Category Archives: Hurricane Harvey

The Moral Meteorologists

How we made the flood: 

This is real life.  This is reality.  This is, in fact, the consequences of ignoring reality, of thinking the free market knows best, that engineering will save us even when we ignore it and live in defiance of it, that everything is taken care of in this best of all possible worlds because “invisible hand”!  The Dutch plan for 10,000 year floods; much of Europe builds to a 1000 year flood standard.  We’ve had two 500 year floods in a row before this, and it didn’t even teach us to be prepared for Harvey, because flood control doesn’t increase property sales, it’s not an engine of economic opportunity.  We don’t even plan to a 100 year flood, and look where it got us.  We don’t need comforting words about “recovery.”  We need the truth about what we’ve done to ourselves and what we can do about it.

Emphasis mine, and by the by I’m sorry, Robert, for not linking to your excellent blog more lately. Sometimes I forget to read everything. But there’s like six people I can stand to hear talk about faith and you’re one of them.

Those of you who aren’t reading his site, just know it’s walked me through some pretty dark nights and couldn’t we all use that lately.

Those of you who’ve been reading THIS site for a while know I go crazy when news orgs use passive, view-from-nowhere, it-just-happened language to talk about the state this country’s in. How we “became” polarized and public discourse “deteriorated” and the swirling controversies and the shifting sands and the squalls at sea.

Part of my frustration since the GOP took back Congress under Obama, and all during the past year, is the near-constant abdication of responsibility for our society. Our leaders — and I include Our August Punditry as well as politicians — are moral meteorologists, calmly pointing out on the large map where the destruction of the American ideal is taking place, describing the way the flood is washing us all away. Like nobody wrecked this country, at least not on purpose, like these are developing storm systems and you can’t point to any real cause.

But of course you can point to a cause, even with a storm: Cold air forces its way into warm air, or vice versa. And you can take some action: Sandbags, shelters. The rain it raineth every day but we decide where the water goes. Humans decide, humans make systems and humans can unmake them, but not if they don’t admit to their own authority.

Not if they pretend they’re blameless.

We’ve been pretending we’re blameless for a long damn time now. Jobs are gone; well, that’s the new global economy, whaddya gonna do? Roads are crumbling, schools are overcrowded; well, we can’t afford to fix it all, whaddya gonna do? Politicians are all scumbags, Washington is broken, no one listens, the world’s getting worse, these Kids Today and Their Music are terrible, blah blah blah don’t any of us ever get tired of letting ourselves off the hook? Do you really think it’s better if you’re powerless?

We did this to ourselves. We made this mess, America, and we can make this mess America. But we have to start with the truth, which is that we are all accountable for what we did. For what we did to ourselves.

A.

First Draft Potpourri: Belabored Labor Day Edition

It’s been a long, hot holiday weekend in New Orleans but not as hot as in my native Bay Area where San Francisco had the hottest day in recorded history, topping out at 106 fucking degrees. It’s not supposed to be hotter in San Francisco than New Orleans in September. Climate change? What climate change?

The heat is one reason I changed my mind about joining Dr. A and our fellow Spanksters in the Decadence parade. My only regret is not seeing the expressions on the faces of the BYU fans who were in town to lose to my LSU Tigers. Decadence is a gay, not a Mormon, thing.

My main reason for bagging the parade is that I’m feeling rundown from a month of dealing with Oscar’s issues.  I don’t need to add heatstroke to the list of *my* issues. It seems almost silly to be this wrapped up in caring for an ailing pet but it’s how I’m wired. I come by it honestly: the only reason my mother didn’t have a massive menagerie is that Lou put strict limits on the number of pets in the house. One could even call it a critter quota. Okay, it’s time for me to stop all of my sobbing and move on.

The national media’s insistence on being upbeat about progress in Houston drives me nuts. The people who were flooded are about to face the reality of what they’ve lost. They’re throwing things out and eventually gutting their flooded houses. It’s going to be a long, slow road back, especially for those without the resources to rebuild quickly. The poor always take in the neck, alas.

The Jolly Insult Comedian: Donald Trump justifiably took a lot of heat for his inability to show empathy on his first Harvey related trip. He went to Houston and Lake Charles, LA and tried to show empathy but he cannot even fake it. You can tell he’s faced very little genuine adversity in life because he just doesn’t get it. He tried but wound up making small talk as tiny as his hands. By way of illustration, here are two tweets from Mark Knoller of CBS News:

I guess jolly platitudes are better than talking about your margin in Texas but only marginally. At least he and Melania didn’t wear those damn caps again. I thought that her FLOTUS hat was even tackier than his. I hope it wasn’t the millinery equivalent of a name tag. She’s not the only one who has a hard time believing she’s FLOTUS.

I did not, however,  join in the twitter mockery over Melania’s stilettos earlier in the week. It was classic tweeter tube dispshittery: focusing on the trivial, going for the cheapest laugh possible.

Speaking of shoes, I got a kick out of this picture from the Gret Stet leg of the trip:

The sign is swell BUT the t-shirt worn by the teenybopper is downright weird. It features the slogan of the Civil Rights movement and an image of Trump. Trump shall overcome what? His disastrous first 226 days in office? The country will have to overcome the way he’s hollowed out the EPA and State Department. Heckuva job, Donald. (Instant Update: Take a look at the comment by Alger below. The shirt says We Shall Overcomb. My eyesight sucks. But the paragraph is too good to cut.)

Joy Reid posed an interesting question on her teevee show on Sunday morning. Why does the media keep expecting Trump to act like a normal president? In a word: history. One of the founding myths of the republic is that presidents grow in office. It doesn’t matter that many have shrunk in office, it’s the myth. Trump is who and what he is. There will be neither growth nor a pivot. Believe me.

Let’s pivot to a loss suffered by rock music fans everywhere.

Walter Becker, RIP: Some sad news came our way on Sunday morning. Steely Dan co-founder  Walter Becker died at the age of 67. Becker was the quiet one of the songwriting team of Becker and Fagen. He let his music speak for itself.

Social media was abuzz about Becker’s passing. Here’s a wee sampler. First, from his old friend and partner in crime, Donald Fagen.

I shared a few thoughts of my own about Becker’s role in Steely Dan:

Finally, a cartoon in the style of Charles Schulz:

I recently assembled a Portable Steely Dan CD, which includes hits as well as lesser known album tracks. My tribute to Becker is to reproduce it here via the magic of the YouTube playlist format. There will be the odd commercial but what can I tell ya? Becker and Fagen are odd guys.

I was one of the lucky people who saw Steely Dan before they got off the road to focus on recording. That was how artists made money in the Seventies. That’s certainly changed. Steely Dan opened for Yes who were touring in support of Fragile. It was a Bill Graham bill made in music geek heaven. I saw Steely Dan several times after they reunited, most memorably at Jazz Fest in 2007.

One of the best loved lines in any Steely Dan songs is an odd one. Anyone surprised? I thought not. It comes from Kid Charlemagne: “Is there gas in the car? Yes, there’s gas in the car.” It looks like that mythic car finally ran out of gas for Walter Becker. He will be missed.

I just realized I wrote a Labor Day post without reference to the holiday itself. It’s supposed to be about working men and women, not grilled meat. It’s also about New Deal style Democratic politics as you can see from this sample of 2016’s Labor Day post showing Jack Kennedy speaking at a 1960 rally organized by the UAW in Detroit:

Happy Labor Day whether you’re laboring or not.

Thank You. These Things Don’t End.

Today I’m sending $3,136 to the Houston Food Bank, that you all contributed in the past week. I can’t tell you what this will mean to the people there who’ll be dealing with this for decades: 

Low-income communities frequently sustain more damage in storms because they tend to be built on cheaper land that is often more flood-prone, said Shannon Van Zandt, an urban-planning scholar with Texas A&M University’s Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center, who spoke with me by phone recently. It can also be harder for poorer people — who may not have cars, may be more afraid to leave their possessions and jobs, may not speak English or may fear immigration authorities — to evacuate before disasters.

These things have a long tail. There will be people who will be lost from the storm, long after the storm is over. Years after.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Stormy Weather

The Gulf Stream by Winslow Homer.

First, thank you for making our Houston Food Bank fundraiser such a rousing success. We raised more than $3,100. Our readers and friends are the best even if Della Street is trying to hog the credit. Let’s say thanks with a cat meme:

It’s been a difficult week. I don’t have the all-out Saturday Odds & Sods spirit so I’m going to do something a bit different. I feel like a pitcher who gave it his all in his last start but has no stuff in his next outing. In short, I have that ennui that the late Ashley Morris warned us about:

One reason for my ennui is Hurricane Harvey. Everyone who lives in New Orleans long enough has ties to Houston. Plus, the people of Houston helped us in innumerable ways after and during Katrina and the federal flood as my friend Clancy DuBos pointed out in the Gambit Tabloid. It’s dispiriting to see people evacuated from their homes by helicopter and boat. It makes me queasy and gives me a sinking feeling. Pun intended; it always is. I’m not sure if one should call it PTSD or survivor’s guilt but I got it bad and that ain’t good.

The other thing on my mind is Oscar’s health. There has been a recent influx of street cats in our neighborhood, which has resulted in Oscar marking his territory inside the house. Marking is, of course, a polite term for peeing. The good news is that he only marks in one place and on towels we’ve provided. We took him to the vet last week and none of our worst case scenarios materialized. It’s all in his pretty big-eyed head. So, our vet gave him what we like to call kitty Prozac.

The jury is still out as to whether the  kitty Prozac will work because Della freaked out for the first five days after Oscar returned home from 2 hours at the vet; something that had never happened with our past cats. Catblogging fans know that Oscar and Della are besties. In fact, our running joke is that she’s Oscar’s cat. The good news is that she’s back to normal. The bad news is that we’re starting from square one with Oscar and his meds. Hopefully, we can teach this old cat some new tricks. It would be nice not to feel like a combination geriatric cat nurse and laundryman. In short, I am worn the fuck out by the situation. Thanks for listening, y’all.

This week’s theme song is a no-brainer, a good thing since my little gray cells are frazzled. Stormy Weather was written by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler in 1933.  Here are versions by two of my favorite divas.

This week’s edition eschews links to long form articles and if you think I’m eschewing up, what can I tell you? It’s going to be a bit more like a First Draft Potpourri post only without the smelly stuff. Btw, potpourri is one of those words I cannot spell without thinking about it. I guess that makes me a piss pourri poor excuse for a writer…

Holy Freudian Slip, Batman: A certain president* neglected to use his spell checker whilst tweeting. I reckoned he might delete it so I took a screen shot:

Trump *is* a heel who thinks that healing Texas will be fast and easy. It will not and cannot be. Recovery is a long slog. In fact, help will be needed in Southeast Texas long after the teevee cameras are gone and Trump is removed from office. Believe me.

In other Insult Comedian news, he “pledged” a million bucks to Harvey relief efforts. I hope he actually pays: he pledged 2 million bucks to Superstorm Sandy relief and never paid up.

I suspect the relief agencies will be singing this song as they wait and wait and wait for Trump’s check:

Silly Bare Naked Canadians.

Tweets Of The Week: They both come from First Drafters or is that Draftees? I’m not quite sure which.

Scout appears to have streamlined her twitter account so the picture is gone with the wind. It’s a photo of a woman holding a sign saying Our Fate Is Your Fate, which became the title of the First Draft anthology.

The next tweet comes from lil’ ole me on a windy day in New Orleans:

Let’s play some music before shutting things down.

Saturday Classic: The Band by The Band sounds like it should be a debut album. It’s their second record. Hardcore fans call it The Brown Album. Boring title notwithstanding, it’s a great album.

I hope everyone has a labor free Labor Day weekend. Even though I hate the heat, I will be marching (sweating is more like it) with the Krewe of Spank in the Southern Decadence parade tomorrow. There may even be some biblebangers protesting since it’s a gay thing. They’ll leave me alone, I’ll be wielding my Spank paddle. In fact, we’ll have a bunch of them. Thwack.

That’s it for this week. I’ll give Oscar the last word with a re-meming of the fundraiser picture. I hope the dear boy is feeling better soon.

When people are devastated, we shouldn’t care if Ted Cruz was an asshole

As the stories of neighbors helping neighbors begin to recede like Harvey’s floodwaters, the rush of stories on which politician is being an asshole is heading full steam toward us. Most of the stories are about the downside of humanity, in which people find ways to remind us that basic, common human decency isn’t common or basic for some people.

While some reporters are trying to help people figure out where damage is or where their loved ones are, you have this asshole tweeting a fake shark photo and this ABC reporter ratting out “looters” to the cops and bragging about it on social media.

While some companies are pitching in with water and supplies, you have insurance agencies trying to figure out what “isn’t covered” and people perpetuating scams on hurricane victims and those hoping to help them.

And while you have some politicians who are trying to figure out how to get these people help, you have people like these assholes, who voted against packages that helped victims of Superstorm Sandy, already trying to “reframe” their votes as to not look hypocritical.

Looking for the basic humanity and honest decency in most politicians is like digging through a pile of dog shit to find a diamond earring you think the dog swallowed: That’s a lot of shit to go through for something that might not be there and even if it is, it’s probably tainted in some way. In that regard, calling out Ted Cruz and his Texas brethren of Sandy “no votes” is a pointless task.

Even more, I wouldn’t care if Texas had elected three demons and the anti-Christ to congress at this point: People are suffering and we should help them. It’s the right thing to do. Why don’t more people who decide where money goes think like this? Is it that they are so myopic about politics that they can only see things in a “win/lose” context that strengthens or weakens an affiliation to a nebulous ideology?

When I pulled over to the side of the road to help a guy with a flat tire, I didn’t ask, “Now wait a minute… Did you vote for Scott Walker? If so, I’m punching a hole in another tire and setting your trunk on fire.” No. He needed help. That’s what he got from me, as best as I could.

I know some of the kids in my classes voted for people who fucked me out of raises and benefits and undercut my mother’s union. Would the world be better off if I refused to help those kids improve their writing or said they couldn’t come to office hours for career guidance? No. The kid needs help, the kid gets help. It’s how things work.

One of the many things I like about this blog is that we don’t agree about everything or all the time. We can be different, but we recognize basic humanity. When A put out the Batsignal for Houston, we chipped in what we could.

Even more, I have no idea who will get that money, nor do I care. Will it help a racist old lady who refers to our 44th president as “that colored boy?” Will it provide an “unearned benefit” to a guy who flew a Stars and Bars flag over his house and kept all his money in Jack Daniel’s Elvis decanters? Will it “give away” something to people who showed up at rallies for Cruz or Trump and chanted, “Build that Wall!” and “Lock her UP!”

I have no goddamned idea and neither do you. All we know is that somebody is getting a warm meal, a change of underwear, a dry blanket, a safe bed and a dozen other things they wouldn’t have otherwise. That’s important.

When people are hurting, they last thing they need is a lecture about how they should have thought about that shit when they voted for Ted Cruz. They don’t need to hear shit about how, “If you Texans are so tough, what do you need our help for?” They don’t need snide shit about attaching a lawnmower engine to their belt buckle and just boating out of there on that. They need to hear, “Hi, we’re here to help.”

And maybe after all this, the people who got that help will be better able to help the next group of people who desperately need it.

Thursday Bonus Catblogging: Houston Fundraiser Edition

Our Houston Food Bank fundraiser has been a howling success thus far. Speaking of howling, my cats want to help. They’re not internet savvy and I vetoed the idea of door-to-door begging. That’s why we settled on a special edition of catblogging. Who could possibly say no to Oscar and Della?

First, the O-Man with his trademark humility. Click here if he moves you to give.

Della Street is famous for her bad attitude. Click here if she moves you to give.

It wouldn’t be a special edition of catblogging if we didn’t feature one of our recurring guest kitties. I’m sure you remember Dennie the Krewe du Vieux cat. She’s here to thank you but click here if her gratitude moves you to give.

On behalf of the feline power trio and everyone at First Draft, I’d like to thank you for your generosity and support.

I’ll give the last word to Paul Rodgers singing a soul classic written by Issac Hayes and David Porter:

Della is outraged that I didn’t post the Sam & Dave original. I am no match for the wrath of Della Street:

Old Tweets Never Die

There’s a  hurricane themed tweet from February making the rounds on the tweeter tube right now. I have no idea if the twit who tweeted it is a troll but it’s some crazy shit:

Where to start? Michelle Obama wasn’t FLOTUS in September, 2005 so it doesn’t matter if she went shopping. Besides, that’s a picture of then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. They should be frying Rice instead of Michelle. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Condi went shopping right after Katrina. Correct me if I’m wrong but there appears to be an iPhone in the picture. The first generation iPhone wasn’t released until June, 2007. Oops.

I didn’t bother to investigate the Rice photo because it’s more fun to pile on to Bikergirl4Trump whoever the hell she?he/it is. My hunch is that it’s a Team Trump troll because the account wasn’t created until March, 2016. Neither subtlety nor accuracy is important in Trumper troll world.

Old tweets never die but I wish they would fade away.

Then & Now: Katrina & Harvey

People who know me well, know that I don’t care for poetry. One exception to this rather malleable rule is TS Eliot. I’ve been thinking of The Wasteland the last few days while watching events in Houston unfold. Eliot wrote “April is the cruelest month.” August is the cruelest month in the Gulf South.

I put it less elegantly but more succinctly on FB:

I’ve been pondering some of the differences between my storm, Katrina and Hurricane Harvey. (For the pedants out there, I’m lumping the federal flood  in with Katrina.) There weren’t a plethora of social media outlets in 2005. We had to rely on message boards, emails, phone calls,and smoke signals to get the message out.  Eventually, we got in touch with a guy in our neighborhood who told us that our house hadn’t flooded but that our neighbor’s tree was leaning on it. It turned out not to be a big deal. The tree was too weak to total the back of Adrastos World HQ. So it goes.

In 2017, social media is, on balance, a plus. I already know how my friends in Houston, Galveston, and Corpus Christi fared during the storm. They’ve been lucky so far. So far. If their luck holds, they’ll have to deal with the survivor’s guilt I’ve had since Katrina. It beats the hell out of being homeless or drowning.

Social media, however, is a double-edged sword. There are Trumpers informing us that the Kaiser of Chaos is doing a better job with Harvey than Obama did with Katrina. No fucking comment. Then there are some wayward lefties who remain convinced that red state residents are less worthy than those in blue states. This is, of course, rubbish as our old friend Jude pointed out on da twittahs:

There are also some folks who think that the “Cajun Navy” is a para-military group bent on mayhem and other assorted bad deeds. Why? Many of those guys voted for Trump and have some retrograde views. I don’t know about you but if somebody saves me from drowning, I’m not asking who they voted for. I had a surreal argument about whether members of the original Cajun Navy shot and killed people after Katrina. There’s no evidence that they shot anyone. I was asked to prove a negative: that they did not do so. I declined the invitation.  I guess this person would have been opposed to the demon private boats that did most of the evacuating at Dunkirk.

In fact, the Cajun Navy group that set off those people has been repudiated by other “units.” They claimed to have been robbed and were unmasked as scamsters. I told you so. I love saying that, y’all. The people I argued with still don’t get it. Schmucks.

Here’s the deal: help can come from the unlikeliest sources. People with crappy politics can help people too. We never had these arguments before 2005 and it’s outrageous how many people to my left sound like Republicans circa 2005. I’ll let it go now but first something from my friend Troy Gilbert who was part of the *original* Cajun Navy:

Anyone who thinks that’s sinister should put down the smart phone and take a break from social media. In a perfect world, it would be best for federal, state, and local authorities to take care of all relief and rescue operations. We don’t live in such a world and it’s getting more imperfect all the time. I guess I didn’t let it go. I will now.

One thing Harvey survivors will have to get used to is telling their hurricane story over and over again. Dr. A and I have done it many times over the years and it gets old but it’s usually asked out of curiosity and empathy. It’s what happens when you’re a part of a historic event. Anyway, prepare to expound, y’all. You might be able to get some free meals out of it if you play your cards right. My old friends Maitri and Domingo may have to charge double. They’re Katrina *and* Harvey survivors. Sadly, they’re not alone in this.

I bitched about twitter earlier. It’s only fair to share something positive even if it’s self-serving. It’s from a complete stranger:

I expect I’ll have more to say about Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. I wanted to keep this personal so I skipped discussing the Insult Comedian’s embarrassing Texas sojourn. I think there’s a Your President* Speaks post in my future.

Last word time. This has been my personal theme song for the last few days:

Save Who You Can

Update the final: WE SET A RECORD! Guys, in one week we raised more than $3,000 for the Houston Food Bank. That’s a First Draft record, more than we’ve raised for any cause so far. You all did GREAT!

Thank you all for donating and for doing something to help Houston. They’re gonna need every penny. You’re great people and I’m proud to know each and every one of you.

Update 4: AND JUST LIKE THAT IT’S $2,300! Can we do $2,500 by the end of the week? You all are rocking the house.

Update 3: We’re just shy of $1,800. We just need a little push to hit $2,000. There will be a special Houston Food Bank edition of catblogging tomorrow. How can you say no to Oscar, Della, and friends?

Update 2: Okay, guys? Less than one day. In about 14 hours, you raised more than $1,700 for the Houston Food Bank. This is incredible. Let’s keep it going! Let’s get to $2,000 by Friday.

I love this Internet.

Update 1: OMFG. We’re already at $575! That’s more than a year of free meals. Can we get to 2? Can we do $730 by Friday? You’re all amazing.

Okay, I’m sick of yelling at people on Twitter and I’m sick of watching this shit unfold without doing anything about it. Let’s get the First Draft Krewe started.

Let’s raise $365 for the Houston Food Bank.

Why them? They’re already on the ground, helping people, not parachuting in without community contacts. They’re feeding people ALREADY.

Why $365? Well, that’s enough to provide a year of free meals to somebody in Texas.

Can we get a year done by Friday?

I think we can. Hit the FIRST DRAFT link and we’ll add it all up and shovel it at them Friday.

Our fate is your fate, bitches.

A.

‘Please help us she a new born’

Why didn’t they evacuate?

We’re really gonna do this, huh?

Okay.

Three weeks after Kick was born I was so debilitated by physical pain, sleep deprivation and postpartum depression I could hardly breathe. The only places I had ever taken her were the doctor’s office and the grocery store, the latter over Mr. A’s terrified objections and my throat-constricting fear. I was still holding her gingerly, afraid I was going to hurt her walking from the kitchen to the living room and back again. That was as far as we got most days, back then.

The idea, even if we’d had the means, of putting her and our pets and everything important to us in a car and going to a hotel/motel/shelter/God knows where … I had the best-outfitted nursery on the planet, guys, with every modern convenience, and I thought I was gonna kill the baby all the time. I would 100 percent have stayed in that house until the waters rose over my head.

Why didn’t they evacuate? I don’t know what happened to empathy in this country, I really don’t. Do you have $500? In cash, right now, on you? Can you get it? Because that’s how much it will cost to get out for a day, even if you can, and you have no idea what you’ll come back to, or if you can come back, or when. Think about what it would be like to live like that, every single day, that close to the bone, and then think about what it would be like in a catastrophe.

You know what, forget empathy. Let’s try asking what happened to intelligence. Why didn’t you listen when every climate scientist and every environmentalist and everyone who understood public policy told you that wrecking the planet and underfunding public infrastructure would lead nowhere good? When three one-hundred-year storms hit in 12 years, why didn’t you pay attention then?

Or let’s try asking what happened to responsibility. What is our responsibility to that baby? What is our responsibility to her mother? What is our responsibility to one another? That person made choices you can armchair quarterback or did things you think you wouldn’t do? That doesn’t answer the question. What is our responsibility? To ourselves?

I keep seeing comments about how inspiring it is to see the kindness of strangers coming together to save who we can; that used to be what we called government, before government was a bad word, before it was everyone for himself, before saving people was a favor you did. Before you had to hope some stranger somewhere was kind. Before there were strangers, instead of fellow citizens, bound by contract, each to each. Our fate is your fate.

“Please help us she a new born.”

She’s safe now. Thousands aren’t, or won’t be.

And you can make yourself feel better about that, by saying they should have evacuated, or you can look at that baby and see your own baby, or yourself. You can push away the nagging feeling that you should do something by loudly making shit up about nonexistent scenarios in which you did everything right, or you could do what you’ll need done for you someday. Life isn’t a vending machine, no one makes perfectly sensible choices, babies are born in storms and saved by strangers.

As are we all.

A.

Houston: No Good Options

Hurricane Rita evacuation clusterfuck, 2005.  

I mentioned yesterday that an attempt to evacuate the sprawling Houston area for Hurricane Rita in 2005 resulted in an epic clusterfuck as you can see in the photo above.  Here’s how it was described by the Houston Chronicle:

“In the Houston area, the muddled flight from the city killed almost as many people as Rita did. An estimated 2.5 million people hit the road ahead of the storm’s arrival, creating some of the most insane gridlock in U.S. history. More than 100 evacuees died in the exodus. Drivers waited in traffic for 20-plus hours, and heat stroke impaired or killed dozens. Fights broke out on the highway. A bus carrying nursing home evacuees caught fire, and 24 died.”

This is why Texas Governor Greg Abbot and all the armchair evacuators on social media and the MSM are dead wrong. The state of Texas has declined to stage evacuation drills, devise an adequate contraflow scheme, or do anything that other jurisdictions-even the Gret Stet of Louisiana-do to facilitate evacuations. Texas conservatives hate guvmint even when it would help them personally. I guess the Texas GOP’s motto should be: Drown Free.

Any Houstonian who remembered the Rita clusterfuck would have declined to evacaute. The only way a mandatory evacuation would have worked is if it were ordered on Monday August 21. People simply would not have left then and many could not afford to do so. That’s something the armchair evacuators do not care about. They specialize in judging others while sitting high and dry in their Lazy-Boys, smart phone in hand.

I’ve evacuated twice for Hurricanes. It’s a miserable experience. I understand why people chose to hunker down. I have close friends in the Houston area and my stomach is in knots right now. Thus far none of them have had to boat out of their houses but it’s still raining in H-Town. What a fucking mess.

Hurricane Harvey is an unprecedented event. The rainfall totals are frightening. There were no good options available. It was going to be a clusterfuck no matter what. Backseat driving is always annoying. I suggest the armchair evacuators STFU and figure out how they can help after the waters recede.

Finally, Trump should stay away and not disrupt relief and rescue operations. He lives in an orange bubble and vaguely remembers that Bush got in deep shit over his response to Katrina. Trump should forget the photo-ops and give the people of Texas maximum federal resources and support. Go when the crisis subsides. The world does not revolve around Trump. He just thinks it does.

Since we’ve all got the Hurricane Harvey blues, the last word goes to Texas native Lightnin’ Hopkins with a song about endless rain you know where:

It’s The Water, Not The Wind

There’s a cookie-cutter aspect to teevee Hurricane coverage. They’re fixated on what category a storm is. It’s human nature to grab on to something tangible (in this case, a number) when confronting something inherently irrational such as a major storm system. Most of the damage Harvey has done has been *after* its category was reduced; it’s a tropical storm as of this writing. The wind is scary and produces spectacular pictures but it’s the water that does most of the damage.

Everyone who lived through Katrina and the subsequent federal flood is experiencing PTSD right now, especially since the 12th anniversary is a mere 2 days away. The images coming out of Houston are heartbreaking and depressingly familiar to those of us from the New Orleans metro area. We’re also hearing some of the same criticisms of those who live in Houston and elsewhere on the Texas Gulf Coast. Houston tried mandatory evacuations in 2005 and 2008. They were clusterfucks. What was called for this time around was an evacuation of low-lying and flood-prone areas. It would have had to start as early as Monday or Tuesday. It’s very hard to get people to do that. Additionally, many low-income people cannot afford the cost of evacuating for that long. There’s no easy or good way to handle a system as wet and dangerous as Harvey. Nature is always more powerful than human beings.

We’re seeing some tut-tutting on social media about the hypocrisy of Texas Senators Cruz and Cornyn right now. Let’s stipulate that they’re hypocrites and assholes. They’ve both been malaka of the week and I call them by nasty names: Senator Cornhole and Tailgunner Ted. That’s irrelevant. People are suffering and need help. It doesn’t matter who represents them or whether it’s a blue or red state. People on the left shouldn’t sound like right-wingers circa 2005. I firmly believe that you become what you hate. It reminds me of a line from Justified wherein Raylan Givens said: “If you run into an asshole in the morning, you ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all day, you’re the asshole.” Don’t be that asshole.

Finally, the fact that this deluge is happening in Houston makes it doubly horrible. The people of Houston opened their hearts to people fleeing the floodwaters in Southeast Louisiana in 2005. Some of those Louisianians never left Houston and now many of them have experienced flooding again, It’s called a double whammy and it’s never been crueler than it is right now.

We’re trying to figure out how First Draft can help the people of Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast. We’ll have an announcement sometime in the next few days. Ain’t nobody getting into Harvey zone until the rain relents. It’s the water, not the wind.

The last word goes to Houston native Rodney Crowell with his hurricane song, Telephone Road:

 

 

 

Saturday Odds & Sods: This Summer

Windmills on the Hill by Francoise Gilot.

Prologue/Forward: I wrote this post and timed it for publication before Hurricane Harvey made full landfall. It will be onshore as you read this. It’s gonna be a wet sumbitch. Best of luck to all my friends and readers in the impacted area whether you evacuated or hunkered down. Our thoughts are with you.

Enough sincere shit, it’s time for the main event:

The tropics are becoming more active as August nears an end. It’s unfortunate because the drainage system in New Orleans is still fucked up. I don’t usually get overly nervous when I hear about a new tropical system in the Caribbean, but this year is different. The odds of Adrastos World HQ flooding are slim. As to the rest of the city, that’s not the case. Hopefully, the City will get its shit together but competence is not a hallmark of government in the Crescent City. It’s time for an Adrastos nursery rhyme: Harvey stay away, don’t come again another day.

Have I complained about storm names this year? It’s high time.  The latest storm is Harvey, which is a funny name, not a scary one. Hurricane Harvey reminds me of Harvey the invisible rabbit, Harvey Korman, and this former major league baseball player, coach, and manager:

Admittedly, the chaw is a bit scary, but Harvey Kuenn was famous for being nice and for being the only batting champion traded for a home run champion, Rocky Colavito. Enough about the boys of summer since only Doc and I give a shit about Harvey Kuenn. I would, however, never knock the Rock…

Summer may be winding down where you live but September is often as hot as August in my sultry neck of the woods. We usually get a tease of fall weather but it rarely lasts long before the heat and humidity settle back in until October. That’s life in the Big Easy. Speaking of which, there’s a swell cover story in the Gambit Tabloid about post-Katrina life here: Is New Orleans worth it?  It’s, uh, worth a glance. It proves that old adage: the more things change the more they remain the same. So it goes.

Speaking of summer, it occurred to me this week that my favorite rock songwriting team, Difford and Tilbrook, have written a passel of tunes about summer. This week’s first theme song,  This Summer, begins with a classic line: “Brain engages mouth, mouth expresses thoughts.” That’s how it works in my experience.

I hope you noticed that the late Keith Wilkerson looks like Huntz Hall in this video. He’s the bloke in the blue ball cap. Not only was Keith was more likely to be an East Side Kid than a Bowery Boy, neither Difford nor Tillbrook resemble Leo Gorcey. End of obscure lowbrow comedy reference. I have a million of them…

Happy Days is a song of more recent vintage. It’s about getting out of London on holiday. As a non-resident, London is one of my favorite places to go on vacation. I would propose a house swap but who the hell wants to come to New Orleans in August?

Our final Squeezey ode to summer was one of the band’s first hits and evokes the beach on a warm summer day:

Now that we’ve gone behind the chalet and pulled mussels from the shell, it’s time to insert the break.

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