotlight, threatening in 1999 to run for the London mayoralty on a policy platform that included selling alcohol in public libraries.

I can't believe we didn't push this platform in NOLA 2010. Maybe next time.

Shorter disappointed Cao voters

Why doesn't he listen to us white folks? We paid for his campaign!

"He had fundraisers, he had meetings, all in the suburbs -- the white suburbs," said Hasney, who attended one of those events. "He had nothing in the district. We got him elected. Then, he goes and says 'but I have to represent my district,' which is all liberal, giveaway, spread-the-wealth, welfare, black. We thought he would try to change the demographics of that district by supporting things that were not giveaway things. You know, supporting things that would get them out of the ghetto."

Alex Chilton quote of the day

In a First Draft comment thread yesterday, Virgo Tex picked this out of Keith Spera's profile of Chilton which appeared in Wednesday's T-P

“He was kind of lazy,” Kersting said, laughing. “He took it very easy. He’d say, ‘Why work when I don’t have to?’ He wanted a very simple life. He was not interested in fame.

They say we're lazy men...

Unintentionally hilarious quote of the day

J.C. Watts speaking yesterday at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference being held this weekend in New Orleans.

"I need not go any further than my bathroom mirror to see how exceptional America is,"

Failure to read the shirt

Adrastos has an amusing anecdote about Uncle Lionel Ferbos Batiste.

And another one

Beach Corner brawl draws FBI civil rights investigation into NOPD
By Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune
April 08, 2010, 10:35PM

The FBI confirmed Thursday that it has an ongoing civil rights investigation into the actions of New Orleans police officers during a 2008 bar brawl with city transit workers.

The FBI now has at least eight ongoing civil-rights investigations into the New Orleans Police Department. Most of the other inquiries involve cases in which civilians died at the hands of police.

I'm not as convinced as others seem to be that a federal takeover of NOPD reform is necessary, but I'm beginning to think that's the road we're headed down.

Meanwhile, you gotta love this from Warren Riley.
Riley told WVUE that the news media have exaggerated the NOPD's problems. But he said there is little support for the NOPD, making morale among the officers very low.

"I don't think they are pushing as hard right now," Riley said of his officers. "I think that they are afraid to get into a shootout. They are afraid to have to defend themselves ... They don't want to be the targets of an investigation. They don't want to be vilified."
According to Riley, the police are now less likely to shoot you without considering the ramifications of that act and this is somehow a bad thing. When does this guy leave, again?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

More distressing rhetoric from your new Mayor

This may seem like a small thing at first glance but take a look at Mayor Mitch's inaugural slogan.
“We believe we have a great plan in place for all the citizens of New Orleans, as the city and its new administration ushers in an era of peace and prosperity,” said Cheryl Landrieu. “We are especially pleased that all elected officials will be sworn in at Gallier Hall, in true celebration of ‘One Team – One Fight – One Voice – One City.’
Seems like an innocuous enough empty phrase at first glance. But this kind of "one team" jingo is, for my taste, a little too close to the corporate speak favored by new age management gurus and motivational speakers as a soft bullying technique designed to marginalize dissenting voices. I find it condescending and threatening enough in a work setting but in the context of democratic governance, it's simply intolerable.

The fact is, as a citizenry, we are not actually "one voice" but many. And those many voices have many different views on things not all of which the Mayor will or should agree with but all of which he should at least acknowledge have a right to exist. It's fine if he wants to implement his own program but beating his dissenters over the head with an admonition to shut up and get with the "one voice" says to them that they have no place even making an argument and thus attempts to deny the existence of a very basic political right.

You might think I'm making a big deal out of nothing here but, remember, this is the same guy who only yesterday referred to the heads of the local NAACP, Silence is Violence, Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children, and Voice of the Ex Offender as "brick throwers" simply because they, quite accurately, asserted that his Police Task Force was a farcical political stunt.

Like I said before, Mitch has every right to choose whichever police chief he wants and to consult with whomever he wants to consult with in making that decision. He also doesn't have to take any advice from anyone who doesn't want to be on his "one team" But not everybody has to be on the "one team" and those who aren't have every bit as much right to be here as he does. Because this "one city" belongs to everybody even if the entitled and the powerful choose to pretend otherwise.

Free Parking Day

I discard mine all the time anyway

You are hurting this recovery and you need to stop it (take 2)

Guess the new guy doesn't take critics any more seriously than the last one did. At least when idiots like Ray Nagin or John Georges denounce anyone outside of their circle of business elites as "negative" or "dangerous people" or whatever it's funny. This guy is every bit as elitist but also more serious about it. Which is probably worse.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

You are hurting this recovery and you need to stop it

Only this time it's the Saints and not Nagin threatening to cold cock WWLTV reporters.

It's important to recognize that the Bensons' assholery toward local media is not an isolated or sudden phenomenon. We already know what they think of their fans.

The scariest thing about staying during a hurricane

No it's not the prospect of getting drowned or stuck without food or electricity. It's the possibility that a rampaging Rambo dude might shoot you in the back and then stomp on you.
As the truck rolled to a stop, the factual basis says, the sergeant sitting next to Hunter in the truck's cab fired Hunter's assault rifle toward a group of civilians on the bridge's walkway. Though the document doesn't identify the sergeant by name, other documents make clear that the officer in question is Sgt. Kenneth Bowen.

The factual basis says Hunter told officers to stop shooting upon realizing that the officers were not taking fire and determining that the civilians and were both injured and unarmed. Nonetheless, it says, Bowen leaned over a concrete barrier, "held out his assault rifle, and in a sweeping motion, fired repeatedly at the civilians lying wounded on the ground."

Next, the document says, Hunter and Bowen got back into the rental truck and drove to the crest of bridge, where they met up with "Sergeant B." Other documents make clear that that officer is Sgt. Robert Gisevius.

Three officers -- Gisevius, Hunter and Officer Robert Faulcon -- jumped into an unmarked state police car that pulled up nearby, the factual basis says. Riding in the front passenger seat was "Officer A," who, other documents make clear, is Faulcon. The group saw three men running away, two of whom were Lance and Ronald Madison. Hunter acknowledged he didn't see a gun on either one.

As the car pulled to a stop, Faulcon fired a shotgun at Ronald Madison's back, the factual basis says, though Madison never appeared to pose a threat. As Madison lay on the pavement, Bowen began "kicking or stomping him with a foot," the document says. Bowen continued to do that until Hunter stopped him, it says.

Lovely people, these "heroes".

Who knows?

Maybe this momentous signing will help to bring our city a much-deserved Super Bowl championship.

Open and closed and.. open again?

That didn't last long.
BATON ROUGE -- The House committee that has jurisdiction over election laws gave unanimous support today to a bill to return congressional elections to the "open primary" system, but not for this fall's races.

The Committee on House and Governmental Affairs approved House Bill 292 by Rep. Hunter Greene, R-Baton Rouge, sending it to the House floor for more debate.
I've always thought that so-called open primary elections are one of those rare things Louisiana actually gets exactly right in politics. Wouldn't mind seeing this pass.

Baseball season-opening quote of the day

BTW, are there any other Red Sox fans who are having trouble rooting for the home team? Rooting for the Sox feels like rooting for Morgan Stanley. And I have a terrible feeling of foreboding about this year’s team — Boston sports karma is in a bad state. I haven’t felt this gross since the Jack Clark era.
Is shameful douchebaggery among the inevitable wages of success? Take heed, Saints fans.

I would totally subcribe to this

The Daily Nagin
Nagin apparently has given more thought to his long-term agenda, telling a radio audience that he is planning to embark upon a new profession after his big trip: newspaper publisher.

"You know, after the term, I think I'm going to put together a group, and we're going to go buy a newspaper," Nagin said during his regular WBOK appearance with Riley onThursday. "I'm going to buy me a newspaper, man. That's going to be my next role."
It would be awesome. And I say that in all seriousness. I would love to read this paper. Of course jumping into the print journalism business at this stage of its nadir is only the latest example of a city official being behind a failing national trend. For example, we jumped into the red light camera business while most other cities were already getting out. But really, even if he were serious, this is just another one of Nagin's Big Idea projects he'll never follow through on so it'll never see the light of day.

And I really think that's a shame because I really think he ought to be putting his point of view out there for public scrutiny. Maybe he should start blogging. Or if that's too much work, at least tweeting.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Weekend

It's not anything so dramatic as having been laid away in a tomb before rising again or anything but the weekend was so event-heavy as to cause me to unplug a bit for a few days. So I missed a lot of stuff, I'm sure. Anyway here's what happened in the meantime.

  • On Good Friday, I spotted State Senator Ed Murray exiting the Sheraton Hotel downtown. Murray had just picked up what I assumed were his and two other people's Crescent City Classic race numbers at the pre-race health and fitness expo. I had a moment where I could have asked Sen. Murray if he was entering this race to win it but I had to go pick up my number so I just let him duck out. Sort of like he did a few months ago.

    Here's a lame phone picture of the official artwork from this year's CCC which I was fond enough of to snap a photo but not quite enough to buy a poster.

    CCC poster original
    BTW, the artist's name is Christy Works-Boutte. Here's her site.

  • Besides, you are saying, aren't the participants supposed to "win" these posters through some feat of athleticism or something? Well, kind of. A few years back I was athletically feated enough to finish at or near the times at the end of this list of Top 500 Finishers (PDF) who qualify for free posters. But I'm getting a bit too old, slow and fat to take that challenge very seriously anymore. I will admit to one tactical error, however. I forgot to lie.

    In my self-consciousness about my deteriorating athleticism, I momentarily forgot that a great majority of unseeded race participants either haven't trained very hard or simply don't plan to finish the thing running anyway. And while there is a dedicated registration category for "walkers", many of these people just lie about their expected finishing times so that they can start further up the street. And so you have walkers, baby strollers, people with canes, people in giant chicken suits all lining up with or in front of people who expect to run at an 8 to 10 minute per mile pace.

    One way to manage this problem is to lie about your own time. Even if you're like me and have been running 6.2 miles in 55 to 58 minutes consistently for weeks ahead of race time, it's a good idea to inflate your grade and register in the 45 to 50 minute group. Otherwise, you'll spend the first mile and a half of the course covering as much ground laterally as you do moving forward. Think Reggie Bush trying to bounce an off-tackle play outside and losing six yards in the process. This was me on Saturday.

    Because I had forgotten to lie about my time, I had to push hop and spin through a forest of waddling old ladies, invalids, rejects from the cast of Biggest Loser, and I think the Philly Phanatic before I finally found room to hit a reasonable stride somewhere on Esplanade Avenue. This was, I think, maybe my 17th or 18th Crescent City Classic and here I had made just the dumbest rookie mistake possible. At least I didn't park my car in an obviously illegal spot and then whine about it in the newspaper.

    I ended up finishing in 55:46. Not terrible for an old fat guy but it was harder than it had to be.

  • In other sports news from the weekend, Donovan McNabb is almost as old as I am (but maybe a little bit fatter). I will never understand the why Eagles fans seem to hate their future Hall of Fame former quarterback so much. Good luck in the Kevin Kolb era.

  • In other news news from the weekend and early this week, I've been enjoying the spectacle of various members of Mayor-to-be Mitch's NOPD task force realizing that they've been used as cheap political props and walking out the door to save themselves further shame. I most enjoy following these developments at The Lens where Eli has a pretty good bead on the situation.
    The police search largely has been delegated to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which has a contract to consult the Landrieu transition. The organization is screening the candidates and will whittle down the applicant pool before the task force will have an opportunity to weigh in on any specific individual. For some task force stakeholders, the police chiefs group has been far from forthcoming about the methodology used to whittle down the list. Some task force members appear to be more in the loop than others.

    I can respect the desire to be sensitive about the current positions of potential candidates. I’m not sure that I necessarily object to the IACP serving as the first filter for the task force. Frankly, I was never sold on the need for an official task force to help the Mayor-elect in the first place. Mitch Landrieu has said that this decision – who will lead the NOPD at its time of greatest despair – is his top priority.

    He’s right. The success of Landrieu’s administration absolutely hinges on his ability to curtail crime while restoring the community’s faith in the NOPD. The credibility of the department is, at this point, absolutely critical to the city’s national and international reputation and will in large measure determine the pace at which tourism and other investment can grow, or slow.

    If Landrieu had come out from the onset and said that he would consult privately with whomever he wanted to and that the selection of the new police chief would be his decision and his alone, perhaps he would have avoided this early headache.
    Basically what's happened here is Landrieu, who I agree has every right to just pick the damn chief himself, thought he could steal a tacit endorsement of his choice from as many "community leaders" willing to have their names printed on a list of Task Force participants as possible. Most "community leaders" are just self-important enough to fall for this. But at the same time, they're also sensitive enough to get their feelings hurt when they realize they aren't being listened to. And when that happens you end up with a situation where the people you brought in to create a fake air of consensus are now creating a fake air of discord as they have their individual temper tantrums. Overall it looks worse than if Landrieu had just ignored these people altogether.

  • In other news that really isn't news, Scott Cowen is your 2010 Times-Picayune "Loving Cup" recipient. Oyster and Ashley and and Fake Ashley from "Treme" are right. Scott Cowen is a mook. And the T-P's Editorial Board (Or Ashton Phelps' committee of one or whoever cups out the loving) is the mookiest mookfest in all of mookville.

  • In further news that really isn't news but is at least further along the line toward being news than the previous item and which involves smaller furrier animals, we... um... we got a new cat on Saturday. In June, it will have been a year since we lost Sovreign and, well, it was just time. This is Biscuit. He's about 8 weeks old.


And in the best news of the weekend, I made a Gumbo Z'herbes on Good Friday and took some photos of it while it happened.

Gumbo Z'herbes is a bit different from most of what people typically call Gumbo in that 1) It doesn't usually call for a thickening agent like file or okra. 2) Because it is a traditional Good Friday meal, practicing Catholics are encouraged to not put any meat in it. Because I did not check the practicing Catholic box on my Census form, I get to ignore item number 2 and add ham anyway and nobody will send me to Hell.

  • The first thing you do here is bring together as many different sorts of greens things you can pull out of your local Rouses. There aren't any hard and fast rules about which greens you use although some of these are fairly standard. Clay made one of these a few weeks back that included dandelion greens. I didn't have anything quite so exotic on hand. You are supposed to have at least seven and your total is supposed to be an odd number. I count eight in mine but, again, didn't check that box either. Try and damn me if you want to but it won't hold up in court. The important thing to remember is that most of these like the mustard greens in the photo below usually have a lot of sand and grit on them so they have to be cleaned thoroughly before use. This could take a while so it's good to have beer on hand.

    Mustard greens

  • This is my biggest stock pot stuffed as full as it will go with Turnip Greens, Collared Greens, Mustard Greens, Cabbage Leaves, Beet Tops, Green Onion, Leeks, and Parsley.

    Pot o greens

    Once everything is clean, add it all to the pot with maybe 1/3 or 1/2 cup of water and turn the burner up on high. When the water starts to boil, turn the heat back down low, cover the pot and let it simmer for maybe 20 minutes or so.

  • Strain the cooked greens, reserve the liquid and set it aside.


    Chop the greens up as fine as you can and set them aside as well.

    Chopped greens

  • In a great big cast iron pot, make yourself a nice roux. I won't bore you with the fine points of stirring and waiting on a roux. Just make sure you have more beer on hand to pass the time. When it's ready to go, you can start building your gumbo. Most Gumbo Z'herbes recipes call for just onions here, but I went ahead and threw in some bell pepper, celery and garlic too because... I was afraid somebody might send me to hell if I didn't.


    Add that to the roux and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then go get your reserved stock and stir that in too.

  • Here's where all the rest of us sinners get to make this part of a complete breakfast by adding meat. Pickled pork or pickled tips would probably be great with the greens but I didn't have any so I just went with regular old ham seasoning which works just fine.


    Oh and three humongous ham hocks too. Here's all that heretical ham browning in the roux.

    2010-04-02 16.53.44.jpg

  • All that's left to do now is add the those chopped, cooked greens.

    2010-04-02 17.01.43.jpg

  • I probably could have used a bit more cayenne in this than I did so don't hold back. I also used black pepper and salt (obviously) as well as thyme (which really should just be automatic anywhere there is pork) and also some allspice and a couple of cloves which don't typically belong in a gumbo but then neither do all those greens.

    Yes, obviously, there's plenty left. I wonder if it freezes OK. Would be an appropriate item to resurrect, right?

    Gumbo Z'herbes