Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reflecting On Ten Years Of Change

When the decade started I was in my mid 20's. I could still eat, drink, and party as much as I wanted. My life was really all about hanging out and having a good time. Nobody knew what a blog was and I damn sure wasn't trying to write anything. There have been a lot of changes in ten years. The country had a terrorist attack. I became a father. All the elders I started the decade with are no longer here. A black guy is president. Michael Jackson died. Tupac never came back from Cuba. I finally paid off Discover Card. A flood turned my life and city upside down. Somewhere in the middle of all that I gained about 75 pounds, started wearing eyeglasses, lost my hair, got laid off, ended up with the best job I ever had and started writing this blog as a hobby. It seems like the last ten years gave me all the stress that I didn't have for the first 25 years. If that pattern holds true then I am in store for 25 years of stress free living. Feel free to be jealous whenever you are ready.

Hurricane Katrina will always be the biggest turning point in my life because it changed every aspect of it. A lot of things are not as good as they used to be. Some things on a personal level are better and I appreciate that. It's impossible for me to lose sight of the fact that if the post Katrina world was the cause of some of the good things and they end up being bittersweet. Perhaps the biggest thing I gained internally in the last ten years is perspective. You have to keep a balance in thought and judge each situation and issue on its own. There are times when there is no clear side to fall on and you have to multitask how you feel. This summer when my column was published in the Gambit newspaper I was feeling pretty high about that. Every time someone would send me an email or call me to tell me they read it my chest would stick out more and more. That same day I was riding alone and I thought to myself how messed up it was my grandma didn't see that because she drowned in the storm. She would have sat on the phone and read it to all her friends. I'm not sure if having the ability to cry tears of joy and sadness at the same time makes me crazy. I'm also not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing but that's who I am going into this next decade. Who knows where we will be ten years from now. Whatever it is I hope it's something positive. If something like Hurricane Katrina happens again I just hope we have some solid leadership to get us through it. One thing I know for sure at the end of this decade is that you need strong leadership whether it's at home or in the government because a community with no leadership at all is doomed to not make progress.

As far as 2009 goes, this has been a strange year. It had its ups and downs. I had a whole bunch of optimism going into it. I had a list of things going into it. Now at the end I think everyone is just fatigued. That will happen when your optimism is beating down by the negative actions of other human beings. I think you see it in how people view the government. I think you see it in the president's approval ratings. I know you see it hear locally when we have an election that was supposed to be the most important in our history and can't match the energy of our football team. I think everyone wants to take a vacation day or two and sleep to try and get their energy right. I'm definitely in that number. That's why this year we won't have any list of things to look forward to. I say we play 2010 by ear and adjust to whatever happens when it gets here. I don't believe that you can change your course if your energy is all negative. Changing the calendar from 2009 to 2010 won't help you. If all you need is a little rest and reflection then a few days of letting go of things and relaxing until the clock strikes midnight might help you out. That's what I am going to do. I'll see you guys next year feeling good and refreshed.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Homefield Advantage

I fought off the most incredible sleepiness and stayed up way later than I wanted to just to make this short but important post.

The road to the Superbowl now goes through Poydras Street......This is all we could ask for.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Never Leave It Up To The Kicker

It took less than a week for Garrett Hartley to make me miss John Carney for short range field goals.

As the great Teena Marie once said, "I can feel this for sure. I've been here before." We still have a first round bye and a week to rest but I am getting a little worried. Anyone who really follows the team knows that every year Sean Payton and Drew Brees have at least two games like the one today. Let's hope this is the last one.....and can someone please do something to help Malcolm Jenkins because he is getting ripped to shreds. I just hope Carolina doesn't beat us up so bad that half the team isn't injured for the playoffs. That's an angry football team and we should have never let it come down to winning in their stadium on the last day. This season didn't feel like a regular Saints season for a long time but now it does. If you think losing this game and having to play all out against Carolina next week if the Vikings win is a good thing then you are crazy. Once we lost last week then we should have laid it all on the line this week against Tampa to rest up and get some of our injured players back. The bottom line is the New Orleans Saints choked. I love them but they choked.

In positive news, 'Bernadine's Oldest' fantasy football team is your 2009 champions of The Pitt Fantasy Football League. It won't be official until after tomorrow's game but he's out of players and I am up 7 points. Nothing will help you forget a choke job by the Saints like prize money.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Looking For My Holiday Spirit

I have been trying to find my holiday spirit but it's not happening. I don't know why but it doesn't feel like the holiday time. There's usually a different feeling in the air around this time of the year. I don't feel it yet. I have only listened to Santa Claus Goes Straight to The Ghetto by James Brown only once and that was because it came on the radio while I was driving. I was trying to come up with a clear reason why it doesn't feel that way but I haven't been successful. I did attend my grandmother's funeral service three weeks ago and that kind of put a damper on the holiday season spirit for me. No one around me seems to be really into it. This is one of the few times I wish I had one of those over the top people at my office that wears those ugly Christmas sweaters and reindeer horns with bells on them around the office for the entire month of December. I would have been trying to make them feel good by acting excited and worked myself into the spirit. I still have time between now and New Years to get it going. I'm thinking about going to the store this evening and buying a Hot Wheels race track for myself in an attempt to reconnect with my inner kid. You should always try to stay connected with your inner kid. My inner kid been inside with the chicken pox or something because I haven't seen him lately.

Things are not bad despite my lack of holiday spirit. My sister told me she heard her baby's heartbeat for the first time. That doesn't suck. I also found some really old and dear friends on Facebook this week. That doesn't suck either. I'll work through whatever it is. Everything will be good as soon as it stops raining.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sometimes You Have To Take A Beating

My friend Shawn is the most optimistic Saints fan in America while watching the game. All year when they were starting slow and looked like crap I would send him a ranting text message about how they need to step it up and play harder. He would always send me a reply telling me to calm down and they would make adjustments to get things straightened out. This is the only thing we ever argue about. Last night during Dallas’ touchdown drive at the beginning of the 3rd quarter he sent me a text message that simply said “This is difficult to watch”. When he can see what I am seeing that early in the second half I knew we were going to be 13-1 at the end.

Last night a talented Dallas Cowboys team was playing for their season, the playoffs, and their coach. The played a good game. The dominated out offensive line and defensive lines except for Will Smith and they deserved to win. The score was closer than the game actually looked. They whipped us from the beginning. The Saints finally got burned by a few things we have managed to cover for a long time. Our rookie cornerback got burned early. Our backup left tackle finally ran across a pass rusher that dominated him. We have been sleep walking through the early part of games for weeks and finally we couldn’t come up with the miracle play to change the tide. Drew Brees had his worse game of the season. We deserved to lose. If you want to look at the positive side we still could have won that game if a few plays go our way. As bad as I thought we played we only lost by seven points. I have confidence our coaching staff would attack them differently the second time around. We’ll see what happens if they make it in the playoffs and get through the first weekend.

Let’s look forward to Tampa and try to find some playoff intensity. Home field advantage is still ours to lose but we have to come out sharp and play a full game from start to finish. I kept telling everyone that one of these weeks we wouldn’t be able to come back from starting in a hole but not many people want to hear that when you are undefeated. We need to come out and destroy Tampa and get our focus back. Miami is in our sights but we have to start playing better going into the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The President Should Have Seen This Coming

I know it’s still early in his term but I think it’s time to shake things up in his cabinet or get some new blood in an advisory role. I am not as smart as the president or any of the people around him but I can’t understand how any of those educated people didn’t see Joe Lieberman coming. Sometimes you can be too ambitious and ignore obvious human nature and rules for dealing with people. President Obama thought he could show the country that he was above partisan politics so instead of slamming his detractors he bent over backwards to make them feel comfortable. The only problem is that none of them cared about being bipartisan so they turned around and slammed him. If it was only Republicans from the Tea Parties and the Sarah Palin camp then I could chalk it up to learning on the job. I think everyone expected some of that but there is absolutely no excuse for Joe Lieberman getting a chance to stick it to you.

He campaigned actively for your opponent John McCain. He even spoke at the other party’s convention. He couldn’t wait for you to lose. He was on the opposite end of almost every major issue you ran on. He really hates your party now since they pushed him out. You had the power to eliminate that guy and you didn’t. Now you don’t want to seem bipartisan so you are willing to do anything he wants to get to the official 60 votes on the health care bill. That means the public option, Medicaid buy in and any single payer system is dead. That’s funny because the insurance mandate is in there which means that not only will insurance companies keep getting paid, we will all have to buy it from them or face the consequences. That’s enough to make me want to join a tea party. I say this while for the third time in the last two years my employer searches for a cheaper insurance plan that won’t cripple the agency. That’s okay though. We still have our freedom to hire all new employees part time so we don’t have to give them any benefits. I would like to thank Senator Lieberman and the rest off my government for preserving that privilege.

President Obama needed to take the approach that guys used to do back in high school. Back in the day there was always someone who liked the same girl you did and everyone knew it. He didn’t have to be an enemy but you knew that even if you never got the chance to be her boyfriend it wasn’t going to be because of that clown. You should never get played that badly by your obvious opponent. That’s what happened here with President Obama and Joe Lieberman. The scariest part of all is that I am afraid that he will ignore the obvious and keep doing things the same way. If that happens then he really won’t make any real change happen because those people don’t care about change and bipartisanship. They want to win. Ask yourself what would have happened if Lieberman was supposed to be an ally of George W. Bush and his crew while they were in office and then worked to destroy a bill of theirs like this. I’ll tell you what would have happened. Senator Lieberman would have awakened to his champion horse’s head under his bed sheets and Johnny Fontane would have gotten the part in that movie just like The Godfather.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Ten Thoughts From The Mayoral Debate

I made it home in time to watch the first New Orleans mayoral debate. It was moderated by Norman Robinson who did a good job at trying to keep everything sounding serious despite the obvious humor from some of the candidates. I have a few thoughts.

1. After watching the debate tonight I think it would be a good idea for everyone in the city to scale back their unrealistic expectations of one man or woman walking into City Hall and transforming the city with their leadership. I’m not saying that there was no one up there that wouldn’t be a good mayor. I’m saying that it’s time to look at solutions from a broader view than just one person.
2. If I had to name a top five in no particular order it would be Leslie Jacobs, Troy Henry, Mitch Landrieu, John Georges, and everybody else.
3. Ed Murray needs to pick it up but I did agree with his idea that the mayor’s office needs to be more involved with the educational system. This is a great idea even if it’s just serving as a watchdog for the citizens.
4. James Perry should have spent more of his talking time presenting his agenda and not attacking Ed Murray’s voting record. The people have to know you well enough before stuff like that holds weight.
5. There was a candidate named Jerry Jacobs who was trying his best to make Norman Robinson snap by answering every question with his idea to legalize marijuana. I don’t know about legalizing weed but his overall point was the closest to my main concern in the city. Everyone has good ideas but we have no money to implement them. Legalizing marijuana might not be the answer but we do need some cash.
6. Speaking of cash…we pay 9% sales tax in the city of New Orleans and only 2.5% of that goes back to the city. Where does the other 6.5% go and why haven’t I heard anyone go completely bonkers about this?
7. Anytime Rob Couhig says anything negative about Ray Nagin he loses creditability with me because he is one of the people who endorsed him during the run-off and helped him get back in there during the last election.
8. I bet Nadine Ramsey is going to do much better in debates once she gets over her camera shyness. She looked nervous.
9. Someone at the transit authority should go to work in the morning and make the St. Charles streetcar handicap accessible for Jonah Bascle. The first reason is that should already be done. The second reason is that if he wins the election all of you are getting fired.
10. My final opinion is this debate did nothing to move to the corner of one candidate or another but now I know the few that I want to do more research on. Right now the biggest thing that happened to me was finding out the city only gets 2.5% of the sales tax we pay. I need some clarification on that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Undefeated is a Morale Booster

As I type this there is a downpour going on outside and I am hoping it doesn’t flood again. Normally weather like this would have everyone down and be the only topic of conversation all day. Fortunately we have an undefeated football team to take our minds off all of this rain.

When you live in New Orleans you grow accustomed to not having a lot of good news to celebrate. Usually we rank near the bottom for all the good things like education, and jobs and at the top for all the bad things like crime and poverty. Nothing the Saints do will change any of those statistics but at least for the last 13 weeks and counting we can walk around knowing that we have beat down every city we played. I’ll take what I can get. It just feels good to see the name New Orleans on top of anything positive. We have to find our to the top of other good lists because this feels good. There has to be a way to reproduce this energy without Drew Brees involved. I wonder if one of the mayoral candidates can look off the safety and throw the deep post over double coverage.

The Saints don’t have a lot of competition when it comes to bringing the area together. I think I have had at least 50 random conversations with total strangers about the team. I watched the end of the Redskins game at a Best Buy next door to Chuck E. Cheese in Slidell (no one should ever schedule a kid’s party on a Sunday during football season). By the time that game went into overtime there were at least 100 people watching the game together and everyone was acting like we were watching our family play. I remember thinking how cool it would be to have that kind of feeling in May when there is no football to give us a morale booster. Under normal circumstances I would say it wouldn’t but if we carry this streak all the way to the big game then everyone would be so excited about next season that we might stay on a high all the way to training camp.

I know I am dreaming and taking football way too serious but being 13-0 will do that you.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Saturday Night Flash Flood Blog

Ladies and gentlemen it won’t stop raining. I was supposed to be sitting in the movies watching The Frog Princess but we would have to get there by boat if it was going to happen this evening. I guess I am watching television as long as the satellite stays up. It takes a lot of water to flood my street. Usually when it rains real bad the water builds up on the corner and the rest of the block is dry. Right now there is about six inches of water in front of my door. If it’s like that in front of me then I know what that means for people closer to the end of the block and other areas. It’s probably in some homes that sit too low and that sucks. It’s the kind of thing that makes people move. I kept thinking it would break soon and the water would start going down but this is a serious storm system and it’s not letting up yet. I hope it does soon. There has to be a pumping system that will work just a little faster than what we have now.

And if you are one of the people driving around and pushing water into people’s houses for nothing when you should be sitting at home then I hope your car never starts again. If you don’t have to be out there then stay home and have a drink like everyone else.

This weather is really tempting me to open my Nintendo Wii before Christmas and get it going but I am going to stick to tradition and leave it under the tree. I just need to position myself so I don't have to look at it while it calls my name to come and hook it up. I'll make it because Speed Network has a Pinks marathon on tonight. I'm going to sit here and write while I watch people lose their cars.

I have a confession. I can’t stop reading about Tiger Woods. I usually can’t stand gossip news and scandals like that but something about this story just fascinates me. I just can’t believe that a guy with that status have it fall apart so quickly. He went from hanging out with the president to hiding in his old room at his mama house in two weeks. Even in the world of 24 hour news that’s a record amount of time. He made the right move by taking a break from playing golf and avoiding the spotlight. He will have to give his wife undivided attention to get passed this. It’s going to be hard on him mentally to stand out there again in front of the world. Men are strange when it comes to their image. No matter how wild and kinky a man is he really doesn't want anyone outside of the people he acts like that with to know. Even when you are around and no one is talking about it you feel they are thinking about it. Usually when guys are exposed for doing the kind of stuff Tiger was doing they change the circle of people they hang around so they don’t have to deal with that. He’s going to have to shake that image in front of the whole world. I wish him luck with that.

This video is dedicated to Tiger. He can straighten it out.

And this video is for all the cats that are feeling bad after watching 1000 jewelry commercials full of stuff they can’t afford to buy their women for Christmas.

I’m going outside and take a swim in the street.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It's Not Personal Stinky Birds. It's Just Destiny

Before I start trash talking I want to say that last night I watched the defending champion Pittsburgh Steelers lose to the Cleveland Browns. As great as Brett Favre and Peyton Manning has been they each only have one championship ring. Dallas and Washington have two of the highest revenues in the NFL. In the last ten years they have a total of zero Superbowl appearances. Those things are hard to get to and even harder to win. Anything can happen.

No matter what happens from here on out I am happy with this season. We have never been through a 12 game winning streak so this all new and cool. I have been following the Saints since I was five years old and watching other teams build a solid foundation. They have a philosophy, they sign players that fit the plan and they stick to it. What makes this season even sweeter is the fact that Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis orchestrated it. They got us to our first NFC championship game and two rough years followed. The fact we are undefeated in their fourth season shows that they know what to do and I feel confident that we won’t go from contenders to chumps in one year. If anything the case could be made that we will be made that we will be much better next year with a full draft and some experience on the younger players that contribute now. I figure we have about three more years of Drew Brees at a high level and I expect to be a contender that entire time.

This week’s game is a party. We are headed to Atlanta to play the Falcons. I don’t know if people know this or not but the games against Atlanta are like a hood holiday. They bring busloads here and try to take over our stadium. We bring busloads there and do the same thing. We talk a lot of trash to one another but it’s all in good fun. This year is a little different because the ATL has never seen a few thousand undefeated, confident, people in black and gold that are full of themselves the way we are now. I wish I was going. We got Drew Brees going. We got Colston, Meachem, and Devery Henderson. Mike Bell, Pierre Thomas and Reggie will be there. We got Darren Sharper and Mike Mckenzie. We got Vilma and Sedrick ‘Big Nephew’ Ellis. We got Captain Charles bringing his van full of music. We got The Rebirth. We have a focused and humble team. We got it all!

Saints – 34 Stinky Birds - 10.

Washington caught us when we were drained coming off a short week and an emotional win. Atlanta doesn’t have that luxury. Let’s get this home field advantage. It’s not personal Stinky Birds. It’s only destiny. You just happen to be standing in the middle of the road on our journey to Miami.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What Made Mitch Run Again

For the last few days I have been trying to figure out why Mitch Landrieu would put himself through another campaign for mayor of New Orleans. He’s already lost twice. It seems like that’s the only race he can’t win yet he still keeps trying. He's turning into the local John McCain. Personally, I like him. I think he’s a good spokesman for the city whenever he gets a chance to do it. I don’t know if he would be a good mayor or a bad mayor. Deep inside he has to think he can do something special to turn the city around because why would he keep running. The risk of becoming a three time loser is worth it to get a shot at making big changes in city government. That’s one theory. The second theory is that he looks at this current group of candidates and doesn’t see a black candidate that has the name recognition like Marc Morial did the first time or paranoia working on their side like Ray Nagin did the second time he ran for mayor.

Maybe things have regressed for black political leadership in this city that enough people will associate him with his family name and give him a shot. That might work out as long as no one decides not to vote for him as punishment for his sister being one of the senators that helped kill the public option in the health care bill. A plan like that would have helped this city of hardworking and underpaid people a lot. There may not be enough people in the city following national politics closely enough to realize that so he should be good. The third theory is that the office of mayor in the city of New Orleans is like a holy grail for his family. If my dad was mayor when I was growing up I would want to be mayor too. I don’t know if I would have wanted it enough to run so many times but I understand. I don’t know who I am voting for yet but now that Mitch Landrieu is in the race I expect that everyone else should have to step their game up since he should be on another level from a political standpoint. Debates and appearances with the rest of the candidates are going to be big for him because if he stands up there and there is no clear difference from a man with his experience and the rest of the candidates then it makes no sense to vote for him. We might as well go with the new blood if all things are equal.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Steven Seagal Might Pull Me Over

I just got through watching Steven Seagal Lawman on A&E. I have mixed emotions about this show. First let’s get to the positive parts. I love Steven Seagal’s movies. My whole family does. We named pets after characters in his movies. Under Siege is one of my favorite movies and I am almost tempted to go to Jefferson Parish just to get pulled over by Casey Rybek. I would sacrifice getting a traffic ticket to get and autograph for my mom. When the show comes on it says that he’s been a sheriff in this area for over 20 years and that just amazes me. I hate to put it this way but I know a lot of people who have been arrested in Jefferson Parish and somehow no one found out that he was a sheriff. During the first few episodes my only concern was hoping I didn’t see anyone I knew going to jail on national television. That brings me to my only problem with the show. Can the producers of the show diversify the suspects just a little? A&E is already the home of The First 48 that reduces my hope for the future with each episode. Does Steven Seagal have to bust young black males with their pants hanging off in every episode? Mix it up a little and let him break up some of those bar fights in Metairie.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sitting On My Porch Part Thirty Seven

Yesterday my remaining grandmother Mildred passed away at the accomplished age of 90 years old. I’m not going to get overly emotional about it. I already wrote my grandmother dedication on Just a Song. Besides, when someone lives to be 90 and has a good time along the way the thing you feel the most is satisfaction. It’s not like when one of these kids gets murdered in the streets over beef. That’s a tragedy. When you are 90 and go peacefully with love ones around that’s a measuring stick. Work was a little rough today but I am doing alright. The thing I miss the most is the lessons on life that older people can give you. Young people think we have it all figured out because we can use a Blackberry and update our Facebook pages but we don’t really know anything yet. That’s why you need people who have been through things and made all the mistakes you are going to make to give you a heads up. Conversations with older folks are really easy. You don’t have to say much. Just sit there and listen to what they tell you and what happened to them. You will be amazed how that stuff comes back as a reference when you are trying to figure something out years later. With that in mind, here are five things I learned from my elders.

1. Never make people you care about feel that they owe you something for the things you do for them.
2. Always take pride in your work and try to do it well even if it’s cleaning houses.
3. When someone comes to your house always offer them something to drink or something to eat.
4. When a man works hard all week he deserves a big breakfast on Saturday or a big dinner on Sunday (words of my grandpa)
5. Always try to have a good time and relax even if it means just sitting outside with a beer.

I’m not sitting outside while I write this but I am going to have a good time writing the rest of this blog post for my five loyal readers.

New Orleans is caught up in a contagious condition called Saints Fever. It has gotten so bad that I am can’t be mad at the bandwagon jumpers anymore. The force is too great not to get swept up. I love the good vibe but I am going to need people to stop sending me text messages with Saints pictures or poems. It’s the same messages over and over and people keep sending them. I would also appreciate it if people would stop using the phrase “Geaux Saints” instead of “Go Saints” to try and seem more authentic.

Saints Fever is sucking the energy out of the mayor’s race. It has about as much energy right now as a dead car battery. It’s a little puzzling because I would think that the budget process is a perfect time for a candidate to step up and explain to me how they would come up with a way to generate 68 million new dollars to fill the budget hole instead of fussing over what cuts are better like the mayor and council are doing now. All cuts to services suck. It’s like choosing whether to cut off your arm or your leg.

President Obama’s speech was good but he should have just ended that war and just given Pakistan what they needed to keep fighting the terrorists since they are all on that side of the border. By the way, doesn’t any reference to finding Al Qaeda sound weak now since we never fully went after Bin Laden? Isn’t that like going after the mafia and arresting everyone but the boss?

I think we should leave Tiger Woods and his wife alone to work things out in private. It’s their lives and really has nothing to do with me. I am a little fascinated at the fact that he’s going through all this behind a cocktail waitress. Now, I have seen some fly cocktail waitresses but Tiger is a billionaire. This is a great example of difference between men and women. I am willing to bet you a lot of money that you hear about Oprah Winfrey messing around with the dude that cuts her grass. That’s nothing against dudes that cut grass. I just can’t see a woman risking that much for someone she pays out of her petty cash. It’s like Chris Rock said;” if it chases us we can’t run that fast”. It looks like Tiger pulled a hamstring.

All the positive things people see in me are just bits and pieces of the men and women that raised me. All the negative things are my own creations. If you have someone in your life that you hold in high regard give them a call or stop by their house tomorrow just to see how they are doing. People like that kind of stuff. If I had the chance to go sit under the patio on Benton Street, drink a few cold ones and listen to Frankie Beverly tomorrow I would.