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Geaux Tiger September 16, 2008

Posted by The Typist in cryptical 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 The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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1 comment so far

“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.

Certain Death September 12, 2008

Posted by The Typist 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 The Typist 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?

Help Haiti September 7, 2008

Posted by The Typist 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.

Red Weather September 7, 2008

Posted by The Typist 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.

Rollin’ on the River? September 6, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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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.

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

Posted by The Typist 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.