Wednesday, November 26, 2008

On the one hand: yeesh...*
On the other: aah, hell, history should be so kind...
Happy Thanksgiving, all!
*motivated by my recent reading of this book...
Update, 11-27: from a friend on my Queens synagogue's listserve:
You can't make this stuff up. From today's Huffington Post, quoting the New York Post (no relation).

Merry Hanukkah from the White House!

The president and the first lady invited leaders of America's Jewish community for a Hanukkah reception at the White House next month - but raised more than a few eyebrows by putting a picture of a Christmas tree on the invitation.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Folks, articles like this unfortunately show that our part of the country has been mired in the conservative muck for so long, we can't even muster up any connections greater than a nifty game of "Six Degrees of Barack Obama Separation".

There's this: "I'm not the guy; I just raised a lot of money for him," said David Voelker, the New Orleans businessman who is chairman of the board of the Louisiana Recovery Authority. At $80,300, Voelker appears to have been Obama's top fundraiser in Louisiana.

Which is best characterized as "I dunno, man, I just work here. Ask Virginia Boulet."

She's not an inner circle type of gal, y'all...I coulda told the Times-Picayune this last month. She does some good cheerleading on the Prez-Elect's behalf, but she passes us on to Jennifer Borum Bechet, a former Harvard Law Review colleague...who hasn't talked to him since those bygone days.

They should just spin a wheel of prominent Louisiana Dems and thrust whoever the arrow points to into the limelight at this rate. Nice to see that the White House is looking beyond geography with some of its appointments, anyhow...

If there were more prominent Louisiana Dems, perhaps they would have helped put a stop to naked land grabs in the making such as this one, in which everyone's time to speak to the city council was shrunk from three minutes to one, with no questions being taken.

New Orleans' Lower Mid-City residents and businesses put together a slide show of images from the neighborhood, demonstrating what would be lost if this portion of the Mid-City National Register District were destroyed to make way for new VA and LSU medical centers. Historic Charity Hospital and its Mid-City neighborhood were listed on the 2008 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

Once again, I give you, for your perusal, some stuff from a previous post on this matter of the LSU/VA location...

The dots you are seeing below are of properties cleared for demolition in December 2007:

Oyster's comment on the latest Squandered Heritage post from which the above map comes:
Much of where you mapped, of course, is a block away from planned billion dollar VA hospital. It will be prime commercial and residential real-estate in a few years, especially if the neighborhood has been considerably “altered”.
And now, for your perusal, a map of the proposed site for the new LSU/VA:

With planning like this, who really needs the local paper to chime in on it all, I ask you?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Wisdom gleaned from recently released (and soon to be released) animated flicks:

How to impart the bad - smooth its way with the good:

The good news is, we'll be landing immediately. The bad news is, we're crash landing. - Skipper the penguin, Madagascar 2

A truth rarely commented upon, until now:

Once again, a UFO has landed in America - the only country UFOs ever seem to land in. - Monsters vs Aliens, coming next year.

Finally, we've been watching lots of this movie all weekend in our house. Got to get these latest nuggets of wisdom outta my system, then go and study some Talmud or something. Perhaps the Pirke Avot...or I may forego words altogether and go straght for studies of Gematria...

One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it.
- Oogway the wise tortoise

We do not wash our pits in the Pool of Sacred Tears. - Master Shifu

I thank you for your consideration. *bow*

There is no charge for awesomeness, or attractiveness. - Po the Panda

Friday, November 21, 2008

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up

Aaaaah, Lordy, once again, I am a taggee. This thing has been going 'round like a bad winter flu. Nothin' to do but to take my medicine and complete it...especially since there's a beer in my future at this weekend's Po' Boy Preservation Fest.

Hmmm, random, random...

1) I went to the Shirin Neshat exhibit at Tulane recently and had to leave partway through the viewing of one of the showings. The gallery is showing four films of hers based on this book. I found myself getting sick to my stomach trying to watch a short film of hers called Zarin, about a prostitute who suddenly discovers that she is in a world where the men have no faces. The woman in the film was painfully skinny, on the edge of skeletal, and something about that made me sad, angry, and upset. She was wasting away from the harshness of her world, and it just really got to me.

2) My kid is getting into board games, and it's a kick for me. In fact, I need to get back to a game of Battleship in progress...

He seems to really enjoy chess lately as well, though I can't play that worth a damn. He works on it on the computer, with Dan advising him on which moves are better than others. I think the little guy just likes to take the pieces when he can, and the winning is least, right now, it is...

3) I've started worrying about how much Hebrew my son will actually be learning as a secular Jew. He asked me the other day what a bar mitzvah was, which is a step in the right direction, and he loves the songs and prayers he's learning at religious school - but, when I see how little the kids in the grade level ahead of him know of the language, it worries me. The kids don't even know how to spell "shalom" in Hebrew. Which leads to...

4) deepest, darkest feelings about sending him to the secular Jewish day school in the area. I went to a Jewish day school in Houston for nine years and hated. Every. Second. Of. It. Mainly because of my classmates, most of whom seemed bent on making my life hell. Somehow, though, I absorbed a lot of what Judaism was about despite it all, and I got much more Hebrew out of it than I thought I did. Sending my son to the JDS here is out of the question for us monetarily speaking, but I still worry...

5) I'm kind of thankful now that I didn't go further than a few courses at the Jewish Theological Seminary down a path to becoming a cantor. I love to sing, but I think I'd go nuts from the straddling of immediate family issues and congregational issues, since these days, cantors tend to be trained as "rabbis who sing". As a result, I admire our new rabbi even more, a mother of two young children who is my age. More power to her...she is traveling down a rarely-traveled road. Rabbi Sharon Brous in an essay entitled "Holy Guilt Trip":

What I didn't know at the time was that deciding to become a rabbi for a woman means deciding to become a woman rabbi, itself a distateful oxymoron in much of the religious world, and an inescapable source of angst even in the liberal Jewish world. I quickly learned that there actually was something worse than being an ignorant, illiterate, High Holy Day Jew who didn't know that salad dressing had to be kosher. My very being - as a strong, serious, spirited woman in love with Judaism - posed an existential threat to the Jewish people, and my passion for Torah and tradition only added insult to injury.

6) Not that there is no historical precedent for learned Jewish women. It just so happens that my mother, when she converted to Judaism, chose Beruriah as her Hebrew name.

Fine, I'm done.


Pat of Hurricane Radio
The Mosquito Coast's swampwoman
Kelly of Good Children
Doctor Daisy up in Wisconsin
Alli, when she returns from the Nether Lands
Professore Dr Michael Homan

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Updates from comments on my take on this Babble article:

At what point did caring for others, particularly those in our families, become so completely devalued? As if raising a child or caring for an adult is a task beneath them, one that only a lesser skilled, lesser educated, person undertakes. And let's not forget that women CHOOSE these roles, oh yes, nothing about caring for others is assumed in a woman's life.

(Take, for example, the holier-than-thou insults to so-called 'Mommy-bloggers,' a term which means, you chose to be a Mom, so shut up, get in the kitchen, and live with it -- most certainly don't write about it, or anything else for that matter.)

Which is, of course, what the insults to this woman were about.

From li'l ol' me:

I can't say that I'm immune to the attitudes that have devalued basic day-to-day caregiving for others. Something in American culture has changed the way we look at extended families - perhaps the primacy of individual gain above all else. And this woman's complaints - and the commenters' kvetches as well - have those changes written all over them.

This generation of women we are a part of was raised to have these individual aspirations, that we could have it all without too much of that responsibility, that, somehow, if the care of others such as children and parents, entered the picture, we could manage it without too much strain, because we could take it, by God! Plus, wasn't all of this supposed to be equally shared by family members of both genders? (yeah, riiiight)

Well, it's tough, tougher than we thought. And we STILL can't complain about it because the responsibility thing is perceived as a "choice" rather than a necessity. You are correct there, Holly.


Oh, by the way folks, required must-read for all: Hospital by Julie Salomon. 'Cause if you think family members as caregivers kvetch...

Seriously, though, it's really good. More on it soon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Here you go kids...

Your Yiddish lesson for the day:

Thank the folks who brought you Yiddish With Dick and Jane for today's mechayeh!

Oh, and speaking of farbisseneh maidelehs, add your signature to the petition to Dismiss Veronica White today. E says he's gonna throw in all sorts of goodies for the folks whose names are the 250th and 500th signatures, so would it kill you to sign? Don't answer that...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On the one hand, I want to yell my ever-ready mantra at Peter Schjeldahl concerning his opining on Prospect .1: "We don't care how they do it in New York!!!!"

However, he does raise some valid points about how the atmosphere of New Orleans circa 8-29 and three years afterwards has affected the participating artists:

Be it ever so small and poor, and despite catastrophic displacements, New Orleans can’t help but remain New Orleans, which is to other cities what a poem is to prose. The phantasmagoria of high and vernacular architecture, polyglot flavors, omnipresent music, exuberant cemeteries, and geographical unlikelihood, of a seaport largely below sea level, stokes continual wonderment. Desire isn’t only a street name there. A municipal tradition of giddy impulsiveness, shadowed by recent tragedy and chronic woes—including a high incidence of crime—has got to many of the invited artists in “Prospect.1.” In the friskily hyperbolic words of a review by Walter Robinson, the editor of Artnet Magazine, the show “takes the reprobate scallywag nihilists of the contemporary avant-garde and converts them . . . into goody-two-shoes bleeding-heart believers in the nobility of humankind.” You may disdain the frequent sentimentality in the show if you can suppress your own uprushes of sentiment. I could not.

I give Schjeldahl props for recognizing the most New Orleans-centric artists, and, especially, for recognizing Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick of the L9 Center for the Arts. The man has professed to liking this biennial: my favorite...since the nineteen-eighties, when biennials ceased to be innocently serious roundups of recent art and became heavily engineered spectacles.

The next sentence, however, is of P.1 organizer Dan Cameron admitting quite frankly that he is a "tourism promoter". Ummm, little to no heavy engineering in these New Orleans spectacles, Mr Schjeldahl? I beg to differ.

Speaking of engineering...

I read this Babble article on the strains of taking care of one's mom and one's three children under the same roof recently and found myself appalled at the tone of the comments on it, at the insensitivity coming from both the author of the article and the commenters. On the one hand, I do hope that this woman talked with her mother about how she felt before this article came out online.

Living with my mother and feeling responsible for her financial future often feels like an overwhelming burden. Instead of saving money for my children's education, traveling as a family, or even going out to eat, my husband and I spend our money on the hefty mortgage. We've talked about selling, but between the weakening economy and our need to house so many people, it's not a viable option for us. Not only do we fret about our children's future, but we worry about my mom's as well. With no retirement funds to live off of, her financial future is in our hands.

Mom contributes what she can. She works a few days a week in a small boutique, and every month she writes me a small check to cover utilities. Sometimes I want to ask her why she's not working more, but the words never come out. As her daughter, I feel as though she's earned the right to work less now that she's raised a family. But as the adult who's responsible for three young children, as well as for her, I wonder if she should be doing more.

Yes, motherhood can be hell. I personally think it's nuts for me to be having any more kids, no matter how many people ask me if I'm considering having more, no matter how many times my son's teacher says having another child might help put the one I have now in his "place" somehow, no matter how many people might think I now need to be in some sort of baby-making and child-rearing business, with no guarantees and no safety nets and most definitely no monetary returns. But to say things like this to somebody who has made their own decisions on the matter:

...isn't it just a tiny bit irresponsible to have had more kids while worried about this? I know lots of working poor have several children for many reasons (belief they are a gift from god, lack of knowledge or will to use birth control...all valid for what they are worth) but the author doesn't seem to be of this ilk...

Why did you choose to have a third child when you could barely afford two? It doesn't sound to me like you're making such great and responsible choices as compared to your parents. pretty damn insensitive. Any decisions involving family size, the care of family members, the financials of raising a group of people and keeping them housed, clothed, and fed, are going to be freaking difficult ones requiring lots of thought, a good deal of talk with the involved parties, and more than a little kvetching along the way. Stuff happens. You make plans, and the fates and/or gods laugh their heads off. And being a member of a so-called "sandwich generation" that is doing her best to trim the caretaker candle at both the young and the aged ends ain't easy at all.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna watch some puppies wrestling each other. One of 'em just pooped and missed the puppy pad. Sign this petition and perhaps Veronica White's new job will consist of cleaning up after these sorts of critters, instead.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

According to Dan, I began my Saturday saying something about "Bastard!" in my sleep.

I dreamt that he had brought home four rabbits in a cage, they had all gotten out, and he expected me to run and get the bunnies and put 'em back in the cage. No wonder I was yelling in dreamworld.

"I decided not to wake you," Dan told me later. "Whatever frustrations you had, I figured it was better for you to work 'em out in REM sleep."

Thanks, honey. Thanks a bundle.

It was the little guy's last game of the soccer season and the day of his school's fall festival, which was planned to have loads of inflatables for the kids to bounce around on for the day, while the adults could wander over and take in the Panorama Jazz Band's music and, later on, the Wild Magnolias show as well as that of Sunpie Barnes and his Louisiana Sunspots. Loads of fun despite the stink of what I initially thought was simply somebody's child's seriously toxic diaper, but turned out to be loads and loads of these:

Turns out somebody involved in the vending for this festival had the bright idea of selling cases of these things for the kids to wreak havoc on initially unsuspecting fest-goers. The smell of these things makes the horse crap smell of the JazzFest grounds this past year a rosy change of pace in comparison. I found myself wishing even more that I could jump around in the Space Walk with the little guy, since that seemed to be the only fart-bomb-free place on the entire school grounds.

Saturday night was our Collective Birthdays Dinner night, since Dan just had a birthday on November 7th, my birthday is next month, our friend Edie's birthday is this month, and her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend have December birthdays as well. We headed for Restaurant August and enjoyed an incredible meal, at which I feasted on an amazing cassoulet and enjoyed some champagne on the house in honor of Edie's birthday. A perfect night, until the small scream of a fashionably dressed lady at the table behind me and the sound of her chair scraping the floor in her haste to get away from her place at the table marred things a bit. Seems one of our semi-frequent houseguests in this part of the country had paid her a visit at the center of the table, right next to the wine bottle:

Howdy, ma'am! Lovely dress! May I sample your appetizer?

I couldn't resist leaning over to the lady in question and saying, "Hey, par for the course!", 'cause I'm such a stinker myself when I've had a great meal...especially when I observed her tablemates covering the roach with the wine bottle and calling on the bemused waitstaff to dispose of this creature that was freaking her out so. I walked off to the bathroom shortly after the incident and overheard some of the staff shrugging it off as "It's New Orleans!" I agreed wholeheartedly with that assessment. It wasn't an epidemic, simply a single bug dropping in on an unsuspecting bunch of Mardi Gras bead-wearing tourists.

We exited the restaurant and headed out to our car only to get a call on Dan's cell from Edie telling him that her car was covered...
She immediately ran out to two car washes she could find that were open at 10 o' clock at night and ran it through them twice...and she still has some of that crud on her car.

Who do I blame the most for all these recent encounters with nasty odors, vermin, and bird poo?

The woman responsible for saddling this city with "a Rolls Royce when we could only afford a Camry". The one whose "miss-trash" gaffes are more than likely causing even more city funds to be funneled down a black hole that more than likely leads to the pockets of many cronies of Hizzoner the Walking Id, if not the man himself. The woman who is more than content to go running off crying to the mayor and cowering behind his tailored suit when she is being asked, repeatedly, to give evidence that she is actually doing what's best for the city. What is she trying to hide by not answering this basic question? Don't you, as a city taxpayer, want to know?

Stacey Jackson was an easy scapegoat in the NOAH scandal as far as the current Mayor's Office is concerned because she was already out of her office by the time the list of supposed renovated homes hit the fan.

I'm waiting to see what happens with Veronica White here, since she is an acting director. Will the Walking Id use her as a human shield? Will she resign and head to an undisclosed location in Dallas? Will this be investigated by the city's Inspector General and the FBI with the utmost swiftness so that we can see the people responsible get the hook from the Perdido Street monolith?

Or will this whole past Saturday of mine be explained away as being simple random acts of bizarre coincidence?

Thursday, November 13, 2008


My son has unfortunately clued into an old trick this week to get himself outta school...making like he is one sick puppy and having the nurse call me to pick him up early. It got him out at noon-ish Tuesday, and then he attempted it again on Wednesday. The nurse, bless her, made it a point to listen to his little lungs the second time around, when he complained of a cough, and found no real congestion in him. After talking to me over the phone about it, she took his temperature again a half-hour after the first time she took it and found that it was dropping - from a number that wasn't all that high to begin with.

I mean, I know every other person is coming down with something these days, what with the weather changing, kids bringing home all the germs they are wont to share (and we wish they'd share their toys more...) and all, but for the little guy to be pulling this kind of stuff?

I just hope he doesn't start spinning himself around and around, then go running off to the teachers and the nurse complaining of dizziness.


I wish hadn't been hacked into, because then I could add Muckraking Mom, South Jerusalem, and several other blogs of note to li'l ol' me to my blogroll. I guess I should be grateful I still have a blogroll...but I wanna update it so, sooo much, I do! Especially since the Humid Beings web portal will officially relaunch next month. You have until Christmas, Blogrolling folks...until then, if anybody's got any suggestions on what other blogroll services there are out there, lemme know.

Inadvertently, a just-for-the-heck-of-it search for a certain '80's toy for a blogpocheh member got me here, which got me here, and got me seriously thinking about a new blog template. I like it a lot, but I think the instructions for downloading it to Blogger are meant for the old version of Blogger, and trying to cut and paste the XML into Blogger has proven to be an exercise in futility. If anybody can help me out here as well, lemme know. Might be 'bout time for a blog facelift...


It just has to be happening in Louisiana, doesn't it?

As if there aren't enough queries from family and friends in other places on why we moved back to Louisiana in the first place.

My dad called me around Election Day last week and chided me for living in such a red state. This coming from he who lives in Oklahoma. I'm sure I'll get it from him on this some kinda way...and I'll just have to say that at least we now have a good idea who and where the racist dim-bulbs are here. Since the Klan isn't as...errr..."organized" (used very loosely here) in Oklahoma, it's a tad tougher to figure out that sort of information there.

...and sigh again...

Apparently Hizzoner the Walking Id is convinced he's found some racists as well - and that one of 'em is on the City Council, all because she dared to ask the city's sanitation director some probing, highly pertinent questions about the city's questionable sanitation contracts, and the person in charge of 'em evaded the queries over and over and over and over. This time, something really does stink, and it ain't Stacy Head.

Plus, the devil's in Details magazine, once again calling the bloggers out on the carpet for "impeding the recovery of his hometown". The article also reveals the man's choice of reading material, which miffs me to no end, since I have a copy of the book and I haven't even cracked it open yet. As Jacques the shrimp has said, "I am ashamed."

I am incensed, however, at an aspect of this that E points out:

Shock Doctrine has a whole chapter about Ray Nagin's post-Katrina New Orleans. You can find some excerpts of that section at one of Ms. Klein's Huffington Post pieces. Essentially, Klein argues that business forces use the shock of disaster to ram through all kinds of goodies for themselves while the actual victims of the disaster are left waiting on their rooftops. It is a scathing denunciation of neoliberalism. It is one of the most strident criticisms of Ray Nagin's recovery philosophy that exists today.

And Ray Nagin is in the middle of reading it, just not the part about him. He's interested in the part where she explains how business forces exploit people, the part he can interpret as a manual that can instruct the rest of his disastrous reign of terror on this great American city.

I wonder how many times the Walking Id faked some sort of sickness in his school days so he'd get pulled out of whatever predicament he was in. I wonder if he's still doing it.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The art fool within is skipping down the city's streets with such glee, suppressing cranky, curmudgeonly mama for long periods and capturing some amazing works with her camera. The city is in the throes of some great, thought-provoking contemporary art. It's tough not to get excited! It's the art fool's impulse to see everything the Prospect .1 Biennial has to offer, to get up and go to every gallery, every museum, every installation, all of it, allofitassoonaspossible!!!!!

What can I say? I've been indulging the little fool lately, even as I've been tussling with her a little on some of the critical aspects of it all.

-Pete brought up some valid points about the atmosphere of the Lower Ninth Ward:

The area is still pretty darn bleak, and full of odd sights. This could well have been considered an art installation anywhere else in the world. In New Orleans, it was just a motorcycle on a slab.

I have some worries about the surreality of the area in the context of the many art installations that are currently on view there. At least one work could be construed as simply exchanging one canvas for another that just happens to be on an abandoned house. Thankfully, most of the other works are not like that...but, in driving on Caffin Avenue on the lake side of Claiborne, I had to wonder if the art tourists are being urged to stay awhile and open their eyes to see most of the Lower Ninth for what it is: a decimated neighborhood to which former residents are largely being discouraged from returning, in large part because of the squandering of any infrastructural investment in the restoration of the wetlands and the strengthening of the system of levees, pumps, and other barriers that should have been here all along. Piles of worn-out tracks from bulldozing equipment still abound, and egrets are walking amongst the tall grass and standing water on many of the empty lots.

After all, many recovery failures on the part of all levels of government, and a good amount of poor upkeep of these structures that were supposed to help keep the homes here free of storm surge, are ultimately responsible for the surreality of the landscape here, three years and counting after the Federal Flood. The work on display in the Lower Ninth Ward certainly draws inspiration from the emotional costs of the losses surrounding it, but most of the artists involved leave the bigger questions surrounding rebuilding in the area to the people who are actually doing something about it. One possible exception still leaves many questions unanswered...

... which leads me to my next critical bone of contention....

-What should artists' responses to a disaster consist of?

Are artists obligated to respond to disasters and any other issues of the day in a form that keeps their ideas within the gallery environment, or can they successfully branch out of that? Loaded question, I know...and I've seen good examples of both kinds of art as part of Prospect .1 and as a satellite exhibit, respectively.

Looks like a massive pile of money, doesn't it?

It's actually part of a work by one of Arthur Roger Gallery's artists, on view in the Old U.S. Mint right now. The description of it takes great pains to point out that its creator, Srdjan Loncar, is one of the "relatively few New Orleans artists chosen to be included in Prospect .1":

"Value" is one of two major works that Srdjan is creating for Prospect .1 and is remarkably relevant to a time of serious financial crisis.

"Value" is about money "Value" is an interactive installation occupying the two rooms just inside the entrance of the Old U.S. Mint. An impressive pile of money is comprised of crafted digital prints of money on wooden blocks and a separate grouping of painted Winchester pistol cases.

"Value" encourages "clients" to deconstruct the pile by purchasing a case to be filled with "money". 500 cases are being
specially composed by Srdjan and are being offered to "clients" during Prospect .1 at the Old U.S. Mint.

And now for a completely different concept....

Welcome to Mel Chin's Safe House!

Yes, it is a working door with a combination lock on it, made by artist Mel Chin. No, it isn't officially part of Prospect .1, but running coincident to it in a St Roch house belonging to a homegrown contemporary art program known as KK Projects. What the Safe House contains is an idea meant to get the lead out of New Orleans through the implementation of the Fundred Project.

The artist explains his response to 8-29 and its aftermath:

Maybe that detachment was important; I was meeting people who were going down there to work and clean. That was wonderful, but I didn’t know if that kind of response was right for me. And that detachment helped me to see it another way. It made me go back again and again and research and find people outside the arts community.

When I was working on Revival Field in Minnesota in 1991, I met an important scientist named Howard Mielke, who is now at Tulane/Xavier Center for Bio-Environmental Research in New Orleans. He has been studying the soils of New Orleans for twenty-five or thirty years. He’s an expert on the effects of lead and testified about lead to Congress in the 1980s. I called him to ask about how bad the lead content of the soil in New Orleans was post-Katrina.

Howard had accomplished a project called Recover New Orleans. He tested and treated twenty-five properties in one of the city’s most dangerous zones, with a high murder rate. It also had the highest lead levels. I said, “Howard, we have to do something. How much will it cost to reclaim the soil in New Orleans?” He asked, “all 86,000 properties?” He said that would cost about 250 million dollars. To which I replied, “I can't raise that much, because I'm an artist, but I know we can make that much.” I didn't say it would be real money or anything. So I promised him that. It would take a big landscape effort, a landscape art effort.

And that's how this project was born. Its code name is Paydirt. Paydirt encompasses the overall operation, which raises awareness and money and then executes the transformation of the 86,000 properties. The Fundred Dollar Bill Project supports Paydirt.

I describe the Paydirt operation as having two sides, one covert and one overt, all still one project. Fundred is covert only for the time it needs to be, to gather the expression, the voices of kids. The other side, the landscape side is overtly trying to be actively engaged in transformation, the physical and scientific and verifiable method to transform a city in need.

Download the Fundred Dollar Bill templates and the lesson plans here.

I would LOVE to see $300 million of kid-created money purchased by the government so that the lead levels in the ground here are safe, because if it is successful, think of what ELSE we could get here with the help of the kids!

It's not like there isn't a precedent for trading in money not made by the government...

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The garage door opened to reveal a number of totemic pieces of oak wood that came from the local swamps. I adjusted to the dim light in the space as she walked in and turned on a few other lights within.

In a few minutes, she was on her BlackBerry with the other artists, struggling with some of the technical aspects of the work on display, but it didn't matter. The pieces were amazing. As a collective body of work, they were quite strong.

And in the midst of it all, bobbing amongst the pieces of furniture emerging from the concrete floor as though carried along on a gray tide, was this:

On view now, along with the work of many other local artists, in a group show curated by Floodwall's creator, Jana Napoli, and YA/YA creative director Rondell Crier, at On Piety.

Go see.

Update, 9:52 PM: And go read while you are at it. Yesterday.

A week later, K and I went back and were able to salvage a few more things. But for the most part, we donned face masks, gloves, and boots and carted everything we'd once owned out onto the curb. At one point we took a break, and watched as a man pulled up, got out of his truck, and started rooting through our things while we stood on the porch and watched him. I remember crying as he put Emmeline's mold-covered crib and a few other items in the back of his truck and drove off. I wanted to run after him and curse him for having the gall to pick through our belongings while we stood and watched--to me, he was no better than a grave robber. But instead, K and I went back inside and continued throwing what used to be our things into garbage bags and continued carrying them out to the curb. And I still worry about whatever little boy or girl may have ended up sleeping in that crib.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Received in my email from my son's school, just now:

Hello Everyone.

I am writing to give a report on tonight's OPSB meeting. The School Facilities Master Plan was passed with only one member voting no. Responding to public input, during the formal meeting and before the vote, both State Superintendent Paul Pastorek and NOPS Superintendent Darryl Kilbert vowed to work closely with existing programs, who's buildings are scheduled to be closed, to find an alternative site appropriate to the program. As of now, we are the only program in this situation, so they were talking about us. After the meeting, I spoke to both of them personally and they reiterated this commitment. As Paul Pastorek told me, "As long as I am here, I give you my commitment that we will work with you to find an acceptable alternative facility." (Rough quote.)

I will contact the appropriate RSD official tomorrow the begin this dialogue immediately.

Read more about the pre-vote changes to the Master Plan here. More details on the meeting and the vote can be found here and here.

A more "responsive" press release, detailing the schools to be demolished under Phase 1 of the plan, can be found here.

I can't go into great detail on what exactly will happen with my son's school, but I know now that Paul Vallas, in saying on October 1st that the Master Plan would be under review every six months after its approval, will be held to his word by the president of the school's charter board.

That crucial review period is all that's left for those who didn't get what they wanted for their children and their communities.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


It's all free!

The ultracool map that is a work of art in itself is FREE.

I have to carry tissues with me every time I open it, however, because the ink used in the printing of it really irritates me. If it does the same for you, open the thing up and air it out a little. Otherwise, don't open it up unless you absolutely have to - or, when you do open it up, just frame it on your wall. I'm not kidding, there. It really IS a work of art.

The shuttle one can take to see it all is free as well, so locals can definitely do this if they wanna. Perhaps the RTA needs to take some cues from the art organizers on this one.

The thing I am enjoying about it the most, however, is how many local artists are involved. Especially in places like the Marigny around St Claude Avenue and the Ninth Ward. Sure, there's plenty of dots on the map for the usual Julia Street galleries, but that would really be taking the easy way out in terms of art tourism.

Get yourself out there and head for the Colton School, especially because Michelle Levine's Signs of the Times are on view there, as well as many other local folks' works.

While you're there, head for the old Universal Furniture building further downtown from Colton and take in even more local art. Then, when you've had enough, go see some installation work on the lake side of Claiborne Avenue and some photography at the L9 Center For The Arts closer to the river.

And just when you think the visiting Art world folks are only dropping in from the sky to grace us with their presence, they throw some curveballs:

Have fun, folks. You have less than 11 weeks to do so.

Update, 6:10 PM: Consult with ArtVoices magazine (yes, free copies can be picked up all over town!) for more local information on the art in the galleries and around town - especially the fact that this work is now here. Go see it.

Just in time for a major art exhibition to come to town, seems Hurricane Paloma is headed towards Cuba. No word on whether or not any expensive jewelry is being dragged along with it...

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I laid out a tentative game plan to the little guy: walk the dog, have breakfast, then vote.

We at least got the first thing done. I was approached by a lady at the dog park about signing a petition recalling District B Councilwoman Stacy Head for, among many other things, the fact that she "(v)oted to tear down public housing and cruelly made fun of the people who fought to defend public housing." There were many "Recall Stacy Head" signs on the neutral grounds as well when I drove around later in the day. I wonder how many signatures were acquired...

When we brought our dog back home, the little guy saw that the girls next door were outside and he really wanted to go over to their house and play. Their daddy told us they were all heading over to vote and we'd probably see them there. Instant change in plans: "We're going over to vote now, right, Mom?" Ooookay, kiddo.

As I turned around to lock the door after the dog, my son looked at me and said, "Mom, are you voting for Barack Obama? I like Barack Obama!"

Floored me, I tell you.

No, we haven't been serious Obamaniks all this time. Dan and I, quite honestly, have been a bit too cynical to really believe that this man could get so, so far - up to the third presidential debate, we just didn't allow ourselves to hope too much. Dan was having some nasty flashbacks of the 2000 elections and wasn't putting it past the GOP to try some sort of thwarting of the democratic process. And, really, anybody going into the Oval Office come January is gonna have one very, very hard row to hoe for the next four years. Anybody who refuses to acknowledge that is truly fooling themselves.

But to turn around and find that my five-year-old son had, in some way, absorbed the importance of this day was humbling. Even if, in the same breath, he began talking about how the imaginary mice he includes in his stories were holding a presidential election of their own today. He must have absorbed that from this book...

The wait wasn't long at our polling place, and my son and I stepped into the booth. He stood there beside me, taking in this civic action of pushing buttons on this curtained machine and having the touch of a fingertip help determine who would become our leader. This was not something to be taken lightly, this task: the man in front of me accidentally walked into a booth that hadn't been cleared of the previous voter's choices, and walked back out immediately with a slightly mischievous grin and a crack about that person's vote going down the drain. Don't revel in that, idiot, I wanted to say, but I had my son there. Not a time for name-calling, but name-choosing.

We pushed the "Cast Vote" button together, his growing finger next to my thirtysomething one, and walked out. He didn't even mind that the girls' school's playground was roped off so he couldn't play on it. He'd overheard there were possible free doughnuts for the taking, so we headed to the Krispy Kreme.

And, even though we live in a Ruby Red grapefruit juice state, I can tell my son he was still a part of history (Thanks, Mominem!):

Presidential Election Returns for New Orleans

116,042; 79.32%; Democratic Party, Barack Obama, Joe Biden
989; .68%; Green Party, Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente
28,041; 19.17%; Republican Party, John McCain, Sarah Palin
171; .12%; Constitution Party, Chuck Baldwin, Darrell Castle
395; .27%; Independent, Ralph Nader, Matt Gonzalez
572; .39%; Louisiana Taxpayers Party, "Ron" Paul, Barry Goldwater,Jr.
16; .01%; Prohibition, Gene Amondson, Leroy Pletten
23; .02%; Socialism and Liberation, Gloria La Riva, Eugene Puryear
38; .03%; Socialist Workers Party, James Harris, Alyson Kennedy

Monday, November 03, 2008

Some thoughts on tomorrow:
-I will have one happy camper in tow (at first, anyhow), since the schools have decided to treat this Election Day as a holiday. Dan thinks it's asinine that this is happening, attributing it to the affinity Louisianans have for voting on Saturdays - and in reveling in that luxury, they are extending that to a weekday. All I know is, the other reason why the little guy will be in ecstasy will be the chance he will get to play at the playground just inside the fences of the girls' school that happens to be where our local polls are located. He feels the primo play equipment is wasted on the girls - so much so that he's asked me about getting into a boys' school, thinking that if the girls' playground is that good, the boys' must be positively heavenly. It doesn't quite work that way, kiddo.
-Apparently, Starbucks will be giving away free tall coffees to those patrons who have just voted. Walk up to the counter, tell 'em you just did your civic duty, and voila. If they refuse to serve you, blame this dude.
-A good many of the blogpocheh would probably like to put the "party hearty" into the polling returns at the WWL studios - alas, we will have to piggyback onto the likes of the liveblogging of those doings by the folks at the Gambit. We are crashing that party in four years, channel 4 staff. You have been warned.
-No matter what happens, we can all feel secure in the knowledge that

there is now an ark in the Ninth Ward in the event of any emergency.

Be well, vote safely and responsibly, and keep track of any irregularities, be they in the voting booth or out of it!