Saturday, July 31, 2010

Tattooing The BP Oil Disaster At The Southern Sting

Posted By on Sat, Jul 31, 2010 at 7:26 PM

I stopped in yesterday at the Southern Sting tattoo parlor in Larose, Louisiana, and spent some time talking with the owner, Bobby Pitre. As well as tattoos he does paintings and sculpture, and has decorated the outside of his shop with political statements about the BP oil disaster.

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The Southern Sting tattoo shop in Larose, Louisiana.

Much of Pitre's business since the disaster has been from Coast Guard workers. "One of them got a Spongebob [Squarepants] standing knee deep in oil, screaming, with an oil well blowing up in the background, on his calf," he said. Read more and see pictures after the jump.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Oil, oil (still) everywhere

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:54 PM

Reporter Jeffrey Kofman's ABC News report from Buras, La., on July 26 asked “Where did all the crude go?” Agence France-Presse (AFP) followed on July 27, asking “Where is all the oil?” An Associated Press headline that day asked “Gulf Flow Has Stopped, But Where Is the Oil?” By July 29, Time’s Michael Grunwald went even further, penning a story headlined “The BP Spill: Has the Damage Been Exaggerated?,” in which he wrote, “But so far — while it’s important to acknowledge that the long-term potential danger is simply unknowable for an underwater event that took place just three months ago — it does not seem to be inflicting severe environmental damage.”

The media stampede ignored a few salient facts. Coastal parishes last week all reported oil on shore or close to shore, or both. On July 28, the National Resources Defense Council issued a report showing 2,000 beach closings, advisories and notices had been issued in the Gulf region so far this year — compared with 237 in all of 2009. Oil is also blowing through boom, landing along islands off the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts. More ominously, oil is billowing under the water’s surface in large patches — some stretching for miles and sinking rapidly, thanks to BP-applied dispersants. The controversial dispersants break oil apart and send it to the ocean’s floor or into plumes and currents, which can carry the oil thousands of miles from its source.

AFP reported “the real difficulty now is finding any oil to clean up.” National Incident Commander Thad Allen adds, “What we’re trying to figure out is where is all the oil at and what can we do about it.”

If the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies can’t find it, perhaps they don’t know where to look.

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Is reporting that all the oil seems to have disappeared from the Gulf a cheap rhetorical question used by credulous reporters? (See what we did there?)

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Gol-ly. From reading and watching the news this week, you'd sure think that all the oil in the Gulf went poof and drained back down the Deepwater Horizon hole -- or transformed itself into seawater, or just evaporated, or turned into delicious petroleum-based Gummi Bears that were then eaten by Little Mermaids.

Or -- maybe -- the use of dispersant sank the oil beneath the surface, breaking it down so that it really didn't go away, but you just can't see it anymore. Kinda like when you're playing peekaboo with a baby, you know? Just because you can't see it doesn't mean it's gone away.

The most elemental concept of object permanence seemed to elude the national media in the last couple of days, as they stampeded to ask disingenuous rhetorical questions, teasing out the possibility that maybe the worst environmental disaster in American history just wasn't that gosh-darn bad -- but leaving themselves weasel-room to crawfish back if and when someone called BS. Check this from Hardball yesterday afternoon on MSNBC:

hardball

Or this, from Time magazine, written by Michael Grunwald:

time mag

There's a lot more of this under the jump ... wait! Did you have a question, Diane Sawyer?

diane

Dang! Under the jump, we'll find out: What happened to all the oil?

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Women of the Storm denies HuffPo charge, seeks meeting with Bullock

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 6:58 PM

The coastal restoration petition launched on July 20 by the local advocacy group Women of the Storm ran into controversy this week with the withdrawal of Sandra Bullock, whose publicist said Bullock was not informed of the group’s ties to “big oil.”

Bullock

Sandra Bullock in the Women of The Storm's "Be The One" video — is now wagging her finger and saying 'Not so fast..."

Bullock’s withdrawal followed a report on the Huffington Post entitled, “Wetlands front group funded by big oil wants taxpayers to foot the bill for BP’s Gulf destruction.” The petition’s restorethegulf.com website listed the America’s Wetland Foundation as a sponsor. The foundation receives money from oil companies and was established in 2002 as a public relations effort to improve their image.

The foundation also created a separate campaign recently called America’s Energy Coast, drawing attention to the money spent on coastal restoration by oil companies. The AWF is chaired by retired Whitney Bank chief executive R. King Milling, whose wife, Anne Milling, founded Women of the Storm in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Anne Milling says she has asked for a meeting with Bullock to showcase her group’s work since 2006, describing the celebrity’s withdrawal as a “huge disappointment.” Women of the Storm has also changed the designation of AWF from “sponsor” to “partner,” on its website, because “in no way has any oil company given any money to this effort,” Milling says, referring to the website and the petition. “This is the most independent group of people imaginable. Our whole effort was to get money for coastal restoration, and we have not tied the petition to any particular piece of legislation.” The website has drawn 121,000 signatures so far this morning, and the image above of Bullock still adorned the front page as of this afternoon at 2 pm, more than 24 hours after Bullock requested to be disassociated with the campaign.

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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Anne Rice uses Facebook to announce her breakup with Christianity

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 11:09 PM

Anne Rice, the New Orleans novelist who famously feuded with Al Copeland, famously rededicated her life to the Church to write only about the life of Christ, famously moved out of the Garden District and to La Jolla, Calif. a few years back, famously stopped writing books about sexy vampires and started writing books about sober Saviors (then left the door open for maybe one more sexy vampire book), has announced a new chapter in her life. Via her Facebook page:

For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten ...years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider.

Why? Rice elaborates:

In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of ...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.

For English majors and Southern lit fans, this all may sound a bit familiar; it was 1952 when the Southern author Flannery O'Connor wrote Wise Blood, in which one of the characters forms the "Holy Church of Christ Without Christ." The difference here seems to be that O'Connor didn't have Facebook, and God only knows what she would've thought of the late lamented Straya (now Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro).

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Opportunities may stop knocking

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 7:14 PM

Early in the Gulf oil crisis, BP coined a term for the shrimping and fishing boats that were now out of business and were being pressed into service to clean up the company’s mess: they were now “vessels of opportunity.” Looks like that opportunity may be drying up as well.

Last month, Louisiana Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program director Judith Paul announced a new deployment plan that rotates vessels based on “extended” 14-or 30-day charters. Most participants fall in the 14-day category, performing waste removal and boom maintenance. The program was designed to rotate out-of-work fishermen into temporary jobs, but with less oil visible on the surface, the likelihood of VOO participants being rotated into action diminishes.

Today, at a press conference in New Orleans, National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen said he had a “very productive” meeting with Gov. Bobby Jindal, parish presidents and authorities to determine “how clean is clean” in the ongoing response and what will be the future, if any, of the VOO (through August). “Obviously as we transition to where there’s not as a threat of a spill ... the employment of VOO is necessarily going to have to change,” he said.

“We’re not sure if we really know” about the program’s future, Allen added, saying similar cutbacks and reorganizations are happening “all along the coast.” But, “there are things we have to get done” — like removing boom, he said. “As we move from response to recovery we’re going to have to go out and recover that boom. We don’t want to leave plastic, non-biodegradable boom out there forever.” Another opportunity?

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The Expendables' New Orleans Premiere

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 7:12 PM

Some of the new Sylvester Stallone film The Expendables was shot in New Orleans and it's having a local (invitation only) premiere starting with a reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, August 5, at The Theatres at Canal Place. (It opens nationally on August 13.) The invited-but-not-confirmed-to-attend talent from the movie includes former NFL player Terry Crews, MMA fighter Randy Couture, pro wrestler Steve "Stone Cold" Austin and Eric Roberts, who was great in The Pope of Greenwich Village and Runaway Train. The picture's lineup of veteran actors also includes Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, makes a cameo appearance. For the 64-year-old Stallone, it's another Rambo-style mission to go back to Nam or Central America or wherever to finish the job. Sooner or later, he'll be old enough to go back to Cuba and retake San Juan Hill. In this case, his band of aging mercenaries is hired by the CIA to go to a fictitious island nation in the Caribbean and get rid of a dictator. Of course, a la the Rambo/First Blood series, they have been set up to fail, but pride won't allow them to do so. And it's all action/adventure fun with plenty of explosions and gunfire. As a side note, this is barely a fiction, and almost a cliche, as history or popular entertainment. New Orleans is a great place to launch a filibustering mission to take over Nicaragua, like William Walker did in 1856. And the United States has continually intervened in the affairs of Latin America, and is linked to the assassination of President Guzman in Guatemala (1954), and the (officially determined) suicide of Allende in Chile (1973), which happened when putch troops entered his office. The long history of U.S. interventions in the affairs of South American nations is one of the subjects covered in Oliver Stone's documentary South of the Border, which runs at Zeitgeist through Thursday, August 5. It focuses on the Bush administration's demonization of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez before moving on to meet leaders of several other South American nations. It offers interesting perspective from them about dealing with the dominant role the U.S. takes in the hemisphere.

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This one goes out to the checkers at the Winn-Dixie in Marrero

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 6:45 PM

Winn-Dixie announced on Tuesday it plans to close 30 of its "underperforming" supermarkets, and today we found out that Louisiana was largely spared the axe -- except for the Winn-Dixie in Marrero on Lapalco Boulevard. And, of course, the first thing I thought of was: Johnny Fasullo!

OK, it's not terribly logical, but the late great WWOZ-FM DJ with the accent that made Buddy D and Ernie K-Doe sound like Queen Elizabeth was always name-checking "da Winn-Dixie on Lapalco" on his Sunday morning Cajun music show. In between spinning old Cajun 45s, Johnny kept up a steady stream of patter, and I always loved it when he would get to the inevitable "Dis one goes out to Miss [whomever], one of da checkers at da Winn-Dixie in Marrero!" (Does ANYONE else remember this?)

Johnny died in November 2005 at the age of 63 at his home in (where else?) Marrero. To all the checkers at the soon-to-be-shuttered Winn-Dixie -- sorry about your jobs. I know Johnny would've had a song for you this Sunday.

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"The Real World" explained: Gypsies, tramps and beads

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 5:35 PM

You knew this was going to happen.
  • You knew this was going to happen.

These weekly posts are intended as an episode-by-episode guide to the many psychological ailments, drunken gibberish, senseless actions, Bourbon Street mixed drinks and other embarrassments on MTV’s The Real World: New Orleans.

It contains spoilers — and who cares? You stopped watching this show several years ago — but also a lot of information that might help viewers of the series come to terms with their outrage over the cast’s cultural vandalism of New Orleans (and what was once a really lovely Uptown house), and also the bleak, black future of our society.

The emotional trauma caused by the show admittedly makes such coverage an overwhelming task, so posts may be supplemented by information culled from Wikipedia, WebMD and un-scientific polls of nearby Gambit staffers. Readers are also encouraged to submit any comments that may help us make sense of this wreckage.

I need to first start off by saying I was wrong. I was mislead by MTV’s promos, and thought this episode would be the Great Toothbrush Showdown of 2010. I think that’s next episode. But anyway, here we go … it’s Fat Tuesday!

The Sims. The life-simulation computer game that was big in the early aughts. While watching last night’s episode, I realized The Real World bares striking similarities to the game: it’s a bunch of cartoon people with no concept of boundaries or privacy, bouncing from room to room in a lavishly decorated house, saying made-up words.

You know when Sims do sexy things, it’s gross and awkward? Like when they make weird animal sounds while doing it in the vibrating heart bed you acquired through cheat codes? That’s what it was like when Jemmye and Knight took a dip in the indoor Jacuzzi (which, by the way, is pretty weak for Real World standards), and then Eric decided to hop in, too. It was truly the most tepid group hot tub scene in MTV history. And that conversation Knight, McKenzie and Ryan had in the living room might as well have been in Simlish (that’s Sims language, duh): the topic somehow jumped from “bohemians” to “Bahamas” to “Czech Republic” to “gypsies” to “Have you ever killed someone?” (McKenzie’s response: “What do you mean by ‘someone’?”) within seconds. McKenzie revealed she was a gypsy once. "There was eight of us and we travelled around for a while stealing stuff." OK, ‘Kenzie, just because you and your girlfriends would occasionally take the bus to the mall and swipe mood rings from Claire’s Accessories, it doesn’t mean you were a gypsy. I wish I could build walls around her with no doors and windows like I did to the Sims who annoyed me.

“Ninety-nine percent of New Orleans never gets to be in a [Mardi Gras] float.” Wrong, McKenzie.

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"American Idol" auditions: the video

Posted By on Thu, Jul 29, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Here's Jonathan Bachman's video from Monday's American Idol auditions. None of them made the first cut, but they sound pretty good, right? And I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot more of Green Dress Girl (she shows up around the 50-second mark) when the auditions air on Fox. Enjoy!

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