Monday, June 25, 2007

When I Grow Up I Want to Be A Junkie

Today I report on the various perspectives from all over the city; Crime, Tits on Bourbon St, Econ Dev. and the privileged people Uptown, Schools, the Destruction of entire neighborhoods for Econ Dev., and Flooding problems, and the Vaccuum at the top. Let's begin with this report from Treme today:

I learned from Miss J. yesterday that her son is in jail for burlgary. She heard from a neighbor that he'd been arrested around the corner but she doesn't have any additional details. I checked it out on the sheriff's website, and sure enough, he was booked yesterday and has a bond of $35,000. Between the burglary, the looting, the crack, and his "lady friends" who come over all the time, I really hope he stays away for quite some time.

Leo is about 48 yrs old! He ain't staying in jail for more than five minutes. C'mon! Miss J., his 85 year-old Mom, will mortgage her house to keep his deadbeat ass out of jail and on our street, contributing to the drug traffic and prostitution. She just wants her son around to be with her. Is she completely oblivious to the criminal he has become? This backbone of the city's crime problem rests on this demographic. The hard-working parent gets old, the kids are in line for the roof over her head, so why work? Professional loitering.

Meanwhile in Uptown, I was at dinner with well-travelled academics last night. The land of, "It is what it is." Topics here include, art, literature, bickering with co-workers, the school system, the Third World vs our own Third World.

We need a Target in Mid-City ! We need bio-medical research facilities.Oh, but we can't get that until we fix the public schools, who in their right mind would move here? We're doomed until we address that . . thank god so-and-so got her kid into Lusher. I hear Lusher isn't really a better school, it's just a white school.

Another person text messaged me that the Swingers Convention was in town one night. The Bourbon St. titty flashing scene was ratcheted up to the idiotic frenzy that everyone thinks makes New Orleans a destination city. Meanwhile, residents in Tulane/Gravier worry about real problems. The demolition of their whole neighborhood. This email comment from one resident regarding the development of the LSU/VA hospital, while Charity Hospital sits empty.

Today's TP indicates that the Governor has figured out a way to go ahead with the project with the size and scope that she wants. I have only one question. If we have at least a year before we start being bought out and some of the decision will have to made by the next Governor, I can go on with my life and plans for my house as if this is not a huge factor. If something is going to happen in a matter of months then I am forced to stay in limbo.

Regarding basic, inner city flooding problems, here is how we are left to deal with serious issues in the city. This email was sent by a well-meaning citizen regarding the problem of Carrollton Ave Flooding under the I-10 overpass, which is shut down in moderate rain due to flooding. It's actually becoming laughable.

Most of us have spent the last 12 to 18 months and our resources(IRA'S,Insurance,etc.) to get back into our homes and will standstill for contiued mistreatment. As discussed with the Mayor during our ACORN meeting, the Recovery Office should handle this because it was a high priority in district A during UNOP. During last weeks city-council meeting with the Recovery Office Ms.Midura spoke to how we had been under-represented and needed help to find a resolution. Hopefully ACORN, AAPR and Amercore will not have to put down sandbags for this storm season(approx 125,000 bags for 3ft wall).There are better and faster long-term fixes than what S&WB has planned. Will keep you informed on progress.

Sandbags? How about tying them around my ankles? This is all laughable.

The mayor refuses to fund NORA to get this critical agency up and moving. The Mayor's office of MIT turned down a new system of reporting and tracking issues residents report such as potholes, leaks in sewerage lines, etc. They opted to stay with the 311 system of calling in such problems. I thought that was a temporary system? You can't follow up on problems you report. The proposed system would have given you a way to check the disposition of any issue. I guess one of the mayor's buddies runs that piece-of-shit 311 phone 'system' which requires more of the donut-eating, deadbeat manpower New Orleans is famous for.

What remains to be seen are how the IG (Inspector General) and OIM (Office of Independent Monitor, which will monitor the 'police' force) offices work or how long before the leaders in these new offices get assassinated . . .

It's as if we are trying our best to destroy the city, not rebuild it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

De Signing Treme

Today M. and I went out to post the flyers for the HFTA (Historic Faubourg Treme Association) general meeting and we started pulling down these stupid plastic advertising signs as we went along. Then we really got possessed. We took down over 50 signs in our immediate area from Claiborne to Rampart, Basin to St. Bernard.

M. had this curtain rod in the back of her car that came in handy as well as fold up stool which we needed to get the really high ones. It was hot and she was bionic in her sandals and skirt. We got a plenty of "yeah, you right!" Hollers.

We also talked to a man who stopped to ask us what we were doing. An African American guy from Lakeview who just is puzzled about the lack of City recovery work going on, grass, and maintenance kinda stuff. We said we are all taxed to battle the quality of life issues ourselves here and we must be determined. He said he didn't know if he wanted to come back to an area with no people. We said he should consider moving into the areas that are more populated.

Then, he took out a cough drop. Then he dropped the paper on the ground, M. said, "Hey!" We laughed, because it was so small, sure. He agreed, it is at that level that those of us who are living here ( he is still stuck in Texas) must care. We encouraged him to work with his Councilwoman to address his concerns, and to keep the faith.

PS: There is an ordinance on the books prohibiting these types of signs and our neighborhood signs biodegrade. Spend more time reading the Municiple Code and less Blogs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

I Know More Than I Knew Before

We have reached a pretty solid plateau of recovery. The furrow in my brow can't get any deeper. Some things are really improving in New Orleans. They are. I am a problem solver, so I tend to focus on areas still in need of improvement. But we are reaching a tipping point. Some things are not going be fixed and will continue to get worse. We will continue to have new problems. FEMA is now selling the temprorary trailers to owners for $680.00. They are now, officially, part of our permanent landscape. Good luck trying to get rid of them down the line. Well, until we get a rough round of 80 mph winds . . .

Given this shift in perspective it is time to evaluate and adjust our social habits that have been a reflexive push and pull for active citizens over the past year of rebuilding. Remember, we live in Pajama Town, and it's summer and it's hot. The social paradigm of New Orleans is to move around as little as possible. It makes you sweat. Try to enjoy it.

I have put some behavioral observations/tips in one list. I am sure it's not complete.

1) Insert yourself into any given process at the proper time. Too many meetings/chefs will kill your libido.

Set a deadline for actions to be complete. Go do it. Send an update when you get back from the latest festival or fishing trip.

2) No more meetings on short notice when there is no real emergency. What is with this and how did it begin happening?

Look, meetings and booty calls are two different things. Stop getting them confused.

3) Do you know why you did not know? Because you did not ask! Knowing what you don't know is a big part of problem solving. Try to think beyond this very moment fill in the gaps of the larger picture with practical and targeted questions and some research. Be useful.

4) Practice not caring. Say it daily. Even if you really do care, just say you don't. Repeat after me: I do not care about the bubbling puddle of water in your block. I do not care about the latest political fuckup. I do not care if the city floods. This simple exercise will help you keep things in the proper perspective of where you actually live and bring your rage down to a manageable level. I know you care mostly about yourself, but c'mon, everything has a limit.

5) Chat can be a great alternative to a 'meeting'. Twitter, however, is just evil.

6) Now is the time to wean yourself off the meds. Now that things have calmed down around here, your false reality is becoming more noticeable. Start stockpiling them, you'll be immediately useful during Katrina II. Keep paddling. It's working.

7) Leave the city at regular intervals. Someone had to pound this into my head and it's really good advice. I know from reading Tolstoy, that feedback is a good thing. In fact, now seems to be a good time to rest up for the next big thing. Pack your insurance papers.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sunday Safari

Monday. Rainy. I am looking at the paperwork for our Fiduciary Agreement with CityWorks, I also mowed the grass before it started raining. My list today includes e-mailing my FEMA Debris and Demo contact to get some properties removed from their demo list because they don't meet the proper criteria. Donna Addkison couldn't seem to give the Housing and Human Needs Committee a straight answer about taking care of this last week. So I am doing research on the properties, pulling the seams. The list given to us from the city had Army Corps spelled, "Army Core". I am fortunate because I get to do this while at home, making beef tips, answering random e-mails from readers and drinkin a Fresca.

N.O. housing efforts are criticized;Council members say gutting order failing

Yesterday, I spent half the day with R., our young Squandered Heritage contributor. Sunday mornings are the best days for photo safaris because there are a lot less people pulling up behind you while you are stopped in the middle of the street staring at stuff.

I set R. up with a camera at Christmas and he started taking photos a couple months later. K. and I got him onto Flickr and then he was rolling. K. got him set up to post, she's the editor, and now R. goes out and gets the photos faster than I can read the damn lists! He's enthusiastic, or maybe he's just bored. His contribution has been a big help lately as K. and I have been doing a lot more 'other' stuff. R. is funny, he knows a lot of random shit. He knows about the churches in the city, which is helpful to me, because this has been a blind spot in my knowledge. R. is always excited about anything "Antebellum" on our architecture tour. He is always asking me what I think other people or committee THINK about things . . . I explain that this is kinda hard to do but you can often guess. . . or just ask them.

R. and I explored some really bad areas in town that R. was amazed by, due to the fact that they are almost wastelands but people are living there, in their FEMA trailers. We wanted to evaluate these areas together and just checked on some 'situations' around town to see the latest developments. We saw Leo at the Culvert, who was another topic at the Housing and Human Needs committee meeting on Thursday. R. was properly freaked by Leo. But you can drive through on Magazine, well, you could on Sunday. Another thing on our safari agenda was to get some photos of addresses where Jazz Musicians used to live, we're making a new blog dedicated to that. We'll see how it goes.

At two points on our safari, we got stuck by the trains. We saw a guy walk up to and climb over the connectors between two cars, so he could cross the tracks while that train was moving through at a snail's pace. We laughed because the guy did this while talking on his cell phone. R. tells me about a giant molasses disaster that happened once in Boston. It so happens that my sister's job is shipping molasses by train/boat.

Part of the deal for this week's field trip was that R. had to get that Flickr organized because it's really easy for the photo situation to get out of control. R. says I am a drill sergeant.

R.'s Flickr