Archive for December, 2005

Fake Second Line

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This ‘second line’ in front of Tipitina’s this afternoon was part of NPR’s celebration of their broadcast of “Toast of the Nation” for which they have made a very special trip to New Orleans. It’s gonna be cool, no doubt, here’s the link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5077064.
Of course, no national coverage of New Orleans can be orchestrated without the poser version of the second line. It was a big photo op…..I knew it would be fake but it was pretty gross. Here’s the folks they got to actually parade: Goofy White People I don’t know. It ain’t Treme . . . here’s a photo or two from Papa Joe’s Jazz funeral for those of you who want to compare. It is my job to counter the mass media stuff for you. On the roof

I have been sizing these photos for too long today and they appear differently outside the composition software, I’m sure y’all understand. And I have to sling French hash right now. . . So, hey Happy New Year, see ya at the Bonfire ~ Bonfire On! 2005

Balls and all

So, this morning I got my first ball invitation of the 2006 Carnival season. That’s not really surprising in itself: my partner and I have been on this particular krewe’s list for a while, and the krewe captain is generally good about sending invites early. And of course, Carnival does start in less than a week….

No, what’s striking is that the invitation came by email, which has never happened before. I’m sure some people will turn up their noses at the innovation–and I’ll admit, there is something rather sweet and charming about receiving invitations through the US Postal Service–but given the fact that New Orleans’ mail carriers are still delivering stuff from August, it’s probably a smart idea. I just thank goddess that the invitation came in the form of a jpeg version of the card, which made it look kinda like the real thing. Sending out an Evite to a Carnival ball would’ve crossed some kinda line.

Regardless of how the invitation was sent, the important part is that New Orleans will be celebrating Carnival in 2006. Yeah, it’s been said countless times in the news and on the street, but it didn’t really hit home with me until I saw the evidence first-hand. It’s happening–it’s really, really happening, Sally Field. Anyone wanna go corset shopping?

Things unspoken

Bear with me on this. There are some things that need to be observed and said about our broken city. As unique as New Orleans is in so many ways (positive and negative), I think it’s now a living laboratory for how any American city deals with a general tragedy, on the personal, political and economic levels. While homes and businesses are being demolished or rebuilt or temporarily left to gape slack-jawed at the street, I’m wondering how some things are going to manifest themselves over time.

1) Mistrust of authority. Not that anyone in this city has ever had a belief that Gubmint is there to actually help them. From renegade cops to local and state politicians on the take to federal snakes (of both major parties), New Orleanians have generally thought of anyone on a public payroll as being less a servant and more the stuff of comic relief or safely-observed tragedy. But I think most figured if they paid their taxes and acted pretty much as adults (except on Fridays, during Jazzfest or Mardi Gras and at Wednesdays On The Square), most things would wind up pretty much okay. The general system failure at all levels of government and in the insurance industry before, during and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina have demonstrated even that minimal trust to have been badly misplaced. No one’s going to forget.

2) Self-reliance. Faced with the reality that public institutions and large private entities won’t or don’t help, individuals and small businesses are relying more on themselves and each other for relief. Can’t get a permit? Entergy can’t get a crew out to your place? Can’t get insurance money? FEMA ain’t coming through? Screw you, buddy — we’ll do it ourselves. We saw this from literally the first day after the hurricane, when small stores began opening back up without power, folks loaded shotguns to guard their stuff and many used their own feet to cross a bridge to safety (if they weren’t stopped at gunpoint by Gretna police). This is now a city rife with technically illegal activity — uninspected businesses, parking everywhere, wrong-way driving. Katrina ripped the top off Pandora’s big ol’ box and folks aren’t going to just accept being told what to do anymore.

3) Self-medication. I have no numbers to back this up, but it’s clear there are more people scarfing down anti-depressants and other chemicals than ever before in this city. New Orleans has always had its alternative reality, of course, but, for the next long while, lots of folks aren’t going to see a reason to moderate themselves. Just the acts of living in a gutted neighborhood, battling the various government agencies, standing in long lines to accomplish anything, seeing yet another company or family member or neighbor move away or having to spend hours doing what used to take 30 minutes is enough to send nearly anyone to LaLaLand. I fear too many aren’t going to be able to go back to dealing with daily life unless they have their friend in some kind of bottle.

These are the things on my mind as 2005 wraps up. The last 120 days of the year have laid this city as open as the gutted Sam’s Club in New Orleans East — nothing but studs and a partial roof. But there are some pretty cool things to be found inside — such as a deeper appreciation of friends and neighbors, a clearer idea of where we want to go and a stronger pride in what makes us New Orleans.

Thanks to The Beautiful Kim, Anita, Stan and Nancy, Heather and Ty, Bill and Susan, Tom Shepard, Jimmy Robinson, our CFYM friends, my fellow New Orleans MetroBloggers and our neighbors in the Irish Channel Reprobate Society. You’ve made it all wonderfully bearable.

Happy New Year y’all.

On Top

Another sunny day here in the Crescent City. It was warm enough for me to get on my scooter and cruise up and down Broad, something I have been dying to do. There

What a Wonderful World

Seventy-five degrees and sunny on Dec. 28th, 2005. Days like this are the number one reason I live in New Orleans. People have responded to previous weather-gloatings with the old “yeah, but you have hurricanes” line. To this I respond “what hurricanes?” Not only was this a beautiful day, but this entire week is slated to rank right up there as probably one of the nicest of 2005.. A grand finale for an otherwise horrid, horrid year.

To continue the gloating and good fortune, my employer has designated this entire week (and next Monday as well) as a holiday, so I’m free to frolic with the birds and the bees. Sort of. Unfortunately my house is still in a state of utter disrepair and chaos, so I’m devoting all my energy to working on that little problem. In previous weeks I was an electrician, but this week, I’m a plumber. I’ve decided to remodel my bathrooms a bit because they were annoying. I was actually prepared to hire a plumber for this, but just like with electricians, there’s already months of waiting lists to get a guy to your house. I’m glad I made this decision. Not only did I find out that plumbing is actually quite easy, but I got this awesome torch that could turn a cr

Cooperate or get shot

Stark choices, but apparently very real ones. Well, except for pepper spray. If pepper spray incapacitates you, you might not get shot. No promises on not getting a beatdown, though. The NOPD doesn’t provide its officers with any other form of non-lethal weapon. No rubber bullets, no beanbag guns, no tasers. The SWAT team might have that stuff, but Riley, the Chief of Police, didn’t state categorically that they did.

The shooting still seems to be justified, insofar as the person shot was holding knife and did move towards an officer. But the inability of police to do anything other than shoot him is still disturbing. Especially since they can get more than 16 officers to the scene within 3 minutes.

Look! Over there!

Doing business up in mostly-vacated Mid-City today, it was interesting to see all the gawkers. With so many folks back in town for the first time since the storm, plenty of them were taking advantage of a gorgeous day in the mid-70s to cruise around and look at what God/the gubmint (take your pick) hath wrought. Not that I blame them. I think it’s something everyone should see.

They were packed 5 and 6 in a (usually very nice) car, eyes wide at all the damage, pointing and turning around to exclaim something to others in the car. I’m sure it was always something like, “Oh my GAWD! Dat’s Jeanie and Hubert’s old house! Ah yewsed ta go ta PAWTIES dere! Oh my GAWD! Are dey o-KAY???? Let’s go ovah an’ see de Yacht Club an’ out to de Ninth Wawd!”

These same cars (and I literally saw some of the same ones) would wind up Uptown, clogging things even more than usual on Magazine. It’s the kind of crowding I don’t mind, since they’re out and spending money. I know the rest of the nation is seeing only a so-so holiday season, at least businesswise. But in the retail spots open in New Orleans, many are posting big-time sales records. Thank you.

The number of reconstruction/demolition workers is down quite a bit this week, which doesn’t help my business much. But they’ll be back soon enough.

At least this guy actually had a weapon

It appears to be a justified shooting. But despite the media announcements touting video of the shooting, there appears to be video of only part of the encounter provided in slow-loading, shitty, windows media format, but not of the actual climax. So the question of whether or not deadly force was actually justified will sadly have to rely on the outcome of a “they said” investigation. Considering the tendency of police apologists to deny all responsibility even when police are clearly out of line, who knows what kind of story this will ultimately become. Hopefully more trustworthy witnesses (i.e., non-NOPD) will corroborate the NOPD’s story.

Here are a couple of my questions: Pepper spray didn’t work, but nobody had a taser or any other form of non-lethal weapon, like a beanbag shotgun? Especially since the encounter went on long enough for more than a dozen police officers to respond? Bulletproof vests don’t stop knife blades? A dozen+ police officers vs. one fat guy with a pocket knife and nobody has the training to disarm him?

Happy Holidays!!

On behalf of all of us here at New Orleans Metroblog, Happy Holidays. We hope the season finds you well.

Lutcher’s Festival of the Bonfires

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Tonight we went to Lutcher to see the bonfires. I thought it would be boring because I did it last year but my friends had never been and I wanted to take them. It was fun and the temperature was a big reason it was better this year. Last year, we got there around 4pm which is perfect if you hit this bar called Do-Do’s. They have a guy who calls himself ‘broder-in-law’ who cooks up a a pig on the cajun microwave and the traditional gumbo, etc. All for free. To find it, when you get off I-10 at the Lutcher exit, inhale and you’re in Gramercy, exhale and you’re in Lutcher….inhale again and you’re in Pauline, which is where the bar is really located. Last year, I was enamored by this adorable dog, Rex and I was looking forward to seeing him as much as seeing the bonfire spectacle. I just deleted his photo from my camera to make room for Katrina stuff. View image

We got there a little too late and Rex had already left. It gets too busy in there for him to be comfortable. He sits on the barstools. The feature of this year’s visit was bonfire #6031 which was threatening to fall backwards down the levee as it burned. There was a large group of us watching, not-so-secretly hoping the flaming logs would come tumbling down the hill right into the bumper-to-bumper traffic and send the crowd on the other side scurrying and maybe even blow something up. I know, it’s Christmas. Well, we watched. Six cops on their Yamaha ATVs sat at the bottom of the levee and watched. The fire chief watched. Another girl and I were thinking how great it would be if Anderson Cooper were here. Finally, it seemed like it wasn’t going to turn into some bonfire gone wild. No movie would be made about it but rather it would just sort of sink into itself. Of course, we were all analyzing the difference in this faulty bonfire’s construction compared to the near perfect one next to it and started the finger pointing at the inspector who issued the permit to bonfire #6031. We were thinking of the Texas A&M debacle. http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/healthmedical/a/bonfire.htm Their fight song is the Aggie War Hymn. Not too inspiring I guess.

The last good thing I get out of this trip is to grab some fireworks for the Mid-City New Year’s Eve bonfire. Firecrackers are a staple at this event and this year I upgraded and got a roll of 2,000. This should satiate my explosion craving. Trying to get out of town, we made a navigational error and this wrong turn in the back o’town took us through the most elaborate holiday displays in all of Lutcher. In the next block, we interrupted a very busy crack dealer making not just one but two Christmas Eve deals. During the bonfire festival, the police presence on the bonfire route rivals our own police presence on St. Charles Ave during Mardi Gras. It really begs the question of pop/cop ratio out there in St. James Parish. The drug dealers know that their end of town is free of oppression for a few hours. They don’t mind the dude in the santa hat getting in their way for a minute.

As you get on to bed tonight you can rest assured that Lutcher has the way lit for Santa and we know y’all have been good this year ~

In case you have a need to see the bonfire actually on fire, here’s the link to the official website of the festival. http://www.festivalofthebonfires.org/

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