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Everything You Need To Know About Rising Tide V September 4, 2010

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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In one neat little package.

And congratulations to Clifton Harris of Cliff’s Crib for winning the 2010 Ashley Award. If you live in New Orleans, read blogs and aren’t reading Cliff, you should get your self over there.

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I Am Upright April 13, 2010

Posted by The Typist in 504, New Orleans, NOLA, Poetry, Shield of Beauty.
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Somewhere at the confluence of Treme, wage slavery and poetry this popped into my head as I struggle through my typically dysfuntional morning. I can’t get a link on here because the Counting House fails to understand the business necessity of dialing out to MySpace for quick dip in the pool of sanity, prefering I go get more coffee. I made green tea instead, and popped Sanctuary: Music from a Zen Garden into the laptop, and turned it on over the speakers (workspace etiquette rules? in a knife fight?) to try to drown out the movers wrapping two dozen computers and monitors in brown paper and strapping tape in the walkway right outside my cube while I try to stuff 10 hours of work into an eight hour day without violating Generally Accepted Accounting Rules.

I used this quote to open my panel on the State of New Orleans Culture at last year’s Rising Tide, and it seems to belong in the cloud diagram of thoughts Treme is drawing on the inside of my skull. I need to get them out of my copy of Visio, as I need it for work.

I am not all right but I am upright. I am here, a warm body, clinking glasses with the dead.”
–O’Neil’s Lament, by NOLA Performance Poet Moose Jackson

P.S. Yes I managed to figure out how to get a link in here. Now back to work before someone comes down to supervise the packers and notices what I’m typing.

P.P.S. Must turn up the Japanese flute music a little louder to get the words Must Stop Thinking About Tomorrow to the Fleetwood Mac tune out of my head. Yes, I know those aren’t the right words.

Rising Tide IV August 14, 2009

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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shearer
Rising Tide IV, the annual bloggers conference on the recovery and future of New Orleans, will be “Sinking to New Heights” on Aug. 22 at the Zeitgeist Multi Disciplinary Arts Center in New Orleans. Our featured speaker: the multi-talented Harry Shearer, a great champion of New Orleans on Huffington Post and elsewhere, along with panels on the status and future of New Orleans music, food and parading culture; the state of New Orleans health care, a look at politics and the city going into the 2010 elections and more.

Registration is open at http://www.risingtidenola.net and is only $25 until August 20th and includes lunch from Cafe Reconcile. There will be a social Friday evening Aug. 21 at The Avenue Pub. Additional details will be posted to the Rising Tide blog at http://risingtide.blogspot.com/ and the Rising Tide IV Facebook page.

Three Years August 17, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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“I never thought I’d need so many people.”
–David Bowie, Five Years

Every day I drive slowly down rough and littered streets beneath sooty overpasses, through neighborhoods lined with hollow houses, the empty windows watching over the slow collapse of the roads into rubble, the rampant lawns and the vines claiming the roofs. Familiar landmarks are vanished into weed-choked lots even as new buildings rise up here and there. I tell myself this is not a disaster area, it is the New Orleans of memory, the postdiluvian city of shabby gentility slowly settling back into itself. It is the place I remember not transformed but instead amplified by the flood, the decay accelerated by the casual incompetence and common corruption of a government that would shame Haiti.

The streets and sidewalks still sag and heave as they did before, as if something beneath them were trying to break through and reclaim its place. There are more of these upheavals now, as if the flood had woken something that once moved slowly as in a dream, as if what lay below has grown hungry and anxious to completely crack the thin veneer of concrete we call civilization and begin to consume us in ernest. I can no longer be certain whether the roots that tear up the sidewalks run down from the trees, or if they are something clawing up from below, tossing up oaks and cypress to reclaim us for the swamp primeaval.

That is my city: not the delicate traceries of iron balconies or mossy-bricked patios at the end of a gas-lit carriageway in the Quarter–a postcard place for tourists–or the clean and quiet, manse-lined streets in the better parts of Uptown untouched by the flood. I live in the heart of the place, a section named Mid-City but called Back of Town by the cab dispatchers, rows of small houses crowded up to streets drapped in a tangle of overhead black wires, an early 20th century working class neighborhood made good (just), clinging desperately to gentility just a block from the railroad tracks.

Things mostly look good on our stretch of Toulouse Street three years after the levees failed and the city was drowned. Our biggest problem is that all of the rentals are full and its getting hard to park. I can drive to work up Orleans and tell myself it doesn’t look that different, until I get to the fields of sand and debris that were once the Lafitte Housing projects. Or I can take my son to school first, taking a part of my own boyhood route to school up Jefferson Davis and Nashville, and convince myself that things looks much the same as they did three years ago today, or twenty years ago when I left for the east coast.

I can make a point of not venturing into the heart of Gentilly Woods or New Orleans East. I can leave my newspaper folded on the porch, not reading of peoples homes demolished by mistake, or a building badly in need of demolition but ignored collapsing onto someone’s nearly restored house. I can pay no attention to the latest recovery scandal, the diversion of funds to help the elderly and poor into the pockets of the mayor’s brother-in-law. Instead I can make head out to any of a dozen of world’s finest restaurants in the country, then wander out into the night to listen to music you won’t find anywherre else in America, and tell myself everything is going to be alright.

Instead, I find myself getting up most mornings or coming home at night not to the daily paper but to a computer. I login and after vainly checking for comments and counts here, I pull up the writings of dozens of New Orleans bloggers who will not let us forget, who will not let you forget wherever you may be. They are a daily reminder of the ground truth of this place, that our recovery still struggles after three years and will continue for years to come. They remind me as well that I no longer have the time or energy to crusade as I did on Wet Bank Guide for the first two years after the flood, but that the battle goes on.

We are an odd bunch, the NOLA bloggers. I wrote not long ago:

“We are people who write about this city and the people in it… as one of the tethers for our sanity in this crazy place where It’s After the End of the World…part an underground resistance to the poor, lost fuckmooks [in City Hall] on Perdido Street and everywhere you can find them, here and away; to the “shootings happen to someone else, to bad people but not to me” mind set; to the “charter schools are wonderful, just like Catholic school without the tuition or the knee patches and let the rest rot” view of the world; a resistance against anyone who would profit from our pain or settle for less than something better for New Orleans.

“[w]e’re not paragons, of virtue or anything else. We’re as dysfunctional a band as any mid-career high school class, mad as bats as often as not, cranky as an Ash Wednesday hangover and drunk 24-7 on the elixir of New Orleans.”

Our community is an on-line analog of the movement that blossomed two years ago when the government failed to step in to rebuild the city. Organizations rose up in the neighborhoods among those who came home first, and became a movement of civic engagement. Among the leaders that movement cast up were bloggers: Karen Gadbois and Bart Everson most prominently, with dozens of others in the ranks. When it became clear that the government would not save us, the people of New Orleans moved to save themselves and blogging became an important part of that movement.

What we all blog is important because we will not let the government write our story, or the out-of-town journalists with their own angle or even our local newspaper, beholden as it is to the lot of carpetbaggers and scaliwags who are swarming like flies around the recovery money that dribbles down like. We tell our own story, the real story of the drowning and slow rebirth of New Orleans, sometimes from the fly-over view of what might be called the big picture, but more often in the stories of our own neighborhood, our block, ourselves. The people who would write our history for their own ends must contend with us. They have their own reasons, their own agendas. We have only one purpose: the salvation of the city and our own post-traumitized selves in the bargain.

Who do I read? If I start to name names, I know I will leave someone out, but on the odd chance you have just stumbled in here from elsewhere, I have to call out at least a few. Karen’s Squandered Heritage, Eli’s We Could Be Famous, the anonymous bloggers David’s Moldy City and Dambala’s American Zombie do not just take apart yesterday’s news; they are a at least a day (if not months) ahead at least. Karen and Eli can take credit for breaking the most recent City Hall Scandal. For a taste of life in the postdiluvian city you should be reading Micheal Homan, Kim’s Dangerblond, Mominem’s Tin Can Trailer Trash, Gentilly Girl, Cliff’s Crib, author Poppy Brite’s Dispatches from Tanganyika or Ray in New Orleans (currently on a blogging sabatical, but read back through his story of working on gutting houses in New Orleans). If you want to see people get their snark on and find a way to laugh through the veil of tears, then visit Peter’s Adrastos or Jeffery’s Library Chronicles.

Ah, what a slippery slope this is. See, I’ve gone and left out Leigh, Derek, Deidre, Glen, Bart, Lisa, Greg and Oyster and bog only knows who else. If you come away from this list hurt, hit me up for a drink at Rising Tide III, the bloggers conference on the recovery of New Orleans. You see, we are not just a lot of computer-equipped malingerers and malcontents. Many individuals (Ray, Bart, Karen, and others) have gone great things for the city. As a group, we have mounted Rising Tide, an annual conference on the city’s slow reconstruction. We have been able to attract national authors for featured speakers and active locals to our panels because they too have learned that there is a force moving in the world called blogging. It is not just a spin-off phenomena of politics or the ugly murmurring of the mob you read below the stories on NOLA.COM. It is as powerful and as democratic as Tom Paine setting type and as powerful and as ethereal as William Blake carving visionary plates.

Three years is too soon to know if we will succeed or fail, whether we are writing small pieces of the history of a great beginning or a tragic ending. It is a tremendous task, not merely to rebuild a city but at the same time to try to correct a century of past mistakes that had led to the city I described when I began, the city already full of broken streets and broken dreams before the flood came. Will we collapse of our own internal contraditions like the revolutions of the 20th century, or be drowned beyond recovery by yet another storm? All I know for certain is that unless the Internet collapses or is suppressed you can watch it play out here. Or even play your own part. Blogging alone, we have learned, is not enough, but it is a start: a public declaration that you care about New Orleans, and will not let is fade away.

Cross-posted from Humid City, where this first went up as part of Loki’s Carnival of Blogging for the anniversary and Rising Tide.

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.

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.