Archive for July, 2010

Though it looks like a very resplendent and classy venue, it is sadly not in any way an extension of this blog. But if anyone is looking, it looks like a nice spot to get hitched…

The Chicory

… an elegant venue for your New Orleans wedding ceremony and reception, features exposed beams, brick walls, and gas lanterns. Originally built in 1852 as a coffee warehouse, The Chicory has maintained its simple name with New Orleans pride.

Dear Mr. Vargas,

Thank you for your e-mail. The Councilmember asked me to follow up with you regarding this issue. We have reported it to Traffic Engineering under the Department of Public Works. If we have not received a response in one week, we will follow up with them.


Mary Cunningham
Director, Constituent Services
Office of Kristin Gisleson Palmer
Councilmember, District C

Even though I’m hungover from drinking too many of those Abita SOS beers last night, I couldn’t help but be tickled this morning by this…

Hello Kristin Palmer!

Congratulations on your election to the District C city council seat earlier this year! That’s how many in a row for Algerines?

My name is Lance Vargas and I am a found object folk artist, blogger and registered voter in your district. I am writing about a problem intersection in our district, Mardi Gras Boulvarde and Whitney Avenue. An image of the intersection is included in this e-mail. Google thinks the road is called Bringier but no one I know calls it that. Everyone just says Mardi Gras Blvd.

The issue with this crossroads is it’s the intersection of two four lane roads yet it is an all-way stop. As we all know, the law requires that the first vehicle to arrive at an all-way stop sign has right of way to proceed through the intersection. If two or more vehicles come to the intersection at the same time, each vehicle must yield to the car to his or her right. It requires a little bit of knowledge and judgment on behalf of the driver, more so than if there were a traffic signal at the intersection (cars would proceed when the signal was green), or if there were a stop sign at only one of the two 4-lane roads (cars would proceed when the roadway was clear).

The issue with this 8-lane intersection is it is harder to calculate who arrived at the intersection first when the driver has to pay attention to six other vehicles approaching the intersection. At a 4-lane intersection, it is easier to deduce who arrived at the intersection first because there are only three other vehicles to watch. With six, it is twice as hard to determine. This intersection is the only one I have every seen where there is an all-way stop for two 4-lane roads.

Further complicating matters is the amount of large vehicles that use these intersections. With the construction of both Federal City and L.B. Landry High School and the future expansion of the LSPCA and any other development that may be in store for Algiers (you probably know more about this than I do), the amount of large vehicles in addition to the bus traffic (I know of two transit lines that come through, “The Loop” being my favorite) there will likely be heavy use of the intersection for the foreseeable future. As these vehicles slowly make their way through the intersection, it is harder for drivers to see what the cars and motorcycles in the lane beside and behind them are doing. How would a driver know if a car arrived at the intersection before them if they never saw because a truck was in the way?

It should also be said that the intersection is wider than normal. Both roads are close to “Canal Street wide.” Whitney Avenue has a very large, grassy neutral ground as does Mardi Gras Boulevard. So it is that much harder to see what is happening across the way. Especially at night or in the rain.

I know before the storm there was a two-way stop sign there. If I remember correctly, the traffic on Whitney had the stop sign and traffic on Mardi Gras Blvd. was unimpeded. Then I presume the storm blew down the stop signs. A temporary all-way stop was put there and was then made permanent. That was the mistake. Hey, it was in the months following the Flood. Who can blame them? I know I was going craaaaazy (back on my meds now).

Check this out though, at the intersection of Nunez and Mardi Gras Blvd. further toward the river, there is only a two-way stop and traffic proceeds unimpeded into Gretna (a.k.a. ‘the Home Depot Trail’). This is the how the Whitney / Mardi Gras intersection could be.

I foresee a bit of a problem at the onset of the change as drivers adjust to it. This is why I recommend a traffic signal instead of just a stop sign. I know we have a budget crisis and they are more expensive but Federal City is supposed to bring 10,000 jobs to Algiers, many of these workers may choose live over the river (I don’t know why they would want to) and would use this intersection every day. Also, school-age kids from the Fischer Development on Whitney will be driving, walking or bussed to the new L.B. Landry High School and will use this intersection. So for the sake of new drivers, bus drivers and pedestrians, it may help for the City to step up and make life easier on them.

But if the budget does happen to be an issue, you may want to talk to whomever has the district that contains the intersection of S. Claiborne and Earhardt over the River. Because there is a light there where it isn’t needed. I am sure if S. Claiborne didn’t dead end there, a light would be needed but it does and the light is still there like some remnant of an era before the Superdome. So have some crews pull those out and bring them on over to Algiers and take our stops signs and put them at that intersection. That should help with the cost of materials.

You may also be able to pay for the light by putting one of those red light cameras there. People would be so confused at first it would be like installing a video poker machine! I’m kidding of course.

Fortunately, the problems caused by the intersection aren’t necessarily dangerous in nature, I’m mostly seeing fender benders, confusion, congestion and maybe some road rage. But it would be prudent for the city to correct the mistake made after the storm before traffic at the intersection increases.

I remember how frustrating it used to be to have to navigate this intersection before the morning commute. It was like an appetizer for the ensuing headache of bridge traffic! Man, I’m glad I became a folk artist! No more daily commute for me!

Anyway, just trying to help. I think a change here would be a logical next step.

Stop by and see me on Jackson Square if you ever need some folk art gifts for friends and family. I’m there on Saturdays. I’m the salvaged wood guy. The carved salvaged wood guy not the guy that paints on it. And not the bas relief carver but the abstract figures carver.


Lance “Varg” Vargas

P.S. I am posting this letter and your response on my blog
P.P.S. Say hello to Arnie Fielkow for me, he helped me out a while back with some street lights when James Carter ignored my e-mail.

Couple things seen around Jackson Square…

I’m not an expert on the Indians but this strikes me as some sort of sacrilege? What I am hoping is either this is a fella who has somehow gotten himself an Indian costume and is freelancing on Jackson Square or he is a former Indian who is down on his luck and trying to use the growing popularity of the Indians and their imagery to make a little extra dough. I have also seen full Mardi Gras Indian costumes for sale on Lower Decatur street.

Update: More insight  here and here. Thanks DSB Nola

Also, the public hatred of BP could be uplifting for French Quarter T-shirt shops…

Professor: Low pressure reading may suggest well has lost power

Okay, so I think I understand this. May not need help from the experts.

One possibility is the well may have deflated over time and isn’t as powerful as it once was. Like when you have to pee real bad and at first it all comes out fast and then slows down to drip.

The other is that the well is damaged below the surface and pressure is dropping because the oil is leaking from another point under the seafloor and “into the rock formation surrounding it” which sounds a little awful and hard to cap. Perhaps the relief well would stop that if it is at a lower point on the first well than the hypothetical breech. Not sure if that’s correct. I’m not an expert.

In reference to the depleted well, a man by the name of Don Van Nieuwenhuise and the title of Director of the Professional Geoscience Programs at the University of Houston said…

I don’t think it’s a cause for immediate concern, because it could reflect a natural loss of oil in the resevoir. It’s amazing that it has held its strength for as long as it has.

Or in other words, “That thing sure spit out a lot erl didn’t it? Didn’t expect it would go THAT long.”

I hate to say “best yet” but this year’s Rising Tide is looking more and more stellar as it comes together.

And it isn’t because it will be on the 5th anniversary of the Flood and not because we are (along with the entire Gulf Coast) in the midst of another disaster this one too the fault of men.

And it isn’t because after five years the committee that put the whole thing together is more experienced and skilled at putting on a show.

It’s going to be a good show because the content really rocks.

A few of the panels are still coming together and a few more are already looking to be pretty snappy

I was very intrigued with Tim Ruppert’s RT2 presentation “In Levees We Trust” on hundred-year flood protection. In fact I have repeated many of his key points over and over again when arguing with jerkys about New Orleans’ levees versus Netherlands’ Delta Works I walked away from it feeling like I had some vital tools to discuss flood issues in New Orleans.I have used those tools many times discussing New Orleans with outsiders.

So this year’s discussion “‘Why Can’t We Get Some Dam Safety in New Orleans?’” has me intrigued. From the Rising Tide Web site…

Engineer and NOLA Blogger Tim Ruppert exposes inequities between the Federal government’s design methods for dams and levees. … This year Tim expands upon that topic and asks why dams and levees alike are not designed as life safety systems.

So that’s going to be awesome. I have always been impressed with Tim. Merely because it takes testicular fortitude to work for The Corps and hang around New Orleans bloggers. I must impart though that his RT5 presentation will be as a private citizen and not as a member of the ACOE. Either way, I can’t wait.

I’m also very excited about Maitri’s “Down in the Treme” Panel. Mostly because even though the show has been thoroughly dissected cell by cell, episode by episode at the Back Of Town blog, this will be the first discussion where fans, creators and critics will all converge to discuss the show. Full list of panelists is below. I will take this opportunity to petition Eric Overmyer for a return of Anwan Glover’s character next year. We love ya Slim!<

Maitri Erwin
Maitri is a geoscientist, blogger and all-around technology geek. She is the founder of Back of Town: Blogging Treme, author of Maitri’s VatulBlog and reporter for She is also Indian Languages advisor to Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free electronic books.

Eric Overmyer
Eric is co-creator and executive producer of ‘Treme.’

Becky Northcut
Becky is most likely better known to NO bloggers as VirgoTex, and she will answer to either name. In addition to being one of two non-NOLA ringers blogging Treme at Back of Town, she sometimes writes about pop culture, the environment, and politics at, so she’s practically a digital cousin to some in the NO online community. She created the short-lived Got that New Package! blog about The Wire, and was lucky enough to share that obsession with Ashley Morris and Ray Shea, among others. She is a queer, a naturalist, a music lover, and a Texan, none of which she had any choice about.

Dave Walker
Dave has been TV columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune since September 2000. Before that, he worked as TV columnist and pop culture writer for the Arizona Republic, and before that he was a feature writer and columnist for the Phoenix alternative weekly New Times. Born in Kansas City, raised in Chicago. His American Rock ‘n’ Roll Tour, the first guide to pop music landmarks, was published by Thunder’s Mouth Press in 1992.

Davis Rogan
Davis is a New Orleans musician who began his broadcast career on WTUL at the age of 10, and was a DJ at WWOZ for 13 years. He first came to prominence in the New Orleans music scene with his eight piece funk group All That, for which he was lead singer, band leader, principal songwriter, arranger and producer. Davis is also script consultant for Treme and makes periodic appearances on the show.

Lolis Eric Elie
Lolis Eric Elie is a staff writer for Treme. His television work includes include Faubourg Treme, the PBS documentary directed by Dawn Logsdon. He was also a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune for 14 years.

Check the Rising Tide Web site’s program page for more info on the fledgeling politics, public safety and environmental panels. There are going to be some more names added to them very as soon as they are finalized.

Oh and there is supposed to be a helluva keynote speaker this year as well.

Perhaps it may even be good enough to get Judy B there? I’m calling you out girl!

… on right now.

- Top story is an AP article on the BP cap.

- Next is a news comment that was copied and pasted and turned into an opinion piece. A practice that is more and more common on the site these days. Whoa! Hey! There’s Cousin Pat! Ooo wee! You should get $35 for that!

- Below that is another AP story but this one doesn’t have a local connection.

- Then there is just a fancied up link to the obit page (something else they have been doing more and more).

- Next is just a round-up of links to stories about the Danziger Bridge case. They must have stole this idea from The Chic.

- The news in the next hed is that another outlet is writing a story about our current Mayor.

- And then another comment turned opinion piece.

Hopes high for cap on well, but testing delayed

Maitri or Clay or anyone else, I’m reading this article and, really, I am skimming the whole thing trying to get to the part about the relief wells, which I have been told over and over again is the “real solution.” So I find them at the bottom of the article and there is a paragraph that confounds me and I need some help with it.

Wells said work on the first relief well, expected to be completed in August, was delayed while officials prepare for the integrity test out of an abundance of caution. It is possible, though unlikely, that shutting in the well as part of the integrity test could cause the back side of the relief well to be blown out, Wells said.

I am supposing correctly that the relief well must be close enough to the first well (feet? inches?) so that the pressure applied by capping the wellhead would be enough to blow out the side of the well into the first relief well? And if so, then what happens?

Even though I got all Doomsday last week, there’s nothing like a smattering of bullshit to get one’s head back on straight. I can’t help but post my favorite phrases from this story I read recently. (HT-Kim)

The author does use many citations throughout the story but most of them are based on findings that don’t have anything to do with the current crisis and are about extinction events that occurred millions of years ago. Yes, I am sure these events could have happened. But they happened without us. I understand he is trying to equate the two scenarios but he only cites two current reports regarding the Gulf oil leak.

He also uses the following phrases in the story…

“Ominous reports”
“may be happening”
“may have triggered”
“Word is”
“Reports, filtering through”
“Some claim”
“A report from one observer”
“Most experts in the know”

Those are the extent of attributions for the bulk of what he is basing his story on. Pretty ballsy considering he is writing about the end of humankind. And not in some abstract manner either.

For the real Doomsday stuff, the author just writes hypothetically like he is scripting a Michael Bay movie. Going into detail describing the death clouds and tsunamis.

But hey, it’s just the end of civilization. Frankly, if I gots to go, I would rather it be with the rest of you. Because I don’t want to miss a thing.

Edit: Looks like I’m not the only one making Michael Bay references. Besides, in Armageddon, the Oil Drillers saved the Earth, they didn’t destroy it.