Sunday, January 31, 2010

The latest effect of the Saints making the Super Bowl: Drew Brees getting a piece of the advertising bonanza that has largely been Peyton "Extra Cheesy" Manning's thing for so long.

Just watch. You WILL be entertained.

More on this whole crazy past weekend later, when my knees have recovered more fully from dancing my butt off through the Quarter and the Marigny to stave off the 39-degree chill whilst having tons of fun. The crowds lining the streets were a great bunch. I even saw five people I knew and got my special cups to most of 'em (sorry, Coozan Pat, I need to get'cha some sweet Superdome beads).

Check the Flickr pics here for now and shake your heads a little that you missed it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Look out for me tonight if you're in the Quarter or the Marigny. I'll be accompanying this and wearing a cape with a couple of these on it:

There's nothing like Krewe du Vieux...especially on such a night.

And because we've been watching this a lot lately, I can't help but think of the recent Who Dat copyright controversies in terms of the teensy-man battle that happens between 1:09 and 1:20 in this movie trailer (sorry, couldn't find a clip that had the whole thing on it; it is really funny).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

"Extra cheesy, just like me."

No we haven't forgotten PimpGate...and neither have these people:

Your grandmother's chinchilla jacket cannot save you now! : One big ol' NOLA blogpocheh roundup from Coozan Pat.

The Lens has loads of stuff.

And keep checking CenLamar, Adrastos (at home and at First Draft), the yaller blog, Oyster, TPM and Dambala (especially the comments) for more.

My costume for Krewe du Vieux this Saturday is all in. Look for a crazy broad with a light-up ribcage on her dress in the Quarter. That'll be me. The dress is from Miami...and the Saints are going to Miami. Koinky-dink? I think not.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

liprap Umm, sportswriters all over this country, Imma let you finish, but the SAINTS are the ones going to the SUPER BOWL.

Cop in his car stopped in the middle of Magazine to say, via bullhorn, "can we please have a moment of silence... for the retirement of #4?"

If you want to know what this win means to new Orleans, I just visited a cemetary, and more than one grave had todays newspaper on it.

Well, one can't say we haven't been reveling in the Saints' big win in these parts. This is a big deal for this city. It really is.

If anyone out there can tell me who it is doing the confetti angel on the Dome field, I'd greatly appreciate it.

I mean, a guy who looks for all the world like he ought to be hawking the latest energy drink on teevee kicks it squarely through the uprights and an entire city goes berserk. Signs and portents pertaining to the Big Game seem to be coming hard and fast as the collective consciousness of this town in tune with its biggest stars of the moment does its best to give those boys in black and gold a psychic boost. Hey, it can't hurt.

Something else can hurt us right now, though - and it'll hurt even more if we don't do it before Carrollton/King Arthur/Barkus/Super Bowl Sunday.

DCrais On election day for #nola Feb. 6: 8 parades, and Saints fans in Miami for Superbowl on Feb. 7. Turnout may not break 25%.

First off, if you know you'll be in or at one of those parades or you will be in or at the Super Bowl, VOTE EARLY, PLEASE. Locations are at City Hall, the Algiers Courthouse, and a "Voting Machine Warehouse" at 8870 Chef Menteur Highway. Not sure where your polling location is if you decide to dodge the parades and all, or maybe you're looking to organize a second line to your nearest polling place? Check here.

This is too important to leave behind in the Mardi Gras and Saints revelry. It's tempting to throw it at the bottom of the party pile and claim it's a buzzkill. You want a buzzkill? Try this on for size: The Saints' win over the Vikings killed the community-gouging dreams of two NFL owners. Benson cannot move the Saints ever ever, and Vikes owner Zygi Wilf can't be sure that his referendum to get a new stadium for his team will be met with straight faces by the Minnesota lege.

But this election is bigger than that, even.

There wouldn't even be a Saints team without this city. New Orleans was here long before the Saints franchise was even a thought in Dave Dixon's head. We need to ensure that this place will be here for many more generations to come, and the current mayor hasn't been helping that cause much. We might well be in danger of electing another one that won't be much better than a bump on a log - but we also have city councilmembers, an assessor, judges, and other city officials to elect. Get informed, if you aren't already. Get your votes on, so that we can be a town that can sustain ourselves as well as a world class NFL franchise.

skooks Bracing myself for 2 weeks of national media getting shit wrong about NOLA

That's always going to happen, sadly. But if you love and care for this place as much as I and most of the people I know do, find a voting booth here and get some good people in City Hall working for the good of all of us. It'll even get you back some more time you can devote to the revelry...and to problems such as the one I now have.

My son has watched so many Saints games on the tube with us this season. It ain't easy for a seven-year-old to stay fairly dull-roar-ish while all the adults are watching grown men pummel each other on turf and yelling about it as they eat and drink. He kind of started to feel what the games were all about after the Arizona game, and once the Saints had this one in the bag, his rallying cry was, "I want a Saints jersey, Mom! A Drew Brees one! Can I have one? Can I? CAN I????"

Just checked at a local store: a #9 kid size jersey is $60.

I've created a monster.

Anybody know where I could get one for a lower price than that?


Update, 2:07 PM: Eli comments on the "distractions" over at The Lens...which, incidentally, is a great place to start to get informed about the issues that affect all us everyday New Orleans citizens. Good on Karen Gadbois and company for getting it up and running at a marathoner's pace.

GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY, 7:25 PM: And these purveyors of PimpGate thought they could put all this attempted wiretapping of a senator's office in a federal building past our recovering-from-euphoria eyes and ears? Umm, NO.

Why the GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY, you ask?, 7:38 PM: Well, check it:
I am friends with Jim Moore, co-author of Bush's Brain and The Architect (in fact, I am in the acknowledgments of this one), and he, like many journalists I have spoken to over the years, believes that Rove bugged his own office as a frame-up.

Now imagine a Watergate corruption alumni like young Karl Rove, training a crop of young Republicans in illegal domestic political warfare. Then imagine this man acting as a consultant to elect certain candidates where this pattern of abuses seems to always occur. Now imagine this individual heading the RNC at the national level, training combatants, and then as a key adviser to the POTUS, issuing directives to those foot soldiers. This break-in is not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger, more insidious political scandal: the recruitment and brainwashing of young Americans into political dirty tricks and illegal activity as part of a political Cold Civil War.

These operatives even have a name for such activity, one less polite than Cold Civil War: ratf---ing. Here is an excellent overview of some recent examples...

...The crime which occurred today is not just a joke gone too far. These are educated young men. These are members of the College Republicans. These are intelligent and well brought up individuals who know what is legal and what is not legal. They knew what they were doing, because as political operatives, they were indoctrinated in this art of war.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Not only is this the way we live:

...we live this way, too:
The New Orleans mayoral election is now on Superbowl Eve while we dodge 8 parades to vote. Only in New Orleans.
Sean Payton on winning the NFC Championship: This is for the city of New Orleans.

Who Da Hell Dat.

Morning after update, 1/25: Go read Editor B's beautiful post. And Maitri's. We miss Ashley Morris terribly here. It's not only for the city, it's for the departed big man with a heart the size of this city. For more, go check out hangover-addled Clay's roundup.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I was told about this by a friend at the synagogue last night:
Here's a good test of social media's muscle: The re-branding of Mardi Gras in New Orleans as family-friendly entertainment.

That's a tough brief, for sure, but it's already attracted major brand and media backing from Louisiana pantry staple Tabasco and broadcaster Belo Corp.

"We want to show people that Mardi Gras can be clean and wholesome," said Jan Carroll, Tabasco's marketing director. "It doesn't have to be 'Girls Gone Wild.'"

To most of the country, of course, it is -- a vision of frat boys and party girls pouring into the French Quarter for a bacchanalia of booze, bare breasts and beads. Programs such as "Girls Gone Wild" and "Cops" have reinforced the image.

And that's long frustrated Tom Martin, president of local marketing firm Zehnder Communications (and a contributor to Ad Age's Small Agency Diary), who, like a lot of New Orleans residents, says the event ought to be better known for cultural and culinary aspects than for its debauchery. "As long as I've lived here, I've listened to people bitch and moan about how people around the country just don't get it," said the Texas-bred adman. "If you're going to whine, do something about it or shut up."

What he's doing? The family-friendly My Mardi Gras Experience, which won't begin its posts from bloggers showing what a great experience it is for people of ALL ages until February 1st.

Take that, Jefferson Parish and Baton Rouge! least, until the first posts begin popping up. Jury's out on how well they'll be written or received.

'Til then, I offer you my humble postings on past Mardi Gras celebrations with MY family.

And this doesn't even go into Homan's posts on Barkus, whose participation includes ALL of his family and close friends. If you have any other "family-friendly" reminiscences of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I invite you to share. If it gets too long for a comment, just write it out in a post and throw the link back in your comment.

"Re-branding", my tuchus. Families have ALWAYS enjoyed Mardi Gras here, and always will.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

There's been so, so much time spent tapping in to the hive mind that is Twitter for the past few pretty much began with the Haitian earthquake, and was kicked into overdrive by the Saints winning the playoff game against the Cardinals.

Oh, sure, I've been logging in in the evenings when there have been local mayoral forums and the like, but I can sense from the tweets from the last forum about a day ago that both attendees and candidates might be getting tired of the roadshow. Marathon, not a sprint. We all need to breathe sometime.

Speaking of breathing, it seems the Twitter addiction I have will be dying very, very hard. I get up in the morning early, and I check Twitter, even though most of the people I follow are barely awake and, if they are, are tweeting that they are up much too early and should just go back to bed. I come home after dropping off my child and check Twitter. Rehash, repeat, retweet stuff I missed when I was in a car trying to get my child across town. Hashtags can act as more than denoting a subject people can search in order to find related tweets - poignant irony, memorial marking, fan-binding, and softly humorous hashtags can be wielded just as deftly as the most elegant of metaphors. It's amazing what 140 characters can do.

It's warping my fragile little mind.

I guess the craziest Twitter episode of recent days was when I learned about this article through the Gambit's postings on Twitter. I retweeted it, got a response back from a follower asking me if Muses had moved to the Red Stick and concurring with my assessment that Baton Rouge having the best Mardi Gras parade was bogus, and thought no more about that irksome item that got my ire up momentarily.

Until we got my son's first issue of Ranger Rick yesterday, a gift subscription from his grandma.

The little guy opened it up, asked me about the pictures of the nice dog parade inside, where the participants were throwing beads as they were pushing and pulling dogs on small floats, and, thinking I'd caught a glimpse of the Municipal Auditorium in Armstrong Park, I assumed it was the Barkus parade in New Orleans, which the kiddo had never attended. I told him how much fun it was and said we'd have to go together sometime.

"But, Mom..." he said.

Guess what?

My son's new issue of Ranger Rick has an article about a Mardi Gras dog Baton Rouge. First the Chicago Tribune, now THIS??

click on the picture to enlarge

It's enough to make parents such as ourselves - we who live only a block and a half from the parade route and love the ones that come ambling by during the season - completely insane.

And then I get this tweet:

@liprap Is the Mardi Gras story a good thing or a bad one? I wrote it, so not sure what you mean by ur Tweet. Libby (RangerRick)

Uh-oh. Must explain to the nice author what I meant.

Took a few 140 word missives, but I did it.

The point being?

Watch out on Twitter, kids. The world online is a-shrinking rapidly because of it, so tread carefully and be extra mindful of what your words say. Now more than ever.

Update, 1/22: I could justify my Twitter addiction by saying I am simply tapping into the eternal plumbing of the Internet on a regular basis now - but I'm still a junkie.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Commemorate Martin Luther King Jr Day here by participating in the SilenceIsViolence Strike Against Crime activities, which begin with the following activities today:
  • Crime Happens Here: Community crime reporting public awareness campaign throughout the week. Signs available at Sound Cafe (2700 Chartres Street)
  • Mayoral Candidates Forum: Candidates for Mayor discuss violence in New Orleans and ideas for community/government partnerships toward public safety.
    Location: Goody's Restaurant, 3200 St. Claude Avenue at Louisa Street. Time: 7PM
    Hosted by: SilenceIsViolence, Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, and Stooges Brass Band
    Moderator: Lee Zurik
..and culminate in the Strike itself, which will be on Friday the 22nd.

Internationally, the victims of the earthquake in Haiti still need our help, as Nordette Verite notes. If you haven't contributed to help Haiti, please do so today. The circumstances there are still dire, even for those who escaped bodily injury but must cope with the aftermath.

As Coretta Scott King's words on this holiday tell us:
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not only for celebration and remembrance, education and tribute, but above all a day of service. All across America on the Holiday, his followers perform service in hospitals and shelters and prisons and wherever people need some help. It is a day of volunteering to feed the hungry, rehabilitate housing, tutoring those who can't read, mentoring at-risk youngsters, consoling the broken-hearted and a thousand other projects for building the beloved community of his dream.

Dr. King once said that we all have to decide whether we "will walk in the light of creative altruism or the darkness of destructive selfishness. Life's most persistent and nagging question, he said, is `what are you doing for others?'" he would quote Mark 9:35, the scripture in which Jesus of Nazareth tells James and John "...whosoever will be great among you shall be your servant; and whosoever among you will be the first shall be the servant of all." And when Martin talked about the end of his mortal life in one of his last sermons, on February 4, 1968 in the pulpit of Ebenezer Baptist Church, even then he lifted up the value of service as the hallmark of a full life. "I'd like somebody to mention on that day Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others," he said. "I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my love and serve humanity.

We call you to commemorate this Holiday by making your personal commitment to serve humanity with the vibrant spirit of unconditional love that was his greatest strength, and which empowered all of the great victories of his leadership. And with our hearts open to this spirit of unconditional love, we can indeed achieve the Beloved Community of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream.

May we who follow Martin now pledge to serve humanity, promote his teachings and carry forward his legacy into the 21st Century.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yeah, so the euphoria hasn't worn off yet.

Maybe it's simply that my homemade black and gold king cake hasn't been completely eaten...


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sean Payton gave the Saints baseball bats before today's game.

That's right. Baseball bats. Telling the players to... *AHEM*... "Bring the Wood".

This season, it seems only the Saints can mix sports metaphors and still come up with a win.

I'm just so, so happy they didn't bring this sort of wood:

Who Da Hell Dat.

Friday, January 15, 2010

My wishes for my fourth blog day tomorrow?

We keep helping Haiti in any way we can. Vet your charities first.


The Saints stir the pot tomorrow...

...and come up with the right recipe for NFC Championship playoff gumbo.
One game at a time, people. One game at a time.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mardi Gras parades will be a picnic after this.

the Mardi Gras Marathon. Just a lengthy trot.

Crescent City Classic? Walk in the park.

As tests of endurance go, they all pale in comparison to this entire month's slew of politicians on parade. I speak of the innumerable forums for all the local offices up for grabs in the upcoming elections. Most of these forums have been for all the mayoral candidates to speak generally and specifically about the issues of import to the city that they will do their best to work on if they get elected - which, considering all the incompetence and corruption we have been experiencing for decades in these parts, is a marvelous idea. What better way to gauge a prospective mayor's future performance in office than by grilling the people up for it incessantly, seeing how they react to the questions and to each other's answers to these questions, and getting it all out in the open for the public to take it from there?

Really, it still is a marvelous idea - except that it seems that nearly every night this month there are one or two mayoral forums, increasing the possibilities of election overdosing for political junkies (something that has been aided and abetted by Twitter, especially - just checking the #nolamayor tweets on there is a plotzworthy activity. Really, lie down before you check.) and also testing the mettle of the average voter in trying to make a decision. Even if one only reads the dead-tree Times-Picayune reports on the forums after the fact, the effects are overwhelming. Short of performing MRIs on each candidate and consulting lie detectors they are hooked up to while we ask them these questions, it seems we are bound and determined to vote them off the Isle d'Orleans one by one, because we know what we don't want more than what we do want of our city's top official.
It's enough to drive a New Orleans resident even battier. And we're already batty from all the other stuff that's going on this time of year.

The best I can say about all of this is it's a good break from having to supervise my seven-year-old son in tracing a map of Canada for a school project. Yes, you read that right. He had to trace Canada...and include the capital and three major cities...and the major rivers, mountain ranges, bordering oceans, and lakes...and label them all...and when's the next forum, somebody?????

My biggest worry about it all? That the sideshow entertainment of all these forums will be distracting us from continuing to act in ways that will sustain our city and enable it to thrive above and beyond the current service economy dominating it at this time. Improper use of a magnifying glass can cause burns if one isn't careful. Take the humor, outrage, and occasional truths revealed in stride, dig deeper if something is really nagging at you about a candidate and/or the issues, and keep on keepin' on.

47 more days...

Update, 4:10 PM: Forgot an important part of that list: quit using race to divide us all.

G directs us to musician and Haitian native Wyclef Jean's Yele Haiti Earthquake Fund to aid victims of the disaster there. People need help. Keep it up.

Anudder update, 1/16: Stuff I missed, from the comments:

One issue that we DO want is the return of curbside recycling to stimulate the economy.

I've been amazed--this is a POSITIVE change, it will help the city, seems to be one issue on which most New Orleanians agree, but i have not heard it raised.

AND: Yele Haiti is suspect. Try Doctors without Borders or

Cathedral of the Incarnation
2015 West End Av.
Nashville, TN, 37203
Ph# 615-327-2330

They are sister parish to St. John the Baptist in LaVallee, 50 miles west of Port-au-Prince, and have been offering relief there for 30 years.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Many New Orleanians who experienced the horrible events of 8/29/05 and after have some inkling of the horror, the shock, and the pain the people of Haiti are going through at this terrible time. We have some idea of how the status quo can change overnight, in the blink of an eye...

..or with one mighty shake of the earth, followed by over thirty smaller aftershocks.

We in this town are not only connected to them through the distant past (link courtesy of docbrite on Twitter)...people in great need can benefit from our compassion and what we have learned over the past four years concerning recovery from such terrible events.

What is needed right this second, though, is funding to these six ways you can help in Haiti, complete with more aid organizations listed in the comments to the post. (link courtesy of Virgotex at First Draft)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Leave it to the Times-Picayune to go where nobody here is going in this mayoral election because right now, it hasn't much relevance...but it might in the future.

Check the reasons why we might go for mayoral control of the schools in this study done nine years ago. This idea isn't new. And the growing realization that the health of a sustainable community goes hand in hand with school quality is what fuels the decision:
In the past, mayors avoided the political tangle of education, but this has become more difficult in the current climate that focuses on the role of education in a city's overall health....mayors can no longer avoid school related issues politically, because of the increasing view among business leaders and others that schools are a critical piece of urban economic development. In addition to an interest by mayors in using education as a part of a broader urban improvement plan, there are financial incentives for mayors to become more involved with education..."Increasingly tight city budgets also place pressure on mayors to keep taxes down. Schools consume a large portion of that tax dollar, and in some cities the mayor has little direct control over decisions made by urban school officials." Thus there are both ideological and budgetary reasons for mayors to seek greater control over their city's system of public education.
One big reason why we can't do it right now: we can barely take care of basic city services here, forget the schools.

And all is not perfect on the mayoral takeover front, either:
First, although mayors have won some important initial victories after assuming control of school districts, the record suggests that the long-term benefits of takeovers are more elusive, especially when it comes to improving student achievement. In Boston, for instance, Mayor Thomas M. Menino scored a major coup when he tapped Thomas W. Payzant, a highly regarded former U.S. assistant secretary of education, to lead the city’s school system in 1995. Payzant ushered in a much-needed era of stability to the Boston schools, which at the time of his appointment were still dealing with the aftermath of painful experiences with school desegregation in the 1970s. With Menino’s strong support, the superintendent promoted several valuable reforms, such as the establishment of in-district charter schools called "pilot schools," a collaborative coaching program to augment teacher skills, and initiatives to expand afterschool programs and technology in the schools.

Yet after a decade of mayoral control under Menino and Payzant, the Boston Public Schools still have significant room for improvement. In 2005, the percentage of Boston students scoring in the "needs improvement" and "warning/failing" categories of the state’s standardized testing program, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, was roughly twice as high as the statewide rate across all grades and subjects (Massachusetts Department of Education, 2006). And while Boston fares better than other urban districts on standardized assessments, it still faces a yawning achievement gap. For instance, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the gap in math scores between White and Black eighth graders in Boston grew between 2003 and 2005, and the gap between Whites and Black and Hispanic fourth graders in reading also grew (Jan, 2005).

...Beyond test scores, we find other good reasons to view mayoral takeovers of school districts with concern. Mayors in takeover cities — and now Villaraigosa — often suggest that mayoral control of the schools will increase democracy by allowing citizens to hold the chief elected official of the city directly accountable for the school system’s results, rather than a disparate collection of low-profile school board members. However, there is one fundamental flaw in this argument: Most citizens do not base their votes for mayor solely on the performance of the school system. While it is true that school board elections typically have low voter-turnout rates and are often influenced by powerful organized interests like business coalitions and teachers unions, school boards retain one big advantage: They are the only mechanism that provides a direct point of entry for citizens — especially parents — to express their concerns about education to the very officials who make education policy.

...although a school district takeover may produce a policy environment that is conducive to dramatic reform, there is a difference between quick reform and meaningful reform. Mayoral takeovers of school districts may be a way to get things done — but the challenge is to figure out the right things to do.
Strangely enough, Rob Couhig may be right for the time being...
...the mayor should focus on the more pressing issues of crime and blight.

"We have one of the most beautiful schools in the country being built in Gentilly, but we don't have people habitating the area who can live there safely and affordably," he said. For the mayor to preoccupy himself with school governance, he said, amounts to "talking about angels on the head of a pin."
Even if the recession is driving more kids out of the pricey private schools. (thanks, Clay)

Oh, and my favorite quote from a nifty article touting the charters in this town in my nemesis in print, New Orleans magazine:
Critics insist that charters skim the best public school students from the student population, and that’s why their scores are higher. They say that students who get into charters through lotteries have more motivated parents. The Stanford study debunks this theory because it compares lottery winners to lottery losers. In other words, each group of parents is equally motivated.
Ummm, uh....huh. Consider the Stanford study itself. Maybe I'm still addled from my cold, but I can't see where it discusses parental involvement anyplace, much less degrees of involvement.

All I can do is refer back to G on this one:
Why do we here so admire the extraordinary, over-the-top efforts of parents to get a decent education for their kids? Why does this irritate so few? Or seemingly so? Does anyone realize, or believe, that education is not a privilege, a game you have to be lucky enough to win? That parents should not have to fight or bargain with any number of devils just for a school? Why is this so radical in LA?
Of course parents will be motivated to get their children into a good school. As parents, we all want our kids to have better opportunities than we did, not worse ones. Don't tell any parent that he/she is still motivated even if his/her child didn't hit the charter school sweepstakes' jackpot - that's just stating the obvious. The idea is how to make this accessible for everybody without driving us all up the wall and, eventually, out of the city for no want of trying and failing to get into a good charter and for a serious need for money to pour into a private school that is the only other possible option for a good elementary and secondary education in these parts - an option which, by the way, New Orleans magazine is only too happy to plug after it has listed the traditional public schools and the charters.

Update, 2:19 PM: Oh, yes, the Cowen Institute is more than willing to go there as well in telling the mayoral candidates what they can do for the schools - and it amounts to helping take care of the truancy, coordinating the city's master plan with the SFMPOP, and boosting the afterschool programs. It's really all that can be done by mayoral candidates anyhow.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I mention Neturei Karta in recent months and then this tidbit of news comes down the Queens synagogue listserv pike:
Three men and a woman from the extremist Neturei Karta sect traveled to Gaza last week to spend the Sabbath with Hamas terrorists. The four members of the Jewish fringe sect, led their rabbi, Yisroel Dovid Weiss, a U.S. citizen from New York, said they went in order to signal their support for the terrorist-run regime....

Allegedly Hamas, which rules the Gaza region with an iron fist, provided security for the unusual guests, who apparently did not leave the hotel during the Sabbath. Reportedly the terrorist group also supplied food that was stringently kosher.

Shortly after the conclusion of the Sabbath at approximately 7:00 p.m., the group departed from the hotel and also left Gaza, passing into Egypt through the Rafiah Crossing. From Egypt, it is easy to cross back into Israel....

Four years ago this month, the group wrote a public letter posted on the internet, proclaiming its “complete solidarity with the Palestinian people” and congratulating Hamas on its victory at the polls.

The letter goes on to explain the position of Neturei Karta, namely, that Jews were sent into exile two thousand years ago by a divine decree, and are to await patiently for the revelation of G-d “when all mankind will recognize and serve Him together in harmony and joy. Any attempts to create our own state, in this our Heavenly decreed exile, is expressly forbidden.”

The letter also states the fervent wish “that we should merit to see the peaceful and speedy dismantlement of the Zionist entity – the State of ‘Israel’ and the transformation of rule over the entire Holy Land, including of course Al-Quds, to its proper rulers, the Palestinian people.”

The letter was signed by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, on behalf of Neturei Karta International,USA, and Rabbi Ahron Cohen, Neturei Karta, UK.

Neturei Karta has in the past also sent delegations to visit with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, including a recent trip to attend a Holocaust-denial conference he sponsored in Tehran. In the past, members of Neturei Karta have praised Ahmadinejad for calling for the elimination of the State of Israel from the pages of history.”

Such a possibility of a thought of such a topic never crossed even Linda Richman's mind. Talk amongst yourselves.

Oh, no? I'll give you a topic.

How is it that women can't be respected for how they want to conduct worship services at the Jewish people's holiest site...
The leader of Women of the Wall, a group of women who gather monthly to pray at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, was questioned by police, fingerprinted, and told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at what is considered Judaism’s most sacred site.

...(Anat) Hoffman said that the police told her that she was being investigated for violating a decision of the Israeli Supreme Court that prohibits women from wearing prayer shawls at the Wall. But the Women of the Wall claim to have accommodated themselves to the ruling; instead of donning the black-and-white tallit, traditional for men, they each wear a smaller, multi-colored shawl like a scarf around the neck and under a coat, so as not to offend the strict sensibilities of other men and women at the Wall.

“It’s a sad moment,” said Hoffman. She has gone to the police station in Jerusalem many times to lodge complaints against people who she says have attacked and occasionally physically hurt members of her group; none of those people have ever been arrested, she said. But this is the first time that she has been subject to interrogation herself. A skillful advocate, she said that the questioning did not bother her, but the fingerprinting did. “There is something very violating about it,” she said.

...and yet, when it comes to the new full-body scan machines that will soon be installed in airports around the world, ultra-Orthodox sects in Europe are only too quick to protest how those scans will be violating the modesty of Orthodox women. Via the Jerusalem Post:
The notion that Orthodox Jewish women, diligent in covering their bodies in accordance with laws of modesty, will appear nude on the screens of full body scanners in airports across the globe has a group of European rabbis up in arms.
"Full body scanners compromise women's modesty," announced the Rabbinical Centre of Europe in a press release Wednesday. "Their implementation leaves us concerned."

Nevertheless, the rabbis, who lead congregations in Milan, London, Paris and Antwerp, recognize the need to beef up security after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 23, tried to ignite an explosive called PETN as Northwest Flight 253 approached Detroit on Christmas morning.

The rabbis, therefore, suggest a solution that would respect the religious sensibilities of Orthodox Jews, while at the same time maintaining optimal security standards. "We would recommend that men are scanned by men, and women by women, like body frisks," they wrote.

One of the European rabbis agreed to weigh in on the halachic aspects of using the scanner.

"I do not intend to give a halachic opinion and I do not know what actually is shown on the screen, but if it shows the female body then it could be against the laws of modesty," said Rabbi Ya'akov Schmahl, a member of Antwerp's rabbinical court.
The rabbi explained that according to Jewish law it is permitted for a male doctor to treat female patients even if he touches them and sees parts of their body that are normally covered because presumably a doctor is focused on his work and is not inclined to prurience.

"But if women are not happy - and there are religious women who prefer not to go to male doctors - they should be allowed to be monitored by women. And men might also might not want to show themselves before women."
I don't protest how one observes their religion, per se. If many of these women are indeed uncomfortable with a full body scan in front of a man (and that's not even a stretch for me; I'd be uncomfortable, too), accomodations should certainly be made.

I just wonder why the men who are making the halakhic decisions can't see beyond that that has been deemed "Other" in their midst, time and again, and attempt to at least listen to what is on women's minds concerning these issues.

Discuss. I'm still a little farklempt from all this farkakhte weather we're having.

Friday, January 08, 2010

My first thought out of the bed this morning:

It's Friday
, #nola people! Do you know where your city services are?

Yep, rise and shine on 2010, New Orleans residents. Wake up and smell the administrative coffee. Wait, no, it hasn't been brewed. *grumble*

Sometimes, in this world, you've just got to do it yourself. You know, print out your own resumes at Kinko's/FedEx, use the computers there to do your job searches, even if they do charge by the minute for their use, and work on your taxes through H & R Block and hope to God they missed something so that you don't get charged for using their services.

And that's all the stuff that one has to do when the library is closed, forget City Hall.

And speaking of our shut-tight City Hall and who's angling to occupy the Mayor's Office within once the Walking Id leaves, the Zombie does some digging into candidate Troy Henry's resume and finds a big lie within, not to mention some city contract shenanigans. Hey, if you're going to hold a press conference and whine about what isn't being done by the media instead of simply going about the business of your campaign and damn the torpedoes, you're gonna get scrutinized. :
...I started calling United Water to find out if I was missing something, I did finally get a response from a person in their media relations dept. who did in fact state that Henry was never "THE president of the company".

While I was shooting Henry's press conference yesterday, I took the opportunity to ask him about it.


Henry: "You are absolutely right, I was the President of the Southern Region."

Me: "But you said you were President of the Company,"

Henry: "I never said I was President of the Company..."

My issue here is that he is clearly implying that he ran the entire company when he states "...led a team of 1500 people and a $600 million dollar company." Is it just me or does it get any clearer than that?...He also conveniently failed to mention the real guy who was running the company, Chairman and CEO, Michael J Chessner...The way I see it, he lied on his resume. This is hauntingly reminiscent of a 2002 mayoral candidate we all know, Ray Nagin, claiming he was a CPA. This is why I'm so concerned...this guy is coming out of the gate lying to us....what's he capable of if he gets elected?
That's the thing about all of these debates, meet-and-greets, and forums going on. You just never know what-all will come out of these people's mouths and neither do they, in some cases. I think there is also still some residual thinking on the part of some of these candidates that the scrutiny into their backgrounds and actions won't go too far because, hey, look! The Saints' season!!!! Oh, check it out, it's Mardi Gras! Damn it's cold, huh? Let's get those city services back on Fridays - but only if you'll treat all the candidates equally no matter what color they are. There's some good New Orleans citizens. *pats on the head*

Good New Orleans citizens are getting tired of the bull is the trouble with that nice neat package. We will be checking your background. We will be seeing which promises have been kept and which ones have been broken. Just start with one simple very simple thing, easy you'll kick yourselves for not having even considered it.

Don't. Lie.

'Scuse me while I crawl back into my stylin' Saints Snuggie.

For more astute mayoral election analyses, head here, here, and here.

Update, 1/9: Speaking of never knowing what-all will come out of the candidates' mouths, head over to E's today. If you've got it, flaunt it, I guess.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The beginning of this year's Carnival season has officially arrived.

Sequins can now be sprinkled liberally about the holiday tree that is still sitting across from Jackson Square (if they aren't gonna take it down, make it a purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras tree, I say).

The impulse to snag a king cake from a grocery store or make one according to your own excellent recipe can now be indulged without fear of its presence being too early (Yes, this is a Jewish broad telling you no king cakes before their time. Even the Jews are kinda Catholic in New Orleans.).

As the parades come rolling 'round, another apparent Carnival ritual will be rearing its ugly head: that of the territorialism exhibited by too many paradegoers concerning the viewing spaces they seem to feel were given to them straight from Sieur de Bienville when he founded Nouvelle Orleans back in the day. I anticipate this frenzy to be more heated with this year's demise of Jefferson Parish's Fat Family hoo-ha due to the musical acts being snapped up for performances at National Football League games. Everybody, be nice and respect your neighbors. There's more than enough Carnival swag for everybody, especially if you're going to see Bacchus this year. I fully expect Drew Brees to be training the float riders this year in his passing technique. If you miss getting a doubloon with his face on it, it'll simply mean you weren't at the parade and thus you weren't open for the screen. Tough toenails, as my dad says.

What might thin the crowds a bit this year, however, will be the punishing forum and debate schedules that folks are organizing for every office up for grabs in the local elections. There were two of them last night, for which I thank my lucky stars that I fell into this thing called social media and thus got some nice tweets from Karen, Eli, and Val from both forums. Due to a sticky clause Lee Zurik is still bound by, the forum moderated by him at Sacred Heart couldn't be broadcast on the teevee, and the forum at Cohen focused on the youth of New Orleans whilst skirting the fact that the mayoral candidates can't do a thing about the institutions that our youth are attending each week: namely, the schools. The deplorable state NORD is in ought to be more of an issue than it currently is...but you know, as issues go in this election, it might as well take a number. Really.

At this rate, people will be rolling to parades, literally...on hospital beds.

Think of the paradegoing nightmare that will be unleashed then.

Monday, January 04, 2010

If one show can encompass all of what makes New Orleans great, I think I experienced it this past Saturday night and kept with it into Sunday morning.

I didn't know if I was going to be able to be there, but I was sure going to try. Riding on what was still Pacific time for me, I managed to head over to the Howlin' Wolf, grabbed a beer, and found my friends close to the front of the stage, where Rebirth was about to get started. It was early yet, but the Rebirth kicked it off right and my dancing feet couldn't resist. Shout outs were given to Derrick Tabb on his work with the Roots of Music and the recognition he got as a CNN Heroes finalist.

We rolled with the Free Agents and the We Are One and didn't even stop in the breaks, when the sound guys played deejay and kept some soul and hip-hop going as pictures of the kids who were benefiting from the Educational Fund's programs were projected on a wall nearby. The pace picked up even more when the Pinettes were announced and the women showed how much they could bring it. The crowd had grown a great deal more by then and everybody, no matter who they were, no matter their color, sex, or dress, was getting into it. The Pinettes announced a song that they were playing for the Saints and the crowd went nuts. Just before the next band came on, the sound guys threw on some Halftime and the place went even crazier. "Just keep believin'! Believe in our Saints," the Pinettes' sax player had said after their Saints' song. They could have just as easily been talking about our small-s saints we encounter 'round here on a regular basis. You know who you are.

The transcendent moment, however, came when these guys took to the stage:

There's a reason why they are one of the premier bands out there on the second lines these days, not to mention why they are filled with enough confidence and chutzpah to be challenging Rebirth in recent weeks. The Stooges whipped the crowd into a frenzy that almost couldn't be contained - in fact, it carried over into the performance of To Be Continued, where one girl who had been showing us all how it was done down in front for the Stooges pulled out even more moves for the TBC in her killer boots and slinky dress, then grudgingly yielded to the Stooges' trumpeter and another guy stepping out at each other and kicked 'em both a little with one divine shoe as if to say have your fun, babies, but don't go playing with the one who invented it.*

It was announced on the stage that the emcee had learned, via Twitter, that Ed Murray had dropped out of the mayor's race. Sadly, shortly before the Hot 8 came on, my right knee let me know that it had dropped out from above my dancing feet. I had to take the first part of their set sitting in a chair and bobbing to the music before my internal PST clock told me it was time to head home.

Can't think of a better way to help commemorate the dearly departed, aside from bringing the crime rate way, way, waaaay down in this city. After all this time, we are still hurting, but we will not go quietly. Whatever deity might be out there will be getting one brassy kaddish coming up from our numbers quite regularly. Magnified and sanctified will be the names of the fallen with every note played and every beat in time.

And amen to that.

*same thing could well be said about me in the face of all of Big Red's stellar missives on the second lines over at the BoNO. Go read 'em. Now.

More snippets of Brass Band Blowout goodness can be viewed here.