Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Stages Of Life At Carnival Time

Yesterday was a busy Saturday for my standards but that comes with the territory of Mardi Gras season. I went to KIPP Central City School and helped build a couple of parade floats with some good parents. There parade is Thursday at 11:00 AM. It’s not a long route but you can stand on Martin Luther King Boulevard and catch a few beads from the kids. I also managed to catch two parades last night. Mardi Gras parades and be a great morale booster in days of struggle. You see the kids out there marching with their schools or marching teams along with the chaperones and realize that not all is lost in the community. I know that sounds corny but it’s true.

While I was standing out there last night I realized how the season changes as you get older. When I was a kid there is nothing like going to parades. That might be one of the few things kids in New Orleans have over other kids. We got to do that year after year almost every day of the week. You couldn’t beat it. The best part besides catching beads was the time before the parade passed or in between parades when you could run around and play with all the other kids. There were some epic football games on the neutral ground of Canal Street and in parking lots in St. Bernard Parish waiting for those long ass night parades. It wasn’t a good day if you didn’t have at least a bag full of beads and cups to bring home and play parade with. That was good innocent times.

Once you get a little older you stop worrying about going with your family so much. If you aren’t participating in the parade by marching you want to go hang out with your friends. A bunch of teenagers walking together can cover the entire parade route from start to finish and back again like it’s nothing. I don’t think I ever actually saw a full parade during those times because I was too busy clowning. It was a good day if you didn’t get in a fight and made it home before curfew. It was a great day if by some luck you got a girl’s phone number in the midst of all that chaos and competition. My parents don’t know this but the first time I ever had a beer was with my friends at Mardi Gras parade. It probably doesn’t count because I only too two sips being afraid of going home like a drunk to Big Cliff. I perfected the art of parade refreshments in my later teens and early 20’s. Those times weren’t always as innocent as the childhood years but they were definitely fun.

Now I am older. My priorities and perspective on parade season is different. These days the perfect day is getting a spot within two blocks of the parade route, I have enough space to open my chair so I can sit down half of the time, and when I get there I want to hear the sound of the first band within 20 minutes which means the wait was short. It feels like I am trying to watch everyone's child to make sure nothing happens. I really hope the float riders don't throw me a whole bunch of beads because I might throw them all away before I make it back to the car. I don’t mind the young cats walking around just as long as they don’t stop too long behind me and my people. That’s when I get nervous. I used to look around at the girls and say “DAMN! I need to thank her parents for making her fine like that!” Now I look at girls walking around and I think “WTF? Why did their parents let those babies out here dressed like that?” It’s the progression of life.

I probably won’t be chasing any floats for throws unless they are handing out money or utility assistance vouchers. Unless I get stuck being a chaperone me and my bad feet won’t be walking with any parade either. Nevertheless Mardi Gras time is still fun. After everything that’s happened down here I am just glad we are still here for the experience in any form.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sitting On My Porch Party Sixty Three

All day long I debated whether or not to kick off my Mardi Gras season and hit a parade tonight. I passed on that because in the morning I have to go help make floats for KIPP Central City’s annual parade. I’ll let that be the start of my holiday season then I’ll catch the 2PM parade after that. The other reason I decided not to go is that it seems to be really warm for February. My seasonal clock is all off. Today women were out stopping traffic in their outfits and that doesn’t usually start happening until April. If the weather stays this way Mardi Gras day is going to be wild.

It’s been a long week and I am not much into being out in the crowd tonight. I just want to tell everybody that I have some wonderful friends. I treat a lot of them like they get on my nerves but I really appreciate them.

To be an effective blogger and cover the type of content I do you have to try and pay attention to what’s going on in the world. I have been watching this fight over collective bargaining that started in Wisconsin and it’s puzzling. Everybody is in an uproar now but with two years of passion and fire coming from the Tea Party and other conservative groups, what did everything one think was going to happen when you put guys like Scott Walker in office? Did you think they were going to win the election with an energized voting base and then all of a sudden start compromising? That’s what Democrats do. Republicans don’t usually go compromise their agenda like that. If they say they are eliminating half of the state employees they are going to eliminate half of the employees or try their best to do it. The time to fight was before the election. Now there are 14 senators in Wisconsin that can’t come home until the governor’s term is over because it’s the only way he stops trying to pass that bill.

After all the rallies and all the passion for two years before the 2010 election we have ended up with unions, Planned Parenthood, and PBS being the reason we are spending too much. Our solution to too much government was to take out Grover and Cookie Monster. Once the spending on health exams for poor women stop the jobs will just start rolling in.

Down here in South Louisiana people dislike the president so much that Democrats are changing parties just to keep their opponents from putting their name and Obama’s name in the same sentence. I hear them talk about the stimulus breaking the bank and I know Governor Jindal took a stand and sent money back. Everybody thought that was great. Even though I felt he should have taken all the help he could get I was willing to respect his decision. Then one day was driving out to the mall and I got to the Causeway where they are doing all kinds of work to make the ride to and from work easier for people that live on the other side of the lake. I was wondering how we had the money to pay for that kind of thing when I seen the signs that said the project was paid for by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”. That’s when I realized that the governor was only turning money down that made him look good to his close minded supporters. If he really wanted to take a stand he would have stopped that Causeway project because the money came from the tax payers. It’s all just a dog and pony show.

That’s why Governor Jindal can have a press conference to suggest the UNO/SUNO merge. He knew a lot of people in this state would see the “NO” parts of those schools’ name and have his back. Now when he cuts the budget for higher education again everyone will blame SUNO and UNO and he’ll be alright politically. There are dead fish and oil showing up daily on the shores of the state and I haven’t heard anything from our leader. I bet if President Obama said tomorrow he was putting a hold on deepwater drilling again the governor would have a press conference ten minutes after the announcing saying the president was killing jobs.

The country was in such turmoil financially when President Obama got elected. We were in two wars, employment was high, and the Republican president had blown the deficit wide open with his tax cuts and refusal to end the two wars he started. The country was so starving for change that they elected President Obama because of his passion and promise to change the way the government does business. Its two years later. We are still in Iraq and Afghanistan. The tax cuts for the rich got extended two more years. The only time I hear President Obama get angry is when he’s talking to his own supporters and his opponents seem to be trying to implement things they didn’t even try when they had all three houses of government. So far this isn’t working out quite like I thought.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Blog For Big Easy Slim

Periodically I get mentally and physically tired. When I’m tired a lot of small things seem to bother me and I feel disengaged from everyone. I usually just snap out of it provided that nothing major happens to make the small stuff seem petty in comparison. Today I was at work being aggravated by something I really didn’t need to waste energy on when I got a call from dad to tell me that my cousin passed away. From now on if he calls me before 6PM I am not answering because something is wrong. My cousin was the eldest grandchild and the first one to pass away. No matter what issues he may have had it still feels pretty strange. None of the other things that were upsetting seem to matter as much.

The daily challenges of living in the city for a black man who grows up without a lot of money is not exaggerated. Regardless of our much your parents try to keep you out of the traps it’s still not a sure thing that everything is going to work out. I think that paranoia about everything falling apart is what keeps me on the path that I am now. Some brothers choose a different path and they hope somehow they can manage to live a long time without the consequences of their actions coming back to get them. A few of them make it that far. Most of them don’t. It’s rough out there.

If you are lucky you can make it through all the challenges and lack of opportunity that everyone swears is there if you just wake up and decided to go work without anything bad happening. If your loved ones are healthy and your personal situation is reasonably stable then you did a good job. If all of those things are not the way you want settle for the consolation prize that you tried. There’s a bunch of cats that didn’t try as hard as they should. We have to love them too. Maybe they didn’t know how to try or the pressure was just too much. I’m not making excuses. I’m just keeping it real.

There are times when I am driving and I see a bunch of older cats sitting under a tree in the middle of the day drinking or something. Most days I want someone to stop them from loitering and bothering everybody. There are other times when the reality of their lives hit me and I feel like going into the store to buy them another cold one because you never know what those cats had to go through to end up sitting under that tree. Tonight I am going to have a toast for Big Easy Slim from the Lower Ninth Ward.

Rest in Peace Harold. Try not to get on grandpa’s nerves when you see him.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Busy Times Are Upon Me

You have to forgive my lack of blog posting. I’ve been a little drained lately. Things have gotten a little hectic in the professional life. If I wasn’t so competitive things might not be as busy as they are. There was a time when no one really knew my name or had any expectations on me. Even though I try to stay out of the spotlight I still feel the need to go out of my way to show people my value. I really don’t know why I do that kind of thing but I always do. I jump into everything full speed. I take on responsibilities that I probably shouldn’t because I don’t get paid enough and I’m always coming up with new ideas and things we can do to move the program forward. I thought a lot of those ideas fell on deaf ears because no one ever said anything about them or tried to put them into action. That was until now when almost everything I have been saying has been requested all at once. Not only are new things happening there are agencies around the area who won’t submit reports or any information to anyone unless I look at it first. Even when I try to pass them along to another person they refuse. On the one hand I feel good about being so busy. It shows the effects of my hard work. I take pride in getting things done and getting them done right. More responsibility comes with that. On the other hand it can be overwhelming when it all seems to come together at one time. I’ve been taking work home a lot more than I should.

It would probably be a lot easier if I could hire one or two people to do the tedious work but in this economy there’s a lot of extra work and responsibility without any guarantee for extra manpower. You have to do more with less. This is especially true for non profits that depend on donations and grant funding. Budget cuts shake agencies like the one I work for to the core and everybody starts holding on to every dollar they can find to just maintain the stability they currently have. As aggravated and drained as I am right now there won’t be much rocking of the boat from me. I’m just like most working Americans. I recognize the competitive job market we are in now and I am not trying to put my name back in competition with all the other people searching for an opportunity if I don’t have to. I’ll just suck it up and ride out the busy time until we get everything straight and things are running on cruise control again. When you get right down to it I would rather be busy and have my phone and email blowing up from people contacting me for things they need than my director looking at resumes in his office with my replacement in mind because I can’t get the job done.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conflict and Revenge Have No Schedule

There was a shooting Monday at around 1:30 in the afternoon that wounded five people including a three month old baby. The baby didn’t die so this may not qualify for the most tragic story of the year later. There may be something worst coming along. It’s not even hot outside yet. One of the things that always concerns me is the high number of people just hanging out during the middle of the day on weekdays. You can ride around and see entire blocks of people just sitting around like it’s a Saturday. I was going to make this post about the need for police officers to do a better job at spotting this kind of trouble during the day when the streets are less hectic than the evenings but I thought about it today and I didn’t think that was fair. Granted I have passed some blocks and thought to myself that something is going to happen around there if no one starts breaking up those groups of people standing around. I guess the police department deserves some of the responsibility for that. It doesn’t take a train detective to spot that. You just need experience living in the city.

The actual criminal act is a bit more complicated to snuff out because you never know who or what caused the conflict to begin with and how long it’s been brewing. It’s hard to blame the police for that or the woman for having the baby out near guys who were being targeted in a shooting. She was just an innocent bystander out in the middle of the day but even if she knew the other victims and had knowledge of who they were beefing with she had no idea to know when things were going to happen. People in New Orleans don’t plan rumbles to settle scores like they did on The Outsiders. I wish we did then everyone could just stay clear until it was over. Our statute of limitations on having issues with one another goes a lot longer because we have trouble letting things go. I remember people I knew in school holding on to something from the first day of class until the last week of the school year before they decided to get the person they were pissed with. Many times the person that they were mad with didn’t remember what they did to deserve the ass whipping they were about to get. All you could do is fight them off and hope someone refreshed your memory on what the hell happened. Even now as adults we run into people we remember from the past and have to wonder are these fools still upset. You just never know for sure.

For all we know those guys were targeted for something they did two years ago or two hours before the shooting. The police can’t stop that unless they turn physic and the neighbors really can’t either unless they can call and report two people being mad with one another so they can be arrested for future crimes. They can call now and report who they think pulled the trigger Monday but it’s still too late to bring back the deceased or take the bullet out of that baby’s leg. The only real solution is education, self esteem and death to that part of the culture that says conflict isn’t over until you get the last lick in no matter how long it’s been.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

20 Things That I Hate

The last two weeks have been draining and frustrating. I must be getting close to hitting the burnout wall that I get too every few months or so when the routine starts to get to me. As usual with this kind of feeling there’s always something personal that bothers me like a few issues at work are now accompanied by news coverage of something that I take to personal and it sticks with me. The census numbers and all the stories of the lost citizens of New Orleans was more than enough to get under my skin. Me and one of my friends talk to one another throughout the day in and effort to keep one another sane. Whenever something has really bothered me I will explain it followed by the phrase “I hate everybody”. That’s not true. I don’t think I hate anyone personally. I try very hard not to because all it does it eat at you until it consumes you. Hating people is not healthy but hating situations and things is another story. I have developed my own personal list of things I hate. It changes everyday. In the interest of therapy I thought I would share a few with you tonight. Hopefully I feel better by the end of this.

1. Being bitter
2. Hypocrisy
3. Cold rain
4. Ironing clothes
5. Parents my age or older that put things on Facebook with foul language or their asses hanging out when their children are on their friend list.
6. Any leadership on any level that is not straightforward with me.
7. Out of state consultants that the city pays to tell us about things we’ve known for 20 years.
8. Copyrighted Mardi Gras Indian costumes. – I don’t like to play the old school New Orleans card more than I need to but the whole point of the tradition is for people to admire how pretty you are. That’s the reason they do it. It’s not to make money. The first time some regular person gets a request to remove a picture of them and a Mardi Gras Indian that was posted without permission the culture is officially dead.
9. Oil tainted seafood. – I know the oil is in there but until it changes the taste I am still eating it.
10. Brake tags.
11. Police checkpoints because I still don’t have a new brake tag.
12. I hate the fact that I don’t have a son only because if I did I would make sure he played baseball and got good enough to accept a scholarship to play for this dude. Wake Forest should have the number one recruiting class for twenty years after this.
13. The overuse of the N-word on Twitter. - For a social network that can be seen by just about anyone we sure don’t care how we through that word around.
14. Valentine’s Day and spending money on junk that doesn’t prove how you love someone. What if it’s not a pay week?
15. Relationship experts especially the ones that haven’t had a successful relationship themselves. If your daddy had totaled five cars and had three DWI’s would you let him teach you how to drive?
16. The Black Eye Peas – I guess the Saints Superbowl half time wasn’t that bad with The Who.
17. People who try to make you feel bad for enjoying something by reminding you of a serious issue like watching a game or something means you are not involved. I hate seeing those messages like “While all of you are fussing about the Saints and the Falcons there are families struggling in the streets.” Everyday I work with people on the frontlines of the fight to help struggling people and today we are all going to watch this game. Shut up and leave us alone.
18. Birthday parties for little kids.
19. Girl Scout cookies, spirit cards, Worlds Finest Chocolate, those stupid coupon books that you never get to use anything out of and whatever other item the fundraising hustlers at schools try to get parents to sell. I extra hate the parents who leave their kids sitting outside of the store for hours pushing that candy. Give that baby twenty bucks for candy and let those children play instead of pushing chocolate.
20. I hate anytime someone compares my beard (which is my current pride and joy) to the rapper Rick Ross. I take this as an insult. Rick Ross and I have nothing in common. He’s an overweight, untalented, fake drug dealer who raps about things he didn’t experience. I’m just overweight and untalented. That's a big difference.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Undercounted : My Take On The New Orleans Census

Just for the record I have always disagreed with the population count of New Orleans. I thought it was too low before the storm. According to the census there are 343,829 people living in New Orleans now. Yesterday I read a great blog about this yesterday by Sean Fitzmorris. You can read it here. While I agree with him that there seems to be far more people here than the census counted. I can’t say that the population is as big as it was before the storm. Since I know at least 200 people personally that’s not here anymore there’s no way that can be true. What I really agree with is the silly fact that not everyone sent in the census forms to be counted.

I wasn’t surprised by that because after looking at the voter turnout for the last citywide election I knew too many people are tuned out of reality to even think about the impact on the city that a low census might have. We have too many people that are worried about their own individual daily hustle and don’t see the bigger picture. I bet you there are some people who sent it in and only listed a few people living in their house and left other people off because they have a voucher or a subsidy that doesn’t allow all those extra people. That’s why homeless families pop out of nowhere because they were living in someone’s house as long as they could and no one knew they were there. Those are going to be the folks hurt most by a low census count because they need the most help.

Then there’s the complicated part of post Katrina New Orleans that includes all the folks we can’t count in the population but we should get credit for. We can’t count all the people who came back to the area after the storm but couldn’t find a place inside of the city so they settled in all of the surrounding parishes. It really doesn’t make sense for them to move back into the city limits because they have to drive back out to where they are to shop and do things anyway so they just stay there but they consider themselves New Orleans residents. We should get half credit for them.

Then we have the yo-yo residents who have moved back and forth three or four times because they really want to be here but they keep getting frustrated so they leave out and then come back again in a few months. I always seem to hear someone’s coming home at the same time someone else is leaving. Who knows where those people were when the census was going on. We should get half credit for them too and they need to keep still and stop moving every six months.

We will probably never know what the population of the city is. The census is the official count so we have to roll with it for now. I guess we’ll lose some political power and some funding. In some ways I think we deserve to lose. It's not good for us but we brought it on ourselves. I am not one of the rich and elite or lucky enough to live in a neighborhood that wasn’t flooded. I am also not one of the voucher carrying people who got to come up and suck up all the available rental property because landlords wanted that sure money. I’m part of that middle group who didn’t have to live her but chose to and while the powerful spent all of their time trying to keep the poor from coming back they made it hard as hell for regular people to get their lives together.

I don’t have a romanticized few of post Katrina New Orleans. From where I sit the truth is that we didn’t do a good enough job at trying to get as many people back to the city as we could, not enough people care and try to understand the big picture to vote and make sure they are counted in the census. Let them take the congressional seat and send less money. Maybe that will wake everyone up and make them pay attention.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday Groundhog Freestyle Blogging

I have to post this before midnight or the title makes no sense.

It was a pretty cold day today. I tend not to try and get caught up in harping on how cold it is down here because there are other cities buried in snow right now. Plus, it won’t be long before the heat and humidity have me carrying around a damp towel to keep my face from being drenched in sweat. I will deal with a few more days of this kind of weather. I heard the groundhog didn’t see his shadow today so it will be an early spring. I always wondered how in the hell they know what that groundhog sees and how did that one rodent qualify to predict the seasons.

I have been real busy at work but this morning I couldn’t take my eyes of the coverage of things going on in Egypt. I knew it wouldn’t make it all the way to the end without violence. Those pro Mubarak protesters just came out of nowhere. I knew he wasn’t just going to step down after all that time. Tomorrow may be a rough day once the sun comes up. This story is not over.

I watched the coverage on Al Jazeera. I know all of the journalist there are brave and dedicated people but the correspondents for Al Jazeera were really on the front line. There was one lady describing the situation on the ground and ducking rocks at the same time. I was just amazed how she could talk like that in the midst of all that chaos. I wasn’t productive as I could have been this morning but I couldn’t take my eyes off the coverage.

America is going to look like a bunch of hypocrites if they keep allowing Mubarak stop the progress of democracy after we went to war in two other countries for the same principle the Egyptian people have been peacefully protesting for.

Five years after the storm we have many new condominium developments popping up all over. At the same time we have meetings where parents have to argue the case for building or repairing a new school in their community.

Thank you Ms. King and Good Nola.Com for the profile. That was nice.

Thank you for the Archdiocese of New Orleans for posting the baptism records of slaves in Colonial New Orleans. I don’t know how many people are going to have time to do the work to connect their family but it will be enlightening for everybody to go through them and take in that kind of history. I know what's going to happen. As soon as I see anyone with the last name of one my elders I am going to become obsessed thinking that's my great great great great grand people.

Why is the government messing with the definition of rape? I know what rape is. Rape is touching anyone sexually when they didn’t give you permission. If it’s someone under age it doesn’t matter if they gave you permission or not it’s still rape. This is not the way to go even if you are anti-abortion.

If Glen Beck was a black man he would only be known on YouTube by his twenty subscribers and not have his own primetime show on the highest rated news network. Not only would hardly anyone know him but he would have changed his username about 10 times by now because people would report him and they would keep suspending his account. No brother could be that crazy, loud, and disrespectful yet become rich and successful unless he was a rapper. Glen Beck is the Wacka Flacka Flame of political commentary. He goes hard in the paint for fear mongering and insanity.

The sun is about to come up in Egypt. I hope I don’t stay up all night watching this.