Monday, April 30, 2007

We are governed by a crime family

"Typos and all"

Update: And, of course, it's even worse than that.

Here we have what ought to be the front page headline in tomorrow's today's last month's T-P. It's a plain as day connection between the underreported continued gross incompetence of the ACOE and the staggering corruption of the Bush family and their cronies. What could be more important.. or sensational? Why is this so easily brushed off?

It's a lot like last year

The Saints' 2007 draft class, that is. Minus the ridiculous hype associated with the name, Reggie Bush, it's exactly like last year's draft in that the picks are exceedingly difficult to judge beyond round 1.

Indeed there is always an element of folly involved in assessing NFL draft choices until the players have at least half a season under their belts. In many cases the jury remains out far longer than that. For example, can anyone say with any certainty whether Green Bay's 2005 first-round choice of Aaron Rodgers has panned out yet? The Saints spent two seasons waiting for Cie Grant to get on the field. He never did, but until he was released he wasn't exactly a "bust" in the traditional sense.

Furthermore, once game experience allows professional football players to be judged on their accomplishments rather than their potential, the resulting hierarchy bears comically little resemblance to the order in which these players were originally drafted. (See.. for example the unglorious draft positions of Jerry Rice, Thurman Thomas, Dan Marino.... Marques Colston.. along with practically the entire history of the league for that matter.)

Every football fan knows this. And yet every year there is a massive rush to judge every team's draft performance the very next day... typically in the form of letter grades or four-star ratings. For such analysis of yesterday's minting of the new football players see here here and here... and the remaining entirety of the internet.

But the only grade I can dispense at this point is an incomplete. Last season's Saints draft class (despite the overrated Reggie Bush) proved itself quite solid as one after another unexpected contribution emerged from the mid and late round selections. In fact, should Rob Ninkovich and Roman Harper rebound from their injuries to become productive players, 2006 can be counted among the Saints' best draft classes ever. But no one could have known what to expect from that group until well into the season. The same statement can be applied to the 2007 bunch.

What we can say is that the Saints (probably) made the right pick in round 1 going for Robert Meachem. The best strategy in the first round is to take the best potential impact player available regardless of position. This has worked well for the Saints in the past most notably when they drafted Deuce McAllister despite already having Ricky Williams on the roster and of course last year when they drafted Bush despite.. already knowing how to fumble in the last two minutes of a playoff game.

This is not to say that the roster will be too crowded for Meachem to fit in. With the release of Joe Horn, the Saints were left with Colston who.. after missing time last year..has less than a full season under his belt, Devery Henderson who isn't as consistent as you would like a starter to be, David Patten who may be playing out the string in his journeyman career and Terrance Copper who is... well.. Terrance Copper. So adding yet another potential weapon to the league's most prolific offense still makes sense. The only red flag associated with this pick involves the words "Wide Receiver" and "Tennessee" which should be enough to make Saints fans worry just a little for good reason.

As for the rest of these guys, well.. who the hell knows? The Saints repeated last year's trick of pursuing lesser-known players from small college programs. This could either mean that they are privy to scouting techniques superior to all 31 rival NFL organizations... or it could mean that they're just incredibly smug about their scouting and see the draft as an opportunity to show off. While it's possible that neither of these explanations is accurate... let's hope it's not that second bit.

Outside of the fact that the Saints traded up to pick a running back, the selections make intuitive sense. They needed corners and o-line depth. We can't complain about or praise any of this until the players get on the field. It is kind of fun that they picked a guy named Usama. Should Usama Young, a defensive back, crack the starting lineup at some point, will he.. terrorize opposing offenses? Will they have to game plan to throw the ball to one side of the field (over there) so that they don't have to throw it at Young's side (over here)? Valid questions.. but I'm afraid they won't be answered until much much later. In the meantime.. feel free to grade away. Whatever "letter grades" you hand out can't be any more meaningless than what's sitting on anyone's high school transcript anyway.

Weekend event notes

Mumkinfest 2007 was a remarkable success and surprisingly well attended. The event included all of the requisite food, liquor, arts, crafts, games, and music one expects from the typical Spring festival.. but this one also included the exciting element of mumkinsport. The enthusiastic attendees held spirited discussions on the topics of gambling, the carrying capacity of the average escalator, and, of course, the transfiguration of hotel bedclothes into fearsome "creatures" bearing messages from the Lord. I'll save the details for later when the photos become available but.. suffice to say.. plans for expansion next year are already in the works.

Meanwhile I'm hearing this morning from folks who attended Jazzfest this weekend about numerous problems of overcrowding, heat exhaustion, and repeated technical problems with the sound systems installed at the Fairgrounds. So.. In your face, Jazzfest! Looks like we may have won this round.

Friday, April 27, 2007

End of the day link dump

It's been a busy day. Here is some stuff for you to look at.

Later, kids. Happy Mumpkinfest!

Update: Addendum to that last item. Anyone interested in the song St James Infirmary should check this out. via AnimaMundi

Can't change history, Dr. Beckett

But if I could I would love the title to the previous post to have read,

Lame Gubernatorial Candidate to State Republicans: "You're not the Boasso me!"

Thank you.. really... no.. you don't have to.. I'm flattered.. truly.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And the crowd yawns indifferently

Boasso now running as a "Democrat"

Getting drafty

More on this later but for now I definitely like Ralph Marlbrough's thoughts so far.

27. New Orleans: Dwayne Bowe, WR - LSU

The Saints have Jason David safely in the fold (as of Thursday) so a corner isn’t a glaring need. My picking a receiver might seem a strange selection because your initial thought is, “Didn’t they sign David Patten?”

Please. Patten is over 30, injured and even at his absolute apex was a third receiver at best. Remember, Devery Henderson will be a free agent after this season and it’s realistic to expect him to put up a 1,000-yard season. Then some team will throw him big time money. There is no way the Saints will be pay Henderson big time cash.

So Bowe solves the third receiver problem this year and he’ll be a starter in 2008 when Henderson gets $35 million from some team to be a number one receiver.

Malbrough gets extra points for likening over-hyped Notre Dame QB Brady Quinn to Joey Harrington. But... I may also think he's got the Saints picking the wrong LSU receiver. Like I said.. more later.

Update: From ESPN's mock draft:

27. Saints

Dwayne Bowe, WR, LSU

John Clayton, ESPN.com senior NFL writer: With the addition of cornerback Jason David from the Colts, the Saints can take the best available player. They lost Joe Horn this offseason and Bowe is also a local star coming from LSU.

Well at least now we know who the Saints are certain not to pick on Saturday.

Quote of the month

A little out of context I guess but fun nonetheless.

Ed Blakely: "I can't do an equal treatment everywhere. That just wouldn't be fair."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I've been looking for something post-worthy on the death of Boris Yeltsin.

I believe this may be it.

Haven't done this in a while

Time for a new poll. First, some background reading assignments:

Which.. of course.. leads to the question just who is the biggest bloodsucker currently operating in New Orleans? After checking out the links, you may answer today's poll.

Update: This morning, the Second Line litigants have reached a settlement they say they can live with.

I love my slumlord

The archives of the yellow blog are fraught with tales of the vicissitudes of apartment living in New Orleans. Over the years, I have indeed been granted my share of thrills. From the occasional rodent infestation, to the repeated kitchen ceiling collapse, to the air-conditioner wars, to the babbling brook, to the Shut Up, Little Man plumbing guys, the trip has indeed been a long and strange one.

Today, however, I find it necessary to point out that for all of its oddities, the management of my building could be far worse than it actually is. For example, instead of comically grappling to keep up with the foibles of a quirky building, my Slumlord could instead be engaged in the rampant racial housing discrimination that now permeates over 50% of the local rental market.
Black residents encountered discrimination nearly six times out of 10 when apartment hunting in the New Orleans area post-Katrina, according to a new study released Tuesday by a local civil rights group.

The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center sent white and black testers to check out advertised rentals in four parishes between September 2006 and April 2007. The study found disparities in how landlords treat prospective tenants based on skin color.

In nearly 58 percent of searches throughout a four-parish area, black prospective renters were stonewalled while white applicants were welcomed, said James Perry, executive director of the housing group.

Anyone familiar with the informal "insider's" culture of New Orleans knows that this practice is nothing new. Oyster provides anecdotal witness to this here. I suspect though that the tighter post-flood housing market has only emboldened such behavior and so I'm glad to see someone shine some light on it.

I have stated before that since the flood, I have gained a new appreciation for my Slumlord. The rent has risen over the past 20 months but only marginally. I suspect, in fact, that the increase has not offset the increased operational costs. And the place.. despite the episodic strangeness (which, in truth, I've always perversely enjoyed to some degree).. remains a substantial bargain for its size and location. Furthermore, I can't imagine anyone could charge building management with the sort of discriminatory practices described in the article above. The racial make-up of the occupants traces well with the city's demographics at large.

It startles me to consider the fact that I've lived in this apartment for nearly eight years now. I suppose this must mean that I am comfortable. Either that or it means I absolutely hate moving.. or any change at all for that matter... which is true, I admit.

Until such time as I am convinced of the wisdom of enslaving oneself to nefarious creditors for the purpose of investing in one's very own "mud hut", I suppose I'll continue shoveling away rent money on this dump. Besides.. June is coming. Who knows how long any of us will be here anyway?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mysteries of the Universe

Despite my resolution to take CCC training seriously this year, I managed to finish in a... um.. pedestrian time of 48:42. Since the race has finished.. and now that my official serious training period has ended for 2007, I have not only improved my time to 44:11 (as of this afternoon) but I have also lost five pounds. Explain this.

Auto shifting

WTF? Who is so retarded as to actually need this? Sorry.. what I mean is, who is so retarded as to be willing to pay $500.00 in order to avoid the supreme inconvenience of bicycle gears?

Just in

Nurses are totally freaking nuts.

Really you did not have to tell me this.

Yuppie Fest vs Mumpkin Fest 2007

The Sunday paper ran a long piece which.. while it does highlight the issue... basically makes excuses for the prohibitive price of a Jazzfest ticket. In fact, such complaints.. muted though they are.. are at least ten years too late.

Prior to falling into my present mode of servitude I made my first post-collegiate career slogging away as a field hand in the ubiquitous soul-crushing New Orleans plantation-tourist economy. From my post there inside the monkey cage, I first observed the Jazzfest tourism phenomenon and the particular.. type of visitor it attracted. Rather than describe it anew, I'll just point again to the summary I laid forth last year at about this time.

I love New Orleans music... but I absolutely hate Jazzfest. Nothing could be more un-New Orleans than a confined no reentry venue where admission is an outrageous $40.00 per day.. where you're not allowed to bring your own liquor... where the food is good but ridiculously priced... where the crowd is mostly white, largely upper class, professional, out-of-town, aging boomer-fallen hippies, who view their participation in this rip-off as a means to purchase some degree of "authenticity". In other words.. it's an annual gathering of Chris Roses from around America.

Jazzfest tourists were always by a long stretch the most intolerable visitors of the year. A sea of white-collar weekend warriors descend upon New Orleans for the Jazzfest to slum it up and throw their pretentious pseudo-intellectual weight around. While in town, they continually complain and condescend to the local population about how "dirty" or "inefficient" or "ignorant" everything and everyone here is. In fact, they make great sport of finding new and more outrageous examples of the terrifyingly snarky service.. or rampant litter.. or gaping potholes.. or lax liquor laws in order to greater embellish their tales of their brush with "third-world" authenticity for the benefit of colleagues back home. Of all the misapprehension of and indifference to the plight of New Orleans in the wake of the federal flood, it is likely that the attitude taken toward us by the typical Jazzfest visitor is the most... enabling. "Fun place to visit.. but I can't see how anyone could live there." We've all heard that line before. You always hear it at Jazzfest.

Last year, due first to the emotions associated with the return of this pre-flood highlight of the local cultural calendar and second to the fact that volunteering at the book tent provided free admission, I decided to forgo my long solitary Jazzfest boycott... and ended up having a decent time. This year.. no.. sorry the armistice has ended. Not only do ticket prices continue to skyrocket, but it seems they do so for the worst of all reasons... so that we may invite the likes of Rod Stewart and John Mayer and Dave Matthews and.. well the rest of the easy-listening yuppie pantheon to annually shit all over what is nominally the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. I made an exception last year, but until some significant improvement is made, I'm not going back.

Instead I propose to initiate a new celebration which pays homage to another New Orleans institution; one that is currently in peak season. I'm talking here of course of the much discussed buckmoth caterpillar... or, as Rudolph demonstrates in the comment thread below the previous post, the "mumpkin" in local parlance.

Mumpkin season is indeed in full swing in New Orleans. Ray has a detailed discussion of the critter's history in the city going on here. A few days ago, we added these pipe-cleaner mumpkins to the library tree. The library mumpkins have since grown eyes and seem quite pleased with their home generally.

In a final salute to our mumpkin friends, I plan to spend this weekend not at Jazzfest but at my very own Mumpkinfest. Activities will include.. hanging out on the sidewalk (near the site of the now defunct Babbling Brook).. possibly grilling some meats and vegetables (if I actually go out an buy one of those little cheapo grills).. a mumpkin race, perhaps (if the participants can be rounded up safely).. music (if my shower radio has enough battery power) .. lots and lots of alcohol (if the pattern of just about any day at my place remains consistent)... and, most importantly, not spending 45 bucks just to be admitted. If the event becomes a success, plans for expansion next year will hinge primarily upon the availability of Rod Stewart.

Incident Report

At least four Guatemalan trouble dolls were injured this morning in a horrific circ desk skateboarding accident. Emergency responders are on the scene.

NO Buffoon says something stupid. Must be Monday

These are getting harder to keep up with.

Nagin Apologizes for Bashing Philly

Friday, April 20, 2007

Yes yes yes

Needs to be done.. like.. yesterday.
BATON ROUGE -- A consultant hired by Gov. Kathleen Blanco's administration recommended Friday that the state build a new $1.2 billion LSU public hospital in New Orleans to replace the charity hospital flooded by Hurricane Katrina.

There is most definitely need to fear

You have to wonder just where it all went wrong when you learn that a live-action Underdog movie is in the works.

Potato, onion, and cheese omlet

The Camellia Grill is finally answering everyone's post-its and reopening this weekend. This is good news for some.. but I don't figure on making it out there until I feel like the crowds won't be impossible to deal with. The item referenced in the title here used to make Daisy pretty happy.

Celebrating the local wildlife

Anxious about another season of dodging Buck Moth Caterpillars everywhere you go? Do what I do. Learn to embrace the sweet... although slightly toxic.. little mumpkins with your own arts and crafts project.

Compare these real-life caterpillar photos I took last year with these pipe-cleaner simulations we produced this morning.

I think we've made some progress toward de-stigmatizing these noble harbingers of springtime in New Orleans. Now.. who's ready for termite season?

Lead Paint.. Delicious but deadly

In order to facilitate the set-up for tomorrow's Celebracion Latina, I spent the better part of this morning busting open recently paint-sealed library windows. As a result, I'm now covered in tasty paint flakes.. of both the new and older coatings. I'm a little light-headed.. but that's of no matter since it's not particularly unusual.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Not really the greatest SP but..

This scene made me laugh today.

The ants go marching.. in

New Orleans's fire ants are asserting their right of return following their expulsion via floating balls in 2005.

The angry ants are particularly suspicious of the area's Buckmoth Caterpillars who have been firmly reestablished in Uptown New Orleans for quite some time now. Mayor Nagin's office has yet to weigh in on the alleged conspiracy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Dueling Satire

It seems everyone is raving about the recent edition of the New Orleans Levee but I don't find the current issue to be as strong as some of their previous material. In the meantime, however, the latest NOLAFugees bit provides just the right edge we look for around here.

I still say there will be no Dollar Bill indictment

Despite all the whispering

Gay Bar

This has actually been around for a few years but I figured I'd share it anyway. Enjoy.

If it bleeds....

Other than a few brief comments yesterday at Ray's, I expect this will be the extent of what you'll see from me related to the very bad thing that happened in Virginia this week.

While I was impressed to see that the T-P newsprint apparatus is equipped to generate such a massive font, I was relieved that the paper's editors were possessed of the wisdom to make sure that the all-important teen boob controversy was not bumped from yesterday's front page.

Update: T-P front page link fixed.. I think

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Looks like Vince Young's image will grace the cover of this year's Madden football game... allowing the Saints to avoid that Reggie cover jinx I was starting to worry about.

It might be my fault

Despite my firm belief that such an endeavor would have been an exercise in pure folly, I am aware that many observers are finding themselves disappointed that Lt Gov Mitch Landrieu has opted not to run for Governor of the Gret Stet in 2007. I find it only fair to point out to these observers that Landrieu's decision not to run may indeed be.. partially.. my fault. I'll explain.

Way way back in the dark days between our return from evacuation and the excitement of the mayor's race, the city seemed tinier than ever and any given day could bring one into contact with what seemed like a majority of the smaller more compacted population at the time. During these days, my habitual morning coffee stop, Still Perkin' on Prytania became a prime location for spotting local pols and such ilk as they indulged in the day's initial round of schmoozing and smiling and being annoying generally. The crowd has thinned a bit there lately although it is still not unusual for one's visit there to bring one within baby-kissing range of such pols as Peggy Wilson and Mitch himself.

As the mayoral election drew nearer, speculation over whether or not Mitch would run became a favorite sport among the locals. For his part he did let it drag out quite a bit. That is until one morning, in the coffee shop, as Mitch was standing around running his big mouth, I found that he was positioned directly between myself and the Splenda. I was late for work (no surprise there). I needed to sweeten my iced coffee and I didn't have time to wait for this gasbag to finish yucking it up with the local yokels. I had to say something to get this guy to move. I tapped him on the shoulder and said.. rather unassumingly, "Um.. excuse me, Mr. Mayor, but I'd like to um.." and I indicated the condiment station.

Regardless of whether he thought my little joke was funny, Mitch wheeled around and bellowed a phony Har har for my benefit. When he saw in my eyes, that I had no interest in pursuing the conversation further, he returned to bloviating in the direction of the party he had previously engaged. Now I don't know exactly how much this encounter weighed on the process, but he entered the race the very next freaking day.

Recently, I have had one or two opportunities to similarly address Mr. Landrieu as "Governor" and have opted not to do so. Could it be my refusing to provide such a nudge has resulted in Mitch's refusal to become a candidate? I leave it to you to decide.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What's going on around here?

This about sums it up.

soooo when is Rising Tide II?

Mitch Out

I was less than sanguine about his chances.. but now I guess we won't get a chance to prove me wrong there. Overall this race is becoming less and less interesting. Doesn't any Democrat out there even want this job?

Just short of 20 months later

Mr. B's is finally back. This was more or less my favorite of the Brennan's sphere of restaurants. Best wishes.

State of info-tainment

Not so long ago, I had an experience wherein an evening of television viewing was briefly interrupted by a very small pig wearing a scarf and carrying a very small booklet of Christmas carols who screamed at me, "Are you enjoying your stupid pseudo-intellectual quasi news show, you yuppie freak!?"

I suppose it was the pig's intention to cause me to feel ashamed but, as it turns out, I was likely watching the most informative television programming currently available.

NEW YORK A new survey of 1,502 adults released Sunday by Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that despite the mass appeal of the Internet and cable news since a previous poll in 1989, Americans' knowledge of national affairs has slipped a little. For example, only 69% know that Dick Cheney is vice president, while 74% could identify Dan Quayle in that post in 1989.

Other details are equally eye-opening. Pew judged the levels of knowledgeability (correct answers) among those surveyed and found that those who scored the highest were regular watchers of Comedy Central's The Daily Show and Colbert Report. They tied with regular readers of major newspapers in the top spot -- with 54% of them getting 2 out of 3 questions correct. Watchers of the Lehrer News Hour on PBS followed just behind.

While not terribly surprising.. I can't bring myself to believe this is a particularly good thing.

link via Haney

Women be different from men

Wow.. just.. wow. Just when you think the world can't get any more offensively stupid.

With citizens like these...

Pulling out before the job is done seems to be Bush's general attitude toward South Louisiana at this point. Oyster bullet points the various ways in which the federal coffers are not being opened to speed the Louisiana recovery, flood protection, and crucial (see just how crucial here) coastal restoration efforts. I find this a bit ironic as it was Oyster who pointed out to us in late 2005 that Bush claims to be sitting on a plan to "increase the wetlands by three million". If the President has indeed misplaced this plan, I should remind him that experimentation on such a scheme has already occurred in my neighborhood with results available for review here.

Particularly galling in this situation is the complicity of Louisiana Republicans in Bush's determination to feed us to the sea. Senator David Vitter has worked to prevent Louisiana from being forgiven the local matching requirements for federal disaster aid granted through the Stafford Act.. although this requirement has been waived numerous times in the past under less dire circumstances. US Rep and Gubernatorial candidate Bobby Jindal has repeatedly carried the water (so to speak) for Bush's anti-coast agenda. In fact, in Jindal's 2 page fund raising letter (leaning once more on Oyster here) he makes no mention of the most important issue facing the state he seeks to govern.

What is the deal with Louisiana Republicans? Here you have a lame-duck, historically unpopular President facing an all-out revolt by Congresspersons of his own party on what used to be his meat-and-potatoes type issues. And yet Louisiana Republicans continue to shill for his (non) recovery agenda at the most dire expense of their Louisiana constituents. If this is what we can expect from bona-fide Louisiana citizens, one can only tremble at what might have happened should a dangerous foreigner such as three-time Louisiana Senator John Breaux have been permitted to seek the Governorship. Truly, our state has dodged another bullet.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Neaux Breaux

I admit, I did NOT expect this. I can explain it.. but I didn't expect it. Will have to wait until I am not drunk at 5AM to say anything more.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Oh good Christ

via Suspect-Device

Foti punts to courts
State Attorney General Charles Foti says the issue of whether former U.S. Sen. John Breaux is a Louisiana "citizen," eligible to run for governor, should be decided by the courts.

Question #1 for the class: Could this mean that the Breaux camp would actually prefer to have this issue hang around well into the campaign.. or at least as long as Jindal and the Louisiana Republican apparatus continue choosing to preoccupy themselves with it?

Happy FQF!

This is probably my favorite event of the Spring.

Items from this year's menu to be on the lookout for:

  • Shrimp & Garlic Cheese Grits

  • Turkey Legs

  • Alligator Sauce Picante

  • Crawfish Bread

  • Jamaican Chicken with Rice &Veggies

  • Sweet Potato Pie

  • Oreo Cookie Bread Pudding

  • Grilled Chicken Livers with Sweet Hot Pepper Jelly Sauce

  • Shaved Prime Rib on Pistolette

  • BBQ Shrimp Po-Boy

  • Blackened Catfish Sandwich

  • Cochon de Lait Po-Boy

  • Crawfish & Goat Cheese Crepes

And.. of course.. after that, it's time to go back for the second-tier items... you know.. before dinner.

(Unconfirmed) Quote of the Day

"If I pay taxes on the money.. can I keep it?"

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Okay maybe I'm stupid but

How exactly do ipods facilitate cheating?

For the sake of an argument.. I suppose one could digitally record test answers.. but wouldn't use of this device during a test be at least as detectable as... say.. a traditional pen and paper "cheat sheet"?

Shouldn't the same argument be made in favor of banning little scraps of paper from schools?

You know it's bad when..

Ray Nagin gets to tell you to shut your big mouth.

So long, babies

Kurt Vonnegut dead at 84

I always found him a little... geeky.. for my taste but he meant well.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

This might be a motivating factor

Being the crank that I am, I've long resisted actually going through the unnecessarily expensive and convoluted process of getting a passport. (Not planning a trip abroad now but you never know..) But now it turns out that if I finally break down and submit to the pain of the process of acquiring this document, I then get to smash it with a rock!

Is this what democracy looks like?

Fun with photos

I am a huge dork

Just got back from the House of Blues where I told a group of 5th 6th and 7th graders to come to the library this summer because it is... air-conditioned. As in.. come to the library, check out our new music on CD in the comfort of.. air-conditioning... come to library, avail yourself of free internet access while soaking up the modern comfort and convenience of... air-conditioning.

And.. you know.. so forth and so on. I refer you back to the title of this post.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Restatement of point from earlier post

Just because it's continuing to hit me.

New Orleans,

Ed Blakely believes you are a city of "buffoons"

Thank you for your attention.

Clarification for the benefit of Blakely apologists in the audience: Ed Blakely believes you are a city of "buffoons" and "buffoon" enablers. He has stated that he believes that will start to change once a new and presumably better class of people migrates here and makes you irrelevant.

Update: Of course this sort of thing is right in Ashley's wheelhouse.. and that's where the fun discussion is developing.

Big Brother

The NFL has suspended Tennessee Titans defensive back Adam "Pac-Man" Jones for the entire 2007 season due to the frequency of incidents during which he was "interviewed by police". I find such actions gross intrusions of an employer into the personal lives of its employees. Mine is likely a minority opinion.

The Ed Blakely Adventure

In which a professional academic carpetbagger capitalizes on disaster for the purposes of resume building.


I appreciate Stephanie Grace's understated sense of humor, but I still think she's being far too nice here.
Who was it who supposedly kept those phantom bodies "on the books"? The same "they" that Nagin likes to reference when he speaks to audiences far from New Orleans, or a different set of alleged perpetrators? And, assuming the closely monitored Census Bureau would have to be in on the fix, what interest would the federal government have in helping New Orleans hold on to "certain benefits," at the expense of actual voters?

Blakely's apology did not reference this part of his comments. And that's a shame.

Inaccurate statements to far-flung audiences who have no way of knowing the facts are more harmful than simple mistakes because they exacerbate the stereotype that New Orleans officials are always gaming the system.

Blakely expects to be out of here next year, and even now, he's traveling frequently and juggling obligations unrelated to his job as head of New Orleans' recovery. But as long as he's involved, everything he says reflects on the city, even -- no, especially -- if he's on one of his many trips away.

In a speech in Sydney, Blakely told the audience that by the time he was hired, residents were literally starved for leadership and direction. That's true, which means an awful lot of people see him as the last best hope for getting it right.

That means coming up with a workable plan, which he's hopefully done.

It also means not doing anything to undermine confidence in the city's prospects, among residents or among outsiders who are being called upon to help.

As a short-timer, Blakely's future may not depend on it. But the future of the people he's speaking for just might.

Despite all but pointing out that Blakely is a careerist "short-timer" she still inserts a line that implies his "plan" somehow gets the benefit of the doubt. Why do transparent phonies like Ed Blakely continue to receive such soft treatment from media opinion makers?

The answer I think is indicative of just how fucked up our world is these days. I think it means we've reached a point where despair has overtaken the expectation of concrete societal progress to such a degree that we are more easily moved by symbolism and cult-of-personality than by substance. Take a few minutes and read Jason Berry's cover story in this week's Gambit. Berry interviews veterans of the local civil rights movement about their impressions of Ray Nagin. Nagin's career is a product of the right-wing backlash against the War on Poverty; A backlash which has gutted and abandoned the American urban support system like a flooded house in Lakeview. The following is a very telling passage.

"Nagin comes out of the business community and thinks the private sector has the keys to the kingdom and capacity for the solution," Dr. Rudy Lombard, an urban planner who got his start as a movement activist in Algiers, told Gambit Weekly in a telephone interview from Chicago. "Nagin does not have an accurate perspective. ... The city's needs overwhelm the resources of government.

"Blacks are caught up in the symbolism of having an African American occupy the mayor's office when the resources have eroded," explains Lombard. "They believe that having a black mayor in office is absolutely essential. The circumstances in which the black community finds itself overwhelm the power available to them to control local issues. Urban mayors are less and less powerful because the funds are controlled by the state and federal government."

A partner in a "small investment management company," Lombard visits New Orleans every few weeks.

"I think Nagin is boxed in," Lombard continues. "He doesn't have the kind of personality which can transcend the problems and be effective as mayor of the city. There will be a growing dissatisfaction with politicians in New Orleans. They're going to lose support and the respect of the rank and file because they will not produce the results that are needed. The federal and state government will continue to be callous toward the needs of the poor. The funding streams are just not there."

Nagin, who contributed $1,000 to George W. Bush in 2000, assumed control of a city starved of resources it once had because of ideologues like Bush. How could any mayor bring prosperity to a city with a 30 percent underclass without federal help? Then came Katrina, which sent half of the population into exile, particularly the poor. Nagin assumed the city would receive a huge federal windfall via the Road Home program. As Road Home stalled, Nagin had little in the way of other sources to kick-start the city's recovery.

Nagin touted a "market-driven" recovery, encouraging neighborhoods to work with the City Planning Commission on proposals for redevelopment. The subtle message was that this is no longer a city for poor folk. Nevertheless, poor people continued to return, finding conditions more desperate than before.

Nagin has very little inclination, or "perspective" as Lombard puts it, to put the power of the government to work for the betterment of its citizenry, but he continues to offer.. not quite hope.. but a sense of shallow vindication to the overwhelmingly black and poor population through his flippant personality and bizarre racial politics.

We live now in a self-perpetuating culture of denial. Thus despite the fact that continued American belligerence in Asia Minor can only spread hatred, fear, and death our political climate refuses to let go of the symbolism involved in "supporting the troops" by sending them to pointless deaths. Thus Ray Nagin can sell out a city's recovery and simultaneously serve as a symbolic bulwark against a conspiracy of "they". Thus Ed Blakely can increase his academic rock-star quotient while a (now even more abiguous thanks to Dr. Blakely) number of displaced citizens wait... for what? The next symbolic "sign of recovery"? How much are Jazzfest tickets this year?

It gets worse. Adrastos mentions this sycophantic and factually inaccurate NYT piece which has a little bit of everything that's wrong with the way this fraud continues to get his ass kissed in the media. I'm not sure if I'm more bemused by the assertion that the "western" half of the city was less damaged than the "eastern" half or by the implication that the real problem in New Orleans isn't the devastating flood so much as it is.. New Orleanians and their damn "attitude."

Newcomers, pioneers willing to put up with the city’s present difficulties, could be the salvation of New Orleans and its future, Dr. Blakely suggested. New Orleans now is “a third-world country,” he said.

“If we get some people here, those 100 million new Americans, they’re going to come here without the same attitudes of the locals,” he said. “I think, if we create the right signals, they’re going to come here, and they’re going to say, ‘Who are these buffoons?’ I’m meeting some who are moving here, and they don’t have time for this stuff.”

I honestly don't know why this guy gets to hop a plane for Australia instead of just being ridden out of town on a rail.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Little Lies

Little lies that feed big unnecessary, politically motivated indictments.

Even in the post-9/11 environment, little lies never went away. In particular, promoting little lies seems to have been one of the main things U.S. attorneys, as loyal Bushies, were expected to do. For example, David Iglesias, the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, appears to have been fired because he wouldn’t bring unwarranted charges of voter fraud.

There’s a lot of talk now about a case in Wisconsin, where the Bush-appointed U.S. attorney prosecuted the state’s purchasing supervisor over charges that a court recently dismissed after just 26 minutes of oral testimony, with one judge calling the evidence “beyond thin.” But by then the accusations had done their job: the unjustly accused official had served almost four months in prison, and the case figured prominently in attack ads alleging corruption in the Democratic governor’s administration.

It just reminded me of this honey-and-roses thought from Atrios the other day.
...any president is not only going to have to deal with this disaster in Iraq, but also a federal government which has been staffed from top to bottom with career ideological Bushies who will fully understand that their job in a Democratic administration is to take it down.

Get the feeling this system is going to take a long long time to un-break?

This will likely end badly

More than one person has reported difficulties commenting lately. Haloscan doesn't seem to have a rational basis for discriminating against these individuals. This morning I'm temporarily disabling the spam filter in the interest of science. Sooo if you've been having trouble commenting, now would be a good time to try it again.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


My official CCC time this year is much better than last. While this may be due as much to the cool weather than anything else, I'll take it.

The weather had a general muting effect on the mood of a usually festive pre-race crowd. I got to the Quarter way too early yesterday morning and had to wait an uncomfortably long time on the street while the bitter morning wind gradually deprived my extremities of sensation. I was surprised to find that Harry's Corner was closed.. leaving me nowhere to hide from the wind other than a storefront doorway. After this harsh test of endurance, the race itself turned out to be more of a relief than anything else. At least it gave us all a chance to warm up.

CCC is always a good time. The spectators make as much sport of it as the participants. Several bands line the route. I noticed a man dressed as a rat for some reason playing a trumpet on his porch. On Rampart Street some guys were offering donuts to the runners as they passed. Nearer to the finish, the devil waited with hot dogs.

T-P photo

Costumed runners I noted included a Superman, the obligatory Easter Bunnies, and one runner dressed as Governor Meemaw (ironically actually running this time). No Fleurs-De-Lis this year, though.

While the expression on this participant's face (the dork in red) isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of the experience, believe me CCC is a worthwhile event, if only for the beer...and the Chee-Wees.

Check out the NOLA.com slideshow for more.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Sale of Cubs moved to ebay

See here for details

Uh oh

Looks like Blakely may have been one "bitch" away from having to step down.

Fun with maps

Google has just released an idiot-friendly interface for generating map mash-ups. Now any goofball with little or no programming abilities (such as.. well.. me) can play maps. Here's one I made of the library locations and bookmobiles. I'm working on one without the closed locations for official use.

Of course this is good for all sorts of projects.


My time last night in my final 6 mile tune-up before Saturday's Crescent City Classic. I had planned to take this seriously this year but my mind has been on... other things for the past week or so. At least I'll come away with lots o'beer and yet another snazzy t-shirt.

In case you needed to see more flood photos

Scout and Ray collected a few at Armstrong Elementary yesterday. Take a look.... and keep in mind these are from YESTERDAY not 18 months ago.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Easter Basket

The folks from the Baptist center visited us again this morning with an Easter package. And like the last time, they brought us something very sweet.. and a little frightening. In addition to the usual chocolates and Peeps and such, our basket included the following items.
  • The Story of Jesus for Children on DVD

  • Candy Cross. Good for warding off attacks from Count Chocula.

  • This package of "prayer jelly beans".

    I know the cell-phone photgraphy is a bit grainy. The back of the packet carries the following text.

    Thank you, Lord, for jelly beans.
    They remind me of your love.

    SPECKLED represents the effects of sin
    Separating me from you above.

    RED is for the blood you shed
    A sacrifice only you could pay.

    WHITE represents the cleansing of my soul
    As you wash my sins away

    YELLOW represents heaven above,
    A long awaited place!

    GREEN is for the growth that I must do
    As I study your Word
    to gain closeness to you.

Jelly beans available for purchase at http://scripturecandy.com/

Steppers in the right direction

Police cut fee for second line parade club, but lawsuit goes on

A temporary legal settlement will allow one of New Orleans' unique neighborhood "second line" parades to march on Easter Sunday, after the city agreed to sharply reduce a security fee.

But Wednesday's settlement doesn't end a lawsuit between the city's predominantly black "social aid and pleasure clubs" and the police, who started charging the higher fees last year for the colorful jazz-and-parosol processions. The parade groups say the higher fees are discriminatory and threaten to tax them out of existence.

Fees went up from about $1,200 to $3,700 and higher after gunfire marred at least two of the parades last year -- part of a burgeoning crime problem that accompanied the city's repopulation following Hurricane Katrina. One person was killed in one of the shootings.

Wednesday's agreement will allow the Pigeon Town Steppers Social Aid and Pleasure Club to parade on Sunday. Police had planned to charge the group $7,500, but the city agreed to reduce the fee to $2,413, according to an attorney for the group.

"It might as well have been $75 million," said Carol Kolinchak, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is backing the parade groups' lawsuit.

City attorney Joe DiRosa said the fee is based solely on an evaluation of what is needed to assure public safety. The reduction for the Pigeon Town club came after police re-evaluated overtime and personnel needs for the parade, he said.

At a downtown protest Wednesday morning, Tamara Jackson, president of the New Orleans Social and Pleasure Club Task Force, said the higher fees are discriminatory because the overwhelming majority of parade participants are black.

"We're the only culture that is being taxed out of existence and we're one of the oldest cultures that exist in this city," Jackson said.

At a small downtown park near the federal courthouse, a few dozen marchers from different parade groups chanted, "Respect, peace, no increase," and carried picket signs accusing police of a double standard. The demonstration was cut short by a morning rain storm.

DiRosa's denied any notion that the city is trying to drive second lines out."Why would we do that?" he asked. "Do you know we conduct over 450 parades in this city a year? We're not trying to eliminate any parades."

DiRosa acknowledged that second lines are different from the lavish, highly organized parades of the city's Carnival season, put on by well-heeled private groups. For instance, the large parades travel on major thoroughfares and have barricades separating participants form observers. In second lines, observers often join in the parades, which take place on narrower streets in various neighborhoods.

The parade clubs continue to seek a preliminary injunction in federal court that would stop enforcement of the higher fees. A hearing is set for April 25.

"It's in everybody's best interest that this be resolved in a way that protects and preserves the culture of New Orleans," Kolinchak said.

Eye on the ball

David has been right from the start. "Bitch"gate is largely about Nagin wanting to stack another board.

Jindal is not smart

Jindal says Breaux not eligible to run

Isn't he supposed to remain "above the fray" in this situation? Doesn't this just make him look.. worried? Seriously.. if I were advising him, there is no way I'd let him say this. I'm beginning to wonder if the little brat can even help himself. Here's Jindal's actual statement.

"In my opinion -- no -- he's not, but I'm not going to get involved in court challenges. I'm no attorney, and I would rather tell people why Bobby Jindal is the best candidate for governor,"

If you chop off everything between "In my opinion" and "I would rather" then this is an okay statement. Instead, you have Jindal, the insufferable know-it-all, blurting out "No.. he can't run! No fair!" and then.. perhaps sensing the audible cringe from his handlers.. trying to cover the gaffe once the cat is already out of the bag. One of Jindal's biggest political liabilities is his tendency toward egotistical condescension. He's sort of an Al Gore but with even less substance. No wonder Breaux is spoiling for piece of this guy.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The 300 workout

Here are a few choice quotes from reviews of the movie 300 which, while itself an adaptation of a graphic novel fantasy (sorta) based on the Battle of Thermopylae, has been loudly criticized for its revisionist casting of the Persian Empire as an oppressive enemy of a "free" and "western" Greek world. The Persians were, in fact, a notably tolerant (particularly with regard to religion) if not exactly free society by modern standards. The film has also drawn fire for its perhaps racist and homophobic depiction of the Persians as sexually ambiguous sub-humans. While historical ignorance and gruesome idiocy are not unique characteristics of American cinema, the timing of this movie.. as neocon war-planners attempt to neo-ly con an American theater-going electorate into a war with modern Persia.

Some comments on 300:

Gary Leupp writing in Counterpunch:

In short: 300's depiction of the battle of Thermopylae is not merely inaccurate, as any film adaptation of a graphic novel has the perfect right to be. It's what the Iranians say it is: racist and insulting. It pits the glorious Greeks with whom the audience must sympathize against a "mystical" and "tyrannical" culture posing an imminent existential threat. It is, de facto, an anti-Persian/anti-Iranian propaganda film, and should be rated appropriately: not just R (for racist) but X---for extremely stupid and vicious and dangerously ill-timed.

David Denby in The New Yorker:

Based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller, the movie is a porno-military curiosity—a muscle-magazine fantasy crossed with a video game and an Army recruiting film.

And here's Dan Savage:

What isn’t up for debate is the film’s politics. The only times the Persian army doesn’t look like a gay-pride parade in hell, it looks like a crowd of madly chanting Islamic militants. And if the Spartan king has to break the Spartan law to defend Spartan freedoms? Well, sometimes a king’s gotta do what a king’s gotta do. Because, as the queen of Sparta points out, freedom isn’t free. And, yes, she uses exactly those words. George Bush is going to blow a load in his pants when he sees this movie.

For a thoroughly satisfying work of historical fiction based upon the Persian Empire, I recommend Gore Vidal's Creation over this film for.. well.. lots of reasons. But to truly appreciate the pop-cultural significance of a movie like 300 and to apprehend the title of this post, one need look no further than this vignette from Haney.

Pravda Picayune

Is it really necessary to use FQF as an excuse to parrot the city's talking points about the questionable garbage contracts? Or is it more Journalistic Malpractice?

One of the city's premier spring festivals will have a noticeably cleaner staging ground this year.

Those who gathered Monday for the announcement of the 24th annual French Quarter Festival said the tidiness of the Quarter, thanks to a new trash company hired by the city, is unprecedented and could add to the celebration's lure.

"I walk down here a lot and I talk to people and it seems as though the cleanliness of the French Quarter is becoming a tourist attraction in itself," Mayor Ray Nagin said.

Exactly! I visit the Quarter quite frequently myself and while I do spend some of my time there leaning against the sticky, grimy, bar at Johnny Whites, or merely avoiding stepping in horse poo, or sitting on the curb at 4 AM negotiating with vagrants as they attempt to sell me their recently stolen construction equipment, I really must say that it is the cleanliness that keeps me coming back.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Countdown to Hurricane Season 2007

Two months to go.. a little fun reading here.

Put simply, all of the pumping systems, as designed, procured, and built, have a strong likelihood of failure when placed under normal operating conditions.


Dammit, Chicago!

The behavior of Bears fans at the NFC Championship game was bad enough, but if George Will buys the Cubs, that city is freaking dead to me.

Google Conspiracy is over

Google Earth and Google Maps now once again contain post-K (2006) imagery of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.

From Google:
Given that the changes that affected New Orleans happened many months ago, we were a bit surprised by some of these recent comments. Nevertheless, we recognize the increasingly important role that imagery is coming to play in the public discourse, and so we're happy to say that we have been able to expedite the processing of recent (2006) aerial photography for the Gulf Coast area (already in process for an upcoming release) that is equal in resolution to the data it is replacing. That new data was published in Google Earth and Google Maps on Sunday evening.

via Melpomene and Clio

Opening Day

Today's probable starters.

Because we to think about something nice for a minute.