Sunday, November 27, 2005

More thoughts on New Orleans

The city can never recover from Katrina. The houses between the two canals will be ugly empty mud caked wrecks or empty lots for years. The oil companies won't bring back more than skeleton office staffs. The Saints won't be back. The Hornets won't be back. The Sugar Bowl won't return for years - or maybe ever. The Superdome will not be replaced. At least ½ the population will not be back for decades. New Orleans will become another Savannah or Galveston.

Post-Katrina trip home

When you're uptown having a macchiato at PJ's, you'd barely know that any tragedy had struck the city. The stumps being used as stools out front seemed to be a style statement, and the Magazine bus (which might be the only public transportation still functioning) still cruises up-and-down the narrow streets. All along the strip between St. Charles and the river, the city looked much as it ever was. Driving down Decatur and up Royal gives the same impression - the charming city that care forgot - but you don't have to go far past St. Charles to see the carnage the city experienced.

On Broadway's neutral ground, there's still a car with a missing wheel and the spring/strut sticking out from the fender. The last functioning gas station along Carrollton is Spur near the sewerage canal (thought it should have posted an interstate sign "last gas until Metairie"). The planted signs "house gutting" & "debris removal" signs along Carrollton are so numerous that it's easy to run a stop sign - no functioning stop lights past Claiborne.

Of course that's the day time. At night time, once you exit on to West End Blvd from the freeway, the drive to Robert E. Lee is just eerie - blocks on end without lights. Then you reach the jewel streets, which are a bit of an island with functioning water and electricity and a rent-a-cop driving through the neighborhood. Even saw a house incongruously decorated for Christmas with tons of lights and a Santa in the yard.

These following images are from Pratt Drive (right by the London Avenue canal breech), but they don't fully convey how un-liveable the area south of Lake Terrace is.

My sister-in-law teased me that there are plenty of folks like me driving around taking photos and we should all be charged. She was right - we saw two vans coming across the bridge at Fillmore Avenue snapping shots just while we drove down Pratt Drive.

Lakeview is the same of course. Tons of houses with red spray paint from search-and-rescue on the house fronts stating: date, group, number of dead humans, number of life pets. My brother had sanded the red paint off the front of his house, but there are thousands of houses with the paint still prominent (truly a heroic effort going house to house).

house on Bel Air Drive across from the 17th st. canal

The drive back from the lake front at night is strange as well. No functioning stop lights on Canal Blvd; none on Canal Street until you reach the CBD. The drive up St. Charles seems normal until you realize that there are no street cars. I asked how long before they return? "1 to 2 years" according to my mother - a combination of lack of electricity and damaged cars. I hope that's wrong since they are so much part of the character of my hometown: I can understand not restarting the Canal Street or City Park lines or even the red cars along the river, but if there's a need for the Magazine bus, then surely there's a need for the signature street cars as well.

Best to end with the important updates:

Saturday, November 19, 2005

10 down - 38 to go

I'm a few hours early, but trying to squeeze in alot before hitting the road early Monday morning to see how my home town is faring. Once again, the internecine GOP warfare and travails are a bit amazing. Bush's recent "Dems rewriting history" shows how little direction he has remaining - what are your plans for the future? How do we get out of the Iraq quagmire? Looking back or casting blame doesn't get you anywhere; doesn't advance any agenda. Like many on the left, I've thoroughly enjoyed the Washington Times story that Bush only talks to 4 people (all female) now. His wife, mother, "work wife", and longtime confidant. Amusing and hopefully true.



Friday, November 18, 2005

Friday Night Alcohol Free Wine Blogging

What won't they think of next?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Friday Night Wine Blogging (early Thanksgiving edition)

Covey Run - Sauvignon Blanc 2003
1st of 3 Thanksgiving meals!

Monday, November 07, 2005

France makes the US look good

Unbelievable reading about a dozen nights of mayhem in France. Hard to fathom hundreds of cars, even a thousand being torched in 1 night (favourite tidbit - Nationwide vandals burned 814 - i'm sure their count is so accurate).

I lived through the Rodney King riots, and we were justifiably pissed at Gates for not setting up road blocks so Reginald Denny didn't get his head bricked in, but despite how dysfunctional Gates & Bradley were, the peak violence really only lasted 2 nights.

The government's response to Katrina was pathetic, and every newsman on the spot castigated the government for being so out of touch for taking 4 days to get the troops into New Orleans to restore order.

So how can France possibly let violence go on for close to a fortnight? Impose martial law in the towns & pull in every single soldier you have until order is restored. I'm hoping something was lost in this translation whether the army should be brought in, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said, "We are not at that point." When do you reach that point? Do you assume that the violence burns itself out along with thousands of cars? Let's see if it's only 550 cars tonight, and only 387 tomorrow, then my next weekend we'll only have a few dozen torched. Mind boggling incompetance & denial.

Friday, November 04, 2005

My Halloween Prom Queen

Friday Night Wine Blogging - Standard Time Edition

Columbia Crest - Grand Edition Merlot (2001)

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Still not fond of Don Quixote

Had really no urge to try forcing myself through it again, but 2 items changed my mind. Guardian rated it best novel ever and my cousin-in-law stated the Grossman's new translation was superior since she translated the tome into vernacular and not stilted english. Also having her translation on tape meant that it might be a bit easier to get through & frankly books on CD are great for dull stretches of any novel.

Popped in the first CD today - Don Quixote's a foolish madman enamored with chivalrous knighthood while folks make fun of him. Well that sums up the first CD - my complaint back in high school was that the first 100 pages seemed repetitious already & reading another 800 pages of what is basically a 1 joke novel was just too much to bear. Will give the novel another few CD's, but so far my impression from 30+ years ago hasn't changed.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What a difference a year makes

I can remember the first Tuesday in November a year ago watching the election results on-line and the very gradual disappointments as the returns trickled in. The mood swing was so strong - after hearing Zogby erroneously state that Kerry was going to win Florida, Ohio, and the election, it was just heartbreaking realizing that not only had Kerry lost, but the GOP had picked up 4 seats in the Senate, adding two homophobes, and winning every close race except Colorado.

The next day, I was in such a pissed off mood, a conservative associate at work knew enough not to say anything about the election. Both asmallvictory and jj assured us liberals that there would be no theocracy, that abortion would still be legal, that well our fears were overblown. I personally had predicted that Bush's second term would be less worse than his first, but my dismay that next morning was strong, and it took a day or two for me to lick my wounds.

Now a year later, not only are Bush's polling numbers in the tank, but his legislative agenda is dead in the water, his Supreme Court nominees are not in the Scalia/Thomas strident mode, and outside of a foolish effort at signing emergency resuscitate orders there have been no bones thrown to the religious right - e.g. outlawing D&X abortion or anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment.

Mark Warner made a comment shortly after the election that a 51% approach to winning elections was not a good way to govern. At the time, I was still so mired in post-election gloom that I didn't agree with him, and thought that the GOP was going to continue to win all the key elections and just ram more unwanted legislation down our throats. But Warner's comment proved prescient. The problem with 51% elections is that you have to keep 100% of your coalition to pass legislation, and that's virtually impossible to do for any extended period, and especially for items affecting the third rail.

So my predictions for the future?

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