Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Nothing to see here.....

NFL.com: Saints likely to franchise Brees; QB frustrated

Of course, as NOPD's press agent has already demonstrated, nothing that happens on February 29th actually counts anyway.

Your computer isn't actually your computer anymore

From now on, all your personal data will be centrally managed.
In short, it allows the system to be managed by someone other than the person using it. This is how PCs in corporations are managed. You can login on any PC in the organization and your personal desktop will load, you’ll have access to the same network shares and permission to execute whatever programs the IT people allow you to execute. If management chooses, they can record every keystroke or even capture video of your screen as you work. In other words, when you sign into that thing, everything you do can be monitored, the information that you can access and the programs that you can use can be changed at any time.

This is all old news in the corporate world.

But this Windows 8 presentation is geared toward regular home users…

Serpas signal

Updated (Holy shit they're messing with us now.. or maybe it's the leap year):

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

Thursday March 1, 2012, the New Orleans Police Department’s Traffic Section will conduct a DWI Checkpoint beginning at approximately 9:00 P.M. and concluding at approximately 5:00 A.M. in the Uptown area. Motorists will experience minimal delays and should have proper documentation, i.e., proof of insurance, and a valid driver’s license if requested.

So.. you know.. be smart about your straw placement.

Her majesty's bandwagon

Assorted local royalty lining up to go a progress behind Stacy Head.
Donors who gave Head the maximum $5,000 contribution were Crescent Bank & Trust and lawyer Anthony Gelderman.

Head received $3,500 each from investment banker Daniel Conwill IV, developer Brian Gibbs and businessman Jay Lapeyre, a former chairman of the New Orleans Business Council. Making $3,000 contributions to Head were Nathan Chapman, Vaughn Fitzpatrick and Rudolf Wilhelm.

Among Head's $2,500 supporters are Herschel Abbott, Bollinger Shipyards, former mayoral candidate John Georges, lawyer and activist Keith Hardie, businesswoman and education reform leader Leslie Jacobs and the Reily Foods Co.

Two other notable donors to the Head campaign were nationally prominent Republican political consultant Mary Matalin, who gave her $500, and accountant Hardy Fowler, who reigned as this year's Rex.

Afterward, Ms. Head's prominent backers met Uptown for a toast

Rex toast


Leander Perez wouldn't have settled for just shooting at a photo.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Energizing turnout

Contrary to all the hubub, Rick Santorum's crossover appeal is about more than just mischievous Michigan Democrats voting in the Republican primary.

No one knows who will win Michigan tonight, but the fact that it will be incredibly close has weakened Romney’s campaign by underscoring his enduring problems connecting with working class and evangelical voters. This was supposed to be an easy state for Romney, who took it by ten points in 2008’s primary and has outspent Santorum there this time by 2 to 1. Even headlines like Romney barely wins home state will not be doing him any favors. In the same way, as both Republicans and Democrats have commented, Rick Santorum may lose Michigan, but in a sense he’s already won by coming this close.

I expect Mitt will eke out a "win" tonight but it's going to be an embarrassing one. But beyond that there are many reasons to believe that Santorum would make a stronger challenger to Obama should he manage to gain the GOP nomination. He won't be the nominee but it won't be because he's any less "electable."

"Upon or around"

Between this and Palmer's curfew we're really moving into some uncomfortable police state territory here.
Under one proposed ordinance, bars could have their licenses suspended or revoked and face fines if people younger than 21 are found "upon or around" their premises, though the proposal does not specify a distance.

Communitites of interest

Peppi Bruneau's terminology is interesting here. For whatever reason he figures "conservative" is synonymous with "white" in New Orleans. Some of us might beg to differ.
A number of supporters came out to argue for a map that Bonin favors. At one point he even asked them all to stand and had Morris, the board attorney, count them. They came to about 50.

Among them was Bonin's Republican ally and longtime former state lawmaker Emile "Peppi" Bruneau, who argued that the plan favored by Bonin would preserve certain "communities of interest," a more "conservative" one centered in Bonin's Lakeview district and a "minority" one toward the eastern portion of the city.

Of course he probably means only to say that a Lakeview district is probably a conservative voting bloc about which he gets no argument from anyone.

The article doesn't make clear specifically which of these alternative maps Brett Bonin and Thomas Robichaux are disagreeing over but the description suggests that Bonin is arguing for something that looks like this while Robichaux favors one more like this.
Deciding exactly how to draw the new lines has divided the board starkly. At issue is the line between the 3rd District, represented by Brett Bonin, and the 7th District, represented by Robichaux.

Bonin is essentially accusing Robichaux of trying to water down minority voting strength in the 7th District, an area that encompasses some of the city's historically black neighborhoods, by taking more heavily white precincts in the Bayou St. John neighborhood from the 3rd District.
My read on this, though, is that it's actually Bonin who is trying to preserve a gerrymandered "conservative community of interest" in the Lakeview district. At least that's what my best guess at the maps under discussion indicates. Which is why I don't quite get why Sandra Hester agrees with Bonin here. Either way, it is thanks to Ms. Hester's habit of peskily throwing herself upon the wheels of the machine that this story even made the front page this morning. So congratulations to her once again.

Monday, February 27, 2012

New-prohibitionism marches on unperterbed

Old enough to vote and die in a war, not old enough to enter that corner bar Stacy Head wants to shut down and flip into luxury housing anyway.

Adding... I'd say something about how awful this is for live local music venues but we already know the City Council hates them too.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Breaking promises

Jindal to state employees: "I am altering the deal. Pray I don't alter it any further."

Under the governor's plan, all employees under the age of 55 would have their retirement age bumped up to 67 to match Social Security's retirement age and that age would move along with the federal system. Louisiana is one of six states in which most state employees do not participate in Social Security.

"To change provisions such as those targeted would violate the constitutional restriction against impairing existing benefits," Rougeou said. "Employees who are not yet vested have contractual rights to their benefits."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The book on Nagin

Just go read this.

Agenda setting big lies

The reason to pay attention to absurdities like this that frequently emit from Presidential candidates isn't just so we can gasp and say OMG HE LIED. Of course they lie. What matters, though, is what they hope to accomplish by those lies.

In this case Newt wants to fire a lot of people so he tells us a big lie about how much money might be saved by firing a lot of people. And that, in turn, makes the ensuing conversation about combating the obvious intentional lie about the figures. But once the conversation becomes a fight over how much money might actually be saved by firing a lot of people, that's still... well... a conversation about firing a lot of people. The particulars no longer matter. In the abstract... or to borrow Newt's terms... big grandiose sense, Newt wins no matter what.

Plus, a Presidential candidate telling big lies is in a unique position to affect the conversation beyond merely the scope of the office he's pursuing. Firing a lot of people is a big topic at the state and local level in Louisiana and nationwide. Newt understands this, probably better than any other candidate left at this point.

1,045 citations

That looks like a big number.
Neutral ground violations were a problem, as has been the case in previous years, Landrieu said. The city handed out 1,045 citations to parade-goers for violations including roping off sections of neutral grounds, blocking cross-streets and erecting tents and structures. Landrieu says he hopes to better clarify exactly what the rules are for next year's Mardi Gras celebrations.

But this press release told us, "any prohibited items that are placed on the neutral grounds will be removed and disposed of immediately."

Obviously that isn't what happened.

Lundi Gras neutral ground

Frankly, I don't know what more the city can do as far as clarifying the rules is concerned. They've done that pretty well the past two years now. Part of the problem, though, is I suspect the majority of the people who need to hear that clarification either are not yet in town at the time the Mayor makes his announcements or are suburban residents who aren't going to concern themselves about the problem they create for locals anyway.

This letter published in today's Times-Picayne gets to the heart of why this is so frustrating for those of us who grew up loving Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras has always been a time of sharing with strangers.

Krewes unselfishly purchase beads and trinkets to throw to all who come to participate in this free celebration.

People who have never seen each other before stand for hours together through numerous parades sharing beads, drinks, snacks and good cheer.

The selfish act of putting up a 12-by-12 tent to claim a spot of precious ground and air space as theirs does not have a place in the spirit of Mardi Gras.

If the city were truly interested in preserving Carnival for its own people, it would apply more direct enforcement techniques against the tourists and spring breakers who have turned our neighborhood into their own gated playground during the second weekend. My suspicion, though, is that the city cares more about them than they do us.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


After this, it's back to the crappy part of the year until football season starts again. More later but I've got a house to clean.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lundi Gras Photo Dump

Rolling the Avenue
St. Charles Avenue after Tucks

Dragon and NOPD
Tucks Dragon marcher and NOPD discuss the finer points of the city's Mardi Gras ordinances

Proteus 2012
Proteus 2012

Cyndi Lauper
Orpheus guest Grand Marshal, Cyndi Lauper

Smokey Mary
Orpheus' Smokey Mary float

Ground beads
Tonight's mess, by now cleaned away by the Krewe of Municipal Vehicles, only to make room for tomorrow's mess

The view from yesterday

Napoleon Avenue crowd
Napoleon Avenue neutral ground during the Thoth parade yesterday.

There wasn't time to snap more photos once we got to St. Charles but, believe me, it was even crazier looking than this. We had a great time but I'm wondering more and more it the route consolidation plus the city's refusal to enforce its own ordinances regarding space hogging on the neutral ground isn't turning St. Charles Avenue and the neighborhoods it traverses into another Bourbon Street. Each year I hear more and more stories about the increasing intensity of the frat-party atmosphere out there.

This afternoon it looks every bit as bad. More later but now I've got stuff to prepare for tomorrow.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Paradise plastic cheap and fantastic

Overloaded float
Thoth "Bali Hai" float filled to brim with plastic crap ready to roll out to one of the most congested Uptown parade days ever.

Fat Friday photos

The Skeleton Krewe dropped off a Krewe D'Etat bulletin with us. Here is an unfortunately lidded Clay looking it over.

Krewe D'Etat Bulletin

And they say print is a dying medium.

My favorite D'Etat moment was the Garland/Heebe themed float. It featured such oft-mumbled Garland quotes as "Maybe I'm just not smart enough" and "Can't someone explain this to me?" Naturally, I have no photo. I did manage to get these shots, however.

Bobby Hebert

Bobby Hebert

The, now it seems, obligatory "Ain't Dere No More" theme

Ain't Dere No More float

Earlier, the Hermes floats were staggeringly beautiful. Taking their theme from Persian literary forms, Hermes proved itself once again the krewe most likely to send parade-goers scrambling to Wikipedia.

Anyway, like I said, the parade looked gorgeous. But don't take my crappy photography for it.

Hermes floats

Please refer, instead, to the Uptown Messenger's coverage.

Morpheus was a re-run of several floats we'd seen already in King Arthur and in Nyx.

This one, for example, was float 18 in Morpheus.

Morpheus float

But was the title float during King Arthur.

Louisiana Bicentennial

This is perfectly normal, of course. But really the parades with re-rerun floats and lightweight theming should probably roll during a daytime or mid-week slot and not anchor the schedule on the second Friday night.

Meanwhile, it's Saturday afternoon and raining. This doesn't feel like an Endymion year to me... although we may take a look at Chewbacchus. While we're waiting, here are some riddles to ponder.

First, last night was my first encounter with one of these sign-toting preachers this far Uptown on the St. Charles Avenue parade route.

Jesus sign

What are the odds he had been kicked off of Bourbon Street by Kristin Palmer or Leo Watermeir?

At the end of the Morpheus parade, this cart invited people to throw their beads back at it so that they could be recycled.

Recycle cart

A noble idea although I'm wondering, given this enforcement initiative, if it doesn't actually constitute entrapment.

And finally, today's T-P answers the question I asked the other night about the Endymion floats I saw being moved down Poydras Street.

Determined to roll as scheduled, Krewe of Endymion officials took extraordinary measures late this week, going so far as to wrap their massive Mardi Gras floats in plastic and position them in lineup formation inside the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Endymion president Dan Kelly said officials can now move the floats to the staging area as late as 3 p.m. Saturday. The city will allow the parade to start as late as 7 p.m., he said.

Last night I was asked if granting Endymion use of the Convention Center for float storage at the last minute... apparently for free... was a new practice. If so, can other parading organizations request this special favor should they need it in the future or is only Endymion so privileged? Or if the club is being charged for use of the space, how was that arrangement arrived at? Does the club have room in its budget for an emergency expenditure like this? Anyway, I didn't have an answer to that so I'm taking a page from Garland's book and asking if maybe someone can explain it to me.

Friday, February 17, 2012

This will be an impossible mess

Now they're talking about rolling NOMTOC, Iris, Okeanos, Mid-City, Thoth, Bacchus.... and then still a possibility of Endymion all on the Uptown route Sunday beginning at 9am Will not end well.

I Drove A Think Tank

Too busy for a full Carnival post right now but real quick, this. Last night, thanks to the hospitality of Adrastos, I had an opportunity to see the Krewe of Chaos floats just as they emerged from their den on Bordeaux Street. This one was their tribute to the Garland Robinette - Fred Heebe scandal.

Chaos Garland Robinette float

More later. But there's food to cook and parades to catch.

Midnight run

Tomorrow's forecast continues to look dismal. But we still aren't aware of any final decisions by Tucks, Iris, NOMTOC, or Endymion regarding their parades. I don't know what this might mean, if anything, but at about 2:30 AM I happened upon these Endymion floats being moved down Poydras Street in the direction of the riverfront.

Endymion floats

Endymion floats

Could this mean Endymion is preparing to make the move to the Uptown route?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It never rains....

This afternoon, Endymion's captain told the Times-Picayune that they're doing "everything we possibly can" to roll on Saturday despite the wet forecast.

Last year, Endymion cancelled the Friday night before it was set to roll, saying even early thunderstorms would cause problems for its mammoth floats, which must get in position several hours before the parade is set to begin.

"Endymion is going to wait as long as it possibly can… we are doing everything we possibly can to go Saturday," Kelly said. Last year was a different story. We don’t want to go on Sunday."

Nobody wants Endymion to roll on Sunday. Especially those of us who are concerned about the ever-increasing problem neutral ground clutter along the Uptown parade route where Endymion would undoubtedly be re-routed. This week, Gambit has been helpfully keeping us up to date on the horrific things the Endymion crowd has been doing to Orleans Avenue during the week leading up to the parade. We're expecting the Uptown route to be bad enough as it is this weekend. Moving all that bullshit across town on top of it only compounds the problem.

Meanwhile, from that same article we get this.

Kristin Danflous, captain of the Krewe of Iris, said Thursday that her organization has no intention of parading in heavy rain like last March, and is working to secure an alternate spot.

"I hope everything falls into place and hopefully it doesn’t rain, but we are not going to parade in torrential downpour like we did last year,' she said. 'That was awful."

The reason that quote makes me giggle a bit is last year, before the "torrential downpour," the Iris captain was quoted in the paper with a similarly arrogant sounding, "It doesn't rain on Iris." Well this year, they "are not going to parade" in it. You can almost hear the pearls being clutched.

Don't get me wrong. I love watching Iris, but their Uptown Ladyism is showing a bit.

Ladders and whatnot

If you're at all interested in that sort of thing.

Hey, Heckuva job!

Former BP Boss Tony Hayward eligible for $950,000 bonus

Meanwhile, back at the ranch,

More than half of the 110,299 private claimants suing BP in the huge trial set to begin in federal court Feb. 27 have never filed with claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, calling into question whether they are eligible for compensation. That's according to numbers released by Feinberg to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier on Wednesday.

The data suggest that Feinberg may not achieve his stated goal of settling 90 percent of all legitimate claims out of court. At the same time, the numbers -- a rough barometer of the size and strength of the plaintiffs' army -- could have a significant impact on tense settlement talks among an army of lawyers who have descended on New Orleans.

Going to get worse before it gets better

The Lens reports on yesterday's city council criminal justice hearing on cuts to mental health services at the LSU Interim public hospital.
Dr. Roxanne Townsend, chief executive officer of LSU Interim Hospital, told the committee that the hospital has already seen its budget shrink by some $150 million since 2009, down from $955 million to $804 million.

“This is the first time we have had to touch behavioral-health services,” she said. “We do anticipate that there will be an overflow into the emergency room.”

Unfortunately, the emergency room is slated to lose four beds as well.

“These [proposed] cuts are happening to a system that has been on a road to improvement, but it is fragile,” said New Orleans Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo.

She cited the “extremely short timeline and somewhat arbitrary nature of the cuts,” and noted that the city does not “have room to absorb these cuts,” given the various and ongoing post-traumatic disorders and social ills that continue to befall New Orleans.

The cuts to LSU dovetail with Governor Jindal's highly questionable medicaid privatization program. Funds that once went to provide these services will now be funneled through private managed care networks.

Jindal critics at the Advocates for Louisiana Public Healthcare maintain that the governor essentially raided $50 million in Medicaid money generated at LSU Interim and gave it to his Department of Health and Hospitals to shore up that department’s $489 million shortfall.

Those critics argue that Jindal has consistently tipped the scales in favor of reimbursing private Medicaid providers over public and charity hospitals such as LSU Interim.

Worse still, at about the same time this hearing was taking place, we learned that Louisiana's share of Medicaid funds is about to be slashed even further as a result of the congressional deal to extend the payroll tax.

The agreement also rolls back a special Medicaid funds deal for Louisiana, which critics decry as a backroom deal to win the vote of centrist Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and supporters say was necessary to help a state that’s still reeling from Hurricane Katrina. It additionally cuts Medicaid pay bumps for hospitals with a high proportion of uninsured patients.
And so if the overall Medicaid pie is shrinking again, don't be surprised if Jindal seeks to make up the difference for his pet private networks plan by coming back to raid the public hospitals a second time before the budget is passed.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Big Orange Splot

Surely this can't be real.
New Orleans Police Chief Ronal Serpas announced a new initiative to identify houses that have been investigated for narcotics activity based on citizen tips to Crimestoppers Inc. Officers will place a bright orange sticker on the property.

But don't worry, the chief assures us. This doesn't mean that officers will tag their scarlet-orange octagons to your home based merely on the hearsay of random anonymous tipsters. No no, they will only take this action once a judge has granted them a search warrant... based on evidence provided by random anonymous tipsters.
Serpas made the announcement in conjunction with the crime-fighting organization's unveiling of a new smart phone application called Tip Submit that will allow iPhone and Android users to anonymously report tips using their portable telephones.

I'll be very interested in this remarkable technology that allows a person using a smart phone to contact the police anonymously. Although I'm not too keen to be the first to test it out, I might enjoy bringing it with me on a short walking tour of Garden District homes just for kicks. If all goes well, expect Serpas' next move to be the creation of a task force charged with affixing little red thumbs-down stickers to restaurants that receive negative Yelp reviews.

It seems only yesterday New Orleans neighborhoods were fighting the stigma of the dreaded "green dot". These orange stickers seem certain to bring with them a similar effect. New decade, new brightly colored shape to look out for. At least the stickers are easily removed, or so the Chief would have us believe.

The stickers do not have to remain on the home and Serpas points out that they can easily be removed.

“This particular glue does not destroy paint. It will not destroy glass or anything like that. When our officers finish the work that they do on that house, they will put this on the house for a period of time until someone takes it off,’ says Serpas.

That seems fine although it gives me no information on what to do once the sticker becomes sealed to my building by the inevitable thick coat of grey paint.

Regardless, I'm sure more than a few folks who saw this story yesterday just got a great idea for their Mardi Gras costumes for this year... or maybe next. And of course this is not to mention the deluge of new T-shirt designs we're certain to see in the coming weeks. All about keeping the brand out there, right?

Update: And like many dumb ideas, this one has already died a quick dumb death.
New Orleans Police Department- Public Information Office

A Statement from the Superintendent

“The NOPD will not implement the placarding strategy. The intent of this pilot program was specifically to inform anonymous callers that the NOPD had acted on their tips and to encourage more anonymous reporting of illegal drug activity through Crimestoppers. These tips to Crimestoppers have been a very successful tool for many years, but the NOPD is routinely asked if we have acted upon these anonymous tips.

“I recognize that without widespread community support, the placarding strategy will not be successful, so we will not move forward. We believe buy-in from the community on policing strategies is vital, so we will continue to engage the public as we develop new policies and programs through Police Community Advisory Boards. The NOPD will continue to find ways to notify the community of our efforts to rid their neighborhoods of drugs.”

Superintendent Ronal Serpas

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The story they are actually going with

Rocky and Carlo's restaurant fire in Chalmette caused by spontaneous combustion Not saying it can't happen but... what kind of oil are they using in that kitchen?

Norby thinks that Ewell has a bad idea for naming something

Writes itself, really.

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - State officials are questioning the wisdom of a proposal being considered by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to buy the naming rights to the New Orleans Arena.

Houma-area state Sen. Norby Chabert said Tuesday that several south Louisiana lawmakers think the proposal is a bad idea.

The money would come from $30 million BP gave to repair Louisiana seafood's reputation after the Gulf oil spill.

Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham, who oversees the money, told a legislative panel that he wants to have a "lot more conversation" before any naming rights deal is struck.

Seafood board executive director Ewell Smith says the naming rights could help Louisiana seafood and restaurants statewide. Several trade groups and industry officials say the money could be better spent elsewhere.

Most depressing council race ever

Well... most depressing since the last one... or until the next one... anyway.

In one corner we have State Representative Austin Badon.

Badon, who was briefly a candidate for Mayor during the last election, is known for the following.

1) Last year Badon recommended we have the National Guard occupy New Orleans until the murder rate gets under control.

2) Similarly, during his short Mayoral campaign, Badon promised an audience they could expect to see NOPD "kicking in at least four doors a day" should he be elected.

3) Badon also signed onto this neo-prohibitionist manifesto.

4) Last, but not least, Badon apparently has some sort of problem with my well-honed ability to tweet while driving.

Standing with Mr. Badon in his corner are the following fine entities.

1) The so-called "Alliance for Good Government" whatever that may mean.

The Alliance is one of countless groups that gets involved in local races, but polls show that its stamp of approval impresses voters, who consider it something of a political "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval."

2) The organization known as the Greater New Orleans Republicans. You might remember GNOR from such famously "strategic" maneuvers such as having worked very hard to re-elect Ray Nagin in 2006.

3) Political consultant Cheron Brylski, who, we are given to understand is partially behind an astroturfy effort to shut down a lot of live music in New Orleans. Jan Ramsey discusses this problem in a recent Offbeat editorial but makes such a mess of it that it needs further clarification.

In the other corner we have District B Councilwoman Stacy Head.

Stacy is famous for all sorts of awful things I don't even feel like going into.

Most recently we learned she has been pushing to have lower Magazine Street converted to two-way traffic which can't be good for anyone except real estate speculators. Here she is telling us that litterers are murderers or something like that. Here she is telling us how much she would like to have your car towed. In this article she tells us that poor people don't pay enough in taxes. There's more but you get the idea.

Anyway here's a list of Ms. Head's illustrious backers, in case you're looking for something to throw on one of our still-burning marsh fires this weekend.

The notable donors listed on the invitation included lawyers Herschel Abbott and Joe Bruno; businesswoman and education reform leader Leslie Jacobs; businessmen Coleman Adler, Tommy Coleman and John Georges, Bill Goldring and Boatner Reily; shipbuilder Boysie Bollinger, restaurateur Ralph Brennan;, developers Brian Gibbs and Elie Khoury; and venture capitalists David Voelker and Gary Solomon.

So this will be fun. Here's how fun it will be. I can, at the bottom of this post, type the phrase, Cynthia Willard-Lewis is also running, and not have it be the worst thing you read.

Hey look it's Mitt's new hood ornament

Beware of Bead Dog

Who needs SOPA?

The system of political censorship currently governing the internet in the supposedly free world seems to be working just fine.

And in other online free speech news, Helena Moreno is proposing the criminalization of satire. I do hope that passes. Should be really great for "the discourse."

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mysteries of Stonehenge

Some say it's an ancient calendar. Others claim it has religious significance as a site where strange pagan rituals were once performed.

Mysteries of Stonehenge

Whatever its purpose, this arrangement of chairs was spotted along the parade route Saturday just prior to the arrival of the Krewe of Pontchartrain. I think I spotted it when I was on my way to pick up a combination bahn mi from Le Viet Cafe where, as you can see here, they also offer a $6.00 "bag of crawfish."

Le Viet Cafe Mardi Gras Menu

I'm not sure what a bag is by weight but, according to this T-P feature, a few weeks ago a pound of boiled crawfish was selling for about $4.00 and prices were falling. Meanwhile, gasoline is averaging $3.44 and climbing. when we get to the point where they equalize, we can start running our vehicles on crawfish. But until that time, or at least until Mardi Gras is over with, plan on walking. The traffic out there right now is just impossible.

Pontchartrain looked good. Or at least according to this sign, somebody looked good.

U Look Good

The weather was nice anyway which made for pretty photos.

Here's the head of Pontchartrain's signature Captain Sam float. Captain Sam looked good.

Captain Sam 2012

The St. Mary's Academy Marching Band looked good.

St. Mary's

The Big Easy Roller Girls looked good.

BERG in Pontchartrain

Even NOPD looked good in their new reflective vests.

Reflective vests

Pontchartrain's theme was Louisiana Festivals which I'm almost certain they've done before... perhaps more than once. The float titles were presented as fill-in-the blank puzzles as Pontchartrain likes to do every year. They're pretty easy to guess at if you want to play the game. Here's the Stawberry Festival, for example.

Strawberry Festival

And the always popular Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

Shrimp and Petroleum Festival

They even provide you with a scorecard at the end of the procession in case you feel like grading yourself. (If you score a 4 or below, that looks pretty bad.)

Score key

I'm sure Sparta and Pygmalion looked just as good Saturday night but I was maybe a little too cold... or more accurately a little too much into the liquor by that point to get many photographs out of the deal. I did manage this shot of Pygmailion's new "Pygmammoth" float. Looked pretty good.


Finally there's this bit of surprising news. Rouses red velvet king cake, while it may look like holy hell... actually not all that bad.

Red Velvet King Cake

Seriously try some. As for whether or not you want to try infusing it into your vodka... well, I'll leave that up to you.

There's more from Sunday but I'm having trouble getting all my photos uploaded right now and, besides, this post is too long anyway. Will try and catch up later in the week.

Quote of the Day

“If I spent time verifying who was being honest, it would take all day.”

Deputy HDLC Director Eleanor Burke regarding a rather weird demolition request.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Carnival Photo

Krewe of Pontchartrain yesterday afternoon


And now I'm out to enjoy what looks like it might be the last day of nice weather this season.


This business of who does or doesn't "deserve" help when they need it is the ugly core of our paralysis.
And as more middle-class families like the Gulbransons land in the safety net in Chisago and similar communities, anger at the government has increased alongside. Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.

The poorer we get the more cruel our disposition toward the poor becomes. It's a brutal neurosis and a self-defeating vicious cycle that almost certainly guarantees ruin.

But at least we're keeping the medieval magicians who want to dictate what sorts of health care choices are available to women happy. So we've got that going for us.

All in the family

Jarvis Deberry posits that Ray Nagin's real fault is that he cares too much for his family. And if you count Aaron Bennett, Greg Meffert, and Frank Fradella as part of "The Family", in a sense, he probably has a point.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday morning video

Given where we are a year and a half later with regard to crime and public safety in New Orleans, now might be a good time to review this RT V panel discussion led by Tulane criminologist Peter Scharf. The panelists are Safe Streets executive director Allen James, Jon Wool director of the Vera Institute for Justice's New Orleans office, Police Chief Ronal Serpas, and Independent Police Monitor Susan Hutson.

You may feel the need to fast forward through Loki's extemporaneous opening invocation.

Rising Tide V: Public Safety Panel - Part 1 of 2 - (28 August 2010) RUSH VIDEO from Sophielab on Vimeo.

Rising Tide V: Public Safety Panel - Part 2 of 2 - (28 August 2010) RUSH VIDEO from Sophielab on Vimeo.

Bonus RT trivia: Many remember this as the day Serpas spent about an hour and a half illegally parked over the yellow line.

Hail to the Chief

Friday, February 10, 2012

And then there was a parade... sort of

King Shango

If, for whatever reason, you've decided to make Oshun's Friday night procession through Uptown your first ever experience of a Mardi gras parade, don't expect to be blown away. This parade is as bare bones simple as they get. There are about 15 or so floats even the largest of which are light enough to be pulled by pickup trucks and vans. The riders aren't throwing much. Our entire haul tonight consisting of one toy tomahawk plus one frisbee recycled from an Endymion parade is pictured below.

Oshun loot

On the other hand, if it's your first time around, there's no better introduction to the basic template than this. Slight crowd, uncomplicated floats, one or two dance teams, and several very good marching bands like Mcdonough 35 here.

McDonough 35 Marching Band

The cynic may come away from this parade feeling a bit ripped off but I don't think that's the right attitude to take. Often this time of year we will resort to a cliche which reminds us that Mardi Gras is a marathon, not a sprint. If that's true, then Oshun is only the first quarter mile and all we're trying to do is get our feet moving and find a comfortable pace.

To that end, we decided to go ahead and take the opportunity to experiment a little here in the early going. Earlier, I'd said that I was contemplating making my own king cake flavored vodka on the cheap. Well... yep pretty much.

Homemade King Cake vodka

As you can see, what we've done here is we've broken off a little chunk of plain Rouses king cake and dropped it into a shot glass filled with regular Stolichnaya. That's step one. Step two is... well actually that's pretty much it. What happened next was I just left this on the counter and moved on to drinking Abita Jockamo IPA which is conveniently now available in cans just in time for parade season.

Abita Jockamo

By the way, I don't understand why anyone would want to complain about having a parade in cold weather. I can fit a large number of these cans in my jacket pockets for easy carrying. And, of course, they stay cold longer there in this weather. This is what I took with me on a walk around the neighborhood scouting out parade route food.

The only discovery of note is that Le Viet Cafe near St. Charles and Jackson is offering a $5 breakfast special this year (Eggs, grits, and biscuit or sausage) that I may have to take them up on at some point. Either that or just order the pho which is every bit as effective as a hangover cure.

After the brief walk came the parade, which didn't take long, and then it was back home where the slice of cake had begun to dissolve into that vodka still sitting out in the kitchen. It tasted... sugary... cakey... and only slightly vodka-ey on account of all the sugar having taken the edge off. Not being a fan of any flavored vodkas, I'll defer to Menckles who says it's actually better than the now famous Lucky Player King Cake vodka she tasted a few days ago. I realize that's not saying much.

Anyway if you must do this horrible thing to either your king cake or your vodka this year... and I've got a feeling it will be all the rage... rest assured in the knowledge that it isn't the worst of all possible combinations. This is.

Oyster shooter

That's a raw oyster and horseradish sauce suspended in a shot of vodka which the good people at Acme are all too happy to sell to any idiot who asks them to. Take it from this idiot, that shit could definitely use a little icing.

This week in Carnival stuff

  • The Royal Sonesta Hotel engages in a famous ritual each year where they prepare for the final weekend of Carnival by greasing the poles supporting their Bourbon Steet balcony. The idea.. or really the joke.. behind the ceremony is that this prevents drunken revelers from shimmying up onto the balcony should the spirit direct them to attempt such a thing. But really, the whole thing is done for laughs.

    Meanwhile, our tradition of applying fresh signage each year to the library bookdrop just before the first parade crowds gather may be more practical in its purpose, but it has become a similar ritual by which we welcome the season ourselves.

    New year,  new sign

  • Spent Sunday afternoon at the Thoth den party. Thoth's theme this year is "Streets of New Orleans" Expect to see a lot of this logo next weekend.

    Thoth sign

  • Meanwhile, Menckles had an opportunity to help decorate a few of this year's Zulu coconuts. This one, she says, is an homage to Varg's work.

    Zulu coconut 2012

  • If you're looking for an alternative to Saturday night's Uptown parades, you might check out the shoebox Krewe of 'tit Rex because, if you're pissing off the Rex organization, you're obviously doing something right.

    In fall 2011, members of the Rex organization contacted the microkrewe about the use of its registered trade name.

      "I was shocked and bemused," Yuslum says. "I almost thought I was being punked."

      Some of the 'tit Rex founders met with a lawyer from the Rex organization.

      "We tried to amicably resolve our concerns with regards to the copyright issue and their use of the name Rex," says King Logan, a spokesman for Rex.

      Both sides describe the meetings and correspondence as friendly, and both say they want to find a mutually agreeable solution, but it is unlikely one will be reached before the tiny krewe parades Saturday. Rex offered to license the use of its name to 'tit Rex, but the krewe rejected the offer. Yaslum says the proposal included an admission of copyright infringement and went on to define the small krewe in ways members deemed restrictive. Logan says the offer proposed various points but a legal agreement was not drafted. The group altered its name by replacing the e with a schwa and offered that to Rex officers as a solution.

      "We tried to honor what they wanted and maintain the identity of our parade," Schrenk says.

      The proposal has not yet been considered by Rex and won't be until after Mardi Gras, Logan says.

      In the meantime, the issue has spilled over into the parade. The 2012 theme is "Napoleon Avenue Complex."

  • Earlier in the week, NOPD met with representatives of Mardi Gras Indian gangs in an effort to reach a better understanding about how the tribes will be treated on Fat Tuesday.
    Chiefs from both sides left the meeting hopeful but circumspect.

    “A seed was dropped. And hopefully we can cultivate that seed and watch it grow,” said Big Chief Tyrone Casby of the Mohawk Hunters tribe. Big Chief Darryl Montana from the Yellow Pocahontas nodded. “I feel like we’re getting there. But only time will tell,” he said.

    “I think this awareness will pay dividends,” said NOPD 1st District Commander Bobby Norton. “The task is to get every officer to understand the Indian tradition.”

    Norton — whose district includes Indian hubs such as St. Bernard, Claiborne and Orleans avenues — is convinced this year will be a good one for Indians, who travel the streets chanting and drumming while visiting places of honor and engaging in elaborate games of hide-and-seek.

    Indians have for years complained that police squad cars often vex them by blaring sirens without reason. “We’ve totally said no to that,” Norton said. “No to lights and sirens. No to pushing Indians off the street.”

    And if there’s an issue with a tribe, it won’t be resolved by an officer yelling over his intercom. “Officers will get out of the car and go directly to the chief,” Norton said.
    All of this, we've heard before, of course.

  • If you're going to the parades this week, keep an eye out for the O.P. Walker Marching Band. Odds are, they're in whatever parade you're watching.

    O. Perry Walker is taking on a demanding schedule this year. Six of their nine parades will be back to back, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. In spite of all the physical stress inherent in the activity, one student dreads a decidedly different aspect of marching. “It’s tough not stepping in horsepoop because you can’t really see at night. Then your whole night’s messed up until you find some grass.”

  • I'm still not in a... um... festive enough mood to blow $27 on a bottle of novelty flavored vodka. But I'm working on ways to make my own in the meantime.

    King Cake, Vodka

  • Finally, it's starting to look like the weather is clearing up before Oshun gets set to roll. Driving around today, though, I noticed several trucks and scattered equipment which I am told is the Treme crew filming in front of The Columns hotel on St. Charles. If it's not gone by 5:00, I'm calling Parks and Parkways to see if they'll come haul all that shit to the landfill.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Does this mean we have to wait a while before Volume II of "Katrina's Secrets" comes out?

Merry Christmas four or five years too late, everyone.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether city vendors gave former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin gratuities ranging from plane tickets to materials and equipment for his family's granite-countertop business and also helped the firm land an exclusive installation deal with a retailing giant while Nagin was in office, according to several sources close to the probe. The federal probe is zeroing in on Nagin along three parallel tracks: luxury travel and home maintenance provided by city technology vendors; a granite countertop installation contract that Nagin's family company got from The Home Depot; and the possibility that at least two businesses with City Hall dealings arranged for the delivery of free equipment or materials to the Nagin family's now-defunct firm.

For a long time I wasn't among those who thought Nagin was ever really going to be in the federal crosshairs. But that was before the Aaron Bennett stuff came out and it started to look like they had someone willing to talk a lot. Anyway read through the issues being pursued now and you'll find it touches nearly everything everyone Nagin ever accused of "hurting this recovery" by asking questions ever complained about.

But what I keep coming back to is this. Back while all these crimes were being committed was about the time we were reading the T-P squee all over the Pampy Barre trial and digging after whatever bones they thought Marc Morial might have left buried somewhere. But all that damage had already been done. And now Nagin's damage is done too. If Nagin does get indicted, I'm sure we'll all get a big kick out of it. Perhaps, if we're lucky, he'll elect to defend himself via his popular Twitter feed.

But while all that ghoulish business it going on, I do hope someone pays a little attention to the damage currently being done. Either way it's hard to see the pattern being interrupted any time soon.

Update: Dambala is right. Somebody owes him a drink.... at the very least. But more importantly, and in keeping with my point here, I'm interested in seeing the new snake countdown.

Going the wrong way?

They're thinking of making the one-way section of Magazine Street between Calliope and St. Andrew into a two-way.

At Councilwoman Stacy Head’s request, the city’s Department of Public Works conducted an initial study of converting Magazine to two-way traffic from Calliope to St. Andrew. The project would involve changing traffic signals, signs and road striping — in addition to a six-month trial period — for a total cost of approximately $100,000.

My only complaint about the way it's currently engineered is I have to make two extra right turns in order to get to Surrey's. That doesn't seem like a big deal but, if I'm going to Surrey's, I'm probably too hungover to be driving in the first place so I could use all the help I can get.

Last year while Magazine was being resurfaced, I remember seeing Pat argue more than once that, if anything, the city should be going the other direction here and extending the one-way throughout the Uptown business corridor presumably creating a "complete streets" haven of diagonal parking and bike racks made out of candy canes or something.

One thing we do know is that the two-way Magazine Street above St. Andrew is one of the most dangerous stretches of road for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists in the whole city. Okay well we don't know that without the statistics but there sure do seem to be a lot of accidents there. Anyway, that was probably on the mind of at least some of the folks at this meeting.

Both sides of the debate claimed safety concerns as the rationale for their decision. Proponents said that two-way traffic generally flows more slowly than one-way, so it would lower speeds of passing motorists, in addition to eliminating crashes from drivers inadvertently heading the wrong way. Opponents countered that the move would increase traffic overall, crowding out pedestrians and bicyclists.

But what's probably going on is people interested in lower Magazine real estate believe two way traffic is good for business. I mean, I figure it might help idiots like me get to Surrey's faster anyway. Plus it's hard to argue with house flipper Stacy Head's noted eye for real estate opportunities.

Land-based prior offenses

Whatever criminal negligence BP commits on land... stays on land... or at least out of the courtroom.
U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans today issued rulings blocking the introduction of exhibits pertaining to the 2005 explosion at BP’s Texas City, Texas, refinery and a 2006 oil spill at its Prudhoe Bay field in Alaska.

The April 2010 Macondo well blowout and explosion killed 11 workers and caused the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The accident spurred hundreds of lawsuits against BP and its partners, including Transocean Ltd., the Switzerland-based owner and operator of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded, Halliburton Co., which provided cementing services for the project, and Anadarko, the owner of 25 percent of the well.

The prior incidents were all land-based, while the Macondo incident occurred in the Gulf of Mexico,” Barbier said. The circumstances of those accidents were “vastly different,” he said.

The Lost Cause

Second guessing Les Miles' BCS game plan is bound to become a whole new genre of folk literature.
Jefferson said several plays the team had worked on were never called and at times he could not change plays, but would have if allowed. He said the Tigers should have spread the Alabama offense out more and used the wide receivers and tight ends more.

He also said the team didn't make the right adjustments for the second half and that moving into a pro style passing offense will help his potential NFL career as he prepares for the scouting combine. Jefferson also said he was being "scammed" in the bar fight incident by the alleged victim.

"Spamalot Bill"

Between this and John Flemming thinking The Onion is real news, I'd say it's beyond time to get everyone's irony sensors recalibrated.
Mississippi State Rep. Steve Holland has had a busy afternoon. After we reported his introduction of H.B. 150 yesterday, a bill that aims to rename the Gulf of Mexico the very pro-'Merican, Onion-worthy title "Gulf of America," the Democrat's office has been flooded with press calls to respond to, essentially, "what the hell are you doing?"

Turns out Holland has a bit of a goof streak going on. He called Gambit to tell us the bill is his tongue-in-cheek single-finger salute to mock his Republican peers obsessed with illegal immigration.

Parks and Parkways Problems

This afternoon, the city sent out its press release regarding Mardi Gras policies and enforcement via the NOLA ready email system. it's the same thing Gambit shared with us yesterday. One detail left out of the coverage and commentary of yesterday's press conference about all of this is spelled out in the press release.

The city’s neutral grounds are the direct responsibility of the Department of Parks and Parkways; therefore, any prohibited items that are placed on the neutral grounds will be removed and disposed of immediately.

As you can see, I've highlighted two bits of information here. The part I've highlighted in black tells us everything we need to know about how seriously we can take the bit in red. Oh well.

Update: Nate points out in commenting that City Hall has already contradicted the "removed and disposed of immediately" clause.

Landrieu last year -- during his first Carnival season as mayor -- vowed to tighten enforcement of several long-standing rules, including by removing sofas, tents, ladders and portable toilets that residents often set up on neutral grounds.

While city crews and contractors hauled off loads of furniture and other items, the articles weren't logged before they were dumped at the landfill, so the extent of the initiative remains unknown, mayoral spokesman Ryan Berni said.

At least one Uptown resident, however, complained that the cleanup effort wasn't as intense as the mayor's threats.

Dick Wegmann wrote last year in a letter to The Times-Picayune that during a drive up St. Charles Avenue on the Satuday before Fat Tuesday, "the neutral ground was 85 percent covered with ladders, tents, chairs, tables, portable toilets and all sorts of other objects staking out territory for tomorrow's parades."

"If you are going to enforce the laws, then enforce the laws," Wegmann wrote. "If not, then don't tell us you are."

Budget constraints this year will force City Hall to "scale back" their enforcement of improper neutral ground use, Berni said.

"We're just going to be asking for cooperation," he said. "We will continue to ask that there not be bulky furniture or structures on neutral grounds or in cross streets. And we will continue to ask that ladders be placed back from the street."

Berni may not be technically lying, of course. My best guess is that the un-logged items hauled off to landfills were actually abandoned and picked up by clean up crews after parades. But that's just a hunch. It could, in fact, be complete bullshit. But I'm not about to go digging through any West Bank levees for evidence of Mardi Gras detritus just to fact check.

Meanwhile, Mr. Wegmann's complaint is correct. As I documented last year, and as anyone who spent any time at the parades will attest, there was no evidence that any such enforcement had been done.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Calling all "Dangerous people of the internet"

Did no one thing to YouTube this performance for posterity?
During a question-and-answer session Tuesday night before the Alliance for Good Government, a combative Gressett appeared determined to frame all of his responses with attacks on one of his opponents, District B Councilwoman Stacy Head -- regardless of the question.

Though he was warned repeatedly to stay on topic, Gressett called out Head every time. At one point, Gressett, a real-estate broker and a serial candidate, charged that Head had "destroyed" economic development in the Central Business District, though he cited no examples.

Sternly worded letter and associated press conference

Tried this last year. None of it will matter until we see some actual enforcement.

CBD - As New Orleans gets ready to open the Mardi Gras Mainline down St. Charles Ave. on Friday, Mayor Mitch gathered city officials and the press today to remind everyone that there will be police officers everywhere during Mardi Gras, that it is possible to be rude to others on the parade route and that the City of New Orleans now employs elbow grease

I know we can't make it perfect but if NOPD would actively discourage the use excessive deployment of tents and festival chairs along the route, the experience could be quickly improved for a great many folks. This is something of a pet peeve of mine so expect updates as we go along.

Update: Gambit has a copy of this year's "Be nice at Mardi Gras" press release which you can read here.

"Gulf of America"

Presumably because there is plenty enough oil in it for cooking your Freedom Fries.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Don't even know where to begin with this IG report

But then, neither did Maldonado.
Every sentence of today's report from Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux on the City of New Orleans employee life insurance system is a potential news lede.
I might point out that the part where benefit claims were not filed for six of 21 City employees who died during a 2 year stretch is pretty staggering.

I've read about companies like Wal-Mart who take out secret life insurance policies on their employees and collect the benefits themselves. We know that from time to time the city discusses ways to turn its public resources, like its water system, into profit centers but, for now anyway, we'll assume they aren't planning to take this route where it regards their employees.

No, this looks like it's probably more stupid than it is sinister. Although, in this town, it is pretty difficult to know the difference since these factors so often combine to form... you know... tradition.
In the wake of the report, Hartford has also agreed to stop paying commissions to two agents, who each raked in more than $125,000 through the life insurance policies over the past eight years. Though the report does not name them, Quatrevaux identified them as Lionel Smith and L-Force Management Group, whose principal is Noah Lewis.

The two men, both of them contributors to Mayor Ray Nagin's political campaigns, were named by Nagin to insurance "committees," comprised of agents, that advised City Hall on insurance matters and shared in commissions. Both men were on an 11-member health insurance committee that city officials said in June 2005, after an unfavorable ruling from the state's Ethics Board, that they planned to disband.

The committees were a traditional source of patronage, and the members were reliable contributors to political campaigns. Observers said the system was antiquated and offered little of value to the city, and the ethics opinion of June 2005 said the committees violated state law.

Stranger than....

Actually nothing is stranger than Newt. Don't believe me? Take the quiz.

$42,500 worth of keeping up appearances

Said this before but even if you think Vic Richard is the best candidate to run the new NORD... and I have no reason to believe he isn't... you have to wonder if it's worth paying some consultant to collect resumes and spew bullshit about "best practices" and whatnot just so everyone can pretend they didn't intend to hire him all along.

The New Orleans Recreation Development Commission tonight appointed interim director Vic Richard as its new chief executive after a special hearing where the four finalists were interviewed.

All but one member of the commission, Bobby Garron, who abstained, voted for Richard’s appointment. The commission hired a headhunter for $42,500 and took 93 applications but ultimately landed on Richard, who was appointed to the job by Mayor Mitch Landrieu in 2010.

For some reason, I watched this whole hearing on Cox TV last night. I suppose it was better than waiting for the inevitable 4th quarter Hornets collapse. Unfortunately I can't say that watching the meeting taught me anything I didn't already know or suspect about the candidates or the process.

I suspected, for example, that Wanda Durden and Charlene Braud were token plants and heard nothing to dissuade me from this. For a moment I considered the possibility that Braud was a serious candidate when she told the commission about the time she fired 105 people and replaced them with Americorps volunteers. That sounds like the sort of thing Mitch's "public-private partnership" is interested in seeing more of. But since it was also clear that Braud has been and will continue to be available to advise the Richard and the commissioners it didn't really matter whether she got the job.

Meanwhile, the consultant demonstrated at least some sense of humor by presenting us with ex-NFL star Reggie Williams as a so-called finalist. Williams, who at one point assured the commissioners, "I do know that I have phenomenal skills," exhibited a phenomenal ability to 1) flail his arms about and fidget in his chair while 2) responding with some variant of "I don't really know a whole lot about that" to something like 75% percent of the questions asked. Later, Williams stood up and touched his own toes; a phenomenal skill he said he owes to his experience in ballet.. which also contributed to his success in football. Williams returned many times to the topic of his pro football career.

The one occasion when Williams directly addressed a question put to him was also an error. Asked by the Mayor to describe "your biggest mistake" the other three candidates followed the standard job interview script by choosing instances of "mistakes" that were either someone else's fault, or better, evidence of their own over-charged ambition. Williams instead talked about a time he assented to something he knew was a stupid idea for the sake of political expediency. Also he pronounced the Mayor's name, "Land-row".

So I guess $42,500 can buy you some entertaining patsy competition for your hand-picked appointee if that's what you think you need. In this case, it hardly seems worth the bother.

Also they have the world's most sublime fried mozzarella

As classic New Orleans neighborhood restaurants go, Pascal's Manale is certainly "worth it."

I've been enjoying this Blackened Out series reviewing the classics, but this article in particular agrees precisely with my experience of the place. Everything at Pascal's is great except the barbecue shrimp for which they are most famous. Order the giant cheese logs instead.

Meanwhile, I guess we'll never learn whether Pancho's was "worth it." I hadn't been since I was a kid. For some reason I thought there'd always be enough time to get back.

Today in gay marriage

1) Prop. 8: Gay-marriage ban unconstitutional, court rules
A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down California's ban on same-sex marriage, clearing the way for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on gay marriage as early as next year.

The 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that limited marriage to one man and one woman, violated the U.S. Constitution. The architects of Prop. 8 have vowed to appeal.

The ruling was narrow and likely to be limited to California.
Because the ruling comes from a three judge panel, it could still be appealed to the full Ninth Circuit or possibly to the US Supreme Court but I don't think that's going to happen. Anwyway, if you like reading federal court decisions you can read this one at this link here.

2) Former Saints running back Ricky Williams, who was once gay married to and then gay divorced from Mike Ditka, announced his retirement today. Best of luck, Ricky.

Once again legal in California