Archive for May, 2008

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Someone’s ride got caught in the rising river.

Other aftermath photos below…

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Whoa! Arnie responds with quickness and copies the HANO contact.

Thanks!…..I am going right to the source by asking my hano contact to review and respond. Darren please do so! All the best varg!

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Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Device

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Hello Arnie Fielkow!

My name is Lance “Varg” Vargas and I am a local folk artist and blogger. I am writing to you today because I have a simple question. What do you do when a light bulb goes out in your house? Change it right? Next to mowing the lawn or buying groceries, it is a simple household chore that folks all over the world partake in.

So I was wondering what was going on at Fischer Homes over in my district, the Fighting Fourth? I wrote to Jackie Clarkson about it a while back and didn’t hear back from her. I know she’s busy. So instead of hounding her and seeming like a real weirdo, I thought I would just move on up the ladder and the buck stops at you right? I’d ask James Carter but he doesn’t return my e-mails either.

Sorry, I got off track complaining about correspondence. See, all the lightbulbs have gone out across the front of the Fischer development. Probably many of the ones inside too but I couldn’t really say as all I can see is from the road. Lined up across the front are lamposts with large glass bulbs and inside all the lights have gone out. I mean all of them across the front. Back when I wrote to Jackie, there were four still lit but now they are all out. Shame too as they are nice and look expensive. I remarked to Jackie that one of them looked like it wa shit by a car and noticed that has been fixed.

I would really just chalk the whole thing up to the “Care Forgot” asthetic of my beutifully entropic city but there is soemthing that doesn’t sit right with me about it.

See, back in Decemeber, I recall the development being touted as the future of New Orleans housing in lieu of the previous “Big 4″ structures across the city, but now we can’t even get it together to do change the lightbulbs. If there wasn’t going to be any effort put into the new public housing, I can’t see why anyone would have voted to tear down the old stuff.

I know you aren’t in chage of HANO but how about getting on the horn and getting someone down there?

If poor upkeep and maitenance is the future then it sounds a whole lot like the past! Whoa! Hey!

Also, tell Jackie that I forgive her for for not writing me back in March. She probably thought I was crazy! Tell her I’m not crazy, I’m just a blogger!

Keep up the good work on the council and I’ll see YOU in the Mayor’s race for 2010 right? Right? Ha! I’m messin with ya!

Rejoice!

Varg

P.S. I’m posting this letter and your response on my blog at www.thechicory.com.

Jeffrey has one of the qualities I most admire in a person and a conversationalist – an unwavering devotion to critical thought. This is often challenged on at least a weekly basis in his comment sections and sometimes he changes his original stance and sometimes he doesn’t. Whichever the case, I read his blog everyday because I know I am not reading something equivalent to a mob mentality.*

So with that said, I am sure he will appreciate it when I disagree with on a fundamental level his assessment that Nagin’s aids racking up more than $150,000 on city expense accounts paid for by the taxpayers is somehow less of an issue than the botched 311 story that ran on WWL last week. He called the former story “shrill sensationalism of explainable petty bullshit” and said it would make future criticism of valid issues less effective. How it would make them less effective is not addressed. Not even in the comments.

Even without the details (and yes the amount of money involved is disproportionate) of either story being taken in to consideration, what he’s doing is playing a zero-sum game. Just because focus is placed on one issue, it doesn’t mean it is immediately withdrawn from another. Rather, both the stories are the same, government waste of taxpayer money in the Mayor’s office. They both count to that point. One counts toward waste via incompetence and/or cronysm, the other toward waste via smoothies and Morton’s steaks.

As a voter who is growing increasingly wary of government waste on all levels, both stories were incendiary. Here’s why the local media did an excellent job communicating the same general issue via two stories. The 311 story connects with an analytical, connected readership, those (like the mob of bloggers) who examine and keep an eye on many of the office’s business deals. And with each of these people I imagine there are a few others who rely on them for local scuttlebutt, people with whom they get together with on a porch or at a coffee shop and carry on about what’s happening in the city. Then those people have a few others and the story gets spread around. The Fourth Estate has accomplished its task.

The Morton’s story connects with those same people but also a lesser informed (and by this I don’t mean stupid) readership who can quickly relate to government officials running up expense accounts on the taxpayer’s dime via meals at fancy restaurants. It has the ability to reach a lot of people who may not know the inner dealings of 311 but can easily imagine outrageous expenses on a credit card. It’s a quick, sexy story, yes. But it isn’t a straw man. It is the same story communicated in two ways to two different portions of citizenship.

Local media’s responsibility ends once the message is delivered. It is up to the citizenship to act upon it. How we proceed is entirely up to us. I am guilty of simply sitting here and lamenting how outrageous the whole thing is and then doing nothing but blogging and hoping 2010 gets here soon.

I am particularly pissed at myself for the whole Home Depot deal a few weeks back. Sure, the Mayor’s office would feed the same bullshit over and over again but what about The Home Depot? Couldn’t a publicly traded big box store have some sort of responsibility toward its shareholders for conducting questionable business deals with 18 year old kids? I should have wrote to the company and investigated a little more but then true life came in and it slipped away.

I suppose the larger point is that whether the Mayor is inept or corrupt, he seems to be wasting a ton of taxpayer money. So long as that message is communicated clearly to the citizenship by the local media, it shouldn’t matter how, or in what context, it is done.

That said, I will do my best to tell anyone who will listen about how tossed-up the 311 contract is.

*This cyber collective consciousness is actually the dirty little secret about ours and many other “blogospheres.” By nature, they are often comprised of like-minded people writing about like-minded subjects. So once a truth (by this I mean something accepted as truth, right or wrong) gets released into the program, it stays there until, like Newton’s law, something acts upon it to change it.

He thinks Hillary Clinton’s campaign is still alive and Tim Russert’s dad is dead.

I heard him say it and thought, “Oh, I didn’t know Big Russ died.” Come to find out he is very much alive and in a Barcolounger somewhere.

And speaking of mortality, check this blog about things that are younger than John McCain…

Things younger than Republican Presidential candidate (oh, and did I forget to mention “war hero”?) John McCain

…look like no levees to me!

Brad Pitt outweirds lover Angelina with the strangest tattoo yet

Brad’s unusual back tattoo comprises groupings of horizontal black lines, with bizarre boxed shapings below.

The strangest combination appears to be inspired by a map of the levees in New Orleans, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 when the systems failed.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

- Ya boy Varg will be peddling salvaged wood folk art tomorrow from 12 – 5 at the Freret Market Uptown. He will have a clearence basket where items that need to be moved will be sold from $5 on up. Come by and just say hi as many bloggers before you have. Twenty percent of all profits from tomorrow go to the Morris Fam so come on out.

- Or if ya can’t make it out that Early, my girl Romy Kaye will be singing at Carrollton Station around 9:30 and will be followed by a nice funk band so y’all can check us there. I’ll buy any one who reads these words a beer. If ya wanna taste of Romy’s voice, check it here.

- Oooorrr, if ya don’t feel like even screwin’ around with Uptown, check Sexxy Rexxy’s Paint Party in the heart of the Marigny/ By water area all day long. I’d be there myself if I wasn’t at that other event. Details are copied and pasted below…

NoLA Rising presents it’s fourth ever PAINT PARTY.

In association with the St. Claude Arts District, we’ll be out in the Marigny at 2833 Dauphine on Saturday, May 10th, 2008 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. painting our happy little booties off.

Afterwards, while some of us scruffy, paint people clean up, there will be a cocktail viewing of the pieces made that day from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at XO STUDIOS… conveniently next door to the park. Ranger Dave is making sure there will be other events surrounding the studio for those too timid to paint and would prefer to art watch. Afterwards, go out into the St.

Claude Art world and enjoy the blossoming art scene at so many of the other nearby galleries, for more information, go to http://www. scadnola. com

OTHER INFO IF YOUR UNFAMILIAR WITH THE PAINT PARTY CONCEPT (please feel free to read out loud in your best 1950′s television RED SCARE imitation):

What is this paint party people yap about so much, there MACK? We’re not having a paint party to paint anyone’s house…we’re getting together and making a day of community art. Come on out, see what is happening and join us for painting a small piece of artwork.

Why? Why not! But if you’re looking for a better answer than that Little Johnny…the why is that we here at NoLA Rising headquarters (located in sunny and humid New Orleans) are going to be collaborating with four other cities to have an “IT’s YOURS, TAKE IT” public art event.

Public Art Event? Don’t we have museums for that? Why yes, Sally, we do. But the point is to have art on the streets for the ordinary passer-by to take home one piece if so desired. Already, over twenty-five artists from around the world have signed up and we thought we’d include the New Orleans art community in this wonderful opportunity to showcase their work. And I know what you’re thinking…someone’s going to get greedy and take a lot more than just one. Fear not, security will be provided by some of the most unscrupulous talents of the Marigny/Bywater area for those who get too greedy. For this is not the neighborhood where greed is rewarded.

So, what’s the catch anyhow Beaver? The only catch is that you have to show up. We’re not the judgmental type. Come and make what you can. The only caveat is that we may need more paint and ask that you bring enough for you and your neighbor to use. Rex has gotten some donated in the past from the very generous National Art & Hobby on Magazine Street, but there’s no guarantee those supplies can last. Rex usually comes out of pocket himself for the paint, but seeing as he’s been working as a full time artist the last three months, his budget is pretty much gone. What he’s got, he’s got to share though.

The “IT’s YOURS, TAKE IT” event will be announced later, but it will be the second Saturday in June and it’s location will remain a state secret until such time as necessary. It will only be advertised by word of mouth, small handbills, and this blog.

C’mon out for the next paint party on Saturday, May 10th. We’re getting at lot mo’ better at putting these things together. We’re actually going to try and get food guys lined up to be there in case we get the hunger. So, GRAB YOUR PAINT if you got some and shake that tale on over to where we’ll be at.

We welcome anyone who want to enjoy the spirit of New Orleans community!

U.S. envoy: Myanmar deaths may top 100,000

The very obvious thing to think in light of so many dead is to realize the minimal damage sustained here. But it’s hard to do that even though the numbers speak for themselves. It’s unconscionable to compare victims of disasters yet it is almost the first thing that pops into many people’s heads. It happens instantly. Comparisons between Louisiana and Mississippi, comparisons between fires in San Diego and floods in New Orleans. People do it all the time, not saying it’s right. Not saying we shouldn’t fight to build adequate flood protection. Not saying we shouldn’t demand better and more.

Though it does cause one to stop and think (once again) how thankful he should be to live in a developed country. Not so much America or the West (because there is a strong stigma attached to bragging about one’s country though it happens all the damn time), but simply living in a country that is developed socially, economically and structurally. Perhaps this flies in the face of images during Katrina that showed flooded victims standing on their roofs but, they had roofs to stand on and for many, those roofs saved their lives.

Hurricane Katrina swept through a heavily populated delta region the same as Cyclone Nargis swept through the Irrawaddy Delta. Is there a Weather Channel there? Contraflow? Mandatory Evacuations? Comfort Inns? Fema? Army Corps of Engineers?

All the recessions, crooked politicians, dead fetuses, foreclosures, high gas prices and crime rates here in the West pale in comparison to Myanmar. Aid in New Orleans came late at the expense of lives but it did indeed come.

I’m not trying to take the “better them than us” path here. I just wish, as I hear daily about how awful it is here in the United States (often from media and on the Internet but sometimes from friends), that people would realize the percentile in which many of us live within.

Often I feel like a fortunate son.

To follow up the binary videos featured below, here are binary images to conclude binary posts featuring binary media files.

Famous image of Lee Harvey Oswald that convicted him in many people’s eyes after the Kennedy assassination…

And…

Image of Clarence Johnson on the front page of Nola.com…

It may help the prosecution if they show this photo as many times as possible during the trial.

DISCLAIMER: Not saying either of these gentlemen are innocent or guilty, just noting the effect of media.

When “New Orleans” is entered into YouTube and the search is sorted by relevance. This video appears first.

Second? Bounce baby bounce!

It’s been blogged about before but it needs to be blogged about again. I am a huge mark for the NPR show “This American Life.” There is something about the content, production, music, narration and theme that speaks right down into my tender little soul and touches it in sentimental ways.

So, to give a little back to this great radio show that plays on WWNO from 5-6 on Sundays, I wanted to post that there will be a live This American Life event at two Greater New Orleans theaters in the area tonight.

AMC Westbank Palace 16
1151 MANHATTAN BLVD
HARVEY, LA 70058
(504) 263-2298

AND

AMC Elmwood Palace 20
1200 ELMWOOD PARK BLVD
HARAHAN, LA 70123
(504) 733-2029

Buy Tickets Now!

And if you can’t make the events, make sure you check this great episode that you can stream…

352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

In 1912 a four year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. (The picture at left was taken just days later.) In 2004, his granddaughter discovered a secret beneath the legend of her grandfather’s kidnapping, a secret whose revelation would divide her own family, bring redemption to another, and become the answer to a third family’s century-old prayer. We devote our entire episode to the story.

They also have a Katrina episode that I haven’t yet listened to so I can’t vouch for…

296: After the Flood

Surprising stories from survivors in New Orleans. We give people who were in the storm more time than daily news coverage can to tell their stories and talk about what they’re thinking. This leads to a number of ideas that haven’t made it into the regular news coverage.

Prologue.

Host Ira Glass talks about something he read that seemed to put an end to all debate over one of the key issues swirling around right now. He checks with William Nichelson, author of the books Emergency Response and Emergency Management Law and Homeland Security Law and Policy, to see if he’s correctly understanding the issue. (5 minutes)

Act One. Middle of Somewhere.

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, Denise Moore was trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center with her mom, her niece, and her niece’s two-year-old daughter. There, she witnessed acts of surprising humanity by armed thugs, taking charge and doing good. (15 minutes)

Song: ” When the Levee Breaks,” Memphis Minnie

Act Two. Forgotten, But Not Lost.

To find out more about the bridge Denise talked about in act one and the armed police who prevented pedestrians from crossing, This American Life producer Alex Blumberg talks with Lorrie Beth Slonsky and her husband Larry Bradshaw. They’re paramedics from San Francisco who were visiting New Orleans for a convention when Hurricane Katrina hit. After the storm, they tried to escape the city in a number of ways. When they tried to leave the city on foot, they were told, at gunpoint, by police, that they must turn back. We also hear from Debbie Zelinsky, who was with them. (17 minutes)

Song: “Walking to New Orleans,” Fats Domino

Act Three. Social Studies Lesson.

We compare Fox TV talk show host Bill O’Reilly’s ideas about the hurricane’s aftermath with those of Ashley Nelson, an 18-year-old who lives in the Lafitte Housing projects in New Orleans, in one of the flooded neighborhoods. Among other things, she explains what it feels like to go without food and water for two days. (5 minutes) Ashley is the author of an amazing book called The Combination, about her neighborhood in New Orleans. Contact The Neighborhood Stories Project for information on getting a copy.

Song: ” Them That Got,” Ray Charles

Act Four. Diaspora.

Hundreds of thousands of Gulf residents evacuated before the storm and followed the whole thing from afar. Cheryl Wagner left for Gainesville, Florida, where her friends advised her to buy a gun and a mean dog before returning home to New Orleans. (4 minutes)

Act Five. Displaced Persons Camp.

In August 2004, Hurricane Charley devastated parts of Florida. Afterwards, FEMA built a trailer park to provide immediate temporary housing for those who’d lost their homes in the storm. More than a year later, over 500 trailers are still there — and in them, more than a thousand people with nowhere else to go. Just this week in the New York Times, a FEMA official said that the kinds of mobile homes found in Punta Gorda may become “the standard” for those left without homes due to Hurricane Katrina. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak talked to the park’s residents to see how things are going and talk about their prospects for moving on a year later. (5 minutes)
Songs: “Sitting in Limbo,” Jimmy Cliff; and “Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” Louis Armstrong and his Dixieland Seven