Hurricane Katrina

Monday, August 17, 2015

Y@ Speak: metaphorically speaking

Posted By on Mon, Aug 17, 2015 at 2:17 PM

Hey, you heard of this Hurricane Katrina? Did you know someone "metaphorically" wished it happened to them, too? As we ride this roller coaster of nightmarish nostalgia toward Aug. 29, let's look back at a week of online rage and one of the ultimate backpedaling "well, actually" non-apologies of our time. Also: Confederate monuments offer some delightful debate and the New Orleans Saints are, um, fine.

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist: "What I was thinking"

Posted By on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 6:06 PM

Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."
  • Original online title: ""In Chicago, Wishing For A Hurricane Katrina."

Kristen McQueary, the Chicago Tribune editorialist who pissed off vast swaths of New Orleans, Chicago, and the Internet yesterday with her wish that a "Hurricane Katrina" would strike Chicago and clean up that city's "rot," has come back 24 hours later with a "what I meant to say" piece.

Here's what McQueary meant to say, according to her:
I used the hurricane as a metaphor for the urgent and dramatic change needed in Chicago: at City Hall, at the Chicago City Council, at Chicago Public Schools. Our school system is about to go bankrupt, and the city’s pension costs and other massive debts have squeezed out money for basic services.

I wrote what I did not out of lack of empathy, or racism, but out of long-standing frustration with Chicago’s poorly managed finances.
The original column, McQueary wrote, came after a Trib editorial board meeting with Mayor MItch Landrieu, who was in Chicago to talk about the city's recovery — and, presumably, the Katrina10 commemoration, which is designed to both memorialize the tragedy and put forward the city's best face at a time when we once again have the world's gaze.

In that sense, it's a PR campaign, which is fine; that's what a traveling mayor is for. But one hopes an editorial board at one of the country's most powerful newspapers would dig deeper than an elected official's political spin, and all McQueary seemed to carry away from the meeting was this:
Residents overthrew a corrupt government. A new mayor slashed the city budget, forced unpaid furloughs, cut positions, detonated labor contracts. New Orleans' City Hall got leaner and more efficient. Dilapidated buildings were torn down. Public housing got rebuilt. Governments were consolidated.

An underperforming public school system saw a complete makeover. A new schools chief, Paul Vallas, designed a school system with the flexibility of an entrepreneur. No restrictive mandates from the city or the state. No demands from teacher unions to abide. Instead, he created the nation's first free-market education system.

Hurricane Katrina gave a great American city a rebirth.
Unmentioned: billions of dollars in federal recovery money and insurance payouts, which had a lot to do with what progress we've made; bootstraps and volunteerism only goes so far. Dumping that kind of money into Chicago, even without a tragedy, would probably perk up things there as well.

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Chicago Tribune columnist wishes for a "Hurricane Katrina" to clean up Chicago

Posted By on Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 7:39 PM


Well, that was a shitstorm — and we're not talking about the first few minutes of the New Orleans Saints' preseason game. A member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board is wishing for a "Hurricane Katrina" to strike and help clean up what she sees as her own corrupt city.

Kristen McQueary, who is an actual member of the Chicago Tribune's actual editorial board, met with Mayor Mitch Landrieu and somehow came away with the notion — well, I'm not sure what's more wrongheaded, that Katrina "fixed" things in New Orleans or that a Chicagoan would want the people of Chicago to go through something similar:

Envy isn't a rational response to the upcoming 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

But with Aug. 29 fast approaching and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu making media rounds, including at the Tribune Editorial Board, I find myself wishing for a storm in Chicago — an unpredictable, haughty, devastating swirl of fury. A dramatic levee break. Geysers bursting through manhole covers. A sleeping city, forced onto the rooftops.

Apparently it takes a Katrina (or, more accurately, a federal levee disaster) to clean up what McQueary calls Chicago's "rot." Not surprisingly, social media is going nuts in both cities. Is McQueary a troll, a cheap provocateur or just ... I dunno?

I've invited her to discuss the column over coffee when I'm in Chicago in early September. So: what about it, Kristen? I'm buying. I'll bring you beignet mix.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DeRay Mckesson to deliver keynote speech at Rising Tide X

Posted By on Tue, Aug 4, 2015 at 10:00 AM


Rising Tide
, the annual bloggers' "conference on the history of New Orleans," will feature a keynote speech by civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson when it holds its 10th session Aug. 29 at Xavier University.  

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Solange to host Make it Right benefit Aug. 29

Posted By on Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 12:33 PM


Singer and actress Solange will host a benefit for Brad Pitt's Make it Right foundation at House of Blues Aug. 29. The event also will feature as yet unnamed special guests. Tickets are on sale today.

Make it Right was founded in 2007 to build homes in New Orleans in areas destroyed by the federal floods following Hurricane Katrina. It expanded to address housing needs in other cities as well.

Solange Knowles, sister of Beyonce, was married in New Orleans in November 2014.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Atlantic announces the lineup for its Hurricane Katrina anniversary conference

Posted By on Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 3:30 PM

Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, will be among the speakers and moderators at The Atlantic's "New Orleans: Ten Years Later" conference Aug. 24. - KEVIN ALLMAN
  • Dean Baquet, executive editor of The New York Times, will be among the speakers and moderators at The Atlantic's "New Orleans: Ten Years Later" conference Aug. 24.

It's a little bit Aspen, a little bit Davos and a little bit New Orleans: As part of the city's "Katrina10" events, The Atlantic will be holding "New Orleans: Ten Years Later," a conference with 19 announced speakers and moderators — "and more to be added over the coming weeks," the magazine announced today.

What's the thesis?
A decade later, New Orleans has been revived as brightly painted houses again line neighborhood streets, students too young to know life before Katrina attend state-of-the-art charter schools and a new generation of entrepreneurs descends on the city. Despite all of this progress, there is still much to be done and many looming issues to address. 
So who's coming to celebrate all this resilience? Start with Walter Isaacson, the New Orleans native, writer and head of The Aspen Institute. Add in Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation, and La June Montgomery Tabron, president of The W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, of course, interviewed by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic.

And then there's Louisiana Superintendent of Education John White; Kira Orange Jones, Executive Director of Teach For America Greater New Orleans-Louisiana Delta; and New Orleans education advisor Andre Perry. The local front also will be well-represented Baquet-wise, with The New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet, The Times-Picayune Director of Print Terry Baquet and Li'l Dizzy's owner Wayne Baquet.

The event will take place at the New Orleans Sheraton all day Mon. Aug. 24, with a full schedule to come later. Those interested in attending should contact the magazine at this link

Full release under the jump.

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Monday, June 1, 2015

Y@ Speak: #HurricanePrep

Posted By on Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 1:15 PM

As we all begin stocking up one gallon of water per family member per day (this is a thing we all do, right? right?), we bless the rains down in Everywhere, talk about gentrification, and prepare for a summer full of Hurricane Katrina and federal flood retrospectives. Also this week: the unmasking of everyone's favorite turnt up governor @notBobbyJindal.

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Sanchez Recreation Center opens in Lower Ninth Ward, and there's a pool

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2015 at 5:36 PM


Isaac Holmes Jr., a lifelong resident of the Lower Ninth Ward, walks on a treadmill at the newly opened, $20.5 million Andrew P. Sanchez and Copelin-Byrd Multi-Service Center in the neighborhood, while the Rev. Johnny Hughes takes a spin on a stationary bike next to him.

"This is my pace," Holmes jokes to Hughes, slowing down the treadmill. Neither man seems particularly concerned with the crowd of politicians, volunteers, city officials and media in the atrium behind them, even Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who went from room to room meeting constituents. This is the facility Holmes and Hughes used pre-Katrina, and this is the facility they're excited to use again now.  

"I've lived in this neighborhood all my life," says Holmes. "It's awesome. This is something we needed in the community."

Next door, a half-dozen teenage girls line up to take an impromptu dance class in a newly furbished studio, and across the hall, the sounds of a hundred bouncing basketballs reverberates as visitors take free throws and chase each other around the court.

"It shows people that the city really cares about the Lower 9," says District E Councilmember James Gray, who represents the Lower Ninth Ward. "The feeling here is that they're the forgotten child. This is the nicest center I've ever been in, in my life. There may be some nicer ones around. We really need to make sure that this thing is used."


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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Landrieu's State of the City address unveils "Katrina 10: Resilient New Orleans"

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2015 at 3:37 PM

Among the commemorations scheduled for Aug. 29 in New Orleans: a wreath-laying at the Hurricane Katrina memorial at Canal Street and City Park Avenue. - CREATIVE COMMONS/INFROGMATION
  • Among the commemorations scheduled for Aug. 29 in New Orleans: a wreath-laying at the Hurricane Katrina memorial at Canal Street and City Park Avenue.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivered his annual State of the City address this morning at the Carver Theater in Treme, where he also unveiled the city’s plans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the federal floods.

The overall event is called “Katrina 10: Resilient New Orleans” (resilience and resilient seem to be two words you'll be hearing a lot), and features occasional events all summer leading up to a weeklong commemoration during the last week of August. Among the big plans: the “RISE Katrina 10 Conference,” staged by the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and the National Urban League July 26 through 29; an Aug. 24 conference titled “The Atlantic Presents New Orleans”; and the “New Orleans Honors,” a gala event at the Saenger Theater Aug. 28.

Saturday, Aug. 29 will bring several events, including a day of service around the city, along with a “Resilience Festival” in the 9th Ward; a public “celebration of neighborhoods” and a second line at Smoothie King Center; and a wreath-laying at the Hurricane Katrina memorial at the corner of Canal Street and City Park Avenue.

For more information, visit the website:

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Good People Go to Hell: An interview with filmmaker Holly Hardman

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 11:32 PM


Holly Hardman's new documentary film Good People Go to Hell, Saved People Go to Heaven takes as its subject the everyday lives of Louisianans coping with the impending end of the world. Without commentary or an obvious agenda, Hardman gives us blue-collar, mostly white, mostly West- and North-Louisiana folks trying to rebuild their own lives between disasters (Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isaac) while spreading the word of an impending, scripturally guaranteed mega-disaster that only the souls of the saved can survive.

The overall approach is impressionistic, a pastiche of moments and interactions. With the exception of a few glimpses of megachurch executives, the people in this movie don't have money or power. They're fighting to keep their families housed and their marriages from collapsing, struggling to overcome very familiar varieties of post-flood depression and chemical dependency.

Making someone the subject of a documentary inherently exoticizes him or her. Hardman's film is refreshingly free of classism or Yankee snobbery; her subjects come across on their own terms, and besides a few doctrinal quirks — believing almost every human ever born deserves eternal torture at the hands of a sadistically deranged demiurge — they seem sympathetic and likable.

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