Monday, September 29, 2008

My Fair Share Of The Bail Out

Today Congress chose not to vote for the 700 billion dollar banking bail out. It’s a tense day for America, especially for those who have large investments or work for some of these troubled companies. I know the government has to do something because we can’t risk having total financial collapse. I guess we don't have a choice. Since tax dollars are going into whatever plan eventually gets passed I have two requests.

The first request is that any company who chooses to let the tax payers bail out their country should have to make every decision maker in the company step down. Why should everyone sacrifice money for the failings of a bunch of rich cats and they get to keep the same prestigious position. Not only should they have to step down, for the next five years they shouldn’t have access to any of their money and be forced to work a retail job or on a construction site putting up with foolishness for not enough money like most Americans have to do. Let them see what it’s like to have to take out a pay day loan that takes five pay days to pay back. That rule will change business practices in America for sure.

The next request is this. I have discussed this with all of my friends. It occurred to us that even though we are all working men and have been our whole adult lives, we can barely get a bank to call us back to let us know we are denied a loan let alone give us any money. I have had a full time job since I was a teenager and been with the same bank the whole time. If I apply for a loan they won’t even call me back. I have to chase them down like a jilted lover just to be told no.

I think it’s fair to ask that whatever dollar amount is settled on for the bail out, the percentage of that comprising people like me be taken out of the figure. If the amount ends up being 700 billion subtract my portion and make it $699,999,999,025(Wow, those numbers look serious when you write it out). I take no responsibility for this crisis. The only thing I did wrong was not closing my account and putting all my money in my local credit union. I guess the fact I am still a banking customer makes me a little responsible too. Go ahead and add five dollars of my portion back. I have to do what I can to make sure everyone but me and my friends have the opportunity to keep getting further into debt with high interest rates. The only Banks I am concerned about saving in times of a crisis is Tyra Banks and she doesn't have my phone number.

Week 4 In One Word


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sure Is Something Slick Going On

After watching George Bush talk about the economy tonight, I could only think of one person and one song to describe the situation.

I present Mr. Watson……

The Elite Needs More Baby Mamas

"Worried that welfare costs are rising as the number of taxpayers declines, state Rep. John LaBruzzo, R-Metairie, said Tuesday he is studying a plan to pay poor women $1,000 to have their Fallopian tubes tied."

For all the people who sit around wondering how people like William Jefferson and Ray Nagin can win elections and black people vote for them even after they do crazy things. It’s because of the fear that someone the likes of State. Rep Labruzzo will be in office and suggest crazy things like this. All this time I thought racism, class warfare, a jacked up education system and corporate greed were to blame for the rising amounts of people in need and it turns out all they need to do is stop having sex while successful people have more. Can you imagine the state sending this guy to a global company to convince them to do business?

“You’re that guy that wanted to sterilize poor people! Our employees would love moving to that area to live. I just hope we never have a layoff.”

Here is the question and I think it’s a fair one since our local newspaper saw fit to put this on the front page of the morning news. With all the economic trouble going on in the country right now, if all these smart and successful people he wants to encourage to have more kids lose their jobs and their money when things go wrong, do we get to take their kids away and put them to sleep? That sounds fair to me.

I didn't realize smart and successful people weren't making enough babies. It must be all the reading and figuring out how to destroy the economy by running companies into the ground. Since I want to do my part to fill the world with as many elitists as possible, the song below is to loosen you guys up so you can start getting it on like Representative Labruzzo wants you to.

And we wonder why people don't take our part of America seriously........

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Culture Of The Trigger

How you like me now? I go blaow
It's that shit that moves crowds makin every ghetto foul
I might have took your first child
Scarred your life, crippled your style
I gave you power
I made you buck wild

Nas - I Gave You Power

I didn't really want to post this. You know, my people have a problem. I know this is the time of our historic moment and we have all agreed to not discuss anything but the greatness of our candidate but sometimes you have to put yourself back into reality. My friend left work today to attend the funeral of a five year old baby who shot himself while his family was moving. His mother was a friend of her family. Yesterday I watched the news when I got home and saw the story about this 17 year old baby who got killed sitting in her car talking to her friend. I’m not one of these cats who come up with reasons about things happening because they heard it in Sociology class. I’m from the avenue and I seen this first hand. We can’t live in a fantasy land and pretend things are ok. Guns mixed with ignorance are destroying the black community.

I am a proud black man and would not want to be anything else. I love my people including the thugs. However, if there is one thing about my people that I would change it’s our tendency to take bad habits and destructive trends and slowly work them into the everyday routine for how we live. We have a bad habit of incorporating destructive behavior into our culture. It’s like when crack first hit the streets and broke us down so bad that women who used to be friends with my mama were turning tricks with my friends. As horrible as that sounds, eventually the crack head became our comic relief and it was cool as long as they kept working to pay for their own rocks. Now the using and selling is a regular thing and we deal with the collateral damage of that.

The other ingredient to this mixture is our tendency to want to do things above and beyond the normal. Sometimes we can take something and blow it out of proportion. We like nice cars but that’s not enough. We have to get rims and sound systems that cost more than the house we live in. What did we expect when having a gun became a vogue thing for everybody to do? Did you we think people would go and get a revolver and keep in the closet or under the bed in case someone came into the house like our grandfathers used to do? No, people were going to go out and buy the biggest, most menacing piece of human destruction they could afford that day. If you buy something that big and powerful, of course you are not keeping it hidden away in the closet or under the bed. You are going to show it to your friends and walk around with it under your shirt. You are going to pull it out and want to use it for every little thing and it’s going to become part of the normal surroundings in the house so kids are going to think it’s ok to pick them up and hold them “like my daddy do”. Now when disagreements happen where kids used to throw a few punches everybody pulls out a cannon.

Go ahead and send your donations, wear your buttons, your t-shirts and chant “yes we can, yes we can” all you want to. Until we spend that same energy trying to save the lives of babies like Darielle Rainey, the five year old and all these other young people lying in the street, all victories should be bittersweet. What are we changing the world for anyway if these babies won’t be here to benefit?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What's In A Name

I have to give Leigh her props as usual and link here for the real nuts and bolts of the school master plan. Why try to rewrite something she's already done a good job at. As usual I have to add my two cents from this side of the tracks.

The New Orleans school system is right in the middle of creating their master plan. We desperately need one for many reasons. In a city that has a public school system in the condition of ours, you would think that a plan like this would go through without a hitch. In an attempt to think more positive I am going to hope that the best plan goes through soon but I see one problem that's not getting enough attention. There hasn’t been enough consideration given to the culture of the native citizens in the city. In recent years many progressive and educated people have moved here with new ideas and opinions on how things should be done. Many times these things have worked in other places without much resistance because most cities are sort of interchangeable with it comes to culture. This is not one of those places.

Two weeks ago I was having a conversation with my brother and he asked me to write a blog about the fact the new high school planned for the Lower Ninth Ward wasn’t going to be named Alfred Lawless High School. He wanted me to tell everyone who reads this page to go do some research on Alfred Lawless and find out who he was and why he had a school named after him in the first place. Walt, when you read this I tried to find a full story on Alfred Lawless but this link about his son Dr. Theodore Lawless was the best I could come up with online. Wikipedia hasn’t gotten around to pages on local black leaders yet this tells the basic story. By the way, I don’t think it’s an unfair request that anyone involved in the planning process know the history of the schools and whom the schools were named after when making decisions.

One of the most popular things out there now is these new high school alumni social networking websites. Every local high school has one and the membership is high. On the site for my alma matter Clark, there are people on there from classes in the 50’s. I can’t say for certain this isn’t true anywhere else but I know it’s true here. Where you went to school in New Orleans is your pedigree. It’s one of the ways we identify ourselves. It’s just as important as what ward you grew up in. Anyone making plans for a new school system should expect the same resistance as another group would get trying not to rebuild a certain part of the city. They will be met with resistance. The concerned Pythians of Lawless are not the only group that is a little angry. I know hundreds of John F. Kennedy graduates seething and looking for a way to get back at whoever decided not to reopen their school. I mess with them everyday about it but I know it bothers them.

I have a solution for this because we don’t have time to sit around fighting for years about this. We have to move forward and it should be all about the kids. We needs to change the name to every school from top to bottom. I am sorry Walt. I know that's not what you were trying to get me to do but I hope I got your point across. Name the new ones by streets or location or something but change them all. Whatever plan you come up with will go over smoother this way. If you are thinking to yourself that doing this will just make everyone angry then you are right. It will in the short term. In the long term as the new schools open and everyone sees how nice they are that will go away. What’s not going to go away is if my school becomes an elementary school and all of our rival schools are still open. That may sound petty but I am four generations deep in this city and I know what I am talking about. You have to take personal affiliation out of the equation because it breeds resistance to change and resistance to change leads to a lack of progress. It appears to me that when people start making plans in this city they want some of us to say goodbye to everything while other people don't have to give up any part of their existence here. Someone has to bridge the gap between the mind state that says things are moving forward and the one that thinks traditions are being taken away. I’m somewhere on the fence.

Week 3 - A Letter To The Coach

Dear Coach Payton,

I know it’s only week three so I am not panicking, There is 13 games left and you could easily win ten in a row and have the best record in the league. However, I have to say that watching you guys give away winnable games is messing with the start of my week so I need to say something. I want to help you out by sharing a phrase that one of my brothers from another mother Trevor likes to use whenever someone is over thinking and trying to do things that they don’t really have the means to do. It has become a part of our regular vocabulary.

“Dance with the girl you brought to the prom”

See, sometimes you have to take an assessment of what you are working with. I was a pretty good basketball player growing up because I was smart enough to know that a 5’6 dude with big legs wasn’t going to play in the paint like Shaq. I focused on the things I could do and did them well. Now, let’s look at your team.

You have a defense (except for Mike McKenzie and Jonathan Vilma) that plays like a Westbank levee. They can go at any minute when pressured. You have one player (#42) that is so terrible the minute he hit’s the field offenses change their game plan just to throw at him. You have one running back (#23) that plays hard and tries hard but just doesn’t have the extra skills to make up for your soft offensive line. The one back who maybe could get a few yards on his own merits has a mysterious illness that requires his uniform doesn’t get dirty in the second half. This is the theory I have developed to explain why Deuce isn’t playing on these do or die plays. Your kicker is a psycho who might cry for the rest of the week and never make another kick this year after missing that last field goal today. That leaves you with two solid dependable things, Drew Brees and the passing game plus the world class skills of Reggie Bush. Stop taking the ball out of both of their hands when the game is on the line. Until you realize you have a team built for passing the ball all the time and not playing smash mouth football, we will continue to live up to the name Saints and hand out charity wins every week.

Dance with the girl you brought to the prom and let Drew Brees throw the ball to win.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sitting On My Porch Part Fourteen

Sometimes after a storm it takes awhile to take a proper assessment on just how much it screwed you. For the most part we dodged a bullet with Gustav and Ike but when the scores are calculated I still got whipped. Since my week long exile two weeks ago I have a leak in a pipe running through my driveway, my ice maker isn’t making ice and my Direct TV boxes keep losing the signal and cutting into the football games. When you add up the potential repair bills plus my high cell phone bill because when you are evacuated that’s all you have, the score is now Hurricane season 10 - Cliff 0. The score will only get worse tomorrow when I am soaked in mud trying to stop this deluge in my driveway.

How is it possible that after decades in the Senate and being successful enough to own 7 houses that John McCain can’t speak clearly on the economy? Here it is you have Sarah Palin practically delivering the white working and middle class voters to him on a silver platter and he’s trying his best to give them right back to the undecided column. If I wasn’t a black man from New Orleans who was raised in an environment of racial division I might think this was being rigged for Obama. Since I a black man from New Orleans raised in an environment of racial division I think it may be a set up just to disappoint us extra.

Are there really Americans who are that wishy washy that one bad sound bite or commercial can change national polls in a matter of hours? Chuck Todd on NBC is becoming a celebrity from showing that map everyday of the polling numbers in the battleground states. Everyday the numbers are different. Who are they calling? I refuse to believe that more than 10% of Americans don’t already know who they are voting for. They could have the election tomorrow and the results would be the same as November.

Brothers, I understand your plight and I know it’s not all your fault that so many of you don’t have a job. I would just like to ask that when I am out working during the day I don’t see you all sitting around looking happy about the fact you don’t have a damn thing to do. This pisses working folks off. Please stay inside until after rush hour please. If you are going to be outside do me a favor and at least look angry and frustrated. I need that to help defend you to people in the suburbs.

As a man with a degree and a career in technology, how bad should I feel about the fact that I can’t get my Treo 700 to do anything but ring and dial? Me and my boss have the same phone and he can practically stay home and work from his. I can barely get mine to synchronize. I’m too embarrassed to admit that I can’t get mine to work so when he grabs his and asks me about something I just start clicking on things like I am actually doing something. The only thing that makes me feel more remedial than my phone is soduko. Soduko is the dumbest game ever because I can’t solve a puzzle to save my life.

Keith Olberman is the liberal version of Bill O’Reilly and if you love him just because he makes you feel good by saying everything exactly the way you want to hear it that makes you a hypocrite. He is way too obvious to host any election coverage.

I was going to give my thoughts on the city’s “master plan” it’s own post but I changed my mind because the question is simple. Shouldn’t anyone involved in city government before Katrina already have had a plan somewhere in a file cabinet or locked away in a safe? Even if the plans sucked they should have had some to present. It’s not like New Orleans was this paradise prior to August 2005. If anyone ran for office since the storm, shouldn't they have had some plans already too? Don’t you think there should have been this press conference sometime in late 2005 or early 2006 where council members or the mayor said something like

“I have been working on this plans for the last few years but never thought we would have the money or opportunity to do this. Even though the storm was tragic, we could now make this happen.”

Usually when I make a statement like this someone sends me a comment with a link to a story where this actually happened. If this happened I never knew anything about it.

Finally, I would like to wish my parents Bernadine and Clifton a happy 39th wedding anniversary. Your love has to be strong to survive the first five years of marriage without me. If anybody who has ever met me thinks I have any decent qualities it’s all because of you. I hope you have a great weekend and 50 more years together. This song is for you.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Don't Spend The Extra

I have a message for the citizens of Louisiana who received disaster food stamps.

I know you didn’t have anything to do with determining who received benefits. I know some of you stood outside in line for hours just to fill out the application. I know the entire process has not gone the way it was supposed to.

However, do not spend the extra amount of stamps you got in error. I know you didn’t do anything to put this extra amount on your card. Even if a few people knew how to hack the computer I am sure it wouldn’t 22,000 of you. You can’t use those stamps because people in Louisiana are silly and love to blame other victims for their situation instead of who really did it. This kind of thinking fuels our lack of progress. Nothing adds extra fuel to this like a story about Laquita in the Iberville Housing Project who bought 1400.00 worth of groceries when she only was approved for 700.00. People around the state love to read stuff like this because it helps them feel good about their stereotypes.

With the price of food the temptation to run out and grab an extra month of groceries is tempting especially since the stamps just appeared one day without you trying to get over. Some people might consider that a blessing instead of getting over. It may not be worth it after seeing your name in the newspaper in a story about people who “beat the system”. If you realize that you received double, just call the number and give it back to them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Putting Up With It For A Dollar

Yesterday I took my extra cash and decided to go to the shoe store and get my baby some tennis shoes for school. I try to stay in the city limits when I can to shop so I went to the store around the house. When I walked in the first thing I noticed was a group of people shopping with two bad kids that were knocking every display down. The sisters working in the store looked like they were going to pass out. Walking in the store behind me was a lady with two shoes in her hand, no box and no bag. She went to the counter and told the manager she had a problem. Apparently she came into the store and purchased two right shoes. One was a size 7 and the other a size 8. This might not have been a big deal if the store didn’t keep only right shoes on display and when you check out they go in the back to get the left one. She might have had an even better chance if she had a receipt, or a box the shoes came in.

The manager went to the back and the exchange that followed went something like this:

Manager: Ma’am, I have two left shoes of this size in the back and two right shoes on the rack. If you would have bought those shoes like that from this location I would not have any shoes on the rack at all or the left ones would be on the rack and there would be no shoes at all in the back to go with them. Do you have a receipt?


Manager: Can you bring me the box they were in? Are you sure it was this store?


Manager: Look, I am not giving you a fresh pair of shoes without a receipt from one of our locations. If you don’t like that then call the home office.

Customer: Fine then…….you blocking your blessings!

Then she drove off. After she left all I could do is look at the manager, shake my head and pray this economy doesn’t get to the point I have to try and go back to retail management to feed my family. My patience is not what it used to be. I would have taken both of those shoes and threw them and her out in the parking lot. Compared to some of the things I have had to put up with personally this was a mild encounter. (My favorite was the guy who cussed me out for a five dollar refund and then needed me to fill out his personal information for him because he couldn’t read the refund slip. You would think he would have been real polite.) Sometimes you have to put up with crazy stuff to make an honest living.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Follow The Money To the Unemployment Line

This morning I got up to watch the usual news shows that I always watch in the morning. Everyone was talking about how all of these major financial institutions are going down in flames and have to be bailed out. Let me tell you from someone who has been involved in a corporate restructuring that changed his life, this is no joke. I am no economist by a long shot. I can barely pay my credit bills on time. After watching a good job slowly fall apart, I think I have a good idea about how all of this works. If the financial institutions responsible for taking care of everyone else’s money fall apart then the company you work for will soon start having problems. When any company has serious financial problems the first thing to go is labor.

You’ll see a regional office here and a plant there. They will send a few more thousand jobs overseas where people work for half the wage and none of the taxes. Petty soon we will be headed to 1929. I don’t know what a great depression would look like in the digital age but it can’t be pretty. I know my explanation is very remedial in its description but I have to be right because the government wouldn’t be trying to come up with billions of dollars to bail out all of these companies. If you want the technical information watch CNBC.

What’s bothering me more than the fact that the country could be headed for a depression is how both of these jive political parties are taking the opportunity to score votes from our fear of standing in a soup line. I don’t give a damn at this point who is responsible. We just need to come up with a way to fix this. I know George Bush was in office the last eight years and I know he hasn’t done a good job at much. Nevertheless, he’s going to be the president until January. I don’t need the Democratic congress sitting on their ass watching the ship sink so Obama can get elected. There comes a time when you have to put the politics aside for the benefit of the people. In my opinion all of this comes from the power that lobbyist have had on both sides of the aisle in Washington. This is why I am an independent now. Ask yourself how could and American company send entire operations to other countries without the senators and representatives from that area going completely crazy? These things have been brewing for years but no one cared because the marketing army in this country makes us all feel good about our middle class and overpriced lifestyles.

I am turning into the black Lou Dobbs. It’s time for a vacation.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obama For Breakfast

I got this picture from a blog written by Professor Tracy at Aunt Jemima’s Revenge. She already did great job writing about it so I will just link to her words so she can explain it. Somewhere in New Orleans a "concern citizen" would probably love to make a product like this for Ray Nagin. This is how people get divided.

Week 2 - Pass The Ball!!

Until Sean Payton realizes he has an offense designed to be a passing team and becomes aggressive in the passing game they will continue to give games away. This an era where a team can have an undefeated regular season without putting much emphasis on the run. He keeps trying to force his talent to do things that they are not built to do. We can pass early in the year to set up the run later.
Instead we play into the defense's hands by forcing the run game and short passes when there are 8 people in the box almost every play. We should be punishing teams for playing that many people close to the line of scrimmage.

Sean, your offensive line can't run block. I know it's only the second game but they are not going to get any better unless you have a back like Deuce he can run so direct through a hole they don't need to do much. It's time to let the play makers go down the field and make plays.

And we have to find a set of plays that can get us a first down when we need one. We should be 2-0 but we could easily be 0-2 because we keep giving the ball back to the other team.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Lisa On The Sidelines

This USC/Ohio St. game ended up being so boring. Ohio St. just can’t get it going in these big games anymore. The highlight of this game was not anything on the field but the stellar and underrated presence of Lisa Salters. How can you not dig Lisa?

Guys sit around and discuss women like Beyonce and Halle Berry but I think it’s time we give sisters like Lisa Salters their credit. With all due respect, she’s the total package. She’s educated, she’s intelligent and she knows more about sports inside and out than the average man. That’s a great conversation waiting to happen. Not only that, she has natural prettiness. That means you could call her without notice to catch an afternoon movie and she would look just as good as she does on TV. This is an underrated quality. Thank you Ms. Salters for making these blowout games much easier to watch until the end.


This entire post applies to Pam Oliver on NFL games too. How come Fox never lets Pam do a Saint’s game?

Act Like A Man Vince

What the hell is wrong with Vince Young? I’m tired of these brothers getting to the height of their profession and then folding mentally. You can’t refuse to go back into a game and then talk about doing harm to yourself because the crowd booed you. Eli Manning and his entire family got booed at the draft and he kept going.

I heard Jason Whitlock on the Jim Rome show last week and he was right. Some of these brothers need some male influence in their lives. It would be great if that person was their dad. If I would have not wanted to enter that game my dad would have went down there and made me put that helmet on. Then again, he wouldn’t have to because I am too proud of my name and wouldn’t embarrass him like that. You can’t quit in life when things don’t go right. Men are supposed to take pride in the fact that things happen to them and it can’t break them. That’s the best kind of swagger to have. I'm not saying he can't be upset or emotional. Handle that in private with yourself and your love ones then back out there and keep grinding. Too many of these young cats live for constant praise. That’s impossible because everybody is going to have a day when they suck. If you think getting booed after a few interceptions is bad, try going to the unemployment office to file for your check when you have a four month old baby at home. That’s a day that truly sucks and I was joking with my unemployment agent.

Stories like this one make me think about the old Saints quarterback Aaron Brooks. Aaron had some rough years here and most people couldn’t stand him. They booed him. They called him names. I was in that dome and let me tell you it was rough on that guy. Through all of that Aaron maintained his dignity. He didn’t go home and beat his wife. The police never found him wandering through the French Quarter drinking and starting fights with fans. That’s why even though I am still amazed at how many times he could drop the ball out of his hands without anyone touching him I still respect him. Someone needs to give Aaron Brook’s number to Vince.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Another Friday Night Ramble

I’m sitting on the floor of my den listening to the wind whistle outside. I’m flipping channels back and forth between Friday Night Smackdown and some college football game. I am trying to pretend there I don’t have people I care about living in Houston right in Ike’s path. I am glad that it didn’t intensify back up to a category four because no one in that city seemed to be taking this thing serious enough for me. It still might be a rough one next week for everyone over there. The categories of hurricanes are based only on the wind. Gustav taught us that you can still get quite a punch from a storm that size. Plus, we are about 300 miles away from the storm and the wind is still gusting outside. This storm is going to take awhile to come ashore and its going to suck for a long time after it does.

I was watching the news earlier and there were still people in Galveston waiting to ride out the storm. All these people are crazy. There shouldn’t be anyone near the coast of Texas at all. I know legally the government can’t force you to leave your home but someone should have made everyone near the coast evacuate. What good is freedom when you drown? Some people don’t learn to respect water until it’s too late.

I am really worn down from all this hurricane stuff. Because of my job, I not only have to deal with it personally. It’s also consuming me professionally too. After hurricanes is when people in non profits and social services seriously think about changing their career path. There are lots of people who need help and the stress to help them is made worse by all the people trying to get over. It can be difficult trying to figure out what group everyone belongs to. I offered to screen everybody because my bullshit meter is a fine tuned machine but I was told that wouldn’t be ethical. It might not be ethical but I would have had fun doing it.

On the way home I stopped to get some gas before the price goes sky high once the refineries get flooded. When I drove up all the working cats were out there sharing an after work beer. All of my neighbors were out there. I felt bad about that. There was a time when a community beer sharing session couldn’t start without me. My boy was right. I m becoming a suburban cat trapped in the city. In the past a revelation about myself like that would have made me sit out there for an hour and drink with them. I left though because their bottles were looking low and the new man always has to buy the next round. This wasn’t a pay week so I didn’t have time to buy those big bellies any drinks.

I guess I will go home and do my usual blogging and watching Youtube. I am going to find some old school Slick Rick videos. I don’t feel like doing anything else. I went to the sports bar with my cousin and closest comrade yesterday but you can’t hang around him too long when storms are in the Gulf of Mexico because he keeps looking up the street for water. There is only so much of that you can take. I am going to watch a little football this weekend and rest up for Monday when the madness starts again. A vacation has to be coming soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Positive School Story

I have blogged about many different aspects of my parental journey through the New Orleans school system. Tonight I don’t have anything negative to say. I want to let everyone know that there are many great people working with these kids. One of them is the principal at my daughter’s school. I still won’t say the name of the school because this city is crazy.

One of the reasons why we decided to go with this particular charter school is because after meeting with the principal he left us with a good feeling. Even with that good feeling the stigma attached to the public school system is such that we had no choice but to take a wait and see approach. I have to say that since the school year started I have been more than impressed with the environment at the school. Much of that is because of the principal. There are a few things that stick out to me. One thing is how he knows every kid by first name and shakes their hands and talks to them in the morning to see how they are doing. Four and five year old kids can have rough mornings and not want to go to school. When he sees that they are having a rough one he walks them to their class themselves to make them feel better.

The other thing I like is how when every parent who picks their kids up in the evening walks through the door he instantly puts the parent’s face with the kid and calls them out of the class. It’s impressive he can remember moms and dads and what child they belong to. It also makes me feel better leaving my girl in his care during the day. He even engages in conversations with me during the evening about the school, my kid and just general things to keep me aware of what’s going on. So far I have to assume that the stuff he said sitting in my living room was not just a scripted sales pitch. I think he actually meant every word of it.

He’s going to do well for these kids as long as some of these crazy parents don’t look at all the interaction as a burden on their time. Some of those parents show up in the evening and act like whatever they are headed to do is way more important than what is going on with their children. If those kids don’t learn anything by the end of the year I don’t know if they are going to be able to blame that guy and his staff. Mr. ‘J’ is the man.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My Take On Palin

I am just going to come out and say that I am voting for Barak Obama. Even still, I have to admit that the selection of Sarah Palin was a stroke of genius and whoever made the decision really knows America. Anybody supporting Obama that doesn't realize that is fooling themselves. She’s the biggest threat to Obama winning since this thing started. See, Americans all are conditioned to vote for people they can identify with. It’s not racism. It’s just the way the media and corporate America has conditioned us to think. It’s the reason we all have different McDonald’s commercials and stuff like that. Smart people write and talk about deep issues and try to be void of color and identification but that’s not how most Americans see things in the media. Most people form opinions based on their own circumstances. That’s how me and my friend can watch the same story and see two different things.

The truth of the matter is that the majority of black people in this country knew nothing about Barak Obama this time last year. However they see his wife, his kids, and how he stands up there dignified and they instantly feel connected to him because of what he represents to their own existence. That’s how local black politicians like Bill Jefferson keep getting re-elected. The same thing is true for Sarah Palin. Women around this country can identify with everything about her. You can step out of your house during the day and run into 50 women who have the same circumstances as Governor Palin.

We all know women pissed off about Hillary losing has been the focus of both campaigns. When you look at it, Palin’s story is more symbolic than Hillary’s. Hillary Clinton is smart and strong but she is academically and socially elite. Her husband was the president already. Sarah Palin started on the PTA and worked her way up while raising kids with her fisherman husband. She’s got kids and some of them have issues. You can’t get more American than that. I would suspect that middle class working moms in small towns around the country would get the same inspiration out of her as people get from Obama. There are enough small towns in America to make her vice president. Yeah, the policies of her party may actually go against those women but like I said earlier we are conditioned to assume that someone with the same background and appearance has to be a better deal in the long run.

All of this could have been avoided if Barak would have just picked Hillary for his running mate and ended this thing. McCain would have picked Romney or Palenty and this would be done. I’m afraid that just like Hillary Clinton’s campaign didn’t see him coming and giving them problems he didn’t see this Palin thing coming and giving him any trouble. Barak’s going to have to work hard these next two months or get someone to Alaska and find something damaging enough to kill her momentum. If not there will be some broken dreams all around the country.

Sitting On My Porch Part Thirteen..Hurricane Lagniappe

Well, we are now out of the dreaded cone of error for Hurricane Ike’s path. Today was the first time in weeks I can say that people around me were relaxed and normal. You still have to be leery of the thing until it lands in some poor place. I feel bad for anybody in its way. We should take the time to send regards and help if you can to the folks in South Louisiana, Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas. Gustav was rough and Ike didn’t help the islands any. I know there are a few months left in hurricane season but this usually the time of year you have to be very careful. The ones that come in October and November usually don’t get big enough to scare you. I don’t want to jinx anything.

This may be an interesting weekend. All the refugees from New Orleans that’s living in Texas may be running home for Ike. Oh my goodness! It’s going down this weekend! I’m staying home.

I realize now that the biggest thing we have to conquer here in New Orleans is our mind state when we evacuate. Before Katrina we always packed with the idea we might be gone a few days. Now we pack everything with the idea that we are leave to start a new life. We are going to have to get to a point where we trust the protection and not have a funeral mentality when we hit the highway.

I have to give credit to Governor Jindal. Say what you want about his politics but when it was emergency time that guy was in charge. I am not used to being giving the exact day and time that things are going to be happening and it actually happen. He might cut every social program in the state budget that helps people but at least he is not leaving them behind to drown or die in hospitals with no power. You have to respect him for that.

I know the mayor was a little over the top in his storm warnings but he had to be. These folks don’t scare easily.

All looters should not be taken to Angola. They should be shot right in the ass on sight. People are just getting back in their homes and shouldn’t have to deal with that when they are leaving to be safe.

It’s time to look into Entergy to find out what they are doing with the infrastructure. Something is wrong with their routine. The tree cutters came by to cut the tree limbs away from the power lines while the power was out last Thursday. I asked the cat cutting the trees if he thought it was better if they did that BEFORE hurricane season. To make it worse, they still haven’t came by to pick up all the mess they cut down.

I can’t believe that in 2008 when I can go to Google Earth and check on my parent’s house in Memphis just by typing in their address that people had to stand outside in the heat waiting for disaster food stamps. There had to be a better way for that to get done. It is bad enough we had to spend hundreds of dollars to leave for the “Mother of all storms”. Now people have to stand in line like third world refugees just to get a little relief. As much as I wouldn’t mind replacing all the food I had to throw away, I am not standing out there.

I appreciate Duff sending me that chart of the Katrina levee breaks in my comments section. After the Times Picayune reported this morning that there were 70 loose barges in the canal during Gustav, I want the levee breaks during Katrina looked into even more. That’s right I said 70. I can’t link to it because for some reason doesn’t have the story. That’s really strange because it was their front page story. Just take my word for it. Actually if you go over the I-10 high rise and look to your right you can still see two of them they are trying to remove because they went too far out of the normal water level. Those big ass things can knock a levee down easy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Good Start To The Season

The only thing better than watching Reggie Bush show the world he is ready to have a breakout season as an all around performer was watching the defense actually hold up long enough for the offense to get going. Last year if the Saints offense started off a little cold you could go outside and mow the lawn at halftime because it was over. The key to the season is the defensive line. I also think that in a few weeks Jeremey Shockey will be the biggest cult hero in the city. That guy was born to be a New Orleans favorite. He looks just like one of those cats from St. Bernard Parish who runs a shrimp boat.
This was a big win because Tampa always gives us trouble especially Joey Galloway who may be finally getting old enough not to terrorize us any longer. I won’t make any complaints about today’s game. I won’t even mention the play calling that gave Tampa the ball back at the end. The team looked pretty good. Everything should be fine as long as #42 doesn’t have to play. It would be nice if #29 didn’t play either.

Is Kim Kardashian going to be at every game? Will they show her on television every time Reggie does something good? I just hope Reggie isn’t hanging out with the rest of the people who were in that suite. That was not a New Orleans looking group. I can’t see them coming to a crawfish boil.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Take A Second Look

In all the time since I have been blogging after Katrina you have never read any conspiracy theories about levees being blown up and things of that nature. There are certain things you keep in the back of your mind but in the spirit of moving forward you don’t throw it out there. Well, this time I feel compelled to do it. I think it’s time to have another investigation into whether or not the barge seen floating on top of houses in Lower Ninth Ward during Katrina actually broke that levee instead of the storm surge.

I was watching Lee Zurick at the top of the Claiborne Bridge Monday as the water was being blown over the top of the old west levee wall at the Industrial Canal. At the same time Angela Hill was interviewing someone from the Corps of Engineers (This is not the Corps responsibility. She just happened to be talking to him.) about the news that three barges were loose in the canal. She asked him questions that seem to imply that the barge during Katrina hit that wall and caused it to fail. I’m not saying that was her intent but it does make you start to wonder.

I remember that morning when the breach happened in the Lower Ninth Ward. There was no wind blowing in the city yet. I know from first hand accounts that one of the reasons it caught everyone off guard is that there was no wind blowing. If the wind wasn’t blowing then how did the water come over the top and erode the wall?

Another thing is how strange is it the barge just happens to turn the right way and fit directly into the space where the levee broke. Shouldn’t it have hit something else along the way? There were three of them this time floating around and yet none of them found there way to the exact direction of the water. Maybe that barge was already in that area and wasn’t tied down correctly. It broke loose when the water rose and hit that wall just like the barge did Monday. The only difference this time is that they were aware of it and were trying to slow it down.

I don’t think it’s irrational to come to this conclusion. You can’t ignore the circumstantial evidence. Lots of people lost love ones or had their lives altered forever. I don’t know how you go about re-staging that whole event but I think it’s worth looking into. It’s too bad that Katrina wasn’t as mild as Gustav and those reporters could have stood out there and filmed that too. Unfortunately the only people who could probably tell you what happened were washed away on impact.

I think after Monday’s events the people of the Lower Nine and St. Bernard Parish deserve for someone to take a second look at this. It probably won’t happen because of the lawsuit factor. Well, if that’s what comes out of it then so be it. That pain and suffering is real and if someone left that barge in there and changed our lives forever then there should be some compensation for that trauma. Even if there is no compensation someone should be punished. I will be talking about this again soon if I don’t hear anything.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Shaken Up By Gustav

For the first thirty years of my life I lived in New Orleans and I never really feared Hurricanes. I guess it was because we never had a big one do any damage we could relate to. People older than us talked about Betsy but they never acted like it really bothered them. They wouldn’t leave for any storm. No one left for storms. Then Katrina happened.

For the last week we have been waiting and dealing for Hurricane Gustav to hit. He came along at the right time to make us all realize that we are really screwed up mentally. I am not exaggerating when I say that Saturday night after Gustav ballooned to a category 4 with potential to make it to 5, my only goal was to not have a heart attack or die in my sleep from anxiety. I just kept thinking to myself that I have come so far and have so many good things going for me now three years after Katrina. It took a lot of strength to get back to that point. This whole event with Gustav has knocked me back into a reality that I was trying to ignore.

The reality of it is as much as we love the city, we are going to have to accept the fact that at any given time during hurricane season we may have to leave and not come back for a long time if ever. My patience is wearing thin for all this evacuating. It’s been three years since the last time but it hasn’t been long enough not to drive everyone crazy. I don’t really feel like starting over so as long as the levees hold and we don’t have a direct hit I guess I will have to start accepting that as a normal part of life. Even that is going to require all kinds of energy that I could use towards something else.

What I can’t do again is start over. I didn’t secure my house before I left this time (foolish on my part). That’s because I figured if the levee breaks and we are under water I am not fixing it anyway so the windows won’t matter. My head hurts and my heart is pounding. When I started writing this water was coming over the top of the Industrial Canal levee wall. If that wasn’t enough to kill you, the news reported there were loose barges in the canal that could have easily hit one of those walls and started our second massive rebuilding in three years. Plus, it brought back memories of the barge floating in the Lower Nine when the levee broke during Katrina. It makes you wonder in the back of your mind if that’s not what broke the levee the first time. I wish those news cameras would have been on that bride in ’05. If you have never watched a massive pile of water threaten your city on television let me tell you something. There isn’t enough liquor, legal or illegal drugs to help you deal with that scene. My blood pressure and heart rate haven’t came down yet.

Anyone with any type of education or skill has no reason to live here without really wanting to out of a real love for it. Personally, I could spend the next forty years just sitting on a porch somewhere downtown drinking and laughing with my neighbors. As much as I love the place, I don’t know if I can live with this anxiety when I could just move to higher ground and love the city from afar. If it happens and we have to go, at least we can say we tried to make it work but nature decided it wasn’t a good idea.

So we made it through this time. Now it’s back to the house whenever the mayor decides its safe enough for us to be in the city. The storm must have done more damage in the city than I thought. Everybody is going back before us. I bet the surrounding parishes asked him to let us come back last because they have all the stores and don’t want us coming over to shop until they everything up and running to take our cash. Most of us are out of the city hanging in limbo. It’s a good thing the Saints have a game Sunday or we might not be allowed to come home until next week. I’m doing all this complaining out frustration and aggravation and yet, I sit in a hotel in Baton Rouge dying for the moment I can get across the city line. I don’t know why. There is nothing waiting for me but aggravation and anxiety until the rest of these storms in the Atlantic pass. At this point I am just hoping that the oak tree in my back yard isn’t lying in my kitchen. That will be the final blow to my fragile sanity. I think I will be fine when I get to sleep in my own bed.