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Glory at Sea December 3, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Vid this me droogies: a film titled “Glory at Sea”, courtesy of Court 13 and NOLA Slate, who has some background on her blog. Go over to the You Tube Screening Room and catch the high resolution version.

“Everybody had their thing, that thing that made it through the storm that had some luck in it, that may help find the person just by its own magic.”

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Carry Me Home November 23, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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So, after much messing with the manuscript and a thousand delays (I had hoped to do this before rising tide, and now it’s nearly the holidays), I’ve put together a collection of pieces originally from my Wet Bank Guide blog and compiled them into a book, “Carry Me Home — A Journey Back to New Orleans.”

cover_400

Many of the pieces were re-worked for a hard copy publication, and given the editing they needed. So many were originally written in the wee hours of the dark with on better proof than a spell check. I had the idea to collect these at about the same time I decided to close the Wet Bank Guide chapter.

I appreciate the advice I had from several NOLA Bloggers with experience in the publishing world. I decided (against their advice) to make this a self-published venture partly because of the amount of time it would have required to go down the traditional path. It would have been a very different project, and tied up my time looking back at the Web Bank Guide era instead of looking forward. Now that this is behind me I hope to have time to focus on other non-blog writing projects.

The book is available today at www.lulu.com. As part of the Lulu distribution system, it should hit Bowker’s Books in Print in about two to three weeks, and onlines retailers like Amazon and B&N.Com by January. I intended to hit the pavement to try to place it in independent local book stores as well.

Thanks again to all of the people who left kind comments or sent emails back in the days of Wet Bank Guide, and encouraged me to keep writing in that forum. A big thanks to author, blogger and Wet Bank Guide reader Michael Tisserand for the blurb and to Greg Peters, one of who’s kind links to WBG ended up as a blurb as well. If I left anyone off the blog list in back I’m sorry. At one point, I had to start culling names to keep the book at 160 pages after edits, as I already had an ISBN number assigned and could not change the page count.


buy this book on Lulu.

Requiem for 8-29 August 28, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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4 comments

The survivors request anger in lieu of tears

Selling Wolf Tickets to Ginny Women August 16, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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N.B. While I understand Carmen’s concern in her comment below that Nagin boosters will dismiss this (I know the dude, and he’s not…), I am determined to move the bar, to make it clear that the word applies to those like Nagin (or Head or the rest of them) who play the card to win.

Times-Picayune editorial writer and columnist Jarvis DeBerry show us he still still a man “in touch with the street”, as old white guys in politics used to say when I was a young white guy in politics. He treats us to a bit of street talk in his Aug. 10 column on Mayor C. Ray Nagin’s latest show of tail feathers over the bloggersourced NOAH scandal. Nagin is, he tells us

A walking embodiment of the black vernacular, he called certain mail critics “ginny women.: He accused others of “selling wolf tickets”….

Sadly, Mr. DeBerry doesn’t bother to explain to us cracker-ass, recovery-hating bloggers what these terms mean. Thank bog for the Internets, that series of tubes which we nattering nabobs of negativism have excavated beneath the city’s recovery like medieval miners trying to fell a castle wall.

Oddly, I found the definition for “ginny woman”, a man who likes to gossip or involve himself in “women’s business”, under the Wikipedia entry for Yat (scroll down to the glossary), a uniquely working class white vernacular. I wonder if all of the Yat’s are supposed to drop using ginny woman now the way blacks stopped saying “brah” for brother the minute the white guys at Kennedy High School took it up.

Selling wolf tickets is more genuinely black vernacular, if the unruly mob behind Wikipedia are to be trusted. Sadly DeBerry missed a grand opportunity for irony in the service of clarify when he didn’t use the Lord Mayor’s own feeble threat to “cold cock” members of the local news media as a living definition. Either that or he ran over his word count, as people who live and die by the column inch must sometimes do when they’re on a roll, and something had to go.

In all fairness, DeBerry and columnist Stephanie Grace deserve full credit for their tag team Sunday columns (his here, her’s here)calling out the mayor. Jumping Nagin is something the Picayune seems very cautious about in its news column. I especially like the part where Stephanie jumped into the ring with the folding chair and whacked Hizzoner upside the head. (OK, that was gratuitous and entirely too much fun to type). Others have analyzed the full dynamic of their one-two punch better than I: Moldy City in particular.

All frustrated newspaper columnist cleverness on my part aside, I have a lot of respect for DeBerry. If I’ve deeply insulted him by any of the above, I apologize and in the same breath suggest he needs to lighten up and get out of the newsroom a little more often. I respect him because he is the child of middle-class Black parents who is an editorial writer at a paper ruled by the white uptown elite in the person of Ashton Phelps, Jr. I am sure DeBerry must walk a very fine line between what he wants to say and what he can or must say if he wants to keep his job, much as the politicians he sometimes writes about must do.

That may be the reason behind the failure of his Sunday column fails. It fails because it starts down a path it does not follow to its logical end. DeBery is in a unique position to speak out to all communities, as an editorialist for a mainstream newspaper who routinely speaks to the Op-Ed reading elite, and as a son of black New Orleans. I think he could call the mayor out on the most important score of all more effectively than my sorry Bunny Bread ass ever can, sitting here typing for an audience of a hundred (on a good day). Still, that is a Rubicon DeBerry has not yet crossed, and perhaps never can with Phelps looking over his shoulder. So once again I’m stuck out here in the wilderness with locusts and honey stuck in my teeth and not so much as a twig in sight, speaking what must be said:

Nagin is a racist.

His use of black street slang isn’t just machismo, as DeBerry suggests. Nagin is speaking in racial code to advance his agenda, circling “his people” around him as a buffer from any criticism. Anyone who so openly panders to one race over the other, who falls back upon the defense that “they” are out to get one of “us”, differs from David Duke in degree and not kind. Speaking in code just makes it worse, more insidious. Were the White Citizen Councils somehow different or better than the Ku Klux Klan? When I say this (or if James Gill or Stephanie Grace try it), well, we’re just them: Exhibit A in the argument that We’re out to get the Brother-In-Chief of the city.

What bullshit.

If you pander to racial divisiveness, you are a racist. It doesn’t matter if you drape yourself in your wife’s best sheets or the lingo of the streets, the game is the same. And that is what Nagin does, just as Cynthia Hedge-Morrell and Cynthia Willard-Lewis did with the Inspector General debate When you pack the council with an angry, racial mob to get your way, does it matter if they are black or white? What difference does it make? Not that Nagin or the Cynthias are alone. Stacey Head is not above giving tit-for-tat, publicly disrespecting the other side to curry favor with her own. She is the obverse of the Nagin coin. Her taunting of public housing residents and clash with Tamborine and Fan are equally unacceptable.

What no one in the Times Picayune is likely to step up to say is the one thing that needs most to be said: people who stir up racial division are the ones who do the greatest damage to the recovery, even more than the looters in suits who siphon off recovery money.

Yes, you, C. Ray Nagin. You are not only a racist, you are one of the greatest threats to the city’s recovery. You are what I have railed against since I started blogging back in August 2005 and all through the darkest days of the rest of that dark year, back when I wrote about the Knights of the Invisible Hand, or a year and a half later when I wrote about the inspector general battle.

My position remains the same: We can not afford this. We couldn’t in September 2005, or November 2006 or August 2008. At the one bright moment in the history of the entire slavery-cursed South when everyone in one community had the largest event of their lives in common, were united in solidarity by the flood; when history presented us our Augenblick, our opportunity to seize the day and make the revolution Martin Luther King prophesied, you chose instead to whip it out and piss all over it just to show you’re one of the folk, one of the guys. When you were done you shook the brothers down for all they had in their pockets for your car fare to get uptown and collect your campaign checks, and you laughed all the way to the bank.

What a tremendous accomplishment and legacy. We shall have to erect a statue to you in memory of these times, perhaps where the Liberty Monument once stood, to remind us how you helped to destroy the second reconstruction of New Orleans. We can all look at it and hope that some day we will all join together to pull it down.

Oh, and Mr. Mayor: if you think the bloggers are out to get you, we are. In case you haven’t noticed, the NOLA Bloggeres are out to get anyone who threatens or interferes with the recovery. FYYFF.

Recovery, Courage, Leadership and Nausea August 14, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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As fond as we are of the Odd, there are moments when it seems Toulouse Street has slipped into the Twlight Zone, and hot in a happy way. It is like the fellow who wakes up after the apocalypse free to read every book in the NYC Library, only to drop and break his classes.

Receiving a link to this in an email was one of those moments.

The Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership to C. Ray Nagin? W. T. F.

I think we need to find out 1) who is behind this bizarre event and 2) let them know we’re taking this circulated email to be an invitation. I hope they have a big room, because we are all coming looking for some explanation of this insanity.

This event should no more take place than the ill advised 8-29 party the Mayor once proposed for 2006. What sort of people are sponsoring this? No one outside of the mayor’s own staff or family could possibly take this seriously.

Update: Read this, in particular the part about the hit-and-run victim. At what point do we declare we live in a failed state and either begin to organize militias for our own protection, or request the protection of the international community?

A hit and run driver, who left a Bywater resident and business owner bleeding in the street with protruding broken bones, telling the victim, “I never hit you”, can only be ticketed for a misdemeanor, and then only if witnesses come along for the arrest to identify him to his face. The Ticketed driver would not be arrested, nor the witness protected.

The police asked a witness, a single women who lives near by, to accompany them to the front porch, where almost a dozen young men were gathered, and stand there pointing out the one who drove the vehicle so cold bloodedly over her friend, while his friends watched her make the identification. The cops said they would issue a traffic citation upon her identification, but make no arrest.

She must pass this house on an almost daily basis.

Another, happier Update: At least now I am laughing: How long can the Excellence in Recovery Host Committee hold a bong hit before laughing hysterically? Thanks, Schroeder.

NOLA Bloggers find missing cranes on city skyline August 11, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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Cranes, you bastard. You promised us cranes. Well, we’re ready to deliver where Ed “Bicycle Pants” Blakely cannot. We got your cranes on the skyline.

Graphic by Greg Peters.

Here’s your rolling reminder about Rising Tide 3: John Barry, author of the definitive work on the 1927 Mississippi River flood; Lee Zurik together with the bloggers who broke the NOAH story; the inside dope on the massive uncontrolled experiment on involuntary child subjects called our post-Flood educational system, eats from the restaurateur/bloggers from J’Anita’s. Aren’t you registered yet? Social 8/22 in the evening at Buffa’s. Conference 8/23 a the Zeitgeist Cultural Center. Volunteer work 8/24.

Rising Tide III August 7, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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The Rising Tide organizers have been busy as hell while I was lazing in Destin and Miami. The schedule is finalized and it’s time to start banging pans together to build so momentum for this year’s conference.

If you are not familiar with this event, the NOLA Bloggers are organizing their third annual conference on the recovery of New Orleans. This year’s featured speaker is John Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America and commissioner for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East.

Last year’s feature speaker, author and blogger David Zirin, told me at lunch in all of his travels for work and book promotion, he has never seen as organized and integrated a blogging community as he found in New Orleans. The success of the last two Rising Tide conferences reflect that clearly. The organizing group has put together a fantastic array of speakers. So far, the only thing missing is you.

So why haven’t you registered yet? You can get more details and sign up at www.risingtidenola.net or on the Rising Tide Blog.

Angels Sustaining and Triumphant July 17, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Like everything here in postdiluvian New Orleans the movement towards a Katrina Memorial drags slowly on. Everything down here moves by fits and start, like an old man pushing a scrap cart up the street.

We are not building the New Jerusalem here, for all of the bright and optimistic noise made back in the heady days of the recovery planning process. Thousands of citizens came together, night after night, to draft the plans for their shining city behind the small hills called levees. So many plans, drawings, maps and renderings, reduced in the end to pickings for that scrap man.

In spite of the monumental failure of the city’s leaders to produce any large projects people all over town are hammering their lives back together. Those who are here are busy and more than a bit worn down by it all, as might be expected. Rebuilding a city is hard work, especially as we are going by the well-established shanty town method of everyone for his or herself because the government and their consultants have only managed to erect promising looking signs (Coming Soon!) after three years. So it should come as no surprise to hear that the memorial will be delayed. I have to wonder if it will ever be built.

Few expect the monument to be built by the target date of Aug. 29, Katrina’s third anniversary. “Maybe by the fourth anniversary, maybe the fifth,” said Gwendolyn Davis Brown, 53, the niece of the Rev. Lonnie Garrison, a longtime pastor at Pilgrim Progress Missionary Baptist Church in New Orleans who died in the aftermath of the storm. “There’s so much stuff going on in the city, people still have to get back into their homes,” added Patsy Dupart, 58, Garrison’s daughter.

The memorial itself looks quite nice online, although the rendering of two angels rescuing a fleur de lis looks off in the promised bright bronze. Here in the back of town (as the cab maps still refer to our section), down by the cemeteries, we are used to the more ethereal look of angels in pale marble. The expression on the picture I found here seems a bit off as well. The top most angel looks a little too coquettish and pleased with herself. We prefer our funereal angels to find the matter a bit more dolorosa. Since we seem unable to locate any construction cranes to erect in the city, perhaps we could manage something more triumphant like Sadako proudly holding her paper crane in Hiroshima; an angel sustaining in the heraldic sense (think of the Columbia Pictures woman bearing a torch), holding a fleur de lis up to the sky.

The sense of rescue the current angels convey seems wrong as well. The lists of the dead and the adjoining ovens to hold the unclaimed will give us enough of a sense of what is past and done. What is needed at the center of the hurricane swirl shaped ground is something that will speak to us on the day it is unveiled, that will tell the story of the New Orleans rising out of the floodwaters.

The city itself is its own best memorial. No one can fault Frank Minyard’s insistence that we have some fitting place to bury the unclaimed dead, somewhere better than the current potter’s field he describes as “a swamp”. If we are to have a memorial to the flood (I haven’t even begun to address whether we need a Katrina or a Flood memorial; some other time), and if it must be on the open piece of ground at Cemeteries and be itself a cemetery, then I would hope there is something about it that rises above that frozen moment of 2005 and carries the visitor into our future.

If the statuary won’t give you the rest of the story, then let the city tell its own story. I would suggest to a visitor that as they leave the memorial site (should we in fact ever manage to build it), then stroll up Canal Street back towards the river, and consider that once ten feet of water stood there. As you reach Carrollton, turn and pick a busy restaurant, any restaurant. As you stand in that bustling neighborhood consider the pictures most shops have somewhere on the wall, showing their business ten feet under or after. Then look at the place and the people around you, the old made new and full of life.

Those people in line with you and the ones behind the counter are our angels sustaining and triumphant.

Which Lucky Child? Epco answers June 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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David from Epco left this long comment on my earlier post Which Lucky Child, and in fairness I’m giving him his own rebuttal post. It’s probably not fair to get to far into a back-and-forth in a rebuttal. I’m still angry at the concept. Every child deserves a house. However, there is a difference between a bad choice of phrase and bad intent, and I don’t think Epco’s intent is bad. I was struck by his remarks about dishonest contractors, a story we have all heard time and again. Thanks, David, for taking the time to reply.

I want to introduce myself. I am David one of the owners of Epco. In fact I am president of general construction. First I would like to say this is a project that is very near and dear to our hearts. We have completed over 400 projects and have more work then we know what to do with. The essay contest and helping families is our hobby. We have been blessed so from our point of view we are obligated to give back.

I believe all of the children deserve a home but we can’t do it all by ourselves. So we create a spark. We at Epco will find it very difficult to pick only one. In fact we will be using the letters to show what these kids think and feel by way of an essay. And I believe we can do more and recruit companies help with this endeavor.

I will share what we have noticed by way of the essays. Most of the letters “around 70%” describe a contractor running out on them and their families with large amounts of money and without a completed home. I could not believe that there were so many contractors hurting these families. When we announce the winner we also shed light on some bad contractors. And just maybe we can get the attention of some people and originations that might be willing to help.

I propose this question. Is it worst to have an essay contest to build not only a home but help restore the quality of life or even restore a little faith in humanity. Or by reading most of your comments you would prefer Epco not give back because the children can’t handle not winning a contest. You are hurting the kids with your closed minded thinking.

Let me clue you in on a few things about these children. These kids have been through so much and they don’t need anymore false hope. Epco can provide for one child and their family. This is the way we make a difference with no apologies. After reading the some of the letters I believe the children are stronger then we give them credit for. I would hope responsible adults would take the time to find out about company that has only good intensions and maybe get on board. Don’t promote the company promote the idea.

Father’s Day 2008 June 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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I browsed onto You Tube to watch this video with one particular father who is not with his children today in mind. I kept it looping in the backround as, after battling with right wing golem Big Dog and his stupid Iowa versus New Orleans nonsense, I found myself this morning finally assembling a lot of Federal Flood pictures I had collected from September 2005 over the audio of Eliza Gilkyson’s Requiem, a small task I had long planned but never done. I will post it later. Going through those photographs is a painful experience. Remembering the dead is a geis I have placed on myself after the Flood, and shouldn’t needlessly impose on others. I was not going to share this video up today. But as I went through those photographs with this song playing in the background I decided I had to post it.

This is for all of the father’s who are among the 4,000 lost, who are not with their families today in New Orleans.

Oh, The Water June 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Corps of Engineers, Flood, flooding, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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After the last post, I just want to say that everyone in New Orleans is concerned for the people of Iowa, just as they were for the people of Myanmar and the people of Tabasco, Mexico. Just because idiots seize on every catastrophe to dust off the old political whore mongering over Katrina has nothing to do with our sympathy for you, or the gratitude we feel for every Iowan and other American volunteer who has come down her to rebuild.

We are all of us, the people of the river and of the coast, at some time baptized in the waters of the flood. That immersion is no relief from the travails of this life. Instead it is like a plague out of the old book. But it promises we will come out after different, better and stronger.

I come back to this song written by Eliza Gilkyson after the Christmas tsunami of 2005 again and again, since I first heard it in September of 2005. This is the only on-line version I know of.

As I read about Iowa, I was irresistably drawn to hear it again.

This time it is for you: Requiem, by Eliza Gilkyson.

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,

Katrina Every Day June 4, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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What Karen said.

Word.

And Because It Is My Heart May 29, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said: “Is it good, friend?”
“It is bitter-bitter,” he answered;
“But I like it
Because it is bitter,
And because it is my heart.”

— Stephen Crane

It is not the date itself, the largely symbolic start of hurricane season; the idea that the winds have changed after June 1, that somewhere between North Africa and the convergence zone in the North Atlantic something ominous begins to turn. It is the compulsion of the media at this cusp to flood us with stories like this one from National Public Radio, the tale of a a hardworking family (he in security at a local casino, she a waitress as Waffle House) living with five children in two motel rooms. In less than a week, on June 5, they will find themselves homeless, more than 1,000 days after Katrina struck the richest nation in America.

Steve and Lindsay Huckabee and their five children lost their home when the storm itself swept across the Mississippi Gulf Coast and reduced it to its natural state, a flat expanse of scrub-tree sand looking out on the Mississippi sound. They were driven out of their FEMA-supplied trailer by the formaldehyde which made their children sick. On June 5, FEMA will stop paying for their two motel rooms. There are no places for them to rent suitable for their family. Rents have doubled. They don’t know when they might get a Katrina Cottage, 300 square feet of formaldehyde-free manufactured home to put on their vacant lot.

“It’s not just the people who are on welfare and getting food stamps … it touches every class of person,” she says. “It’s not that easy. It’s not limited to just the super poor people who can’t find a place to live. It’s everybody, pretty much.”

Developers are rebuilding high-dollar homes and condos, but Huckabee says average Mississippi residents can’t afford to live in them.

Glad to see that Mississippi is doing a so much better job than poor, benighted and corrupt Louisiana. The link back to Wet Bank Guide is from September, 2006. So long ago and so little changed. And then we have to reconcile this sort of Pravda/Isvestia happy talk nonsense from USA Today with stories like this by the Washington Post. The only sure truth is that we are lied to.

If you wonder why I would write something as bitter as my post from last Memorial Day, why I consider the United States of America a failed state with which I feel no bond other than the chains they have laid around our necks like those placed around the ghost Marley, consider the season: it is time to be reminded again and again by the professional doom criers how we have been failed and forgotten, treated like some inconvenient third-world ally whose usefulness is passed. The central government have their oil and the port open. They don’t need us.

I am so dumb-struck this morning after hearing that story, sitting in my car with a bitter cigarette in the parking lot waiting for the piece to end with some glimmer of hope, of a happy ending, that I have a hard time finding words that are not sour in my mouth. So instead I go back a year and a half to a Wet Bank Guide post called “How Long, Lord?”, a question that bears repeating.

For how many will it be the last bitter insult in a long train since Federal levees failed us and our city was flooded? I have to wonder if here in the New South, people still take counsel from Psalms, or are we become just another part of a society that taps its foot impatiently to wait for a hamburger or a cup of coffee at the fast food restaurant. Are we ready for this marathon? I recall from my trip down from North Dakota that as close as Jackson, Mississippi the big and little box national retailers gleam clean in the morning sun along a ribbon of interstate highway, calling to people living in small trailers in ruined neighborhoods. How much longer will they resist that call from other cities?

How long, Lord, how long? “. . . Thou feedest them with the bread of tears; and givest them tears to drink in great measure. Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbours: and our enemies laugh among themselves . . .” the Psalmist laments in number 80. Unlike the children of Israel, release for the [returnees to the hurricane coast] is as close as the nearest tank of gas and entrance to the interstate. A conversation with a friend a few weeks back, a couple that came home early and rebuilt and who threw themselves into the endless parade of rebuilding meetings, turned to him talking wistfully of what life would be like in Memphis, and I wonder, how long?

Much comes down to what we can accomplish on our own. The question I have asked here again and again, is this: are we still the nation that weathered the great depression, or who turned back the seemingly invincible Japanese advance into the Pacific? Are we the country that, flush with those victories, erected a home for every soldier and the highways that tied them together, the nation that sent men to the moon.

Those who held the reins of power when Katrina wiped the Gulf Coast clean and the Federal levees failed measure greatness by prowess of arms. They were amply rewarded for their failure in Iraq with a serious thrubbing at the polls this past Fall. I think a greater test is whether this nation can rebuild New Orleans and the hurricane coast. As the blogger Ashley likes to remind us all, they rebuilt Hiroshima. For that matter, they also rebuilt post-war Europe, a fact I am reminded of when I think of the European foundation established to repay that largess which is helping to rebuild the gymnasium at my son’s school.

One thousand days and counting: why do we stay, and why do more come home each day? They come and stay because it is home, and because in the civics class, film-strip America we were all raised to believe in the government does not tell you where to live. We will do it alone if we must, Sinn Fein. It may at times be bitter-bitter, but in the end it is our heart.

P.S. Thank you, Tim, our eternal optimist and resident engineer who knows a thing or two about poldars and dikes and such.

after the flood May 20, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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Odd isn’t it (of course) that I should stumble on a book on the New Orleans library website titled after the quake by Japanese author Haruki Murakami, a set of stories inspired by and each at least informed by the 1995 Kobe earthquake, only to discover that is is not available and why. Not having read a word of it, I am sad it has not been replaced.

Main Library
Adult Fiction Collection
MURAKAMI
Katrina loss/damage
08/26/2005

I will have to find a copy.

While the 20th Century Japanese may ultimately be remembered for the war and the suffering they inflicted on others (this war, children), I think the Japanese know a thing or two about suffering and perseverance.

Yes, this is the third time I’ve posted this damn picture, but it haunts me.

Which Lucky Child? May 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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Which lucky child deserves to have their home rebuilt or restored?

That’s the question the construction company EPCO is asking as part of a contest to spend $100,000 toward renovation or construction of a new home for the winner of an essay contest.

EPCO Construction, Inc. will restore or build a house for the winner of the “House for a Child” Essay Contest. The essay must be written in English and submitted by an active, full-time student between eight and eighteen years of age. Essays will be accepted from November 26, 2007 until midnight May 31, 2008 for review by EPCO. The essay must describe why the student and their immediate family deserve to have their home rebuilt/restored.

Here’s a simple answer: All of them. I think I should have both my children submit that essay and see what happens.

What set me off on this was my daughter’s high school promoting this crass bit of company promotion on the school’s email list and in the homerooms this morning. How could people charged with education a building full of children suggest that only one of them (and not even necessarily one of their own students) “deserves to have their home rebuilt”?

As another blogger with a child in the same school explained in an email, what sort of person would tell a building full of children suffering from post-traumatic disaster disorder, at final exam time in a highly competitive, college-prep environment where these kids are already stressed to the max, that if they just write this essay then perhaps they can be that lucky child who can get a home for their family that there parents have not been able to provide. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Eighty percent of New Orleans was flooded by the direct negligence of the central government. Every child who lost their home (including the places their parents rented in our local, low-wage economy) deserves to have their homes replaced by the people who destroyed them, not as part of a contest by a scalliwag company that has probably grown wealthy off of the disaster.

Poor, Brown and Dead May 15, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Federal Flood, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Remember, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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But Americans get lots of warning when a storm threatens, can use their own cars or public transit to escape on efficient, paved evacuation routes, have sturdy homes or tall buildings to protect them from a flood and plenty of food and medical care in the aftermath, said emergency management experts at a hurricane conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Emphasis in this excerpt from a Reuters story on Yahoo is mine. I would like to know who that particular quote is attributable to. Americans, he says. Remind me again why I would want to be part of the same country as this unnamed idiot?

I would personally like to take this asshole and chain him to a roof down here for five days in August. After that, we’ll take him as far out into Mississippi Sound as we can go and have him in water, say, no deeper than his chest. Then we’ll leave him there to wade back to shore. Hopefully he has some sort of medical problem requiring medication, so we can make sure that we can make sure he has to go without it for a few days.

While he’s up there starving and dehydrating, we can discuss the relative impact on disasters of color and poverty versus having a corrupt and incorrupt government. The differences between Myanmar and New Orleans are differences of scale (vast differences but still of scale) and not of kind. I’m sure I could get him to agree regardless of his political views if I offered him a bottle of water on the second or third day.

“Disasters happen, but the underlying poverty makes everything worse,” said Florida emergency management director Craig Fugate.

You got that right, as we say down here. Again, the difference between there and here is one of scale, not kind. New Orleans was The Other, a place culturally and racially alien to the sort of people most likely to be sitting on a panel discussing disaster relief. Maybe they should have asked some folks from the Ninth Ward about those differences. As I wrote a long time ago (Sept. 2, 2005 and yes this is lazy but apt):

…that otherness became our downfall. The poverty left tens of thousands unprepared for the storm’s aftermath. It also made us seem, at first, unimportant to those who could save us. At the end, it left the Northern bureaucrats who arrived on scene so confused and frightened that they recoiled from helping us, as if we were the last leper colony on the planet

They closed the city off, and left the people there to their fate, awaiting troops who could suppress this alien populace, and make it safe for real Americans. They didn’t care why the people of New Orleans were in their situation, any more than they care about the ultimate fate of any other benighted third world country.

We were a people apart, to be treated as they would the angry, hungry people of Port au Prince or Tikrit, should they threaten the supply of oil or the price of coffee–pacified by force if need be, until they could bring us the bottled water of civilization.

The Reuters story quoted above also mention’s Katrina’s death toll of “about 1,500”. Lazy bastards. Let me help you out. There’s this thing called the Internet which has made doing your job much easier than it was back in the day when I had to go to the library to look up stuff like this. Try here to start. I’m sure those couple of thousands of families you excluded aren’t offended at being forgotten. I’m sure you’ll be just as careful in Myanmar to exclude people whose death can’t be clearly proven to have occurred directly as a result of the storm, so as not to be sensational.

Here on Toulouse Street, we’re never going to let the world forget what happened down here.

Remember. 1,723 people died in Katrina. Over 4,000 died as a result of the storm, the flood or the evacuation. Some died in the storm. Most died as the result of the direct neglect or negligence of the central government.

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Forget Jazzland and Six Flags. I’m Going To Debrisville! April 23, 2008

Posted by The Typist in 504, 8-29, Debrisville, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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A $70 million plan proposed to resurrect the twice-failed Six Flags (formerly Jazz Land) amusement park in New Orleans East! Finally, an idea that could actually produce cranes, if only to drive them into the air to fly away from all the racket.

If this falls through, I think I want to put together a package for a Katrina/Flood themed attraction. I mean, why should the bus and van tour companies be the only ones making money off misery?

Announcing: Debrisville! After your solemn ride through Gentilly and New Orleans East, you’ll be ready for a hurricane of fun living the post-Flood lifestyle! Experience the genuine exhilaration of the frightening Road Home Roller coaster! Hold on to your lunch as you experience Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride Down Annunciation! Don’t miss the thrill-of-a-lifetime ride to the top of the Helicopter Hoist! And dare to live dangerously as you play Red Light Bumper Cars!

Don’t forget to visit our water attraction Lakeview Lagoon and thrill to the latest in wave pools technology in the When The Levees Break flood pool! When that big wave come be sure to watch out for those cars and houses! Or take a leisurely tube ride down our careful fiberglass reconstruction of St. Claude Avenue in Escape from the Ninth Ward!. While you’re there, be sure to experience the ultimate in Roof Top Dining in Lakeview’s MRE Cafe!

And just because it’s not Six Flags doesn’t mean you have to miss some old-time excitement. Be sure to visit Gangsta Town, where we will revive the old Six Flag tradition of cowboy shoot outs updated for the 21st century. In Gangsta Town you can not only visit the Rock Candy Store and see the girls do the booty shake while sipping a 40 oz Barq’s at the all-ages, family-friendly Hip-Hop House Party, you can thrill to a realistic gangta gun battle right there in the street. They’ll be poppin’ and droppin’ like nobody’s business!

Anybody else in on this?

Home December 25, 2007

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, home, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Odds&Sods, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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That people are forced to live elsewhere is not just a shame, it is a crime against the laws of humanity.

One way or another, it’s time to bring everyone Home.

You just gotta have Faith that it can be done.

Deja vodoo over Tabasco November 9, 2007

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, Debrisville, Flood, flooding, Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, New Orelans, New Orleans, Tabasco, Toulouse Street.
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If you know my story of homecoming and how and why it happened, you will understand why this quote from Root Coffee’s blog, talking about the massive flood in Tabasco in Mexico, gives me (and Ray) shivers:

My husband means well when he tells me I should get some sleep and gather strength to keep helping tomorrow; but the anguish eats at me, I can’t feel comfortable, it’s my hometown, my people, the place I grew up in, I can’t just let it go.

You will understand why I will be here tomorrow night, to hear these words:

VLADIMIR:
…So there you are again.
ESTRAGON:
Am I?
VLADIMIR:
I’m glad to see you back. I thought you were gone forever.
ESTRAGON:
Me too.

Meanwhile, donate to Tabasco relief.

And never forget, never surrender. We can all rest in the grave.

Fire on the Bayou October 26, 2007

Posted by The Typist in cryptical envelopment, Dancing Bear, Hurricane Katrina, New Orelans, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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I feel for California, but . . .

What is the percentage of New Orleanians for whom relocation to the Qualcomm evacuation center would STILL represent an increase in quality of life?
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