Friday, December 29, 2006

Not America's Team

I just left this comment (with slight edits so it makes some sense) at Rick Blaine's blog post about the Saints. I don't know if everyone else feels this way, but I do.

This season is important for the people of New Orleans. The fever that this team is bringing is palpable. No one says goodbye any more, they say "Go Saints!" I just spent a week down there visiting my mom and brother. That's what the weekend revolved around, and the week was spent in anticipation of the game. The front page of the paper top headline on Christmas day was "Saints clinch bye week". The rest of the country can like the Saints. They should - they are a likable team. And if it makes them feel better to root for the Saints this year, hell, let 'em. If they want to come visit, gut a house, and spend some money in the great city of New Orleans, bring it on. But they can't have them forever. Next time they have an awful season, I will still be a Saints fan. And they can all go suck Jerry Jones off again.

What I Really Want for Christmas

So I was leaving town, heading back to Pennsylvania (ugh. I know.), and I stopped at a gas station to fill up wearing my brand new Saints sweatshirt (my Christmas present to myself - Merry Christmas ME!). The woman in the store was wearing her number 25 jersey. I complimented her on her taste. Her only response to me - "Black and Gold Superbowl!" in the best New Orleans accent ever. It even rhymed. I love New Orleans. And the Saints. Coming soon - my updates on my trip.

PS - Oh yeah, I am kinda thinking of starting a new blog because after a conversation with a friend (discussing ways to move back and possible career choices), I need to maybe lay some ground work. Here is the first installment. These things take time. I think I may need to be more critical if I want it to work, but there it is for now.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Horrible Realization

After a great day at the track (Saint and Sinner placed in the second!), I was at a wonderful dinner at LA Thai on Metairie Road tonight. I met a friend's new significant other, and I realized something horrible - I can't talk about anything other than New Orleans. We talked about how Bill Jefferson was re-elected. I don't know how. We talked about Jefferson's connections to Renee Gill-Prat and CARE Unlimited. We talked about how there is no more recycling program. And how it's the same families with the real power and the puppet politicians. (John Barry really has this right in Rising Tide, IMO.)

I love my hometown. I really do. But I realize that everything around here is totally screwed up. So am I. I acknowledge that things need to change. But as I got home, I realized something else - there is so much corruption and there are so many things here that could easily be changed/fixed/improved that it's overwhelming to know where to start. It was like that before, too, but now it's become nearly impossible to see the forest for the trees.

How can you concentrate on improving schools and education when you have to rebuild your house?
How can you ask for a recycling program when there is debris from house guttings all along your street?
How can you get rid of corruption in the municipal government when you don't even have any gas to heat your home?
How can you demand improved public transportation when you don't have any neighbors or even a "neighborhood" anymore?
How can you ask the city council to be accountable when you are living in a trailer, working night and day to make ends meet, and have no insurance money?
When do you have time to demand new levees when you don't have electricity to cook a meal or a phone to call your loved ones?

The realization, the epiphany is this - as long as you can keep people focused on their daily struggles, they won't have the time or inclination to protest the atrocities. The reality is this - those entrusted to run New Orleans need to use their power for the good of the people and not to line their own pockets and scam the good people who put them in power.

Hurricane Katrina and the resulting federal flood have served not to bring out the best in those who have the means to improve our city. Instead, it has served to bring out secret handshakes, shady backroom deals, and selling out our city to the highest bidder. So few people in political power seem to have the actual future and revitalization of New Orleans in mind that it seems incredulous to me.

I would love to see something in Ray Nagin change. I believe him to be a good man. I believe him to be overwhelmed. But, more importantly, I believe him to be the wrong man in the right place at the right time. At the end of the day, he is going to be the one that people remember was in charge of the rebuilding. He needs to ask himself - how does he wish to be remembered by New Orleans? By Louisiana? By the rest of the US and the world?
Because right now, the view isn't very positive.
Emotion will only take you so far. Right now, I am angry. I hope my opinion changes later.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I know the FBI is probably already working on this, but I keep reading about "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, his family, and his network of cronies. While he may be above the nonsense, I doubt it. I am not sure that Carter is absolved in this matter either. There will be flowcharts, Venn diagrams, names, dates, and other important stuff. How in the hell did he get re-elected? I hope he gets indicted just on appearance. At least until I get this information together. Then I hope he gets indicted on facts.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Art In Action

Editor B had a great post about "Guerilla Art" in Mid-City a few weeks back. I was showing a friend how cool this stuff was, and his update led me to the art in action blog where, so far, twelve installations have taken place across New Orleans. While all are interesting and cool to me, I find Site #8, Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth ward is the most interesting. Croatoan was painted all over the dead oaks that lined the street. If you haven't driven through the Lower Ninth, you should. It feels like a lost and desolate outpost, abandoned by the world, doesn't it? I will be there in a few weeks to go check on a few of these in person.

Monday, December 04, 2006


C Ray Nagin has hired a disaster recovery specialist. Finally. Maybe he needed a little more time to figure out that what he was doing was nothing. Edward Blakely has helped in a lot of American cities that have been damaged by nature (California wildfires and earthquake) or humans (New York 9/11). Best quote from the article - "...After being in (places like) the Congo and so forth, this looks great," he said.

Now, Mr. Blakely, let's get this ball rolling.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Best Quote in Months

I was watching the Saints game last week as my mom was visiting from New Orleans. I go downtown to the Circle in Easton and watch the games at a sports bar where I met a guy who lived in New Orleans for 15 or so years and is still a Saints fan. Trust me, there are not a whole lot of us outside of the New Orleans and Gulf Coast region. As we were getting ourselves all worked up about the Atlanta game and being the eternal optimists that we all are, we started talking about the Saints and the Super Bowl. My new friend Tim says, "If the Saints win the SuperBowl when it's in New Orleans, it's gonna make Mardi Gras look like a Monday." GO SAINTS!

Friday, December 01, 2006

A New Mission

I am concerned. I am worried. The state takes over and the problems are still the same. Is there corruption in the New Orleans Public School System? Absolutely. Is it going to go away any time soon? Looks like the answer is no.
While everyone can agree that the situation is dire for New Orleans Schools, there are far too few voices that decry its failure for the last 30 years. I do not have answers, but I sure have a lot of questions. Where are the books? Dr. Ashley proposes computers. Infrastructure problems. No air conditioning. Paychecks for absentee workers. Unearned pay. At what expense? The children?
The way to a strong economy is an educated populace. Poverty or not, the children of New Orleans deserve an education worthy of a world class city. As an educator, I am appalled. I am proposing for myself that this blog shift focus to become one of the voices for change. It is necessary, and it is time. If not now, when? Someone needs to hold the people in charge accountable. Might as well be me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Jet Black and Jealous

I hate to be the one to say I told you so (actually, I think I kind of like it, but cliche's have their place...), but Paul Sanchez has left Cowboy Mouth, according to this article. Over the years, I expected this to happen. Paul has a more human, more folksy feel that Fred seems to outshine. It's not that Fred is a bad guy, it's just that Paul is more soft-spoken. I always thought Paul wrote more meaningful songs and that a split like this was inevitable as the band continued.
If you follow the band, their latest CD Voodoo Shoppe has a great example of Fred's showmanship vs. Paul's angst. On the Ellen DeGeneres Show in February, Cowboy Mouth was the musical guest. After getting a pre-released version of "Home" in iTunes, I expected that this would be the song that the band played. It was gritty, it was angry, and it was about New Orleans. It made reference of levee breaks, the insanity in the Superdome, longing for the good times, and dancing in the streets. This song was written by Paul Sanchez whose house was destroyed. It is and was a great song that still makes me angry and long for being home. But on this show (I know it was Mardi Gras, but still), the band played "The Avenue," a song of longing for the good times on St. Charles during Mardi Gras, written by Fred whose house I don't think was destroyed. Also a good song which makes me want to come home. However, it lacks the anger and pain and longing for New Orleans that "Home" has. Why is this? I am not sure.
I just know that I was disappointed that I didn't get to hear the song that makes me want to stand up and say, "Hey, that's how I feel. I want to go home, too. Is there anything still there for me?" vs. the song that makes me want to remember all the great times and fun that I have had over the course of my life on St. Charles Ave.
I used to and still love to see Cowboy Mouth. The way that Fred gets everyone to forget all their pain and anger is amazing, but you have to buy into it. The way that Paul gets everyone to relate their pain and angst to his words, to me, is even more amazing, but you have to have the pain and angst.
Could just be me, but I predict that this is the end of Cowboy Mouth in general.

Flipping over Katrina

According to this news story from Memphis, New Orleanians look like jerks again. The story line is typical - victims flee, community opens heart and wallets, New Orleanians take advantage without remorse and make money, helpful souls feel conned. Of course, that is because all New Orleanians are criminals who would just as soon shoot their mothers for a hit of crack as accept help from good meaning Christian folk.

Does anyone even read GQ?

After the embarrassment of Alan Richman's column about the lack of food quality and culinary expertise in New Orleans (which is absurd), GQ comes forth with an article about the Lower Ninth Ward called One Block, One Year, 13 Houses. According to the intro, this is all about a block on Marais St with not much in particular about it. They seem to say that the NYT and the national media did a poor job at best covering Katrina and the failure of the levees. Could this be some sort of apology for the Richman piece?
While I know that the Lower Ninth Ward is barely a shadow, if that, of what it was 18 months ago, people in this country have heard that term. Have they also heard of Gentilly, Lake Terrace, Lakeview, Broadmoor, and New Orleans East? Couldn't some more poignant reporting have happened if they had selected 13 houses from different (former?) neighborhoods in New Orleans?
Any press to me at this point is good press (except the Richman piece - fuck that dude). What do we have to do to get back and stay in the news?
In other news, my mom is heading up here for Thanksgiving again. Last year she was living with my brother and his 3 kids and wasn't back in her house yet. She was going to be moving in on her return.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Defend Easton!

For the 100th time, the city of Easton, PA, (10-1) is playing Phillipsburg, NJ, (9-0) in football. As usual, the game is played at Lafayette College's Fisher Stadium which is three blocks from my house. It just underwent a $23 million dollar renovation. The game will televised live on ESPN on Thanksgiving morning at 9:05 Central (usually at 10:30 AM - I am going to have to be up early this year!). This is as close as we get in Easton to Mardi Gras. I make the best Bloody Mary's around (starting at 7 AM in good New Orleans Fat Tuesday tradition). Then I sleep and go eat turkey and then sleep again. It's a good day for up here. They are even wearing throwback jerseys, pants and helmets. More info at

This is the big one! Tune in, have a bloody mary, and watch! Your Latin teacher is just a few blocks away (and maybe even on TV!)

We even have a countdown timer:

type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" height="100" width="330">

UPDATE: The game will be on 9:00 AM Eastern on ESPN2.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

C Ray

My bad. I meant See Ray as in see Ray Rice run the ball. Rutgers U, just across the river from my little school, has just beaten #3 Louisville after coming back from being down 25-7. Many of the people I work with are Rutgers alums, and Ray Rice is the deal. If we didn't have Reggie "Jesus in Cleats" Bush, Rice would be a hell of an acquisition. As it stands, the excitement around school is awesome. I love being around good football; Rutgers is providing it for the first time since they played Princeton in the 1800s and invented the game as we now know it. Go, Scarlet Knights!

Vote Clarification, Not Getting It, and The Toad

I would like to state my political motives for the record. I did cast my vote against Bush and Santorum because of the war in Iraq. I cast my vote against Bush and Santorum because of New Orleans.

And people in Pennsylvania and Ohio still don't get it. After a wedding this weekend in Florida, I got into a verbal battle with a woman who doesn't understand why New Orleans was built where it was, why it's important, or why it should be rebuilt. Of course, she loves to visit, but....obviously the woman's evil and an idiot.

Alan Richman is a douchebag. (Hat tip to Ashely) Just wanted to make that clear. The GQ food editor went claimed he had shitty food at Uglesich's in "wretched early October." When did everyone give up on Arnaud's and Antoine's? What a freaking moron. Of course, this week he has praise for the new "Hawaian Tropic Zone" restaurant in New York. With all due respect, if you like the food at the "Hawaian Tropic Zone", how could you consider yourself a food critic.
Oh, yeah, and Fuck you, Mr. Richman.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Carthaginians are Coming!

As an educator, I have always been dumbfounded by what happened in New Orleans Schools when run by the New Orleans School Board. Now that the state has control things seem worse. No hot lunches, no textbooks for students, poor learning environments, etc. Now, to top it all off, Hannibal Barca is complaining:
One community activist, Hannibal Barca of the group Neighborhood Unity Emerge, shifted the criticism focus somewhat away from Jarvis, saying ranking state education officials and legislators must be held accountable for troubles faced by students. He scoffed at the notion that Wednesday's hearing would fix anything.
I agree. There must be institutional change. A change in leadership is not going to fix this unless that leadership changes everything which does not appear to be happening. Someone with vision, charisma, and real power must do this. Of course, if such a person were to appear, he or she might be better off as mayor of New Orleans. As it stands now, this job is being done inadequately and the future of New Orleans continues to be at stake. Can't someone just order new hot plates, call textbook companies, and make a list of schools that need to be repaired?

The more I think about this, the more it seems like a distraction technique. If you can focus people's attention on small things, the big things get overlooked. Like educating the children. Why on earth can't the infrastructure and necessary items be deployed so that they are not issues. Without being a conspiracy theorist, I tend to think that this is planned. (The textbook thing alone has been going on for over a month - how is that possible?)

If state officials thought that the city was doing such a bad job, why are they taking over and doing the same bad job? Keep the fire under their butts. They need to serve our children better than this. Especially with education.

TEACHER MOMENT: In case you didn't know, Hannibal Barca was also the real name of the Hannibal who invaded Italy in the 3rd century BC and was a critical part of the 2nd Punic War. His strategy was to surround Rome and have her recently acquired allies switch their allegiance to him and the Carthaginians. Then he would attack Rome itself. The allies failed to see things his way, and the Romans eventually won by invading Carthage. Romans would scare their children for generations afterwards by saying, "Hannibal is at the gates."

So, Mr. Barca of New Orleans, keep up the good fight. I think you can win this time. You have the allies on your side.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Why Am I Angry?

FEMA is refusing to continue to help fund bus service between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. I feel this is absolutely ludicrous. How are people without cars or money or a job supposed to get home and continue to rebuild their houses and lives? What is FEMA thinking? Oh, yeah, that's right. They aren't, don't, and can't. More here.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Precedents have been set

In what year do you think these quotes about New Orleans were delivered?

"Our city is in a state of utter hopelessness."

"Who would have believed that prosperous, gay, bragging, New Orleans would come to such grief and poverty? Business gone, money gone, population gone."

The answer is 1867. The former from Mayor Edward Heath, the latter from John W. De Forest.

In this months issue of Preservation Magazine, there is a great article (not yet online) about New Orleans after the Civil War. The city itself hired Theodore Lilienthal to photograph the city to bolster its image, the first municipally sponsored photographic survey of an American city.

While there are a few images in the article, New Orleans downtown and the American sector look very much like they do today. The author included a picture of Lake Pontchartrain at Bayou St. John - a marshy, swampy mess. The draining of and building on this land "exposed the city to flooding during Hurricane Katrina." (Aside: I guess that if someone is going to write
about New Orleans these days, they have to include the sentence "contributed to flooding in New Orleans." I do not think this rational is correct, but I do think that the wetlands around New Orleans and Louisiana need to be dealt with. Besides this, I like the article.)

The photographs were sent to be part of the World's Exposition in Paris where they garnered Lilienthal a prize and helped New Orleanians bolster their self-image. (As bizarre as this seems, the Saints may be doing this for us right now. They are helping our image though the depression and destruction lingers.)

The author, Gary Van Zante of the MIT Museum of Architecture and Design, will be publishing a book next year on Lilienthal's photographs.

ADDENDUM: The very next article in the magazine again discusses New Orleans. This article is about the reality of vacation spots, Nola being one. New Orleans, it says, maintained a thin veneer between its wealth and refinement and its hidden poverty. I say that this is nothing new to a New Orleanian. However, Gary Esolen, founder of Gambit Weekly, suggests that Katrina may have given New Orleans a chance to regain some of its authenticity. He wants the tourism industry to back off and let the city rebuild in peace so we can have a "richer, more substantial community for the people who live there." I say just get everyone back home. I think real New Orleanians got it. Bring them back, and we'll get it again.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thank the gods

I now have the latest version of Firefox installed. I can see the compose stuff now, so now I won't have random links in the titles, post entire urls, and I can emphasize words that are important. Now let's see if I can get this thing going again.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

SI Article (link)

If you subscribe to Sports Illustrated, you have probably already read this article. If you don't, buy this week's edition for an article about the Saints by Michael Silver. He drives around town with Coach Payton and learns about the new New Orleans Saints and gives us some great new quotes along the way. Among my favorites:

- "Follow my formula, and we'll win the game." Coach Payton

- "You have to look at why they've only won one playoff game in 40 years. There's a reason. We're in a place where, within 10 minutes, you can get a daiquiri, sit at a blackjack table and go to a strip club - and you can do it at 4 in the morning. If you've got the type of people on your team who are susceptible to that, they'll find trouble. So yeah, character's important." Coach Payton

- The defense, with its three white linebackers, has a nickname for itself - Oreo.

- "Our defense shut down Atlanta, and against Tampa it was special teams. This time it was the offense's turn. That's what a team is all about." - Drew Brees

There is a long bit about how Joe Horn got open. And in it, I couldn't but help think of my friend up above the nosebleed area who takes the pictures that led to the touchdown reception which tied the game.

The last quote is my favorite:
- Right now you're the Big Easy's biggest act - and 53 players and a whole lot of Saints fans are screaming for more.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

What is New Orleans?

Please remember to give your donation for WWOZ. It is one of those things that makes New Orleans New Orleans. I wish I was able to listen more often. And that I had more money to give. NOLA needs WWOZ and WWOZ needs NOLA.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Marching 64

Last night on the NBC Nightly News, Martin Savage did a report on the return of St. Augustine's Marching 100. I found that poignant because last weekend I was watching perhaps the worst band competition ever. Bands were marching in Philadelphia on TV. The bands were wearing t-shirts, the flag teams were awful, and the songs were hideous. I remember in high school waiting for the St. Aug game just so we could hear the band at halftime. I remember one year that one of my classmates ran out onto the field with a blue and white wig and leisure suit to march with the best band in New Orleans.

The rest of this country doesn't seem to have much of a clue of the importance that music plays in the lives of our young people in New Orleans. It is everywhere, and it is vital. How many children in New Orleans have escaped poverty or drugs or depression or any number of other social ills because of music? How many have learned lessons that athletics and academics alone could not teach because of music? How many have learned the importance of practice, technique, and discipline required to master an instrument and march in formation? How many have had the spotlight on them for a week every year as they displayed their mastery during Mardi Gras? How many lifelong friendships have been forged?

St Aug was flooded. The band room was destroyed, but students are coming back because being part of the school band is important to them. One student is living alone in New Orleans while his grandmother is somewhere else so he can be part of the band. It's his school, and it's his band. I miss the days when the streets were blocked off while a middle school or high school band was practicing. In fact, the day of a friends wedding, we were sitting on the front stoop having a drink when this New Orleans phenomenon took place. How great is that?
Little things like this make life livable. Music in New Orleans is a great equalizer. We all shake our butts and tap our feet when we hear great music. It makes us part of who we are. And now the Marching 100 are back so we can do our thing. Thank you, St. Augustine. And keep up the great work.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Records To Think About

Reggie Bush is on pace to be the first rookie since 1964 to run for 500 and receive for 800 yards in a season. Also, he is on pace to catch 108 passes - the most of any rookie ever. in all time. forever. in history. our jesus in cleats. Amen.


There is a student at the school I teach at that is interested in attending Tulane. As expected, her parents are concerned about crime in New Orleans. I tell her that crime is average for a large city in the US. Then I read over and over and over that there was a murder, and a double murder, and then a murder where two innocent bystanders where injured, and then a stabbing, etc. I know that we need people to come down there and visit. This kid is one of the best and brightest, and I am worried for his/her safety right now. What is going on? How can we expect people to visit (or come spend four years worth of money) if we can't keep the murderers off the street and provide the public with some sense of safety? When can I expect some good news for my prospective student and his/her parents? BTW - this kid is a Latin nerd. And would be a great fit in New Orleans (not just for college but after).

ASIDE: Most Tulane kids leave New Orleans for greener pastures because they can. New Orleans and Louisana would benefit immensely by keeping Tulane grads in LA in my opinion. Easier said than done. What you have now at Tulane is kids that are interested in saving the world (because of their new focus on community service). We need them to stay, if you ask me. So what can we do to encourage this? And what do I tell potential students?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Bambi works for the Police?

They may not have to look far for other suspects.

From the t-p -

"Prostitution has increased," Police Superintendent Warren Riley said this week through spokeswoman Bambi Hall. Though saying the vice squad is addressing the problem, he said that "the primary issue is the lack of bed space at the Orleans Parish Prison, which creates the inability to keep prostitutes in lock-up."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Who does that? (link)

Mr. McCrossen and his cronies have had years to fix levee problems. Katrina revealed the Levee Boards' utter failure to maintain the levees and protect New Orleans (though I am still pretty pissed at the ACoE). Because of this failure they lose their right to whatever "hidden benefits" being a political appointee on the Levee Board means. The gravy train is over, Mr. McCrossen. Find a real job.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Voodoo that You do

Saints win. I ate popeye's, a pulled pork sandwich, had a picture of Miss Seminole next to me, drank a bloody and some abita, had the scented candles burning, and did the sacred and solemn chants. It seems to have worked. And I got so many awesome pictures from the Sacredome. And I won in all three fantasy football leagues. This good week has turned into a great week.

The Voodoo that You do

Saints win. I ate popeye's, a pulled pork sandwich, had a picture of Miss Seminole next to me, drank a bloody and some abita, had the scented candles burning, and did the sacred and solemn chants. It seems to have worked. And I got so many awesome pictures from the Sacredome. And I won in all three fantasy football leagues. This good week has turned into a great week.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Saints are Coming Home

2 and 0. Home, sweet Sacredome.
It will be another great week.

I have to go to a wedding in Vermont this weekend. The best part: The Saints game is on Monday.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Saints 19, Browns 14

Just wanted to see that in print again.
Deuce and Reggie. Shock and Awe.
I think I will start my campaign for that nickname right here right now.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Right vs. Wrong

Link above -
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what's wrong with New Orleans. It's a long and formidable list with deep, deep roots. Loren Feldman has posted what he sees as the problems that face New Orleans in the future. He may not know that those were the same problems that we already know and that have faced us in the past. Many who visited New Orleans before Katrina probably did not have any idea that our educational infrastructure was fractured, broken, and on its last legs (leading to an uneducated populace trapped in a vicious cycle), that corruption in local government was something we got mad about but really don't know how to control (hoping the next guy or girl will be more honest and forthright and transparent than those before him/her), that the insurance commission has tried to help with unscrupulous and unethical insurance companies for years, that black on black crime (and all crime) is a plague that our city cannot seem to figure out how to combat, that leadership in New Orleans means bringing in tourists and putting a happy face to the rest of the world. And this is but a fraction of the real problems. It is my gut feeling that many people choose to ignore because when you love something as deeply as people tend to love New Orleans, you accept the good with the bad. You wish she would change, but if she changed she wouldn't be the same as the city you fell in love with. Some things may annoy you, but you can deal with it. New Orleans makes people feel alive from the depths of their soul. How do you explain that through a blog or a 10 minute video on (This, to me, is one of the more difficult things I contend with - A city that makes people feel so alive is teetering on the brink of death. I know the good people there are trying desperately to resucitate the city. I think I speak on behalf of a lot of people when I say that I hope they succeed and more.)

To those who live in New Orleans after Katrina, those problems have a chance to be righted. But only if safety and security can be assured for its residents. How can anyone (and why would anyone) bother to make massive improvements to anything when the future is so uncertain? Just because I am a teacher, I think about it this way. The school system was in shambles; the state had taken over most of the schools in Orleans Parish. How do you go about rebuilding a broken system? Do you build and staff schools all over the city again? Do you just build and staff schools where children are? What happens in 5 years when people come back? Do we plan for the future or do we simply manage with charter schools? Do we try to build with a plan for the future or simply the current reality? If there are no assurances, all a person can do is hope that the future will even exist. This model can be extended to virtually anything going on in New Orleans now. Home building? Hell, home gutting. Water and sewage? Streets and roads? The Regional Transportation System? How do you know what you can count on now that the thing has happened?

To an outsider, those problems seem to be the root of all the bad things in New Orleans. They may be. We know we have lots of work to do. We don't like being told what to do. (Does anyone, really?) But we like to agree and smile and nod. Then, when the people telling us what to do leave, we go back to doing things the way we want. Loren doesn't have bad points. He really doesn't. But he also doesn't quite get it. None of those problems matter if there are no levees, no wetlands protection, and no assurance that these things will be fixed. If we aren't here, those issues aren't here either. To me, that's what he doesn't get.

To Loren and the other 1938Media, blogheraldeers, etc.: Thank you for coming to New Orleans. Thank you for your reporting. Thank you for your insight. And thank you for presenting our problems to your readers. The world needs more people to come down to NOLA and talk to people to find out what's really going on. Reading blogs is one way to find out information. Writing a blog is a way to disseminate the same. Looking and pictures and reading reports and watching video is another. But visiting New Orleans firsthand and giving your account should be acknowledged as something positive. Fight the good fight. Report, post, and opine. The world needs to hear our story.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

My sense of humor

Just took this. Don't know how correct it is, or how off the mark. I never thought about it before just now... Interesting.

the Shock Jock

(61% dark, 42% spontaneous, 52% vulgar)

your humor style:

Your sense of humor is off-the-cuff and kind of gross. Is it is also
sinister, cynical, and vaguely threatening to the purer folks of this
world. You probably get off on that. You would cut a greasy fart, then blame it on your mom, and then just shrug when someone pointed out that she's dead.

Yours is hands-down the most outrageous sense of humor; you like things
trangressive and hardcore. It's highly likely (a) you have no limits (b) you have no scruples and (c) you have no job. Ironically, it's your type of humor that can make the biggest bucks in show business.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Howard Stern - Adam Sandler - Roseanne Barr

The 3-Variable Funny Test!

- it rules -

If you're interested, try my best friend's best test:
The Genghis Khan Genetic Fitness Masterpiece

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 76% on darkness
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 40% on spontaneity
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on vulgarity

Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina +1 Part IV (Monday)

TV on, we watched as the weather mercenaries chased Katrina. Someone from the weather channel was at a hospital or hotel on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, assuring us that he was safe from the wrath of the storm because he was inland far enough that the surge couldn’t reach him. Within just a few minutes he and the crew were moving as water flooded the first of floor of their location. The van was moved and the satellite was at risk. Water came up fast.

In Jackson, things were uneventful. We simply watched things unfold, happy to not be in New Orleans; at least not this once. In the morning the wind was blowing moderately, and it was raining lightly. As the day wore on, the wind picked up (as a non-expert, it is my guess that the windspeed was somewhere betwee 60 and 80 mph.), the rain got harder, and there were thunderstorms and lightning.

I remember sitting with my computer plugged in to make sure I had a full charge. Looking out the window while trying to do some work, I remember seeing leaves blowing by and larger branches snap off trees and hurry through the yard, We had a nice lunch, I think. Nothing fancy, but something hot. We watched the footage from New Orleans but there wasn't a lot as the news people had evacuated themselves. We saw as the hurricane took an unpredicted wobble to the east. We thought we had avoided the worst. Sure, things would be bad, but this wasn't the big one. It was big and scary, but not the one.

Suddenly, without any noise or warning, the power went out. My mom's friend brought a small two-inch TV and my uncle had just enough batteries for it. We all gathered in a tight circle around the black and white light in the darkness of the living room. Whatever channel we were watching had a helicopter shot of downtown. Things looked ok. Sure, the curtains were blowing out of the windows of the Hyatt Hotel and the Superdome's roof had been blown off, but everything was still standing!!! Sure water was rising, but we had hurricane rain. OF course there was some water on the roads. We had survived the storm. It had missed us again. Ha! New Orleans had survived another near hurricane. Clearly we were the chosen ones! In the meantime, the local station we were watching went back to coverage of the storm surge on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. That's okay, we thought. Y'all took it for the team. Thanks and sorry about that, but that's how things work out sometimes, we thought.

Cell phone reception was beyond spotty. The land line, however, was still working in the evening when my cousin called from Austin, TX. He and his mom talked for a while about how crazy things were and she said we were all ok. We probably weren't going to be without power for long, but the power was out now. How were he and the girls? When she hung up, I picked up the phone to call my wife. The line was dead. Soon after, the batteries on the TV gave out.

Outside, I was able to find enough reception to send my wife a few text messages and let her know I was ok. It was an excitement filled day. Things were bad, but we would get up in the morning, assess damages, help clean up and head back to Metairie. I am not sure how I heard it or when but I remember getting a text message that the levees had broken. In a panic, with nowhere to go, nothing to watch or listen to to find out more. It was probably just a rumor. It was time to go to bed, because a long day of clean-up was ahead.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I went to the wonderful happy hour party at the New Orleans Yacht Club. It was nice to meet Dr. Homan, Kalypso, Bart, Mark, Greg, Alan, Flood and Loathing, Maitri, Sophmom, GulfSails, Bill from SF, and all the others who were there and with whom I got the opportunity to talk. There were others whom I wanted to meet, but I had too many other things to do Saturday to make the entire event. I have read some of the summaries, and I watched the video of the "Arabi Wrecking Krewe." Thanks to all who organized it, ran it, and participated in it. You guys are my source for all things New Orleans these days. It is good to know that I am getting information from bright, energetic, and eager citizens who are screaming for change. Thank you for sharing yourselves online and keeping hope alive.


During my visit to New Orleans this weekend, I finally met up with the security guard from my old school. He was safe. He had evacuated to I don't remember where, but he and his daughter were safe. His wife had left him a note on the bed stand weeks before and the she packed her things and moved out. His house on Painters St. was flooded 11 and 1/2 feet. But his flag football cleats are still safe in the attic. Everything else is gone. He looks broken on the inside, and, while I know that many people who read this may already feel like this or know people who look like this, I don't get to see it. It is agonizing. And it is a miracle that he continues on.

One of the other things that he told me is that the school did a good job taking care of him after the levees broke. He said that he cleaned the refrigerator out and took out all the rotting furniture and stuff, but he hasn't gutted the thing yet. He probably told me why, but I can't remember because I was so stunned to see him. He is on the list for the Catholic Charities to provide help. I asked my mom, who works for Catholic Charities, if there was anything she could do. I don't know if there is, but it can't hurt to ask. Then I called my brother the contractor and asked him to give my friend an estimate. They know each other.

My friend said he bought his house with the insurance money and is living in a trailer. Neither neighbor has returned, but he mows his grass regularly. It's got to feel like home, he said. He is a huge Saints fan, and I don't think he is going to be leaving New Orleans. Thank God.

One of the more bizarre stories that he told me is that some parents at the school saw a picture or a video of the police officer who used to patrol during after school carpool pick-up. In the video, at the height of the chaos and looting, there she was. She didn't have anything in her hands, but she wasn't stopping anyone either. She was trying to keep the situation from getting out of control. Nonetheless, when this parent reported this to the school administration, she was summarily released from her duties - no questions asked. Never mind that this woman had a stellar record and years of service. Never mind that the children loved her. Never mind that she was dealing with the largest MAN-MADE DISASTER to befall an American city. Done. Is that how we build community these days?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Katrina +1 Part III (Sunday)

Katrina +1, Part III (Sunday)

At 7 AM, I immediately turned on the Weather Channel to see what Katrina was doing while I slept. What she had been doing was continue to grow into a monster and head straight for New Orleans. There was no time to dally; it was time to pack up the car and go. Since I was only in town for the weekend, it didn’t take me long to throw my clothes into my bag and throw that into the car. Mom, on the other hand, had much more to do. She grabbed a plastic bin and began throwing pictures, financial records, bills, and whatever else she thought was going to be important in case this was the big one. At 8 AM, I was ready to go – coffee had been made, a small breakfast was prepared, and I thought the car was packed.

I grabbed the coolers from the top of the fridge in the garage and loaded them up with all the frozen foods in both refrigerators and all the ice in the freezer. Everything else we pretty much threw out. Just in case, you know. The coolers were placed in the car. Still, mom was not done loading her little plastic bin nor was she done packing clothes her bag of clothes that would just have to last for a few days. She seemed flustered and hurried. But she plugged ahead slowly and methodically. She didn’t want to forget anything. I watched Nagin make the mandatory evacuation announcement, and I watched as people drove their vehicles up to the Superdome, got out, and went in. I sent a second email to the head of my school to let him know that I was evacuating with my mom and that I would call with updates as the weather permitted.

After she finally finished taking care of her chores, mom and I walked through the house to see if there was anything else that needed to or could be done in case the worst happened. We took the oriental rugs from the living room and dining room, rolled them up and placed them on the couch in the living room. I turned off the computer and placed it up on a desk in the garage just in case water blew in under the garage door, an unlikely scenario but one whose damage could be limited. At 10 AM, we loaded the car up and headed for I-10 West and then onto I-55 toward my uncle’s house in Jackson, MS.

It was a hot August day (aren’t they all?) and the air conditioning in mom’s car was on the fritz. We opened all the windows and the sun roof so that we could get some air moving, but it proved to be ineffective at 10 MPH. All along I-10 in Kenner there were cars parked on both sides – people waiting for family members or broken down or some other bad luck. Traffic was backed up for miles and miles.

We stayed in the normal traffic lanes north as we approached the Bonne Carre spillway so we could get onto I-55. I am not sure when it happened, but at some point traffic started moving pretty well. We were going 35 and then 50. The radio was tuned in to WWL, and Garland Robinette, at some point, had mentioned that the birds were missing from the trees. What an interesting observation, I thought. I had noticed something was different that morning, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Garland figured out what it was for me.

One of my mom’s friends was working at the Red Cross shelter in Mount Vernon in Tangipahoa Parish. This woman’s sister, also a friend of my mom, had stayed there on Saturday night, but she had had enough of living in a shelter after one night and wanted to follow us up to Jackson. We turned off I-55 and pulled into a jammed gas station to wait for her. It was a scene from the apocalypse. The store had set up a make shift counter to sell water, there were lines for gas into the highway, and everyone was talking on cell phones out front. I called my brother to find out how he and his wife and kids were making out. They had headed east and were going to Atlanta to stay with his sister-in-law. I can’t remember if they had both cars or not, but he was well on his way.

I don’t know how far the shelter was from the exit on the interstate, but it took mom’s friend the better part of 45 minutes to meet us. When she got there, she and my mom ran in to go to the bathroom and get something to drink. When they were ready to go, my mom got into her friends car and left me in the hot car without A/C. That was fine by me because I was calling all my friends up north and telling them of my odyssey to escape Katrina. It’s hard to explain all of the things that we from New Orleans understand about weather and evacuation and to detail and repeat the details that we were hearing on the radio. Things looked bad for New Orleans, but we were evacuating and would return home in a few days to pick up the broken branches and to clean the refrigerators.

Somewhere along the way, I remember noticing dark, ugly, menacing clouds rolling in from the south every time I looked in the rearview mirror. That has to be the first squalls of the storm, I thought. And north we drove.

At some point the bumper to bumper traffic eased, and I pulled away from my mom and her friend. I was hot, and I wanted out of the car. As we approached Jackson, the contra flow ended. It was getting to be evening now. I hadn’t been to my uncle’s house in several years, so I couldn’t remember the exact directions to his house. I pulled off at the exit, called for directions, and arrived at the house just before dusk. What I did not do, and what turned out to be a mistake in retrospect, was stop to fill the car up with gas. I drove to the house, and I unloaded all the coolers and my bag.

My uncle and I visited for a while until the vehicle with my mom arrived. After a nice dinner, we settled in to watch the Weather Channel and any local news that was talking about hurricane, evacuations, wind speed, or rain. I was starting school soon, so I tried to get some of the work that I had brought with me done. I charged my cell phone and computer battery that night. We all went to bed hoping it would make a slight “wobble,” but we felt quite certain that we would be able to go back Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Katrina +1, Part II (Saturday)

Friday is a blank. It was a regular day. Katrina skittered into the Gulf, but all the forecasts had it being pushed towards Pensacola and Mobile. We didn't think about it much on Friday.

Saturday was a totally different feel. When I got up, my mom insisted that if I was going to use her car that I absolutely had to fill it up. I did. I hadn't seen gas lines like that since the 70s energy crisis when I was just a wee one. I waited in line for an hour or so just to pretty much top the tank off in case we decided that we were going evacuate. It still didn't seem like it was coming to New Orleans, but lots of people had the same idea at the same time - get ready just in case.

I picked up a friend to go to our annual fantasy football draft. One guy couldn't go because the baptism of his son, previously scheduled for Sunday, was being done on Saturday. Others missed the draft as they were preparing their homes and families in case they needed to leave on Sunday.

We watched the weather channel. But moods were upbeat. I remember thinking that it would be interesting to stay for a hurricane so I could say that I lived through it. I would have some stories for my students at school.

After the draft, people left quickly without much fanfare or without any long goodbyes. There was lots of work that needed to be done - plywood the windows, pack the car, and get the important stuff off the ground in case it rained really hard and the streets flooded a little.

While I was at the draft, my mom had begun bringing potted plants from all over the backyard into the screened-in porch. I turned on the TV. Ray Nagin was asking people to take heed of the storm and was asking for a voluntary evacuation. I immediately called airline and tried to get my flight moved up. The woman on the phone told me that they had ceased operations immediately and that they would resume as soon as possible after the storm had passed. So there are no flights leaving New Orleans today? I asked. Probably on Tuesday she told me. Planes were leaving the airport for safer ground. I wrote an email to the head of my school telling him about my situation. I was stuck in Metairie until the hurricane passed unless we decided to evacuate. But I couldn't possibly get back until at the earliest Tuesday. Unbelievably, I found the email and am posting it here:

I am in New Orleans this weekend, and it seems that a rather powerful hurricane
is headed this way. The city of New Orleans has announced a voluntary evacuation
for today and is expected to try to enforce a mandatory evacuation for tomorrow.
The hurricane is predicted to make landfall on the Louisiana coastline sometime
Monday which would probably mean that the airport and flights into and out of here
are cancelled. I have called the airline to see if I could get on a flight today
or tomorrow but I had no luck. I guess I am trying to say that, despite my attempts
and wishes, I may not be able to get back to New Jersey for a few days. While we
are not sure if we are evacuating just yet (it's highly likely), I just wanted
you to know what was going on here. (The highway system here has in place what
they call "contraflow" where both sides of the highway go in the same
direction. If we do leave, there is little chance of getting back until everything
has passed and the local and state governments give the ok.) I will try to keep
you posted as to what is going on regarding my return. I hope to be home sooner
rather than later.



PS - Please keep my friend in your thoughts and prayers. He is very ill, and the
prognosis for the defeat of the cancer is not very good at this point.

I helped in the yard and brought in the items that I thought could or would blow around as well as the glass topped tables which I carefully laid upside down.

I drove to a friends house to hang out for the evening. We sat in his kitchen drinking a few beers and talking. In the living room we watched the Weather Channel like hawks. The conversation waned every ten minutes or so as the next update came on. I told them that I might stay. It would be so inconvenient to evacuate, and I really wanted to see what it was like to live through a real hurricane. During Georges, my apartment on Prytania didn't even lose power. It was a non-event to me. But this was something that not so many people were going to be able to say they saw first-hand. I wanted to be one of those people. My friend told me that what I was saying was quite possibly the dumbest thing he had ever heard me say. Get the heck out, he said. Go get your mom and go. You can come back and see what it did. But if you're in a house and a tree falls on it, you won't be seeing anything else. And you have a wife now. It's not just about you. He was right.

We went outside a few times to see what was going on. Small, fluffy clouds were racing across the night skies, and little droplets of rain would quickly pass as well. It was interesting. I don't know if they were way outer bands of the storm or if this is a frequent occurence. I never noticed it before. And it was getting notably blustery.

After the 2AM update on the Weather Channel, Katrina was now a dangerous and catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. Complete destruction was forecast. On the weather underground or NOAA Hurricane Updates page or on the weather channel, there was a strangely worded advisory (not sure where I saw the advisory, just that I did see it when it first came out) - the fatalistic advisory essentially told everyone watching or reading that if they did not leave, they were going to die or that things would be very, very unpleasant for a very, very long time. It was shocking to read in such graphic detail the possibilities that all livestock exposed to storm force winds would probably die. It was odd and surreal.

We went outside, planned to all evacuate in the morning, and I headed home. The plan was to get up and 7 AM, pack my clothes, do the last minute things that needed to get done at my mom's house, and start heading to Jackson by 8 AM.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Katrina +1, Part I (Thursday Before)

The next few posts will be about my memories from last year. Rather than use the 29th of August as my reference date, I will use the days of the week which are easier for me to remember than the numerical days.

I flew into town for the annual fantasy football draft. My friend had just been diagnosed with cancer, and I was looking forward to a nice visit with him and the rest of my buddies in New Orleans. Since I didn't rent a car, my mom came and picked me up. It was a relaxing evening - Popeye's for dinner and then a friends house to talk and have a few beers. Katrina was not even a thought. It had struck in Florida with tons of rain, but it was forecast to go far east of us, Pensacola, I think. Nothing to worry about. Just another one of my trips to New Orleans. Nothing really eventful. Yet.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

letter to the mayor

- I have had enough. I plan on bombarding the website contact page with emails to Hizzoner. People talk, people write, and the t-p has an editorial. Maybe the mayor needs direct contact. I don't know, but I am not gonna think he got the message. I am sending it directly to him. Every damn day. Till I start seeing results. And when I move down there, things are going to get a lot more personal....

Here's my email. Feel free to copy/paste/adapt/change/ignore

Mr. Mayor,
I am a former resident of New Orleans who now lives in Easton, PA. I was visiting last year when Katrina approached and then struck. I am desperately working on convincing my wife (who is not from New Orleans) to return with me and be part of the rebirth, recovery, and rennaissance of New Orleans. I am, however, concerned about a lack of plan. I don't see any movement or improvement. I need to see that the city is going to take steps to improve - education, infrastructure, levees, quality of life, etc. You, in particular, have been very quiet since your re-election. Where is the 100-day plan? Where is the BNOB commission? Where are you?
I am concerned that you have become part of the problem that we elected you originally (in 2001) to fix. It was with great fanfare that you shut down the corrupt brake tag operations. And then you seem to have fallen prey to the game. What happened to the integrity that we all believed you had? What happened to the guy that was going to fix the city government? What happened to the guy on the radio during the flooding who was so angry and wanted things fixed? What happened to the mayor?
Sir, I know that things have not been easy in the last 11 or so months. Nobody should have to endure such hardships, but you chose to be a leader. It seems that you have been only a leader in word and not in deed. New Orleans cannot afford any more talk. It is past time for action. Do what you said you were going to do. Lead your city out of its greates crisis into its even better future. Fix the school system, repair the roads, end the culture of poverty, and move the city into the 21st century. The legacy of hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians has been placed in your hands. Mr. Nagin, you can do it. You simply have to.


Mr. LtnTcha (name changed to protect me when I move back)


Let's be honest - no one reads this blog. I write this for myself. Mentally and psychologically, it has helped me recover from the death of my beloved New Orleans. No doubt she will rise again, but she will never be the same. The failure of the levees and the loss of trust in the Army Corps of Engineers has assured that New Orleans and New Orleanians are second-class citizens. I have struggled with this truth, and I hate to admit it.

I am coming home. I will come home. I am out of place everywhere else, something that I consider a blessing. When people ask me where I am from, I tell them New Orleans and they are enthralled - everyone that has been there has come away different. People don't say the same things about Minneapolis or Columbus or Jacksonville.

I have loads of questions to which I do not and cannot find the answer. I watch and listen and read, and I know that despite my wishes, my hopes, and my desires New Orleans' politicians continue their shortsighted scheming and profiteering to benefit the fat cats and purposefully and meaningfully screw over the populace of the city to which they have been entrusted (Meffert, Collins, Nagin, etc.)

When I come home, I will not rest until I have had a part in ending the b.s. that has plagued our great city. The people of New Orleans deserve better than the nonsense that they are being forced to put up with. They can and they will do better for themselves. We need to throw the bums out. Not some of them, all of them. Peoeple will say that we don't want our image to be tainted by this. Image is perception. Corrupt, unethical, unworthy people with bad/no/stupid ideas run the place for their (and their friends) benefits. So much more is on the line. How can the situation continue unabated? How do people turn a blind eye to the nonsense? How do they not know? Is this a conspiracy?

Yes, I am outraged. Yes, I am disappointed. Yes, I cannot believe the crime and the criminals and the drug wars are back. Yes, the mayor and the governor and the president are buffoons. These are undeniable facts. Yet the mayor and his cronies are still robbing the overwhelmed and devastated city of its diminished resources. How is this possibly ok?

I guess the point is this - I will continue to fight for my New Orleans, but I am not sure if this forum is the place to raise these questions. If nobody is listening, what good does it do. And I don't have the insider perspective that I want and need to make this worth the while for now. I need to refocus my energy and find the direction for this 'blog. Until I do, I am on hiatus. Keep fighting, keep struggling, and keep the bastards accountable. I will be home to help in the fight one day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Complaint Department Open

Stan Ridgway, former lead singer of Wall of Voodoo, says in "Can't Complain" off his 1991 release "Mosquitos," "All things considered, you really can't complain." Well, he was wrong. Found this site today ( where you are encouraged to write about any complaints related to Katrina and insurance and FEMA and contractors and whoever else is complain-worthy. And they would ask that you use your real name so the SOBs who are screwing you and yours know you aren't going to take the grief sitting down. So cheer up. "Things could be worse."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Past, Present, and Future

I know I moved going on 6 years ago. I know. (The job market for Latin teachers in New Orleans is not so surprisingly minimal - not to mention that teachers in New Orleans don't make nearly what they deserve, are worth, and need to survive. But I am reaching an age where I need a job or career that pays the bills when my wife and I decide to have a family. I want to move home. I can't imagine having children who do not know what a real parade is, what it means to shake your butt or tap your foot you feel when you hear good music, who cannot describe the taste and smells of a crawfish boil on Good Friday. I always thought, and I still do, that growing up in New Orleans makes a person sophisticated and worldly just because you grew up in New Orleans. You can get some of the experiences elsewhere, but not all in one place like you can in NOLA.

So, while I haven't been making a priority since I have already signed my contract for the upcoming school year (after a great deal of internal debate, mind you), I was thinking about the future. My contacts in New Orleans tell me that there is not much in the way of employment. Understandable. Every time I read something about Tulane or Loyola, they are downsizing their staff, faculty, and programs. Understandable. Economic depression after the massive tragedy of Katrina and Corps of Engineers is expected, but it is sad.

But I hope that in another year things will turn around because I want to move home. I want to go eat dinner at a friends house, go to Greek Fest, run in the Crescent City Classic, visit the Audubon Zoo, have lunch at Parran's, eat a dozen raw oysters, have a great cocktail, enjoy an ice cold Abita Amber, and play golf all year round. I want my kids to know what it's like to eat light-as-air French bread, have a shrimp and oyster po-boy, ride their brand new bikes on Christmas morning (in shorts!), watch a sunset on Lake Pontchartrain, and cheer for their hometown Saints. I don't think I could handle raising children any other way.

I know I have some work to do to convince my wife to move, and it may be even harder to find myself a job. I think I have to. I think its important for me and my family and my children to have the experiences you can only get in New Orleans. The harder we have to work for it, the more valuable and rewarding it will be. How can you raise a family any other way?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Your Enemy's Enemy Is Not Necessarily Your Friend (Bumbling Towards Glory)

I have read with interest as many blogs as possible about what happens in NOLA. I read them obsessively every day. I wander, I read, I click, I read, I think, I try to write (albeit poorly most times) about what I think. I do not think I have wonderful, thought-provoking, interesting things to say. But I do have something to say sometimes.

After Katrina, there is no doubt that George W. Bush bumbled. He has bumbled in Iraq, he bumbled through 9-11 (Giuliani was the key to the recovery in New York), he has bumbled through most everything he has done in his life (National Guard, Texas Rangers, etc.). And the Republican leadership in Congress has been lead astray by their "leader."

However, just because the Republicans are blindly following the bumbler and are leaving New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast to fend for themselves does not mean that Democrats would be doing any better. John Kerry has visited New Orleans three (3!) times and thinks rightly that the situation in New Orleans is deplorable. Is it simply rhetoric? I don't know. Would things here be different if Kerry was president? What if it was Al Gore? I think George Bush has said similar things and tried to say he would make things better. But from him we know it's simply rhetoric. I am tired of people "speaking" about the conditions in my home town. I am tired of photo opportunities. I want someone to DO SOMETHING. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is or has given $100,000,000.00 USD. Stop the talk, Washington politicians. Stop the inane banter. We are tired of hearing it. DO SOMETHING ALREADY.

Is there a point? Yes. Bush is an idiot. He is a politician. Politicians are idiots. They tend to look like they care and want to do something for you. Do they really? Not on either side of the political fence. We need a new party, a new system, and new leadership - people that care, people that do, and people that can. How about we call the new party Sinn Fein?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Business as Usual wil not be tolerated (link)

I was guided to the article in the title link by bayoustjohndavid over at Moldy City.

In the article which was written back in May, there were some questions about finance, ethics, and the election for mayor. I don't really know if much more than this was ever reported or if there was any follow up. I posed these questions to Mr. Russell to find out. I will let you know the results if I get them. The appearance of impropriety is strong. Hope it turns out to be a misperception.

Dear Mr. Russell,

I have read this article ( on two separate occasions. There are some questions that you posed to which no response was given.

1) What was the amount of the contract that MCCI received out of the 24 million?
2) You mention that MCCI billed for $90 - $106 per hour. Is that a normal rate to "visually assess damages"? What is the normal rate? (I am a teacher. If this is the case, I think I may need to switch professions because a) that job seems pretty easy and b) it pays a whole lot more than I get.)
3) Was the record keeping issue ever resolved and did MCCI receive the money that they requested?
4) How does someone whose term expired continue to serve on the Sewerage and Water Board? I thought that was the point of terms. Are there other individuals on the Sewerage and Water Board that are serving past their terms? How many and who?
5) Was there any clarification as to how two people who claim to not be doing business together can list the same address on their contributions?
6) Were the checks eventually located? Did this turn out to be faulty record-keeping or was it accurate?
7) Did you ever find out who "B. Edwards" is? Did you call and ask to speak to him or her? Does anyone at MCCI know who this is?
8) What happened when Edwards contacted the State Ethics Commission?

This whole series of incidents seem very suspicious, more than slightly unethical (and in some cases illegal), and like business as usual in New Orleans. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I hope that you continue to report on this story and others like it. The good people of New Orleans should not stand for business as usual.


Friday, July 14, 2006

New Orleans Musicians News

Sony Music has just signed a deal to sell "Sing Me Back Home" CD by the New Orleans Social Club ( at Lowe's to raise money for the Musician's Village. Conceived of by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis, Habitat for Humanity will help build 81 homes for displaced New Orleans musicians in the Upper Ninth Ward. The deal was just brokered this week and should provide a very nice chunk of funding. Good news at last!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Internally Displaced Persons or Refugees

Internally Displaced Persons
According to the UN, there is a difference between Refugees (people who have escaped their country because of fear or persecution) and IDPs (people who have not crossed an international border but have left their home because of fear, persecution, or natural disaster). Refugees are given shelter and food and are protected by international law. IDPs are not.

The International Committee of the Red Cross maintains a policy to help IDPs. They claim that it is the government of the affected country to aid IDPs. They want to be on the scene, recording events and helping. They want to help, they just can't be a substitute for government. It's basic goal is to uphold "International Humanitarian Law," and to provide services to those who need them.

I do not have the legal knowledge necessary to understand why this is so, but the UN, instead of creating international laws regarding Internally Displaced Persons, has created a lengthy set of "Guiding Principles." In particular, I focus on principles 6.1 (arbitrary displacement), 6.3 (diplacement should last no longer than required by circumstances), 16.1 (the right to know the fate and whereabout of their relatives - at least 147 are still missing according to LA's Department of Health and Hospitals - other estimates vary up to 705), 16.3 (finding remains of the decease), 21.1 (arbitrary deprivation of property and possessions), 21.3 (property left behind should be protected), 25.1 (primary duty for help lies with national authorities), 28.2 (special efforts made to ensure return), 29.2 ("2. Competent authorities have the duty and responsibility to assist returned and/or resettled internally displaced persons to recover, to the extent possible, their property and possessions which they left behind or were dispossessed of upon their displacement. When recovery of such property and possessions is not possible, competent authorities shall provide or assist these persons in obtaining appropriate compensation or another form of just reparation.")

In my estimation, the people who fled from New Orleans and who no longer have a home to return to should be classified as Internally Displaced Persons. We are not in a war zone (though it may look like there are); there are no outwardly hostile military activities taking place in New Orleans. The housing that was available to many has been closed, shuttered, and demolished forcing these people to begin life somewhere other than what they would call "home."

I know the current government does not seem to really buy into the whole "UN Thing;" (e.g. - Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Gitmo, etc.) however, it must be noted that many of these principles are geared towards helping Internally Displaced Persons who live in war-torn countries. We are supposed to be the richest, most powerful nation on earth. And some of the poorest of the poor in this wealthy nation were forced to leave their home. As much as so many of us call New Orleans home (though I have been gone for 6 years now, whenever I make a trip there I say I am going "home"), it is "home" to everyone that was forced to leave and whoever wants to come back. They are entitled to return home by international law. There can be no question about this. Why is HUD closing down the projects? Those are homes whether we like it or not. The place where you rest your head and cook dinner and store your belongings is your home.

There are arguments that the USACE's incompetence or lack of foresight or negligence or whatever was the cause of this disaster and that the federal government should pay. According to the international guiding principles on displaced persons, the government should pay anyway. Why are they not? Should people be forced to sue (RE: The "Big Dig" in Boston)? What is "just reparation"? Is that filling out endless forms? Is that being forced to live in a tent on a concrete slab? Is that being told that you have to pay to raise your own house because of corruption and negligence? Is that being told you will be refused for FEMA assistance? Or should you have to go without a meal because you have no electricity to either cook or store food? Or should you have to watch your house burn to the ground because of lack of water pressure and insufficient fire crews? I don't see the cooperation that the "guiding principles" suggest.

There are rules and principles established by an international governing body whose headquarters are in our country.

HUD Secretary Bernardi said, ""After a certain period of time, you need to bring the folks back home." You think.

The "Road Home" program is a start. People are being encouraged to register for yet another program. We are approaching 11 months later, and the plan has been financed. The website for the Road Home claims that it will begin registing case files for people in the hardest hit areas of the state. What about those that are not yet home. Will there be satellite offices in Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Jackson? How can people come home when there is no home to return to, no trailer to live in, no security or city services?

Sinn Fein.

UPDATE: Hurricane Katrina Legislation Tracking refers to the National and Economic Social Rights Initiative plan (pdf) for Hurricane victims' rights.

Civil Servants Click Here

Jack Ware at metroblog new orleans wrote this post . After all the discussions that I have had with friends about civil servants and the city of New Orleans, someone has finally described it properly albeit on the technological level. I still think the entire procedure would be entirely less effective if you visited in person. At least then you can hear the "F--- You!" dripping from their voices rather than just imagining it in your head.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

NEPA supports NOLA

I love the subdudes. When I was in New Orleans in January, I went to see them at their Behind the Levee CD release party at Southport Music Hall. It was raining, the roof there was still leaking, and it wasn't very crowded. I didn't know one single person there which was fine by me. I loved having the concert be so intimate. It was truly wonderful.

And now this weekend the subdudes are going to be in Scranton, PA (home of TV's the Office) at an event called Poconotes. I am not sure what this is all about, but I plan on going. Their tag line seems to be "From NOLA to NEPA" (I guess that means Northeast Pennsylvania?). Storyville Stompers are the opening act.

On another note, we get a channel or two from up there in Scranton. Whenever I watch some of the smaller market evening news programs, I can't help thinking that either a) one day I am going to see that guy or gal on the national news or b) how the heck did you end up in Scranton? That being said, I find the smaller market news people to be much more professional and polished than the folks who broadcast from New York and Philadelphia. When watching the smaller market news, I feel like I am watching the next Hoda Kotb or Susan Roesgen. I know there are plenty of others out there who started or came through New Orleans. Now if they would all get together to keep the story in the news...

UPDATE: I went to Philadelphia to the Southern Comfort Music Experience on Saturday instead. Beatinpath, Bonerama, and Cowboy Mouth were on the bill. And it was free. And they served booze. And it was outside. So the subdudes will have to come back this way so I can see them next time. Overall it was a good evening, even though it took a long time to get home....

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Easton Flooding

Though it's probably old news now, I will attempt to explain what happened in Easton last week.

The Delaware River is not navigable past Trenton (it may not be navigable to Trenton, but if so, it cannot be much past Trenton). The head waters are far north in New York State. After the type of rain we had here and the amount, the rising of the river was inevitable. I am not sure that the type of flooding was anticipated. Many say that the recent floodings of the Delaware are a result of urban sprawl - that fields that once used to retain the precipitation are now gone instead replaced by subdivisions, asphalt roads, and storm drains. All of these contribute to rising waters in the streams that feed the Delaware and in some cases directly into the Delaware River itself. I don't know if this is true or not, but I do know that in the last three years acres of farmland just north of me has been converted into medium-density housing and roads and construction have been going on all over the place. Is it a coincidence that the Delaware River has flooded three times in two years? I don't know, but I would have to be a fool to think it was simply a coincidence, too.

On Wednesday of last week, people around here were calmly moving stuff from low lying areas. I walked the dog down to the community pool on the riverfront. The water was well below its bank at 10 AM. I walked down the Delaware towards downtown Easton. The people who lived across the street from the river were packing there vans and cars calmly and deliberately. The auto shop and the bait shop were already closed. By two o'clock, the road along the river was closed. The forecast called for the flooding to crest sometime on Thursday morning. Downtown Easton and the rivers that surround it (the Lehigh River and Bushkill Creek) were beginning to flood and gawkers and onlookers came from everywhere to take pictures of "the worst flood since '55." It was bad. Water was rushing the wrong way up the tributaries. Streets and blocks were closed. The free bridge from Easton, PA to Philipsburg, NJ was just about up to the road surface which had not happened since '55. Debris and trees were cruising along and smashing into the bridge and anything else that remained in their way.

At 6 PM Kate and I went down to the community pool which was now completely underwater, and then we headed downtown to look at the raging torrent from a different perspective. Businesses had acquired pumps to keep their basements water from rising too high, and state troopers had cordoned off large areas. It was hard to see, but the water was rushing and raging. It was surreal to see tires and trees and debris of every sort rushing past what is normally a calm and peaceful, shallow river.

In other areas around here, things were worse. Up river the town of Portland, NJ near the Delaware Water Gap National Park got the worst of it. The town is still shuttered a week later and the residents are begging for some kind of help. Down river in Lambertville, NJ and New Hope, PA, I have not heard word though things were bad on the news when we left. This is the third time in two years that those communities have suffered near total losses. I think the people there believe that this can't happen again, yet it does.

Things here seem to be normal, at least in my College Hill neighborhood. Later today, I will explore other areas of town to see what has happened and what is going on.

I did receive an email from Rick Santorum saying that because of my zip code that I could be elgible for FEMA or PEMA assistance. I will have to write him back and politely refuse his offer.

This article states that New Hope is "opened for business" which I can't believe. Two homes were totally destroyed.

UPDATE 2: I read in our local paper that Houston is fed up with the non-working displaced New Orleanians. Mr. Clio has repeatedly stated that this negative image of New Orleanians is undermining our efforts to rebuild. I agree. More on this topic later.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Just noticing

In the last two years, Easton, PA, has seen the Delaware River overflow her banks three times. The flooding this time will be the worst since 1955 (though Hurricane Ivan in 2004 was the worst since, and then April of 05 was even worse). I was heading into NYC on August 14, 2003 when the power went out. I was actually coming over an overpass in New Jersey to the approach for the Holland Tunnel when everything went out (including stop lights that I saw short out). Then in August of last year I was in New Orleans and then Jackson, MS, when Hurricane Katrina happened.

I am heading to Montreal and Quebec City on Friday. Should I warn the Canadian authorities?

Monday, June 26, 2006

DC Floods

Not just with emails but with 7(!) inches of rain. There have been some boat rescues, too. See, lawmakers, it sucks living in a flood plain. Now we will cancel your insurance (at least increase your premiums), knock out power to every neighborhood, and reduce city services. Then we can debate whether we should rebuild in a "that part of the world."

Monday, June 19, 2006

Thinking out loud

As always, I have been thinking about home. Here are some of the things I think about:

1) 5 murdered teens in Central City. Is this a sign that things are back to normal? This does not seem like the normal we want or need. First reports indicate that it was probably drug related.

2) It seems to me that the anger and outrage at the pace of recovery has abated to some extent and has become replaced with apathy at the way things are. Of course the ACOE is behind on their fixing of the levees. Of course FEMA is removing the volunteer camps. Of course drug related murders are back. Of course things are going to end up the way they were. As I have said before, if you were given a clean slate to start all over again, would you keep doing the things that did NOT work?
We must break free of the old way of thinking. No more! No more drug dealing, no more failing public schools, no more corruption, no more cronyism, no more accepting the status quo. We must move forward and not regress into the comfortability of the way things were. No more officers looking the other way, no more fear, no more stealing, no more sub-standard hurrincane protection. No more!

3) Fires everywhere in New Orleans. I was talking to my friend George down there. I was recalling the anecdote about the people somewhere uptown (Broadmoor maybe?) who were standing outside their expensive flooded home knowing that the flood insurance could not cover the amount of damage the house and its contents had suffered. As they stood there mulling their loss, the roof collapsed. They laughed and cried and hugged each other because now insurance would cover the entire house (or so they thought - no idea how this story ended). This led us into a discussion about insurance. If your house was worth $200,000 preKatrina, you were paying premiums on a $200,000 home. Once your house is flooded, and the property is worth only $100,000, does your insurance premium become reduced? What is the value of the home once it has been repaired? So my question was this - the house is flooded; you got your NFIP check. Then your house burns down to the ground. Does your home owner's insurance cover this? To what extent?

4) The AFL-CIO wants to spend a lot of money to build a Jazz Park. Why? Is this what is needed?

5) Some hurricane victims were here in Easton. The story in the local paper said that they were given a free place to stay. They rented rooms out (despite the fact that they were living rent free), wrote bad checks, forged checks, stole furniture and appliances, left hundreds of dollars of unpaid utility bills, damaged severely the property they were using, and were dealing (or at the very least using) drugs. Is this how you thank someone for their generosity and kind spirit? This makes me angry and upset. I was going to go find these fellow New Orleanians. I am glad I didn't.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Why New Orleans Means so Much

I was talking to a friend at work today. She is somewhat older than I, African-American and as nice and thoughtful as a person can be. As usual, I was talking about New Orleans. Her husband is a well-known and respected artist and musician who has been trying for years to analyze and come up with a philosophy on what it means to be black. I think he does a very good job. He is interesting and thoughtful and intelligent. He spends a lot of time thinking and finding ways to express those thoughts. According to his wife, it's all about legacy. I miss New Orleans. It is my home. Neither my mother or father are from New Orleans, albeit Louisiana, but I am. The culture of that place is what I know best. It has shaped my being and my outlook. I have celebrated and mourned there, laughed and cried, fallen in love and grown despondent, etc. This is to be expected in your home.
However, there is something more powerful and profound. It is called legacy. Legacy is not just your home. It is not just family. It is an amalgamation of your home (and its culture), your friends, your family and its history. It is not just somewhere you rest your head. It is somewhere nearly everyone you know rests their heads. And your parents, and their parents, and their parents, etc. That is something you are given. It is a gift that your family bestows on you because you are part of the family. And in New Orleans this is a very powerful agent. Our New Orleans society relies heavily on legacy (in parades and Mardi Gras Indians and clubs and schools (good or bad) and restaurants and neighborhoods and so on) in very many visible ways.
Five years ago, to some extent, I left New Orleans by choice. I desperately want to return. But I can make a choice. My house was not flooded, my memories not destroyed, and my belongings not left out to be hauled away to the landfill of the week. There are people who can't make it home, who have lost everything that they ever worked for, whose familial legacies are in danger of being broken forever and new legacies started somewhere else.
My friend said that this power, the power of your personal legacy, defies time and place. Her family has many ministers and religious people in it. (I reflected on my own family - teachers - weird how many there are...) The familial lines will continue, but the vibrant and visible pageantry and familiarity of the rich legacy that existed so willfully and obviously in New Orleans could be gone - erased by Katrina, ignored by FEMA, and forgotten.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Dear New Orleans,

How are you? How are things down there? I know you are devastated and feeling lost, but I want you to know that I think of you fondly and often. I feel sad for you. There is no way I can comprehend the pain and suffering you are going through, the despondency, the hopelessness and helplessness. I suffer here, too, in my own quiet way. But your silence is vast and incomprehensible. There are dark secrets behind your fun-loving veneer. Those of us who grew up nearby know some of your past, but it seems as though many of your secrets will be secrets forever - lost or forgotten or ruined.
I know you are doing your best to recover. They say that the healing takes a long time. But each day gets easier. Keep up your spirits, take the high road, think big. It's not easy, but I know you can do it. I have known you all my life. You are resilient and strong-willed, tough yet nurturing, focused but aloof.
We may not say it nearly enough - we love you. You are important to us. We want you to get well and be strong and prepare for the next time. If you can't do it for us, do it for yourself. Whatever you do, don't give up hope. There are lots of us who want you back stronger, better than before. And we know you can do it. We pray for your recuperation daily. Did you know that? Everyday we think of you and pray for your survival and well-being. You can and will beat back this setback.
Take this opportunity to fix the wrongs you did to those who loved you. Give them a chance to come back and welcome them with open arms. Forgiveness is powerful. Sure, you did somethings wrong. Who doesn't? But fixing those wrongs is a big deal and a big responsibility. I know it's tough, but try. Some people need to hear from you that you did wrong, but you are going to try and do better next time. Maybe they will forgive you and try to do better, too.
I hope that I wake up one day and this is all gone away. I know it won't be, but I do hope. And there are a lot of other dreamers out there, too, hoping for the same thing. We love you, we miss you, we want only the best for you, and we hope that things get better for you soon. You deserve it.

Thinking of you,
Stephen Mitchell

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Interesting, but I am not sure I see all that is being mentioned in the commentary. I understand it, but I don't see it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Locals make good

Just watching the basketball game between NJ and Miami on TNT. As they were interviewing Gary Payton, Cowboy Mouth was playing in background (Trouble Looks Good to Me). 8:45 PM. Does anyone out there know who chooses the songs? Whoever it is apparently has good tase.

Thanks, Mom.

My mom told me about this (although I had already read it). Looks like her house flooded around 10:30 AM. And now, only 9 months later, her house is almost back to normal.

Communications Breakdown

This intrigues me. Because I wonder if there is a lot of second guessing at this point. I mean, when the WTC was attacked, people broke down each second of the days and weeks and months leading up to the attack to see if there was anything that they could have done to prevent it. In this instance, something was done. It was done incorrectly and with possible ethical implications just like everything else in New Orleans (or so it seems to the outside world). My questions regarding this are multiple. a) Why did it take until 2004 to think about disaster communications? b) How did the municipal government decide on "Exos Communications" in Denver to deliver the product? c) How did Holcomb decide to invest in said company? d) If all the other pieces had fallen together so nicely, why didn't anyone just ask Holcomb to either step down or sell his stock? e) What is "chief scientist" and can I become one? f) Would any of this truly have made a difference? g) If the "chief technology officer" (and can I be one?) can break into an Office Depot and make a "wi-fi cloud," do we really need $7 million and a communications company in Denver to do it for us? Or did he get directions from Microsoft?
So are we communicating yet?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Charity and Tulane - Link

Before he died in 1991, my dad was a doctor and professor at Tulane Medical School and he died at Tulane Hospital. He didn't practice medicine in a clinic, so I never remember him being on call during hurricanes. I just know that the way things used to be, we never left town during the threat of a hurricane. In any case, I used to work with him over the summer, my mom started working there again after my dad passed way, and I still feel like Tulane Medical Center is part of me in some way. I am reading this 22 part series from the Atlanta-Journal Constitution about what happened there and at Charity during Katrina. Well done, Ms. Hansen.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Red Tape Tangles

So, the SBA, where people have been directed after being refused for FEMA loans, has no idea what it means to cut red tape. Unbelievable. Did they not get the memo? Or watch the news? So, uh, yeah, Peter, we're going to need you to come in on Saturday. Except you are a civil servant so the rules don't apply to us or to you. Nice work, fellas. You really seem to have your finger on the pulse of the country.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Quote of the Day

John Kerry said this about the SBA (and every other federal agency as far as I am concerned) -

"The record is obviously disastrous," Kerry told small-business owners. "The government ought to be working spontaneously, willfully and effectively for people, not slowly and begrudgingly and reluctantly.

"It's that simple. And it's not the impression I've gotten from anybody I've talked to today."

I would add that I haven't gotten that impression from anyone. Period.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


As I have returned to PA from another trip to New Orleans, I have thoughts.

A) Things in New Orleans are still bad. I feel guilty to have been there at JazzFest because I know there is so much to be done on the one hand. On the other hand, the economy down there needs an infusion of money and the best way to do that in New Orleans is be a tourist and spend. Which makes me think that having a tourism based economy is a bad idea. A region of this country with so many natural resources (oil, river, natural gas, fertile ground, etc.) shouldn't rely so heavily on something so fickle as the tourist dollar. However, we do know how to throw a party and invite everyone which we should exploit for our financial benefit. On the other hand, it seems to me that the major amount of dollars spent goes to some multinational corporation with little or no interest in helping New Orleans (airlines, hotels, Miller Brewing, etc.) So am I fighting against myself here?

B) On yesterday, current Mayor Ray Nagin has presented a plan to evacuate those with no other way out. Good for you, mayor. Are the people that couldn't evacuate back? And he also decided that there will be no "shelter of last resort." My friend Brian said that that shouldn't have existed a long time ago. So did most other people I know. So now people have to start creating a plan. I wonder if all the close calls made people think that the city government was crying wolf.

C) The people of New Orleans are so creative and have such humor in the face of this tragedy that I feel the need to recall the best t-shirts I saw at the JazzFest.
Top 5 -
5. F(fleur de lis)ck FEMA
4. Defend New Orleans
3. I (fleur de lis) NOLA
2. I survived Hurricane Katrina and all I commandeered was this lousy t-shirt.
1. A t-shirt with a waterline halfway up it that said "I've had it up to here" with an arrow pointing to the water line.

I know I saw more than this, but these were the ones that I can remember here at work at 7:20 AM.

D) Driving across New Orleans from Carrollton to Magazine Street along Palmetto, Toledano, and Louisiana, it looked just the way it did for the most part as when I came down in October. Other parts like Mid-City and parts of Gentilly near the Fair Grounds (Esplanade Ridge?) seem to be making a better go. But I only saw little bits this time. I met a guy at Lucky's on Sunday night. I tried to explain to him how bad things were in St. Bernard and New Orleans East. I don't think i have the vocabulary.

E) I didn't get to see all my friends. I need to go back and take care of that.

F) The Meters still rock. The best quote I have seen in a while - "[They] are tighter than a size 8 dress on a 154 pound woman." Agreed.

G) Mom's house is almost finished. My brother had some guys over there painting the last coat of paint on the bead board. It has carpet, newly installed hardwood floors, and two full bathrooms. It feels like a house again.

H) Turncoats on Magazine. I asked to buy a print of some shopping carts from walmart back in January. The artist/photographer had gone around and taken pictures of them wherever they ended up after the storm and the looting of Wal-Mart. The guy took my phone number and never called me. I am not sure why he never called me. I spent a good bit of money in there. So I went to get my friend a "Defend New Orleans" shirt on Monday but the store, despite the sign out front, was closed. Does anyone know this guy? Despite feeling like I was screwed over, I would still like to give this guy some of my money. Is this business as usual? If so, maybe I don't want to give him my money.

I) Got a new tattoo. A fleur de lis. On my ankle. It is my best one yet. Thanks to the guys at Crescent City Tattoos on Magazine across from Le Bon Temps.