Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Well I can disprove this theory in five seconds

This Daily Beast article just showed up on Eschaton this afternoon so, by now, everybody who reads this site has seen it 50 times already. But I'll share a few paragraphs here just so I can make a quick point because, well it's my dumb blog and that's what I feel like doing. The gist of this is that reading skills have diminished in part because students are not asked to read as much non-fiction as they probably should.
Although Americans are reading more words today than they ever have, there is evidence that the content of that reading—much of it now done on the Internet—has become less and less challenging, and that student reading lists made up mostly of "fun," lightweight fiction are accelerating the trend.

"People don't really understand the nature of reading. They feel that reading is a skill, that it's transferable, so once you're a good reader, you can read anything that's put in front of you," says Daniel Willingham, a University of Virginia cognitive psychologist who focuses on K-12 education. "But that's only true for decoding—what you learn until grade three or four. After that, when you see good readers versus poor readers, what you're looking at is mostly differences in the knowledge that kids bring to the reading. It's easy to read something when you already know something about the topic. And if you don't know about the topic, it's utterly opaque to you."

That's why children should read newspapers and magazines, texts about nature and technology, and biographies—genres that increase real-world knowledge. This is especially important for poor children, who may not be exposed to as much "background" information at home: the random vocabulary, facts, and associations that make it easier to do well on tests like the NAEP and SAT, and to succeed in the workplace.
Yeah okay sounds good but... well look. I read a lot of stuff during a typical day that falls squarely in the "newspapers and magazines real-world knowledge" category. And I just checked my personal library record to note that of the 13 items I have currently checked out, only two of those are novels. The thing is, and I don't have any subtle way to put this and I'm sure most of the regular readers here will agree, outside of maybe Joe Cao's campaign finance staff, I'm probably one of the 5 or 10 dimmest folks allowed to move about this city on his own recognizance.

Meanwhile the three smartest individuals whose reading habits I am somewhat familiar with are Menckles who reads mostly fantasy/sci-fi, my friend Rosalind who reads crime drama, and my friend Daisy who reads and reviews an unfathomable.. and I mean truly inhuman.. quantity of "fiction of interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer, and questioning teenagers".

So, you know, to hell with that theory. Q. E. D. (whatever that means)


More on the PANO Tea Party and its awesome associated paraphernalia.

Politics of the Past

Bright bold young rising political star's "new ideas" turn out to be more of the same selling off of public services to feudal fiefdoms that has generated much of the non-transparent feudal "culture of corruption" that has failed to produce anything of value for anyone other than well-connected contractors for over 30 years now.

No one is shocked all that much.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Form fastidiousness

Maybe I'm a little oversensitive but I have to wonder at what exactly is being implied here.

Though the 2010 Census might be the most highly anticipated census ever in southeast Louisiana, a survey of forms mailed back so far shows that parishes hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina lag the rest of the nation in returning completed questionnaires.

"We're concerned about the relatively low response from New Orleans," Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said today in a prepared statement. "Every household that fails to send back their census form by mail must be visited by a census taker starting in May -- at a significant taxpayer cost. The easiest and best way to be counted in the census is to fill out and return your form by mail."
What the hell? These things aren't even due for another month. Any excuse to complain about lazy, slow responding, New Orleanians, I guess.

Heck I haven't even actually received a census form yet. This could be a function of the quirkiness of delivering things to my apartment (the difficulties of T-P delivery were touched upon briefly in this "classic" Yellow Blog item). But I'm sure I'm not the only guy in town subjected to such obstacles. It could very well be that forms have been delivered to local residents at a lower rate of success than they have been elsewhere. Or it could be that people around here (like myself) aren't as unhealthily obsessed with accomplishing minor tasks according to assigned deadlines as the rest of the country seems to be.

Or maybe we all just really really want to meet Ludacris. Whatever the reason, could we at least wait until we've actually missed the deadline to complain?

Off message

Paul Vallas really did say the charters are doing a "heck of a job" didn't he?

Better fire up the grill again

Last weekend, PANO allowed what should have been a perfectly reasonable fund-raiser to help replenish its officers' legal defense pool become a mini Tea Party rally in favor of the "heroes" accused of the ever-expanding list of post-flood police abuses. PANO has a legitimate role to play in preventing line employees from getting squashed while the politically appointed NOPD leadership responsible for the department's emerging culture of corruption remains unaccountable. But there's a thin line between protecting your employees and appearing to applaud blatant abuse, brutality, murder and cover-up and PANO looks to have blundered over that line.

Anyway, as long as their raising money, they might as well start planing for the next party.

Third NOPD cop expected to plead guilty today in Danziger Bridge case

Fire sale

Still time to shovel all the money out the door

The point is, it's always about controling you

If they can, they will.

Broadbent notes how people who work in many low status occupations, like bus drivers and factor workers, are facing increasingly punitive monitoring to make sure they don’t check in with family and friends during the day. Broadbent treats this like a human rights violation, and I’m inclined to agree. If people are getting their work done, monitoring them to make sure they don’t use their downtime to talk to people they love is only going on in order to debase them and suggest that their personal lives don’t count. I’ll go a step further and argue that the monitoring is valuing debasement and control of working class people over actual economic concerns like profit and saving money. It uses resources to monitor workers, after all. But more than that, I’m skeptical of the idea that unhappy people are better workers.

I think this is at least partially related to a culture of work that discourages any thought beyond whatever the boss deigns is acceptable. The resulting conventional wisdom is that, if you're of a certain class, your day is for work and your evenings are for beer, TV, anything that helps you forget about work for a while.

This isn't to say that people aren't supposed to do their jobs. Only I find, in a lot of cases, people are basically made to feel ashamed of themselves if they take an interest in anything that might be outside of the immediate responsibilities commensurate with their station. It's a subtle form of classism and it stunts the intellectual lives of a lot of very smart people. But, as Carlin says here,owners don't want informed citizens. What they want is obedient workers.

In a somewhat related matter, the incoming Mayor's (not quite public) "customer service" advisory board is headed by two hoteliers. I wonder what kind of worker-citizens they're interested in developing.

Fiscal responsibility

That term doesn't have quite as much to do with the actual impact a given policy has on the budget as it does with who benefits from that policy. Large unremunerated gifts to wealthy taxpayers and blowing stuff up is perfectly "fiscally responsible" from the point of view of the people receiving the tax breaks or getting paid to make bombs. Meanwhile helping some uninsured people spend mostly their own money on health insurance doesn't seem as fiscally sound from that same point of view. So which point of view gets written into the public discourse?

I guess that would be "food that speaks spanish"?

I'm just saying, yes I read the NOLA Eats forum. I don't exactly always like the NOLA Eats forum. But I read it.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Shadow Government

Neat trick
The public isn’t entitled to see all the applicants for the next police superintendent, and Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu’s transition team screening the applicants isn’t a public body or subject to public records law, its leader said today.

Xavier University president Norman Francis took these positions at a press conference to address the resignation of NAACP President Danatus King from that search team serving Landrieu. Francis is the co-chairman of the search team.

Asked what exemption in the public-records law allowed them to keep the names of applicants secret, Francis said simply that they weren’t a public body, arguing they were merely an advisory committee to Landrieu.

Landrieu spokesman Todd Ragusa said he didn’t know what the mayor-elect’s position is regarding whether his advisory committees are public bodies.
The next administration is currently being formed by a collection of these transition team task forces. We guess each of those panels is similarly exempted from public-records law. We're sure that the very important community leaders who people these task forces would love to make the public business they're engaged in more transparent and re-traceable and all that, but being themselves actually not technically public they just can't. Only when Landrieu's advisers are officially endowed with the imprimatur of public titles will they be fully empowered to inform us of the stuff they're doing on our behalf. Inauguration day can't come soon enough! In the meantime we'll just have to take it on faith that as long as all the "right" people are making the decisions, it must still count as "good government" somehow.

We can't wait to see how the official actual public Landrieu administration goes about keeping the citizenry abreast of its actual public business. Unless it finds some way to not technically have to.
Several participants urged Landrieu to revive the so-called "public-private partnership" outgoing Mayor Ray Nagin killed last year. The organization would mimic similar bodies in other major cities by turning over business recruitment and commercial planning to a professional staff jointly overseen and financed by business and government leaders.
In which case we'll just keep our fingers crossed that the "right sort" of business and community leaders keep at it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Noted for future discussion

This entire Time piece on Andrew Breitbart.

But for our immediate purposes here, I ask you to consider only the photo.

And with that I'm out the door and so should you be.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How much more bulk does he really need?

Frenchy's strength as a runner derives more from his elusiveness and balance than it does from raw power.

But just like he vowed last year at this time, after the Saints parted ways with beloved power runner Deuce McAllister, Thomas insisted he's ready to bulk up and fill whatever void the Saints ask him to fill.

"You know, one thing I really want to work on this season is trying to get more leg power. That's my biggest goal. Leg power, leg power, leg power, so I can keep fighting for extra yards, and try to be that guy when they have that third-and-1 or fourth-and-1, " said Thomas, a 5-foot-11, 215-pounder, who did just that on the biggest fourth-and-1 conversion in Saints history in overtime of the NFC championship game against the Minnesota Vikings

I'm not sure why the Saints let Mike Bell get away. I know his production tapered off at the end of the season but the Saints don't have another back who runs with his aggressive style. And don't tell me Lynell Hamilton does what Mike Bell did because he doesn't.

And, of course, none of this matters all that much anymore. It's not like we have to worry about whether the Saints can win the Superbowl. I'd like to tell you that ever since that happened I'm just happy to be here. But actually I'm just kind of mildly surprised to be here.

"He made a presentation on it"

From last week's Gambit feature on the widespread exploitation of immigrant labor in New Orleans.

When workers demand payment, employers retaliate with threats to report them to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), Gonzalez says. She says many documented and undocumented laborers are afraid of authorities because the workers don't speak English and have heard stories of others who have been arrested and deported. At a press conference, Mayor Ray Nagin and NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley tried to quell these fears, saying the NOPD will not ask the immigration status of crime victims or witnesses.

  That's not always the way it works, Gonzalez says.

  In November 2009, a worker named Jose Mejia Castro asked for unpaid wages from his former boss, contractor Woodrow Randall. What occurred next is disputed. According to a Municipal Court affidavit given by NOPD officer Carolyn Dalton, Castro became angry and screamed at the "victim." In another affidavit by officer Tony Burrell, Randall pushed Castro into a car. Neither officer filed a report, but both men were issued summonses for disturbing the peace.

  Castro gave a third version of the incident when he filed a complaint with the NOPD's Public Integrity Bureau. When Castro requested his money, he says, Randall threatened him with a hammer and then pushed Castro into the car. Castro called NOPD for help, but when Burrell and Dalton arrived, they interrogated Castro about his immigration status. Gonzalez was also at the scene, and she reminded the officers of Riley's statement that immigration status was irrelevant.

  "She literally said, 'I don't care what Riley has said, because I'm giving him a citation,'" Gonzalez says Dalton told her.

  It remains a verbal, not written policy, according to Janssen Valencia, NOPD's official liaison to the Hispanic community. Valencia says he hasn't seen anything in writing that officers shouldn't ask about a victim or witness's immigration status, but adds it is considered Riley's verbal policy.

  "He made an announcement with it," Valencia says. "The mayor was with the superintendent when he announced it. I haven't seen anything in writing with it; all I know is he made a presentation on it."

And there's your Riley era NOPD leadership in a nutshell. Talk and politics with no actual institutional control. Not that we'd want to hold our breath waiting for the police to do anything that might disrupt the supply of cheap/free under-the-table labor in this town.


Like we said at the beginning of the Lil' Liddy break-in story, the Liddettes are far too well connected and famous to get treated as anything other than fraternity pranksters.

At least the real Liddy actually went to prison before he became a right wing media star. The Liddettes could still conceivably have to do time but it isn't likely. These kids today ain't gotta work for nuthin'

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Somebody call MWH

Maybe they can get somebody on this. At the very least, some high-level consulting is in order. For the better part of a year now the basketball court at Laurence Square has been plagued by a broken water fountain that appears to be leaking from its base.

Busted fountain

The water runs all the way down the side of the court.

Fountain run-off

And out onto the sidewalk where it pools up and becomes a permanent obstacle for pedestrians.

Fountain run-off

I can't help but think that if Fonzie were here, would he might "double back-flip" across this Rubicon But Fonzie is not coming and we have to deal with this some other way. Hopefully sooner than later.

Wait. Did Ray Nagin make another funny?

Starring all week on CNN, it seems.

Missed this one

Taibbi on the political ramifications of health reform.

I don’t get what the Republicans have to gain by painting themselves as hysterical survivalist Ruby-Ridge loonies (Kentucky congressman Geoff Davis pulling out the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag was a move more larded with mawkish over-drama than your average drag-queen tribute to Edith Piaf). It feels to me like they played this one wrong.

It doesn’t matter, though. Should I decide to change my politics and become a conservative now that I’m exactly the middle-aged bourgeois/suburban tool I used to rail against, I can always vote Republican by voting Democratic. The new Democratic Party is an excellent substitute for the old Nixon/Ford Republican Party. They even passed Nixon’s vision of a health care plan. That there’s no Democratic Party left is a shame, but I guess one choice is better than none.

New Mayor Smell

I love the way the T-P applies unnecessarily flattering language to its description of anything the new guy happens to be doing.

Landrieu sat unobtrusively in the back row amid more than two dozen members of his education task force, taking notes like a diligent student.

When everyone at the community meeting had had a turn, Landrieu came forward and offered his impressions.

He joshed with the audience in his folksy, "I'm just a New Orleans boy" way, but he also showed he had been paying close attention, acknowledging the viewpoints of nearly every speaker.

Imagine if Nagin were in attendance at this event and took questions at the end. Would it have been described this way? Probably not now. But eight years ago, maybe. I thought it might be fun to look through the Newsbank database for T-P treatments of Nagin at a similar point in his Mayor-electorate. The profile below was clearly meant to leave the reader with a positive impression. I've decided to just republish the whole article here since the years have allowed the unintentional humor to ripen so nicely.

Nagin wants city on cutting edge - Mayor-elect sees a high-tech future
Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA) - Sunday, March 10, 2002
Author: Frank Donze and Gordon Russell Staff writers

With time running out on both the evening’s debate and the mayoral campaign itself, Ray Nagin was wracking his brain, trying to score a knockout punch before an audience of doctors at Touro Infirmary. Suddenly, it hit him: Use the Blackberry.

As his rival wound up his closing remarks, Nagin surreptitiously scanned the notebook-sized computer that stores addresses, his schedule and e-mail messages, and there it was: a message from a friend that he had dimly remembered might contain data about the city’s alarming incidence of diabetes. "I went in and pulled up the e-mail, read it when somebody else was speaking, got my statistics, closed and won the debate," Nagin said later, grinning like a Cheshire cat and patting the Blackberry. "So this device is pretty cool."

Listen to the small circle of friends and advisers that Nagin has drafted to help him assemble his administration, and you might think the age of techno-government is about to dawn in New Orleans. Their chatter echoes with buzzwords such as "synergistically" and "plug-in." They inhabit a world where cell phones and beepers may soon be passé and where "real time" decision-making is considered real important.

A self-described "technologist" who has run the city’s dominant cable television company for the past decade, Nagin , 45, has no doubt that his passion will shape his administration, set to take power in less than two months. "The technology piece will be a big focus for me as far as making sure that city government is on the technology curve," Nagin said this week as he introduced the seven-member "board of directors" that will supervise his transition. "My understanding from him is that he wants this to be a big technology administration more than anything else," said David White, Nagin ’s close friend and business partner, who, along with lawyer David Marcello, is heading the transition. "That’s the blueprint: to use the latest technology to make government as efficient and effective as possible. The key is getting people excited about it."

Already buzzing

High-tech for Nagin is not merely a visionary ideal. He sees it as a hands-on solution to the challenge of trying to do more with less. Perhaps it also will prove to be a way to attract a higher caliber of employee back to City Hall, one adviser said. And woe unto the transition team member who fails to gear up with his own cell phone and Blackberry. "Ray said to the committee, ‘We have to walk the walk and talk the talk with the technology,’ " said Brenda Hatfield, a Cox executive who is part of the transition team. "He’s demonstrating through himself how he plans to use technology. He’s putting his Web site where his mouth is, so to speak."

"It’s elementary," White said. "If a CEO can access critical information on a real-time basis, he or she will be better equipped to make better decisions." The same holds true for mayors, Nagin believes. By Monday, he hopes to have launched a Web site, nagintransition.com, with the ability to log in resumés from anyone interested in working with him. Once in office, he has pledged to streamline the cumbersome permitting process for new businesses to the point where applicants can fill out necessary paperwork while sitting at a computer "in their pajamas."

Bill Hines, a corporate lawyer and transition team member, said Nagin even is talking about installing kiosks at home-improvement stores such as Lowe’s and The Home Depot where residents can get routine building and renovation permits on the spot, an idea already in place in other cities."He’s talking not just about overhauling this process and getting us up to speed, but maybe skipping a generation, leaping a number of cities and almost being cutting-edge," Hines said. "He wants us to be like an Austin, Texas."

Lots of work to do

Given the city’s rampant poverty, that may take some doing. Hines said Nagin is well aware of the need to provide training and access if his techno-revolution is to succeed. Other changes under discussion by the transition team include an electronic system to instantly link businesses looking to relocate here with representatives of local suppliers and companies that provide support services.

Nagin also intends to investigate radical innovations for rebuilding and repairing streets as well as the availability of longer-lasting materials that might be used to fill potholes or build roadbeds.

He may have no desire to see his mayoral opponent, Richard Pennington, stay on as police superintendent, but Nagin has expressed admiration for Citi-Stat, a proposal put forward by Pennington. Modeled on Comstat, the computerized log credited with helping to sharply reduce crime in New Orleans, CitiStat would inventory trouble spots on roadways and other infrastructure throughout the city and allow for greater efficiency in tackling them. Nagin has said he may give it a try.

Luring the best

In all this talk about technology, one adviser sees the possibility that the incoming administration will be able to attract a different breed of city employee. "Knowing they will be on the cutting edge instead of back in the Dark Ages has got to be an incentive," said Flo Schornstein, a longtime community activist who ran the city’s Parks and Parkways Department under three mayors before retiring in 1997.

Of course, attracting top talent and finding the means to hire it may be two different challenges. Acknowledging that the city’s threadbare budget will make it difficult to pay competitive salaries, the Nagin camp is exploring ways to get around the problem. Nagin has said he would like to eliminate some of the more than 250 mayoral appointees now on the payroll to free up money to pay others more. Also, his advisers say he will examine whether the business community would "loan" executives to City Hall as his administration gets on its feet.

Recognizing Nagin ’s close ties to corporate New Orleans, Schornstein expects the call for help to be well received. "Ray will be trusted by the business community to make good business decisions," she said. "I don’t think the cynicism toward City Hall will be as strong as it used to be."

Hines echoed Schornstein’s optimism. He noted that Nagin is approaching the task ahead as if he were buying a failing business, promising to have a complete outside audit on City Hall’s finances performed as soon as he takes office. Last week, Nagin asked the New Orleans Business Council to pay for the audit, and Hines said the council is likely to oblige him.

Such support could be critical for the new mayor as he struggles to get more out of less. "I expect him to think outside the box," said Ed Renwick, director of Loyola University’s Institute of Politics. "With the problems he faces, he’ll have to come up with creative solutions. I look for him to shake things up and maybe try a variety of things to see what works."

Preaching patience

The results won’t be seen overnight, warns Nagin , who used his victory speech in part to ask supporters for an extended honeymoon period before it’s even begun. "I’m trying to bring expectations down to some level of reasonableness," Nagin said this week. "Somebody was telling me a story that after the victory party, there was a long line of people waiting for their cars (outside the hotel). And this person said, ‘When Ray Nagin gets in office, he’s going to fix these long lines.’ "

Although he expects some progress right away, Nagin asked that voters give him at least a year and a half before judging his performance. "It’s not that we’re not going to start to have successes immediately," he said. "At the 18-month point, you will notice a dramatic difference in how city government is run."

At present, it isn't clear which memories of the Landrieu transition will seem the funniest to us in the future. But I'm sure by then we'll have enough glowing reports of the next incoming administration's talents to keep us as hopeful as ever.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Political fallout

Watching Republicans float the idea of nullifying health care reform on "state sovereignty" grounds is both funny and reflective of the neo-Confederate tradition from which they tend to speak. I'm not above being entertained by the asininity but I'm more cautious than some about saying they aren't on to something. We don't exactly enjoy the most un-partisan or restrained court system in history.

I'm also interested in seeing what happens to Republicans who intend (at least as of today) to run in November on repealing this bill. Aspects of the bill that go into affect immediately are sure to be popular if they are well understood by enough people. At the same time, since so many people won't notice any immediate difference in their lives and will still be paying premiums to the same insurance companies, it may very well still be possible to convince enough voters that something sneaky and evil was passed that they absolutely have to stop before it eats us all alive. It wouldn't be the craziest thing anyone's tried this year.

One thing that will help Democrats will be the fact that they actually managed to DO SOMETHING for once. Today's signing ceremony looked like a big Democratic pep rally. Maybe that sort of thing will be helpful. Or maybe it's not as much of a big fucking deal as they may think.

See yesterday's Lens for more. Best and truest line: "But (Congressman Cao's) assertion that the healthcare reform bill passed into law “seeks to expand” abortion is, simply put, a mean-spirited lie."

The gentleman from Minnesota votes no

That's a surprise. Talk about bucking the will of the constituents. Maybe they should run someone against him.

Small steps

On January 11, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered his annual message to Congress. In that address he proposed a "Second Bill of Rights" designed to preserve and advance the freedom of the American people in the modern age.

Roosevelt had in mind the fascist powers with whom his country was engaged in a great war as his example of the threat to freedom posed by hungry, jobless, and angry people. Roosevelt was resolved not only to defeat these enemies but also to overcome the fundamental issues of economic insecurity that animated them in the first place.

In the President's words,

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. "Necessitous men are not free men." People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all — regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation

  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation

  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living

  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad

  • The right of every family to a decent home

  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health

  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment

  • The right to a good education.

I've said all year that I'm unhappy with the timid way in which Barack Obama and the Democrats have gone about implementing the dim reflection of part of Roosevelt's vision the President has signed into law today. They have bent over backwards to protect the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. They have entertained far too much absurdity from their political opposition and both their reelection prospects and the bill itself have suffered unnecessarily for it. From where I'm sitting, this looks like a bill that passed simply because the voters had given the Democrats too great a majority to fuck up with despite their best efforts. Worst of all, I'm afraid the half-assed nature of these reforms will stunt rather than "open the door for" future progress.

In the meantime, though, there are, in fact, quite a few things to be happy with. But it could have been so much more.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Give them access to parking spaces

2010-03-20 10.03.06.jpg

Fun facts about filming in New Orleans:
In New Orleans, filmmakers have it made when it comes to setting up shop.

No permit is needed, just a request by City Hall to check in. The city’s film office, with three employees, fields complaints, calls and questions, and acts as a liaison for disgruntled residents wondering when street parking will be available.

Crews must abide by parking regulations, said Jennifer Day, director of the city’s Office of Film and Video. They must also abide by the rules of any agency that oversees the location. Filming in Jackson Square, for example, requires strict compliance with the parks department.

“They call it ‘film-friendly,’” said Day. “One of the reasons we are attracting the business from California is that they have come up with such strict guidelines. Because of the unprecedented success we have had, there are some issues.”

In last week's Gambit, Chris Rose summarized the most recent round of controversy between New Orleans Police and Mardi Gras Indian tribes over their use of the public streets.

The cops and other public critics of the Indians ­— and there are more than a few ­— have come to resent the Indians' casual flouting of city permit laws, particularly when it comes to providing parade route maps and details. But that's just the thing: There is no route.

And there are no rules. And this is why a unique accord needs to be crafted by a forward-thinker from City Hall ­— which doesn't seem in the offing; Ray Nagin's administration has chosen its usual course of indifference to deal with this controversy.

The thing is, the whole mystique behind the Indians' elaborate street theater is that observers who want to get near the action don't actually know when and where the tribes will be gathering. For instance, this Friday, March 19, is St. Joseph's Day, the biggest nighttime event of the year for the Indian Nation. Some 20 to 30 gangs will dress and prep all over town in the same fashion as float riders in a Mardi Gras parade.

The entire premise of the unfolding drama is based on assorted spy boys, flag boys and wild men to prance and sneak up and down streets, communicating by whistle and flag, literally playing an advanced-form adult version of hide-and-seek. Eventually, the Big Chiefs are led to each other by their underlings and the dance is on, accompanied by flurries of insults and challenges that might make even the saltiest of rappers blush. The Big Chiefs argue over who's prettiest like bantams strutting the barnyard. Then the steely veneers of the Chief and his underlings melt away, hugs and handshakes are exchanged, and the tribes wander off in different directions, looking for more tribes to throw down against.

So, the map thing? Yeah, it doesn't really work. So, what's the solution? To lock it all down with rules and designated parade areas would wind up making Indian culture a museum piece rather a vibrant, living organism. The whole pageantry and ritual would disappear. The point of it all would die.

Rose is right to wonder why no "forward-thinkers" at City Hall have come up with a "unique accord" to accommodate our city's authentic celebrants since obviously they've managed just such an arrangement for the fake ones.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What will happen first? (Obligatory non-"negative" post)

C&L lists ten nine TEN provisions of the health reform legislation that go into affect within six months of the President's signature.

All of these constitute good (if not great) news in one way or another.

Here's another list of HCR provisions and dates of enactment It includes,

*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.

How the hell will John Boehner stay so orange now? Suddenly his obstinate rhetoric makes more sense to me.

What the hell are they even upset about?

Every time I read an analysis of what this bill actually does, I really have to wonder what the Republicans think they're complaining about. The bill is good for doctors, mostly good for insurers, great for Big Pharma, and largely doesn't go into affect for four years. Republicans could have written the damn thing themselves. In fact, they sort of did sixteen years ago when they proposed much of the substance of this legislation as a counter-argument to the Clinton era reforms.

But we live with crazy political realities which dictate only one line of reasoning from your modern-day GOP which, as we've seen previously, is:

Health is on the way

I know, I know. The bill is exceedingly crappy. But the crappy bill is best we're going to get this time around. I'll be happy to go into the many ways in which the bill is crappy later on. But right now let's just get the damn thing passed so we can go about the business of trying to fix it.

Meanwhile, I'm out for the rest of the day. One year ago today I... um.... I got married. To celebrate, we had a nice dinner last night at Mr. B's which included this plate of shrimp and grits so buttery, creamy, and patently unhealthy that my having consumed it could have qualified as a pre-existing condition... had it not been for the bill that's about to pass.

Shrimp and grits

Friday, March 19, 2010

You know I hate that drama thing*

Not to spend too much time on this subject but what I'm saying essentially is that I just don't make much distinction between David Simon's dramatic reenactment of events sold as some sort of documentary truth and... say... this.
Before shooting began on the current New Orleans season of "Real World," pre-production announcements by Bunim-Murray Productions, the Los Angeles company that pioneered the series, seemed targeted at reversing that reputation by promising its cast would participate in recovery activities.

"Hurricane Katrina threw New Orleans for a punch, but the city is coming back, and we're hoping our cast members and the series can play a small role in the city's rebirth," said Jon Murray, co-creator and executive producer, in a news release.

At the same time MTV heralded "Real World's" high-minded return to New Orleans, however, the network was striking pop-culture gold with "Jersey Shore," a "Real World" clone that celebrates less-than-altruistic values.

The "Real World" episodes in production here now are expected to air later this year.

Flot, the police spokesman, wondered whether the toothbrush episode might have been contrived to get attention for the upcoming New Orleans season.

"This is a reality show," he said, "so who's to say this wasn't done just for some publicity?"

The details of the "toothbrush episode" are covered earlier in this story.
It started as a routine stop for New Orleans police: On March 1, officers were dispatched to look into a disturbance Uptown in the 1600 block of Dufossat Street.

What unfolded from that point was the stuff of reality TV -- literally.

The call came because a cast member of MTV's "Real World," now filming in New Orleans, had accused another of urinating on his toothbrush and then using it to scrub the toilet. The aggrieved housemate, Ryan Leslie, blamed the tainted toothbrush for a subsequent illness and summoned police. Though police conducted interviews and confiscated evidence, no one was arrested.

Whatever they say about their intentions, all of this pretty much amounts to peeing on our collective toothbrush and selling that for someone else's amusement.

And that's the last I'll have to say about this for a while, I hope. EDIT: It's the last I'll have to say until I actually watch Treme which I obviously pretty much have to do now.


Perhaps these fans should sign an offer sheet from Philly

1,200 could lose Saints season tickets

Also, we're expecting season ticket renewal notices to go out pretty soon. Everyone is certain prices are going up. No matter what the team's record is, price hikes are always a big "fuck you" to the fans.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

They say we're lazy men

Alex Chilton Dies at Age 59

Oyster digs up this segment of Chilton in New Orleans from MTV's 120 Minutes. The Youtube description says this was recorded in 1985. I think it could have been a bit later than that, though.

I'm not gonna watch Treme

My wife is from Baltimore and, the way she tells it, everyone there seemed to think of The Wire as a nuisance more than anything else. I've already had enough of my attempts at parking/walking/driving around town disrupted by the Treme crews to be sort of pissed myself. And besides, I don't get HBO and won't order it just for one show.

I like David Simon. From what I've seen and read, he appears to have a lot of important things to say about journalism, crime, and urban America. (For a taste, here is on the Bill Moyers show last year) But, and this is a personal take, I also think preachy TV melodrama is a horrible medium for communicating anything of worth to anyone. For me, the treatment of real-life problems as fodder for non-satirical serial tele-fiction only trivializes those issues to their own detriment. If I read a story in the paper about murder or flood victims, I feel sympathy for them and outrage at the conditions responsible for their plight. If I have to watch a contrived after-school special about whiny fictional approximations of those victims, I am rooting for the malevolent conditions. The bits of The Wire I've seen have generated no exception to this phenomenon.

At the same time, I know that other people, for whatever reason, aren't as sensitive to these issues as I am and will be watching and discussing the show as it airs. I will be interested in reading what they have to say about it.

Update: First of all, Ugh! If you feel like picking through that sprawling mess of a New York Times Magazine piece be my guest. Better to just take a look at the synopsis provided here by the Gambit blog. I know it's a TV series and thus designed to spin out indefinitely, but could someone at least begin to describe the plotline here?

More importantly, the characters are pretty much another assemblage of NOLA cliches designed to please tourists, transplants, and Jazzfest assholes. And that's no surprise. The show is written for a relatively affluent national audience (HBO subscribers). Under ordinary circumstances, I'd just write it off as more of the same bullshit packaging of NOLA-Disney for the Yuppie Intellectual we've been rotting with for most of our lives. But this is different. Here is Treme's primary pitch according to its HBO pub,
TREME begins in fall 2005, three months after Hurricane Katrina and the massive engineering failure in which flood control failed throughout New Orleans, flooding 80 percent of the city and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents. Fictional events depicted in the series will honor the actual chronology of political, economic and cultural events following the storm.

This isn't just a cheap trip to New Orleans. Instead, we are asked to see it as a dissertation on the effects of the Flood on the people of the city brought to us by critically acclaimed "auteur" (NYT's word) David Simon. In other words, a national audience is asked to believe it will be seeing something of authoritative substance regarding a catastrophic event. But Treme purports to "honor" New Orleans's experience of the Federal Flood through a palate of characters who represent the most cartoonish image of the city as seen from the outside.

Ordinarily I'd be irked. But because Treme baldly sells itself as a bid for the sympathies of the nation, I am actually pissed off. Not everyone in New Orleans is a musician or a chef... or a musical chef... or a guy who writes about musical chefs. We're a more complicated place than all of that. Frankly, I think we're a much better place than what that caricature suggests. But the underlying message conveyed by Treme is that flood victims don't merit concern on the basis of their humanity alone. It's telling us what's really important is that we (well some of us anyway) can sing and dance.

I don't do either very well and yet I want my city preserved anyway. We all should want it preserved, rebuilt, protected, not because it contains some talented people but because all of its people are Americans whose home was broken by the Corps. Allowing that case to be diluted by interloping "auteurs" attuned to the sensibilities of middle-American intellectuals is ultimately more belittling than it is useful.

The free-thinkers at Tulane decide it's best to ban websites they don't like

And this is the students we're talking about.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Today I am dressed sort of like an LSU baseball player. Pic below is actually from way back in 2006 but it's one of my favorites.

Monday, March 15, 2010

But the silence will rise to a shout

Sorry. Lot's of post-pub editing on this post. I can't proofread for shit.

This is the second comment below a rather threadbare dressing down of former NOPD officer Jeffrey Lehrmann by T-P reporter Terri Troncale. I wish I could link directly to it but NOLA.com is stupid. Troncale's blurb is today's "Monologue" on the Monday T-P "Viewpoint" sheet which is what remains of a once robust opinion page. The comment by NOLA.com user "joidevrai" reads,


First, it's taken almost 5 years for the T-P to demonstrate any compassion for the victims of this police action. There were plenty of red flags back in 2007 when these cops were first indicted, but the media dismissed the original indictment as politically motivated. For example, we knew then that one of the persons killed on the bridge was mentally handicapped with a childlike mental capacity. He had bullets or pellets in his back. This is not consistent with the cops' version of the so-called gun battle on the bridge. Second, the cops never claimed that the woman with the destroyed arm had a gun. So even under the cops' lying version of the facts, it was not right for them to severely injure her. But there's never been the least bit of concern for her welfare until now. No apology. No effort to comfort them. No amends. Now you can't stop writing about this horrific tragedy. A day late and a dollar short.

Second, your editorial today is premised on naivete and a total failure to use just a little common sense. You suggest that Jeffrey Lehrmann started off showing compassion for the crime victims and then like Anakin Skywalker transformed into Darth Vader, Lehrmann somehow turned to the darkside. Totally ridiculous! It's more likely that Lehrmann coerced and intimidated those poor victims as he "made sure they got to the hospital." I can only imagine what he told those people in the hospital as they suffered in silent terror. They ultimately lied for the cops, claiming that one among their group shot at the cops. Second, you assume that a cop who is this depraved and who has handled other murder investigations for the corrupt police department, has never lied or covered up before. How spectacularly detached from the real world! Given the outlandish actions he took in this cover-up, it's likely that he's had tons of experience.

The bottom line is that you at the T-P still don't get it. There is a culture of corruption at NOPD that spawns the kind of mentality that made it possible for otherwise normal human beings to become Nazi storm troopers. Guns are routinely planted by New Orleans police officers to justify their actions. Lehrmann and the other cops in the Danziger case don't have bad records as cops, as far as I know. They are average every day blokes who somehow became monsters. I suspect they've slept well the last 4 and a half years while the victims have grieved over their losses, convalesced and suffered in absolute terror.

When will you get it. This is so much bigger than Lehrmann or even our completely ineffective police chief, Warren Riley. This is about the heart and soul of our most powerful local government agency in the city, the police department. The heart and soul of the police department reek of corruption

For the longest time, I've found the T-P's silence on police abuses curious. I don't buy the argument that they're only now reporting incidents like this one as thoroughly and as prominently as they are because the facts haven't been available to them all this time. Just take a look at Gordon Russell's reporting on his own personal experience with an NOPD incident a few days after the levee failures back in 2005.
(Russell and his cameraman) saw a man, clad in a white T-shirt, down on the pavement, hands behind his back, not moving. We were both sure he was dead. A lot of agitated police officers hovered around.

It seemed no one noticed, though we were less than 50 feet away. Georgiev shot off a few frames, then started to drive away. As he passed through the intersection, the cops yelled at us to stop. Some had their guns raised. I shouted to stop, and Georgiev did, not as quickly as I would have.

A few cops rushed over and stuck their guns in our faces. I said I worked for the Picayune. I was told to shut up and get out.

They threw us up against a cinderblock wall and frisked us. There was a lot of cursing, and one of the officers mentioned a shootout.

One of the cops grabbed the notebook out of my shorts. They also snatched one of Georgiev’s cameras.

After a couple of minutes, the cops told us to leave. One of them skidded Georgiev’s camera back to him from across the street, like he was bowling. I still didn’t have my notebook and argued that they needed to give it back. I was told, again, to leave.

I took a quick peek around and saw my notebook on the back bumper of our SUV. I grabbed it, and off we went.

These events transpired in September of 2005 but Russell is only telling us about them in December 2009. His account appeared in the paper as part of the T-P's "Law and Disorder" series on police misconduct after the flood which itself was put together in a cooperative effort with PBS' Frontline and Pro Publica. To me, this looks suspiciously like no one at the T-P thought it was okay to print any of this stuff until it was clear that there might me interest from outside media. If Frontline didn't want to do the story, would the T-P have just kept quiet? Russell writes,
Later that day, I filed a story online about what I had seen, most of it involving the Superdome. This is what I wrote about the incident on Religious Street: “Near the former St. Thomas housing development, a squadron of police, some in tactical gear, were clustered in an intersection. A Regional Transit Authority bus was nearby, and a man who appeared to be dead from a gunshot wound lay on the ground.

“It was unclear what had occurred. Police said there had been a shootout as they forced a reporter and a photographer out of a passing car at gunpoint, pushing them face first against the wall. They took away a reporter’s notebook and tossed the photographer’s camera on the ground before returning them and telling the pair to leave.”

Maybe a month later, a police reporter at the newspaper talked to some NOPD officers he knew, and they told him the guy we had seen wasn’t dead.

We had no proof that he was — we just thought he was based on the confluence of circumstances. And there was no autopsy of a dead man who seemed to match our situation, though the cataloging of the dead was hardly done in a way that inspired confidence.

I put the Religious Street incident away, chalking it up to the fog of Katrina and figuring I would never know what really happened.

Until the Feds began probing the Danziger incident, and Frontline decided to run with these stories, it looked as if the T-P was content to just assume no one would ever know what really happened in a lot of these cases. But now that those things have happened, it's time to pile on. Two questions spring to my mind here.

1) Given that the reporting (now that it's getting done) is of such good quality and follows a well-marked trail of facts, what does this tell us about the editorial priorities of a paper that has been so cautious in waiting until four and five years after the fact to fully pursue these issues?

2) Does this cautious reluctance tell us something about the T-P's relationship with NOPD brass? One could argue that the paper has been unduly reluctant to take on a clearly incompetent and corrupt command structure at NOPD until the lame duck months of its appointing administration. Are they afraid to burn bridges with sources in the department? Or are they just not interested in rocking the boat at all?

OR maybe they were just intimidated.
New Orleans police officers have engaged in a pattern of unlawfully arresting or harassing journalists and bystanders who tape or photograph them in public, a lawyer for two men suing the city told a federal jury Monday.

A lawsuit, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, claims police officers violated the constitutional rights of plaintiffs Greg Griffith and Noah Learned, who were arrested at a 2007 Carnival parade.

The plaintiffs cite 11 other incidents since 2005 in which people were arrested or allegedly threatened while videotaping, photographing or merely observing police officers. The list of potential plaintiffs' witnesses includes Times-Picayune city editor Gordon Russell and Associated Press Television News producer Rich Matthews.

Oyster correctly guesses at the title reference. Well, at least, guesses it to the nearest band and there are usually good odds with that guess but still it's something. So here's the damn song.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

City Council candidate says mean things in email. Doesn't think it's fair that she should have to explain them

See, it happens in other cities too.

Well, they certainly were thorough

Second former New Orleans police officer pleads guilty in Danziger Bridge shootings

Many of the details Lohman admitted to when he pleaded guilty are reiterated by Lehrmann in documents associated his case. But the Lehrmann factual basis, which describes the facts the former NOPD is admitting, lays out a series of fresh details and allegations. These new details included the fabrication of civilian witnesses, the removal of physical evidence from the shooting scene and creation of false statements that police maintain were made by the shooting victims.

Adding... Always frugal to bring along a bag lunch..

Lehrmann also admitted that he and two sergeants rode with an investigator to the investigator's house. At that point the investigator retrieved a bag from a storage container in his garage. When asked what was in the bag, the investigator said it was "a ham sandwich." Lehrmann looked in the bag and saw the revolver that police would claim to have found under the bridge. Police would later say that gun was evidence that the civilians had shot at officers.

Time to draw the line

Big parade? Sure. QB on the Oprah show? Okay. Pull an obnoxious prank on Jerry Jones? By all means, yes, go do that. You've won the Goddamn Superbowl. It's time to live it up a bit.

But here's what you don't get to do. You don't get to hire Peggy Wilson's nephew to write a book in your name that, if the pub is any indication, is filled with the kind of self-aggrandizing blather that would make Ed Blakely blush.
“Sean Payton isn’t just a brilliant football coach, leading the NFL’s perennial losers all the way to the Super Bowl. What he has achieved in New Orleans goes far deeper than that. Amid the immense devastation of Hurricane Katrina, in a stadium that was a worldwide symbol of misery and despair, he has built a team and a culture of winning that have lifted a whole battered city back to its feet.’’

Sean Payton "lifted a whole battered city back to its feet" Really? Since when does anybody get to make a statement like that and not have the wood brought directly to his skull?
“(Payton) approached the challenge as two parallel missions. A struggling team had to be rescued. So did a struggling city. Both had been pushed back on their heels. Both needed a much stronger offense."
Gahh. The city needed a "stronger offense" We are now compounding bad football cliches on top of the already uncomfortable milking of the flood narrative. It can't get any worse than that, though, right?

“And how did the people of New Orleans respond? With a Category 5 outpouring of gratitude and love"

Alright that's it. The Superbowl pass is now expired. Sean Payton just douched it all away. Still, it's gotta be better than "The X-Box Kid", right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Still a douchebag

Open letter to Chris Rose

I started laying off of Chris Rose because everything I started to write about him just ended up looking like the above snip from this month's Levee

I read his first Gambit column and it sort of pissed me off but in a sad way... no not in a sorrowful man of letters way... more in a bored way. When I was still bothering with it I once wrote
I still can't decide if Rose is just that creepy uncle who always wants to smoke pot with your friends or if he's more like that one frat boy who feels entitled to his smug assholery due to the fact that he may actually have read a book once.
As you can see, nothing has really changed.

The thing that always did and still does really bug me about Rose is that he's one of those people who acts as if everything that happens is only important because it's happening to him. And worse, he's not above turning the bad things that happen to him (and tangentially, in his mind, to other people) into an industry of sorts. So it's as self-absorbed as it is opportunistic as it is insensitive. But I had pretty much decided we'd covered all of that. And then Gambit had to go and give him another big platform....

Update: Also giving Rose a platform, WVUE. The point of this piece: Scott Fujita's free agency really all about Chris Rose somehow.

And Fujita delivered, big time, on and off the field. Charities and tackles; a great combination. A winning combination. And, irony or ironies, on the day he signed with Cleveland, the Times-Picayune wrote a feature about him that basically said he’s the greatest guy ever.

Well, bully for Cleveland.

Funny, speaking of the Times-Picayune: At the end of 2009, I myself became a free agent. In 25 years at the company, I never once received a merit raise. And they said I could stick around if I wanted to, but they were encouraging old and expensive goats like me to head out to pasture.

Nothing personal, they assured me. Strictly business.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Will Jindal let us have this?

I mean, by all appearances, this is a train from New Orleans to Disneyworld

Maybe as long as it doesn't levitate, he's cool with it.

Get your gub'mint hands off of my Medicare

Funny but, in a way, the President's plan really does threaten Medicare.

Countries where health care prices are negotiated centrally with the government at the national or provincial level – for example, because they have a single public payer for health care – pay much lower prices and their medical inflation rates are lower. (Here's a good article about price vs. quantity; it's a pdf.) Yet this plan does nothing to change the status quo in the U.S. It includes some pilot-project-type programs to see whether Medicare can cut some services without reducing quality. (We are assured this will never affect the quality of health care for the elderly, but it surely won’t be tested on Lloyd Blankfein.) But the “structure” left in place is still based on private health insurance – i.e., decentralized price determination, or what Obama likes to call “choice and competition.”

But it gets worse. The decentralized private payment system will inevitably start crowding out the public insurance we already have, especially Medicare. With continued double-digit medical inflation, the slow-motion dismantling of Medicare isn’t a possibility, it seems like an eventual certainty. (Just look at the current deficit hysteria, which is now being propitiated by the White House and its independent commission.) We are on a moving train going in the wrong direction; instead of turning the train around, this bill tries to solve the problem by having us all run towards the caboose.

But, as Greenwald explains, running for the caboose is all this President ever seems to do.

Re-starting an old catchphrase

Gonna be a giant sucking sound

Devery Day

Why the hell not?

OPELOUSAS, La. -- Opelousas plans a parade Saturday to honor hometown hero Devery Henderson, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver who had seven catches for 63 yards in the Super Bowl win over Indianapolis.

I thought the Mayor's office didn't have anything to do with education

So what will this "task force" do, exactly? Other than get another 30 of Mitch's friends' names on a meaningless but official-looking piece of paper, I mean.

Maybe Leslie Jacobs can be on this task force too. (She's already on the "economic development task force") Jacobs has already combined both of these areas of expertise in advocating for a system of education which squeezes the maximum output out of its labor force.
Sean Gallagher, Akili's principal and founder, said his teachers are paid to work 50-hour weeks, but often put in 60 or 70, particularly during their first months. He and Stephanie Lyon, the director of curriculum, post about 80 hours a week on a routine basis. In its first year, Akili's salaries ranged from $41,500 for novices to $52,000 for the school's most veteran teacher, who had seven years of experience. Like others at charter schools, Akili's teachers are at-will employees, without the collective bargaining or tenure of teachers in many traditional school districts.

With dozens of lesson plans and a year under their belts, the teachers work less now than when they first started. But Gallagher said the school still must do more to make work conditions realistic. Akili, located in Gentilly, opened in 2008 with kindergarteners and first-graders, and plans to add a grade each year.

"You're going to run out of people willing to work an 80-hour week," he said. "Everyone here is single; no one has a kid. That's just not (replicable). I want us to look like something any school in New Orleans could do. Right now, we're not there."

Update: Landrieu's task force has been named and, like the economic development task force, it's a mish mash of established players and stakeholders from the Charters, NOPS, RSD, UTNO, etc.

What the Mayor-elect is doing with these task forces, is little more than playing the "bringing people together" game at the start of a new administration. And that's quality political warm-n-fuzziness but don't look for anything substantive to come out of it.

Meanwhile, please see Editor B's personal take on the T-P story I linked above.

The cruel practice of denying teachers their basic right to live their lives is actually part of a larger tendency of shunting responsibility for institutional failures off of management and onto the least powerful participants in the labor force. And that trend isn't going to reverse itself any time in the near future. The current environment is loaded with biases against unionization, against institutional memory, and, in a lot of cases, against native New Orleanians in general, all of which enables this kind of situation.

Upperdate: I know it's a day later but I just noticed dsb has more detail on the Task Force (particularly the number and names of those tied to the Charter movement)

Trading in bullshit

Is there a bigger racket anywhere than "consulting"?
In his Feb. 20 letter to Hatfield, Chrisman raised concerns about the city’s use of a revolving loan fund that gives the city an advance on money that ultimately will be reimbursed by FEMA for professional service contracts such as the one held by MWH.

Specifically, he takes issue with a contract with Haggerty Consulting. Chrisman said the contract check sheet shows the dollar value has gone up to more than $2.3 million from $298,000 in 2008: “An 800-percent increase from the original contract value while essentially performing the same services.”

Chrisman also raises questions about a contract with Telecommunications Development Corporation. In October, the company’s contract was valued at $450,000. The contract was “strangely once again amended,” he said, to a value of more than $4.5 million… a 1,000 percent increase in just three months.”

Because I want in. But let's call things what they are. My start-up consulting firm will be called Moving Decimal Associates.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Bye, Scott

We'll send your ring through the postal service. Which means, of course, you might have to wait until after the weekend if you're expecting home delivery. But it's still probably better that way. If you were planning to drive down to the Dome to get it, you'd end up having to pay the damn parking meter.

Anyway, Oyster is right. Fujita was one of the good guys and an easy guy to root for in the home colors. But, in all seriousness, I'm just not going to be bothered by anything that happens in free agency this year... or possibly ever again for that matter. The simple fact is, that Lombardi Trophy the Saints just won can't go sign with another team. They get to keep that. The deed is done. I'm frankly surprised that anyone expects there should even be a next chapter in this story.

On the other hand, seeing as how the Superdome roof did not peel open to reveal the awesome face of God moments after Scooter's kick went through the uprights vs Minnesota, I really ain't got nothing better to do but to keep paying attention while I'm waiting for that.

"A neighbor's complaint"

So often these incidents start with the convenient anonymous "neighbor's complaint"

As seven New Orleans police cars converged on the corner of Second and Dryades streets on Mardi Gras night, Big Chief James Harris of the Seminole Warriors grabbed for the five youngest members of his Mardi Gras Indian tribe, all of them younger than 6. Holding up his feathered purple, green and yellow wing, Harris tried to slow the cars, but they kept moving through the thick crowd of parading Indians and spectators, sirens blaring and tires squealing Harris said he barely was able to pull the children to the sidewalk. “They were scared,” he said. “One ran this way and the other ran that way.”

Starting about 6 p.m., the police cars raced for at least 15 minutes, according to cell-phone video accounts, and officers insulted bystanders, spectators said.

The episode, which a police commander characterized as a routine effort to clear streets sparked by a neighbor’s complaint of Indians with guns, has stirred memories of the events of St. Joseph’s Night 2005, when officers sped through crowds and told Indian chiefs to remove their extravagant suits or go to jail

I know a lot of cops really hate Mardi Gras. They work long hours. People are assholes to them. I get it. But it's part of the job and when they start taking their frustrations out on people like this,
“It was manic,” said Patrick Keen, a barber from nearby Brimmer’s Barbershop. When he asked an officer why they were circling the block, Keen said, the officer called him a crude name and complained that the Indians “are messing up my night.”

Two other men said they were treated unpleasantly by the same officer, said Keen, who said he walked up to Sgt. David Liang and asked to file a complaint. He said Liang ran a criminal check on Keen, finding nothing, before getting on his radio and describing the complaint, which Bardy said is being investigated.
well... you don't get to do that. And maybe these officers wouldn't feel like they did get to do that if there was anything like quality leadership in the department but then... well we know what that's like right now.

Oh goodie another planning meeting

I know a lot of people are excited about the new document that proposes to freeze and segregate urban development patterns according to professionally planned ideas of what constitutes proper land use. I am not one of those people. I instinctively understand that the professional planners don't have a lot in common with people of my sensibility and income level. So I'm not comfortable with giving their ideas a shield from what they would term the "whims" of my democratically elected representatives.

Anyway there's one more round of meetings coming up. Might have to go and mess with them a little.

S & WB stories

Everybody's got one.

Signs that the seasons are changing

  1. Spring is coming. You can see it in the buds beginning to sprout on some of the trees and vines.


  2. The NFL offseason is here. You can see in the stories about the Uncle Rico Scandal beginning to sprout back up in the news.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Who knew?

Looks like Jay Batt can coach college basketball too.

This could affect today's outcome somehow.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Everybody hearts Jay

Batt's "war-chest" is impressive. Take a look at all these fine, upstanding pillars-of-the-community just aching to put him back on the council.

Batt's donor list is peppered with familiar names.

Among those who have given him the maximum $5,000 contribution are car dealer Ronnie Lamarque and his wife, Natasha; Fred Heebe, one of the owners of River Birch landfill, which receives at least $7 million per year in payments from City Hall to dispose of garbage; and City Planning Commission member Lynes "Poco'' Sloss.

Batt received $3,000 in donations from developer Joseph Canizaro and venture capitalist David Voelker and his family and $2,500 donations from engineering consultant Walter Baudier, lawyer Calvin C. Fayard Jr., manufacturing executive Jay Lapeyre and former Councilman Bryan Wagner.

The $2,000 donors to Batt include lawyers Henry Braden, who raised money for Mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu and failed mayoral candidate Ed Murray, and Herschel Abbott; and shipbuilder Boysie Bollinger.

Batt's $1,000 contributors include lawyers William Broadhurst and William Aaron, Vieux Carre Commission Chairman Ralph Lupin, businessman Greg Rusovich, restaurateur Ralph Brennan and Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Jiff Hingle.

People keep asking what happened to Ray Nagin's "shadow government" and I keep telling them it's doing just fine.

Still I wonder why it is that, despite the fact of this well-known perpetual campaign against him, so many people still seem to really love Jay Batt. I mean, we already know he's a great dancer

And that he likes cocktails with little umbrellas in them

That's all very endearing. But still something tells me there's gotta be something else. This morning we learned that Batt says it might be about keeping ACORN BOLD from doing... something... to the council's Utility Committee.
This week, Batt slammed (Karen Carter)Peterson with a campaign mailer alleging that her endorsement of Guidry is part of a "back room" deal to reacquire a consulting contract she lost in 2000 with the council's Utility Committee. The flier also attempts to make a connection between Guidry and the leaders of BOLD, Peterson's political organization.

BOLD, which has taken no position in the District A race, supported Batt when he won the seat 2002. Finance reports from that campaign show that Batt made a $15,000 payment to BOLD to cover his share of the costs for printing and mailing the organization's ballot.

Efforting to "connect the dots'' regarding the alleged deal with Peterson, the Batt flier cites a comment by Guidry at a campaign appearance where she expressed an interest in serving as chairman of the Utility Committee. It then says Peterson's endorsement came on the heels of Guidry's statement.

"There are no coincidences in politics," the flier says.
Indeed. It would be an unfortunate coincidence if someone managed to "back room" themselves into something like utility oversight who just happens to not know how to do Jay's dance correctly. Thank goodness there are no coincidences in politics.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Fletcher Mackel's continuing one-man crusade to ruin all sports in NOLA

I know I said I was going to stop reading these but earlier this evening, Fletcher released his latest 2-year scheme to trade every Hornet more or less for the fun of it. Seriously, he does this every week or so. This time I was going to let it slide since the Hornets really are pretty much done for the season and will likely continue looking for ways to dump salary. (Not crazy Fletcheresque ways like giving away Darren Collison and David West, mind you, but, yes, they'll make some moves at some point.)

Anyway, like I said, I was gonna let that go but then I just happened to glance at the Tweeter Tube a while later and found this.
Jake delhomme will be released by panthers. Saints should sign him to replace brunell and be bress backup! Asap!
Wait. What? Jake freaking Delhomme? To the Saints? "Asap!", even? Are you.... I.. what?

Look, Fletcher, I can relate. I really can. Here's something I haven't told a lot of people. When I was a young lad, back before the internets were piped into the house, and while the golden age of sports video games was still a few years away, my parents bought me a copy of Statis Pro Basketball.

You see it was this board game that allowed you to recreate professional basketball games based on player statistics and their relationship to the probability of various dice rolls. If a particular 12 or 13 year old boy had the requisite patience, time, and geekiness, I suppose, this particular individual could not only recreate a couple of games, but could, in fact, reshuffle the deck of cards and create his own league where he could say recreate an entire season's worth (or more) of these games. He could even, maybe, record the standings and statistics from these imaginary basketball games in a notebook that he might, in fact, still have laying around in a box somewhere.* One thing this kid would definitely do a lot of is ponder and execute a ton of imaginary trades among these imaginary teams of his in order to make the imaginary season all the more compelling.

And, yeah, that would be a lot of fun for that kid. But, Fletcher, although one of us is maybe a little baby-faced, neither of us is 13 anymore. None of this imaginary shit is going to happen, much of it probably shouldn't happen, and most of it is actually pretty annoying to even contemplate. Let's leave it be, okay?

*Side notes: Yeah so maybe Statis Pro was a little weird but, like I said, I was 13. Some people I know still think it's okay to play Dungeons and Dragons well into their 30s. (It is, in fact, never okay to play Dungeons and Dragons)

A few years ago, I learned that Jack Kerouac managed and recorded the results of entire baseball seasons which he played in his own imagination. I figure that adds at least something to the coolness quotient of Statis Pro sports.

Also, yes of course there was also Statis Pro Baseball. Yes, of course, I still have that notebook too.


Yeah. Offbeat. Not cool.

Bye, Charles

You can pick up your ring at the back door. Thank you. Have a nice day.

New Orleans Saints Executive Vice President/General Manager Mickey Loomis announced Thursday that the club has released offensive lineman Jamar Nesbit and linebacker Mark Simoneau, and that the club will release defensive end Charles Grant on Friday.

Grant, one of the team's two first-round draft choices in 2002, played in 118 regular season games for the Saints over eight seasons - starting 106 of them - and tallied 505 tackles with 47 sacks to rank eighth on the club's all-time sack list. He also had one interception, 14 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He started all 16 regular season games for New Orleans in 2009 and made 53 tackles with 5½ sacks before being injured in the regular season finale, ending the year on injured reserve for the second consecutive season

Yes, he was overvalued and under-productive for most of his career here, really. But defensive ends don't exactly grow on trees.

Not just Danziger

FBI says it's investigating 2 more Katrina police shootings

And and aaaaand.. if you'll notice the end of this article says
The FBI is also investigating two other cases that are not Hurricane Katrina-related: the shooting death of Adolph Grimes and the shooting death of Robert Robair.

And, I expect, there's more. Gonna have to turn the whole jar over and shake it all out.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010


After the flood, in the first few weeks after we were allowed back into town, I had two really weird conversations at Johnny White's which followed this script. 1) Person A and I are talking about things we hope come back soon. 2) I mention something that I particularly like or is important to me. 3) Person A suddenly reveals that he/she just happens to own or be in charge of that thing.

One of those conversations was with Scot Craig who owned Katie's restaurant in Mid-City and happened to mention this after I told him how much I hoped it would be rebuilt. He seemed pretty determined at the time that it would. Five years later, turns out he was right.

Getting nuts... or maybe just back to normal

The District A race has officially crossed over into stupid-land. At the Gambit blog, Kevin Allman reports on last night's final candidate forum of the 2010 election.

And while neither Batt nor Guidry deviated from their well-worn positions on the campaign trail, one topic was much discussed by both candidates: ACORN, the advocacy organization for low-income families that’s been so much in the news lately. Given the voting habits in Lakeview and the makeup of the crowd (solidly Caucasian), it was safe to assume both Batt and Guidry wanted an ACORN endorsement about as much as they wanted one from Ray Nagin. And yet both candidates claimed the other had ACORN’s seal of approval.

I've been saying for a while now that the 2010 election has been a mostly conservative return-to-pre-K normalcy event. And, yes, I include the Mayoral result in that thinking for reasons I'll explain as we go along. But the fact that a District A debate can end up being about something as silly as ACORN endorsements is perhaps the strongest indicator yet that the new Golden Age is, in fact, what I think it is.

I don't want to give away too much of that Gambit post before you go read it. Allman has some fun pointing out Jay Batt's comic hypocrisy on the matter. I would have liked to see the post include the important background fact that the infamous James O'Keefe "pimp" videos (the reason this whole issue is a controversy in the first place) have been exposed as a major hoax. It's important context for anyone reading an article about what District A candidates think is worth talking about.

Also of note here is Susan Guidry's apparent discomfort with the fact of her SEIU endorsement.
During one of her trips to the podium, Guidry waved a flyer not produced by her camp, which claimed she had the endorsement of both ACORN and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which would like to unionize New Orleans restaurant workers. Guidry said that, as the Democrat in the race, she was the de facto choice for unions (and, indeed, SEIU Local 21 has endorsed her), but she denied ever getting or seeking support from ACORN.
Guidry doesn't want us to hold her union endorsement against her, especially one that could appear antagonistic toward the restaurant and tourism businesses which, of course, demands our eternal deference no matter how little real wealth it generates for most of its employees. Helpfully, she points out that being the "de facto choice of the unions" is really just an unavoidable consequence of happening to be a Democrat. (Poor Susan. Guess she was just born that way.) What she doesn't say is that she wasn't the "de facto choice" of labor as recently as the February primary. AFL-CIO endorsed Republican Virgina Blanque in the primary because, as one labor source put it, "Guidry is an asshole". And if Susan Guidry is enough of an "asshole" to make a Republican look okay to labor by comparison, we struggle to think of what this says about Jay Batt who in turn manages to makes Guidry look like "the de facto choice".

Either way, we rest assured knowing that when we're choosing between an asshole on the one hand and something worse on the other and neither of those can think of anything better to talk about than ACORN, things are definitely getting back to normal in District A.