Sunday, July 16, 2006

New Orleans wonder-bloggers, unite!

Much like a newspaper gets news from different areas of interest by assigning reporters to cover a particular beat, by focusing on their own particular interests, blog writers provide a diverse array of perspectives on the world.

My perspective, and what I choose to focus on any particular day -- my beat -- is a product of my limited time, and is weighted toward my interest in the rebuilding of New Orleans.

One of the most interesting differences between news organizations and bloggers is that bloggers color their writing with expressions of their own values system. News stories -- outside of opinion pages -- are supposed to uphold the journalistic standard of objectivity. Objectivity has a purpose, but is a limited form of communication.

In most conversations, a speaker will usually share his or her values when telling a story. Similarly, a blogger will share his or her values when writing a narrative. The blog reader then has an opportunity to evaluate the blogger's values, accepting or rejecting them. But I think there's more to blogging than verbal communication.

The blog form is more like formal letter writing. Written communication often reveals peoples' values more honestly, because most of the politics of social interaction are stripped away. The interference between thoughts and words is minimized. Unlike personal letters, however, political bloggers in particular write for a larger audience. Most people wouldn't write a letter to their grandmother, for example, to tell the story about Renee Gill Pratt's donations of city assets to Care Unlimited. There is more of an emphasis in blogging to a sense of mission and appealing to a larger audience of readers.

I mention the qualities of blogging as an introduction to an overlooked facet of post-Katrina New Orleans. Most of the people reading this entry will appreciate what I'm about to say. The New Orleans blog movement has become an incredible network of information dissemination, storytelling, and mutual support, and I would argue that the New Orleans movement has emerged as a stronger expression of community than in almost any other forum of "extra-personal" (i.e., non-interpersonal) communication anywhere else in the world.

True, that's a bold statement to make, but I still think the New Orleans blog community is a nascient, fragile community -- for a lot of reasons. Nevertheless, what one finds here is remarkably enriching, providing a profound sense of shared values and commitment to a common cause.

Now there's reason to believe that the movement is strengthening its bonds on a more personal level. This past Friday, local bloggers got together for a Geek Dinner. It was, I think, the largest gathering of New Orleans bloggers to date (thanks to Alan). I think others shared my eagerness to meet people face-to-face who we've come to know through the blog medium. Would their blog personalities match their actual personalities? Would they look like what I thought they might?

It's sort of like going to see a movie after reading a book, and seeing your favorite characters played by superstars. When I see a movie adaptation of a book, I'm usually disappointed. At the Geek Dinner, however, I couldn't have been more pleased. I aleady knew a couple people, but I was so excited to meet others I hadn't yet met, and they definitely lived up to my expectations.

The blog characters who I expected to be played by superstars, and who I'm pleased to say satisfied my expectation, were Lisa, Polimom Sophmom, Maitri, and Adrastos (Ashley, you're in your own category of classic B-movie superstardom, kind of like the Vincent Price of the New Orleans blog world -- terrifying and campy at the same time -- you probably like to scare small children too, don't you?).

I had a pretty long list of other people I wanted to meet, including Rob, Charlotte, Mr. Clio, Micheal, Seymour, Ray, dangerblond, Tim, bayoustjohndavid, da po' boy, Editor B, and Loki. Oh ... there are others I should mention who I've met, many I'm leaving out who I'd still like to meet, and still others who no longer blog, like Clayton.

Having celebrated some of the better-known bloggers, there's another new blogger who's filling an obvious hole in the New Orleans narrative, and whose unique perspective merits attention. Mominem of Tin Can Trailer Trash, writes FEMA trailer stories from the apropos URL (hat tip dangerblond).

In a recent post, mominem noted the difficulty of negotiating space in his FEMA trailer refrigerator for a six-pack of cold ones. That got me to thinking, it might be time for Abita to start canning Restoration Ale.

In yet another recent post, mominem observed that FEMA is still foundering in the task of getting trailers to people, and picking up trailers people no longer need. By the way, mominem said he's renting out a luxury suite in his trailer to adventurous post-Katrina travelers.

Now, I have to say, it would be pretty nice of FEMA to give people trailers -- if they actually delivered them to everyone who needed one in a timely manner. I wouldn't have expected more than a secure tent city (along with a robust, fast path to rebuilding). In any event, there are probably better options than a $60,000 trailer.

Anyway, thinking about the ongoing FEMA trailer problem, I recalled that I heard a woman describe the classic FEMA trailer story last week on WWL. She said her mother passed away after Hurricane Katrina, and no one requested a trailer. Nevertheless, sure enough, a FEMA contractor dropped off a trailer on her mother's property. Not only didn't she want the trailer, but it's been sitting there for months now, and she can't get FEMA to take it away.

Such is life in post-Katrina New Orleans, under the blundering Halliburton-Bechtel-Shaw-Parsons-Brinkerhoff-Blackwater privatized Bushocracy, the same group of profiteering cretin cronies who brought us the Big Dig and the Iraq civil war.

New Orleans bloggers will just go on telling our stories, fighting for a better day for our city, and for our country.

Sunday morning music:

Joe Callicott, Ain't A Gonna Lie To You

Einojuhani Rautavaara, Cantus Arcticus

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At 7/16/2006 03:01:00 PM, Blogger Rob said...

Sounds like the dinner was a must-attend event. Wish I'd known about it. Is anyone planning a repeat soon? I have a ton of frozen meat that needs grilling and I'd be more than happy to bring a quiche or something (I guess I'm not a real man).

At 7/16/2006 03:42:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Well there was supposed to be some cases of wine donated for the event which never showed up. There may be a repeat soon if the wine actually appears.

At 7/16/2006 04:27:00 PM, Blogger Loki said...

I am looking into doing one with soe friends in the Broadmoor neighborhood. More details will be spread in a suitably viral fashion once we get things worked out.

At 7/16/2006 06:25:00 PM, Blogger Donnie McDaniel said...

I'm glad I found this blog. I will be adding links to this one and some of the others you have here, on The Katrinacrat Blog. While I am not in New Orleans, I am in Houma. I will be back here often. Also, if you have anything you need to get out on the web, I also write for The Democratic Daily, and can get you some wider coverage.

At 7/16/2006 08:54:00 PM, Blogger mominem said...

After reading you post I had the thought that Restoration Ail was an interesting name.

Old fashoned Glass Cans just might fit.

At 7/16/2006 09:17:00 PM, Anonymous Maitri said...

"You like me, you really, really like me!"

Also, that was Sophmom who attended, not Polimom. So easy to get those moms confused. [ducks]

You're so much nicer (and blonder) in real life than I imagined you to be.


At 7/16/2006 09:41:00 PM, Anonymous adrastos said...

Hey, Maitri, stop badgering him. He's one blonde dude though...

At 7/16/2006 10:42:00 PM, Blogger LisaPal said...

Too much time away from the computer (24+ whole hours) and I can no longer articulate a decent thought. Besides, you said it all so well.

Here's to the local blog-folk! Keep on pushin'!

At 7/17/2006 05:34:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Should we get ourselves innoculated Loki? I for one already have the brain disease.

Donnie -- you have a great blog. We need more people like you who know what we're defending when called to serve.

Mominem -- if you haven't had Restoration Ale yet, it's the best Abita.

Maitri -- like you? Well ... yea-ah! From the minute I saw you organize the table! And your a Wisconsin alum to boot! You know, you're right about sophmom -- I just checked. Polimom is another creature altogether. I still love sophmom though.

Once a badger, always a badgerer.

Don't we turn into pumpkins past a certain hour Lisa?

At 7/17/2006 06:19:00 AM, Anonymous Sophmom said...

Thanks so much, Schroeder, for the shout out. It was so great meeting everyone. I will definitely try to do this again, and, hopefully, we'll get a little more time to talk.

At 7/17/2006 06:32:00 AM, Anonymous Marco said...

If it wasn't for NOLA bloggers, the rest of the world wouldn't know anything real and enduring about what people are going through daily in your city. Keep a hot fire to their feet. Torment the politicos until they start doing more and talking less.

At 7/17/2006 11:12:00 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

Thanks for including me in the "woulda, shoulda, coulda" list. You will definitely have the misfortune of meeting me sometime soon, I'm sure. It's great to see all this energy coalescing (if that's what energy does).

At 7/17/2006 05:01:00 PM, Blogger TravelingMermaid said...

I'm quite put out that I couldn't make the party. I can't wait to meet all of ya'all in person.

So, Schroeder, you're a blonde too?

At 7/17/2006 09:02:00 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I look forward to meeting the rest of you too. It just seems like what's happening is really special -- it's never been done before. And ... well, besides, the community of us doing this seems to be filled with really great people.

At 7/18/2006 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous GentillyGirl said...

The wine shall appear Schroeder. I think Customs fouled up the plan. (Trust me.... Customs held up a shipment of monitors from Canada because they couldn't decide if they were drug containers.)

There will be more Geek Gatherings. As Dangerblond put it, “We are building from the ground up, not from the top down“.

We are the ones who are creating the chronicle of the rebuilding of this city. We are the ones that tell the truth about life after this disaster.

We are the folks that inform the rest of America what the Hell is going down here.

We are the conscience of a Nation.

Sounds grandious, but it's not. This is what many Americans have done through History. We just have 'puters and the Web now.

The rebuilding of this city is going to be rough, but those of us that speak our minds and from our experiences will ease the pains. We shall also get our city back.

All of you... continue your Blogs, fight the good fight, and live to the utmost. That's what New Orleans is about.

At 7/18/2006 03:59:00 PM, Blogger Donnie McDaniel said...

Schroeder, Check out the latest post on my sight. I also have it cross posted at The Democratic Daily. Might get you some hits.

At 7/21/2006 03:32:00 PM, Blogger G Bitch said...

i'm 2 weeks behind everything. i wish i could've peeked in the window....


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