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Black and Gold Forever July 27, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Updated with many more details Sunday evening.

The Ashley Morris benefit seemed a great success from out in the crowd, which was easily a hundred. It was a mix of bloggers, roller girls and some familiar faces from neither group I think run in the Defend New Orleans/Dirty Coast crowd. People dressed in Saints’ black and gold, or in Defend New Orleans or FYYFF t-shirts from Dirty Coast were clutching fistfuls of raffle tickets and prizes won at auction, including clothes modeled by burleque girls. I took home a Trinidad cigar ashtray of Ashley’s.

Much drink was taken, and there was a cloud of cigar smoke from a few of us at the blogger tables, as it should be. I picked up a couple of nice maduras from the Cuban exile’s shop just up Toulouse Street from One Eyed Jacks. Don’t ask the brand as I lost the band from the one I smoked. The second I laid across a glass of Jameson’s and left on the foot of the stage. I took a sip and sprayed a bit on the stage in the fashion of voodoo, and blew a large waft of smoke over the glass and the stage.

That bit of gris-gris did not prevent the first band from playing. An odd sounding improvisational group of cello, keyboard and drum I think must have been the Other Planets sometimes sounded like bad outtakes from Bitches Brew. Someone wondered aloud if Ashley spirit was hovering over the scene asking in a loud voice that only he could here, “what the fuck is this?” Still, they donated of their time so I shouldn’t be so harsh. In another setting I would have listened closely and perhaps been more interested, but most people don’t listen to Sun Ran or Pharoah Sanders or Miles Davis wild Bitches Brew.

Andrew “The Reverand Psych” Ward, the emcee for the evening, had an excellent cabaret shtick and watching him work with the two burlesque girls from Fluer de Tease during the auction and raffle was highly entertaining. The guest appearance by the mysterious Supa Saint, playing a wild and weirdly melodramatic, Phantom of the Paradise-styled eyboard riff over New Orleans Saints videos while the two Fleur girls danced at either end of the stage let the evening it’s critical Saints football component.

Ray Shea read his eulogy again, which I particularly appreciated as I had to leave the service in April early to meet the band at the cemetery and so missed it. Oyster was on stage as well, but had to run to the men’s room and missed what he said (but I dear hear his eulogy in April). I got back in time to her Hana speak, introducing herself as “I’m Soviet Block, and I will kick your ass,” to uprorious hooting from the Roller Girls and the rest of the crowd. I somehow missed that author John Barry, who will be our keynote speaker at the third annual Rising Tide Conference was there, and Lisa brought over Huey Lewis after his his local show at HoB.

Most of us started to drift off just as the second band (which sounded excellent) started but by that point must of us were wrung out by drink and the evenings excitement. All credit and Hail to Loki of Humid City who got the Ashley Morris Foundation benefit rolling, and to everyone else who helped: Blake from Dirty Coast, the musicians who played and the artists who donated to the auction and raffle, the Big Easy Roller Girls and One Eyed Jacks for hosting us.

As I sit here bleary from drink and too little sleep, it seems following Maitri and Derrick to Fahys for drinks after midnight was a mistake, a beer too far. Still, I felt a compulsion to go. We sat in the same narrow space at the back where the first of the post-Katrina NOLA Blogger meet-ups occurred, the nucleus from which Geek Dinners and the Rising Tide conference eventually came. Back in early ’06 I put out the word on the Yahoo mailing list I started that I would stand drinks for any of the NOLA bloggers who could drag themselves to a French Quarter bar on Ash Wednesday.

Ashley was a large presence in that small crowd. It was the first time I met him in person, his traveling humidor tucked under his arm. Last night, I kept glancing over the shoulder of the person I was talking to, almost expecting to find him huddled in the corner with Troy Gilbert and John de Fraites as he was on that night. I think it was that evening over two years ago I first heard the phrase “armor the levee with their skulls” uttered, but I don’t recall if it was Troy (who latter blogged it) or Ashley who first said it. It could have come from either of them, but it surely sounds like something Ashley would have said.

It was a satisfying but eerie end to the evening, sitting in that spot where the NOLA Bloggers story began. About halfway through my second Smithwicks I had that feeling like a man on a sinking ship who knows that the water has passed some point, and the thing will soon head down. It was time to abandon ship, so I had the bartender call me a U-boat and left. Overall a very satisfying evening for a good cause.

Maitri has a few pictures and more details, and I know Dereck of bags, bugs, leaves and lizards was carrying his cameras. (You cancheck his excellent photos from Ashley’s funeral here). I’m off to check Google reader to see who else has posted anything else up.

Sinn Fein, New Orleans. We will never let the fire go out.

FYYFF: Black and Gold Forever July 16, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Don’t forget about this event. The Wets will be back from the beach just in time.

I just had to add this stylin’ poster.

FYYFF

It’s Black and Gold Forever: A Fundraiser for the Ashley Morris Memorial

Saturday, July 26 @ One Eyed Jacks
615 Toulouse Street
Cover: $10

www.rememberashleymorris.com

Dirty Coast Press, The Rising Tide and the Big Easy Roller Girls Present:

FYYFF It’s Black and Gold Forever: A Fundraiser for the Ashley Morris Memorial.

Featuring: Fleur de Tease, The Other Planets, and emcee Andrew Ward – The Reverend Pysch Ward + Simon Lott, Helen Gillet.

Boy Scouts Save Iowa June 14, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Is anyone surprised this sort of fuckmookery has crawled out from beneath the rocks where it lives?

Cedar Rapids is under water and 15 people have died as a result of the flooding. Of course this story has been in the news but I can’t help but wondering where all the network trailers are. I can’t help wondering where FEMA is and where are all the protesters demonstrating against perceived government inaction on this one?

Also, where are all the dead bodies floating around while hoodlums roam the streets shooting at people and looting stores?

What is it about this storm that is at least as bad, if not worse, than Katrina that has left us without stories of devastation caused by the government’s failure to swoop in and help people? Why don’t we have music stars on TV holding a telethon to raise money while they proclaim that George Bush hates white people?

Why is it that teen aged boys, members of the Boy Scouts, were able to respond immediately to render first aid to the injured and dig out those trapped in the rubble when adults in New Orleans seemed incapable of helping themselves?

Perhaps this goes back to the thoughts I had about dependence on government…

My initial response to this was to post a comment that 1) expressed surprise that 32,000 square miles of Iowa had been devastated and between 2 and 3 million people displaced from their homes. I had no idea. I’m so sorry. Oh, wait, what hundreds of people? Oh, never mind.

My next response was: fuckmook.

I grow weary but feel obligated to call these people out: what happened across the Hurricane Coast in 2005 was the largest disaster ever to strike the United States. Thousands died, and continue to die of Katrina and evacuation related causes. Eighty percent of New Orleans was flooded for weeks and in some cases months, and the coastal zones of Mississippi and Southwest Louisiana were wiped from the face of the earth. Hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced from their homes approaching three years later. So don’t be bringing me your piss ant little crick floods and ice storms and tell me, oh, people up here would never behave like those people in New Orleans after Katrina.

Let’s review the facts once again for the people who’ve been living exclusively on barbecue potato chips, Bud lite and Fox news for so long that they have suffered some sort of brain damage. The tens of thousands of “those people” trapped in New Orleans were primarily here because they had no car, no way to evacuate themselves. Some had cars but probably not enough ready cash to for the two or three tanks of gas it might have taken them to get out of state while crawling at 20 mph along the interstate in massive bumper-to-bumper traffic jams. Many of those cars were probably of the sort I drove when I first started out as a suburban newspaper journalist, earning a salary in the high four figures (pause for translation into an actual number). Many of the junk heaps people in that earning bracket drive would have broken down on the evacuation routes and caused further havoc.

When the Federal levees failed because of the well-demonstrated shoddy engineering practices of the United States Army Corps of Engineers (and may everyone involved in the design and construction of the levees be sent to Iraq to clear IEDs, with the people of New Orleans getting to vote on whether they get to have bomb squad armor or we get to have functional levees)–(sorry for the digression); when the Federal levees failed, most of the people who stayed had perhaps a day or two of food and water. They were not a few blocks from rescue by the local fire department or even, god forbid, Boy Scouts. They were miles from relief, surrounded by water that would stand for months.

There were not a few hundred of them. There were tens of thousands. I’m sure all of the Boy Scouts of Iowa could have taken care of this in a few hours, providing expert first aid as needed and then lashed together some lovely temporary housing for them and after they were done: s’mores for everyone. What actually happened is that Louisiana dispatched the guys (and gals) from the state’s Wildlife and Fisheries Department with their numerous flatboats for patrolling the marsh. And the indolent people of south Louisiana launched the Cajun Navy, thousands of guys with boats who just hitched up and came, unasked. The Coast Guard got a show in the Discovery Channel about Katrina. The WL&F folks and the Cajun Navy get forgotten by America. But not by us.

Meanwhile the United States and its armed forces sat on their hands and wondered what they should do. The Navy dispatched a hospital ship following directly in the hurricanes wake ready to help, and it sat idle off the coast waiting for orders form the C-I-C, who was busy elsewhere huddling with Karl Rove trying to figure out how to spin this instead of trying to figure out how to help. While George Bush (who I understand really does like Black people, just not overdone) sat with his thumb up his ass looking for plumbs, our otherwise ditzy former governor had managed to ask the National Guard of the other forty-nine states for help, and they promptly responded. Of course she later decided it was too dangerous for most of them to go in, based on the panicked statements of our mayor and former chief of police. Lots of government stupidity to go around at all levels, no doubt about that.

So while most of the out-of state rescuers sat parked outside of town people who could wade or swim made their way to the designated points, the Superdome and Convention center, and sat there. And sat there. And sat there until the food and the water ran out and the toilets stopped working. And then they sat there some more, and some of them died, while the national news crews who managed to get into the city watched them and their rescuers sat in Baton Rouge or the West Bank trying to decide what they should do. Those who showed the initiative to try to walk away from the Convention Center were met by helpful members of the Gretna, Louisiana Police Department, who pointed M-16s at their heads and told them to turn back. They would not be allowed into their dry city across the river.

Our fuckmook of the day finishes his comment with the usual talking point: what happened in New Orleans was the result of government dependence. Having apparently spent the 1990s surfing the internet for nude pictures of Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, he seems to have missed this thing called welfare reform. Most of the people at the convention center were the people who hold minimum wage (or in the hospitality industry, sub-minimum wage) jobs keeping our beer-and-beads, tits-and-t-shirt economy turning. The rest were the elderly and the disabled, the only people in this country who still qualify for any sort of long-term welfare. Instead he dusts off the old lie to make sure everyone understands that it was all our own fault and none of theirs.

Funny they always turn to this idea. When an email started circulating about how the people of North Dakota surviving an ice storm without looting or government rescue, they said the same thing. Now I know a thing or two about North Dakota, having lived their for 10 years. It’s a lovely place that would be an empty dust bowl if it were not for massive government subsidies of agriculture, and two large Air Force installations that exist primarily to prop up the local economy. They even get subsidized electricity, courtesy of the government-built WAPA power system out west. I sure could use some of that down here, but instead I get immense utility bills because our local utility has structured itself so that we have to pay the full cost of restoring our city’s electric and gas infrastructure ourselves.

The fact is the last real government-tit-sucking welfare queens are the row crop and sugar farmers, and I am sure that Iowa has its share. I won’t retype the entire long post I wrote about the North Dakota ice storm that addresses this. You can read it here.

In the end I want to return to the test I first proposed in 2005. I want to plop this asshole on the roof of a house down here in August, with no food and maybe a couple of bottle of water. Across the street will be a fully stocked convenience store. We will leave him up there and see precisely how long it takes him to climb down and smash that window and start taking water. I give him a couple of days at most.

I don’t want anyone to think I am taking this out on the people of Iowa. I am not. I’m only concerned with armchair fuckmooks of Big Dogs sort. Unless of course there are people in Iowa who hear stuff like this and think: yeah, we’re not like them. For those people I have this question: what have you done that your god has punished you so?

Update 9-16: If there is any doubt in your mind how I or people in New Orleans feel about our friends in Iowa (as opposed to fuckmooks like Big Dog), then please read this, and this,

The Sunday Blues Paper May 25, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Leave that Sunday paper rolled up on the porch, except perhaps for what I still call the funny papers, because frankly all that gray matter is just another flavor of the funny pages. And don’t you dare turn that TV on yet: stay away from all of the inane high school popularity chatter and who’s pregnant gossip that passes for news discussion. And don’t you even think about letting yourself sink into a mindlessness of battling chefs or cottage flipping for fun and profit.

You need to read this instead.

There, now you’re free to go fire up that grill and contemplate all those who have died to bring us to this place, and wonder what the fuck for.

FYYFF May 18, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Toulouse Street.
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Have your got yours yet? Online at Dirty Coast and at the Dirty Coast store on Magazine.

What, you don’t know what FYYFF is?

Ashley Morris reads his famous FYYFF post.

Stacy Head: Ambassador for New Orleans April 29, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, Jazz Fest, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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What is it about Uptown that causes some people to be so congenitally unpleasant? (I’m struggling to compose this in my head without reference to any offensive body part or function; we’ll see). You know the ones, the kids who grew up hanging out at the Valencia or by the Southern Yacht Club pool, the kids from certain high schools who ran in circles as exclusive as (and preparatory to) Rex or Comus. Yeah, them.

Perhaps it’s living in such grand houses in a city otherwise tightly squeezed onto the small slivers of high land hereabouts, the narrow streets and crowded rows of houses that confront Them when They venture out the door and off Their own block. Maybe it is the tangles of traffic in parts of town with no wide boulevards, streets crowded with people who don’t know who They are, hourlies and layabouts passing their day without the sort of important appointments They keep. Perhaps it was the pre-gentrification habit of keeping one’s servants close by in those claustrophobic little houses, and the uncomfortable situation as the master-servant relationship changed over the decades in ways visually expressed by the replacement of lawn jockeys and faux carriage posts with discrete private police patrol warning signs.

They are (at least in part) the people of Women of the Storm, our self-appointed ambassadors to the outside world–people who still know when to wear hat and gloves, people who own their own evening clothes and periodically cast them off so that slobs like us can have cheap tuxes as needed in their fine Uptown thrift shops. They travel to Washington and New York to let the Right Sort of People know that They have things down here under control, that its safe to invest in our recovery. I am glad these people do what they do whatever their motives I am not ready to condemn an honest evangelist for New Orleans until they transgress simple decency and fairness.

Then there are people like Stacey Head: evangelists only for their own advancement, for the opportunity to profit by the flood and to flush out what they might deem “undesirables” from their idealized city, who would love to carry us back to old Virginny bayou style. They aren’t terribly fond of anyone coming home who can’t afford a proper and tasteful house in spite of the tremendous escalation of prices after the storm and the collapse of the private insurance market. They are people who resent all those low-rent types and their dependents; you know, the ones who mix Their drinks, bus Their tables and make Their beds. Stacy is noted recently for blowing kisses (presumably in farewell) to the noisy public housing demonstrators, symbolically dismissing the people who make the local t-shirt-and-tits, beads-and-beer economy work. And then there was her clever remark about people so déclassé that they would rent poisonous FEMA trailers to live in because they have no other homes to come back to.

Stacey represents the Young Turk wing of the people who gave us a generation of economic stagnation and sat idly by as public education imploded after desegregation; the ones who quietly applauded as their hirelings in Washington diverted hurricane protection funds to the Inner Harbor Navigation Lock and who were convinced the MRGO would bring us a future of prosperity; they are the people who had themselves gerrymandered into suburban Congressional districts so they could at least have a Congressman they could call on when needed. They are the people who helped engineer the election and then the re-election of Clarence Ray Nagin. Heck of a job, guys, heck of a job.

They are the people who no doubt applaud the $50 Jazz Fest ticket and sourly wish they were just a bit higher, given some of the people you might encounter at the Fair Grounds. As they used to say when I lived in North Dakota, 40 Below Keeps the Riff-Raff Out: a principle someone like Stacy would no doubt admire. Too bad I can no longer bring her back a t-shirt from the Fargo International Airport like the one I saw on my first trip there. Those now retired “40 Below” shirts featured a shadow caricature of a man with an afro and a pimp hat. Very classy.

In addition to making the world safe for mohitos and driving the trailer trash into the land of Nod, Stacy has found a new job as Goodwill Ambassador for New Orleans.

This comment from Humid Haney’s Rant blog was confirmed as legitimate in an email by the woman who posted it, and her husband has in fact sent a nasty letter to the Times-Picayune. She wondered in her reply email if Ms. Head didn’t in fact have friends at the T-P who might make sure it never sees the light of day. I think there’s a good chance Ashton the Second might keep such a letter under wraps. (Ashton. Wow. Where do they get these names for their children, from lines of clothing they saw at Perlis?)

Here’s the entire post from Humid Haney’s, confirmed by the author via email.

Please let me share a story that my fiance sent to the editor of the local paper. It tells about a recent encounter we had with Stacy Head:

My family and I just returned from a wonderful visit to 2008 New Orleans and Jazz Fest. I have attended every Jazz Fest since 1983. My 11 and 9 year old daughters have attended every Jazz Fest since their respective births. My fiancé has enjoyed the region and its offerings on no less than five separate occasions since we met a year and a half ago. Despite the rainy weather we loved the first weekend, as always, and will be back for weekend 2. While we have not lived the post-Katrina challenges directly, we certainly empathize with the challenges. It has been encouraging to see the improvement during our many post-Katrina visits. We joined the Audubon Zoo last year knowing it was unlikely we would get a chance to visit regularly, but hoping the funds would be put to good use. I have lived and worked in New Orleans and in Baton Rouge for years and someday we hope to be able to return to the area to live. I guess I know enough about the area’s culture to realize that the foregoing “credentials” are helpful to what I am now going to say.

Unfortunately, our Jazz Fest experience was marred by a dispute over seating in the blues tent on Friday. I left to take my daughters to the porta-potties. My fiancé held our three seats. When we returned 15 minutes later, she was in deep discussion with several women. It turns out that they asked if our seats were available. The response, “no, but you can sit in them until the rest of the party returns”. As we returned, the women refused to get up, demanded we move down to use an open seat—not a bad idea, but we were still short a seat–etc. Our group, including young children, had to witness a less than kind interaction which included my fiancé being called a “Yankee bitch”–she from Kentucky with as strong a Southern heritage (and accent) as it comes. When the group of aggressors finally left, one of the women came behind my fiancé and proceeded to verbally dress her down at length. While perturbed by the incident, we attempted to enjoy the rest of the set. Of note, several seats opened up around us within two or three minutes (it was early in the day).

What happened next amazed us. A pleasant middle aged gentleman came up and apologized to us noting that he was embarrassed because the “leader of the pack” was Councilwoman Stacy S. Head. He indicated that he had introduced himself to her a few minutes before the altercation as she represented his district. He “couldn’t believe” how she and her group had acted. Sure enough when we checked the internet that evening it was Ms. Head who led the altercation. While her web-site boasts, stated credentials, church membership, etc. are all very interesting; I would submit that New Orleans deserves to be represented by better. As long as interactions are led with hostility and followed by put-downs such as that chosen by Ms. Head (Yankee bitch) New Orleans will not move forward. I have always been bemused by endless editorials about “outsiders who do not understand, have proper appreciation, etc.” The fact is the region has rich cultural and tourist offerings-perhaps better than any other in the nation. That said attitudes like those displayed by Ms. Head can deter all but the most committed from wanting to visit. We will be back because of our love for the area, but had Ms. Head randomly abused a first time visitor I can imagine a different result. A city that prides itself on tourism and is reliant upon tourist trade needs to rethink its approach beginning with what its elected leaders convey. Something is fundamentally wrong when people who visit have to do so “in spite of…”

Fuckmook.

N.B. Any hint of class resentment in this post is entirely intended and historically accurate. I want to take this opportunity to apologize to Thomas Agnew and his parents for the boorish behavior of all those nouveau-riches Lakefront types from C.B.S. who came to your lovely home St. Charles Avenue home for that eighth-grade party many years ago, who proceeded to get fabulously drunk on liquor looted from their parents and then introduce your delicate future debutantes to “poppin’ the gator” to The Guess Who’s “American Woman”. Not that I regret it. It was, in that Odd way we relish here on Toulouse Street, as perfect a moment of ritualized class conflict as anyone could imagine. The Agnews may take some comfort that at least one of us turned out better than might have been expected, mounting a creditable recent campaign for Congress in the near suburbs. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t want your trailer folk either, Stacey, so you can forget busing them in from the North Shore.

A New Dance Craze Sweeps The Nation April 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Today, I have never been prouder to be an …


… Orleanian.

What, did you think I was going to say American? Bwahahahaha! Hell, I’m not sure Il Dufe and I are the same species, much less willing to admit to being part of any country that would have this dolt as its leader. There seems to be something vaguely Neanderthal about him, some suggestion of an evolutionary wrong turn. Sure, he has a certain cunning strength, but he can’t seem to strike two rocks together in quite the right way. It’s like trying to move furniture through a tight spot with my in-laws certain people. At some point you begin to see in them a not very promising line of hominid confronting a coconut and a rock, perplexed as to what to do next. You can’t quite figure out how their lineage survived the stone age.

Oh, and George: FYYFF.

Like I said before: Tell him to send his wife instead. At least she has the grace to bring something when she shows up uninvited