Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Voodoo Fest on YouTube

Over 150,000 people at Voodoo Fest 2007. That's awesome!

Voodoo Fest has put some videos on the VoodooFest Web site.

Even better, you can find plenty of videos on YouTube. The videos on the VoodooFest page have better graphics and sound quality but you get a much better selection on YouTube.

It looks like there are a lot of Rage Against the Machine but there are plenty of videos of other bands too. Video quality varies as does the audio quality. Most have decent sound though if you don't mind hearing the crowds.

Smashing Pumpkins playing Born On The Bayou. Video is bad but sound is ok.

Rage Against the Machine, Testify

Check out this YouTube search for more videos.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wave Goodbye to the Hat!

A while back, I asked, "Does New Orleans Need a DA?". Turns out, New Orleans does need a DA, just not Eddie Jordan. According to WDSU, Eddie will have to step down if he wants the city to pay for his lawsuit: Sources: Eddie Jordan To Resign

Orleans Parish District Attorney Eddie Jordan was unlikely to get a bailout on the $3.7 million payment from the city or state. Officials had said they wouldn't consider paying for the lawsuit unless Jordan stepped down.

Yeah! Yeehaw! Woohoo! If you wonder what my opinion is, you can read my entry, "Racism in New Orleans Takes a Hit".

See ya Eddie! Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

K-Ville Season 1, Episode 5

I DVR'd last week's K-Ville and am just now watching it. Tonight is a rerun.

So, this episode starts off with a great image of Jackson Square from the air. Those images are my favorite part of this show.

Cobb tells Boulet to take off and meet his family, that he'll cover the shift. Dispatch calls (actually the Capt did but he was calling for dispatch). Shots fired at a church.

It just happens to be Boulet's family church. He knows the layout because he grew up going there. The cops hearing people singing hymns and enter the church. The priest denies anything happened and that there were no shots.

Cobb looks around and finds a body. A deacon. The people apparently know Boulet and don't seem to like him. Boulet's been holding a grudge about something and these might have a grudge of their own.

Flashback to Sept 1987.

Boulet and his bother are playing in the church. The little brother brought a water gun. Boulet tells him they will get in trouble. He gets squirted in the face and they run off. They end up running into the dead deacon.

I'm betting molestation at this point.

Back to the present. The cops are searching and interviewing all of the people in the church.

Best Line of the show: Boulet gets up in front of the congregation and says: "The ladies auxiliary bake sale has been postponed due to violent murder." And he smiles. ;-)

He tries to get people to say something but no one will. They decided to interrogate everyone one face to face with out the rest of the herd.

Turns out that there was a run in between the preacher, Boulet's little brother and I would bet, the deacon. Boulet's little brother, Troy, is now deceased.

It also turns out that the deacon got part of an earing before he died. They're now looking for a bloody ear. That should make it easier to find someone. No bloody ear found though. The culprit escaped out the back door. Who would have thought that a murderer might run out the back door?

A crazy old lady gives up the name of the perp. Not quite sure why. The perp is Shawn Rider a junior hoodlum.

Wow. After an argument with Cobb (about his grudge against the priest), Boulet says that the priest is responsible for Troy's death. I'm still betting on molestation.

Flashback June 1999. Troy is still alive. Maybe it wasn't molestation. Troy is doing crack. Boulet is talking to the priest about it. The priest asks Boulet to bring Troy in for an intervention. At first Boulet says no, he doesn't want to lie and trap his brother.

Back to the present. Cobb doesn't buy it.

There's an undercurrent that the deacon was trying to sell the church but the whole selling property thing is getting old. I hope that is not really what the issue is.

The cops raid Shawn's house. He's not there but there are some bloody rags in the garbage.

Boulet and Cobb confront the priest about the deacon trying to sell the church. They get nothing.

Cobb calls Boulet's wife. He asks her about Troy and how he died. Troy died, was shot, while robbing a convenience store.

Flashback July 1999. The intervention. Not much to describe but it is some good back story. It makes the characters in the show that much more real. I'm not so big on the flashbacks though.

Back to the present. Boulet remembers the priest taking the water gun and where he put it. He makes the priest open the same place. He finds the gun.

I missed something but Shawn's girlfriend was someone Boulet knew and she just recently died in a car wreck. The cop crew head's to the cemetery and find's Shawn at the grave. Of course, he runs. Of course, they catch him.

Boulet is still preaching to the choir. Bwahahahahaha. He was baptised in that church and was married in that church. He DESERVES TO KNOW! Just a tad preachy here.

Cobb gets a call. Shawn confesses to the killing but the priest claims that he killed the deacon. Jah!

Flashback October 1999. Troy is playing chess with the padre. Boulet walks in. It's good times.

Back to the present. Boulet doesn't believe the priest. The priest says that he and the deacon got into a fist fight. Shawn tried to break it up.

Shawn is confessing to the Capt.

The priest said that the gun fell out of Shawn's waist band. He picked it up and shot the deacon. The congregation agrees.

Instead of bringing the priest to the jail, they bring Shawn to the church. They want to verify the story. Shawn doesn't know the story though.

Flashback to the convenience store and Troy on the floor shot. Troy was using again and he confessed to the preach. The preach didn't share that info with Boulet so Boulet blamed him for his death.

Boulet thinks the same thing happened with Shania.

It was Shania's grandma! When the gun slid across the floor, the old lady picked it up and popped a cap in the deacon. Go granny!

Although, should a preacher give up people's confessions? I don't think so.

Shania killed herself because the deacon was raping her. I was right! It was molestation but the wrong person.

Flashforward one week. Boulet drops by to see the preacherman. Boulet is a criminal. His brother killed someone but he looked the other way. So Boulet blames himself. If he had arrested Troy, he wouldn't have robbed the store.

They play a game of chess while a couple of little boys go running down the hallway.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Ignorant Comparisons of New Orleans and San Diego

The New York Times has a good article that responds to the ignorant comparisons between the fires in California and the flooding that Katrina caused in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast, A Firestorm, a Deluge and a Sharp Political Dig.

George Bush's asinine comment, “It makes a significant difference when you have somebody in the Statehouse willing to take the lead.” does nothing to help anyone or the situation. He just needs to shut up and leave office. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe Blanco is an idiot and having a strong governor, like Texas' Rick Perry (not like baby bush Jeb Bush), could have improved the lot of many people. That does not excuse the COMPLETE lack of federal response nor the pathetic political mongering that the white house has done since. George Bush plays with people's lives.

Some facts:

But people on the Gulf Coast say that even if the state and local response had been perfect, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina might not have looked much different. So far, there have been roughly 1,875 homes destroyed by the California wildfires; a White House report says 300,000 homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable by the storm. In California, fires consumed roughly 475,000 acres; more than 52 million acres were affected in the Gulf Coast, said Senator Mary L. Landrieu, a Louisiana Democrat.

“I think you’re comparing a paper cut to an amputation,” said Sally Forman, the former press secretary to Mayor C. Ray Nagin of New Orleans and author of a new book, “Eye of the Storm: Inside City Hall During Katrina.” “We had no communication capability, we could not drive on our roads, we had 80 percent of our city under water, we had no power.”

1,875 homes versus 300,000. 475,000 acres versus 52,000,000 acres. Transportation was nearly unavailable in New Orleans due to flooded roads. Transportation was nearly unavailable in the rest of the Gulf Coast due to downed bridges, houses in the streets and no power.

Here's a personal message to George Bush: Shut up.


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Friday, October 26, 2007

Orleans Parish Prison: K-Ville vs Reality

The character of Trevor Cobb, played by Cole Hauser, was a prisoner in Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) and almost drowned when Katrina struck. His cell mate did drown. In K-ville episode 2, three prisoners escape from OPP and the show centers around that facility.

There is a good possibility that people may believe that prisoners drowned in real life. To set the record straight and provide some additional background for the series, I thought I would share a little bit of real life information about OPP. Just a note, my dad was NOPD and as a kid I used to hang out at central lockup and the court house. I even got a personal tour of a small part of OPP. I know quite a few people who know it a lot more intimately than I do. heh

So, I wanted to share something I read on Java Joe's Journal Jive, Trouble over 'K-Ville': Nothing bad happened at prison!. Apparently, the OPP Medical Director is not happy about what transpired in the K-Ville pilot. I bet he really hates K-Ville's second episode. ;-O

“No one died in the OPP,” says Inglese. “Fiction or not, this depiction is an affront to the medical staff and deputies who, for five harrowing days, risked their lives for the inmates and civilians in their care. They’re among the many unsung heroes of Katrina—as are many inmates—who will never receive the recognition they deserve. Minimally, however, their heroism should not be undermined. Unfortunately, since so many factual depictions make up the back story of K-Ville, viewers nationwide are left with the impression that prisoners under our care drowned.”

That should set the story straight. No one died as OPP during Katrina. It should be noted that Dr Inglese has a book, No Ordinary Heroes: 8 Doctors, 30 Nurses, 7,000 Prisoners and a Category 5 Hurricane, about his experiences.

Having said that, I am sure OPP was not a pleasant place after Katrina hit. From one inmate present at the time (quote provided by the ACLU):

Breakfast on August 29 was the last meal that the inmates ate at the prison—from that point on they had no food or water. Inmate #52 reports that escaping prisoners were shot at, and that "deputies did assault prisoners." Inmate #52 reports the inmates could not breathe, and he "thought we were going to sufacate [sic]." Some inmates found a pipe and started to break windows to get oxygen. After 48 hours on F Side, Inmate #52 was brought to the bridge early Wednesday morning, before the sun came up. The inmates were "told to leave everything behind, and walk out with our hands on our heads. The water was so deep I had [two] small prisoners holding on to me. One on each shoulder." The inmates were taken to the bridge in small boats carrying approximately 8 to 10 prisoners at a time. Once on the bridge, Inmate #52 still did not receive food or water.

Definitely not a pleasant experience. I'm sure the experience wasn't much better for the cops or the guards either, though.

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Blast From New Orleans’ Past: 10 Headlines From The New York Times

Specifically, 10 Headlines From the newly opened, NY Times archive. I present 10 headlines from 1851-1980. Anything before 1922 is freely available. Anything between 1922 and 1980 will cost you to read more than a brief abstract.

I love this stuff. If you like this kind of thing, drop me a note and I'll do some more. If you include a topic list (like Mardi Gras, Shrimp, Flood, etc), I will do a list of old headlines with about that topic.

October 7, 1851, Wednesday

LATEST INTELLIGENCE; Arrival of the Georgia at New-Orleans from Havana--Release of Capt. Ellis, one of the American Prisoners.

The steamship Georgia has arrived at this port in forty-seven hours from Havana. Her news is of no importance, further than the fact that Captain Ellis, one of the recent invaders, has been released from prison. The U. S. steamer Saranan, and ships Albany and Decatur, were at Havana. She brings a large number of passengers and the California mails of September 6th.

October 10, 1851, Wednesday
FATAL AFFRAY IN NEW ORLEANS.--Quite an excitement has been produced in New Orleans, by the death of Alderman William Laughlin, on Sunday evening last, In a rencontre with Ex-Alderman William Silk. Both of the gentlemen were highly respectable. It appears that they met at. Kathman's Coffee-House, at the corner of Bienville and Marais-streets, and got into an altercation, when harsh words were exchanged.

July 4, 1853, Wednesday
The Wreck of the Ship William and Mary--A Passenger's Statement.; From the New-Orleans Picayune

May 15, 1927, Sunday

THE LONG BATTLE TO SAVE NEW ORLEANS; Herculean Labors and Costly Strategy Used to Check the Mississippi
LAST to receive the impact of the crest of the heaviest flood that ever swept down the Mississippi will be the levees that half encircle New Orleans. Will they hold? The eyes of a nation are focused on these man-made embankments that hold the fate of the gay and lovely metropolis of the South, our chief foreign trade port after New York.

September 20, 1947, Saturday

NEW ORLEANS HIT, HURRICANE HOWLS ON TO ARKANSAS; 90-Mile Winds Batter the City as Tidal Waves Flood Bayou Area -- Fury Is Dropping SIX DEAD AND 400 HURT Gulf port Destruction Is Heavy -- Thousands Are Homeless Along Stricken Coast HURRICANE HOWLS ON TO ARKANSAS DESTRUCTION LEFT IN WAKE OF HURRICANE AT NEW ORLEANS
A devastating hurricane was centered in mid-Louisiana early today moving in a northwesterly direction toward Arkansas. Six persons were reported dead along the Gulf Coast and some 400 injured in its wake

April 10, 1955, Sunday

NEW ORLEANS RELIVES ITS CREOLE DAYS; Author of "Bayous of Louisiana," "Queen of New Orleans" and "Plantation Parade."
Today, Easter Sunday, marks the traditional opening of New Orleans' "rival to the Mardi Gras" in its appeal to thousands of travelers--the annual Spring Fiesta. For ten days, through April 20, Orleanians and visitors will join in commemorating the Creole-American civilization which saw its golden days in and about the river city a hundred years or so ago.

September 11, 1965, Saturday

New Orleans Loss In Storm Heavy; 23 Dead in 3 States; STORM LOSS HIGH IN NEW ORLEANS Floodwaters Swirl in Southern Cities After Pounding by Hurricane
Hurricane Betsy dashed itself against lower Louisiana and Mississippi early today and ended a destructive journey that began 15 days ago in the Atlantic Ocean.

November 14, 1960, Monday

U. S. COURT BARS LOUISIANA'S MOVE TO SEIZE SCHOOLS; Enjoins Legislature After It Votes to Call Troopers to Prevent Integration SHOWDOWN DUE TODAY New Orleans Board Plans to Defy State and Admit 5 Negroes to White Classes -- U.S. COURT BARS LOUISIANA MOVE
A special legislative session approved steps tonight to forcibly prevent desegregation of the New Orleans public schools.

April 9, 1971, Friday

Plan for Domed Stadium Stirs New Orleans Resistance
Louisiana officials are going ahead with plans to build a $150 - million air - conditioned sports arena in downtown New Orleans amid allegations of "boondoggle," "swindle" and "kickbacks."

August 9, 1957, Friday

New Orleans Laymen Asks Pope Bar Integration in Archdiocese; POPE GETS APPEAL FOR SEGREGATION
The Association of Catholic Laymen of New Orleans, bypassing its Archbishop, today asked Pope Pius XII to stop racial integration in the church.

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Not Untrue but Misinformed From India

One of the topics that I spend a lot of time on is New Orleans news from places outside New Orleans. I like to see how other people see New Orleans. I especially like news about New Orleans from outside the US. The point of views can be fascinating.

Along those lines, I found an article in The Hindu. The Hindu bills itself as Online edition of India's National Newspaper. This particular article, After the floods, is written by Anjali Kamat and was posted on September 23, 2007.

I don't want top say that the author got it wrong as much as I want to say he is misinformed. For one thing, he starts off with a picture labeled, "Now a Wasteland." Excuse me, New Orleans is not a wasteland. True, there are plenty of areas that need work. Some areas haven't even started work. Calling it a wasteland damages your credibility though.

With all of the half-truths and misinformation in this article, there is one comment that really stands out as being just plain ignorant.

Visiting the post-Katrina landscape of New Orleans is a bit like time travel. It’s a crash course in the long and shameful history of American poverty, injustice, slavery, and racial segregation. But it’s also a window into the future of what other cities in the United States and perhaps across the world could soon look like. That privatised, gentrified, and militarised future is unmistakeably bleak and terrifying.

After a statement like that, you would think the author would provide some information to back up the statement but not in this case. It's a drive-by insulting aimed at New Orleans and all of the US.

But, as I said above, there are some very true statements in the article:
Two years after the flood, little has changed at the Lower Ninth Ward. The scene is eerily reminiscent of images from days after the hurricane.

Or this:
After two years of wrangling with the bureaucracy, owners who had finally received federal money to rebuild their homes returned only to find their houses demolished and their property seized by the city. Meanwhile rent prices had skyrocketed by almost 200 per cent.

The insane cost of living that is currently biting New Orleans is particularly vexing. Until there is additional housing, rent will remain high. With insurance and taxes out of control, I don't see it getting better any time soon.

This following paragraph is a prime example of, almost paranoid, misinformation.
The city’s elite called Katrina a godsend that “cleaned up” the crime-ridden projects. But all Stephanie could talk about was how much she misses the sense of community at the projects. She now lives in Survivors Village, a rat-infested “tent city,” erected in protest by former public housing residents like herself, right across the street from her old home.

Who, in New Orleans, called Katrina a "godsend"? I think they got that from the K-Ville pilot episode.

Even though this article is mostly wrong or warped, I still like reading what people in other places are thinking. The downside to reading this is that I have to ask myself, "Is this the image New Orleans is broadcasting to the world?"

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Jesus, Voodoo and Gay Bars

As I may have mentioned, I am a news junkie. I read everything. Today I found an article in the Florida Baptist Witness called New Orleans: Where voodoo and Christianity collide.

I'm not a very religious person. I don't have anything against people who are. I don't have anything against people who aren't. I don't particularly like being preached to when I'm down in the quarters or off having fun (like at Mardi Gras). This article has a neat viewpoint though that I don't see very often.

"The difference between the French Quarter and [other] suburban areas is the concentration of darkness," Greg Hand, the church's pastor, noted. His wife Wren added, "There is a very real spiritual oppression that is present here."

This quote kind of sets the tone of the article. I have often wondered if people still think of the French Quarter as the ultimate source of debauchery. I guess they do. I can tell you I have been in strip clubs in Florida, Texas and Connecticut that go much further than New Orleans. There are no completely nude strip joints in NO that I know of.

Abner had visited New Orleans before the trip, but he was shocked nevertheless by what he experienced early Sunday morning in the French Quarter. "It was a really sad, sad sight, walking down the street at 9 a.m. and seeing a bar still open," he recounted. "People were drinking, the music was cranked up and folks were slumped over the bar."

That's called having a good time. I don't know many people who do this frequently. If you are drinking at 9am on a daily basis, you're probably homeless and that happens in every city. Of course, the bars being open at 9am might make it a bit easier. ;-)

Whether it's the tourist visiting the city or the person walking out of a "gay bar," the Hands seek to convey a message of love as they walk around the city. One person who was the recipient of "sowing seeds of love is now here [at church] set free," Hand said.

I'm guessing they had a "gay convert" from this quote. So is the person no longer gay or is the person just going to church now? I can't quite tell. I wonder which bar it was?

Anyway, the article is an interesting read. It is definitely from a viewpoint I don't share but that's why I read as much as I do. I like hearing the other side.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

REM's New Orleans Instrumental #1

Some guy created a video from REM's New Orleans Instrumental #1 using an aquarium and some food coloring. It's kind of freaky but if you like the song, it's very relaxing to watch.

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Does New Orleans Need a DA?

I wrote a while back about Eddie Jordan and the racism case. The DA was sued by a bunch of white employees who were fired and immediately replaced by black employees. The white employees won and it looked like a good thing.

Actually, it is still a good thing that racism was taken on and beaten. The bad part is that somehow Eddie J is not responsible for paying. According to this article, This may kill New Orleans entirely, the DA's office may lose furniture and vehicles to cover Eddie's lost suit.

Eddie made the decision, eddie is responsible, eddie should pay.

UDPATE: According to New Orleans City Business (on Oct 24, 2007), the city council is requesting information from the City Attorney.

"Specifically, I requested a legal opinion outlining the city and Council’s rights, responsibilities - if any - and alternatives in satisfying that judgment," Fielkow said.

"I am not inclined to support the use of city funds to satisfy this judgment and await the city attorney’s opinion," Fielkow said.

I think you probably know how I feel. Everyone I hae talked to about this feels the same way. Fielkow puts it best:

“The timing of this issue could not be worse," Fielkow said. "The needs of the city of New Orleans greatly outnumber the resources we currently have, and it is most unfortunate that the DA’s action has caused this burden to be potentially placed on the City of New Orleans and our citizens.

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New Orleans News From Qatar

From The Penninsula, Qatar's Leading English Daily, Mobile health units set up in New Orleans with Qatar Katrina fund.

Qatar was one of the first foreign countries to respond to Katrina and offer assistance. If I'm not mistaken, they offered assistance even before Bush did. Go figure.

March of Dimes, the international agency involved in preventing birth defects of new-born babes, has introduced three mobile health units in New Orleans, by utilising "Qatar Katrina Fund", last week.

With the impacts to health care in New Orleans, gifts like these mean so much more to the locals than do platitudes from US politicians who stop by every few months and make promises on which they never deliver.

“With the Emir's fund, the March of Dimes purchased three mobile health units to provide parental and early paediatric care for mothers and children living in hurricane-damaged areas. These mobile health vans include private examination rooms, waiting areas and nurses' stations, and they are equipped with foetal monitors, ultrasound machines and other medical equipment. A mobile unit is already making an average 35 patient-visits each week, and is expected to serve over 4000 patients throughout the course of the project,” he said.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Voodoo Fest Happens this Weekend

October 26-28, 2007 - Voodoo Fest in City Park. will be streaming the fest live all weekend. If iclips is busy, you can also catch it at La Travel.

This is the 9th year for Voodoo Fest and hopefully the crowd will pass the 100k mark. Last year, 93k people showed up.

If you aren't sure what the Voodoo Fest is, check out this video:

Or skip the documentary and check out this fairly bad video, from last year, of Red Hot Chili Peppers singing Under The Bridge.

Bollinger Shutting Down New Orleans Yard

I just read on that Bollinger Shipyards is closing its New Orleans ship yard. Bollinger makes and repairs many kinds of ships.

They're closing down because it's very likely that the Mississippi Gulf Outlet, the short cut from New Orleans to the Gulf, will be closed down by the Army Corps of Engineers.

All 80 employees currently employed there have been offered jobs at other bollinger sites.

This is a bummer.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jindal Wins the Race

I debated with myself whether or not to write about this. It will be all over the news for a while and I hate being a band wagon jumper. But this blog is about my thoughts and opinions and I have an opinion.

I think Jindal is the wrong person for the position. Personally, I thought Georges would have been a better choice. Don't get me wrong, Blanco is a complete dufus and I don't blame people for wanting a do over.

I honestly don't think the response to Katrina would have been much different had Jindal been governor though. The three things that would have made a difference to a lot of people would have been a different New Orleans mayor, a different Jefferson parish president and a different US president. The governor was a bit player.

The news here is not that La got the best governor that it could but that it did get some firsts: the youngest governor in the US, the first non-white La governor in 100+ years, the first Indian governor. Did I miss any?

What La needs right now is not more politics as usual and Bobby is politics as usual. The state needs a governor who will bring in business and who can change the national, even global, impression of Louisiana as a back water, red neck, third world place where you can only do business with bribery and deceit.

I think Georges would have been able to do that job much better than Jindal. I think it speaks to what kind of a person Georges is that instead of complaining or making excuses, Georges congratulated Jindal and asked everyone to get behind and support Jindal. If Georges had won, would Jindal have had that much class?

A View of K-Ville and Ratings

Dave Walker, from the TP, has a great write up about where K-Ville stands in the ratings game played by the networks. In "'K-Ville' hopes to build ratings momentum starting Monday", Dave discusses how and why K-Ville needs to work on its ratings.

Dave feels that K-Ville has been "trending upwards" creatively and is on the "low end of acceptable" commercially. Personally, I find that is has improved greatly creatively but I have to admit he's right commercially. It's at the bottom of the charts for broadcast ratings.

The episodes have been getting better and better with the characters getting stronger and integrating as a team. The story line of Boulet and his interactions with his family and with ex-partner Charlie is some good TV.

I heard a rumor that K-Ville was moving time slots, but Dave's article sounds like it will be staying right where it is. I'm glad about that but going up against football and Heroes doesn't do it any rating favors.

The big unknown is a Hollywood writer's strike:

One factor in "K-Ville's" future that apparently nobody can control is the possibility of a fall strike by the Writers Guild of America. The guild's contract with studios expires Nov. 1. The sides appear to be far apart on bargaining issues, chief of which is figuring a fair digital-distribution revenue split.

I'm afraid that if there is a strike, K-Ville and everything else at the lowend will be on the chopping block. Dave points out that we will "soon clog with quickie reality shows, reruns, newsmagazines and sports". Ugh. Please no more reality shows. No quickies, not slowies, not any. Just say NO to reality. If I wanted reality, I'd have a life.

Friday, October 19, 2007

JK Rowling In New Orleans

I like the Harry Potter series. I read the first three books and have seen all but the latest movie. My wife however buys the books the day they go on sale and has read the entire series 5 or 6 times.

Anyway, JK Rowling was in New Orleans yesterday and read the first chapter of the latest book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I think my wife would have loved to go see that.

A very cool side effect of that though is that Scholastic (the publisher) is donating 10,000 harry potter books to the New Orleans School system.

Scholastic, the U.S. publishers of the book also announced that they were donating 10,000 copies of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, the first book in the series, to Orleans Parish public school students as well as donating a complete set of the series to each public school and public library in New Orleans.

I hope they share some of those books with parishes around Orleans.

If you're interested, you can also see some pictures.

FEMA Floodmaps On;ine

The title of this entry is supposed to be "FEMA Floodmaps OnLine". Duh, typo. It screws up for some reason if I change it now, though.

fema_flood_map_onlineI read an article today in CityBusiness, Powell: Web site will show flood maps, recovery spending.

FEMA is releasing maps of 100 year flood points. This will allow anyone to see potential flood issues. Powell specifically mentions the obvious business use of the maps.

“For the first time, the citizens of New Orleans will understand the power of a storm like Hurricane Katrina,” Powell said. “When a potential business leader can look at exactly what flood potential there is in a particular area, that is a powerful tool.”

I think the maps will be important for business but I think it's even more important for home owners. The downside to this could be lenders or insurers looking at the map and making life difficult for people who want to buy in the less than pristine areas.

The URL for the FEMA site is It's not available yet and as of today, that link is redirected to the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Gulf Coast Rebuilding.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Racism In The USA

You can hear a lot about racism in the news and when it's in the South, the news person usually has an attitude of, "Well, the south is known to be racist." If it's in the north or west, everyone acts like it's a shock.

I have lived all over the country while working as a consultant. The worst racism I ever saw was in New Haven Connecticut. Of course, not everyone was a racist, anymore than everyone in the south is a racist. I did see some very ugly stuff though.

The thing that amazed me was how secret and sneaky it was. In New Orleans, there was segregation. White lakefront and black lakefront, for example. I didn't even realize that was weird until I was in my 20s. I thought that was just the standard. White lakefront wasn't any better or any worse than black lakefront, it was just segregated by the Bayou St John bridge. That bridge was out of order all through my teens.

Anyway, my point is that the white people who didn't like black people were pretty blatant and outspoken about it. The black people who didn't like white people were just as outspoken. You knew where you stood.

In New Haven, it was sneaky. I was in an elevator with a guy I worked with. A black guy was in the elevator with us. When the black guy got off, my co-worker went off on a racist tirade that was embarrassing to watch. And the black guy hadn't even said anything on the ride. I saw a lot of that.

Now, on to my point. I don't really think much about racism. I try to avoid racists where I can. Color, religion, culture, etc just don't drive my reactions. But hearing constantly about how the South was so much more racist than anywhere else has colored my views.

I had convinced myself that New Haven was an abberation and that the south really was that much worse. Turns out, that's not true. At least not in the last and past behavior is the best indicator of future performance, as they say.

That's why I was interested when I ran across this post on Orcinux, Truth & Reconciliation, Part II: James Loewen on Sundown Towns. I had never heard of a sundown town and that's because it is a uniquely northern and western phenomona.

If you think the town you grew up in didn't have a race problem because either a) it wasn't in the South, or b) it was all white, Loewen -- the author of "Sundown Towns" and an active Unitarian himself -- has news for you.

"When I started researching this subject, I expected to find three types of sundown towns," Loewen recalled. "I expected to find small towns that were all-white because they'd expelled their black populations; suburbs that were all-white because they excluded blacks (and usually Asians and Jews, as well) from the very beginning; and then a third class of places that were all-white simply because African-Americans never got around to coming there.

Sundown Towns are, apparently, towns that did not allow blacks on the street after sundown. According to the author, this was a widespread practice and would make living in a sundown town difficult if you weren't white:
The term "sundown town" refers to the signs that some of these towns put at their city limits, which typically said things like "Whites Only After Dark." (Some of them were far less polite.) However, most sundown towns didn't bother with overt signage: my own hometown of Bishop, CA never actually put up signs; but the police and certain other citizens made it their business to confront black visitors and advise them of the town's policies regarding their presence overnight. Innkeepers refused to rent them lodging as late at the 1980s. (And if you think sundowning was just out in the sticks, note that this was happening just four hours up the highway from LA.)

The really ugly thing is that these towns did not start off as being white only. After blacks were freed slavery and moved into the towns, the townspeople raised barriers to non-whites living and working there. Not really banning them, more of a back-stabbing hidden thing. And remember, this was not the south.
There are regional wrinkles to the pattern. "I expected to find maybe 10 sundown towns in Illinois, and maybe 50 across the US," said Loewen. Instead, he's found over 500 in Illinois alone -- and estimates that there may well be over 10,000 across the US. The movement was apparently strongest in Illinios, Indiana, and Ohio; and weakest in the South. He's only found six sundown towns in Mississippi. "Sundown towns are rare in the south, particularly the 'traditional south,' he notes.

The author mentions the movie Gentlemen's Agreement about a town, in Connecticut no less, that created a covenant to keep blacks and jews out of town.

This is a bizarre issue that I have never heard of. I guess my southern upbringing didn't prepare me for hiding how I feel. Since I'm not black, I can't really say which would bother me more, knowing that someone hated me for such a stupid reason, or thinking they didn't hate me for that reason when they really do. I think I would prefer to be aware of the hate, but that's just me.

Truth & Reconciliation, Part II: James Loewen on Sundown Towns is a really interesting article. Give it read. There is a bit more info and some links on the wikipedia entry for Sundown Town.

I'm sure we would all like to be rid of racism all together but if we had to have one form of it, blatant or hidden, which would you choose?

K-Ville in the New York Times

The NYT had a good write up about K-Ville, Cop Show Comes Calling in Battered New Orleans. I don't particularly like NYT because, for many articles, you have to log in. This headline caught my eye though.

I have three hopes for K-Ville.

1) I hope it doesn't get cancelled. I heard that The Sarah Conner Chronicles will be moving to Monday nights and will displace K-Ville. Uhoh, not good.

2) I hope the shows keeps showing more and more of the precinct and the other officers. I like the story line with ex-partner Charlie, too.

3) I hope, keeping #1 in mind, that the series is very successful over the long term. I don't know if you remember Frank's Place but I hope K-Ville is much more successful. I think having a series every week that keeps New Orleans in people's minds could be very beneficial.

The article says that some people are bothered that in New Orleans, people don't refer to the city as K-Ville. That's true but I have read it quite a bit. I read it from people natives and non-natives. I think the title is a non-issue. I mean it's a TV show for christ's sake. It beats reality TV and Dr Phil.

Best Quote: Employment and other economic benefits are at the heart of that welcome. Ms. Day said that 80 percent of the crew on the show is local. “It takes eight days to film an episode,” she said. “Over that eight days a little more than a million dollars is pumped into the local economy.”

Wikipedia has a write up about K-Ville. Short but good. I'm sure info will be added to it over time.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Racism in New Orleans Takes a Hit

This entry was originally posted in August. I'm consolidating my New Orleans postings in a single blog (this one).

Justice has been served in a racism case that was watched across the US. In 2003, incoming District Attorney Eddie Jordan, who is black, fired over 50 white employees and replaced them with black employees. In 2005, a court found the DA guilty of violating the employees' civil rights.

Jordan appealed, and just this week, the appeals court rejected all points of the appeal and said that Jordan must pay almost US$ 4 million to the defendants and pay court costs for the appeals. The original case found that Jordan's office must pay back pay and damages (minimal from the looks of it). With the appeal, interest has accrued and that's bumped the dollar amount up.

Since Jordan was sued as the N.O. DA, the tax payers will have to pay the money. That part of it sucks but I am glad this instance of racism was brought to light and that the fired employees get back pay. I think they should also get their jobs back, Eddie Jordan's replacements should be fired and Eddie impeached for racism. La doesn't have a stellar record of keeping crooks out of office though.

Racism from the block New Orleans politicos shouldn't surprise anyone. Nagin and his "Chocolate City" comments were the shot heard round the world. Where is Rev Jackson? Where is Sharpton? Where is the NAACP? Shouldn't all of these "fighters for equality and justice for all" be cheering this verdict? Or are they bigots and racists?

They are willing to march in the streets at a perceived slight to a black person but turn a blind eye to this. Which is worse? A blatant racist or one who hides it? I say they're about the same.

According to popular press and pundits, most of the misery of Katrina was directed at blacks and racism played a huge part in people not getting out of New Orleans before the flooding. I know for a fact that there was plenty of misery for everyone, white and black.

I think the main reason New Orleans was ignored was that, when they vote, they primarily vote democrat and are mostly poor (white or not). Three of the four hardest hit parishes in La were a majority white population.

I am sick of hearing about the corruption of New Orleans and Louisiana politicians (black and white). I'm ready for Nagin, Blanco, Jefferson, et al to just leave. Pack up and go. I'm sick of the current set of US politicians too. The 2008 elections can't get here fast enough for me. The worst thing is who will replace Bush?

Who will you vote for your new Governor? It is painful to believe that Nagin was reelected mayor of New Orleans and is now considering a run for governor.

Well, this has turned into a rant so I will stop here. I just want to end this with a call to move away from the racism and politics as usual of the past. New Orleans needs to build a new future. I hope that future starts soon.


Cole Hauser on Playing a Cop

Cole Hauser plays Trevor Cobb, new partner to Anthony Anderson's Marlin Boulet. Trevor escaped from a flooded prison and joined the army before joining the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) and becoming a cop. Cole is working hard to play an authentic NOPD officer.

According to this article at, Cole has been spending time with the real NOPD as research.

"They do things differently in New Orleans, different than around the country as far as the cops I've been around, whether it be New York or Los Angeles," said Hauser. "It's just a different style. As far as playing characters that are cops in New Orleans, it's the best kind of cop you can play. The fact is that in doing things different and being around and just the actual place that we're at in the French Quarter and dealing with Louisiana and Ninth Ward, New Orleans East and seeing the things that these guys go through."

Some of the actors have been allowed to travel with the police, even with SWAT, and get to see how the officers work and what it is like to arrest someone. In addition to getting a close-up introduction to the criminal element in New Orleans, the actors are getting to know the freakshow that is night-time New Orleans (and I say that affectionately).

Even in good times, New Orleans presents a different kind of perp. "It's the people they're dealing with. You have to understand like the French Quarter, everybody thinks New Orleans is the French Quarter. You go down there, everybody is drinking, you're talking about a city that is partying 24/7 and the people that they're dealing with, the perps that they're dealing with, most people are either on drugs in that quarter or drinking out of their mind. So the people that they're dealing with are just, pardon the expression, but out of their minds drunk."

I'm glad these guys are in New Orleans making this show. The NOPD has had some bad publicity, some of it very much deserved, but the cops in New Orleans are mostly good people with a really hard and dangerous job. I'm hoping K-Ville with shed a little light on the real NOPD just as much as I hope that K-Ville will shed some light on the real NOLA. It would be nice if the show spent more time in the precinct and with the various officers.

K-Ville in the News

Since there was no K-Ville on TV this week, here are some links from the last month:

Boston Globe: New Orleans provides turbulent backdrop for 'K-Ville'

As Anderson and the show's writers twist and shout to make points about the desperation and valiance of New Orleans, "K-Ville" becomes less than it could be. Tonight's crime plot is set in motion after a shooting at a Katrina charity event, and the cops proceed to rifle through all levels of society in search of a motive. But that plot comes off as an afterthought, something thrown in to frame the portrait of Boulet. The show would benefit enormously by paying more attention to the crime stories, and letting the pain left in Katrina's wake emerge incidentally, undeniably.

Cincinnati Post
: New on TV: 'K-Ville,' Kelsey, snotty kids

The hook is that this is shot on location in post-Katrina New Orleans. That's supposed to grab at our heartstrings as these cops feel passionate about their city. It comes off in the pilot as just exploiting the city's real-life pain for cheap dramatic purposes. On the other hand, if the city's present-day injustices can be raised with care and compassion in future episodes, it could poignantly make this rise above another cop show. It doesn't in the pilot.

USA Today
: Tasteless 'K-Ville' is the big sleazy

You could argue that any attention is good attention, considering how desperately the city needs our aid. Still, it's hard to see what public good is served by turning New Orleans into some high-octane Deadwood on the Mississippi. Even to suggest that the networks might have some greater social responsibility beyond making money for their stockholders is to risk sounding quaint these days — but it is nevertheless true, and this show violates it.

Philidelphia Inquirer
: ‘K-Ville’ blows ill for New Orleans

It's one of those series where they constantly feel constrained to explain what's going on, even though it's obvious. "You figured we were on to you," Anderson tells a criminal, "so you wanted to send a message."

The only message here is: Change the channel.

Spokesman Review: 'K-Ville' puts Big Easy in spotlight

The camera shows both sides of New Orleans, the vibrant tourist center of the French Quarter as well as the unreclaimed squalor of its abandoned districts. And if the first two episodes are any indication, both sides of the city share the same atmosphere of corruption. "K-Ville" is a place where rich and powerful puppet masters wield enormous power with a callous cruelty befitting petty colonels in a Third World banana republic. This may or may not reflect the true state of things in New Orleans, but "K-Ville's" rich gumbo of cynicism and doom fits in rather nicely with Fox's Monday-night buffet of "Prison Break" and "24" – shows shot through with paranoia and conspiracy, where the treachery and treason reach all the way to the top.

San Francisco Chronicle: Goodman: New Orleans deserves better than mediocre 'K-Ville'. That's TIM goodman, not JOHN Goodman.

The most distinguishing element - and the most important - in the new Fox drama "K-Ville," is that it's filmed on location in New Orleans. It's a cop show about life, post-Katrina, in the Big Easy, so the people determined to rebuild there might as well get some of the benefits of a local production.

Mercury News: Oh, 'K-Ville,' can you break out of cop box?

Is it fair to demand more? After all, the series is fighting against a tide of escapist TV and more specifically against a show -- "Heroes" -- that defines the trend. "K-Ville's" humble, street-level heroes can't fly or teleport themselves, so what's wrong with deploying a few slam-bang theatrics to help level the playing field?

Monday, October 15, 2007

A New Orleans Musical?

I've been out of touch for a few days because my laptop died and I went on a short camping trip. I'm baaaaack.

Looks like the big news today is that David Simon, producer of The Wire, might be making a mini-series for HBO about musicians in New Orleans. I'll definitely try to find out more about this.

According to the New Yorker,

The series will focus on New Orleans’s music community, and Simon plans to base some of the main characters on real people: a jazz trumpeter named Kermit Ruffins, who plays with a band called the Barbecue Swingers; Donald Harrison, Jr., a musician who is also the chief of an Indian tribe that performs at Mardi Gras; and Davis Rogan, a local d.j. and piano player. Rogan was at the parade—Simon had picked him up earlier at his house, whose decrepit interior had more shades of paint than I had ever seen in any dwelling. Rogan is a tall, shambling guy with unruly sandy hair and a soul patch. He seemed to know every musician in New Orleans, and perhaps two-thirds of the people at the parade. He teaches music in the New Orleans schools, and he once ran for state representative on a platform of legalizing marijuana and using the revenues to fix the city’s streets—“Pot for potholes!” was his slogan.

The article also says that Simon is a freak for realism. That could be awesome for a series.

I've read in other blogs where people say K-Ville needs to watch out. I think a series by Simon will be so different, that it may even get more people watching K-Ville, just to see more of New Orleans if for nothing else.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Wall Street Journal Slams La Politicians

The WSJ recently had an article, The Big Not-So-Easy. The article is mostly about Jindal and how "it's his race to lose" but there are a few other interesting notes: Huey P Long, Georges, Edwards, David Duke, Vitter, Jefferson, and more.

The best part of the article, and the most damning for anyone who cares about New Orleans and La:

Sadly for Louisianans the list goes on. And it grew longer after the political bumbling in the wake of Katrina and its destruction. Gov. Blanco and Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, aren't so much real people anymore as walking editorial cartoons. For lampooning purposes only, not to be taken seriously.

When I talk to people from out of state, about New Orleans, one of the first things people say about Nagin is, "Well, the people there re-elected him. They deserve what they get." That sucks but it's something a lot of people are thinking. Blanco and Nagin are worse for New Orleans than Katrina could ever hope to be.

7000 Jobs Coming to the New Orleans Area?

According to CityBusiness, Korean deal closer to fruition in Jeff Parish. According to this story, a deal with Korean firm M.K International to build a new film studio in Elmwood (in Metairie) on a 2.3 acre lot.

This is the same firm that has discussed an interest in buying 200 acres to build a modular home construction facility. This facility could employ up to 7000 people.

That would be very good for the entire region.

AAPOR Comes To New Orleans

Another conference is heading to New Orleans. The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) will be in New Orleans May 15-18, 2008. It will be held at the Sheraton on Canal. This conference will bring almost a thousand public opinion research scientists to the city.

This is the 63rd AAPOR conference and the theme is “Polls for the Public Good“. The speakers will concentrate on the ways in which public opinion research since Hurricane Katrina can be used for the public good.

This is another good win for New Orleans and is just the kind of the city needs.

Friday, October 12, 2007

K-Ville Season 1, Episode 4 - The New Orleans Lesbian Voodoo Dead Episode

Well, I finally got watch the DVRed episode 4. I am live blogging this, i.e. I am writing notes and thoughts as I watch it rather than after.

It starts out with Cobb flipping over a katrina-ized refrigerator and pulling out a wad of cash. After cleaning and drying it, he head's over to an unknown woman's trailer.

Flashback to the cell with his cellmate and a discussion about the cellmate's girlfriend.

Back to the present, we can guess that that's the unknown woman. She looks somewhat familiar to me but I can't place her. He gives here $21,250 and tells her it's legit.

Cobb gets a call on the cell and leaves. The team is standing around looking at a female body. Around the body is voodoo paraphernalia. But's it's a staged scene. Boulet knows cause Boulet knows all.

Best line is when Boulet says he once went kosher to impress a girl. A co-worker asks how that worked out. "Great, until she caught me two timing with a roast pork poboy!" heh

There is the obligatory voodoo explanation about voodoo being a religion and not a cult.

The dead woman, Mary, payed cash for her bar and house. She had been in New Orleans for only five years and there was no paper trail on her before that.

Boulet's deserting ex-partner Charlie is back again. The chief is giving officers who deserted a chance to come back. Charlie wants to get his job back and asks Boulet to be a character witness for him.

Charlie tells Boulet he can get him a gig on a security detail at a hotel where he can clear 10 or 15k extra per year. Boulet takes it as a bribe and goes off on him.

Would you be opposed to Charlie going back to work if you were Boulet? I'm not sure how I would react.

Cobb and Boulet talked afterwards and Cobb makes a good point. The stories of snipers and daughters being raped. It's hard to judge if you weren't a cop during and after the storm.

Boulet and Cobb investigate Mary's house. It's sparse, no books, looks like she wasn't far from running. They find a Tupperware thingie in the back of a toilet. Letters with no names or addresses.

They get info on the voodoo paraphernalia and track it back to a DJ. They go to his house and find voodoo hoodoo so they break in. The DJ takes off in a car and almost runs over Cobb. What does Cobb do? He hops on the roof.

Of course, the super duo catch him. For a fat guy, Boulet sure can move. Doesn't even breath hard. The only thing is that the he turns into a she. The runner, I mean, not Boulet.

Sam, the DJ, was in love with Mary, the dead girl. New Orleans, Lesbian Voodoo. Cool!

Sam gave Mary an article that a local paparazzi took. Mary was a Katrina angel helping people with mortgages and stuff. The guy talked to Mary who said she didn't want credit but the guy still used her image and name in the article.

Ohhh. They track down the dead woman's history. Turns out Mary has been dead for 20 years. I'm guessing this is a case of stolen identity as opposed to an return to life situation. Add undead to the New Orleans Lesbian Voodoo though and that would be a cool story. ;-)

The captain says he's thinking about bringing Charlie back and gives Boulet his personnel file. Talk about a big no no. That's a good way to lose your job. I'm still very curious what's in it though.

Is it just me, or is the story about Charlie and the rest of the crew more interesting than the "main" story? I'd really like them to spend more time at the precinct, ala Hill Street Blues.

Back on the main story, Mary was a battered woman and had old broken bones. The original Mary died in a factory fire. She may have been connected to a battered woman's group or something.

Cobb and Trever go to Mary's funeral to talk to Mary's friend. She was the one who sent the love letters that were in the toilet. They met in a bettered woman's shelter.

The cellmate's girlfriend that Cobb gave the 21k to gets arrested for passing marked bills from a bank robbery. Holy crap, doesn't that suck!

They tracked down "Mary" and she was from Ohio. She had 5 restraining orders on her husband in Ohio. When the local cops went to his work to talk to him, the secretary said he was on vacation in New Orleans.

Cobb talked to the girl he gave the money to. He pretty much convinced her not to turn him in. Boulet figured out the deal and told Cobb that after the current case he either had to turn himself in or Boulet would do it for him.

Boulet and Cobb visit the hotel where the ex-husband was staying and after throwing him on the ground, they arrest him. He denies everything. He has a new, battered wife and after giving her all the information, she admits that they weren't together the entire night on the night Mary died. Busted!

Cobb confesses to the Captain that he was the one who gave the other woman the 21k. But while Cobb is confessing, Boulet comes in and says he was the one who gave her them money. He said that he found the money while cleaning houses.

You never abandon your partner.

Boulet finally reads Charlie's personnel file. He heads over to a bar to have a beer with Charlie. Boulet buys him a beer and shoots a game of pool.

You never abandon your partner.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

New Orleans Pumps Flawed?

I read today at the Environment News Service, New Orleans Pumps Flawed, Whistleblower Discloses. First, does this surprise anyone? Isn't that the whole reason New Orleans flooded?

Anyway, the story is about a Corps engineer is saying that safety features were bypassed and that the pumps are not fully functional.

The top U.S. Army Corps of Engineers specialist assigned to oversee the city's new pumping system says that key safeguards were circumvented and "there is an erroneous assumption that…hydraulic pumps are fully operational, and hence, the risk to the public remains high," in the words of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

The engineer, Maria Garzino, has filed for whistle blower protection.

Garzino filed the disclosure with the OSC after finding that the Corps "misled [her] into believing that USACE was going to properly address the pumping equipment problems."

I'm not all that surprised.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Kaiser Post-Katrina Baseline Survey

The Kaiser Family Foundation has released The Future of New Orleans: Young Adults in the Greater New Orleans Area. According to the paper, this was a series of face to face interviews conducted in the Fall of 2006 with about 1500 current residents of New Orleans.

The survey was to find out how people were feeling about living in New Orleans and what their plans were. By and large, it looks like a traumatized population.

The future of New Orleans depends in part on the strength of its residents and their commitment to the area. One of the most encouraging findings from the survey, as previously reported, is that the vast majority of younger and older residents say they plan to stay in the area. However, a finding of potential concern is that young adults (18 percent) are more likely than their older counterparts (8 percent) to say they’re planning or seriously considering moving away from the area.

Those numbers don't really surprise me. Almost everyone in my family was negatively affected by Katrina, some more than others, but I am the only immediate family member not living there. People from New Orleans want to live in New Orleans. The numbers do say that people who moved to New Orleans after Katrina are more likely to want to leave. Again, not very surprising.

Many young adults reported suffering significant setbacks as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Similar to their older counterparts, more than a third (35 percent) of 18-34 year-olds reported that their general life satisfaction was lower now than before the storm, including nearly half (45 percent) of young adults in Orleans Parish.

While the above paragraph was not surprising to me, the following was:
Despite these setbacks, when it comes to recovering from the effects of the hurricane, most young adults (71 percent) say their lives have largely or almost returned to normal since Katrina. In fact, in Orleans Parish, young adults are significantly more likely than their older counterparts to say their lives are back to normal.

I don't know anyone who says that life is anywhere near back to normal. Even traffic patterns have been skewed since the storm. Housing is nearly unaffordable (when you can find it). The number of doctors in town is still way off and half the hospitals are still closed. I can't imagine such a high number saying life is getting back to normal.

Kaiser has additional resources that you can use to get more information about this survey. To me, this is a very important survey, because like Kaiser, I think the youth in New Orleans will have a large impact of the success of any New Orleans recovery.


K-Ville Season 1, Episode 2 Synopsis

I haven't watched episode 4 yet. I have it DVR'd. In the meantime, here are my thoughts about episode 2.

The show started off with several guys running through a swampy area. In the beginning dialog, they said that there was a prison escape but the area they show wasn't parish prison, that's for sure. The are they were in was swampy. Supposedly it was OPP (Orleans Parish Prison) but that is not what the area around OPP looks like.

All the local cops were pulled into the man hunt and when they were discussing where the escapees might be, they were talking about the area around Bonnable Blvd. Cool that they ended up in Jefferson Parish right away. Old stomping grounds for me.

Of course, Cobb's first thought was did he know these guys? He said he didn't but he had the scoop on how three men can escape together. I don't know why Cole thought it would be easier to hunt down every possible contact of one of the escapees than actually searching the likely areas, but that's what they do. Of course, Cobb's instinct worked out.

I have to mention something here. I like hot sauce. All kinds of hot sauce. The show had Boulet put hot sauce (crystal, I assume) in his oatmeal. Uck. Hot sauce on eggs sure. Even on grits. But oatmeal. Uck.

Cole's instincts seem to pan out. The contact and escapees are at the airport. They called it Louie Armstrong? Do you call it that? Everybody I know either calls it "the airport" or they call it Moisant.

One escapee says he's not going back so Marlin has to shoot him in the leg and then hit him in the face. The guy Cobb is after says if he goes back, he's as good as dead. The prison guard (Carlson) leading the search for the escapees, starts shooting and Cobb knocks him down. The escapee hops in a car, tries to run over Cobb and then takes off. The escapee gets away by nailing a few cars on the down ramp from the airport parking garage.

Nice. The escapee (I think his name was Tim Dunlevy?) dumps the car in Metairie. The characters then talk about Kenner. Cool. JP Rocks. This is what I want in the show. More and more about the local area.

Corruption Cliche Alert. This is a major plot point.

Apparently, there is some obvious bad blood between NOPD and OPP. There's some crap about OPP keeping people in jail for years because of drunk and disorderly or spitting on a sidewalk. The escapees that were caught are ordered back into the sheriffs custody by a Mr. Deville, the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff.

They get to interview more rich folk. The escapees rich folk parents didn't know that their son was in jail for two years. He just happens to have a 100k trust fund. It's getting a little deep here.

BTW, there are some great shots on the lead in to advertisements. I really like the shot of the French Quarter and street performers.

Trevor and Boulet roust out the escapee's girlfriend (Kelly Burke) and she tells them the boyfriend's life is in danger but doesn't know why. Boulet gets a call; one of the inmates who was caught was killed in only two hours after being returned to OPP.

Marlin and Trevor go to OPP to do "further investigation". All they find in the investigation is some sheet music that Dunlevy wrote while in prison. Boulet takes a sheet.

They get to see where the alleged breakout occurred. They see the cell block Cobb was in when he was help in OPP and he has a flashback of the flood and the drowning of his cell mate.

While talking to Corrupt Carlson, Dunlevy calls the precinct house and gets patched through to Cobb, the only person he'll talk to. As they talk, as Dunlevy is about to give Cobb the scoop, prisoners walk through the caged walkaway and one of them jumps Cobb. Carlson pepper sprays Cobb and the prisoner. Cobb punches Carlson in the face.

The Deville is not amused. Cobb calls the sheriff and Carlson liars and says their stories don't match. Turns out the captives were on a work detail when they escaped. I knew the area they were in was not OPP. The area was the marshy area near airline. I used to go crawfishing out that way as a kid.

Best line of the show: If you tried to play this music it would sound like chicken sex.

Trevor and Boulet head out to the marshy area near Airline to look around. While there, Carlson is spying on them. This guy is trouble.

Trevor and Cobb go back to the precinct to interview girlfriend Kelly. Turns out, the chicken sex, sheet music was code for the girlfriend. They use the good cop/good cop on her to get her to talk. She does.

She gives up a bartender who is involved. They give the password and the bartender tells them Dunlevy is in a store room in back. Sure enough he is. Trevor heads back to talk to him. While Trevor is talking to Dunlevy, Carlson comes in to kill him. Boulet is right behind him and gets the drop on the bad guy (Carlson).

After a brief mexican standoff, Carlson shoots Boulet, Cobb shoots Carlson, Dunlevy takes off. Boulet's vest takes the hit. Boulet calls in help while Trevor goes on a foot chase after Dunlevy.

Trevor finds him and tells him to talk or get his head blown off. Dunlevy knows details of a company named "Shore" (Shell?) who does offshore drilling. Offshore drilling creates tons of toxic sludge. Dumping the sludge is expensive so the sheriff is using prisoners to dump barrels of it in the marsh.

Trevor believes him and lets him go.

In the debrief with the DA, Sheriff Deville stops in for a few words with Cobb. He threatens Cobb but it turns out Cobb already has friends retrieving the barrels of sludge which can then be tracked back to Shore and Deville. Very Pat.

It ends with Cobb visiting the grave of his dead cell mate. Cobb and Boulet walk off together.

So what do you think of the show so far? Worth watching? I've been hearing less complaining about accents and such but that might be that those people quit watching. Personally, I'm still enjoying it.


Gubernatorial candidates offer array of insurance ideas

CityBusiness had a good article today, Gubernatorial candidates offer array of insurance ideas. Decent prices for insurance is important to the entire Gulf Coast so this is a good discussion for the candidates to have.

Walter Boasso and Bobby Jindal want to force more insurers to offer homeowners policies covering wind damage. Foster Campbell wants to team up with other coastal states and negotiate, as one, with insurance companies for lower rates.

John Georges said he would consider offering insurers $100 million in incentives — on top of the $100 million in taxpayer money that's already being offered to companies that agree to write policies along Louisiana's coast.

"I want to provide the carrot approach, as opposed to the stick," said Georges, an independent from New Orleans.

I think Georges is out of his mind. How does he plan to pay for that? What is the benefit of paying insurance companies who are already ripping people off?

I do like one approach though.

Campbell said he would talk with governors of other Gulf and Atlantic states and pool their insurance markets into one, multi-state market. That coalition of states would then represent a massive insurance market whose governments could negotiate with insurance companies from a position of greater strength, demanding more reasonable rates for homeowners along the coast and farther inland.

"Then you could tell them, 'If you want to do business in our states, we're not going to be robbed. You're going to have to do something for our coastal people,'" said Campbell, a Democratic member of the Public Service Commission from Bossier Parish.

This is a great approach. It benefits the people instead of the insurance companies (which Blanco and Georges seem to want to do) and spreads the goodness of it across all the gulf states. I'd like to hear more from Campbell. Actually, I would like all of the politicians in La, Miss, Fl, and Al to hear more from Campbell.


Monday, October 8, 2007

New Orleans Tour From New Zealand

I ran across this blog entry from House Of Travel called the Kiwi Travel Blog. This is woman from New Zealand who travels to New Orleans and interviews a ex-pat kiwi limo driver. It's supposed to be third in a series.

There are some links at the bottom of the page to other New Orleans stories.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Obama’s Plan to Restore New Orleans

Obama's got a plan. I'll try not to be cynical and give him the benefit of the doubt. He's a fairly new politician so maybe he actually means what he says.

From the NY Times, Obama’s Plan to Restore New Orleans. His planned approach is a welcome one:

The Gulf Coast restoration, Mr. Obama said, has been weighed down by red tape that has kept billions of dollars from reaching Louisiana communities. As president, he said, he would streamline the bureaucracy, strengthen law enforcement to curb a rise in crime and immediately close the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet in order to restore wetlands to protect against storms.

As is his plan to appoint a czar (let's not call it an overseer):
Mr. Obama, according to details provided by his campaign, said he would appoint a chief coordinating officer to “cut through bureaucratic obstacles” and a chief financial officer “to minimize waste and abuse.” Only about 40 percent of the money allocated by FEMA to rebuild schools, hospitals and other infrastructure has reached Louisiana communities, he said, which could be improved upon with better coordination.

I honestly think that one is the most significant.

He also wants to start a drug enforcement agency in New Orleans and start a "Cops for Katrina" program to hire more police and prosecutors. I wonder how all of this will be paid?


Katrina - A Second, Melancholy Anniversary

Originally posted on 8/29/2007.

I am feeling somewhat melancholy and homesick today. More so than last year. I'm not sure why. Things have gotten better in New Orleans but for some reason I am more depressed this year as the anniversary rolls around. Maybe it's because two years later and things aren't further along.

My mom is moving out of her trailer at the end of this month. Housing is outrageous. My nephews have jobs. I have two less siblings this year than I did two years ago. I didn't think it was possible for New Orleans to have fewer IT jobs than it did several years ago but that is the unfortunate truth.

So, today, I will leave you with two NPR stories. You can follow the links to hear the recordings.

The first is titled: Dear New Orleans: I'm Leaving You. This is the story of a reporter, a non-native, who had adopted New Orleans as her home. A female representative of Generation K. Eve from K-Ville. Maybe that makes her a native.

The story isn't so much about her as it is about the sadness and the crime permeating the city two years after Katrina. The big easy that is less easy. Her feelings about New Orleans seem to be a lot like mine:

They don't understand that I'm in love. I talk to friends about New Orleans like a dysfunctional romance. I gush over it one day, then call up bawling and heartbroken the next. Why can't it change? Stop being self-destructive and violent? It has so much potential.

I don't live in New Orleans anymore. I don't know if I ever will. But I am still a local. I always will be. There is something about New Orleans that forces that on you. Even through the embarrassment of re-electing Nagin, I will forever be a child born in Mercy Hospital.

The reporter, Eve, is leaving New Orleans after a friend being murdered, after friends being mugged, after being mugged herself. I wish her the best. Go to the link above and listen to the audio. It's worth a few minutes.

The next story is a little different. Another non-native but one that went the other direction. From sensing an initial futility to being hopeful. Amid Lingering Chaos, Hope for New Orleans' Future, is a story about a reporter who has been reporting on New Orleans for the last two years.

He's seen the rebuilding struggle but understands what a special place New Orleans is. What special people New Orleanians are. Even though it is special, it has always had its issues:
Because the fact is, long before Katrina, New Orleans — a unique gem, with its own architecture, food and musical styles — was in many ways a broken city.

Poverty was endemic, the schools were among the worst in the nation, public housing was a mess, streets and other infrastructure badly needed fixing, and political corruption was a fact of life that led many to believe things couldn't change for the better.

And that's all true. I can't argue with that. It's been that way as long as I can remember. I don't know what kind of ratings my schools had. When I saw the picture of my elementary school under 4 feet of water, I cried. It doesn't matter what the rest of the world thought of it, it was my school.

The first time I went back to my mom's house afterwards, and saw the walls gutted, I felt sick. I could see from one end of the house to the other. Nothing in the way except studs, pipes and wires. Most of the wires needed to be replaced. She was fortunate. She was able to sell the house and move out (and on).

The fact is, with all the corruption, with all of the broken promises (at the federal, state and local levels), with the abandonment of the insurance companies, New Orleans and the surrounding areas are moving on. It is sometimes painful and very often difficult, but New Orleans is a special place.
It's a mix that was created by Spanish, French, African-American, Creole, Italian, Irish and Cajun influences. Add to that mix the Vietnamese of the Versailles neighborhood, who have pulled together to rebuild their neighborhood without waiting for outside help. New Orleans continues to defy planners, just as it defies order. If you want nice, go to Disney World.

I second that.


Shelley Midura’s Open Letter and Katrina Two Years Later Fact Sheet

Shelley Midura, New Orleans City Council member, recently posted a Katrina 2 year fact sheet. I thought this was a very informational post and wanted to pass it along. The sheet, Katrina Two Years Later Fact Sheet, covers some interesting details.

Based on this fact sheet, Shelley created an open letter to George Bush. I am including the open letter here. Check out the fact sheet also though as the information is a bit more concise. Based on what I have been hearing about Shelley Midura and this open letter, I am thinking this is a person that New Orleans needs. I am glad she is on the city council and I hope she moves on to better things (like Mayor).

Posted: 29 Aug 2007 at 11:17am

An open letter to President George W. Bush:

August 28, 2007

Dear Mr. President:

Thank you for visiting New Orleans for the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the worst federal levee-failure disaster in United States history followed by the worst federal disaster response in United States history. We’re also grateful for the $116 billion federal allocation for the Gulf Coast. That $116 billion has served you well, as your spokesmen often cite it as an indicator of your dedication to our recovery. But, it hasn’t served us as well -- it’s not enough, it’s been given grudgingly, and only after our elected officials have had to fight for it. So I feel I must correct the record about you and your administration’s dedication to our recovery and implore you to take action to make things better.

Indeed, you have allocated $116 billion for the Gulf Coast, but that number is misleading. According to the Brookings Institute's most recent Katrina Index report, at least $75 billion of it was for immediate post-storm relief. Thus only 35% of the total federal dollars allocated is for actual recovery and reconstruction. And of that recovery and reconstruction allocation, only 42% has actually been spent. In fact, while your administration touts "$116 billion" as the amount you have sent to the entire area affected by Katrina and the levee failures, the actual long term recovery dollar amount is only $14.6 billion. This amount is a mere 12% of the entire federal allocation of dollars, billions of which went to corporations such as Halliburton for immediate post-storm cleanup work, instead of to local businesses. Contrast that to the $20.9 billion on infrastructure for Iraq that the Wall Street Journal reported in May 2006 that you have spent, and it’s an astonishing 42% more than you have spent on infrastructure for the post-Katrina Gulf region. The American citizens of the Gulf region do not understand why the federal obligation to rebuilding Iraq is greater than it is for America's Gulf coast, and more specifically for New Orleans.

K-Ville Pilot Recap

When Katrina hit, Marlin Boulet, an NOPD cop did his best to help the people of his city. His partner despaired of the death and destruction and freaked out. He took the patrol car and drove away leaving behind and unbelieving Martin.

Flash forward to today, in New Orleans. Marlin is doing a bit of drinking, a bit more than he should. Today he gets a new partner and runs into the old one. He doesn't know if he can trust the former because he knows he can't trust the latter. Both will work to gain his trust.

Partner "nut job", aka Trevor Cobb, is an afghan vet, specifically Kandahar. He's a cop from up north. Or is he? Hmmmmm. He's refers to the neutral ground as ground. He also knows the streets around town awfully well for a newbie.

While covering a fund raiser, Kasha Fontaine, a singer and close friend of Marlin's, is shot. The bad guys escape in an old gold beater car. Obligatory car chase ensues. We are treated to a tour of New Orleans at speeds I have not traveled since I was a teenager, ironically on some of the exact same streets. ;-0

The chase ends at a casino. The perps escape into the casino, on foot and are followed by our intrepid heroes. The perps escape but we find out that the cameras in the casino have been moved around so that no video images are captured. Voila! It's a clue.

Marlin assumes that an old boyfriend of the singer is the guilty party and takes him trawling. Well, dunks him. Best pun of the show: while Marlin is dunking the boyfriend off the side of a shrimp boat, Trevor asks him, "Don't you think this is overboard?" Bwahahahaha.

At home, Marlin's wife and little girl can't deal with the lack of services, schools, crime, etc. They need to leave. They want to head back to Atlanta. Marlin decides he can't leave. This is his city and someone has to stay behind to take control back from the thugs.

Sometimes you have to stand and fight for what you believe in.

At a night time fund raiser, we're introduced to a southern beauty, Christina DuBois, a New Orleans native of the uptown variety. She has dedicated herself to raising funds to help the city and bring the natives back. We also learn that her brother was killed in a bad part of town.

A big black SUV drives by and open up with automatic weapons. Marlin and Trevor's police car is blown up. Just another night in k-town. This time it becomes obvious that the shooters were not shooting to kill. They were shooting to scare.

The old partner, Charlie, comes back to make things right. He gives Marlin information that points towards men, men who work at the casino, who incidentally work for Christine DuBois' father. These men are with the Blackriver security group; gulf war vets. Charlie wants to be a cop again.

The bad guys send a message to Martin. They put a hose in his window. I know that would freak me out. The casino/blackriver guys get arrested.

Best one-line of the show: There are more loose ends here than in a whorehouse.

From this point on it's a pretty pat detective show. The Blackriver guys were really working for uptown girl. She was angry about her brother's death and did not want "those people" moving back in.

A nice little car chase ensues when the blackriver guys decide to take out uptown girl to protect themselves. Ex-partner Charlie just happens to be on the road during the car chase and crashes the into the bad guys SUV. He's injured in the crash and is kidnapped by the bad guys.

Said bad guys take off and head to the port where a helicopter is waiting. Charlie is dumped, while in a car, into the river. Boulet freezes and Trevor has to rescue Charlie. Boulet unfreezes and wraps a chain around the helicopter so that they can't take off. Good guys win.

Oh yeah, the new partner, Trever Cobb? He's a really a con who is trying to change his life around. He's secretly a New Orleans boy.

The End of Episode 1

Best Parts: Seeing so much of the city. Seeing people living, working, having fun, etc. Knowing that the rest of the world now knows that there is no standing water in New Orleans.

Worst Parts: Marlin Boulet only has two expressions: anger and WTF. Story is somewhat cliche. Characters need to build up.

Summary: It's a new show and needs a few episodes to find its feet. I'll be watching.

Question to any readers: Do you like a post with this much detail for each episode or do you think it's just overkill? Please let me know.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Bit of New Orleans History

New Orleans is a city surrounded by water. It is one of the few cities in the world that is in such a situation but is not an island. The land where New Orleans was to be built was a mosquito infested, swampy, hurricane-prone, flooded landscape. Why would anyone in his or her right mind built a city in such a place?

It is hard today to fathom why. After Katrina and the devastation it caused, many people wondered why build a city in a bowl. The answer lies in its position between land, river and ocean.

New Orleans (Louisiana.)  Lewis, Henry, 1819-1904.
Photo Courtesy of Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

When New Orleans was founded, and for several hundred years afterwards, shipping was the most efficient method of moving goods from one place to another. Even today, that still holds true for international goods. In the mainland of the US, trains have replaced shipping but for many years, ships provided good everywhere.

The Mississippi river connects Canada and the interior of the US to the Gulf of Mexico. Anyone who could hold (militarily) the mouth of the Mississippi would control the shipment of goods throughout the US. Thus, New Orleans, with its strategic location would become one of the premier cities of the United States. It was even considered as a Capitol city at one point, but that is a different story.

Jumping ahead to 1800, Spain controlled a vast territory in the New World called Louisiana. The small, at that time, US had no particular interest in buying that land. That land which ran from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada. The US and Spain had a treaty, the Pickney Treaty of 1795, that allowed American navigation of the Mississippi River and access to the Port of New Orleans. More than a quarter of everything produced in America traveled to the Gulf via the Mississippi River.

In 1801, France resumed control of Louisiana and America's views on that changed. President Jefferson was concerned that France would try to block American use of the river stangling American growth. France at that time was the traditional American enemy. To make matters worse, Napoleon made public his intentions to occupy Louisiana and make that land the bread basket of France in America.

Many in the US wanted to declare war on France. Not just for this but it added fire to the flame. The Federalists had wanted war for a long time and this gave them added impetus. Jefferson did not want war and struggled for a way out. He wrote to the US ambassador to France and said (I paraphrase), "The day that France takes possession of New Orleans is the day we must marry ourselves to the British fleet and nation." Meaning that he was willing to go to war over New Orleans. He also instructed the ambassador to make sure that the French, in particular, Napoleon, understood that.

France was facing a slave revolt in the Caribbean. Between fighting and yellow fever, Napoleon lost over 40,000 soldiers. He could not afford a war with the US and Britain. The US wanted to purchase New Orleans for $10 Million. Napoleon sold all of Louisiana for $15 Million, only 3/4 of which they were required to pay (the rest went to reparations to the US government).

In one fell swoop, the US doubled its land by acquiring Louisiana. The purchase was ratified in 1803 and Louisiana was admitted to the Union in 1812.