Monday, December 22, 2008

Algiers Point Anger

I know it's the holidays. I know that I could and probably will post something cheery this week.

Or not. I am beyond furious, crying as I type this. Anger in my bones wanting to explode out. I can even say that though I'm an avowed pacifist, that there are a couple of people in the video below that I'd like to do in on a public square.

Just prior to Katrina, we lived in Algiers Point. What we did after the storm can be found chronicled at my sister blog, Katrina Refrigerator. On our block there were only four of us. My husband and myself, and Mr. Mitchell and his wife. Mr. Mitchell and his wife are black. The four of us shared a generator for two households, running it about one hour a day. We looked out for each other, made sure we had ice, water, food. Whatever we got, we got enough for them and vice versa.

During that time, my husband and I were running all over the Point and beyond, making food drops, finding people that no one even knew were there. Most of them were old, sick, out of their medication, had no ice, no food and were black. There were some white people, an elderly man not on the Point who couldn't quite navigate the MRE's physically or mentally, the family on the tip of the Point who all needed psych meds and menstrual supplies-one of them is a Vietnam Vet who wouldn't come out of his house, so the rest of the family got his medications together for us to see what we could do. There was old Bernice. She had been born and raised on Algiers Point. Had lived her entire life in a two block area. Well into her 80's maybe 90's, I can't remember now, she had been at an assisted living home and was told the night before the storm that if she had a place to go she should go there, so she did. They put her in a taxi and she went back to the home she had shared with her husband for decades and weathered the storm by herself. Nearly blind and almost deaf, she made it, amazingly.

In our travels around the Point and Algiers area, we learned about guerilla networking. We learned who had what kind of equipment, what kind of supplies. You never knew what you'd need. In fact, we once traded a bottle of Absolut vodka for one jar of mayo that had been kept cold as we had a ton of tuna and nothing to mix in it. Nevermind there were still folks over at the Convention Center. We didn't know that. It was a complete news blackout. One only knew what was going on where they were, period.

We'd heard some guys bragging about shooting other guys. We heard of some guys who had strung beer cans all over the street as a sort of burglar alarm. We knew that some of them had said they'd taken turns as lookouts. But it was the bragging about shooting people that my husband and I talked most about. We thought these guys were idiots, and more to the point, we didn't believe them. We really didn't. They had signs on boards saying they'd shoot if they saw looting. They had a big easy chair in the street, apparently that was where the person on duty would sit for their shift. But again, we talked about their reports of shooting people and decided that they were stressed out and just doing a lot of dick measuring. No way these people would actually shoot anyone "just cuz."

I distinctly remember my husband saying, "They're full of shit."

Evidently, we were stupidly naive.

At the time, we lived in a double on Elmira Street. Our landlords became our friends, and remain so. They sent this article from to me in an email titled "A Familiar Face and Old Wounds." I read it immediately. Then I watched the video below. It's chilling. I simply cannot wrap my head around my neighbors laughing about shooting people, black people. "Pheasants in South Dakota?"

I am so upset by this on so many levels that I can barely comprehend it. Shot of a house with bunches of American flags on it, oh yeah, this is what America is about. A guy saying he had earned his wings as a New Orleanian by shooting at black people, while his wife says, "He learned about the N word" and nods knowingly.

Over time, my husband and I still agreed that the guys we talked to had to be full of shit as we had heard of no one being prosecuted. Now I see why no one has been prosecuted, and that makes me even sicker to my stomach. These guys were telling us at the time that they'd shot people and tossed them into the river. Evidently they did, and they're still living in their houses patting themselves on the back while the number of "missing" remains over 700.

Why is the national media picking this up before locals? Why aren't the local people talking about it? There has to be something we as New Orleanians can do to get this story up front, get these people prosecuted and put away. I will tell you that I'm not going to let this one go. We were there, we were helping, we were weeping.

I'm still weeping. Now for a different reason. I just don't know where to put my grief, my anger and my shame for not believing this could be true. I guess I thought my neighbors were better than that. I guess I thought wrong.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What on Earth is the MATTER with These People?

I saw this article headline today: Store Refuses to Make Birthday Cake for Child. The reason given was the child's name: Adolf Hitler.

This article explains that these idiots named their 3 year old boy Adolf Hitler Campbell. Oh yeah, and his sisters' names are equally bizarre.

What is going to happen to these kids when they get to school? The mother says: "What's the big deal. They're kids. They're not gonna hurt anyone." Um, no, you MORON, but some kids might hurt THEM.

Good god, what were these people thinking.

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Humble Entry Brought to You by General Motors

Okay, after suffering and laughing through all the entries in the "hostilidays" video postings, I humbly offer up two pieces of a really horrid, very long (two hrs running time, Lucas must have been hard up for bucks)piece done in 1978. The entire thing is on You Tube in pieces. I give you the first and last piece.

The first piece contains dialogue, if you can call it that, that must be what a GM Board meeting sounds like combined with CNN's election coverage visuals, and ya gotta love the cast:

The entire torturous piece (and I am a Star Wars fan!) ends with this:

How very low I've sunk.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

RIP Polaroid Film

Polaroid film will no longer be produced. This CNN article found yesterday made me sad. While digital photography is wonderfully immediate, that was also what made Polaroid film so great. Instant, well nearly instant, gratification. There is a Polaroid camera in a box behind me as I write this. I guess I'll decorate it in Mardi Gras beads and turn it into sculpture. It will soon be useless as anything other than an old time curiousity.

I remember being a kid before the faboo Polaroid 600 came out. The Polaroid was shot and out would shoot this kind of black paper thing. We'd all stand around peeing our pants with anticipation as the adult holding the paper counted off the time. Finally, FINALLY, the developed photo could be peeled from its backing revealing the picture. It was miraculous. I even remember that it had a very recognizable, almost sweet smell.

As Polaroid progressed, we learned the shoot and shake method. No one was ever really sure that shaking the ejected photo would develop it faster, but we were convinced that it might not develop if we didn't shake it. Besides, shaking it seemed to shorten the wait time as our impatience got lost in the action and giggles of shaking the thing.

Years later I decided to get a degree in photography (never got it, math requirements got in my way). I learned about things like ASA and F Stops. I absolutely loved the sensuousness of the darkroom. Black, dank, the sound of running water, the sloshing of the trays full of chemicals, even the smell of the chemicals---the whole thing was a creative womb.

With great care the film would be extracted from the camera then the cannister, hands hidden in a lightproof bag, always with a bit of paranoia---was there light leaking in anywhere? Would the little slice of life made by light briefly, ever so briefly, flicked onto the film be forever destroyed by the very light that made it? Phew! Did it. The end of the film cannister fell to the floor and the film pulled out. Now I could put it perfectly on the developing reel. I knew how to use the old metal ones, but really liked the plastic ones in the 70's that kind of ratcheted the film onto the reel. Less chance of bending it, I thought, until of course I did bend one roll. From then on I wasn't quite so cavalier. Now to develop the film itself. Chemicals, lid, agitate, let it sit, watch the clock, agitate again, let it sit watch the clock, listen to the timer clicking off the minutes, wait! What kind of film is in there? 400 or 250? Oh yeah, 400, cool, it's cool. Agitate, zen, rinse. Now I had negatives. The negatives made me happy in their reversal. Looking at them as I hung them to dry was like looking at a parallel universe.

Once dry, one frame was chosen for printing. Not always the right one, but I'd figure that out as I went along. Line it up just right on the enlarger, don't scratch it, any dust on it? No? Make sure. Okay. It's good. Flip the switch on the enlarger, play with it. Make it HUUUUUUUUUUGE, no don't like that, make it tiny, no don't like that much either. Get out your box of filters. OOOOOOOOO, loving that red filter, nah, maybe mess with the contrast a bit. Choose my paper stock. Damn, look at that lower left corner. How did that guy's hand get in there? Shit. Well, no problem, dodge it out, gently, gently now. The timing had to be perfect.

Now to put that piece of paper into a tray. Grab the tongs, I hope these aren't the old ones with the crack in it that scratched that last print. Slosh, slosh, slosh. Magic, magic, magic. An image formed, slowly like something coming out of the ethers in a dream. ENOUGH. Into the next chemical to stop the developer. Made it. Slosh, slosh, slosh, RINSE. Okay, it'll be there a while. Don't want that glorious black and white to yellow cuz I was too impatient to rinse all the chemicals out. Go have a cigarette and come back.

Hang the final product up, I was now looking at it in the light, safely. The silver glowed, the blacks were inky, not a spot on it that I didn't mean to be on it. Wow. A miracle. That face smiling back at me. That leaf caught just as the wind hit it and at just the right angle to see all the veining under it. The guy trying to bash another guy's head in at a Ku Klux Klan rally in San Francisco. Harvey Milk in a parade! Mayor Moscone there too. Those cool old doors on that building they've torn down now. The cops in riot gear with big shields coming down Market Street in San Francisco during the riots after the Dan White verdict.

Photography. Love it. All of it. Don't do enough of it anymore.

Digital photographers have tried to explain that my computer is now my darkroom. Besides, I no longer have a darkroom in my house (although in years past, I'd been known to use my bathtub for developing film.) I get it. I really do. I still prefer Black and White 400 ASA film shot with just the right exposure to give it a great grain without clicking a button to turn my color photo into a b/w, then pushing another button to give it grain in standardized increments. The silver just isn't there. The zen just isn't there. The miracle isn't there.

As for the miracle of Polaroid film, it will no longer be made. That is really a damn shame.

Of all the photos yearned for in the nostalgia piece above, Hurricane Katrina only spared a few. Those few were Polaroids. Something in that film allowed it to survive the chemical stew of the floodwaters on Tulane. Polaroid photos survived Katrina. That's a good enough reason to mourn its passing.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Glory at Sea

A while back, I was sitting at Buffa's. There were some kids, at least from my perspective they were kids, talking about making a movie. They even considered my grandson for a part in it. They wrote the screenplay in Buffa's. You'd see them in the front room or the back room, all gathered around a table talking seriously as the rest of us cranked the jukebox or played bad pool.

The result was this amazing short film, Glory at Sea. Buffa's cook, Mama Jo is in the cast along with others from Buffa's including Cedric, whom we haven't seen in forever and miss a lot.

I got an email from Benh Zeitlin, who had brought it up to Buffa's one afternoon so we could all see it. I bought one from him that day it was so beautiful. His production website is, although I'm not sure if you can purchase a copy there or not. I've emailed him to find out.

This film has garnered many awards. I'm so delighted for them.

YouTube's Screening Room has posted Glory at Sea in its entirety (and an interesting tidbit learned at Buffa's that day was that Obama loved the score). I am posting it here for you. (Hit the "high quality" button, it was shot on HD video.) It's one of those pieces you'll watch over and over again. Hope you like it.

I'm so proud of them!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hey, Anonymous, Grow a Pair

Okay. OKAY. I already blew it with the title of this post proving no doubt that I'm a sexist who thinks only men post anonymously, or can write, or something like that.

Well, I'm not changing it now. Take it in the spirit in which it was written, as I will take your comments, Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2 (or is it the same person?) in the spirit in which they were written.

It's pretty cool to put something out there anonymously, with a nice protective screen between you and the receiver of your comments. Safe. No repercussions. You can sit and gloat, happy that you got your jabs in, then probably check back daily to see if Slate had the nerve to publish your comments. Much to your chagrin, I did not publish them in the comments section. Probably grated ya. This should make you very happy, then. I decided that I'd publish them front page center. Give you the milk crate on the corner of the blogosphere with a spotlight on it instead of relegating your insights to the less visited comments section.

I checked some other blogs prior to writing this. Many of whom had put up similar posts to the "History" post. None of them had comments like these. You're special. Thanks so much for visiting my little blog.

Anonymous 1:

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "History":

Yes! Incredible. I would have never thought in my lifetime that we could have *2 consecutive* retards as president! God Bless America! We'll need it.

Well, looking past the obviously nasty use of the word retard (do people still say that? Who knew? Like in public and everything?), I'm curious which two you are referring to? William Henry Harrison and John Tyler, both Whigs? Andrew Johnson and Ulysses S. Grant, both corrupt? Or are you thinking in more current terms? Ronald Reagan and George Bush the first? Bill Clinton and George W. Bush? Or maybe you're thinking of two terms of George W. and thinking it was a different person each term?

Let's just go back a little. Clinton was a philanderer and not good at hiding it, nevertheless he was anything but an unintelligent man, or as you would so kindly put it, a retard. George W. Bush, his assault on syntax aside, was in my opinion misguided and I didn't like him, but again, he is not a stupid man. Barack Obama, definitely not a stupid man. None of these three qualify for your "retard" label. Then again, I don't know anyone who does since it's not a term I use.

As for "God Bless America! We'll need it." I tend to agree with you. As long as there are folks like you around we need all the prayers we can get. Now why don't you go to your mega-church and volunteer to help some special needs members. It will do you good.

Anonymous 2, your comment will be broken up a bit to make it easier for me to respond. I'm a bit retarded that way.

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "History":

tell me, exactly why is this cool? because he's a democrat? if so, in a recent entry, you questioned whether it would matter (10/02/08 but, i'm sure you can explain or excuse it), and i agree.

I went back and read the entry for 10/2/08. It was a two part piece completely quoted from an email I had received. I said in that post--that it was not necessarily my opinion but the opinion of the writer, so it wasn't me who questioned whether it would matter, it was the writer of the piece I published verbatim to see what other folks thought of it. I'll see if I can contact him and ask him your question.

Because he's a democrat? Well, the Dems have made their share of mistakes, that's for sure, but given what the Republicans have done in the last eight years, I'd have to say yeah, that is one reason it's cool. Perhaps the new administration can do a better job than the Republicans have done. Hope does spring eternal, doesn't it?

Is it because of his ethnic origins? if so, you are white-guilt-ified or prejudiced, at best, because there are better available and quite frankly, McStain was just as antagonistic to the idiot-in-cheif as Obama has been("I voted with the president 90%" ad, notwithstanding, i'm sure you know that, but who cares, he's coddling those gopers).

White-guilt-ified. Wow. I think we should make some tshirts. I never owned slaves and I've always treated people as people no matter what color they were, so I carry no guilt. I am prejudiced against people who won't stand up for what they believe, so I'll give you that one. Mark it on your side of the tally sheet. And what exactly is a "goper"? Is that a GOP-er or something I need to look up in the new slang dictionary?

I will absolutely admit that as a child of the sixties who watched the Civil Rights era unfold on television followed by the televising of the Vietnam War, that yeah, his ethnicity is a factor in my thinking it's cool. I didn't think I'd see this happen in my lifetime. I was dismayed that racism (and I see it every day, don't you?) seemed to be so entrenched in this country. But then I looked at the faces of the crowd in Lafayette Square. It wasn't just Jesse Jackson crying, it was white people. Lots and lots of white people and brown people and yellow people. It was AMERICAN people. I think the emotion stemmed not just from the fact that a man of color was elected, but that there was a feeling of hope in a time when hope is very much needed. I actually wondered what President Bush was thinking at that moment. I believe that as much as I disagreed with him on just about everything, that he truly felt he was doing the right thing. If he was watching those faces that night, it had to sting. Your reference to McCain as McStain makes me curious for whom you voted, or if you voted at all. And I do agree with you that McCain did as much to distance himself from W as was humanly possible, in the end he couldn't.

Is it because of his ideology? duh, I'll count the bummed-out that Joey McCarthy
and Bobby F Kennedy ruined; you count the dead that any single socialist dictator smoked: you'll have the higher score and you will lose.

Now that is a truly curious statement, "the bummed out that Joey McCarthy and Bobby F Kennedy ruined." Ruined? Lessee, McCarthy certainly ruined a lot of people's lives and deprived them of their livelihoods through blacklisting. So okay, score one for you. Exactly how did Bobby Kennedy ruin people? Unless of course you're talking about his nearly obsessive investigation and prosecution of the Mafia, or maybe his hatred of that pillar of the community J. Edgar Hoover. If you're truly comparing our President-elect to a socialist dictator, well I'm gonna have to ask you what you "smoked." Nevertheless, by your "Heads I win, Tails you lose" scenario, I guess I do lose. Not sure what I've lost yet, but I guess I'll know when I can't find it.

As for Obama's ideology, I don't agree with him on everything, but I agree with him on much, much more than I could ever have agreed with McCain. So yeah, that's cool. It was the first time in a long time I voted FOR someone rather than AGAINST someone. It's a subtle difference but a really cool one, at least for me.

McCain (and the Bushling) is high fiving president-elect Obama, and don't you forget that.
"The Bushling"!!! Kudos for that one. I really like that, no sarcasm intended at all. I like it much better than Shrub. As for high fiving, which at one time was a mostly urban black cultural greeting but has become acknowledged as a greeting world wide, I'm gonna let your subtle racism slide because I'm not sure you knew it was there in that statement. However, given your sophistication, I think you should understand protocol and manners. Here in America we hand over the reins of power in a civilized fashion, rather than put a bullet through the outgoing Prez's head, no matter what our secret desires might be. McCain was very gracious in his concession speech, and again, although I'm not a fan of McCain I do think that he sincerely believes in a civilized transition. He will also have to work with our new President as long as he remains in the Senate. Yeah, I think it's cool that we don't have to have a coup d'etat to change leadership.

call me in 12 months when we're still in iraq, the debt is even bigger, the draft (Rahm Emanuel, read him...good guy in some ways, i could like him) is looming for your oft-mentioned grand-kid, and even more corporations are being taxed higher overseas because it is cheaper than being taxed here(especially HERE in la).

Hmm, so you've been here before if you know that I have a grandson and you live in Louisiana, or at least are pretending to. I expect we will still be in Iraq in 12 months. I will leave out the part where I say we shouldn't have gone there to begin with. Ooops, it slipped out. A draft. Well, again, this will probably be an unexpected statement from me, but I think perhaps we need a draft. That having been said, I don't think the draft should consist of only military service. I think they should have their choice of the military (and you bet I'm praying that my sweet grandson doesn't have to go over there or anywhere else where people are shooting at him. I can't imagine how hard it is for all the mothers, grandmothers and wives of service men.) I think the kids should be given choices like the Teach America program, or the Peace Corps, or volunteering in inner city daycares or homeless shelters. There are a lot of alternative ways to serve one's country, and I don't think it would be so bad for some of these kids to see that not everyone has an iPod. Oh yeah, and NO exemptions for Senators' kids or others who can pull strings. Two years volunteering, then we pay for their college. Think how many kids we could have put through college on the money we spent in Iraq. Don't tell me we can't manage some kind of program like that.

Rahm Emanuel? I'm thinking I could like him too from what I've read. Time will tell whether he's too much of a political pitbull to get bipartisan legislation passed.

As for the deficit, Bush came in with a surplus and squandered it. Now we will all pay the price, and yes, my grandson's generation will pay it heavily. Corporations being taxed? Um, YUP, and again, YUP. Eisenhower was right. He saw all this coming but no one listened to him. Corporations have run amuck, I'm surprised people with stock portfolios aren't standing in front of banks and corporations with torches and pitchforks. Gordon Gekko was NOT right. Greed is NOT good, and the Oracle, Mr. Greenspan should have known better. The rampant deregulation naively let the foxes mind the henhouses and now all we have is feathers.

oh, and the cap and trade CO2 brownouts will surely feel more patriotic than our katrina blackouts, especially after a (equitably taxed) cigarette or 20.

Well, I'm gonna put my foot squarely in my mouth again here I suppose, at least as far as you're concerned. I'm simply not much of a nationalist. I guess that makes me unpatriotic in your eyes. I don't see it that way at all. I do want America to be as wonderful as she can be, which btw, doesn't involve things like wiretapping her citizens or torturing her enemies. So CO2 brownouts won't make me feel patriotic, neither did the Katrina blackouts. I really love your cigarette remark. Makes me think ya really actually might KNOW me a bit. I don't mind paying taxes on my cigarette (or 20). I DO mind that I pay those taxes and can't own a business with a big sign outside saying "This is a smoking establishment. Please know that before you come in." And I do so love the folks standing next to their running Escalades and Yukons crinkling up their nose because someone is smoking a cigarette twenty feet down from them in the open air. No score for you on that statement.

nothing we've done makes a difference and "change" was big with hitler, too. doesn't say "good" in a thesaurus next to it. all i can say is wow, how cool is that? cool means: not so hot.

Oh dear. A fixed sign are you? Nevermind. "Nothing we've done makes a difference." What are you saying? Much has changed because "we" did something. Child labor laws. Hate crime laws. Anti-discrimination laws. I'll leave you to find some others. "'Change' was big with Hitler"--HUH? Tell me you're not comparing Obama to Hitler. If you are, show me what criteria you're using.

You're right. Change isn't always good. Cutting back on Veteran's Benefits, cutting money for the upkeep of infrastructure, not good. Again I'll leave you to find some more examples. And no, the thesaurus doesn't have "good" next to "change." So what. It's pretty damn good when that little tree you planted ten years ago finally changes and starts making fruit isn't it?

"Cool means: not so hot." Right now I stick by my WOW, this election was so COOOOOOOOOOL. While I don't expect Obama to get everything right, or wave a magic wand and fix everything overnight, I do think that his priorities are more in line with mine. Bush's priorities would fall into the not so hot category for me.

And while we're talking about change, I'm still baffled by California voting for more room for chickens but voting against gay marriage. A chicken before a friend I always say. But maybe none of those California PETA folks have any gay friends. No matter. I'll eagerly await your Anonymous comment.

Unless of course, you grow a set and put your name on your statements. At least stand behind them.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Don't Blame Me, Blame Polimom!

I have had a cold for days now so although I have a couple of serious things I want to blog about, I think I'll just play tag with Poli, since she tagged me.. She's been such a good friend for so many years now that although I don't usually do this kind of thing, it's easier on my cold filled head than what I was going to write about.

Here are the rules:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Fine, six random things about me. I'm pretty random so narrowing it down to six might be difficult.

1. I love the smell of jasmine on a humid summer night, corny but true.

2. I have given up dying my hair, let it go gray and am considering dreadlocks.

3. I pull the covers up over my ears at night for no reason other than I've always done it.

4. Mardi Gras Indian music can always put me in a good mood (I should be reaching for Wild Tchoupitoulas as I speak)

5. I have rescued German Shepherds for years and have the hair in my hallway to prove it.

6. My bicycle, which is my primary transportation, is covered with a motley collection of stickers.

Okay, so now I have to tag six more huh? Oh they're gonna love me.

I'll buy y'all drinks next time I see you.


Mark Folse at Toulouse Street
EJ at No It's Just Me
Maitri at the inimitable Vatul Blog
Morwen at Gentilly Girl
Greg Peters the Suspect Device (just to see if he'll do it and if he does it will be worth seeing what he writes as it will probably something you'll want to put your coffee cup down to read)
Charlotte at Traveling Mermaid (because I think she'll enjoy it!)

So many more I could have tagged, although if you've never read any of the above, you'll find a very diverse group. I'll leave it to these six to get to LisaPal and GBitch (whose blog seems to be down? Anyone know what's up with that?) and Liprap and Sophmom and Zombie and Oyster and Adrastos and Gloomy Pants and Loki and Ray and and and.

Okay, Poli, you happy?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Halloween in New Orleans with Election Sidebar

Well, I couldn't figure out what to do for Halloween in terms of a costume. Just hadn't given it much thought this year. So I went as St. Gouttiere, patron saint of the gutter punks. I figured since I was a little goth gutter punk in my misspent youth, I was currently of the age to be their patron saint, and lord knows they need one. The kids on Decatur Street loved me.

I looked in the mirror and thought I couldn't have looked MORE like a drag queen if I'd tried, but overall the look worked.

Husband went as Che Guevara and ran into Fidel in the new cigar shop down on Decatur. Some folks took their pictures together, both with stogies hanging out of their mouths.

We made the rounds to our favorite places, running into people we knew everywhere. Had a great time, checked out the Molly's parade start, continued on to Pirate's Alley and loved the costumes we saw. San Francisco does a good Halloween, at least they did when I lived there, but New Orleans has to be the best. The spirit of Halloween just takes over the entire city, and this is a city that likes masks. We seem willing to dress up in costume at the slightest provocation. Dressing up and parading. The mayor knicked his head today while shaving it::::::::::PARADE::::::::::DRESS UP:::::::::::So Halloween is always a blast. You could tell some people had spent a lot of time and effort on their costumes, unlike me who slapped something together that morning putting a beauty queen banner across my chest explaining who I was. I was a bit surprised how successful it turned out to be.

Meanwhile, Blaine Kern's Krewe of Boo parade was slated to start at 7PM. Never having been in or to a parade that actually started on time, we got down to Decatur and Esplanade about 7:30. We'd already missed it, but heard that our neighbor who had gone as Joe the Plumber, complete with plumber's crack had had a "wardrobe malfunction" and apparently the plumbing in front was hanging out til a friend told him to yank his pants up. We had asked him earlier how he thought he was gonna navigate those pants down so low, he felt he had it under control. Apparently not.

All of the above aside, the streets were electric. Groups gathered on corners, all in costume and makeup, discussing the election. It was fascinating. They were voicing fear and hope simultaneously. The conversations centered around the who, the possibility of another election being stolen, the fact that we could feel history being made in this election. It was remarkable. Total strangers discussing this stuff without rancor or anger, maybe a little sarcasm here and there, but so very hopeful. It was hope tinged with that fear I mentioned though. It was clear that everyone has invested themselves in this election, to a degree I haven't seen in decades. And these discussions were everywhere, street corners, stoops with ghouls gathered around, bars. Amazing.

Let's hope we can continue that kind of discussion after the votes are tallied.

I doubt it though. A family member told me today that they didn't want to hear my opinion. I'm afraid that regardless of the outcome, we're going to go back to our corners and stay silent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Couple Different Takes on the E-word post

Yesterday I wrote a post about what I call E-words. Euphemisms. There was a paragraph about the use of the N-word. A comment came in overnight with the video below linked. Although it was close to spamming to sell the book, I published the comment after watching the video. Below the video was a little blurb saying that it had been made in response to an argument on the View over the use of the N-word. I will show you both.

Here's the one sent with the comment on yesterday's piece:

The comments by those who watched it on YouTube were interesting in themselves. And below it was a blurb stating that the above video had been made in response to an argument on the View. I don't watch the View, but have seen some video of Elizabeth Hasselbeck, and have never agreed with her. However, I can see her point here.

My grandson went to a school in the French Quarter in which he was one of two white kids in his class. It didn't make a difference to him. He loved his school. However, Hasselbeck makes a good point. How would I have told him at 8 yrs old that if his friends Eddie and Tremain used the N-word as a term of endearment or friendship to each other that it was NOT okay for him to use it as a term of endearment or friendship? It's a really really good question. Below is the argument on the View and Whoopi also makes some really good points, although I think it was stupid of them to bleep the N-word out as she spoke.

This is a tough question. And for the record, I don't think Jesse Jackson was using it as a term of endearment when he hot mic'd the word using it in reference to Obama. IMOHWO (in my humble white opinion) that was clearly NOT a term of endearment.

Let me know what you think about this. The comments over at YouTube are interesting if contradictory in some cases.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Silliness and Poignancy of E-words

Ah, this week I have very much wished for some way to reanimate Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Abbie Hoffman and Hunter Thompson--grand wordsmiths all. I've found myself alternately giggling and furious about the use of E-words.

Huh? What's an E-word, ya ask? Oh, it's a new one I made up. It's euphemism, the E-word.

When Lenny and George talked about the Seven Filthy words decades ago, their point was that it was just plain silly that some words can never be said out loud in public. Perhaps I should have said, SHOULD never be said in public. (BTW, the entire Carlin FCC transcript can be found here.)

So now we all go around saying silly things like "Oh he said the F-word" as though we don't know WHAT on earth that word actually is. "Never ever call a woman the C-word!" I might agree, I might not, but the fact is that I KNOW what the word is and in my head the minute they say "the C-word" the ACTUAL word is there unedited by the alphabet euphemism.

I do have issues with some words for sure. The N-word, for instance, still makes my skin crawl. I watched about 20 minutes of Katt Williams' comedy set the other night on Comedy Central late at night, and his use of that word, although he is black and the majority of the audience was also black, made me cringe. He must have repeated it at least 8 times in one sentence, and it made me angry. I kept hearing Billie Holiday singing "Strange Fruit," seeing old black and white footage of dogs and firehoses-- the images of my childhood news comprehension and my ten year old self looking in horror wondering why this was happening. I saw photos of black bodies hanging from trees knowing that the N-word was probably the last word the hanging man had heard. And yeah, we all know the word. We all know white people can't say it, shouldn't say it anywhere public or private if they have any conscience at all, and young black people use it all the time. Bewildering. (And please spare me the "oh you're being oh so PC" comments, K? If anything I'm showing my age, not my political correctness.)

This week a headline screamed: "McCain Campaign uses the S-word." Huh? It took me a while to figure out that it wasn't "Shit, we're losing in the polls." The S-word is Socialism? Oh dear god. I gotta keep up! It was the first time in a long time I didn't know the actual meaning of an E-word. Once I learned what they were referring to I just sat here laughing. And laughing.

Here are some E-words for you to contemplate. Which ones bother you most? Which ones would you never use even in private? And which ones are just silly. (Notice I haven't asked ya which ones you use nearly every day!)

Mother F-word
C-word sucker
F-wording C-word
God damn N-word
Anti-American S-word

Oh for heaven's sake. The REAL E-word in this election has been the B-word. Bush. With the exception of the last debate, George Bush's name has barely been mentioned by his own party candidates no matter what office they're running for. He had to have cringed a little bit at McCain's comment in the third debate.

Even McCain and Palin's "REAL Americans" don't say the B-word often anymore in public.

But the B-word is one that we all know is being used liberally in private on "both sides of the aisle" and it might just be right up there with the F-word right now. Carlin would have had to add it to his riff, and Hunter Thompson would have eaten him alive. (I mean really, think of it, Thompson on the Campaign Trail 2008! He woulda had a field day.) The B-word has now taken its place among the unspoken filthy words in some circles.

I almost, not quite, but almost feel sorry for him.

10:08PM Jon Stewart just did a piece on the S-word. His choice was better than my guess. He thought maybe scalawag or sheep F-word-er. Probably should link to him, but don't want to miss the rest of the show!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Resign for the Country and Economy's Sake?

Dan Froomkin's blog over at the Washington Post, after mentioning that Dick Cheney had another heart incident in recent days, had this interesting idea buried on the third page:

Richard S. Tedlow and David Ruben write in a Boston Globe op-ed: "The next president will be elected on Nov. 4, but will not take office until Jan. 20. Normally, this lag time is not an issue. But with the financial system in meltdown, the 'real' economy threatening to follow, and a feckless, lame-duck administration unable to lead, this yawning interval is a problem. If history is any guide, a very big problem. . . .

"But there is a way out - if our political leaders are smart, courageous, and public-spirited enough to take it.

"Assume that Barack Obama wins the election, as polls show is increasingly likely. The following day, Vice President Cheney should be prevailed upon to resign. Using his powers to designate a successor under the 25th Amendment, President Bush should then appoint, and Congress should confirm, Obama as vice president (just as Richard Nixon appointed Gerald Ford vice president in 1973 when Spiro Agnew resigned). Bush himself should then resign, elevating Obama to the presidency - as Ford became president when Nixon resigned. Obama should then appoint Joe Biden as vice president."

Sandy Levinson blogs that Cheney's heart problem presents a unique opportunity to begin the process.
Interesting idea. It'll never happen, but at least the country and the economy wouldn't languish during the "yawning interval."

Friday, October 10, 2008

I Will Reach Across the Aisle, My Friends, and Sneer

This has been an interesting week, on so many levels. I'm desperately trying to finish a couple of short stories for the Tennessee Williams Festival deadline, but have found myself distracted. Gee, that NEVER happens.

These distractions, though, are different. Indeed to call them distractions is to demean the profundity of the ideas.

For years now, nearly all the years of the Bush presidency, I have said that our country is in the midst of a silent civil war. No Gettysburgs here, no Antietams. This civil war has been raging over dining room tables and in family rooms with CNN or Fox news as the soundtrack instead of cannon shots. And just as the civil war divided families, this 21st century civil war is doing the same. Blood isn't flowing across carpets, but huge silences are in a lot of cases.

Okay, okay, so we were told as kids never to discuss religion or politics. That, IMO is total bullshit. That's how we got into this mess in part. No one talking to the other guy. Oh wait, there were a couple times when I tried that and it turned into a shouting match, or an angry email from a family member, or oh yes, the big SILENCE.

I am an American. I consider myself a patriot, but not a nationalist. I don't see them as the same things.

For many years I have watched as America turned into something different from my view of it--wait maybe I should have said something other than my aspirations for it. Car commercials, 100 per night, offering bigger and better and shinier options. After Christmas commercials saying, "Now go get what you REALLY wanted," demeaning the sweetness of giving a gift. Insurance companies telling me I'd be in good hands if I would only buy from them, or that they'd be there when I needed them. (I'm still amazed everytime I see an AIG commercial still on the air. What you want MORE?) I could insure everything I was in hock for, just in case something happened, and the folks holding the pawn ticket on my car/house/boat/motorcycle/RV/you name it could get paid. Banks were giving themselves cutesie names like WaMu, one step checking, one stop shopping, hey here at Chase we'll even let you know if you're about to be overdrawn. Money. Spend it, give it us, you DESERVE this fill-in-the-blanks cool beans thingie that comes in twenty five colors to match your shoes that you just bought on Bluefly for $600 bucks. Our stockholders will be thrilled and you can zoom by the homeless under the overpass while checking your navi and the kids are watching the latest BluRay edition of their favorite movie. Better drive a bit more slowly though, cuz odds are you don't have health insurance, and boy oh boy the bills you can rack up in a hospital---you don't wanna know. It seemed to me that people were just working and working and working, if they still had a job, so they could buy, buy, buy some more.

I aspired to an America that was more than just a rabid consumer of stuff, to be traded in, insured, or buried with. (Did ya hear? Ol' Joe wants to be buried in his Escalade! BAAHHAA is Martha ever upset. It's not even paid off and think what she'll have to pay for the burial plot! Ol' Joe, he was a pisser!)

When my husband and I moved to New Orleans, one of the reasons among many, was we just felt like we were spending our lives lining other people's pockets. My husband is more mercenary than I, he does like his toys and his stuff. I have a different relationship to "stuff" than most people I guess. Right now I have way too MUCH stuff. I prefer having less stuff and more friends. I'd prefer to sit down and have a drink with someone who's discussing an idea than a car, and one of the ideas that's been discussed this week with friends is the labelling of a "good" American as a "Joe Six-pack" kind of person.

It started in a conversation with a friend of long standing who usually disagrees with me politically. She said, "I find this whole Joe Six-pack thing demeaning and it pisses me off. It's like they're trying to make it appear that regular people don't THINK. They just buy a new plasma screen, watch football and Nascar and don't care a whit about what's going on." We went on to discuss the "tiering" of society into four tiers: The One Percent Club comprised of the CEO's and Paris Hilton's of the world; the Joe Six-packs who buy the newest biggest truck they can find and hoot YOOOOO ESSSSS AAAAAAYYY at the slightest provocation (these allegedly being the only real Americans in the tiers, oh wait, except the CEO's--I mean after all they ARE capitalists); the Intellectual Liberal Elite who are a bit effete, have no sense of humor and are mostly closet Socialists who find fault with everything American and should really go live in Europe; and finally, The Underclass which is made up of minimum wage workers, welfare mothers, mentally ill/homeless/drug addicts who don't vote or give a rat's ass politically one way or the other.

All of these tiers talk about one another but not TOO one another it seemed to us. The divisions are huge. You can jump over a giant rain puddle and maybe get your feet a little wet, but you can't leap across a chasm without probably getting killed. I'm seeing the chasms getting deeper and wider and more disturbing then ever.

In this Op-Ed piece, David Brooks talks about how "Republican political tacticians decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare." He talks about how Reagan was open to ideas, but the latest generation of Republicans, while saying Reagan is their hero, seems to have closed their minds to ideas and instead use people like Sarah Palin to reach their "base" adding to the social class warfare. (A really good piece, I hope you click the link.)

He goes on to say:

"The political effects of this trend have been obvious. Republicans have alienated the highly educated regions — Silicon Valley, northern Virginia, the suburbs outside of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh-Durham. The West Coast and the Northeast are mostly gone.

The Republicans have alienated whole professions. Lawyers now donate to the Democratic Party over the Republican Party at 4-to-1 rates. With doctors, it’s 2-to-1. With tech executives, it’s 5-to-1. With investment bankers, it’s 2-to-1. It took talent for Republicans to lose the banking community."

So, okay, the Republicans want the "Joe Six-packs." I get it. But fomenting a level of anger against the Obama camp to the degree that it has is a bit frightening. Not just disagreement but anger. Lots of people are angry right now, angry at the financial meltdown, conflicted about the war in Iraq, the deficit, you name it, but this WaPo article about a McCain rally is really scary. The degree of anger is nearly pathological. Socialist? Terrorist? (Nevermind McCain's gaffe at another rally calling us his "fellow prisoners"--HUH?)

I learned this week that Joe Biden's Secret Service code name is "Assassination Insurance," thanks to Ann Coulter. Again, HUH? That's funny? Bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran was "just a joke told to other military guys at a VFW." HUH? That's funny? Oh wait, I'm one of those folks with no sense of humor. Gotta remember that. ::::::::::::note to self::::::::::bloodletting is funny::::::::::::

Well I am going to have to agree with CNN's David Gergen, who said on the Colbert Report last night that they really need to dial it down a notch. He said, "McCain is a better man than that." I hope he's right. And I really hope that the new civil war doesn't wind up being a real one complete with guns and that hilarious bloodletting stuff.

Enjoy the clip. The Gergen section is about half way through the video for those of you short on time.

EDIT: Evidently the AFL/CIO feels similarly. This from The Boston Globe:
Posted by Foon Rhee, deputy national political editor October 10, 2008 04:43 PM

The head of the nation's biggest labor federation is joining the chorus of voices warning about the increasingly angry crowds coming to John McCain's campaign events.
At rallies this week, McCain's criticisms of Democrat Barack Obama have been met with shouts of "terrorist," "liar," and other harsh words.

"Sen. John McCain, Gov. Sarah Palin and the leadership of the Republican party have a fundamental moral responsibility to denounce the violent rhetoric that has pervaded recent McCain and Palin political rallies," said John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, which has endorsed Obama. "When rally attendees shout out such attacks as 'terrorist' or 'kill him' about Sen. Barack Obama, when they are cheered on by crowds incited by McCain-Palin rhetoric -- it is chilling that McCain and Palin do nothing to object.

"In a world where unspeakable violence is too often promulgated by extremists, it is no small or trivial matter to call someone a terrorist -- or to incite potentially dangerous individuals toward violence," Sweeney said in a statement. "John McCain, Sarah Palin and Republican leaders are walking a very thin line in pretending not to hear the hateful invectives spewed at their rallies. McCain should end this line of attack in the strongest possible terms. Anything less puts McCain in the same camp as the racists and extremists who are bringing their angry rhetoric to his campaign events."

Thursday, October 09, 2008

See THIS is how I remember Maverick

Every time I see McCain, or hear him or Palin use the term "maverick" this pops into my head and stays there for days.

. . . . . .New Orleans, living on Jacks and Queens. . . . . . ..

John McCain GETS the hair transplant, dyes it black, changes his name to Bret. Sarah, as Bart, wields her shotgun while wearing appropriate high heeled high button shoes. She, of course, loses most of her poker hands, her tell being "You betcha, doggone it, I'll raise YA!"

Someone needs to play some Dr. John for me. I gotta get this outta my head.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

The Bankers' Woes and Yours Too Pt. 2

There is a lively debate going on in the comments section of Part 1, which I think you should read before you read the rest of this post. Here is the continuation of the information I got in my email the other day. Fascinating to watch the comments. Will be very curious to see what this part brings. I will also say that I've heard varying numbers regarding how much this bailout will cost each American. The 10K number in Part 2 is not mine, but worth thinking about. Also please remember, that this is quoted text, so when it says "My opinion" it is the opinion of the writer. I'm not saying I agree or not. His statements about the Lindbergh baby are interesting, and again, not sure I agree or not. I'd rather see what you think. About all this, not just the sensational bits.

Besides, I'm having lots of fun with this. I love good comments in the comments section!

Continuation of Part 1:

Translation – most of the income tax US taxpayers pay goes into the pockets, as PROFIT, of the shareholders of the private US Federal Reserve, and not for services for the country, contrary to what the media tells us. Oh, wait – we already caught them lying (See #5 above). Canada? It’s probably not that much different from the U.S.

Fact # 16 – The bailout will cost the approximately 100 million US taxpayers $10,000 each. However, interest payments on the debt (like debt on a credit card) means the final bill will be much higher.

Fact #17 – The US Income Tax Act and the US Federal Reserve Act, which gave the power of a central bank (again) to private bankers, were both passed in 1913. Coincidence?

Fact #18 – The Federal Reserve creates money out of thin air, and then lends it, with interest, to the US government. If the Fed is out of money, no problem; just type in a figure with a bunch of zeros into the computer. So what’s the real motive? It’s not the money; it’s about using money to control people through economic slavery.

Have you had enough yet?

My Opinion
This was all designed to happen by the shareholders of the US Federal Reserve. They re-wrote the U.S. bankruptcy laws about 2 years ago to make it much harder to declare bankruptcy. They allowed the predatory lending to happen. People who opposed this practice were “taken out” – like Eliot Spitzer, where in his article, “Predatory Lenders Partners in Crime”, documents the Bush administration deliberately and wilfully looking the other way (this is a must read!):
This article was published Feb 14th; the New York Times “outed” him on March 10th. The industry then re-packaged these high-risk mortgages and sold them as triple-A blue-chip investments. Competitors, with clients also demanding high-return products, sold the same toxic products. This forced some of their own firms into bankruptcy but, hey, no problem; the government will bail them out! And we can now buy our competitors at fire-sale prices! It’s absolutely brilliant.

Money is not the real issue. The Fed has created money out of thin air for many years. The goal is more control. Here’s a big clue (obviously not meant for public consumption):

The Banker's Manifesto of 1892
Revealed by US Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh, SR from Minnesota before the US Congresssometime during his term of office between the years of 1907 and 1917 to warn the citizens.

"We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination (conspiracy) and legislation. The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When through the process of the law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers. People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders. History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism. The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party. By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expand their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished."

Is this why Lindberg’s grandson was kidnapped and killed? (The grandson was the son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Junior, the first to fly non-stop across the Atlantic in 1927 in his plane, The Spirit of St. Louis). And people think they will make change by voting for either Republican or Democrat?

So my prediction for the future is:

The taking over of the central bank for the U.S was not enough for these people. They are going for the control of the entire financial system, and assets, of the United States (and ultimately, the world.) They then saddle the burden on the taxpayers.

The US government will become the largest landlord in the world. There are rumours that they might change the mortgage system to be similar to the feudalistic system in Europe, where the majority of people pay rent their entire lives. Economic slavery is ultimate control. And when people cannot pay their rent to their master, they can always go get a job with the US Military, thus fulfilling the US’s role in the New World Order (England = monetary control, Vatican = religious control, Washington = military control).

A final video – for fun - on YouTube, less than two minutes. What if George Bush was in The Dark Knight?

And it’s not over yet.

And you still want to pay income tax?

Have fun with the comments. I'll be watching.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Bankers' Woes and Yours Too Pt. 1

In case you missed this enlightening piece over at American Zombie, which is a must see, I'm putting this info that was sent to me yesterday in here verbatim with all his links intact. The piece at Zombie's is informative, fascinating, and long. I watched it in increments. What amazed me was that we had never been taught this in our history classes (and I was a history major for a while). Here I am, into my 50's and I really thought the Federal Reserve was "federal" and was a "reserve." Silly me. If we're going to use taxpayer money to bail someone out, how about bailing out the taxpayers. We could probably refinance all those mortgages that are in trouble, let those folks keep their homes, and ya know, the banks would still get their money eventually. Let the banks that made the bad deals slide into oblivion, that's what they'd do to us. The taxpayers' money is just that, the TAXPAYERS money. Let's help out some taxpayers with the 700 billion they're talking about. That, btw, is a figure I can't even wrap my mind around.

And btw, while never having maintained that I was an economics genius, I am nevertheless amazed to learn how stupid I really am in this sphere.

Below is a piece sent to me yesterday. It's basically the same information the piece at Zombie's has, although not as thorough.

Have you had enough yet?
Much has been written, dissected, and discussed about the current US money market meltdown.It is the greatest swindle in history, the intentional conversion of real assets (land, houses) to fictional assets (numbers in a banking system computer).

Fact #1 – The US Federal Reserve is neither Federal, nor has reserves. It is a PRIVATE institution owned by foreign bankers. They are: 1) Rothschild Banks of London and Berlin; 2) Lazard Brothers Banks of Paris; 3) Israel Moses Seif Banks of Italy; 4) Warburg Bank of Hamburg and Amsterdam; 5) Lehman Brothers of New York; 6) Kuhn, Loeb Bank of New York (Now Shearson American Express); 7) Goldman, Sachs of New York. Source: Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins, 1952 & 1993.

Mullins was the first researcher to find out who owns the Federal Reserve. It was first published in 1952. In 1955 a German edition was seized and all 10,000 copies were burned, the only book that has been burned in Germany since WWII. Used copies are for sale at

Fact #2 – The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 stipulates that the shareholders of the Bank are to be kept secret, and that it is NOT subject to audits. It has never been audited. Another good book is “The Creature from Jekyll Island” by Edward Griffin. Buy it at his web site: There is a free 42 minute video: here. A great video that takes you through the rise, and fall, of the previous four private central banks in the U.S.: The Money Masters. It’s an absolutely riveting production. It’s on Google Video, or buy the DVD at his web site:

Fact #3 - This is not the first private bank in the US. The US has had 4 previous private, FOR PROFIT central banks. President Andrew Jackson’s re-election platform was, “Abolish the Bank!” The current is the longest-running one, however, from 1913 to the present date. How much longer will it last? Depends how many people are protesting: this Business Week article suggests.

Fact #4 – The Federal Reserve is NOT part of the U.S, government! Go to the library and open a white city of New York phone book. See the blue pages in the back? That’s for government listings. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is not listed in there. It’s listed in the white pages. So why are American taxpayers, and not the Federal Reserve, left with the debt?

Fact #5 – The media is not telling the truth. Last week when the world’s largest insurer, AIG, was bailed out, media such as The Wall Street Journal reported that, “The U.S. government seized control of American International Group Inc. -- one of the world's biggest insurers -- in an $85 billion deal”: article here. No, the shares of AIG were transferred to the Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, NOT the U.S. Government. Here is the Securities and Exchange Commission filing showing this: here.

Fact #6 – All the shareholders in the Federal Reserve are in business together, not against each other. Right now they’re either buying their competitors cheap, or asking the US taxpayer to prop up their own companies.

Fact #7 – Lehman was bought by Barclay’s for $1.35 billion. (Buy your own for a fire sale price). Rothschild has links to Lehmans, the Federal Reserve, and Barclays. Heck, it was his idea to set up the U.S. Federal Reserve!

Fact #8 - JP Morgan bought out a competitor, Bear Stearns in March 2008. It could have waited and paid less, but no matter; the Fed has now lent $29 billion to Stearns in a non-recourse loan. This means the loan is collateralized by mortgage debt and that the government cannot seize JP Morgan’s assets if the mortgage debt collateral comes insufficient to repay the loan. So, if mortgages fail, US taxpayers get saddled with the debt.

Fact #9 - This morning JP Morgan bought WaMu (Washington Mutual), another former
competitor, for $1.9 billion. Starting to see a pattern?

Fact #10 – When Lehman failed their debt to asset ratio was 30 to 1.

Fact #11 – Canadian banks, since 1991, are no longer required to do fractional banking. In other words, they can “create” as much money as they liked. In the old days they were restricted to lending, let’s say, 10 times what they had in customer’s deposits and other assets. Who got this passed? Why, Brian Mulroney. (This was never in the news.)

Fact #12 – The Bank of Canada, of which all shares are owned by the Minister of Finance, are all non-voting shares. So, if you own all the shares, but have no vote, who’s in control? Not the Canadian government. Source: Deliberately in Debt, by Nora Galenzoski.

Fact #13 – The Ottawa phone book shows the Bank of Canada listed in the white pages, and not under the blue government pages. The Bank of Canada is not part of the Canadian government.

Fact #14 – The 1984 U.S Grace Commission Report, requested by Ronald Reagan, said, 100% of what is collected is absorbed solely by interest on the Federal debt and by Federal Government contributions to transfer payments. In other words, all income tax revenues are gone before one nickel is spent on the services which taxpayers expect from their Government.” Source: here.

Fact #15 – Canada’s debt in 1992 was $423 billion. Of this, the principal was $37 billion. The rest, or $386 billion, was interest.
Source: Canada’s 1993 Auditor General’s Report

I feel so stupid. How come we didn't know this stuff? How come we weren't TAUGHT this stuff?

Part 2 tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

RIP Cool Hand

Paul Newman, amazing actor and excellent human being, passed away today at the age of 83. He will be very much missed.

I remember a story my mom told me about Paul Newman that still makes me laugh. In 1989-90 he and Joanne Woodward were filming "Mr. and Mrs. Bridge" in downtown Kansas City, MO. My mom worked as a dispatcher for the KCPD, which was down the street from where they were filming. One of her co-workers decided she just couldn't stand it anymore and said she was going for ice cream, and hopefully a glimpse of Paul Newman. The woman went to the ice cream store and lo and behold, there he was not two feet from her. She ordered her ice cream cone, never taking her eyes of Newman. The clerk told her how much the cone was, the woman paid, then looked at the clerk and said, "But where's my ice cream cone." Mr. Newman very casually looked over and said, "Lady, it's in your purse."

Still makes me laugh.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Chris Rock: "Vote for the Guy with ONE House!"

Chris Rock was on Larry King last night. He had some interesting things to say even though some of King's questions seemed, well, a bit weirdly targeted. Rock held his own, and had some funny things to say. He also had a bit to say about Katrina and Louisiana. Here's the clip:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Campaign in the Name of Jesus and Keep Her Safe From Witchcraft

This article found on AOL is a bit scary, but then most things about Ms. Palin are a bit scary, including her interview with Katie Couric. The video below is included in the article, but after the last video I put in here was pulled, I'm redundantly linking it just in case as this one will do doubt be gone from public view shortly.

Now, all of you waiting for the new moon loaded down with black candles and wax thoughtform effigies of Gov. Palin, just put it out of your mind. None of your work will help.

EDIT: I got a comment yesterday on this Palin video: "Weird, odd, perhaps even bizarre. Rev. Jeremiah Wright: that's scary at the TOP of the other ticket." I published it as I'm not in the habit of censoring my comment section for anything but blatant flaming or spamming. This comment, however, bothered me all night. I had seen the entire context of Rev. Wright's "God Damn America" sermon, and while I felt that he could have toned down his rhetoric a bit, none of his historical facts was wrong. Unfortunately the MSM only showed the "God Damn America" portion and not what led up to it. I am not a student of the Bible, I am not a fundamentalist anything. There is no way I could have quoted Malachi. But the rest of what Wright said was historically correct. I have no doubt but that the person who wrote this comment is Caucasian. Having never been on the receiving end of the kind of racism that Wright condemns here, that indeed was codified into law in THIS country, we cannot possibly understand the rage, really understand it. Can you really quibble with his calling our history "American Apartheid?" His comments do not scare me in the least, in fact I was a bit disappointed in Obama for abandoning Wright in the interest of being politic to court the white middle class Democratic vote. Wright's rhetoric is incendiary, no doubt about it, but I defy you to find an historical inaccuracy in what he said. I can't prove what he had to say about God, but there certainly are documents to prove what he said about this country's historical treatment of Blacks--in your local public library (if it's still open and Palin hasn't burned the books yet) or the Library of Congress.

Okay, again, to be clear, perhaps his "God Damn America" statement was a little over the top, but it got your attention, just like Palin's "I'll find some examples (of McCain's record) and get back to ya," comment got mine. Wright at least knows his history. Palin doesn't even know her running mate's Senatorial voting record.

Below is the complete Wright statement, with the contentious line in context if you're interested:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gustav, Ike and Prayers

Last week a fellow NOLA blogger sent out an email after the storm recounting his PTSD feelings. Many responded to him saying they felt the same way. This was my response:

Feeling all of the above if that was a multiple choice question. Motivation at zero. Still some junk in yard I could pick up but haven't. Neighbor's rubber tree I said I'd cut down still haven't. Have to feed the mule man they left alone with 25 mules, which is still making me so angry I want to blog about it but can't yet. Thinking about buying more boards since we did such a half assed job here for Gustav but. . . . .have decided to check on open ATM, pay our Buffa's Gustav tab, then come home and of all things play a video game that will keep me from watching Ike's track.

Someone wrote a while back that there was no PTSD here because there was no "post"--I'm tending to agree that it might just be a chronic condition with new ones marching up the Gulf and people glued to tracks.

I do have new definitions for things though:
Gulf Coast definitions

Cone: Something orange you put in traffic or pothole, OR something you put ice cream in
Gulf Coast: Something that throws you into a panic, gets burned into your brain, and forces you to drink something that has "proof" on the label.

Track: Something you watch horses race around, or watch trains pull in on.
Gulf Coast: Multiple lines, of varying colors that either aim for your backyard or someone else's but no one knows exactly where. They bear strange names like NOGAPS.

Boarding: Something you do on a plane, train or boat.
Gulf Coast: Something that causes you to stand in line at Home Depot, cuss a lot about why the drill battery wasn't charged last night, and keeps light out of your house until it's okay to take them down.

Five Day Forecast: Let's you make a decision about whether to have the five yr old's bday party indoors at Chucky Cheese or at the local park.
Gulf Coast: A reason to lay in a LARGE supply of tranquilizers.

Water: Something you drink or put on your lawn or swim in voluntarily.
Gulf Coast: Something that can come in your house or take your house away.

Sloshing: What the grandson does in a puddle after a rainstorm.
Gulf Coast: What water does over the tops of levees when they don't wanna say overtopping.

Others added really good ones. (Sorry for the lack of links to their respective blogs, trying to get this done in a hurry.)

LisaPal added:
Models- "beautiful" people employed to present apparel and other
products such that they will be perceived as appealing to consumers.
Local Definition- colorful linear harbingers of doom consulted
obsessively by Gulf Coast residents during the peak of hurricane season.

Someone please come up with an interesting acronym for GFDL. I don't
like any of mine.

Sophmom responded to that with:
GFDL - there is only one possibility: God Fucking Damn Line.

Gina added:
savings: something you put away for a special event in the future, like college tuition or a vacation.
savings in Gulf South: forget about that vacation since you'll wipe it all out on the prep/evacuation/return/rebuild/deductible

I'm sure we'll come up with more by this time next year.

As I breathe a sigh of relief that New Orleans will not feel the full brunt of Ike, the "freak storm" as Jeff Masters at calls it, we can already feel the outer wind bands and it just makes us shaky. Knowing that Houston is in Ike's crosshairs is a terrible combination of relief and horror for us here. Guilt at being relieved, but terrified for those in Ike's path. We know what it's like to be washed out by storm surge. We know what it's like three years later. To even consider that another city may have to experience that breaks my heart.

And our lower parishes here, which were devastated by Gustav 10 days ago will probably be hit again, and half of them never got their power back from the last one. The news media doesn't cover those parishes like they do New Orleans, hell they're just a bunch a bayou dwelling fishermen. Nevermind that in Plaquemines Parish they were working up until 6 hrs before Gustav came to build a makeshift levee to better protect them. They finished it too. Amazing. Heroic. (Remember them next time you're sitting in a Red Lobster. Ask if their seafood came from Thailand or Louisiana.) The people in these parishes were clobbered and are probably about to be clobbered again, which also means the wetlands will retreat even further.

We have left our boards up on our house just in case, so we've been living in a kind of bunker mode for two weeks now. The whole city has. Those coming back from evacuating (we didn't evacuate for Gustav and my next post will be about that) are exhausted and struggling to "get back to normal."

Pray for Texas today. If Ike does what he's looking like he might do, there will be others expressing the same shaky perseverence three years from now. But those folks will be from Texas.

Friday, June 27, 2008

New Orleans to Iowa

This was sent to me in my email from one of the premier local blogger/activists, Karen Gadbois. Since I know so many of you reading my blog are out of towners, I wanted to post this in toto. It's important and really wonderful.

Please, if you have it in your heart, send some bucks to these folks. We know how they feel and know how much public generosity meant to us.

A collaboration has been formed between Beacon, LCIA and Episcopal Diocese. We have started a fundraising campaign for the flood victims of Iowa. We will buy gift cards to give to displaced residents that can be used for clothing, food, water or building materials. On-line donations can be made through our website: using PayPal or Just Give. Please make checks payable to Beacon of Hope and write Iowa in the memo. Checks can be dropped off or mailed to: 6268 Vicksburg Street, NOLA 70124 or 145 Robert E. Lee Blvd., Ste. 210, NOLA 70124. All donations are tax deductible as we are a qualified 501(c)3. Donations received will not be spent on our travel expenses.

Connie Uddo, Al Petrie and me, Denise Thornton, are going to Cedar Rapids, Iowa on July 13 through 17th. The Episcopal Diocese and Vineyard Church have already set up a distribution centers and camps in Quincy and Cedar Rapids. There are approximately 5,000 displaced residents in Cedar Rapids. We're taking Chef Mark Uddo to do a community dinner, New Orleans style. The distribution center will get flyers out in advance of our arrival. We will hold workshops like contractor fraud & mold remediation. We will hand out the gift cards at the dinner in exchange for their contact information and we'll start a database and try to identify a Beacon Administrator and a Volunteer Coordinator. We're taking the Beacon Procedure Manual. We will make contact with government leaders. I have obtained letters of support from our city council and police department which will give us instant creditability in that arena. Connie's 18 year old daughter is going with us and she'll try to start a Youth Recovery Program which will involve the high school(s). We have learned so much about our own recovery that will be helpful to them long after we're gone. If any of you have any thoughts or ideas on how we can make this trip more productive, please let me know..

h/t Karen Gadbois

Thursday, June 26, 2008

On a First Name Basis

So nothing's been posted here for a long time. Here's why.

I was out with a friend a few nights ago. We talked about his recent trip to France, various family stories, how squinting one's eyes to really helps one see what the Impressionists were doing. We also talked about the last three months in my life, and my determination to write a ruefully sardonic piece called, "I Know Too Many People Who Die," playing a bit on the inevitability of death. He laughed and then said, "Hey, you live in New Orleans where people have always been on a first name basis with Death. Why do you think we have Mardi Gras?"

We both have dark senses of humor, and that's one reason we're such good friends.

Nevertheless, the last three months have made me wonder if I need to just turn this blog into an obituary column and be done with it. Three months, three deaths. Okay, four actually, but one had had a good run and had been ill for a while, so fell into the "very sad but inevitable" category. The other three came outta nowhere. We've had lots of folks telling us, "Well, ya know, you're getting to that age!" Yup, true enough, but these three all in a row just don't fit that truism.

April brought the loss of Ashley Morris. A firebrand, an activist. A young man, only in his 40's, leaving a wife and three pre-school children. All of us who knew him have written something about the void he has left, and we still instinctively click his link with our morning coffee. Gratefully his wonderful wife has taken over his blog and keeps us in touch with what's going on with her. We are all concerned. (BTW, we did collectively get a donation point together as the family needed and continues to need some help. Let's not let that dry up. Please remember Ashley and help his family by making a donation at: or you can just click the photo of the young man with the hat on on the upper right side of this blog.) Young man, young family, sudden heart attack. In typical New Orleans fashion, one of the first responses to the news was, "Geez, I am REALLY hoping this is an April Fool's joke." His funeral was also terribly sad, but raucous, with donations of food, booze, cigars, books, beads, you name it, tucked into the coffin with him. The wonderfully understanding funeral director asked tentatively, "Um, does all this go WITH him?" Well of COURSE it does was the answer. His interment was followed by wild dancing, life affirming celebration and roller skating.

He's still very much missed but we got through the initial sadness, knew we couldn't do a thing about it, and continued on. What else can ya do? But the "getting over it" doesn't just take a week or some particular increment of time on a calendar. There's no such thing as the definition for time of grief: Grief: an emotion that generally evolves into acceptance within two weeks of the initial loss. Uh uh. It just ain't like that. Anyone who's lost a loved one can tell you that.

So while still feeling that loss, May arrived. The phone rang and my sister told me that my Mama's husband had passed. He'd been ill for a long time. He wasn't hurting anymore. I felt for my Mama, she'll miss him. But this was the "sad but inevitable" death. It was different. Still I felt badly for Mama, and was out running some errands that day when I got hungry. I stopped into Buffa's on our corner for a quick burger, and upon sitting down heard the bartender say, "I just can't believe it! It's not LIKE Little Kenny at ALL." She continued to talk for a bit before it clicked in who she was talking about and I asked, "What? What are you talking about?" I'm really quick on the uptake. A look of horror came over her face as the horrible words, "Oh my god, you haven't heard" came out of her mouth, slowly, with lots of distortion and reverb. "Haven't heard what?" came my voice, barely audible, with an echo. Then came the story, quickly, like water over a levee, it poured down on me fast and dirty and cold.

"Mid-City Couple Stabbed to Death" read the headline.

Ms. Brenda, as we called her, Brenda Joyce Lee Jackson as she was named at birth, and Kenneth Lewis were stabbed to death in their home on Orleans Avenue, allegedly by Mr. Lewis' 20 year old son. They hadn't been found for a couple days, it was Little Kenneth who found them, and it was Little Kenneth who turned himself in days later. Each had been stabbed more than ten times. This was a real horror show.

Ms. Brenda had cooked at Buffa's for years, ever since the storm I think. She had cooked for the Rising Tide folks as we held meetings there last year. She was a good friend of mine, and I had intended for her to be my first Katrina's Daughter, but she worked so hard with a difficult schedule that we never could get the hour or so I wanted to just sit and listen. I did, however, get some of her story in bits and pieces as I'd stand in the kitchen at Buffa's and talk to her while she cranked out burgers and fries and tamales and BLT's. She had lived in a hotel up until about 6 months ago having been unable to find an affordable place to rent since the storm, and this woman wasn't making buckets of money, nor did she collect welfare, nor did she get thousands from FEMA and buy a big screen TV. She worked. It's what she did all her life. She came from LaPlace, pretty much raised her 11 brothers and sisters, was devout in a non-pushy kind of way. She didn't smile often, but always when I'd say hello and hug her, or my grandson would go into her kitchen and ask her to make him a burger "you know how I like it" with a big grin on his face. She'd just light up and make it special. If he saw her walking to work, trudging slowly down our block, he'd run up the block to give her a hug. She'd see him coming and then, boy then, she smiled. She was so thin we worried she'd work herself to death. At 57 years old, she wouldn't have known what to do besides work and "do" for someone else. She wrote poetry, had copyrighted a piece about 25 yrs ago. Always wanted me to read it but we could never find it and the only copy had been washed away in Katrina's waters. She was very proud of it. She was proud of having written it and under different life circumstances she probably would have been a teacher. She would have been good at it.

She was so quiet that we've all been searching for three weeks for one photograph of her. Finally I heard the other night we might just have one.

Actually she did teach. She taught me patience and forbearance and how to make a roux, which of course, requires both. One night she was thinking about making a gumbo I think it was. She said, "Well, first you need a roux." I told her I didn't know how to make one, hanging my head in shame. Looking shocked, she started firm but clear instructing: "You need flawr and erl. That's all you need girl, and a patient arm." She poured the ingredients into a huge cast iron skillet, checked the heat, and handed me a spoon. "Stir," she said. "How long?" I asked. "I'll let ya know when it be done." So I stirred, and I stirred, and I stirred. Occasionally she'd come over and nod and smile, other times she'd come over and tell me to smell it, "It need to smell like that, then you know you got the proportions right. Keep stirring." I stood there stirring for an hour and a half, but when she finally decided it was done, it was a glorious brown, "You gotta watch for the right color. Proportion, smell, color, consistency, that's what make a roux right." I thanked her, she thanked me and we both laughed in the narrow kitchen as the owner came in and said that we hadn't made enough, needed more. She was a sweet friend, sometimes sitting on my stoop talking before she went off to make yet more burgers.

Kenneth Lewis was a Mardi Gras Indian, "Wild Man" member of the Fi Yi Yi Mardi Gras Indians, had graduated from Mc35, was pretty well known around. He was 46. He often did odd jobs at Buffa's and he and Ms. Brenda had lived together on and off for ten years. He had gentle eyes, drank a little too much, couldn't be relied upon mostly, but every time he saw my grandson he'd teach him another Mardi Gras Indian song, his eyes sparkling. He had lost his suit and all his beads and feathers in the storm. I had a fishing tackle box full of beads, so I took it over and told him to take what he wanted. He was so grateful, kept saying I understood how expensive those beads could be and was I sure I wanted to give them away. One day about a year ago, my grandson and I were approaching the corner of Burgundy and Esplanade, and I heard "Mighty Kootie Fiyo on a Mardi Gras Day, If ya don’t wanna play get the hell out the way!" then Kenneth's face appeared around the corner of the building and he smiled and danced and taught my grandson how to say those words correctly.

His son, Kenneth Johnson, or Little Kenneth (always somehow pronounced without the final H, like Kennet) turned himself in and has been charged with the horrific crime. This is a bafflement. This was not the "nice quiet young man" that you knew would snap. The cops couldn't find more than a traffic ticket on his record. He didn't hang with gangs, I never saw him even drunk. We talked a lot about his going to college. I'd often see him as I walked my grandson home from school, or when I stopped into the Esplanade Mart across from Port of Call. He lived upstairs and would sit on the stoop sometimes watching his nieces and nephews and we'd say hi and talk a little. I would have trusted him with anything. He has not confessed, contrary to some printed reports. If he did it we all want to know why. I mean, really, WHY??? What kinda rage does twenty stab wounds take? Was this sweet kid really capable of that? No one knows. The rumors are rampant. My personal thought on the subject is probably Kenneth, Sr. owed someone some money, but I can't prove a thing and don't know anything first hand. I do know that Kenneth had a huge Mardi Gras Indian funeral. Ms. Brenda was quietly laid to rest with no fan fare, probably in LaPlace. Everyone wants to do some kind of memorial for her. She was a friend/aunt/mother to so many and suddenly she was gone. Neither of them deserved this kind of violent end, and Little Kennet::::::::::::::all I can do is shake my head cuz I can't put that kid and this act in the same context::::::::::: If he did it, then there are three ruined lives here. I have more to say on that, but I'll save that for another time.

So April, May, June.

The phone rings. A friend who had moved to Portland. "So good to hear from you," I say. Then come the words, "I guess you haven't heard." "He's gone," say I. "Yes," she says. "Overdose?" "No, brain hemorrhage on his 34 1/2 birthday." I was gasping for air.

Adam "Dean" Lutz, 34, died suddenly in San Francisco. Memorial was this Monday past. We all knew he'd be a short timer on this planet. He was too sensitive, too brilliant, too brave, just too bright a flame to last. We nevertheless all hoped that he'd be like the birthday candles that you can blow out and they come back, blow 'em out again, and back they come. Nope. Nice idea though.

Dean, as we all knew him, was also known to denizens of Checkpoint Charlie's Bar, Grill and Laundromat as Patient Zero. I had started a short story on him and that place about a year ago. Read part of it at his memorial and evidently touched some people with it so I guess now I'll have to really finish it since I can't bear the thought of both him and the story being unfinished forever. He'd slosh down the beer, a xanax, smoke a bowl, then come out with some of the most insightful and interesting comments before launching into either an flagrantly political song or a patently obscene one. He had put out a CD, which included one of his fans' all-time favorites, "Vote Like a Fag," the actual title of which is "Go Ahead." In this song he tells everyone to vote "like they're gonna act." The guy was the bravest bastard I ever saw. Ever the clown but always the philosopher. At the memorial as we're coming through the Marigny in the second line, more than one of us expected him to be onstage when we got to Checkpoint's laughing and saying, "Hey, y'all, I figured this would be a good way for me to announce my homecoming! Tell everyone my head exploded! Hey, Shayne, can ya get me a Jaeger?" laughing with his neon orange dreadlocks shaking around his head. He would have loved that. He would have written a song about his cause of death, I can almost hear him now, hollering, "My head exploded! Don't ya LOVE it? Now ya all KNEW that's what would happen! Too bad I couldn't have figured out a way to do it at my Halloween show! And believe it or not, my tox screen was virtually CLEAN, man! No kidding!" It was, as it turned out, virtually clean. Everyone danced, cried, laughed, and sang along with his songs at the memorial Monday night. His guitar will now be a permanent fixture at Checkpoint's, a dubious honor to most, but he'd love it.

June is almost over. I will probably not answer the phone in July. I will most assuredly hang up if I hear the words, "Oh my god, I guess you haven't heard." No, I won't really. I'm too curious for that. I could, however, stand a month of not being on a first name basis with death. A month where I didn't hear the word "memorial." One single month where my poor white handkerchief wasn't going to flap in the wind to a second line for a funeral. We'll see.

Below is a compilation of various performances of his song, "Go Ahead." It is copyrighted by big medicine production, shot and edited by Michael Bradley. If you have a problem with a warped sense of humor or four letter words, don't click the video. If you're curious, please do, then you can "Come and MAYBE Get It" as he named his CD. The editing can be a bit jarring, but we're so grateful to Michael for getting this footage of three different performances (in fact, you can hear my husband hollering "we KNOW that, Dean" in one of them), it's worth the time to watch it all the way through. Then, maybe if you're really brave, go watch "I am the WalMart" at his website.