Sunday, August 22, 2010

Kplus5





The link to my new website can be found by clicking HERE.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A Howling in the Wires - Book Release

Five years after the storm, I'm proud that I was able to contribute some of my writing during those crazy, dark days after Katrina to this book project. The book releases August 26th and myself and several of the other writers will be reading excerpts at Mimi's in the Marigny that evening...

A Howling in the Wires: An Anthology of Writings from Postdiluvian New Orleans



Gallatin & Toulouse Press announces the publication of A Howling in the Wires: An Anthology of Writings from Postdiluvian New Orleans. This collection combines the vivid post-Katrina experiences captured by internet-based "bloggers" from New Orleans--individuals who don't think of themselves as writers but who were writing powerfully in the months after 8-29--with the work of traditional writers. Some of those, like novelist Dedra Johnson and poet Robin Kemp, share their most immediate reactions from their own blogs. The book deliberately blurs the line between formats and focuses on cataloging some of the best-written and most powerful reactions of the people who experienced Katrina.

Editors Sam Jasper and Mark Folse are writers who turned to the Internet to chronicle their own experiences and reactions to Katrina and found in the months after 8-29 they were part of a larger community sharing the public and very private events of the period.
The book will be published late August, 2010. A launch party and reading is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. upstairs at Mimi’s in the Marigny,.

Contributors include cookbook author and travel-and-sailing writer Troy Gilbert, poet Valentine Pierce, Professor Jerry Ward of Dillard University and poet/playwright Raymond "Moose" Jackson together with the work of bloggers who are by day engineers, teachers, geologists, computer programmers, bankers, and social workers but in their spare time writers of talent whose only prior outlet has been their Internet-based blogs. These works were edited minimally for basic spelling and grammar, mistakes easily made writing first hand accounts created under great duress, in an attempt to preserve the original "howl" of people who experienced these events first hand.

Editor Sam Jasper’s preface explains: "When we started this project, our goal was to find some of the best words that were howling in those wires once the wind stopped and the levees broke. We read through hundreds of thousands of words for weeks. Sometimes the pain in those words re-opened wounds we thought had healed. Sometimes the words gave us insight into another person’s experience and we were astonished by the nakedness, the vulnerability, the ferocity and often the defiance being expressed so soon after the event. Naked and raw and very, very public."

"These voices, oblivious to each other and miles apart, sing in pitch perfect harmony—a phenomenon only possible where truth is absolute. Stunned courageous but always in motion, the Every Man and Every Woman of these Gulf Coast narrations and poems lean blindly towards recovery and redemption just as they struggle to comprehend the enormity of what has happened to them. Here you will find no analysis ad nauseum, no academic dissections, no punditry or pretension. Just ordinary folks caught up under extraordinary circumstances, telling their stories in real time, absolutely in the moment—in grief, in anger, and—most miraculously—in good humor. If you only ever read one post-Katrina related book, and if you think you can handle for that book to be an unapologetically unfiltered and dead honest journey back into those dark days and months after the storm, this thin volume is all you will need."

* Louis Maistros, author of The Sound of Building Coffins

"A powerful and immediate look at post-Katrina New Orleans. Sam Jasper and Mark Folse have done a great service to America by compiling these early writings from the storm."

* Stephen Elliot, editor of TheRumpus.Net and author of The Adderall Diaries and Happy Baby.

"There are no better guides to post flood New Orleans than the bloggers who emerged here during the immediate wake of the levee breaks. What's particularly remarkable about these writers is that none hew to the snarky, cynical, superficial style found on most blogs--instead there is an enormous passion for New Orleans, real anger at its injustices and much needed rebukes to the received wisdom surrounding this moment of man made disaster."

* Ethan Brown, author of Shake the Devil Off and Fat Cat, 50 Cent, and the Rise of the Hip Hop Hustle
Further, copies of my released book - New Orleans Kitchens - can be purchased online as well as pre-orders for the upcoming release of the Cafe Degas Cookbook in March 0f 2011. Stay tuned for an announcement of another book release scheduled for the same month of next year.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The 5 Year Anniversary

A lot has been accomplished five years out from the storm in New Orleans, but much more remains to be completed and even realized.

In the spring of 2009, I finally moved out of the FEMA trailer and back into my house in Lakeview. After wading through the perils of the Road Home program, I am pleased to say that my house which sat in ten feet of water for nearly six weeks is back and better than before. My neighborhood has seen the return of around 60% of its pre-Katrina residents and this is easily witnessed by the continued construction everywhere, but with my home now surrounded by three empty lots - the scars are also everywhere.

I have taken my energies and put them primarily into restoring Lakeview with a specific focus on West End. I am the Vice President for the Friends of West End organization and through this I've gotten the ear of several City Council members as well as a state Senator.

It's amazing that five years out and nearly every FEMA project worksheet for rebuilding public infrastructure for West End still is trapped in government bureaucracy - seriously not one iota of work has commenced. It made me laugh when media opined on how one year out from the federal stimulus package and most of the money had not been spent. Government moves like a toad - it's almost criminal.

Professionally I have become a full-time writer and journalist. I'm proud to say that my first book - a cookbook featuring recipes from the top New Orleans chefs and beautiful artwork from many established and up-and-coming artists - has finally been released.

Three other projects are in various states of production and the second cookbook of this four part series should be out in the fall.

I am also still actively covering the Gulf Coast's competitive sailing scene for Sailing World magazine - in fact, I'll be racing across the Gulf of Mexico in May from Pensacola to Isla Mujeres, Mexico - normally an incredible 5 day journey across a saltwater desert.

Cheers until next time.

Troy

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

New Orleans Off the GRID


Word has it from a t-con just completed with Louisiana's power company, Entergy, is that it may be weeks before power is restored to southern Louisiana.

The Times-Pic has the following article posted regarding this.

This info below is taken from Entergy's own website and is pretty frightening. New Orleans is an electrical ISLAND:

- Entergy’s transmission system has sustained extremely severe damage from Hurricane Gustav, damage that could make power restoration a difficult and slow process, especially in southeastern Louisiana.

- The transmission damage across the Entergy system includes 191 transmission lines and 210 substations out of service.

- Entergy’s preparations made in advance of the storm to protect its system contributed directly to the power that is still on in New Orleans. Without the planning to isolate some generators there, this transmission damage would have interrupted power everywhere in the New Orleans area. Entergy’s Waterford 1, Nine Mile Point and Little Gypsy plants are now supplying all the power available in this area.

- Thirteen of the 14 transmission lines serving the New Orleans metropolitan area are out of service due to the storm. This creates a situation where the New Orleans metropolitan area and a corridor along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge have become essentially an island, no longer electrically connected to the rest of the Entergy system and the electricity grid for the eastern United States. This “island” is south of Lake Pontchartrain and includes Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, St. James, St. John the Baptist, St. Charles and upper Plaquemines parishes, which are sometimes referred to as the “river” parishes.

- Transmission lines in the Baton Rouge area that are needed to tie the “island” back to the system are out of service due to storm damage there, which was particularly severe.

- Entergy is therefore continuing to carefully manage the restoration process in the affected area because adding more load could create an imbalance and trip the system, putting all the lights out.

- Part of the difficulty is that there are no transmission lines to the south of New Orleans area because of the Gulf of Mexico. Transmission lines to the north, east and west are out of service.

- Entergy’s first choice to relieve the islanding issue was to use its 500,000-volt transmission line, but that line is damaged at the substation and will take several days to repair. The alternate is to use several 230,000-volt lines to tie in the system. Several lines would be needed to assure the stability of the island and avoid an outage that would affect the entire region. Assessment continues and the time needed to repair the 230,000-volt lines could still take several days.

- Entergy has experienced extensive distribution system damage, as well. This damage will be repaired in parallel with the transmission repairs so distribution will be ready as soon as possible when the transmission system repairs are made.

- Entergy continues restoring service to emergency facilities in the affected area. Other restoration continue, but energizing of completed repairs will be delayed until the area can be tied back to the rest of the system. Continued bad weather also is preventing damage assessment by helicopter at this time.
I guess this means that the little two block area that I'm in is damn lucky to have power.

It also means that New Orleans is holding on by an electrical thread.

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Post Gustav Flooding River Ridge

A train of torrential rain slammed Jefferson Parish for about an hour and a half - about an hour ago. Normally something that the pumps should be able to keep up with. However, there are no residents here to clean out the culverts which rapidly filled with storm debris. Given one more hour of rain, this area would have been swamped. These photos are current. I've been going around and cleaning culverts, but it is a loosing battle. They clog back up in a few minutes.Keep the rain gods away.




















This is what happens when you clean a culvert...



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Roadblocks for entering New Orleans

The map below lists the roadblocks for entering the New Orleans area until further notice. Source WVUE News, the LA State Police and NOYC.org.


View Larger Map

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Boater Rides out Hurricane Gustav



LEVEES.org

and... More Streetscapes

Been in a really nasty squall line training up from the South. Serious gusts moving through with sounds of trains and stuff coming up from behind you. Still remarkably have power and no street flooding. This storm, at least here, is way dryer than Katrina - and Katrina was really not that wet of a storm.

I've heard it doesn't look good further south of us and the surge has yet to work its way through our remaining vesitges of marsh.

Oh yeah, as far as those power lines you see in the video - I am definitely upwind of them. Still pretty freaky cruising the neighborhood though... I need a nap.

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LAKEFRONT UPDATE

All boats in the Municipal harbor appear to be fine although there is some serious rubbing and a few roller furling issues. Water is coming through New Orleans Yacht Club's Dry Storage area into the street (This is all behind the floodwalls.)

Captain Mike who is riding out Gustav onboard his 53 foot workboat is stating that the water levels on the Southshore of Lake Pontchartrain are already dropping with the clocking of the wind to a more southerly direction. POTENTIALLY VERY GOOD NEWS FOR THE INDUSTRIAL CANAL. As long as the new angle of the wind doesn't force more water up the GOD DAMNED M.R.G.O., which the FEDS have been taking their time closing since it flooded half of New Orleans and all of St. Bernard Parish during Hurricane Katrina.

I have some info regarding an Army Corps of Engineers request that I am trying to get permission to post.

Below is another video from the neighborhood... A massive tree branch fell inches from my powerline. All still good regarding electricity and zero flooding here.


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More Storm Footage/Industrial Canal

Video below of some fairly serious limbs that have crashed down. I recon-ed the neighborhood and there is still zero street flooding. No major trees down.


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I'm kind of shitting my pants about that Industrial Canal footage I just saw on WWL TV. Here's the story from the Times-Picayune.

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Lakeview Update

This is from the Lakeview Civic Association.

I just heard from Sgt. Doug Eckert of LCPD and he said Lakeview is looking pretty good. He said there are branches and debris around the neighborhood, a few trees down, but no trees blocking streets that he could see. Power appears to be out. He has not had time to drive through the entire area but he did not see any significant damage to homes or businesses that he passed.

As usual, Doug, Greg Elder and LCPD are doing an excellent job of watching our neighborhood and keeping us informed of what's happening. He said NOPD patrols and the National Guard will be out protecting the area.

Al Petrie
Be Safe and Long Live Lakeview

Mother of ALL Storms

Gustav Videos - Big Gusts

The lights are definitely flickering. I've probably heard about eight transformers blow so far. Entergy only reports about 92,000 people without power. Looks like Gustav is hitting around Grand Isle.

Make sure you check out the wave action in the pool on this one. Still trying to catch some of the serious wind gusts. Going to do some recon and looks like we may have an issue with a pair of doors to the house weakening.

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More Early Gustav with Video

Power's still holding here - bizarrely.

Heard from Benz, one of my "correspondents" out at the Lakefront. He said, "It's pretty windy." I laughed and told him that's not very descriptive. He replied, "It's pretty fucking windy."

Buzzy, also on the Lakefront said it's not that bad, maybe 75 knot puffs, and she still has power.

Last spoke to Capt. Mike who's riding the storm out on his 53 foot workboat, Manana, out at Municipal Harbor last night - AOK at that point.

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Early Gustav with Video

Well the first electrical transformers are blowing which means winds must be gusting to say 50 - 55 knots. The power here is still holding. When they blow they put off a crazy blue green arcing light. Doubt I can catch that on video. The rain has surprisingly been fairly light up to this point.

Most of these storms come through at night - so to have one during the day is a nice change.

As the light becomes better, I'm going to get a video of the wave action in the pool - pretty interesting. Also one of the dog trying to go pee out in the yard. She keeps trying to make a run for it, but then charges back from the wind and the rain.

While I'm uploading this video, the only thing that keeps running through my head is Mel Gibson in Braveheart screaming to his troops, "Hold. Hold. Hold! HOLD!" except I'm talking about the electricity.

I started my ice factory last night... maybe made about an extra bag. lol.



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Twitter Gustav

FYI - I'm mostly doing quick twitter updates (they can be found on the right hand side of the page) and will try and do some more in depth things normally.

As of now, nothing much exciting is going on weather wise. Most of the feeder bands have fizzled before reaching New Orleans other than the first one around 7pm Sunday. The neighborhood is nearly 90% deserted - basically exactly where it was for Katrina, until the onset of the levee failures. A couple of cop cars cruise up and down the street every now and then with their lights flashing.

As I stated in my earlier post, I still think this storm should only slightly effect New Orleans. However, it is astounding to watch the disconnect between the National and the local media. The local guys are all breathing a sigh of relief, yet the MSM is screaming hysterically simultaneously.

This will still be a serious storm down in Houma, Morgan City, Lafayette and cause flooding further to the northwest, but unless another catastrophic event happens - New Orleans should be fine, other than torrential tropical rain.

One final note for the night. I watched a local news video filmed yesterday of the head of the Army Corps of Engineers defending the incredibly slow progress on rebuilding Southeast Louisiana's levees. He stated, and I quote here, "You can't build a levee overnight."

Well, one lowly south Louisiana parish has and with no help from the Corps.

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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav's First Wave


First feeder band is coming through now. Nice wall of gusts and then the rain. It's now pitch black outside where a minute ago it wasn't.

Realized right after that I left my window down in the jeep. Then I spoke to a good friend still in Lakeview, she thought it was beautiful. I explained that she hadn't really seen anything yet.




The bottom photo is from the Lakefront a few minutes ago and is courtesy of someone from Southern YC.




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GUSTAV THREATENS - I'm doing laundry.


Alright, so apparently this storm is coming for my fair state... but guess what, I'm non-plussed. After going through the last five days filled with violent post traumatic stressful flashbacks, group therapy consumption and actually considering not staying for the "Mother of All Storms" - I am back where I knew I would be the whole time and really not at all that concerned for a rehashing of events from three years ago. I think Gustav is fizzling out... probably hit only as a Cat-and-a-half. Maybe two.

However, I am prepared. Cell phone, camera, generator, twitter, coca-cola ham, guns, coffee, a couple of cases of MRE's left over from the last event, and most of a case of Havana Club Rum (Siete Anos) that I smuggled in from a sailboat race to Mexico. My one concern is again for internet connection. I'm on a DSL line now, which is good because cable goes out whenever a crow sneezes in China and DSL has its own power source - but it is still a weakness.

Have no fear though my texting skills are even now far superior to where they were those first nights of Katrina. I even use punctuation.

Now I'm not really being nonchalant about this storm who's name apparently means "Staff of the Gods". With only about a month left on the reconstruction of the house in Lakeview before I can move back in, I'm pretty sickened to think that something could happen to it. For instance my stupid FEMA trailer out in the front yard getting hustled into the air by a strong feeder band and then dropped right through the new drywalls. That would suck. Tornados are also problematic.

I'm fairly certain that this will be a serious rain event, so street flooding in the chronic areas and streets will happen, but the house is five feet off the ground. Flooding was never a monster problem until Katrina. I also think the new gates at the mouths of the outfall canals that breached and drowned New Orleans will hold. There really shouldn't be a new need to print up sixteen thousand bumper stickers that say, "Army Corps of Engineers - We Put the Lake in Lakeview." Notice I only said New Orleans... because if that happens again, I'm afraid my city may very well be roped off before Obama sets foot in the Oval Office.

Issues for catastrophic flooding lie in the other Federally forgotten people and areas of this state where the White House lingers over drawings for levees and rebuilt wetlands. Why does that even matter you may ask? I answer, check your gasoline prices a week from now. Port Fourchon, which may be ground zero for the eye of Gustav, is where nearly 40% of this nations fuel comes through. Oh yeah, and Louisiana refines like 30% of all that liquid that gets most everyone to work.

Ok, enough ranting. Today I boarded up the house in Lakeview and then went for a nice leisurely drive through the city. It was pretty much me, the NOPD and National Guardsmen. Very quiet, and it brought back too many memories. Houses and businesses boarded up, leaves blowing into the empty streets, humvees, soldiers with M-16s on a few corners, skies filled with Blackhawks, reporters interviewing reporters - I kept wondering where the buses the cops commandeered and spray painted NOPD on to identify them were, the broken out store windows, the de facto military base at Audubon Zoo. All of it. It really creeped me out.

It's not that a day doesn't go by that I don't have a quick memory about something on some random corner from Katrina. A smell, a dark stretch of road where the streetlights are still out. But then, oh yeah, all I need to do to understand that Katrina still ain't over is to look at my FEMA trailer, the water lines that still reside on houses down the street from me, the fact that all of my immediate neighbors houses have been bulldozed and are now idle and empty lots.

But then you realize how much has come back. The spirit and heart of all New Orleanians who have returned, the young minds who have migrated to my city to help her renew herself, the open businesses, the fact that 47% of my neighbors in Lakeview have returned and have re-planted their gardens - it all helps.

Maybe that's partly why I don't feel overly concerned for this storm.

I think these New Orleanians, these Americans, have fought far too hard and straight into the heart of gross odds to rebuild a way of life for it to be so simply snatched away from us...

Well, the first feeder bands should be coming through shortly. Until then.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Update

We are still not OK.

I've spent some time today re-reading my blog which I've never really done... It wasn't strange to relive those events, they're with me all the time. But what got me was reading people's comments. That broke me down for hours. All I can say is thanks to the many people who either posted prayers or thanks, and I will be eternally grateful to those individuals who came to my rescue, physically or mentally, in some small or large way. Thanks.

As far as an update, the book has been picked up by Gibbs-Smith Publishing and will be released nationally in the Fall of '08. Obviously I'm excited about that, but man do you have to learn patience in the publishing world.

I'm still writing for the likes of Gambit, New Orleans CityBusiness, Sailing World, etc. Here's a few links to some recent stories.

- A New Frontier
- Economic Boom Fails
- MRGO's Dead Zone
- Set Sail
- Dining With a Few Reservations
- Katrina's Marinas
- Nearly Lost, Not Forgotton
- Zephyr!

I'm also on the radio these days. I have a small weekly show, Radio Diner, reviewing New Orleans restaurants. Radio Diner airs on WWNO during NPR news on Thursdays at 4:45pm. You can listen live on the internet and they have a few archived shows also.

I'm still living in my FEMA trailer and, big shock here, have yet to receive any of my Road Home grant. With my house having rested five feet off the ground, I did not have flood insurance. Well after nearly ten feet of water inundated the neighborhood... I still wait in a trailer sitting in front of a gutted house. I always have wanted to live aboard a boat, I've kind of gotten my wish, but it is getting trying.

My neighborhood, Lakeview, is actually coming back nicely. In my block alone nearly half of the houses are undergoing renovation... trust me, that's incredible.

I'm still actively working on some projects that you can check out below.

- Ryan Finn Ocean Racing
- New Basin Lighthouse Rescue
- Renew NOLA
- ReLeaf New Orleans

I also have two large new book projects that I am working on. One will be a novelized version of the Regatta Diaries and the other is top secret.

All the best and until next time.

___________

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Must Read

Josh Clark, a local literary fellow and friend of mine, has had his Hurricane Katrina memoirs published. Heart Like Water is a riotous and tragic accounting of the storm and the aftermath of the Federal levee failures told from the point of view of the French Quarter.

Definitely an interesting read.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Still Kicking

Because of a few emails and comments asking whether or not I was dead by hunger strike while protesting our lack of Cat 5 or even Cat 3 levee protection in New Orleans, I've decided to go ahead and post explaining the closing of the blog...

I understand I ended the blog pretty abruptly - in fact, I actually had no intention of doing so. But after the anniversary, I decided to take a short break, but then one week turned to two and so on.

I certainly have not stopped writing about the event though. My book, Chefs in Exile, is still progressing and I have magazine articles published fairly regularly - my latest will be in Irish American Heritage Magazine and Sailing World.

I am actively fundraising for the New Basin Lighthouse and am working PR for Ryan Finn Ocean Racing. Also, interestingly my experiences during Katrina and the aftermath are currently being studied by school children in over 17 countries through the One World Youth Project, which is a serious honor. My blog also actually made it into Wikipedia -- which is pretty cool.

I'm heavily ensconced in the Road Home Plan with the Louisiana Recovery Authority and I thought about restarting the blog with that whole process... but trust me it ain't exactly action packed... lots of waiting and patience.

My Lakeview neighborhood is slowly on the road back. One of the more surreal developments is the amount of homes that are falling under the axe. I can now sit on the front porch and see a few blocks away... quite odd.

My FEMA trailer is fine, though the toilet is broken... however fear not - the one in the house still works.

Cheers and thanks everyone.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006



WE ARE NOT OK


8.29.05



Monday, August 28, 2006

Katrina +1 - WE ARE NOT OK


This past year has been the most difficult and unbelievably life changing times that will hopefully ever happen again to me and the hundreds of thousands of other residents of New Orleans. This city that I love - that is my true love - foundered and nearly died. An American city was almost entirely destroyed.

While we have fought to resurrect this most unique place in the world, we've had to endure an almost constant barrage of criticism from the federal government and fringe lunatics, while trying to get the rest of the country to understand we are now forced to rebuild a city from the ground up - schools, electrical networks, gas lines, streets, water, sewage, restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, businesses, individual's homes - everything. As I've said many times now, the storm was nothing. The aftermath was everything…

It is widely misunderstood and thought that New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, those terrible images of New Orleans flooding and the human suffering that occurred almost a year ago were in reality caused by human error. Hurricane Katrina struck the Mississippi Gulf Coast while New Orleans was only brushed by the storm. It is quite obvious as to where the storm hit - virtually every structure along the Mississippi Gulf Coast no longer exists, whereas New Orleans' housing still stands, albeit in a ruinous state.

The flooding of this great city occurred because of years of neglect, wetlands loss and faulty levee construction done by the United States Federal Government.

Today, one year later, one must still drive through miles after miles of devastated neighborhoods to get anywhere and I have to only step outside of my FEMA trailer and look a few doors down to see a home where two of my neighbors and their dogs drowned.

I paddled right past that home a little less than a year ago wondering then how many people were trapped in those attics or floating in their bedrooms like the two floating and bloated golden retrievers that I saw that day. It isn't hard for the littlest thing to suddenly spark memories of that time, and I am glad we are able to finally move past this first anniversary.

This has oddly been the best and worst year of my life. It has also been the greatest adventure of my life… even with all the pain, heartbreak and anger. I've learned a heck of a lot over the course of this last year, but I think the most startling revelations for me are how common heroism and the generosity of strangers can be.

The nights are still hard, but in the daylight, there is a spirit here amongst the people of this city, a will and a demand to survive this. We could all be morons for thinking that this city can be saved - but damn if we're not going to attempt it. If we do succeed though, we as a people will probably father an odd strain of human who will re-populate this city far into the future - heroic and able to withstand anything.

We created Jazz here once… who knows what music we'll invent after this.

* Update: I woke this morning with an ironic smile wondering why the big days in New Orleans are always on Tuesdays... Yesterday felt like some kind of dark Lundi Gras... and I laughed at how on Ash Wednesdays I tend to say Mardi Gras should not happen every year. Maybe once every four years... I never get my wish.

__________

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Rising Tide/NPR

One of the best takeaways I have from the Rising Tide Conference comes from listening to Shane Landry poingantly express his thoughts on Louisiana seceeding from the Union. Describing in no uncertain terms how the U.S. governemnt broke a trust with the people of this state and in his most powerful point, how no other place in America throughout our history has ever had to justify their existence to the rest of the nation, clearly reminds me of those early days post K where I was typing the same...

Maitri has the detailed breakdown on the whole conference.

Tomorrow I'm going to be interviewed by National Public Radio (NPR) from my trailer in Lakeview and will have a clear link to it here - but for now this is where I think it will reside.

_______

Friday, August 25, 2006

Are We a Nation of Bureaucrats?

By now everyone has heard about Mayor Nagin's comments about the lack of progress in rebuilding at the World Trade Center site when pressed by a 60 Minutes reporter on the slow pace of recovery in New Orleans.
During the “60 minutes” interview, a correspondent pointed out flood-damaged cars still on the streets of New Orleans’ devastated Ninth Ward. Nagin replied, “You guys in New York can’t get a hole in the ground fixed, and it’s five years later. So let’s be fair,” according to CBS.
Let's be fair and honest here... To compare the excruitiating and horrible attacks on this country on 9/11 to the massive destruction that Hurricane Katrina poured onto the Gulf Coast and then onto New Orleans through this country's biggest engineering failure is completely misguided.

But with the amount of scrutiny and venom directed towards this city, our government and our people it is fair of Nagin to point this out. Why has nothing really been done to build anything on that national site almost five years later?

Where is the gumption and can-do spirit that built and made this nation great?

I see it every day on the streets of New Orleans in the eyes of her people who are down here rebuilding and trying to salvage and ressurect their city one house at a time. I see it in the flourishing grass roots neighborhood associations which have quite literally become the only functioning government on all levels. I see it in the thousands of volunteers from around the country who are still down here a year later gutting the homes of strangers.

Where did this disconnect that our government has from the needs of her people come from. Does this government of ours not understand that we are Americans battling for our homes and lives?

If not, governement at all levels had better get out of the way, because we New Orleanians are just doing it... with or without the bureaucrats.

__________

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Liquor Relief for NOLA?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Eat Out - Help Save New Orleans & the Gulf Coast

Through my work interviewing the top 30 New Orleans' Chefs for my upcoming book, Chefs in Exile, I have seen first hand the good that the organization Share Our Strength has been doing with feet on the ground operating soup kitchens, organizing school cafeterias and providing support for incredibly strained restaurant workers.

Help this organization to continue helping some of OUR first relief workers, our restauranteurs and Chefs, by dining out in many of your favorite restaurants across the country on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's landfall.

Only in New Orleans could Chefs be held up as heroes next to the police, firemen, 82nd Airborne, National Guard, Coast Guard, nurses & doctors. Their continuing struggle to operate under extreme hardships deserves everyone's support and thanks.

Click HERE for participating restaurants in your neck of the woods.

Thanks.

_____________

Monday, August 21, 2006

Carefull not to Step in It

Well K+1 is rapidly approaching and everyone from CNN to Discovery to your mominem will be airing some sort of Katrina anniversary documentary. The images and failures will again be plastered onto the back of America's eyes.

I only ask that everyone be carefull about what they wade through during this time... remember that most have an angle or a political bent and are using the Katrina lens to further something other than the real cause.

Spike Lee's documentary is apparantly pretty vivid, moving and definately a worthwhile watch, yet it completely glosses over the fact that Katrina spared no ethinicity or class. To hear it from Spike, Katrina walloped only poor black people while all the whites sat on their porches playing cribbage.

Then you've got the insane people like Charles Payne, a talking head for Fox who detailed how New Orleans is now a hotbed of dissatisfaction and anger at the Federal Government and as such is now a fertile recruiting ground for al Qaeda... yeah, he really said that.

So keep an eye out for the B.S., try and keep us in your thoughts and come on down and visit. New Orleans needs your tourist dollars more than ever.

___________
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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Carpet Bloggers/Disaster Sycophants

Open Letter to Know More Media & Chartreuse

Through emails and blog comments, Chartreuse and representatives of Know More Media have purported to have nothing but the best intentions on documenting the exploits of “Team New Orleans” as they visit south Louisiana to discover the “Truth” about these so called FEMA concentration camps.

Having received copies of similar emails over the course of this past year, including other even more horrendous and outrageous emails, many of us in the New Orleans blogging community as well as the Mainstream Media of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast have investigated these ‘stories’ and discovered that most were without merit. Many were in fact, and not surprisingly, complete fabrications written only to garner publicity for their authors.

For KMM and Chartreuse to think that it is possible to whisk down here and suddenly discover the “Truth” about these odious stories is almost comical. In fact, it is actually egomaniacal to think that “Team New Orleans” will discover in four or five days what every major media organization in the world could not, what the local Pulitzer and Peabody winning media could not, as well as the very active local blogging community.

Couple with this the fact that KMM's paid “citizen journalist”, Chartreuse, generally blogs about Angelina Jolie and other such nonsense and his New Orleans blog is simply a re-publisher of AP stories which are surrounded by personal money making links only adds to the general unease that is felt about this mission to discover the “Truth”.

Furthermore, KMM’s website, which they are trying to set up as a locus for “Truth’s about New Orleans” is also a commercial site. It is filled with nothing but links to KMM's other money making websites. This only furthers our fears that KMM and Chartreuse are going to profit by piggy backing off of these sensationalized myths.

NOWHERE is there any effort to guide KMM's audience, who could possibly be moved to action after reading these shocking “Truths” that Chartreuse plans to uncover, into the right directions to help the people of this region.

Those of us who live in the Gulf South, from Lake Charles to nearly Mobile, have been touched and can still easily be brought to tears by the incredible generosity of the American people, which we feel down to our souls. However, in this exposed and mentally traumatized state, we feel equally pain and anger as we’ve been forced to endure the incredible misportrayals, derision, and venom which has been directed towards us, our character and our community.

Trust me on this, we are in no state of mind to put up with even the appearance of war profiteering or some no one who suddenly declares that they will be our savior in under a week. Especially when a little investigative journalism, which would probably only take sending out a couple of emails to a few local bloggers and inquiring as to what they thought or knew about these outlandish charges, could have easily dispelled KMM's and Chartreuse's alarm regarding these myths.

If KMM seeks to be an outlet for a group who apparently desires to become the disaster sycophants of the blogging world – then more power to them – but DO NOT expect the New Orleans blogging community's blessing.

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