Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Y@ Speak: expectations

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 11:51 AM

First it giveth, then it taketh away. Newspapers are dead and buried then return to a daily schedule. New Orleans Pelicans come and go within minutes. Prison donuts are a thing and likely will not be anymore. The right and left react to landmark decisions in Texas and D.C. A $100 brunch institution shuffles off this mortal coil. Service industry employees slumber in unusual ways. Governors — do they poop?

In this week's delayed edition of Y@ Speak (not what you expected, right?), New Orleans examines what is real, or really real, and whether they're, you know, cool about it. If not, one can always seek refuge in Target on the West Bank, where the celebrities go.

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Out visits Bywater

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 5:06 PM

This website inadvertently turned into the city's archivist for Internet idiocy. Today's submission: Out's city guide for New Orleans, an alternate universe in which Plessy v. Ferguson was a Reagan-era triumph and a bar that opened last year saved the "unmoored" people of the 9th Ward — either the "end of the world" or "beginning of a new one."

I am the first person in the room to groan loudly at tired "dey stealin' our cultcha" bullshit, which often is just xenophobia wearing a Saints T-shirt, but this is just pure ignorance and insult. The self-righteous arguments over cultural preservation (that seemingly only take place on Twitter and not where it matters), as if it's a thing that can be jeopardized by whimsical cocktails, will likely have a field day with the Out piece, but for the wrong reasons.

It's not just about the major factual error in the New Orleans timeline. (It's just a typo, but still.) What irks me most about the whole "new New Orleans" mentality is how it remains blissfully unaware of the city as a whole. It falls for what they see as the city's seemingly detached sense of the world. I don't care what anyone does here, to be honest. Want to open your dream business selling vintage sex toys? Go for it, dude. Build a house that's a ball pit? Live the dream, my man. What irks me is dressing that up as some kind of agent of salvation. New Orleans needs saving pretty much 24 hours a day, and it's not up to someone's bathroom art project to do it. Don't let that stop you from doing it. But Out perpetuates the idea that New Orleans begins and ends in someone's fantastical idea of whatever neighborhood they moved into. In New Orleans, can "business" just be that, or is tied to "big important cultural moment"?

The plans were controversial at the time — comments surrounding New Orleans alt-weekly The Gambit's coverage range from praise for Booty's "salvation" of the neighborhood to criticism of "hipster pretense" pushing out natives — but Booty's has in short order become an anchor in a formerly unmoored neighborhood

If Out believes Booty's is somehow the savior of an "unmoored" neighborhood, I'd hate for them to tell me what Cure did for Uptown.

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Y@ Speak: winners and losers

Posted By on Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 11:45 AM

This week, Y@ Speak revisits the inaugural #twitterprom and its graceful champions and also-rans, as well as the last gasps of the 2013 legislative session, punctuated by colorful and unnecessary signage, poor grammar, and a writer's return.

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Y@ Speak: awards season

Posted By on Mon, Jun 3, 2013 at 11:55 AM

As I am handed a golden scepter and draped in my red velvet cape, I present to you this week's Y@ Speak following our farewell to the reign of Lauren LaBorde. Her rule will be difficult to follow.

Nevertheless, New Orleans Twitter basked in the warm glow of its inaugural Y@ Speak award nominations, got really excited about Hubig's rebuilding its pie factory, ate oysters, met @BeingNOLA, and battled termites.

All in preparation, presumably, for #twitterprom, aka the Y@ Speak Awards. Winners will be announced at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Publiq House (4528 Freret St.). Your host is dream job conjurer Ian Hoch. Can't make it in person? Follow along on @yat_speak.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Y@ Speak goes to the rave

Posted By on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 1:58 PM

The second annual BUKU Music + Project, which I predict has left the Mississippi River covered in a sheen of glow stick juice and littered with sodden furry animal hats, was either the best weekend of your life or a noisy nuisance depending on your attitudes toward rave drugs, electronic dance music and teenagers. Also this week: celebrities' opinions on McDonald's and has a retweet snafu.

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Bill seeks to eliminate Jindal's favorite excuse for keeping records under seal

Posted By on Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 4:08 PM

A bill filed this week by state Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard, Independent of Thibodaux, and Sen. Rick Gallot, Democrat of Ruston, would repeal an exemption to the state Public Records Act called the "deliberative process privilege." The privilege protects deliberative (or pre-decisional) communications within the governor's office — though it's unclear just what is meant by "deliberative" and "governor's office."

The privilege has recently been applied to requests for (1A) records that were submitted after a state policy decision was made, (1B) records of communications that (arguably) themselves took place after a policy decision was made and (2) records from any executive agency, not just the Office of the Governor.

From our earlier coverage:

 The News-Star attempted to confirm [Louisiana Department of Education Superintendent John] White's remarks by filing a public records request for internal DOE emails, specifically those "regarding phases included in the process for school approval for the Louisiana Scholarship program." A copy of the request was provided to Gambit by News-Star attorney William McNew.

The department did not hand over the requested emails.

After the paper published an editorial excoriating the state for its lack of transparency, White responded, claiming DOE was not obligated to produce the records because of something called the "deliberative process privilege," an exemption to the Louisiana Public Records Law that Jindal rammed through the Legislature in 2009 over the objections of the state's largest newspapers. White claimed in his letter that the privilege, which critics say applies only to the governor's office, "protects documents reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated."

(More after the jump)

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Y@ Speak: The Beyonce Blackout Bowl edition

Posted By on Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 11:53 AM

New Orleans: You're like a quirky, twentysomething daughter who insists on hosting Thanksgiving dinner at her tiny shotgun house in a "weird" part of town. Things are going well at first — no one's arguing about politics and grandma actually seems to enjoy the silken tofu and kale dip — but then you end up burning the turkey.

The great Super Bowl blackout happened after unprecedented amounts of bootyliciousness during the halftime show. But you know what? It's fine. The week leading up to the big event was a fun, decadent time for celebrities, media and regular folks alike; I doubt visitors enjoy themselves this much during Super Bowls in other places. You may have burnt the turkey, but Aunt Cheryl totally wants to come back next year.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Super Bowl Media Day: Ray Lewis, gay marriage, root beer glazes and Edgar Allan Poe

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 4:20 PM

Joe Flacco summons the masses.
  • Joe Flacco summons the masses.

The Super Bowl Committee estimates more than 5,000 reporters arrived in New Orleans to cover Super Bowl XLVII. Today, buses unloaded them all, seemingly, into the Superdome for Media Day. Fans filled the lower bowl sideline to watch the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens host Q&A sessions with reporters, and reporters from all over the world get one-on-one with the players — attendees could tune in to free personal ear-clip radios to tune into each network or interview stage. Media Day opened to the public for the first time last year in Indianapolis.

Players sat back for an hour to wax philosophic on football, reflect on the season, answer boring questions or repeat answers to repeated questions, and get a little loose in a pre-game stress-free interview setting — or walk around among reporters and goof around on- and off-camera with the media.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis drew the wildebeest reporters to his crocodile trap of seemingly endless Ray Lewisms — "I have dreams. The outside world don't see those dreams. ... People ask why I'm so emotional" — while center Matt Birk confirmed his much-publicized stand against gay marriage: "I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman," and attributed his views to his Catholic background.

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Louisiana scores a C+ for government website transparency

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 1:41 PM

Government transparency watchdog organization Sunshine Review has released its first ever assessment of "proactive disclosure" on state, county, city and school district websites. Based on the group's 10-point transparency checklist — including current and archived budget information, contracts, lobbying activity and contact info for elected representatives — the state of Louisiana scores an overall C-plus, 33 out of 50 states for website transparency, just behind Montana. The top-ranked state was California. Nebraska scored the lowest.

Important to keep in mind: This study only scores government websites, which might not represent be Louisiana's most significant transparency problem. Also see this. And this. And this. There are more.

Of the three subcategories, Louisiana's state website scored the best, with a B-minus. Websites for the state's five largest parishes scored a C-plus, as did the five largest cities. The five largest school districts' websites scored lowest, with a D-plus.

Note: Sunshine Review's report does not say whether it counted Orleans Parish as a single district, as the state does in op-eds, or whether it only examined the Recovery School District, the larger of the two. If the former, it does not say if the website in question is the RSD website, which is hopefully a work in progress, the serviceable Orleans Parish School Board website or the ever-changing state Department of Education website.

Read the report: 2013_Transparency_Report_Card_1_.pdf

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The New Yorker on Letten's office and "online trolls"

Posted By on Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 4:15 PM

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten at the Danziger trial verdict in August 2011.
  • U.S. Attorney Jim Letten at the Danziger trial verdict in August 2011.

The recent shakeups and breakups under U.S. Attorney Jim Letten amid an online comment controversy caught the eyes at The New Yorker, where Jack Hitt gives the blow-by-blow in "How Forensic Linguistics Identified Online Trolls in New Orleans." Just how exactly did investigators nail down commenters Henry L. Mencken1951 and eweman as Sal Perricone and Jan Mann?

Here's the (brief) saga of James Fitzgerald, "forensic linguistics" specialist and the FBI agent who helped link the Unabomber to Ted Kaczynski.

And a tip from Hitt: "Heloise-like tip to newbie trolls: don’t create an anonymous handle that includes the year of your own birth (Henry L. Mencken1951) or one that contains a homonym of your own name (eweman)."

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