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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.

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

Greetings from Washington, D.C. August 4, 2006

Posted by The Typist in Corps of Engineers, New Orleans, NOLA.
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Katrina Memorial

The National Katrina Memorial….

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.