Archive for April, 2010

There’s something in the air

I can smell it. At least I thought I could.

I spent most of yesterday in Baton Rouge, and when I returned to New Orleans and opened my car door, something was definitely wrong.

We have a lot of unusual scents in my neighborhood — most of them good. Like the smell of coffee wafting over from the roasting facilities by the levee. Or the scent of Hubig’s pies being pulled from the oven.

This was different. It was soft, but vaguely acrid. Man-made. Bad. Not as strong as the chemical leak we had in Hahnville last year, but noticeable. Even to someone not gifted with le nez.

My first thought, of course, was the oil spill. But that couldn’t have been it — could it? At the time, the slick was still miles and miles off the shore of Grand Isle, and New Orleans is miles and miles from Grand Isle. (At least 90 as the crow flies, I think.) Surely I was just being paranoid.

But others reported smelling something, too — so many that it made the evening news. No one seemed to know where it was coming from. So far as I know, they still don’t.

The scent isn’t there today, but then, the weather’s changed. This morning is humid, stuffy, a wall of suspended water; I can barely smell the banana I’m eating. That’s a far cry from the crisp, dry air of yesterday that might’ve — might’ve — carried anxious molecules of petroleum up over the mouth of the Mississippi River, across breeding grounds for terns, turtles, and tuna, all the way to my little corner of the precious, precarious Faubourg Marigny. So really, who’s to say?

Equally weird and disconcerting? The tone of the nonstop news coverage. “It’s coming in!” “Where’s it going to hit?” “How bad’s it going to be?” That’s not the sort of language anyone wants to hear just as we’re heading into hurricane season.

Even so, the two events are related: today’s oil spill will mangle the marshlands that would ordinarily reduce the force of tomorrow’s hurricanes.

Hooray for irony.

State representative Juan LaFonta goes to bat for kids and adoption

As a gay man and someone who was adopted, it’s annoying/frustrating/thoroughly enraging to hear people like Mike Huckabee compare adoption by LGBT couples to a science experiment. (“Children are not puppies”, said the ex-governor, has-been presidential candidate, and…well, nothing in particular at the moment.)

I’m not even remotely interested in adopting children, but for the many, many LGBT couples who are, the process is frustrating, and the rules vary from state to state. Here in Louisiana, we’ve followed Paula Abdul’s example, taking a few steps forward and quite a few back. But now, state representative Juan LaFonta is pushing things back in the direction of the 21st century:

Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, is proposing to expand Louisiana adoption laws with language to recognize as parents both persons in a gay couple.

But LaFonta is not going directly after the provision of Louisiana law that restricts adoption to married couples or single individuals but not unmarried couples. Instead, House Bill 738 would expand the list of eligible persons to petition for “intrafamily” adoptions, those that involve a second adult becoming a legal parent to a child who already has a legal parent in the same family or household….

As with the rest of Louisiana adoption law, the bill does not mention sexual orientation. Gay residents in Louisiana already adopt, but a gay couple — or an unmarried heterosexual couple — must choose just one of the pair to become the legal parent, with the second adult having no legal relationship with the child.

LaFonta added, though, that he does not want the debate to be solely about gay adoption, but instead about expanding opportunities for more children to have a chance at a stable, two-parent home. LaFonta said, “There are too many children who need homes. We’ve got to stop this narrow regulating of what is a family and what’s not.”


So far, the comments on that article aren’t especially bad. But I suppose we should wait for everyone to have a second cup of coffee.

Festival weekend

The French Quarter Festival is this weekend, starting Friday and blowing it out through Sunday. Having been based in the Quarter since Katrina, and right up the street from the quarter for two years before, the FQF has always been a favorite and I’ve been lucky to be around the last six festivals. The FQF is now the largest free music festival in the South and from experience, I can say it has done nothing but grow in the last few years.
Friday was always somewhat of a “so-so” day for the FQF. It’s always been more of a local festival than say Jazz Fest obviously, but I think that is changing. I have done my tour of the Quarter today and I know I have never seen this many people out and about on the Friday of FQF. It was always the slow day of the festival but not anymore. People are everywhere in the Quarter already, food cooking, people dancing and music playing. It feels like a Saturday already.

This is what people who don’t live here have a hard time understanding. The FQF is a perfect example of why New Orleans is one of a kind. When Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Bonerama, Rebirth, The Radiators, Rockin Dopsie plus jazz and brass bands from around the world come to town and play for free well it’s something special. The list of performers is rather long, not to mention the food/drink vendors. I have already chowed down on a BBQ Brisket sandwich and some baked beans from The Joint. I highly recommend it, very tasty!! Did I mention that this festival goes from one end of the quarter to the other? Start at the Old Mint on Decatur and work your way to Woldenberg Park on the river, making sure not to miss all the stages in-between. Do I need to mention again that it’s free? No ticket to get in, just find somewhere to park (legally of course) and do your thing. This is the reason we stay here. Get out and enjoy!!!

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