Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Cone of Uncertainty

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Jose Torres-Tama performs in Cone of Uncertainty.
  • Jose Torres-Tama performs in Cone of Uncertainty.

“LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?” I heard this somewhat nauseating chant on the streets of New York City, where I had gone to join an anti-Vietnam War rally. Those were the 1960s, and no one wanted to be drafted and sent to fight in southeast Asia.

I bring up this anecdote apropos of The Cone of Uncertainty: New Orleans After Katrina, Jose Torres-Tama’s original one-man show. Uncertainty has nothing to do with Vietnam, but Torres-Tama — like the Vietnam protesters — is virulently sarcastic about the American dream. The show may be shocking to audiences unaccustomed to such gritty rhetoric.

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#Smokepocalypse!

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 11:40 AM

In New Orleans' latest attempt to kill all of us, smoke from a marsh fire in eastern New Orleans has engulfed the city in a thick, headachey haze. It's a bad day for our bodies and the environment, but a great day for Twitter, which is abuzz with marsh fire hashtags and old-timey photos of the haze. This whole incident seems pretty benign when seen through the filter of a simulated vintage photo.

But as we continue to waste our work days tweeting, Facebooking and Lockerz-ing about this thing, we should address a few questions about social networking protocol going forward:

- What's the correct hashtag for this situation? Simply #marshfire, or is it #smokepocalypse or #marshfirepocalypse? We all know that when a large percentage of a city's Twitter users are concerned about something, it's officially a -pocalypse.

- What Instagram filter is appropriate to use on your obligatory "this disgusting cancer smoke is engulfing the area in which my home/office is located!" shot? I, personally, think "sutro" is good for properly conveying the haziness ... but "hefe" is so cute!

- Can we start looking for marsh fire boyfriends?

Here's an iPhone video I took of the marsh fire smoke. Scary!!:

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St. Charles DA Harry Morel to resign May 31; Sen. Joel Chaisson likely to run for his job

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:59 AM

Veteran St. Charles Parish District Attorney Harry Morel Jr. has submitted his resignation papers effective next May 31, and the leading candidate to succeed him is state Senate President Joel Chaisson of Destrehan. The two men are political allies.

Chaisson, a Democrat who is term limited in the Louisiana Senate, had been considering a run for statewide office this October — possibly lieutenant governor or secretary of state. Morel's resignation changes all that — and it could have profound impact on other statewide races as well.

Chaisson, 50, has long let it be known that he wanted to succeed Morel if the incumbent DA ever stepped down, and today's announcement probably cements Chaisson's immediate political plans.

Morel has been the DA in St. Charles Parish (the 29th Judicial District) for more than three decades. His initial election came after a bruising campaign, but since then he has had no opposition through five election cycles. Morel said in a press release that he is resigning in order to help his daughter Michele run for district judge.

"I intend to actively campaign for my daughter in her judicial race, and I do not want my continuing service as district attorney, should she be elected judge, to become an issue in her campaign," Morel's statement said.

The election to succeed Morel will be on March 24, with a runoff (if needed) on April 21. The new DA will take office June 1.

With Chaisson apparently out of the statewide picture, Democrats' prospects are looking even more grim for the Oct. 22 primary. So far, no major Democrat has surfaced against Gov. Bobby Jindal or Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne. In the race for secretary of state, attorney Caroline Fayard is keeping her intentions to herself until next week. Fayard ran a spirited race against Dardenne for lieutenant governor last November, losing to him in the runoff. If she does not run for secretary of state, there may be no well-financed Democrats on the ballot for statewide office in Louisiana this year.

More trouble for Tony the Tiger

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 10:20 AM

Back in May, the Animal Defense Fund slapped a big ol' lawsuit against the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries to remove Tony the Tiger from an I-10 truckstop roadside attraction.

Judge Michael Caldwell denied truck stop owner Michael Sandlin’s request for a new trial. His ruling denied state agencies from issuing new permits to keep the big cat, a 550-pound Bengal-Siberian. But now, the state’s 1st Circuit Court of Appeal sent the file back to Caldwell, saying the owner deserves another hearing.

Does he? Read more about Tony and Sandlin in Gambit — about violations at the truck stop, like "failure to properly clean cages to maintain adequate sanitation, failure to maintain structurally sound cages, not utilizing a sufficient number of adequately trained employees, improper food storage, failure to provide sufficient food, unsanitary feeding practices, failure to have a veterinary care program, mishandling animals, failure to clean water receptacles with algae growth and failure to provide shelter from inclement weather." Sandlin has been named a Top 10 offender by PETA, and violator of the USDA'S Animal Welfare Act. Here's the April ALDF campaign video for Tony, with True Blood's Kristin Bauer:

Following the appeal, Sandlin's attorney Steve LeBlanc told the Adovcate, "We’re very pleased. This will give us a chance to correct the situation." In a statement following the ruling, ALDF attorney Matthew Liebman called it “a minor setback" and is "confident that the trial court got the law right the first time around and will rule the same way when we go through it again."

On the Tiger Truck Stop website, a petition reads: "Is Tony in need of being rescued? No, he is in good health, has a nice compound, and is very loved by his owner. ... The rights we all have as Americans are being torn away from us daily by the Animal Rights Groups. What does an organization on the west coast really care about a tiger in Louisiana anyway, other than to make headlines and put another notch in their gun?"

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Monday, August 29, 2011

This morning's Katrina memorial in the Lower Ninth Ward: Photos

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 2:47 PM

Neighborhood residents and local, state, and national dignitaries (including Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Senator and keynote speaker Mary Landrieu and District E councilman Jon Johnson, who represents the neighborhood and organized the event) gathered this morning at the Hurricane Katrina Memorial on North Claiborne Avenue between Tennessee and Reynes in the Lower Ninth Ward, to honor the memory of the storm—and the lives lost and altered in its path—that devastated the neighborhood, resulting in a nearly 80 percent population loss between the 2000 and 2010 Census counts.

The event began with a performance by the Martin Luther King Jr. Charter High School band:

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David Simon's keynote at Rising Tide 6

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM

David Simon was one of the keynote speakers at yesterday's Rising Tide conference at Xavier University. I read Katy Reckdahl's recap at nola.com, which included this reference toward the end:

He alluded to a spat he had with New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu several months ago about demolition of several blighted Central City buildings that Simon had hoped to save, if possible. During it, he said, Landrieu fingered him as an outsider.

Beg pardon, but it was a bit more than that ,,, Simon spent a good part of his speech excoriating Landrieu regarding the blight demolition debacle. Near as anyone can tell: Landrieu's office planned to demolish some blighted homes as a symbol of a promise kept; a group of preservationists, noting that the houses were used in Treme promotional materials, objected and asked Simon for help; and Simon/HBO sent a letter to the mayor about it, a letter which somehow didn't get read. And then stuff went nuclear and alpha-male. Anyway, a big-time TV producer saying the mayor "would throw anybody under the bus if the cameras were on" seems to be more than a spat, despite Simon's concluding disclaimer.

Watch it for yourself:

David Simon - Keynote Speaker, Rising Tide VI from Jason Berry on Vimeo.

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For New Orleans

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 7:57 AM

From the back porch of our Faubourg Marigny home, I see the west bank of the Mississippi River through the branches of our enormous tree, a live oak that Mr. Foche probably nurtured himself when he built this house in 1835.

God only knows what the tree has endured. Nicholas Foche, a free man of color from Jamaica, arrived long before the levees. That means that the Mississippi River rushed periodically through the ground floor, from the back door to the front. The water settled at times, I know it did. It delivered alligators, snakes, and lots and LOTS of rats, and it bred millions of mosquitoes, spreading fever, disease and death throughout this, a great American city.

As a series, I don’t think Tremé (based on a neighborhood only a few blocks from ours) is fabulous, but on the other hand, the fact that I find it difficult to watch may be a testament to its insight. I recall the pilot as a misrepresentation, even a joke, on behalf of the Tremé writers to suggest restaurants and groceries and water bills and newly painted houses and dumpsters and taxis (and Elvis Costello and a limousine!) and Zapp’s potato chips and safe neighborhoods, and people who feel like singing — all just three months after the storm.

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And yet right this second, six years to the day after George Rodrigue and I (the oh-so-fortunate) sat in a hotel room in Houston and watched on television as our city drowned, I sit on our 175-year-old porch and watch the tops of the ships go by. I see tourists wave to the shore of the river that made Louisiana the key state in Napoleon’s sale of 828,000 square miles of this country, and I watch our oak tree, now held together by steel wires and sprouting strong, near floating, swaying, and shaking its branches to the beat of New Orleans. Three months after or six years after —- I guess it doesn’t much matter.

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Six.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 7:00 AM

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

SA&PC Task Force: Stepping up the game to save second-line culture

Posted By on Sun, Aug 28, 2011 at 12:12 PM

SA&PC Task Force President Tamara Jackson
  • SA&PC Task Force President Tamara Jackson

Today at 1pm, the first parade of the season is set to go off same as years prior now that the City has temporarily backed off of its recent threat to cite unlicensed vendors at the second lines. Negotiated by the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, the City’s advisor on Cultural Economy Scott Hutcheson has agreed to suspend enforcement at today's Valley of Silent Men parade. While its unclear for now how long the suspension will last, Task Force President Tamara Jackson says her organization is working with the City via Hutcheson to find a solution to allow vendors to continue working the parades. “He and staff are coming out (today) to get an idea how the parades navigates so they can think about how to enforce. He’s never been to a parade and I’m gonna be with him, showing him how everything goes.”

This effort to negotiate on behalf of second line parade vendors is just one of several initiatives the Task Force is working on to help build bridges between the social aid and pleasure clubs, local government and the rest of the city.

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