Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rebuttal to a Carpetblogger

I have to say I'm laughing out loud over Carpetblogger (thnx fo dat, Mr Zombie!) Bob Freilich's attempt to paint the ongoing noise complaints against Cafe Istanbul as a Race War.
After suggesting I'm only comfortable in 'White Space' I really wanna tell him that I go visit my wife every month, in a place where There Are NO White People. And I like it better than here, thanks for asking.
But I digress.

The real joke of assigning racism to this disagreement is this:

The real man in charge of this operation is Pres Kabacoff.

He and Sallie Glassman co-chair the Healing Center and stood in for Chuck Perkins at almost every community meeting leading up to it's opening. He spoke then as though he were the boss of the entire operation, and spoke for Perkins with Chuck sitting right there.

Not only is Kabacoff white, but he's the whole trifecta, rich, white & Republican (to the tune of $25K in donations to David Vitter in 2014).

In an interview with Gawker of February 2015, Kabacoff made some surprising remarks about dealing with the poor of New Orleans, who are predominantly black.

While I suggest reading the entire interview, please note that first, he says he talked the feds into raising the amount an 'affordable housing' recipient could earn, to allow young white hipsters to qualify.

""I tried to influence the federal government to increase the tax incentive for affordable housing so it so it wasn't just for people making 60 percent of median income but 120 percent. That worked. Now, instead of making $20,000 you could make $40,000 to $50,000 in affordable housing, just to have a broader group, so when you did use subsidies you'd not only be dealing with the very poor but the working and middle classes."

Then, after dividing the recipients of affordable housing into three groups, this:

"On the affordable side, probably a third of those people you would love to have as your neighbor, another third—the kind of people who if their refrigerator stops working their life falls apart—if you can get them stable, you want them, and a third you just don't have the social staff to deal with the issues they're bringing to the table."

It doesn't take a crystal ball to know that last third is the poorest of the poor, and who they are in New Orleans, does it? Of course not.

But, having caught some serious flack for these remarks, Kabacoff was interviewed again by City Lab, to explain it all away, saying:

"Either I was being very inarticulate or they misquoted me. When you deal with [that] one third of former public-housing residents, you have to be very cautious about not bringing in a criminal element that you can’t handle. if you interpret that to mean that you want to get poor people out of public housing, well that’s not what I meant. It just means you have to do careful screening, you may have to do some evictions, mainly making sure that you don’t have that criminal element living next to the market rate, because the market rate will [leave the housing development]—as will many public-housing residents."

Think about this:

"When you deal with [that] one third of former public-housing residents, you have to be very cautious about not bringing in a criminal element that you can’t handle."

That third, the poor & black, are more likely to be a 'criminal element' than white people with money? I guess AirBnb crimes and phony crime camera schemes don't count.

Then there's this:

"It just means you have to do careful screening, you may have to do some evictions, mainly making sure that you don’t have that criminal element living next to the market rate."

The sad truth is now evident.

Chuck Perkins is the front man, being used to carry the race card, by a Big Boss Man who doesn't want poor black people in affordable housing; not because they are poor and black, but because he thinks they'll steal.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Through The Past Darkly; Reflections of the Time Before K.

It's 10-K.
Sadly, I know what that means.
It's a publicity blow-up doll designed to make us think of the anniversary of Katrina and the Federal Flood as a badge of honor, and talk loudly & quickly about The Recovery.

I won't because it hasn't.
I can't, because it would be a lie.

I'm sure there are statisticians pecking wildly away at key boards, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that something or other is really true, if you just look at the numbers this way. Local Billionaire developer boy is crowing about his 30,000 new white kid New Dats. And large areas of the Lower Nine look as bad as they did the day the water was finally gone.

But anyone with eyes and curiosity probably knows that, or will, soon enough. These parties usually drag out the buried pain, along with the song and dance. But that's not what's on my mind today;
August 29th, 2015.

I'm looking back on the New Orleans I knew and loved and what it became the first eight months of 2005. That is not to dismiss the old gal now, as she rolls on and on longer than any of us, a chameleon of the highest order. The Thing That Wouldn't Die.

But at that particular time, there seemed to be a culmination. Every corner you turned set off sparks, from the artists, to the musicians, to the bartenders and service people, everything lead back to everything else. We were all so.... connected.

Everyone I met at that time knew somebody who knew somebody I knew. One degree of separation. It never, ever failed.

And some of them, the closest to you, were family. Not 'holiday card' family, but a 'bury a body' family. We saved each others lives, again and again, from broken hearts to evictions, robberies to job loss, they were there. And you were there for them.

We were reckless and mad and in love and insane and the streets shone with glitter often, no lie.
Nobody seemed to question it. It was the only way to go. It was as if we somehow were all connected to the same heart somewhere. Like we were somehow cells of one living, breathing, mad and beautiful thing.

Those days are gone now, and I grieve for them as much as the dead. Not so much because I want them back, as because I want them to be seen, as proof of What Can Happen when creative people run free.
And so I am spending the day in solitude, relishing the taste of it again, like a bit of sugar, saved in wax until next year, and perhaps the one after, until it fades completely. I don't think it ever will, but who's to say.
The stories are already being passed down. They are becoming Legend.

And finally, I wonder about those sitting in their recently purchased million dollar Bywater shacks, lining up like ducklings for brunch each week, and shopping for post cards of How It Used To Be.

And I wonder what their legacy will be.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Post Cards from Hell

On the way home, I tried to listen to Obama's speech made from the Lower 9th ward today.
I just can't.
No more sno-globes, parades, love letters to New Orleans or competitions to see who's more 'Local'.
As THE DAY approaches (with the full moon, yet), the memories are coming strong & hard; identifying Bucky James' swollen body, after he went mad in the aftermath, and hung himself in the house across the street, laying there for days; The house next door to that one, where Helen Hill was shot to death because the City Did Not Care One Fuck about the neighborhood they now lay claim to; the State Police who tried to make me drop my crutches and lay on the ground, at gun point, until the National Guardsmen saved my life; The razor wire & curfews; the mean spirited 'Recovery' jocks who lived on astronomical FEMA checks, and acted like the city was their own personal strip club; and the flies.

The endless fucking flies.
So enjoy your 'celebrations', if that's what you do.
Count me out.
WAY the fuck out.
I'll be over here with those who lived through this shit, and are satisfied to not wake up screaming.
Not this year, anyway.
Maybe next time.
Maybe not.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Gentrification; The Tipping Point

As this weekend has hosted both the French Chevron Quarter Festival and the opening of the St Roch Champagne Dreams Food Court, my thoughts have drifted to when this all began.

Of course, that would most likely be the introduction of White Europeans into this hemisphere....

But then, there's always a tipping point for these things.
I began to reflect on when these changes reached the point here where they simply couldn't be ignored any longer.

It was a Spring night, just before sunset, and I was standing on the sidewalk on Decatur Street, almost directly across the street from Angeli. I was with two colleagues, R. Scully to my left, and Ratty Scurvics to my right.

There was a new Mexican restaurant open on that corner, and we were meeting music friends for dinner; Dr. Fred, who owns the Rookery Studio in the Bywater, and his neighbors, John Porter and Linda Keith.

As we waited out front, the three of us couldn't help but notice an attractive blonde woman, running down the other side of the street, on the side walk. She was wearing some kind of spandex running gear, and as she cleared some cars, I noticed she was pushing along some kind of three wheeled cart in front of her.

"Is that a STROLLER?" Scully was the first to speak.

I joined in immediately.

"That's the first time I've seen somebody running down Decatur who wasn't chased by the cops or running after a drug dealer that ripped them off," I observed.

She continued on down the street, and our heads collectively swiveled to marvel at this strange site.

At last, Ratty turned back to look at us with those penetrating eyes of his. With a look of almost pleading optimism and a hopeful smile, he spoke.

"Maybe she stole the baby!"

St Roch Market; same as it ever was.

The Good: The produce vendor, whoever they are, is right inside the front doors, and the produce was not only much more affordable than the Co-op (tomatoes were $2 a pound instead of $4), but local (not Mexican) and brilliantly fresh.

The Why?: There is a fish monger, and they have wild caught fish, but it's not cheap, nor is it over priced, I guess. It's very limited, and the vendor complained about getting a 2x3 foot 'ice bin' to keep fresh fish in, with most of their space dedicated to prepared food sales.
This was the design the Market was built to serve, so it comes from the top down: A fairly expensive (considering the neighborhood) food court.
There is a butcher there, too, and the very same holds true. A tiny case for fresh meat, and a large facility to make prepared food. The butcher, however (Shank) has plans to open a full butcher shop across St Claude.

The Bad: After ten fucking years & all manner of bullshit, this is a glorified, upscale food court. How many locals want a daily stop for champagne & oysters on the half shell? I'm sure we'd all love the Absolutely Fabulous lifestyle from time to time, but seriously, another upscale bar with an extensive wine collection? I wonder if they take WIC there....
At least there is another source for produce besides MGZ's limited selection and the Co-ops Mexican Spider Camp veggies, but for fuck's sake, this looks like it was designed for Sean Cummings to show off to his rich divorcees from Manhattan.

This tomato, bought for a dollar, was nice though.
And Shanks' sausages were great.

PS:For those raving about the St Roch Market:

I'm glad you had a good time.
Really, I am.
But think about the thousands (yes thousands) of local residents who waited 10 years for that open market they could afford, and got the Champagne Crowd, sipping on their sidewalk, instead.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Where The Wild Things Aren't

Reporting from Baton Rouge South
(formerly 'New Orleans'),
just outside French Quarter Land;
This Just In:

Roving herds of Bros (called a 'Lumox') have been spotted, walking through the Marigny, really fucking nailing it, being awesome, and high fiving everything in site. While some experts suggest this is a seasonal event, it has been noted that the Spring Break (or Rut) has typically ended by this time, and they may well have taken up permanent residence here.

Recent migratory activity has brought Envies of Hipsters, Crusts of Traveling Kids, Blights of Speechless Techies, and the ever ill mannered Sneering Trustfundy.
It stands to reason that with such ongoing consumption without replenishment, an area will be domesticated to the point of mind bending boredom, the cattle will then move in and form wandering herds.

Before these new species consume everything in the ecosystem they occupy, and move on to their next pastures, they will heavily fertilize it with copious amounts of their own manure.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Please Note:

With the advent of digital technology, humans, globally, are slowly learning to replace simple words with concepts, often as visual images.
Oddly, this new beginning manifests itself first as pictures of food, cats, graphic sex and men chasing a ball.
Please be patient.