Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Turquoise Hill

Posted By on Wed, Dec 29, 2010 at 8:37 AM

Crossing America, both the skies and highways afford views of mines of many kinds, massive holes in the ground, gigantic pits surrounded by bulldozers and dump trucks, the equipment of the modern mining operation.

Cerrillos Turquoise Mine Outside Santa Fe, New Mexico 2010

Yet this is not the case within Turquoise Hill, the ancient Cerrillos mines near Santa Fe, New Mexico, where over millions of years water trickled downward through the jagged plates or perhaps upward from hot springs. The moisture transformed the copper and iron into the most beautiful blue, a ‘Tiffany blue,’ a rock and its land sought after more than one thousand years ago by the Anasazi Indians, then by the Spanish, by the American Turquoise Company (since 1880, with connections to Tiffany & Company), by music video and movie producers, and all along by the curious and the enchanted, unable to resist a color like no other, as well as the earth that created it.

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Landrieu and LA/SPCA agree to four-year animal control agreement

Posted By on Tue, Dec 28, 2010 at 4:49 PM

Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced today an agreement for citywide animal control services provided by the Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) — an agreement beyond just 2011.

The contract provides for animal control services at a monthly cost of $160,000 — or $1.92 million annually — beginning Jan. 1, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2014 (with annual consumer price index adjustments each January).

Services include stray animal trapping, collection and sheltering; disaster and hurricane assistance; bite case response and quarantine; enforcing the intact dog ordinance; inspecting mule stables; relinquishment of animals; adoption and re-homing for cats and dogs; and euthanasia and cremation for unadoptable animals.

“This is a big win for the residents and animals of New Orleans,” said Landrieu in today's statement. “As was done with so many other contracts, our negotiations have been guided by my fiduciary responsibility to secure quality services for a price the city can afford. The LA/SPCA has been providing quality animal control and enforcement services for decades. As great community partners, their board, volunteers and donors have stepped up. We are pleased to have a fiscally responsible agreement in place for the next four years.”

SPCA CEO Ana Zorrilla added, "We look forward to continuing these high quality services our citizens have come to expect for the animals of New Orleans."

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Monday, December 27, 2010

The Saints, Falcons, Twitter and a general report on Internet idiocy

Posted By on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 6:07 PM

Roddy White drew the most attention for his tweets this week but the insidious SBNation article was quickly taken down
  • Screengrab taken from SBNation.com
  • Roddy White drew the most attention for his tweets this week but the insidious SBNation article was quickly taken down

Sports are fun, they're meant to be a distraction. Rivalries are fun too. It's a way for one group of people to form bonds and camaraderie through the mutual dislike of another group of people who feel the same way. It's all in great fun.

So when a player like Roddy White adds a little gas to the fire that is the Saints-Falcons rivalry, it gets even more fun. It's especially fun when he does it on twitter because, well, everything is funny in the context of twitter.

It gets even more fun when White's tweets are picked up by a major media outlet and then that causes local outlets to devote column inches to what a bunch of football players tweeted over a couple of days. (Just check out this rundown of events. Truly journalism at its finest.)

Seriously, even five years ago, could you have imagined people making this much of a fuss over a few 140 character internet posts? It's all very silly and fits perfectly in the silly world of professional sports. Now Saints fans and players are out for blood and it's all going to make for some very good television this Monday night.

But at what point does the silly move into the painfully absurd? The Saints and Falcons are a big rivalry, to be sure, but where the playful taunts of "Aints" and "frying dirty birds" become something else entirely? Maybe when a guy from Atlanta writes a story about how the Saints and their fans "milked" the after-affects of Hurricane Katrina when celebrating the Super Bowl?

I'd say so. The SBNation article - which was a lot more insidious and the one linked to above - was entitled "The Falcons-Saints Rivalry: Hating America's Team after Hurricane Katrina" and is no longer posted on the SBNation site. Apparently, SBNation editors realized it was wrong to have let someone post comments better left to the lowliest of message boards under the auspices of it being a good sports story.

The story was written by a Steven Godfrey and, thankfully, nothing this outrageous could be permanently deleted from the internet and we can still find a few choice quotes. Like:

Saints fans "exploited every iota of their 2005 disaster to better celebrate a Super Bowl win" and they believe "it's OK to tack on the suffering of thousands and the devastation of decades to enhance the luster of your football title, but if someone else derides you for it, claim ownership of the tragedy and whine like hell".

Godfrey, who lives in Nashville and is no stranger to ridiculous rants. So far, he has already taken a good amount of heat for his thoughts on twitter (to the point that he is trending #NewOrleans) and his twitter page also links to the now-deleted story. Oh, and he has a Tumblr (of course he does).

Now, Godfrey's remarks were pretty outrageous, but it's not the first (nor I don't think it'll be the last) time that anyone has accused New Orleanians of exploiting Katrina. It's a ridiculous sentiment, of course, but it's one that exists and one that is given a voice in the wild, untamed land that is the World Wide Web.

This is just another reasons Saints fans will have to feel animosity towards Falcons fans, even though this particular Falcons fan doesn't even live in Atlanta, and thus Saints fans would be unfairly stigmatizing their opponents based on the careless words written by one dummy in Nashville. Then Falcons fans will feel like they aren't getting a fair shake and that New Orleans fans are really classless jerk who are bad sports and then it cycles into eternity.

But just because ridiculous people now have a voice doesn't mean we have to listen to them. Surely, Godfrey will have his 15 minutes of infamy but then people in New Orleans will go back to not knowing who he is (if they even bothered to take the 10 minutes of Googling like I did to learn in the first place). But what matters most is the game. And after the Saints will play the Falcons tonight, there will be a final score, maybe some more trash talk and then we'll turn our focus to next week and then the playoffs and then the next game (or distraction) after that.

All of this is just a roundabout way of saying that, it's just sports, people. Try not to let the trash talking get out of hand, realize that when it does it's not worth the time to respond and that, generally, most of what you read on the internet is idiotic.

(Oh, and the irony of devoting some 700 words on the why we shouldn't pay attention to stupid internet shenanigans is not lost on me. Enjoy the game!)

New York Times prints detailed report of last hours on Deepwater Horizon

Posted By on Mon, Dec 27, 2010 at 9:33 AM

The New York Times published an extensive account of the final hours on Deepwater Horizon.
  • The New York Times published an extensive account of the final hours on Deepwater Horizon.

Perhaps you missed the New York Times on Christmas. But the paper published an extensive report on the final hours on Deepwater Horizon, including analysis of what went wrong. It's detailed and stunning.

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Hornets' Happy Holidays

Posted By on Sun, Dec 26, 2010 at 8:32 PM

Chris Paul directs his teammates in this stock photo

To paraphrase a much-used saying: teams are never as bad as they seem when they're at their lowest, nor are they as good as people think when they're at their best. The Hornets have seen both sides of the equation, first with their stunning 11-game winning streak to start the season and then when they dropped 9-of-12 games from mid-November to December.

With a hard, but convincing, 93-86 win over the Atlanta Hawks, the Hornets have now won four of their last six, including two in a row. New Orleans smothered Atlanta all night long, with the Hawks shooting just 39.7 percent for the game and managing only 31 points in the second half. It was a gritty, defensive win, and it showed just how good the Hornets can be.

"That's who we are," coach Monty Williams said. "It's something we do every day. Coach Mike Malone always talks about our defensive coverages."

The Hornets, at their best, are a tough-minded defensive team. Tonight, they forced 14 turnovers, notched 35 defensive rebounds and limited Atlanta to just 22 points in the paint. With the Hawks sporting an All-Star front court made up of Josh Smith and Al Horford, that last accomplishment was surely no easy task.

On the flip side, the Hornets found a way to impose their will offensively. Chris Paul, who's been surrounded by talk about whether or not he's being as aggressive or effective as he has been in the past, finished the first half with just four points. After discussing adjustments to Atlanta's pick-and-roll defense with Williams, Paul came out and notched 18 points in the second half, leading the Hornets as they pulled the game away.

It wasn't and overpowering offensive performance as much as it was just efficient. Minus Marco Bellinelli (who finished 0-for-6 shooting), the Hornets starters combined for 66 points on 57 percent shooting. Emeka Okafor and the much-maligned Trevor Ariza contributed with double-doubles, finishing with 15 and 10 rebounds, respectively.

"You do not think of small forwards rebounding the ball," Williams said of Ariza. "But Trevor's a guy who gets a lot of sky rebounds and you see him come out of nowhere."

That is all just a very long way of saying that the Hornets played very well. Most importantly, it was on a night that they hit a considerable rough patch. Those same Hornets starters that ended up performing so well failed to score a point for over a quarter's worth of time in the first half. Their momentum from the blowout win over the Nets on Wednesday was seemingly lost after the holiday weekend, but they were able to wrestle it back.

"We just got aggressive," Paul said of the team's second half surge. "In that first half we were not aggressive offensively or defensively. In that second half, D. West got going a little bit, we got stops, our defense created the offense."

The Hornets seem like a good team stuck between nights where they are very good and sometimes not good at all. After a few quality wins, we've started to see the team that we all marveled at in the beginning of the season. Just in time, too. After traveling to Minnesota tomorrow night (the Hornets, by the way, are a pitiful 5-9 on the road), New Orleans faces the defending NBA Champion Los Angeles Lakers at home on Wednesday.

After two straight wins, the Hornets must show they can overcome their road woes and maintain their home court prowess against one of the best teams in the league. Being able to win games like those is what separates the good teams from the great ones. We're about to find out which one the Hornets are.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

A Very Gambit Christmas

Posted By on Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 8:16 PM

As our blog gift to you, Gambit friends, we're opening our personal vaults, filled with our favorite holiday memories and nightmares and eye-bleeding moments from the films of yesteryear, forever burned into memory. Merry whatever, y'all!

Here's Kevin Allman:

When I was growing up — before the endless showings of A Christmas Story and It's a Wonderful Life — there were only a few Christmas movies that were aired on TV every year. Miracle on 34th Street was the main one, of course, but there was also Santa Claus, which was an exceedingly strange Mexican movie (badly) dubbed into English and run as a kiddie matinee. I haven't seen the complete version in years, but I do remember Santa lived in outer space with children (no elves or Mrs. Claus) and he and the Devil battled over the Devil's attempt to make Mexican tots be naughty instead of nice. I imagine the filmmakers thought Santa Claus would be a fantasy classic — but instead it was a surrealistic horror show that would make David Lynch jealous. Did it scare the crap out of me? Yes. Did I watch it every year anyway? Yes.

Here's a clip of Satan attempting to corrupt little "Lupita" by making her dream of the Dance of the Dolls. It's The Nutcracker from hell.

More after the jump.

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Second Line Sunday: Lady Rollers second line parade

Posted By on Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 1:46 PM

Yep! There will be a second line during Christmas season this year - dontchu love it??? Rollrollroll....


(Route after the jump!)

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Merry Christmas from Gambit

Posted By on Fri, Dec 24, 2010 at 10:10 AM

The cover of our 30th anniversary issue.
  • The cover of our 30th anniversary issue.

Merry Christmas to all our Gambiteers. Posting will likely be light over the next couple of days. Have a wonderful holiday — and be sure to look for our special 30th anniversary issue, which should start hitting newsstands on Sunday.

Meanwhile, enjoy Kermit Ruffins and "A Saints Christmas." Thanks for reading all year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

When New Orleans and hockey meet

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 6:56 PM


As someone who grew up in Washington D.C., it's been a real treat the last two weeks getting a chance to see the Washington Capitals featured on HBO's critically acclaimed "24/7" series. Now, as someone who lives in New Orleans, it was an early Christmas present when I watched the second episode and noticed the clip above.

Listen to the music, it should sound familiar. That's because it's "Suburbia", one of the tracks on Trombone Shorty's new "Backatown" album. The soundtrack for the show is artfully done (you can check out a list of other songs used, though Shorty is somehow left out) and it's nice to see New Orleans music included in such a high-scale production.

At the same time, though, New Orleans and ... hockey? Jazz isn't exactly the first genre of music that comes to mind when you think about hockey. Just check out the bands listed on the soundtrack to hockey video games or look at the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawk's celebration music. And yet, Shorty's song plays very well with the shots of Canadians and Europeans flying around on frozen water and hitting each other.

The way "Suburbia" worked so successfully with hockey makes it hard not to reflect on New Orleans surprising history with hockey. Of course, there was the New Orleans Brass, the hockey-in-the-Big-Easy experiment that somehow lasted all of five years. Although, you have to admit the team had some pretty sick uniforms).

But if hockey on the bayou wasn't absurd enough on its face, Chris Rose recently wrote about Ray Nagin's role in all of this. To sum up: people who complain about New Orleans' notoriously awful storm-water drainage should take heart in the fact that the city has as many storm-drain cleaners as it does Zambonis (two). And, of course, it's Nagin's fault (he owned the team).

The Brass weren't alone in Louisiana, either. Seriously. Both Baton Rouge and Lafayette were homes to the Kingfish and IceGators, respectively. Leaving aside that "IceGator" may in fact be the most ridiculous mascot ever, just think about how, at one point in time, there as many professional hockey teams in Louisiana as there were professional baseball and football teams combined (the New Orleans Zephyrs, Saints and the Shreveport-Bossier Captains). Oh, and in case you were wondering, the Brass made the playoffs every season they played in New Orleans, giving them as many playoff appearances in the last 13 years as the Hornets and Saints combined.

Now, the Brass ended up failing in New Orleans not because it's ridiculous to have a hockey team in this city (after all, the team was an affiliate of the San Jose Sharks) but because they couldn't afford to take on the cost to convert the ice rink to a basketball court for every Hornets game as the NBA franchise prepared to move to the Big Easy.

The Brass, Kingfish and IceGators all folded and joined the ranks of the Mississippi SeaWolves and Pensacola Ice Pilots as failed hockey experiments in the Gulf South (though, to the Brass' credit, the team still has a Web site). New Orleans and hockey have since lived separate lives, even as HBO brought it back for a brief and exciting moment.

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LA-SPCA reminds city of end of services

Posted By on Thu, Dec 23, 2010 at 2:38 PM

The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA) announced this morning a reminder of the end of its services: Stray animals will no longer be accepted to its shelter beginning tomorrow, Dec. 24, and all other emergency services such as injured animal response or dangerous dog complaints end Dec. 31. The organization also said it is frustrated with the city's "lack of communication regarding the public health and safety of New Orleans" following the LA/SPCA's break from the city as its animal control provider. The LA/SPCA also says it has had little or no communication with the city, and recent offers of a transition plan for whomever assumes animal control services have gone unanswered.

On Dec. 15, Landrieu administration press secretary Ryan Berni said, "We remain confident that we will be able to execute a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement with another animal control provider in the region to secure these critical services for our residents. We are committed to providing good animal control services at a price the city can afford."

Rumors circulated last week that a newly created New Orleans chapter of the Human Society would front the city's animal control services for 2011, though the city and representatives from that organization have not confirmed.

"We implore the City to let the public know the plan for Animal Control,” said Ana Zorrilla, CEO of LA/SPCA, in today's statement. “We’ve already seen devastating consequences over the past three months because of the lack of funding provided by the city. The LA/SPCA can no longer cover the cost of caring for injured animals, picking up stray animals, and providing the standards of care necessary to humanely shelter the strays for their five day stray period. The LA/SPCA presented a transition plan in order to maintain care for the animals currently housed with us, as well as an offer to extend our current level of service through January 31, 2011 with no acknowledgment from City Administration.”

Visit www.la-spca.org/2011animalcontrol for more information.

Read the LA/SPCA's full statement under the jump.

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