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Blessed Relief September 28, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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It is Odd that all the trees are so green, that some are now flowering just when the heat of summer breaks, when we throw open the doors of our converted shotgun and let the cool of autumn blow over us. I have lived where there is a true Fall, where a first freeze browns the garden suddenly and routs the mosquito’s, and the trees respond in kind, turning a crisp red and gold, rustling dryly in the wind like the leaves of a cheerleader’s pom-pom.

We do not live here on Toulouse Street for the weather any more than we lived in Fargo, North Dakota for the fine winters. When my wife and I first discussed leaving the East Coast and I argued for New Orleans, I pointed out that summers in New Orleans were just like those in Washington, D.C.: there was just more of it. That did not turn out to be a winning argument. Here on the Gulf Coast we swelter from March until October, air so thick you don’t breath so much as bathe in it, so fraught with water you’re not sure if you are dripping with sweat or the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico. For relief we have hurricanes, an excuse to flee north and inland to a place where nights in August can be, at least to us, refreshingly cool.

I have to admit that after 20 years split between the middle East Coast and the Midwest I do miss a real Fall with all the trimmings .While only the cypress trees promise a taste of the Fall color my wife misses desperately, there are other signs about us. Here at the back of town end of Toulouse we once again hear the bands and the crowds from the high school games at Tad Gormley Stadium. The serious neighborhood gardeners are as busy as the fairy tale ants, getting their planting beds ready for a change of seasons. The vegetable man in his brightly painted pickup truck changes his list if not his basic sing-song patter. He still announces “I got tomatoes, ripe red tomatoes” but lately I hear he “got potatoes, fresh red potatoes.” I’m often stuck on the phone when he passes on the days I work at home, but the first time I hear “I got squash and pumpkins” I may have to plead technical difficulties and flag him down.

One thing I think I will miss this year is the mysterious appearance of candy corn and (better yet) the little candied pumpkins and all their like. I understand that “we” are going on a diet, so I suspect that the magical appearance of a dish of fall candy that no one will admit to filling would not be met with exactly the same seasonal joy. I will have to wait for Halloween before I can get my metabolism into training for the holidays.

Fall on Toulouse Street is superficially not terribly different from other places I have lived with the stark exception of the turning of the leaves. The same sort of chores call inside and out, and must be scheduled around Notre Dame and the Saints. My wife starts to dig through the closets (too soon, I tell her, much too soon) looking for summer things to put away. She is possessed of a gene prominent among Midwesterners but recessive to the point of the vestigial down here, the one that calls them to fill the cellar with apples and the shed with firewood.

Here on Toulouse Street we do not take the sudden coolness as a call to arms, to the frantic preparations for the long and hard siege of winter. My spigots will not freeze if the hoses are left on. There is no seasonal retirement for the lawn mower or snowblower to get ready. I do not need to beat the first snow that will leave a yard full of leaves sodden with no prospect of enough warm sun to dry them out again. I have no apple tree from which to pick a dozen or more bushels and then figure out what the hell to do with a bathtub full of cooking apples.

That first cool morning is for us not an alarm but something more like the breaking of a fever, a sudden relief from the languid suffering we have just come through. It is not the signal for a frenzy of activity but rather a moment to move out of the sweat spot in the sheets and shuffle off to a comfortable chair, to slowly let go of the delirium of southern summer, to take it easy a few more days until we get our legs back under us.

Blessed Relief indeed.

Hail to the Queen September 27, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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R.I.P. Colleen Cole Salley

colleen.jpg
Queen Colleen

Up in in Possum Heaven, Everette Maddox will have good company. Drink will be taken and stories will be told as only Colleen can, and the lambs at Jesus’ feet will be jealous not to be there.

Zardoz September 26, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, odd, oddities, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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Aiiiyyeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!!

Out In The Woods September 19, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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I spent the last few days in Denham Springs, Louisiana on a work assignment from hell. I’m not sure which is the best part of this drive: the early morning, empty-stomached crossing of the vast, stinking marsh around Manchac where the late storms have stirred up decades worth of decay, releasing a vast miasma of swamp gas, or the special drive back in the dark through that same stink while the orange glare of the satanic gas flares of the refineries play on the low clouds. Arrival in Denham is not the high point of the adventure.

I haven’t had any music in the car since I cleaned it out to leave it behind for Gustav, so I grabbed some CDs for the long drive from New Orleans. For some reason, I lingered over David Allen Coe. I figured short of putting a stars-and-bars decal covering my back window, it is certainly something that would get appreciative nods in that red neck of the woods were I caught with the windows down and sunroof back. Instead I grabbed another Son of the South, Leon Russell, and he’s been keeping me sane as I contemplate the apocalyptic light show on my high speed cruise through the reek of a thousand abandoned port-o-lets.

The final lyrics to this song are Zulu. Leon tells the story on the triple Leon Live album of asking an African friend for some lyrics that mean “I’m lost in the woods.” He was told that Zulus do not get lost in the wood, but was offered instead the lyrics we hear which mean approximately a man has gone mad and is running through the woods. If I spend much more time in Denham, I may just get off at Manchac, and see if I can trade the car for a pirogue and vanish forever into the foetid bayous. If this blog blinks out after this post and you find yourself on I-55 crossing Manchac, slow down and keep an ear peeled and a sharp eye. You might catch a flicker in the dark that is probably just marsh lights but could be a campfire. Slow down and listen faintly for the beating of a mad tom-tom. You might even hear these very words.

Unlike most static picture audio posts on YouTube I love this one for the odd portrait of Leon. If I win the lottery, I think I’m going to commission George Rodrigue to paint a portrait of Leon Russell posed out beneath Rodrigue’s magnificant trees. There will be no visible blue dogs, but perhaps a pair of that cartoon beasts own vacant zombie eyes peering out of Rodrigue’s dark woods.

Possum Heaven September 17, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Colleen Salley has passed away.

Tonight in possum heaven Everette Maddox will have good company. Drink will be taken and stories will be told as only Colleen can, and the lambs at Jesus’ feet will be jealous not to be there.

Geaux Tiger September 16, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, New Orleans, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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No, not the football team. I haven’t changed my anti-LSU status yet; not if I wish to remain happily married to a woman whose team was thrashed by LSU in the Sugar Bowl after the assembled drunken mob to the last man, woman and child booed a priest (the President of Notre Dame), then booed the band so loud we couldn’t here them. For three straight songs. Nice way to treat people who plopped down big bucks to see their (out of state) team play in the Sugar Bowl. I’m sure all those out-of-staters will be back next time. Be sure to tell them to ask for the “Tiger” rate.

No, I mean this tiger.

Lest we be accused of being too serious around here (and looking too hard at the Houston Chronicle web site is a sobering activity to put it mildly), we’re happy to see that even among the desperate devestation of coastal Texas we still find stories as Odd as this one.

You Took This From Us September 15, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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“These are not rich people who decided to build down there. The sea came to them.” Or as a resident on Bayou Point au Chien said as a complaint to the rest of America, “You took this from us.”

Read the rest of Schroeder excellent summary of the plight of the United Houma Nation. And please help support their recovery.

The streets are too quiet September 14, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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An old story now, but powerful and worth remembering about poet and pre-medical student Trenise Robinson When this story was published in the Washington Post in two years ago August, she and her mother were living in Baton Rouge.

Selected to attend the Hurston/Wright Writers’ Week, a prestigious summer workshop in Washington, D.C. named after the African American writers Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright, the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival folks picked up part of the tab. While there she wrote and presented this poem (a title is not given):

The streets are too quiet, no longer flashing hypnotic lights
And beckoning with its rum-soaked, flirtatious breath.
Even the horns of men who made cocktails out of rhythm
And drugs now lay rusted on my doorstep,
Their notes a mere gargle.

I sent the person I think is the author a message to her Facebook and asked her to email me and let me know where she landed, but I never got a response.

If the streets are too quiet, perhaps it is because young writers like her remain displaced.

Flood September 13, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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I am not a musician. Instead, I write a bit: sketch a simple picture, perhaps tell a bit of a story, offer and defend my opinion. Nothing fancy here. If you want art, try the library or the museum. Sometimes the words don’t come. Staring at this glowing panel, songs sometimes come into my head. It is the curse of the post-industrial brain. We expect life to have a soundtrack, conditioned by a lifetime fof ilm and television. Life as Disneyworld via Rogers and Hammerstein: this thought, that song. Fifty years of programming and I am Ipod man.

Sometimes the songs are comforting, other times exciting, or even disturbing. Which ever sort it is, when the brain grows foggy from work or drink or exhaustion nothing can rejuvenate it like music. You read some words, or see an image and, suddenly, it is like some stage piece with a pianist in the corner as chorus. The protagonist wanders off to the edge of the stage, and the spotlight fills on a baby grand. The audience is rapt, waiting for the first note, for the omniscient word.

When I post these videos I often say it is the resort of the lazy blogger. Oh, look what I found on You Tube. Aren’t I clever? Sometimes that is true, the Internet as the modern version of solitaire and the clever find a wining hand. Other times, I go looking for something I can’t find inside my own head, or rather I search inside my head for what I think is there and I find instead this echo of something I heard a long time ago. It takes my breath away, and I have no words.

[Cue music]


Robert Fripp and Peter Gabriel

Certain Death September 12, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Residents of Galveston Island on the beach Friday morning.

Early morning local weather bulletins from Cameron Parish and coastal Texas included an ominous statement eminiscent of the dire warnings that preceeded Katrina. The National Weather Service’s telepgrahic, ALL CAPS messages early this morning warned people who do not evacuate they “MAY FACE CERTAIN DEATH”. While slightly qualified by the use of may and certain in the same sentence, I think the message is clear for the 20,000 people the local sheriff said this morning remained behind in Galveston County’s mandatory evacuation zone.

I know I should be thinking first of those people who may in fact face certain death, even the fools above and the one in the bear suit dancing on the beach seen on Houston television earlier today. Still, I can’t help but think of the Katrina survivors I am certain are glued to their television, and who will watch this unfold on 7 by 24 coverage on the cable news networks. I watched Hurricane Katrina unfold from almost 1,200 miles away as an expat living in Fargo, N.D. I can only just barely imagine how the people of stayed for Katrina will react to see this tragedy unfold as it very well may. I worry it will be more than some of them can bear.

All of the people of New Orleans are watching and praying for the best for the people in the path of Ike. Tens of thousands of Orlenians (and people all over the Hurricane Coast from Cameron to the Mississippi Coast) who suffered through Katrina and its immediate aftermath understand your plight better than any reporter from the Weather Channel or CNN will ever know.

Galveston September 10, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Every passing forecast is sending Hurricane Ike further north past Matagorda Bay toward Galveston, with the hurricane watch extended as far east as Cameron Parish, La.

Sadly, I’ve read that the mayor of Galveston has not called for a mandatory evacuation because she doesn’t want people to go through another Rita. (Next time you want to criticize New Orleans evacuation, particularly in Katrina, remember over 100 people died from the attempted and failed evacuation of the Houston/Galveston area. Way to go).

This is insane. Galveston is behind a 17 foot seawall. Here is a map of a Category 4 storm surge with Galveston in the cross hairs (that is, the close in north east quadrant). Eighteen feet of water minus a 17 foot floodwall equals a alarming inability in this official’s ability to do simple arithmetic. Perhaps we should send Nagin over to show her how panicking a population into evacuating is done.

I never liked “country” music when I was a kid, and never watched the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. I once attended a tiny music festival in New York Mills, a small town in northwest Minnesota with big cultural ambitions. A friend was terribly excited to see some guy in a top hat who was routinely on the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour. I had no idea who he was. I was there to see Jouma Kaukonen (formerly of the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna), who hailed from a nearby town and so was roped into the festival. Both of these celebrities played for an audience that might have been 200 people. We had an amazing time sitting literally at the feet of our childhood idols.

While I don’t believe I ever watched an episode of the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour I have to admit I have a soft spot for his songs. If you scrape off the gloopy Nashville Strings overlays they always used on his recordings, they were good folksy pop that told a story, and I’m a sucker for guys who tell stories. This one is not really about Galveston as much as it is about some sad, lonely kid in Vietnam dreaming of home. The pink tint on this vid is Odd (but then, we like odd) and it’s the best of the lot I could find It’s the original music video (although I don’t think they called them that back then), instead of the Fat Elvis version of Mr. Campbell probably coming to a casino near you soon.

Galveston, we’re pulling for you. Here’s the one lesson we have for you from Katrina, Rita and Gustav. Your leaders are idiots (like ours). Following your instincts is the only way to be safe. Time for a nice evacation to Austin, don’t you think?

The Emergency Is Broken September 9, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in cryptic envelopment, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street.
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So Monday night I took my son out to far Metairie around Transcontinental for his saxophone lesson, and tried to run some errands. At that time of day, I usually find I can get down Veterans Boulevard faster than I can down Interstate-10 running in parallel a half-mile over, so my drive takes me through the shopping strip the long way. As I crossed over into Metairie I thought it was odd that the grocery store Dorignac’s had an empty parking lot. At first I thought perhaps everyone had loaded up on groceries to heavily this weekend that business was just slow. I didn’t think about it again until after I dropped off my son.

I pull into the parking lot of Clearview Shopping Center and notice that Target’s parking lot is mostly empty. That’s Odd, I think, then wonder again if there was such a frenzy of restocking after the Hurricane Gustav evacuation (not to mention the post-evac malaise that seems to be troubling everyone) was keeping the shoppers at home. Score for me, I thought. I should finish in plenty of time. So I trundle up to the door. Locked. It’s closed, a woman sitting on the bench by the door tells me. When I ask why, she shrugs and looks away. OK, then.

So I start off towards K-Mart thinking, this is weird. Why would they be closed on a Monday night at 7 pm? One thing I needed were filters for the central air, so I suddenly realize I can drop into Lowe’s and get those. So I execute a perfect New Orleans center lane turn into the parking lot to notice it is eerily empty as well. Then I see that two Lowe’s semis are pulled across the front door, right in the fire lane. As I pull up toward the door, someone inside is waving off another shopper. Closed.

So, I’m about ready to give up until I remember seeing the Right-Aid by Transcontinental all lit up, so I head there. Closed. Zuppardos has people in the parking lot, so I make the quick reverse course u-turn on Vets to get there (a 1/4 mile of suburban driving to cover maybe 75 feet as the crow flies), then decide to check the Rouses just up the street instead. It is open, and even appears to have some frozen food (which was completely absent on Saturday at my Mid-City Rouse’s). Odd. I never asked the clerks why they were open. I figure they had no more clue than I did.

Years ago one of my treasured 1984 Worlds Fair souvenirs was little glass tube containing a sketchy looking cigarette with an Asian imprint on it and a strike anywhere match. A friend picked a handful of these up at the close-out/discount store after the Fair was over. The tube was labeled “The Emergency Is Broken”. I think I know what they meant. When my son was a wee thing, I bought him a cheap Space Shuttle toy of the sort that rolls around and bounces off walls, then takes off taxiing in another direction. Among it’s other Realistic Space Sounds it would announce “Three, Two, One, Blastdown!”.

I think this is called Japenglish, but I don’t want to slight anyone’s native tongue or town. I seriously doubt either of these things were “Made in Japan” like the cheap swords and Confederate skirmish caps we would buy in City Park when I was a little kid. And I kind of enjoy these errors in transliteration. At my last job we used to amuse ourselves by taking Business Requirements Documents written by our customers, running them through the Babel Fish translation from English-to-Dutch, then back again, to see if we could improve the clarity of those sad documents. Sadly, there were times when we could. Internet and instant messaging access are dangerous in a two-hour tele-meeting.

I asked the guys outside Lowe’s, the one who walked up to the door and talked to the clerk if there was still some sort of curfew in Jefferson Parish that I missed hearing about, but he said, “No, but we might as well be.” It seems that out in the land of the big box stores, the emergency is truly broken. Someone needs to tell me when it’s safe to go shopping again.

Help Haiti September 7, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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UPDATE: This post about the 2008 hurricane is getting a lot of hits after the earthquake of January 2010. I encourage you to visit this new Help Haiti post where I will add additional information on how to help Haiti.


Gonaives, Haiti after Hurricane Hanna

While we on the Hurricane Coast have suffered, imagine life in hurricane ravaged Haiti. For all of the ridiculous failures of the central government to aid the people of coastal Louisiana, our resources are enormous compared to those of either the people or government of Haiti.

Even as we reach out to help our own poorest, including the people of the United Houma Nation, please dont’ forget Haiti.

Please help the Houma September 7, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Karen Gadbois of Squandered Heritage and Matri of Matri’s VatulBlog traveled to see first hand the devestation of one of Louisiana’s most vulnerable communities, the native people of the United Houma Nation.

Please see Karen’s and Matri’s blog posts, and do what you can to help.

Red Weather September 7, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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“Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches Tigers
In red weather.”
–Disillusionment of 10 O’Clock
By Wallace Stevens

The houses are not haunted, as the opening of Steven’s poem says. Our’s is not the haunting of an ancient house or a lonely crossroads. The haunting is not out there somewhere in the dark. It is somewhere in here, in the dark, inside of us.

In August and September of 2005, something died deep inside of everyone who lived in or cared about New Orleans. It was an uneasy passing, like the troubled death of a suicide or a tragic young death. Some call this Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but it is not. There is no “post”, no after. We watch the pictures from Terrebonne and Lafourche Parish. We hear the stories of people abandoned, of promised aid gone awry. We see the houses collapsed or washed by the flood and we remember. The ghosts we keep trying to put away wake up and grab us by the heart.

I heard those ghosts, a low sound like a tone of voice, when the evacuees spoke of their grueling journey to safety, when they called this “their last hurricane”. I hear it in the voices of my friends in the NOLA Blogger community and my older cohort of Orleanians, the people I grew up with who sat out Betsy and sweated Camille. The rest of the country has moved on once the dramatic pictures of the floodwalls overwashed were replaced by something new. New Orleans, America thinks, has once again dodged the bullet: the city did not flood.

The floodwalls of concrete and steel held, but others did not. The chaos of evacuation, our leaders panicking on TV the night before many left; the pictures of water driven to the very top of the walls while ships and barges tore loose again in the canal; and now the chaos of the return, the stories from the towns at the end of the roads along the coast, the relief supplies promised but never delivered: all of this has breached through the scar tissue, the slow rebuilding we have all gone through deep inside. Down there, where the ghosts live, we are awash.

Homecoming should be a relief but it is not. There is too much residual anger at the politicians (we can’t call them leaders) in City Hall, in Baton Rouge and in Washington for their continuing ineptitude. There is too much damage to the east and south, and we must watch our neighbors painful re-enactment of the old story daily, perhaps for the months it will take just to restore them to some semblance of normal life. And now the weather forecasters tell us another storm is pointed at New Orleans.

We cannot know precisely what the poet meant by “red weather”. It is a perfect example of poetic language, something perfectly appropriate to the sound or stanza and to the image, and yet it is not like common language. That phrase is not a brick in the construction of a mundane paragraph. Instead those words are a door into the poem: we must find ourselves what precisely is meant by red weather to gain entry into the poetic moment.

The old saying goes both ways: red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor’s take warning. Because the sailor “Catches Tigers in red weather”, I have always taken it to stand for both danger and excitement. Now that I live beneath the red and black hurricane flags, this poem and the phrase “red weather” comes back to me. I thought of it sitting on my porch in the calm of the evening, contemplating another storm, another evacuation. And for me, at least, it became clear.

Here on the hurricane coast, when the storms stir up the ghosts of the flood, we live in red weather.

Federal Evasion Management Agency September 6, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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So, I’m listening to some FEMA spokescritter on WWL-AM try to explain the “transitional assistance” program to house people whose homes are still uninhabitable. Someone finally nailed him on FEMA’s promise earlier in the week to help pay for evacuees hotels.

The mouthpiece tried to make it sound like a regional press flack mispokes hisself to the Associated Press.

Bullshit.

Secretary Micheal Chertoff announced on CNN in primetime while 2 million people from southeast Louisiana were glued to their TVs and promised assistance with evacuation hotel costs. Period. it happened. I saw it. FEMA cannot lie it away. And the hosts at WWL are apparently too timid to corner them and nail them on this.

The lessons we relearn here are the one’s we already know. FEMA are liars. FEMA cannot be relied upon for assistance. We are on our own.

But, frankly, we already knew that.

So, just to update FEMA and C. Ray “mother of all…900 mile wild storms” Nagin, we have got the message.

Don’t leave next time. If I can get my 87-year old mother on a direct flight to Kansas City and my sisters, trust me: we won’t.

Rollin’ on the River? September 6, 2008

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Aw, Hell: I for one am not ready for this. How about you? All I know is I’m not unpacking the precious papers tub yet.

Highway To Hell: No Exit September 3, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Ok, I-59 during the evacuation was not precisely the Highway of Death. Still, many Louisianians were trapped in a miles-long parking lot with no way to exit: not exactly a healthy environment. If no elderly or infirm person died it was mostly a matter of luck. (Note: I went up I-55, the Highway of Shoot Me Now, Its Another Slowdown, but not quite the Highway of Death). So don’t take my word for it: read Loki’s account.

That is Odd, that exits were closed in the most congested areas, and people were not allowed to get off.

Planning my return to Toulouse Street this afternoon, I noticed this:

Lincoln, Pike County – I-55 S at the city of McComb
Last Updated on 9/3/2008 3:00:02 PM
Lanes Affected: Southbound All Lanes
Approximate Duration: 4 hours
Cause: Heavy Congestion
Additional Info: Exits in McComb will be closed intermittently due to high volumes of traffic.

So, when a Federal highway in Mississippi gets really congested the Mississippi State authorities respond by closing the exits so you can’t get off and find an alternate route. I think someone in Mississippi has some explaining to do. Are they afraid that “those people” might get off into back roads where they can’t be controlled? (This is not an exclusive problem to Mississippi. A spokesman for St. Tammany Parish all but insisted on WWL that people who arrived before the blockades were lifted without enough money or gas to go back be moved to the south shore to wait)

Also worth some investigation is Mississippi’s decision to block Louisiana residents access to I-10 East–an interstate, Federal highway–so that the people of the Gulf Coast might evacuate in the direction of the storm unimpeded. Forget Mississippi’s excuse about the Mobile Tunnel. Anyone who’s been to Destin knows that a huge mess on an average Saturday afternoon but there is an alternate route north for people approaching from the west. All they had to do is send the evac traffic up I-65.

What is happening is this: Haley Barbour and the Mississippi authorities are willing to commandeer interstate Federal highways for their own benefit. If those are the “rules” we’re going to play under, I think at the next tropical storm watch the Louisiana National Guard needs to wire the Pearl River bridges and be ready to blow them to make sure we get out first this time.*

*Note for Homeland Security Types: since the DHS probably doesn’t have the sort of high standards of education once required of the FBI, I should probably explain this particular paragraph is a figure of speech known as hyperbole, which I suspect is not on the extrance exam for DHS, and may not be taught in Mississippi public schools.** Hyperbole is an intentional exageration, and in no way indicates that I would approve of this action on undertake it myself. I would, however, unhesitantly take advantage of it were it to occur.

** Yes, that was an insult.

I’m With James O’Byrne September 3, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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James O’Byrne posted a signed editorial on the NOLA.COM/Times-Picayune website that has since been taking down. In it he states what many in New Orleans are feeling: that the ball of confusion of re-entry gives us one clear message.

Next time, don’t leave.

The editorial has been taken down by the Picayune, but Gambit Weekly’s Blog of New Orleans has an excerpt.

I’m with Byrne. I cannot imagine leaving under the current city, state or federal administration. They have demonstrated a level of incompetence that forces us to stand on our own.

Here’s the excerpt of Byrne’s signed editorial. Someone at the Picayune certainly wishes it would go away, but that person is apparently unfamiliar with how the Internet and blogging work.

News flash: We know it’s dangerous to live here. We accept the possibility of no gas, no power, no readily available food. We’re Katrina survivors. We’ll figure it out.

But if the enduring image of Gustav is a U.S. soldier with an M-16 denying a citizen the right to return to his home, then you can pretty much write off the next “mandatory” evacuation. Leaving your home in advance of a storm is an extraordinarily stressful, difficult, traumatic and expensive proposition. The one thing that must be honored is that people must be allowed to return to their homes as soon as humanly possible.

As a journalist, I spent the past two days driving around reporting on the storm. And by Tuesday afternoon, this city was as safe as it needed to be. Indeed, all those tree branches and debris would be picked up and stacked neatly on the curb by lunchtime on Wednesday if people had been allowed to come home.

I fully appreciate the risks of letting my family stay. But I have to weigh that risk against the alternate risks, of getting trapped in an endless evacuation traffic jam, of being stranded on a highway far from help, of not being able to return in a timely manner, to secure our property and come back to as much of a normal life as possible.

New Orleans is my home. I love it, and I choose to keep living here. But if you are a public official who wants me to leave for the next storm, then you have to hear what I am telling you. It’s time to rewrite the contract.

Update: You can read an image of the full editorial here.

Editor’s Note: Any copyrighted material presented here is done so for the purposes of news reporting and comment consistent with USC 17 Chapter 1 Title 107.

New Orleans Forever September 2, 2008

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Flotsam and Jetsam No. 2 September 2, 2008

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Best on-line source for status of SE Louisiana is http://www.wwl.com, the WWL-AM web site. There are lists of closings (parish re-entry, schools) and a link to the Louisiana State Police web site for road closings. That site shows I-10 closed to east-bound at US 51 in St. John the Baptist Parish, the I-10 Twin Spans closed as Slidell, and US 61 Closed as well. There was no mention of a closure of the Causeway, however.

The WWL-AM site reports Orleans is closed Tuesday and Wednesday (but WWL-TV and NOLA.Com reports that holders of Tier 1 certificates for reentry can get in today.

The blogger embeds are out checking areas of town. Mid-City’s own Michael Homan has power on the riverside of Carrollton, but those of us who are on the grid that powers Old Metairie, Lakeview, etc. are still out.

If we all think the peak days of the evacuation was a cluster, wait until 2 million people all try to go home on the same day. I’ve been told to expect bumper-to-bumper from Jackson, MS south. Looking at my Mississippi map for alternate routes.

Yesterday I was interviewed by ABCNews.COM Sci and Technology desk on Twitter and blogging in the storm. Gave credit to Maitri who called it months ago: Twitter would be a great tool in an evac. I returned the call from the ticket lobby of Graceland, surrounded by Louisianians making the best of a bad day, with Heartbreak Hotel pipped in: a very surreal moment. Talked up Rising Tide and NOLA Bloggers leadership of leveraging technology around emergencies. Sadly, they didn’t do a story that I saw.

Bec, Morwen, Karen, Pistolette, Michael Homan and GulfSails are still in New Orleans and those who can are updating their blogs. Others are using voice and data phone (SMS and Twitter) to send out info and stay in touch.

Flotsam and Jetsam September 1, 2008

Posted by Mark Folse in Toulouse Street.
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Here some bits of information coming back from the blogger embeds and others:

From Michael Homan in an email to our Mid-City Neighborhood Association mailing list: I walked S. Alexander to Banks Street and to Canal Street a short time ago. There are no powerlines down, no poles down, no cable/phone lines down, no roof tiles, just small oak branches. Winds have died down considerably. Very little rain. It looks very promising.

Pistolette has also kept internet Uptown, and offers a series of updates from the storm on her blog.

NOLASlate and Karen of Squandered Heritage are also embeds in the city, but both are offline. Karen has a working landlind at her friend’s house in the Riverbend section where Carrollton Meets St. Charles and called midday. Her assessment through midday would match up with Michael’s from Mid-City.

No updates from Morwen of Gentilly Girl and and Betz, but they built themselves a storm proof, elevetated bunker. They’re likely offline but they were the ones I was the least worried about, unless they came to blows over the remote.

Greg Peters of Suspect Device offers bulletins and an audio log (Stardate: 62134.8) and more from the capital of the Acadian Autonomous Region (aka Lafayette).

So far the city proper (the east bank) is fine. The West Bank, including the Algiers section of New Orleans and West Jefferson Parish are Ok after a drive through by the Times-Picayune. East Plaquemines, as I suggested last night, has water but so far it is only chest-high water. The forecast for their six-to-eight foot levees was an 18′ storm surge. The flooding at Braithwaite is to far south and east to threaten the city proper. Its too soon to tell if it could bleed up into St. Bernard Parish.

Entergy reports 101,000 customers out in their New Orleans service area, and a timeline of several days post storm just to estimate how long it will take to resume power. Now the almost 2 million people who evacuated begin to figure out how (and when) to get back home.

Follow the NOLA Bloggers on Twitter for real-time updates from the ground and the diaspora.

In spite of the dramatic splashing of water at the top of the floodwalls in the Industrial Canal, New Orleans has in fact escaped.

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