Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's a year later, and Ray Nagin can't fix a hole in his head

The first Rising Tide conference this weekend ended with local bloggers assisting the Arabi Wrecking Krewe in gutting 84-year-old Cora Foster's Hollygrove house which had floodwater up to the ceilings.

Ms. Foster is herself a pianist, organist and choir teacher. She was raised in a family, and in a neighborhood, that fostered musical training. Some of her uncles were Sam Dutrey (Preservation Hall clarinet player), Honore Dutrey (played with Louis Armstrong in the seminal King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band), Buddy Bolden (who's playing inspired King Oliver and Louis Armstrong), and Jelly Roll Morton (who contributed significantly to the dissemination of jazz to other cities). Here's an interesting history of New Orleans jazz written in the 1930's.

Thanks to Ray in New Orleans for organizing the housegutting project, as well as Your Right Hand Thief oyster, Morwen, Maitri, Lisa, Dangerblond, and other bloggers interested in the well being of New Orleans, for organizing and participating in the Rising Tide conference. Another special thank you to Dangerblond, the hostest with the mostest, who has an incredible collection of Lenin busts and costumes, for entertaining the contingent of bloggers with an evening social on Saturday.

I was reminded by Dangerblond's Lenin bust art collection about an idea I've had for years. Russia has been struggling to determine what it should do with the embalmed corpse of Vladimir Lenin. I have an answer: Take Lenin on a world tour of major cities like the King Tut exhibit. Charge admission. Harkening back to the Soviet Union's bread lines, people would stand in line for hours wearing bleak gray or brown trenchcoats to see the revolutionary's corpse in repose. As another blogger suggested, visitors could be given a loaf of hard bread. No, I'm not joking. I think this would be a fantastic idea. Anyone want to fund the Lenin Tour?

I arrived late to the conference, so I didn't absorb much. One thought, however, stands out. Irish Channel community activist Ed McGinness mentioned his concern that, despite a lot of frustration with the UNOP process, Concordia, and Steven "Bungler" Bingler in particular, the UNOP process is "the only game in town," and it has to move forward. He said we have to make it work somehow.

I agree. I think Bungler should be asked to step aside to make way for a planner with a bit more competence.

Quoting someone else, McGinness said that politicians are more powerless than we might think. We have to empower them to champion our issues. He was suggesting that citizens and neighborhood organizations need to identify the issues they want addressed, and give politicians the power to represent them.

While I appreciate the sentiment, some politicians are plain incompetent, or pay lip service to community issues while getting paid off to work for other interests.

At the bar after the conference, Lisa and Ashley engaged in a bit of post-Katrina blues scheming by browsing listings for New Zealand real estate. If things don't work out in New Orleans, maybe we could just transplant a new New Orleans community in NZ?

Finally, find out why Carl Brauner is glad Hurricane Katrina happened, and why Rebecca Solnit thinks New Orleans might be ready for a revolution, by listening to the latest Community Gumbo.

Ray Nagin: Every New Orleanian ought to get a turn at bitch slapping you. Shut the fuck up asshole!

Sunday music: Mahler's 8th Symphony.

8/28/06 update: Oh -- how could I forget to mention this! One of the most entertaining Rising Tide bar conversations was one where K. and Becky joked about adding porn to the whole blog/neighborhood community activist mission. Bloggers could tap members of the neighborhood for content, and finance their rebuilding from the proceeds of online purchases. Then, we could tell the federal government, "No thanks. We don't need your money." A uniquely New Orleans solution if I ever heard one!

Tags: | | | | | | | Katrina Dissidents | Failure Is Not An Option | Ray Nagin | Hurricane Katrina One Year Anniversary | UNOP | Unified New Orleans Plan | Steven Bingler | Concordia


At 8/28/2006 06:06:00 AM, Blogger Anthony Fazzio said...

Great post! Hope Ray takes your advise.

At 8/28/2006 06:31:00 AM, Anonymous Adrastos said...


At 8/28/2006 06:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"While I appreciate the sentiment, some politicians are plain incompetent, or pay lip service to community issues while getting paid off to work for other interests.

Not if you have enough people making enough noise. Government works for you. But you do have to compete with other interests. Since other interests are usually organized, know what they want, and persistent they end up getting what they want. And they usualy provide patronage jobs to politicians and their families..

so you have a lot of work to do, I hope no one told you guys this was going to be easy?

At 8/28/2006 07:49:00 AM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

The truth is the money is not all making it here. A lot of folks are being ripped off. Once money does get here we need to keep an eye on what is happening. That is why we need more watchdog groups like this one: here and here too

In fact most of the money is just being stolen.

“There is big money in disasters,”
"Huge money," Nagin stated. He said that a few months ago, but he even noted that garbage collection is big business. With "huge money" involved, it seems fair to comment on the lack of transparency in city government. a strong sign of corruption and cronyism.

Where is our local watchdogs?

At 8/28/2006 09:26:00 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

and ths State is not far behind

At 8/28/2006 10:15:00 AM, Anonymous ashley said...

Ahem 2...

At 8/28/2006 07:09:00 PM, Blogger velvet_rut said...

We need to teach Peggy Wilson to blog... maybe set her up with

I disagree with her on many things, but the dame is a bulldog about the dollars!

At 8/28/2006 08:45:00 PM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

here is what I have been talking about. I am sure you will find it interesting, IF you have not already seen it.

Review Roundtable: is New Orleans a Resilient City?; The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster; Discussion

"The panel did not agree on whether New Orleans is a resilient city. They predicted the new city would resemble more than differ from the old New Orleans, and would probably have more Latino residents than formerly. Their conclusions were based on many of the unique characteristics of New Orleans including:
* its politics; (Burby refers to Banfield and Wilson's 1963 distinction between a "public regarding ethos" that strives for good government, efficient administration, and nonpartisanship for the good of the whole community, and a "private regarding ethos" that stresses personal gains obtained through individual favors and advantageous policy [City Politics, Harvard University Press].)
* its insular culture and impenetrable elite;
* multigenerational social ties;
* the city's slow growth and lack of immigrant populations;
* an economy based on tourism that provides mostly low-wage jobs;
* the fragility of its ecology; and
* the city's iconic status.
The panel felt that New Orleans may not have been the worst place Katrina could have hit. Despite its ecological sensitivity, the city's strong social ties, insular culture, and iconic nature may allow it to recover. But these same traits may hinder opportunities for real reform.
To enable both reform and recovery to be successful, the panel observed that rebuilding the city's human and social dimensions must precede physical rebuilding, though it is difficult to separate the two.They favored empowering all residents through the political process,teaching lower-income residents skills that would be useful both during and after reconstruction, and taking steps to prevent a future disaster."

Review Roundtable: is New Orleans a Resilient City?; The Resilient City: How Modern Cities Recover from Disaster; Discussion

I guess the answer is unwritten, It is up to folks like you; but, I too believe we have to restore democracy first.

At 8/29/2006 04:56:00 AM, Blogger Schroeder said...

Yes, ahem ...

anonymous -- it's one of the principles of institutional economics that large groups of people have more difficulty organizing themselves around issues than do small groups -- in particular when the small groups have more resources. It's a good point you bring up.

Karen ... ditto ahems above.

Z -- fascinating article. Thanks for the link. I'm going to read it and may comment later in an upcoming post.


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