Archive for October, 2008

The Jehovah Witnesses are sitting this one out

I’m really surprised by this one because, based on all the stuff I’m hearing on the news, the Christians have been coming out in force to vote. From the beginning, the Witnesses have been pacifists and were banned in some countries for being so. They have also been criticized for being too authoritarian with their congregation.

Yesterday, a little old lady came to the door to talk to me about the Jehovah Witnesses and Jesus. I’m OK with this as long as I can talk about politics as well. I asked the lady if she was going to vote. She said she had already voted…for Jesus. She told me that the bible told her that God is above all governments and that he would save her. I told her that old joke about the guy who was drowning in the ocean. A boat came by and asked if he needed saving. “God will save me,” he said. He told that to the next boat and the boat after. Then he drowned. When he went up to heaven, he asked God why he didn’t save him. God said “I sent you three boats. What more did you want?” “What if Obama is the boat?” I asked her. “What if the world is still messed up when he gets in?” she asked in return. Fair enough. But, I still think everyone should be voting.

I like the Quakers. Their Friends Committe on National Legislation promotes responsible, peaceful policy. They also write really good letters, which I have been know to copy full text and send to my representatives in the big house. You don’t have to be a Quaker to agree with their stand on the war (war is not the answer). Their other  remits include equality and justice for all, fulfilling every person’s potential and protecting the Earth. Oh my. They sound like socialists.

There’s a party in Nagin’s mouth, and we’re all invited! (To cringe!)

Great: first comes insult, and now, injury:

Blakely gave an interview last week to The Times-Picayune in which he said he needed to talk with his wife and with the mayor about whether to stay for a third year in New Orleans. Since then, Blakely has alternately called the newspaper story a “false report” and reiterated his intentions to consider his options.

Yesterday, the mayor made his first public comments on the subject, telling television reporters that he thinks Blakely will stay, but confirming that he’d have to discuss it with his aide in December.

Nagin tried to dismiss Blakely’s interview with The Times-Picayune by saying, “I think a reporter sat him down after he had a couple bottles of wine, he got a little too relaxed and started talking about how homesick he was….”

“He has done, in my opinion, a lot of great work. I don’t think this recovery would be where it is today without his great work.”

–more from the fucktard at NOLA.com

So not only is Nagin doing that thing again–you know, where he talks out his ass?–but he’s trying to convince his Partner in Asshattery to stick around and screw us over for another couple of years. Neat.

Frankly, I think the happy couple ought to take a pied-a-terre in the Pontalba and invite fellow whackjob Chris Rose over for a few more bottles of hooch. Who knows where things might go–though, in my dreams, all three wake up naked and spent on an iceberg north of the Artic Circle. Maybe Ms. Palin would rescue them and put them to work on her 2012 presidential campaign? Adorbs.

UPDATE: Bitch cannot seem to make up his mind.

3rd and Final Voodoo-o-Rama

Third day at Voodoo Fest, and I am tired. I know the drill now, and I think the thrill is gone. We go in through the secret enterance, get a smoothie and head back stage for the first interview with The Blind Boys of Alabama and the Preservation Hall Band. Since I’m cynical after three days of trudging around with equipment, I get caught off guard when they start to sing “Amazing Grace.” It brings tears to my eyes, and I remind myself how lucky I am.

While we’re waiting to interview the blind boys, Patrick gets to chatting with the security guard about politics. He is a moderate Muslim and is extremely well informed on all of the issues. Patrick asks if he’s going to vote. “You’re too late, brother,” he says. “I’ve already voted.” This dude is the first Muslim we’ve met here. Back in the UK there is a large moderate Muslim population, and one of our best mates from film school is Muslim. (I’m sure that by writing this, I will be put on some list that will prevent me from flying, buying groceries or voting in future elections.)

We get to interview the lovely guys from the New Orleans Bingo Show, and catch a bit of their third show. Then we rush off to catch a bit of Cowboy Mouth and interview Fred LeBlanc and Regina Zernay. They are  hilarious and have a lot of fun with the interview. It doesn’t occur to me later that I met LeBlanc back in 1984 when we were both youngsters. I had gone to see Dash Rip Rock at Jimmy’s. It was still a young band, so they mingled with the crowd after.

Lastly, we barely catch Irma Thomas’ last song. After, she does a great interview. She looks awesome, “sweat and all.”

Our day is finished, and we should try to see the last of the bands. But we are so exhausted that all we can do is abuse the free PlayStation games and drink the free booze in the VIP Lounge.

2nd Day at the Voodoo Fest

Stopping for a Wee in the backstage Port-o-Loo

Stopping for a Wee in the backstage Port-o-Loo

On the second day of VIP Voodoo Festing, I finally make it over to the Smokers’ Lounge set up by The Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company (American Spirit). I’m not really supposed to be smoking, but I figure, if I do, it might as well be American Spirit.

Our mate from New York wanted to have some real New Orleans cooking, so we stopped by the Voodoo Eats vendors and got some chow. He got BBQ Shrimp. Some people claiming to be locals tried to convince him that he was eating crawfish. They said that it was too late in the season for them and then proceeded to eat half of his shrimp. I would have intervened, but I was too busy chowing down on my shrimp tacos. But, I ask you, what kind of local would mistake shrimp for crawfish?

First on our musical lineup was Lil’ Wayne. We thought we might hang out in front of the stage, but we could only get half way up. The crowd was so thick that we couldn’t see anything, so we decided to go back stage. Security was  a combination of military, New Orleans po-lice, and Lil’ Wayne’s own crew who were, by far, the tightest of the bunch. They were only allowing hot girls on the actual stage. Being young and cute, Delilah made it up there and chatted with Lil’ Wayne after. I hear he’s quite the ladies man.

The rest of the afternoon was spent running around getting interviews. We kept bumping into people we knew, which was weird as there were so many people there. Saw Chris who was there chaperoning his 16 year old. He said he had seen The New Orleans Bingo Show and they had changed his life. This group has such an amazing sound, and their lyrics are gritty poetry. The multimedia experience that is their show “includes original black-and-white silent films, aerialists, dancers, ingénues, clowns, audience interaction, bingo games, slapstick comedy and shady characters who remind you that every stage door opens into a dark alley.” They are playing one more time at 2:00 p.m. today. Do not miss this show.

As darkness arrived, dudes pushed portable disco machines throughout the festival, and a marching brass band played up and down the streets drawing crowds of dancers and strippers. We made our way over to the Loa Lounge to see NIN. We were quite amazed at the tunes Trent chose to perform. It was challenging stuff for a festival venue…more suitable for an intimate listen through head phones while floating in a water tank. But that was what was so cool. Who else can perform this kind of magic?

I thought it was gonna be a nightmare to get a taxi, but as we made our way out onto Marconi, Ken James, owner of the New Orleans Jazz City Tours, was cruising by and offered to take us home. Ken is also a sax player and a wonderful conversationalist. The ride home was chilled, and he told us to call him whenever we needed a taxi and couldn’t find one. I would highly recommend him: jazzcitytours2@gmail.com.

Rockin’ the Voodoo Fest

Somehow managed to wrangle VIP passes to the Voodoo Fest, so yesterday was pretty awesome. We arrived at around 1 p.m. via the secret entrance from the secret parking area. Went back stage to see Big Blue Marble and Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts and then interviewed them after. Both bands were very funny and quick with the improv. They were also polite, cool and professional.

Hung out in the Loa Lounge for a bit to chill. It’s sponsored by PlayStation, so it feels like some one’s pimped out living room. Free drinks, but no Doritos. I was really surprised at the amount of children hanging out in the VIP areas, but I guess rock stars have kids too.

Wandered over to see Mirva Wright and the BMWs and Joss Stone. Both of these women have amazing, powerful voices. Wright’s “Katrina Blues” really resonated with the crowd, but she followed up with “Ain’t got no Drawers On” to avoid feelings of Katrina fatigue.

The back stage thing is cool because I want to be right up there with the artist, but, at my age ya’ll, I can’t handle the crowds. And, there is a different crowd backstage. Everyone is cool with each other. No one copping a tude. Especially back stage with the New Orleans Bingo Show. Lloyd was feeding me free American Spirits…actually, come to think of it, everyone was being very free with the American Spirits. I later found out that you could get three free packs in the Smoker’s Lounge.

Finished up with the Stone Temple Pilots. What can I say? They really rocked.

After, in the Loa Lounge, I ended up hanging out with the Big Blue Marble for a little while. And my friend Gerrish was back there, so I spent a lot of time chewing the fat, which is my absolute favorite thing to do.

I think I’m gonna try the massage tent today.

Come find me and say hello if you’re there.

Reason #235: Why North Louisiana Shouldn’t Sneer at New Orleans

Reigning Miss Louisiana Teen USA Lindsey Evans has been stripped of her crown after being arrested for marijuana possession and skipping out on a restaurant tab….

Evans, 18, and three of her friends walked out on a $46.07 bill at the Posados Café in Bossier City, La., on Saturday night. But Evans made a crucial misstep — she left her purse behind.

Police were called, and according to them, they found not only her driver’s license, but also a bag of marijuana in her purse.

Evans and her friends — Jordan James, 18, Jennifer Martin, 22, and Morgan Goleman, 18 — returned to the restaurant to retrieve the purse, just as officers were about to leave the scene….

[T]he women admitted that they purposely left without paying their bill, though at least one of the women blamed the restaurant.

“The service was so slow, we just said, ‘Screw it,’ and left,” Martin told the New York Post….

full story at MSN.com, via BlogOfNewOrleans.com [emphasis totally mine]

Inside New Orleans High

Teacher Julie Murphy advising Keitron durning lunch

This week, I got sent a preview of “Inside New Orleans High,” a National Geographic Channel documentary that premieres on the channel this Sunday.

[The program] chronicles the stories of students at Walter L. Cohen High School in New Orleans. The majority of the Cohen students are Katrina refugees, bused from other areas because no other schools could take them. And, as in many American teenagers’ lives, school is only part of the story. More money is spent on security than books, and violent gangs often dominate the school. With inner-city unemployment and infant mortality rates higher than those of some developing countries, in many households, drug and alcohol abuse are the norm.

I must admit that, having been inundated with stories of hurricane woe for the six weeks I’ve been here, I am suffering greatly from Katrina fatigue. I was not looking forward to watching this program. But, here’s the thing: the program is not about Katrina. It’s about the everyday struggle of three teens to make a better world for themselves. It’s about how many Americans living in inner-city America are living in the third world. It’s about how the America Dream is not accessible to every one of us. It’s reality and not some Joe-the-Plumber dream world that the politicians and the media are trying to sell you.

This program wasn’t some big bitch-fest about how the system sucks and the city sucks and the government sucks. It highlighted the near-impossible struggle that some American teens have to better themselves. The educators in the program were portrayed in a very favorable light. They were not willing to give up on these kids, despite their lives being threatened, despite the kids giving up on themselves, despite the violence that plagued the school on a daily basis.

With the election looming, I’m thinking a lot about the American Dream. I’m thinking that maybe a couple of Senators should take a year off and teach in one of these inner city schools. I’m thinking if they did that, then maybe they would start thinking that the 10 billion dollars a month we spend in Iraq to make those people free might be better spent making our own people free.

Stepping off the soap box now.

“Inside New Orleans High” premiers on National Geographic Channel Sunday, October 26 at 10PM ET/PT

What’s going on.

What have I been doing lately? I ask myself this and discover that although I do not feel as though I am accomplishing much on a day-to-day basis I am always busy and so must be, in fact, doing something. My Mother was visiting from Florida this past weekend and I had the best time not just showing her around the city like I usually do but actually getting out there and doing things around the city like going to Danneel Park and visiting a pumpkin patch. There are all these great places I have been over the past few months that I want to show her but she is never here long enough. I guess when you live in a city that has so much going on there is never really a way to show it all to someone who is just here to visit.

P.S. big plans to write more….

More tempest re: Tempest in Crescent City

Another developer for Tempest in Crescent City has written me. He did so in confidence, so I don’t feel comfortable posting his email, but here’s my response–slightly redacted–which pretty well sums up my feelings at this point:

Thanks for the note. I’m happy to hear that you spoke to a New Orleanian about the project…. And rest assured, I didn’t dismiss your project simply because it’s a game. Obviously, I’m a pretty avid gamer myself–otherwise, I never would’ve stumbled across the link at PlayThisThing.com.

Here’s my problem: I don’t believe you’ve fully and honestly addressed the “shock” factor of Tempest. You could’ve focused the plot on any number of disaster scenarios, real or imagined: fires in the Southwest, tornadoes in the Midwest, an earthquake in San Francisco, etc. I’m guessing you chose Hurricane Katrina because it’s known to students and because it’s emotionally and politically charged.

Which is fine, but many New Orleanians–myself included–are tired of Katrina being used to foment race/class conflict and for other political ends. We just want our city, homes, lives back. You’ve appropriated the disaster for your own purposes, with little obvious benefit to the people who’ve actually suffered from the disaster. (FYI, if you were intending to use it to ease the stress of school children in New Orleans, you’re probably a couple of years too late.)

I hate to sound essentialist or parochial, but here’s the fact of the matter: for the past three years or so, we’ve had non-locals giving us advice–mostly unsolicited. What we’re doing wrong. What we ought to be doing. How we ought to feel. They don’t speak with us so much as at us. Their hearts may be in the right place, but their words are often patronizing and very, very offensive. Whether you like it or not, your team and this game have fallen into exactly the same trap.

So my suggestion to you–and can take it for what it’s worth, but bear in mind, I have the pleasure of negotiating these issues every day–is don’t worry about the New Orleans market, because you’re probably pretty doomed on that front. If nothing else, your identity as a non-New Orleanian–to say nothing of your race/class identity, about which I know nothing (beyond a pretty accurate Google Image search)–will prevent you from being taken seriously by many here. Although a lot of people have moved on from the disaster, Katrina is still a HIGHLY volatile issue, and the mere fact that you’ve made it a game will render it offensive to most. Add to that the fact that you’ve done little on-the-ground outreach here in New Orleans, and you sink another few inches.

I don’t speak for all New Orleanians. I can only guess at what they’d say. But based on my experience of the city and its communities and outreach efforts and everything else, I can pretty much guarantee that the cards are stacked against you.

Your target demo, as I’ve said, may be more comfortable with the game, but if I were you, I’d use this for the kids in your own neighborhood who aren’t weighed down by the baggage of homes, lives, and family members lost to a sudden, violent, unstoppable meteorological event–one that, given climate trends, is likely to re-occur any summer now.

Am I way off base?

St. Bernard Resident Nominated for CNN Hero Award

This from the WDSU website. Liz McCartney, who started a non-profit to get St. Bernard residents back into their houses, has been nominated as a CNN Hero. Voting goes until November 20th, and you can cast your vote here.

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