Monday, January 31, 2011

"Inspiring orator"?

Having heard this term applied to the halting, murmuring, Dukakis-like Barack Obama and now seeing it used to describe the weenie Baptist church rector stylings of Buddy Roemer, I am certain that I have a very different concept of what that phrase actually means than many people do.


  • We first noted the sinkhole on the corner of Carondelet and Third streets back in July. At the time, I jokingly told Menckles that it will make a fine parade trash and bead receptacle when it's still there come Carnival time. And so here we are less than a month away from parade season and the hole is still waiting a ready.

    Pothole still there

    It's even got a little starter trash going which will doubtlessly make it a more inviting refuse bin for passers by.

    Junk in the sinkhole

    Right now I'd say it's even money that somebody pees in it.

  • On Saturday Night we attended the Pussyfooters' Blush Ball at the Howlin Wolf. The space there much smaller than the old Mardi Gras World location and this definitely makes the room feel more cramped. At one point I was standing about three feet away from Steve Zahn, and yet, somehow didn't jab a plastic fork in his neck. Must have been in a good mood.

    Blush Ball stage

    The good news, though, is that the crowd can spill out into the side bar and also the street. All in all it makes for better milling about and socializing than the old set up. At the same time, this also enables one of the worst hazards of events like this. It's gotten to where I can't go out to anything anymore without having to fight through four or five volleys of "Hey you're our librarian". It's only marginally an exaggeration to say that, next to the show Treme, the frequency of these assaults is slowly stifling what remains of my ability to enjoy New Orleans the way I used to.

    To begin with, I'm technically not a librarian. There was a time when I, my family, and my co-workers expected that I would eventually go ahead and get the degree but I'm not so sure that's in the cards anymore. As jobs go, this has been by far the most tolerable I've ever had. But after several starts and stops, I'm starting to see that I'm never really going to be able to suffer through the belittling tedium of grad school. Besides that the idea of belonging to a particular club or profession always seems so... I don't know... limiting, in a way that makes me too sad to contemplate. I don't mind doing my job. It's the idea of being my job that implies failed personhood, I think. Plus whenever someone accuses me of being a librarian, it's an implicit insult to the actual degreed librarians I work with or near and who take the title very seriously. This always makes me uncomfortable. It's not fair that people's perception of me should reflect badly on others.

    But what I really hate about being recognized at parties by Uptown Mommies is I know what they're doing. They're meticulously counting the "respectable" people and professions they encounter at such events. Sure they're there to wear silly costumes and drink and all, but they're going to make damn sure they're doing these things with the right sort of crowd. From time to time you'll hear such persons remarking to one another about how it was their family's doctor or their neighbor's boss they saw drunk off his ass and dressed as a penis and that's what makes it okay.

    Myself, I'm not very big on costumes and not much in need of the pretense of an organized pseudo sorority party to facilitate or validate my idle drinking. But there was a time when I didn't mind showing up at these things anonymously if only to bear further witness to their odiousness. But now, as "our librarian" I'm feeling a little too much like a prop. In a few more months the weekly festivals will start popping up all over town. I get to fewer and fewer of these each year for pretty much the same reason.

  • This weekend, there were two second line parades in the neighborhood. I was feeling pretty cranky already (see above) so I didn't see either one of them. I did hear what sounded like six gunshots go off a few short blocks away from the parade, however, and went outside to investigate. According to neighbors and passers by, there was indeed a shooting on Baronne Street. The police came and blocked off the corner of Baronne and Fourth for a while.

    NOPD scene on Baronne St.

    I couldn't find anything about this in the news anywhere. Anyone else see or hear it?

    On Sunday, the mayhem continued as a man crashed his motorcycle just outside the apartment on a slick Carondelet Street. He walked... limped away okay but the bike didn't look like it took things so well. At least nobody fell in the sinkhole.

  • Finally, this morning's episode of Beer in the Bookdrop was brought to us by Abita Strawberry Harvest Lager. Much to everyone's chagrin, I'm sure, I didn't get a photo. Instead, enjoy this photo of several cases of Abita Strawberry I spotted recently at Breaux Mart.

    January strawberries

    By the way, isn't January a bit early for "Stawberry Harvest" lager? I thought strawberries were harvested during the springtime.

Not about us

What Adrastos said.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Which is worse?

Selling organs in your opponent's crazy political ad?

Or suppressing evidence of murder by police in real life?

Civil rights attorneys say the incomplete autopsies and misdiagnosed classifications aren't limited to the recent cases that prompted federal probes. They argue that the handling of in-custody deaths by Minyard has been a problem for years, particularly cases handled by a pathologist who left the office last year: Dr. Paul McGarry,

Actually what's worst is the fact that political opponents would prefer to make up crazy stories when the true to life allegations should suffice.

Friday, January 28, 2011


In the White House now

Rockin' Jay Carney: Responding to a question about Frank Sinatra's impact on popular culture,(incoming White House Press Secretary) Jay Carney announces that Guided by Voices, the Dayton, Ohio, riff-rockers, are his favorite band.

Our world is run by scoundrels and their stories are told by courtiers

What Athenae said. Bill Keller spent eleventy kabillion words reminding us that he and his prize-winning reporters are clean and good enough to make the icky product of the "bag ladies" tolerable to the king.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Kill Switch

Egypt Internet Goes Down, According To Reports

I'm probably not the first person to point this out today, but this is exactly the tool the U.S. Government has been asking for for some time now.

You forgot Poland (avenue)

I know it's difficult to get over the railroad tracks, but the St. Claude streetcar really should go all the way to Poland Avenue before they include this less important spur.

The phase-one plan to run tracks along Elysian Fields linking the Riverfront line to the new North Rampart/St. Claude line makes sense, but it adds over 20% to the project cost while introducing few if any new riders to the system. The residents and visitors served by the spur are already within walking distance of the major lines. Worse yet, the Elysian Fields segment will reduce the frequency of service on the North Rampart/St. Claude line; every third or fourth streetcar will turn down Elysian Fields rather than continuing on to the Press Street terminus.

Schwartz has a few other good ideas in that Lens op-ed. Go take a look. Although, every time I look at his giant Monorail! map I have to chuckle a little bit.

One of the many problems with the current "liberal" intellectual establishment

Far too many, like Yglesias here, don't seem to get you don't have meaningful liberalism (read: economic egalitarianism) without organized labor. Drum is closer to getting it right in that post but even he hems and haws and says some annoying shit about "pathologies" and whatnot. The concluding paragraph is the strongest point.

You just can't pull labor and full employment apart. It's not a matter of emphasis. A country without a strong labor movement is almost inevitably one in which economic and political power is overwhelmingly on the side of business interests and rich people, and that means you're not going to have sustained full employment because that's not what business interests and rich people want. It's all about power, baby, power.

Unless you understand at least this much, that politics isn't about "bringing people together to get things done" but rather fighting against people who are out to destroy you for their own enrichment, you really aren't on the right side of this.

Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar

We're still a month away from the major Carnival events but some of us are starting to get into it a bit already. On Twelfth Night, we dutifully stood on the St. Charles Avenue neutral ground with a glass of wine long enough to record this 16 seconds of dark phone video of the Phunny Phorty Phellows streetcar ride.

The Pussyfooters Blush Ball is this Saturday night at the Howlin Wolf. Tickets are $35.00 at the door. The ball and accompanying raffle raise money for the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children which is a non-profit organization providing services to victims of domestic violence. Plus the ball is an all-around good time. Last year, we were there to take in the debut public performance of the now famous 610 Stompers.

610 Stompers

Meanwhile, I'm sifting through recent years of photos. These are all of Rex making his majesty's royal pee break and toast at the Downman House on St. Charles and Third. (For some reason my Flickr account is missing 2006 and 2007 right now. Will update if I find these pictures at home)

REX 2005 (photo by Daisy)

Rex 2005

REX 2008

King of Carnival

REX 2009


REX 2010 (note the Saints flag)


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Big foam fleur de lis

I'm not sure if I'm going to lose to the giant flower this year but I am taking the CCC a bit more seriously than in recent attempts. Actually dropped 10 pounds since Jan 1. I fully expect Carnival to mess this up all kind of bad but it's something.

Digging through some old Flickr stuff I came across this rarity. It's Lee de Fleur on Fat Tuesday 2006, before his CCC debut.

Lee de Fleur


Professor Homan provides us with pictures of a 30-40 foot geyser emanating from a water main break on Banks Street today.

Courtier journalism

Remember to clear everything with all of the censors and secret police before publishing.

What Bi-Partisanship is for

Taibbi hints at it in a throwaway line.
The twist this year is that both parties seemed genuinely humbled a little by the Giffords incident and toning down the rancor just enough to leave the door open for a little genuine bipartisan cooperation – which I suspect really will occur when it comes time to enact those corporate tax cuts.

Good for the oligarchy. Not so good for getting important things done.

When do you want to start?

Optimal start date would have been about 30 years ago.
WASHINGTON -- Bob Graham, co-chairman of the National Oil Spill Commission, told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that the Gulf Coast should be restored to a state far better than existed the day before the April 20 blowout of the Macondo well, a task he said would require $15 billion to $20 billion, or a minimum of $500 million per year over 30 years.

"If we make April 19 (2010) the target for restoration we would set our goal at an unnecessarily low aspiration," said Graham. "We should use the occasion of this environmental disaster to aim higher."

The Commission is recommending that 80 percent of any Clean Water Act penalties and fines assessed against BP because of the disaster be directed to Gulf Coast restoration.
He said if those funds are not made available, Congress should come up with some other mechanism to guarantee a steady stream of money for restoration efforts.

Graham also said the commission recommended that Congress create a joint state-federal Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council to implement a restoration strategy for the region.

The way Obama was talking last night, you wouldn't expect we'd be able to start for at least another five years.

See also: Gulf Coast Ecosystem Recovery Task Force report (PDF) Presumably, this would be the "restoration strategy" they would look to implement.

SOTU winner

Josh Marshall:
9:37 PM: For sake of clarity, I will from now on abbreviate 'win the future' as WTF.

As for substance? Well we already knew what it was going to be. It was more of Obama selling the permanent oligarchical agenda (waging war, abandoning Social Security, giving everything away to the banks) in buzzwordspeak that makes self-styled centrists and pseudo-liberals feel all warm and fuzzy ("innovation" "education" "competition" etc.) Obama also disingenuously alluded to the need for infrastructure investment while also proposing a fiscal austerity which makes such a program either impossible or at the very least too politically confused to achieve. In other words, "Gee I really like monorails!" Thanks a lot.

As with any of these, we're just talking about theater anyway. Please enjoy these two years of theater designed to soft sell the oligarchy before we inevitably switch back to the hard sell in 2012.

See also, Drake Toulouse: Spill? What spill? Barack Obama already forgets…

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Job-killing moratorium

FDL: Obama’s Deeper Freeze: 3-Year Discretionary Freeze Expands to 5 Years

Now go away, or we will rape you a second time

Uh oh

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas' tenure as police chief in Nashville is under scrutiny amid recent revelations that the police department there is reclassifying hundreds of sexual assault reports.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas' tenure as police chief in Nashville is under scrutiny amid recent revelations that the police department there is reclassifying hundreds of sexual assault reports.

We highlighted some of these media reports a few weeks ago when this quote got our attention.
Some victims said rapes are difficult to report.

"I felt like I was raped a second time," said Lisa Baucom. "They stripped me of any right that I had."

Contrast the following statements.

Serpas rejected the notion that crimes had been systematically downgraded, telling the newspaper that the department classified cases that way for decades.

"In each and every year the MNPD routinely upgraded the 'matter of record' designation to reflect what continuing investigations determined; sex crime cases were no exception, and in every year new information led to cases originally labeled 'matter of record' to another, more appropriate classification," he told The Tennessean.

Rape victim explains what he means when he says that:
Lisa Baucom said hours of questioning from patrol officers and a detective, plus long waits at two hospitals made her question why anyone would report a rape.

"I spent hours just horrified retelling my story, and there was absolutely nothing that came of it," said Baucom.

She finally got so frustrated she left the hospital. Police classified her case as a "matter of record" -- not rape.

That means it didn't count in any crime statistic.

"There was a crime that happened that day," said Baucom, becoming emotional. "I know for a fact there was a crime that happened, and it's insulting to me that it's not counted, like my pain is not counted, like my hurt is not counted."

It could happen here

Whenever I read about mass political demonstration somewhere in the world, I always look for the part where is says something like this.
State television made no mention of the protests, and sporadically through the afternoon, cellphone networks were interrupted or unavailable.
It's so easy and tempting for someone in power to just flip a switch and shut down the "dangerous people" on the internet should they see a need to do so.

Splendid little wars always come first

Poor infrastructure fails America, civil engineers report*
The American Society of Civil Engineers issued an infrastructure report card Wednesday giving a bleak cumulative ranking of D.

"We've been talking about this for many many years," Patrick Natale, the group's executive director, told CNN.

"We really haven't had the leadership or will to take action on it. The bottom line is that a failing infrastructure cannot support a thriving economy."

The ranking -- which grades the condition of 15 infrastructure entities such as roads, bridges and dams -- is the same as the the last time such a report was issued, in 2005. In 2001, the grade was D+, slightly better but still poor.

I can't tell you how sorry I am to see that we lost our "+". It used to give me so much hope. Note also that the report gives levees a "D-".

In any case this sounds like a good time for a new and better stimulus package. One that isn't all watered down the way the last one was when the President and his overwhelming Congressional majorities couldn't find the nerve to stand up to Groucho.

Of course, this time around, it may be even less fashionable for the President to demonstrate any spine given current concern that asserting one's political difference with one's opposition is bad for "the civility of the discourse". Well, that and our Splendid Little Wars, whichever you like.
In his first State of the Union address before a Congress under divided control, advisers say Mr. Obama will lay out his case for investment in education and infrastructure, while tempering his call for new initiatives with an acknowledgment of the country’s long-term fiscal challenges.

Aides said Tuesday that Mr. Obama will propose a five-year freeze on “non-security discretionary spending” though they did not disclose the details of that proposal in advance of the speech.
Translation: Obama is too enamored with his little wars to make any meaningful investment in our "grade D" infrastructure without presenting us with a Hobson's choice between that and Social Security. But at least we've arrived at a more civil-looking seating arrangement. That is very important, after all.

*CNN story is from 2 years ago. As you all know, these problems are all fixed now.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New hiring policy at NOPD

I want to be a police officer

Well, if Serpas wants to hire a whole bunch of at-will supervisors under him, I hope he realizes this makes him more, not less directly responsible for their actions.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas today asked the Civil Service Commission to approve a reorganization of the New Orleans Police Department's senior management structure. Serpas wants to hire 16 unclassified police colonels to oversee the major divisions of the force. Currently there are 32 divisions led by majors, captains and lieutenants, all of whom are civil service employees who cannot be fired due to a change in political leadership.

In a logical world, it's easy to see that yes men cannot also be fall guys, but we don't live in that world which is one reason we have civil service in the first place. But the new way of thinking is that if we give the Philosopher King free reign to walk all over people things will magically work better. Good luck with that.

They lie

Football coaches lie. They lie all the damn time and what's worse they become extremely cross when they are called on their blatant lying. You will recall that, back in November, when Kenny Wilkerson claimed that rumors of Brees' knee injury were "100 thousand-trillion-million percent" we all had a lot of fun with that.

But aside from Wilkerson, the remainder of the local sports media more or less rallied around the party line and laughed the whole thing off. I wonder sometimes if these sports journalists understand what their job actually is. If they want to work for the Saints' PR department, they should apply there.


Rahm Emanuel booted off ballot by court

Update: Today is a very good day to follow @MayorEmanuel on Twitter. Also yesterday was a good day to do that.


New Orleans Arena
New Orleans Arena during the Hornets-Magic game on January 12.

Some day people are going to figure out that basketball season in New Orleans begins after the Saints are finished.
More than 18,000 tickets were sold for Saturday night’s Hornets game at the hive, the third sell out this season. Fans witnessed an exciting win over the San Antonio Spurs 96-72, extending the Hornets' winning streak to eight games.

Fans surpassed the attendance benchmark the Hornets Business Council said they needed to meet to send a strong signal to the NBA, which owns the team.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess that attendance dips slightly at the end of February and picks back up during March. These are all predictable realities of the NOLA sports and entertainment schedule. People will show up for Hornets games when it's time to show up for Hornets games. No amount of pompous cajoling from politicians and media is going to change that. Nor should it.


So a guy came in here this morning and requested the movie "Eagle Eye" staring Shia Leboeuf. But he didn't phrase his request in the form of a question. Rather he just blurted, "Eagle Eye" at me. Which was weird because the dude was wearing an eye patch. I thought for a second he was telling me his nickname.

Also kickass Testaverde set at One Eyed Jack's on Friday. It was good to see Tim stop by. Unfortunately Droid video at a rock show doesn't produce the greatest quality sound. Here's the best one I could get.

Oh also, go Pack!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Imagine if you needed a different pair of glasses to read each book

Want to learn everything you need to know about the absurdity of incompatible competing media platforms in one short activity? Try checking out an e-book from your local library.

The next NOLA fetish?

Prepare for the Ya-ka-mein renaissance.
Most people come to Bentley's Meals on Wheels specifically for Mrs. Bentley's ya-ka-mein but it is only served on Tuesday nights and Sundays. Bentley said the cast and crew of a certain HBO series has taken a liking to Mrs. Bentley's ya-ka-mein. " They usually wipe me out," Mrs. Bentley said of the Treme crew.
I gave up on Treme after episode 4 last year. Have they worked in a superflous ultra-hip reference to ya-ka-mein yet? As soon as it happens, every fucking tourist will start asking where they can get some.

I go back and forth on Olbermann

Sometimes I think he does righteous outrage pretty well. Other times I think he's a pompous douche. Still other times I think him clearly insane. (Seriously, the whole "Fridays With Thurber" thing was a fireable offense in my estimation.) But for all of that, the best thing I can say about Keith Olbermann is that he is a world class shit-stirrer in an environment heavily resistant to stirring of the shit. And maybe that's the best thing I could say about anybody, really.

Barge owners off the hook

Much like the barge itself was that day.
In a ruling signed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval, Jr., exonerated Lafarge North America, Inc., of negligence in a series of decisions made before and during the 2005 hurricane that plaintiffs had claimed caused two breaches in the eastern flood walls along the Inner-Harbor Navigation Canal, also called the Industrial Canal.

Maybe the suit would have gone differently if the barge were full of formaldehyde.

Kill me

Mayor Mitch Landrieu sings the praises of New Orleans

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who took singing lessons and contemplated a stage career as a young man, is the latest elected official to take to the spotlight, appearing on a CD compilation of original songs by Paul Sanchez and Colman deKay titled "Nine Lives: A Musical Adaptation."

Landrieu sings on the upbeat finale, "Rebuild Renew," joining Lillian Boutte, John Boutte, Michael Cerveris, Anders Osborne and Mem Shannon, among others.

Think of it as our very own version of "Let the Eagle Soar"

Signs of Carnival

Walked by Gallier Hall last night and noticed the grandstands are going up.

Grandstand construction at Gallier Hall

Is it too early to talk about ladders?

Boom industry

Would be a good time to be one, I suppose. Maybe the new UNO-SUNO will offer this highly specialized degree.

To help it deal with all the data, the council agreed this week to seek "proposals from professionals interested in providing redistricting services."

Which raises the question: Just how many redistricting "professionals" are there? However many they may be, their services are certainly in demand this year.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Nearly half favor"

Otherwise known as "More than half do not favor"

If you can't track down the checkpoints

The next best thing, of course, is smash a traffic camera.
New Orleans - Traffic camera vandals have struck again in the same area of the city and this time they've taken out three cameras.

FOX 8 first told you about some vandalized traffic cameras in late December. All are on busy streets in Lakeview, just blocks apart.

Somewhat related. About a week ago, I was driving home late at night from the Quarter when NOPD pulled me over in order to give me a friendly warning about maybe slowing down a bit. It kind of freaked me out when the officer addressed me by my name without first having seen or asked for any ID. Do they just run people's plates as a matter of course?


New 'Giant' Species Of Crayfish Found In Tennessee Creek

My God, this is just what they told us would happen.

The ring toss activity was kind of lame

Otherwise, the The Lens one-year anniversary commemoration appears to have gone off without a hitch. Congratulations to all the people over there. We wish them many years of continued virtuous poverty.

They went over Ralph Lupin's head

The Tweeters are telling me that the City Council just overrode the Vieux Carre Commission's silly obstinate denial of residential solar panel installation in the Quarter. Probably referring to this. Good to see common sense overcome one of these ridiculous preservation fiefdoms every once in a while.

Iron Man

Looking back on it, it's hard to figure that we didn't view this injury as an evil portent at the time. But now it seems more like a story of heroic perseverance through adversity.

Morstead is believed to have played the entire 2010 season with the left shoulder ailment, one he suffered in the Saints' first preseason game at New England when, in the first quarter, Morstead tackled Patriots return man Julian Edelman.

Perhaps playing him at guard wasn't such s great idea after all.

Morstead at Guard

Update: ESPN names Thomas Morstead the NFC South's top punter for 2011.

Upperdate: Also, please enjoy a video from SI.com Most Decisive Super Bowl Moments: Saints' Onside Kick

Return of the Serpas

It was just yesterday that we were wondering after the NOPD traffic checkpoint announcements. I'm not saying I'm all into the Prayer of Jabez or The Secret or any of that crap but... well... sometimes one need only ask in order to receive the Lord's bounty.

New Orleans, LA – As required by the Louisiana Supreme Court, the New Orleans Police Department is issuing a public advisory regarding a DWI Checkpoint that will be conducted.

The New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Section will conduct a DWI Checkpoint on Friday, January 21, 2011 in the Warehouse District area, beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M., and concluding approximately 5:00 A.M. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.

This one is especially distressing for me since it's happening on the same night that Testaverde is opening a show for the Happy Talk Band and R. Scully's Rough Seven at One Eyed Jack's. Ordinarily, on the nights when checkpoints are announced, I lock myself in the house and hide under three sets of bedclothes. But this time I may have to plan differently. Maybe I'll take the bike or something.

Doing so could give me a chance to scout the actual location of the checkpoint. I've long been annoyed at the vagueness of these imprecise announcements. "Warehouse District" isn't as useful as say, "St. Charles and Calliope" which is where I think this photo may have been taken.

Anyway, be careful out there.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quote of the day

A reader question put to T-P sports reporter Jeff Duncan on NOLA.com.
Q: I realize there are an infinite number of causes during the season that brought about the Saints' playoff loss. But when I think back to the singular event that could have changed the season's outcome, I only think of Hartley's missed field goal in overtime against Atlanta. If Hartley makes the kick, the Saints would have beat Atlanta twice, would have won the division, and would have at least a bye - if not home-field advantage - in the playoffs, assuming everything else went basically the same way. So two questions: 1.) Why didn't he just make that 29-yard kick?! 2.) Am I wrong to feel a nauseating rage every time I see the No. 5, and if so, why?

No man's land

The Lens: Councilman connected to nine blighted buildings in the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood

District E Councilman Jon Johnson, his brother, and associates of theirs directed a non-profit called Ninth Ward Housing Development Corp. which owns several blighted properties in the Ninth Ward.

The buildings are owned by the Ninth Ward Housing Development Corp., a non-profit social service agency. Johnson was president of the organization’s board in the 1980s and early 1990s, then known as the Lower Ninth Ward Housing Development Corp. He remains connected to the agency through personal relations, including his brother and former business partner, James Johnson, who serves as the group’s secretary; the council member’s longtime professional colleague Terri Guerin is listed on Secretary of State documents as the nonprofit board’s president. In his capacity as council member, Jon Johnson recently appointed Guerin to the board of the New Orleans Regional Business Park, and he has worked with her on neighborhood issues in Eastover, the gated eastern New Orleans community where they both live.

According to Ariella Cohen's story, the buildings and indeed the non-profit responsible for them, have fallen into neglect disrepair since the flood.

Guerin said the organization had not rehired staff since Katrina, and she referred all questions about the group to James Johnson and Roy Lewis, who met earlier this month to discuss how to move forward on renovations of the nonprofit’s properties, she said.

Both men were signatories on documents filed with the Secretary of State on Sept. 15 to reinstate the nonprofit. The state filings list Lewis as a director of the nonprofit.

When reached by phone recently, both denied involvement with the group.

“I am not on the board and I have not been affiliated for over a year,” Lewis said Wednesday.

James Johnson hung up on a reporter when asked why he signed the state filings in September if he has nothing to do with the group.

One obvious problem the Lens article points to is the difficulty of enforcing penalties for neglect upon an apparently now headless ownership entity. There is even some suggestion that the whole non-profit property management model is misguided but that's not necessarily true. Properties fall into neglect all over town under various modes of ownership. Non-profits like this one tend to be vehicles for political patronage and that makes them a sexy story and certainly in this case indicates a kind of hypocrisy on Johnson's part but the model isn't the reason we have a blight problem in New Orleans.

What I'd like to read more about are the obstacles to putting these properties back into use. At one point in time, Johnson's non-profit operated and maintained them successfully. No one associated with the group seems interested in taking responsibility for them now but is there a reason it couldn't work if they were differently inclined? What is it going to take to spur investment in affordable housing in New Orleans?

In the CBD, the approach seems to be to attach so-called affordable units to high-rise vacation home developments in order to qualify for "mixed-income" financing. That doesn't seem like a realistic strategy to me. Sure some people want to live in downtown apartments but not most people who live in actual neighborhoods now. Maybe if Landrieu succeeds at bulldozing those neighborhoods they'll start to change their minds but I rather doubt it.

Read James Gill today

Column begins with this bit about the EWE for Governor speculation (yes there was some):
If Edwards is kept on the sidelines until 15 years after his sentence is complete, as the Constitution now requires, he might not be as sharp as we remember him. In fact, he could be almost as boring as the three governors we have had since he left the Mansion.

OK, let's not be silly about this. Edwards would have to be dead for that to be true.

That's just the goofy hook. The rest is spot-on and you should go read it.

Five second book review

Freedom: Jonathan Franzen

Well I did it. I sat through this whole fucking glorified episode of Thirtysomething. Kept waiting for a reason to care about any of these blandly stupid and selfish characters, or for any of them to be.. not likable.. but at least unlikable in an interesting fashion. I could forgive Franzen if I thought he were telling us our lives are full of stupid bland selfishness but that's not what he's saying. He's saying the stupid bland selfishness of these people is important in some way.

The whole damn world told me there was something important contained somewhere in this book but all it did was piss me off. If there's a difference between what Franzen does and what Nicholas Sparks or Mitch Albom does, I'd love to see someone explain that to me. Shit like this is exactly why I'm so reluctant to read new fiction anymore.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Metal detectors

Just to be clear. If you're in the business of telling people they need to "tone down the rhetoric" because a crazy person did something awful, you're really just working for the people who want to squash legitimate dissent.
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (AP) -- The shooting of a congresswoman and rising tempers along the Gulf Coast have prompted increased security for meetings between BP's oil spill claims czar and residents seeking compensation.

Rogue Websites

The motivations of its creators are murky. Government officials berate it as "rogue endeavor" and openly question the reliability of the information shared as well as the wisdom of allowing the site to share it at all.

No, it's not Wikileaks. It's Asknola.com a privately operated "civic engagement platform" for reporting and mapping water leaks, potholes, and other broken stuff around town. From all appearances, it is at best it's a useful tool for expediting infrastructure repairs. At worst it's a harmless but informative service. Naturally, the city hates it.

For those eager to help improve New Orleans, the site may seem like a godsend. There's just one catch: AskNOLA.com doesn't deliver what it promises, at least according to top aides to Mayor Mitch Landrieu.

"It's not the city of New Orleans' website," Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ann Duplessis said last week. "We're not getting the information. ... We have no clue what is being submitted."

Why would Duplessis be so concerned about this? It's hardly the first time anyone has employed a website to highlight potholes or water leaks
or street light outages or farcical clusterfucks involving electrical repair jobs that destroy sewer lines and create unsightly sludge ditches where sidewalks used to be.

Meanwhile, local Twitter users are working day and night to thwart law enforcement efforts. Certainly this should be considered a "rogue endeavor" by Duplessis' standard. AskNOLA looks to be just another place for local cranks to bitch about potholes. Why is the city "doing everything it can to shut it down" and not making the same complaint against Twitter?

Well, for one thing, Twitter isn't pretending to be an actual city service.

During his October budget address, Landrieu announced that his administration this year would re-create the city's toll-free 311 hotline and AskNola! would be its new name. Unlike in the past, he said, the system would allow the city's customer-service agents to access departmental files and provide callers with updates on what has been done in response to their complaints.


The website's founder, Timothy Garrett, incorporated AskNOLA LLC on Nov. 12, about a month after the mayor's speech, according to the Louisiana secretary of state's records. Garrett registered its service mark, a stylized fleur-de-lis in a diamond frame, on Dec. 10, records show.

Garrett created a website called "AskNOLA" which claims to be an improvement upon 311 just after the Mayor announced his intention to replace 311 with a system called "AskNOLA." Certainly this is not a coincidence. Furthermore, the language on AskNOLA.com appears to lead visitors to believe it is working in concert with city departments.

Garrett said in an e-mail message that he launched the site in early October and worked out all the kinks by Thanksgiving.

An electronic notice he circulated among neighborhood organizations lays out the project's purpose.

"Would you rather not be on a first-name basis with the city's 'info hotline' operators?" it says. "Got better things to do than dialing 3-1-1 and waiting for the prompts? Good news: The new AskNOLA.com website is now open and operating, complete with mobile apps to save you time."

Where do reports go?

Every report submitted to AskNOLA.com "is sent directly to a representative of the responsible department(s) at City Hall, or other municipal and state agencies," Garrett said.

"In every case, I established one or more contacts with each department and got permission to forward incoming reports, complete with a brief description and GPS coordinates of the problem and its location on a map," he said, adding that reports are transmitted by e-mail.

In other words, all the site actually does is collect your complaints, put them up on a pretty map for you... and then it presumably emails the city about them; a process which may or may not be as effectual for individual users as... say... calling 311. Since the Times-Picayune began reporting on the city's complaint against AskNOLA.com, the site has added a disclaimer which tells us exactly that.
AskNOLA is provided free of charge as a public service to Orleans Parish residents,and is not affiliated with nor officially endorsed by the City of New Orleans. This service provides no guarantee that issues reported here or using the CitySourced mobile application will be received by the correct agency nor resolved in a timely manner. Users are therefore advised to consider reporting issues separately to each relevant department where applicable, such as by calling 3-1-1. NO PERSONAL INFORMATION IS RETAINED OR SHARED BY THIS SITE

Before this disclaimer went up, AskNOLA.com could be easily confused with a nascent official City of New Orleans online reporting system. And the confusion was clearly intentional. My best guess is that Garrett saw an opportunity to squat on Landrieu's proposal and create a model for that proposal he could then sell back to the city. i don't know a whole lot about entrepreneurship myself but this looks to me like an opportunistic deception on Garrett's part and something the city probably has a right to be peeved about. Of course, declaring a private website "rogue" and looking into "shutting it down" rather than just explaining the actual offense to people doesn't seem the best way for the city to go about handling the issue. But stupid overreactions to "threatening" information on the internets are increasingly the norm these days.

Anyway if you know about any potholes you'd like to tell me about, please go right ahead. I don't expect I'll do any better than you at getting them filled, of course, but maybe the next time I'm stuck in line behind the Mayor at the coffee shop I'll tap him on the shoulder for you.

Wither the Serpas system?

It's been quite some time since we last saw any announcements of NOPD sobriety checkpoints. Not complaining, exactly. But I wonder if they've quietly shelved a favorite tool of theirs. Was it not the effective execution of the "broken windows" theory they were so proud to present us with?

Serpas and Cannizzaro will be taking questions tonight at Touro Synagoge.

Update: Rick tells us there was a checkpoint Friday night at Elysian Fields and I-10. The Tweeter Tubes are telling us there were 2 on Saturday. Were any of these announced?

Monday, January 17, 2011

"Wait and see"

WWL: Oil still affecting Gulf coast 6 months after flow was sealed

It's been six months since oil stopped flowing from BP's Deepwater Horizon well. Louisiana officials still aren't sure how bad the damage really was.

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham says only time will tell,

"There are areas with heavy oiling that still exist," said Barham, citing Pass a Loutre in Plaquemines parish as one area that still has problems. "It's just going to be a wait-and-see process."

Barham says the good news is that while once hundreds of miles of Louisiana coast was covered in crude, it's now less than a hundred, but he added that even though it is significant improvement, it's still bad for Louisiana: "That's a lot of shoreline that still has significant oiling on it."

"Time will tell" "wait and see" but by all means go right ahead and sign away your legal rights to Ken Feiberg in the meantime.

They just want to be asked

The Vieux Carre Commission will probably have to let people have solar panels eventually... but they'll waste a lot of time making sure everybody pays them some attention first.

Powerful poor people

Saturday, January 15, 2011

"They tell us it's none of our business"

Scott Fujita on the impending NFL lockout.
So what's the gripe? In a nutshell, the owners are demanding that the players play two more games each year AND take an 18% pay-cut. And when we ask why, they tell us it's none of our business. The players are willing to be reasonable about this, and if we knew the NFL had fallen on hard times and that sacrifices were a must, then that's a different story. But as we all know, the league is doing just fine. Revenues are as high as they've ever been and the fan-base is growing every year. This season, TV ratings for regular season NFL games blew the World Series out of the water. The NFL has negotiated TV deals that will pay them $4.5 billion in 2011...even if NO games are played. So when we ask them to explain how the "current economic model is broken," I think that's a pretty justifiable question.

And this season, when it comes to player safety, the NFL suddenly pretended to be the flag-bearers for our health and well-being. This comes after years of denying even the possibility of a link between the game of football, concussions, and long-term traumatic brain injury. And despite the raised level of awareness concerning our post-career health realities, they still want two more games and haven't even suggested any improvements in post-career care. Their hypocrisy infuriates me. Right now we get just five years of coverage after leaving this game. Five. And that's only if you're lucky enough to become vested. In the meantime, more and more of our brothers fall victim to ALS, dementia and depression, among other afflictions. My heart screams for these men. Add to that the hip and knee replacements that are sure to come up 10, 15, 20 years after we stop playing. And through the whole PR battle that's currently being waged, in what some are calling a battle of greed between "millionaires and billionaires," the players have asked for nothing. Ultimately, we just want to be taken care of after we leave this game.
More. Go read. Scott Fujita is my favorite ex-Saint.

Nationalized Russian oil company now owns 5% of BP

For some reason, this sort of government intrusion into their business doesn't feel like a "boot-on-the-neck" to them, though.

The British oil giant BP agreed on Friday to a partnership with Rosneft, a Russian company, forming an alliance to explore the Russian Arctic.
In a share swap under the partnership agreement, the state-owned Rosneft would hold a 5 percent stake in BP while BP would hold 9.5 percent of Rosneft. The deal is worth about $7.8 billion.

The two companies would explore three license blocks on the Russian Arctic continental shelf that were awarded to Rosneft last year and span about 50,000 square miles.

The Times article goes on to talk about how the deal is a "coup" for BP CEO Robert Dudley. Dudley was appointed that position last year after Tony Hayward's ouster because, we were told, it was important to have an American in charge at BP in order to mitigate so-called anti-British outrage at the multinational company that had befouled an American coastline. And yet for some reason, the photo accompanying the article shows Dudley and Rosneft President Eduard Khudainatov sitting at a table behind little flags of the nations their deal represents. Dudley is sitting behind a little British flag. Please do not mistake this for some evidence of BP's identification with one particular nation. This would be very gauche of you.

On the other hand, maybe the Union Jack is a more appropriate item to wrap oneself in than, say, an American flag when one is possibly compromising the strategic interests of that particular country on that particular day.

The deal drew immediate calls for a review by a lawmaker in Washington, who noted that BP was the top petroleum supplier to the United States military in 2009.

The lawmaker, Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who is the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, called for a thorough analysis of the deal.

“If this agreement affects the national and economic security of the United States, then it should be immediately reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” Mr. Markey said in a statement. “Additionally, the U.S. State Department should closely monitor this transaction.”

The foreign investment committee is coordinated by the Treasury and has the authority to examine foreign purchases of stakes in American companies and to block deals that threaten national security.

This acquisition will almost certainly complicate the politics of levying and collecting damages from BP following their Gulf of Mexico oil spill,” Mr. Markey said.

Sounds silly, I know. The little flag must mean something, though. Maybe he thought it matched his tie.

Tactical error

All that time we wished Ed Blakely would go back to Australia we were just wishing him into optimal position to do more harm.
THE controversial figure who led the reconstruction of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina has suggested increasing the GST to "future proof" Australian cities from natural disasters.

Sydney based academic, Professor Ed Blakely, headed the New Orleans clean-up until mid 2009, drawing headlines for inflamatry comments during his time as the city's recovery Tsar.

The professor, who reportedly likened some New Orleans residents to “buffoons”, has now offered advice on the clean up effort in Brisbane.

He said it should be followed by an attempt to “reposition the city’s eco system”.

He called for residents to be moved to less hazardous areas and advocated the construction of new waterways including “channels” and “canals” in Brisbane.

“I think it would be gradual. You would buy people out. You would offer them equivalent properties near by and you would move people to nearby areas… It would be a prettier city with water courses in it and so on,” he told The Australian Online.

While many Australians are wondering today just how much more repositioned their ecosystem could get as it is currently coursing through their cities and not in the prettiest way might we offer our best future-proofing advice: Don't give this guy a job.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Head of State

In a world of actual grown-ups, there's no need for a magical "Head of State" person to pretend to feel our collective pain or suffer for our sins or whatever they want to tell us Obama did yesterday. We do not live in a world of actual grown-ups.

I don't think people who clamor to have their social betters stand up and "inspire" them actually understand democracy at all. It would be nice if some day the US would shed these embarrassing Tory tendencies.... give it another two hundred years or so, I guess.

Imaginary numbers committee refuses to re-imagine the numbers

Budget cuts still expected to suck mightily.
BATON ROUGE -- The state's revenue forecasting panel has decided against revising its income projections for now, leaving Gov. Bobby Jindal without additional money to plug into his budget proposal.

The privlidges of royalty

NOLA.com shields the local nobility from the invective its regular commenters typically apply to news that affects the city's lower classes. Civilized discourse for civilized people.

Harry Lee released from prison

Wait... that's not Harry Lee?

Update: Certainly the news of EWE's release will spawn all manner of fun regarding the "Now More Than Ever" campaign to return Louisiana to the era of "competent corruption." But, if you're seriously considering this, which I know you aren't, but if you are, allow the Louisiana Constitution to provide you with this moment of pause.
(B) Disqualification. The following persons shall not be permitted to qualify as a candidate for elective public office or take public elective office or appointment of honor, trust, or profit in this state:

(1) A person who has been convicted within this state of a felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies, or who has been convicted under the laws of any other state or of the United States or of any foreign government or country of a crime which, if committed in this state, would be a felony and who has exhausted all legal remedies and has not afterwards been pardoned either by the governor of this state or by the officer of the state, nation, government or country having such authority to pardon in the place where the person was convicted and sentenced.

Now if you're thinking that perhaps the President could be prevailed upon to issue a pardon just to see if it raises a little hell, then hey plus one to you for not letting go of your fun so quickly. EWE would be proud.

Also, because Edwards was convicted under federal jurisdiction, I doubt that Governor Jindal has any authority to issue a pardon himself. But if by some quirk he does have that power, he might be well advised to consider it. Given the potential rocky road ahead for the Governor and just about any Louisiana incumbent during this year's budget crunch, creating a potential EWE campaign might be an attractive option for Jindal.

Also, also, I guess it's all-around old timer's week in Louisiana. One good delusion deserves another.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No need to wait for the twenty year study

Feinberg will pay minimum up-front money if you sign your rights away now.

Pull out another bag of tricks from your scientific box

If the Saints really want to shake things up this off season, why not look at the conditioning/training staff? Two years in a row, they've finished the regular season badly beaten up with injuries and looking dog tired. One of Pierre Thomas's major complaints has to do with the initial diagnosis of his ankle injury.
Thomas and his agent, Lamont Smith, miffed Saints officials with a contract holdout during the offseason. Thomas was perturbed by what his camp felt was a faulty diagnosis of an ankle injury he suffered against the visiting Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 26. He was even more upset when a report leaked that questioned his toughness and dedication to the team.

Seems like we went through the same thing with Jeremey Shockey a few years ago.

Starting to see a pattern here.

Chief of PR Spin (and also police)

Suppressing rape statistics is all the rage in police work these days. Guess who's an industry leader?
Nashville police are reclassifying hundreds of sexual assault claims after an investigation found deliberate distortions of statistics, of which one victim said, "I felt like I was raped a second time. They stripped me of any right that I had."

Essentially, police officers were claiming rapes had gone down — from 390 in 2004 to 290 in 2009 — when in reality they had simply been intimidating victims into not reporting, or marking cases as "matter of record," which doesn't count in the final violent crime statistics. Most depressing of all is the fact that Nashville is not at all alone — and those are just the police departments that have been called on it.

Nashville Police Chief 2004-2009: Ronal Serpas

Some nice things I can say about Les Miles

Les Miles does not throw random distasteful references to his lord and savior Jesus Christ into conversations that should be about football.

Unlike many college football coaches(Chizik) Les Miles is not a dick to his players.

Unlike many college footgall coaches (Chizik, Saban) Les Miles does not appear to be rage-a-holic macho shithead.

Compared to the industry standard, Les Miles is not the disgusting picture of self-importance we come to expect in a football coach.

Les Miles really does seem to enjoy himself doing whatever stupid thing he's doing out there.

Les Miles makes me laugh and seems like a nice enough guy. I just don't think he's the most organized fellow or a particularly smart football coach. Which is a shame given his job title.

Systems crash

The Twitters are telling me that the city real estate records computer is down again. Have any of you homeowners received your 2011 tax bills yet? I'm wondering if the months' long data issues might cause irregularities there.

Reggie and Frenchy

My feeling is they're probably both gone.
Bush and Thomas will be among the Saints' top orders of offseason business. The mainstays of New Orleans' backfield during the club's Super Bowl season face uncertain offseasons after disappointing, injury-marred 2010 campaigns.

A year ago they were core players, key parts in the club's offensive engine. Now both might be obsolete -- or worse, unwanted.
Not that I would mind seeing either of them come back but Bush is obviously not worth his contract and I don't think Pierre had been getting along well with the powers that be for quite some time now. The current conventional wisdom, and certainly the Saints' position, holds that running backs and linebackers shouldn't come at a premium. I can easily see next year's backfield as Hamilton, Ivory, and some 4th round draft pick.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Creeping towards action

Is there really still time to save Louisiana's dissolving coastal marshes? We may be one step closer to making a half-assed attempt at finding out.
WASHINGTON -- The National Oil Spill Commission released a 377-page report of findings and recommendations today based on its six-month probe of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, recommending a sweeping agenda of industry and government reforms to make safety paramount in future deepwater drilling operations.

The commission report supports directing 80 percent of civil and criminal penalties under the Clean Water Act to coastal restoration in the Gulf and raising the current $75 million cap on liability for economic damages resulting from a spill -- a limit that BP early on indicated wouldn't limit its payments in this case.

Both measures would require congressional action. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., in the Senate, and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, in the House, have bills that would require that at least 80 percent of the penalty money go to Gulf Coast restoration restoration efforts.

In September of last year, the President appointed a task force on Gulf Coast Ecosystem Recovery to recommend a plan for implementing such a project should the funds and legal authority ever materialize. You can read the commission's report here (PDF)

De-legitimizing claims is hard work

WWLTV: BP claims administrator told process is 'a mess'
Oysterman James A. Miller is frustrated that he only received $12,600 from the fund for losses he says topped $56,000.

"We're over this game. You need to rightfully pay us," Miller told Feinberg, his voice trembling. "We are disappointed in you."

"I'm trying to run this facility as best I can," Feinberg responded.

He promised to review denied claims, and give a second look at the ones where people feel they were shortchanged. "I will personally do my best," he said.

Many residents, fishermen and business owners have been complaining for months that the claims process hasn't been paying them enough, has been denying claims with no explanation or has simply been too slow in processing payments.

The U.S. Department of Justice has written letters to Feinberg, expressing concern that payments were not being processed quickly enough and that Feinberg wasn't being transparent.

Lead attorneys for residents and businesses suing over the oil spill have asked a federal judge to intervene, claiming Feinberg is nothing more than a pawn for BP, which is paying his firm $850,000 a month to administer the fund. Any money left over is expected to be returned to BP.


Feinberg has said repeatedly he is working on behalf of spill victims and that he is not influenced in his decisions by BP. His goal all along has been to keep people out of a lengthy court process, thereby providing fewer clients to the complaining plaintiffs attorneys who have already filed more than 300 lawsuits over the spill.

"I'm absolutely neutral," Feinberg told the crowd Monday.

"I'm not BP. I'm trying to run this facility as best I can."

Expect to hear more about how he's doing the best he can. He's not actually lying about that, of course. It's just that people are confused as to what his job actually is.

More at Disenfranchised Citizen.

Keeping our coaches

Gregg Williams no longer in running for Broncos job

This is great news for fans of no-tackling motherfuckers everywhere.

Miles to stay at LSU

This is great news for fans of high comedy, inexplicable football strategy, vegetarianism, and amusing T-shirts.


Meanwhile it's kind of a push for fans of knocking the LSU contingent. All week the knives have been out among the anti-LSU crowd and especially in the national media as preparations were underway to heap another round of shame upon the supposed ingratitude of Tiger fans. Indeed how dare these ungracious rubes expect the man in charge of the country's most fertile recruiting situation and one of its best supported programs playing in college football's premiere league to... know what he's doing more than half the time.

The problem here isn't that LSU fans don't appreciate what they have in Miles, it's that the national sports media does not now and never will appreciate that football is just all around better in the south and far better in Louisiana than they'll ever understand or admit. One would think that anyone who has spent the past five years in New Orleans tracking the various misapprehensions and prejudices harbored against this "part of the world" as President Bush so revealing termed it once would understand what's going on here. But, as always, the self-styled intelligentsia selectively ignores this sort of thing when it suits their own agenda.

Anyway, LSU fans will at least have Miles to kick around for a while... while the rest of the world kicks them.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A tear is an ocean

There's not much time this morning to dwell on matters. I'm sorry the Saints lost. I don't think, however, that most Saints fans, upset as they may be, are really all that shocked. I wrapped up Friday's embarrassingly sappy post already doing some preemptive coping and maybe hinting that this could likely be the end of the road for this team.*

Anyway right about now I have to say that #iamnotworrieder than I have ever been #iamnotworried since the first time I ever #iamnotworried about anything. To those of you (few, we know) clear-headed football analysts who want to talk about the reasonable ways a clear-headed person can consider this 11-5 defending Super Bowl champion disappointing in some way go right ahead. But also don't be a dick.

... blah blah lame sappy shit you can go back and read if you want...

But even if it is over, so what? These have been the best five years in which to be a Saints fan. I've been lucky enough to sit in the Superdome terrace and watch this team come together, grow up, and exorcise 40 years of accumulated angst. In short, as a football fan, I couldn't be prouder.

Meanwhile, as I was being sappy, the clear-headed among us were pointing out the reasons why the Seahawks looked like a strong underdog. Oyster did this and did so, I cannot stress this enough, without "being a dick" about it.

I'll be shocked if the Saints run away with this thing, and wouldn't be surprised at all if everything is in doubt at the final 2 minute warning. Hopefully Seattle will help the Saints by blundering during crunch time. But right now, Saints minus ten seems like a very big, very ugly number.

For much of the past month the Saints have been a tired and lame football team. Their countenance each week very much resembled my own post-game Mondays. They looked like a guy pushing through the morning with a hangover. (No, not a "Super Bowl hangover", a real one.) And yes that takes guts. I think they've performed well under the circumstances. Did you notice that they almost persevered through that mess yesterday despite everything? But as anyone who has gutted through a hungover day at the office will tell you, that warm bed at the end of the day is far more satisfying than anything accomplished along the way there.

Today the Saints are sending out for pizza, pulling the shades, and crawling into bed. Let them sleep it off. God knows they've earned the right. Meanwhile, if you can pry your own eyes open for a bit today, have a look at this list of 28 unrestricted free agents the Saints will be making decisions about this off season. Looks like a big purge is coming. We'll have plenty time to talk about whether that purge will amount to a curative day or two of detox or a wholesale commitment to a long and difficult program later.

*I even cleverly selected a sappy song lyric for that post which I knew could be seamlessly followed by the next sappy line in that song for this one if need be.

Friday, January 07, 2011

We're all in so fall in

And now, in the interest of catching up a little, here are a few matters of note from the Saints-Rams game played back on December 12.

  • Because Menckles had to miss this one, I was free to travel to the Dome via bicycle as God intended. Menckles and I used to do this regularly but a few seasons back we became a one bike household and so have gotten into the mode of taking the streetcar when we're up early enough or... more frequently.. the Tercel when we're hungover and late. This time, since I was traveling alone, this seemed like a fine opportunity to make up for lost time.

    So here's how I took full advantage of this opportunity. Upon completing the, mostly against a strong headwind, trip to Poydras street and the subsequent negotiation of the dense pre-game crowd to find a suitable parking spot, the first thing I noticed was I had forgotten my phone. Now I'm certainly old enough to have experienced professional football without the palm top accompaniment of immediate stats, scores, and sideline updates along with the inane blurtings of hundreds of Saints fans via the Tweeter Tube but it's not a world I am eager to go back to. I mean it's one thing to watch Drew Brees throw an interception, yell "Oh shit!" turn to the people sitting next to you who are also yelling "Oh shit!" and commiserate for a few moments before moving on to the next play. But if you don't also have the ability to look at your phone and read through 26 additional "Oh shit!"s four of five plays later then you really aren't experiencing the game in the round, so to speak. Anyway I needed my phone. And after one more bike ride to the house and back, I had it. I had also gained almost as many yards as Malcolm Jenkins would returning picks that day, but that's another story.

    The no phone remembering motherfuckers in the house were more than pleased to see this no catching motherfucker catch the motherfucking ball

  • Through some doubtlessly underhanded means which remain unclear to me, Mom and Dad managed to score tickets to this game in the plaza level. I grew up in New Orleans and have attended a number of events at the Superdome where I could sit in the lower levels; high school football, exhibition baseball, the Pepsi Superfair, that sort of thing. But I've never seen a Saints game from any perspective other than the Terrace. The season tickets we've held in recent years are in Section 617 up against the wall at the very tip top and I will forever contend that these are the best seats in the house.

    Saints VS Texans
    Saints vs Texans Preseason 2008 as seen from the best seats in the house

    But I was curious about the lower bowl so just prior to the half I decided to make my way down for a visit. Courtney Roby was kind enough to go and get himself nearly decapitated while I was in transit which meant that I hardly missed any action getting all the way across the building. What I found when I got there was interesting but also confusing. The seats were close enough that we had a great view of Ironbutt stretching out his injured hamstring and Poochie picking his nose but a much more muddled view of the action on the field than what one gets from above. When Jenkins stepped in front of a Sam Bradford pass and took it the length of the field, we saw the pick coming about as well as Bradford did. Maybe that's a neat thrill the first time, but in the long run I much prefer our God's eye view from up top. Dad's review of the plaza seats was that the experience was "almost like being there". I think that's about right.

  • Here is a photo of Charity Hospital I took after the Rams game from the patio at Handsome Willy's.

    Creepy Charity

    Notice there are some lights on in rooms on the upper floors. What creepy horror movie plot is being played out there?

  • Rams week's Dome complaint: It's getting difficult to keep up with the ever-evolving set of instructions to Saints fans from the players, coaches, and stadium officials regarding when to make noise, when not to make noise, and even which specific noises to make on cue.
    Payton said he'd like the fans to turn up the volume after what he described as just an "OK" noise level in the Saints' previous game in the Superdome against the Seattle Seahawks three weeks ago.

    "I think we can be louder," Payton said. "I thought with Seattle it was OK, but I know that it can be a lot louder in there. We're in that stretch of the season where it needs to be louder."

    Brees, meanwhile, wants to add a wrinkle to the pregame "Who Dat" chant he orchestrated earlier this year. Brees suggested that after the coin toss, the Superdome should go silent until they get the signal from the honorary captain to begin the "Who Dat" chant.
    Attending these games has never been so much work. Luckily I was still in line for my over-priced rum mixer diet coke while the Superdome crowd was put through this exercise so I can't properly gauge the success or failure of it. I'm guessing a lot of people said "Who Dat" all at once.

    I wonder, though, if the coaches and players so concerned with fans' ability to provide sonic assistance, could look into an issue that comes up from time to time with Superdome police. During the second half of the Rams game, a cop visited our section to request that the Saints fans there discontinue their practice of beating on the metal wall while the opposing offense tries to call signals.

    Anyone who has ever attended a game going back practically to 1975 is familiar with this practice. It is a widespread and long accepted behavior the discouragement of which confuses and upsets those of us who are just trying to follow Coach Payton's request for loud sounds. I should note that this isn't the first time we've been told to stop beating on the wall but it is the first time it's happened in over two years. Not sure what prompted it. Someone suggested that perhaps one of the nearby Rams fans complained. But if that's the case, why is Superdome security even listening to those people?

And now, in the further interest of catching up, here are a few brief comments on the Saints-Ravens game played on December 19.

  • Right so this Baltimore - New Orleans match-up could be considered the David Simon Bowl thanks to Mr. Simon's career in reducing the real life problems of those two cities to a sort of after-school special melodrama for yuppie liberal pseudo-intellects on HBO. But I've already spent enough time here commenting upon Mr. Simon's tele-insults to my city and his so I'll spare you too much of it here. Anyway David Simon isn't what sucked about this game.

    What sucked about this game was the barrage of texted, emailed, Facebooked, and voicemailed (because obviously we weren't going to answer the phone) shit talking emanating from Menckles' Baltimorean friends and family to our various electronic devices. Said barrage actually began about three months ago and, while it did reach an unholy crescendo during the actual game, we expect it to continue in stops and starts for at least the next century or two. Or maybe until Ravens fans finally feel like they've received that "respect" they're due vis a vis their multiple league titles in being overlooked, discounted, robbed, victimized, and so forth. Think Saints fans have a chip on their collective shoulder? These guys are carrying chunks the size of Michael Oher Sandra Bullock's ego. I'd say it might help matters if their team wins an actual Super Bowl title, but the last time that happened it only seemed to make matters worse.

    So okay, Baltimore. You got us. Your tight end proved to be as uncoverable as any tight end to face the Saints this year, your 4'11" running back proved to be untacklable enough to get Danny Clark benched for the game we actually cared about, oh and your coach was gentlemanly enough to challenge this play just so the viewing audience back home could watch it replayed a few more times.

    So yeah, great job. All of that plus a six point win that we aren't taking too badly around here should make you feel pretty good with the world for a while. Well, at least until your next opportunity to manufacture outrage at being "robbed" once again at KC this weekend.

And now, in the interest of catching up, here are a few observations regarding the Saints' crowning achievement of 2010 on December 27 at Atlanta.

  • Sibling rivalry becomes serious: In years past, we've referred to this series as a sibling rivalry. The teams are about the same age. Their track records over the years are similar. And the cities they represent are known to be both disdainful and envious of one another for various reasons. Their fan bases know each other well, in fact often belong to the same extended or immediate families, and travel to the opposing city in extraordinary numbers each season for this game.

    I know I always love Falcon week in the Dome. Falcons fans are, at least in my experience, among the most enjoyable visitors to taunt and joke and even dance with in the Superdome. Earlier this year, the Falcons fans in our section repeatedly got up and danced to the Crunk song. I think we're all a little tired of that song by now but they kind of helped make it fun again. I appreciated that.

    But this year, with the Saints defending a world championship (HOLYFUCKINGSHIT, High Five, etc.) and the Falcons holding the top seed in the NFC, the stakes in this second match-up were higher than ever. Inevitably this affected the typical good nature associated with the game a bit. This was the most intense football game the Saints have played in since last year's NFC Championship and the rivalry itself has taken on a seriousness it has rarely seen over the years. Here are three quick items that I think convey this a bit.

    1) On the day of the game, the internet was alight with indignation over an insensitive Sportsblog Nation Atlanta post in which Falcons fan Steven Godfrey unloaded his exasperation at Saints fans for being, in his words, "willing to capitalize upon Hurricane Katrina as a means of fabricating a redemption narrative for their football team." I don't want to rehash the whole matter here as we've already spent enough time hashing the shit out of it. The point is, Falcons fans obviously have a serious chip on their shoulder this year. Having been a Saints fan for 36 years, it's difficult to begrudge them that even if they express it in the most stupid of ways.

    2)Example 1-A of stupid Falcons fan outrage: The pee incident. After the Saints' win, long after fans and most staff as well as most of the Falcons players had left the Georgia Dome, some of the Saints' defensive players gathered at the Falcons logo at midfield and took a group photo. It's something they had done after several road wins stretching back to the Thanksgiving Day win at Dallas and obviously a team bonding activity not meant to show anybody up. Naturally a few Falcons fans who got wind of it manufactured another conniption. When asked about the budding controversy, Remi Ayodelle, obviously trying to be funny, delivered, for my money, the quote of the year, "I pissed on the Falcons logo."

    Did Remi actually pee on the Falcon? Unfortunately, no he didn't. We are pretty sure he didn't, anyway. Otherwise, surely one of the hazardously placed photographers nearby would have caught it.

    3) The games themselves have been the most consequential and tightest match-ups of the year. Again, not to rehash things, but Garrett Hartley's missed field goal in Falcons-Saints I is probably the reason the Saints are flying across country this week instead of resting up for a home playoff game. But also, check this out. The day after Falcons-Saints II, Patrick provided us with all you need to know about the Saints and Falcons this year from a purely football perspective.

    After last night's game, the Saints and Falcons have played twice, are 1 - 1 against each other for 2010, and post a combined score of 41-41. They have a chance to meet again in the NFC Championship game in several weeks. Rivalries, especially in the pros, don't often see better years than this one.

    Now I know that Saints fans who are thinking with clear heads are hoping for a Seattle to Chicago to the Superdome vs. Green Bay path through this year's playoffs. But what serious football fan thinks with a clear head anyway? We all know what we really want to see before we're done this year is Saints-Falcons III.

    Anybody up for one more?

  • More serious shit: It seems like the Saints have been involved in more post-play pushing and shoving in every single game this year than in previous seasons. I don't know if this is a typical experience for a defending champion, or if maybe the Browns were expressing the rest of the league's feelings about the Saints when they accused them of "dirty play" earlier this season. I haven't seen much evidence to support this reputation if it does indeed exist. I did, however, note that the Saints managed to land a few of those "remember me" hits on Matt Ryan during the Monday Night game. Although they also managed to land a couple of those to his head. When you deliver a "remember me" hit to the head, it seems like you may be defeating your own purpose a bit. Also it's a costly penalty. The Saints have gotten into more trouble with penalties this year than last. Against Atlanta they were flagged 8 times for 92 yards.

    A common scene in 2010

  • The dumbest thing I've ever seen Drew Brees do: Brees, who finished with the second most interceptions in the NFL this season (22) and has thrown at least one pick in 12 consecutive games, threw the stupidest interception of his life at Atlanta when he shoveled a panicked flip into the hands of Falcons defensive end Chauncey Davis who took it 26 yards for a go-ahead touchdown. It was the dumbest thing I've seen a Saints QB do since Aaron Brooks threw a backward pass at a tackle vs. San Diego back in 2004 and probably the dumbest thing I've seen Drew Brees do (yet). The pick six and the interception Brees threw on the succeeding drive marred an otherwise laudable performance from Brees who hasn't had a bad season overall, just one in which he's thrown 22 interceptions.

    Amazingly, this was the third pick-six Brees has thrown to a defensive lineman this season. At least it's the third one of those I can think of off the top of my head. Was there another one? Tell me there wasn't another one.

    Oddly, a common scene in 2010

  • The greatest thing I've seen Reggie Bush do: Bush picked up a blitzing Falcon to help the Saints pick up a crucial third down during the second half. It was one of those plays where even the TV audience can see the what's going to happen before the play begins. We see the guy creeping up to the line, we see Brees point him out to Bush, we all hold our breath and hope he can get him. Reggie got him. It was the biggest (positive) play he made all season (so far, of course... we hope).

  • What did poor Matt Ryan do to deserve this stupid nickname?:
    Ryan is obviously a talented QB and a rising star. Who, then, decided to ruin his young career for football fans by saddling him with the embarrassing sobriquet "Matty Ice"? It's not helping him. It's making it difficult for fans of opposing teams to at least give the guy the respect he's earning as a player. Plus it's making television game announcers sound even more boorish and stupid than they already do. Just stop it already.

  • The Gregg Williams GIF is magic: I hate to say this. In fact I never say this at all about any football coach ever. But I actually kinda like Gregg Williams. He's funny, he's aggressive but not stupid, and he exhibits a certain self confidence... maybe even a maturity we don't often see from the paranoid control freaks who dominate the profession. Williams appears to trust and respect his players as professionals and they seem to like him pretty well.

    Also Varg made this animated GIF of a celebrated Williams gesture during the first Tampa game.

    We've decided it has magical properties. A few times during the fourth quarter of the extremely intense Saints-Falcons II, the Saints found themselves in dire need of a defensive stop or play. At those moments, we dutifully posted the GIF to our Tweeter Tube and were quite pleased with the results. I still haven't decided whether I want to watch the Wild Card game at home or in a bar somewhere. Whether or not I have the ability to post that GIF quickly and at a moment's notice may factor into this decision.

And now, in the interest in catching up... Okay wait. I'm not even interested in going over the season-ender vs. Tampa. Because the Panthers couldn't beat Atlanta, the game honestly couldn't be more insignificant. That is, except for the fact that it took out half the Saints' freaking roster for no apparent reason. This week we learned that the pointless injury to Ironbutt's foot will cost him the rest of the season and that a "setback" will do the same for Pierre Thomas. For one glorious moment during the first half of the Rams game, the Saints' backfield boasted a healthy Frenchy, Bush, and Ironbutt (FBI), and that was fun. I hope you made the most of that time.

But now all of that is behind us and the Saints are traveling to a 7-9 playoff qualifier with no idea what to do about a running game except hope once again for that ever-imminent "breakout performance" from Reggie... oh and of course JOIQUE BELL, BITCHES!

And then there's this.

Saints defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, tight end Jimmy Graham, linebacker Danny Clark and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove are out for Saturday’s playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks. Jenkins (knee) and Graham (ankle) both were injured in the first quarter of the regular season finale against Tampa Bay and missed Thursday’s practice. Clark (hamstring) and Hargrove (knee) also did not participate in Thursday’s practice.

During the Tampa game, we watched special teams MVP Thomas Morstead run down and prevent a sure touchdown.. although that game, of course, barely counted. It does beg the question of whether or not Morstead could stand in at safety, or tailback, or even tight end if called upon. You laugh, but Rosalind's version of Madden 2011 seems to think he can play guard for some reason and who are we to question that wisdom?

Morstead at Guard
Actual photo of virtual Morstead

Anyway right about now I have to say that #iamnotworrieder than I have ever been #iamnotworried since the first time I ever #iamnotworried about anything. To those of you (few, we know) clear-headed football analysts who want to talk about the reasonable ways a clear-headed person can consider this 11-5 defending Super Bowl champion disappointing in some way go right ahead. But also don't be a dick.

I told you at the start of this season that this was going to be all gravy no matter what happened. Even if the Saints lost every game this season, (a thing they've actually come close to doing in our never so distant memories) nobody was going to show up and confiscate their trophy or undo the Lombardi Gras parade or take away any memories of that singular breakthrough experience we'll all carry with us forever in the remaining brain cells we didn't destroy in the process of watching it happen. But they didn't lose every game. In fact they won 11 while fighting injuries, chasing the Falcons, and playing better defense than any Saints team has played in nearly a decade. (High Fucking Five!) And it's not over yet.

But even if it is over, so what? These have been the best five years in which to be a Saints fan. I've been lucky enough to sit in the Superdome terrace and watch this team come together, grow up, and exorcise 40 years of accumulated angst. In short, as a football fan, I couldn't be prouder.

So tomorrow here we go again. Load up the liquor, fire up the Tweeter Tube, and let's make the best of going all in with this team one more time this season. Or maybe a few more times.

Title reference