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Balance March 11, 2009

Posted by The Typist in 504, Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, New Orleans, NOLA.
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As part of our continuing campaign to keep this from turning into the Grandpa Elliot blog (wow but that guy can drive some traffic in), here’s another bit a lazy snipping from Pistolette. The same subject has been on my mind. There’s so much I could say about conditions in this city, but then others–E, Schroeder, Oyster,that Yellow Blog guy–who dedicate themselves to citizen journalism do such a fine job I’d just be an echo.

Anyway, Pistolette sums up my feelings on why I write about what I do write about here on Toulouse Street (and why I don’t write about the sort of things that used to fill up Wet Bank Guide long ago).

I don’t want to discuss politics or social issues here anymore. There is something disharmonious about having a whimsical cooking post backed up to a long rant about the mayor or city council. It just doesn’t feel right to me. So Pistolette will stick to personal and lifestyle posts. As I’ve mentioned many times, part of staying happy and sane in a place like Nola requires you to simultaneously face and tackle the destruction and corruption around you while remembering why you’re doing it – the good things – that familiar home culture of people, food, history, imagery, fests, family, architecture – a cocktail of physical and emotional beauty not found anywhere else. Too much of the good stuff and you’re in denial, too much of the bad stuff and you’re wallowing. You need to keep that balance going, and it’s not always easy. Yet another mental fee to pay if you want the privilege, not the right, to live here.

I promise to return from lazy cut-and-post behavior once I’ve finished my submission for the Finn McCool’s St. Patrick’s Day writing contest. I also plan to start writing about public affairs in the greater city and not just the insular world of Toulouse Street on the HumidCity.com platform, at least when the issue seems to call for comment and no one else on the HC team is stepping up.

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Legalized Vandalism and Vigilantism in New Orleans January 21, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Debrisville, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Recovery, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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10 comments

What a mean spirited little golum is this Fred Radtke? A vigilante who dashes gray paint over public and private property wherever he spots graffiti or advertising posters, who is allowed to roam the streets with impunity and deface public and private property at whim, sometimes covering public safety signs (stop signs, for example) in his demented quest to cover all of the city’s graffiti.

An interesting turn of urban life is all it was, until Radtke took off after folk artist Michael Dingler and his NOLA Rising project. Today’s Citibusiness weekly reports that Radtke initiated a complaint and resulted in Dingler be charged with 1,100 counts of unlawfully posting signs on telephone poles that could cost him more than $50,000 in fines.

Dingler explains his act of civic art making on the NOLA Rising blog in a June 2007 posting. This is a public art installation, not criminal activity. Sadly, the N.O.P.D. seems to agree with Radtke, who’s own clearl acts of vandalism of public and private property they condone and even encourage.

The New Orleans Police Department, however, condones Radtke’s actions. NOPD often calls him directly to cover graffiti and spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse said they have no intention of charging Radtke with any crimes.

Here’s an interesting response from street artist unknownparts which found on Flickr.

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I can’t believe that the city has given tens of thousands of dollars to some mean-spirited freak so he can spread his own form of ugly paint-based vandalism all over public and private property at his own whim. I have no problem with the city removing or covering obvious gang tags. However, by going after street artists like the NOLA Rising group or even unknownparts and his sort–artists who appropriate public space for what is arguably art–Radtke is no different than the tagger thugs.

This is insane. I just fired of a letter to my City Council Person Shelly Midura demanding Radtke be required to return the tens of thousands of city tax dollars he’s been given, that all charges against Dingler be dropped, and that the N.O.P.D officers who colluded in Radtke’s vendetta against Dingler should be required to apologize, if not in fact be fired for their collusion in Radkte’s own campaign of vandalism.

What NOLA Rising has done is a tremendous work of civic betterment, one tiny poster at a time, contributed to by tens if not hundreds of people. It is a bright spot in the gray landscape of our continuing disaster, a landscape not improved one bit by Radtke’s own gray tags. It is not Dingler that should be stopped and punished but Radtke, and everyone in city government–in City Hall or the N.O.P.D–who has supported him

Flowers for Vera November 1, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Corps of Engineers, Flood, Garden District, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Uptown, We Are Not OK.
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vera1.jpg

Above is the memorial to Vera Smith, who died at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Magazine Street on Tuesday, Aug. 31 2005, the victim of a hit-and-run driver during the frantic evacuation of New Orleans after the Flood. Her body lay on the street for days until neighbors built a rough tomb for her from found bricks and buried here (see photo below). If you happen to stop by soon and the mums are still there, please water them.

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All Fall Down September 24, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Katrina, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA.
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All Fall Down
After posting photo of another house about to collapse on Wet Bank Guide, neighbors called another house near collapse to my attention. While my own neighborhood is well on its way back, the Mid-City area’s condition is less recovered the further we get from City Park or the major boulevards. This house is at the corner of D’Hemecourt and Hennessey behind the Rock and Bowl.

The 100 Ways September 14, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Katrina, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, Uncategorized, We Are Not OK.
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Last Haul September 5, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Corps of Engineers, flooding, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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A sign as flimsy as the Corps’ levees August 16, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Corps of Engineers, flooding, New Orleans, NOLA, Uncategorized.
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Sign at Corps of Engineers 17th Street Canal Site
Courtesy of
Habitat for Urbanity I posted about this at Wet Bank Guide already, but not the actual photo. I’m dumbstruck.

The ex-pats make the LA Times August 9, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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The story that my wife and I (and Ray and Ashley and David) have all been waiting for has finally made the LAT:

Sense of Duty Lures ‘Expats’ Back Home to New Orleans

By Ann M. Simmons, Times Staff Writer
August 9, 2006

NEW ORLEANS — When Mark Folse told his mother-in-law he had decided to move his family here shortly after Hurricane Katrina hit, she handed him a magazine article about New Orleans’ gang problem.

“The understated text was, ‘This is where you’re taking my grandchildren?’ ” said Folse, 49, a New Orleans native then living in Fargo, N.D. …

“The more people who come back, who value the city for what it was and what it is, the more difficult it will be for them to wrest it from us,” Folse said.

Watching the catastrophe of Katrina unfold last August, “I felt an overwhelming need to come here and plant my flag and buy a house, and try and save New Orleans,” said Folse, who tests computer software for a national bank that lets him telecommute. “Admittedly it sounds grandiose and self-serving. But I felt I had to come here and be part of it.”

There rest is here

http://wetbankguide.blogspot.com/2006/08/have-beret-will-travel.html

New Orleans forever July 29, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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nola_forever_sm.jpg

I pass this truck almost every day on Bienville. It’s basically somebody’s dumpster. (The kids toys on the ground in this picture are now in the bed of the truck). But every debris piile that moves or grows is someone else making themselves a new home in New Orleans

Next year’s model July 20, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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How did I manage to elect myself the model of anything? Today, an LA Times photographer came by to snap my family and I for a story on returning ex-pats, and next week I will have coffee with an NPR reporter on the same subject. Fellow blogger Schroeder has asked me to read a post for broadcast on WTUL’s Community Gumbo radio show.

While I have publicly chronicled aspects of my return through the past year, I hardly expected to make a national stir. I appreciate it when people take interesting in what I write, as my readership slowly grows and prominent bloggers link back to my posts, when I found myself listed on the Radio France Katrina page–the only blogger–between the links to the BBC and FEMA.

Today I found a link into the Wet Bank Guide from the TPM cafe, where I was once again quoted by Boyd Blondell of After the Levees .  Boyd seems to fancy my angry, ranting side, the same approach that got me some notice from Will Pitt of Truthout back in January.  I’ll have to ask the photog if he can get a shot of my angry side. Then I can post it up in the gutter of the Wet Bank Guide; perhaps I should also have a wistful, thoughtful shot to chose from, a sort of avatar of the mood of today’s post.

The angry posts are the easiest to write and the hardest to publish. I don’t want to tip over the edge in anger, and when there is so much to be angry about that’s a highly springy tightrope I find myself crossing like a bear on a unicycle. Now that I’m about to go national, I think I will have to watch it even more closely. The angry tenor of political blogs, while it has been energizing the marginalized left, is not going to result in a rapid return to civic discourse. Angry sells, but I don’t know that I want to be remembered as a footnote in this history of political talk radio and blogging as the angry voice of Katrina. (And, lets face it, I think Professor Morris does angry so much better).

Instead, I hope I can inspire. I’m glad that, through the agency of some former colleagues in journalism, I have this opportunity to tell my story to a wider audience, and to bring in the stories of another half-dozen returning ex-pats I know of. I hope that the outcome of the stories will be by Ashley (aka Professor Morris) and Ray and myself telling our stories, we will discover we are not alone.

Even more important, I hope that there a hundreds if not thousands more in the ex-pat community who have felt as I have since the unfolding of the flood and its aftermath last September: a powerful desire to come home, to plant their flag for the future of New Orleans, to be another spear in the host who are committed to the future of the city.

I’m reminded of the long, narrative anti-Vietnam war ballad Alice’s Restaurant, which everyone in a certain Baby Boomer age bracket will remember. Toward the end, when Arlo Guthrie talks about singing the song to the draft board, he says this:

You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

And that’s what this is about–the blogs, the stories–the Rebirth of New Orleans Movement. If these articles push even a couple of ex-pats or lingering evacuees over the edge and make them decide to come home, I can lay aside my lingering doubts about my own suitability as poster child, the nagging fear that I have over taken the story, that the Gonzo Journalism Version 2.0 style that defines much of Citizen Journalism in the blogosphere has eclipsed the subject.