Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Unified What?

The Unified New Orleans Plan, from what I have read about it in the NYTimes, has some good things going for it:
The plan calls for spending millions on libraries, recreation, utilities, schools, transportation, flood protection, health care and other areas.
And some iffy things going on:
One part of the new plan, much insisted on by the consultants Tuesday, appears to address that phenomenon by calling for incentives for homeowners and small businesses to encourage the creation of “sustainable clusters within their neighborhoods."
I have not read the plan. I plan on it, but I really am put off by some of this. I am glad that "Green-Space" ideas are gone. However, when I initially read this summary in the Times, I had a few thoughts...
  1. Are people willing to give up rights to the property they own to move into "clusters." When and how does one make the decision to do that? Do you come and work like a mad person on your house, the only person on your block to do so, and then find out that it would have made more sense to move two blocks over where three people on the same block have come back? How and when do you know? What do you do with your property?
  2. I didn't see in the summary anything about affordable housing. This is a major concern to me. If there are not affordable housing units, then it is going to take a long time for New Orleans to come back. Because not all New Orleanians are wealthy, white, or from Uptown. Everyone that can and wants to come back should be able to come back.
  3. Hope doesn't rebuild a city. Ask the Saints. While it was great to have something to look forward to each week, and it was a great ride, the Saints didn't rebuild New Orleans. They can help us all feel better and give us something in common, but the work needs to be done by the people on the ground. I guess specifics would be nice. And financing. Hope's not a bad thing. But I think that most of the machines that are going to help New Orleanians rebuild are in place (even if the Road Home is not all that welcoming).
People want to come home. This is a nice gesture, but I think people have had enough of gestures and talk and empty promises. I hope that that's not all this is.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Support (sort of) from Houston

I have heard nothing of this yet. I am sure that I will. And I hope there are some solutions to the violent crime in this hiring (though I am sure that easing poverty, concentrating the poor in dilapidated buildings, improving educational infrastructure, real jobs, a reliable transportation network, etc. would be better long term).

From the

If you've ever asked yourself, as you've watched the post-Katrina morass of incompetence and violence that has engulfed New Orleans, whether that city has suffered enough, you have your answer. And that answer is "no."

N'awlins, get ready for...the magical world of Lee P. Brown!

Brown, who was Atlanta's public-safety commissioner during a famously inept serial-murder investigation, who was New York's police commissioner during the ineptly handled Crown Heights riots, who was Houston mayor while the HPD crime lab was run...eptly? Guess again!...has been hired to solve New Orleans' massive violent-crime problem.

If his time here is any indication, Brown will implement a two-pronged attack. He will a) bore everyone to death, using content-less, cliché-filled, charisma-free speeches to put criminals into a stupor; and b) take a lot of taxpayer-funded out-of-town trips. We're sure Rome and London need to be studied closely for tips on how to stop Ninth Ward gangbangers.

Brown told the Louisiana Weekly that "there is no silver bullet that is going to say that this is going to be done tomorrow...Working together, you can get the job done."

We're kind of surprised Brown didn't mention making New Orleans "a world-class city," but it's still early.

New Orleans seems to be slightly underwhelmed by the announcement.

"I haven't a clue if this guy is going to do any good. I hope he does," said Spud McConnell, popular talk-show host at the city's WWL-AM. "Lord knows we've had enough people come over here, get a big paycheck for giving their opinion and then walking away."

CB Forgotston, a blogger who closely follows the crime wave at, also is skeptical. "In Louisiana, [it's not] that we lack plans...We don't need any more plans, frankly. I think what we lack in New Orleans is implementation and common sense," he says.

Forgotston, a lawyer and community activist, doesn't seem blown away by the dynamism that is Lee P. Brown: "He's going to take six months to study it, 'maximum.' And, you know, maximum always becomes a minimum. So my point is: How many people are going to die between now and the next six months, while we're waiting on a plan?"

We don't know, CB. But we do know that now when it happens, Lee Brown will be there with a platitude to make everything seem better.

Maybe he will be VISIBLE. That's something, yes?

Last Word on the Saints

I just read this from the Onion. Nice work, fellas.

While I didn't feel that Bears' fans were over the line with me, I can understand people being upset with some of the signs. Varg has some great Photoshopped (?) signs that made me laugh out loud.

How quickly we forget...

H/T Michael Homan. and Mr. Clio via Ashley.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Picking and Grinning

I got the email announcing the tentative lineup for JazzFest. Which weekend would you go?

Weekend one:
Dr. John, Rod Stewart, Van Morrison, Norah Jones, Brad Paisley, Jill Scott, Irma Thomas, Ludacris, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pharoah Sanders, Lucinda Williams, Calexico, Soulive, Rebirth Brass Band, Richie Havens, Johnny Rivers, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Banda el Recodo, Bobby Jones & the Nashville Super Choir, Gillian Welch, T-Bone Burnett, Pete Fountain, Arturo Sandoval, The New Orleans Social Club, Percy Sledge, Mose Allison, Marcia Ball, Bishop Paul Morton & the Greater St. Stephens Mass Choir, Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers, James Carter, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Sonny Landreth, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Tab Benoit, Amanda Shaw, Davell Crawford, Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews & Orleans Avenue, Subdudes, Terence Blanchard, George Porter, Jr. & Runnin' Pardners, Marva Wright, Zachary Richard avec Francis Cabrel, Jon Cleary & the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, Bobby Charles, Ba Cissoko of Guinea, Irvin Mayfield & the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, Lucky Peterson, Bobby Lounge, Linda Hopkins, Bonerama, Eddie Bo, Shannon McNally, Rockin' Dopsie Jr. & the Zydeco Twisters, Henry Butler, Alexa Ray Joel, Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove, Dirty Jerdy, Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie, Pine Leaf Boys, Lafayette Rhythm Devils, Astral Project, Bob French & the Original Tuxedo Jazz Band, The Crescent City Allstars feat. James Andrews, Les Amazones of Guinea, Lady Tambourine, James Rivers Movement, Charmaine Neville Band, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Leviticus Gospel Singers, Charles Jackson & the Jackson Travelers, Mari Watanabe, Andrew Hall's Society Brass Band, Leroy Jones & New Orleans' Finest, Some Like It Hot, Heritage Hall Band with Jewel Brown, Second Line til' you Drop featuring the music of Paul Barbarin, Michael Ward, Phillip Manuel, Rob Wagner Trio, Groove Academy, Ray Abshire, Bonsoir Catin, Burnside Exploration, Mem Shannon & the Membership, Rockie Charles, John Rankin, Imagination Movers, Kenny Bill Stinson & the Ark-LA-Mystics, Patrice Fisher & Arpa with guests Marcelo Cotarelli & members of the Ilhabela Big Band of Brazil, New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band, VisionQuest Chorale of Dillard University, Second Nazarine Gospel Choir, Crown Seekers, Higher Dimensions of Praise, Zulu Gospel Male Ensemble, Local International Allstars, New Leviathan Oriental Foxtrot Orchestra, Gregg Stafford & the Young Tuxedo Brass Band, Dukes of Dixieland, George French, Jean Knight & Knights' of Rhythm, Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys, Maggie Warwick & the Louisiana Hayride Band, Jesse McBride & the Next Generation, Xavier University Jazz Band, NewBirth Brass Band, Mahogany Brass Band, Theresa Andersson Group, Bluerunners, The Bingo! Show, Robert Lowery & Virgil Thrasher, Lil Ray Neal Blues Band, Guitar Slim, Jr., Bruce Flett & the Bluebirds, Bamboula 2000, Henry Turner, Jr., Fredy Omar con su Banda, Vivaz!, Topsy Chapman, The Johnson Extension, St. Joseph the Worker Gospel Choir, Rocks of Harmony, Val & Love Alive with the Dimensions of Faith, One A-Chord, Jo "Cool" Davis, Chris Clifton, Lars Edegran & the New Orleans Ragtime Orchestra, Hot Club of New Orleans, Kidd Jordan, Julliard Jazz Ensemble, Hot 8 Brass Band, Happy Talk Band, Grayson Capps & the Stumpknockers, Bryan Lee & the Blues Power Band, Reggie Hall & the Twilighters feat. Lady Bee, Big Al Carson, Li'l Freddie King Blues Band, Swamp-Blues Summit with Lil' Buck Sinegal and Rudy Richard, Don Rich, Judy Spellman, Panorama Jazz Band, AsheSon, Beyond Measure, McDonogh #35, Wimberly Family, Shades of Praise Choir, Lyle Henderson, Single Ladies, Nine Time Men and New Look SAPCs, Olympia Aid - YMO, Big Nine, Bon Temps Roulez and Popular Ladies SAPCs, Furious Five, Untouchables and Dumaine Gang SAPCs, Tulane Jazz Ensemble, SUBR Jazz Ensemble, NOCCA Jazz Ensemble, New Orleans Modified Drum Circle, Monsieur No of France, David & Roselyn, Mount Pilgrim & Morning Star Youth Mass Choir, Javier Juarez, Johnette Downing, The RRAAMS Drum and Dance, Basin Street Sheiks, Palmetto Puppet Theater, Black Seminoles and Carrollton Hunters Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Peppy & the Golden Arrows, Golden Star Hunters and the Red White & Blue Mardi Gras Indians, Yellow Jackets and Creole Wild West Mardi Gras Indians...

Weekend Two:

Harry Connick Jr., Steely Dan, ZZ Top, John Legend, Allen Toussaint, Counting Crows, New Edition, George Benson, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Allman Brothers Band, Better Than Ezra, Joss Stone, Stephen Marley featuring Jr. Gong, Taj Mahal, Cowboy Mouth, Branford Marsalis, Dottie Peoples, Tony Joe White, Roy Hargrove, Galactic, The Holmes Brothers, The Radiators, Chuck Leavell, Irma Thomas' Tribute to Mahalia Jackson, Clarence "Frogman" Henry, Elder Baab & the Madison Bumble Bees of Winnsboro, The Dixie Cups, Anders Osborne, Nicholas Payton, John Mooney & Bluesiana, Darrell McFadden, Snooks Eaglin, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Judith Owen, John Boutte, Franz Jackson, Lil' Band o' Gold, Luther Kent & Trickbag, Bob Wilber & the Soprano Summit tribute to Kenny Davern, Martha Redbone, Papa Grows Funk, BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet, Eric Lindell, World Saxophone Group, Danilo Perez, Walter "Wolfman" Washington, Deacon John, Ivan Neville, Ellis Marsalis, Donald Harrison, Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Elysian Fieldz, The Iguanas, Buckwheat Zydeco, Terrance Simien, Danza feat. Evan Christopher & Tom McDermott, Jeremy Davenport, The Jazz Jam, The Woodshed feat. Roland Guerin and James Singleton, Poncho Chavis & Boozoo's Dog Hill Stompers, D.L. Menard, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas, Sherman Washington & the Zion Harmonizers, Clive Wilson & the Original Camelia Jazz Band feat. Butch Thompson, Don Vappie & the Creole Jazz Serenaders, Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots with guest Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, Germaine Bazzle, Michael White & the Original Liberty Jazz Band feat. Thais Clark, Johnny Sketch & the Dirty Notes, Benjy Davis Project, Twangorama, Morning 40 Federation, Bruce Daigrepont Cajun Band, Kevin Gordon, Savoy-Doucet Cajun Band, The Revealers, Banu Gibson & New Orleans Hot Jazz, Higher Heights, Paulette Wright, Rumba Buena, Julio y Cesar Band, Wanda Rouzan & a Taste of New Orleans, John Lee & the Heralds of Christ, Coolie Family, Unstoppable Gospel Singers, Dynamic Smooth Family, Mount Hermon BC Choir, Gospel Inspirations of Boutte, June Gardner, Lionel Ferbos & the Palm Court Jazz Band, Mark Braud, Last Straws, Batiste Brothers Band, Herman Jackson, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Sharon Martin, Groovemasters, Smitty Dee's Brass Band, Creole Zydeco Farmers, Brian Jack & the Zydeco Gamblers, Goldman Thibodeaux & the Lawtell Playboys, Willis Prudhomme & Zydeco Express, Rotary Downs, Ernie Vincent, Jumpin' Johnny Sansone, Ingrid Lucia, Henry Gray & the Cats, Beth Patterson & Kalafka, Johnny Angel & the Swingin' Demons, Leah Chase, the Plowboys, Percussion Inc., Michael Skinkus & Moyuba, Franklin Avenue BC Mass Choir, Melody Clouds, Providence BC Choir, Voices of Distinction, Treme Brass Band, New Orleans Jazz Vipers, Gov't Majik, Storyville Stompers Brass Band, Pinstripe Brass Band, J. Monque'D Blues Band, Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Benny Grunch & the Bunch, Lil Nathan & Zydeco Big Timers, Betsy McGovern & the Poor Clares, Nouveau String Band, 007, Rick Trolsen & Gringo do Choro, Watson Memorial Teaching Ministries, Greater Antioch Full Gospel Choir, Tim Laughlin, New Orleans Spiritualettes, The Golden Wings, Chris Burke, Louis Ford with guest Barbara Shorts, Maurice Brown, Tornado Brass Band, Paulin Brothers Brass Band, Lady Sequence, New Generation and Lady Rollers SAPCs, Original CTC, Lady Buckjumpers and Undefeated Divas SAPCs, Big Seven, Westbank Steppers and Prince of Wales SAPCs, The UNO Louis Armstrong Jazz Quintet, Loyola University Jazz Ensemble, Heritage School of Music, Racines, Louis "Gearshift" Youngblood, Po' Henry & Tookie, Coco Robicheaux & Spiritland, Rufus "Rip" Wimberly & the Dreamers, Fi Yi Yi Mardi Gras Indians, New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Rhythm Section, Chops Funky 7, Wild Apaches Mardi Gras Indians, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux & the Golden Eagles, Curtis Pierre Samba Man, Guyland Leday, Stax Music Academy Revue with Stephen Foster, Kayla Woodson, KidsmArt Performers, Jonno & the Cajun Experience, Guinoleros UAS of Culiacan Mexico, N'Kafu African Dance Ensemble...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bless You Boys

It was hard to sleep on Saturday night. I was so excited, nervous, and worried. But I got up and got dressed in the morning - lots of layers and a heavy coat. We had a few errands to do, selling other tickets, going to a party at the Hilton, and having a few drinks at the Wabash Tap. At last we walked to the stadium - lots and lots of Saints fans there shouting "Who dat!" and singing "I believe!" A brass band showed up playing "When the Saints Go Marching In." My friends had their own seats down at the 5 yard line but I was up in the end zone alone. I was undaunted. I had on my Deuce McAllister jersey, a Saints sweatshirt, a cap, and a warm hat. I sat in my frozen seat with snow all over my back, and I talked to the people in my aread while waited for the game to start.
The first half was uneventful for me (one good drive and a couple of amazing catches), and the Bears' fans seemed disappointed in their boys. But the Bears were hitting hard and forcing the ball loose. They easily could have scored 28 points, but they only had 16. And the Saints still seemed to be controlling the game. Ironic.
At the half things were bad, but they certainly weren't over. Then they came out in the second half and scored that amazing touchdown. And just like that, the stadium got real quiet. Then Drew threw that pass out of the end zone and there was no one in sight. That play got the crowd riled. It started to really snow. Then Thomas Jones took over and started hitting holes and running like a man on fire. The only name heard on every defensive call was Brian Uhrlacher. He was everywhere, and he was unrelenting. I kept waiting for Deuce to run off tackle or Reggie to break one outside. But it didn't happen. We got farther and farther down. The Bears were prepared. They had us on our heels, and the game was over.
At first I was sad and disappointed. The season was over. Suddenly, however, I was (and still am) proud. We went from last place to SuperBowl contender in one season. In just 20 weeks, there was joy and happiness and most of those weeks were good ones because we were winning. All year we played hard. Every game mattered. This Sunday just wasn't our day. But next year we will be back. We will be ready. And next year, we get to hope again.

Bless you, boys. Thanks for a great ride.

For the inspirational effects of this team and this year on New Orleans read this. or this. or this. (H/T to Mr. Clio)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Game Day

Yesterday was interesting. I woke up feeling sick. Worse than the day before, actually. But I knew that I had to explore a little. I finally left the room around 12 noon and was looking for the location of the Weber Grill Restaurant - everything there is cooked on a charcoal grill. I went north up Dearborn and just walked. It's hard to get a feel for a town when you are in its downtown on a weekend. However, everything was clean and nice. Lots of restaurants and shops. I had a hotdog at Mr. J's. Not bad, not good. Just a dog.

As my people started coming in, we agreed to meet at Fado's Irish Bar. Nice place. Waitresses could have been a little more warm, but it was fun. I met my Latin teacher buddy and his girl over a the Weber restaurant. Good times, good food, good fun.

Could not sleep last night. I kept waking up do see if it was time to go to the game. It's snowing. It's wet. But it's football weather. Saints have a team geared towards this kind of game. I think we are meeting with some people who are cooking red beans and rice to tailgate before the game. Section 253. By myself. Can't wait!!!


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Latin Teacher Nerdery

One of the reasons I came to Chicago for the Saints game was to hang with one of my Latin teacher buds. I brought a ream of materials that I use with 5th graders for a friend of his that is starting a new middle school Latin program. Of course, we text messaged in Latin and spent a good portion of the evening talking about teaching Latin. I think I am done with that portion of this trip.

Last night we went out in Wrigleyville - had a really good blue cheese burger and some chili fries at a nice little place called the Avenue Tavern (upscaly, but not pretentious - Think the Bulldog on Canal Blvd.). Then we headed to Friar Tuck's (divy but not dark enough - the old Robert's bar had a similar feel) for a beer and then across the street to Monsignor Murphy's (nice, dark, but not divy and a little young for me - New Bruno's). I tend to favor dive bars, personally. Then the medicine hit me. I had to take the bus back to the hotel.

I am ready to light this place up tonight - taking names along the way.

So far, here in Chi-Town, the people here seem split 50-50 on whether the Saints will win. They don't think Grossman is very good, but they think he is the future of their team (is this ironic or foreboding?) . But they are scared of the Saints potent offense.

On the agenda today:
  • Make reservations at the Weber Grill Restaurant on State St.
  • Listen to some Blues.
  • Shake this cold (or not. It won't matter when the adrenaline starts flowing).
  • Buy something nice for the wife.
  • Eat a slice of Chicago pizza somewhere.
  • Hook up with the New Orleans folks.
  • Yell WHO DAT!? and see who answers.
  • Get a decent night's sleep.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tickets Located

Without revealing price (because my wife might read this one day), let it be known that Latin Teacher has found a ticket in the 200 level for a fair (though perhaps not as reasonable as one might have thought) price. I will be sitting by myself in a sea of Bears fans, praying for my life and holding a sign of some sort. It may be an arrow pointing to me so that my students may be able to identify me. It may just be a fleur de lis. Or some other witty saying that I need to spend some time thinking about.
Nonetheless, this Latin teacher is going to Chicago, into the den of Bears, to sit alone and unafraid, to root on his hometown team - the New Orleans Saints. I hope to publish reports from the Windy City regarding my adventures and experiences.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


To paraphrase a quote from my favorite TV show - FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (though not so much this week).
Dear Bears' Fans,


Natural Disaster Heading to Midwest

For those who live in or are heading to the Chicago area, I must tell you to be prepared. Natural disasters tend to follow me. Looks like snow is predicted for Monday and Tuesday of next week. Just wanted to let you know. Stock up on supplies now.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Chicago Bound

WHO DAT!? I bought a plane ticket, have a hotel room, and now just need to scrape together $700 to get in the game. Anyone else going to bring some Black And Gold Pride to Chicago? Go Saints!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fear + Desperation

Enough is enough. I can't imagine what the city is going through right now. There are less than half as many people in New Orleans now as there were before Katrina and the failure of the levees. And yet the murders continue. As dire as the situation is, these 17 months later, and as desperate as people feel, nothing should be compounded by the fear that is overtaking the city. I have said it before, and I will say it again: If you had a chance to start from scratch, to do everything over again, would you do it all exactly the same way? Because this is what I sense is happening. Ray Nagin, with all his acting and feigned outrage, is not changing in the Post-K world. We will spew the same rhetoric as before. "The criminals need to go." No joke. How? How can you do it differently? Why do you continue to run the show without real interest? If a crime affects one of the people of New Orleans, it affects all the people of New Orleans. Eddie Jordan is obviously incompetent. Warren Riley is ineffective. Even though the situation has changed, the solutions are the same. Does anyone else see this as a problem? It's called situational awareness. Apparently the people in charge think the same old tired methods will work. They won't.
I wish I could take off work tomorrow to march on City Hall and through the streets of New Orleans to protest the killing. But the criminals won't be marching. They won't be watching. And they won't care. But, goddammit, enough is enough. New Orleanians will stand up together and say it. And I hope to God that someone who can change things is listening. Then I hope they do something about it.