Friday, July 02, 2004

Don't forget the reason for the season 

The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. Smack dab in the middle of summer, you play, grill, and then watch colorful explosions. Pretty cool.

It's also a time to celebrate The Declaration of Independence, this country's most radical document.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.... But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Seriously, read Neil Jumonville's essay which describes how on Independence Day we mistakenly revere the Constitution and its conservative authors, instead of reflecting on our country's more revolutionary ideals, seen in the works of Thomas Jefferson and Tom Paine.

Why don't you do something revolutionary this year?

Update: Uh, apparently Time hasn't overlooked the Jeffersonian spirit. That's good. But you should still read the essay above, if for no other reason than great sentences like these:
"Our reverence for our constitutional scriptures reveals a national ancestor worship that is practically Oriental in its intensity."
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Waking Life 

My wife, Lovely, is excited about Richard Linklater's sequel to Before Sunrise. I'll take this opportunity to recommend another of his films: Waking Life. Ratboy the 2nd and I saw it when it first debuted at Canal Place during the New Orleans Film Festival during the tense fall of 2001. The film is a strikingly original work that induces conversation afterwards (and also has a scene with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy). I wish I had it when I taught Intro to Philosophy, it would've inspired more students than my prickly questions.

Note: Due to it's animation Waking Life loses a bit of its visual intoxication on the small screen. Find someone with a home theater.
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That's it?!? 

Considering there's at least $20 million unaccounted for, finding $300k of malfeasance is a very small first step. But it will no doubt lead to much, much more.

Ten current and former employees of the Orleans Parish public school system have agreed to plead guilty to felony charges resulting from an investigation into fraud and kickbacks involving more than $300,000 in public money, federal prosecutors announced Friday.

Defendants included the wife of an uncle of former Mayor Marc Morial, a payroll clerk accused of writing herself $250,000 in fraudulent checks, and eight other teachers and other school employees accused of kickbacks, false reimbursements and fraud
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Thursday, July 01, 2004

Tricky Dick (part deux) 

Big Time comes to town, and DhinMI from Kos takes him down.
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What good is money if you have to spend it at chain restaurants? 

I am proud to trumpet the virtues of New Orleans culture. This state would be infinitely poorer without its shining star. That said, I'm not blind to New Orleans' deserved reputation as a place that is: politically corrupt, antagonistic to business, abysmally educated, and absurdly expensive to maintain. This reputation burdens not just New Orleans, but the rest of Louisiana, and has contributed to our state's economic stagnation as our neighbors have flourished.

However, I must say that with Mayor Nagin, Superintendant Amato, and welcome pressure from the legislature in areas like these, there is room for real optimism about the future of this city and state. Later I'll have more to say about what niches N.O. can find in the "new economy". For now, though, I would submit that rooting out schoolboard corruption and making the property tax base fairer are two HUGE and extremely important first steps.

New Orleans has the culture, but can it create the conditions for a robust economy? I'm not sure, but isn't it better than having the opposite problem?

Sorry, Houston, you can't purchase a culture.

Update: YatPundit points out tomorrow's scheduled announcement concerning the school system's rampant corruption. This will be embarrassing, painful, and absolutely necessary.
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Wednesday, June 30, 2004

The Insiders 

Your favorite bivalve is tremendously encouraged by William Greider's piece about "Embedded Patriots". It's great to believe that among the dream-killing Cigarette Men there are Mr. X types who arm those willing to speak the truth about the powerful. Greider describes secrets circulating among the D.C. press that will become revelations in due course. Perhaps that's what Dr. Josh alluded to the other week.

Thanks to Dedurkheim at Rising Hegemon.

Oyster knows a secret also, to be revealed later for maximum impact. Hope it doesn't make anyone.... BITTER.
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Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Tell me why I had to be a Powerslave? 

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Monday, June 28, 2004

Jacques takes Manhattan 

According to an informed caller on Tom Fitzmorris' Food Show (proudly aired during rush hour on WSMB 1350am), Jacques Leonardi's new restaurant in Manhattan is doing very well. That's wonderful, since I've been told New Orleans restaurants haven't met with much success in NYC.

His first restaurant, Jacques-Imo's, on Oak street, almost singlehandedly rejuvenated a depressed neighborhood. It's now a mandatory entry in all the tourist books-- still called a "locals favorite", though a line of mostly tourists goes out into the street on weekends. It's very often sublime, and always hopping. (Also, his new Crabby Jack's fish market and lunch counter is one of the best values around. Stuffed mirlitons with dirty rice... mmm.)

I missed a very awkward segment with Jacques on the Today Show earlier this month, only worsened by Matt Lauer's attempts to say "N'awlins" whenever possible. Here you can find some of his new recipes, and if you jump to the end of the video you will see one of the most decadent dishes ever.
Prepare yourself:

A Deep Fried Roast Beef Po boy!

Eat your heart out, Lisa.
Update 7/15: Apparently, it's a bit rockier than I heard.  Takes a lot of poboys to cover Manhattan rent.
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What's gotten into that cat? 

I don't have time to do separate reviews for both Garfield and Farenheit 9/11, so I'll just combine them.

Garfield and F 9/11 are like lasagna, each require some time to fully digest. "Breathtaking" is a word that could describe both movies.

Both films comedically skewer a dim non-entity which is the titular head of the house. He's clueless and deserving of the ridicule he gets.

Selfishness is a recurrent theme.

Both rely on graphic images and voice-overs.

Self-satisfied smirks abound.

Each make the audience laugh and weep.

There is some arresting and powerful drama. Sometimes I was afraid to look.

A familiar dog gets kicked around, and cover stories unravel.

At the end, people walk out asking "Why?"
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Shout out 

Congrats to friend Brian Welsh, co-spokesperson for Kerry in LA, for being selected to run Ginny Schrader's Congressional campaign in Pennsylvania's 8th District. He will do a great job and I'm expecting an upset victory, much like another Louisianan did for a PA underdog in '91. Brian also informed me about the following blurb in the Sunday Times-Picayune.

Coastal warfare

Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign is taking issue with Rep. Billy Tauzin's statement that the Massachusetts Democrat ought not show his face in Louisiana because of his opposition to an energy bill that included financing for coastal restoration projects in Louisiana. "Here are the facts," Kerry campaign spokeswoman Renee Lapeyrolerie said. "George Bush has spent tens of millions of dollars to prevent coastal erosion in Iraq, but he has stubbornly refused to appropriate one single solitary dime to curb the problem in Louisiana. Mr. Tauzin knows this, and his time would be much better spent lobbying George Bush for his constituents than by trying to deflect attention from Bush's failed policies."

That imperfectly worded talking point goes back to yours truly. It should read "Bush had appropriated a hundred million for Iraqi wetlands..." (rather than coastal erosion), unless there's a new Iraq program I'm unfamiliar with. But the connection of the coastal erosion issue to funding for Iraq goes back to me (in this case). My belief is that every issue that can be connected to Iraq in some way, should.

Also, Loyola History Professor Nabil al-Tikriti has a letter reprinted by Juan Cole.
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Sunday, June 27, 2004


A joyride in a stolen Land Rover ended in a living room a few houses down from mine. Unfortunately the thief clipped one of my tenant's cars before taking a turn too fast (approx 65 mph), with both driver's side wheels coming off the ground. Apparently he overcorrected and crashed into the neighbor's rental house. Afterwards the police dogs literally took a bite outta crime.

Broadmoor isn't dull.

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Da Paper implores: Have fun in Houston! 

Why on god's green earth would you drive six hours to holiday in that toxic, concrete morass? Well, the Times-Picayune presents a very powerful case on the front page of its Travel section. According to the article, here are some of the best reasons New Orleanians should make a mid-summer visit to Houston:

1. Fourth of July fireworks reflecting on water! Freakin' awesome! Can you even imagine such a magnificent spectacle in New Orleans? To the Batmobile at once!

2. Six Flags AstroWorld!! Where else can I hang with that elderly, bald-headed spazz?

3. Galveston Beach! Seriously. Come to Houston so you can commute another 45 minutes to the south, and hang with all the Houstonites who are delirious to have temporarily escaped from the city in which you're staying. You might wonder: why would I want to do that?

Well, here's why:

4. On the way to Galveston, you can visit the space center's "Robot Zoo"!! complete with a "collection of animatronic animals made with common materials." Fascinating, huh? This is the place to show off CajunBot.

5. From the where-else-but-Houston department: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming!! . Between the dead aerialists and Spanky the Pedophile Clown, it's really been a bang up year for them.

6. The Houston Zoo! Complete with a merrygoround that "has 64 carved animals" and two "family-size chariots." Wondrous! "And there's always Luna, a 6-year-old orangutan, the first ape ever born in Houston." Adorable!

7. Now this is compelling. Brace yourself: the Houston International Jazz Festival starts next month... If only New Orleans had a large jazz venue. Sigh.

Funny that the article went unattributed and neglected to mention the corporate tours of the Halliburton or Enron headquarters. I think the T-P is opening itself to a flurry of lawsuits with its secondary header that "Houston promises visitors lots of fun". Gullible New Orleanians might litigate upon their return home.

Like my friend Ratboy the 2nd advises, see this, in Austin. Treat Houston (and Beaumont and racist Vidor) as an unholy place to fuel up. If you must stay, pay your respects to this american hero, the best person to ever come out of the city.

Naturally President Clinton's exquisite encomium to New Orleans is buried on the next to last page.

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