Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Queen of Fucking Everything

A year ago when I started this blog, I wrote some words and let them loose. Little did I imagine I would make an efriend who would help to see me through some of the darkest days anyone could be expected to endure. Jaye Ramsey Sutter started reading my thoughts and responded to them with humor, wisdom, anger, and sanity.

Her own blog is one of the best anywhere. She is a woman of enormous passion and compassion. I am so grateful to have found her in this ether we explore together.

Happy Birthday, Dahlin'! Many more of the same!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Can You Hear Me Now?

Often while at work in my temporary post-Katrina location, I will slip across the street into the Saint Charles Bar and Pool Room. Before you start wondering to what depths of dereliction I have sunk, let me explain that this place is half bar and half grille with a pool table striding the two halves in the rear. It’s run by these two guys, Li'l Bubba and his brother, Big Bubba. They have different women to man the bar side, while on the grille side, Li'l Bubba does the cooking, Big Bubba does the talking, and they both work nonstop from 11:30 AM till. I go there to eat their sandwiches and French fries, all of it garnished with Li'l Bubba's homemade horseradish mayonnaise.

Well, yesterday I brought a book to read while waiting for my hot sausage on bun, dressed, with cheese. The book I brought was The Twelfth Card by Jeffery Deaver. I have the paperback with an illustration of the Tarot's hanging-man card on the cover. Once I had my meal in front of me, I put the book aside and out of my way.

Soon Li'l Bubba came around.

“You always reading. Whatcha reading now?”

“A mystery.”

“Looka there. Got a picture of a card on the cover. It's a book about how to play cards.”

“No, it's a mystery novel.”

“You just learning how to play cards now?”

While Li'l Bubba is going on in this way, Big Bubba trots along to see for himself.

“Naw, Bubba, that's a Tarot card on the cover. It ain't a book about learning how to play cards. He's learning how to tell the future with the Tarot deck. Hey, Bear, when we gotta get outta town for the next one, huh?”

“It's a mystery,” I said to the air, since the two brothers had made up their minds about what I was reading and had walked away.

This little event brought home to me something I have become aware of over recent weeks. People aren't listening any more – at least they aren’t listening to me. I've begun to feel like Bruce Willis wandering around, ignored by all, observing and trying to solve the mystery that will free little Haley Joel Osment from his curse of seeing dead people. Is that me? Am I dead and left to wander this city unawares as people speak and carry on with their affairs, oblivious to me?

Of course not. And it isn't only me who is being ignored. All of us are being ignored while all of us are babbling incessantly at each other.

The other night I was cornered by an old friend who went on about seeing someone several nights before.

“His name is Edward. You know him. He's kinda bald and works at The Bird. He lives with Tony Coca.”

“I don't know…”

“Yeah, you do. He gives massage. You know him. Edward. Kinda bald.”

“Okay, I think I know who you mean.”

“Yeah, he gave you a massage.”

“No, he didn't. Nobody gave me a massage. Look, I think I know who you're talking about, but that's all. I don’t know him, like, you know, to know him.”

“Okay, okay, calm down.”

And I'm thinking, Why should I calm down?

Everybody thinks he has something to say and insists on saying it to everyone else in his range. We’ve become a flock of hens in a crowded dirty little yard, cackling our own private language, unheard above the cacophony around us and incomprehensible to one another.

Everybody, now, stop. Stop and take a breath. Then be quiet and listen.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

C Ray Pulls It Out of the Hat

IT'S NAGIN. Let's see how he handles the next one - hurricane, that is. What can you say? At least we'll be assured of national and worldwide news coverage every week.

I'm going back to bed.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Step Right Up, Ladies and Gentlemen

A sleazy, two-bit carny rattled through town this past Tuesday night: the Matthews Midway, featuring Robinson's Rickety Rides.
In a nationally televised mayoral debate Tuesday, candidates Ray Nagin and Mitch Landrieu ended up debating less with one another than with the two moderators, Hardball's Chris Matthews and WDSU's Norman Robinson, who grilled both candidates harshly on such subjects as whether New Orleans should be rebuilt at all...

"They're going to think it's crazy," Matthews said at one point, referring to citizens outside New Orleans view of using federal tax money to reconstruct a city below sea level.
This is getting so old. If we don'’t rebuild New Orleans, that will leave one less venue for Mr. Matthews to shake his ignorant ass.

What does New Orleans have to offer?

Let'’s see, there'’s the Port of New Orleans, there'’s oil and gas exploration and production. We have the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the America'’s. There are Loyola, Tulane, and Xavier Universities. There was Charity Hospital with it'’s great trauma center, where the Bobble was treated for a broken wrist and inflamed elbow after falling up the stairs of a seedy bar. But that'’s another story.

Louis Armstrong, Al Hirt, Louis Prima, Dr. John, the Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, Sidney Bechet, and so many more were all born here. William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams were nurtured here.

New Orleans offers the world festivals throughout the year, all well attended by Americans who come - like Mr. Matthews -– to shake their asses -– and get drunk, get laid, and piss on our doorsteps.
At one point Matthews sparred with Landrieu, for instance, on the question of whether the federal government bears responsibility for the failed levee system, which has been under the auspices of the Army Corps of Engineers for nearly 80 years.

"Nobody out there thinks the problems are with the levees," Matthews asserted, but rather with corrupt local officials.

He then called the political history of Landrieu's family a "legacy of inaction," naming his father the former mayor and his sister the U.S. senator.

"The Corps of Engineers designed and engineered the levees. It's a federal responsibility. You can't put that off on the people of New Orleans," Landrieu shot back. "So you're pushing this off on the federal government then," Matthews said. "If it's all federal, why would you want to be mayor?"
Excuse me, click here and here.
Matthews hit on other topics that seemed designed more for viewers in Washington, D.C., than in New Orleans, including the ongoing federal debate over immigration.

He asked Nagin, for instance, whether the flood of clean-up and construction workers in the city contained illegal immigrants, to which Nagin responded that "some" probably were. The mayor said he believed local workers could handle most if not all of the massive rebuilding task, an assertion Matthews challenged.

Landrieu jumped in with a snide jab at Matthews: "I don't think you can ask us to solve the immigration problem for America with all the problems we have," he said.
Personally, I, too, believe that "local workers could handle most if not all of the massive rebuilding task." But local contractors have been squeezed out of government contracts, and local workers cannot exist on the salaries those contractors are paying a willing illegal-alien workforce.

The very treatment of those illegals should be headline news across America. They are underpaid, they live in abandoned motel rooms or tents in City Park, they are treated with contempt by many in the city. Some of them, if they rock the boat about their salaries or living conditions, are promptly turned over to the INS by the very contractors who happily pick them up at Lee Circle each morning of the week. It's a disgrace, but it isn't being broadcast to the nation.

Ah, don't get me started. You know what, America? Leave us alone. Forget about us in the short run and don't worry your pretty little heads about us. And when the really big one comes up the Coast and wipes the city away because of inadequate federally-constructed and -managed levees and the misguided federal project of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and the man-caused loss of the Louisiana wetlands, don't even bother to remember what Ivor van Heerden and Mike Bryan are already calling the "Cajun Atlantis."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bush Will Be '100 Percent' in Near Future

Now that's a headline that'll grab you, ain't it?

Here's the rest of the story:
An MRI of Saints tailback Reggie Bush's injured left hamstring revealed the problem to be nothing more than a mild strain, according to Bush's marketing agent Mike Ornstein.

"He's feeling great," Ornstein said Tuesday afternoon. "Probably in another week, he'll be 100 percent."

Bush injured his hamstring while stretching before the Saints' first rookie minicamp practice this past Saturday at the Airline Drive practice facility. The injury severely curtailed his on-field work during the five practices, rendering the club's No. 1 draft choice little more than a spectator over three days.

Bush had hoped to have the MRI done Monday afternoon, but it couldn't be scheduled around his personal appearance at the Holy Rosary Academy in Metairie, where he presented a $50,000 check to help keep the school open....

Bush left New Orleans on Tuesday afternoon for Los Angeles, where he'll participate in a photo shoot for his rookie trading card. He will wear jersey No. 5 in the trading card pictures, not No. 25, Ornstein said.

"He's going to wear 5 because the league made a statement to me that they haven't decided the (number) issue yet and won't until the owner's meeting (next week in Denver)," Ornstein said. "The Saints sent both jerseys, 5 and 25. But unless we have a battle I don't know about, he's going to wear 5 in the photo shoot."

According to a published report, the Saints told the NFL Players Association that Bush would wear No. 25 for the rookie card photos, the number currently worn by running back Fred McAfee.

Bush is expected to donate 25 percent of all the royalties from his jersey sales to Hurricane Katrina relief, regardless of what number he wears this season....

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Judicial Watch and AA Flight 77

Judicial Watch has obtained videotape from the Department of Defense showing American Airlines Flight 77 striking the Pentagon.

I don't know what to think.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Reliving the Horror

From today's Times Picayune. The complete article is here.
Generations of New Orleanians worked for 300 years to raise a great city in the often inhospitable terrain along the banks of the Mississippi River.

It took Hurricane Katrina less than six hours to put that labor of love under water, damaging 200,000 homes and killing more than 1,200 people....

Hurricane specialists knew there would be flooding to study as Katrina moved toward southeast Louisiana. Storm-surge models done by LSU showed the area's eastern defenses of levees and floodwalls would be topped.

But the models predicted the flooding would be far less than catastrophic in most neighborhoods, with water levels staying below 3 feet, because the surge would last for less than two hours.

Breaches in those defenses changed everything. With levees and floodwalls down, water poured into the metro area until the volume in the infamous "New Orleans bowl" -- actually a series of bowls bounded by levees and natural barriers -- was at the same level as lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain, something that didn't finally occur until Thursday, Sept. 1, about 2 a.m. The floodwater rose for days instead of hours, and inconvenience had become a deadly tragedy.
You can watch an interactive video here. It is terrifying.

News Alert

Item:
Sperm Magnet has been 86'ed from the Golden Latrine outside the Magnet's normal working hours there.

Reason:
For losing it all the day before yesterday and hitting patrons upside the head with a grilled chicken po'boy sandwich - dressed.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Through Hell and high Water

Yesterday a coworker pointed me to this series running in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Two hospitals side by side, one, private and owned by HCA (Yo, Senator Frist!), the other, once one of the nation's great public hospitals. They serve as a microcosm of the reality of life in New Orleans where great wealth reclines in luxury next door to soul-devouring poverty. It shines a light on heroism performed in the face of overwhelming difficulties.

Our literature and mass entertainment, our news media, our government have all taught us that life is sacred. But is it true? Is it really true? Who do we ultimately save?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Just in Time for Hurricane Season

New Orleans' evacuation plans are said to be unready. Buses and trains and planes, oh, my. But there are catches and glitches. And this article came out before word that the RTA is laying off its bus drivers. Hmm. Could our mayor be operating in a vacuum?

Shhhh

I would have liked to have written something today, but I'm scared to do it now. It's a mighty deterrent when you know that george bush is reading your every word and monitoring your every thought.

What the fuck? The asshole can't read.

Why can't he just be arrested for breaking the law?

Monday, May 8, 2006

Why Am I not Surprised?

His best moment!
There have been many memorable moments in George Bush's career - invading Iraq, declaring the war "accomplished", Hurricane Katrina. But the US president recalled that his greatest moment in office had come not on the field of battle but while out fishing.

Asked by Germany's Bild am Sonntag newspaper what he considered to be his greatest triumph, President Bush replied: "I've experienced many great moments. It's hard for me to name the greatest." He went on: "I would say that the best moment of all came when I caught a seven-and-a-half pound perch while fishing on my lake."
On his lake, mind you. Ah, America, the land of possessions.
Mr Bush, who has not previously been noted as a prize-winning angler, made his remarks during Angela Merkel's visit to Washington last week. In the interview, published yesterday, he praised Germany's new chancellor, describing her as a "very strong woman"....

"I'm thrilled with my relationship with Chancellor Merkel, she's a really interesting person ... I find her to be confident, not overconfident, but confident in her beliefs and that's very important for me," he told Germany's ARD television.
Not "overconfident." You don't want to have to deal with an overconfident woman. Especially not a German one, born in East Germany, for Chrissake.

In the immortal words of the Three Stooges, "What a maroon."

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Yesterday's Gardenia

While Jazz Fest visitors tramped up and down the Quarter before and after visiting the Fairgrounds, this bloom hung from its branch in our courtyard through an afternoon of overcast light and quietude. Such a simple, beautiful thing, it answers questions of the soul.

Friday, May 5, 2006

A Government FOR the People?

The San Francisco Bay View reports additional wrinkles in FEMA's treatment of the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina. As we enter the ninth month following that devastation, we prepare for the new hurricane season standing on shifting sands.
"For the last eight months, in the face of gross government neglect, the only way survivors have gotten the barest support is by organizing to demand it. FEMA has not consulted the communities in crisis; it has not involved survivors in its version of 'recovery.' FEMA has been inadequate and incompetent. Worse, it continually threatens to shut off the little assistance we've squeezed out of it," said Corlita Mahr of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversight Coalition, a national coalition of Katrina survivors and supporters. "Gulf Coast residents are working on recovery. Will the government be joining us any time soon?"

Over time, FEMA's practices have looked less like U.S. policy for assisting Internally Displaced People and more like the U.S. welfare system - complete with requirements designed to limit access to resources and modify the behavior of aid recipients. Means-testing is a new feature for FEMA, contradicting its written assertion in October that there is no means test for disaster housing assistance. Means-testing has been used aggressively in the United States to reduce welfare rolls....

"For hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast people who have been flung from homes, jobs, communities and everything familiar, FEMA's introduction of 'means-testing' in its Housing Assistance program is an eviction notice, just like Hurricane Katrina was," said Malcolm Suber, a community organizer with the People's Hurricane Relief Fund who was displaced to Houston. "FEMA can waste billions on no-bid contracts [see here and here - 'Bear], but once again they want to stop payment on temporary apartments. Meanwhile, we've been waiting eight months for our government to restore bottom-line infrastructure and help us fix our homes."

The June 1 deadline threatens to make about 50,000 homeless, while more than 300,000 are expected to be evicted on the anniversary of Katrina. FEMA announced this week that trailer residents may also be evicted if they fail to perform unspecified recertification tasks every 60-90 days. And New Orleans' Housing Authority, under direct federal control, refuses to reopen public housing to over 36,000 displaced residents who lived there.

Meanwhile, those who have returned face another obstacle: faulty propane gas detectors in their FEMA trailers. At least four people have been severely burned, and one of those has died.

FEMA, you're doing a heck of a job.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

We're Takin' Our Marbles and Goin' Home to Ma!

BayouBuzz reports on FEMA's decision to cut and run - less than a month before the next hurricane season begins. I am posting the article by Jeff Crouere in its entirety. This Could Happen to You! And most likely will at some point, I'm sorry to say.
Yesterday’s report that FEMA is closing its long range planning office in New Orleans should not come as a surprise to anyone. FEMA neglected New Orleans before, during and after the storm. As the city continues to struggle post-Katrina, the agency that can provide the most assistance is leaving. FEMA is charged with helping New Orleans prepare a recovery blueprint to rebuild neighborhoods, schools and homes. Incredibly, in the midst of the most massive recovery undertaking in the history of this country, FEMA is abandoning a city that remains flat on its back.

Katrina knocked out most of the businesses, schools, hospitals and infrastructure in New Orleans. Eight months later, less than half of the population has returned, only a few schools and hospitals have opened and many New Orleans landmarks, such as famous restaurants and even the world renowned St. Charles Streetcar line are still not in operation. The floodwaters that sat in many sections of New Orleans for so long did incredible damage.

1,300 people died because the Army Corps of Engineers, a federal government agency, failed to build adequate levees around New Orleans. The levee problem was compounded by the poor response from FEMA. The vital aid that thousands of people needed was so delayed and inadequate that many people died unnecessarily. Walmart and other private groups and businesses were much more effective in getting assistance to people who needed help in New Orleans. Of course FEMA was overwhelmed, but so was everyone else. The fact that FEMA was besieged was no excuse for tardy and ineffective assistance for the stranded people of New Orleans.

Eight months later, the people of New Orleans are still stranded. FEMA provided the city with little help in the immediate aftermath of the storm, so it should be going overboard today to make up for the previous problems. Instead it is leaving its most crucial post and abandoning its most important mission, a decision that is not only unconscionable, it is immoral.

According to Aaron Walker of FEMA, “We can only do so much and then we look to the city to embrace and begin planning and managing. We have reached that point where the city needs to take that step forward. And once they begin planning, we can re-engage with them."

FEMA is demanding that a broke city facing potential bankruptcy, which had to fire 3,000 employees in a cost cutting move, take over the planning process. Today, city government is a shell of its former self, with limited personnel and even more limited resources. Obviously, the Nagin administration should have done more to assist FEMA and work with them in the planning process. The problems with local government are too numerous to outline at this point. Nevertheless, FEMA should not abandon its post and relinquish its duty because of any problems on the local level. The agency needs to complete the assignment however long it takes.

Since Katrina, FEMA has often changed personnel in New Orleans and each time a new planning team came to town, the promises would change.. According to city officials, a former FEMA Director made a verbal commitment to fund the planning process. Unfortunately that Director is now long gone and so is the commitment.

New Orleans, a unique and historic jewel in this homogenized country, should not be forgotten. The fact that FEMA is walking away from the most important mission in the agency’s history is reason enough for Congress to vote to eliminate the agency. At this point, FEMA does not deserve to exist any longer. In its place a new, independent agency should be formed immediately with direct access to the White House and staffed by caring, competent professionals. The City of New Orleans and the country has seen the dysfunctional incompetence and criminal neglect from FEMA for far too long.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Tell Me I Didn't Really See This!

Philips Bodygroom is a new product on the market. At least, it's new to me. I still prefer the old-fashioned way, with lather and a safety razor wielded by a friendly, discreet "barber."
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