Archive for July, 2006

Confronting Councilman Carter on Crime

I sent this email (below) to James Carter today, and used the list provided by Jim Louis for emphasis. Carter called me back to say he’s hosting a meeting of the minds on Aug. 16th at the Hilton that includes developing a court watch program, programs with the business community too for job programs that pay $15 and higher and will work to get money for more prosecutors in the D.A.’s office. He is trying to get help from outside the city, he said he’ll be making the announcement about the summit tomorrow. Carter was nice on the phone, a bit defensive, which is what he should be. He sounded like the rest of us. Spent. My day was actually pretty mellow today. You know, compard to the last couple days.

In case you, too, feel like putting your foot up someone’s ass today.
New Orleans City Council

I wanted to thank Rob for sending the link, apparently, the 16th means September, rather than August, but as long as it is actually implemented, I will try to be (out of town) patient til then.
http://www.neworleanscitybusiness.com/UpToTheMinute.cfm?recID=5519
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suicidal tendencies

I was biking home from work last week and a pigeon dive-bombed itself about 2 inches in front of the trajectory of my front tire.
So I ran over it.
It was strange to run over a pigeon – they are actually pretty large objects to run over on a cruiser.
I’m fairly certain the poor bastard was dead by the time my one-speed was through with it.
I know that people are getting depressed and that there is a lot of PTSD going around, but I am kind of surprised that even pigeons (i.e. sky rats) are so depressed they are killing themselves. I mean, I thought a city of flith was kind of their bag, ya know?

What Is UNOP?: The History Of Post-K Planning and Sunday’s City Park Meeting

Still in recovery and digestion mode from yesterday’s UNOP Workshop at City Park. Less rebirth, more reeling (from). The most amusing and distressing aspect of the meeting for me was that I was the only one there representing the entire Lower Garden District (sure, Michelle Kimball of PRC acted on behalf of our neighborhood association president, but I was the only LGD resident present). Was it coincidence or prescience that I was there wearing my LGD shirt? Hmmm …

Becky Houtman has written a well-researched and insightful essay on the history of New Orleans planning since Katrina. Please read it, applaud her effort and leave comments, tips and questions at her blog. For her yeoman service, she has won my essay contest and will be awarded a platter of home-baked brownies in a ceremony for which, in the spirit of the current state of city planning, the time and place are still to be determined.

For a philosophical recap of yesterday’s meeting that starts “the most important planning process in American history,” please read Res Ipsa Loquitur by Schroeder. A “democratic process” would have involved more than 20 chairs per planning district booth. For starters.

Accounts of the meeting are coming forward:

Adrastos: FUBAR
Michael Homan: Red Dots For The UNOP
Michael Homan’s response to John Pope’s “pep squad” article in the T-P (referenced above): Sunday’s UNOP Meeting

Please do not forget that there is another meeting on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 from 4-9pm at the Pavilion of the Two Sisters in City Park, “allowing participants to select their top three choices for technical assistance teams to support their planning process. Following this meeting and until 5:00pm on Monday, August 7, participants will have the opportunity to [vote for] their top three teams.” Once we make contact with the planners and get their contact information, we can begin the calls for accountability and progress.

See previous articles in this series:
Sunday’s Unified New Orleans Plan(ning) Meeting
NEIGHBORHOOD planning
You Must Attend The Unified New Orleans Plan Meeting This Sunday

A Temporary New Family Member

Spider-reverse.jpg
Spider-reflection.jpg

This is here is my Mom’s pet spider. She inadvertently acquired a pet spider a couple months ago. She’s very protective of it. I found this out tonight when I borrowed her car to go pick myself up a Soft Shell Crab Lafitte at the New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood Company drive-through.

“Don’t kill my spider!” she said.

“Your what?”

“My spider. It lives in the mirror. Don’t hurt it!”

I didn’t actually see it until after the sun went down, though. It only comes out at dawn and dusk, whereupon it will spin a brand new web at lightning speed that goes from the driver’s sideview mirror to halfway down the door. When the sun comes up, or when the car starts up, it disappears into the mirror housing, detaching its web as it goes. Or winching it in for later use; we’re not sure.

My mom can’t stand geckos in the house, even though they eat cockroaches. And for cockroaches, she does the popular Eek Eek Eek dance when one crosses the floor. (Who doesn’t?) She has no objection when I catch questing queen ants and smoosh them because, hey, we were here first. No ant hills allowed.

But she has totally adopted this spider.

It’s sooooo cute.

The Good In Treme

Clean%20up%20Robertson%20%282%29.jpgClean%20up%20Robertson%20%283%29.jpg

I have been working closely with the new fledgling Historic Faubourg Treme Association and they are doing what everyone else is doing, setting up committees, bylaws and the board of directors for their new 501(c)(3) but before I went out of town I wanted to DO something to make an impact in the streets. So I set up a cleanup day on N. Robertson to get ready for our Night Out Against Crime. We got bogged down in a zoning issue with a developer right at the time when we could have been getting more community involvement and when our President and my boss came back from overseas, she called and was concerned because we had not flyered for the clean-up day, hadn’t gotten a dumpster, yadda yadda. I said, well, if three of us show up, and you don’t have to, I know we are all overextended, then we’ll do what we can do.

She came, I didn’t have a dumpster, but I did somehow absorb that the Elysian Fields public dump station is open. And they are taking EVERYTHING. Tires, stoves, refrigerators, paint and even dead cats. So, we got one of our
members who has a truck to make the runs. Scott made 4 runs. We had to shovel up some nasty shit. There is this thing that girls do when we are confronted with scary nests of roaches and maggots and these tiny scorpions we couldn’t identify . . . we pogo. Well, we were screaming and pogo-ing and we got up the nastiest piles of household trash you can imagine.

We also got someone from the neighborhood on cutting weeds and mowing and we even opened the sewer, we went beyond the call of duty and we got our block and a half ship-shape. My boss said to me the night before, “Are you drunk, we should cancel it.” I said, “Look, I was here doing this in October, before we had anyone to call.”

Then, halfway through, WDSU showed up too! I couldn’t have planned it better, I heard I was on the tube but I am sure you wouldn’t recognize any of us in our do-rags. I don’t have cable but I heard we were all on there. This was the morning after the drive-by quadruple a couple blocks away, it was very healing. We got a lot of ‘thank-yous’ and ‘we support you’ from the residents. I just love seeing the impact a handful of hard-working people can make, it’s real and it’s measurable. Quit talking about it and Just Do It.

Ministry of Truth Report

So, I got an e-mail from a friend asking me for the link to the City of New Orleans’ press release about their bizarrely inappropriate slate of activities for the anniversary of Katrina and the failure of the levees. I had linked to it on my blog a few days ago, so I went there to find it. The page is gone from the City’s website. So I searched the T-P to see what they had written about it. They led with the solemn prayers, wreath laying and more tasteful activities, with Comedy Night, Star Search, Masquerade Gala (Gala!), fireworks and the parade buried . They also combined the city’s program with the activities planned by other organizations.

On the one hand, I’m glad the city seems to have bowed to pressure from groups, bloggers, letter writers, etc., and reconsidered their tasteless plans. On the other hand, I’m not happy at all with the information just disappearing with no explanation, and I think the Picayune are wimps for trying to dress this pig up and make it seem “solemn.”

Reggie Bush Update

***Posting from Hammond, LA***

It would appear that The Saints have reached an agreement with first round draft pick Reggie Bush. Word is that The Saints negotiating team came up with contract terms to Bush’s liking (more likely his agent’s liking) last night and he should be at camp in Jackson, MS to sign the contract sometime today.

For the most part I believed that Bush’s hold-out was nothing more than the inevitable posturing that goes on with top picks every year in the NFL these days. I felt fairly confident that Bush would sign within a week of the start of training camp, but I have to admit I was a little worried after last weeks rumors that he might sit out the entire season and re-enter the Draft next season.
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Black Men Exposed

Yesterday I was mowing my empty lot in Treme and the neighbor girl across the street was working outside on the landscaping they just put in. There’s this quiet guy, Warren, I think is his name who lives next to them. It’s apparent, when I have talked to Warren, that he’s not playing with a full deck but he’s been nice enough. I glance up while mowing and he’s standing on his porch buck naked with a towel, apparently for the thrill of the poor girl working in the yard. They exchanged some words but I was far back in the lot, the mower was running, I didn’t but glance, because, unlike, men, we women don’t fixate on the naked body. In this case, you know, it’s offensive.

Then today, this Corey comes up to me while I am working in the yard, we chatted a bit, all the while him text messaging someone. He said he was 17yrs old, back in town from Irving and lookin for work. I had to in and get ready for the meeting today so I said my goodbyes and went inside. He knocks, I open the door. “Got a glass of water?” All a ploy to get a foot in the door, this I know from experience. Not gonna happen. I had the cooler sitting by door with some bottles of water, I give him one. Shut the door. He knocks again. Now I know this is getting stupid, and I open the door, thinking maybe he has a gun but I do it anyway. He’s stroking a big hard-on and says, “I wanna fuck.” I don’t fall for the shock tactic he’s trying to put on me because I am just glad it’s not a gun.
I said, “what the hell are you doin? I’m gonna call the cops, get off my porch.” Except I couldn’t call the cops because my cell phone was in my bag, which was still in the car. Can I put that I would not like young men jackin off on my porch in the Unified Plan? Sorry, no photos. Next time though, that might be a tactic to chase him away.

Just freaking great……

I log onto the computer this evening and find this blasted all over Yahoo’s news page. Ain’t this just freaking wonderful?

This is the kind of story that has friends and relatives who live elsewhere going absolutely apeshit. “How can you live down there?” “Is everyone a bunch of animals?” “You lock your doors!” I’d come visit but I’m afraid I’ll be shot!” etc etc. Nononononono.

Fact of the matter is this: we sit on our front porch every evening — sometimes until late hours. We are not afraid to walk virtually anywhere in this city (within reason). We do not overly worry about being random crime victims. I mean, we lock our cars and we don’t flash expensive stuff (like we have any). In other words — we’re less worried about being crime victims here than we would be if we lived in most large cities in the US. Why? It’s easy….

1) We know our neighbors. All of them. If there’s an unusual car, a strange person, an odd approach — we know it. And this person is questioned. Under observation from the other neighbors — seen and unseen.
2) We are not involved in the drug culture.
3) We do not associate with anyone who is.
4) All of us spend a lot of time outside, subconsciously watching what’s going on.
5) If someone is doing something we don’t like, we’re not afraid to confront them or pick up the phone and ask for some assistance.

And I guess I should add something here. It’s not like we feel like we’re safe because we’ve moved out to the ‘burbs and we’re ten miles from the problems. We’re ten blocks — maybe– depending on where it is. Sometimes it hits a lot closer to home than that — but it’s rare and it’s still the same situation.

It’s really pretty easy. As has been mentioned here before — if you stay away from the Problem Element, the Problem Element stays away from you. And, in nearly every case (I said nearly), it’s been this Problem Element that’s been preying on itself. It’s not a general, citywide problem. This is explained in the news story, but most folks don’t bother to read down that far.

We got our problems for sure. But, these days, I feel a lot safer walking across a strange parking lot at midnight in this city than I do in so many others around the country.

National Night Out Against Crime

Tuesday, August 1, 2006, is the National Night Out Against Crime. Is there a comprehensive website which lists New Orleans neighborhoods that are participating in this important show of community partnership?

If your neighborhood is participating, please leave a note here and I will begin to compile a list.

1. Night Out Against Crime Benefit @ Parkway Bakery and Tavern
538 Hagan Ave. (corner Toulouse), Tuesday Aug 1, 2006 6-9 p.m.
With Wild Blue Yonder (blues band) – free buffet – please come out and show your support for the NOPD. We are raising money to purchase bullet proof vests for our officers.

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