Saturday, March 11, 2006

Let me count the ways 

Adrastos asks how I like dem ersters.

Honestly, I can't think of a way I don't like them. Just make sure they're nice meaty Louisiana oysters. You shuck'em, I'll eat'em. Deal?

Oh, man do I love oysters. My mouth is full of saliva at just the thought of all the ways I consume them.

For example, two weeks before Mardis Gras I had two dozen at Felix's (Prytania St) with some cold Abita. I slathered on the horseradish and hot sauce, and consumed both platters like a "remorseless oyster-eating machine".

The Saturday before Mardis Gras I had Oysters Rockefeller at Antoine's 1840 room with Ratboy and pals. They were the highlight of the meal for me.

Then on Superkrewe Sunday I went over to dillyberto's place on Camp Street where he was outside chargrillin' oysters, and topping them with garlic and parmesan.

A fried mirliton with chunky oyster dressing at Crabby Jack's is not so miserable. Oysters Giovanni is a treat.

And the last oyster po-boy I had was at Parran's on Vets and it was so delicious my senses almost overloaded. Just perfect.

The explanation for why I chose to call myself "oyster" is here. My real name is Mark, but that is much less interesting.
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The family went down to Magazine Street to watch the Irish Channel St. Pat's parade today. Well, first we ate at Juan's, and then stood by the barricades and caught roses, kisses, cabbages, beads and toys during the parade. Pearlgirl was deluged with throws, and she wasn't even being that cute!

There were numerous politicians in the parade, including Arnie Fielkow (for city council), and Gerard Archer (for Assessor). Fielkow is endorsed by Dillyberto, and had drinks with my friend Ratboy in Chicago not long after he was fired by Saints owner Tom Benson. Just thought I'd share that.

I thought we were standing next to the mayor's brother, but, apparently the mayor doesn't have a brother-- just two sisters. He was the gentleman who assists with the Orleans foreclosure auctions at City Hall. (Currently the auctions are suspended.) Anyway, he certainly looks like he could be C. Ray's brother-- I always assumed he was.

I wonder if he'll be voting for Nagin.
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Our leaders have a Pre-K mindset in a Post-K world 

Singularity points us to an ABC news article entitled "Budgets Imperil Environmental Satellites":

Budget cuts and poor management may be jeopardizing the future of our eyes in orbit America's fleet of environmental satellites, vital tools for forecasting hurricanes, protecting water supplies and predicting global warming...

...NASA has chosen to cancel or mothball at least three planned satellites in an effort to save money. Cost overruns have delayed a new generation of weather satellites until at least 2010 and probably 2012, leading a Government Accountability Office official to label the enterprise "a program in crisis."

Scientists warn that the consequences of neglecting Earth-observing satellites could have more than academic consequences. It is possible that when a big volcano starts rumbling in the Pacific Northwest, a swarm of tornadoes sweeps through Oklahoma or a massive hurricane bears down on New Orleans, the people in harm's way and those responsible for their safety will have a lot less information than they'd like about the impending threat.

NASA officials say that tight budgets tie their hands, forcing them to cut all but the most vital programs. The agency's proposed 2007 budget request contains $2.2 billion for satellites that observe the Earth and sun, compared to $6.2 billion for operating the space shuttle and International Space Station and $4 billion for developing future missions to the moon and Mars.

"We simply cannot afford all of the missions that our scientific constituencies would like us to sponsor," NASA administrator Michael Griffin told members of Congress when he testified before the House Science Committee Feb. 16...

Programs for next-generation satellites that forecast hurricanes are delayed because of "tight budgets", but $4 billion is still being allocated for missions to MARS?

President Bush came to town and said, "I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Louisiana."

Well, then give us the tools to protect ourselves! And while you're at it, how about a somewhat competent non-crony to deal with the catastrophe down here? Instead we get the White House Katrina task force being run by (apparent) shoplifting fundagelical named Claude Allen. I must quote Digby's succinct summary found here:

Very odd. In the worst natural disaster in American history the Bush administration's response was assigned to a shoplifting religious extremist and a crony from the arabian horseshow association while the head of homeland security flew off to give a speech. The president and John McCain laughed and ate cake. This is Republican governance.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Jaybirdo's Katrina video is up 

Go see it, if you haven't already. Great footage, and some very strong, personal narration.
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Cucoo for Kimberly 

Oh lordy, this mayor's race will be more entertaining than I ever hoped. Da paper reports:

Emerging from a 72-hour stay in Orleans Parish Prison on Thursday, embattled Clerk of Criminal District Court Kimberly Williamson Butler compared herself to Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and other civil rights heroes while vowing to press on as both a lame-duck clerk and a candidate for mayor.

Adrastos is my top source for in-depth analysis on Crazy Kim. And make no mistake, she could use some analysis.

One more thing; my wife Lovely has officially endorsed Quentin Brown for City Council District B. Some of his eye-catching, handwritten campaign signs on Louisiana Ave proclaim: "No more bullshit!"

Citybusiness noted the following about Candidate Brown:

Brown, a gardener, was a unique entry into the race. He often showed up for debates and television appearances in muddy work clothes. Now, Brown is running against Renee Gill Pratt, who is a close ally of Rep. Bill Jefferson and is facing a slew of challengers including attorneys Michael Duplantier, Stacy Head and Shane Landry.

Will Quentin the Gardener predict growth in the Spring?

Update: Frankly, the word "gardener" occurring in a quote is enough of a reason for me to note the wonderfully pregnant voluptousness of Rachel Weisz at the Academy Awards. You may recall that she won the Oscar for best supporting actress in "The Constant Gardener", although we shouldn't forget her recognition at the Golden Globes, as well.


Now, Phillipses wants to touch her "hiney" and that puzzles me, because I thought Weisz' mammaries were so obviously the highlight of the evening. (For us pervs). I mean, when I see bountiful magumbos breasts like those, I almost want to rethink my position on this related issue.
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Thursday, March 09, 2006

World's Largest Public Works Project Paid off Spectacularly 

From Majikthise, we learn that the Interstate highway turns 50 today.

I'll just go ahead and admit it: even though it feeds our need for foreign oil, I still constantly marvel at the United States interstate system. Sure it's aesthetically miserable, but it's so tremendously efficient you can't ignore it. How many man hours have been saved over the years due to our wise investments in interstate infrastructure? Billions? Trillions? Utterly amazing. Thank goodness the likes of President Eisenhauer, and Al Gore Sr. and Hale Boggs and others had the foresight to fund the thing.

Which begs the question: would we even consider such a large investment in national infrastructure nowadays? Do we have the "national will" for such ideas, or have they become "too expensive" for the richest country in the world? Is the budget just too tight to defend our oil and port systems with Category five levees and replenished Wetlands? Or have we blown it all by borrowing billions from the next generation so that we can fund this world-historic strategic blunder in Iraq?

I'm sure there were folks back in the fifties who were asking: "What do we need those Interstates for? If I want to go from Louisiana to Minnesota, I can just take Airline Highway. Why waste my hard-earned tax dollars on some fancy four lane superhighway in another state?"

This site notes:
In February 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers declared the Interstate system one of the "Seven Wonders of the United States." Other wonders include the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge [oyster: the others wonders were the Panama Canal, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and World Trade Center.]

The economic impact of this, the world's largest public works project, is incalculable. There is hardly one aspect of American society that hasn't been affected by the Interstates.

Very nice. An incalculably large return on our investment. Those are some good yields, paw paw!!

But that's not all:
Over 40 years, an estimated 187,000 lives have been spared by use of the interstates...

The injury rate for interstate highways is more than 70 percent lower that of the rest of the system... Over 40 years, the reduction in injuries is estimated at 11.8 million.

Awesome. That's why i'm such a big proponent of finishing I-49. Not only is there a huge statewide economic impact (20k jobs) to consider, but also all the safety benefits of having another hurricane evacuation route out of South Louisiana.
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In an apparent gaffe, Bush promotes New Orleans to a "part of the country", not just a "part of the world". 

I believe I was one of the first to notice President Bush's odd predilection for describing the Gulf Coast region as a "part of the world". Yesterday, while in New Orleans, inspecting "piles of stuff", Bush (twice!) told us that we're now "part of the country" as well.

If that ain't progress, I don't know what is. Schroeder has in-deph analysis of the visit.

From the WP transcript:
But I want to share a story about a fellow, Romalice Harris I met.... He and his three children and his wife and another relative were finally rescued by a boat.

I said, what happened to you? He said, "Well, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah." In other words, his is an example of what happened to the good folks in this part of the world. He watched the rising waters, and then he just had to abandon the part of the world he loves.
But I think people would be impressed by the desire of the people in this part of the country to pick up and move on and rebuild. And that's why I'm so pleased that the Governor and the Mayor have joined me, so we can discuss the importance of implementing a strategy that will help this part of the world rise again.
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Louisiana. Some of you might recall I grew up across the line, over there in Texas, and really enjoyed my stay here when I came...

I ask for God's blessings on the people of this part of the world, and thank the hardworking folks here for working around the clock to get this part of the country up and running again. Thank you.

No, thank YOU, sir. I finally feel recognized as a full-fledged American citizen now.
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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Pusboy explodes 

.... and nearly bludgeons a child in a museum with a fire extinguisher.
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While W is in town, can we ask him about this? 

Da Paper:
Leaders of the House Appropriations Committee have stripped President Bush's request to earmark $4.2 billion for housing recovery in Louisiana, throwing the state's rebuilding plan into question and unleashing a scramble among hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast states for a cut of the money.
The move coincides with a stepped-up campaign by the state of Texas to get a larger share of hurricane money than it has received in the past.

Well, if President Bush fights for his original funding recommendation with half the zest he is fighting for this Dubai port deal, we should be alright.


--- will be protesting from 2-4pm.
H/T moldy city.
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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

President coming to town today 

Can't wait to hear what he's going to say.

A few days ago, Kelley B. of Singularity described the cleavages occurring in the blessed GOP Big Tent, courtesy of five years of Bushco:

The truth is, from Lou Dobbs on down, the PaleoCon wing of the Republican party is getting a little scared of the Wrethuglican wing. But they're equally scared of losing votes this fall. So now we're treated to the spectacle of Paleocons vs. NeoCons, and Reptilicans vs. Wrethuglicans.

It's hard, though, for the Reptilicans to steal elections. They don't have the feel for the Dark Side of the Force the Rovian Wrethuglicans do. And always, now, Negroponte's ball is in play in the dark.

When it really hits the fan this summer, it's going to get messy.

Looks like it might be an early summer this year. Michael from 2millionth copies a priceless letter from a former president of LABI, a business group. Go read it. When the businessfolk start turning on the Bushies (sans recession!), you know it's about to get "messy" as Kelly says.
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I'm on my way, Home Sweet Home 

The past three months Lovely, Pearlgirl and I were living in a small one bedroom apartment. Those circumstances were (how can I put this?) ... not ideal, but luckily we were able to buy a house in an area of Uptown that didn't flood. So we moved in just before Mardis Gras, and are delighted to finally be in a home of our own after nearly six months in various temporary residences.

After moving out of the aforementioned one bedroom apartment, we had the carpets steam cleaned, because Pearlgirl is a rather untidy 23-month old. (Actually, her parents aren't that tidy either, but I'll blame it on Pearlgirl since she doesn't read this blog.) So, the other day, I go back to the apartment to meet with the Steam Cleaner. He was a big young guy; affable, if not razor sharp. We went through the ritual of sharing our post-Katrina stories, and I asked whether his company was very busy (they were)... etc etc.

While he was setting up his equipment, I went to the bedroom to retrieve my cherished, autographed Rocket to Russia Record. The Cleaning guy saw what I had and inquired:

"Do you collect records?"

"Naw. Not really. This is just one I really like. See, it's autographed, and most of these guys are dead now. Somehow it survived the mold in our house after the flood."

"My dad had a great record collection which he gave to me, so I started collecting."

"Did you lose it in the flood?" I asked.

"About three quarters of it. And I had some nice stuff, too. Kiss, Sabbath... I even had the original Girls Girls Girls album, you know, with the panties still in the plastic. It got ruined."

I nodded solemnly, acting like I knew what the hell he was referring to.

This was a time for silently contemplating the enormity of this man's loss-- I certainly wasn't going to ruin it by asking "Panties?!? What's up wit dat?".
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Monday, March 06, 2006


Clancy Dubos of the Gambit Weekly says that as long as Clerk of Court Kimberly Butler is a candidate for mayor, then Mayor Nagin can't be called the craziest person in the race. Adrastos is following the "Crazy Kim" saga pretty closely. Go there for the latest developments... and I guarantee there will be many.

I haven't made up my mind yet who to support for Mayor. There's a televised debate scheduled for tomorrow, although I don't know how many of the two dozen (+) candidates are invited.

For example, here's a candidate running on a "fabulous" platform. I'm not sure he's gonna make the cut.

Speaking of local politics, I can't recall if I told you that my friend David Bellinger is safe and sound in Atlanta. He intends to stay there. Since he is blind, I was very concerned about his welfare after the storm. I'd forgotten to call him until after we had already evacuated to Mississippi. It took me over two months to get in touch with him via missing persons. Luckily, he was alive and doing well in Atlanta. As it so happened, if David's brother hadn't come to take him away, he would have stayed at his house near the lake, and would have certainly drowned in the seven feet of water that deluged his neighborhood. Thank goodness that didn't happen.

Some things don't change, though. Yesterday, I hear David (aka "The Flaming Liberal") call up WWL 870am from Atlanta. Naturally, he stirred up the talk gumbo with his rapid-fire statements. He also made the most of his time on the air, repeatedly touting his website, which outlines the platform he would have run on had he decided to run for mayor. Prior to Katrina, he was a prospective candidate; "A blind man with a vision", he would declare with a smile. Unfortunately, after living over half a century in New Orleans, he will probably never return to live here. And so the city loses another one of its colorful, irreplaceable characters.

Your humble narrator also had some political ambitions this election cycle. It's true. I was planning to run for assessor in my district right up until last week, when I heard about a coordinated reform effort that is promising nearly everything I was going to promise (and more).

Here's a description from the Times-Picayune's article on qualifying day:

Perhaps the biggest story that unfolded Friday was the late entry of an organized slate of seven candidates that will challenge the seven incumbent tax assessors under the banner of reforming the haphazard way in which property is assessed in the city.

Each of the candidates running on the "IQ Ticket," an acronym for "I Quit," signed a pledge promising to relinquish the salary-- roughly $90,000-- that comes with the job, along with retirement benefits, and use the resulting savings to hire a professional appraisal firm to do the legwork. Members of the ticket also pledged to "work to pass legislation" for the consolidation of the seven offices into a single citywide seat, and to resign immediately should such a law be passed.

As a cheeky reminder to voters of their stance, each of the seven candidates listed "I.Q." as the nickname they want listed on the ballot, although talk has already surfaced that the ploy will face a legal challenge.

Five of the assessors will also face challenges from candidates unaffiliated with the ticket. Sixth District Assessor Albert Coman, who was appointed last year when his mother, Janyce Degan, stepped down, drew the largest number of challengers, with four.

After a bit of due diligence I expect to be heartily supporting this "IQ" effort, and doing everything I can to make it successful. While this is not as important as levees or housing, consolidating the assessors would remove one local gubmint absurdity which the rest of the state and country enjoys highlighting and criticizing. Rightfully so, too. It's basically parochial politics at its worst: playing favorites, skewing the local tax system, and undercutting the funding apparatus for the city's services.

I have several ideas about assessor reform that I'll be airing in coming weeks. My apologies in advance if "assessor blogging" doesn't entertain you much.
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