Category Archives: Diary

The Shape I’m In

I have many things on my mind, so it’s time to dial back my role as your Hurricane Ida correspondent and write about some of the other weird shit happening in the news. I do have a few storm related items so we’ll begin there.

You may have noticed that the fundraising sticky atop the blog is gone. The Bayou Project has met its original goal, but they’re still raising money if you want to donate. Thanks to everyone who supported this kickass cause.

One thing people don’t know about me is that I have an excellent sense of smell. That’s why the Debrisville Post Ida Stank has bugged me so much. The phrase gag me with a spoon comes to mind.

I also have an inordinately high threshold of pain, which is why my head injury hasn’t bothered me much except on Bloody Monday. When I was a little leaguer, a batted ball broke my nose. My coach told my father, “This is the first kid I’ve seen that happen to who didn’t cry.” So it goes.

In more Teedy trash talk, the mayor has rolled out a new strategy. She’s deploying what she calls a Mardi Gras style pickup, which involves dump trucks and police escorts. Sounds better than takeout trash.

Mayor Teedy immediately undermined her policy by claiming that cops were needed because garbagemen had been threatened by hostile citizens.  Say what?

This tweet from a State Rep describes what has happened across the city when the garbage trucks appear:

TFC: This Fucking City.

Let’s move on to some national potpourri to cover the smell of rotting shrimp shells.

The Woodward-Costa book is causing a sensation. The bit about Liar Liar Pence On Fire calling J Danforth Quayle for advice is hilarious as is Trump’s response:

“I don’t want to be your friend anymore if you don’t do this,” and later said: “You’ve betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing.”

Neener, neener, neener. He forgot to threaten to hold his breath until he turned blue.

By my reckoning, that’s toddler tantrum eleventy-billion by the Impeached Insult Comedian.

And now a musical interlude inspired by the Trump tantrum:

Republicans suddenly believe in civilian control of the military. Why? General Milley went all-out to prevent war with China and military involvement in a Trump coup. Better to be Jiggs Casey than James Mattoon Scott. Those are Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster’s characters in Seven Days In May.

In the past, GOPers were outraged when Truman fired Gen. MacArthur, Carter fired Gen. Singlaub, and Obama fired Gen. McChrystal for insubordination and malakatude. How dare a Democratic president exercise the powers of their office?

There are Democrats who think President Biden should “drop the hammer” on recalcitrant senators Manchin and Sinema. Such a hammer does not exist in a 50-50 senate.

Speaking of hammers, I feel a musical interlude coming on:

Josh Marshall has a thing or two to say about hammers:

At our Wednesday event there were a lot of calls for Biden to drop the hammer on Manchin and Sinema to get a vote on the latest version of the For the People Act. As I said at the event, my great worry is that he’s not dropping the hammer because he knows it won’t work. If a leader says something has to happen and then it doesn’t happen the leader is much off worse than he started. The thing he wanted to happen didn’t happen in any case.

We keep hearing about LBJ and how he knew how to bring the power of the presidency to bear. But wow … this is just bad history. How did LBJ get people to fall in line? In the 89th Congress, which was sworn in in January 1965, the Democrats held 68 senate seats. Just think about that for a second. 68 seats! Sure, there were a bunch of pro-segregation Dixiecrats. But LBJ had plenty of votes to spare. And there were only relatively few of them who opposed him in the way an opposition party might.

Repeat after me: 50-50 senate.

Joe Biden has forgotten more about the senate than most people will ever know.

With a 50-50 senate it’s all carrot and no stick.

It’s time to circle back to the post title. It’s been a brutal few weeks for me: the hurricane, my Ida related malady, losing my friend Will, and my bloody pratfall. Having said that, I’m doing okay:  “Oh, you don’t know the shape I’m in.”

The Band gets the last word:

TFC: Teedy’s Trash Trouble

The Root Beer Blues, 2005 photograph by Dr. A.

TFC, of course, stands for This Fucking City. We’re having another TFC moment after Hurricane Ida. I’ll get to the other T word in a minute.

We’re once again talking trash. The garbage piles up after a storm in Debrisville. Since there wasn’t a mandatory evacuation, the majority of New Orleanians are home. That, in turn, puts a stress on city services, which are poorly run on a good day. There are no good days in September of 2021.

Yesterday, the Cantrell administration proposed self-service trash takeout to supplement pickup by the hoppers and such. I am not making this up.

The proposal was greeted with derision because trash pickup was erratic at best before the storm. It even inspired a tirade from a popular morning news anchor:

Ms. Turk isn’t down for takeout trash, y’all. She’s experienced the Debrisville Post Ida Stank firsthand. Holy rancid rubbish, Batman.

Time to talk about the other T word: Teedy.

I’ve warmed to the notion of calling Mayor Latoya Cantrell Teedy. That’s black New Orleans slang for an auntie. Typically, a loud, bossy, and brassy auntie. Dr. A’s best local friend is a raging Teedy. If I called her that she’d yell at me thereby proving her Teediness.

The mayor is good at scolding people as is your average Teedy. It works for her. She even likes the nickname:

That’s not Teedy. She has a neck. Mayor Cantrell does not.

Trust me, I’m not endorsing her for reelection. If she had a well-known opponent, the trash issue is the sort of thing that loses elections for big city mayors. Unfortunately, Teedy’s challengers are all nobodies or weirdos. Besides, New Orleans reelected C Ray Nagin after Katrina and the Federal Flood. More on that shiny-headed boob in a moment.

Having praised her with faint damns, I have something good to say about Mayor Teedy. Until her trial by trash, she’s been good in a crisis. She’s a COVID hawk, so am I. And she stayed in the city after the storm unlike one of her predecessors.

C Ray Nagin spent a lot of time at his Dallas condo after Katrina. He was MIA as mayor for most of his second term. Even if it fails the smell test, Mayor Teedy is trying to do something about her trash trouble. C Ray would have jokingly suggested, “Y’all take your trash to New Orleans East. You already do it, man. That’s a joke, man.”

Hey man, trash isn’t funny, man. Go shine your head, asshole. Oops, I wrote that dialogue, but he could have said it, man. C Ray said man a lot, man.

Mocking Mayor Nagin was a vital part of the Spirit of ’05. My pal Liprap called him The Walking Id. She spoke the truth, man.

Life in New Orleans has always been hard. We’re used to this shit. That’s why I revived the Debrisville nickname. That’s why I call it TFC: This Fucking City.

Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.

You know what that means, Talking Heads get the last word:

That concludes this tale of takeout trash in TFC: This Fucking City.

The Stapling

I love old horror movies. I’ve always been a Vincent Price kinda guy, but I now find myself identifying with Boris Karloff. Here’s why:

That was probably TMI for social media but there’s never enough I for First Draft. I rarely play straight man here but am willing to do so on the Tweeter Tube. My friends may be cruel, but they’re funny. Click on this link for more merriment at my expense. My Twitter handle is Shecky, but I feel more like Rodney Dangerfield right now.

Here’s what happened. It was the stupidest accident I’ve ever had and I’m a lifelong klutz. We soaked our trash bin to remove the Debrisville Post Ida Stank from it. I flipped open the lid, then tried to lean it over to pour out the schmutz. That’s when wet grass acted as a banana peel, and I did a pratfall. My head bashed into the rim of the open bin. That’s where things got bloody.

My forehead turned into a gusher reminiscent of the scene in Giant where James Dean strikes oil on Rock Hudson’s ranch.

Since I was doing dirty work, I was wearing an old t-shirt, which I turned into a tourniquet of sorts. Still, the blood flowed like the Monty Python parody of Sam Peckinpah:

I called not Elizabeth Taylor but Dr. A who took me to an Urgent Care joint to get stapled. I already needed a tetanus shot after stepping on a roofing screw at the cemetery cleanup in honor of my late friend Will. That’s what I get for doing yard work.

I’m at the stage of life where everything reminds me of a story. This is an odd one. Long ago and far away, I worked as a paralegal on a massive anti-trust case. All the users of cement were suing all the cement companies. I was firmly on the plaintiffs’ side.

I worked on the document production at Kaiser Cement HQ in Oakland. In the pre-digital age that meant micro-filming documents. I’d sort through the paperwork and select stuff for them to shoot. It was dull, laborious work. FYI, Shapiro worked at the home office as a coder. We go back farther than either of us is willing to admit.

You’re probably wondering where this is leading. Me too.

I spent a lot of time assessing expense accounts; some valid, others dubious. There was one sales rep who used a lot of staples. I dubbed him 12-staple McGahey. I’m not quite sure if that was the name but he was a Scotsman.

I’m certainly not a Scotsman but one could call me 6-staple Adrastos right now. I cannot wait for the stapling to end and for the scabbing to commence.

A closing message in the spirit of Karloff as interpreted by Phil Hartman:

FIRE BAD!

Wet grass bad too.

The last word goes to the Staples Singers:

Anticipation Is Keeping Me Waiting

I spent Tuesday morning watching the red carpet show at the Met Gala. I realized how much I missed sparkles and elaborate hairdos and beautiful jewelry on display. I have a coterie of friends who love couture (even if none of us can afford it) and we spent the day going through photos from the event as we had time and then discussing them in a private Facebook chat.

Watching a bunch of people absolutely delighted to get dressed up and have fun was an excellent distraction. Seeing so many people of color walk the red carpet, and sharing designs from their friends and partners livened up both the festivities and the parade of dresses. Reading about the hand-sewn dresses that took hundreds of hours of work turned them into works of art by hundreds of artisans.

Right now I need escapism. The covid situation right now in West Virginia is dire. Cases are higher than they were at the pre-vaccine peak, and more people are seriously ill. The governor, who is an idiot, refuses to do more than pathetically plead with people to get vaccinated. I’m back to staying away from people again. Many of you know the feeling.

On top of this, the last few years have been rough times for my husband and me:  job losses, a life-threatening (as in 24 hours to live if left untreated) illness that required months of recovery, a debilitating injury that is also requiring months of physical therapy. I remind myself every day that in the grand scheme of things I have nothing to complain about as these are all problems that have been or will be solved, and that I have plenty of shelter, food, medical care, etc. But as my mom once said “Just because other people have it worse than you do, it doesn’t mean that what is happening to you isn’t real, too.”

I also need a real escape. Because of all the tribulations of the last years we had to cancel vacations, and so haven’t been away since January 2013. Yeah. So in a leap of faith we decided to split a longer trip we were going to take next year into 2 parts and head to the Florida Keys in January to get caught up on vacation time and to begin the preliminary steps of our next house hunt.

Life is different when you start to have things to look forward to. I love the anticipation of a trip as much as the trip itself, and I try to learn as much as I can about where I’ll be so I can make the most of the trip, so I’ll read about the area we’re staying in, research local restaurants, bars, and music venues. I’ll learn about the unique things that you can only do there, and find the places that the tourists don’t go. My husband went to college in Florida, and he studied oceanography, so he spent a good bit of time snorkeling and SCUBA diving in the Keys, so he’s in charge of the geography lessons and the forays into neighborhoods we might like to live in.

Plus I am a parsimonious New Englander, so tracking down flights and hotel rates is one of my superpowers (you should have seen the color-coded spreadsheet I made for our wedding/honeymoon where I ranked the ships, the rooms, the ports, the number of days at sea, etc.). Because of everything we’ve been through over the last few years, I also made the decision to treat ourselves to little luxuries along the way—a more relaxed flight and the hotel I liked the best from my research. It’s a lovely property on a marina, with a beautiful pool area and the constant hum of fishing boats and pleasure boats of every size. We’re going to spend some time doing nothing, too. Ahhhh.

Of course the danger of planning so far in advance is that you have no idea how feasible the idea really is. January brings snowstorms. Covid might not die down after the Delta variant dies out. I don’t care. I’m going to enjoy my anticipation, and then I’ll enjoy my vacation. I hope that all of you who also need an escape are able to take one in the near future, too. Joy be with you all.

The Debrisville Post Ida Stank Blues

The 700 block of Valence St.

It’s been 15 days since Hurricane Ida slammed into Southeast Louisiana, but it remains the focus of my attention; such as it is. I’m still tired, fatigued, and exhausted. The storm is much less serious for New Orleans than Katrina, but I’m sixteen years older. It’s less clear if I’m wiser for the extra years and pounds. So it goes.

My focus has been hyper local since Ida struck.  I haven’t been following the national political news as closely as usual. I know that the MSM is still wrong about Afghanistan and that Joe Manchin is still an attention whore and drama queen. I’ll get back up to snuff soon enough but I haven’t missed pondering the posturing of the Sinematic senator or the Turtle’s machinations.

Many of us had to throw food away because of the epic loss of power. That, in turn, resulted in the Debrisville Post Ida Stank. Whether or not your trash has been collected or not, the stench is there. It’s giving us Katrina veterans flashbacks to the stinky fridges that dotted our cityscape in 2005 such as this one:

Cajun Tomb, 2005.

This Zappa song says it all:

In addition to the stank of ’05, the spirit of ’05 is alive and well. My do-gooder friend Carolyn is busy helping people. Not bad for a former teevee news reporter whose Twitter handle is @NewsCarolyn. She recently bought a house in St. Bernard Parish aka Da Parish. I’ve been trying to get her to change her handle to @YatCarolyn to no avail. If you’re wondering what a Yat is click here.

One thing that’s entirely different from 2005 is the presence of social media. I used Twitter as a club with which to beat the local utility, Entergy. They’re the cartoon villain of this crisis. I enlisted the help of councilmembers Joe Giarusso and Jay Banks in my dispute with Entergy over their sloppy work in my hood. Thanks, gentlemen.

The featured image is the before picture of the 700 block of Valence Street, here’s an after picture:

It looks better now but I wanted to stick it to Entergy.

The drowned city of 2005 was a man-made event, which is why we call it the Federal Flood. Hurricane Ida was a wind-driven event that’s an example of Mother Nature at her bitchiest. New Orleans is fairly hard hit BUT the epicenter was in St. John, Lafourche, and Terrebonne parishes.

A reminder that First Draft is supporting the Bayou Fund in its effort to help the people of Terrebonne Parish. Click here if you too believe that Our Fate Is Your Fate

The people of Southeast Louisiana got a break from our grim current reality by watching our beloved New Orleans Saints obliterate the Green Bay Packers 38-3. Sorry Athenae. Scout, and Doc.

Jeopardy host wannabe Aaron Rodgers played an abysmal game. He looked rustier than the Entergy towers that fell during Ida. I had a bit of fun at his expense after he threw some interceptions:

No love for the second tweet? People have already forgotten Mike Richards pulling a Dick Cheney and selecting himself as Alex Trebek’s successor. The malakatude, it burns.

Speaking of Jeopardy and Da Parish this quote comes from a 2017 post entitled First Draft Potpourri For $400, Alex:

Many New Orleans eateries used to carry an item called the “wop salad.” I took the pulse of my community and found only one place in the metro area that still calls it that. It’s Rocky and Carlo’s in Chalmette. It’s in St. Bernard Parish which once had a councilman named Joey DiFatta. That’s apropos of nothing but I miss him. It’s doubtful that the Chalmatians feel the same way.

I realize that quote is of marginal relevance, but this is a potpourri post in malodorous drag. I usually loathe the smell of potpourri, but it beats the hell out of the Debrisville Post Ida Stank. Ugh just ugh.

Since I mentioned Valence Street and the bayou, the last word goes to my former 13th Ward homies, the Neville Brothers:

9/11:  History in a Vacuum

I never watch any 9/11 anniversary television coverage. I was in DC on 9/11 and for all of the months after it. I watched the Pentagon burn from the roof of my office building, just a few blocks from the White House. It was a terrifying day and I’m not here to relive it.

But Americans love to relive it. And somehow the round number of 20 has ramped up coverage to take over this entire week. We should absolutely remember those who died and the bravery and selflessness of the first responders who risked and gave their lives so others could live. We should remember the family members left behind.

The 9/11 commemorations always happen in a vacuum. One moment the United States is minding their own business going about a Tuesday, and the next moment the nation is under attack. It’s treated as if the country were sucker punched on the street for no discernible reason.

When you remove 9/11 from its previous context it becomes a cheap way for people who never put their lives on the line, ever, to spend the run up to it and the day itself policing how people feel about it and making it into some kind of patriotic holiday. But it’s the removal of the post 9/11 context that does the most damage.

9/11 was the result of complete carelessness by the Bush administration which was tight with the Bin Laden family to the point of getting them out of the country to shield them from having to provide necessary information. It was the excuse for the Bush administration to launch a war in Afghanistan so they and their cronies could make billions, and then to launch another, even more pointless war in Iraq, to further enrich people like Eric Prince, where the United States committed war crimes.

And it was all sold to us as a triumphant exercise of democracy, and if you opposed it you were asked “what is wrong with you?” I just got asked this question yesterday when someone asked me about 9/11 and I told them the stuff I’ve written here.

Well fuck all that. 9/11 should be a day of introspection and apology to the first responders left without medical care. It should be a day of thanks and asking forgiveness of the men and women who went to Afghanistan and Iraq and came back with mental and physical injuries. It should be a day to apologize to the families who lost people, in the towers, the Pentagon, in PA, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and who were left to fend with cancer and other illnesses after their service and sacrifice. It should be a day to castigate those member of Congress who refused to fund healthcare for first responders.

And it should be a day to do some serious work on beating our swords into plowshares.

I See The Light

I had hoped to come roaring back with tales of my Hurricane Ida experiences. Most involve heat, sweat, and tedium. I’ve also been sick with a combination of heat exhaustion and a mild case of CO poisoning. My back fence neighbor’s full house generator is too close to our bedroom. It’s both noisy and noxious.

I spent the beginning of the week angry at Entergy and my back fence neighbor. Then I heard that my friend Will Samuels had died of cancer at the age of 52. He was a larger than life character who was a glass 3/4 full optimist. My rage died down upon thinking of his wife Jennifer and young daughter Livia. We’re good friends and I had only seen them once in the last year and a half because of the pandemic.

I know what what Will would have said about my incandescent rage: “I thought you were a get even not mad kinda guy.”

I try to be.

We cleaned up the cemetery at which Will be laid to rest this morning. I saw many friends who I haven’t seen since before the lockdown. It’s a reminder of how much we’ve lost during the pandemic. It’s a sign of how much I love the Samuels family that I did what amounted to yard work today. I don’t usually do yard work but did it to honor Will. He would have found it hilarious.

Here’s a picture from happier times on the parade route near Adrastos World Headquarters:

Jennifer, Livia, Will, Adrastos, and Greg.

Dr. A and I were helped by many people during Ida’s aftermath. We helped a few ourselves. It’s what New Orleanians do.

We’re masking up and attending Will’s memorial service tomorrow morning. I hope it will lead to my writing more but I’m also having computer problems. It was a struggle just to write this post. Oy just oy.

When I heard that my power had finally been restored, I thought of an old song by my Bay Area homies. The last word goes to Hot Tuna:

Ryne Hancock: The Son, the Estranged Mother & the Hurricane

Imagine this for a second.

Hours after you have a small glimmer of hope with your power, only to see that extinguished because a transformer blew out five minutes later, you’re once again forced to take your laptop and cell phone to your friend’s art gallery in the Quarter to charge, a practice that you’ve been repeating for the last six days.

Your legs and entire body feels sore as shit due to the constant biking for wi-fi, charging stations, and food. You’ve had to sleep on the porch of your building a couple of days at night because of no electricity. You have a neighbor that is a complete doofus that has driven you crazy for the last week and you’re praying to every higher power for electricity.

After milling about for a few hours in the Quarter, you return to your neighborhood and make a stop at the library. You’re not paying attention to your cell phone or notifications while you bike, just the road. Once you sit down and log into the wi-fi at the library, you pull out your phone and check your notifications. A Facebook notification about a comment from a video you posted on August 28th appears from a longtime friend of your mom, a person that basically watched you grow up. You don’t think anything about the notification or even the comment, you’re focused on the now.

Then you read it. It’s your estranged mom, who watched a video that you posted from a week ago, prior to the landfall of Ida, about why you didn’t evacuate. Instead of being understanding about why, you’re cursed out.

“Your ass didn’t want to come home,” she wrote. ‘

Granted, I didn’t help matters by saying at the end of the video I knew where my true family was, which some took as shade towards the city of Memphis and relatives, but the fact that I chose to ride out a hurricane and not evacuate to Memphis over dealing with a mom I hadn’t spoken to in six years, speaks volumes.

Not to mention that the fact that the first communication in six years is a rebuke about a video in which I laid out my reasons for staying instead of seeing how I was doing.

That was the upsetting part.

If you have the energy to say things like that in a comment section about a video, then you could have used said friend’s account to check on how I was doing.

In times of crisis, people’s true colors show up. Sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.

What happened on Saturday showed my mom’s true colors.

For the worst.

Pulp Fiction Thursday: Key Largo

This is a reprint of a post from 8/14/2014. It struck me as relevant as I just spent many days cooped up with Kitty Claire Trevor. Besides, Key Largo is the best hurricane movie ever. I give it 4 stars and an Adrastos Grade of A.

KEY_LARGO_22x28_B

Key Largo is not really pulp fiction, but I felt like stretching the definition a bit today to honor Betty Bacall. [She died two days before this was posted.] It was based on a 1939 play by Maxwell Anderson and the war in question was the Spanish Civil War but it was also an allegory about Fascism. The adaptation by director John Huston and future director Richard Brooks nails the political aspects as well as how damn spooky tropical systems are.

What’s particularly scary about the Big Blow depicted in Key Largo is that information was so sketchy. There were no spaghetti maps , no tracking maps, no local weather pukes shitting in their pants or advising you to go to the attic with an ax if there’s flooding. Dr A and I watch this great film as a form of reassurance when there’s something gathering in the gulf. Besides, the acting is sensational.

It goes without saying that Bogie and Bacall lit up the screen together but Edward G Robinson is spectacular in a role that implicitly revisits his first big hit, Little Caesar. He went from Rico to Rocco if you catch my drift. Speaking of name changes, he goyed up his name by changing it from Emmanuel Goldenberg. Unlike Betty Bacall, he liked his goyish moniker and was known to all as Eddie.

Lionel Barrymore is supposed to be a sympathetic character as Bacall’s dead hubby’s father but he reverts to snarly Mr. Potter mode for much of the film. Nothing kosher about this big slice of ham. He was lucky Rocco didn’t roll him off the pier…

The best performance in the film is by Claire Trevor as a washed up alcoholic canary in love with Rocco. He mistreats her rather badly. Anyone shocked? I thought not. Trevor, always a personal favorite of mine, won an Oscar for this part. She played a long string of femme fatales and hookers with hearts of gold. Her character in John Ford’s Stagecoach was a template for all the goodhearted whores and madams to follow.

A last word about Betty Bacall. There are some good Bacall articles floating about the net, but there are some that do not mention director Howard Hawks. You cannot write about Betty Bacall without mentioning Hawks. He took a chance on an unknown model and gave her a juicy role playing opposite one of the biggest stars in the world in her first film. His gamble paid off big-time for all concerned.

I showed you a lobby card above, here’s the highly evocative poster

Poster - Key Largo_03

Finally, here’s the trailer:

Home To Debrisville

It’s been a longer and stranger trip than expected. We’re fine. Our house is fine. The cat is fine. We evacuated to friends in the suburbs who have a whole house generator. We arrived acquaintances and left good friends. Thanks, Brenda and Mike.

We have the Gret Stet trifecta: power, internet, and cable.

The city is beaten up but it’s not Katrina bad.

I am beat, beat, beat today. I’ll fill in some details either later today or tomorrow. All I wanna do is see Erika Jayne tell Sutton to STFU on RHBH. Sorry for the acronyms but I am tired, tired, tired,

I’d like to thank the First Draft team for keeping the lights on when I didn’t have any myself. Tommy T, Michael F, Shapiro, and Cassandra not only rock, they rule.

Finally, my old friend Ethan Brown reminded me that I coined the term Debrisville after Katrina and the Federal Flood. In fact, my maiden First Draft post was called Greetings From Debrisville. It’s high time for a revival. Hence the post title.

The last word goes to Talking Heads:

Adrastos Update

From Adrastos:

Dr A, Claire, and I are fine. Just hot and sweaty. There was minimal damage to our house but the power is still out. Absent a return of power, we’ll be going to some friends in the Shreveport area tomorrow.

I’ll have more to say by Saturday.

That is all.

The Spirit Of ’05 Revisited

Root Beer Blues. Photograph by Dr. A.

In 2018, I decided to do something different on the Katrinaversary. As Hurricane Ida arrives in the Gret Stet of Louisiana, I’m posting it again on the 16th anniversary of the storm that changed my life:

I hate to go Dickensian on your asses but the period after Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood was indeed the best of times and the worst of times. My Katrina experience was nothing compared to many people but it has stayed with me in a way that few life experiences have.

Each Katrinaversary gets a bit less painful. Today almost feels like an ordinary day but I still have the survivor’s guilt I wrote about lwhen parts of New Orleans flooded on my birthday:

It’s a common malady for those of us who live in what has come to be known as “the sliver by the river.” We did not flood in 2005, so I do not like arguing with those who did. It makes me uncomfortable and uncharacteristically deferential. In the year immediately after the storm, I  cringed every time I had to tell *our* Katrina story to those worse off since we were so lucky. We did have $20K worth of damage and were in exile for 7 weeks but that was nothing compared to what so many others went through. Hence my survivor’s guilt and this weekend’s survivor’s guilt flashback. I re-posted my account of Dr. A and my sneaking into the city at First Draft in 2015. Here’s the link.

As bad as that period was for all concerned, there was an esprit de corps that I miss. Everyone was in the same leaky boat so we helped one another out. Spontaneous and random acts of kindness were commonplace. I recall a day when we helped our neighbors duct tape their dead refrigerators and drag them to the curb. It was dirty, stinky work but it felt good to help.

Cajun Tomb. Photograph by Dr. A.

The Spirit of ’05 endured for several years, which looking back is remarkable. It could not last forever but those were heady days. I wish we could recapture the camaraderie but crisis brings out both the best and worst in people. And when the crisis ends, everything changes.  I met many people after the storm, made some enduring friendships and others that were more fleeting. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, it has made me who I am now.

The lasting impact of the storm on my life is that I started blogging. I never expected to still be at it thirteen years after the day that everything changed, but here I am. I landed at First Draft because of Scout Prime who not only wrote about her experiences helping in New Orleans after the storm, but came up with the idea for the Rising Tide conference. My friendships with Scout and Athenae are two that have endured over the years. Thanks for letting me tell jokes here, y’all.

Speaking of enduring friendships, here’s an apt tweet from my dear friend Julie:

In past years, the blog has stayed dark for the entire Katrinaversary thereby allowing this solemn image to dominate:

I decided it was time for a change. I also wanted to mention my empathy for the people of Puerto Rico where  2,975 American citizens died as a result of Hurricane Maria. It’s what happens when you have bad leadership: in our case it was the Bush-Cheney gang, with Maria it’s the Trump-Pence regime; both of whom lost the popular vote, then lost the thread when it came to hurricane relief. It’s what happens when you give power to people who hate government. Heckuva job, Trumpy.

The Spirit of ’05 is a touchstone for all that’s good about human nature. It’s still lurking in a city that has changed radically since the storm and its aftermath. Here’s how I put it in a post five days before the 10th Katrinaversary:

After the water receded, there was a second inundation of people flooding into the city. Some were do-gooders, some were hipsters seeking the next trend, still others were here to make a buck. Very few of them understood the essence of New Orleans and what makes the city and its inhabitants tick. Many of them, especially on social media, have come up with an orthodoxy of what it means to be a New Orleanian. That has come to be known as copping a NOLAier than thou attitude, a swell phrase that was coined by Karen Dalton Beninato.  Some of the NOLAier than thou set seem to have spent way too much time watching Treme. Instead of a Cabaret, life is apparently a second line, old chum.

On the 13th anniversary, we continue to struggle with what happened that August day. There’s still a special feeling among those of who went through it together. If only we could fully recapture the Spirit of ’05.

The last word goes to Peter Gabriel with a song that’s been on my mind and in my head thirteen times over:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Paint It Black

Got Me Rocking by Ron Wood

The summer of our discontent continues with Hurricane Ida in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. A and I are planning to ride it out. I’m not eager to evacuate with Claire Trevor. She hates riding in the car and she’s a biter. She’s not as sweet as she looks but we love her anyway.

The weather is one reason I’m keeping this week’s entry short and focused. The second act is a tribute to the late, great Stones drummer Charlie Watts. Hence the Ron Wood featured image.

This week’s theme song was written in 1966 by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It’s as good an example of Charlie’s drumming as I can think of. Bim-bam-boom.

Since this is a tribute to Charlie Watts, I’m skipping the covers of Paint It Black and sticking to the Stones. A solid plan in my estimation. We have three versions: the studio original and live in 1990 and 2006.

I almost forgot this version by Charlie Watts with the Danish Radio Big Band:

Now that we’ve faded away and not faced the facts, let’s jump to the break.

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Afghanistan: The Media Tantrum Continues

Image via learnin.grow.com

The MSM continues to pitch a fit about something that’s going about as well possible: the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. A retreat by a losing army is always chaotic. Repeat after me: our side lost the war.

As of this writing, over 80,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul.

Thus far, there have been no American casualties since the Afghan government collapsed. None, zero, zilch.

The MSM’s accusations that Team Biden is detached from the reality on the ground amount to projection. Someone else is into projection and pitching fits until he gets his way:

I didn’t know that Garbage Pail Kids were around in 2016. It works in 2021 as well. Topps is the top as Cole Porter would have surely said at this point.

The MSM’s creepy attachment to Trump is behind the tantrum. It’s a sick S&M relationship. During the Trump regime, the MSM were the masochists, now they’re the sadists inflicting pain on Team Biden for not being like cruel, criminal, and cretinous Trumpers. It’s all summed up in this song by The Tubes:

Ouch.

One could even call the MSM Trump fetishists.

Speaking of great music from the 1970’s, this Kinks song sung from the perspective of a twisted headmaster who enjoys spanking students works as well.

Sometimes being old comes in handy.

I, for one, am appalled by this OTT display of displaced rage. The media’s clicks are down because the Kaiser of Chaos is no longer in office. They’ve opted to punish President Biden for something that was inevitable unless we stayed forever. Repeat after me: our side lost the war.

Don’t trust me, listen to a disabled Afghanistan veteran, Dan Berschinski:

When the twin towers fell, I was a high school senior deep in college applications. The United States Military Academy topped my list. Watching the devastation of Sept. 11, 2001, unfold, I knew the Army would be part of the response, though I figured that response would be over by the time I graduated from West Point. Never did I imagine that, eight years later, I would be leading soldiers in a war provoked by that one terrible day.

Yet lead them I did, across Afghanistan, witnessing horrors and enduring losses I still struggle to describe. What I saw there convinced me that the awful scenes we are now witnessing were inevitable — and that President Biden deserves credit for nonetheless braving the fallout to do the right thing by our troops.

I saw early warning signs as a U.S. Army infantry platoon leader on my first mission in Kandahar in 2009. In my very first conversation with a local, a shopkeeper told me: “Lieutenant, I met the previous American lieutenant 12 months prior, I will meet another American lieutenant in 12 months when you leave.” He did not like the Taliban, the shopkeeper told me, but it would be in Afghanistan long after I would — and so he had no choice but to deal with it.

It’s their country, not ours. It certainly doesn’t belong to the tantrum throwing American media who pine for worse times under the Impeached Insult Comedian. Think about that: they want things to be worse so they can have higher ratings and more clicks.

Even some of the military brass who oversaw our Afghan misadventure have seen the light:

Then-Vice President Joe Biden was right when he urged then-President Barack Obama to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday, adding that the US could have left Afghanistan earlier.

“I thought we could turn it around, obviously, I was wrong,” Mullen, who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, told ABC News on “This Week.”

Mullen also said that the US should have withdrawn its troops after the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Who are we going to listen to: the MSM and former Bush officials or Mike Mullen?

Joe Biden was right from the start.

Being loud does not make you right. Some of us learned that from the Trump regime. The MSM has not.

We all threw tantrums when we were children. My mother would let me cry it out, especially if it was an unreasonable tantrum. That’s all we can do with this ongoing tantrum by the MSM. Unfortunately, this tantrum will have unpleasant and even dire consequences.

If only it were possible to put the MSM into a time-out. They’ve clearly lost their minds. The last word is a chill pill from Steely Dan.

Shitshow On Fraternity Row

I’m late to this stinky story but as your resident LSU alum and shit stirrer I felt compelled to write about it. Besides, post titles like this don’t come along every day.

The Advocate had the first shot at this headline but they blew it because of that whole pesky family newspaper thing:

Members of all LSU sororities and some fraternities must get tested for COVID-19 after the school found traces of the virus in the wastewater system serving their area of the campus.

The university sent members of 15 Greek chapters an email Thursday notifying them that they must be tested at one of the three on-campus testing sites within 48 hours. School spokesman Ernie Ballard said that students have until 11 a.m. Saturday, the first day of Greek recruitment, to meet the testing requirement.

After the shit hit the fan,  there was a follow-up story:

LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said the call for testing came after the school detected “high traces” of coronavirus in the sewage from Greek Row. And with just two days to comply, some 3,000 members of 15 Greek chapters lined up in cars to get swabbed at the school’s drive-through clinics.

Abbie-Grace Milligan, Greek senior and vice president of student government, said she got an email at noon Thursday instructing her to get tested at one of three on-campus testing sites. She waited in line for nearly two hours on Gourrier Avenue near the UREC field testing site but left without getting swabbed.

“It was an absolute nightmare,” she said. “I saw five people run out of gas while waiting. People were even getting out of their cars to use the bathroom on the side of the road. It was madness.”

I guess you could call that the shitstorm after the shitshow. No shit.

The kids should consider it a test-drive for the next hurricane evacuation. Those are usually shitshows as well.

After the feces hit the fan and the Pfizer vaccine was formally approved by the FDA, LSU belatedly and begrudgingly changed their vaccination policy:

The announcement is full of loopholes, but it’s better than the previous policy which was “Y’all come,”

This stinky situation calls for an antidote. There’s one that  I wrote about 7 years ago in a post called Smells Like School Spirit.

Ladies and germs, I give you the LSU scent circa 2014:

Oddly enough, the scent was called LSU Mask. They need more of those on the Red Stick campus as well.

In honor of the LSU’s latest attempt to get ahold of the pandemic, the last word goes to Stephen Stills and Manassas:

The Katrina-Kabul Connection

One reason I’m feeling so cantankerous of late is that it’s August. Everyone in New Orleans gets tetchy at this time of year as the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent Federal Flood approaches. It’s been 16 years since the most important moment of my life. You might not be reading this if not for that epic disaster. It’s why I became an internet writer or blogger as we used to call ourselves.

I’m struck by the similarity of the MSM’s coverage of Katrina’s aftermath and the collapse of the Afghan government. The words that come to mind are shrill, hyperbolic, and over the top. To watch CNN after the storm was to believe there was widespread looting, arson, and mayhem. The looped footage typically included people clinging to rooftops, stealing teevees, and images of the Beer Looter Dude. Over and over again.

In August and September of 2005, the MSM floated unsupported rumors of murders at evacuation sites such as the Super Dome and Convention Center. Over and over again.

I recall watching a reporter do a standup in front of some burning houses and proclaiming that the “Garden District is on fire.” It was not. The burning houses were on Napoleon Avenue, which is not in the Garden District. The looped footage and misattribution continued. Over and over again.

There *was* chaos in New Orleans after Katrina and the Federal Flood but it was not as widespread as the MSM coverage would have you believe. That coverage inspired my skepticism of all on-the-fly live reporting from a disaster area or war zone.

In 2021, the MSM is whipping up hysteria over events in Afghanistan by looping footage of children being lifted over razor wire and desperate people hanging onto airplanes. Over and over again.

There *is* some chaos after the fall of Kabul. Losing armies tend to collapse at the end of a losing war. Make no mistake about it: the side we backed lost this war. Much of the MSM, however, seems disinterested in reporting items such as this:

As always, Chris Wallace is willing to sail against the prevailing winds of his own network.

As for the lemmings of the MSM, they prefer headlines like the “Calamity Plane” headline in the feature image. It’s a good pun but an inaccurate headline.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Tired Of Waiting For You

The Chair Car by Edward Hopper.

There’s an environmental component to my righteous indignation this week. It’s fucking hot even for New Orleans. There’s a high keeping tropical stuff away from us but that puts us in the high Nineties. Oy just oy.

On to more pleasant things.

Ray Davies wrote this week’s theme song in 1965. It was one of the earliest Kinks hits.

We have three versions of Tired of Waiting For You for your listening pleasure: the Kinks original, a 1994 live version, and a brilliant cover by Dwight Yoakam in which he transforms it into something that would fit in on the Friday Cocktail Hour.

I assume that you’re not too tired to hear this swell tune by Dwight and Deanna Carter:

It’s time to escape Hopper’s chair car by jumping to the break.

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Righteous Indigination

I’ve been angry all week. It’s not the ranting, raving, and yelling kind of anger. It’s more of a slow burn over the egregious stupidity and malakatude in the news. I dislike feeling this angry, I prefer to be detached from the news of the day, ice it down with sarcasm, and dismiss it with mockery. I used to compare my style with Athenae’s by calling her fire and me ice. I’m feeling fiery this week, but at least it’s with righteous indignation.

I remain vexed and worse by the MSM coverage of Afghanistan:

In its desperation to nail Biden, the DC MSM has neglected to mention the creeps who got us into the Afghan mess:

Cable news is full of former Bush officials attacking the withdrawal. The worst are the Never Trumpers who are showing their true colors by waving their neo-con freak flags. Imagine if Biden had stayed with the small force bequeathed to him by Trump. The Taliban was still likely to make their move and 2,500 soldiers could not have defeated them. That would have led to a genuine bloodbath.

Speaking of former President* Pennywise, there’s a conspiracy theory that he set a trap for Biden with last year’s deal with the Taliban. While it may have turned into a trap, I’m skeptical that it was planned. For one thing, Trump never looks more than a week down the road. For another, he expected to win the election and still believes he did. I think he could pass a polygraph test about the “rigged election.” Believe me.

One more tweet from someone else on how Democrats *should* be reacting:

I for one refuse to give an inch and be reasonable. Any withdrawal was going to be messy. It’s what happens when you lose a war.

Stick to your guns, Mr. President. The war was wrong to begin with. It’s time for it to end.

Also inspiring my righteous indignation are the Covid deniers and mask warriors. Anyone surprised?

Freedom, man.

Yesterday, a friend reported about going to his local CVS. It was jam packed with people buying a new home COVID test in order to comply with the city’s vaccination/test mandate. The tests are five bucks a pop and only valid for 72 hours. It would be much easier and cheaper to get jabbed but that would violate their rights or some such shit.

Freedom, man.

I wrote about wingnut preacher Tony Spell for Bayou Brief last year. He flooded a state education board meeting with his unmasked parishioners forcing them to stop debating whether or not school kids should mask up. Governor Edwards thinks so and so do all rational people. Freedom. man.

We’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired of the anti-mask and anti-vaxx crowd. The burden of everything COVID related is being placed on those of us doing the right thing. I hate wearing a mask, but I do it. Adults do things they don’t like because they’re the right thing to do. Something the Covid deniers will never understand. Hence my righteous indignation.

Freedom, man.

The last word goes to Ron Sexsmith with a song whose title is a play on the word indignation.

Quote Of The Day: Ron Rivera Edition

I’ve been off sports since the pandemic began. I’ve found that I can easily live without them. To be blunt, I’m worn out by all the stories about money, money, money. My favorite sport was baseball, but I find it impossible to identify with players who make $20 million plus per year. It’s taken much of the fun out of sports for me. The LSU football sexual assault cover-up story didn’t help matters either. I’ve gone from Go, Tigers to No, Tigers because of that.

My dormant sports interest was piqued recently by a fabulous profile of Washington Redskins head coach Ron Rivera. I didn’t know much about Rivera previously, but was under the impression he was one of the good guys in his profession. Albert Breer’s Sports Illustrated piece confirms that.

Rivera was terribly ill with a virulent form of skin cancer last year. He had to struggle to get the right treatment. That opened his eyes to the ugly reality of our current health care system: even an insured well-known NFL coach had to fight to receive the proper treatment.

Rivera’s illness has turned him into an advocate for COVID awareness and vaccination. He finds it frustrating that players who can easily obtain help are turning it down and referring to it as a “private and personal” matter.

That brings me to the quotable Ron Rivera:

“I had a player come to me when we first got back and we’re getting ready to go to camp,” Rivera said. “He came to me, and he had a big smile and said, Hey coach, just got my second vaccine. I said, Right on. He said, Had to, mama, new baby, got to, coach, gotta be careful for others. I said, That’s great, plus with that variant … He looked at me and said, What variant? I said, You know, the new delta variant, you know about that?

The player in question had no idea. Rivera asked if the player watches the news. The player said no, and raised his phone to say, “I get all my information from here.” Which, right there in the moment, Rivera recognized as the problem.

“Gen Z is relying on this,” said Rivera, now holding up his phone. “And you got some, quite frankly, fucking assholes, that are putting a bunch of misinformation out there, leading people to die. That’s frustrating to me, that these people are allowed to have a platform. And then, one specific news agency, every time they have someone on, I’m not a doctor, but the vaccines don’t work. Or, I’m not an epidemiologist, but vaccines are going to give you a third nipple and make you sterile. Come on. That, to me? That should not be allowed.”

The sports world needs more people like Ron Rivera. He’s shown remarkable growth for a man in his late Fifties. Now that he’s found his voice, I hope he keeps speaking out.

I do, however, have one suggestion for Coach Rivera. Y’all need a new nickname: the Washington Football Team just doesn’t cut the mustard. They’ve supposedly narrowed the list down to three. It’s time to pick. My personal favorite, the Solons, is not on the preliminary list. But anything is better than Redskins or Football Team with the possible exception of Armada. Singular nicknames suck.

I guess I still care a little about sports, after all.

The last word goes to Fountains of Wayne:

 

Shut Up and Strum

Alt-country singer-songwriter Jason Isbell is one of those artists I’ve been meaning to familiarize myself with for quite some time. What I’ve heard has sort of a Band/Lowell George/Rodney Crowell vibe to it, which is a good thing indeed.

I enjoy following Isbell on Twitter, he’s one of the more intelligent and insightful musicians on social media. Recently, he’s been outspoken in his pro-vaxx and anti-mask warrior views.

Isbell is putting his money where his mouth is  by requiring concert attendees to be either vaccinated or tested:

From the conduct of such artists, to the criticism of Isbell’s virus precautions, the pandemic has laid bare one of country music’s longest running divides. Before those ongoing rows, Isbell regularly traded barbs with right-leaning followers who implored him to focus on music and forget politics.

<SNIP>

A greater part of country lore occurred backstage at Willie Nelson’s 70th birthday concert in 2003, when a Nashville chart topper argued with elder singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson about his “lefty shit”.

“There’s more than one kind of country singer, and if everyone outside our community learns we aren’t all big dumb hillbillies then that’ll be a nice side-effect to all this. But I’m not setting out to do that, I just want everyone to be safe,” says Isbell. “A lot of country stars look just like me. And we have a lot of white men in our audiences who feel disadvantaged these days. But if the music had been more inclusive of other stories, we’d have a broader cross section,” he says, before adding that this has compelled him to support female African American country singers like Adia Victoria, who has frequently opened for him.

The music world needs more people like Jason Isbell and fewer people who tell him to shut up and strum.

Since Kris Kristofferson is a fellow San Mateo High School graduate, here’s a longer version of the “lefty shit” story from a Rolling Stone article written By Ethan Hawke:

Up from the basement came one of country music’s brightest stars (who shall remain nameless). At that moment in time, the Star had a monster radio hit about bombing America’s enemies back into the Stone Age.

“Happy birthday,” the Star said to Willie, breezing by us. As he passed Kristofferson in one long, confident stride, out of the corner of his mouth came “None of that lefty shit out there tonight, Kris.”

“What the fuck did you just say to me?” Kris growled, stepping forward.

“Oh, no,” groaned Willie under his breath. “Don’t get Kris all riled up.”

“You heard me,” the Star said, walking away in the darkness.

“Don’t turn your back to me, boy,” Kristofferson shouted, not giving a shit that basically the entire music industry seemed to be flanking him.

The Star turned around: “I don’t want any problems, Kris – I just want you to tone it down.”

“You ever worn your country’s uniform?” Kris asked rhetorically.

“What?”

“Don’t ‘What?’ me, boy! You heard the question. You just don’t like the answer.” He paused just long enough to get a full chest of air. “I asked, ‘Have you ever served your country?’ The answer is, no, you have not. Have you ever killed another man? Huh? Have you ever taken another man’s life and then cashed the check your country gave you for doing it? No, you have not. So shut the fuck up!” I could feel his body pulsing with anger next to me. “You don’t know what the hell you are talking about!”

“Whatever,” the young Star muttered.

One of the best dressing downs of a chicken hawk I’ve ever heard.

The “lefty shit” story is a good example of what artists like Jason Isbell have to deal with.

Keep up the lefty shit, sir. Never listen to anyone who tells you to shut up and strum.

The last word obviously goes to Jason Isbell as suggested by Val McGinley: