Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Happy Katrina Mardi Gras

More to come.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Katrina's Toxic Legacy map

I guess if WWL can host a Dallas Morning News Shockwave file and require registration, I can host the same file, and not require any at all.

Here's the "Katrina's Toxic Legacy" Shockwave map published by the Dallas Morning News using EPA data (nice shiny glass beads to sophmom for the link). It's a different version of the map produced by the National Resources Defense Council using (I presume) the same data.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Parade photos


Krewe d'Etat

I can't think of anywhere else where the irreverent and the tragic are combined with such festivity -- only in New Orleans!

These are the Mardi Gras parade photos I have to date. I'm just uploading them wholesale. Some of the bad ones are interesting to look at.

Once again, Muses rules! It's the krewe that has the most fun, delivers the most fun, and has the best throws. Okay, I love Krewe du Vieux just as much, but it's in its own category.

The Hermes floats this year were gorgeous. Unfortunately, I was saving film for Krewe d'Etat, so I can only refer you to other photos (nola.com for example).

The Mystic Knights of Chaos had some great political floats (no photos -- I was on the parade route talking to people), but the best catch was a deck of cards that have a graphic of the floats on one side, and an explanation on the other.

Like Chaos, Krewe d'Etat had a bunch of great political floats. Pictures don't do the floats justice -- there's just too much detail on them, and each float was led by a sign carrier with messages like "It's your problem now Houston."

One of the things I was happiest to see was the MAX marching band and dance majorettes. MAX is a post-Katrina combined group that includes St. Mary's, St. Aug., and Xavier Prep. No parade is worth anything that doesn't have a great high school marching band -- and the St. Aug. marching 100 is the best -- although I'm not sure there were 100 of them this year. Here's a little video of them marching by.

2/25/2006 Community Gumbo

2/25/2006 Community Gumbo:

  • Small steps for one resident of a hard-hit Gentilly neighborhood
  • Happy Katrina Mardi Gras: Post-Katrina sounds and perspectives

Highlighting residents who are missing from this year's Mardi Gras, Julia Cass talks about the Gentilly neighborhood (among others) in today's Washington Post.
Mile after mile of suburban homes along [New Orleans East] cul-de-sacs and man-made lakes as well as a similar neighborhood, Gentilly, are virtually empty.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jazz funerals, costumes, parades

I heard that Susan Cowsill is going to have a jazz funeral for Barry Cowsill on Sunday, 11 AM, starting at the Moon Walk. There's a farewell to Barry Cowsill in Adventures in Life and Comedy.

Don't forget, there's also a jazz funeral for Clarence Gatemouth Brown Saturday at 1:00 from Jackson Square.

Parades, costume preparation, jazz funerals -- so much to do, so little time.

I'm off to Krewe d'Etat and hopefully a serving of what sounds like the best homecooked crawfish etoufee I may ever sample.

Pictures will be posted as soon as I can.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Off to Muses!

Mitch declares!

Mitch -- good luck in your campaign for mayor!

First things first -- where's the web site Mitch? You can't run a campaign these days without one.

Ron Forman ought to know. He let a surrogate web site that looks official to run links to sites like People Get Ready, authored by a ranting freak named Schroeder who's making claims that Forman has monkey skulls hidden in the closet.

By the way, is that a monkey skull hidden in the clouds?

Map: New Orleans sediment contamination

A recent GNOCDC Numbers Talk newsletter provided links to some great National Resource Defense Council sediment contamination maps. The NRDC analysis and maps were based on Louisiana DEQ samples.

The NRDC analysis overview:

The floodwaters from hurricanes Katrina and Rita swept a mixture of soil, mud from Lake Pontchartrain, and debris into the greater New Orleans area. When the water receded, it left behind a caked layer of muck on streets, yards, porches and playgrounds across the region – sediment that was likely contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals swept up from industrial areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected hundreds of samples of this sediment throughout the New Orleans region from September 10, 2005 to January 15, 2006, and released the data – absent any analysis – to the public on its website (http://oaspub.epa.gov/storetkp/dw_home) in January 2006.

NRDC has now analyzed the EPA’s sediment data, and the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center has created maps to demonstrate patterns of contamination in the sediment. Although the EPA tested for a variety of contaminants, this analysis focuses on four toxic contaminants that are most widespread in the sediment samples: arsenic, lead, diesel fuel and benzo(a)pyrene. All of these contaminants were detected in sediment throughout the greater New Orleans area, often in concentrations in excess of EPA and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) cleanup guidelines for soil in residential areas.

Our analysis of EPA data shows that most districts in New Orleans contain concentrations of arsenic, lead, diesel fuel or cancer-causing benzo(a)pyrene above levels that would normally trigger investigation and possible soil cleanup in the state of Louisiana. Some hot spots in residential neighborhoods have levels of contamination that are ten times, or even more than a hundred times normal soil cleanup levels. For example, a location in Gert Town, Mid-City has arsenic in the soil at a level 6.5 times the Louisiana cleanup level for residential soil, and 200 times the federal health-based level of concern for soil in residential neighborhoods. The Lake Terrace neighborhood in Gentilly has lead in the soil at a level three times the Louisiana cleanup level. Locations in Chalmette and in the St. Roch neighborhood have diesel fuel contamination more than 200 times the Louisiana soil screening cleanup level. A hot spot for benzo(a)pyrene contamination is in Bywater, at the Agricultural Street Landfill, where the levels exceed Louisiana soil cleanup levels by more than fiftyfold. The EPA did not sample unflooded areas, such as the East Bank and West Bank neighborhoods; soil conditions in these areas are unknown.

People returning to New Orleans should take precautions to limit their exposure to the sediment (see Health Advisory, pg. 20). Young children should not play in any areas where there is still sediment on the ground, and it would be best to keep children out of the city until cleanup has occurred. Government agencies must clean up contaminated sediment, and must provide assistance – including information and protective equipment – to people who are trying to clean up their own property. As schools reopen in previously flooded areas, the playgrounds and school yards should be tested to ensure that they have been adequately cleaned before children come back to school.

Mexico in charge of immigration?

Jay Leno's monologue on Tuesday:

Welcome to the tonight show. I guess you heard today was the big White House President's Day clearing sale. All our ports must go. No offer refused. No enemy turned down. Crazy George is insane. Come on down!

This is the most unbelievable story to me. I don't understand it. Do you know about this? The White House has given permission for a company owned by the government of Dubai to run six U.S. ports, including the Port of New York.

Now, Dubai was accused of helping fund the September 11 attacks, and was one of only three countries to support the Taliban. Now they're going to run the Port of New York. What's next? We're going to put Mexico in charge of immigration? We're gonna do that? How about Dick Cheney in charge of gun safety? Courtney Love doing Olympic broadcasts?

Not included in the video archive, Leno's monologue continued, mocking the White House for not finding Osama bin Laden because he's hiding in the White House basement.

Psycho-pharmacological servility?

"There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution."

Aldous Huxley's lecture to The California Medical School in San Francisco in 1961

This brings to mind the reports I've read of chemicals like Prozac becoming concentrated in urban water systems because they can't be filtered out of waste water that re-enters the system for consumption.

Hat tip: WPS - The Illuminati.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Clarence Gatemouth Brown, R.I.P.

I made an effort not to miss what was suggested to me might be one of his last performances at a concert in Lafayette Square -- only in New Orleans.

Jazz funeral for Clarence Gatemouth Brown:

A jazz funeral for R&B legend Clarence Gatemouth Brown, who passed away late last year, has been scheduled for this Saturday, February 25. The procession will begin at 1:00 pm at Jackson Square, and parade through the French Quarter, ending at Cemetery Number One.

The Wednesdays in the Square concert series will continue this year, April 5 through June 21.

Soft on terrorists, tough on allies

How could anyone now doubt what a complete frigging idiot George W. Bush is! I suspect that voter's remorse is hitting pretty hard right now. Where are the Swift Boat Veterans for "Truth" when you really need them?

I'm the boss around here. I know what's good for you. Now stop your complaining and eat your peas. Bush shit-for-brains:

I can understand why some in Congress have raised questions about whether or not our country will be less secure as a result of this transaction. But they need to know that our government has looked at this issue and looked at it carefully.

Who really trusts the most secretive and dishonest administration in U.S. history, and a president with ties to the oil fiefs of the Saudi world, to handle our security?
[Dubai Ports World] said it won approval from a secretive U.S. government panel that considers security risks of foreign companies buying or investing in American industry.

Hey George -- before you step in front of the cameras and make a complete fool of yourself, how about you look into the matter yourself and actually speak to people's concerns rather than making shit up as you go? How about you just do your effing job and stay on top of things where the safety of American citizens is concerned -- or at the very least, where your sanity might be brought into question?
President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates is what?
"A country that plays by the rules and has got a good track record."

"A country that's an ally in the war on terror."

The UAE, a loose federation of seven emirates on the Saudi peninsula, was an important operational and financial base for the hijackers who carried out the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the FBI concluded.

No, we don't discriminate against German or Japanese companies because Germany and Japan were enemies in WWII -- but the current governments of Germany and Japan renounce the crimes of aggression by previous governments.

Like most people, I'm willing to listen to reason, and I'm willing to hear the argument for a UAE company running port operations in the United States. On first blush, I don't like the idea. In fact, I don't like the idea of any foreign company running port operations. Nevertheless, if monkey boy wants to make the case to take a break from the global "war on terrah" to defend a company based in a country that harbored and helped finance the terrorists that attacked us, and that once recognized the Taliban as the legitimate ruler of Afghanistan, I'd love to hear his argument.

I wonder if, after the French and German refusal to support the Iraq invasion, the Bush administration would have allowed companies from those countries to run ports here in the United States. I doubt it, since they weren't, in fact, invited to bid on contracts in Iraq.

Work or get out

One of the biggest bombshells post-Katrina was the announcement by Oliver Thomas that public housing residents should get jobs or stay out.

At a meeting of the council's Housing Committee, City Council President Oliver Thomas said that for too long government programs and agencies have "pampered" rather than improved lives. Consequently, former residents who don't want "to roll up their sleeves" are better off staying away, he said in remarks that generated murmured agreement from some members of the audience in the council chambers.

"We don't need soap opera watchers right now," Thomas said. "We're going to target the people who are going to work. It's not that I'm fed up, but that at some point there has to be a whole new level of motivation, and people have got to stop blaming the government for something they ought to do."

He could have been a little more diplomatic in expressing his sentiment than to smear all public housing residents as "soap opera watchers." A great number of them do work. Still, I'm all for it. It's common sense, but there will be consequences for those who can't work. And what about child supervision while parents are working? What about skills deficits that create the need for public housing in the first place? Those problems don't go away just by talking tough.

As I've said elsewhere, the very dire problems coming out of the black community can't be solved by whites (a large segment of the black community doesn't listen to the white community) -- they have to be solved by blacks themselves. Thomas' statement, crude though it was, is a move in the right direction.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Krewe of Barkus photos

Here they are! The theme this year: Wizard of Paws -- There's no place like home.

I gave up on the insanely slow and discombobulated Blogger photo post tool. I used Yahoo photos instead.

Map: Katrina breaches

Another fine map showing the system of levees, canals, and walls that circle the New Orleans area, as well as the location and type of breach during Hurricane Katrina, in The Times-Picayune.

The White Rose

In the same way that "Good Night, and Good Luck" offers a contemporary warning about the manipulation of fear to subvert democracy, and perhaps a lament on the role that a robust and independent media once had in preserving that democracy, "Sophie Scholl" might be interpreted as a film which uses history to call attention to the ambivalent acceptance of a neo-fascist new world order under the Bush administration.

Nothing is so unworthy of a civilized nation as allowing itself to be governed without opposition by an irresponsible clique that has yielded to base instinct.

Do not forget that every people deserves the regime it is willing to endure!


Every individual human being has a claim to a useful and just state, which secures freedom of the individual as well as the good of the whole.


Dissociate yourselves from National Socialist gangsterism. Prove by your deeds that you think otherwise.

An end to terror is preferable to terror without end.

Hitler cannot win the war; he can only prolong it.

Read more about The White Rose at Wikipedia.

Monday, February 20, 2006

WTUL moves again

WTUL moved for a third time in the last year and a half -- this time out of the temporary resurrection studio at the Carrollton Rue de la Course.

One last look over the rail.

Everything moved out of the Rue.

Engineer Robert Carroll and Technical Director Alex work on the control board.

Conner doing the Electronic Music Show in the new studio.

Apartment hunting

My New Orleans apartment hunt has produced nothing but huge apartments priced well above my budget. Ideally, I'd like a single bedroom place, but in this market, I can't rule out roommates.

Since a lot of apartments are found by referral, I thought I'd try the blog arena.

Anyone know of anything?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The hurricanes have already won

After the "circular firing squad" is finished, will anyone be left standing to get down to work to rebuild New Orleans?

I think a lot of people need to be lined up against a wall and offered a blindfold, but can we finally move on? So shoot the bastards and get on with it.

It's six months since Hurricane Katrina, and other than debris piles being moved away, the city looks the same as it did then, and people still have no hope of rebuilding their homes!

As Caroline Skinner noted in the latest Community Gumbo, was New York City forced to justify its existence after 9/11?

Did we hear anyone say New York was just too vulnerable to terrorists? It wasn't worth rebuilding? That the terrorists had won?

If Washington questions whether Louisiana should build Category 5 storm protection, whether the coastal marshes should be rebuilt and protected, whether every Louisianian should be made whole from their losses, then the hurricanes have already won.

Who needs terrorists when our own leaders are so willing to throw in the towel on one of the most uniquely American cities!

Where are you Mitch?

It's time for Mitch to get into the game if he's serious about running for mayor. Mitch Landrieu mentions on the Web are dying down according to Technorati:

I'm sure he's thinking about the 2007 race for governor. The cajun parishes that swung for Blanco in 2003 will probably be looking elsewhere for leadership in 2007. "Republicans are acting like sharks that smell blood in the water," according to The Rothenberg Political Report.

Mitch is probably wondering more than anything how he'd fare against Bobby Jindal. There's no doubt that the governor's job is a more powerful position, and a stepping stone to a national race, but the mayor's job will make more of a difference to New Orleanians, especially since (as we've seen), a lousy mayor will hurt the city as much as a lousy governor.

I'll go out on a limb here, but I don't think Mitch could beat Jindal. Mitch's negatives among Republicans are greater than Jindal's negatives among Democrats. I know this is not a time for partisan politics (I wish Republicans agreed), but things being what they are post-Katrina, my sense is that Democratic-leaning voters think more independently than Republicans and are more likely to switch camps (precisely the reason why cajun parishes swing). That gives Jindal the edge in a close governor's race.

I don't think Mitch loses if he runs for mayor. He has a better chance of making a difference, and of being a hero, by successfully rebuilding the city. He'll have a bigger impact by handling the day-to-day details than by overseeing the process from Baton Rouge.

Of course, there's also a greater risk of getting mud in his face given the difficulties ahead -- and the ever-present threat of another hurricane. But Mitch is up to the challenges -- he's savvy and smart, willing to state his case and stand by his principles, and with his big heart and low-key manners, he wins friends and converts easily.

So Mitch, where are you?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Wherever there's great beauty, there's great danger

The 2/18/2006 Community Gumbo:

Caroline Skinner has a unique perspective on the Hurricane Katrina disaster. She was living in New York City when terrorists struck the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. After spending many years in New York, she returned to the Gentilly neighborhood where she grew up. Then, Hurricane Katrina struck.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why New Orleans matters

Tom Piazza, author of 'Why New Orleans Matters,' will be online Friday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the indispensable history and culture of his quintessentially American city.

A Washington Post Live Discussion.

Critical Supreme Court wetlands hearing on Tuesday

Did real-estate developer John Rapanos have a right to fill in a 175-acre wetland parcel that empties into Lake Huron in order to build a shopping center?

Did the government have a right to prosecute him after he ignored cease-and-desist orders?


"If they want to take my land and make it a frog pond or whatever they want, fine — just pay me for it. Otherwise you're taking private property without compensation, which is unconstitutional."

To which I would reply, should my neighbors allow me to open a rendering plant on my property? Do they have a right to object? If citizens circumscribe my right to do anything I want with my land, have my rights been violated? Should I be compensated by the government, i.e., other taxpaying citizens for my losses? Are we going to allow property holders to truly do whatever they want to with their property?

How would the word property even be defined absent a legal system created and defended by the people?

What about the rights of others to enjoy clean water resources? What about the rights of future generations? Should destructive owners be required to compensate them for damages?

The right of the Corps of Engineers to regulate wetlands activities on private land is critical for Louisiana. We've learned the hard way what millions of incremental changes can do to the overall well being of an entire ecosystem.

The Supreme Court will decide on Tuesday.

If the Supreme Court decides that the Corps of Engineers doesn't have the right to regulate wetlands under the 1972 Clean Water Act, then Congress needs to pass new legislation to definitively create regulating authority.

More in PGR on this topic here.

How locals experience Mardi Gras

Having not seen the film (but I intend to), I'll just say it appears that the film captures just a sliver of the Mardi Gras experience -- and I don't mean that as a slight on what looks like a great film. I just mean that everyone has different traditions. The experience of whites is largely different from the experience of blacks, Uptowner's experiences are different from those who live in Mid City or nearer the French Quarter, all of which is incomparably better than anything in Metairie or the West Bank.

This came to me via email:

Get a jump start on this weekend's Carnival parades by watching DONT WORRY HONEY, I LIVE HERE - HOW LOCALS CELEBRATE MARDI GRAS late-night tonight at 2:05 on ABC26!

If you're not a night owl you can order the film that "feels like a little miracle" (Times-Picayune's Dave Walker, see article below) at www.ten18films.com. DVDs are only $15.

A limited supply of "advance screener" DVDs of HEXING A HURRICANE are also available at www.ten18films.com. ...

Thanks again... AND HAPPY MARDI GRAS!!! Cheers, Jeremy Campbell Director/Producer www.ten18films.com

Local documentary maker captures the spirit and quirks of Carnival
By Dave Walker

Shot over three Carnival seasons using the words of some of its most enthusiastic participants, a new documentary captures the local rite we're all hoping has weathered the storm.

Combining street footage the title comes from an odd encounter with bicycle-jousting revelers and dozens of interviews, it's an offhand, offbeat journey into a spiritual celebration that can't be fully explained, just experienced.

If you're lucky.

Jeremy Campbell, a former promotions producer at WGNO-Channel 26, made his movie by taking a video camera along during his own early Carnival explorations.

"I was just bright-eyed and excited about finally living in New Orleans," said Campbell, an Austin, Texas, native who grew up in Alabama. "I'd been a fan of New Orleans music all my life. I was finally here, and I just wanted to document as much of my experience as possible."

He intercut his found footage with off-season interviews with local characters ranging from float designer/historian Henri Schindler to a few of the dudes from Morning 40 Federation. Many of the interviews are appropriately bleary. But many exude daffy eloquence.

"People are at their fullest potential," says Anders Osborne of Mardi Gras. "Both ways, good and bad, so to speak. They're loaded with this day. It feels like a little miracle that there's a day like that."

What better way to explore Mardi Gras than by seeing it from the bandstand?

"Choosing the musicians was just sort of a way for me to get up close and personal with people I respected a lot," Campbell said. "Partly out of that respect, I wanted to preserve their stories. I thought it was important that their Mardi Gras memories were somewhere on the record.

"They're in the trenches, and at the same time they have a bird's-eye view."

Other interviewees include Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Jason Marsalis, Stanton Moore, John Sinclair, Johnny Angel, Rosie Ledet, Marva Wright, Benny Grunch, Irene Sage and Charmaine Neville.

To Campbell's delight, the musicians he approached cheerfully cooperated.

"No one said no," Campbell said. "One of the things I sort of laugh about now looking back is that at the time I was sort of this kid with my little video camera. Everybody said, 'Sure, come to my show!'

"Locals have a passionate opinion on Mardi Gras. Everyone was more than willing to share that."

Campbell worked on the documentary for years, but Hurricane Katrina -- and the threat it posed to this most precious celebration motivated him to get it done and distributed. Curious viewers unable to make its air date Saturday at 2:05 a.m., which most people probably consider late-night tonight can visit www.ten18films.com and order the DVD, which will contain scenes excised for broadcast, plus extras.

Another Campbell film worth checking out is "Hexing a Hurricane." That one features post-Katrina musings by several local lights, including Times-Picayune Living columnist Chris Rose, Harry Anderson, Garland Robinette and Angela Hill. Air date for a cut-down version of the hurricane film is scheduled for 2:35 a.m. March 3 (actually very late Thursday, for habitual night owls) on WGNO. It's also available from the Web site.

It opens with mid-summer footage of a voodoo ceremony intended to indemnify the city from hurricane damage, and eventually circles back for a "What happened?" return to the voodoo practitioners.

"I've got (the same) story so many people have," said Campbell, explaining how he came to live here.

Working elsewhere, visiting New Orleans a lot. Quit the job to move to New Orleans just because. Worked as barista for a while, then at Offbeat magazine. He sidelined several documentaries while working at Channel 26.

And he shot Mardi Gras with a $300 camera. Some of the footage is shaky. The lighting is sometimes raw. And interview subjects sometimes hold Campbell's clip-on microphone while they ramble.

The film feels like a little miracle, in other words.

"The hurricane definitely pushed me over the edge to find a way to do it, find a way to get the money and to clean it up," he said. "It just seemed like there was a possibility that people might forget all of that color, in the midst of the sort of black-and-white days we're in right now.

"While it might be somewhat melancholy, at the same time it's important for it to stand as a reminder of what was, and what I think will be again."

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Global warming dissembling


In 1996, the amount of water produced by melting ice in Greenland was about 90 times the amount consumed by Los Angeles in a year. Last year, the melted ice amounted to 225 times the volume of water that city uses annually.

How could "disassembling" George ever continue to dissemble the facts on global warming?

No shit Sherlock!

For now, I just want to point out one line (highlighted below) in the recently issued House report on the Hurricane Katrina emergency response.

Within the emergency management community, there are a handful of potential catastrophes that keep disaster professionals awake at night. Perhaps the most troubling of these has been a category 3 or larger storm striking New Orleans because of its high likelihood of occurrence, the extreme vulnerability of the city to long term flooding, and the difficulty of evacuating a large urban population over limited evacuation routes. As a result, this scenario has been studied, planned, and exercised perhaps more than any other potential catastrophic disaster in the country. A senior disaster professional would be well aware of the consequences of such a storm, recognize the challenges of responding to such a disaster, and appreciate the need for timely and proactive federal assistance.
Comments such as those the President made about not expecting the levees to breach do not appear to be consistent with the advice and counsel one would expect to have been provided by a senior disaster professional. Furthermore, it seems reasonable to expect delays in recognizing the need for and then requesting DOD mission assignments may have been avoided if the President had been advised of the need for early presidential involvement.


Why should George need to be told of the need for involvement? What the hell! Any idiot off the street would want to be proactive. It should be a no brainer for a president.

I guess George had more important matters to attend to while on his month-long vacation at the ranch.

Ron Forman's New Orleans Atlanta

So, you don't believe me when I say you shouldn't support Ron Forman for mayor because he doesn't allow public input into the decision-making process, because his goals and accomplishments are completely antithetical to the mission he is supposed to be fulfilling at the Audubon Institute, because he's hiding monkey skulls in his closet?

Don't take my word for it. Read this Save Audubon Park account of the Audubon Commission vote on plans for a new clubhouse, which contains the following remarks:

  • "After two years of planning, the constructive input of the public was admitted only one week previously."
  • John Charles Olmsted described "large buildings in the park as being 'utterly inappropriate, ruinous, not germane to the nature of Audubon Park.' He asked the Audubon Commission to reconsider the concept of building such a large clubhouse anywhere inside the park itself, and noted that the golf course plan as a whole, and the intrusiveness of the clubhouse in particular as contributing to the 'privatization of the park.'"
  • Stephanie Bruno, of the Preservation Resource Center, "read a resolution of that board that expressed their grave concern with the lack of opportunity for public input in the deliberative process."

    "Speaking on her own behalf, she noted that 'some people', believe that New Orleans is dying, and that it has been overtaken by Atlanta."
  • "As Vernon Palmer, Professor at Tulane Law School, rose to speak, Willard Dumas of the Audubon Commission declared that at 30 minutes, the time for public input was up and that 'we have heard all the comments we are going to hear.'" ...

    He described the way in which various plans presented two years ago were superseded over time by others, that 'every day there is a change to the plan,' that 'Mr Stastny had changed the plan before our very eye,' and ultimately that the entire process was 'a parade of ad hocs by Mr. Forman, a parade of extemporizations by Dale Stastny, presented to the ad nauseam of the public....' The result, he said, was 'not rational public planning. It resembles an improvised talk show.'

    He also noted that the project was 'riven with illegalities' and challenged the Audubon Institute to have their own lawyers examine their procedures. He urged the Commission to not approve the plan until it receives a clean bill of legality."

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Democratic union shops drive competition and prosperity

Harold Myerson:

For four years running, the Wixom plant had the highest score of any of Ford's North American assembly plants. In 2004 J.D. Power and Associates ranked the plant as the third-best auto factory in North and South America -- beating all the Mercedes and Toyota plants routinely touted as the be-all and end-all of auto production. ...

But in recent years, Ford focused more on overseas acquisitions -- Jaguar, Volvo, Aston Martin -- than on improving the product it made in America.

"We kept arguing for a product that appealed to the customer," says Tony Brooks, a salty assembly-line worker who heads the local union's military veterans committee. "The quality of the plant is what kept us alive, not the cars. When did they last redesign the Lincoln Town Car? Ten years ago?" ...

On Jan. 23 Ford announced that it was closing factories across North America, and Wixom, its awards notwithstanding, was on the list. ...

Unions are blamed for the woes of Ford and General Motors, but it's more the case that the political weakness of U.S. unions is responsible for the woes of Old Auto.

I will always remember how confused and defeated my father seemed after Harley-Davidson gave him a pink slip in the early 1980's -- his reward after twenty years of service. He didn't believe in unions, so he was among the first to go.

It didn't matter that he frequently complained about the quality problems created when AMF bought Harley-Davidson. People who were around at the time, or who know anything about the AMF era, will recall the leaky oil cases that stained garage floors.

Then the Japanese copycat bikes started duplicating piece for piece the designs of Harley-Davidson motorcyles. It's come to the point where Japanese bikes have even duplicated the slow syncopation of Harley-Davidson motorcyles.

Well, back then, it wasn't unions that caused Harley-Davidson's financial problems. It was management decisions. But who paid? Workers. My dad!

I guess the monkey skulls were hidden in a closet

If I were Ron Forman, I'd steer as far away from the Audubon Tea Room as possible. Ron's either so clueless, or so brazen, that he announced his mayoral bid in the Brazilian Cherry Wood and Mahogany reception building.

Ron Forman was right at home Tuesday as he launched his mayoral bid inside the Audubon Tea Room at the Audubon Zoo, a popular venue for New Orleans politicos that was built on his watch as CEO of the Audubon Nature Institute.

But where did Forman hide all of the monkey skulls?

Coastal restoration now!

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita converted 118 square miles of coastal marsh into open water, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report.

The Times-Picayune:

"[That's] equivalent to more than 73,000 football fields, or almost twice the size of Washington, D.C.

Plaquemines Parish suffered the worst losses -- more than 57 square miles in Breton Sound and near the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to USGS geographer John Barras. ...

Since the 1930s, Louisiana has lost an estimated 1,900 square miles of its coastal marshes to oil and gas exploration, saltwater intrusion, rising sea levels and land subsidence. Yet never before has the damage been so great within such a short period of time, according to USGS ecologist Greg Steyer with the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette.

In recent years, wetlands losses had averaged 24 square miles a year -- about one-fifth of Katrina and Rita's toll.

$85 billion won't rebuild New Orleans

The Times-Picayune has a great breakdown of the $85 billion number that the Bush administration keeps flailing around, illustrating that the numbers just don't add up to a serious commitment to rebuilding New Orleans. The Bush administration hasn't done anything more than simply live up to its legal obligations.

See the full graphic here, and the accompanying story here.

Once again, local bloggers have been way out ahead of the curve tackling the Bush administration's propaganda on this issue. da po' boy, oyster, and bayoustjohndavid covered this topic a long time ago.

New estimate for flood-damaged houses

Emmett Mayer is doing a great job with graphics over at the Times-Picayune. The latest is a map of FEMA-designated flood areas accompanied by FEMA charts which show the distribution of the 108,500 severely-damaged homes inside and outside designated flood areas, segregated by homes with flood insurance, and those without.

Some of the facts from the accompanying article are:

  • An estimated 120,325 owner-occupied houses in Louisiana suffered flood damage. This estimate lowers the number of damaged houses by 47,000 from earlier estimates. The estimate was calculated by reworking "statistical models to remove assumptions that inflated the total."

  • More than 108,000 owner-occupied homes in Louisiana had "major or severe damage," defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as having taken on at least a foot of water. 101,283 of those houses (93 percent) are in the five-parish metro New Orleans area (no surprise).

  • 78,796 badly-flooded houses were inside FEMA-designated flood areas. 22,843 of these had no flood insurance coverage.

  • 22,487 badly-damaged homes were outside flood areas. Of those, 12,011 had no flood insurance.

  • 107,000 rental units sustained either major or severe damage.
A new plan is being promoted by Mayor Ray Nagin and four area parish presidents which would give owners of badly-damaged homes (remember the one-foot definition) three options:
  • The government will buy badly-damaged houses, compensating owners for 100 percent of the pre-storm value minus insurance settlements.

  • The government will pay owners 80 percent of the cost to rebuild their badly-damaged house, minus insurance settlements, if the house had flood insurance coverage.

  • The government will pay owners 60 percent of the cost to rebuild their badly-damaged house, minus insurance settlements, if the house had no flood insurance coverage.

  • The maximum government grant would be $150,000.
Missing from this proposal:
  • Homeowners who suffered damage from floods less than a foot in depth are excluded -- which is why Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard isn't agreeing to the plan.

  • Owners and occupants of the 107,000 badly-damaged rental houses aren't covered. Neither are rental properties that sustained less than a foot of flooding covered.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


My brother and his wife are about to have their first baby, so my sister organized a family quilt project.

My family doesn't live in Louisiana, but it didn't take me more than split second before I knew what I was going to do.

The instructions were that each square should be accompanied by a message written on a card:

Dear nephew,

The fleur-de-lis has been used by kings and Christians since at least the 12th Century. It symbolizes life, light, and a striving for perfection. May these qualities be a few of the guiding principles by which you measure your success in life.

I think a time will come when my nephew will understand why I chose to contribute a fleur-de-lis to his quilt at this particular time in my life, and I think he'll then want to know more about New Orleans.

As an aside, in my search for a design, I found a fascinating Web site listing various fleur-de-lis flag designs used throughout the world, and throughout history.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Caffeine and music

WTUL's value to the community is almost never recognized by the press. Thanks Chris:

I am listening to the car radio and it's WTUL and they're broadcasting out of the Rue de la Course coffee shop Uptown because they lost their studio, and when the deejays come on, you can hear the barristas pounding their empty espresso grinds on the counter and you can hear plates clatter in the background, but they're getting by. The coffee shop and the radio station, doing what they have to do to bring us the essentials of post-Katrina life -- caffeine and music.

Mark, folk DJ.

More photos from the Rue Resurrection Studio here and here.

And this is what the new studio in Uptown Square looks like.

(Ahem, by the way, not that I wish ill-will upon our endeared local NPR affiliate, but did you notice the old control board WTUL is using in that photo above? WWNO is getting NPR affiliates around the country to chip in for a fundraising effort on Valentines Day to recoup some $200,000 in lost revenue because they didn't do their fall pledge drive, and -- they say -- to pay for increased post-Katrina news coverage. Yeah! Hey, the Times-Picayune is 50 cents a day. That's all they're doing, right? Just reading the headlines for two minutes at the top of the hour? I think WWNO has a much higher standard to uphold, but alas, as long as mediocrity pays ...)

2/11/06 Community Gumbo

In this edition of Community Gumbo, a conversation with Lauren Anderson (2/07/2006), the Director of Neighborhood Housing Services, and a member of "Women of the Storm." Anderson talks about her trip to Washington, D.C. with Women of the Storm to urge members of Congress to travel to New Orleans to witness the destruction from Hurricane Katrina, the array of challenges confronting home owners, the Baker bill, home owners who didn't have flood insurance, the plan to reduce the city's footprint, and the federal government's obligation to homeowners.

Also, an excerpt from the Thursday 2/09/06 "After the Storm" forum, “New Orleans & Its Environment Before and After Katrina."

Listen to Community Gumbo here.


It's almost as deliciously exquisite a story as George, Jr. choking on a pretzel, but I didn't know immediately what to do with the story about Dick Cheney shooting up his buddy with buckshot. It does occur to me, however, that Cheney is as accurate with a shotgun as he is with the truth.

Cheney was using #4 buckshot when he sprayed the American people with this whopper of a lie:

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.

I learned at an early age that the best antidote for a small lie is to tell the truth. It seems that the King George and Dickhead Cheney never learned that lesson, and keep piling bigger lies on top of big lies to cover their previous lies.

Finally, I recommend you see Badtux's reaction to the Vice President Fudd hunting mishap.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

There are two possible futures for Louisiana

In Future 1, Louisiana legislators send a message of unity and competence to Washington. We’re organized and accountable. Trust and credibility are restored. Billions of federal dollars are released. Our state economy recovers. All of Louisiana prospers.

In Future 2, Louisiana legislators send the opposite message. We lose credibility and trust. Washington doesn’t fund rebuilding adequately. Baton Rouge loses 35% of its tax revenues from a shattered southeast Louisiana. The entire state economy suffers. Statewide taxes increase.

The Boasso Unified Levee Board legislation (Senate Bill 8) means vital flood protection to southeast Louisiana. But, it also means economic recovery for the entire state, with less risk of state tax increases for northern and central Louisiana.

Critical votes are occurring in this week’s special session. Contact these priority legislators for this issue TODAY.

Our future is in the hands of our legislators. Email the priority legislators today and tell them to let the greater good for Louisiana guide their vote. Local interests are surely important, but not as important as what we can accomplish for our entire state by passing this legislation.

Thank you for your support!

Citizens for 1 Greater New Orleans

Krewe du Vieux photos

If you don't understand what you're about to see, Krewe du Vieux is a one-of-a-kind parade organization. This, the first parade of the Mardi Gras season, is an irreverent, bawdy, sometimes lewd statement on life in New Orleans -- using humor and a citizen's perspective to roast politicians and challenge convention. Nothing and nobody is safe from being cast in the most negative light. Everything is fair game.

I stood on Frenchman street for the parade.

The long-awaited first float of the 2006 Carnival season turns the corner!

Long a friend of America's Wetland, Mr. Bill leads the parade (more about Mr. Bill here).

Confounded flash doesn't recharge fast enough, and he was moving too fast, but Professor Fuck-You-Fucking-Fucks was the mime in the booth.

One of many out-of-the-ordinary throws.

I think the theme was "Naginicity."

Lewders gone wild.

Gimme that mold-time religion.

Accurate right down to the grimy flood stain above the window sill.

Mark from the wet bank guide was in the Seeds of Decline Krewe with the theme "Fighting the Futilities."

Complete with a rotating hurricane vortex.

I'm hoping to get a copy of the Nagin centerfold sent to me. If you have a throw that didn't appear here and want me to post it, I'd love if you sent it (schroeder915 at yahoo dot com).

The Carnival parade schedule, parade route maps, and more about Mardi Gras can be found at NOLA.com.

2/13/06 update: The Washington Post has this story on KDV.