Treme: Too Real?

12 April 2010

I really enjoyed the premiere of Treme last night, although it confirmed one of my mild apprehensions about the show:  People won’t believe how authentic it is.

It’s a weird contradiction that at the same time we don’t want people believing that there’s a parade every five minutes here, like a lot of pop culture would suggest, but at the same time, they’re pretty damn regular, and Treme captures that.

I can see people around the country simultaneously having their stereotypes of the city confirmed and yet not believing that what they’re seeing is real.  In fact, we do support a lot of their stereotypes on a superficial level, but not on a deeper level.  Yeah, second lines happen regularly, but they’re still a big deal that people make a point of catching.  Yeah, we cut loose a lot more than most folks, but the tit-flashing is for non-locals only.

I’m really happy with the job Treme did.  It’s tough to get real musicians to be real actors, and not all of them got it done, but it’s a blast to see some local heroes get into the spotlight.  I hope it doesn’t change them!

Chronology error?  Anyone remember when Jockamo IPA came out?  I actually wrote about it after first discovering it in late 2007, so I’m pretty sure that Vaughan’s neon sign is out of place.  Not that I really care, I’m just never the one to spot that stuff.

Hurry up with that next episode, HBO!

Cyril continues to be part of the problem, not the solution

12 March 2010

Gary tipped me off to this interview with Austin’s own Cyril Neville.

A couple of choice bits:

Everybody who had obligations to help out didn’t.

Huh?  This kind of shit just reinforces the rest of the country’s perception that we’re just sitting here waiting for help to arrive.  And it’s an insult to all those who did so much.  Yeah, we’re all still pissed at a lot of people, but we’re also trying to take care of business.

My sister-in-law’s house, which I’ve been staying at off and on when I come back, it’s easier for her to drive across the lake [nearby] to go shopping than it is for her to drive all the way uptown to the one Walmart that they have there on Annunciation Street. It’s going to be a long time before the overall city itself is back to anywhere close that it used to be. Yes the French Quarter is there and they can build casinos anywhere they want now — they don’t have to go offshore.

Yeah, New Orleans sucks now that it’s so hard to get to the WalMart.

Look, I’m happy for what he’s doing for the wetlands, but he bashes the city whose allure pays his bills, and then he shortchanges the people who’ve dedicated the last 4 1/2 years to getting things going again.

We wore “Never Brothers” t-shirts to the first JazzFest after the levee failures, and Cyril makes it tempting to break those out again.

I have contempt for court

23 October 2009

I’m on jury duty this month, for the first time (lucky, I know).  Every time I try to complain about the unbelievable inefficiency of it all, all I hear is, “What do you expect?  It’s jury duty.  It’s supposed to be that way.”

But it doesn’t have to be.  As I’ve always said, if stuff happening as it should is your top priority, then New Orleans isn’t the place for you.  But this is absurd because of the incredible disrespect it shows for people’s time.

In case you’ve never had jury duty or it’s been awhile, here’s how it works:  You show up at the appointed time of 8:30.  Around 10:30 or 11, they announce that judge X is ready for a pool, and they call 25-50 names to go up.  If Judge X really isn’t ready (which I’ve seen happen), or if Judge X realizes that this isn’t a jury case (which I’ve seen happen), then you come back down and resume waiting.  If Judge X is ready, then you go in and actually do something–answer questions from incompetent and ignorant ADAs or public defenders (lord help me if I ever need one of them) who are basically just kissing your ass so you’ll like them and vote their way.  If they’d read the questionnaire you so carefully filled out, then they wouldn’t really need to ask you anything, but they haven’t.  If you’re picked for the jury, then you’re stuck for the day and perhaps the night.  If you’re not, you go back down and wait some more until they decide to let you go home.  When I initially came in, they told me I’d know by noonish if I would be on a jury, but that was a lie.  So now I’m having to ask for special permission to get out in time to teach my 1:15 class.  Most people don’t go home til 3:30 or 4.

Here’s my main beef:  Why are the potential jurors–the only people in this process who aren’t paid–forced to work around everyone else’s schedule?  Can’t they ask what would be a good time for ME to come in?  And why the hell do they tell us to come in at 8:30 when the know damn well they won’t be ready for at least 2 hours after that?  If the judges have to get “ready” for the jurors, then they should have done that last night, not when 150 kind souls are down there waiting.  The disrespect is unfathomable.

I’ll say this–the people you meet are generally lovely, as one would expect from New Orleanians.  Although everyone is frustrated with the operation, they don’t take it out on each other or the staff who read the names and check us in/out.  I’ve had some nice conversations with a great cr0ss-section of people, which makes me that much more angry with the judges who abuse them.

I’m one of the lucky ones.  I make a salary, and even if I have to cancel class for a trial, I won’t be fired over this.  But my neighbor Donald is there with me, and he makes his living doing odd jobs in our neighborhood.  What the hell is he supposed to do?  This is stealing from him, all because they can’t just have him come in when they’ll need him.  But he’s still there, in good spirits, holding court (so to speak).  He’s too good for them, and so are most of the other people I’ve encountered.

Why not put us on call, and say that we have to report within, say, an hour of their calling us?  Why not give us the option of coming in at night?  Why not be prepared for us when they tell us to show up, so they can run us through a series of interviews back to back?  Why not do what most places do and have us call an automated number to find out if we need to report?  Anything would be a better system.  Hell, I’d rather have just taken one whole week off to do it than this drawn-out, williteverend shit.

This much I know:  I finally know how to vote for judges.  I’ve always felt weird voting for judges because I don’t know who’d be good and who wouldn’t.  Now I do.  I’m voting against every single one of these sitting judges, and I’m voting for any candidate who can realistically promise to overhaul the jury system and show a little more respect for the good people of the city.

The judges are the only ones there with any power, so this system is their responsibility.  And they all suck.

The outing of Dambala

31 August 2009

I’m only sorry the article didn’t include pictures of Bob Ellis and Daya Naef.  I gather everyone else knows who they are, but although I read American Zombie pretty regularly, I hadn’t followed this story because it was over my head from the beginning.  Now, thanks to them, I know who Ellis and Naef are, and not that they care, I think they suck.

A number of years ago Elizabeth Loftus, a prominent social psychologist and expert on eyewitness testimony and the malleability of memory, was sued by a woman whom she showed had been subject to false memory creation in a sexual abuse trial.  Although she had worked hard to protect their anonymity, they sacrificed their anonymity by suing her for testifying as to what the data showed.  Sometimes people cut off their nose to spite their face.  In fact, Loftus’ university didn’t back her in the shitstorm and ended up losing one if its most badass researchers.

I don’t know what the Latin phrase would be, but surely it’s a logical fallacy for one’s response to an accusation to be, “I sue you now.”  Here’s hoping this all blows over, or Dambala is vindicated.

Remember, Indeed

29 August 2009

I shared Jeffrey’s dismay at Google’s choice of Michael Jackson’s birth as the most commemoration-worthy event of August 29.

So, to help ’em out, here’s a nice list of people they can honor on September 11 for their birthdays.  My favorites for Google to take note:  Kristy McNichol, Bob Packwood, O. Henry.  But hell, how could you pass up a dual-recognition of Tom Landry and Bear Bryant?

I’m so excited to see what the make the OOs out of!  Pricks.

Sinn fein.

S’long, Nossiter (again)

28 August 2009

Kudos to my friend (and Saints seatmate) Gary for his royal sendoff to Nossiter.  Don’t know how they put his name at the bottom but called him “Unknown” at the top.  Either way, glad Nossiter’s gone.

New Orleans=Afghanistan?

19 August 2009

I’m a little late on this, but the New Orleans quote cracked me up too much.

When Colbert covered it, he said, “I had no idea Afghanistan was so fucked up!”

New Orleans dollars?

17 August 2009

I heard quite a bit about this in Toronto and could really see it taking off here.  Anybody know of other places it’s been done or its impact?

HammHawk’s Friday Raves

3 July 2009

Menage a Trois red.  Seems like every time I drink this, I like it more than anything else.  Don’t be a blend snob.

FuckYouPenguin.  New URL, same phenomenal writing.

Get Fuzzy.  E likes it even more than I do (as in, she’s a freak for it), but is there any doubt this is the best strip going?

Rambla.  Best tapas I’ve had in a loooong time.

Backgammon.  E & I’ve been playing a lot lately, and it’s just a wonderful game.  Played all my life, and it never gets old.

Harvey Milk.  Now we’ve seen Milk and the documentary it’s based on.  That guy was awesome.

Well, that didn’t take long

3 June 2009

I sent my friend Gary the link to Gentilly Girl’s fine send-off of Adam Nossiter.  Gary’s never been a fan, so he was quick to submit the following to the T-P and to the AJR.  Here’s what he wrote:

Regarding your article on the departure of New York Times reporter, Adam Nossiter, from New Orleans. I can say without reservation that I, for one, celebrated his exit from our city. While there may have been many fair and objective reports by journalists in the aftermath of Katrina, a preoccupation with the descent of the city seemed to captivate the national media, with Nossiter always leading the way.  His sensationalism bled into the national psyche, turning Americans against our recovery, frightening potential visitors, driving away many who might consider relocating here. One only needed to hear from friends and colleagues in other parts of the country to appreciate his poisoning of public opinion. “Been reading the Times…”

Nossiter, like his airwave counterpart Anderson Cooper, attempted to weave personal fame from the threads of our demise. I would have expected more sensitivity to our plight from a journalist with local roots but his sensationalistic reporting threatened our recovery at exactly the time when we tried to build public consensus.  While I will not deny the truths in some of his reports, in many cases, his pessimistic approach produced uneven tales that are best described as half-truths.

As examples, I found this phrase in his story on a national conference of librarians “What with ever-present evidence of last year’s destruction, crime shooting up, near-daily fires and continuing malaise… . “  His words translated an important and positive event in our recovery, our first major national conference, into yet another negative tale of the city’s stagnation. He even managed to denigrate the return of the beloved streetcar by focusing on the reduction in ridership.  More recently, he predicted in the Times that an issue with trash collection in the French Quarter would ruin the upcoming Carnival season, and then failed to report a speedy resolution of the problem well before the season began.

Nossiter’s reporting did significant damage to our reputation and our recovery by reinforcing the agenda of some outside the city who dismissed our rebirth as extravagant or impractical. His so-called commitment to keep us in the American consciousness was poisoned by the tone of his reporting, and in the end, his version of our recovery impeded rather than promoted the city’s rebirth. He is no hero in the story of our recovery.