Archive for March, 2008

Here is the article that mostly details a woman’s grief over the death of her niece who was found strangled in East New Orleans…

Sojourn in city ends in tragedy

Article was posted at Friday at 10:53 p.m.

And here is the message in the comments that followed…

I imagine she was tricking, smoking, begging, s**king, whatever it took to get a sandwich, a rock and an ice cold 16 oz.

Posted at 1:30 a.m.

It’s now 8:35 a.m. on Saturday. I wonder if Mary Cruel of Panama City has had a chance to read this commenter’s kind words about her murdered family member? I wonder what she thinks of New Orleans?

I wonder if either, the comment moderators are asleep at their desks or if they read the comment and let it stay as some sort of device.

Edit: As of 9:19 a.m., the comment had been removed. Which means for roughly 8 hours this dead murder victim was disparaged courtesy of an anonymous Internet poster and the venue that brought him or her to us.

The title of this post refers to:

A: A neighbor of mine’s attempt to keep mosquitoes off his neck last night.

B: A description of a shoplifting incident at my friend’s store.

c: A Mexican father’s description of his son’s attempt at breaking a pinata.

D: A description of the NOPD’s buttock searching technique.

If you chose D (the most ludicrous and absurd answer given), you win!

N.O. teen calls drug search invasive

French Quarter blogger Thom Khaler’s publishing of 8th District police reports “with embellishment, spin (and) wisecracks” has led to Edwin Hosli, commander of the 8th District, to fire off the following e-mail to those on his list:

“I believe that it is time for the 8th District to begin sending out updates directly to the citizens we serve. I will begin sending out the crime information, locations, types of crime, descriptions of wanted subjects, what arrests were made, and description of the perpetrator’s vehicle, if available. It will also give us an opportunity to continue to give crime tips and relay information to a larger segment of the community.

“I currently have 402 email addresses. I know that this is just the beginning and the email address distribution list will increase. I ask that you forward this to others in our community interested in receiving the information. Our email address is 8thdistrict@cityofno.com. I welcome all suggestions, concerns, or complaints.”

I wish my district commander would do the same. I wish all district commander’s would do the same. What I read on Nola.com is the most vague and indeterminate reports possible: “A 23 year-old male was shot on Washington Ave. around 4 a.m. this morning. Witnesses say he was seen with another man shortly before the shooting. The name of the victim is being withheld. Call Crimestoppers.”

I’ve enjoyed reading Khaler’s reports. Though admittedly, I couldn’t stand the wisecracks. If he wanted crime to be taken seriously, perhaps he could, ya know, take it seriously. It’s not hard to change “two black thugs” to “two African American suspects” or “a white dude” to “a white victim.” It’s hard to gather information when your cringing through the posts.

That critique aside, Khaler does an excellent job processing the information he intermittently receives from the 8th District. The info is all there and one can easily see where and when robberies and assaults are happening in the Quarter, Warehouse District and CBD. Of particular commendation is the section of his site that track suspects on their way through the court system. It’s a simple yet informative way that a community can keep tabs on the accused.

Funny, that Nola.com has followed Khaler’s lead andsuddenly posted 8th district crime statistics on their front page this morning.

Check Khaler’s response to Hosli’s decision here.

Ole Jay Arena (notorious among Nola bloggers for being $20 short of propriety at 2007′s Rising Tide), up and got himself arrested because he doth protest too much at the demolition of the St. Bernard projects.

Three arrested in public housing protest

Also arrested was Sharon Jasper, a woman whose photo with a large television was the first indication of a certain sense of humor operated by Times-Picayune photographers.

It’s interesting that Arena’s crashing of Rising Tide resulted in the first page of a Google search for his name to be peppered with accounts of his being willing to speak up at a conference but not willing to pay to do so.

I love, love, love Chicago Public Radio’s show This American Life. How pleased I was to hear this week’s show about the tale of Bobby Dunbar, a little boy from Opelousas who in was lost and found and lost again. Download it while you have the chance, only a few days left. If you are bored at work and have an hour to kill at your desk, download it, it is quite worth it. Then come back and tell me what you thought.
The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar
Chicago Public Radio

I was enjoying the time change by getting an afternoon bike ride yesterday and noticed the river had crept right up to the levee. I was wondering if it was unusually high right now and found this great site where you can check river levels by district and basin…
River Gauges
US Army Corps of Engineers

I just found out there is an observatory in Gretna where supposedly there are viewings on Mondays and Wednesdays if you are into that sort of thing…
Observatory in Google maps

Dear New York Times Editor Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.,

Hello from New Orleans! My name is Lance Vargas and I am a New Orleans blogger. How is everything up in Nee’ New Amsterdam? As always, it’s Heaven and Hell down here. The Mayor is an embarrassment. The Governor is starting all kinds of trouble but at least he’s keeping his pants on right? Can’t say so much for our Junior Senator though! Whoa! Hey!

The reason why I am writing is to get your advice on linking to media Web sites. See, we have a few print publications down here that have linking policies in their Terms of Service that require written permission for Nola Bloggers to link to their Web sites.

To be honest, one of the publications I myself have never linked to since it isn’t really my style of rag and the other is our alt weekly that, sadly, has become less-and-less alt and more-and-more of an advertiser over the years. I even spotted some clip art in their layout a while back! Yikes!

Anyway, since the Times has been the standard-bearer for print journalism for more than 150 years, I thought I would ask you if this a policy that the New York Times also holds? Why or why not? Why would a publication NOT want to have the readership cite it in blog posts? Is there a legal ramification if folks just decide to disregard the policy? I normally wouldn’t link to either of them but the publisher of the alt weekly often writes editorials and it seems only fair that New Orleans’ most vocal citizens provide a link to theses editorials if they choose to retort. It only saves the readers a step and the readers and after all, the readers are the most important thing.

Sorry to bother you but I wanted to go straight to the highest authority about this issue and I think you are it.

Keep up the good work and thank you for the many, many stories the paper has written about New Orleans’ recovery from the levee breeches. You guys stayed with us after many of those dastardly broadcast journalists moved on. We sure appreciate it. Send some of those Spitzer reporters down here!

Also, I am posting this letter and your response on my blog!

Sincerely,

Lance Vargas

P.S. Sorry for typing this letter in AP style. I haven’t even come close to mastering the staid and formal style of The Times. But I do capitalize all the words in my headlines just like you do! Hat tip!

I’m always elated when someone links to my blog because it is an indicator that what I wrote must mean SOMEthing. See, bloggers, like to feel as though what they toss out there is of some importance, even if it is simply an ingredient that coalesces into a larger opinion over several posts on different blogs, or even a spirited discourse among them. The point is communication, “words, words, words” as Hamlet said. Get it all out there.

Every moment the world gets more complicated (especially around these parts) and if one seeks to understand, it helps to read up. Media has grown. It’s not just print, radio, TV and documentaries anymore. Now it’s the Internet, forums and, yes, blogs.

It all works together. The more voices out there, the more likely truth will emerge. Not always the clear-cut truth but sometimes a globular shape of it. That’s what both the real journalists and us novices are all after isn’t it? That ancient romanticized search for truth?

Well, it seems two New Orleans publications have rules written into their terms of service pages that require every day folk like you and me to request permission before linking to their sites, something that seems a bit counter intuitive to everything I have ever learned about Internet marketing. I have always heard that it’s best to get your links out there, everywhere, the more the better, be RELEVANT. Even search engines use this as part of their crawler software.

What is amazing to me is that some publications (don’t want links? Fine! I won’t even mention ya!) have these policies. Especially considering that links keep this whole thing running. Back in the day before search engines, it was the ONLY thing keeping it running. The only reason I have posts, comments and readers of this blog is through links. And I am damn pleased and grateful for every last one that I receive! Thanks everybody!

Back when I was a real journalist (the paid kind, not this gratis job), I would put my heart and soul into features that never so much received a word back from the readership. Whenever I received a letter, I was again elated. It showed the information was relevant. One time on this blog I was linked by the New York Times, I could have shut the whole thing down right then and been satisfied. Even though they never asked permission. I wonder if I could sue them? I’ll call my lawyer. That’s some MONEY there!

I urge these publications to rethink their linking policies or else actively seek writers and bloggers in which to send e-mails granting permission to link in HOPES that they will receive feedback from a broader segment of the community on their journalism, like the politician is slave to the electorate, the publication is slave to its readers (the folks that read the ads and click those ad links)

Anyone who uses the media must realize no publication, newscast or blog is an island. Unless we are in Nazi Germany of course. We call that Godwin’s Law here on the Internet y’all. That’s right! The linking policy is unAmerican!

Truth and relevance are an impressionist painting. Pull back and you will see the big picture, but please don’t erase crucial posts, er, parts.

Sorry for the slow posting lately, I’m busy as a bee.

Mad plugs to go around…

- Saturday night my lovely fiancee Romy Kaye will be performing at Carrollton Station with Caleb Guillotte and Craig Caliva. Show starts at 9:30 p.m.

- Also Saturday ya boy Varg will be around the Avenue Pub area on St. Charles displaying some New Orleans folk art made from salvaged wood. There will also be an art auctionn that day to help pay the legal fees of ReX…

Donated Artwork for NoLA Rising Auction :: Michalopoulos Print- ReX (Michael Dingler)- Steve 504Whatstyle – Defend New Orleans Poster- Lance Vargas – Joy Gauss – STARHEAD – ChadMo – Ellipses – Emily Macafor – JAUG – Mojo – unknownparts – Lisa from J’anita’s – Sarah Rosedahl – DREW – Laura Skelton – JAMES DINGLER – BonuS SaveS – Miss Manou – Kid A – & Other Donations that are on their Way and will be posted once they are received…

Who: ReX and his Army that rule the night
When: Noon until that night. Auction portion of the day will end around seven or eight, but you can bid all day
What: An Art Auction and an Art Show
Where: The Avenue Pub, 1732 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans (corner of Polymnia)
Why: Why the hell not?

- And if anyone is in the French Quarter and is looking for any Vintage clothes or kitschy gifts, my friend Pat just reopened her shop the Ragin Daisy at 901 Chartres St. across from Harry’s Bar. She’s been shut since the storm but she’s back and rarin’ to go. Help a girl out and buy something up in there.

- Also Romy will be recording some music with Craig Cortello of the Metairie Cortellos that will be released soon. You can check some of the stuff they have recorded together here.

- If anyone around town meets a new girl named Alyson from California. That’s my old neighbor from San Diego. She rules!

Bye now.

Gleason retires from Saints

In the yin yangy realm of “Saints moments” you provided one of the best.

See ya ’round town I hope…

Dear Jackie,

Hello Jackie Clarkson! My name Lance Vargas and I am a resident of Algiers Point. Congratulations on being elected Council Person-At-Large. I know I voted for you! In spite of what my friends said!

I’m sorry to bother you but James Carter didn’t return the last e-mail I sent.

Anyway, I am writing about something I notice as I exit the Crescent City Connection bridge coming back from my jaunts “ova da riva.”

As I make the turn at LB Landry and General DeGaulle in my loyal Toyota Tercel “Nancy,” I see New Orleans Public Housing in two very different stages. On the left are the skeletal carcass of the old Fischer Projects, stripped concrete is all that remains of the old buildings. Oh man, how nice it will be when they are finished off and the view of our great city opens up! Also, I won’t have to worry about getting jacked up anymore! Did you know I saw a little boy peeing in the street at that corner once? I thought, “We aren’t in Kansas anymore Toto!” I also saw a little boy riding a bike without any tires! Crazy!

Anyway those days are over because on the right are the pastel-colored buildings of the new Fischer Homes project. What an inspirational success it is! I know why HANO picked it as the torch-bearer of new public housing in New Orleans. I mean, there has only been one murder there! And I don’t see too much litter on the ground like the old projects. I also check the crime maps and it seems that crime is indeed down.

I do have a concern though. As I was passing by the new development the other night I counted 19 out of the 24 lamp posts across the front of the complex were out. Yes, I know, it looks like a few of them were shot out and another seems to have been hit by a car but still, couldn’t we get some guys out there to replace the bulbs in the rest? I don’t want to start hearing any “How many HANO employees does it take to screw in a light bulb?” jokes going around town.

Anyway, just a concerned citizen wanting the best for our less fortunate citizens! I know HANO likes to use those homes as their “success story” and would hate it if anyone “ova da riva” actually drove over here and saw all those lights out.

Actually, on the subject of street lights, I notice that the Fischer Homes have more lights than my street in the Point does. Granted, I know I live on the “shootin’ side” of Opelousas but I’m on the safe side of Newton! A few more street lights would be nice. At least as much as the public housing has. I mean come on! Throw us mortgage-payers a bone over here!

Keep up the good work!

Also, I am posting this letter and your response on my blog!

Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S.: Perhaps we could come up with some sort of bullet-proof plastic or glass to encase the bulbs with? Just a thought! Ok, I admit I actually know a guy who manufactures the stuff. OK, I just met him at The Crown and Anchor one night but I’m sure I could track him down. Call me!