Saturday, December 11, 2004

"I open the door and there's [a politician] dressed in a corset with a bottle of Dom Perignon hanging by a rope tied to his balls" 

That was the image described by Canal Street Madame Jeanette Maier during the "Ringside Politics" forum when asked about the predilections of her (former) clients who held office. It seems some arrived at the brothel already rarin' to go. Interestingly, her colorful description followed a hilarious query from the Flaming Liberal which I'll reprint verbatim:

"Ms. Maier, when the Jimmy Swaggart/Christian right-wing conservative types would frequent your business establishment did you ever happen to ever overhear any of them, in a moment of relief, shout out "OH JESUS!"?

Ah, Flaming Lib, you do deserve your own radio show. The Flaming Liberal (also known as Elwood) had several other zingers during the forum, and became quick friends with Ms. Maier, who kindly "escorted" him throughout the festive atmosphere at Le Chat Noir. Later on, while she was selling her erotic cd's ("Burning Rubbers with the Madam", vol 1) she insisted that Elwood (who is blind) feel her massive breasts. That took a while. I purchased one of the cd's and got her personalized autograph, purely for research purchases of course. See, Ms. Maier did declare that "she'll be running for [some office]" in the near future. Her platform will likely include the legalization of marijuana and prostitution, and the repeal of sodomy laws.

Nonetheless, the Madam made no specific newsworthy revelations Wednesday night, but she winked to the audience several times when referring to Saints players, current City Council members and former Governors. And apparently the politicians were some of the freakiest. Ms. Maier had to build a fully stocked "dungeon" to accomodate their slavish fantasies. She also said that some of them would make racially insensitive comments on those occasions when all the white prostitutes were occupied and only women of color were available. (For the record, she implied that they grinned and "bared" it rather than wait for the preferred skin tone.)


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Friday, December 10, 2004

Deep Purple Reigns 

Since yesterday was "the worst day in metal history", I thought I'd lighten things with a surprising (and hilarious) article describing the continued appeal of "classic" hard rock in Russia. In particular, Deep Purple keeps touring Russia, where they are wildly adored. For many who lived under oppressive Soviet communism, the soundtrack to freedom was quite literally the 70's Heavy Metal bands who today can't even sell out second- rate nightclubs here in America. Yet, the illicit pleasures they brought to young Soviet metalheads apparently cannot be overestimated-- even today. Here are some illustrative quotes interspersed with snark about this surprising phenomenon (courtesy of today's WSJ print edition, my emphs):

For a generation of Russians now settling into the routine of midlife, the familiar chords of "Smoke on the Water" bring back memories of youthful rebellion against Soviet efforts to suppress heavy metal.

"Deep Purple is a higher form of life for us, it is genius, it is inspiration," said Alexei Kuznetsov, 43 years old, who took a week off from his job at a gas-pipeline company to follow the band along the Volga. "This is like having Lenin alive again."

Wow. Perhaps upon their passing Deep Purple should be preserved and displayed in Red Square, too.

Here in Russia's rust belt, British bands with names like Deep Purple, Whitesnake and Nazareth compete with home-grown talent like Tchaikovsky.
That's right, you finally witnessed Whitesnake and Tchaikovsky in the same sentence.

In the West, critics were already calling Deep Purple out of date in the early 1990's.

Wait-- "Already"?!... "Early 1990's"?!... LMFAO! Oh, man that's funny. Yes, we must consider whether the critics should have jumped the gun so recklessly on that score... Heck, maybe I shouldn't have mocked Snow's relevance so prematurely. Who knows how world history will unfold?... Anyhow, let's catch our breath and see what else the verbally nimble Mr. Kuznetsov has to say:

"For us, it wasn't simple music-- it was an illegal jewel, a transporter out of the present... Because the West never had to fight for Deep Purple as we did, it's hard for the West to understand."
But you Russians never had to fight for your right to party like we did, so it evens out.

Soviet authorities were suspicious of any kind of Western music but reserved a special scorn for hard rock and heavy metal. They called it mind-numbing, morally corrupt and hopelessly obscure.

Well, many uptight prudes in this hemisphere shared the Politburo's criticisms. And today their censorship seems resurgent. But let's leave that controversy for another day and move on to a piece of trivia I didn't know about:

Deep Purple was attending a Frank Zappa concert in Montreaux, Switzerland, when the music hall caught fire and burned to the ground on Dec. 4, 1971. Touched by the incident and the smoke that hung over the lake for days afterward, the band wrote its biggest hit, "Smoke on the Water".

Zappa rules! I just hope one of his stray Pall Malls didn't ignite the blaze that night. Anyhow, back to the article which informs us that in the 1980's

An illegal copy of a Deep Purple album... sold for about $150-- about equal to a common monthly salary in those days.

I know the ubiquitous ribbons and stickers all say that freedom isn't free, but one month's salary for a copied tape featuring "Space Truckin'"?! Hell Nyet! I wouldn't pay that much to have Deep Purple perform at my house! (Now, maybe if D.P. followed me around all day pumping me up, like Survivor in that "Glen!...Glen! Glen! Glen!" ad... And it would be cool to have those opening notes of "Smoke on the Water" blaring whenever I entered a room, too. That would command attention and respect. Yes, I'd pay for that.)
Today, fans like Ekaterina Naumova, 17, say the band has an appeal for young people, too, because the harsh, hard-rock sound fits well in a country of industrial wasteland and frozen, crumbling cityscapes.... "Children of Russia are brought up on this music, and I think correctly," she said. "It is already a part of our past and our culture."
Gracious. I know there's a nostalgia factor to all this, but could we send 'em over some early Metallica, Maiden and Ozzy to update their heavy metal collections?-- or would that be sensory overload to folks who find DP transcendant?
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Thursday, December 09, 2004

I always suspected the Almighty was a lesbian from New Orleans 

Hairy Fish Nuts with the explosive revelation.
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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Forecast: Unexpected Snow  

I'm a huge fan of Mr. Snow, so I think this is great news.

Some contend that his best work is behind him, but I think Snow is just hitting his stride. He's a talented performer who is comfortable on the international stage. The total package, really. And I don't know who the "informer" was who told everyone his days were numbered, but they've been proven wrong. And that's a good thing for North America and the world.

There will always be a place for white Canadian reggae/rap stars in my music collection.


Wait, pardon me? You're saying it's John Snow they're talking about? Not the spiritual heir to Vanilla Ice? You mean, the bumbling railroad guy is still Treasury Secretary?! How the hell is that possible? Isn't his record a bit-- uh, stale? Does he even have a hit?

In other music news: A vulgar display of (mental) powerlessness. The lead guitarist who was killed was formerly in Pantera. Phil Anselmo-- lead singer of Pantera-- hails from Louisiana and founded the House of Shock. Condolences to guitarist "Dimebag's" family, friends and fans... yeah, I was one back in the day.
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Ann Coulter's words embolden the enemy 

Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution has the catch. He says,

Coulter, when she was able to take time out from her demanding career as a whippet-impersonator, famously wrote:

We should invade [Arab] countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

...Sheldon Rampton, a beautiful human being who co-runs PR Watch, has discovered:

a fundamentalist, pro-jihad Muslim web site which... contains Ann Coulter's column in its entirety, with bold, red letters highlighting the sentence which reads, "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

The webmaster comments on Coulter's column by saying, "We told you so. Is anyone listening out there? The noose is already around our necks. The preparation for genocide of ALL Muslims has begun... The only safe refuge you have is Allah."
Again, thanks to Jonathan for bringing that to our attention. We've seen how deficits comfort Osama, and now how wingnuts help jihadist recruiting. Explain to me why Republicans aren't on the defensive about the wrong messages leaking from the edges of their political "tent"? During wartime, no less!
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Queen Bee buzzes to protect her hive 

Governor Kathleen Blanco's editorial in the Washington Post is one of the clearest, most forthright and persuasive appeals for coastal restoration that I've read. Whoever penned it-- I doubt it is from her hand-- deserves a hellacious amount of credit. It concisely explains the problem, highlights the risks to the nation's economic security, and details the need for urgent help. Practically every other sentence refers to how coastal restoration is a federal issue, requiring a national effort; a really winning collection of facts woven throughout a solid argument. I heartily applaud it.

While I would've been tempted to get partisan and mention Bush's inaction on this issue (rather than just the Senate's), I realize there's no reason to do so in such a large forum. It wouldn't help the effort, plus the timing isn't right.

So go read "Saving America's Wetland". This is a great script for every elected official in Louisiana on (perhaps) the most critical issue facing the state. And I'm including you, representative-elect Melancon. Especially you.

In a few weeks another square mile of our coast will have dissolved. Why not take a moment now and tell the governor "Yeah you right!"

Support Queen Bee on this one. It's important.
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"People on the River are happy to give" 

Louisiana ranks fourth among states in the 2004 Generosity Index. Mississippi is first. This is nice, and should be noted and celebrated-- especially during the holidays.

However, I couldn't help noticing that all of the "blue states" are clumped in the bottom half of the index. If Dems are going to make hay out of red state teen pregnancy and divorce rates, they should prepare for return fire when politically unhelpful statistics are published. In most cases, I believe Barack Obama's focus on the unifying elements throughout all states is by far the most compelling strategy. Citing applicable red/blue divisions should be used primarily as a (reluctant) response to undercut direct attacks. Otherwise they're just simplistic, and overly static categories. Seek to persuade, not bash.

(Cost of Living considerations are briefly addressed in the FAQ link above the list.)
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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Step into the Surreal Life of N.O. politics! 

Bliss, bliss and heaven... gorgeousness and gorgeosity made flesh!

You can probably guess I'm fairly excited about this one.

A notice came across my desk that self-proclaimed "talk-radio superstar" Elwood (aka the Flaming Liberal)-- bane to conservatives far and wide-- will be making his first public appearance Wednesday evening on Jeff Crouere's "Ringside Politics with a Punch" show.

Oh Lawdie, this will be wild.

Elwood is a political gadfly who regularly calls radio programs and bludgeons unsuspecting conservative hosts and guests with embarrassing facts. He famously confronted David Vitter this spring on WSMB radio asking: "Would you be willing to sign an affidavit that you have ever known, met or had relations with one Wendy Cortez?" (Vitter dodged the affidavit part.)

Elwood also called Crouere's radio show on WTIX when the Rev. Grant Storms was a guest (background here). The Flaming Liberal informed the audience that his executive research assistant and part-time stripper, Bubbles, had learned that Rev. Storms had been arrested in Florida for attempted armed robbery. The unstoppable Flaming Liberal went on to say that Rev. Storms' attempt to shut down Southern Decadence was like George Bush trying to shut down a happy hour lounge!

Though blind, Elwood is a genius when it comes to finding and cataloguing the foibles of Republicans, and is pretty handy with his voice-enabled computer. I fondly recall talking with him into the wee morning hours about the less-publicized endeavours of our current Senator-Elect. He talks quickly and colorfully, and can jump from story to story in an instant. Can't wait to see him in action.

Now, the famous Flaming Liberal is just one member of the Ringside Politics panel (which is modeled after Mahr's "Politically Incorrect"). The others include:

Canal Street Brothel Madame Jeanette Maier: some insiders are speculating Ms. Maier may announce her candidacy for City Council Wednesday-- I swear! If I'm lying, I'm dying! Between her and Elwood, this forum will be the epicenter of known political dirt; a decades' worth of scandal could be ignited with a few slips of the tongue...

Mike Bayham, GOP Political Columnist and Commentator: former prez of LSU college Repubs.

Hon. Jackie Clarkson, N.O. City Council Member: crusader against fortunetellers, mother of actress Patricia Clarkson.

Benny Grunch, Entertainer & N.O. Musical Icon: penned the holiday favorite, "The Twelve Yats of Christmas".

Salvador Dali (pictured above) wrote about his Paranoiac-critical method which I might adopt on Wednesday. It is a surrealist analysis "based on the critical and systematic objectivity of the associations and interpretations of delirious phenomena." How else could you possibly manage the mania that will unfold Wednesday at Le Chat Noir? (715 St. Charles Avenue-- doors open at 7pm show starts at 8).

Yes, my brothers and sisters. Yes!!

[Btw, I believe "flaming" refers to Elwood's rhetoric, not his sexuality. Not that there's anything wrong with that... yadda yadda.]

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Monday, December 06, 2004

GOP passes smelly Liquid Gas measure 

Put aside the significant environmental and security concerns about LNG terminals for a minute and consider the political play here.

WASHINGTON (AP)- A consumer group is warning that energy-producing states such as Louisiana should be worried about a provision tucked into the 3,000-page federal omnibus spending bill.

The section, added behind closed doors by lawmakers, appears to give the federal government, not the states, the final say over where liquefied natural gas terminals can be built.

Just as Bush sold out Louisiana ports with steel tariffs to pander to Midwest voters, once again he and his Republican congress are finding ways to jeopardize Louisiana's economic development. We actually want these LNG terminals built in the Gulf:

Nationally, there are about 42 proposed LNG terminals on the drawing board. Some are set to begin operating in 2006. Louisiana will be the site of eight. If all of them go forward, LNG would supply more than a third of the natural gas market in the United States...

Most of our neighbors don't want them:
Two oil and gas companies interested in building LNG facilities in Alabama have put those plans on hold in favor of pursuing projects in states where there is less opposition to the facilities, according to the companies. Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco wants liquified natural gas terminals to be built in her state, according to comments she made in a business publication this week.

"The LNG industry has the potential to create good jobs, significant capital investments, and we hope it will have the additional benefit of stabilizing the cost of doing business for other natural gas-dependent industries such as the chemical and utility industries," she told New Orleans City Business.

We're willing to accept the risks even though the Department of Homeland Security offers almost no financial assistance. Clearly, if LNG terminals in the Gulf are a federal issue, then so is the security of our ports, which accept and distribute thousands of containers throughout the U.S.. So which is it? You can't have it both ways, although this administration continually does it-- and unabashedly rolls us under the bus at every turn.

LA Republicans should be forced to furiously backpedal here. Are they not for states rights? Economic development? Why did they vote for provisions which allow Washington bureaucrats to kill Louisiana's efforts to attract good, high-paying jobs? And why do they blindly support Bush, who is the most anti-Louisiana president since...?

This is another political sledgehammer. Will a Democratic "John Henry" step up, and relentlessly pound away?

You can bet Governor Blanco will speak out should we get snookered on this. (Btw, the Gambit has the best profile on her that I've seen. Definitely read it when it goes online. I've officially finished underestimating her now.)

And as for the environmental and security worries-- they shouldn't be glossed over. However, I believe that in this case the long term economic benefits more than outweigh the risks. But do your own research. More here from Public Citizen, who caught the language in the bill. And here's the LNG industry's "FAQ".
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Sunday, December 05, 2004

Good job, sir! 

Congrats to Charlie Melancon on his eelection. Though the intensity of my support for his platform was something less than orgasmic, he was able to win a close one, which is infinitely preferable to losing a close one. I hope Melancon, like Governor Blanco, exceeds my low expectations-- especially in terms of coastal erosion and I-49 funding.

As the paper details, Democrats have a tough road to hoe as Louisiana realigns politically. What can prevent the GOP from eventual total dominance in the "gret stet", reversing the command Dems had for more than a century?

Well, we're going to put on our YRHT thinking caps in coming weeks, and see if we can't come up with a few good ideas about that.
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"My gun can tell you where you got dem shoes" 

It seems a Slidellian stepped on someone's toes, provoking last weekend's shooting on Bourbon Street amongst celebrating Bayou Classic crowds. From the T-P:

According to police, the Slidell man became the target of the violent outburst after he accidentally stepped on the foot of the still-unidentified gunman amid the curb-to-curb human gridlock where foot traffic is funneled from Canal Street into the French Quarter.

The shooting sparked a momentary panic and crush of fleeing pedestrians... helping the gunman blend into the crowd and escape eight police officers who were within half a block of the shooting.

First, why isn't this man playing for the Saints?

The suspect was identified as a man in his mid-20s with corn-row braids, wearing a camouflage hat with a New York Yankees logo, a camouflage shirt and a dark jacket. There was nothing to indicate that he was connected to either of the universities, police said.

The newspaper's description of the suspect doesn't include race, so don't go assuming things. The shooting marred a fairly incident-free weekend according to police captain Marlon Defillo: "The crowd in the French Quarter was well-behaved for the most part. When you look at the totality of the event, you had 200,000 people converge on a small area with only one major incident, the shooting. From our perspective, we contend that this Classic was a success."

Right. If we want tourists to flock here like they do inner-city Detroit, then yes, we do need more "successes" like that... jeez.

I'm reluctant to post stories about violent crime in New Orleans, because they're all too common and reflect so poorly on the town. Ricky does a good job highlighting some of the more heinous reports which I don't mention. Today, though, I will offer a few thoughts.

Recently New Orleans Chief of Police Eddie Compass was asked what size force he would need to really secure the city. Compass said somewhere between 2,500 and 2,600.

"Give me 2500 police officers and this place will be like Mayberry".

Well, if the oyster had a lengthy lever, he could flip the planet Neptune, too! Achieving the stated goal of 2000 New Orleans police seems like enough of a fantasy for now. Consider:

[Compass said] the department had 1,653 officers on the payroll...
[Mayor] Nagin's budget calls for increasing the force's size to 1,885 by the end of 2005. That is the same number Nagin included, but failed to achieve, in his 2004 budget proposal.... Compass and his predecessor, Richard Pennington, have maintained that New Orleans needs at least 2,000 police officers to effectively fight crime.
The law enforcement template should be that of New York City, so we can reach the low violent crime per person numbers that they currently enjoy. For the most part, NYC has sufficiently large, proactive forces. Clearly, though, we would choose not to sanitize the French Quarter like they did Times Square.

The perception of worsening crime is the only thing (I believe) that can derail Mayor Nagin's reelection next year. To show progress, plenty of heavy lifting will be required, but the City Council seems to be on board, hinting they'll do "whatever needs to be done" (read: raise fees or taxes to pay for higher salaries which will attract more police recruits). It's no secret that much of the violent crime is extremely concentrated in poor, depressed predominantly black neighborhoods where young men shoot each other-- often over drug-related turf disputes. Some reports have suggested that New Orleans drug networks are very small and diffuse compared to other cities, which creates more violent conflict and retaliation. And this leads to the grim possibility that a larger, more organized syndicate would actually lessen the tragically high murder rate (while promoting other problems, no doubt).

New Orleans will never be Mayberry. Hell, I'd be suspicious if it were ever that safe. But will we shoulder the costs associated with hundreds more police, will we make a deal with a couple of kingpins (so we can clean up the smaller dealers), or will we just meander along, always fearing that the next high-profile crime will be the one to kill the all-important tourist dollar?

What do you think?
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