Friday, September 30, 2011

Things I don't get to go watch because of the early LSU kickoff

The "Save Our (Avondale) Shipyard" march tomorrow morning on Poydras will begin at 10:00 AM and move from the Superdome to the Boggs Building. Mark Moseley has more in his Lens column this week.

Update: See Gambit coverage of the event here.

Serpas Signal

Hot donuts

License, registration, proof of insurance -- have them at the ready tonight and early Saturday morning if you drive in the Downtown area of New Orleans. A DWI checkpoint will be operating there from about 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.

I've been saying for some time that more traffic checkpoints were going to be Serpas' answer to the recent upswing in violent crime and home invasions around town. You may have thought I was kidding about that. Not so much. The sad truth is, the police don't have much power to do anything other than harass people. They're about to start arguing that they should be allowed to harass more aggressively. Of course it won't solve anyone's problem but it's what they know how to do.

Occupy Poydras Street or Pawed And Herded And Other Mistreatments Of Superdome Patrons

We hope your calendars are marked, New Orleans. This coming Sunday at noon, you'll certainly want to be in Washington Square Park for the "General Assembly" and planning meeting for "Occupy New Orleans". Surely you don't have anything else to do at that particular date and time, right? What? Okay well just hear us out.

Unless you've been living under a rock, or doing whatever it is people do to attain Jackie Clarksonian levels of obliviousness these days, you're no doubt conscious of the ongoing "Occupy Wall Street" sit-ins in New York right now. Patrick did some thinking out loud about this scene the other day and despite what sounds a little like a scolding comment from us below that post, we're basically in agreement with his ambivalence. Sure, we're as upset as the next somewhat left of center American about the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of financial and political elites, but as we've seen numerous times, we aren't too keen on the efficacy of gathering large groups of self-important hipppies in the streets for the purposes of combating any of this.

Recently when we attended the disastrous ALEC protest in New Orleans, we concluded

I saw them make a few more rounds chanting the usual worn out protesty mantras about "The people united" and whatnot. As they came by shouting "This is what Democracy looks like" it occurred to me that they were probably right about that. Elites and lawmakers quietly dividing up the wealth of the nation in a hotel suite while clueless douchebags and idiot kids prattle on to no affect in the street is pretty much exactly what American democracy looks like in 2011.

And this is still our impression of what's going on in New York right now. The only improvement being that at least some of the snotty little kids are being pepper sprayed as karmic payment for their quest for celebrity.

Yes, of course, some actual celebrities are showing up now too. (Kudos to Radiohead for saying no, by the way.) And before it's over we're sure someone will write some messages on their hands, or someone will make an awareness calendar or something. But at the end of the day, all of these people will have to go home and realize that they have no alternative but to vote for Obama again and the finance elites will continue to run everything. But hey, it was a great time "doing important things" and all. I'm sure a lot of people got laid. Or failing that, came away with some great networking leads for that next social media marketing thing they're doing next month. Great work, kids.

The one slight advantage the New York protesters have over their copycat me-too marches planned all over the country is at least the Wall Street event is arguably maybe about something. Yglesias, who is like us somewhat sympathetic to the complaint, sounds similarly frustrated with the tactics.
But when the lodestar of your movement is to say, “The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%,” it’s difficult for me to get excited. You have to have a dream scenario in mind. What if the protests are super-popular, the crowds are enormous, and the inconvenience to the high and mighty becomes intolerable? What if the bad guys decide it’s time to consider a surrender? You want them to come out, address the crowd, and do what?
Our point is a bit harsher than his in that we don't think any of the people you see on TV actually care about making anything specific happen beyond calling attention to themselves. But, on the off chance that we can salvage something worthwhile from our own local "occupation" event let us offer up a suggested target. Why not Occupy Poydras Street?

Let's make make the Occupy New Orleans event a real assertion of the people's rights in the face of neo-feudal elite usurpers by marching on and "occupying" the site of that elite's most egregious presumption of ownership. Let's demand that Tom and Rita Benson acknowledge that the Louisiana Superdome belongs not to them, not to the National Football Cartel they hold membership in, but to the citizens of the State of Louisiana who paid to construct and maintain that facility out of their tax revenues. Let's remind the Bensons that it is our good name and iconography on which the lucrative brand "New Orleans Saints" that the Bensons derive such wealth from is built.

You want specific demands? Fine, here they are. We demand that the Bensons immediately cease efforts to cheapen our building, our "Sacredome" by appending the name of some base commercial sponsor to its title. We've been more than reasonable with the Bensons and the NFL. We've allowed them to profit handsomely while using our building and enjoying our subsidies and trademarking our name and symbols. At least spare us the indignity of having a corporate partner of theirs pretend to some ownership of our property as well.

Other sports owners are oblivious to the bounty they've been granted by the people at large. Tell the Bensons not to be like them. Tell them that NFL bylaws are not necessarily the law of the land. Were we to one day muster the political will, we could still follow a successful alternate model that more accurately reflects the public's entitlement via-a-vis its investment in its sports franchises.

It may be exorbitantly expensive to run a team, but people don’t buy N.F.L. teams as a civic service. Being an N.F.L. owner is like having a license to print money. Television contracts alone run in the billions, with the 2006-2011 contracts valued at approximately $3 billion annually, $800 million more than the previous contracts. In addition, N.F.L. teams have received $6 billion in public funds to build the current crop of stadiums. In other words, the public is already shouldering a great deal of the cost and debt for N.F.L. franchises. But these public dollars, through some sort of magic alchemy, morph into private profits that often flow away from the communities that ponied up the dough. In the United States, we socialize the debt of sports and privatize the profits. Green Bay stands as a living, breathing, and, for the owners, frightening example, that pro sports can aid our cities in tough economic times, not drain them of scarce public resources.

But we're not marching to overturn the Bensons' stolen applecart. We could do that but we're reasonable people. We just want to be treated with respect when we show up at our building to watch our football team play. Part of that means not selling off our name but it also means keeping your damn dirty hands off of us.

Instead of the torso-only pat-downs and bag checks that have been in place for several years, ticket holders will be patted down from the ankle up before Sunday's duel between the Saints and the Chicago Bears.

The National Football League demanded the expanded screenings in the wake of an incident last week at a game in New Jersey between the New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys, where a spectator sneaked in a stun gun.

The more skeptical among us aren't so sure this is about safety. More likely it's about maximizing owners' concession profits.
The new searches may unintentionally disrupt a longtime tradition for some Saints fans, including Joseph, who totes a small flask to every game to avoid paying $9 for a single drink and $14 for a double, he said.

Freeman conceded that guards might "catch a few more things." And, as always, he said, anyone nabbed with a flask, or any other beverages, will be asked to consume it or pour it out before entering the Dome.

Those $9.00 beer profits, by the way, go directly to Benson. The taxpayers don't even realize any benefit from sticking it to themselves on drink prices. Ourselves, we have been flask carriers ever since 2006 when we thought $9.00 was an outrageous amount to pay for the Dome double Bloody Marys. Surely we're not ready to back down in the face of near 50% inflation over 5 years.

Anyway we're happy to report that we made it past the Stasi with little difficulty these first two weeks. Also we had one of these with us which certainly looks threatening in and of itself but caused little distress with security.

Voodoo pin

It turns out that a small metal flask is still a pretty decent piece of spy technology. It's curved so it hugs the hip in a nearly undetectable fashion. Nearly undetectable.

The National Football League is pushing for enhanced security, and starting with Sunday's game at Lambeau, all fans will be subject to a hand-held, metal-detecting wand test before being admitted.

The procedure would be similar to wand inspections at the airport, but this process would be less invasive than the full-body exam, said Doug Collins, Packers director of security.

See even in Green Bay they're getting ridiculous with this stuff. Worse, in Cleveland last weekend, fans were ejected from their taxpayer subsidized stadium for standing. For fucking standing!

At least if they're going to poke and prod and otherwise insult us the way they do, they could try to do it more quickly. When the Saints kicked off against Houston, our section of the Dome was still a good 2/3 empty due to the long lines at the gate. We're not sure we reached full capacity until a few minutes into the second half. Maltreatment of citizens by private lords presuming to reign over the public space has gone too far. Please join us Sunday as we tell these Occupy NOLA people they need to do something about... oh okay we'll probably just be watching the Saints and Jaguars Sunday afternoon but you get the idea.

Anywhoo... this is a football re-cap, right?

Two Weeks of Saints Football:

  • This week's RTA complaint: Ever since we became a one bicycle household, we've found ourselves relying on the streetcar service to get us to near the Dome on game days. Our results have been fair at best in the past and recently have only gotten worse. Streetcar service on Sundays has always been iffy but if there's an event like a football game going on it's just deplorable. If you're not at a stop by 10:45 at the latest, odds are you're not going to be in your seats in time for kickoff. Often even that is no good as we have quite a few times found ourselves giving up and walking all or most of the way downtown. Last week we stood at the stop and watched 5 streetcars roll by headed the wrong direction one right after the other as if they were a parade or perhaps a slightly interrupted train. Luckily this one time we happened to be rescued by passing Good Samaritans offering a ride. Otherwise, given the security lines we faced once we arrived, we might never have made it inside that day.

  • Just get Drew's contract done already.
    It's pretty obvious that Drew Brees is as responsible for what happens with the Saints' offense as Sean Payton is. The Houston game couldn't have illustrated his value more clearly.

    Trailing 26-17 early in the fourth quarter, Payton made a brilliant strategic move. He abandoned the regular offense and went almost exclusively to a hurry-up offense that relied on Brees to call the plays at the line of scrimmage based on pre-snap reads.

    Conjuring up his Purdue University days, Brees operated out of the shotgun and spread formation. The Saints' used the same five skill-position players in their Posse personnel group: receivers Devery Henderson, Robert Meachem and Lance Moore; tight end Jimmy Graham; and running back Darren Sproles, who was aligned as a slot receiver more often than not.

    When we saw the Saints go to this offense after having been frustrated for much of the day, we said they looked like they were "out of ideas." We've changed our mind a little bit about that and we'll try to explain here.

    It had been a long day of, yet again, not understanding why the Saints refused to stick with a running game that appeared to be producing results. We've also been watching a lot of LSU football this year which (at least while Jordan Jefferson has been out) has demonstrated the value of just lining up and beating people by doing what works. In an era where every college defense is built to defend the spread, LSU runs the ball right at people and just keeps doing it. Basically they've confused the competition by taking football back to 1983 and are killing people with that. Maybe someone will figure it out eventually but the key thing to remember there is, until someone does, don't stop doing it.

    Several times during the Texans game, the Saints followed up consecutive positive running plays by suddenly jumping back into their spread formation on first and 10. We know Payton wants to show off all of the nifty toys in the Saints' offense but we get frustrated whenever football coaches abandon something that's working because they want to show us something neat.

    When the Saints turned the keys over to Drew in the fourth quarter, we saw them line up in the shotgun and thought they might be just giving up. But looking back at how Drew ran the offense we've come to feel differently about this. See this week's JJ award section below for more on this but what Drew did here was find a play that works and stick with that until the Texans either stopped it or were crushed by it. That's winning football. It just got done through the air instead of on the ground this time.

    It's almost enough to make us hope the Saints find themselves in desperate enough positions to keep letting Drew call the plays all season. It limits the damage Sean Payton can do to people's grandmas. So let's drop all this pretense and recognize that Brees is worth being paid in the same class as the quarterbacks he's being compared to at the negotiating table. And do it soon before Saints fans lower themselves to putting up their own billboard.

  • Jimmy Graham is not entirely off the hook here: We know everybody likes him but the dude nearly got the Saints beat all by himself vs Houston despite his key role in the comeback. It almost makes us want to do a "Good Jimmy Graham/Bad Jimmy Graham" segment here. It's definitely a pattern to watch for anyway. In the Texans game, Graham dropped 3 passes, was responsible for a sack in pass protection, and ran the wrong route on a play resulting in Brees' second interception of the game. (Brees' first interception we took as granted just as a result of the fact that he was, after all, dressed like Billy Kilmer that day.)

    Although maybe a bit less red in the face.

    Of course Graham also helped dig the Saints out of the hole he contributed much to the digging of by making some big catches down the stretch including the touchdown that brought the Saints to within 2 points of the lead in the fourth quarter. If he ever gets his head on straight he might not be half bad.

    Graham also has the bizarre habit of beating himself about the head after successful plays. He should probably stop that

  • 2 weeks of It's Been Fun Indexes:

    It's been fun

    Week 2

    Darren Sproles vs Bears: 4 carries for 17 yards, 8 receptions 43 yards and a touchdown, 2 punt returns 1 yard, 1 kickoff return 24 yards. TOTAL: 85 yards and a TD

    Reggie Bush vs Texans: 6 carries 18 yards, 1 reception 3 yards TOTAL: 21 yards

    Week 3

    Darren Sproles vs Texans: 2 carries 35 yards and a touchdown, 6 receptions 50 yards, 4 kickoff returns 103 yards, 1 punt return 5 yards TOTAL: 193 yards and a TD

    Reggie Bush vs Browns: 11 carries 24 yards, 1 reception 12 yards, 1 punt return 12 yards, 2 fumbles. TOTAL: 48 yards and two fumbles.

    On the year now that's 528 all-purpose yards and 3 touchdowns for Sproles vs 163 all-purpose yards and 2 fumbles for Bush.

    Reggie also made news this week by claiming that during his time with the Saints, Sean Payton would regularly plan to have players fake injuries in order to slow down opposing offenses if need be. Reggie does know a lot about being injured as well as phony things in general, but Payton says he's full of shit.

    Also of note, this past week's halftime entertainment at the Superdome featured about ten minutes of scrimmaging between local pee wee football teams which, from our viewpoint, looked like a whole football field full of Darren Sproleses which is just indescribably awesome.

    Also, too, we've been alerted to this downtown real estate listing. Can be had for about $2.3 million. But there may be a discount involved to cover the difficulties of getting the Kardashian out of the rug.

  • 2 weeks of Diners, Drive-ins and Diving to the Ground Index:

    Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey vs Jacksonville: 3 receptions 30 yards.

    Shockey vs Green Bay: 3 receptions 56 yards.

    Shockey now has a total of 9 catches for 137 yards on the season which is actually pretty respectable given that he's the Panthers' second tight end behind Greg Olsen (12 receptions 169 yards and 1 TD). If we wanted to we could compare Shockey's numbers with Jimmy Graham's (14 receptions 235 yards 2 TDs) and find Graham, for all his faults (see above), has been more productive.

    But the number we're actually concerned with is Shockey's touchdowns total compared against the number scored by whatever Saints backup tackle is lining up as the "eligible receiver" in short yardage situations. On the Saints' side of this equation, events have unfolded quite differently than how we had anticipated when we first developed this concept.

    First, the Saints released tackle Jon Stinchcomb and promoted longtime Tackle Eligible Zach Strief to the starter's role. With Strief in the starting line up, we expected to see Charles Brown move into the eligible slot which was an intriguing thought given that most observers agree Brown is at least athletic enough to play left tackle and may actually prove more of a reliable receiver than Strief if ever given the opportunity.

    But now Strief is down for... well since this is a Saints injury report... nobody knows how long making Brown the new starting right tackle. Will the Saints ever find a way to work the Tackle Eligible formation back into their game plan? We're holding out a glimmer of hope for this since tight end David Thomas' questionable status may necessitate throwing an extra lineman in the mix somewhere but we'll admit it does seem a bit of a long shot.

    Anyway despite all the upheaval the index still amusingly stands at

    Jeremey Shockey: 0 Touchdowns to Various Saints tackles: 0 Touchdowns

  • 2 weeks of Jordan Jefferson Try Not To Kick Anybody In The Face Awards: For Week 2 this goes to Roman Harper who was errantly penalized for "roughing" Chicago's Jay Cutler. Later during the week, league officials publicly stated that Harper shouldn't have been penalized but the damage was already done by that point. The penalty rescued the Bears from a failed 3rd and 6 setting them up to score what would be their only touchdown of the day. On the other hand the penalty didn't do much to discourage the Saints from continuing to pummel Cutler as they went on to sack him 6 times and land numerous other blows more vicious than the one Harper was penalized for.

    Week 3's award goes to Houston's Kareem Jackson who amazingly was not flagged for spearing a defenseless Drew Brees in the earhole with the crown of his helmet. Brees managed to keep it together and bring the Saints back for what I am told was a "special season-defining victory." Part of how he did that was by throwing the ball to Lance Moore a whole lot during the second half. WWLTV reported from the sideline that Moore was particularly fired up by Jackson's late hit on Brees and directed a steady stream of trash talk at Jackson throughout the rest of the game. Also Moore pretty much torched the Texans' defense all by himself. Here's the play by play of the fourth quarter drive where the Saints took the lead after Houston badly shanked a punt.

    1st&10 Hou 47 Drew Brees pass to the right to Robert Meachem for 11 yards to the Hou 36. Tackled by Johnathan Joseph.

    1st&10 Hou 36 Drew Brees pass to the left to Lance Moore for 8 yards to the Hou 28. Tackled by Kareem Jackson.

    2nd&2 Hou28 Drew Brees pass to the left to Lance Moore for 8 yards to the Hou 20. Tackled by Kareem Jackson.

    1st&10 Hou20 Drew Brees pass to the left to Lance Moore for 4 yards to the Hou 16. Tackled by Troy Nolan.

    2nd&6 Hou 16 Drew Brees incomplete pass to the left intended for Darren Sproles.

    3rd&6 Hou 16 Drew Brees pass to the middle to Lance Moore for 16 yards for a TOUCHDOWN.

    Drew Brees 2 pt conversion pass to Lance Moore is GOOD.

    Pretty much all Brees to Moore with Jackson covering him. Moore had Jackson badly turned around on the touchdown as well. Oh yeah, and the 2 for good measure. Oh and another Brees to Moore 2 pointer later running the exact same play. Basically the entire second half of this game can be seen as one big fuck you from Lance Moore.

    "THANKS HOUSTON" Also don't piss this guy off

  • Last week's winner of an award we had no idea existed

    Something called a Morton's The Steakhouse Community Player of the Week Award went to Thomas Morstead apparently because he goes to hospitals and does nice things for people and stuff. Or maybe it has something to do with his grooming. Either way we were more impressed with the way Morstead neutralized Chicago's Devin Hester with a mix of well-placed directional punting and a few big booming boots including an impressive 59 yard blast from out of his own end zone. Between Morstead and LSU's Brad Wing, Louisiana may well be the world epicenter of punting excellence this year.

  • Devery's Time: This is Devery's year. Not that we've had much tolerance for this sort of thing in the past but we are no longer entertaining any anti-Devery propaganda on this particular internet. Please take your whining elsewhere. We are getting one of those "Our Time" T-Shirts the Saints have been using re-worked into a "Devery's Time" shirt. Menckles just ordered a Devery jersey this week. We are going all in on this thing over here.

    Against Chicago Devery only caught 3 passes one of which happened to be the 79 yard touchdown that more or less ended the Bears' day early in the second quarter. Against Houston, he caught another 3 passes including a 44 yarder that ended up as the Saints' longest completion of the day. Devery doesn't kill you all day the way Lance Moore does when you piss him off, or the way Marques Colston does whenever he emerges from his hyperbaric chamber. Devery kills you one time in any one game. But he kills you real good when he does.

    When all else fails, get the ball in your Tiger's hands

  • Garrett Hartley: Whatever. Don't care. Moving on.

  • Horrifying signage spotted just near the Dome on gameday:

    Event Parking

  • Odd Fact Robert Meachem has scored a touchdown in every game so far despite not seeming all that involved.

    Meach has gotten so little attention that you can smack him on the head like this and, as far as the referee is concerned, nothing happened

  • Odd Observation: These two games were our first opportunity to watch Mark Ingram run in person and we like what we see so far. We don't think he's quite settled down yet and, to put it in a way someone pretending to know what he's talking about might, he looks like his timing isn't right yet. But he's getting there and we're happy to report that he looks faster than we were expecting.

    Anyway we noticed there was something distinctive about his energetic, quick stepping, fist pumping running style that reminded us of something we'd seen before and after careful study of the game film, we've decided that what we've seen before is Dig Dug. Here's that game film we studied.

    You can kind of see it, right? Short choppy steps, ability to make his own holes, maybe someday soon he'll start blowing up his opponents with more regularity. We're feeling pretty good about it.

So the Saints are sitting nicely at 2-1 with a presumably easy stretch of schedule sitting ahead of them. Now please don't mistake what we are about to say because we are certainly all #iamnotworried and everything but there's something still bothering us about the fact that we're only just past Week 3 and the Saints are already struggling through some pretty significant injuries.

Something we said in passing at the end of last season was that we've begun to wonder if the Saints should invest in a new training and conditioning staff. In each of the past few years (even during 2009) they've appeared to fade down the stretch at the end of the regular season. Injuries mount up and the whole team takes on a sort of tired aspect. Maybe it was just us but we thought we were seeing some of that listlessness even as the Saints were fighting through it during the Houston game. We hope we're wrong about that but... well it's just something to watch.

Of course it could just be us. You see the Dome is doing two new things this year that contributed to our discomfort. For one they're selling lemonade in our nearby concession area now which means we had to share the contents of our flask with Menckles who, as it turns out, really likes lemonade. Also they're selling an $11.00 "bottomless" soda which makes a hell of a lot of sense if you're planning to mix cocktails but only if you've got enough alcohol to go around. We didn't have quite enough but we certainly were going to get our 11 bucks worth of Diet Coke anyway. And so during the "special season-defining" comeback everyone keeps talking about, we were not only not quite drunk enough to appreciate the full import of what was happening but we also really really had to pee.

So again, in some small way, this is still all Tom Benson's fault for arranging the concessions the way he has. I hope the protest marchers remember that.

All you need to know about Nagin and "Some people Uptown"

Just one line from this whole stupid signage story is all you need.

The former mayor was in that number, although he was more peacemaker than protester, according to Timothy Reily, who put up the signs. Reily, who noted he was an early supporter of Nagin during his first campaign for mayor -- campaign finance reports show he gave Nagin $1,000 in January 2002 -- invited the former mayor to come inside his house. The two men had a 30-minute discussion that Reily described as "congenial."

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Radtke to the rescue?

Pat wonders where our anti-eyesore superhero vigilantes are when we need them.

Indentured Servitude

This is an interesting Lens article I missed last week about the market for city cab licenses.

Because the sale of these licenses,termed Certificates of Public Necessity and Convenience (CNPCs), is controlled by private brokers, the city sees only a miniscule percentage of what is estimated to be an $8 million market in transfers. At least I take it, that's the above-the-table market anyway. Meanwhile the brokers and cab company owners charge their drivers as much as $350 per week in rental fees on their cabs leaving us with a system whose benefits accrue almost exclusively to the owners at the expense of both the drivers and the city.
The city could have retained control of the market for cab permits over the years and capitalized on their value to offset the cost of taxpayer-financed services such as libraries, parks, or policing.

“At a time when the city is looking for additional financial resources, we should explore all possible revenue streams,” City Councilman Arnie Fielkow wrote in an emailed statement.

The City Council’s Transportation Committee Chairwoman, Kristin Gisleson Palmer, went much further, although she would only address the industry generally, and not discuss specific companies.

“I believe the whole system needs to be reformed, and we’re working with the administration to do that,” she said. “This system with CPNCs being sold even though it’s technically the city’s property, the city of New Orleans has seen no economic benefit from those transfers, and I’m not sure whether all of those transfers have even been notified to the city.”

She said she wants changes that will make it easier for drivers to get a certificate.

“I think the process also creates a system where the little guy cannot afford to purchase a CPNC number, and has to lease out the use of the number,” Gisleson Palmer said. “So you have many drivers out there without benefits, medical, who are just leasing the CPNCs, and you create a system of indentured servitude.”

Update: Just wanted to add one thing here. Ann Duplessis and Ryan Berni, in this quote, illustrate everything that is wrong with New Orleans and its current administration right now.

Deputy Mayor Duplessis said the administration is reviewing the section of city law that governs cab regulation to see what changes might be made. But the review will not be complete until sometime in 2012 and even then, Duplessis isn’t sure whether the city should change.

Duplessis said one of the priorities for the overhauled department was “building a brand” for the city’s cab industry, and that opening up the market for cab certificates may, or may not, come later.

“But we’re definitely going to look at it,” Duplessis said.

One reason it is difficult to reshape the system is that private interests stand to lose a great deal of money from any reforms, and the administration has been meeting with cab companies as it looks to shape its new approach.

“There will always be people in these entrenched industries with interests at the table,” said Landrieu spokesman Ryan Berni.
Duplessis is telling us that the city's "reform" priority is a completely irrelevant style-over-substance "branding" initiative. I wonder how many marketing consultants they've hired to assist them with this. Meanwhile Berni is telling us the reason we can expect little more than ineffectual action from the city is that the people they're "meeting with" and whose interests they're going to protect are the "entrenched" brokers.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mean justice

Quite an indictment of Judge Robin Pittman in this post. Can anyone corroborate any of this? In this case she sent a Carnival visitor to prison for 45 days for misdemeanor charges of which he may not even be guilty.
I know we all know the system is fucked, it's unfair, etc., but I really do need to specially mention that Robin Pittman is vile and literally, medically, provably insane. She is not just a "mean judge," she is a mean judge who is off her rocker. Her jaw-dropping displays of viciousness, paranoia and immaturity, her talking on her cell phone and reading her bible during trials, her ugly, unprovoked and unprofessional insults towards the defense (not just Willy's, everyone's) and above all her histrionic savagery towards the human wreckage dragged before her in chains daily make Pittman not merely a bad judge, but a sad, bad, mad judge, the most pathetic and repugnant specimen among the whole twisted pantheon... the unhinged and monstrous Queen of Hearts holding forth in her bizarre, Kafka-like crawlspace courtroom, a "blind and aimless Fury" ruling the rafters of our criminal courthouse's nightmarish Wonderland.

Leave your opinions at home

Look, these yard signs illustrate some false and stupid right wing talking points but the man has a right to display his ignorance. Also if you're rallying around Ray Nagin, you're probably doing it wrong. Also also if you find yourself saying stuff like this,
"It disrespects the nation -- and President Barack Obama represents our nation," said Skip Alexander, as he looked at one of the signs. "He represents everybody, not some people."
You might actually be subscribed to a more monarchist political theory than the one on which our government is based.

Clay reads the US Coast Guard/Interior Department report on Macondo so you don't have to

See that and discussion on various other things here.

Also see:

Gulf of Mexico oil spill hurt common Louisiana marsh fish, study finds

BP and Transocean argue over fresh Gulf of Mexico oil 'leaks'

Busy day. Will try to hammer out something about the Saints later.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Which one is the white guy?

This morning's T-P looks at the race for Louisiana Secretary of State between incumbent Tom Schedler who inherited the office when Jay Dardenne became Lieutenant Governor in 2010 and Louisiana House Speaker Jim Tucker. Like most of what appears on this fall's statewide ballot, it's a dismal race. Both men are Republicans although it's worth noting that Tucker is on Senator David Vitter's slate of endorsed candidates.

The Vitty ticket also includes Billy Nungesser in the Lt. Governor's race as well as Attorney General Buddy Caldwell and Gov. Jindal, although Jindal and Vitter enjoy an uneasy relationship at best. The generally agreed upon point is that Vitter will be using his endorsements as well as his PAC money in this year's elections to both purge the state of insufficiently conservative so-called "RINOs" and, of course, beef up his own power within the LA GOP.

Beyond that, there isn't much substantive disagreement between these two candidates. Tucker criticizes Schedler for being too unhappy with the state's already shoestring museum budget. Schedler attacks Tucker for the now three year old non-issue of legislative pay raises. You'll forgive us if we pause to yawn.

The good news is, thanks to Schedler's (for the moment) Secretary of State website's Candidate Database, voters should have no difficulty discovering the race or gender of any of the candidates in this fall's elections as that information is prominently displayed.

Races in the race

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interesting word choice

Jay Dardenne on his opponent Billy Nungesser
"His chain is being yanked now by Sen. (David) Vitter"

Really really bad imagery at work in this race so far.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Looks like we're doing it live

I think the Bears game re-cap is just gonna have to get thrown together with the Texans game re-cap next week. I know everyone loves it when I do that. Meanwhile get back on the Twitter and try and come up with some Superdome naming rights proposals.

I may have blown my load of these already but just for posterity's sake, my best ideas are:

  1. The CRN Initiatives Disaster Consulting Dome

  2. The Kevin Houser Tax Shelter Dome

  3. Beyond Superdome (Payment for this would obviously only be available once the Restore Act passes)

  4. The Deuce McAllister Nissan Dome

  5. The River Birch Robinette Dome and Art Studio

Update: Jesus didn't we just get finished punishing Jay Cutler for exactly this sort of thing?

Begs the question, how does one get reimbursed for immolated living room furniture anyway?

Tower to the skies

Certain development proposals in New Orleans generate an absurd amount of passionate opposition. This week's example was this apartment building at 1031 Canal Street (the site of the old Woolworth's) which the City Council eventually approved after some typically theatrical discussion. The objection from preservationists, as I understand it.. although I'm not sure I do, appears to center around the proposed height of the building.
As proposed, most of the building would be 193 feet high, with a penthouse reaching to 205 feet, or three times the 70-foot limit allowed by the site's current zoning. The ordinance approved by the council will limit the building's tallest portion to 190 feet.
Because, for some reason, 120 feet beyond the so-called limit is better than 135 feet? I'm not sure I understand what is being gained there. Later in the story it gets even more confusing.

Although the site's current zoning sets a 70-foot height limit, a draft of the city's proposed new comprehensive zoning ordinance would raise that to 120 feet. The planning staff recommended approving a 120-foot building, but the commission voted 5-3 last month to approve the 190-foot height Kailas sought.

Even the preservationist and French Quarter leaders said they would accept a 120-foot building, but Kailas said that limit would make the project "100 percent non-financeable." He said he has financing in place for the 205-foot building, though he would accept limiting it to 190 feet.
Preservationists had been arguing that the building's height would contrast with its surroundings despite the obvious presence of taller structures on Canal Street within only a few blocks of the site. To this they added an equally silly appeal to the supposedly good government principle of adhering to the limits of the master plan.
(French Quarter Citizens President Brian) Furness and leaders of the Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents and Associates organizations said the proposal also would violate the city's master plan, which calls for buildings of low to medium density in the neighborhood, but Kailas noted that the City Planning Commission staff urged approval of a 190-foot building at the site.
At Thursday's meeting there was more complaining about the violated sanctity of the master plan although it wasn't clear that the plan actually prohibits this sort of development or even imposes a height limit. The city zoning ordinance calls for a height limit of 70 feet but nobody was arguing that be strictly observed.

At one point, Jackie Clarkson even claimed to have written the Master Plan herself although this probably is not true. We're pretty sure she would have been too busy flying helicopters and firing canons at runaway barges to take that on. Unless she had one of her father's black friends draft one back during the 1950s, there's just no way she would have had the time. Anyway I'm told Jackie eventually voted for the proposal because it "pushes the envelope" which we'll just assume is something that needs doing.

The whole argument is yet another example of preservationist incoherence. Nine times out of ten these arguments are really about different groups of well to do property owners arguing over who gets what set of rights and privileges with the appeal to "preservation" being merely a tool of convenience for whichever side isn't proposing the specific development in question. Rarely, though, is any of this ever about mere aesthetics.

Sometimes it's not even that. In some cases, preservationists have little more on the agenda beyond just calling attention to themselves. Take the demolition of this blighted building just a few blocks up Canal from the proposed apartment complex for example.
At 18 stories, the Grand Palace hotel is the largest building in the fooprint. Its demolition will cost nearly $2.5 million.

"I think it's time to knock down that building and some of the other stuff on Canal," said Patrick White, general manager of nearby Handsome Willy's. "I think it's time that Canal Street make a return to what Canal Street was back when our parents were growing up."

White believes demolishing the blighted hotel will help improve the neighborhood.

"Currently we have a bunch of issues with a lot of the homeless and the vagrants that come around and they break into our stuff," said White. "I know a lot of them like to use the abandoned buildings as temporary housing."

Others would rather see the long-abandoned structure brought back to life.

"I find it interesting that people think an empty space is better than having buildings around," said Sandra Stokes, board member of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana.

Preservationists argue that because developers don't plan to replace the hotel with another structure, tearing it down is premature..

"There's parking, a garage attached to this building, give us a litle while, let's study it, see if it can structurally support a parking garage," said Stokes.
Yes, isn't it interesting that people would prefer vacant lot to this festering empty tower. If this thing is such a nice building, why not just move it down to 1031 Canal? Soves everyone's problem, right?

Also, since our local news media are operating now in the post-Garlandgate era, we should point out it's been noted elsewhere that WIST's Eric Asher has spent an inordinate amount of time agitating for Kailas' apartment project on his radio show over the past month or so. Just yesterday afternoon, that same station's Joe Cardosi interjected a brief but glowing editorial of sorts during the Sports Hangover show praising the City Council for approving "progress". Is it too much to ask whether Kailas has been paying WIST to push his project?

Elephant Jokes

Billy Nungesser drops out of two previously agreed to debates with Jay Dardenne. Wonder what he's worried about.

Also, I know it's kind of silly to use this word in association with Billy Nungesser but here's hoping he can muster up more grace than David Vitter could back during the height of media focus on his similar problem.

Note also, Vitter has endorsed Nungesser making this statement.
Vitter said that Nungesser "represents our mainstream, conservative Louisiana values. He is not a RINO (Republican in Name Only) in any way."
While we can at least understand why Nungesser's supporters would take pains to make sure their candidate is not mistaken for a "RINO" we wish they wouldn't say it out loud like that. It just makes some jokes a little too easy and we find it difficult to restrain ourselves. This is especially true when we learn that one of these events Nungesser ducked out on was hosted by something called the Pachyderm Club.
Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne told a Baton Rouge Republican group that his opponent in the Oct. 22 election for the state's second-highest office is not the fiscal conservative he makes himself out to be. Dardenne addressed the Pachyderm Club of Greater Baton Rouge alone, after Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser failed to show. The two candidates are Republicans and the only candidates in the race.


He alleged that while Nungesser was criticizing BP and its role in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on news shows almost daily last year, "we have a candidate who has profited personally" from the disaster.

Dardenne said that a marina in which Nungesser has an interest was making money from the oil company by leasing it space. Nungesser has said in the past that his businesses -- including the marina - are in a trust and he has not received any money from them.

Dardenne said while Nungesser portrays himself as a "fiscal conservative," some of his businesses in Plaquemines have been hit with $100,000 in tax liens. Dardenne did not specify which companies were involved.

"He is not willing to talk about his past, but is willing to talk about mine," Dardenne said. "He has attacked my credibility and misleads voters about my record. ... Lying and buying are not going to win the election."

Nungesser has about $1.66 million on hand for the last month of the race, including $1 million in loans he made to his campaign. Dardenne has more than $600,000 on hand, and he has not loaned his campaign any money.

So this could have been a pretty interesting debate had Nungesser actually been there to answer any of these charges. Although maybe not so much from a public safety standpoint.

Hippo charge

Retroactive Serpas Signal

Thursday night there was a DWI checkpoint in "the Gentilly area" which we neglected to post here ahead of time as per our usual habit. Sorry about that. Anyway late Thursday evening, we were informed via the Tweeter Tube that the "Gentilly area" in this case meant Elysian Fields Avenue just below I-610 near the corner of Treasure Street, or as tweeted, "in front of the McDonalds" so right here where the green arrow is then.

View Larger Map

I keep saying I'd like to start tracking the checkpoints to get a better handle on where to expect them when the vague announcements are made. But I'm only one guy. I guess some data is better than no data, though.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Mission Accomplished

Way to go, Amazon. You've managed to make this every bit as cumbersome and stupid as we knew you would.

First you go to your library's site and log in. Then you "check out" the book. Then you go to Amazon. Then you log in there. Then you read a bunch of ads and maybe buy some shit from Amazon. Then you "check out" the book again. Next you download it to your Kindle via USB cable or Wi-Fi connection but not over Amazon's 3G network because.....

Okay look. If it wasn't for all the crazy Facebook changes and the idiotic new NOLA.com Saints page, this would surely be the most ridiculous thing on the internet this week. And, yes, that is saying something.

To save a whorish industry, turn to a real whoremonger

As a candidate for the office which oversees the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, Billy Nungesser would be charged with propping up an industry which may be beginning to feel the effects of the national economic slow down (despite its well chronicled "trend-bucking" proclivities.)
New Orleans area hotels continued to see the annual summer slowdown have an impact on business in August with the second lowest occupancy rate among the Top 25 markets Smith Travel Research tracks. The 55 percent rate was down from the 61.3 percent rate in July and from the 55.7 percent rate in August 2010.
Even more challenging is figuring out a way to sell New Orleans as a cultural destination while its city government takes an increasingly hostile stance toward traditional cultural institutions.

It's interesting to note, then, that Nungesser's unique experience with alternative forms of recreation might position him to perform well in these circumstances.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Poster Child

Congratulations to my very good friend Nicole and everyone else who's had to endure the dehumanizing degradation of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" these past 18 years just because Bill Clinton made a stupid political compromise.
Before 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday, a return to the Navy wasn’t something Nicole Barbe could even consider. Twelve years ago, she was forced to leave the Navy, one of about 13,000 people discharged from the military under the 18-year-old “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy barring gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Even before Tuesday’s repeal of that policy, she had begun talking to a recruiter about re-enlisting in the Navy Reserve.

“It feels like — I don’t know, like Christmas morning,” Barbe said Tuesday.

Gay and lesbian communities across the nation celebrated the reversal of the controversial policy enacted in 1993 under President Bill Clinton.

It was no different at the Boondock bar in the French Quarter, which was adorned with signs Tuesday evening announcing “Goodbye, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Barbe hosted the celebration on behalf of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which helped her receive an honorable discharge after the Navy sent her packing in 1999.

Tuesday digest

Busy and tired today so not a lot of Yellow Blog going on. Obviously we don't have the game re-cap ready but Wang has one (or part of one) up which is what you should be reading anyway.

I can report that there lots and lots of Bears fans sitting near us. They were a little scary at first but seemed to become more and more tame as the game went on for some reason. One of them even let us have a prize which the kids are holding up in the picture below. By the end of the day she just didn't want it anymore.

Bear pelt

Let's see, what else is there today? Oh look oil on the sea floor doesn't degrade. What's the matter? Is it no longer Magic Microbe season?

Okay next thing.. um. Oh, going on right now! The Lens is hosting a live web stream of a community forum about conditions at Orleans Parish Prison. I'm told you can access the video by clicking here.

Also, there's this.

T-P Rex

I call it T.P. Rex. I hope King Logan doesn't sue me because of that.

Finally, today is the official repeal of DADT. Consult your internets for news stories like this one on the event. There's an informal gathering this evening in the Quarter to commemorate the passing of this singularly stupid policy. I'm planning to drop by there for a while but not for too long as I'm exhausted. And on that note, I think that's enough for now. More football later in the week. Try to stay out of any bar fights in the meantime.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Recipe replay

Because nobody asked, I think I'm going to make this again tonight.

Chicken Bonne Femme

Baton Rouge is quite a puzzle

Dambala asks a pretty good question about the rights and privileges of BR royalty.

"Civil liberties and all that"

The other day I meant to add this to the "Other Austin Badon facts" but couldn't find the quote anywhere. Today, I was helpfully reminded of this WCBF post from 2009 where we learned that then-mayoral candidate Badon wants to have your door kicked in.
We are officially living in a war zone.
Eastern New Orleans mayoral hopeful Rep. Austin Badon raised eyebrows last night with a call for a new Stazi-style approach to crime fighting, telling a roomful of District B voters that if he is elected mayor they will see “the NOPD kicking in at least four doors a day.”

The line appeared to stun many in the audience of uptown neighborhood leaders who had come to hear Badon, many of them for the first time. Upon reading furrowed brows, Badon quickly added that he would not lose track of “civil liberties and all that” and pointed out in a style reminiscent of police chief Warren Riley that most of the violence in the city was between “thugs and drug dealers killing each other off.”

Saturday, September 17, 2011

This should go well

Noted neo-prohibitionist, red light camera proponent and cell phone Nazi, Austin Badon is considering running for City Council.

Other Badon facts: Dislikes rap music but does enjoy Hannah Montana especially when free tickets are available.

"Manmade disaster"

Sounds familiar
Some of those whose homes were inundated have taken to describing the flooding as a "manmade disaster," suggesting the corps moved too slowly to release the water. Waiting too long, politicians and affected residents said, forced the corps to release massive amounts of water in a compact period and the levees stood little chance against it.

Former South Dakota Gov. Bill Janklow has been a vocal critic of the corps' handling of the waterway, calling the agency "slow-witted."

"I just think they are going to waste money," Janklow said Friday. "It's simple; there was too much water when the melt came. And I realize it rained more than they expected. We may have still had floods this year, but they wouldn't have been on the magnitude where we were looking for Noah to build an ark."

Those of us familiar with the degree to which the Mississippi River has been altered by human management and competing human interests will recognize some of the issues being discussed here. Back in July, the New York Times printed this story about the Missouri which explains this a bit more.
Even as (Senator Claire) McCaskill praised the collaboration in fighting flooding, she noted that she and other leaders from both parties in Missouri remained committed to supporting shipping interests on the river. “While navigation is much more important than recreation, we should not let the fight between navigation and recreation get in the way of flood control,” Ms. McCaskill said.

Her colleagues north of the dams have a different view.

“Frankly, navigation never developed as anticipated,” said Senator Kent Conrad, Democrat of North Dakota, who called for a revision of how the river was operated. “The basic operational assumptions from the management of the river are really no longer valid.”

Asked about the continued emphasis on navigation despite the sparse traffic, Jody Farhat, the chief of water management for the Missouri River Basin for the Army Corps of Engineers, said: “The primary reason is it’s because it’s the law. The Corps of Engineers does what Congress tells us to do.”

Once wide, shallow and unusually winding, the Missouri River has been drastically reshaped over the last century, at a cost of more than $650 million, to create a channel friendly to modern vessels, according to federal estimates. The result is a narrower, deeper, straighter river, which the government spends about $7 million a year to maintain.

The Mississippi and Missouri River systems (they're really the same system anyway) are so firmly controlled by the Corps of Engineers at the behest of political leaders that any flooding event can only be described as a "manmade disaster." This doesn't mean, as some know-nothing types would suggest, that we're wrong to alter or control the river at all. Only it means that when flooding happens, there are specific policies and persons responsible for it which merit examination.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Walgreens dissonance

Eye catching new signage above the cooler at Walgreens invites us to "Eat Well"

Eat well

Although the actual contents of the cooler don't do much to assist us with that task.

Junk food

"Enhanced pat-downs"

It really is remarkable the degree of intrusive bullshit we've come to accept for no particular reason.

Fresh off Sunday night’s taser-fueled fan violence at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, the NFL will conduct pat downs from the ankles up this season.

In the past, the pat downs went from the waist up.

“The enhanced security procedures recommended by our office before the start of the season will further increase the safety of fans but will require some additional time,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told USA T0day in a statement Thursday. “We encourage fans to come early, enjoy their tailgating tradition, and be patient as they enter the stadium.”

Things have changed. We're one step away from waterboarding Saints fans just for showing up. Not that it's entirely without precedent. At one point, the same fans were actually made to sit and watch Heath Shuler play football.

Surprise surprise not at all

Nobody could have predicted that the hospital fight was all about Tulane wanting more control over things and Ochsner wanting a piece of that. Except some of us said so over and over again to no avail but whatever.

Ochsner controls a huge portion of the local hospital market. And while neither side would speak on camera, or confirm or deny whether a deal is in the works, they do say they are each looking at other partnerships.

A statement issued by Tulane says "in the age of health care reform and a changing marketplace, such discussions are common. Tulane said that its conversations with potential partners have been ongoing for years and are only at the fact-finding stage.

Ochsner said it "won't comment on hypothetical business arrangements" but that it "regularly evaluates partnerships and collaborations" as it looks at costs, patient health outcomes and the overall health care system.

The last time a change for Tulane Medical Center was in the news was when Senator David Vitter, State Treasurer John Kennedy and House Speaker Jim Tucker proposed the state abandon plans for part of the new 424-bed teaching hospital (UMC) in favor of a deal with Tulane Medical Center. This afternoon Vitter's office said he has not been involved in the latest Ochsner-Tulane discussions.
David Vitter says he had nothing to do with it. Riiiiight. If you believe that I've got a nice... I don't know let's say slightly used Canal Street real estate... to sell you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Stumbling (maybe slipping) Out Of The Gate or Do Tabloids Dream Of Electric Ink?

The first thing we can say about this football season is that the re-cap blogging is in mid-year stride already. Since we're posting this on either Wednesday night or Thursday morning (depending on how long this takes to write) we're pretty much one week behind real time events which is what long time readers of this site have come to expect. The good news there, of course, is that since the Saints and Packers played on Thursday night, one week behind time actually feels closer to being on something like a reasonable schedule this week so please enjoy that. Better yet, if things go according to plan, we might be getting things done on time every week from here on out.

You see, we're thinking about getting one of these.
The New York Times revealed today that trade publisher Hanley Wood and sports journalism site The Big Ten Network use Narrative Science software to write computer-generated stories.

In all, 20 customers use the software–but Narrative Science would not reveal the complete client list. Hanley Wood digital media and market intelligence unit president Andrew Reid explained in the story: “The company had long collected the data, but hiring people to write trend articles would have been too costly.”

Costly and time consuming, of course. Especially for someone like the author of this blog who has other things to worry about besides coming up with new ways to say "black pants suck" or "Sean Payton kills grandmas", or "Jeremy Shockey looks like a TV chef who looks kind of like a cartoon character" every week. You can see how repetitive that can get. I mean it's just sportswriting. Get the numbers, plug in a few well-worn cliches, and crank out the copy. Not only does the shit practically write itself, now it literally writes itself. Check it out.

Here’s an excerpt from an actual Big Ten News article generated by the program: “Wisconsin jumped out to an early lead and never looked back in a 51-17 win over UNLV on Thursday at Camp Randall Stadium. The Badgers scored 20 points in the first quarter on a Russell Wilson touchdown pass, a Montee Ball touchdown run and a James White touchdown run. Wisconsin’s offense dominated the Rebels’ defense. The Badgers racked up 499 total yards in the game including 258 yards passing and 251 yards on the ground.”

Pretty convincing narrative. It's almost like that computer was there in.. um.. person to witness these statistics. If only someone could figure out a way to program these robots to tweet during the game, there'd be no need for any reporters at all. Luckily, we all know the very concept of a so-called "Twitter Bot" is plainly absurd. For one thing, how would it hold its phone? So, for the time being, we may still be sending real live reporters to cover the Saints but it's clear that there are workarounds in development.

We already know it would please Sean Payton greatly if all he had to do was type up one vague and uninformative injury report each week rather than waste time actually lying to people's faces over and over again. Plus, we understand that there is some pretty spectacular facial recognition software available that could help eliminate mishaps like this one.

The New Orleans Saints moved quickly last week to squelch a reported rumor that retired receiver Randy Moss had dropped by the club's headquarters. The Saints were presumed to be in the market for a new receiver after Marques Colston suffered a broken collarbone in the opening game against the Packers.

But Moss never was in New Orleans, so far as the Saints were concerned, and Coach Sean Payton, never one to let a media miscue slide, had some fun with it at practice Wednesday. As the reporters mingled on one sideline cross checking players at practice with the roster, Payton walked over with receiver Montez Billings, who is on the club's practice squad.

"Do any of ya'll have any questions for Randy Moss?" Payton asked.

Billings bears a passing resemblance to Moss, though he is somewhat shorter, and there was speculation inside and outside the Saints facility the erroneous report may have resulted from a case of mistaken identity.

Also we've got to believe the Times-Picayune is interested. Last month, the T-P's parent company Advance Publications announced* another round of staff buyouts to be implemented this fall. If the buyouts happen to hit the sports department hard, bringing in the machines might make the effect less obvious to the readership. Pete Finney, whose seniority would logically make him a prime candidate for the buyout, may have already been replaced with a replicant. Surely no human could sit through and then write about an entire Tulane football game. The Tulane fans, certainly don't. And now, mercifully perhaps, the reporters don't have to either.

As for us, we can't wait to have the machine take this hammer from our hand. We'll be damned if Sean Payton be the death of us, no matter how many times he stupidly passes on a crucial three points.

Saints vs Packers: (Note for those of you just joining the regular season football coverage at the Yellow Blog: Unless necessity dictates otherwise, all the game photos we use here are shamelessly stolen and in fact hot-linked directly from the Times Picayune - NOLA.com online galleries which is something we used to think made us kind of bad ass but really always just meant we were lazy douchebags.)

Well the NFL is happy with the way this went, at least. To begin with, The President didn't talk over kickoff. If the league is upset that Obama's speech managed score higher than the game did in the ratings anyway, they can probably blame David Vitter's cancelled viewing party for that. The important thing here is that the President likely saved a significant portion of the audience from having to endure Kid Rock's performance even though they've probably seen enough pickup truck commercials to know what it sounded like anyway. Also Steve Scalise lost a bet which we have to think of as a positive even if he does have to pay up to Paul Ryan. Wonder if he knows Ryan will accept $350 bottles of wine in lieu of seafood if shipping becomes an issue.

Meanwhile the game was every bit the spectacle the league hopes for when it schedules a marquee opening match-up. The two teams combined for 76 points and 876 total yards. There were five scoring plays that covered 25 yards or more including a 72 yard punt return and a ridiculous 108 yard kickoff return. Thomas Morstead punted well. The game was competitive all the way to the finish. Overall, this was one heck of a TV show. And since the Packers are the very definition of a "well, if you gotta lose to somebody it might was well be..." team, there isn't a whole lot to complain about here. Well.. maybe a few things.

  • Cohesion wheezin' So much for gathering the team together during the lockout to do jumping jacks and eat lemon squares or whatever in the name of developing "team cohesion." After weeks of talk about the head start the Saints were getting on their opponents, they ended up with a 0-14 first quarter deficit to show for it. The Packers, who barely did anything during the offseason other than read articles about how much trouble they'd have shaking off the "Super Bowl Hangover", were unimpressed and said so after the game.
    GREEN BAY, WISC. - Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers couldn't wait to say "I told you so" Thursday night to those who criticized him and his teammates for not organizing any offseason workouts during the NFL lockout. Obviously the Packers didn't show much rust in a 42-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

    "It was a good start for us," Rodgers said in his opening comments to the media. "I've just got to ask myself, 'What would have happened if we had offseason workouts? Could we have started any faster and scored more points tonight?'"

    Packers cornerback Charles Woodson echoed that sentiment, saying that he and Rodgers talked early during the lockout and agreed that their team didn't need them.

    "It's not a knock on anybody for doing it. We're certainly not saying that," Woodson said. "But we felt like we didn't need to do it. And we felt like a lot of guys did it just for show. We weren't into all that. ... If we'd done it, it'd be like [critics] pushed us into it."

    "If only I had held one more raffle..."

  • Leave Roman Harper Alone: About midway through the second quarter of last week's game, thousands of Saints fans took to thousands of keyboards and cranked out thousands of identical NOLA.com comments expressing some concern about Harper's one on one coverage skills in certain defensive situations... only in much stronger language and in all caps.

    Two things about that. First, it's a shame that these thousands of Saints fans were unaware of the labor saving miracle that is Narrative Science software at the time. Otherwise, they could have saved themselves a great deal of work and worry.

    Secondly, it's obvious that, stretching back at least to last year's playoff game in Seattle, opposing coaches have figured out how to exploit Gregg Williams' defense in order to find Harper in disadvantageous match ups. This burned the Saints badly when Randall Cobb beat Harper for a 32 yard touchdown at the end of the first quarter. It also manifested itself in Jermichael Finley being open all night long although not covering the tight end is part of a larger Gregg Williams problem. But make no mistake this is much more of a Gregg Williams problem than it is a Roman Harper problem. Harper may not be the NFL's greatest cover guy but most of the time that isn't his role. When he's positioned properly, he is one of the league's better strong safeties and probably the Saints' most consistent tackler. If he ends up getting taken advantage of in single coverage for the third consecutive game this weekend, Williams should have more questions to answer than Harper does.

  • Patrick Robinson, on the other hand: Already we're learning that this team might not be quite as loaded as we were led to believe at certain positions and one of them is corner. The Saints were so confident in last year's number one draft pick going into the season that they felt good moving local folk hero Tracy Porter to the nickel slot in order to accommodate a bigger role for Robinson on the perimeter.

    Now there are a couple of reasons why this might not be all his fault. The whole Saints team had problems with the turf last week but Robinson seemed especially prone to slipping and falling. Or at least, he had a knack for falling down most often when the ball was being thrown at him. Also the Saints, for whatever reason, had Robinson playing way way off the ball most of the night conceding chunks of yardage in underneath routes. Apart from being a curious strategy for a defense that supposedly has a lot of confidence in its defensive backs, it also just didn't work very well since Robinson was beaten badly over the top a few times anyway.

    Like this here

  • This week's Jordan Jefferson Try Not To Kick Anybody In The Face Award: Goes to Green Bay's Charles Woodson for this gut punch delivered to Saints tight end David Thomas.

    Woodson oddly wasn't ejected despite strict NFL rules regarding this sort of thing. It's not like the referee wasn't looking right at it. Woodson was penalized on the play. Yesterday he was fined $10,000 by the league office although Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith wonders if that fine isn't a bit light compared to what has been levied out for similar offenses.

  • It's been fun index:

    It's been fun

    Darren Sproles vs Green Bay: 2 rushes for 7 yards, 7 receptions for 75 yards, 2 punt returns for 92 yards and 1 touchdown, 2 Kickoff returns for 76 yards. Total = 250 all purpose yards, 1 touchdown.

    Reggie Bush vs New England: 11 rushes for 38 yards, 9 receptions for 56 yards and 1 touchdown. Total = 94 all purpose yards, 1 touchdown, and, of course, copious amounts of "playmaking"

    Fans have long argued that Sproles is much more the weapon that Reggie Bush is sold to be than Bush actually is. This game demonstrated, in cartoonish proportions, why people make that argument. When the NFL decided to move the kickoff forward 5 yards this season, nobody thought we'd see anybody squib kick out of fear of a big return. Sproles spooked the Packers into that during the very first game. In other words, Darren Sproles changed the opponent's defensive strategy by his very presence. Isn't that what the pro-Bush faction has always unconvincingly claimed was happening when he was on the field? No, we don't miss him.

  • Diners, Drive-ins, and Diving to the ground index: Carolina Panthers tight end Jeremy Shockey caught 3 passes for 51 yards last week. But we have decided this year to compare Poochie's touchdowns total only with the number scored by Saints' third string tackle and situational "eligible receiver" Charles Brown to test our hypothesis that by season's end the two numbers will be remarkably similar. So far it's 0-0.

  • Wither Ambush? Ever since Saints' "Dream Punter of Tomorrow" Thomas Morstead made Super Bowl history by executing history's most famous onside kick, Sean Payton has strangely tucked that weapon away in his back pocket. In several onside kick situations since the storied "Ambush" Payton has sent out Garrett Hartley do the kicking. Our memories are admittedly fuzzy but we don't think the Saints have actually recovered an onside kick since Morstead's "Ambush." After the Saints pulled to within 8 points of the Packers late in the fourth quarter of last week's game, Payton sent out fresh-off-the-street John Kasay to attempt the kick. What are we saving Morstead's magic foot for?

  • Fun facts Tweeted by sports reporters we're pretty sure aren't robots: It's too far back in his stream right now for me to go find the specific tweets but the T-P's Jeff Duncan noted that 42 points is the highest point total ever allowed by a Sean Payton coached Saints team. Also 42 points are the most scored by any Packers team on opening day stretching all the way back to 1919.

  • How the game was lost: By this point in the week, we're not covering any new territory to say simply that the Saints were beaten physically by the Packers at the line of scrimmage. Even in a game with as many big plays and as much scoring as this one had, the difference between the teams was one offense was able to block and push its opponent out of the way all night while the other wasn't.

    The Packers outrushed the Saints 103 yards to 81. Go back and watch James Starks' 17 yard touchdown in the third quarter for the clearest illustration of how dominant the Packers' offensive line looked all night long.

    Meanwhile the Saints failed in three crucial short yardage situations during the second half that ended up being the major difference in the game. These were a 3rd and 2 which stalled a great opening drive to the second half, a 4th and 1 at the Green Bay 7 which never should have happened when an easy three points were available, and, obviously, the final play of the game on the goal line. Notably, of these three short yardage plays, only one of them involved the Saints even trying to make the gain by running. What are they paying those two highly regarded guards for again?

    Depsite all this, we were impressed watching both Frenchy and Ingram run. Let's hope Payton remembers to let them do it at the appropriate times this week.

In last week's season preview we tried to warn people about the folly of getting too excited about the cool weather in early September. But since the stupid nasty hot is back now, we're thinking this would be a good time to head over to Hansen's.

Hansens Door
Photo by Flickr user Infrogmation

Why? Because that's where you get sno-balls in New Orleans and we'll be wanting those on Sunday since turnabout is fair play, after all.
It all started back in 1991 when the Saints were playing the Bears in a wild card playoff game. Saints fans were pelted by snowballs and were treated rudely. The Bears won 16-6 and Chicago fans rubbed it in with profanity.
1990 was kind of a lost season for the Saints who probably missed their best opportunity to win a championship with that group because Bobby Hebert's season-long holdout forced them to play John Fourcade and later Steve Walsh at quarterback. Somehow they managed to back into the playoffs anyway. This game should have been a much more merciful death to that nightmare. But the Bears fans were having none of that.

In the Saints NFC Championship game in 2008, thousands of Saints fans traveled to Chicago and they vowed to never return. Bears fans denigrated New Orleans and one Bears fan carried a sign that read “Bears Finishing What Katrina Started."

Just as I'm finishing this post, I happen to glance over at Moosedenied to see that Wang has a photo of that sign up at the top of a post titled "Never Forget." I'll go read what he has to say after I'm done here. No doubt it will be a half frightened and half condescending appeal to all of us to be on our best behavior Sunday no doubt based on some asinine assumption that Saints fans can't really be trusted to act like decent... oh... wait wait sorry that's what Chris Rose's column says right now. Wang's will be much better than that, I'm sure. Or at least more intentionally funny anyway. Meanwhile, check out Varg's alternative signage ideas.

Chicago was always one of Kathleen Hannigan's favorite cities. She and her husband, Lawrence, made the trip to Chicago for the NFC Championship game, which changed her outlook on the city forever.

Hannigan, like many Saints fans who endured the bitterly cold weather at Soldier Field that Sunday afternoon, she and her party of four were threatened and intimidated almost the moment they walked into the stadium. One fan intentionally elbowed her husband and others tauted their friends with Kartina-related insults.

Other fans said Bears fans hurled snowballs and went out of their way to instigate confrontations.

I've never seen anything like that," Hannigan told Nola.com. "They were hurling expletives at us, and everything was Katrina-related. It was a very personal attack. We never leave a Saints game early, but we did this time because I was afraid."

The only thing we're even remotely afraid of in the Superdome, of course, is having our flask confiscated. Oh and maybe shitty cell reception which can interfere with our enjoyment of everyone's Tweeter Tube commentary. If that goes out, we'll need some way to replace or approximate the Twittering of Saints fans through artificial means. Does Narrative Science have a phone app yet? It seems only natural they would want to appeal to Android users, right?

*Correction: Obviously I don't proofread any of this stuff until long after it's published. Anyway Advance hasn't actually announced the buyouts yet. Last month Gambit reported that they are expected to do so soon, however.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

DeShazier price index

If we take John DeShazier's headline "New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees is worth his weight in gold" literally, then this whole contract negotiation should just be a matter of plugging numbers into a formula, right?

Let's see, this afternoon gold is trading at about $1830.00 per ounce.

Drew Brees is listed at 209 pounds. Putting on our Glenn Beck thinking specs..

...and getting out our Windows calculator app, we'll just punch that up and... okay so the Saints owe Brees about $6,119,520.00. Let's get his agent in here and... oh wait a sec.
It also seems logical that the new deal will average somewhere around $18 million per year. That was the average of Tom Brady's four-year, $72 million extension with the New England Patriots in 2009. And it was the average of the new five-year, $90 million deal Peyton Manning signed with the Indianapolis Colts this summer.

Of course, there is still a lot of wiggle room in the finer details. For instance, Manning's deal averages $23 million per year over the first three years. And Brady's deal actually amounted to a five-year, $78.5 million contract since it included the final year of his previous contract. That brought the average down to $15.7 million per year.
DeShazier might need to re-work the headline there. Or at least come up with a new, more precious baseline for calculating Brees' worth. Happy's gift cards, maybe?

Records are made to be broken

Or revised after careful review of the video as the case may be.
Oakland Raiders place kicker Sebastian Janikowski nailed a 63-yard field goal, tying an NFL record held by Tom Dempsey and Jason Elam.

But now the Raiders will appeal the spot of the ball and are arguing that it was a record-breaking 64-yarder.

Don't care, won't care

I've officially reached the wake me up when all the college football realignment bullshit is over stage.

What did we miss while we weren't watching last night's GOP debate?

Compassionate conservatism

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Keep on TIFing

The special privileges built into our tax system are more complicated, regressive, and untenable than Ancien Regime France. Of course that doesn't stop our elites from figuring ways to slice out more parts of the pie before it explodes.
Under current agreements with the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District that control the Dome and the New Orleans Arena, where the Hornets play, there is no sales tax on food or drinks bought at either facility. This means that without a way to lure crowds out of the arenas for food and drink, the city loses millions of dollars a year in potential tax revenue. A new district could potentially help with that conundrum, though such sports districts have not been as successful as hoped in other cities and the development itself could cost billions. The only developer other than Benson who has stepped in, Domain Cos., has already said that “public support” will be needed to realize its vision.

Where that public support will come from is unclear. Domain has suggested a “payment in lieu of taxes” agreement or a tax-increment-financing plan, both of which would dedicate tax revenue to private development.
I'm sure Saints fans in Champions Square would love to pay an extra 3 or 4 percent on top of their $9.00 beer price so that these guys can get their kickback.