Archive for the ‘On A Personal Note’ Category

The view from my car on 5-13-09

Driving down Elysian Fields yesterday afternoon, I saw dozens of these signs staked into the neutral ground. As far as I could tell, each was different. If you enlarge that photo, you’ll see it’s a poem that reads:

HOOVES CLANK ON GRATING
THE ABRUPT CLAMOR RINGS OUT
THE MULE DOESN’T SWERVE

Aesthetically speaking, it’s abysmal, but the would-be poet gets props for enthusiasm. Me, I kinda like living in a neighborhood where artful litter pops up on the street.

More important than tea parties

Louisiana state representative Jonathan Perry, professional asshat

Louisiana state representative Jonathan Perry, professional asshat

State representative Jonathan Perry (R-Abbeville), is sponsoring a bill that insists children’s birth certificates can only include the names of married parents or single individuals. It is targeted directly at GLBT couples, who obviously can’t marry in the great state of Louisiana.

Not only is the legislation mean-spirited and homophobic, but it’s also an endangerment to kids. For example: if a kid and one of his GLBT moms were in an accident, the other GLBT mom would have to go through a fair chunk of legal maneuvering to ensure visitation and other rights to care for the child. And that’s just one of many unpleasant scenarios.

Asked about this, Perry said he really doesn’t care.

If you’re in Louisiana, do us all a favor: visit the Forum for Equality website now, and contact your legislator before the bill (HB 60) comes up for debate tomorrow morning.

I love being a New Orleanian, and I love Louisiana–mostly–but crap like this make me want to break out the flannel and head to Vermont. I just don’t understand where it comes from. I can only assume that Perry needs a distraction to take his mind off the fact that his party is dead.

UPDATE: For more on the perils of gay parenting (in Louisiana and elsewhere), check out “The Gay Parent Trap” in this week’s Gambit Weekly, penned by the always-charming David Winkler-Schmit, who happens to be an adoptive parent himself. Good stuff. Not necessarily encouraging or uplifting or even optimistic, but good stuff.

Bhopal In The Making: Port of New Orleans Sets Itself (and New Orleans) Up for Disaster

BHOPAL IN THE MAKING:
Port of New Orleans sets itself (and New Orleans) up for disaster

It’s Monday morning, and the sun is shining, and the temperature is just right, and Spring is definitely in the air, so I hate to be that guy, but I really have to point out that New Orleans is about to get screwed. Again.

The backstory:

  • The Port of New Orleans is one of the largest ports in the country, and New Orleans Cold Storage (NOCS) is one of its biggest clients.

  • NOCS processes poultry for shipping. Recently deceased chickens are trucked to NOCS, where they’re frozen solid, loaded onto ships, and sent around the world.

  • NOCS used to have a facility on the Mississippi River, but that plant was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. For the past three and a half years, the company has been operating from temporary digs on the Industrial Canal.

  • NOCS needs a new home on the Mississippi River so that big ships can have easier, faster access to the plant than they currently do. The company’s former location is unusable, so the Port wants to custom-build a new facility for NOCS on a wharf adjacent to the French Quarter in downtown New Orleans.

PETA may take issue with the whole livestock thing, but for me and for most of my neighbors, that’s not the real concern. We understand the need for commerce and industry, so chicken processing is fine by us. Our problem is with the facility’s location. Here’s why:

  • NOCS uses large volumes of anhydrous ammonia to do its work–a dangerous, highly flammable chemical compound.

  • Housing such a dangerous, highly flammable chemical just steps from the historic French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny neighborhoods is reckless and shortsighted and shows complete disregard for the residents and businesses of the area–not to mention the millions of tourists who visit each year.

  • At the very least, the planned NOCS facility will generate loads of traffic (approximately 100 big-rigs per day) and interrupt important city- and state-sponsored urban renewal plans that focus on the riverfront.

  • At the very worst, the facility could present a massive safety hazard, complete with explosions, evacuations of homes and businesses within a three-mile radius, and untold damage to one of Louisiana’s most historically (and fiscally) significant sites.

Let me reiterate: it’s not the project that most of us find offensive, it’s the location. Is it in anyone’s best interests to put such a high-risk facility next to the state’s most notable tourist attraction? Right next to two of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the state? Jindal and others–particularly legislators and lobbyists from north Louisiana–keep pushing for the project, apparently having forgotten what happens when the goose that lays the golden egg (for Louisiana’s budget, anyway) gets dealt a nasty blow.

You wanna see something funny? Check the video that accompanies this story, wherein the Port’s CEO, Gary Lagrange, calls complaints like mine “hogwash”. Which makes me wonder, (a) don’t you have to be wearing a Colonel Sanders bowtie to use that kind of language, and (b) who’s put the gun in Gary’s back and said, “Get this done, or you’re toast!”?

You wanna see something not so funny? Check the following video about a similar processing plant in Arkansas that experienced an explosion and ammonia leak exactly one year ago today. Not only were the government and the factory owner, Cargill, forced to evacuate local residents, but the company chose not to rebuild and forfeited its multi-million dollar investment. (There are follow-up stories here and here; free registration required.) Or you could read all about a similar accident that hospitalized a dozen people just last week in Connecticut.

THE MOST IMPORTANT PART: This is not a done deal. The Port still needs massive allocations from the state if it’s to proceed with construction. However, it’s making headway, and chances are good that Lagrange & Co. will find the requisite cash unless pressure from the general public forces the state to reconsider.

If you live in New Orleans, please visit the Faubourg Marigny’s Stop Cold Storage website. The site’s still in development, but you can definitely sign a petition opposing the NOCS’s planned location. If you’re on Facebook, you can also join the “Stop Cold Storage Group“. And for free spirits who’d rather do things on their own, below you’ll find the email addys of city and state representatives; drop them a note and ask them to oppose funding for the project at the Governor Nicholls location–while there’s still time:

James Carter: jcarter@cityofno.com
Cynthia Hedge-Morrell: chmorrell@cityofno.com
Arnie Fielkow: afielkow@cityofno.com
Stacy Head: shead@cityofno.com
Jackie Clarkson: jbclarkson@cityofno.com
Mary Cunningham: mbcunningham@cityofno.com
Shelly Midura: smidura@@cityofno.com
Cynthia Willard-Lewis: cwlewis@cityofno.com
Rep. Juan Lafonta: larep096@legis.state.la.us
Rep. Charmaine Marchand: larep099@legis.state.la.us
Mike Moffitt, VCPORA: VCPORA@wildapricot.org
Meg Lousteau, VCPORA: meglousteau@gmail.com
Chris Bonura, Port of New Orleans: BONURA@portno.com
Chris Costello, FMIA: president@faubourgmarigny.org

Thanks for bearing with me. I haven’t had an Erin Brockovich/Karen Silkwood moment in a long time.

Sidewalk Chalk and Sprinklers day

The way I always pictured it.

The way I always pictured it.


Today was a sidewalk chalk and sprinklers kind of day. It was warm and sunny with a few white puffy clouds. If you sat in the sun too long you could almost feel your skin burning red. I took the Little Guy outside and turned on the sprinkler. He loved running through the water getting soaked while I sat in the shade drawing with sidewalk chalk. We didn’t do much in teh way of St. Paddy’s Day but no worries, it was a good day.

She was my friend

Ok she was not really a friend of mine, in fact I only met her once and through one of those twists of life she actually watched my dog for a couple days, a couple years ago. Wendy Byrne was a good friend of a good friend of mine and that is the thin line that held us together. On Saturday night she was fatally shot while walking in the French Quarter.
It seems she was shot by two fifteen year old guys. After they robbed her and the man she was walking with. The two 15 year olds had robbed others earlier in the night. I fight the urge to call them kids because when you have graduated to robbing people at gun point you are no longer a child. I have a hard time wrapping my head around whatever could have occurred in these young people’s lives to lead them to a point where they shoot an innocent person in the street but none of that matters any more. Turns out other people are having a hard time calling them kids too, they will be tried as adults when their days in court arrive.
Today, my son drew a picture, I added a sentiment and together we delivered it to the makeshift memorial that has sprung up on the corner of Dauphine and Governor Nichols where she was murdered. He is only two years old but it was like he understood something was different about this place, He pointed out the flowers and candles which were still burning but he was quiet and calm. Not like a two year old at all.
Wendy, knowing who you were and where you worked and just that you lived close-by added a comfort to my fragile world here that you will never know and that not even I did not know until a few days ago. I’ll miss you…Oh yeah and thanks for watching Rosco that one time.

BREAKING NEWS: FEMA deemed incompetent. Also "nutty".

In case you were wondering: No, FEMA hasn’t lost its knack for incompetence. And no, they still haven’t figured out this whole “public relations” thing:

Nearly five months after Hurricane Gustav, the public relations battle between Gov. Bobby Jindal and FEMA continues over who was to blame for the exasperating depletion of emergency food and water supplies soon after the storm….

FEMA’s argument, contained in a retort to comments made by Jindal last week, is that basically the responsibility for the problem lies with the storm victims of Louisiana, who gobbled up food and water at an “extraordinary” rate after Gustav swept through….

[NOLA.com]

Yes, you read that correctly: FEMA has blamed its less-than stellar response to Gustav on the people of Louisiana, who are gluttonous hoarders. To which I’d reply: Well, DUH. I mean, DIDN’T YOU ASSHATS KNOW THAT BEFOREHAND?

Sheesh, it’s like they’d never even visited.

And be sure to read the rest of that piece–especially the part where Jindal’s spokesperson, Melissa Sellers, uses the word “nutty” to describe FEMA’s claims. (So cute!) She insists that Louisianans would never hoard free MREs because they have such wonderful local cuisine. Of course, that’s kind of a non sequitur when you’re talking about post-hurricane recovery: as fabulous as our food may be, it’s hard to make a crawfish étouffée when your stove’s been blown out into the Gulf of Mexico.

Going to Montreal

It is quiet outside today maybe because it is so early… I am traveling to Montreal today, the plane leaves at 6am which means I was out of bed at 3am to get ready and here on time. My husband is working there for the week and I am going up with him. I thought to myself, when I am going to have the opportunity to hang out in Montreal in the winter ever again? I sure am not going to choose to take a vacation there during the winter. So, I packed every warm thing I own that would fit into my suitcase and now I am going to layer up and have a good time. I will also be posting on the Montreal metblog while I am there so take a minute to check out one of our other fine city blogs. I’ll see you all next week.

More perspective on the gay adoption issue (or possibly non-issue)

Today’s Times-Picayune posted an interesting update on the current gay adoption conflamma. It seems that back in the heady days of helmet-hating Mike Foster, something called the “Commission on Marriage and Family” was established–presumably to talk about, you know, marriage and families and stuff. It’s never been very active, but the folks at Forum for Equality are concerned that the adoption case will spur the commission–which is now appointed by the similarly helmet-hating Bobby Jindal–to push new legislation banning gay adoption. That wouldn’t be surprising, given the fact that (a) we’re in the bright red state of Louisiana, and (b) the committee’s membership includes folks like Puritan-at-Large Tony Perkins. However, other members of the commission seem somewhat more level-headed:

Jindal appointee Gene Mills, Louisiana Family Forum director, said he believes gay rights advocates are simply overreacting to the Arkansas vote and California voters’ rejection of same-sex marriages. Mills’ group bills itself as “your voice for traditional families.” He said the commission could yield ideas such as continuing to make it harder to divorce; devoting more resources to job training for single parents; and increasing state prisoners’ opportunities to interact with their children.

But Mills and [commission chair Senator Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge] demurred on the question of gay adoption. Mills said, “That’s really up to the Legislature.” Broome did not offer her position.

Asked through his aides about the commission and specifically about his position on gay adoption, Jindal released a one-sentence statement: “I believe family is the cornerstone of our society and look forward to the commission’s work on how we can do more to support healthy families.”

At least one member of the clergy serving on the commission said he has no intention of parroting views of the traditional social conservatives….

The Rev. Chris Andrews of First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge said he wants to discuss ways to help all families, regardless of composition. He said he will resist any attempts to reduce the likelihood that a child might be adopted.

“In general, I would view adoption issues through the lens of whether an individual or couple has the ability to love and care for a child, ” Andrews said. “I do not think that is something that is limited to a particular sexual orientation.”

–full article at NOLA.com

Am I being a total Pollyanna? Am I putting too much faith in the common sense of our elected and appointed officials? Or am I being lazy? Probably all of the above.

Note: none of this is to say that I want kids–I have four dogs, which must be the equivalent of at least one child–but as an adoptee myself, I understand the value of placing kids in good homes. I fail to understand how anyone can argue against that.

New Christmas Tradition?

After spending two days in the house opening presents and watching holiday movies we were ready to get out of the house so the family and I went down to Markey Park in the Bay water. This park has just had a brand new playground installed and word around the park is there are more updates to come. The playground is one of the Little Hands playgrounds that the Allstate Foundation is building around the city. Going to the park on Christmas Day was a brilliant idea, the weather was great and we had tons of fun being outside. There is also one aspect of this playground that I have never seen in a play set before but hope to see it many times again. There is a glockenspiel type instrument built right in next to the bridge and slide that most playgrounds have. The notes are clearly marked and the music to four songs is etched on the metal so kids can learn to play. My little one loved playing the notes and hearing them ring and I am sure many other little ones will enjoy this new playground in the future. We just might turn this into a Christmas tradition. It just felt good to get out and sort of spread the Christmas spirit with the world.

MacCash misses the boat. Again.

Hey, New Orleans: is it just me, or is Doug MacCash a total douchebag?

I’ve had a beef with the guy for years–largely because of his policies on reviewing visual arts exhibitions. And let’s not even discuss his “taste level” (as a reviewer or as an artist). But now with Prospect.1, MacCash has given me a whole new set of things to complain about.

Full disclosure: I’m pretty close to Prospect.1, but even with that taken into account, it would seem to me, or to any fan of the visual arts, that MacCash simply doesn’t get what Prospect.1 is meant to be. More fundamentally: it seems MacCash has no idea what a biennial is meant to be.

Let’s go back to the weekend Prospect.1 opened. You know what got the cover focus of Lagniappe, the Picayune‘s arts and entertainment pullout? A haunted house. A freaking haunted house–instead of the largest international exhibition of contemporary art ever coordinated in the US. A freaking haunted house–instead of a major coup for the city of New Orleans and its citizens. A freaking haunted house–instead of a massive event that could drive tourism and the cultural economy for months to come.

Then there’s today’s article on the Universal Furniture building in the Bywater, which is being used for a P.1. exhibition of Pierre & Gilles’ work, as well as a group show by local artists. In his lead-in, MacCash says:

[Prospect.1] was a good news, bad news story for Crescent City artists. The good news: Big-time New York art curator Dan Cameron planned to produce the largest contemporary art show in U.S. history, drawing thousands of well-heeled collectors and art tourists. The bad news: The vast majority of New Orleans artists weren’t invited to be in it.

It’s as if MacCash’s understanding of the international art scene stops at the parish line. As if he’d expect the biennials at Venice or the Whitney to feature exclusively Venetian or New York artists, respectively. As if he’s disappointed to see leading contemporary artists from around the globe showing their work in New Orleans. For free.

As though that weren’t bad enough, MacCash then gives square footage to the ever-clueless Andy Antippas, who complains that P.1 is “elitist”. To which I say: WELL OF COURSE IT’S ELITIST: IT’S ABOUT THE BEST NEW WORK IN THE WORLD, BITCH.

My take: elitism is a necessary evil. It’s what keeps music, fashion, literature, design, food–everything moving forward. It’s what we do every time we say, “I’m over that, let’s move on.” You and I, we practice it ourselves every day. So, Mr. Antippas, yes, it’s elitist. BFD. You want to put together a show of grandmotherly string art from the YWCA, do it on your own dime.

New Orleans has moved beyond parochialism in so many ways, especially since The Storm. Sure, it lingers in the culinary arts, but we rule the school on that front: we can afford to be a little snooty. Visual arts, on the other hand? I mean, some of my best friends are artist, and there’s definitely some good stuff going on here, but c’mon…

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