Posts Tagged ‘new orleans’

What it really means to New Orleans

The victory by the New Orleans Saints, 31-17 over the Colts of Indiana in the 44th Super Bowl in NFL history, was frankly a sight to behold both in Miami and in New Orleans. Eruptions of joy and euphoria of the highest degree has overtaken New Orleans for the last three days. With Mardi Gras rolling along, the Super Bowl victory party and Mardi Gras have melded into one big We Love New Orleans Festival. There is certainly nothing wrong with that and I think many locals would give you a look and say…we deserve this one. Can’t really disagree with that. Anyone who has ever rooted for the hapless Saints deserves this one. And we never want it to end.

As the seconds clicked down on the Saints dominating, invigorating, full of heart and guts comeback victory, it’s funny the things that come to mind. For some reason I thought of the first time the Saints had a chance just to make the playoffs in 1983. I was in my older brothers car, he was driving me somewhere, and we were listening to the end of the Saints-Rams game. Saints win, they make the playoffs for the first time ever. Of course the Saints lose on a last second field goal. Of course they had given up TWO interception returns for touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown to get to the point of losing at the last second. That’s what Saints fans expected. Find a way to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. My other thought drifted to September 25th, 2006. The return to the dome. I was there for that one too and that victory over Atlanta was the starting point for this Saints team bringing New Orleans it’s first professional world championship.

What does it all really mean though? Can a world championship in a professional sport change New Orleans for the better? Can it fill the pot-holes and rebuild the houses and parks and businesses that all are in need of rebuilding? Can it turn inept politicians into politicians who lead by example? Does a world championship end the years of frustration from the citizens when it comes to a racial divide?

Of course, a championship does not solve any of those issues. Trophy’s don’t hammer nails or magically turn a bigot into a diverse human being. But New Orleans and frankly America in general would be wrong to just dismiss this as another sports team winning a championship and moving on to the next big story. What these Saints showed is that a commitment by everyone, putting your own personal needs to the side maybe, to accomplish something bigger than themselves can be done. When everyone is on the same page, focused on the same goal, this Saints victory shows that nothing is impossible.

The Saints have done their part. They showed the path to greatness. Teamwork, accountability, passion, faith and trust in each other. Now it’s time for the citizens of this great city to come together and carry the banner from here. The Saints did their part, now it’s time for us to make it really matter.

Central City

Cafe Reconcile

Cafe Reconcile

Frank picked us up at my maaama’s in Gretna. He had arranged for a meeting between us and his friend Don, whom Frank is sure will help us with connections. We drove over the beautiful Crescent City Connection to Cafe Reconcile. A crowd of retired white folks outside who were literally bussed in from some hotel raved about the food and the service. Good. Reconcile Cafe is in Central City and employs at-risk youths and trains them up to work in the hospitality industry.
There are so many neighborhoods that have names that I don’t know. I started hearing about Central City after Ka-ka-ka-trina. Reading about it in the blogs while still in London. Where the hell is that? I asked myself. Well, it’s Dryads Street, which is now Oretha Castle Harvey Blvd. Changed its name from tree nymphs to civil rights leader. I wonder anyway where the whole greek mythology theme came from what with Caliope and Elysian Fields and that.
I used to drive through Central City every day on my way to Loyola. I’d drive from Gentilly where I was living with my Aunt Velma to Bywater to pick up Mark at St. Cecilia where he was living with Ronnie. Then we’d drive all the way down Rampart cross over the Ponchetrain Expressway and then onto Dryads. It was a beautiful decaying street then, and it ended in the YMCA, which was a beautiful decaying building. I always wanted to live in that building. It’s a school now. And there’s the Zeitgeist Theatre and a voter registration center down there.
I had smothered okra, green beans and cornbread. Yummy. This time, I went in armed with my own tupperware for my gator bag.

After, Frank drove us around through Mid City, City Park, Bayou St. John, Lakeview, Lake Vista, Gentilly and the Marigny. It was like doing a state of the union on New Orleans neighborhoods. I did this the last time I came here in December of 2006. Things still look pretty fucked up, so the afternoon had a bittersweet tinge to it.

Go here for a comprehensive article about Central City.

Not that MB is, like, an event calendar or anything…

…but there’s an event that ought to be on your calendar this weekend:


Seriously, all your friends will be there–and a few enemies, too. So much drama!

NORA Announces Irish Channel Property Package

3124 Chippewa St.

Stacy Head’s office, the Irish Channel and NORA have collaborated to put roughly 13 properties out for bid for redevelopment. Here are the RFP Docs.

If you have any questions about the process for submitting a proposal, Ommeed Sathe of NORA at 504-658-4400 or Carla Gendusa in Stacy Head’s office 658-1020.

You can submit a proposal to do ALL 13 properties or a subset of the properties. The cost of the properties vary from about $10K to $25K — so they are a DEAL!!! The best projects will be scored and selected by NORA and ICNA together.

Contact NORA
A few more photos of these properties from NORA

Computer Literacy at Freret Community Center

Freret  Community Center

I have always seen a need for a computer technology center in New Orleans, or hell, like eight of them. CTC’s are community centers with a focus on computer tutoring. I thought I could start one in Treme once I got my house done over there. . . but due to a wicked turn of events, that didn’t happen.

I sort of gave up on that project over the last couple of years. But New Orleans is funny to me, it seems to secretly hold all my wants and desires and places them squarely before me to cure a bad episode of city cynicism. Rewards for my loyalty and perseverance.

So one day in December, when life was looking rather dreadful, I sat down and had three beers with Jack Ware. I figured his life is likely scarier than mine . . . he’ll help me keep my perspective. So, we’re yappin and he starts telling me that he’s set up this network for a computer lab at the Freret St. Community Center. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Completely stunned. The facility was there, the computers had been found, the operating system installed. All I had to do was get in and start teaching. I just went into shock. I couldn’t believe that Jack, with all his, non-community-meetin’-bullshit talk had done this! I explained to him that this was something that I had always wanted to do in the city and he and Kimberly had already done all the really hard stuff that I would have had to plod through in order to get to the part that I really wanted to do.

So the lab is up and running and we have been doing a soft rollout with some students which has already proven extremely rewarding. I teach on Saturday mornings, which means my Friday nights are pretty nerdy too . . . but it is a really great facility and the students are so grateful. The workshops are student driven and very flexible because we truly are teaching the fundamentals of using a computer and I do not want people to feel that they have any pressure on them. They can’t fail. Most of them are doing the two finger poke on the keyboard but that’s ok, we dive right in and start mousing around the desktop and Googling their curiosities and creating emails.

Kimberly VanWagner and Kate Peak run the center. They have a broad spectrum of programs/activities for kids and adults from FREE yoga on Wednesdays, to math workshops and there is an art gallery in the center with rotating exhibits. There is a nice backyard with a small stage, it’s a wonderful space.

The kids from the center made $600 from their art booth at the Freret Festival last week and today they did a math class about there profit/investments and about philanthropy and decided how much they would give back to the center.

For more information about activities at the center:
Freret Neighborhood Center
4605 Freret
New Orleans, LA 70115
504.373.6403 phone

Keepin It Real Second Line

Keepin It Real Second Line on Bienville (4)

While relaxing on my day off I was fortunate enough to catch the Keepin It Real second-line on Bienville today. It was a gorgeous day. It’s such a luxury to be in a place where you can experience a second-line in between cleaning out the cat-box and doing laundry. My neighbor and I shared some ginger snaps and did some booty shakin together. After enjoying the parade, Alvin went back to spraying pigeons off his roof with the hose and I back to my Sunday ablutions, both with the fuller sense of well-being that only a good dose of a brass band and its connections to your ‘peeps’ adds to everyday life here in New Orleans.

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