Me & Cops

30 May 2006

I’ve had a lot of trouble with the Law over the last few months. E and I each got speeding tickets from heartless LA cops in the days immediately following the evacuation (E’s got dropped thanks to some fancy cronyism working in her favor, and they rejected my payment because it wasn’t a cashier’s check; I recently got a “final notice” about that. Pricks). Then we got busted (see “Busted” post) for nothing in MS a while back. Now last Friday I got a ticket for “Failure to obey signal” on the way to the bar. I’m fighting this one.

Here’s the deal: I was driving S. on Carrollton approaching Earhart, and traffic is awful. Getting closer, I could see the lights that explained the drama. It’s a 3-lane road (each way), and in the far left (inside) lane, a car is being hooked up to a wrecker. Not sure if it was a wreck, out of gas, or what, but there’s also a police car blocking the middle lane and part of the other two lanes by parking perpendicular to traffic. Lights were on, and my honest conclusion was that they were just making sure no one hit the car being towed. The traffic was diverging in both directions to take alternate routes, but as I got close, I saw that there was plenty of room to go around the cop on the right, not endangering the towee, and not hitting the cops. So I slowly proceeded in front of the cops, and they saw me, pointed angrily, and I stopped.

Now let me say that I’m not one of those people who hates cops. I’m glad they’re here, I’m generally respectful to them, give them the benefit of the doubt in ambiguous cases, marvel at their ability to keep their cool during Mardi Gras, and sympathize with the fact that most of them are committed to doing the right thing under trying circumstances and for very poor pay.

However… These guys were assholes. The one who pointed gets out and says, “license, insurance, and registration.” I got them out, and he said angrily, “Don’t you see us sitting here?” Well, sitting was the operative word, since they sure weren’t out directing traffic or doing anything useful, just relaxing with a smoke in the car. I said yeah, of course I saw them, but they didn’t need to block three lanes of traffic for a car to get towed. His verbatim response: “The hell I don’t.” So they took my info, gave me the ticket (and at least one other car they were working on when I pulled up), and meanwhile about 25 cars go around behind them, ignored.

Several things about this incident got under my skin. One was the general attitude of the cop I interacted with. I realize that it’s irrelevant, but he was the stereotypical pasty fat jerk who apparently relished the fact that he had me in a spot. The smoking further bugged me, partly because I find smoking repulsive, and under the circumstances, I started thinking about how I resented his being out of shape, smoking in the car I paid for, etc.

A little irrational, but when I’m mad, my mind wanders into such concerns.

The clincher was that they left right when I did, and when we were stuck at the light at Claiborne, the guy throws his cigarette but on the ground. I know this is a minor thing to most people, but c’mon. It’s still illegal, it’s littering, and it’s my street. Still, nothing I could do except stew and drink it over. Which I did. Excessively.

So I’m going to contest in hopes that a) the cops won’t show up and they drop the ticket, b) if they do show up, I can point out what a prick this guy was, or c) I can convince the judge (or whoever handles such things) that this was an unnecessary waste of time, as I was looking to them to see if it was ok (I easily could have backed away), they weren’t directing traffic away from the scene, and, as I said, it wasn’t necessary to block 3 lanes of traffic for a tow truck.

Probably won’t work, but I have to state my case. Grrr. Now I have to get pissed off all over again when I go in there. As if there isn’t enough to be pissed about these days….


22 May 2006

Well, I went 2-for-4 in my voting, although I wasn’t too bummed about the two I lost.

Losers: The biggie was that I voted for Mitch Landrieu over Ray Nagin. Unlike some of my friends, I wasn’t angry that Nagin won, and I had some ambivalence about voting against him. I think he’s a good guy, and he has been a refreshing change from the corruption to which we’d become all too accustomed (and Jefferson isn’t helping). But I do think that Landrieu would be better prepared to handle the monumental challenges ahead of the city. I’m not sure which is worse, a lifelong businessman or a lifelong politician, but at least Nagin has some skills. And I hope that he’ll get to work capitalizing on the assets of his opponents. Here’re my requests for the 2nd term:

  • Don’t take this as a mandate, as W did. It’s not. Lots of people didn’t vote for you, and you need to find the middle ground to make everyone feel better about where we live.
  • Ditch the preacher-speak. I like you a lot more when you shoot from the hip, but not when you sound like you’re trying to be a minister. God didn’t hit us with the storm, and S/He won’t decide to spare us this time.
  • Pay attention to the stuff that’s going on, and get on it. Crime is up, we’re nearing another hurricane season, and trash still isn’t getting picked up. Lots to do.

I really liked this post from the da po’ blog. Says it nicely.

I also lost my Clerk of Court vote, but I probably shouldn’t have even voted in that one. I’m pretty ignorant.

The big Win was Shelley Midura beating Jay Batt. This was a V-A (vote-against), not a V-F. I voted for Midura the same way I voted for Blanco, and the same way I voted for Edwards back in the day: because her opponent was so objectionable. Batt is a fatcat, plain and simple, and he values commercial development over all else, especially neighborhoods. Not my guy. Voted for him last time because I didn’t think anyone could be worse than Scott Shea. I stand corrected. Do the right thing, Shelley.

I was also pleased to see Arnie Fielkow beat Jackie Clarkson for the city council at-large race. I don’t hate Clarkson like some of my friends do, but I think Fielkow is a genuine good guy with a good mind, and he clearly has good priorities, having martyred himself by daring to tell Benson that the Saints should stay in NOLA. Nice work, Arnie. Hope you can slap some sense into some of your colleagues there, and I think you and Oliver should be a nice team.

So the city ends up with a fairly diverse city council (glad to see AfAm James Carter win Dist. C, although I would’ve taken Kristin Palmer over either of our folks) and a Black mayor. I agree with the above link that this could send the message that NOLA isn’t closed to anyone.

Y’all come back now.

Mayoral Debate Featuring Chris Matthews!

17 May 2006

Well, I’ve never been a fan of Chris Matthews, but I haven’t hated him as much as many of my blog fixes do. Now, I’m with them.

Last night, another mayoral debate was televised nationally and “moderated” by him and Norman Robinson. According to the T-P coverage (I didn’t watch because I can’t stomach those things most of the time), it was basically the Chris Matthews show focused on NOLA so that the national audience could have a little downward comparison.

Why would this thing be nationally televised anyway? Only because people think we’re a trainwreck and want to watch the flames. Well, fuck ’em. Matthews said numerous times that “everybody” thinks we’re crazy. I’m sick of people getting their rocks off in our city and then relishing its demise. When this city comes back better than ever, I hope we can ban the ungrateful turncoats from setting foot here again.

Plenty of fodder for debate in this race, and I’m narrowly favoring Landrieu, but these are both good people trying to do the best job they can. Under other circumstances, they’d be fine. Right now, we don’t need pricks like Matthews fanning the flames. And I’m pissed that Robinson jumped on the national bandwagon and went Hardball on the locals. C’mon, Norman, you’re better than that.

Good Times!

3 May 2006

“Feels so good, feeling good again.”
–Robert Earl Keen

That’s how it feels to have an incredibly successful JazzFest weekend under our belts, not to mention the drafting of Reggie Bush to the Saints.

First, Bush. Everyone knows he’s phenomenal, and the Texans seem to have given us a real gift by passing on him with the first pick. At first, I thought we shouldn’t take him because we have such a great (and cool) RB in Deuce McAlister. But after reading a bit more, it’s all good. Both are excited about working in the 2-back sets that they had in college. A lesser athlete than Deuce could see this as an insult, but instead he’s focused on how this will actually extend his career by protecting him from injuries. And word is that Bush isn’t an every-down back either, so it should be great. And so far, he and Brees seem to like and respect each other, so I’m pumped. In an article today, he said that he’s “no savior.” He’s right. But the fact that he knows that football isn’t the end-all is a refreshingly humble perspective. Welcome to the great city of New Orleans, Mr. Bush.

Oh, and please, NFL execs, can we have his jersey say “R. Bush” rather than just “Bush” so that it doesn’t have to look like a tribute to the prez?

Now, JazzFest. Great weekend. Windy weather on Saturday, muddy on Sunday, but otherwise fantastic. And the moods and crowds were outstanding. It was a big love fest. Although, as always, I loved everyone I saw pretty much, I was simply blown away by the set by Bruce Sprinsteen and the Seeger Sessions Band. I’d never seen the boss before, but I’ve always heard how great he is live. But then I thought that because I wouldn’t know many of the tunes, and he wasn’t with the E Street Band, he couldn’t be that great. But, oh, how I was wrong. This may have been the best set I’ve seen at JazzFest ever. Better than the Robert Randolph set, better than Karl Denson, better than Buddy Guy, better than Dylan or Dave Matthews. Just awesome. Started softly with his acoustic guitar, then the 20(!) piece band kicked in and music just washed over us. I was in ecstasy. Perfect mix of energetic and poignant. Great social commentary. And such respect for the city. Bruce is my new guy, and nobody better talk no shit about the Boss. Thanks for giving me such a memory, Mr. Springsteen.

So all is not great in the Big Easy these days, but there are things to feel good about, and I’m all that much more gratified to have come back to make it happen.

Once again, all praying people need to do what it takes to keep the momentum going.

Check out this shot of Bruce leaving the set: