Why Does Bush Hate America?

28 March 2007

Mr. President, I have a message for you:  We are a country at war.  This is no time to play political games.  Yet here you are, blatantly contradicting the Congress, the representatives of the people.  Don’t you see how this emboldens our enemies?  A true patriot would see that it’s time to put opposition aside and unite for the common good.  You must be patient with the timetable.  Trust us, the pullout is working.

This stuff sounds so familiar…

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G Needs a Blog: Copeland Chronicles Continue… & More!

28 March 2007

My friend G writes a lot of letters, and he’s one of the die-hard militant New Orleanians who are great to be around when you need some fervor.  That’s not to say he’s Mr. Sunny optimistic, but he will defend the city to the highest level.

He sent me a few things (as he has before) that I thought I’d post.  First he sent me this text from Tom Fitzmorris, who’s a bit pompous and all, but I’m glad he’s pissed about the shame that is Al Copeland.  Just wish he was a little more vitriolic:

Copeland’s has taken over the former Lone Star Steakhouse on West Esplanade in Kenner, near the Esplanade Mall, and a few days ago reopened it as a standard Copeland’s Creole-Cajun restaurant. (Although they all seem to be working that cheesecake idea.)

That in itself is no big deal–one ordinary chain replaced by a better, local, chain. But it inspires a question, one I’ve been asked over a hundred times by readers and callers to my radio show. One I can’t get answered by the Copeland’s people.

Why are they allowing the two Copeland’s locations on St. Charles Avenue to just sit there, boarded up?

St. Charles Avenue did not experience significant flooding. The buildings may have had some damage anyway. But there’s nothing going on at either place. Not the older, smaller restaurant on the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon, or the much bigger, flashy Copeland’s Cheesecake Bistro on St. Charles at St. Andrew, near the Pontchartrain Hotel.

The only word I’ve heard–and this second-hand–is that they’re thinking about what to do about those restaurants.

How about just opening them? Everybody else Uptown is doing pretty well. The neighborhood is pretty much intact. For the Cheesecake Bistro, there are more people working downtown than there were before the storm.

But right now, they’re a blight on the showplace street of New Orleans (although you might not know that for the condition of the St. Charles roadway.)

The streetcar line, which had to be completely rebuilt, looks to reopen before these two Copeland’s restaurants will.

Come on, Al. If you’re going to use the name “New Orleans” on your restaurants, how about helpping New Orleans a little?

I read Harry Shearer’s blog pretty regularly, but G paid close attention to these posts because he resents the hell out of the negativity we get in the national media, especially from Nossiter at the Times.

Two Posts for Harry Shearer on his blog (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/harry-shearer/)

I.  “How Are Things Down There?”
That’s the first question anybody who’s even a part-time New Orleanian hears from folks around the country. Anecdotal reports, like the recent NYT story about people moving out (the Times reporter, unlike lil’ ol’ me, couldn’t happen to run into anybody who’d moved in) are not much help.

II. Some Good News From New Orleans–A Blog to Cherish
I’m ashamed to say I wouldn’t have known about it, had I not glanced at a house ad in The New Yorker for the magazine’s website, but newyorker.com has one hell of a New Orleans blog going on. Yes, it also contradicts everything one thinks about New Yorker, New York and New Yorkish journalism, but Dan Baum (with the assistance of his wife) is writing street-level reporting about daily life in the Crescent City, spiced with some excellent videos of Mardi Gras Indian celebrations. Baum has a true reporter’s eagerness to talk to anyone and go anywhere, so let him take you through the New Orleans that never makes the news.

Then there’s this letter to Keith Spera, who sang the praises of SXSW this weekend:

I am puzzled by your promotion of Austin and its music culture.  This is a city that has made every attempt to take the culture of New Orleans hostage; first by offering safe haven, then openly seducing our musicians to remain, rather than facilitating their return home.

The shameless looting of our precious culture by others is now a fact of post-K history.  Houston has stolen our businesses, San Antonio lusted over our Saints, and yes, Austin covets our musicians and artists.  I would view these behaviors as picking the bones of the corpse if not for the fact that New Orleans is not dead, and is not about to die.  I can also assure you that this culture is not portable and will not thrive elsewhere, except as an awkward caricature of itself.

As you enjoy this year’s festival in Austin, I remind you of comments made in aftermath of the levee breaches by two well-known Austinians who have taken much from New Orleans culture over the years, and given little back in this time of great need.

“Would I go back to live? There’s nothing there. People thought there was a New Orleans music Orleans music scene; there wasn’t.  A lot of things about life in New Orleans were a myth.” – Cyril Neville, December 2005

“Austin is a different kind of town than New Orleans, which has been a dead-end street for a lot of people for a long time.” – Marcia Ball, December 2005

You might revisit their original interviews to appreciate their distaste for New Orleans, a city that you write about so eloquently.
http://www.cubanow.net/global/loader.php?&secc=4&cont=show.php&item=696
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4155/is_20051215/ai_n15948897

You can see that this is a guy with some issues and some passion for the city.  Good person to have as a friend, especially when the going gets tough.


If U.C.L.A…

25 March 2007

…tell him to fuck off.

Not that I’m a bad sport or anything…

Sad to from the Stones to April Wine in one day. Jeez, this sucks.

Update:  Now that I’ve calmed down a little bit…  a few thoughts.  We lost largely because we couldn’t hit a layup.  I don’t know why that happens sometimes, but it seems a bit uncanny.  In 2003, the last time we were in the FF, we obliterated Marquette in the semis and lost by 3 to Carmelo and Syracuse in the finals.  In that game, we shot 4-20 from 3 pt range and 12-30 on free throws.  Shooting 50% on FTs would have made for a tie game.

This time, we missed a million shots under the basket.  I don’t know if you can coach that stuff (“Just make the shots” or “Try harder to be accurate” just doesn’t seem like it would be effective), but clearly we get cold at the wrong times.  I thought this might be the year because we’ve had someone step up each game, and we’re deep enough to endure an off night by someone.  This game we didn’t have that happen, although we still played some good D.  There were a ton of steals in the game, helped some by the refs’ tolerant officiating.  For the record, I thought they were pretty even in their calls, and I prefer a slightly looser pattern of foul calls.  See my earlier rants about the BS charging calls that have become epidemic.

I gotta say, UCLA played a damn good game, and afterward, they acted like they’d been there before, which I appreciate.  It’s tough to see the gloating.  I expect them to celebrate and be happy, and the Bruins did so with class (to the extent that the shitty CBS coverage allowed us to witness it).  They’re a hard team for me to hate, so I won’t, even if I regret their superiority on this night.  I think we could take at least half our matchups together, but this one wasn’t ours (I learned that KU is now 0-5 against UCLA–ugh–so as much as we’d like to take them, they won’t consider us a rival anytime soon).

I was relieved when UNC lost, and not just because I wish ill upon Traitor Roy Williams, but because I didn’t want us to be the only #1 seed to miss the FF.  I have a thing about being embarrassed with a loss.  Because KU usually has a good team, it seems like everytime we lose, the headline in the national press is “XXX Stuns KU” or “KU Shocked by XXX,” which is kind of a drag.  This time, we just lost, and it was not a real upset; without a little faltering at the end of the season, UCLA would have had the 1st or 2nd seed in the tourney, and we’d have been a 2nd seed.  Plus, the game was in Cali, so it was close to home.  I’m not complaining, really (KU has had more than its share of advantages in conference tourneys 1/2 hour away in KC), but it was something of a home game.  ‘Hawk fans travel well, but they can’t compete with that.

Now we’ll see what kind of team we have for next year.  It’ll be damn good, to be sure, but there’s a good chance we’ll lose Brandon Rush to the NBA.  He didn’t look like a pro on Sat, but he has the skills.  I hope he’ll stay, not just because I want to win (to be honest, that’s probably 80% of it), but because I think it’s the better thing to do.  Contrary to this crap, the money in the NBA isn’t “better” than the college experience; it’s just different.  Yeah, I know I’d probably take it if I had the opportunity, but he’s going to be fine, and the money, while fun, isn’t a substitute for the joys of being a college baller as long as is reasonable.  Just ask Danny Manning.

Plus, as we’ve seen, our guys could use a little help.  I’d never really seen him talk or read his quotes, but Julian Wright, who probably has the best NBA potential on our team–even if he’s a little raw at the moment–has the best perspective I’ve seen.  And I admire him for it.  Note that he announced this before we lost in the tournament; as long as he means it (I don’t know why I’d think he doesn’t), then he shows the recognition that he has more to learn:

  “The route to getting better is to stay in college,” Wright said. “The NBA is more of a skills setting.”

Think about how much sooner Tyson Chandler would have become the force he is now if he’d had even one year.  I’m glad the NBA changed the rules; it’s helped pro and college hoops.

Aside:  Jeez, I just pulled up the Hornets website.  You can tell Editor B didn’t design it; they have “Shinn Family” linked right after “Home” and before “Roster” or anything people might actually care about.

Alright, enough on the hoops.  Don’t really care who wins now, which is one of the bummers about caring so much about one team.  When they’re out (ahem, Saints), the rest becomes a bit bitter.  Only one team’s fans can end the season happy.  I’m hoping one day it’ll be the Jayhawks again.


“Foti in race for governor”–HammHawk Reads the Paper

24 March 2007

I read the T-P every morning, and that obviously leads to mixed moods for the day.  This morning, I read the above headline and flipped out.  Before I could even think about how absurd the prospect is, I was screaming, “that dick,” as he’s been on my shitlist since he began his misguided (In My Humble Opinion) pursuit of Anna Pou and the nurses.  Of course, after I ranted to E about how I couldn’t believe it, I opened the paper and saw above the fold that the full headline was “Breaux turns to Foti in race for governor.”  That makes more sense, but at least I got my heart pumping right away.

Other observations from today’s fishwrap:

Leonard Pitts is the best columnist working, and I’ve written about him before.  Today’s slam on W et al. is excellent as always, and he threw us this little bone in a column about the admin’s reframing of the issues to serve their purposes:

As the sins of Team Bush go, this isn’t the biggest.  That dishonor goes either to bungling the war, mismanaging the peace, or leaving New Orleans to drown.

No wonder W didn’t mention us in the SOTU.  Prick.

I know it won’t convince the world that we’re worth paying attention to, and maybe it’s deckchair rearrangement, but I like the idea of the “Fleur de lis” ambassadors who will be visiting cities and meeting with editorial boards and the like about their coverage of our city.  I’m not sure Ron Forman could be a very convincing ambassador for anything, but I’m proud to work with Norman Francis and Michael White, both of whom are damn good people.  They both lost everything from their homes in a lifetime of distinguished careers, and yet they keep on doing their thing with grace.  I’m sure people have issues with Francis, and I sure wish he was a less top-down leader, but I believe he’s a sincere and skillful one without ulterior motives to speak of.  White is one of the real keepers of the flame and takes the relatively unglamorous title of Spanish professor, but all the while he’s putting his money where his mouth is and doing the right thing.

In Sports, we see that Kobe lit up the Hornets for 50 and that Big Baby was in attendance.  I was at the game, and Kobe’s performance was simply the best I’ve seen.  He just can’t miss.  Also, from my vantage point, I could see the crack of Big Baby’s ass through my binocs when he sat down.  That’s my brush with greatness for the day.

I resisted the temptation to bring to the game a sign saying, “Clean It Up, Copeland.”  If you haven’t been to a Hornets game, you’ve missed out on the glory of Copeland at a game.  He watches about 20% of it, his extensively peeled ruddy face with its pulled-and-plumped fishlips between a surgically planted and chemically blackened head of hair and a very expensive fitted silk shirt.  This season, his companion is a similarly unnatural looking youngster.  Like many things, he was amusingly bizarre before the storm, and now he’s a symbol of abuse and neglect, with his “restaurants” sitting unrepaired and unoccupied.  The rest of the country likes to complain about the poor black New Orleanians who didn’t have the wherewithal to get out, but the real problem is the rich whites only interested in their own gig.  Asshole.

I usually read Living last, since it’s the “dessert” of the paper.  I’m definitely going to check out John Biguenet’s new play at Southern Rep.  Rising Water sounds terrific.

And is anyone else discouraged by the recent decline in quality of Rose Is Rose?


Salukis: Shattered

23 March 2007

So glad I got to put my clever headline in big type.  But mainly because my Jayhawks get to fight another day.

Tough game, and the worst TV coverage I’ve ever endured.  I’m fine with Memphis-TX A&M being the primary broadcast, but come on.  The KU game is close to the end, and they can’t show the final few minutes uninterrupted?  Seriously, KU’s ahead by 3 with 2 seconds remaining, and CBS goes back to the other game during a timeout, just like they did for all the other nervewracking timeouts.

At the end of the game, we get a second or two of Self walking to shake hands, and Gumbel basically says, “And the Salukis fall short. Back to San Antonio” so that we can see the 7 min or whatever was left in that game.  They’ve got to show a minute of the wrapup from a hard-fought game.  If I was an SIU fan, I’d be pissed that I couldn’t get any more closure than that crap.

At least Billy Packer didn’t cover the game.

Now we take on UCLA tomorrow.  ‘Twill be tough, but at least we have the spirit of Scott Pollard on our side:

pollard.jpg


As Usual, I Don’t Know Quite What to Think

22 March 2007

A couple articles in this morning’s T-P gave me some pause. I was reluctant to start quitting on Nagin, but now that I’ve had enough (this happened a while ago, but not as early as Brinkley et al.), I’m inclined to deny him the benefit of the doubt. His latest notorious line was more of the same, and it made me feel angry that he represents us so poorly and does such a disservice to the recovery, not to mention race relations.

But today the paper printed the transcript of his speech (here’s the video), and by my reading, his story holds up pretty well. If I open my mind a bit, I can buy that the story was pumped up by a hungry reporter, and he was taken out of context. I don’t usually buy the “out of context” argument, but I’m not sure he’s off base here. I’m willing to acknowledge that I may not be cynical enough on this one, but check it out.

Now, I will acknowledge that a) the “I don’t follow a script” bit is getting mighty tired, b) he still comes across as a pompous ass, and c) who the hell would call him the greatest mayor ever?

But still, the content wouldn’t have raised my ire if I hadn’t been primed to see it that way in the initial report. I think it’s actually a pretty pro-NOLA speech. Let me know if I’ve been slipped some koolaid.

The other thing, less revealing, is the latest on Dollar Bill Jefferson. I know the enemy of my enemy isn’t necessarily my friend, but I’m more eager than ever to hear Jefferson’s supposedly innocent explanation for the cold cash. Now that we know just how shady the AG’s office is, perhaps we should re-think the assumptions we all made about what Jefferson was really up to.

I resent the hell out of his refusal to explain and the clout that he’s cost the city in the meantime. I’ll never forgive that.

But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that the accusations were at least exaggerated as the result of W issuing the command to bring him down a peg. The people against him most care much more about loyalty to W and power than justice (this interview with Tom Delay will convince you just how far the Right is going these days–he’s even more psycho than I thought).

One more thing I’m not sure about: Whether KU will win tonight against SIU. I think they will, but in case they lose, I want to share my uber-clever headline now–Salukis: Shattered!

Update:  Now what do we make of this?


… And Speaking of Copeland

20 March 2007

Keep the heat on people.  Maybe you can read more into this than I can, but here’s a letter from my friend GD to Stacy Head and her response.  Let me know what you make of this and if you hear of anything more going on.  I’m not sure why Chase can’t move a little faster, but there y’go.

Dear Council Member Head,

I wrote to you almost one year ago about conditions at the intersection of
St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues.  There are two abandoned properties at the
intersection.  Specifically, I refer to the properties formerly occupied by
the Rite-Aid Pharmacy and Copeland’s Restaurant.  I would like to know when
the city plans to impound these properties and convert these buildings for
public use.

It is my understanding that the city has the authority to seize properties
that remain unrepaired and vacant.  I can offer many suggestions for uses
that will improve public welfare such as a children’s library, a streetcar
museum, a health clinic.  You might also add to the list of abandoned
properties another establishment on St. Charles Avenue, the building
formerly occupied by the Cheesecake Bistro.

The failure to restore these businesses is appalling, especially at a vital
intersection like St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues that is frequented by
locals and visitors alike.  These buildings are in the heart of the
unflooded area of the city and their shabby state sends the wrong message
about the city’s recovery.

At some level, I am not surprise that corporate callousness as displayed by
these prosperous firms, along with other national chains like Starbucks,
rules the day.  Clearly, these particular corporations have a clear focus on
profits and little interest in promoting our recovery.

Thanks for any assistance that you can provide in this matter.

Here’s Head’s response:

The rite aid is being redeveloped into a chase bank.  I requested that various departments cite copelands — but I have not yet received confirmation.  The expropriation ability that you speak of is dependant on the administration’s will to act.  I am pushing and prodding through council hearing etc to move expropriations forward, but it is difficult.