Monday, April 30, 2007

Typos and All

According to the AP via the Boston Herald:

NEW ORLEANS - When the Army Corps of Engineers solicited bids for drainage pumps for New Orleans, it copied the specifications - typos and all - from the catalog of the manufacturer that ultimately won the $32 million contract, a review of documents by The Associated Press found.
The pumps, supplied by Moving Water Industries Corp. of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and installed at canals before the start of the 2006 hurricane season, proved to be defective, as the AP reported in March. The matter is under investigation by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.
In a letter dated April 13, Sen. David Vitter, R-La., called on the Corps to look into how the politically connected company got the post-Hurricane Katrina contract. MWI employed former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush’s brother, to market its pumps during the 1980s, and top MWI officials have been major contributors to the Republican Party.

You can bet that if a homeowner is getting Road Home money, received FEMA money to try and live in an apartment in Atlanta, and applied for an SBA loan to help begin to repair their lives that the government would be all over that - loading even more paperwork into the bloated bureaucracy.

Getting the correct pumps to keep the people of New Orleans safe, not so much.

But it gets even better:
The Corps contract officer overseeing the January 2006 bid, Cindy Nicholas, was told about the copied specifications during a conference call with FPI Inc., a Florida company that also bid on the project, shortly after MWI was awarded the contract. A recording of the briefing was provided to the AP by FPI.
"Are you folks aware that the specifications that you folks put out was a copy of the specifications in the MWI catalog?" asked Bob Purcell, who was an FPI salesman at the time the bids were taken.
"No, I’m not aware of that," Nicholas replied.
Corps official Dan Bradley said during the briefing that consulting engineers had a hand in drawing up the specifications.
Purcell then complained: "We were forced to meet someone else’s specifications in entirety." He said the consultants did not cooperate with FPI, and he charged that MWI was given "a head’s up" about the job. That, he said, was evident by MWI’s order for pump engines before the contract was even put out to bid.
"I don’t know anything about that, sir," Nicholas responded. She said that if MWI ordered the engines ahead of time, "they took a big risk."
"Obviously it was a risk that paid off, let’s put it that way. They must have had some assurance!" Purcell exclaimed.
So someone told MWI that they were getting the pump contract. Wonder who?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

At least we're not Columbus

or Tampa or Vancouver.

According to ESPN the Magazine, we are number 4.

Using their formula based on all the cities with NHL, NBA, MLB, or NFL teams, we have the fourth highest losing percentage. Columbus, at least, has the Buckeyes. I don't think anyone there even watches the other sports...

Interesting note on this - the Hornets have been officially in New Orleans as long as the Jazz were.

JazzFest Website

I am disappointed at the JazzFest Website. I want to print the food page, but it keeps coming up in a scrollable interior window. Dammit. Well, I know I am having cochon de lait, crawfish bread, and crawfish beignets. Besides that, who knows?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

JazzFest Musings

The second weekend of JazzFest is when I plan on coming in. With my tennis schedule, Sappho's work schedule, and what to do with the dogs, it just worked out that way.
I am disappointed, though. I know that I can always find something incredible to listen to. After all, it's JazzFest. But the price of the event is making me a little sick to my stomach. I remember when tickets were $18 in advance and beer was $2. I couldn't believe the outrage I felt the year that they raised beer prices. And last year's tickets were $30 and I would say that the music at last year's fest surpassed my expectations.

For me, the names on the marquee this year just aren't up to snuff. I would rather pay less money for more important local and Louisiana names.

I know that people need to have a draw. But I also like the music to reflect something of New Orleans. What does Brad Paisley bring? Rod Stewart? John Mayer? For love of God, New Edition? Seriously. (On the other hand, if someone knows why these people are at JazzFest, I would appreciate the info.)

Other things are a matter of taste - I probably won't go see Lucinda Williams though my wife would love it. George Benson is ok, but not really my style any more. As much as it pains me to say this, I like Steely Dan. But I am not going to spend my time at JazzFest listening to them (Not when I can here Bamboula 2000 and the Soul Rebels).

Who scheduled Cowboy Mouth at the same time as Galactic? How is that going to work out for me - the wife loves the Cowboy Mouth, I love Galactic.

And there are some notable absences: The Neville Brothers (I know, Aaron and his asthma), the Meters (in any of their combinations, funky or otherwise - though there may be a surprise along the way), and the Klezmer All-Stars (unless they broke up).

So here is what I have tentatively planned for my Kermit the Frog Totem Krewe (as seen with Ernie in 2005): All of this is subject to change based on a) the wife, b) the weather c) nothing d) drunkeness e) lack of motivation f) wandering into something interesting g) whim.

Benjy Davis Project
Johnny Sketch
Stooges Brass Band
Dirty Dozen
John Boutte'
Walter "Wolfman" Washington

Rotary Downs or the Jazz Vipers
Zigaboo's Funk Revuew
Cowboy Mouth or Galactic
The Allman Brothers (sliding to Deacon John or the Iguanas or Joe Krown)

Papa Grows Funk
Anders Osborne
Eric Lindell (Maybe)
Bamboula 2000
Soul Rebels
Wild Magnolia or Benny Grunch (my cousin is in the Bunch) or Taj Mahal

What are you going to see?

How you gonna clap?

More importantly, where are you going to go? (Warning: Potty theme)

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I don't know if that's a word, but I think it should be. Each person who visits New Orleans should be offered a chance to help rebuild someone's life, not by donating money but by donating time.

College students around the country are doing this already.

More Buffoonery From Da Mayor

I swear that Ray Nagin is an idiot. After he finished a visit to Philadelphia, he had this to say about it about how clean things are. From a CBS 3 story:
"Let me tell you something. You ought to go to Philly and you will appreciate how clean New Orleans is. Just go and walk around Philly a little bit and you will appreciate. Am I lying? You will appreciate New Orleans. We still have some work to do but we definitely beat them by a long shot."
Nice manners. It must be the new garbage cans and the new contract.

I think this is a weird talking point when there is so much other stuff to get done.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Thanks, Boston

First, the Red Sox came back and won last night. That was awesome. Then this was in the Boston Globe. Not everyone has forgotten. And some people even understand. I am printing this entire article because I want to remember these words in their context.

We expected to see some remnants of the destruction, of course, but we also looked forward to the bang of hammers, the whir of saws, and the buzz of rebuilding.

What we saw, instead, were scenes that are shocking, inexplicable, and embarrassing.

This is how I feel every time I come home. Here is the article from the Boston Globe.

Faded hopes in New Orleans

IN THE AGE of the 24-hour news cycle, Hurricane Katrina is an old story. New Orleans may have been one of America's great cities -- the land of dreams, as Louis Armstrong called it -- but its destruction is yesterday's news.

Sure, we remember images of bodies floating through neighborhoods and people atop rooftops. In the end, it was one of the costliest disasters in American history, and one of the deadliest, too.

As we know, all the governments -- federal, state, and local -- were slow to respond, but eventually they stepped up to the plate, and now, according to their press releases, are doing a great job at restoring normality in New Orleans.

So, everything's OK, right?


That realization came to me recently when I traveled to New Orleans as a volunteer with the Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay.

We expected to see some remnants of the destruction, of course, but we also looked forward to the bang of hammers, the whir of saws, and the buzz of rebuilding.

What we saw, instead, were scenes that are shocking, inexplicable, and embarrassing.

A year and a half after the hurricane, neighborhoods remain pocked by row after row of abandoned homes, still standing and still condemned by those painted X's -- large, ominous, and as faded as the promise President Bush made to rebuild New Orleans.

The brunt of the disaster is measured in sights, but also in sounds -- in the words of many people in New Orleans who are still desperate, but now disconsolate and distrustful of governments and institutions they once believed to be honorable.

A taxi driver who helped evacuate tourists and who spent three months in a shelter in Mississippi described a plight familiar to many in the land of dreams.

"The insurance companies won't pay, even though I paid them my premium on time for 37 years," he says, "and there is no help from the federal government."

Now living with his wife in a small apartment, he doubts he'll be able to rebuild. He and his wife are reminded of happier days when they drive by their old home, now boarded up.

In the Ninth Ward, hardest hit by the hurricane, a guide describes the Federal Emergency Management Agency's program to lodge the homeless in two-room trailers to which at least six people are assigned. Victims of Katrina are still crowded into more than 64,000 of these trailers. Thousands of additional trailers purchased by FEMA never have been used and are now being auctioned at discount.

While many people we interviewed concede that the challenge is greater than any individual and beyond the capabilities of Mayor Ray Nagin, Governor Kathleen Blanco, President Bush, and even FEMA, they nevertheless expected more from a nation they now believe has abandoned them.

As one frustrated resident put it, "How can the United States government pay for the war in Iraq and not us?"

When you hear a man who has lost everything tell you that his government is indifferent and his fellow Americans do not care, you have learned a lesson in what happens when leadership fails.

Once a city that symbolized freedom and happiness -- a land of dreams -- New Orleans is now a painful reminder of what happens when governments lose their will and institutions crumble, when the bonds that hold together a successful society are allowed to fray and then to snap.

The time for promises is past.

Sure, there are pockets of hope created by individual acts of conscience. You see people who refuse to permit fellow citizens to suffer. You see students from across the nation who come to New Orleans to work for Habitat for Humanity, constructing houses that will give families a second chance.

The Red Cross, still working to rebuild its offices destroyed by Katrina, has been a supportive presence, caring for more than 90,000 people immediately after Katrina and offering shelter and food to hundreds more after a recent deadly tornado.

But, we all need to rededicate ourselves to New Orleans. We need to recompense the victims of Hurricane Katrina. We need to redouble our efforts at reconstruction. And we need to help them replenish their spirit and recover their confidence in American governments and American institutions.

Geri Denterlein is president of Denterlein Worldwide, a Boston-based public affairs firm.

Reopening for Business

The Camellia Grill is reopened!!! (KATC) WAHOOO!!! Can't wait to get home and get me some of that.
Two weeks and counting.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Flooding in NJ

Evacuations taking place as the water rises. It seems that the Raritan River has crested and is currently returning to more "normal levels."

The Raritan River has overflowed its banks with the second highest water level since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. A house caught fire in Bound Brook, NJ, but the flood hampered efforts to extinguish the flames.

This is the town just up river from my school.

I do not know if our campus has flooded since we have had school off for two days because of the swollen rivers and streams and flooded underpasses and roads. This is by far the worst flooding I have seen up here. Of course, this was because of 4-6 inches of rain. I wonder what happens if it rains more than 10 inches like it does in New Orleans (May 8, 1995).

UPDATE: According to word around here (I am not doubting, I just don't have specifics), some agency (ACoE, State of New Jersey?) had promised to alleviate the flooding somehow or another in poor Bound Brook. Unfortunately, they ran out of money without telling anyone. Hence, more flooding.

Va. Tech

What happened in Blacksburg is horrifying. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire community there as they try to heal. As a teacher on an open campus, the thought that a tragedy of this sort could occur is frightening. We have a plan in place because our campus is so open. While I don't think any of the students at my school are capable of this sort of thing, it's not necessarily them I am worried about. The shootings at Virginia Tech may have repercussions across our country. What price can you put on the safety of our children?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Sisters don't forget

Two sisters in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area seem to understand the plight of New Orleans. Thank goodness they are dedicated to community service and are not self serving or self-absorbed teens.
"I thought it was a year later and things would be looking up," said Hannah Nemer, a 14-year-old freshman at Henry Sibley High School. "But it hasn't changed enough."
The sisters turned their lessons from New Orleans into a campaign to raise awareness of the ongoing struggles and send money to help Katrina victims. They organized a benefit set for Saturday with the help of other young people, artists and community members across the metro area.

In one conversation, a voodoo shop owner talked about how she felt "the rest of America forgot about us" and "this isn't how it should be," said Molly Nemer, who added the woman lost her home to floods, moved in with her son and had nothing but her savings.

Not everyone wanted to help.

When the sisters called a local radio station to request a public service announcement, they were told, "It's not a hot issue anymore," Hannah Nemer said.


"The people of New Orleans are very hopeful, but they need help," she said. "It's great that people are going to realize that."

Hannah Nemer adds: "You can't go there and not want to help others."

They are raising money for ArtDocs. They are turning their frustration and disappointment after a visit into action. Read the whole story yourself.

Friday, April 13, 2007


I work at a school that is very diverse. We appreciate each other for our differences (my difference is that I am from New Orleans which is considerably different than being from New Jersey). We have Hindus and Sikhs and Catholics and Jews and Muslims and Shintoists and Baptists and Methodists and blacks and whites and Hispanics and Korean and Chinese and Japanese and Indian and Filipino and many others. It is an interesting place, and it is made more interesting because the people are so different. Racism isn't much of a problem because we are more interested in understanding and learning. The kids at my school are actually pretty impressive.

My experiences in New Orleans are vastly different. The school at which I taught did not encourage diversity in background or race or cultural heritage for the most part. But it was a good place, and it fulfilled its mission. But there were few faces that were a different color. I don't know if that was economic or blatant racism, but my guess was that it was economic.

Blakely recently made a comment about race in New Orleans. No matter what people say or think, in New Orleans race is an issue. He is correct.

I watched the American Experience on PBS recently, and their contention was that in its origins New Orleans was a diverse, forward thinking city until the Civil War when the Americans came in and made it their business to enforce their view of the world. For good or for bad, I believe that this is the view that continues to pervade the white community in New Orleans.

Once I was old enough to go on my own, I went to Mardi Gras in Metairie or, if in New Orleans, Endymion in Mid-City. (When I was a little kid, we always went to Canal St. for Mardi Gras Day) When I finally went to college and saw how New Orleans Mardi Gras was as an adult, Metairie seemed weird and foreign because everyone was the same. New Orleans had character and color. It was weird to be with everyone that was just like you. That's not how the world operates.

However, racism, as it exists in New Orleans, is subversive and evil. It's not open. It happens behind closed doors and hides where money is made. It's in old line, blue blood organizations and in social aid and pleasure clubs. It's in daily interactions and in upbringing. There is contention, no matter how well each side tries to disguise it.

Blakely is not trying to candy coat what he sees. He is trying to fix a broken city and not just from Katrina. To fix something, I think, it's important to acknowledge the things that are wrong. If he ignores the observable facts, he is not being honest, and, therefore, he can't possibly do an effective job. Maybe he was not hired to fix New Orleans brand racism, but he cannot ignore it if he is going to do what he was hired to.

It hurts when someone points out your flaws, especially if you were raised to think you are flawless. I love New Orleans. It is my hometown, if not my home in name right now. New Orleans is pretty much what I think about all the time. It has flaws, and it is currently broken for numerous reasons, Katrina being the major issue. Maybe acknowledging that racism is the cause of at least a few of the problems isn't such a bad start. Then we can get to work on rebuilding it the right way - with fewer race issues and more economic and educational equality.

My Dog Gumbo

First, you make a roux.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Burning Questions

1) I know WDSU has a nightly program about the recovery efforts. How often is Nagin on? Why is that? Why doesn't WWL or WGNO go ahead and schedule him to be on WEEKLY.
2) Is it bad that I hear more about the recovery effort in New Orleans from a guy in Australia than the Mayor? Though Blakely may come across as abrasive, he is honest and forward-thinking. He sees the pitfalls, but he wants to fix what's broken. And he's talking about it. We need a leader who will tell it like it is and get something done.
3) Can another channel (WYES, WLAE) have Blakely (or the hands-off Powell) account for what he is doing? Jesus, when I lived in NJ after 9/11 it seemed like Giuliani was on TV 24/7.
4) I have read and listened to a few views on the proposed stores in Mid-City. New Orleans is provincial. Not that that's bad (I still come home and only want to spend money in New Orleans.) But it seems foolish for people to continue to line the pockets of the neighboring parish with tax dollars. The money that people spend in Jefferson Parish stores helps the economy in general, but not specifically Orleans. It would be great to have some big stores in New Orleans (how many times did I have to drive out to CompUSA on vets for computer stuff?). The Mid-City location seems like the perfect area. All we need is some rules for what the stores look like (hire some local architects?) to design New Orleans style store fronts. Even the commercial floor at American Can Co. has a New Orleans feel to it. Can't we use that kind of model?
5) Does anyone care about the Hornets? Can't we just let them move to Oklahoma City and focus on the Zephyrs and Saints?
6) Sometimes I like Chris Rose, and sometimes I think he's a putz. But I always like Angus Lind. Is that because he hangs out at Bruno's?
7) Why did my wife buy another dog? Will she (my dog, not my wife) ever be housetrained? If you have to clean up three piles of poo, two pees, and one dog vomits on the other, is that a trifecta? What do you win?
8) Why do my neighbors in our garage band insist on playing speed metal when all I want to do is get down with the funk? I am trying to lay down some Galactic riffs which one guy somehow turns into a screaming solo and the guy stomps with anger on his double bass drum pedal.
9) Suppose I quit my job. What job/career should I pursue now?

If you can answer any one of these, please, do. I need all the help I can get now that I live in a zoo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to make a profit without caring

The Sun-Herald has this story about a couple in Slidell. Their Allstate insurance wanted to defray some of the costs to NFIP. Is this why there were record profits for insurance companies in 2005 and 2006?

An engineer who testified Tuesday at the trial for a Louisiana couple's lawsuit against Allstate Insurance Co. said he wrote a report on the plaintiffs' storm-damaged home without inspecting the property after Hurricane Katrina.

Allstate refused to pay for much of the damage to the Slidell home of Robert and Merryl Weiss after the company's engineering consultant, Craig Rogers, concluded that Katrina's storm surge was responsible for most of it.


Also on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance issued a subpoena for Mung Hatter, a woman who worked for Allstate, to testify about a report that the company submitted as part of the Weisses' claim with the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Weisses' attorneys accuse Allstate of misrepresenting the couple's flood insurance claim so that the federal government would pay for a greater share of the damage to their waterfront home.

Sounds like someone's getting caught with their pants down.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


In contrast to my friends who went there, LSU folks have some pretty smart ideas.

Check this out: floating houses...(PDF)

Sure. Why not? It seems that another flood is imminent...

Jack Greets his Sister

Today Agrippina is coming home with a new West Highland White Terrier. I am not sure how this is all going to work out with our old dog, Jack. But I wanted her (the new dog, Millie who I plan on calling "Gumbo") to know that before Jack attacked her he said hello. Anyway, here's my dog's video (and my annoying voice) from the digital camera I own. I have never edited a video using iMovie before though I have tried. Also, here's my first video uploaded to youtube.

Yes, that is a Saints collar. I just need to find a little one for "Gumbo."
My life as I knew it is over....

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Tough Questions

I don't know much about "Le Monde Diplomatique." I know that the opening paragraph grabs my attention because it's true. At least to me. At least right now. Rebecca Solnit, a resident of San Francisco, has written some good things about New Orleans. Unfortunately, she gives some bad information, as well. (She still talks of the conspiracy of silence that surrounds the dark days after Katrina when rumors were flying of vigilantism and murder - I am still not convinced that this didn't happen, but I find it highly unlikely now.)

I like the approach that this article takes - American is becoming American't and New Orleans is the example. If the government fails us in New Orleans, it fails the entire country.

Some highlights:

‘If the city doesn’t recover, we aren’t likely to recover either’
Bring back New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina first revealed the reality of the Bush administration to most Americans: its incompetence, cronyism and callousness. And the lasting devastation of the city of New Orleans demonstrated that the US had been changed from a can-do to a can’t-do society.


These stories [of people being killed, left without care, and unable to cross the Crescent City Connection] are important, if only to understand what New Orleans is recovering from: not just physical devastation, but social fissures and racial wounds in a situation that started as a relatively natural disaster and became a socially constructed catastrophe. Nothing quite like it has happened in American history. It’s important to note as well that many racial divides were crossed that week and after by people who found common cause inside the city; by, for instance, the “Cajun Navy” of white boat-owners who got into flooded areas and rescued scores of people.


The poverty of New Orleans was, and is, constantly referenced in the national media; and the city did, and does, have a lot of people without a lot of money, resources, health care, education, and opportunity. But its people are peculiarly rich in networks, roots, traditions, music, festive ritual, public life, and love of place, an anomaly in an America where, generations ago, most of us lost what the depleted population of New Orleans is trying to reclaim and rebuild.


If New Orleans is coming back, it’s because a lot of its citizens love it passionately, from the affluent uptowners who formed Women of the Storm to massage funding channels to the radical groups, such as the People’s Hurricane Relief Fund, dealing with the most devastated zones. Nationally, there have been many stories about people giving up and leaving again because the reopened schools are still lousy and crime is soaring; the way people are trickling back in has been far less covered.


That doesn’t mean people aren’t trying all over New Orleans. It’s easier to get out the power tools than to untangle the red tape surrounding all the programmes that are supposed to fund rebuilding or get governmental agencies at any level to act like they care or are capable of accomplishing a thing.

“Are you trying to rebuild?” I asked the woman who had come into Nena, the Lower Ninth Ward neighbourhood empowerment network association, in the part of New Orleans most soaked by the floods that Katrina caused. Politely but firmly she corrected me: “I am going to rebuild.”

It’s been said before that New Orleans represents what the Republicans long promised us when they spoke of shrinking down government.
The disaster that was Katrina is often regarded as a storm, or a storm and a flood, but in New Orleans it was a storm, a flood, and an urban crisis that has stalled the lives of many to this day. Katrina is not even half over.

The Ninth Ward symbolises the government’s abandonment of African-Americans in a time of dire need; bringing the ward back is a way of redressing that national shame and the racial divide that went with it. But if it does come back, it will be residents and outside volunteers who bring it back. The government is still mostly missing in action, except for the heavily armed soldiers on patrol and the labyrinthine bureaucracies few can navigate.

Will its economy continue to fade away? Will the individuals who are bravely rebuilding in the most devastated areas have enough neighbours join them to make viable neighbourhoods again? Will the city government improve itself enough to make a better place or will incompetence continue to waltz with corruption through the years? Will the nation revise its sense of what we owe our most significant cities (before my own city, San Francisco, undergoes the big one in earthquakes) or recognise what they give us? Will the solidarity of many anti-racist whites across the US outweigh the racism that surfaced in Katrina and still lurks not far from the surface?

Despite its decline, New Orleans remains a port city and a major tourist destination. But it also matters because it’s beautiful, with its houses, from shacks to mansions, adorned with feminine, lacy-black ironwork or white, gingerbread wood trim; with its colossal, spreading oaks and the most poetic street names imaginable; because the city and the surrounding delta are the great font from which so much of our popular music flows; because people there still have a deep sense of connection and memory largely wiped away in so many other places; because it is a capital city for black culture, including traditions that flowed straight from Africa; because, in some strange way, it holds the memory of what life was like before capitalism and may yet be able to teach the rest of us something about what life could be like after capitalism.


We all owe New Orleans and those who suffered most in Katrina a huge debt. Their visible suffering and the visibly stupid, soulless, and selfish response of the federal government brought an end to the unquestionable dominance of the Bush administration in the nearly four years that passed between New York’s great disaster and this catastrophe. In China, great earthquakes were once thought to be signs that the mandate of heaven has been withdrawn from the ruling dynasty. Similarly, the deluges of Katrina washed away the mandate of the Bush administration and made it possible, even necessary, for those who had been blind or fearful before to criticise and oppose afterwards.

Go read it for yourself. I love when people think and write about New Orleans. There are a lot of questions, but no one can question the love New Orleanians have for New Orleans.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

It won't help, but it made me feel better

I just left this letter for Senator Jim DeMint (R - SC) and major ass:

Mr. DeMint,

In case you were not aware, your state lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, an ocean where hurricanes are formed. From time to time, your state is in the path of a hurricane. In case you are not aware, hurricanes can cause horrible damage to life and property. Your state hasn’t been slammed by a hurricane since Hugo in 1989. I am not an oddsmaker, but I bet that one day soon your state will be slammed again. I hope that the damage is minimal and I hope that you trust the defenses your state has in place to remediate the damage. I think that you are in denial if you think it won’t or can’t happen to you.
I am from New Orleans, Louisiana, and on August 29, 2005, my hometown was in the path of Hurricane Katrina. Though the hurricane itself did not do extensive damage to the city and state, the subsequent failure of the federal levee system did. In September 2005, Hurricane Rita slammed the western side of my state. Everyone associated with these two disasters knows that red tape and bureaucracy is holding up any kind of real recovery.
Your asinine "anonymous" objection to hold up recovery will not be forgotten. In case you were not aware, despite the delays, despite the poor treatment received from their insurance companies, despite being repeatedly set back by neglect, and despite the peril that the Army Corps of Engineers has continued to perpetrate on them, the people of New Orleans will rebuild and return. President Bush has said that the Federal Government would help streamline and "unstick" the money in the pipeline. Did you get that memo? Were you listening? All states where hurricanes can strike should be paying close attention to how this is all being handled because you could be in the same situation in the near future.
However, your maneuver proves that you are not, in fact, paying attention. If you are concerned about the budget, how about calling the troops back from Iraq? That might save a few bucks. What about the cost of human suffering? What cost can you put on the photographs that document a life? What cost is there to lose all your possessions to a federally caused flood? What cost can you put on the frustration, anger, and depression of fighting your insurance company, your state, and now the federal government to assist in recouping your loss with LOANS? But to “anonymously” object to a bill to help a hurricane and federally neglected disaster area (which your state could be soon) shows that you do not deserve the position of trust and intelligence with which South Carolina voters have entrusted to you.
I hope that when the Senate reconvenes that you immediately bring this bill to the forefront and change your “anonymous objection” regarding it. What happens in Louisiana can (and unfortunately probably will) happen to you and your state. How embarrassing would it be to have the senators from Louisiana anonymously hold up your state’s recovery while billions are being spent needlessly in Iraq and while your people live in trailers, fighting their insurance companies, hoping for some compassion, and are still in harm’s way.
A disaster requires leadership and quick decision-making skills. Apparently, the people of South Carolina have elected someone with dubious credentials in this regard. This disaster has been going on in Louisiana for 19 months. Would your people stand for that? Would you? I believe that we Louisianians deserve better treatment. We have tried to play by the rules which are consistently changed. You have an opportunity to help clear up these rules instead of further obscuring them. Don’t let this opportunity pass.
I hope that you reconsider your “anonymous objection” (the sign of a coward, if you ask me) in this matter. What happens with this disaster mitigation and relief could one day be you and yours.



Tuesday, April 03, 2007


It seems to me that any parent who appears with their child on any of the MTV shows should be reported to the Department of Child Protective Services or whatever it is in their state. Even if their child is considered an adult.

Here we go again

As a Red Sox fan, I have to say it. There's always next year.

They lost to the lowly Royals 7-1 on opening day. Dammit.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Music InSites

I think that I live for music. When I was in high school, I was into alternative music - New Order, The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen. In college, I worked briefly at WTUL, but I was assigned a 2 AM to 6 AM slot which I couldn't manage to keep up with. It was then that I explored more college alternative like Stan Ridgway, Negativland, and Husker Du. At some point, I was an intern briefly on the Stage and Screen show on WTUL (which I listened to faithfully long after I left Tulane).
I never really "got into" New Orleans music in my formative years. Sure, I heard all the Mardi Gras music on WWL with their Parade Traffic Updates. And I loved the marching bands more than the floats. I hardly ever listened to WWOZ back then. It seemed like Jazz and Blues and Gospel and New Orleans Music were for old people. Whenever I attended a dinner party with older neighbors or friends, they had WWOZ on. It seemed too classy for me. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to be listening to that stuff. I was supposed to be young and hip and full of angst (which I was).
I remember one day being at Lakeside Mall for some reason. Some young African-American men were driving around with loud music blaring. It wasn't rap or hip-hop. It was something entirely different. It was a brass band, and it was awesome. I remember strutting into the mall humming the melody, trying to walk in time. The music just felt right. I didn't know why, but it just did. I found a Rebirth Brass Band CD. I hummed it all the time. I found the Brass Band Jam on WWOZ. I went and saw them at the Canal Bus Stop with my friend Brian. I couldn't wait for Mardi Gras to see all the others - the Dirty Dozen, Olympia, New Birth, and others.
Then somewhere along the way, I stumbled onto Galactic. Coolin' Off used to be in the CD player in my classroom all the time. It seemed like a natural progression. Funky brass band to just plain funk. At the barbecues at my old apartment on Prytania, we used to listen to that CD non-stop.
And I went to JazzFest as many days as possible. I couldn't get enough. It was the perfect New Orleans event in my mind - great music, great food, cold beer, and awesome people. I would go by myself and spend money I didn't have. I would put myself in debt for most of the summer just to get that sound.
Of course, when I moved to New Jersey I found out how much I loved all New Orleans music. At this point in my life, every time I visit New Orleans I spend a hundred or more dollars at the Louisiana Music Factory. I buy CDs of bands I have never heard of. I listen to all the new releases. I wish I would win the lottery so I could increase my collection by buying all the CDs from that place. I have 3000+ songs on my iPod. And it's just not enough. I skip everything that's not New Orleans or funky. I am obsessed. I try to use music sites to help me locate more bands that have New Orleans roots and feel, but the musicians from New Orleans don't have much representation on the big sites.
With this in mind, I wanted to give my review of some of the major sites that stream music that I listen to.

1. - This is a good website because you can rate music, ask it to never play certain songs again, and search for music to add. I found this to be a good site for "adult alternative" and creating your own station. Unfortunately, there are commercials unless you pay. But it's cheap. Or at least it was last time I signed up.
2. - I am listening to this for the first time right now. I am on the Rebirth Brass Band station and Zachary Richard is currently playing Handa Wanda. They did not have Anders Osborne or Theresa Anderson when I searched. Either they are still working on their playlists or they only have nationally released music. However, you can create your own playlists - I like the approach. You get to create your own "MixTape." Neat idea.
3. - Interesting playlists. Has band radio stations. I haven't listened to this much, but you can see what songs people have been listening to. And you can RSS on your blog or website. Once I get some time and think it through, I may include this here. However, there is no way to pause what you are listening to. If you stop a song, a new one comes up.
4. - seems to be on the cutting edge of music. Lots of obscure titles, you can decide whether you like songs or not, and you can skip. You can create 100 stations of your choosing and have them based on a band or song that you like. They claim it's some "music genome project" and songs are categorized based on their tempo, style, melodies, etc. Really complex stuff but really good.

I am looking for a New Orleans based podcast. I haven't found one that features New Orleans music yet, and I can't believe it. Perhaps this is a project for me to work on when I get some time. I know there is a subdudes podcast, and it is excellent. Are there others?
You still can't go wrong with You can listen even if you are 1300 miles away or on a different continent. If I rent a car when I go home, I immediately program 90.7 as the first memory channel. At least until I get to the Louisiana Music Factory and buy some CDs.