Category Archives: Hurricane Katrina & Federal Flood

Bannon’s B3 Brownshirts & The Chaos Principle

It’s official: Donald Trump had the worst first week of any President* in American history. It was so bad that I debated with a friend as to whether he was already the worst ever. I still think it’s too early to tell since Buchanan and W are responsible for wars and economic calamity. Trump hasn’t passed Andrew Johnson either BUT he’s building a strong case for worst ever and he’s only been at it for 10 days. I don’t think our cause benefits from hyperbole and overstatement. You can only fight lies with the truth and delusion with reality.

I admitted the other day to knowing very little about higher maths. I have, however, heard of the Chaos Principle:

Chaos is the science of surprises, of the nonlinear and the unpredictable. It teaches us to expect the unexpected. While most traditional science deals with supposedly predictable phenomena like gravity, electricity, or chemical reactions, Chaos Theory deals with nonlinear things that are effectively impossible to predict or control, like turbulence, weather, the stock market, our brain states, and so on.

It looks like Steve Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts are inspired by the Chaos Principle, at least by analogy. Team Trump is trying to inject so much chaos and confusion into our polity that repression will be required to maintain order. I seriously doubt if the Insult Comedian himself has such a plan: all he ever does is wing it without thought to the implications. Bannon, however, has emerged as first among equals in the West Wing. He’s capable of complex, devious, and downright evil thought. Bannon has Trump’s ear and the Dear Leader Wannabe seems to agree with the last person he spoke to.

In short, Bannon and his fellow white nationalists want to create the circumstances in which a right-wing revolution is possible. Those circumstances do not currently exist. Bitching about the government is as American as apple pie, it doesn’t amount to instant homegrown fascism. That is definitely a long-term threat but we have the mechanisms to stop it: people power and lawyers, lawyers, lawyers. Political courage on the part of elected officials seems to be in short supply but the longer this constitutional crisis lasts the bolder they will become. Talk of collaboration with the Trumpers has become much less common since they came to power.

The good news is that Team Trump’s Muslim ban was issued without co-ordination with the agencies obliged to enforce it and they didn’t even run it by their own lawyers. That makes it eminently susceptible to legal challenge. It was, apparently, pulled out of Rudy Noun Verb 9/11’s ass:

I’ll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it he said, “Muslim ban.” He called me up and said, “Put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally.” I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, with Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of other very expert lawyers on this. And what we did was we focused on, instead of religion, danger. The areas of the world that create danger for us. Which is a factual basis. Not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible, and that’s what the ban is based on. It’s not based on religion. It’s based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.

That is, of course, nonsense. The order discriminates against people because of their religion, and all the lies in the world won’t change that. The fact that an exception was made for Christians from the affected countries is proof of discriminatory intent as is Giuliani’s need to brag about his role in the ban. He’s really turning into his master. Giuliani’s success in masterminding the Comey coup has gone to his head, and he was already a raging egomaniac. This is terrific evidence for the legal eagles to pounce on. Thanks, Rudy. I can imagine Justice Anthony Kennedy’s head spinning as I write this. I am as likely to vote Republican as he is to uphold this executive order if it reaches SCOTUS.

This policy is based on Islamophobic fantasies, not reality. That’s a recurring theme for Team Trump’s Bannon wing. In addition to the Chaos Principle, they believe in what one might call the Goebbels corollary: the bigger the lie, the more believable it is. This is propaganda, not spin. The MSM is finally showing signs of coming to grips with that. It’s a pity that they didn’t do so during the late campaign. The MSM and the “Clinton is just as bad as Trump” crowd bear a lot of responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in. I hope the Steiners and Busters enjoyed the events of this weekend. They have a share of the blame. I may “Nazi punch” the next purity troll who tells me their vote didn’t matter because they were in a red state or some other lame excuse. Every vote in every election matters.

The Trumpers have clearly overreached. The order placing Steve Bannon on the National Security Council is the best example I can think of. That body has been moribund for many years BUT excluding the Director of National Intelligence and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sends a dangerous signal that Steve Bannon is running the show. It doesn’t get much worse than that but the order’s impact is symbolic for now. For now. That’s always the rub with this crowd.

One thing I’ve noticed about Bannon and his B3 Brownshirts is that they admire Soviet-style tactics. They’ve done some things that Stalin would have applauded such as placing what amounts to “political commissars” at cabinet departments and agencies. This sort of convergence of the far left and extreme right doesn’t surprise me at all.  This creeping Sovietism/Putinism is also reflected by their Holocaust remembrance day proclamation. It’s the first time an American administration has referred to the Holocaust without mentioning Jews. They’re pandering to the Holocaust denialists and minimizers. What’s next? An invitation for Davids Irving and Duke to visit the White House? Nothing would surprise me in the Chaos Principle era.

The one piece of advice I have for the nascent anti-Trump movement is to pace yourselves. The world is a complicated place and it cannot be changed in a day. This is going to be a long, hard slog and burn-out is a risk. Make sure to do whatever it is you do for fun It’s a lesson that New Orleanians learned during the post-Katrina/Federal Flood era. We were widely criticized for having Carnival in 2006. We knew better. It was necessary for our collective mental health. We continued rebuilding and pressuring the local, state, federal government for assistance but we took time out to enjoy life. It’s something that we can teach the rest of the country. There *is* a constitutional crisis now but stopping it won’t be helped by freaking out. Instead of freaking out: become better informed about American political history, and organize, organize, organize.

Vive les Maquis.

Confessions Of A Keyboard Maquis

First Draft and the original Netroots blogosphere arose in opposition to George W. Bush and the Iraq War. I started blogging in opposition to how the Bush administration mishandled Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood. On every level imaginable, Trump is worse than W. So bad, in fact, that the former President refused to vote for him. When President Obama and many others said Trump was unfit to serve as President, it was not just campaign rhetoric. It was a blunt statement of fact.

In the wake of continuing reports of Russian meddling in the election, it’s time to stop mourning and get angry. What form that anger should take is the question on the table. It should and must be non-violent. Undisciplined demonstrators smashing shit is playing into the enemy’s hands. Yes, I did say enemy. I plan to give  a Trump presidency the same respect Republicans gave President Obama. None.

The Never Trump Republicans were fond of using French Resistance analogies. It’s beyond ironic that some of the same people who mocked the French as “surrender monkeys” and wanted to rename frites “freedom fries” are invoking the French resistance BUT it’s a useful analogy nonetheless. Frank Rich recently summarized the categories quite well:

Mike Murphy, the GOP strategist who ran a PAC for Jeb Bush’s ill-fated campaign, divided his fellow Republican elites into three categories: “Vichy Republicans,” who went along with Trump and the party base enamored of him; “Survival Republicans,” who tried to remain as neutral as Switzerland; and “Resistance Republicans,” who actively battled his nomination.

Obviously, none of  us wants to link arms with even the Resistance Republicans, many of whom will become collaborators, but the imagery is striking, especially on Veterans Day. That’s why I like the term Maquis. Trekkies may remember it from DS9 and Voyager but they took it from the French Resistance during World War II. The Maquis or Maquisards were small, scattered but still mighty rural guerilla bands. They were slightly more effective than the urban resistance because the Allies could air-drop supplies to them in the dead of night.

I am not advocating using Maquis tactics but adopting their attitude. Non-violent legal and political resistance are called for. Congressional Democrats need to be every bit as obstructionist as the GOP has been during the Obama administration. Remember: we controlled the Senate until the 2010 teabagger wave election and have more votes than the GOP did at that time. Their initial focus should be on salvaging the ACA and saving Medicare from the not-so tender mercies of the Survival Republican Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan. He’s collaborating with Trump to further his extreme Randian agenda. Trump has no ideas and Ryan has many bad ones.

The electoral college victory of Trump-Pence has unleashed a tidal wave of hateful shit. We’ve all heard reports of both verbal and physical attacks on minorities. Children are terrified and crying at school. Ponder that for a second. School is supposed to be a safe haven for learning, not a place that’s as scary as the world outside. What kind of country are we? We need to decide.

I feel older than I am right now. My main form of resistance to Trumpism in all its ugly manifestations is to do what I do best, write. Hence the post title: Confessions of a Keyboard Maquis. I think people should think about what forms resistance to the incoming regime should take. The great Al Giordano has shared his thoughts with the world beyond his subscribers, of whom I am one, and I’ll give Al the last word:

Those of us who have lived in countries under authoritarian rule have spent recent months having our own conversation about what is happening in the USA. We do it in whispers because most of you will not believe us no matter how loudly we shout about what a Trump election would bring down the ‘pike. We shake our heads and feel a great wave of pity for most Americans who have no idea what tyranny really looks or feels like. Tyranny – contrary to popular myth – is asymmetric. It hits from all sides, crevices, nooks and crannies, from the dark places, the shadows. The figurehead’s power above merely provides it cover. It has the same paramilitary logic of what was endured in Latin America’s dirty wars and the dictatorships across the sea that gave rise to the Arab Spring. When Donald J. Trump praises strongmen leaders across the globe he is giving his “tell” of how he would govern – with a clenched fist.

Worse, the response from that part of America that defines itself as “the left” (I am speaking of the white and academic “left” since so few organized people of color are foolish enough to claim an already discredited mantle) is totally unequipped to address it yet they will attempt once again to place themselves at the vanguard of resistance without any lived experience leading an actual resistance, much less winning one. Senator Sanders’ “Our Revolution” PAC will seek to fundraise off every injustice as aggressively as it has over the Native American resistance to the pipeline in the Dakotas. The remnants of “Occupy” now under a thousand new names will call for demonstrations without guidelines, training or discipline and that in the name of “diversity of tactics” allow any asshole who wants to call himself “Black Bloc” to don ski masks and toss trash cans through store windows. President Trump is gonna love those demonstrations because it will allow him to sell all kinds of repression to his base. White men will vault to the front of these groups saying, “follow me!” Yet they have not a clue as to how a real movement is built or won. They feel entitled to it anyway. It will be more of the same attempts to re-center whiteness and maleness with the cheerleading of Jacobin magazine, some writers at The Nation, Democracy Now and Reddit dudebro forums.

The election of Trump will mark the exact moment of failure of manhood in America. The only possible new leadership will have to come from women, especially women of color, who already live in Trump’s America and have more experience navigating such a world, far more than we guys can learn in the short time we’ll have to build an authentic resistance. Mexican-American and Muslim-American women will be the first hit and instead of letting the dudebro aspirants set the tone it will be up to all of us to follow those women into battle instead.

The only authentic resistance to the policies of a Trump presidency will make nonviolence its watchword, and unapologetically so. To participate, you’re going to have to get training in nonviolent civil resistance. I’m not speaking of the “express trainings” by dudebro groups like “Democracy Spring” with fawning celebrity dilettantes like Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, but, rather, sessions that last a minimum of eight hours or, ideally, an entire weekend or more and are led and organized by women of experience at it and especially women of color.

I obviously have a problem with the whole last word concept. I hope you read Al’s entire piece and that it inspires you to organize and act in whatever way you see fit. I now think of it as the Manifesto of the American Maquis. First get mad, then get even.

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Finally, thanks to Doc for that fascinating post. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Now where did I put my trench coat? And that’s the last, last, last word.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Showdown

Picasso Three Musicians

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso, 1921

It’s been another “hot even for New Orleans” week. It was the second warmest August in recorded history; at least we weren’t number one. We dodged the Hermine bullet but apparently not everyone understands the gravity of even a lesser tropical system:

Florida is also where this charming chap resides:

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Holy Florida Man, Batman.

If you’re ever in Fort Lauderdale, you might want to give him a holla. I think the exclamation point was over the top but that’s just me. He looks like he mixed cigarettes, meth and Vodka. Ouch.

The college football season starts this weekend. My LSU Tigers are playing the Wisconsin Badgers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay later today. It should provide some diversion for all the flooded Tiger fans in South Louisiana. There’s even a comedic sub-plot: some LSU players are threatening to do the “Lambeau leap” after scoring. Les Miles has vetoed the idea and warned his players that they’ll be hitchhiking home if they try it. I’m seriously bummed about this. I was hoping Les would take the leap after our first score. Guess he’s channeling his inner Bo Schembechler this season. I prefer Goofy Les to Serious Les.

This week’s theme song selection started off simply but grew like bamboo. One of my earworms this week has been ELO’s hit song, Showdown. Just for the hell of it, I did a search on allmusic.com and learned that there are oodles of tunes with the same title.

I picked two Showdowns of a similar vintage to the ELO smash hit: one by the New York Dolls and the other by the Isley Brothers. Who among us does not love the flying fingers of Ernie Isley as well as his nifty headband?

Like the Isley Brothers’ Showdown, the Saturday post typically has two parts. We’ll part for the break and then resume the festivities such as they are.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: Here Comes The Flood

NOAA info via the Advocate.

It’s been an exhausting few weeks in the Gret Stet of Louisiana. Everyone I’ve heard from in the flood zone is okay but thousands of people are not. I’m proud that many of my friends are helping. We take care of our own here in Louisiana but we need all the help we can get. If you haven’t already done so please click on this link to see a few ways you can help. Your reward is a musical interlude from the Boss:

Springsteen mentions New Orleans in the song. Here’s how our brothers and sisters in Acadiana would put it: On prend soin des nôtres.

As you can see from the featured image,  a phenomenal amount of rain was dumped on the flood zone in a short period of time. Making matters worse, it sat there for days on end; longer than the chart indicates. This storm has been described as “like a hurricane in infancy” by the Gret Stet’s climatologist. It was an angry and bitter infant that left vast destruction in its path. It will take years for people to recover from the flood. The good news there are only 13 reported fatalities thus far BUT there will be deaths from natural causes related to the flood. Elderly people dropped like flies in post-K New Orleans. Let’s hope it’s not as bad this time around.

This week’s theme song is something of a no-brainer, which is a good thing since it’s so hot that one could fry an egg on top of my head if I were insane enough to spend an extended period outside. Here Comes The Flood debuted on Peter Gabriel’s first album after leaving Genesis. We have three versions: the original, a live solo rendition, and a version recorded with Robert Fripp in 2006. Btw, the King Crimson leader played on the first PG album and toured with him. I saw the Winterland show and Fripp sat on a stool in the shadows the entire time. Guitar heroes are rarely that shy.

This week’s edition is about keeping it snappy. Saying that makes me feel like I should don a zoot suit and snap some suspenders. Shorter Adrastos, we’re dispensing with the break and links to long-form articles.

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We begin with two pieces by Baton Rouge residents, one white, one black. They’re united in believing that the racial tensions that exploded before the Gret Stet flood of 2016 must be addressed:

Will The Great Flood Sink Baton Rouge Or Inspire Its Rebirth? by Robert Mann.

The Flood Brings Us Together. Let’s Not Forget The Divides by Raymond Jetson.

The Insult Comedian Cometh: Donald Trump and his Hoosier stooge Mike Liar Liar Pence On Fire staged a photo-op in Baton Rouge Friday. The Governor urged them to stay away unless they planned to volunteer or donate but Trump knows bestYou gotta love John Bel Edwards, y’all. When Bobby Jindal was Governor, every crisis was about him, he lived for photo-ops. John Bel just wants to get shit done.

Trump has a rather checkered history with the Gret Stet of Louisiana. He made a big deal out of building Trump Tower, New Orleans to help the post-K recovery. I reminded him of this on Twitter:

The location of the never built “tower” is downtown at the corner of Poydras and Camp Streets. As an old friend and post-K blogger comrade in arms pointed out:

Now that we’ve mocked Donald Trump’s malakatude for the gazillionth time, let’s pay some nice people a virtual visit.

Video Clip Of The Week: I mentioned Gret Stet Governor John Bel Edwards’ appearance on the Rachel Maddow Show in an update to my Heckuva Job, Advocate post. Here it is:

Since they’re still “trying to wash us away,”let’s move on to an album that has one of the greatest songs ever written about the Gret Stet of Louisiana.

Saturday Classic:  The album is Good Old Boys by Randy Newman. The song is, of course, Louisiana 1927. There are two other Louisiana-centric tunes on the record: Kingfish and a cover of Huey Long’s theme song, Every Man A King.

It’s one of my all-time favorite albums; featuring the daring satire of Rednecks who still “don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground,” since they’re voting for Trump. The record packs quite a wallop some 42 years later.

That’s it for this week. Hopefully, it will dry out in Red Stick and elsewhere in South Louisiana fairly soon. If only the hot air emanating from Trump’s mouth could expedite matters. Speaking of Insult Comedians, our closing meme features one of the greatest  ever,  Jack E. Leonard:

Jack E meme

Heckuva Job, Advocate

The “we’re all in this together” spirit still permeates South Louisiana BUT there are a few cracks in the wall of solidarity. Is that a thing? I hope not but I just said it. I’ve been hearing some muttering on social media from people who neither like President Obama nor wish him well. I had a few choice words about this on ye olde tweeter tube yesterday:

There’s also been some grumbling about national press coverage of the Gret Stet Flood of 2016. I, too, would like to see more BUT in 2005, we got wall-to-wall cable, network, and print coverage and it didn’t make a difference. The most important thing is the flow of money and help. In 2005, FEMA was run by  Heckuva Job Brownie who was the third disaster to strike the Gulf Coast. In 2016, it’s run by Craig Fugate and has not been subjected to the sort of criticism it received during the Bush Administration. In short, FEMA has been fixed. It’s now a professional organization like it was during the first Clinton administration. It’s what happens when a President who believes in government is in office.

Today the most banal criticism of all reared its damn fool head in an editorial in the Advocate demanding a Presidential visit:

Last week, as torrential rains brought death, destruction and misery to Louisiana, the president continued his vacation at Martha’s Vineyard, a playground for the posh and well-connected.

We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness.

Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don’t see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It’s past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans.

That’s still the case. Presidential visits complicate *everything* and interfere with relief efforts. If the Advocate editorial board deigned to read their own reporting, they would know that emergency response efforts are ongoing. This is all about an ultra conservative Obama hating editor seeing a chance to take a shot at him. The prime suspect is former Picayune and current Advocate editor Peter Kovacs who went on CNN to toot his own horn. On the behalf of Peters everywhere, I’d like to apologize for his malakatude.

The problem in 2005 was not insufficient Presidential visitation, it was the way the Bush administration played games with disaster relief. They did not want to take the blame for levee failures so they scapegoated then Gret Stet Governor Kathleen Blanco, a Democrat. Karl Rove spearheaded that successful smear campaign, which helped to make Blanco a one-term Governor. That, in turn, made Congressional Republicans balk over disaster relief for Louisiana. The tone set by Bush and his minions was the problem. None of that is happening in 2016. The Feds are just getting revved up and I’m sure President Obama will visit when things settle down in the flood zone. That is not the case as I write this even if the Advocate editorial board thinks so. They’re flat-out wrong.

This is just speculation but there’s also the possibility that Governor John Bel Edwards does not want POTUS here at this point in time. He’s a Democrat who has maintained a polite political distance from President Obama. It’s partially up to him if and when the President visits the disaster zone. A trip at this point would be purely symbolic and symbolism is cheap; what matters is results. The jury is still out but it’s bound to be better than 2005.

The Advocate should be ashamed of itself for printing this editorial. We’re facing a different disaster with a different set of facts from 2005. The feds *caused* much of the damage in 2005, that is not the case in 2016. There’s another difference: the Bush administration did not take disaster relief or the role of government in it seriously. The Obama administration does.

Here’s the deal. The Advocate’s news reporters are doing great work covering the flood. It’s a pity that the editorial page chose to play games with disaster relief. Shame on Mr. Kovacs and whoever else worked on or approved the editorial. Disasters are non-political events and the response to them should be too.

Heckuva job, Advocate.

8/19 UPDATE: Governor John Bel Edwards was interviewed by Rachel Maddow last night. Here’s what he had to say about a Presidential visit at this point in time:

“It is a major ordeal, they free up the interstate for him,” Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Thursday. “We have to take hundreds of local first responders, police officers, sheriffs, deputies and state troopers to provide security for that type of visit.”

“I would just as soon have those people engaged in the response rather than trying to secure the president,” Bel Edwards continued. “So I’d ask him to wait, if he would, another couple weeks.”

Repeat after me: Heckuva job, Advocate.

High Water Blues

I sat down at my desk thinking I’d write something about Trump’s ridiculous “extreme vetting” proposal. It gave the MSM a boner and delusions of the pivot they’re convinced will come. Then I saw this picture of flooding on the LSU campus:

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Photograph via AP.

It’s hard to see one’s alma mater flooded. It’s apparently not too bad, but it’s a symbol of what a tough few days it’s been in South Louisiana. Anyone who lived in New Orleans in August, 2005 is having flashbacks right now. I certainly am.

The whole thing has given me a mild case of PTSD. The picture reminded me of the time I lost my shit in a hospital in Dallas in September, 2005. My cousin’s wife had just had a baby and I learned of the suicide of a cop friend from the teevee in the room. I lost my shit, religion whatever you want to call it. I’m perhaps the least emotional Greek you’ll ever meet but I wept bitter tears that day. My cousin swept me up and out to lunch. I regained my composure but I’ll never forget learning of Paul’s death on the teevee. It’s not how ordinary people are supposed to learn of the passing of a friend; not a close friend but we were all one then. The people in the flood zone need to have the same feeling about one another. That’s the best way to pull through and survive this disaster.

The flooding has triggered memories of Dr. A and my friend Michel who was dying of cancer when the storm hit and ended up in Dallas:

After a week in Shreveport, we moved to my cousin’s house near Dallas. Dr. A kept trying to get Michel; one day she got an answer. It was the first time she’d gotten through to anyone from home on their cell phone. It turned out to be a bittersweet moment. The phone was answered by Michel’s girlfriend, Georgeanne. She, too, was in Dallas at a relative’s house. Michel’s mother Miss Evelyn, who is in her mid-Seventies but looks twenty years younger, was with her. We learned that Michel was still alive but fading fast. He’d landed in an hospice in North Dallas.

We fought the crosstown Dallas traffic and found the hospice. Dr. A was relieved to see that it was a clean and well-maintained facility. We had to do some fast talking to find Michel’s room. It was made trickier by the fact that his real first name was Michael. We told them that he had been evacuated from New Orleans and had lung cancer. One of the staff said: “Oh, you must mean that incredibly nice black fellow who came in a few days ago.” When we got to his room, we found Michel dead. He was still warm. We had just missed him.

That’s happening to people in other parts of South Louisiana as I write this. It’s the disruption and chaos of a catastrophe. It’s hard to say how bad the Gret Stet flood of 2016 will be. It doesn’t matter: nature has tossed South Louisiana in the air like a jigsaw puzzle. It’s up to the people in the flood zone to pick up the pieces. Louisiana is full of people with great virtues and outsized flaws. One of our virtues is that we’re tough and know how to recover from the High Water Blues. Repeat after me: there’s a Jayhawks song for every occasion:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey

Monkeyland

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson

As much as I love Carnival, I’m always glad when it’s over. We live inside the parade box, which means we have to be cognizant of what’s going on even when the parade sucks. In short, we cannot monkey around even if it *is* the year of the monkey.

Chinese New Year was February, 8th this year, which was Lundi Gras in New Orleans. My father had many Chinese friends and business associates, which made him honorary Chinese as far as they were concerned. Dr. A’s best friend is Chinese so she has the same status. Me, I’m just a guy who loves Chinese cuisine and has never been involved in anything that remotely resembles the title of this song:

That obviously was not this week’s theme song. It was just more monkeyshines on my part. I suspect you’re used to that by now, especially on Saturdays.

This week’s theme song comes from one of my favorite records of all-time, the White Album. I was obsessed with it when I was a tadpole and Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey is one of my favorite tracks. It beats the hell out of Revolution #9, which is also a Lennon-centric track but Monkey works. Hmm, I wonder if the monkey in question is a capuchin helper monkey?

Since we ‘re talking monkey tunes, this early Boz Scaggs song was the runner-up as title song. It’s  got a good beat, you can dance to it, but the title isn’t as good even if it’s more concise:

Now that I’ve made the odd monkey joke and posted the odd monkey tune, it’s time to get on with it and brachiate to our next segment. That’s a fancy way of saying see you after the break.

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Saturday Odds & Sods: The Best of Adrastos 2015

Scrooge-Marley

Scrooge meets Marley’s ghost by E.A. Abbey, 1876.

Twas the day after Christmas and all that was stirring was a mouse and a keyboard. It’s time to embark on an ego trip and present the Best of Adrastos 2015 in lieu of a proper Saturday post.

I do have a theme song only it’s not the post title this time around. I’m not certain if it’s entirely accurate but, hey, it’s the Chairman of the Board. Who’s gonna argue with Francis Albert Fucking Sinatra?

I started off with 48 candidates before winnowing it down to thirty, which is still excessive but it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to or something like that. Jeez, now I sound like Al Lesley Gore. I’ve organized the posts into categories and I state that categorically.

I have no illusions that anyone will read all the posts in one sitting but they’ll be here awaiting your perusal.

Saturday Odds & Sods: I think of this weekly outing as my writer’s post. I assiduously polish and rewrite them instead of the more spontaneous approach I bring to the daily grind.

July 18, 2015: Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On.)  Tricky Dick meets Antoni Gaudi.

August 12, 2015: You’re With Stupid Now.   Mr. Truck meets Quentin Tarantino.

December 12, 2015: Sinatra Centennial Edition.  The title says it all.

As Frank himself would say, the best is yet to come after the break:

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Quote Of The Day: Bunk’s Bunkum Edition

Wendell Pierce is from New Orleans, left for many years to seek his fame and fortune as an actor, and has spent more time here since a certain event in 2005. His post-K track record is more mixed than the media would have you believe. He’s partnered in several enterprises with 2010 Mayoral candidate and developer Troy Henry including a grocery store “chain” that hasn’t lived up to the hype surrounding its launch.

Pierce has also engaged in an unseemly and inaccurate war of words with a neighborhood association that opposed one of his development plans. He threw around some buzz words such as “hipster” and “gentrification” that didn’t fit the circumstances. I think he spends too much time soaking up adulation on Twitter.  Like many post-K do-gooders, Pierce is hyper sensitive to criticism and freaks out when his motives are questioned. Good intentions are never enough. Remember when I said that New Orleans is a tough town? Wendell Pierce would be well-advised to remember that.

That’s the back story to the quote of the day, which comes from an interview Pierce did with Salon whilst publicizing his memoir:

It’s a decade past the flood. In some ways New Orleans has bounced back, but some things have not been restored. How does it seem to you?

It’s a tale of two cities. We have this great recovery, but there are some still left behind. It’s moving into the future, but holding onto some of the ugly vestiges of the past. It’s created a schism between the haves and have-nots.

Created a schism? That schism has always existed and has always been close to the surface in New Orleans. Our politics have been dominated by racial and class conflict since, well, forever.The city wasn’t preserved in amber or under a snowglobe when Pierce was out-of-town. There was no schism to “create” because it has always been there.

Pierce is not the only person to talk about “two cities.” While his point is well-taken, it’s an oversimplification. The haves *have* prospered, including Pierce himself, and the have-nots, uh, have not. (That’s a lot of haves for one sentence. Better have a loaf than none at all, I suppose.) New Orleans is a complex, multi-layered place, and one could come up with dozens of sub-sets if one were so inclined. I am not. But two cities will never suffice unless you’re Sidney Carton…

I *briefly* considered making this a malaka of the week post but decided not to. In part, because Pierce means well. While good intentions shouldn’t count for everything, they shouldn’t count for nothing either. And as someone who watched The Wire from the first episode, I have a soft spot for the Bunk and his partner, the character who Bubbles called McNutty. And that is why Wendell Pierce is NOT malaka of the week.

Here’s one of my favorite Bunk-McNulty scenes from The Wire:

Saturday Odds & Sods: Saint Dominic’s Preview

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson.

Sideshow banner by Fred G. Johnson. Did he have Van Morrison in mind?

It’s been a relatively quiet week in New Orleans. We survived the Katrina 10 hype and got back to fighting over 21st century issues such as gentrification and short-term rentals as well as a resumption of the monument wars. The Vieux Carre Commission voted to remove the so-called Liberty Monument, the monument most egregiously tied to white supremacy. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Summertime always brings a spike in crime to New Orleans. Lurking beneath the party town facade is the reality that New Orleans is now and has always been a tough town. It’s a bad place to walk around with your eyes glued to your smart phone. That’s begging to be mugged or worse. In the immortal words of the desk Sergeant on Hill Street Blues, “Be careful out there.” Never forget: “to live in this town you must be tough, tough, tough.”

Now that I’ve quoted the Stones, it’s time to move on to this week’s theme song. It’s been a big few weeks for Van Morrison fans: his work is finally available on iTunes and there’s been a spate of articles about Astral Weeks as you will see in a moment. I picked Saint Dominic’s Preview as the theme song for a simple reason: it’s my favorite Van the man tune. The arrangement of the studio version is pitch perfect: from the horns to the tinkling piano to the judicious use of steel guitar. Van may be twice as grumpy as I am but Saint Dominic’s Preview is downright majestic. Van, in and of himself, *is* the human paradox alive.

We’ll start with the aforementioned studio recording, then follow it up with a live version from 1996 that has a Celtic folk jazz feel:

It just occurred to me that there’s another reason to select Saint Dominic’s Preview. I spend much of Saturday Odds & Sods previewing articles, films, and albums for my readers. I guess that makes it a preview without a saint. It does, however, always have a break.

Continue reading

Presidential Pet Peeves

Last week New Orleans was awash in robustly resilient bullshit and Presidents, current and former. My buttons were pushed by the manner in which the Oval Ones were referred to. Bullshit is, of course, bullshit whether it’s robust, resilient, or just plain ridiculous. Those are the three Rs of contemporary New Orleans.

Where the hell was I? Oh yeah, the two common misuses of the language regarding Oval Ones that drive me crazy. First, civilians referring to the sitting President as the Commander-in-Chief. They’re only in command of the military, not us. There was, in fact, considerable confusion over an ad taken out by malakatude hall of famer Harry Shearer in the dead tree edition of the New Orleans Advocate:

Shearer full page ad in the Advocate

It was published on the day the sitting President visited and, as you can see, asked the “Commander-in-Chief” to admit to Federal responsibility for the flood, which President Obama did. There was a lively debate on my social media feeds as to whether it was aimed at President Obama or the Texas Napoleon who returned the next day to his Waterloo. I was pretty sure he was referring to Obama but, once again, neither the current Oval One nor his incompetent predecessor is the “Commander-in-Chief” of anything but the armed forces. In short, we don’t gotta salute. Now that I think of it, W deserves a one-finger salute…

My second Presidential pet peeve: referring to ex-Presidents by the title. There’s only one President at a time. Harry Truman preferred to be called Judge or Mr. Truman. When asked why by a college kid, he said, “There’s only one President at a time, son.” Harry was right and didn’t even engage in the robust bullshit for which he was known. Try fact checking Merle Miller’s Plain Speaking some time. Let’s just say that Harry was an old-fashioned storyteller in the vein of Sam Clemens…

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the media started calling ex-Oval Ones by the title and addressing them as Mr. President. For example, TR was *always* called Colonel Roosevelt as a former President. My hunch is that this imperfect practice was perfected between 1993 and 1994 when we had a bumper crop of former Presidents: five count ’em five. And two of those ex-Oval Ones, Nixon and Reagan, were notorious for an almost fetishistic love of the ceremonial side of the office. I suspect Nancy would have objected to people calling Ronnie Governor or Mr. Death Valley Days Host. He would have been okay with the Gipper…

I know, I know, people have been misusing the title for many years. That doesn’t make it right or any less annoying. One thing I love about the interwebs is that you can find stuff such as the Protocol School of Washington’s, Honor & Respect: The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address. It’s a mouthful, I know. I must admit  that consulting it makes me feel oddly like Miss Manners. Here’s how the author, a chap named Robert Hickey, answered the question of how to address a former President:

I have been directing people to refer to former presidents as President (last name). Is that correct?
            — Anna McDonald, Stafford, Virginia

Dear Ms. McDonald:
This issue is complicated since we hear former Presidents referred to as President Clinton and President Bush on the media all the time; Here’s what is the correct formula as it appears in my book (assuming they didn’t have an honorific other than Mr./Ms. to go back to … as General Dwight D. Eisenhower did.):
Former President of the United States
    Envelope, official:
The Honorable
(Full name)
(Address)
   Letter salutation: Dear Mr./Ms. (surname):
    Conversation: Mr./Ms. (surname)

Here’s the WHY behind the correct form. This is the traditional approach for any office of which there is only one office-holder at a time. So, with officials such as mayors, governors or presidents … only the current office holder is addressed as Mr. Mayor, Governor, or Mr. President … formers are not addressed that way.
That’s not to say some reporter might not call a former mayor Mayor Smith or a former president President (Surname). But doing so is incorrect and confusing to the public. The former office holder is no longer due the precedence and courtesies we extend to the current office holder. He or she speaks with the authority of a private citizen. We honor former office holder’s service, but the ‘form of address’ — which acknowledges the responsibilities and duties of office — belongs only to current office holder.

Uh oh, looks like Harry was wrong about that whole Judge Truman thing. Since I’m going all Miss Manners and Perry Protocol on your asses, I might as well post Mr. Hickey’s answer as to how to address a former Oval One in person:

Greeting from Canada. I will meet President Clinton in a few weeks in person.  What should I call him when I meet him or when I introduce others to him: Mr. Clinton, or President Clinton? Thanks for your help.
— Politico, Toronto

Hi Politico:
Former Presidents of the United States are most formally directly addressed as Mr. (Name) and are identified as “President of the United States from Year-Year”.
You will hear the media say President Clinton in a news story to be clear who is being discussed. The media using “President (Name)” in the third person makes many think it is a correct form of address.
The correct form for formal introduction — e.g. from a podium before his speech to the audience would be something likeIt is my pleasure to introduce The Honorable William Jefferson Clinton.
In conversation address him as Mr. Clinton. 
If you make an introduction say Mr. Clinton may I present… 

— Robert Hickey

This Robert Hickey chap seems to be the Dear Abie of the protocol set. He is absolutely correct. There is only one President at a time unless, that is, Hillary is elected, then Bill may try to do some finagling. It won’t work: she’s banished him to the couch before and would have no problem doing so again.

I’m an unlikely person to be a stickler for protocol. I am, however, a stickler for the proper use of the English language. Additionally, I believe in honoring the modesty inherent in small r republicanism.  (That makes me what Gore Vidal called a citizen of the Old Republic, not the Empire.) The President is not a hereditary monarch who holds the title even after abdication. The people are sovereign, the sitting President is the temporary occupant of the White House.

The moral of the story is: don’t believe everything you see on teevee or read in the newspapers or online. Mister is good enough for former Presidents until, that is, we have our first woman former Oval One, then Ms. will be good enough for her.

Not So Stormy Monday

We survived the influx of teevee crews, MSM reporters, carpetbloggers, disaster tourists and former Presidents. I stuck to my guns and avoided the hype as much as possible. I did, however, make an exception for President Obama’s outstanding speech last Thursday wherein he acknowledged the man-made nature of our post-K disaster. That was something his feckless predecessor never did.

Other than the sign I posted last Friday, I ignored the Texas Napoleon’s return to his Waterloo. I made an exception, however, for pictures of W dancing with a high school principal. He moves like a white preppie who went to Yale and learned to dance for Debutante balls and Cotillions:

18638648-mmmain

Photograph by Chris Granger Nola.Com/Times-Picayune.

I nearly captioned that picture Dancing On Our Graves, but decided to credit the photographer instead. The good news was that W was here for a few hours and his presence only made us a bit crankier. It was always destined to be a tough week in the city I used to call Debrisville.

I was true to my word and avoided all official and unofficial events. Instead, I went to a party thrown by some very dear friends on  the tenth year anniversary. We spent the day grilling, drinking, playing cards against humanity (the game is clearly fixed since I didn’t win) and swapping the odd Katrina exile story but we mostly kept it light. That was aided and abetted by some adorable rug rats splashing in the pool while the grown ups drank and ate sausage and pulled pork. Thanks again, Greg and Christy. You rule as well as rock.

The star of the day was my favorite 2 year old hellion who is alternately solemn and silly. After splashing too much for his big sister’s taste, my nephew by choice Nate wore what we call his old Cuban man outfit:

Old Cuban Toddler

Bubbly Nate. Photograph by Dr. A.

We all drank and ate too much but it beat the hell out of being resilient with the Mayor and the boosterazzi. Passing the day with friends and extended family was the way to go.

I was trying to resist the urge to humble brag but decided to go for it. Last Monday’s post Katrinaversary Blues: Of Resilience Tours, Carpetbloggers & Disaster Tourists seemed to strike a chord with my fellow New Orleanians and it was shared around Facebook as if it were a cat video. I think Della Street was jealous. I was also honored by the good people at Word Press with a slot on their FreshlyPressed showcase page. It brought us quite a bit of traffic as well as some new readers.Thanks for all the kind words and comments both here at First Draft and elsewhere on the interwebs. I hope y’all will return for our regular fare: my colleagues Athenae, Tommy T, Michael F, and Doc are all outstanding writers. Please check them out.

Now that I’ve humble bragged, here’s a little touch of the blues to justify the post title. Actually, a whole lotta blues:

 

TEN YEARS

29448-remember

Saturday Odds & Sods will return next week.

Texas Napoleon Returns To His Waterloo Redux

Here’s a picture of a man protesting outside Warren Easton High School where former President George W. Bush is making his only K10 appearance. The sign says it all:

W Protest

Photograph by James Karst. He wins the day.

Glad this guy has an oversized barf bucket. He may need it.

The Not So Great Fleur de Lis Ban Hoax of 2015

NewOrleans

City of New Orleans Flag.

I guess it must be a slow news week in New Orleans because one of our local teevee stations, WDSU, ran a story about an obviously fake letter, he said in a voice dripping with sarcasm. There was even a Twitter teaser from one of the station’s anchors.

No, not Scout’s little buddy. It’s another Scott Walker who, to his credit, has had fun with having the same name as Gov Deadeyes. The other reason it works so well is that viewers in New Orleans watched NOLA Scotty blow last night. What would we do without Charlie Pierce? Back to my own  shebeen…

WDSU’s first story about the fleur de lis ban letter was “balanced” and treated it as if it *could* be authentic. Holy False Equivalency, Batman. Not only that, but it ran at the top of the newscast in a week when local news is plentiful to say the least. The current story at their web site concedes that the letter is a hoax. I wish I had gotten a screen shot of the earlier version but I did not. If I had you could *really* watch NOLA Scotty blow.

The reason that this annoys me so much is that local teevee news in New Orleans is actually quite good. WDSU is stuck at third place in the ratings so they’re resorting to stunts like this one as well as tweeting selfies during commercial breaks. The problem is that there’s no story here. They’re pandering to a combination of gullible members of the twittering class and the “don’t erase our history and heritage” types who are rabidly opposed to removing Confederate monuments.

Here’s the back story. The “they’re going to take away our fleur de lis” meme is one of the straw men that is being trotted out like a hooded night rider with a flaming cross by the “don’t erase our history and heritage” krewe. I alluded to this in a post I wrote on July 20, The Fog Of History: The Jacksonian Straw Man. With a very few, very nutty exceptions, nobody is advocating eradicating the fleur de lis, which has  gone from being a symbol of the French crown to the symbol of the City and of our beloved Saints. Insert a Who Dat at this point for those who do such things.

As to the content of the letter, it’s ridiculous, preposterous, and incredible. Note the letterhead, the spacing, the crossed-out FDL inside a circle. Nothing looks right. For me, the biggest tell was this passage:

Our staff along with with former US Senator Mary Landrieu are also in negotiations with Mr. Benson and the NFL on changing the Saints logo and/or perhaps choosing a new logo for our city’s football team that would have no offensive religious overtones.

First, Mitch is a egotist and would say “my staff.” Second, anyone who knows anything about the dynamics of the Landrieu family would spot this as a false statement aimed, mostly, at Lakeview and Garden District Republicans. Mary is the oldest child and her kid brother Mitch is fifth in the sprawling Landrieu family tree of nine chirren as Santa Battaglia would surely say. In short, the younger brother wants to be independent except during campaigns. I recall seeing Mary taking charge of the stage when her brother was elected Mayor on his third try in 2010. She called him Mitchell and he visibly shuddered. This passage of the fleur de lis ban letter plays into New Orleans GOPer notions of the conspiratorial Landrieu family with father Moon and sister Mary pulling the strings. Insert evil laugh. End of this extended foray into pop family psychology. Your hour is up…

The tone of the letter is aimed at local conservatives who hate all the Landrieus and those, including many on the Left, who hate this Mayor. I’ve said it before and I’ll said it again, Mitch Landrieu’s record is a mixed bag, I like parts of it and dislike others. I’m not crazy about his relentless, resilient boosterism and advocacy of gentrification, but I believe he’s sincerely motivated on the Confederate monuments issue. His father was instrumental in removing the Confederate battle flag from the City Council chambers, after all. Uh oh, I just sent the Landrieu conspiracy buffs into hyperdrive. Regardless of that, this letter is bogus, a fraud, a fake, a hoax and a tasteless one at that.

Timing and context are everything in life. If this letter had popped up on April Fool’s Day, it and the WDSU story would have been mildly amusing. Instead, it appeared on August, 26, 3 days before the Katrinaversary when people’s emotions are raw and old wounds have been re-opened. It’s like picking at a scab and drawing blood. We didn’t need this right now. And WDSU shouldn’t have used it as clickbait and a ratings ploy. Additionally, the people who are most likely to support removing the Confederate monuments, American-Americans, are the least likely to have benefited from the so-called resilient recovery. And they know it too.

I hadn’t planned to write such an epic post but context matters and I needed to explain some things to our readers outside of New Orleans. I hope I’ve clarified matters but if not, what can I say? I promise to be more resilient next time…

That concludes this episode of watching NOLA Scotty blow. Heckuva job, WDSU.

Untalented Artist To Visit City He Let Drown

From Album 5

Well, not when the untalented artist was doing untalented, amateur art, but only when he was leader of the free world. Adrastos has already covered this, but if I may add a visual interpretation and a few additional remarks…because, in its own way, the tragic horror, and subsequent epic, incompetent, gross failure by the Bush administration demonstrate how history repeats.

The same folks loudly taking victim blaming to new heights ten years ago now loudly, obnoxiously, smugly…and, of course, stupidly…pin their hopes on the single person who’d be an even worse executive than Dubya: a loud-mouthed-fraud and casino magnate. You’ve got Jeb (Jeb!) flailing as haplessly as Mike Brown. Rick Santorum’s still around, spewing now and again — remember his proposal to cite and fine those, who, for whatever reason, were unable or unwilling to evacuate?

About the only piece missing, and I guess this is a slight improvement, is I can’t think of any equivalent of Dick Cheney…who, as an aside, is still in my mind the worst Veep in history…which is pretty amazing when you consider that list includes such notables as Andrew Johnson…and Aaron Burr, who only shot and killed Alexander Hamilton.

Tweets Of The Day: Texas Napoleon Returns To His Waterloo

One of the most annoying, aggravating, and irksome things about this year’s Katrinaversary is, of course, George W Bush returning to the scene of the crime. He’s about as popular here as a dead refrigerator full of rancid, rotting crab, shrimp, and crawfish. Maggots have a higher approval rating in Orleans Parish than Bush.

Two NOLA Twitteratti rather neatly summed up my un-resilient reaction to the news of Bush visiting this upcoming Friday.

I can never get enough of John Fogerty’s post-K rant and roll song, Long Dark Night, so I’ll give him the last word:

Brownie’s in the outhouse
Katrina on the line
Government’s a disaster
But Georgie, he says it’s fine

Come on,
Lord you’d better run
Be a long dark night
Before this thing is done

 

Killer Kitsch: The Hurricane Katrina Snowglobe

I was premature in saying that I wasn’t going to write anything else about Katrina 10 malakatude. I learned about this after posting on Monday. It *almost* makes the resilience tours look less tacky. Almost.

What’s an American “celebration” without a crappy, tasteless souvenir to put on the mantle?

Malakatude

Killer Kitsch Triptych.

That’s right, ladies and germs, for a mere 45 bucks you can have your very own Hurricane Katrina Snowglobe. The houses come in 4 colors and the scariest thing of all is that the order page at the web site says that the yellow house is sold out. That’s right, people are actually buying this tacky thing.

I am gobsmacked that this disgusting bit of killer kitsch is selling. It reflects the death of common decency as well as common sense. Who celebrates a disaster that killed an estimated 1,800 human beings? Some guy named Brad Maltby, consider him the de facto malaka of the week. I have no idea whether he’s a hipster trendhopper, disaster tourist, or long time resident with no taste but really dude? Making money off a tragedy? E is for exploitation. T is for tacky.

Malaka Maltby is clearly clueless. The next passage is a quote from the web site and follows an insipid “poem” by his stepfather:

Look closely, you’ll notice the blue tarp on the roof that FEMA gave out. Almost every house had one on it.

There is a red X, that EVERY house was marked with when it’s doors were smashed in and searched. There was a code that marked who entered, when, how and how many bodies were found.

Of course there is a water line, a still very visible scar of the times.

And finally the debris in the dirty water that filled all the flooded houses, about 200,000 in New Orleans alone.

The sparkles represent the strangeness of it all and the good things that would come out of it all in the future for so many people.

The target audience for this shitglobe is obviously NOT people who experienced the storm and subsequent flood. In addition to not knowing the difference between it’s and its, the explanation gets a lot of things wrong, then closes on an eerily Panglossian note about the wonders that came out of the storm.

It sounds as if Malaka Maltby didn’t experience the stench that permeated the city after the flood waters receded. It was stinky, not sparkly. If the snowglobe were even vaguely realistic, it would depict floating, bloated bodies and smell like sewage and rotting seafood. Mmm, rancid shrimp.

I blame Mayor Landrieu and the boosterazzi for this horrid bit of killer kitsch. They have set a triumphalist, celebratory tone for what should be a solemn occasion. Are they celebrating fewer poors? Repeat after me: an estimated 1,800 people died and 200,000+ houses flooded. It was bloody, costly, wet, and smelly, not sparkly.

Back to bad “poetry” theatre:

This globe is a tribute for the world to see,
A remembrance of what once used to be.
The help I received for this project a rarity.
So much I’m donating some profits to charity.
And lastly, thank the good Lord above
For giving us back the N’awlins, the city we LOVE!

The cutesy spelling of New Orleans is an indication that these idiots are, more likely than not, post-K transplants. Only the late, great broadcaster Frank Davis could get away with that. But I suspect that Frank would have taken a dim view of this loathsome bit of killer kitsch.

It doesn’t matter whether the seller’s claim that he’s donating some of the profits to charity is true or not. There’s no excuse for disaster profiteering even if it’s ten years after the storm. Malaka Maltby and everyone who purchased this appalling bit of killer kitsch should be ashamed of themselves. What’s next? A 9/11 snowglobe complete with rubble and flying corpses?

If you’d like to leave some nasty comments about this disgusting bit of killer kitsch, feel free to post on their Facebook wall. I somehow doubt if they’ll get that either. Repeat after me: Hurricane Katrina and the Federal Flood were stinky, not sparkly.

Creeps like Malaka Maltby and Mitch Landrieu inspired my friend Laura Bergerol to create this image. I’ll give her the last word:

K10 FU resilience w copyright

Redesigned by Laura Bergerol.

Katrinaversary Blues: Of Resilience Tours, Carpetbloggers & Disaster Tourists

Root Beer Blues, 2005.

Root Beer Blues, 2005. Photo by Dr. A

The hype behind the 10th anniversary of Katrina and the subsequent flood reminds me of a flock of turkey buzzards circling the city in search of carrion. I, for one, have no desire to be roadkill and plan to hide under the bed on Saturday 8/29. There are too many people with too many agendas who have seized that day, transforming it into a metaphor. All most of us have ever wanted is to get back to what passes for normality in New Orleans. I’d even take Gamaliel-style “normalcy” once I stop cringing…

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.

I mention the NOLAier than thou crowd because they, the local media, the boosterazzi, and the Landrieu administration seem to be the only New Orleanians who are intent on commemorating the Katrinaversary. The Mayor and other boosters are plugging the new, improved New Orleans, as opposed to the old and lousy version, I guess. Others think the City has gone to hell in a designer handbag since the storm. I’m somewhere in the middle BUT the fact that the Katrinaversary has its own logo and slogan is either deeply silly or obscene. I’m not quite sure which.

Katrina 10 logo

That’s what happens when your city is turned over to Yuppie gentrifiers, flacks, developers, and urban planners. Style long ago overtook substance in our recovery. City Hall is planning “resilience” tours by land, sea, and air. Hand to God, I am not making this up. I’m not sure who will take them except for the odd disaster tourist or carpetblogger. Welcome to Dizneylandrieu. Here’s what some internet smart ass had to say about it on Twitter:

Now that I’ve robustly mocked the resilience tours, I must admit that we’ve come a long way from the flooded neighborhoods and rotting refrigerators of 2005.

Cajun Tomb, 2005.

Cajun Tomb, 2005. Photo by Dr. A.

I have a recurring dream about walking the streets when they were lined with dead fridges full of rotting food, surrounded by swarms of maggots. The stench was overwhelming. The mere thought of it still churns my stomach and I do not have a delicate digestive system. What I have is another Richard Thompson earworm:

I am dreading the influx of disaster tourists who will surely be showing up in town this week. Some of them will be sincerely motivated and others will be of the “I volunteered once with Habitat for Humanity after Katrina so I know what it was like” variety. No, you don’t. You don’t know what it’s like to be barred from your home for 6 weeks and have to sneak in like Dr. A and I did. You don’t know what it’s like to have a bad case of survivor’s guilt because you didn’t fare as badly as other people in town. You don’t know what it’s like to have to re-tell your “Katrina story” over and over again. You don’t know what it’s like to be having dinner and have do-gooders burst in to save your pets because you didn’t, or couldn’t, wash the marks off your front door. Actually, neither do I but it happened to some friends of mine. It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase putting on the dog…

The aftermath of the storm was a very painful period in the lives of New Orleanians. We’ve lived it day-in and day-out for 10 years at varying levels of intensity. That’s why I’m not enthusiastic about rehashing those days regardless of whether it’s done by resilience tour types or the krewe of “we’ve gone to hell in a designer handbag.” I wish they’d all piss off and leave me alone. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

People have been in a very tetchy mood here all month. It’s made worse by all the disaster tourist journalists and carpetbloggers popping into town, taking our temperature, and putting their own spin on our story. That makes it their story, not ours. Once again, we live it every day, they’re just drive-by Katrina experts. Go bug somebody else and leave us alone.

The vile mood has spread to social media, especially NOLA Twitter. There have been a series of ugly flame wars where people question other people’s right to say anything about the storm. A woman of my online acquaintance was called an opportunist, ho, and, even worse, a newbie arriviste by some misogynist creep. Wrong. Her family came here with Bienville, as we like to say about the fine old families of New Orleans, and she rode out the storm at Tulane Hospital with a sick relative. I don’t understand the impulse to put people down when you don’t know jack shit about them. Unless, that is, they’re running for office because that’s what I do. Of course, that’s kicking up. There’s a lot of kicking down going on right now. Those folks should be kicked in the balls and serenaded by the late Harry Nilsson:

Shorter Adrastos. I will do my damnedest to stop thinking about the impending visit of the Texas Napoleon to his Waterloo and all the activities that will draw disaster tourists, carpetbloggers,  looky-loos, and NOLAier than thou wannabes to town. I may have to stop mainlining Social Media so I won’t spend the week in a state of constant aggravation. This will, hopefully, be my last word on Katrina 10. I plan to skip the resilience tours as well even though the flyover sounds kind of cool.

I originally planned to use this Winwood-Capaldi classic in the post title, but I didn’t want anyone to think I’m opposed to the NOLA smoking ban. It’s only smoke-free air but I like it. Put that in your pipe and smoke it: