Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where's the news

I was writing a post today about how the rest of America views New Orleans post-Katrina. I am not happy with it right now, so I am leaving it as a draft until I get it right. The gist of the post is that they just don't know. They can't possibly know.

In other news, the judiciary in New Orleans has had about enough of Mr. Jordan's antics.

As a follow up, I did a quick search on google for Cesaroli, the new "attorney general"(?) of New Orleans. I haven't read anything anywhere else about him aside from the Houston Chronicle and my original post. I was hoping to read more about this guy, about his ideas, about his start date, anything. Imagine my surprise when my blog came up with the first hit.

Hey, guys, you have the feet on the street. What's up with this guy? When does he start and what is going to do?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Trip Notes

This last weekend, I was on a quick trip to New Orleans thanks to the lovely airline known as US Airways. Besides canceling my flight on Thursday, they canceled my flight home on Sunday and lost my bag. It eventually made it to my house today.

While on said trip, I noticed a couple of things that I had not ever picked up on before.

1) I saw a bumper sticker on a car outside of Crabby Jack's. It was for "Citizens For 1 Greater New Orleans." This group seems to have started out as a levee board consolidation effort which has continued. They had a meeting today with some pretty big political names. I hadn't heard anything about the meeting but Jim Letten, Warren Riley, and James Carter were on the bill.

2) The service I received in virtually every location in New Orleans was abysmal. It began on Friday at Crabby Jack's, continued at Liuzza's By the Track and the Black and Gold Sports Shop, and ended at the Louisiana Music Factory. I think I would like to attribute the poor treatment to either a) it's August and people are hot and drained or b) people, in general, have had just about all they can take in terms of hardship. The places that I went just didn't have much of a New Orleans' feel to them. Usually someone who is waiting on you or taking your money for whatever reason is happy to chat, share a story, or laugh at a bad joke. Something seemed to be missing. I hope it was just me and that I was there at the wrong time. After talking to one of my best friends, I have to say that I will make a concerted effort to "vote with my wallet." Just so you know, Aidan Gill will continue to receive my support. Also, I will continue to come to New Orleans no matter what, so people can't scare me off with their bad attitudes. Just won't work, so knock it off.

3) Unfortunately, I was not able to make it to Rising Tide 2, but I did run into Berto who told me it was great. I wish I could have made it. Maybe next year...

4) Paul Sanchez concert at Carrollton Station was awesome on Saturday. He has a new album coming out called "Exit to Mystery St." Maybe that should go on my other blog.

Keep your head up, New Orleans. The cameras of the nation will be on you again this week. Keep the message clear and loud and firm -


I will be watching.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rain, Rumor, Love and Hate

I brought my mom some rain. Not a hurricane. Just a little afternoon thunderstorm to wash the dust off of everything. For those who do not know, I tend to be a storm god of sorts. Now it's going to be hot AND even more humid.
My neighbor has sort of kinda nominated me to help organize/open a New Orleans style restaurant in Easton. Attention, Mr. Nagin: This is how you keep the "brand" out there.
For the first time maybe ever, my mom was at the airport on time AND she wanted to take me out for some lunch. I made her take me to Crabby Jacks. Finally I was able to eat the Slow Roasted Duck po-boy. Next time I am getting the duck.
I do not care for United Airways. I will never fly on their airline again. I am sure that they do not care what I will or will not do, but I can most definitely state that I will never again give them my business. I was supposed to get to New Orleans last night, but I had to take a different flight this morning. I could understand if there was a weather issue, but there was not. The one employee at the counter was not helpful, and she struggled to deal with the requests made by other flyers. She was not able to handle the responsibilities of her job. This is poor hiring. On the plane today, I just wanted a glass of water and some ginger ale. Instead of politely asking me to repeat myself, the attendant looked at me as though I had struck her and said, "What?!?!" I did not pay all that money to be treated that way, and I will not be doing it again.

And finally, the owner of my local coffee company in Easton asked me to pick up a CD for him at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Which reminds me of the list of things I have to do while I am here:
  1. Louisiana Music Factory - Charivari, some brass band dirges, new Galactic, Anders
  2. Voodoo Barbecue
  3. Rock N Sake'
  4. PJs for coffee and to find out about getting a couple of those Toddy Makers for some people so they can taste the difference between hot brew and cold brew. I believe that will be a life changing experience for some of them.*
  5. Aidan Gill - shaving cream, shaving oil, aftershave balm, and something for my neighbor who finally shaved his goatee after 15 years
  6. Some gallery on Magazine to find info on those scary dead doll pictures for a friend of my mother-in-law
  7. Black and Gold Sports Shop or the new one on Severn - i need a new Tulane hat and a Zephyrs hat and I owe my 11 year-old neighbor a Saints hat for taking care of the cats last week
  8. A store on Cleary for the blue glass houses
  9. Acquire some Absolut New Orleans
*I wish I knew more about coffee. One of these days, I am going to win the lottery and get all the coffee gadgets I can find. As it stands now, I know that I like different brews of coffee (not so much on the flavored stuff), and I know that I really like cold brewed ice coffee. After that, I am not much of an expert. I do drink cafe au lait and espresso and cappuccino, but I am not sure what a latte' is. or mocha. But I am willing to find out.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Does Chicago get it yet?

If Allison Hantschel (Athenae at has anything to say about, they do.

From the

This is the absolutely most accurate thing I have read about New Orleans in
a while.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What the Funk?

I read this article today regarding the latest Galactic release. I am interested to hear more, but I am shocked at this quote:

Started in the Crescent City and moved to Pennsylvania in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina...
WHAT!?!?! When did Galactic move to Pennsylvania? Where? Why wasn't I notified!!!

I was just going to order the CD online, but I realized that I would rather spend my money at the Louisiana Music Factory this weekend. I have a few places that I always stop to spend some of my money - LMF, Aidan Gill, PJs*, Liuzza's By the Track, and hopefully at least on restaurant I have never been to before - maybe Voodoo Barbecue. But after the last paycheck from the old job, some of this fun may have to be curtailed.

*I know they are based in Atlanta now, but no where else have I ever seen Viennese Blend coffee. That roast is just perfect for Iced Coffee. Nothing else tastes quite as good.

PS - The original title of this post was HipHopapotamus. It's a reference to our favorite new show on HBO - The Flight of the Conchords. If you've never seen it, here is a clip of the guys singing one of their songs. I don't think the new Galactic album is going to sound like this...

I don't have a rapping name yet. What's yours?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

What is this orange line?

I don't like you at all, Mr. Orange. It's like when someone tells a joke that isn't funny. At. All.


I returned from a week long trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was beautiful, relaxing, and necessary. We stayed all the way at the end of Hatteras Island in the town/village of Hatteras. I had plenty of time to think about things and here are some of those observations:

1) Dean gains strength in the Caribbean and I am heading to New Orleans on Thursday. Coincidence?
2) There are few places in America that retain an isolated feel. Despite the construction boom, the southern end of the Outer Banks seems to be able to retain this. I belief that this is in part due to the threat of hurricanes, the laid back attitude, and that it is hard to get to.
3) Spending time with family is fun, but it can be stressful.
4) I need to learn how to kite surf one day.
5) You really can't fish in dirty or really choppy water. Whether on a boat or on the shore into the surf.
6) Crabbing is done several different ways. Some are more difficult than others, but crabs keep children amazed for hours.
7) Nothing tastes quite as good as a crab that you caught yourself.
8) I talk about New Orleans waaaay too much.
9) Kayaking is fun.
10) High School Musical 2 is a good show.
11) Thank God for Sirius satellite radio. I was able to listen to the Saints game vs. Cincinnati last night on the way home.
12) Winning the Powerball lottery (at 210 million) would allow me to quit my job and move to New Orleans. The big plan (upon winning) would be to give money away to people who are trying to rebuild (no strings attached) and live permanently there.

And I am still trying to figure out my New Orleans schedule. I have some obligations but I also would like to try to get to the conference. Still not sure if it's possible.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rising Tide 2?

I will be in New Orleans in a couple of weeks. It seems that I am now committed to coming down at the end of August for the rest of my life. But I haven't yet decided if I am going to be part of the blogging conference. I haven't gotten down there as much as I would have liked this year. I feel a little out of touch. Maybe reconnecting will be what I need.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Must Read

When an article begins like this:
The most important thing to remember about the drowning of New Orleans is that it wasn't a natural disaster. It was a man-made disaster, created by lousy engineering, misplaced priorities and pork-barrel politics. Katrina was not the Category 5 killer the Big Easy had always feared; it was a Category 3 storm that missed New Orleans, where it was at worst a weak 2. The city's defenses should have withstood its surges, and if they had we never would have seen the squalor in the Superdome, the desperation on the rooftops, the shocking tableau of the Mardi Gras city underwater for weeks. We never would have heard the comment "Heckuva job, Brownie." The Federal Emergency Management Agency (fema) was the scapegoat, but the real culprit was the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which bungled the levees that formed the city's man-made defenses and ravaged the wetlands that once formed its natural defenses. Americans were outraged by the government's response, but they still haven't come to grips with the government's responsibility for the catastrophe.
I am in. Michael Grunwald over at has written a nice long article about New Orleans. I hope it ends the way it started.


Yesterday marked the opening of MusikFest 2007 in Bethlehem. I may be spoiled by my years of experience at JazzFest, but to me this is a second- or third-tier music festival. Here are my takes on the festival and ways that I think it could be made better.

In the tradition of other Pennsylvania events, you have to buy tickets to buy food or drink. A 20 ounce beer costs 10 .50 cent tickets. A snow cone costs 8. Even at some of the best snowball stands in southeast Louisiana, a $4 snowball would cause irreversible brain freeze. I don't understand the tickets. At the end of the day, if you leave with tickets, you have lost your money. To me, buying the tickets is an unnecessary step. You have to wait in line to buy tickets so you can wait in line to give the tickets to someone for a beer or food.
SUGGESTION - Get rid of the tickets. I don't know how vendors get paid, but it seems at the end they would have to go turn in tickets to get their money. How much of this is really necessary. Create a bid process so that vendors have to apply. They will accurately report their earnings if they want a spot next year.

Like all major events, there is a lack of parking and the shuttle from the parking area costs $3. While the festival itself is free, they find ways to make money on virtually everything else that you would like to do.
SUGGESTION - Free shuttles from the parking areas. Perhaps it would be more equitable to charge a nominal fee for parking instead of for the shuttle. Then it's like a drive-in movie. The car costs $5 - get as many people in there as possible. And then you can sort of prevent the whole parking on sidewalks scenario, too.

The thing that causes me the most consternation is the way that the schedule is designed. The squares at JazzFest have everything organized by TIME. The schedule for MusikFest is not. It is scheduled by the acts on the stage, so that a band starting at noon can appear in the schedule next to a band that begins at 5:30 PM. To see how confusing, check out this PDF.
SUGGESTION - Create a chronologically based schedule. How much more paper would that take up?

Most of the food is typical school carnival food, i.e., funnel cakes, snowcones, cotton candy, popcorn, etc. You can get a burger or a hot dog, too. At two of the food booths, you can find Pennsylvania Dutch foods (sort of, some of these seem more Polish to me) - Potato Pancakes, Chicken Paprikash, Weiner schnitzel, Sauerbraten, Bierocks, Beef Goulash, Meatloaf, Halupki, Haluski. I don't even know what some of this is.
SUGGESTION - How many different ways can you really prepare a cheesesteak? Get some local and international flavor in there. Not everything has to be fried in batter.

One of the things that MusikFest does well is the children's area. It's just kinda far from everything else.
SUGGESTION - Move it closer to the action. But don't change it.

In our local paper, Gina Vaselli wrote this review of the events that transpired yesterday, a day on which the Black Crowes ($32) were the headliners.

Having fun at Musikfest doesn't necessarily require an entourage. One devoted dancer spent more 20 minutes on one of the many platz dance floors, by himself. He was dancing to the beat of his own drum.

Banana Island has dashed lines painted across the pavement, like something out of a "Family Circus" cartoon. It may seem like a waste of paint at first, but after waiting a few minutes, visitors will be sure to see some happy toddler following the path.

The Black Crowes brought a clash of cultures to Musikfest's opening night. One man, dressed in slacks and a polo shirt, stopped to ask a group of teenagers in tie-dye T-shirts and bandannas to ask if they, too, were going to see the concert.

The ever-present Musikfest beer mugs cost eight 50-cent tickets, and every time you want to fill it up, it'll cost you another 10 tickets. This may seem a bit strange considering that a regular beer costs 10 tickets and leave you wondering what the draw to the mugs is all about. But a Musikfest employee explained the 22-ounce mugs are 2 ounces larger than the regular cups.

As a newcomer to Musikfest, using tickets for everything seemed strange to me. But a helpful Musikfest employee explained that the tickets deter theft and are easier to keep track of. But that gave me little comfort when I realized I paid $4 for a snow cone.

I don't think most of these things are even worthy of print. In New Orleans, you are supposed to dance to your own rhythm, you are supposed to talk to those who are experiencing the same things that you are, and you are supposed to drink a little. I guess things here are very different.

My wife and I haven't been in a few years now. I am not trying to make fun of it, so I apologize if it comes across that way. The festival is important for this area, but I think it could use some improvements to make it even more fun, exciting, and easy to attend.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Common Thinking

I have read this article from Common Ground (albeit with only one eye), and you should, too. Though he doesn't get everything about the city exactly right, he seems to know what he's talking about. I think the historical perspective is interesting. I know the work the NOLA bloggers do is exactly the work needed. Political systems are resistant to change. We must force them to by action and accountability. I believe the questions that Mr. Campanella brings up are worth asking and answering for anyone who cares about New Orleans. Thank you, Mr. Campanella, for writing this.