Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tuesday morning news dump

Posted by on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 3:46 PM

BASKET-WHAT?: We know New Orleans is in football mania right now, but a team called the New Orleans Hornets would like to remind you that they start training camp today.

DUDE, YOU'RE GETTING A DELL, AND IT'S BEEN SITTING ON A SHELF FOR MONTHS: WDSU led its 10 p.m. news last night with images of computers still boxed up on shelves in the inspector general's office. Sounds like not much has changed since last January, when we reported the IG's office still didn't have networked computers or a dedicated server.

CHINESE DEMOCRACY: State Sen. Julie Quinn, who has been a bulldog on the issue of Chinese drywall, is in Washington today to lobby for legislation against the use of the material.

A LONGER CAUSEWAY?: The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway may no longer be the longest bridge in the world, if the Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Causeway gets built; it's planned to be 25 miles long, as compared to our Causeway's mere 23.6. Construction is skedded to start next year. (Hat tip to Chad Bower at WWL-TV.)

DUMB: Newsweek runs a piece advocating for the death of the daily newspaper. Apparently local news is better served by weekly newsmagazines running cover stories like "Is Your Baby Racist?".

FOOTPRINTS IN MID-CITY: "Inside the Footprint" examines the structures currently sitting where the proposed LSU/VA hospital is scheduled to be built:

We seek to document the "footprint" of the proposed LSU-VA Hospital slated for construction in Lower Mid-City in New Orleans, Louisiana.

We believe locating the hospital(s) in other downtown locations, such as the vacant Charity Hospital, represents a better plan for moving forward - one that does not involve the eviction of numerous individuals and families who returned after Hurricane Katrina, the destruction of viable businesses, and the elimination of many historic structures.

While much of the footprint is in tough shape by a number of measurements, we hope to focus on the many aspects that nonetheless show that the neighborhood's wholesale elimination to make way for vast swaths of parkings lots, for example, is unwise and should be avoided.

KATRINA FOOTBALL: The city collectively groaned during last Sunday's Saints game when Fox Sports saw fit to run images of New Orleans in the throes of the federal floods. Michael Homan asks the question that was on my mind:

I believe it is important to let people across the country know that we still need help rebuilding. But at what point will we be able to watch a football game and not have to hear about Katrina? At the same time, my passion for the Saints is inextricably tied to my experiences during the flood and afterwards.

We play the NY Jets this Sunday. Why is it appropriate to show our city under water after the federally maintained levees gave way, but not appropriate to show the twin towers collapsing?

• AND FINALLY: The Reggie-Kim romance is back on (at least in the press), and the Web site Sports Odds is wondering how such a momentous

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New Orleans Sports Scuttlebutt.

Posted by on Tue, Sep 29, 2009 at 6:00 AM

wooohooo

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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Welcome back Pierre Thomas! The Saints won a defensive battle in Buffalo 27-7, thanks in part to a monster second half from the resurgent third year back. No, its not a misprint, and you may want to hold off on scheduling that annual appointment with your optometrist (at least for the moment). These aren't your grandfather's Saints. They're not just a high-scoring side-show that finds a way to manufacture a loss- these Saints are catching up to the curve knocking it out of the park.

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Gregg Williams has the defense improving week to week and  playing  at a high caliber. The stingy Saints "D" only allowed 243 yards from scrimmage, and held the Bills' All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens without a catch for the first time in 185 games-ending the third longest streak in NFL history. After' forcing Buffalo to punt on their first possession, the Saints gave up what would be the Bills' only points of the game, on of all things, a fake field goal that ended in a touchdown reception for defensive end Ryan Denny.

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Gimmicks notwithstanding, the Saints "D" was stifling. They sacked Trent Edwards four times and forced two turnovers-the third time in as many games the "Black and Gold" has come up with two or more.

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As far as for individual performances, Thomas reminded us what all the off-season fuss was about. With  Brees having a pedestrian outing, well short of the pregame billing, and leading rusher Mike Bell still sidelined with a knee injury, Thomas literally ran away with the game. After not carrying the ball at all the first two games of the season, or for that matter the first two quarters Sunday, Thomas shredded the Bills defense for a career high 126 yards on just 14 carries and scored two game sealing touchdowns.

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Thomas' 9 yards a carry couldn't have come at a better time. When the Saints "high-flying offense" was grounded by Buffalos' defense, Thomas provided the leg work to get the job done. In a " what have you done for me lately" league, Thomas was quickly becoming the forgotten man in the Saints' offense. But after his performance Sunday, I don't think anyone will be forgetting him anytime soon-especially not the Buffalo Bills.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Hard Fightin' Win in the Big White North in Week 3

Posted by on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 10:30 PM

Helllloooooo

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Photograph by Jonathan Bachman

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Holy Jumping Jehoshaphats the Saints have started their season off well, don't you think? Regardless of what you could say about the talent level or health of the three teams the Saints have beaten thus far, you cannot argue that they haven't put forth convincingly dominate performances in every game. The Saints have the league's best offense (no surprise here) thanks to the league's (here's the shocker) second-best rushing game. The defense is also playing even better than hoped, or at least good enough to be the NFC's best defense.

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But enough big picture, let's get to that snap judgment about yesterday's game:

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Hot Gumbo:

  • The Saints' Offensive Line -- It almost doesn't even seem like it could be real. After a season in which the Saints couldn't be trusted to run the ball on short-yardage, Saints' running backs can't seem to stop running down field. Unlike last year, when it seems like they could only pass block, Jon Stinchcomb and Co. are manhandling people in the run game. Whether it be Mike Bell or Pierre Thomas, the offensive line is generating good down field blocks to let their runners (not named Bush) put their head down and go downhill. With that extra dimension on offense, one can get giddy thinking of what Drew Brees may be able to do with play-action passes, where this group also excels at pass protection.
  • Pierre Thomas -- It's this writer's firm belief that the Saints' new found running game has much to do with improved play by the offensive line. That said, Thomas did some manhandling of his own on his two touchdown runs where he ran over everyone but the Bills' coach on the way to the endzone. Oh and 100+ second-half yards ain't too shabby.
  • Saints Defense -- It's getting harder and harder to single out defensive players in these games. And that's probably how Gregg Williams wants it. His defense is playing consistently aggressive and smart and every week different players are contributing with big plays (see: Smith, Will - INT). But today it was just a complete domination that held the Bills to exactly 0 offensive points while denying them any sort of passing game and re-introducing Trent Edwards to Mr. Fieldturf four times.
  • Sean Payton -- This was a tough game for the Saints passing game and, yet, New Orleans seemed in control the entire game. Thank Payton. His play calling was creative and organized. Even though Drew Brees couldn't really get going against the Buffalo secondary, Payton didn't panic and kept the offense balanced (38 rushing plays to 29 passes), counting on his offensive line to wear down the Bills' inferior defensive front. That, ladies and gentleman, is good coaching.
  • John Carney -- Mostly because I reminded Saints fans of the Extra Point that Shall No Be Mentioned back in week 1. Carney has looked ever-so-solid and you can start believing that he'll come through in the clutch when you need him most.

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Spoiled Crawfish:

  • Special Teams -- They allowed that touchdown on the fake field goal (any time a punter has a passing TD, you'll get spoiled crawfish in this space. Period). But on top of that, the Saints still don't seem to have a proper kick returner to give their offense good field position (as if that's been a problem, but still, it'd be nice).
  • Dick Jauron -- The Bills' head coach looked like a poor man's Agent Smith from the Matrix in those ridiculous sunglasses and he couldn't coach his way out of a paper bag (if there was such a way you could coach your way out of a paper bag, that is).
  • Terrell Owens -- Until yesterday, Owens had a reception in 185-straight games. I don't think many people care too much about that broken streak.
  • Buffalo Beat Reporters -- For this idiotic line of questioning with Owens after the game. Surely the man is disappointed with not getting a reception and the loss and his history of blow ups is well-documented, but they were just baiting Owens in his press conference. And not in a clever, subtle way but a smarmy, "look at me" idiotic way.

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Room-Temperature Abita:

  • Reggie Bush -- He's still awful in the return game (17 total return yards) but he had 83 total yards and served as a valuable decoy throughout the game. It's going to suck when defenses realize that he really isn't the only player on the Saints offense you have to be accountable for. Worse when they realize he's not even in the top five players you need to worry about on this team.
  • Drew Brees -- 16-of-29 for 172 yards, no touchdowns and a lost fumble. His hair still looked good, though.
  • FOX Announcers -- They said nothing that made me want to puke in my mouth and mostly stayed out of the way while the action on the field spoke for itself. Don't you wish we could live in a world where a performance like that is expected?

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Bad Lieutenant: good poster?

Posted by on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 9:04 PM

The first poster for Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans has surfaced. From the tight focus on Nic Cage's enormous gun (which seems to impress/intrigue Eva Mendes) to his showing-off of the liner of his fly jacket, to the skyline of a city that doesn't seem to be New Orleans, it's really ... something. What do you think?

BL: POCNO screens Oct. 10 at the New Orleans Film Festival.

BL

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Isolated Incidents

Posted by on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 8:14 PM

Although two murders took place on Scott Street in the Mid-City area over the weekend, a neighborhood representative says the homicides are not a sign of rising crime, but rather are isolated incidents stemming from domestic disputes. Virginia Blanque, a board member of the advisory council to the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization who lives close to where the two homicides took place, says foot traffic has increased in the neighborhood and homeowners seem to have a more relaxed attitude.

“We have people who walk all over here,” Blanque says. “As a matter of fact, I had a sense things were getting better.”

As a sign of this improvement, Blanque points out the welcoming sight of furniture, plants and people on the porches of houses throughout Mid-City. If neighbors were more anxious and always on the lookout for crime, Blanque reasons, the area would have a more shuttered appearance than it does now.

“I’m seeing more accoutrements of comfort, rather than manifestations of fear,” Blanque says.

The New Orleans Police Department is on the lookout for Daniel T. Marshall, a 23-year-old New Orleans man who is wanted in connection with the Friday night murder of 24-year-old Ronald Hodges that took place in the 400 block of South Scott Street. Leonard Nellum, 32, was arrested yesterday and booked with second-degree murder after allegedly killing his mother with a piece of cement outside of a house on the 100 block of North Scott Street.

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Harry Shearer to Obama: Time's up

Posted by on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 7:29 PM

Harry Shearer, part-time New Orleans resident and full-time passionate partisan for the city, has been grumbling for months about President Barack Obama's promises to the Gulf Coast during the 2008 presidential election, and contrasting those promises with the fact that Obama has yet to come to New Orleans, almost a year into his presidency. (Obama says he'll be here by year's end.)

This morning's announcement that Obama will be traveling to Copenhagen to make a pitch for Chicago (his hometown) to host the 2016 Olympics seems to have been a line in the sand for Shearer, who now writes:

I found this story interesting as the ultimate rebuke to the months of comments from people here regarding the Obama administration's torpor when it comes to remedying the aftermath of the failure of the federal levees in New Orleans. "Give him time," they said, "he's got a lot on his plate".

Here's one thing he's got on his plate, so far untouched: a report from the Office of Special Counsel, delivered to the White House and Congress this past June, confirming almost all the allegations by Corps of Engineers whistleblower Maria Garzino that the hydraulic pumps installed by the Corps at the three "outflow" canals whose (Corps-built) floodwalls failed on August 29, 2005, were not robust enough to meet testing standards and cannot be operated on site in the required manner in the event of a storm surge event. (The OSC examines whistleblower complaints; in this case, they hired an outside engineering expert to review Garzino's complaints.) There has been no reaction from the White House to the OSC report; the pumps sit there, waiting to fail should a surge enter Lake Ponchartrain.

My headline, phrased in question form earlier this year -- "Obama to New Orleans: Drop Dead?" -- is ready to be repunctuated.

Is Harry right or wrong?

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Piano Lesson Extended

Posted by on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 6:21 PM

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Anthony Bean Theater has extended the run of August Wilson's The Piano Lesson (reviewed in Gambit this week). In Wilson's cycle of plays chronicling African-American life in the 20th century, The Piano Lesson is fourth in the sequence and deals with the legacy of slavery. Family members differ over breaking with the past or preserving a link to their history, in this case a piano that was once traded for two of their relatives. The instrument's inner panels are carved with the likenesses of past ancestors. But selling it might provide the money to invest in a venture that could support the family into future generations. Wilson won his second Pulitzer Prize for the play. The final performance is at 3 p.m. Sat., Oct. 3 at Anthony Bean Community Theater, 1333 S. Carrollton Ave., 862-7529).

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Coming up in Gambit: Is anyone running for mayor of this crazy town? edition

Posted by on Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 7:27 PM

• It's the fall Arts & Entertainment edition of Gambit, which gave us an excuse to put KISS, Nicolas Cage and a ballet dancer on the cover. Seriously, there are pages of info on upcoming concerts, plays, exhibits, movies, sporting events, arena shows and other divertissements to help you mark your calendar for the next few months.

• With Karen Carter Peterson declining to run for mayor, a lot of people this week were wondering if anyone was interested in running City Hall. One man is -- and in an essay, James Carville explains why he would be running for New Orleans mayor ... if he could.

Clancy DuBos does the political algebra behind the City Council pay-raise question -- and with Councilmember Jackie Clarkson declaring on Friday (after 5 pm) that she would not be supporting the raise, the algebra approaches calculus ...

• In his latest "Suspect Device" cartoon, Greg Peters analyzes the mayoral race terror threat chart ...

Alex Woodward takes a look at a local school that's going solar. Elsewhere in our monthly Green Matters section, there's word of a carbon-neutral all-lesbian eco-cruise setting sail from New Orleans ....

• This fall brings a slew of up-and-coming indie rock acts to town. Noah Bonaparte Pais talks to the talent bookers at some local clubs, and finds the increased competition means good things for concertgoers.

• ... and restaurant dude Ian McNulty finds formidable Vietnamese cuisine in Metairie.

That's it. And while you're waiting for the new Gambit, we highly recommend checking out last night's edition of Informed Sources on WYES-TV, with panelists Errol Laborde, Travers Mackel, John Hill and Ethan Brown. It gets good when the conversation turns to this week's U.S. Department of Justice report about conditions at the O.P.P.

See you on the newsstand.

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Lowering Expectations

Posted by on Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 1:28 PM

Would you apply for a full-time job that often requires you to work six or even seven days a week and hasn’t gotten a pay raise in 24 years — and probably won’t get one for at least another four?

Welcome to the New Orleans City Council.

In terms of duties and workload, councilmembers serve as land-use regulators, ombudsmen, budget writers, fiduciaries for a half-billion-dollar annual budget, contract reviewers, legislators and more. They provide a vital check on the vast powers accorded to the mayor, and they often are the flak-catchers of first resort when things don’t go right.

To top it all off, being a councilmember is a thankless job. As political steppingstones go, a council seat usually takes you nowhere.

All that for $42,500 a year, plus a city car and driver — and all the hell you can stand.

Continue reading »

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Young Men Olympian 125th Anniversary Second Line Parade

Posted by on Sat, Sep 26, 2009 at 7:24 AM

Here’s a clip from Thursday’s YMO sponsored Peace Walk thru Central City – just a taste to tie you over till Sunday’s parade (see route and time below): Six bands, 5000+ parade-goers, and nine divisions of scores of Black men wearing proper suits, sashes, fans and dress shoes, dancing for four hours atop the hot, feet-ravaging busted streets of New Orleans like it's not a problem. THIS is why New Orleans didn't die, aint never gonna die. Mufkrz here are HARD CORE!

Continue reading »

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