Archive for January, 2009

Checking In On Galveston

After seeing the Baby Grace case featured elsewhere on the nets, I ventured over to the Galveston Daily News to see how the rebuilding was going over in Galveston after their devastation from Ike back in September 2008.

The headlines looked remarkably akin to ours during recovery. Topics included the impending FEMA buyouts for homeowners, DiBella’s Italian Restaurant burned after they had just reopened it, the police department has been caught stealing from Del Monte containers in the Port and drugs are missing from their evidence rooms, the Hospital is closing, their City Council is looking into creating a bridge organization to work with the city and homeowners, there are meeting for homeowners on resources for rebuilding, FEMA’s has an idea to put up mobile home communities but unlike here, it is not gaining much interest. Their water has been declared free of legionella and is potable. There are some issues with wild hogs.

They have also had their own version of the dreaded planning process, a series of open-house community meetings, they even have the sticky note game we all played out at City Park. Their priorities are little less edgy since everyone here seemed to be panting that the crime be addressed as much as housing. The final Galveston list consists of; transportation, housing, human services, economic development and environmental issues.

They have their very own horrific crime story going on with the Baby Grace case. We had the grisly Bowen murder of Addie Hall. Galveston is even tearing down their housing projects! They don’t have the Saints game to cheer them up but the The Gatlin Brothers are performing at The Grand 1894 Opera House on tonight and the Cub Scouts are in competing a pine derby.

The parallels are many but on a smaller scale and they haven’t spent two entire years planning but I am sure residents are just now settling into the fact that their life is going to be a big sea of recovery uncertainties for a long, long time . . . and I feel for them.

Hubcap King’s Last Day

Hubcap King Slated for Demo

I saw the telltale backhoe parked outside this building today, that means it’s likely first on the agenda for demolition in the morning. It’s right in front of the pumping station on S. Broad, somewhat of a landmark for those who drive the route on a daily basis because of it’s wall of hubcaps but it has been vacant since it was flooded during Katrina. It was approved as an City inititated imminent health threat demolition at the NCDC over a month ago.

House Watching: 2113 Prytania St.

2113 Prytania Exterior  2113 Prytania Staircase  2113 Prytania Plaster Arch
Many local people will recognize this house. It is in the Lower Garden District and is owned by the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church at Prytania and St. Josephine Streets. They own a number of houses on the corner and all are in shameful disrepair.

I have always wanted to get inside this house, knowing it would have all the classic details that our old gems of the period are known for; high ceilings with elaborate medallions, fireplaces, along with the quality wood and crown moldings.

One very brave resident finally snuck in and got these great photos. He reports that the place is solid and would be a great candidate for someone to purchase and renovate. And finally, he said there is a For Sale sign up on the fence. From his photos one can see that there is a lot of plasterwork still intact in the archways. It’s really amazing. I hope someone buys it.

It’s usually dark in these abandoned structures because they boarded up, but I always try to imagine the interior with the windows unboarded and all that natural light flooding in through the floor-to-ceiling windows.

jtknola’s photo set

The exterior offers a lot of great details too, these are the photos I took a while back but I was too chicken to try to hop the fence.
My photo set

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….


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.

Dodging the Creationism bullet. Maybe.

For anyone following the whole “supplemental classroom materials” conflamma, Louisiana’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education have come to some conclusions:

The state education board has adopted guidelines on what types of “supplemental materials” public school science teachers can use in their classes.

The move came in response to a new law passed last year that allows local teachers and school districts to use materials beyond the state-approved science textbooks in class.

The guidelines adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education include language banning promotion of any religious doctrine and requiring that information presented by teachers be “scientifically sound and supported by empirical evidence.”

But the board didn’t include a specific ban on the teaching of creationism or intelligent design, as had been requested by some opponents of the new law. []

Given our governor’s bible-(t)humping tendencies, I suppose it could’ve been worse. Still, it’s annoying to hear the Louisiana Family Forum folks complain about the policy’s “religious hostility”. I mean, the classroom is a place of intellectual engagement; it should be hostile to every staid, traditional mode of thinking–not only religion, but also accepted scientific theory. Ironically, that’s precisely why the conservatives behind the law lobbied for it in the first place.

Nick’s Essay Assignment

Nick and Josh Visit the MLK Memorial

This morning Nick announced that he has to write an essay for school about Martin Luther King, Jr. Apparently there is a reward involved. I got right on helping him look up some information about Reverend King and we talked about his message and also how he was assassinated. We read the I Have a Dream speech aloud.

We identified the theme of the speech and discussed some of parts Nick didn’t completely understand but which words he said he liked. I gave him a highlighter so he could begin reading and thinking about what he should write with the goal of making an outline as we read all the information we collected.

Before we began, Nick said that MLK’s message was for black and white people to get along. I pointed out that this was right but that he also fought for the larger equality of opportunity. We discussed examples of how things used to be; separate water fountains, the segregation of public transportation, etc. He found it hard to believe. It was painful for me to explain that people simply designed these injustices for their own greed. I explained that this was the reality that his grandfather would have dealt with when he was young. This really did register in his mind. As we read the speech, we discussed that MLK, Jr. was fighting for the equal rights which are outlined in the Constitution. I also pointed out that King emphasized peaceful protests and explained the violence surrounding the times, particularly in the South, and why certain states are focal points in his landmark speech.

Nick took his highlighter to this phrase, I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

I suggested that Nick begin his essay by noting the many entities in New Orleans that named after MLK, Jr. I listed them and some which are significantly related; the Dr. MLK, Jr. Charter School on Caffin Ave. in the 9th Ward, (they had heard of this school), MLK, Jr. Blvd., the Memorial on S. Clairborne Ave., and the Southern Christian Leadership Council, which was started during the civil rights movement as well and the Mahalia Jackson Theatre, apparently, Mahalia Jackson was a friend of MLK, Jr.

We finished today’s research by going over to visit the MLK, Jr. memorial on S. Claiborne Ave. I knew going into this idea that the memorial is totally inaccessible and I’d be risking our lives just to show it to them. Josh pleaded to stay in the car while Nick and I were determined to see the memorial, Nick likes to take photos. I explained to Josh that this was a good thing for him to see and the it was a “No Child Left Behind” moment. We still have some more reading to get through tomorrow but this was the limit of their attention span today.

Josh often must be coaxed into participating in the more educational activities we design together. Earlier this week, their older brother told me that Josh had expelled from the RSD due to his not passing the LEAP test, which did not seem right to me. I learned the truth of the matter today from Josh. He was expelled due to his combative behavior with others. I did some finger-shaking toward him about getting along with people and not throwing fits and acting like a selfish fool.

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.

Falstaff Bunnymen Installation

Falstaff Bunnymen (2)   Falstaff Bunnymen (1)

I took the Mid-City charges to Audubon Park today to ride their skateboards and we saw this installation of five bunnymen on top of the Falstaff building off S. Broad St. We had no idea what to make of it. Nick didn’t know what the word ‘bizarre’ meant . . but now he does. They are pretty high profile. Waiting to see what happens when the wind/rain kicks up.

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