Saturday, January 31, 2009

brickbat for HANO

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 5:27 PM


We live on Lesseps St. in the Bywater, on very high ground back by Vaughn’s and the naval base. Katrina didn’t touch us. She ripped the tar roof off of the Section-8 style mini-project across the street though, and water poured in, ruining six people’s apartments and all belongings therein. Those poor people survived the hurricane but lost all their shit anyway and had to move, to where we have no idea. Several sources have told me that HANO owns the building. If so, than we need to shut em down.

It gets more infuriating than that though. In 2007, my wife, Morgana King (who heads many big public art projects at the Arts Council of New Orleans, and also helps run The Front Gallery on St. Claude) started missing our neighbors across the street. In tribute to them, she hand-sewed a 20-foot by 4-foot pale-green and brown banner: I MISS MY NEIGHBORS (see photo). She then painted childlike cartoons of our neighbors on poster board, and stapled the painting on the wood with which HANO had covered the windows. It was supposed to look like they were still inside and happy.

While she was finishing this cute project, a HANO truck stopped by. The driver asked Morgana what she was doing. She explained, making sure to point out that her art was not painted onto the building and thus was not vandalism. HANO dude said he actually liked it. Still the next it was taken down.

Whoever took it down (we suspect HANO, obviously, though maybe it was the Grey Ghost Fred Radtke, who is a well known hater of art) they stimply untied it, dropped it limp to the second floor concrete. So we just went and tied it back up. Our remaining neighbors on Lesseps loved the project, by the way. So we know it wasn’t any of them that, on that second night, cut it down, sliced it so it would have been impossible to re-hang unless it was also re-sewn. Which we did. On the third morning it was clean gone.

Flash to five months later, and the building’s temporary wooden doors have all dried and bowed and fallen off the place, exposing the contents within. None of those people were ever given the chance to go back into their apartments and salvage any of their belongings (which, isn’t that what the city did to most its public housing residents?), so all their couches, clothes, family pictures, and everything else are still sitting in there, visibly moldy, with the roof caved in all over it. At some point they even came and put ‘no parking’ signs on the building, so no one would mess up the grass, and they left without fixing the doors. That was summer 2008.

Flash to now, we’re almost on the one-year anniversary of the protective boards falling off. Last week, three small elementary aged kids built a bicycle ramp in the precious grass out front, five feet from the dangerously open doors. Luckily the kids seem uninterested in the moldy crap inside the apartments. If they wanted to though, they could easily go in and explore, and most likely get hurt, or die when the rest of the ceiling caves in on them.

To recap: it took HANO one day to notice and rectify the cute art project Morgana did. They spent all week diligently making sure it didn’t go back up. And yet the doors on this house have been dangerously wide open for almost a year. I suppose we’ll have to fix it ourselves. Or re-hang the art project to bring the HANO workers back. Here’s a shot of the building today (notice the kids' bike ramp):


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The look on David West's face says it all

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 6:07 AM

D-West is pisssed


Hornets fans will surely rack their brains over tonight's 91–87 loss to the Golden State Warriors. They'll wonder how it is that the Hornets could be held to just 35.9% shooting against a 15–32 team or how is it that they could go 5-of-21 from three-point range. Skeptics will no doubt point to this loss and line it up with other Hornets' losses to sub-.500 teams this season as a reason to say that New Orleans is not a championship-caliber team.


The Hornets players and coaches, though, aren't thinking about all that. Sure, no one in the Hornets locker room after the game was happy with the outcome — Byron Scott said "this leaves a bitter taste in our mouths" — but it's not like players were on suicide watch. It was a disappointing loss, no doubt, but tomorrow's game against division-leading San Antonio is much more important. So, did the Hornets overlook Golden State?

Continue reading »

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A (safe) bicycle built for two

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 2:43 AM


New Orleans was saddened and I would think, somewhat embarrassed, when 25-year-old Kirsten Brydum - a visitor and community activist from San Francisco who was in town for the first time - was murdered in late September. Brydum was shot in the early hours of a Saturday morning while on route by bicycle from the Howlin' Wolf to the house where she was staying in the Ninth Ward.

Now, New Orleans cyclists (we're not talking weekend Audubon Park exercisers here; these are the folks who, for political, aesthetic, environmental or economic reasons use two wheels as their main mode of transport) are a strong, tight-knit community. In response to the tragedy, they've hit upon a possible solution named in her honor: Brydum Tandem Project NOLA. The program is a community-based effort, the sort of thing Brydum herself would have supported, through which cyclists in New Orleans can request a two-person bike escort 24 hours a day, in most parts of the city, to ride home with - or even a car that can toss a bike in the trunk.

Email or call 985-628-1330 for more information, or join the group here on Facebook.

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Obama continues to rock the airwaves

Posted By on Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 1:22 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but not a lot of American presidents have wound up immortalized in song, and none as extensively as our latest POTUS. Just before the election, I did a by-no-means-complete roundup of musical paeans to Barack Obama. Then, today, I heard this for the first time: a remix of Jim Jones and Ron Browz #1 Billboard hip-hop and R&B hit "Pop Champagne" with the opening verse rewritten as a tribute to the new President - certainly the most-mentioned political figure in hip-hop outside of Benjamin Franklin. It's a poppy club-rap track, with lots of AutoTune and a spare conga-esque beat that bubbles up fatly in a way that evokes the titular champagne, and the melody is so addictively singsongy that I guarantee if you listen, you will be hearing this in your head for hours, if not days:

We voted for a change and now we made it

No disrespect to McCain and Palin

We rocked the vote and now we celebratin'

President Barack and VP Biden

Oh-oh, pop champagne

Oh-on, for Barack campaign

Somebody please make it stop?

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Did you receive this strange book in the mail?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 11:55 PM

While America's publishing industry packs up shop and says goodbye to the world, some authors are flush enough to pay postage to send you their work for free. Even when you don't want it.

Many in New Orleans recently received in our mailboxes, a free copy (in my case two!) of the 94-page book National Sunday Law. It's a well-printed enough little tome, almost as thick as Catcher in the Rye, with a black and white and red matte cardstock cover. Nice enough that you have to at least open it -- before you see the words "Revelations," "Jesus," "Christianity," or the phrase, "homosexuals and drug addicts share AIDS with the innocent," (p.5) and immediately know whether or not you're interested. Tossing the bigoted crap away is inevitably the right thing to do. Except then you're to blame for 94 pages (or 188, in my case) of brand new newsprint paper plus the cover entering a landfill. This I couldn't take.

National Sunday Law's nutjob sentence and paragraph structure will also give you vertigo -- yes, I did try to literally read the thing. But only after calling the publisher and asking, "May I speak with whoever’s in charge of distributing National Sunday Law via mail?"

"Well, the author is not here," said a nice sounding old lady whom I nonetheless knew I would question until she hung up on me. I never stop and haggle with the cross-huggers on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras, and I knew that all those repressed arguments would unfold now. Or maybe I was just jealous that I can't get another book published.

"The author mails them out himself?" I asked, surprised, since the sticker said 'to: resident.'

"Yes, and the author's gone for a while," she said, in a more shystee tone. "Won't be back for a good few weeks."

"Well then who else can I complain to, about how wasteful it is sending this book to people without asking them. If God made this planet like you think he did, then you are spitting in His face by forcing people to throw away a 90 page book!"

"No one's forcing anyone to throw it away."

"Well, if I am not religious –- and many people aren't these days -- what else would I do with it? Do you hand a pound of beef to a vegetarian and then blame them for throwing it away?"

"They could give it to one of their meat-eating friends."

"Well what if they're too smart to…I don't have any religious friends to give this to! Giving this book to people who haven't asked for it is simply wasteful."

"Well, there are a lot more people wasting more than we are."

"Are you actually telling me that it's ok for you to waste all this paper because other people do worse?"

"You just need to look at the bigger picture."

"I am! You aren't! Wasting resources and creating garbage is going to bring about the end of the world way sooner than homosexuals will."

"Well, there are things more important than the death of the environment. Once they pass this law – and they will, believe me, we have extensive documentation that proves…"

"Wait, law? What law?"

"The law that says everyone must attend church every Sunday."

“No way.” I looked again at the book's cover, and couldn't help laughing: "Is that what National Sunday Law means? I didn't read it! Is that what it's hypothesizing, that the government will…?"

"Oh it's not hypothesis, it's fact! And you are really in for it if you don't believe…"

"That the government is going to pass a law forcing us to go to church? Even though our entire country was based on freedom of religion? I…I…"

"Yes, and this is far worse than any environmental…"

"Wrong! No way. It's even more ridiculous that y’all would waste so much paper discussing something that has even less chance of happening than The Reckoning! That would never happen in America in a million years, especially since human beings are evolving farther and farther away from religion every year!" I have no idea if that's true. Seems true.

We volleyed for a good while more because, I could tell, she or her company had a 'don't hang up' policy. Making her hang up was harder than expected. Between her finally hanging up and me finally trying to actually read the book though, I asked the lady to remove my address from any future mailing lists. If you would like to do the same (the book's inside cover says they've distributed tens of millions of them! That’s an environmental disaster, one whole landfill unto itself), call:  Amazing Truth Publications, 618-627-2357

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Cerasoli's resignation: Mayor Nagin and the City Council bid farewell

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 11:20 PM

Statement from the New Orleans City Council:

We would like to express our gratitude to New Orleans' first Inspector General Robert Cerasoli for his tireless efforts over the last 17 months serving as an independent watchdog over City government.

Cerasoli's long-term vision and mutually respectful relationship with the Council was a clear catalyst for a voter approved City Charter change that solidified permanent financing for the office.

Under his leadership, operational and policy standards were set ensuring the fluid continuation of the Office of Inspector General for years to come. This will be his legacy to the government and citizens of New Orleans.

We offer reassurance to all citizens that the Council will stand by the Office of Inspector General and pledge our support of its independent work to ensure transparency and accountability in government.

We wish Mr. Cerasoli the very best for his health and a happy retirement.

Statement from Mayor Ray Nagin:

I wish Mr. Cerasoli the best as he leaves to address his health concerns. Despite his departure, I believe the Office of the Inspector General can play an important role in this community. I re-instituted the Ethics Review Board, which appoints and supervises the Inspector General, because such an administrative auditor can help us improve city policies and procedures on behalf of the citizens we all serve.

C. Ray Nagin


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Virginia Black of the South Bend Tribune needs to talk to you about your TPS report. That'd be great.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 10:43 PM


Welcome to The Gambit's new Web category "The Media's Lovely Corpse," where we'll have fun chronicling all the ways that print and electronic media are managing to kneecap themselves.

Today's object lesson comes courtesy of Virginia Black, assistant managing news editor of the South Bend Tribune [artists' conception above], who has struck on a way to completely alienate the paper's reporters and create more paperwork at the same time. Managers everywhere, of course, have always been able to do this, but Virginia has raised it to an art, as she is "also simplifying the record-keeping part of the productivity system; rather than managers assessing an employee on a 40-point scale every week, they will instead be checking a box on a slip of paper that indicates whether each employee met productivity goals that week."

From:[Assistant managing editor/news] Virginia Black

Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:19 AM

To: Newsroom Staff


Our old productivity system was meant purely to try to determine whether we were meeting work goals and being as productive as possible. With a smaller staff and a shift in planning, a small newsroom committee has recommended that we rework the system to still meet that goal, yet capitalize on a bigger one: communication.

If you're a copy editor, designer, photographer or editor, your productivity communication will likely not change. This is targeted foremost to all reporters, who would send a daily e-mail the last thing before they leave for the day (or at the latest, the very first thing - 8 a.m. - the next day). These e-mails would go not only to your most immediate editor but to at least five editors, including me. This daily e-mail would lay out specifically what you accomplished that day, what you need to finish or follow up on the next day, and what you plan to do that next day. We mean everything, from the most mundane county council advance to the beginning interview in the most ambitious investigation that may or may not see the light of day (or publication). It also would allow you to bring up any other communication you need to share. From there, yes, your editor will be able to tell how busy you were, but more importantly, he or she will know your accomplishments and your struggles. From that, our morning planning meetings can be even more efficient.

Here are some examples of what such notes should look like...

The following is Virginia's actual memo-example, and must be clicked to be believed...

Continue reading »

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Caddy Shack

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 10:10 PM

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“Like Avey Tare’s parts in Animal Collective,” came the voice in the next cubicle, and I’d say that’s just about right. The subject: Caddywhompus, the local noise-pop group making a glorious racket in my headphones for much of the morning. For various reasons, I had managed to avoid hearing the duo of singer/drummer Sean Hart and singer/guitarist Chris Rehm until now, despite its name having been on the lips of some of my most trusted musical advisors for months. First, there’s that name, Caddywhompus, which stumbles out of your mouth like an unholy mix of bumbling ’80s comedy and Sesame Street character. And second/third, its four-song debut EP has tracks titled “This Is Where We Blaze the Nuggz” and “Absinthesizer.” But wait — they’re good songs. They all are, in fact: sugary, crunchy, shout-y songs, hopped up on some euphoric substance that elicits skyscraping vocals, multi-tracked effect pedals and multiple Touretteish-sounding outbursts. They’re also free, available as a zip download that starts the second you click on the EP’s cover, a garish cave drawing sitting front and center on the band’s Web site. Good, free music from a startup pop group in New Orleans? “Kids,” came the voice in the next cubicle. I’d say that’s just about right.  


Caddywhompus plays Tipitina’s Grammy U Launch Party tonight at 9 p.m.


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Morgus, momentarily: turn on your radios

Posted By on Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 9:07 PM


The notoriously reclusive Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus, we've just heard, is about to emerge from the depths of the Old City Icehouse for a rare appearance live on WWL radio, 870 AM or 105.3 FM. What's he going to do? We don't know, but it's bound to be interesting. Go on, turn on the radio (or the Internet - you can stream live from the website linked above.)

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