Friday Reads: Us Savages in New Orleans have Done Been Discovered

bourbon street after

Good Morning!

And pardon me for a provincial rant here this morning!

This year will be my 20th anniversary of living in New Orleans.  Yes, I was here before, during, and after Katrina.  Yes, I have lived in the French Quarter and now I’ve been in the Bywater for nearly 15 of those 20  years.  When I moved here, most of the folks were very old people, people living in section 8 housing,  a gay contingent working in the quarter, and a very odd sundry of people trying to get out of the Quarter that had been a counterculture enclave but was rapidly turning into weekend condos for people from Texas and Georgia.

I had a few friends that owned bars and galleries here.  Then, a few friends that opened up some restaurants. Then, Katrina happened. Then, we extended tax credits to movies studios and got Treme and a few interesting movies and now, well now it’s really, really attracting a group of people who have “discovered’ our wasteland and decided it’s ripe for their sort’ve civilization.  We’re all so quaint here.  No taxis would come here before they moved here.  And, there is no kale to be found any where.  But, it so authentically authentic.  Isn’t it wonderful they discovered a new Brooklyn?

For some reason, I didn’t feel the need to civilize the city when I moved here.  I just sort’ve dove in and let it wash all over me.

I will admit that some things are not as they should be here in the Not Always so Big Easy.  There’s the NOPD. There’s still a contingent of politicians down here that are way too generous to their friends and to their own bank accounts.  There’s plenty of institutional racism, sexism, and provincialism to go around.  But I see this every where and at least New Orleans fills its cracks with good food, good music, and a lot of friendly people.  Believe me, that makes up for a lot.  However, for some reason, we’re attracting a lot of folks who want to turn us into Brooklyn or what Brooklyn has become.  For this, I will reference Spike Lee who shouts “We’ve Been Here”. Discovering new lands that already exist and contain culture and people is not just a Christopher Columbus kind’ve thing.

Then comes the motherfuckin’ Christopher Columbus Syndrome. You can’t discover this! We been here. You just can’t come and bogart. There were brothers playing motherfuckin’ African drums in Mount Morris Park for 40 years and now they can’t do it anymore because the new inhabitants said the drums are loud. My father’s a great jazz musician. He bought a house in nineteen-motherfuckin’-sixty-eight, and the motherfuckin’ people moved in last year and called the cops on my father. He’s not — he doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic! We bought the motherfuckin’ house in nineteen-sixty-motherfuckin’-eight and now you call the cops? In 2013? Get the fuck outta here!

Nah. You can’t do that. You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people. You have to come with respect. There’s a code. There’s people.

You can’t just — here’s another thing: When Michael Jackson died they wanted to have a party for him in motherfuckin’ Fort Greene Park and all of a sudden the white people in Fort Greene said, “Wait a minute! We can’t have black people having a party for Michael Jackson to celebrate his life. Who’s coming to the neighborhood? They’re gonna leave lots of garbage.” Garbage? Have you seen Fort Greene Park in the morning? It’s like the motherfuckin’ Westminster Dog Show. There’s 20,000 dogs running around. Whoa. So we had to move it to Prospect Park!

I mean, they just move in the neighborhood. You just can’t come in the neighborhood. I’m for democracy and letting everybody live but you gotta have some respect. You can’t just come in when people have a culture that’s been laid down for generations and you come in and now shit gotta change because you’re here? Get the fuck outta here. Can’t do that!

Yeah, you right.

You may have been reading my previous columns about how people that have just moved here have suddenly become the authentic carriers of New Orleans Culture and all things civilized.  I have written about it before.  The NYT just will not leave my neighborhood alone. Now, I have neighbors moving in from New Jersey, Philadelphia, New York, and all over.  They just have decided that we’re passable if they can just civilize us a little bit more.  We’re quaint and they can make us tolerable.  Part of this post is about the hubris that comes from journalists.  Part of this post is about the hubris that comes from being young.  A lot of this post is about the hubris that comes from deciding that you’re just going to come into some one’s neighborhood, label them quaint, and then proceed to become the authority on what it is and isn’t.

“New Orleans is not cosmopolitan,” said the actress Tara Elders. “There’s no kale here.” Her husband, Michiel Huisman, the actor and musician who moved here with Ms. Elders in 2009 to shoot the HBO series “Treme” (he’s currently on the series “Nashville”), agreed. “The sign on a shop says that they’ll open at 10? You’re there at noon and it’s not open,” he said.

We were sitting outside at Sylvain, a restaurant in the French Quarter that Mr. Huisman said “takes Southern cuisine and pushes it a bit more modern.” With its elegant but rustic décor, cocktails featuring noirish names (Blood in the Gulfstream, Dead Man’s Wallet), and inventive food, Sylvain wouldn’t be out of place in Brooklyn — but Ms. Elders said spots like this are still the exception. “So many of the cool places here are really rundown,” she said. “And not because a stylist designed them that way.”

Just for your information, we have plenty of kale here. I went to Rouse’s Market yesterday and you can barely spot the mustard greens through the various assortment of kale.  In fact, we’ve decided that #kalespotting is the new event for the post Mardi Gras let down just so they NYT knows we’ve got it. I have it on good authority that the Walmart in Chalmette even has it now.

In a long-ago episode of “The Simpsons,” a tourist to Springfield enters Moe’s bar and declares, “This isn’t a faux dive! This is a dive!” That was satire. But Goodman quotes Elders saying essentially the same thing and with apparent sincerity. “So many of the cool places here are really rundown. And not because a stylist designed them that way.”

Goodman’s story also includes a new transplant’s translation of a Mardi Gras Indian chant: “Shallow water, your mama.”

“Music really flows through the veins of the town, like where we are going tonight,” Mr. Huisman said, referring to the United Mardi Gras Indian Practice. “It’s so true to itself and so African. That really resonates with me: Nothing moves me as much as that beat, that rhythm that is truly New Orleans.”

We all piled into the family Jeep and drove out to Handa Wanda’s, an open warehouse space with a band set up in the back, a bar in the middle, and red beans and rice on hot plates up front. This spot is home base for the Wild Magnolias, one of dozens of tribes. Come Mardi Gras day, the tribe leader, or Big Chief, will lead a procession in full costume, challenging other tribes to mock battles. But tonight is an open practice and all are welcome.

Perched upstairs in the rickety balcony, we drank whiskey and Cokes out of Dixie cups while revelers of all ages shook it to a rollicking beat punctuated by chanting from the Big Chief. Instinctively, all of us leaned over the balcony and started bobbing our heads. Mr. Huisman saw me trying to sing along to words I couldn’t decipher. He smiled and said into my ear, “They’re saying, ‘shallow water, your mama,’ ” a traditional Indian call-and-response.

We are now fighting for t-shirts that say “Shallow water, Yo Mama”.   Yes,  the new dats are singing their own special  lyrics in the shower cause you know how authentic and how, well so true and so African it all is.”

— Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses
“Take me down to a very nice city” Actual lyric: “Take me down to the Paradise City.”

— Rock the Casbah by The Clash
“The sheep don’t like it, rockin’ the cat box” Actual lyric: “Shareef don’t like it, rock the Casbah”

 Africa by Toto
“I left my brains down in Africa” Actual lyric: “I bless the rains down in Africa”

— Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“There’s a bathroom on the right” Actual lyric: “There’s a bad moon on the rise.”

— You Sexy Thing by Hot Chocolate
“I Remove Umbilicals” Actual lyric: “I believe in miracles”

— Suffragette City by David Bowie
“This mellow fat chick just put my spine out of place” Actual lyric: “This mellow thighed chick just put my spine out of place”

— Waterfalls by TLC
“Don’t go, Jason Waterfalls” Actual lyric: “Don’t go chasing waterfalls”

So, a group of the local New Orleans Twitterati and facebookers spent the day coming up with just the precisely right phrase to dub our invaders.  Oh, excuse me, those that are here to authenticate and purify and discover our lowly asses along with their search for Kale.  We’ve adopted the term Fauxhemians.

campanella-bourbon-4_525New Orleans does have a long outsider tradition.  After all, the Barataria pirates and Jean Lafitte wandered the swamps here quite awhile ago before being pardoned for their outstanding fighting during the War of 1812.  We’ve had our share of people chasing the local muses. You probably know that our long literary tradition includes Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner. The filming of the movie “Easy Rider” sent in an entire new group that took up residence in the quarter.  However, Bourbon Street has always been a little bit of this and a little bit of that.  

 Educated young people were aware of their privilege, and a certain segment grew bored and anguished with it. As Adam Nathaniel Mayer writes, they “suffered a kind of postmodern malaise which in turn spurred a quest for meaning.” [2] Previous generations had common causes like escaping poverty or fighting wars to satisfy the top tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; this generation did not. So they sought meaning through individualized quests for authentic experiences.

Because authenticity seemed to call for a certain demeanor, its seekers brooded, acted aloof and squinted when they dragged on their cigarettes. Because it needed a certain look, they grew or chopped their hair defiantly, got tattoos, and donned ragged or vintage clothing. Music, food, cinema, literature, cars, religion: just about every aspect of culture had a “groovy” (1960s), “alternative” (1980s) or “critical” (2000s) counterpart which pitted itself against the mainstream and viewed itself as authentic. And because authenticity also had a geography, its seekers packed their knapsacks and hit the road — out of suburbia and into the wilderness, to distant countries, communes, college towns and mountain villages, and to the decaying inner cities abandoned by their elders. In the past few decades, educated, mostly white youths from prosperous backgrounds have transformed urban spaces in cities like Brooklyn and Oakland and Baltimore and Boston and London from shabbiness and indigence to restoration and gentrification.

New Orleans fit the bill perfectly. It had history, culture, and the poignancy of tragedy and past grandeur. It had a European look, a Caribbean feel, an expatriated vibe, an abundance of historic housing at low rent, a pervasive booziness, and music, food and festivity to boot. It was authentic!

Richard Campanella has been examining the process from an office at Tulane University and a house in my neighborhood. 

Gentrifiers seem to stew in irreconcilable philosophical disequilibrium. Fortunately, they’ve created plenty of nice spaces to stew in. Bywater in the past few years has seen the opening of nearly ten retro-chic foodie/locavore-type restaurants, two new art-loft colonies, guerrilla galleries and performance spaces on grungy St. Claude Avenue, a “healing center” affiliated with Kabacoff and his Maine-born voodoo-priestess partner, yoga studios, a vinyl records store, and a smattering of coffee shops where one can overhear conversations about bioswales, tactical urbanism, the klezmer music scene, and every conceivable permutation of “sustainability” and “resilience.”

It’s increasingly like living in a city of graduate students. Nothing wrong with that—except, what happens when they, well, graduate? Will a subsequent wave take their place? Or will the neighborhood be too pricey by then?

But, at least we’re some what separate from the state. The right wing side of the media has decided one of the movies filmed down here and about down here is far too mean to the institution of slavery.   I guess every one has their notion of what we’re supposed to be about down here.

Some conservatives have started laying into the Oscar-winning movie 12 Years a Slave for creating an unfairly negative portrayal of slavery. You see, the movie portrays slaves being made unhappy by slavery. But that negativity is merely anti-slavery “propaganda,” according to James Bowman in conservative magazine The American Spectator:

If ever in slavery’s 250-year history in North America there were a kind master or a contented slave, as in the nature of things there must have been, here and there, we may be sure that Mr McQueen does not want us to hear about it. This, in turn, surely means that his view of the history of the American South is as partial and one-sided as that of the hated Gone With the Wind.

…Yes, there was much cruelty and hardship in the slave-owning South, as there has been in most of the rest of the world most of the time, and Mr. McQueen’s camera is all over that. But it strains ordinary credulity to suppose that there was nothing else.

We are wondering, was Bowman equally aggrieved by the lack of happy Jews in Schindler’s List?

To be fair to the American Spectator‘s readers, the comment thread under the article is mainly filled with people asking WTF the article is all about. The top comment reads, “‘a contented slave’ – is this article a joke of some sort?”

This state has been cursed with some of the worst leadership that could walk the planet.  The head of the current plantation system is a cruel master.

“We’ve got Eric Holder and the Department of Justice trying to stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent minority kids, low-income kids, kids who haven’t had access to a great education, the chance to go to better schools,” Jindal said.

As the Washington Post points out, Jindal’s rhetoric is an apparent allusion to former Alabama Gov. George Wallace’s 1963 “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door” demonstration, during which the anti-integration governor stood in a doorway at the University of Alabama as two black students attempted to enter the institution.

Jindal also gave a shout out to some of his home state’s biggest celebrities — the stars of A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.”

“We must not let [the left] silence the Robertsons,” Jindal said of the reality show family, referencing national outrage over patriarch Phil Robertson’s homophobic remarks last year.

A new report from the state auditor shows these schools are failing miserably. jindal_630_0

The report also says that:

  • 41 percent of voucher students scored at grade level or above on key tests.
  • Voucher students account for more than half the enrollment at 18 schools in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas of the 118 reviewed statewide.
  • The state was overcharged for tuition by 35 of the schools, including a top overbilling of $5,566 per student.

The school was not identified.

Those who get the state aid — backers call it scholarships — are not supposed to be charged more than others.

Vouchers are state aid for students who attend public schools rated C, D and F, and who meet income rules, to attend private schools with the tuition and some fees paid by the state.

Whether they provide students viable options to low-performing public schools is one of the most hotly-debated issues in Louisiana education circles.

Jindal is making a run at president and wants to replace Chris Christie as the Governor that can be taken seriously.  But, any on that watches him from down here knows he only does what best for Jindal.  It is only about him and his ambitions.

As governor, Jindal had an opportunity to put his big ideas into action. But his bold prescriptions look a lot like the same ideas Republicans have been pushing for decades—perhaps not surprising for a man who started out in an industry built around telling corporate leaders what they already know.

The centerpiece of his agenda was education. When he took office, Louisiana had some of the nation’s highest dropout rates and lowest literacy scores, and Katrina had battered New Orleans’ school system. Like another Southern governor, Jeb Bush, he built a reputation as an education reformer from the GOP mainstream—charter schools, teacher merit pay, and a voucher program to pay private-school tuition. But Jindal’s agenda also had a strong Christian flavor. In 2008, he signed the Louisiana Science Education Act, which allows public schools to teach creationism. Jindal framed it as a matter of giving local districts more control, but the effect was obvious: Thousands of high school students, especially in the state’s Baptist and evangelical north, were instructed that (for instance) the Loch Ness monster proves humans and dinosaurs coexisted.

Some think Jindal was simply playing politics, rewarding a religious demographic that was instrumental to his rise. “He’s smart—he was nearly gonna go to Harvard Medical School. I can’t believe that he believes in creationism,” says 20-year-old Zack Kopplin, who, as a high school student, persuaded 75 Nobel laureates to sign a letter opposing the legislation. But Jindal’s own statements suggest otherwise: As far back as 1995, fresh off his final semester at Oxford, Jindal wrote that there was “much controversy over the fossil evidence for evolution.”

Jindal’s voucher program has so far funneled at least $4 million to religious institutions, many with strict discriminatory policies. In the state’s northeastern corner, Claiborne Christian Academy students believed to be pregnant can be suspended and expelled upon confirmation. (An abortion warrants expulsion, too.)

Other voucher-funded schools in the region subject gay students to the equivalent of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. At Northlake Christian School in Covington, students can be refused admission if they or their family promote the “homosexual lifestyle.” Northeast Baptist School in West Monroe states that “students that profess a sexual orientation contrary to God’s Word will not be accepted and may be un-enrolled…upon discovery.”

“I guess they would confess it, and they would talk about it to the kids, and I would ask about it,” says Anita Watson, Northeast Baptist’s principal, when I call to ask how the school would find out about gay students. “To be honest, it hasn’t ever really come up because the teenagers that, I don’t know, that are leaning in that direction, they would probably choose not to come here.”

While aspects of Jindal’s education policies evoked Bush-era compassionate conservatism, in most areas he has embraced brute austerity. In the name of cutting waste—overspending has historically been a vehicle for corruption in Louisiana—Jindal has sought to slash the services on which residents of the nation’s third-poorest state have depended. He moved to cut the retirement benefits of some state employees by as much as 50 percent, while blocking even incremental increases in levies like the cigarette tax. State funding for higher education has been cut by 80 percent, with Jindal turning down federal stimulus funds that could have filled some of that gap. And last spring he vetoed $4 million to help relieve a 10-year waiting list for developmentally disabled Louisianans seeking in-home care.

His constant travel has eroded his stature at home. One state appointee who supports Jindal calls him an “absentee landlord.”

Jindal touts his record as the first Louisiana governor in recent history not to raise net taxes. Instead, his approach has been to shift more of the tax burden onto the state’s poorest residents, while giving high-earners a break: In 2013, he proposed increasing sales taxes so the state couldeliminate all income and corporate taxes. (The plan died amid bipartisan rebellion.) And like 24 other Republican governorsacross the country, he turned down funding to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, denying coverage to 214,000 low-income Louisianans.

Jindal’s zeal to keep spending low and protect his reputation as a budget hawk has undercut other initiatives. He brought on environmentalists to help write his 2012 plan to shore up the coastline, but has so far fruitlessly insisted Washington, not Baton Rouge, foot the bill. When the state’s independent flood control board sought funding for the plan by suing 100 oil and gas companies for elevating flood risks through the construction of pipelines and canals, Jindal—who has received more than $1 million in contributions from the industry—asked the courts to throw the case out, and when that failed, replaced three of the board’s members. And even though Jindal had called outdated ethics rules the No. 1 obstacle to economic investment, and had pushed through an overhaul, his budget dramatically slashed the number of employees keeping watch; an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity gave Jindal’s administration a D+ for enforcement of corruption laws.

So, here I sit in a really changed post-Katrina world coming on 10 years after the flood.  Who could predict that my neighborhood would be discovered by people seeking a new culture path to Brooklyn?  Or that, my governor, a Rhodes Scholar who was a pre-med student at an ivy league college would put in a law that puts creation mythology on the same footing as science?    It’s a strange reality and one that makes you wonder if any really cares about authenticity these days or even knows what it is.

So, there’s a lot of links to be shared down thread because I didn’t do it here.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

65 Comments on “Friday Reads: Us Savages in New Orleans have Done Been Discovered”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I love this post! I can totally identify, except it happened here much earlier. When I first moved here in 1967, Harvard Square was totally bohemian, with countless bookstores, new and used, craft stores, head shops and alternative movie theaters. There was even one bookstore that stayed open all night and restaurants that were open until 3AM and then opened up again at 4AM.

    Musicians played on the street corners, and at night there were jugglers and other entertainers on the traffic islands. It was filled with mostly students and other young people. There were cozy bars where young people hung out and talked, argued and listened to the jukebox. Bob Dylan met Joan Baez in Harvard Square at Club 47. All the folkies played at the Club Passim here in the ’60s and early ’70s.

    At the Harvard Square Cinema, people talked to the screen and no one shushed them. The Brattle theater ran Humphrey Bogart movies and people knew the dialogue by heart. Down below the Brattle was a bar called Club Casablanca. At the Orson Welles Cinema (now burned down) you could see all the latest foreign films.

    It was like paradise for someone my age–19. I could afford to live right outside the Square in a nice apartment (with a roomate) for $165 a month.

    It’s all gone now, and much of the rest of the unique Boston neighborhoods have been gentrified too. the yuppies moved in and took over. The developers turned the old apartment houses into condos, and replaced the bohemian shops with cookie cutter businesses like The Gap. The cool bookstores went out of business and were replaced with big discount bookstores. Then even those went out of business because of Barnes & Noble and then Amazon.

    I live in the next town over from Cambridge now, and we have also been gentrified because the students and the yuppies couldn’t afford Cambridge anymore, so they took over my town too. The same thing has happened in the downtown Boston neighborhoods.

    I guess I should be grateful I lived through that time and remember what it was like. There is even a group that is collecting old photos of Boston–they have a blog now called “Dirty Old Boston,” and they plan to publish a book this coming fall.

    • bostonboomer says:

      And don’t even get me started on the fake Boston accents in “Cheers” and the other TV shows and movies that have been made here!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Bob Dylan on Mt. Auburn St. in Cambridge

      • Mary Luke says:

        Yes, the fake Boston accents-ugh! I can’t tell you how many times people say to me, “You don’t have a Boston accent.” Well, Boston is on my birth certificate, and you’re right I don’t have a “Boston” accent because my parents were not uneducated drunks who couldn’t speak proper English.

      • Infrogmation says:

        Sheesh, don’t get any New Orleanian started about the “accents” in almost every film and tv episode set here before “Treme”. Local accents are neither “Cajun” (that’s a different part of Louisiana) nor “Gone With the Wind” “Southern”. How local dialect is represented generally produces either laughter or cringing from locals.

        • bostonboomer says:

          Yeah, it’s pretty much the same everywhere there is a unique accent. I don’t think anyone can get the Boston accents (there are many) right unless they grew up here. Probably the same in New Orleans.

    • RalphB says:

      Sounds like a great experience BB. I remember the old NOLA from when I was at Tulane way back when and it was simply wonderful.

      I feel I owe Dak an apology for mentioning the Californians moving in here. Other than raising housing prices in the western hills, they’re not trying to turn the place into LA in any fashion that I can see. Gentrification of old neighborhoods seems to be an overall trend everywhere though, whether it comes from the natives or transplants seems to be the main difference.

      • bostonboomer says:

        What about Austin? The yuppies have probably taken over there too. It’s not like the “Slacker” days, I’ll bet. My sister lived there in the ’70s, and she loved it, especially the music scene.

        • RalphB says:

          Depends on the neighborhood. There are still plenty of slackers in South Austin and the music scene is stronger and bigger than ever. 🙂 Boat loads of hipsters in downtown so the yuppies are making their mark..

          Gentrification has definitely taken over in the old warehouse district where there are lots of expensive lofts and condos etc, The film portion of SXSW starts today and like always Hollywood has come to town. Johnny Depp was on the local news last night with his Austin girlfriend at a Texas Film Society gathering.

          The music portion will be next week and name acts from Lady Gaga on down will be playing in every hole in the wall venue to be found. On a normal day you can’t swing a cat here without hitting a musician but next week will be ridiculous 🙂

      • dakinikat says:

        BB has heard me rant about the transplants down here for several years. They have reached a critical mass. My poor little house is worth 3-4x what I paid for it in 2001. The rents have skyrocketed too. The very people who made the hood what it is can’t afford to live here any more.

    • dakinikat says:

      Gentrification is a weird process. It is also culturally destructive. That is the thing that really bothers me.

      • Mary Luke says:

        So true. I remember my daughter and I watching the flood after Katrina and saying it will all be gone, they will never rebuild it, the gentrifiers will move in and it will all be condos. I’m glad I saw NOLA thirty years ago.

        It’s the same here with Back Bay, Coolidge Corner, everywhere. Newbury Street has the same stores as any upscale mall, and a few not so upscale. The upper end of Newbury, the old boho section is full of chain stores now. There is no more Ritz looking out on the Public Garden. It’s the Taj now, though they were forced to keep the famous Ritz Bar.

        Fauxhemians indeed.

  2. Fannie says:

    I love New Orleans too…………..I suppose it’s those childhood memories, those teenage years.
    The food, the smell of the carts full of tamales, the bread, the donuts, and my old stomping grounds, the Irish Channel. The good times I had at St. Thomas projects and my street learning, and of course the music, with the 50’s and 60’s cars. You know, I use to babysit for a few dollars, and go buy Aqua Net Hairspray, when I could, get some bell bottom jeans, and flat black shoes, and go to Helen Rubenstein’s (Magazine St.)they had all I needed in the way of make up. It cracks me up to look at old photo’s of myself, with my Big Hair, and all the friends from the hood. We would hang out at the candy shops (it wasn’t like a store full ofchocolates etc) it had pool tables, and all kinds of pinball machines. It had the camera booth, where we all piled in for 4 shots of ourselves goofing off. I’ll never forget the Coliseum theater (25 cents)…..and the park nearby, and listening to music with our puppy loves. The racism and sexism was totally overboard, I mean there was no talking between the races, it wasn’t allowed. Then there was Pontchartrain Beach and the zepyer roller coaster, that stuff stays with you forever. All the times that I have gone back, it’s always been like home, no matter the changes.

    JJ, from time to time would do a post on Cuban food, etc. I loved that because I had so many Cuban friends in New Orleans, and the smell, and their brand of music is something I’ve never forgotten.

    I am gonna miss St. Paddy’s day in New Orleans, so I always look forward to reading your articles about New Orleans, and all that it is. I was Easy Rider at least once a year, and then I have the album. Wish I could see Irma Thomas, and I’ll never forget going to Fats Domino’s house during Christmas time.

    I can see you and BB taking good care of your cities, they are your babies.

  3. bostonboomer says:
    • RalphB says:

      I hate to agree with him, but I do here.

    • Beata says:

      Zbigniew Brzezinski is uniquely qualified to judge whether the Sudetenland comparision is valid. His wife, Emilie Benes, is Czech and the grandniece of Edvard Benes. Edvard Benes was President of Czechoslovakia from 1935-38. Benes strongly opposed Nazi Germany’s annexation and occupation of the Sudetenland ( which was then part of Czechoslovakia ) and was forced to resign. He became President-in-Exile from 1939-45. Benes returned to Czechoslovakia after WWII and again served as President from 1946-48.

  4. RalphB says:

    TribLive: A Conversation With Wendy Davis

    Evan Smith has an hour interview with Wendy and covers a lot of ground. She comes off very well to me. Of course, I’m highly prejudiced.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Upskirting is now illegal in Massachusetts. It only took two days.

    Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick signs bill to ban ‘upskirting’ — shooting a picture under a woman’s dress

    • RalphB says:

      “The City that Kale Forgot”, those stories were hilarious 😉

    • dakinikat says:

      People in my neighborhood are more likely to spend their time finding their opera-length kid gloves than they are consulting with a Voodoo priestess. In fact, I’ve never once consulted with one in my entire life. “How is this possible?” you must ask. According to the recent New York Times article, every day I must pass through run-down crack dens filled with a lively mix of people eating fried everything and listening to underground brass bands made up of wise magical negroes who have something very important to tell us about their simpler way of life. I would say I hate to burst your bubble, but bubble-bursting is something I enjoy, especially when it comes to portrayals of New Orleans.

  6. RalphB says:

    CPAC Panelist: It Is ‘A Liberal Lie’ That States Ban Gay Marriage

    Conservative radio host Michael Medved said Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference that no state has ever banned gay marriage and any claim to the contrary is “a liberal lie.”

    “There has never been a state in this country that has ever banned gay marriage,” Medved said during a panel titled “Can Libertarians and Social Conservatives Ever Get Along?” after another panelist referenced historical discrimination against LGBT couples. “That is a liberal lie.”

    Wow! Wonder if any of these creeps believe their own lies?

  7. RalphB says:

    KyivPost: Two choices in Crimean referendum: yes and yes

    Voters in Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea who vote in the March 16 referendum have two choices – join Russia immediately or declare independence and then join Russia.

    So the choices are “yes, now” or “yes, later.”

    Voting “no” is not an option.

    The lack of choice wouldn’t surprise anyone familiar with how Soviet or Russian elections are run.

    Malyshev also said that 2.5 million ballots will be printed. However, according to the Central Election Commission data, as of Feb. 28, 2014 there were only just over 1.5 million voters in Crimea.

    Watch out for this referendum.

  8. guy j says:

    I agree with your complains, but, with regard to our current discoverers and gentrification, what do you want to happen? What can happen, other than change? Doesn’t every generation, every counter-culture, have its rise and fall? And isn’t the fall accompanied by rants exactly like this?

    You have been here 20 years. Chances are the people who were here when you arrived did to the Quarter what today’s noobies are doing to the Quarter and Bywater. You look back to the days of Jean Lafitte and point out that newcomers have come to this place, pissed off the neighbors and then faded away repeatedly. So, are we to believe that today’s explorers who find us quaint are the final nails in the city’s cultural coffin? Are they going to ruin everything for all who follow, or will they ruin things just for us?

    • dakinikat says:

      These questions sort’ve remind me of the answer given to what is pornography? The response was I know it when I see it. I’m sure lots of people come here with good intentions. I think the group that came on the heels of Katrina had a lot of that. There’s a lot of new businesses and creative people that are breathing a fresh life into the city. Then, there’s the missionaries and conquistadors who come to conquer and improve things in their mold to make the place suitable for them without regard for the culture that existed before them. There’s the group that screams “war on christmas” when christmas is basically a major instance of appropriation of indigenous pagan celebrations and the story itself was expropriated from the worship of other gods. These folks move in, appropriate and expropriate, and expect their values to trump every one else’s and in their effort to help civilize the quaint natives. They spread unknown diseases that kill the indigenous peoples and dump their children in reeducation camps to be taught the appropriate set of beliefs. They may teach people how to read or write or use tools never seen before or bring horses, but they destroy what the “discovered” in the process and it insults the civilization that was already there.

      • I find there to be a difference between the folks who came in the direct aftermath of the Federal Flood and those who have arrived more recently. The first group came specifically to help rebuild & either moved on or fell in love with the place and stayed. They were really critical to the rebuilding because the locals were spent, both literally & figuratively. We needed their energy & frankly their volunteer labor. But the second wave of post apocalypse folks seem divorced from that life altering piece of the New Orleans puzzle. Many of them have seemed to come based on these shiny new New Orleans stories the media has presented. There is less, or no, pre-entry emotional attachment there. I share your 20 year anniversary, so I have seen the same things you present here. Sure, it’s a port city that’s seen massive influxes of populations & changes over the centuries. One thing I know about the locals (whether by birth or by choice), we will beat the interlopers into submission. They may win a few battles, but New Orleans and her culture and traditions will survive. We’ll always integrate cool new things that come into town. But it’s about just that, fitting into what exists here, not about taking it over. Love your piece. Spot on. And yes, Jindal is the problem we should all be railing against the loudest!!!

  9. RalphB says:

    DOJ Trolls Jindal With Civil Rights Book Gift After Segregation Comment

    The Justice Department is responding to Bobby Jindal’s comparison of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to a segregationist by sending him a book about the civil rights movement.

    The book, written by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a civil rights icon, is called “Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement.” The DOJ bookmarked a page in which Lewis writes about Vivian Malone Jones, the first black graduate of the University of Alabama, who was blocked at the door by segregationist Gov. George Wallace when seeking to enroll.

    Jones, it turns out, is Holder’s sister-in-law.

    “This should help the Governor brush up on his history for the next time he invokes the civil rights movement.” Justice spokesman Kevin Lewis told TPM.

    Dak, you might like this Jindal stepped in it good. Turns out Eric Holder’s sister-in-law was the young woman George Wallace was blocking in 1963.

    • dakinikat says:

      Wow. Just read that. Did you notice Bobby’s education plan is being looked into because they believe it’s resegregating schools?

      • RalphB says:

        No I missed that but I’m sure it’s doing just that. That was the whole purpose behind all the “Christian academies” that were set up in Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia way back when.

    • Fannie says:

      I would have liked to seen his eyes when he found out. Twinkle little shit.

  10. RalphB says:

    US warship crosses Bosphorus towards Black Sea

    Istanbul (AFP) – A United States warship crossed Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait Friday, headed towards the Black Sea, as tensions simmer over Ukraine’s Crimea region.

    A coastguard boat was seen escorting the guided-missile destroyer, the USS Truxtun, an AFP photographer saw.

    The US Navy said in a statement on Thursday that the ship was bound for the Black Sea to conduct military exercises with Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces. …

    Slow escalation.

  11. mablue2 says:

    You guys know what would really scare the hell out of Putin? 2 Things:

    – The Republican led Congress has to agree to raise the minimum wage to 10.10 today
    – All Republican office holders have to stop trying to sabotage the ACA (ObamaCare)

    Btw WTF is wrong with Paul Ryan? Is he delirious?
    He said he ran the marathon in like 20 min,
    He said Eloise told him about some little who rather have an empty brown bag instead of school lunch
    He says he’s a policy wonk who understands economics, numbers and stuff
    Is this guy just a comedian

    One more thing: Bobby Jindal is a terrible human being

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Via Bob Cesca: Vladimir Putin performs “Blueberry Hill.”

  13. the professor says:

    born here. lived here nearly all my life (subtract a few years on the road touring with a nola band), 28 years in the same spot in the heart of the quarter known by street musicians as “the money corner”. you really wanna save what is? get involved, loudly, in the politics. find new community leaders to groom and grow for those gigs. in nola, large numbers of pissed off people still can trump money. see them backpedal on the noise ordinance? not won yet, but the momentum has certainly changed. show up and vote; the annual anemic voter turnout numbers in nola present opportunity for any group that gets its shit together and can turn out a crowd.
    many of your regular readers and participants may blow this off, make high-minded excuses and dismiss this, but without it, fact is the money will move nola in directions you don’t want to go. my one major disappointment here in the past year was the lack of really new faces to choose from this last election. just retreads, bad alternatives, and nearly no one in sight to represent the desired future and keep the wolves at bay. me, i’m getting too old for this shit. someone else’s turn. your turn. good luck.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’ve played the money corner a few times myself. Mostly, piano in the restaurants though. I remember the night that an old Bourbon Stter bar that used to have wonderful music that turned into a Key West looking daiquiri shack over night. That was my first hint at all possible work arounds available to people from out of town looking to cash in on whatever.

      The politicians in this city always disappoint. However, I do hope to get a bit of fresh blood on the city council. That way it will upset the situation for awhile. I’ve thought about running myself but I really have no stomach for doing or receiving negative campaign tricks.

  14. Pistolette says:

    Fauxhemians. Love it so much.

    I’m leaving Uptown for many of the reasons you cited (and that Spike Lee yelled about). I was born/raised in Meraux (Chalmette) and my husband and I have lived in his Uptown ‘family home’ for 15 years. This will be the first time in nearly ONE HUNDRED years that a member of his family has not lived in it. But this neighborhood doesn’t feel like ours anymore, and we’re of the last wave of natives leaving.

    I want to caption that Easy Rider pic “You ain’t discovered shit, whippersnapper” and paste it all over NOLA.

  15. Paul Bello says:

    Why does this writer refer to himself in the collective creole “we”? He’s not one of us. I’m a native son of many generations. The writer’s children born here, should he have any, would be Creole, which is something he can never be, and if he doesn’t think that means something to “us”, he’s wasted his time in New Orleans.

    • dakinikat says:

      I modified the collective “we” in the article. That is why I did not use it through out the article. I would never presume to be creole. I’ve just landed home after being places that are not home and am glad for it.

  16. dakinikat says:

    Many people think they can move into someone else’s neighborhood and start making it over as their own, regardless of the folks already living there. Without understanding the culture of their new community, these new residents place value judgements on the neighborhood based on the cultural norms of their former residence. These new residents may not realize some of the things they view as transgressions or violations are actually coping mechanisms for dealing with poverty and racism. They see the drug dealer on the corner instead of a young man trying to support two kids with a felony on his record. They see a homeless person instead of a neighbor in crisis. They see people in the park drinking and arguing instead of a central community meeting place where folks come together to celebrate life and work out their differences with other neighbors.
    New additons to the neighborhood may say that this is not their fault, that it’s not their responsibility to learn about a new cultural world. They might be asking, “Why should I go out of my way to accommodate their needs when they won’t accommodate mine?”

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