Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mindfulness and Walking The Walk.

There is a term frequently used in modern Buddhism, called 'mindfulness', which among other things, focuses on being aware of one's own thoughts and actions, as well as their effect, in the moment.
It is often used and developed during meditation.

An expansion of this process is the awareness of one's self as part of a larger whole, community or society. Unless one lives in complete hermitude, it is impossible to NOT have an effect on those around you, at least on some level.

With that in mind, I'd like to offer some observations.

I've recently posted a segment from the documentary, Soul Food, linked here.

The opening line lays it all out....

"There is no better example of racism in the 21st century than the relationship of black people and access to healthy foods."

This is a symptom of a larger picture. Black neighborhoods often remain under developed, becoming home to liquor stores, pawn shops and bodegas, clearly demonstrating that the goal is for inhabitants there to become alcoholics, pawn their possessions, and live off of expensive and unhealthy food choices.

Sure, those communities have a history of liking many of those foods, but white communities have fresh grocery stores competing with fast food, pizza and po-boy shops, rarely relying on gas station munchies for nutrition, and having big box stores for non-food items, where black neighborhoods are more likely limited to Dollar Store crap.

As these 'minority' neighborhoods develop beyond that scope, it is often because monied, whiter parties have followed poorer whites into them, discover the lower housing costs, and move in for the kill, displacing the traditional, generational families who live there, and jacking up housing prices to drive them out. This is the process we call 'gentrification'.

There are, of course, places where these issues are more economic that racial, but the effect is still the same.

As the neighborhoods begin to gentrify, the new developers open more high end outlets, whether it's Whole Foods, high end food courts, or bistro specialty shops, designed for higher income citizens.
Sometimes, these new 'developments' are made using government grants, designed to improve the neighborhoods of poorer Americans, with those grants being manipulated to allow developers to increase the housing value and drive them out (Pres Kabacoff is a master of this).

So when I see white, self declared 'progressives' sitting at the St Roch Market, which was built with money predominantly (2.3 million out of 3.2 spent) ear marked for redeveloping under privileged neighborhoods, decimated by the Federal Flood, and toasting themselves for their 'open mindedness' and ability to be 'color blind', I wonder if they know how full of shit they really are.

It's a parade of mindless white privilege at the very site of black exclusion.

And yes, I've heard the "But black people work there" excuse. How many black people work for New Orleans Building Corporation, who rents that place out at astronomical rates?

It is was most recently run by deputy Mayor Cedric Grant, who, while African American, is also behind the fencing off of areas under the expressway to displace the homeless. Nice.

Before him? "Developer Sean Cummings replaced Ford as executive director under Nagin."

In short, before you praise yourself on your modern progressive attitude, how about a little mindfulness? You may be cheering yourself on the grave of those you claim to protect.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Visions in a Salad Bowl

I decided to escape the terrible fucking news that has been bombarding me with fascist political hyperbole and runaway gun violence.

"Fuck this" I says to myself I says.
"I'm going to breathe, long and deep, for a few minutes and then do something good."
"For me."

Because I know I'm not any good to anyone like this.

So, big fresh spinach salad for me. Organic cold pressed olive oil, balsamic vinegar, the whole bit.
It was wonderful.

I always find that eating a large portion of fresh greens, spinach being my favorite, is an immediate mood booster. Perhaps the massive dose of B complex vitamins, known to fight depression, release something into our brains. I'm not quite sure. I just know that it works.

Then I began to think about people who don't have access to quality foods, the things that literally rebuild our bodies, that fuel our brains and create our hormones & pheromones, effecting our mood and rational behavior to a serious extent. They don't get that boost. They get fast food, and GMO frozen entrees. They get refined sugar and bleached flour. They get generic pharmaceuticals and they get alcohol.

And I began to wonder, is this a thing?
Is this actually the plan I heard about at Conspiracy Nutjob Incorporated, all those years ago?

A vast conspiracy to have giant corporations supply the worlds food, stripped of value, just empty nutritional waste, to reduce the populations' ability to think clearly, to live with an underlying anger or anxiety, to treat that anxiety with mind numbing drugs, building an army of office slaves?

The ones who don't have the technical skills don't get insured and get pills just keep getting angrier, feeding corporate prisons or joining the military out of desperation, both scenarios building more perfect soldiers, more True Believers of the Corporate Religion, in who's house women are only breeding mares.

Then they funnel guns into the party, as fast as possible. The smart will complain and be killed off. The stupid, drugged, and assimilated will become the New National Front, and ride herd over the populous, as they work like drones, or are sent out to become fodder in oil wars, against whatever 'terrorist' nation falls next under the greedy eye of The Republic. 

Is this really a thing?
Is that what's happening?

Are we being programmed to bow to the sheer terror we've allowed our country to exhibit?
Is that why there's no end to the hate speech and mass shootings and people running for office with the Nazi playbook?

Maybe not.
But maybe it is.
And even a tiny bit of maybe is enough to take heed.

Because they know we're not any good to anyone like this.

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.

The Front Man is being used to carry the race card, by a Big Boss Man who doesn't want poor black people in affordable housing; 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!"