Monday, February 28, 2011

February of 2011

For those of you who had that month and year in the "When will homophobic preacher Grant Storms be arrested for something perverted?" pool, you may cash in your tickets now.
The Rev. Grant Storms, a Christian fundamentalist best known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, was arrested for allegedly masturbating at a Metairie park Friday afternoon.

After Saturday night's parades, Menckles and I made a trip down to Bourbon street where we indulged in our annual Lucky Dog.

Annual Lucky Dog

Since some time during the late 90s, I've been allowing myself one of these each year usually on Endymion Saturday but sometimes a bit earlier as was the case here. Menckles also thought this might be a fun time to actually engage the Christian missionaries (blurrily pictured wielding a cross in the photo below) in theological debate.

Bourbon Street on the first Saturday of Carnival

In both of these activities, the results were unsurprising. I ended up with indigestion, and she didn't make much headway convincing the missionaries that our souls weren't in any greater peril than usual. Likewise, Grant Storms isn't surprising anybody today either. But I don't think we'll be seeing him shaking a cross at anyone on Bourbon Street anymore so there's that.

I've been doing Mardi Gras all weekend

Go read First Draft

Whoops, not done yet. Go read Digby too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

More Carnival advice

Please pay in advance

This helpful hint was posted on the wall of a food truck parked along the route during Oshun last night. I liked the sign although I thought its goal would have been served well had the prices been listed on the menu.

Mr. Tasty's

Ros had the pork chop. It came on a hamburger bun. Apparently it was good. I didn't try it. Like I said yesterday, I'm not going too crazy with the Carnival food during the early going. Sticking to basics for now.

Crawfish and beer

Also sticking to basics, as usual, was the modest Krewe of Oshun. If, as the axiom goes, Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint, Oshun is kind of like a light Segway tour on the way to where the marathon starts. Everything is very very basic. I think I counted four marching bands... maybe five. I'm sure I saw St. Mary's, Xavier Prep, West Jeff, Roots of Music, and probably one more but I'm having trouble remembering who. Most of the floats are small "Maid and Duke" type arrangements carrying Krewe officers and children like this one.

One of the many Oshun maids mini floats

The three or four themed floats, in keeping with the early parade mode of widely accessible pop culture reference, were based on Broadway shows. This one represented The Color Purple

Color Purple float

As far as the parade itself goes, that's all there is to tell. Oshun is short and simple and barely throws anything. Here's our total catch from the night.

Haul from Oshun

Some people like to complain about that but I don't. On the first night, I'm usually just looking to have a few beers and stand around re-acclimating myself to the sights and sounds like the omni-present Sportscenter theme interpreted by this (and every other) marching band.

Sorry about the dim light. I can't remember who I was filming. Also listen for a few seconds after they finish. The drum cadence is quintessential Mardi Gras to me.

All told, Oshun is an appropriate starter event considering what's to follow. And what's to follow is going to be an extraordinarily busy parade season if last night's crowd is any indication.

Oshun crowd

I've never seen that many people out for Oshun. One of the effects of the warm weather, perhaps. I know the mosquitoes (another effect of the warm weather) had a feast. This morning, I drove Menckles to work and already there are the beginnings of a larger crowd assembling on St. Charles which I think I'll go add myself to in a little while or just as soon as the camera charged anyway... in case I start doing any "drinking to forget".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Okay sure I bought one of these

Hubig's King Cake

I'm not so sure I'm going to eat it, though. I'm trying not to let Carnival fuck up my CCC training too too much this year. I realize this is a foolish aspiration. But as of today I still haven't had one single slice of king cake much less whatever this Hubig's ball of goo is.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Some tips for enjoying Carnival

I promise no ladder harangue today. At least I think. Let's see how it goes.

  1. Do not plan anything. Wait. Okay number one is wrong already. Yes, plan. You'll need a plan of some sort just for the sake of comprehending certain logistics. Just don't expect those plans to work out the way you've conceptualized them. Have an idea where you'd like to be and how you'd like to get there. But don't be surprised as that plan falls apart piece by piece in the execution. The key is to be flexible. I'll explain what I mean.

    This past weekend, we had planned to take a taxi down to the quarter to see Krewe du Vieux. And although that plan was pretty much shot when Menckles ended up working later than she thought she would, we dutifully spent a good fifteen minutes hitting the redial button in a futile attempt to reach United Cab. Finally we just hopped in the Tercel and started drifting downtown. One of the many reasons I'm happy to live so near the Uptown parade route is that it minimizes the annual experience of crawling through solid traffic hoping to find a not-too-inconvenient parking space before the radiator explodes.

    When we eventually landed our craft, we found ourselves much farther downriver than we had planned to be... almost exactly right here, actually. And thank goodness we did because, as it turned out, Royal Street in the Bywater was the best place to catch KDV on this year's route. The crowd wasn't too dense and we were able to see the parade all nice and close-like.


    And all nice and close-like is THE way to see Krewe Du Vieux. It's the only way you're going to pick up on the themes of the small floats and costumes and the only way you're going to pick up any throws from the marchers. It may be a sign of our old age, but we've gotten to a point where we're actually friends with or acquaintances of a ridiculous number of KDV marchers some who deliver to us personalized trinkets. One Krewe member, for example, handed me a package which was supposed to have come from Jeremey Shockey. It contained a can of Axe body spray. My favorite throw was the below pictured "Ticket to Mardi Gras" handed out by the subkrewe of PAN this year. The gag even worked on Menckles who, for a while, thought we had KDV ball tickets and later tried to palm them off on other folks as such.

    Ticket to the Mardi Gras

    Anyway, we'd staked out a killer spot this year, and had done so completely by accident.

    Street parade

  2. If at all possible, BYOL. Because you don't want to spend too much time running back to the nearest bar or to the house for a refill, it helps to plan to drink on the street. One of our annual traditions is the embarrassingly un-manly mini-cooler I frequently carry around known affectionately as the Pink Thing (seen here at a parade in 2008). We haven't broken out the Pink Thing just yet this year. Instead, Menckles carried an insulated backpack with two bottles of white wine an as much beer as we could cram in there with it. We even brought our own portable wine glasses.


    What to do with the consumed liquor once it needs to be... um... deposited is another problem altogether, and, as we all know, just something else that demands flexibility on the part of the participant.

  3. Be ready to do some walking. If you're doing anything worth doing during Carnival, you're doing it on foot. And probably you'll want to be more than one place on any given day or night so expect to cover a lot of ground that way.

    After KDV passed us by, we still had to get down to where we had planned to be in the first place. The only way to get there that made any sense was on foot. Because most humans walk faster than a parade generally moves, this meant we managed to catch much of the parade a second time while saying hi to Adrastos and Dr. A in front of the Royal Street Grocery, and then a third time when we finally caught up with the rest of our party at St. Peter Street.

    The cool thing about moving around like this, is it gives you the opportunity to sample the variation in experience that happens along a parade route. When we saw the parade in the Bywater, the mood was very laid back and familiar as the crowd was mostly comprised of neighbors with a lot of room to move around. When we got to Royal and St. Peter, the scene was a little more chaotic.

    Crowd at Royal and St Peter

    The following day's Times-Picayune suggested that the crowds were thinner than usual this year. I saw a lot of the route that night and didn't get anything like that impression.

    Later on, due to the continued impossibility of obtaining a cab, we ended up schlepping the whole way back to the car. All told we put in about three and one quarter miles hiking around that night. Pretty tame, actually, especially considering the long rest at Johnny White's between the end of the parade and the walk back.

    Mardi Gras Mambo KDV walk 2011

  4. I know this one can be difficult but try not to ask "why" too too much. This strategy is particularly helpful once you've passed beyond the limits of sobriety and the scene around you gets a little too ridiculous to keep track of. For instance, why was the climax of Krewe Delusion a guy in a big pig mask? I never found out but look how cool.

    Big pig
    (This is Harry Shearer, right?)

    And, of course, nobody quite knows what explains the Noisician Coalition, but we nonetheless feel our evening was enriched by their presence.

  5. Finally, and above all, remember Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. I think we hit the ground at too hard a pace this year since my hangover knocked the shit out of my Sunday. This week, as the parades start coming nearer one another, we won't have the luxury of a day to waste in recovery. The Friday night Oshun to Saturday afternoon Pontchartrain turnaround will give us a chance to work on our stride a bit. But getting up Sunday morning for Carrollton will be the real test.

Please read

Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions?
Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans.

Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.

Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

How can that be? Because the "contributions" consist of money that employees chose to take as deferred wages – as pensions when they retire – rather than take immediately in cash. The same is true with the health care plan. If this were not so a serious crime would be taking place, the gift of public funds rather than payment for services.

Thus, state workers are not being asked to simply "contribute more" to Wisconsin' s retirement system (or as the argument goes, "pay their fair share" of retirement costs as do employees in Wisconsin' s private sector who still have pensions and health insurance). They are being asked to accept a cut in their salaries so that the state of Wisconsin can use the money to fill the hole left by tax cuts and reduced audits of corporations in Wisconsin.

This may not be the most popular opinion

But the Hornets made a good move here. Everybody loves Marcus Thornton and we're all sad to see him go. But if there's one thing the Hornets have been in dire need of for... well.. practically since they've been in New Orleans... it's muscle and Carl Landry has that. Not the NBA's greatest team but they are doing what they need to do be viable during the playoffs.

Shut up

Ed Blakely blah blah blah. Notice this time he's standing on a whole new pile of rubble as he spouts incorrect things and tells people they should have been careful and had plans and stuff. He's like a professionally late Smokey the Bear. Or perhaps, the "Hero of the Modern Age", himself.

Are we starting to get it yet?

A big part of what's missing from the reporting on the labor protests going on right now is that the victims are tired of taking the blame for the crime.

MATT TAIBBI: Governor Kasich, yeah, and he was intimately involved with selling—getting the state of Ohio’s pension fund to invest in Lehman Brothers and buy mortgage-backed securities. And of course they lost all that money. And this, broadly, was really what the mortgage bubble and the financial crisis was all about. It was essentially a gigantic criminal fraud scheme where all the banks were taking mismarked mortgage-backed securities, very, very dangerous, toxic subprime loans, they were chopping them up and then packaging them as AAA-rated investments, and then selling them to state pension funds, to insurance companies, to Chinese banks and Dutch banks and Icelandic banks. And, of course, these things were blowing up, and all those funds were going broke. But what they’re doing now is they’re blaming the people who were collecting these pensions—they’re blaming the workers, they’re blaming the firemen, they’re blaming the policemen—whereas, in reality, they were actually the victims of this fraud scheme. And the only reason that people aren’t angrier about this, I think, is because they don’t really understand what happened. If these were car companies that had sold a trillion dollars’ worth of defective cars to the citizens of the United States, there would be riots right now. But these were mortgage-backed securities, it’s complicated, people don’t understand it, and they’re only now, I think, beginning to realize that they were defrauded.

Read the whole Democracy Now interview here. They're discussing Taibbi's latest Rolling Stone article, "Why Isn't Wall Street In Jail?"

Comfortable shoes

No idea where he could have put them.

Was he duped by psy-ops into sending them to Afghanistan? Did he lend them to Blankfein? It's a funny thing about the President and footwear. Nobody knows what happened to that boot he was supposed to apply to BP's neck either.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


New oil surfaces near Elmer’s Island

BATON ROUGE — New oil is still washing up on local beaches, including Elmer’s Island, 10 months after BP’s Deepwater Horizon explosion, state officials said.

It’s a contentious time for crude sightings, especially as BP and the federal government begin to inch out of the Gulf Coast.

Officials with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries say they’ve been told that the clean-up partners are planning to “pack up shop” at the end of this month.

Secretary Robert Barham called the departure “unacceptable,” especially since new oil is being discovered in places like Bay Jimmy, Red Fish Bay and Pass-a-Loutre.

"Packing up shop" also entails:
BP has reneged on promises made in November to negotiate early payments to Louisiana to help rebuild oyster beds, repair damaged wetlands and build a fish hatchery to allow the state to respond immediately to the collapse of commercial fisheries in the wake of the BP Gulf oil spill, state officials said Monday

Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority chairman Garret Graves and Department of Wildlife & Fisheries director Robert Barham said the state will instead scramble to find millions of dollars to begin the work itself, then bill BP for the costs.

"BP has clearly changed their approach," Barham said. "All we've asked is for them to do what they said they would do in their commercials, be here for the long haul and make it right."

Instead, he said, the company has clearly moved from a public relations strategy to one focusing on litigation over whether damage to the state's oyster beds was BP's fault.

Here's part of what "focusing on litigation" has meant.

The documents that oil spill claims czar Kenneth Feinberg is making people sign in exchange for their final damage settlements are illegal and should be voided by a federal judge, according to the plaintiffs in the massive federal civil case against BP and others.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled earlier this month that Feinberg must stop representing himself as independent of BP. The oil giant owned the deepwater oil well that exploded last April, fouling the Gulf of Mexico for three months, and pays Feinberg's law firm $850,000 a month to dole out money from a $20 billion compensation fund.

Now, Barbier is considering whether Feinberg, who was jointly appointed by BP and President Barack Obama, has set up a claims payment procedure that properly follows the law.

Kudos, again, to David Hammer for putting the bit about Feinberg's relationship with BP right there at the top of the article.

Meanwhile, returning to the theme we began this little round-up with, more and more oil continues to un-vanish out there.

At a science conference in Washington Saturday, marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia aired early results of her December submarine dives around the BP spill site. She went to places she had visited in the summer and expected the oil and residue from oil-munching microbes would be gone by then. It wasn't.

"There's some sort of a bottleneck we have yet to identify for why this stuff doesn't seem to be degrading," Joye told the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington. Her research and those of her colleagues contrasts with other studies that show a more optimistic outlook about the health of the gulf, saying microbes did great work munching the oil.

"Magic microbes consumed maybe 10 percent of the total discharge, the rest of it we don't know," Joye said, later adding: "there's a lot of it out there."

One more note about the "magic microbes." When they first appeared, we noted that the "more optimistic" studies referred to above were funded this way.
The research was supported by an existing grant with the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California Berkeley and the University of Illinois that is funded by a $500 million, 10-year grant from BP.

Should we ask Judge Barbier to determine whether or not the microbes are "independent" too?

"It was a totally outrageous paradigm."

Wang gives Poochie a worthy send-off.

Live ammo

Keeping it classy

Shut up

Gov. Bobby Jindal wades into Wisconsin budget fight

The message drew a quick rebuke from the Louisiana Democratic Party, whose spokesman said in an emailed news release that Jindal should be focusing on his own state's budget problems. "The economic crisis looming in Louisiana could be as devastating as any we have ever faced and Louisiana deserves a governor who is 100 percent focused on solving problems here at home," Democratic spokesman Kevin Franck said.

Not sure what Franck is talking about. The frugal Jindal administration is cutting corners in all sorts of creative ways in Louisiana right now.

In case you haven't heard yet

Scott Walker is kind of an asshole.

Adding: In light of DOJ's decision not to defend DOMA, Scott Walker now allowed to take calls from "Amanda Hugginkiss"

How I learned to love spam

The NOLAinfo alert emails tend to fill one's inbox with bullshit on most days. Unnecessary PR releases from NOPD, recycled CNN headlines, obscure product recalls, that sort of thing. But they're worth having because every now and then one will tell you when and (approximately) where the next Serpas checkpoint will be set up. Also during Carnival they make an effort to remind people of the freaking rules. To wit, the following is excerpted from a multi-colored, large type email I received this week.

Remember the Neutral Ground (Median) is public property and it is illegal to “rope off” or barricade areas for private use.

If your children are in ladders, remember they must be placed as many feet behind the street curb as the ladder is high

In other words, this is the right way to position your ladder.

Ladders used properly

While shit like this, which we see all the damn time, Is wrong. This is actually wrong on both counts above as the ladders are not only too close to the curb but they are also bound together in such a way that they form a barrier to fellow parade goers who may wish to pass nearby.

Ladder citadel

Also notice,

Do not place ladders, ice chests, chairs, or other items in intersections. These areas must be kept clear to allow emergency vehicles access to the parade route if needed.

Which means these people are also doing it wrong.

Ladders in the intersection

What these rules are designed to do is reinforce the notion that the public streets are for everyone to share as they enjoy the parade together. This means being flexible, not territorial, and willing and able to give ground as the size and position of the crowd changes. If you're going outside to be with the people, be prepared to cooperate.

Personally I'd like to see this language amended to include a few words about portable chairs which, in recent years, have become a worse hindrance to freedom of movement than even the ladders. Take a look at this picture.

Chairs and ladders in the intersection

Blocking this intersection, we find not only two ladders but also a wall of chairs right up in the front of the crowd where they absolutely do not belong. Not only do they inhibit movement but they also reduce the number of people who can comfortably enjoy the parade in the space they occupy. This doesn't mean chairs are inappropriate altogether. Not everyone is young or strong enough to stand for hours at a time and there is plenty of room at the back of the crowd to set up some place to rest. But I'd venture to say that there are far more chairs in use out there than are necessary. And more importantly their inconsiderate use as territorial boundaries is hostile to everyone who has to step over or around them.

I can't imagine the NOLAinfo spam will beat any sense or courtesy into anyone but at least somebody is trying.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chicken Bonne Femme

It's been a while since our last episode of cooking on the Yellow Blog so, before we start, let's clear up a few things first. Those of you who have become accustomed to reading the ever-expanding wealth of informed professional grade food writing on the local internets in recent years... and also those of you who read Blackened Out... should know right off the bat that you're not going to get anything approaching that kind of refinement here. I haven't taken any training. I don't know any chefs. I've never written a book. I've only worked in restaurants as a very young man when I bussed tables and washed dishes during the summer. I'm just a guy who grew up in New Orleans, reads a lot of cookbooks, and screws around in the kitchen.

I'm a home cook who cooks homey food mostly of the sort I grew up eating. I do the usual predictable stuff around the appropriate holidays. I do a lot of "smothered" this or that. I put bacon and butter all over everything. Every now and then I'll try to copy something I've had in a restaurant. And sometimes I even experiment with mixed results. But mostly, I like to stick to the classics because it's what I know and it's where I don't suck so much. Also I hate doing dishes. So whenever possible I like to cook whatever I'm cooking in one pot or pan which is what I did last night with this simple execution of Chicken Bonne Femme.

"Good woman's chicken", as I understand it, is so named because it represents something a resourceful housewife might come up with with a store of simple ingredients. As an aspiring housewife myself I take this as high praise. It's also a versatile baseline for other New Orleans classics. Throw some peas on this and you've got Chicken Clemenceau, or maybe with some Bernaise sauce you can call it Chicken Pontalba. In any event it's about as homey a dish as one can think of and that suits our purposes nicely.

  • Start by chopping up the following:

    One bunch of green onions

    Green onion

    One very blurry medium sized Spanish onion


    About this much fresh parsley. (I could have used the whole bunch but I'm saving some for some pasta I'm making later this week.)


    And I like a lot of garlic so go through at least one (maybe one and a half) of these


  • Okay throw it all together in a bowl and set it aside somewhere. Then go grab two of these.

    Russett potato

    That's your ordinary run-of-the-dirt Russett Potato. I used these because, well, that's what I had laying around the house last night. But I should note that I've been using red potatoes to make soup lately as well as the best french fries I've ever done so I might recommend subbing those in next time.

    Anyway just hack at them until you get these little irregular shapes.


    I've got them in a bowl here tossed with salt, black pepper, cayenne, and a little garlic powder. Do that or something like it and set them aside.

  • Chicken. You're gonna need to brown some chicken pieces. First, dust them lightly with a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne. What kind of chicken pieces is up to you. Some people like white meat, some people like dark meat. Some people like skin, some people like bones. What I've got here is boneless chicken thighs.

    Chicken thighs

    Why boneless? Because they were easier to shove into the cast iron skillet to brown in a little vegetable oil. Like this.

    Chicken browning

    Just as that is about ready to come up is about the time in the process when your wife will call you on the telephone and ask you to run into the other room to check for the exact number printer cartridge she is supposed to be buying. If you keep her on the phone as you walk back into the kitchen, she'll probably wait until the exact moment that you're reaching for the tongs to ask, "Wait. Are you sure it said 4216 and not 4260? Because I don't see that here at all." And then you'll get a little distracted and knock over the whole plastic Saints cup full of slotted spoons, ladles, and spatulae you were retrieving the tongs from. That may even take a full glass of water with it on its way to the floor resulting in shit everywhere plus one very excited cat.

    Don't freak out. Just get off the stupid phone, throw the scattered utensils into the sink, put some paper towels down and remove the chicken from the skillet. Set aside.

  • Okay, now, deglaze the pan with something. Most people will do this with a little white wine but we had shoved all of our white wine into Menckles' backpack and took it with us to Krewe du Vieux Saturday night. I did happen to have some brandy available. It did the trick.

    By the way, now would be a good time to start pre-heating the oven. This worked well enough.


  • Bacon is such a cliche nowadays. WHATEVER, get over yourself, Bourdain, and chop some up. That looks like enough right there.


    Add some to your deglazed pan with a chunk of butter. Pause to take one glorious photograph.

    Bacon and butter

  • With the exception of the chicken, start adding all the stuff we chopped up earlier to the pan. It doesn't really matter what order you do this in. Just make it so that your bacon fat is rendered, your vegetables are softened, and your potatoes are at least pliable and maybe starting to crisp. Add some herbs if have them laying around. Thyme and rosemary are nice.

    Everything but the chicken in the skillet

  • Really what you're looking for is a situation where all that stuff is cooked down to the point where your chicken pieces fit comfortably back into the pan with it. Notice I dropped some more butter on top just to be an asshole.

    Whole mess ready for the oven WITH MORE BUTTER

  • Okay. Whole skillet goes in the oven. Cooking time at 350 degrees was about 45 minutes in this case. Although I left it in there a bit longer because I had to help Menckles carry a bunch of shit into the house just as the timer was going off. Just make sure you aren't serving your bonne femme any raw chicken and you'll be alright. Here's what it looked like.

    Chicken Bonne Femme

Maybe the refined professional out there would say the presentation is a little monochromatic or something. So, I don't know, sprinkle some parsley on top or something. Otherwise, enjoy.

Moving on

New Orleans Saints cut tight end Jeremy Shockey

Well let's see. Our friend Poochie was over the hill, often injured, overrated, about to have his role in the offense taken over by and up and coming star, and also from what I'm seeing in the Tweeter Tubes, he was every bit the dick to people around him we suspected he was.

So yeah. Bye, Poochie. Try to stay hydrated out there.


City Council RFP

"The City Council of New Orleans desires to engage an experienced professional or private firm to formulate or evaluate proposed changes to the various city employess' pension systems..."

You see, since New Orleans city employees are mostly not unionized, we wouldn't expect much of a problem...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Internet thought of the day

From The Annoyed Librarian's list of predictions for 2011:
Facebook will replace all Internet search and independent news reading, as people finally realize they don’t care about anything their friends don’t already like.

I think this might be the year. Search engines are becoming overwhelmed by content farms and spamdexing. Add to this the growing distaste people have for uncomfortable ideas, and you get the Facebook universe.

I know that most Facebook complaints start with concerns over privacy. But leaving aside the service's own questionable approach to sharing users' personal data, I wonder if we should focus less on what information is shared and more on how it is applied. If your Facebook profile features a lot of pictures of you out partying with your friends, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Just like there's nothing wrong with reading and sharing news online. Just like there's nothing wrong with belonging to this or that political organization. Instead of asking whether or not people should want to share their perfectly acceptable activities with the internet, we should be asking why a creditor, or a school or an employer should make any of this their business. Okay so I went to Krewe du Vieux this weekend and people took pictures of me wearing a silly hat. Who cares?

The real problem I see with evolving social media is, as AL's blurb suggests, it facilitates a more closed circle model of communication where it's more difficult to stumble upon information and points of view that come from outside of one's accepted social or professional peer groups. I disagree strongly with much of what I read on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and for that matter on professional news sites on a daily basis. But I try to read and follow (or even "friend") as much as I can possibly hope to consume. I'm not sure that's the majority approach, however.

What's disgusting? Bob Delgiorno

Like a lot of people in New Orleans, I was a bit out of sorts yesterday and so I'm only just this morning reading Athenae's account of Sunday in Madison.
Protesters were fighting to retain the rights of organized labor everywhere, now under siege by the newly elected governor and Republican legislature. Democratic state senators fled the state, avoiding a quorum call on the governor's budget bill, and in their absence the citizens of the state decided to move in. Some carried instruments, a flute, a drum. Others pounded on plastic buckets. A child banged a pot lid and sleigh bell together. "What's disgusting?" they called out during a lull in the music.


Also here's a pretty okay column from Paul Krugman which at least makes the crucial point.
Some background: Wisconsin is indeed facing a budget crunch, although its difficulties are less severe than those facing many other states. Revenue has fallen in the face of a weak economy, while stimulus funds, which helped close the gap in 2009 and 2010, have faded away.

In this situation, it makes sense to call for shared sacrifice, including monetary concessions from state workers. And union leaders have signaled that they are, in fact, willing to make such concessions.

But Mr. Walker isn’t interested in making a deal. Partly that’s because he doesn’t want to share the sacrifice: even as he proclaims that Wisconsin faces a terrible fiscal crisis, he has been pushing through tax cuts that make the deficit worse. Mainly, however, he has made it clear that rather than bargaining with workers, he wants to end workers’ ability to bargain.

This morning, WWL radio's Bob Delgiorno was being as unhelpful as ever for listeners tuning in in search of informative discussion. All of WWL's hosts are bad but when it comes to ignoring facts and talking over and around his guests and callers, nobody does it quite like Bob. A phone conversation this morning with Louisiana AFL-CIO Vice President Robert "Tiger" Hammond went like this, for example. (paraphrased)

Delgiorno: Walker is saying times are tough and everybody's got to make sacrifices to fix this budget. And these public workers have got to be willing to give some things up.

Hammond: But, Bob, the unions have already made these kinds of concessions. But Walker is telling them that's not enough and that they need to give up their collective bargaining...

(Immediately changes subject to "taxpayer supported union dues" and then moments later returns to) Walker is saying times are tough and everybody's got to make sacrifices to fix this budget.

And this circle was repeated several more times. And it's what DelGiorno does every day. When we allow a shouting doofus like this to serve as a professional information conduit for our community, is it any wonder we have difficulty keeping informed?

But is it far enough away from a church?

Deutsches Haus negotiating purchase of state-owned property on at Bayou St. John

The land is currently zoned residential, Bourg said, so Deutsches Haus may have to seek a conditional-use permit or zoning change. For that, they will likely need the support of the Faubourg St. John group and nearby Desaix Area Neighborhood Association.

: Meanwhile, Uptown might get another Walgreens which I'm beginning to think is the only land use that actually complies with New Orleans zoning rules.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


"We try to learn, but we got bats"

Happy Marty's Something

After last year's apocalypse bating convergence of a city wide election and a Saints Superbowl championship right in the thick of Carnival season, I gotta say I'm digging the late Mardi Gras this year. Although it's exciting in early seasons to see the grandstands go up in front of Gallier Hall during December, the value of time to decompress after the holidays should not be underestimated.

Plus the warmer (but not yet too hot) weather is more... well... Carnival-like. Not to mention foggy.


If the fog sticks around tonight it can only add to the atmosphere at Krewe du Vieux. Night time fog in the Quarter is one of the coolest things about this time of year.

Of course the late parade season does have its drawbacks, bigger crowds and more spring break assholes being the first two that come to mind. But there will plenty of time for bitching once things get going. For now... cause for optimism. The following (including the all-cap emphasis) is cut and pasted from a NOLAinfo alert that was sent to subscribers yesterday.
Owners of property along parade routes are reminded that this Mardi Gras ordinance also prohibits the erecting of stands or platforms on the sidewalk, street and/or medians. The CHAINING OF LADDERS to public property, light standards, utility poles, and/or to each other, IS PROHIBITED. ALL LADDERS used by parade spectators should be structurally sound. No ladders, chairs, ice chests, chaise lounges, etc. should be placed in intersections, on medians or between curbs of public streets. The rule governing ladders is: LADDERS SHOULD BE PLACED AS MANY FEET BACK FROM THE STREET CURB AS THE LADDER IS HIGH.

MARDI GRAS is a show enjoyed by millions, and the New Orleans Police Department will utilize all resources to assure that it is as safe as possible for all to enjoy.

Will this be the year we finally get the ladder problem under control?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Too generous

BP tells Feinberg he's being too generous with claims

The administrator of the $20 billion fund for Gulf oil spill victims, under fire for red tape and delays, has been told by BP that his formula for determining final payments is actually too generous

Also "too generous" is the AP description of Feinberg's position and background.

An Associated Press review published Monday that included interviews with legal experts, government officials and more than 300 Gulf residents found a claims process beset by red tape and delay, and at the center of it all a fund administrator whose ties to BP have raised questions about his independence.

Now, lawmakers in Washington are demanding the White House step in, the Louisiana governor and others want a federal judge to intervene, and the people most affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster are threatening to line the courthouse steps if they don't get the changes they seek from Feinberg.

Feinberg, the Washington lawyer who runs the fund and was lauded for his work overseeing the compensation fund for 9/11 victims, has insisted he is being fair.

Missing from this generous account of the (ahem) "lauded" for his 9-11 fund work Feinberg, is the fact that a federal court has ruled he has no right to claim he is in any way "independent" of BP. There is no excuse to write any account of anything Feinberg says or does without including this information.

Put bars and churches on every other corner

Two Riverbend restaurants approved for liquor sales, but Central City bar can't reopen

In Central City where the preachers run everything,

Bean Brothers Lounge, however, did not fare so well. A decades-old establishment and occasional stop on Central City second-line parades, the lounge has been closed for long enough that it lost its conditional use to operate and could not reopen without the city’s permission

At the January planning meeting, Michael Robinson of the Jericho Road development said he didn’t strictly oppose the lounge, but that his neighborhood had not been approached by the owner.
“Even though historically there has been a lot of bars in the area, it’s something we’d like to get out of,” Robinson said. “In general, we are in favor of the moratorium, and this is in support of that.”

City Councilwoman Stacy Head, who represents the area, described her reasons Thursday for opposing its reopening, starting with “intense opposition from community members and leaders.” A church is 110 feet away, and the bar is actually built across property lines so that four structures would receive commercial zoning in a residential neighborhood if it were approved, she said before leading the council’s “nay” vote.

Can we at least agree that this has got to be the most irrelevant criterion for denying a liquor license imaginable? Tomorrow I will go down to St. Louis Cathedral with a tape measure and see if I can get 110 feet away without striking booze in any direction.

Conspicuously absent

Athenae writes:
And hey, Mr. President, anytime you want to show up and put on a cheesehead, Bucky's ready for you:

In an interview with Milwaukee television station WTMJ, President Barack Obama said he was monitoring the situation in Madison and acknowledged the need for budget cuts. But, he said, pushing public employees away from the bargaining table "seems like more of an assault on unions."

SEEMS?!? You're welcome for that fucking election, Obama.

This is one of those times where the "political realities" defense of Obama's passivity ceases to have any power. Here is a perfect opportunity to counter a year's plus worth of somewhat manufactured and mostly incoherent tea party rage with an actual bona fide demonstration that deficit hawkery isn't the only acceptable form of populism. And yet, where is he? Where is much of the Democratic leadership for that matter? You want your momentum back? Here it is. And it's not just in Wisconsin either. I often wonder what this President and his party actually give a shit about. This is one of those frequent times.

Update: I refer to Tea Party outrage as "somewhat manufactured and mostly incoherent" here when it may make better sense to describe it as manufactured incoherence. Anyone who thinks working class Americans haven't had reason to be outraged hasn't been paying attention for.. oh thirty years now. The Tea Party movement of the past election cycle, though, has been (mostly) the latest successful attempt by money to confuse and co-opt that rage. And that's, of course, nothing new.

I and many others have long argued that the way to beat this back is not through the sort of elitist pooh-poohing we get from Obama and establishment Democrats of justifiable outrage and aggressive tonality. Responsive political leadership would, instead, welcome the opportunity an energized electorate presents to address its valid complaints.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Crowds of public employees protesting a sweeping Ohio proposal to strip unions of collective bargaining rights are wearing red in an effort to steer public opinion away from the idea that unions are all-Democrat organizations. The move came as union protests by firefighters, teachers, police and state workers were joined by a smaller number of tea party activists who support the legislation. The measure would end collective bargaining and replace negotiated salary schedules with merit raises.

It's bi-partisanship we can believe in. Furthermore, it's an opportunity to affect meaningful political realignment while pulling us all back from the abyss. Even if Obama doesn't really give a shit about working people, this is a big big chance for him just within the context of the stupid politics. Is he going to just let that go too?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Awesome bi-partisan agreement

Obama Proposes $20.3 Million Reduction in Library Funding

President Obama delivered a budget proposal to Congress on Monday that would cut federal library funding by 9.5 percent.

Obama is requesting $242.6 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which is down from $265.9 million in FY11 (or $282.2 million if $16.3 million in earmarks is included). The Library Services and Technology Act, which IMLS administers, is budgeted for $193.2 million, down from $213.5 million.

Louisiana's share of LSTA funding came to $2,634,925 for FY2010. The State Library uses this money to help local public libraries with internet connectivity, public online database access, inter-library loan services, and several other things including literacy programs such as the summer reading program.

It's disappointing to see Obama's budget proposal ask public library users to sacrifice this way, particularly on the heels of his despicable decision to continue the Bush tax cuts for millionaires at the end of the last Congress.

But then it isn't surprising to see Obama open negotiations by making huge egregious sacrifices before compromising that stance later on. Nor is it surprising to see Republicans take a... somewhat different tact.

All IMLS, LSTA Funding in Jeopardy
A bill that is coming up for a vote this week in the House of Representatives* calls for the elimination of all Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) funding, including Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funding, for the remainder of FY2011.

The good news here is the President and Congressional Republicans both agree on something. They hate public libraries. The only quibble now is just how much they hate them. We're fast on the way to a bi-partisan compromise where "both sides" win. And, of course, libraries lose but that's never the point.

*Amendment 35 to the budget continuing resolution was introduced by Rep. Scott Garrett (R–N.J.)


WWLTV: Corps using floodwall design that failed in Katrina?
NEW ORLEANS – One of the lessons the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina taught New Orleans and the engineering community is that so-called I-walls – like the ones that failed along the London Ave., 17th St. and Industrial canals – are less stable and more prone to failure than upside down T-walls.

“In general, I think it’s safe to say that T-walls are a more substantial structure,” said Bob Turner, executive director of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Authority East.

Now, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scrambles to meet the June deadline for 100-year flood protection in this region’s levee system, construction crews are building a floodwall along Hayne Blvd. in eastern New Orleans.

And as they drive 45-foot steel sheet piles into the ground and build a floodwall, they are also doing something that some engineers and public officials did not expect and are clearly concerned about. The crews are building an I-wall on top of the levee.

Answering one question

Thanks to The Lens for being on this.

As Louisiana wraps its Gulf Opportunity Zone lending program, only 3 percent of the $7.8 billion went to projects in New Orleans, a review of state records show.


These projects include:

These projects include:

* $96 million for a rental car facility at Louis Armstrong International Airport
* $30 million for improvements to the Tulane University campus
* $25 million for Sewerage and Water Board infrastructure
* $22.5 million for a hydrogen pipeline connecting New Orleans to Norco
* $15 million for a Drury Inn and Suites hotel in the Central Business District
* $4.5 million for a Borders Bookstore on St. Charles Avenue at Louisiana
* $7 million for two Robert Fresh Market grocery stores, one in Lakeview and the other in Carrollton.
* $7 million for a warehouse and distribution facility at the Port of New Orleans, west of the Industrial Canal.
* $5.5 million for a new residential facility and headquarters for Bridge House, a substance abuse clinic and homeless shelter
* $8.5 million for a boutique hotel in the Warehouse District
* $4 million for a New Orleans-based company, Southern Theatres, to renovate the 12,000-square-foot Canal Place cinema, along with a 50,000-square-foot theater in Kenner.

And, in case you haven't been paying attention today,

Bookstore chain Borders Group Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection today and said it will close about 30 percent of its stores nationwide, including the two it operates in the New Orleans area. The bookstore chain plans to shut both its Metairie store at 3131 Veterans Memorial Blvd. and its New Orleans store at 3338 St. Charles Ave in the coming weeks. The latter location is the site of the former House of Bultman Funeral Home, which Borders converted and opened in 2008.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

They all moved to Dallas

Harry Shearer
Now for what we don't know. According to Allison Plyer, of the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, which makes it its business to collect all available statistical information on the area, we don't know where those 100,000 people are now, whether (as Barbara Bush famously predicted) they're happier in their new environs or whether they ache to come home. No public or private entity has thought it important to track those folks who were so suddenly uprooted. We have better information about the movie preferences of minor-league ballplayers than about these survivors of a major catastrophe.

"From Cairo to Madison"

I know not a lot of people in New Orleans have been following the attempt by Wisconsin's Republican Governor Scott Walker to crush the state's public employee unions but it's kind of a big deal.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Scott Walker proposed stripping nearly all government workers of their collective bargaining rights. And as a warning shot across the bow, he told Wisconsin reporters Friday that he's alerted the National Guard ahead of any unrest, or in the event that state services are interrupted. Under his plan, which he'll include in his forthcoming budget proposal, most state workers would no longer be able to negotiate for better pensions or health benefits or anything other than higher salaries, which couldn't rise at a quicker pace than the Consumer Price Index.
I don't think I need to explain how fundamental collective bargaining rights have been to the creation and preservation of the American middle class. An attack on anyone's right to unionize is essentially an attack on every individual's equitable treatment by his or her employer with regard to salary, safety, health care, retirement, and just general fairness and human dignity.

Following the sweeping Republican victories in state houses last November, it isn't surprising to see this kind of assault beginning now in several states.

Today Wisconsin is a flash point but it won't be the last. Here's some of what's going on there. (link via First Draft)

Hundreds Turn Out To Protest Bill

Meanwhile, protests and rallies are already taking shape in an attempt to thwart or modify the governor's plans.

Hundreds of University of Wisconsin-Madison students and their teachers told the governor to drop a bill that would strip most public workers of almost all their collective bargaining rights.

Chanting "kill this bill" and brandishing signs with messages such as "From Cairo to Madison Workers Unite." the students and instructors jammed the corridor leading to Walker's Capitol office. They poured valentines on the desk of Walker's office guard, which asked the governor not to break their hearts.
You may find it hokey but I actually like to see these union members frame their protest in the context of the Egyptian revolution. It will be interesting to watch American pundits who love to cheer on foreign human rights movements they aren't very familiar with turn on their own once the news cycle catches up to this.

At least the Green Bay Packers get it.
Present and former members of the Green Bay Packers, all members of the National Football League Players Association, have signed a letter in support of the AFL-CIO's efforts to derail Gov. Scott Walker's plan to cut some union bargaining rights.

The letter was signed by Curtis Fuller, Chris Jacke, Charles Jordan, Bob Long, Steve Okoniewski, Brady Poppinga and Jason Spitz.

The statements reads: "We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great. As a publicly owned team we wouldn't have been able to win the Super Bowl without the support of our fans.

"It is the same dedication of our public workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. But now in an unprecedented political attack Governor Walker is trying to take away their right to have a voice and bargain at work.

"The right to negotiate wages and benefits is a fundamental underpinning of our middle class. When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards. Wisconsin's long standing tradition of allowing public sector workers to have a voice on the job has worked for the state since the 1930s. It has created greater consistency in the relationship between labor and management and a shared approach to public work.

"These public workers are Wisconsin's champions every single day and we urge the Governor and the State Legislature to not take away their rights."

The NFLPA's office in Washington is expected to make a statement later Tuesday.

Notice there's nothing in there about buying a second home in Dallas.

Meanwhile, they've apparently scared the Governor out of the Capitol.
MADISON, Wis. -- For the first time in many years, Gov. Scott Walker will deliver his annual budget address in some place other than the state Capitol.

Walker announced Tuesday he will deliver his budget address at Vita Plus, a livestock manufacturer based on Madison’s East Side. A joint session of the Legislature will meet at the plant at 1:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

Link, again, via First Draft where there are further updates and photos from Scout and I expect there will be for much of the day.

And this is pretty much where I thought this might go

I'm all for calling out the hate and stupidity people throw out on NOLA.com for the sake of knocking that stuff down. But there are others who believe the way to resolve a conversation they are uncomfortable with is to kill the conversation altogether... or worse personally harm the participants.

There's a difference between caring about keeping the discussion valuable and stomping on people's right to have a conversation. Sometimes people say things you don't like. Deal with it.

Well, no

Gambit Blog:
New Orleans didn’t make it onto the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2011 list of America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations, although we certainly fit the criteria of offering “cultural and recreational experiences different from the typical vacation destination … boast a richness of character and exude an authentic sense of place.”
Except no, we don't fit that criteria anymore. We gave all that stuff up so we could make TV shows about a self-satisfied intellectual's idea of that and set them here.

How do you like dem ersters, Mayor Bing?

No no nothing like that. I think, actually, they're announcing that Mitch is buying a second home in suburban Michigan.

After he finishes knocking down all the houses in New Orleans, I guess.

Update: Before somebody jumps on me. I know New Orleans has a severe problem with blighted buildings and I know some of what the mayor is trying to do as far as expediting blight remediation is worthwhile. But at the same time the existence of so much vacant housing stock is also a manifestation of what the city has lost in population, in prestige, in economic activity both before the flood and (at an accelerated and unnatural rate) afterward.

And while watching New Orleans shrink over the years has been painful for most of us, for its elite classes, things couldn't have worked out better. Well to do New Orleanians have always pined for a smaller sleepier pond in which they would comfortably be the biggest fish. And by and large its political class has failed to do anything meaningful in terms of fighting this. So watching the mayor do the dismal work of amputating blood starved limbs from a dying patient and somehow declaring that a victory just doesn't sit well with me regardless of its necessity or inevitability.

Upperdate: Thinking along these lines, please see today's Lens op-ed. I've got issues with some of what the authors recommend and am more than a bit bemused at their optimistic "move forward" tone which I always find a little condescending. But they do have the problem diagnosed pretty well.

Claims that New Orleans is better off with a smaller population ignore the mounting challenges as federal aid decreases and the extent to which the footprint dilemma remains unsolved.

Low-lying, flood-prone neighborhoods that have achieved hard-won population gains over the past five years will not be abandoned or revert to semi-urban pastoral settings as some planners predicted. But without something to spark increased demand, these areas will languish as half- blighted problem centers, draining city resources and struggling to offer adequate safety and amenity to their residents.

If these neighborhoods are again to become viable, safe and attractive communities, New Orleans must commit to an all-hands-on-deck effort to regrow its population. Without the buoyancy of strong population growth, no feasible amount of government investment will lure sufficient private capital into these neighborhoods.

Despite arguments advanced by some advocates of a smaller footprint, the broad goals of economic and environmental sustainability and the revival of low-lying communities are not at odds with one another; they are interdependent . The city cannot sustain itself if it lacks a population large enough to build a globally competitive economy and secure the infrastructure projects needed to mitigate environmental risks and adapt to a changing landscape. We know all too well that Washington or Baton Rouge will not lead that effort for us. The city itself must set an ambitious population goal, and do everything we can to reach it safely. This will require creative policy changes and collaboration across agencies and institutions.
In 2006, despite Nagin's silly rhetoric, it was actually Mitch Landrieu who talked seriously about restoring the city's population not just to pre-flood levels but to its mid-century peak. Four years later, Landrieu had come back to talking mostly about crime and blight. Patrick is already on my case in the comments regarding blight mitigation despite my best efforts to head this criticism off. Yes of course this stuff has to be done. But we've regressed to a point where we think it's all that needs to be done.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

If nothing else, you should read Jeff Duncan today

I've been taking a bit of an internet break this weekend. But I have been following the continuing absurdity of the Sean Payton to Dallas story. And although everyone under the sun has thrown an opinion at it I've still got a few things to say that I haven't seen yet which I'll get to sometime this week. It's not the most pressing issue of our time but the national media reaction has made it more irritating than need be.

Anyway Duncan has been on it as well as anyone. Be sure and read his column. One of his better points:

Rightly or wrongly, New Orleanians want and expect the Saints head coach to be part of their community.

This isn't the case for most sports jobs. But it is for the special ones Ñ Green Bay Packers, Detroit Red Wings, University of North Carolina basketball, Alabama Crimson Tide football.

In the NFL, perhaps only the Packers job is more important to the local populace. And rest assured, the Cheese Heads would be just as upset today if Payton had taken the Packers job five years ago and then elected to move his brood mid-term to Westlake, Texas.

Update: I really have been out of it. Check out Wang's post while we're doing this.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


It is cold and wet in NOLA where the temperature doesn't only drop 30 degrees in 3 hours on any given night but it does so in concert with a misty dampness that slowly drives you nuts like an older brother who is persistently "not touching you" might if he could gleek ice spittle on you all night long.

It sucks. I am about to get to that point where I'm all ready to tell winter to fuck right on off... which I will regret having done in about a month but oh well.

"Always amazed me"

New Orleans in a nutshell: Privileged classes prescribe reform and efficiency for everyone but themselves.

#1 "Being Bitter"

Cliff fights off the angst by posting a list of "things that I hate" and a lot of it rings true right now. Personally, I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by horrifying news, insipid entertainment, and snobbish people lately. Usually I am endlessly entertained by all three but right now I'm just trying to avoid being bitter. Sure, I'll get over it. Meanwhile seeing some of the offending matter in list form helps for some reason.

This will actually kill poor people

Barack Obama proposes killing poor people.

The part where the snow collapses the roof is really cool

WWL: Video of Superdome construction underway

Take your time, guys. Really, there's no hurry.

Mardi Gras app update

I just learned that WDSU's forthcoming Iphone Mardi Gras app will be available for Iphone only in 2011. That's a shame but they will still be doing the Twitter updates which have been the most welcome Carnival innovation in recent years. I plan to use that as well as test out the WWL Android app which won't track anything until Muses this year.


Thou Shalt Not Violate The Master Plan. Also you're too close to these other beloved and accepted violations of the plan.

But Sapir and other neighbors said the restaurant would create nightly problems in a neighborhood where most residents have to park on the streets and that already is home to two other popular restaurants. They said it would violate the city's master plan and would lead to more inappropriate rezoning requests. They said there are numerous properly zoned sites, including on nearby streets such as Magazine, where Gabrielle could open with no problems.

Or to put it another way, just shut up and leave Eddie Sapir's parking spot alone.

More Carnival Copyright

Next Christmas I'm going to sue somebody for copying and selling my trademarked wreath design.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More lead

Last week when the city closed Markey Park for lead remediation, we pointed to this NPR story from 2006 featuring Professor Howard Mielke's work identifying and mapping high concentrations of lead in the New Orleans soil.

Today, the Times-Picayune publishes a better version of Mielke's map complete with soil consentrations listed by census tract.

From Mark Schleifstien's front-page article.
Because of its large number of older homes and more compact urban area, New Orleans has historically had a high number of children with elevated blood lead levels. In 2004, a year before Hurricane Katrina, 13.8 percent of all children tested in the city had levels above 10 micrograms per deciliter, the level considered lead poisoning by the CDC. In 2009, that level had dropped dramatically to 5.3 percent. The exact reason for the drop is unknown, although research by Mielke and others indicates that sediment washed into the city during Hurricane Katrina reduced lead levels in soils in flooded areas.
Not sure what to make of that given this a few paragraphs later.
Lead was banned from paints in the United States in 1977. New Orleans’ housing stock, however, contains a huge number of homes that predate the ban. After Katrina, improper sanding of lead-based paints has added to the lead dust throughout the city, Mielke said.
Is there more lead dust now or less?

Yes, please

WWLTV offers a free Mardi Gras Iphone and Android app with parade tracker. Will come in handy if it's operating properly.

If not, I'm assuming WDSU will still be tweeting parade progress.

And then I'm assuming Verizon service won't be overloaded but there's no guarantee of that anymore.

Already finding one flaw. Apparently not every parade will be tracked. WDSU usually tracks all Orleans Parish parades.

Upperdate: Also noticing the Krewe du Vieux route is incorrect in the WWL app. WDSU claims a phone app is "coming soon"

Coming soon to the iPhone app store is the WDSU Parade Tracker app! Track all the Uptown parades -- and new this year, Argus in Metairie -- from your iPhone. See the real-time location of the lead float, the full parade route and your own location all on a map

Maybe better luck there.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Obligations repaid

And then some

Ray Nagin's campaign fund is starting to dwindle

In a section of the report that calls on politicians to report debts other than bank and personal loans, Nagin noted that he had repaid a pair of $2,500 obligations to local trash hauler OMNI Pinnacle and to Montgomery Watson Harza, a precursor to MWH Americas, the engineering giant that won a lucrative and controversial recovery-management contract with the city after Katrina.

Oh but for fun

Daily Kingfish

John Georges is calling around and has been assembling a team of operatives for a run for Lieutenant Governor.

Signs point to a run as either an independent or as a Republican, although a run as a Democrat (as he is currently registered) is not completely out of the question. If he switched party registration again, this would be his third switch in 10 years

If he runs as a Republican, this video should become rather popular again in a hurry.

John Georges untethered from Eli Ackerman on Vimeo.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Hornets game tonight

Odds are we won't be there early enough for the opening prayer which makes me sad a little bit. The Hornets' pre-game prayer is a George Shinn legacy of sorts.

Sean Payton to re-title his book Second Home Team

Sean Payton is moving to North Texas
The intrepid Ed Werder of ESPN fame, a frequent contributor to this blog, has been focused on the Green Bay Packers the past couple weeks but he found himself breaking some real estate news Monday. The New Orleans Saints put out a press release Sunday night that Payton will remain their head coach, but Werder discovered that he will now commute to New Orleans via private plane.
Okay, sure, I can understand why a person might like to live in New Orleans and air commute to some distant hellish snowtropolis if it was absolutely impossible to relocate the job here. But doing it the other way around? That's just crazy.

Has anyone asked @RayNagin if he was a helpful house hunter?

Update: Wanted to be closer to the Jonas Brothers
Payton, wife Beth and their children will live in a home the family is purchasing in the exclusive Vaquero Club, an upscale golf community in Westlake that is home to numerous PGA Tour professionals as well as the Jonas Brothers.

Also, we just got the new Census data this freaking week. The Paytons just couldn't wait to go off and invalidate the whole damn thing.

Upperdate: Please direct all further questions on this matter to The Goat.

Wearable copyright

How, exactly, does one enforce copyright of a costume? Do you carry paperwork in your head dress? Does every photographer you meet have to submit a form? Most photographers out on Mardi Gras day are amateurs anyway. How are they distinguished? Perhaps the tribes should create a new position in order to handle these responsibilities. Spy Boy, Wild Man, Intellectual Property Rights Officer.

Also, Mardi Gras Indians are far from the only people wearing elaborate, home made artwork outside during Carnival. Should everyone apply for copyright?

Big Brother

Unabashedly owning it
Former Sen. Troy Hebert, recently named to run the agency that enforces liquor and tobacco law violations, said that he will be sending agents to the New Orleans area by mid-February to meet with bar owners and managers and explain to them they will be cracking down on underage drinking during the Carnival parade season.

Hebert's office has 50 agents statewide. He would not say how many will be assigned to the New Orleans area. "It will be double what we normally have," he said. He said other areas of the state with Carnival parades will also be covered.

"Our big thing will be underage drinking," Hebert said. "Big Brother will be watching you. We are not trying to take Mardi Gras out of Mardi Gars, but we are trying to make it safer.

"We want to ensure that the alcohol part of (the parade season) is done responsibly."

Wasting time with this crap when they could be keeping the ladder people in line.


Sen. Bill Nelson calls for executive-branch review of oil spill fund

February 4, 2011

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to ask for a review of the Gulf Coast Claims Facility. My request follows a court ruling and recently published news accounts that raise questions about transparency and accountability of the $20-billion fund set up to compensate victims of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Just this week, a Louisiana district court judge, in essence, ruled the fund is not in any way-shape-or-form “independent” of the BP oil company, and that BP must refrain from calling the administrator “neutral” as compensation is dispensed to victims of the worst oil spill in our country’s history.

Mr. President, last summer, while in my state at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Panama City, you said this fund would be run independent of those who caused the spill “so that people can trust that they’ll get a fair shake.”

The claimants in Florida, and the rest of the Gulf coast, deserve no less.

In addition to the aforementioned court ruling, the Associated Press reported this week the claims fund has disbursed only one final settlement, which was done at the request of BP and amounts to $10 million that went to an unnamed BP business partner.

In any other context involving a fund of this size, questions that touch on accountability and transparency would normally be reviewed by a regulator or outside auditor. I believe a high level of scrutiny should apply not only to claimants, but also to the claims handlers – and to BP.

Thus, I respectfully request that your administration initiate a review of all administrative operations of the claims fund. Given the court ruling and other news accounts, there’s clearly a need to assure more accountability and transparency. I thank you in advance for addressing this concern.


Bill Nelson

U.S. Senator, Florida

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Sunday digest

A brief listing of this week-end's miscellany.

  • Endymion Grand Marshals announced
    Parade officials have announced this year's Grand Marshals of the Endymion parade.

    Those Marshals will include: CNN's Anderson Cooper, talk show host Kelly Ripa, actor Mark Consuelos, singer Pat Benatar and the musical group Train are expected to ride in this year’s Endymion as grand marshals.
    Surprised to see Cooper snub Thoth and Cleopatra this year. It's bad enough that Pat Benatar is there to remind of being hit with someone's best shot.

    Meanwhile, NYT: In New Orleans, Early Mardi Gras Parades Are Family Fare
    The article actually means well but this constant attempt to separate Carnival from "family fare" in the non-NOLA media is still distorts the fact that, aside from the tourist frat party on Bourbon street, the whole thing is a "family fare" type of event.

  • Speaking of Egypt, it is often the case in mildly xenophobic America that political narratives spawn very quickly out of ignorance or indifference. The best defense against such for most of us is to just shut the hell up and read more. Here are a few links through which one can learn some context quickly.

    Unrest in #Egypt: Not new, just reaching a tipping point

    Why Mubarak is Out A primer on police, military, gender and capitalist dynamics behind the Egyptian uprising

    Always always more to the story than you think there is.

  • Ray Nagin. The real Ray Nagin, it appears. Is now in the Tweeter Tubes. Actually he's been there for some time but people only started noticing just this week when he demonstrated full capacity with the medium by picking a fight with Fletcher Mackel which is, of course, what Twitter is there for. While the former mayor's tweets might prove to be every bit as diverting as the now-defunct @mayornagin satire account, we can't imagine they'll be any more profound. Many overloaded Twitter users might save themselves some time by just buying one of those "Da Mayor in your pocket" thingies.

  • Crawfish prices up in Louisiana

    Small, expensive and hard to find is no way for Louisiana's beloved delicacy to kick off boiling season. Yet local merchants, harvesters and scientists say if you move fast, you might be able to scrounge enough to make do on Super Sunday.

    A fall drought and a cold winter have conspired to keep the mudbug population down. And that low supply, coupled with higher prices at the gas pumps, have crawfish costing about 50 cents to a dollar more per pound than this time last year.

    A pound of live crawfish is going for about $3.50 to $4, and boiled fetches anywhere from $4.25 to $5 in the New Orleans area. Once the weather gets above 60 degrees, supply will increase, typically dropping prices by a dollar per pound.

    Food prices up everywhere

    What’s behind the surge in food prices? The usual suspects have made the usual claims — it’s all about the Fed, or it’s all about speculators. But I’ve been looking at the USDA World supply and demand estimates, and what stands out from the data is mainly that we’ve had a huge global harvest failure.

  • This week in the Gulf. Drake Toulouse summarizes the eventful week in oil spill news from Barack Obama's indifference, to Ken Feinberg's newly defined status as a BP employee, to the growing criticism of Feinberg's "two to three year" Gulf recovery estimate.

    Two additional items of note regarding all of this.

    The Pensacola News Journal published an editorial today noting the size of the fee Feinberg collects from BP.
    "For instance, the AP reported that Feinberg's law firm "was paid $850,000 a month for its work through the middle of January, and now Feinberg is discussing with BP how much he should be paid going forward. Well, given that BP has an interest in Feinberg paying out as little as possible, is it unreasonable to suspect that his pay will be linked to that goal?"

    And then there's this.

    Months after diving in Gulf waters fouled by BP crude oil and the oil dispersant Corexit, a man in his 40s has more than five times the normal amount of ethylbenzene in his blood.

    The bloodstream of a 3-year-old, exposed to the oil spill when his family visited the Gulf Coast, contains at least three times the normal level of the same organic hydrocarbon, which is toxic in certain quantities.

    Such numbers, according to Wilma Subra, a New Iberia biochemist and environmental activist, are increasingly common in a region that continues to grapple with the consequences of the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

    And, Subra said Saturday at a forum in New Orleans, they are just one indication that the human health effects of the spill are greater -- and will linger far longer -- than either the oil industry or the U.S. government has acknowledged.

    "The effects will be felt for generations," she said, ticking off a wide range of symptoms she said result from exposure to crude oil and Corexit. "This is what we have to look forward to."

    Feinberg defines "generations" as roughly 2-3 years.

    The blood tests were performed on people of varying ages, gender and exposure levels. All of the individuals tested displayed some physical symptoms typical of exposure to crude oil or Corexit, Subra said. Immediate symptoms include skin irritation, nausea, headaches and vomiting. Longer-term maladies can include liver and kidney damage, cardiac arrhythmia and chronic respiratory problems. Benzene also is a cancer-causing agent.

    Test results consistently showed elevated levels of chemicals -- among them benzene, ethylbenzene and Xylene -- that are found in either crude, dispersant or both, she said. Results were similar on oysters and other Gulf seafood.

    Meanwhile I continue in my personal pursuit to ingest as much of this poison as I possibly can with varied results. On Friday night, Menckles and I wandered in to Casamento's where I had some of the most disappointingly cakey and greasy fried oysters I've ever encountered. They came on a full loaf of big thick buttered toast. Properly fried seafood is one of life's greatest pleasures. Poorly fried seafood is quite the opposite of that. These were nasty. I ate all of them anyway.

    Last night we joined a large party at Pascal's where I ordered these.

    Oysters Bienville

    They were exquisite. I ate all of them. Obviously, I am far from the only person in South Louisiana who eats copious amounts of Gulf Seafood despite the continuing flow of ambiguous reports as to its safety.

  • Neighborhood level Census 2010 data is now available. More on this later but one conclusion we can draw is that the flood accelerated the demographic trend of a shrinking New Orleans already in progress. It also enabled the demolishing and abandonment of poorer neighborhoods while encouraging the development of ritzy condos. The net effect is a smaller city geared more to serving an upper class population. None of this was inevitable, of course. But none of it was at odds with what policymakers thought of as an optimal outcome either.

  • Finally, today is Super Bowl Sunday. It's something of a let down in New Orleans, of course. But as I said at the very beginning of the football season, nothing that happened last year can ever be taken away now. Or to put it another way, it will always be Lombardi Gras in our hearts.


    Welcome to Brees Circle

    Lombardi Gras Night

    Meanwhile, today I and every sports fan with any kind of a conscience will be rooting for the Green Bay Packers. Here's a passable explanation why that is.
    Simple: They’re the only major team left that’s not owned by an oligarch. The only one that’s not just a business run by some tycoon with his eyes on the bottom line.

    They’re still, effectively, owned by the town of Green Bay, population 102,000

    In truth, every professional sports franchise rightfully belongs to the city off of whose identity it trades, whose taxpayers build its stadiums, and whose citizenry invests so much time, money, and emotional capital in supporting. The billionaire "owners" of these franchises are really just unnecessary leeches who have attached themselves to a decent racket. At least the city of Green Bay figured a decent way to get around this. (I'd actually go farther than they do with regard to collective ownership but that's another story for another day.) In this sense, a win for the Pack is a win for all of us.