Guest Bloggers

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guest blog: "A modest plea"

Posted By on Sun, Aug 17, 2008 at 1:39 AM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans resident Leigh C., who maintains her own blog, Liprap’s Lament: The Line. You can read more of her writing there.)

I first had an inkling that something was wrong in grade school. I was too overly sensitive, took others’ slights much too seriously. It came to a head a few times, but the first time I knew deep down that I had to get help was when I was asked to get help by a former boss of mine. I began to be treated for the lack of serotonin in my brain and was able to do much better as a result.

I made a huge mistake, however, when I made the decision to go off the meds and discontinue the therapy when we moved up north. I wasn’t doing so because of my pregnancy – in fact, my doctor in New Orleans said that the particular drug I was taking was fine to continue using throughout the nine months. I was ending the treatment because it seemed like such a hassle, having to find another doctor, another therapist. Plus, telling my grandparents, my aunt, anybody who might be able to help in a new place was too much for me at the time. I had enough meds to continue taking them into my son’s first month, and then I’d be able to handle life without them. Right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Guest blog: "Southern Yiddishe Mama"

Posted By on Tue, Aug 12, 2008 at 8:30 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans resident Leigh C., who maintains her own blog, Liprap's Lament: The Line. You can read more of her writing there.)

What brings a Jewish mother to New Orleans?

In the beginning, I was just a gal looking for a job, and I found one here. The operative word here is one, since, at the time, I was busting my buns in New York City working three jobs, two of which I knew I would be losing unless I found something else to replace them. So I came here, where I found culture shock that gave way to love for my surroundings, many other NYC refugees who shared that same feeling, and my second family, the greater Jewish community here. I met my husband here. We got married here.

And then, we had to leave. Job-wise, we found it difficult to stay. I also found out, shortly after filling up my car’s gas tank at a Magazine Street station and turning many shades of green from the smell of it, that I was pregnant. We moved to the borough of Queens six months after 9-11 and had our son there. We found a synagogue – a blessed expansion of the New Orleans mishpocheh – only a few blocks from our first apartment there, became active members, and settled in as much as we could. We got to know New York, but we kept our house in New Orleans and rented it all out in the hopes that someday, we would return. We got that opportunity to come back much quicker than we could ever have hoped. A merger was going through at my husband’s business in Brooklyn, and he found another job in southeast Louisiana.

Nearly four years to the day from when we moved to NYC, we came into New Orleans just in time for Mardi Gras 2006. I began blogging shortly before then to do my best to let our friends in New York know what was going on with us and with the city. Two encounters in NYC had convinced me that this was necessary – my son’s preschool teacher’s indignance over Mayor Nagin’s “Chocolate City” remarks could not be easily discussed in depth at the dropoff time for preschool. My husband also had to give an hour-long geography lesson to a friend of ours in order to show him that New Orleans was not located right on the edge of the Gulf, although poor levee maintenance and unchecked coastal erosion will most likely have it lapping at our doorsteps in ten years.

So, here we are again, with a five-year-old son, in the city that we love. And I have found, sadly, that it is still hurting after all this time – in some of the same old ways and in excruciating new ones. But it is not going down without a fight.

What keeps a Jewish mother in New Orleans?

I invite you to read on and find out…

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Guest post: "Sitting on my porch..."

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2008 at 7:29 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff’s Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

Since this may be my last guest blog for awhile I wanted to take a minute to thank Kevin and Clancy for the opportunity to be the first guest blogger on this page. People outside of the blogging community may not realize how huge it is for the Gambit to actually reward writers for doing what they have a passion for. I do and I felt honored to be the first of many good people to follow.

I like to consider myself the blogger that bridges the gap from the progressive side of the city with the section of the population that doesn’t always get a chance to speak. I have a unique view of both sides. That means that sometimes I have to go against the grain and throw something out there that people may not be used to hearing and dealing with head on in an effort to broaden the discussion. I feel good when I do because it’s never personal and the lack of that discussion is always holding us back.

The local blogger community gets credit from me for being able to recognize my aim and engaging in a discussion based on recognition of my circumstances even if they don’t necessarily agree or totally understand. I believe the future of the city involves that open discussion between people from every walk of life and I will continue to try and bring those ideas to the table. Hopefully I can make you laugh and think at the same time.

Kevin asked for these questions. Anything that you don’t like is his fault.

- After the success of the NOAH story where the blogosphere and the media came together to expose a problem in city government, should local bloggers be heading to city hall to make sure their personal records are in order?

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Guest blog: Walter Williams on the YouTube presidential debate

Posted By on Wed, Aug 6, 2008 at 2:37 PM

(The following is a guest blogpost by Walter Williams, native New Orleanian, Louisiana wetlands activist [and, of course, creator of the immortal Mr. Bill].)

YouTube and the city of New Orleans are trying to stage a debate here on September 18. What better place to hold a debate about the state of our country? Massive infrastructure failure, catastrophic environmental damage, economic chaos…sure sounds like the US of A to me. Here is a question from 18-year-old super talent Amanda Shaw for the candidates that I filmed Saturday night for the YouTube debate:

And please read the letter below to the candidates endorsed by concerned musicians including R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Dr. John…check out the list of who is pushing the candidates for answers to our plight.

But neither candidate has committed yet. That’s how you can help. Please contact Obama and McCain and ask them why they are afraid to come and face us. Have they written us off? Are we an embarrassment? This link allows you to just push a button to send a message to both campaigns to commit to this debate. We’ve got to make them feel like they’ll look bad if they do snub us…again. We were supposed to be awarded one of the three official debates.

Also, can anyone explain why the huge environmental disaster which dumped a half a million gallons of heavy thick crude on our river and shut down all traffic, cut off drinking water, made everyone sick from the fumes and is a huge danger to wildlife, can’t get any press? Why did McCain cancel his trip here to tout the non impact of oil drilling on the very day the oil spill occurred? Why did our Governor keep quiet about the disaster for four days?

Generally with a disaster of such magnitude, the governor would be on the phone to the president begging for federal help. Two weeks later, the split open barge is still pinned against the Mississippi River Bridge spewing oil as we speak. This was not a barge of powdered sugar, otherwise the tourists would be out dunking their beignets in the river. No it was a barge full of heavy crude headed north to help keep people warm this winter. This is further proof that New Orleans and southern LA have borne the environmental impact in order to fuel the rest of the nation. Now these activities have put our very existence into question. Please read the release and letter below from the concerned musicians asking the candidates to explain their plan to save the birthplace of jazz, rock and roll, hip hop and who knows what next in the future. And please help us.

Peace all,

Walter

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Guest post: "I had almost forgotten it was hurricane season..."

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 2:03 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff’s Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

I had almost forgotten it was hurricane season since I hadn’t been in watch mode. There were some other things I wanted to talk about before my guest duties are over but I couldn’t ignore Edouard sliding right under the state. I have been watching the news but it seems like that storm came out of nowhere. I sure wish Mother Nature would form those things at least east of Cuba so we have some time to plan. There’s no need for a tracking map when it’s already at the front door. I am pretty sure this one is going to miss us but I have some observations.

I noticed state officials seem to be much calmer now since Governor Blanco is no longer in office. After she got burned by the Katrina debacle she was holding press conferences when storms were still in the Atlantic. No one was going to blame her for not being prepared again.

Another thing I noticed is how frequent the weather reporters interrupt programming to give an update now. Do we really need an update every fifteen minutes just to tell us that the storm is still in the same place it was the last update? I realize it’s better to be safe than sorry but if the storm changes direction that fast it was our destiny to get hit by it. All you can do is take down the attic ladder and hope for the best at that point.

Since Katrina I am now an amateur meteorologist. When a system forms I start checking high and low pressure systems, water temperature and cold fronts. I check every computer model and historical map. It’s really fascinating how you can figure out what general direction they are going to travel. If the storm is in the Atlantic I am looking for anything to steer it north. If it’s in the Gulf I want anything to steer it west. I still feel bad when I hope other cities get hit by storms but it’s a dog eat dog world when it comes to tropical weather. The best case scenario is that they all curve north into the ocean and fall apart.

I have to keep on top of storms when they pass tropical depression status. Besides my paranoia, I have two other good reasons. The first reason is gas is too high to not plan ahead. If I don’t need enough gas money for a road trip I can spend that money other places. The second reason is that until we get a test run I will not trust that levee. I have to leave if anything with a tide comes. Anybody who chooses to stay the first time around is crazy in my opinion. Take everything you can’t replace with money and get out of here. If everything goes right we will be back in a few days. The good part about it is that I don’t have to worry about evacuation housing due the all my refugee relatives scattered around the south.

Honestly, I am just trying to make it to November without watching The Weather Channel for more than five minutes or seeing something on the screen so big and scary that I wonder if Nash Roberts is coming out of retirement.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Guest blog: "Just a few small things I love about the city..."

Posted By on Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 2:08 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff’s Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

In my first two posts to this blog I was doing a bunch of complaining. People that are new to me might be asking themselves why I am living here if I am that upset. Well, I complain because I care. I guess everyone in the city has asked themselves the “Why am I here?” question a time or two. New Orleans is a place that doesn’t always return the love you have for it. You have to remind yourself of the small things that will give you a good feeling to get past the politics, crime, school system and slow recovery. These are just a few of mine. Please feel free to add your own.

Jim Henderson Doing Saints Games on the Radio – I don’t remember the last time I listened to a Saint’s game with the TV sound up. I was listening to Jim when we had our first winning season when I was 12. I was listening to him when Hakim dropped the ball and we won our first playoff game. I was listening when we beat the Eagles and went to the NFC Championship. Last year, I wanted to share a beer with him after the Tampa game and the infamous reverse play. When he retires my football seasons won’t be the same. I am getting sad just thinking about it.

Patton’s Hot Sausage – This is a serious thing. I am not joking about this. There are people who have relocated after the storm that plan monthly trips into the city just to buy hot sausage. My aunt’s backyard in the Lower Ninth Ward was right behind Patton’s Hot Sausage plant. There was always a wonderful smell at her house....

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Guest blog: "The registration journey"

Posted By on Sat, Aug 2, 2008 at 3:51 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff’s Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

I loved New Orleans enough to come back home after losing my grandmother, all my possessions and my pet in Hurricane Katrina. I have been able to live through every misrepresentation and stressful process on the way to rebuilding. Nothing has made me more skeptical about my future in this city and more aggravated about coming back than trying to register a child for school. I have had more tirades about this situation than anything else because it involves my baby. I have written about this from the parent's perspective of trying to find a school. My blog friends Leigh and G have tons of other information on this if you want the nuts and bolts. This story is my experience. Judging by the stories I hear from people I know personally, there are probably thousands of stories just like this. This is a recap of what happened so far and where we are today....

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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Guest blog: "Please forgive me if I don't grab my hangman's noose and storm city hall..."

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 8:53 PM

(The following is by Gambit guest blogger and New Orleans East resident Clifton Harris, who maintains his own blog, Cliff's Crib. You can read more of his writing there.)

After listening to the radio this week and hearing callers speak about the big NOAH story on WWL, I realized we have a communication problem here in the city. I think black people try to explain what is viewed as support for the mayor and it doesn’t come out the right way. I thought I would take a shot at it.

Black people hate corruption more than any of you can imagine. We don’t show it as much publicly because we don’t know who to be mad with exactly. We usually live in areas where you can visually see the effects of what corruption and lack of funding can do. We have the parks and the schools with inadequate resources. We have the abandoned public buildings. Our quality of life is directly affected by these things. I am certain there is or was big time corruption and patronage in the city. I just get frustrated when the only things we get are Pampy, NOAH and Oliver Thomas. When are the big fish that we have been hearing about as the reason for our conditions going down? You can’t tell me that my community looks the way it does because someone has been dishonest or mismanaging funds but no one gets in trouble for it. When I see billion dollar problems and I get thousand dollar investigations I start thinking someone is playing games and picking on certain people.

I’m not trying to minimize NOAH, Pampy Barre, or Oliver Thomas. I have said in the past that these little things add up to the huge problems the city has had for decades because it discourages people from coming to the city and investing time and money here. If someone did something wrong they should pay the price for it. All I am asking is that the size and scope of the scheme matches the neglect I see. I see how everyone is rallying around this NOAH story but if you added up all the questionable payments on that list it would be a drop in the bucket of the money that has been drained from this city. That’s what I want to find out about.

I want the folks who caused me to have a ten year old 7th grade English book investigated. What about the people who crippled NORD leaving the poor kids of the city with no organized recreation? What happened to all of the money the gambling industry was supposed to bring? Why isn’t Lincoln Beach open yet? Why didn’t any class I sat in from 7th to 12th grade have air conditioning? Where has all the money been going even before Ray Nagin and Marc Morial got in office?

If someone can find out and indict these people regardless of their color we will make them King of Chocolate City. We would welcome that because no one has suffered because of whatever they did or didn’t do more than we have. Until then please forgive me if I don’t grab my hangman’s noose and storm city hall because a contractor got paid to gut a house that he didn’t.

If we can’t find the big fish that everyone keeps saying is out there, the next logical explanation would be discrimination based on race and class. I don’t really want to believe that but no one is showing me otherwise.

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