Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006 write-up

Flew with Frodo back to New Orleans, but even Gandalf's wand couldn't fix all that ails my hometown.

The lower 9th ward has a few signs of life, but the destruction is still over powering

lower 9th ward - February 2006

There are signs of folks adapting of course - enterprising tourist bus operators are now offering destruction tours showing the barge, which is now being deconstructed.
(100' from the barge)

It's still a bit nervous driving around the city when you're not in the "sliver by the river" because there are so few gas stations open: fortunately Arabi now has one. The owner showed us a photo of water up to the rafters taken after the levees broke by some government employee from across the street. Said he had to battle FEMA's bureaucracy and the gas company since they were hesitant to supply him again.

What's incredible is how folks are still willing to come back - saw a fair number of folks rebuilding in Chalmette east of Paris Avenue, and a handful in the lower 9th ward as well. Still given how few have returned, I can't see how St. Bernard can be anything but a ghost town for years.

(chalmette east of paris road)

A side point, but one oddity of New Orleans is that no other section is known by its ward number. No one says "I live in the 5th ward" and have never heard anyone mention the upper 9th ward. Is it just because Jackson Barracks resides in the lower section? Can't believe that the demographics are that different from the "upper" side of the industrial canal versus the "lower".

Drove through New Orleans East, and once again, a good number of FEMA trailers there and along the lakefront (actually you can find them in all sections of town including uptown). Since there are enough houses still occupied near the lakefront it will return.
(henry's old house - gutted inside, so presumably the owners plan to rebuild & return).

Overall, the city's infrastructure has returned far more than I thought back in Thanksgiving. Stop lights and street lights far more numerous than just 3 months ago. Of course, it is still spooky trying to cut from Claiborne to Galvez as both sides of Claiborne around the muse streets are largely uninhabited with no street lights or stop lights.

To close on a positive note, the crowds for Bacchus were as claustrophobic as usual, and it was nearly impossible to park in either the French Quarter or Faubourg Marigny. The famous restaurants (Galatoire's, Antoine's, Arnaud's, Emeril's, NOLA) have mostly re-opened. The only unopened restaurant that I miss is Camellia Grill.

Oh, finally did see Frodo, and as expected, he was on a Bacchus float along with Samwise Gamgee and Willie Nelson trailing behind King Michael Keaton who launched Bacchus to large crowd approval - made it seem that some sense of normality had returned to New Orleans at last.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Homeward bound

Curious how my hometown's first post-Katrina Mardi Gras is faring, so will give review on Mardi Gras day. Consider Bacchus (Sunday night) to be, if not the king of Mardi Gras, then clearly the most popular. Rex - the official king - is now a depressing parade. Sparse crowds, kids tossing away Rex doubloons: rather a run down affair. By contrast, the crowds for Bacchus are overwhelming & Endymion is almost the same. Even Monday is now being called Lundi Gras & has its celebrity parade as well. A sharp contrast to my youth when Mardi Gras was a slightly bigger affair than Sunday, but now tons of folks come in town for the weekend & then leave on Monday as we're doing.

Can remember how mom used to throw a Sunday night fete because there was no competing parade. Back in '68 though she was prescient enough to know that that would be her last year since folks would want to see Bacchus & the celebrity de jour. Sure enough, the attendance was lite at her fete & she discontinued it for years, before starting her pre-post Thoth fête; sadly Thoth has had to move their route, so no fête this year.

Have heard some grumbling from displaced folks that the city should concentrate on rebuilding. Can sympathize, but New Orleans lives & dies off tourism, and is nearly (completely?) broke - they need the cash flow badly!

Monday, February 20, 2006

13 down - 35 to go

The static 2nd term continues. Basically Bush has been playing defence for a month on wiretaps and Gitmo and Medicare drugs and Katrina and hunting accidents and well you can fill in the blanks. I can't recall the last mention of any substantial legislation even incubating. Shouldn't tax reform start to gain some attention? Guest worker plan? Truly an auto-pilot administration these days, which still surprises me a bit. What happened to the ambitious 2nd term agenda? Social Security failed, so why not move on to Plan B or even C? A rhetorical question.

Still events make me wish for a fast forward button to 2 years from now, when the next set of candidates are the focus, and Bush approaches the end of his time in government.

Back to the metrics:

Iraq: the US death toll was 51 for the past month, and the other metrics such as oil & electricity are still below pre-war levels. Overall the news is slow from Iraq, and I've heard little debate about how things are going or what to do in the future, so Iraq has reached a steady-state point.

Trade: Of the 3 metrics, Bush has scored the best here. Admittedly Doha round is lessened its expectations, and Hong Kong left the hard work for 2006. "Let's just be blunt about it." but it's on trade that Bush has some modest achievements this term.

Deficit reduction: Even McCain is getting in on the act and dogs are getting Kevlar vests so I have few illusions that this Congress is going to cut more than 0.5% of the budget.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Night Perrier blogging

Vintage unknown

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What tunes would you buy with $150 gift certificate

CD's are overflowing and no CD or box set is screaming "buy me" despite my surplus of gift certificates from Amazon, Border's & Barnes&Nobles.

Enjoy my Budget box set of Beethoven's string quartets, and thought of buying Budget box sets of Chopin's piano works & Beethoven's piano sonatas, but the reviews pointed out that these were old recordings, some in mono, so a bit turned off. Already co-own Shostakovich's string quartet box set, so believe that I'm well covered there.

Have 3 Coltrane box sets & 2½ Miles box sets & 1 Mingus box set, so not sure what else I can purchase. Some character in Red Mars mentions 1947 being Satchmo's best year, but not sure what album that would be. Long past the hot 5's & hot 7's, but long before his national icon status with Hello Dolly showmanship.

The Ginger Haired Yank would argue that i have a surfeit of DFM's, but did just purchase the latest Cat Power & Beth Orton CD's. Probably a mistake given that Cat Power usually has 2 good songs per CD & Orton has 4.

Cool video though - can't say that it makes much sense (Cat running track crucifix while a bunch of women wearing veils & heavily covering clothing race her), but her videos never needed narrative logic, for that matter neither did the director's work (e.g. Gummo).

Saturday, February 11, 2006

(Belated) reply to Trans's dialogue

Intro: I seem to know so many professional couples with a husband who badly wants to have a child, while the wife does not, but I've never fully figured out why. Did men always have a strong latent desire to procreate that was unspoken because having offspring was the societal norm? Can the eternal urge to have progeny really have just evaporated with modern women? Has the desire to mother earth become a common sublimation of the maternal desire? Did the desire to become one of the boys overwhelm the maternal instinct?

Random associated thoughts: My all-time favourite idea from Sci-Fi was kid-cicles from Heinlein's Podkayne of Mars. Newborns could be frozen at birth, so Podkayne's mother has her 4 allowed children while she's still young, and tosses them in the cryogenic factory, and then she thaws them out when it's convenient for her to have children. In an acceptable plot contrivance, the cryogenic factory has a power blackout, forcing the parents to stay behind to tend the "new borns" while Podkayne & her brother go off for their adventure. Science hasn't reached that point, but I have enjoyed sharing such a clever idea with others including a (now) single mom.

You know the world's got problems/I got problems of my own

Back in high school (oil embargo & Watergate & Vietnam War era), I mentioned "who would want a child in a time like this": one of my brother's friends quickly dissuaded me that these times are no more farked up than any other. He was right. Are times really worse now than during WWII when tens of millions of souls were being murdered? Than during WWI & its Spanish Avian flu progeny? Than when one-third of Europe was dying from bubonic plague? If you're going to wait for Utopia before giving birth, you'll be waiting a frightfully long time. Besides, Utopia was a very dull place.

What's missing in the dialogue: What about sharing the joy of existence with another? Passing on our best and (hopefully) leaving our dross behind. The desire to escape death by passing on part of yourself to the future? The vicarious satisfactions and accomplishments? Are those desires really so wrong?

By contrast, something about a childless society seems so barren, so sterile, so........pointless.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Fine Oscar Nominee

More emotionally involving than Brokeback Mountain - perhaps because it's based on real characters. - and does such a fine job illuminating what a deceitful & self-delusional manipulator Capote was.

I remember seeing an A&E biography of him that had excerpts from one of his final interviews with a local New York talk show host - Capote was pathetic. Almost painful to watch what a self-destructive parody he became in his later years - a classic case of how destructive success can become.

3rd attempt at Friday Night Wine Blogging

hopefully this post will last. 2003 Shiraz

Testing 1-2-3

Blogspot allowed me to post yesterday & then today, but then the posts disappeared. Also could not upload Friday Night Wine Blogging. Real bummer.

This is just a test post, so please ignore this message unless your blogspot is also down - in that case get pissed (in either sense of the word).

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