Archive for the ‘On A Personal Note’ Category

Hurricane Katrina, Or, Enough Already, Lady

Six years after the fact, you’d think that most of us in New Orleans would be tired of talking about Hurricane Katrina.

We are.

That’s not to say that everything’s as it was. That’s not to say that everyone has come home. And that’s certainly not to say that people, communities, and the city we call home haven’t been deeply, deeply scarred by a particularly forceful force of nature.

And yet, we don’t want to talk about it. I certainly don’t. None of my friends talk about it. My family doesn’t. In fact, the only time it comes up in conversation is when I’m out of town, and someone finds out that I’m from New Orleans — as happened while I was paying a visit to my birth mother, Callie, this past weekend.


26 Names That Will Never Make It Onto The North Atlantic Hurricane List

In honor of the start of the 2011 North Atlantic Hurricane Season, here is a list of names that will (probably) never make it onto the World Meteorological Organization’s annual list:

High school classmate. Wallflower type. Barely heard from before graduation, never heard from after.

Although it would be funny.

Which would also be funny.

Which would be hilarious.

Though Ms. Welty was pretty feisty in her own right.

The name of an in-law and a favorite (name and in-law), but perhaps not WASPy enough.

Probably a shade too literate.

No one could live with themselves, knowing that their community had been devastated by a character from Magnum P.I.

Naming a storm after the Japanese art of flower arrangement seems poetic, but highbrow.

Though the headlines would be pretty good.

Because “kiki” is a slang term — in both French and Tagalog, I think — for “tiny penis”. Don’t ask how I know such things, just go with it.

Seriously: back in the day, I knew a girl who adopted this as her name. She wore a lot of black, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Though a very good friend has named his house that. I’ve a very good mind to name ours Mrs. Danvers.

Because hurricanes are hot, not icy.

Speaking of highbrow, right?

Though the idea of the broadcasters trying to get that one out of their mouths makes me smile. “Hurricane Panda…Pantera…Plantagenet…oh hell: storm’s a-comin’!”

Because in the entire history of Western Civilization, I don’t think anyone has named a child “Quelea” — even though it’s my favorite bird and the most abundant on Planet Earth (though in flocks of over a billion, they can destroy crops very quickly). If you’ve never seen them in action, behold.

Because it’s a brilliant Cocteau Twins song, and who would want to ruin that memory?

Even the World Meteorological Organization has a taste level.

Again with the literate references. Also the humorless Family Research Council would probably whine.

Because she can’t be bothered to leave Space Channel 5.

Although it would be badass. And Margaret Orr could draw a little mustache on the hurricane map.

Because enough is e-freaking-nough.

Because the Xtians would start whining again, and we just got them quieted down after the whole “Titania” debacle.

A fictional character from some very early Varla Jean Merman videos.  Hilarious, but fictional nonetheless. (And so “very early Varla” that they haven’t yet made the transition from wax cylinder to YouTube.)

Because, as Mr. Willis once said, Zed’s dead.

* * * * *

And in case you’re wondering about this year’s official names, they are:


The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto

Carnival officially begins on January 6 (aka Epiphany, aka the 12th Night of Xmas), but most of us in New Orleans don’t really get into the Carnival spirit until much later. For me, the trigger is usually the Krewe du Vieux parade, which happens about two-and-a-half weeks before Fat Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras).

This year, however, I’m late — late like Rizzo in Grease, to use a theatre queen simile. I’m just not in the mood yet. Maybe the balls and parades this weekend will tip the scale.

My friend Elizabeth, however, is full of the Carnival spirit(s), and she’s penned something to commemorate the season: “The Benefits Of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto”. Whether or not you live in New Orleans, whether or not you celebrate Carnival and Lent, whether or not you sip the Devil’s Urine (as my Sunday school teacher used to call it), it’s well worth your time. Here’s an excerpt:

Sometimes life is terrible. You get divorced. You get laid off. Your loved one dies. Your heart breaks. Your city floods. When it does, most of us soldier on, waking up to a bleak future, plodding through the day, trying not to cry in public, keeping it together so we don’t lose our jobs/annoy our co-workers/scare our children. Merely being alive exposes  us to failure, fear, regret, and loss. Most of us endure these moments, these weeks and sometimes these years, managing to not kill ourselves, until little by little we make life better or, by the grace of time, it just gets better. But during these terrible times, it is perfectly appropriate to want to get the hell out. To get away from the bad that seems like it will never end. And getting drunk can do that for you. Granted, sometimes the drinking can make problems seem worse than they are, but when they actually cannot get worse, when they are really, really bad, go ahead. Get drunk. Forget where you live, whom you live with, your name (old or new) your job (old or new), someone’s absence, someone’s presence, your own presence. Line them up and knock them back. Don’t flip through the old letters, the old photos. Don’t watch the DVD for the 100th time or listen to your song. Don’t try and do the ugly math that is your bank account. They will all be there tomorrow to remind you to remember. Instead, stare blankly ahead of you, don’t look back, and for now, forget.

“The Benefits of Getting Drunk: A Manifesto” at

See y’all on the neutral ground.

Garland Robinette: “you don’t want gay marriage, because you don’t like gays”

Garland Robinette

If you don’t live in New Orleans, the name Garland Robinette may not mean much to you. But here, he’s a fixture: a media veteran, a BMOC, a bigmouth. Although he’s anchored TV newscasts and was once married to New Orleans’ legendary Angela Hill, he now spends his time lording over local talk radio.

Now, talk radio is not exactly the most liberal planet in the modern media universe, but Garland is smarter than many on the airwaves, and his approach is compassionate and common-sensible. (Yes, I am aware that Limbaugh and Palin also fly the common sense flag whenever possible, but I think they’re being ironic.) Today, Garland published a piece on gay marriage, and apart from the fact that his keyboard seems a little sticky (minds out of the gutter, people), I’m pretty impressed.

I have one opinion on the gay rights controversy, and I know my opinion is correct, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Those of you actively fighting against gay marriage have waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on your hands.

I don’t believe your real reason for fighting gay marriage is because you are sooooooooooooooo concerned about the threat to the institute of marriage. If you were, you’d be protesting people like me. I have been married three times. Elizabeth Taylor and me are the biggest threats ever faced by the sacred institute of marriage.

Let’s not be a hypocrite…you don’t want gay marriage, because you don’t like gays. It’s that simple. You’re frightened by those icky things they do with their sexual parts. But, here’s another hypocritical part…have you ever seen what them-thar “heterosexuals” do with their private parts? Whoa, talk about icky!!!!!

[more at WWL]

Have those same arguments been made by other straight guys? Sure, but on talk radio? In New Orleans, Louisiana? Hmmm. Maybe not.

Dubai on the bayou

Half of me thinks this is crazy. Another half of me thinks it’s nice that someone’s envisioned New Orleans’ architectural landscape in a wacko, high-on-life, rich-from-petroleum, bring-on-the-Bangladeshi-slave-girls kind of way. And a third, nonexistent half of me thinks that the residents of One River Place are probably already pissed that someone bothered to imagine this Tron-style tenement (click through for video):


Rebuilding New Orleans is an ongoing effort and pitching into the concept-zone is the New Orleans Arcology Habitat or NOAH. Since the details on this structure are in-depth and plenty, lets plunge into them right away. NOAH proposes to be a habitat for 40,000 residents who can benefit from the planned residential units, school system, commercial, retail, hotels, casinos, parking, and public works facilities.

NOAH is based upon the following preliminary program outline.

1. Residential Units / Rental and Condominium; 20,000 units @ average 1100 Sq ft
2. Three Hotels; Average 200 rooms plus associated services
3. Time Share Units; 1500 units @ average 1100 sq ft
4. Three Casino Facilities
5. Commercial Space / Rental and Condominiums; 500,000 sq ft
6. Commercial Space / Retail; 500,000 sq ft
7. Parking Garage / within foundation; 8,000 cars
8. Cultural Facilities; 100,000 sq ft
9. Public Works; 50,000 sq ft / includes storage
10. District School System; 100,000 sq ft
11. District Administrative Office; 50,000 sq ft
12. District Health Care Facility; 20,000 sq ft

Estimated Total Square Footage : 30 million

Location/Site Specific: In reviewing all the options and possible sites for NOAH, the most logical location is on the Mississippi riverfront and adjacent to the Central Business District.

Oh: and it goes on.

Hurricane Ceremony XII

It’s that time of year again, folks:

Our Lady of Prompt Succor


What: Public prayer ceremony dedicated to Our Lady of Prompt Succor (who has intervened historically on New Orleans’ behalf when a hurricane has threatened) and Ezili Danto (also associated with Mater Salvatoris and Moumt Carmel) to ask for protection from hurricanes

When: Saturday, July 18th at 7:00 pm

Where: Achade Meadows Peristyle, 3319 Rosalie Alley (off of Rampart, between Piety and Desire)

What to bring in offering:

For Our Lady: flowers, statues, candles, religious pictures, jewelry

For Danto: Barbancourt Rum, Clarin, Florida Water, candles, daggers, dolls dressed in red and blue with gold trim or calico prints, spicy black beans, peasant cakes, unfiltered cigarettes, pan fried cornbread with peppers, fried pork, white crème de menthe

What to wear: Please dress in white (the color of purity), with red head scarves, or all red (the color of Petwo rites).

Rosalie Alley

Heritage Foundation & Solar Energy?

Weirdest email I’ve received all week (and I’ve already gotten some doozies):

Greetings and salutations!

I would like to let everyone know of our upcoming Permaculture Courses.

RiverSolar in cooperation with the Heritage Foundation is offering weekly courses in Permaculature and Design concepts. Core concepts will be provided in block format on Fridays from 12 – 2 PM beginning July 10, 2009 at the ArtEgg Building.

Students can choose to take one class or all leading to a Permaculture Design Certificate. Please contact Doris for enrollment information.

1001 So. Broad St. New Orleans, LA

Which sounds great except for the part about the HERITAGE FOUNDATION.

Seriously: THE Heritage Foundation? The same ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation that worshiped at the feet of Ronald Reagan? The same war-mongering Heritage Foundation that pushed heavily for the invasion of Iraq (and, less successfully, Iran)? The same Heritage Foundation that looked at the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina and found it a perfect example of the need for relaxed environmental regulations? That Heritage Foundation?

UPDATE: Of course it’s not that Heritage Foundation. As the friendly Alex just pointed out:

It’s actually the Heritage Foundation for Arts and Cultural Sustainability, which shares a space in the ArtEgg building, along with RiverSolar.

Which is great, but also a really unfortunate choice of names. Oh well: at least the world makes sense again.

Hello, and welcome to summer (a few days early)

Oh, summer. Full of strawberries and handkerchiefs and ceiling fans and these:

I hate to say it, but there’s something comforting about that image. Not the storm, obviously, but the graphic itself. For folks along the Gulf Coast, those particular shades of blue and green–garish and jarring–they’re the look of summer. From now through October, they’re what we see first thing in the morning and what we look at all day long. They’re like the curtains at your grandmother’s house: dated and kind of ugly, but pleasantly familiar.

Dude. Am I getting nostalgic about hurricanes? Holy crap.

High hopes

I’ve said so much about the Times-Picayune over the years that I doubt I can add anything more to the discussion. Let’s just say, what was once a moderately interesting newspaper that seemed to me a tad exotic–mostly because of my Aunt Doris, colloquially known as “Aunt Tiny”, who preferred the Picayune to that dull sack of twigs and ink known as the Clarion-Ledger–has now become shadow of its former self, in line for serious changes or brutal death.

The biggest problem: the company’s online strategy (i.e. outsourcing to the craptacular C-list template factory Advance Internet). That may have been convenient ten years ago, but it’s seriously dated now; the folks at 3800 Howard Avenue need to ditch AI and hire an 8th grader–any 8th grader will do–to install WordPress and give the Picayune a nifty, pretty web presence, ideally one with an archive of permalinks. Otherwise, the citizens of Greater New Orleans are going to be left with a museum piece of a daily whose only readable sections are its two society pages. (NB: I love the society pages. Awesomeness abounds.)

That said, the Picayune has cranked out some great stories in recent weeks. I was just catching up on my RSS feeds (which I’m always surprised to see up and running at, and stumbled across these sweet headlines:

  • Little-known legislator pulled ‘rookie-doo’ on state House
  • Man with knife threatens to eat girlfriend and her grandchildren, police say
  • House defeats equal pay for women bill
  • Such hilarity. Daily, even.

    Just for the record, I sincerely hope that the Picayune survives. Even though the stories from the inside sound awfully grim–it’s like Survivor in there, complete with mutiny, cannibalism, and poisoning the water cooler–I’d like to see the paper hang around in some form. Otherwise, we’re stuck with getting info from the alleged “evening news” and Norman freakin’ Robinson. May the great green goddess have mercy on our soulless souls.

    David Vitter found living under a rock with nothing to do


    I love getting emails from Senator David Vitter. Really. They’re the highlight of my morning. Because nothing says “I am not a whoremonger” better than a short list of “news items” wherein (a) Vitter takes credit for other people’s work or (b) Vitter takes credit for his own work, which is usually mostly 99% not a great a idea.

    Today’s pick of the litter (which I would happily link to, but Vitter’s technology director hasn’t unraveled the process of archiving, so you’ll just have to trust me):

    Earlier this month I introduced a joint resolution that would allow Congress to protect the flag of the United States by preventing its desecration. The bill would give Congress the power to overrule a 1989 Supreme Court decision that declared previous flag protection laws unconstitutional.

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of that 5-4 Supreme Court vote to declare the desecration of our flag to be constitutional, yet millions of Americans and all 50 state legislatures have endorsed prohibiting flag desecration. This resolution will illustrate Congress’s support for protecting this symbol of our freedom.

    Which is just great, because those kinds of things always pass. They’re not time-wasters like silly legislation about the economy, or healthcare, or crime, or education. That’s our man.

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