Sunday, August 31, 2008

For the first time ever, I configured my cell to accept my on-the-road text messages for my first-ever evacuation from the path of a storm. The results are on my Twitter link, marked "from txt". Many, many other members of the blogpocheh are scattered to Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, north Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Chicago, even New York City! A few folks have chosen to stay behind, and I wish them all the luck in the world. It is my deepest hope that we will all be able to gather together once again, face to face, without a storm to scatter us all once again.

I took one look at my parents' big galoot of a dog earlier, who seemed concerned about our dog, who is decompressing in my parents' laundry room with a comfy dog bed of her own, her food and water, and all the time in the world to herself. She hasn't barked yet for us to let her out - she needs this peace. "I know you're worried," I said to Max, who looked up at me inquiringly when we called him back from the laundry room door. "She needs some time, big baby. Let her be. She's been in the car for a while."

I then teared up when I realized I could just as easily have been describing myself and the many others like me who are having to flee their homes at this time.

My advice to all of you who are harboring the Gustav diaspora: let us be for a bit. Listen to us - we need to vent about difficulties such as contraflow insanity, serious problems with the city's 311 line, worries about what we might have left behind, whether it be stuff or good, good friends, and/or how exhausted we all are. Make sure we have roofs over our heads. Don't bring up 8-29-05 unless we bring it up first.

We need time. This is still a period of hurry up and wait.

And it hurts.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thursday, August 28, 2008


My son's school is having early dismissal tomorrow.

The New Orleans Institute's New Orleans Speaks conference has been postponed until October.

My parents called us up when they were mostly drunk on their thirtieth anniversary to tell us to head for their home regardless of whether or not the composer menace was coming our way. My grandparents called us up soon after and, after reminding us that it was my parents' thirtieth anniversary, wanted to make sure that we were okay.

My religious school teachers' meeting has been cancelled - it was to have been held on Sunday evening, complete with a dinner. We will now be grabbing our materials tomorrow instead.

And finally, the one thread that tied us to whether or not we would be evacuating has been severed. Yep, you guessed it - the pancake breakfast my husband just had to be at because he was gonna be flipping the flapjacks on Sunday morning has been cancelled. We're a free family now.

So gee, what else is there to do now that the National Hurricane Center and its projections have paralyzed our Labor Day weekend in these parts?

Well, I've still got choir practice tonight...and perhaps, at some point, I may sneak in to this again. Heh.

And then, it's still wait and see...

*looks side to side*

No Jim Cantore yet. I think we're okay for now.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, I am here to ease everyone's sanity just a tad in the face of that cone of uncertainty presented by our watery composer menace Gustav out there in the Gulf.

No, I am not going to tell everybody to stay put and trust in our levees.

Everyone should go on as normally as they possibly can with this sword of Damocles over our heads. Take your kids to school and head to work, but gas up your cars, get your water and batteries, take out all your garbage, clean out your fridges, and work on battening down some hatches and anything in your yards that could potentially become flying debris. And y'all go say hi to E while you're at it. He's uneasy, poor baby.

Sure, the mayor is heading back from his superdelegate duties in Denver a tad early to try to be a concerned leader. That's his job, and he'd better do it. I have a more pressing matter to call to the public's attention.

Have you seen this man?

His m.o. ...errr, personality profile... states that When he shows up, you know the weather is going to get interesting.

Damn right it's gonna get interesting. Let's see...what else can his profile share with those of us who might end up fleeing for our very lives?

Like many weather enthusiasts, Jim has a great respect for the weather. "We want to inform our viewers about the potential impact of the weather events so they can protect their property and most importantly their lives, but, we don't want to become the story. We locate ourselves close enough to the action to help viewers understand the severity of the weather, before during and after the storm."

In other words, folks, forget the Walking Id coming back to New Orleans to hole up in a now-empty Hyatt if/when disaster strikes.

If you see Jim "Chaos" Cantore walking the streets of this city, RUN as far and as fast as you can. Period.

Be well. And don't panic.


Everybody, click on the image above to register and see the itinerary. Go!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I am tired and wired. My brain is fried, still. But before I slip off into exhaustion oblivion for a few days, I need to address some...

Rising Tide Randomness

Thursday - Yeah, this is what happened to me on Thursday. In the midst of all the bloviating I mentioned a certain article in their series called "Bad Parent" entitled "96 Degrees In The Shade", concerning a mom who took her preschool-aged son to the Burning Man festival. When I saw this in my email and read through it, I instantly thought of two things:

- A number of the commenters on the article had probably never seen Malcolm In The Middle. Then again, maybe they have...

- If taking your kids to festivals of any kind is being a bad parent, then New Orleans has got to be the center of insane mommies, daddies, and guardians. Cases in point - JazzFest, and of course, the granddaddy of 'em all, Mardi Gras. Need I say more? Ladies and gents, taking your kids to festivals in a responsible manner will only be enriching, enlightening, and...yes, fine, ultimately tiring, but in a good way. Don't completely knock it until you've tried it.

Friday - I took one look at the giant poster our printing and swag guru Mominem made by mistake and knew that it needed a giant crane to accompany it. Sheckrastos' lovely spouse Dr. A has given the crane a good home. If anyone else needs lessons in massive origami, please feel free to contact me.

I headed over to Dangerblond's to keep Sophmom from having a nervous breakdown over the name tags and the registration for the conference...and just in time, too, since she nearly had this fellow's blog marked as "barks, bugs, bites, and lizards". Best kept secret about Rising Tide is that doing the registration and the name tags is actually fun - I was also in on it because I like hangin' in faux Metry with the ladies there and because, even though printing out the tags is hard work, the person with the registration has the power of knowing who everybody attending is and how many of 'em are coming. Dismiss us at your peril. We know the secret identities and the skeletons in the virtual closets and we could tell you, but then we'd have to kill you.

After helping Sophmom avert potential disaster, I changed into a flowery outfit in honor of this occasion and decided to see how the protest at the Ritz was going. I circled the block, observed a few protesters still hanging on outside the entrance to the hotel, and then unsuccessfully tried to squeeze my husband's car into a potential parking spot on Dauphine Street. I gave up after one too many people walking by just shook their heads in amazement at the exercise in futility that was my sad attempt at parking the car in a postage stamp on the street and headed over to Buffa's Lounge for the Friday night meet & greet. It was there that I got to chat with Cliff a great deal, finally met with Kevin Allman but forgot to ask him why author Patty Friedmann calls him a sweet babboo (I think I finally got the idea anyhow after talking with him for a bit.), met Amy Lafont for the first time as well as Kelly, Allen of unapologetic and Dorophoria, and many, many other people, and got to reconnect with other blogging yahoos such as myself.

A couple of highlights of the party were Jeffrey getting a beer from Clancy DuBos, The City's Inspector General Robert Cerasoli making an appearance at the party and staying into the wee hours of the morn listening to so, so many folks (I left with Maitri at 12:30-ish in the AM and he was still there), Karen and Sarah coming in to Buffa's like conquering heroines straight from the Ritz protest, and the discovery of a little known maze of Jewish Geography that connects E and I faster than six degrees of separation could even think of doing...

...His current employer grew up two houses down from my grandparents' house on LonGuyland, and the employer's younger sister and I would play together whenever I would come to visit my grandparents. The world is only shrinking as I get older, it seems.

More tomorrow about other Rising Tide randomness. The rest of the NOLA blogpocheh are freaking out about the latest storm to develop at the edge of the Gulf, Gustav Mahler.

Jeffrey wasn't aFayed, but now I'm getting disGustav'd. Freaking hurricane season...

Oh, and I really really DO NOT WANT New Orleans to go through again what it went through three years ago just to tank the Republican candidate in this upcoming presidential election. It is not worth having all us New Orleanians descend on columnist Will Bunch's home for a month-plus stay while the levees breach again (suggestion is Ray's). The GOP is perfectly capable of tanking this one on their own without the assistance of an active hurricane season, thanks.

(alerted to this one by E)

Monday, August 25, 2008


Rising Tide needs your INPUT!

Attention Rising Tide attendees!

We need your feedback on this year's conference!

Please head to the "Contact" section of and drop us an email, or leave your comments for us beneath this post.

They will be greatly appreciated and carefully considered.

Thanks again for making this year's conference the best yet!

Please spread the word and let everybody know where to go to contribute.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Notes From The Front Table (begun 8-23, 9:47 AM)

Cape Girardeau, Missouri was where the land once began and the Gulf of Mexico ended. John Barry takes it from there and emphasizes that, geologically, the land that developed into what is now the Mississippi delta is a young land. Through man's damming of the shores of the Mississippi River, sediment running through the waters from the Missouri River has quit depositing itself into the edge of Louisiana's wetlands and instead flows right into the bottom of the Gulf.

Rising Tide was not originally Barry's title for his book on the 1927 flood, but he thinks a great one these days for the issues he deals with is"You Still Don't Know About Katrina". Daaaaamn right.

OMG! I shook hands with Christian Roselund! Okay, end of squee...

Barry emphasizes in the Q & A that darn near every international port is below sea level. Death Valley doesn't make a good port because it apparently has a pretty good levee system.

Some facts: In 1927, then-President Calvin Coolidge didn't care to come to the flooded regions of the Mississippi delta or even lend a hand to fundraise for relief for the victims of the flood, but Herbert Hoover, that "brilliant fool" of an engineer, reacted faster to the crisis that Mike "Heckuva Job, Brownie" Brown did to the aftermath of the levee breaches in 2005.

"Sooner or later a hurricane is gonna come along that will wipe New Orleans off the face of the is possible to protect it, but you've got to make the investment."

Shortly after I began this, I got tied up in the minutiae of registrations and sales of swag, and then I shuffled off for a bit to the education panel...and things snowballed far, far away from my CompUSA Special. Time flies when you're having fun at Rising Tide. Just head over to Maitri's for your up-to-the-moments fixes. I'm NOT done with this yet, however. More to come.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Note to all concerning Humid City:

To all,

If anyone is willing I greatly appreciate it if you would be kind enough to post something for me, an announcement that HumidCity istemporarily down while we wait for the domain transfer to propagate. The site is currently showing as down, but it will be back up again in just a few days. I really appreciate it hugely.-- George "Loki" Williams

In other words, pass it on. Humid City will be back up and running soon.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

God bless Varg.

He got Sheckrastos and I to do a radio talk show - Eric Asher's over at WIST 690 AM - at about 1:30 in the afternoon today to chat up Rising Tide. I've called in to radio shows before, but have never been in a sound booth with a fuzzy mic in my face. You can listen to the aftermath of our time on the air here, beginning about 22 minutes in.

First off, Eric is a sweetheart for having us blogheads on his show, and he's pretty savvy about what's being put out there by the NOLA blogpocheh. He mentioned Bayou St John David's The Nagin Files as a particular fount of information that he draws upon regularly, and he was an all-around great host.

On listening to the podcast, though, I've noticed a few things:

-I sound like my mom. I'm also laughing so much, people might think that my corner of the booth was full of nitrous oxide. Sorry 'bout the giggles, guys.

-Somebody in this town better hire Varg full time, dammit, and pay him well. We forgot to fully recognize him as the webmaestro of the RT site. At least I pointed out the stirring gothic beauty that is The Chicory over the airwaves. And if not a single one of these awesome flyers of his makes its way to the people's penthouse on Friday night, something ain't right with the world.

-Adrastos needs his very own talk show. His personality cannot be contained in an Ed McMahon-ish role opposite Eric Asher's Johnny Carson. Somebody, get the man a sound booth and some airtime so's he can reveal the mysteries of those who are Naked On Roller Skates.

-Eric brought up Ashley Morris, and in our race for superlatives to best describe Harry Shearer's favorite mime, we forgot to mention the first-ever Ashley Morris awards, which will be presented at the Zeitgeist on Saturday near the end of the day.

When all is said and done, if nobody else registers for RT III after this, then I'll have to whip out some Jewish mother-style guilt on y'all.

"It's all right. I'll just sit here by the glow of my laptop, blogging away for you. And only for you."

Problem is, that sounds too much like a come-on. Just register already!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Not only will there be some superkewl shitrs...errr...shirts designed by Greg Peters available at the Rising Tide conference, there will also be *drum roll please*

...matching koozies to insulate your beverage!

It's not too late to register.

Over at Gambit's Blog of New Orleans this morning: The Prejudice Engine

Yes, I'm tooting my own horn. But I'm also taking the opportunity to add some supplementals (slight emphasis on "mental" - myself included).

Every RSD-labeled post at E's neck of the woods.

Editor B's account of the meeting concerning Lindy Boggs Medical Center as the site for the VA. Key observation:

Before the public comment, a number of officials spoke, but the person who made the biggest impression on me was Ed Blakely, the Recovery Czar. I was really taken aback by his comments. He basically said if the Lindy Boggs site was chosen, the VA would get no help from the City of New Orleans. His office will provide assistance for one site only: the “preferred site” in lower Mid-City. In other words, the City will help take land through eminent domain and raze acres of historic neighborhood — but won’t provide any assistance if the VA decides to build on the site of an old hospital. I found that strange, to say the least. Why would the City be so adamant about this? Should the Recovery Czar be bending over backward to help the VA Medical Center get built at the best possible site in Orleans Parish, regardless of any preconceived notions about where that site might be?

Look through the archives of Regional Modernism::New Orleans as well as their Flickr pages. Good, good work being done there.

Throat is still sore. Must refrain from laughing, which is what causes the bronchials to act up. Which means I may need to quit reading the bloggers' listserve...

Monday, August 18, 2008

I am one sick broad.

I currently have that peculiar malady known as a summer cold, which has manifested itself in the worst way possible for me - a sore throat. Describing it as "sore" doesn't quite cut it for me. "Raw esophogeal", maybe. "Cough drop O.D. inducing-throat" is more like it. That and my reoccurring fear each time this happens that I will get bronchitis again. I had a sore throat like this when I was pregnant, and the OB/GYN told me what one of his instructors in med school told him - all I needed was "a little rest, a little cigar, and a little bourbon".

"Thanks, Doctor," I said. "Two out of three of those things I can't have."

Advice to all: when society is seriously het up about its pregnant women having any sort of alcohol or tobacco products in their systems, don't even suggest those as treatment options for whatever might ail us.

Speaking of treatments, in the comments to this Gambit post, Charlotte alerted me to a mobile mental health care clinic making its rounds in New Orleans. Of course the biggest problem with the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital is that it shares an unfortunate acronym with the much discredited New Orleans Affordable Homeownership program. Forget about the good folks like Karen and Sarah possibly "hurting the recovery" of this city - think about the stigma any agency in this town will carry if it has those four letters - NOAH - anywhere near it.

Advice to all: Noah was a good man in the Bible who didn't know squat about hammer and nails before God called on him to build a huge boat and put two of every animal on board in order to ride out a storm that flooded the globe. Don't go 'round messing up his name like this.

And finally, before I collapse for a bit, school has begun.

Cliff commemorates this auspicious day with a stellar post containing his thoughts on his daughter's first day of kindergarten. Go wish them both well. My son just walked into his first day of kindergarten as well. Nobody's getting any younger, and it can be more than a little scary.

The Urban League contacted me last week to tell me of a meeting on Thursday concerning No Child Left Behind and what it means for our kids. I can give them 17 reasons why it ought to mean absolutely nothing for ourselves and our kids.

Today is an unveiling of the RSD's Facilities Master Plan at the Contemporary Arts Center at 2:30. Oh, it sounds so nice...until I remember who has been hired to oversee most of it.

And today features another article in the Times-Picayune about how all the schools must now market themselves like crazy just to get a certain number of students enrolled:

The city's schools are no longer competing as fiercely for teachers -- faced, in some cases, with a glut of candidates. Yet they are increasingly competing for students. Traditional public schools as well as charter schools now realize their survival depends on student numbers. Simply sitting back and waiting for children to walk through the door on the first day does not cut it anymore.

"I've told all of our schools . . . that they need their own promotional campaign," Recovery District Superintendent Paul Vallas said. "They need to be out there selling themselves."

Vallas has been one of the main contributors to this sad state of affairs. When one does not put his foot down as the district's head administrator and agree on one application for all the schools, one time for all schools to be accepting those applications, and some sort of contingency plan for those who might have moved here just after the deadline, then one gets a situation where the schools have to pimp themselves to the parents. I am happy to see that "the city no longer allows nonprofits to post neutral ground signs, at the request of many citizens and elected officials". Mr Vallas, don't put this on the schools - the teachers and administrators there have more than enough crap to deal with from the likes of you.

Some choice words on a "choice" of elementary and secondary schools:

Of course, we can choose to withdraw our children from the school system and homeschool them. But this is not really a choice, given the options. It's really a matter of necessity. With some degree of sadness and a great deal of disappointment, my wife and I decided to homeschool our daughter this year. We believe we had no other choice. Homeschooling will be fun and rewarding, and we're looking forward to it. But it often feels like we're making lemonade from lemons.

So does making the "choice" schools available to all parents make the other schools better? Absolutely not. Do all parents and children benefit from the "choice" schools? Absolutely not. Rather, other parents and their kids become your competition as you scramble and beg for the few crumbs thrown out. It's a sickening and heart-breaking process. It is morally and ethically stinky. You know that if you are lucky and get in, your kid is going to make it. You know that other kids will not get in. You are aware of this. And still you participate in the "choice" process.

I never liked "choice" because it's no choice at all. What "choice" does is effectively defang the opposition, as the few most vocal opponents of the status quo branch off and start their own charters and then attract others. The kids that make it into these schools are lucky, indeed. But the rest are not so lucky and must play the hand they've been dealt. My wife and I are in a postion where homeschooling is possible -- this year. But who knows about next year? And most parents are not in a position to be able to homeschool. They are stuck with the test-centric schools and must choose between them and nothing at all.

Some choice . . .

Thinking about all of this is sickening me some more.

Off to bed for a bit.

Update, 6:03 PM: E weighs in on the RSD's plans.:

The result of the facilities master plan was finally released in Sunday's Times-Picayune.

The schools' master plan, provided to The Times-Picayune before its widespread release Monday, calls for the construction or complete renovation of 28 schools in about five years, including eight new high schools. Six of the projects included in the master plan's first phase are already under way as part of the system's "quick start" construction initiative.

Just as important, officials say, the plan would close or liquidate dozens of buildings -- for instance, cutting the number of high school campuses in half -- to create a more efficient system housed in state-of-the-art environments. All told, more than 50 existing buildings would be sold or put to new uses as part of a $1.8 billion, six-phase facilities plan designed to span three decades.

To reiterate, 52 of 125 campuses will be sold or "repurposed". Twenty eight schools will see construction. The Times-Picayune labels their map of buildings to be renovated as a 'Building Boom.' The plan is better characterized as a 'demolition depression' and might be more accurately illustrated if closures were also plotted on the map.

There is currently funding for the Phase I construction and renovation of 28 schools over the next five years. Beyond that, there is no funding to expand to more facilities, thus there is no concrete Phase II.

Students at Carver High School in the upper 9th ward, will remain in trailers until 2013 without any assurances that new facilities will ever be built on-site. Frederick Douglass High School, housed in a very solid facility on St. Claude Avenue, will close in 2011.

Thus, there is to be no high school located in the Upper or Lower Ninth Ward by 2013. There is no planned high school construction in Gentilly either. Mid-City is left out of Phase I almost entirely.

These are sustainable neighborhoods. These are culturally significant neighborhoods. But, they sustained significant damage from the Federal Flood.

Read on over at We Could Be Famous.

Anudder update: 6:25 PM: And don't miss Rising Tide III education panelist Christian Roselund's Guide To Avoiding Public Input In Public Meetings.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just finished reading one hilarious memoir of parenthood and happy hours entitled Mommies Who Drink.

First off, the book had me at its cover, which resembles a certain children's book classic I'm sure most parents of my generation and the one before have read ad nauseum to their kids.

I've had a list of parenting reading in my head that smacks a bowl of whup-hide gumbo up the side of the What To Expect series of books ( and there's even a website these days, which I should have expected. Ugh.) ...but I will get to that another time.

What hit me right between the eyes was one passage in particular from this book, part of this excerpt.:

Now, I’ve never been much of a joiner. As a whole, people in groups make me nervous. People in groups do things that they would never do on their own. On the upside, groups of people can feed the hungry, free political prisoners, and get medical marijuana legislation passed. On the downside, groups of people burn books, lynch people, and drive through the streets in limousines, grabbing their crotches, screaming “Do you want a piece of this?”

In light of recent revelations in this city concerning a certain Excellence in Recovery Award and all the people who cannot seem to dissociate themselves from this idiot gala, I cannot help but see how astute this observation of Brett Paesel's is concerning group dynamics - especially in this town.

Think about it in terms of what is on the invite to this festive farce:

The Excellence in Recovery Host Committee
cordially invites you to
A Tribute to the Recovery of New Orleans
Special guest
Lt. General Russell Honore (Ret.)
The Award of Distinction
For Recovery, Courage, and Leadership
Mayor C. Ray Nagin
The Katrina Community Survivors Award
New Orleans Katrina Survivors

Yep, that group dynamics dichotomy screams right off that custom-printed invitation. It nearly renders the whole invite worthless. The only thing that tips the scales is that there are many more Katrina survivors than there are idiot mayors in this town. Thank God.

The survivors - people who are lumped together as one on the invite - are a strong bunch. They have had to be. It takes a lot of energy, anger, and determination to smash through the obstacle course that is rebuilding New Orleans. And one of the biggest obstacles to our city's recovery has been made up of many of the people on this so-called "Excellence In Recovery" committee for this gala - those who are perpetuating the corrupt culture of City Hall that is rotten to its very core.

Good news is, we can outnumber these sorry creatures and make 'em feel down in the depths on the ninetieth floor by reminding 'em there is still a looooong way to go in this long haul known as recovery. Take a good, long look at the names on this list. If you recognize any of 'em, if they are your friends or bitter enemies, if you can call, email or write to them, urge them to get some brass cojones/steel ovaries and refrain from attending this delusional Ritz-Carlton romp.

Snap out of it, New Orleans' scions. We most certainly do not want a piece of you.

Besides, you forgot to consult your calendars. I humbly suggest you instead attend the kick-ass gathering of the NOLA blogpocheh at the Rising Tide III meet and greet (or schmooze and booze) over at Buffa's Lounge on August 22nd.

Together, we can all free the political prisoner that is the city of New Orleans...

...and, in the process, this mommy will still be able to drink.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Fay, Fay, go away....

...come again some other day.

All of us in the Gulf Coast region will thank you profusely.

All right, fine. We'll bring out the secret weapon:

So there.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

At times like these, when exasperation with the NOPD is at an all-time high, when our mayor is being commended for his nonexistent work on the city's recovery by folks who are most likely on something powerful, when a nifty li'l system develops out in the mid-Atlantic just to remind us it is still hurricane season (I do not like the red line. The red line can go jump.), and the downturn in the housing market is finally hitting this area (link via Clay), I find myself glad that we have some opportunities coming up in the very near future to gather together and commiserate about it all.

Please click on the above image and register today. It's not too late!

Another image on which to click:

Please please, folks. Hold it all together until we can gather...

Update on the Walking Id's honoring, 5:46 PM: Loki of Humid City got a call back from Jackie Clarkson concerning the event, Kevin Allman has more at the Blog of NO, and E gives us a detailed look at who-all is involved.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The coffee shop I frequent the most has replaced their plain Jane chairs with these huge, dark rattan-backed things on four legs that have plain off-white cushions on 'em. Off-white cushions. In a coffee shop. One of the employees said the cushions were Scotch-Garded. I hope so.

My son was asking me why Europe is called the Old World. Of course, he has to ask me this while we are in the car. I tried to explain that the people who write their history down are generally the ones who end up holding sway over the naming of things like which is the Old World and which is the New...and I had to catch myself from going into lecture-depth analysis of the subject with a five-year-old. Thankfully he changed the subject - to ask me about shark camouflage. Good move.

Adam Nossiter is still a schmuck for somehow trying to put Karen Gadbois' hard, hard work on behalf of her community in a light that seemingly condemns the born and bred locals for their "resignation". Thankfully, that is only one idiot sentence in an otherwise great article. Mazel tov to Karen, Sarah Elise Lewis, and Eli Ackerman on their hard work paying off.

And, finally, I'm following a path paved quite well by Cliff and doing some guestblogging for the Gambit's Blog of New Orleans. Yep, I'll be jockeying for position over there for a bit amongst the reports of Drew Brees' facial hair, a plea for submissions of questions to be asked of the LA-02 Congressional candidates, and sissy rappers. God help us all.

Speaking of rap, I heard a Ballzack interview on WTUL this morning and couldn't stop giggling over the chorus to "Limousine Mouse", among many other things: Limousine mouse/Limousine mouse/Eric called a ferret/A limousine mouse... It also had me thinking of a certain blogger's limousine mice, to boot.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

From the department of All Things Scottish comes some entertainment and writing I've had on the brain lately. Mostly it's 'cause I visited some friends of mine out on the Left Coast a few weeks ago, a couple with a darling year-old girl, and he is Glaswegan. So, E & F and li'l M, these are for you:

I give you Dame Evelyn Glennie touching the sound: well as showing us all how to listen to music with our whole bodies:

I give you this fellow from Paisley, whose real surname is McDonald. The man is good, whether he's not saying a word, whether he's in a singing and dancing drama, or he's investigating his family's roots. Yep, if you could do what he can do, then you would do it, too.

And finally, I give you the writings of author and comedienne A.L. Kennedy. A taste of her blog at The New Statesman:

I’m sure you’ve already guessed this – the most stylish possible way to arrive at a summer festival is on board a burning train. So my trip to Latitude was pretty much perfect. As the smoke billowed, we were detained at Berwick for more than an hour. This was “…due to the driver carrying out safety checks.” As matters progressed, we learned that a) train announcements will always avoid mentioning “Fire !” and “Brakes !” even if – or perhaps especially if - the train is on fire in exactly that rather important brake area and b) that trains with hot wheels trigger a hitherto unguessed-at system of restraints which then hold them for random intervals, no matter where they go.

Still, no one was hurt - or even alarmed – many of us enjoyed bonding and grumbling, and my reading was cancelled for the coolest reason ever “A.L.Kennedy cannot be with us tonight – her train caught fire.”

...Meanwhile, it has come to my attention that some of you, having found these blogs sometimes give the impression that I am an amusing writer, have been considering buying my books. Now, while my volumes are occasionally funny – particularly if you are, may I respectfully suggest, slightly twisted or the tiniest bit unwell - I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them if you’re – say – vulnerable, unless you want to have perhaps a slightly bruisng giggle.

So maybe flick through one in a bookshop as a tester. Or, better yet – given that a recognisable continuum from stern to pliant is suggesting itself here - wait until you see another, compatibly dominant or submissive reader browsing nearby, then hook up and give each other the thumping good read you deserve. Not that I wish to intrude. Your reading pleasure is my only aim.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It's bad enough that it's Tisha B'Av today:

The Rambam writes in the Mishneh Torah (Laws of Fasting 5:3) that five events happened on the ninth day of Av: the sin of the Spies (about which we read in this week's parsha), the destruction of the First Temple and the Second Temple, the capture of Betar and the killing of the proto-messianic Bar Kochba and all his people, and finally, the plowing of the Temple Mount by Turnus Rufus. In short, for the Rambam, Tisha B'Av is the betrayal of hope. It is the time when the three promises that God makes the Jewish people are all reversed: that He will give them the land of their forefathers, that He will dwell among them, and that He will bring a messiah to redeem them.

...and I really have no problems relating to the horrors and the pain of the destruction of both the first and the second Jerusalem Temples these days, considering where I am.

Every year, there's only one line in all the liturgy of Tisha B'Av that moves me to tears. "The hands of compassionate women boiled their own children, they were their food in the destruction of my people" says Lamentations (4:10), recalling the destruction of the First Temple, and all I can think is that today, it is not we who await God's redemption. It is God who awaits our redemption, God who waits for us to explain to ourselves, and to Him, how we can live with such a God, and what the rules of our relationship with Him might be.

For we Jews engaged in social justice there is a paradox that we cannot relieve. We believe that each person is a reflection of God, and that the infinite value of the individual is rooted in this divinity. But reality confronts us with the opposite proposition. Through most of history, life was brutish, cruel, and brief. In many places it so remains. And if God is the Unmoved Mover, the Eternal and Changeless One, then is it not because of Man that life, for many, has become longer, more peaceful and secure, more just, and more kind? What to make then of this God who bids us mourn the devastation that He wreaked upon us?

We have two entertainers gone in the past few months or so, one of 'em having passed on yesterday:

And now Isaac Hayes is dead.

Seems there is a little too much hurt to go around on this planet sometimes.

God sometimes you just don't come through...but, then again, we kind of know that. We've got to pick up and change for the better when we look back. And that's the truth.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tweet-Up Gawn Baaaaaad...

(...but not 'cause of the Tweeters themselves)

On the Tweeter Tube:

from Sophmom Please tell me that someone's blogging story of the toddler-laden tweet-up at CCs in NOLA from which tweeters were asked to leave. Please.

from me: Oh, dear God. You really wanna hear about that? I only wish we'd have outnumbered the folks on their laptops...

What the hell. It's been emblematic of my day anyhow, the events at the coffee house meet up.

It was spur of the moment, just like my son deciding this morning that he didn't feel well, just to get out of going to camp. I kept him at home, got frustrated with him when he wanted to do things like head to the Children's Museum (you're supposed to be feeling bad...and you wanna go to a museum? Think again, kid!), and finally, to get over my feelings of being trapped at home, I saw a nifty message from Loki of a Tweet Up of bloggers at a local CC's Coffee House. Oh, to meet up with Loki, Pete, Nola, and, for the first time evah, the Southern Mom! How could I possibly resist?

I strode in a little after 4 PM with the little guy in tow. We all settled in, even the kids: Nola's girl Sun, SoMo's Sam, and her Amber and my little guy, both of whom immediately became engrossed in a conversation about SpongeBob. Nola had already expressed some reservations over the increased decibel level a gaggle of kids could add to a coffee house (or a chaos of kids). And, actually, things were pretty calm with the kids at first.

The potential for a coffee house clash was there, however, because we were surrounded by tables of people working on their laptops. At least five of 'em. Hell, now that I think back on it, we probably could have taken 'em on. Nola's Cap'n Sarcastic was there, and soon we were joined by another local blogger, so we could have bashed in some heads with the laptops all around while the kids kicked in some shins.

Alas, we are supposed to be a civilized bunch, we blogging folks. It is one of the reasons why we blog in the first's we don't have to act out our true feelings on an unsuspecting public. We are actually doing all of you mere mortals a service by blogging - more than most of you will ever, ever know. So, in the end, the laptop brigade around us didn't quite understand that, as parental units, we were just grasping at a chance to get together.

SoMo and I were talking about how early the cliquish tendencies of kids are marshalling themselves these days (Five-year-olds in cliques? Somebody shoot me now...) and marvelling at how well the little guy and Amber were getting along, when things took a rambunctious turn. My son and SoMo's Sam began running back and forth with each other in the shop and giggling at full-tilt, with Amber half-joining in, half-trying to calm things down (the former was winning out). We're parents, and we are not of the faint of heart when it comes to rambunction - hell, we've even been known to join in on it ourselves. Problem is, the noise echoed around the shop and carried back to a thin, pale lady, who walked up to us and asked us as politely as she could to please rein in the noise, because she was trying to study and to listen to something on her laptop earbuds.

And here's where we get stuck as parents.

from Soulprncs2 How did the meet up go, you ask? Well, those of with children were politely asked to leave, because we, apparently, breed heathens.... Reason 1: I never go to coffeehouses and I don't drink coffee. I guess I missed the memo that coffeehouses were the new libraries.

from me: I believe the heathens are our future/Teach 'em well and let 'em screech their way....Those kinds of occurrences are the times when I am reminded why parents don't eat their young: the public is happy to do it.

Our responsibility is, first and foremost, to our families. Problem is, parents are still people, and parenthood can be isolating. When we click with other parents, it is a good great thing, and we want it to continue. But trying to do this in public places can be difficult sometimes. It can feel as though we are being pushed aside and cordoned off. Parenthood as quarantine. Nasty looks and a feeling of being surrounded by people who seem to have forgotten that they were once kids as well, or that they once had to deal with kids of their own (actually, that last bit I can certainly understand - I'd love to have a huge, blissful hole in my brain leftover from the omission of my memories of my son's first impossible year on this planet, but it ain't happening).

Southern Mom had to take the kids with her shortly after this lady asked us to keep it down. She, Amber, and Sam had already been there a while, so once the kids were riled, she knew how tough it was gonna be to calm 'em down and she took 'em home. I wish I'd been able to spend more time with her and her kids, but the environment didn't give us that luxury. And, even though she, Nola, and I hadn't been asked outright to head out and take our kids with us, that implication was there.

I know I'm going to get some people trying to reason with me on this somehow. Perhaps it's simply the day I had, but it was hot out. We were trying to get together and have a good time, and taking the kids outside in the heat and humidity would have lasted about two minutes, maybe. This wasn't a bar, it was a coffee house - and, come to think of it, I've gotten better receptions from people in the bars in NYC when I've had my son in tow than from the folks in the coffee house today. I do my best to be an advocate for my son and for a public that has great potential to be annoyed by his antics, and I end up feeling split in two.

Pardon me, O Omnipotent Public, but I'm sick of the split. And your reason ain't all that reasonable to me....because, in the end, the raising of children can turn reason upside-down, inside-out, and create whole new dimensions. Welcome to my world.

Today, you can kindly take your requests for me and my fellow parents to straitjacket our children and shove 'em up your asses sideways with a chainsaw.

That is all. Have a nice damn life.

Update, 8-8: For more on this incident, head to Southern Mom.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

I went to my friend Carol's today and had to suit up...

No, it wasn't due to protection from radioactivity, or to blast Van Halen into someone's brain. It was for a different sort of blasting.

Sandblasting fairly small pieces of glass (i.e., anything smaller than a 16" x 16" pane) can be done using a sandblaster mounted inside a cabinet, in which one reaches in with the help of gloves mounted on the front of the cabinet, peers into the cabinet through a window, and commences a-blastin'. Even then, it's a must that one wear a NIOSH-approved respirator with dust-filtering cartridges while doing this in a cabinet. Why? 'Cause silicosis ain't pretty. A nifty information sheet handed to us when I was in school let us know that the effect of silicon carbide particles accelerated by a compressor on one's lungs is akin to that of thousands of tiny samurai swords cutting at one's insides. Absolute Safety Rule Number One: wear a respirator while sandblasting.

However, if there is no cabinet, one has to make do with a friend's sandblaster and use it in her side yard. Is it safer to breathe then? Short answer: hell no. Longer answer: a respirator is still needed - as well as a getup that made me sweat like nobody's business, but was necessary for me to be protected from the possibility of all the particles getting all in my clothes, my hair, and possibly still injuring me. The aluminum oxide I was using might not be as bad as the silicon carbide, but it was still being pushed out through a teeny opening from a pressurized hose and could hurt me anyhow if directed at any of my body parts. Absolute Safety Rule Number Two: don't point any air tools at oneself, and protect yourself from the stuff that is still flying around.

So I pulled on Carol's old pair of Ugg boots, the sweatpants, a jacket that zipped up all the way to my chin, my respirator, safety goggles, a plastic welders hood, and rubber gloves. Carol was my compressor monitor and my set of sharper eyes as I blasted the glass, did my best to unclog the nozzle of the blaster regularly, and went back over the parts she marked that I'd missed. All in hot, hot weather at 11 AM. Glad I only had three chunks of glass to blast. Glad the Contact paper I was using as a masking material on the glass held up. Glad, glad, glad that there are helpful friends like Carol around.

What was I sandblasting, you ask?

Well, c'mon down to the Zeitgeist center in a couple of weeks and find out!

Especially since the schedule is now up for all to see!

So please register today. Then my time in a bulky getup in August in New Orleans will not have been spent in vain.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

You know, my husband needs an answer to his question...

We all know those red-light cameras that are cropping up like nasty weeds all over the city are not the greatest of ideas.


...what's gonna happen on Mardi Gras?

There are at least 4 cameras currently installed at St Charles Avenue intersections. Will the cameras be turned off for the duration of the parades throughout the season? Will they stay on and make the krewes responsible for payment of red-light tickets incurred while their floats are merrily rolling along? Will those costs be passed on to the tractor drivers? If so, will they then have to stop at the traffic lights all along the parade route, thus causing some serious delays on days (and nights) when multiple parades are doing their thing?

Pardon me. Those last bunches of questions are mine. Dan posed the first one, and my brain went berserk thinking of the scenarios.

If you all have any ideas or know what the real score will be on this issue, let me know.

Then again, if your ticket gets mailed to somebody else, you may not need to worry too much about it...

The people on the floats ARE wearing masks, after all.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Perhaps a statement of faith is not needed here. In choosing to make one I realize that my own is not regional and that fellow newspapermen everywhere share my beliefs and motivations. But I am a Southerner by ancestry, by birth, by upbringing, by residence, and by choice. As a Southerner, I believe that the South needs now as it needed more than a century ago a special dedication because of special problems which have so long plagued us - problems, it should be said, that are being discovered not to be regional at all. So I set down here a credo which has been a guide to some of my predecessors and contemporaries and disregarded by some others. I would not be honest if I did not state my conviction that there remain too many of the latter and too few of the former.

I do believe that mine is a peculiarly-dedicated profession just as are the ministry and teaching. We have objectives which of themselves have nothing to do with the making of money or friends. Newspaper editing is a challenge to pursue unending goals, all of which represent the same challenge. Briefly stated the goals are these:

to keep men informed,
to make men think,
to make men ashamed,
and to keep men free.

I an a Southerner, I repeat, and I speak with prejudice. I love the land of my ancestors. I am cognizant of the fact that we were the only nation within a nation and that we were destroyed by musket and bayonet and that we came back. Some of the trappings may be vengeful, but the South has not been a land of long vengeance. We belong.

-Hodding Carter, Their Words Were Bullets: The Southern Press in War, Reconstruction, and Peace, 1969.

Aside from the constant references to men (and, irony of ironies: Carter's wife Betty ended up being the one delivering the lectures collected in Bullets), I'd say this is still pretty damn relevant.