Saturday, August 8, 2009


I'm going to start posting here again.

Lately the crime headlines have been so out of control. Babies killed by rats, kids shot up by cops, college kids kidnapped and shot in an abandoned house. (Fitzgerald and Calyisse. I won't forget.)

Health reform is being derailed by modern day fascists. Most people in the US could care less that we spent far too much comparatively for worse health outcomes, while leaving out 47 million people. The unchallenged doctrine of American exceptionalism continues to rot our nation.

The city seems paralyzed until the next mayoral election. On the plus side, I'm seeing a spattering of road construction lately. I will sure be glad when both lanes of Pontchartrain Blvd are open again. Bike lanes on St. Charles sound promising, too, but they need to go all the way to Canal. The potholes (giant sinkholes, let's be honest) I hated on Napoleon got filled just as I started to complain about them out loud to other people.

Michigan has an unemployment rate of well over 20% (U6).

My life has been great, though. I got a new job. I found a much better apartment. I replaced my stolen bike. I'm healthy. It seems wrong to take pleasure in the fact that I'm doing well, when so many are not. I'm not sure how to feel about this.

I'm participating in Infinite Summer. It's well worth it. Since the move, I haven't had a television, and my brain is so 'googled' that I've nearly lost the ability to read fiction for pleasure. I'm not saying that Infinite Jest is consistently pleasurable to read; it's challenging and difficult, and the disjointed narrative is an additional hurdle I didn't anticipate. However, the book is seriously blowing my mind. When David Foster Wallace committed suicide last fall, I felt a vague sadness despite only having read one of his short stories in a McSweeney's compilation. I stumbled upon his Kenyon College commencement speech without realizing it was the same author. Then I bought IJ and struggled to actually start it, when I stumbled upon Infinite Summer through, I believe, an Ezra Klein post.
Slowly, my brain is becoming less googled. I don't miss television that often. I still catch The Daily Show on Hulu.

2009 has been a good year. It's going to keep getting better. I plan to write about it. DFW is inspiring me to sharpen my grammar and analytical capabilities. I will try to be articulate.

Monday, January 19, 2009


I truly wish I could be marching in this inaugural parade instead of the one I marched in 8 years ago.  (that is a story for another post)

Good riddance, motherfucker.  There's a cell in Den Haag with your name on it.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


I guess I wouldn't be a true New Orleanian without having something major stolen from me.  My bike was stolen out of my laundry shed on the back of my house, in a locked up backyard.  I just discovered it about 15 minutes ago.  Sadly I don't know when it was actually stolen.

So if you see one of these layin about town, let me know.  I'm sad and I can't afford a new one right now.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Rep. Cao: Not such a fan of women

Our new representative decided to start his career in politics by voting against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act today.

For those of you who don't know about this, Lily Ledbetter was a supervisor at a Goodyear plant in Alabama for many years.  She found out that she had been paid less than her male colleagues who worked in the same position.  She sued and took her case to the Supreme Court, who ruled that she had no right to compensation because her case wasn't filed within six months of the first instance of discrimination.

It was a horrible decision by a male-dominated court that apparently doesn't understand that the vast majority of pay scales are not public, and so uncovering pay discrimination can take decades.  Maybe the court did understand this, and instead thought that Lily Ledbetter deserved to be paid less than her male colleagues.

Congress rightfully decided to rectify this and attempted last year to pass the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which would remove the statute of limitations on filing a suit to compensate for lost wages.  The Republicans blocked it, fearful of "frivolous lawsuits."

The new Congress, with their sizeable Democratic majority, took it up again today.  I called Rep. Cao's DC office this morning and asked how he would be voting on it.  I was told that he was meeting with his legislative staff about that very issue at the moment.  I told the guy on the phone that I hoped Rep. Cao would vote to allow the women in his district the opportunity to be paid equally and sue for that right in court, because a civil right that you can't take to court is no right at all.  It was to no avail, because in a big "Fuck You" to the women of the 2nd district of Louisiana, Cao voted with the Republican caucus against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act today. 

Happily, it passed anyway, thanks to the sizeable Democratic majority.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

get busy livin'

Big Red Cotton, via Eli, says it's time to march again.

I think it'll take more than that.

I attended a professional conference last year and was able to sit in on a session about influencing legislation.  The speaker described a movement in Arizona and how they succeeded.

They assembled a group of organizations who may not have agreed on everything, but they agreed on this one thing.  I can't recall what it was in this case, but it doesn't matter: it could be saving Lower Mid-City, it could be adequate public housing, it could be firing Warren Riley. 

They formed a coalition.  They created a symbol, t-shirts, and a schedule.  They wore these t-shirts in the legislature every day.  Everyone took shifts.  They asked questions, politely.  They insisted on being present, visible, and loud.  They didn't back down.  And they won.

I agree that we need to march.  But at the end of the march, everyone goes home and Riley goes to bed and gets up again the next day.  What happens after the march?  What happens when we numb ourselves with routine?

We need a coalition.  Black, white, Vietnamese, Hispanic, female, gay, straight, male, Catholic, Baptist, atheist, uptown, downtown, lakeside, riverside, everyone.  We need everyone to come together on this one thing.  Yeah, call me naive.  I know how fucking difficult that is.  It's New Orleans.  

We need a symbol.  Obama's campaign turned him into a symbol, and the symbol was meaningful because millions of people were behind it.  The real power was his coalition, but the symbol was the flashpoint.  We come up with a symbol and get it all around town.  Behind the symbol, we have a narrow and focused statement of purpose.  

And we need constant, persistent, vocal, and peaceful visibility.  It starts with the march.  But we end the march by saying: do x, or expect y, z, and the whole damn alphabet.  Then we follow through with nonviolent direct action.  We can run shifts in City Hall.  We can come up with a question sheet, we can display victim's pictures and stories, we can chalk out body outlines from every unsolved murder in front of City Hall.  We get a PR firm as part of the coalition.  We use social and traditional media to organize it.  It just needs to get rolling.  And it can't end until they're out of office.

I'm open to suggestions and critiques.  I want to get serious about this.  It's time to clean house or we won't have houses to clean.

Friday, January 2, 2009

so this is the new year, and i don't feel any different

Actually, that's not entirely true.  I feel good about my 2009 prospects.

I accomplished a lot in 2008.  I worked an entire year at my job and did some good things there.  I successfully quit smoking cigarettes and lost some weight.  I went back to the Netherlands and had a great family visit.  I made some great new friends and expanded my comfort zone a little bit more.  I rescued a dog and moved to a new apartment.  I avoided some crucial life mistakes, went to my first Jazz Fest, and attended Rising Tide.  I even went to a Saints [preseason] game.

2008 was a difficult but rewarding year, and I look forward to the next one.  Every year I'm in New Orleans is a reward in itself.  It's challenging and frustrating and entirely worth it.

I'm going to be blogging more in the new year, I hope.  I've sort of fallen off (on?) the wagon.

Today was a good start.  I had lunch at Pho Tau Bay and it was delicious and spicy and exactly what I wanted.  The music was great and adorable children made "is your refrigerator running?" jokes at the next table.  My pho was spicy and I added the beef in at the table to keep it from overcooking in the broth.  The sun shone on me as I blared the Pixies with the windows down over the Mississippi River on my way back to work.  It was the perfect lunch break.

To come: ruminations on Benjamin Button.  And much more.  Gelukkig Nieuwjaar, everyone!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

well glory be

Looks like we got ourselves a genuine HUD secretary

This part's my favorite:

“I would never believe that the private sector, left to its own devices, is the best possible solution,” he said in 2006. “I’m in government because of the role of government in setting rules and working in partnership with the private sector."