The Times-Picayune reports the passing of legendary French Quarter character, Ruthie the Duck Girl:
Ruthie the Duck Girl, a French Quarter eccentric who zoomed from bar to bar on roller skates, often wearing a ratty fur coat and long skirt and trailed by a duck or two, died Sept. 6 ... Although people deemed Miss Moulon's behavior unconventional even by French Quarter standards, no one ever diagnosed her mental condition because she refused to see a doctor, David Cuthbert wrote in The Times-Picayune in 2001.
"She's not out of touch with reality; she's just not interested," [said] photographer David Richmond...
RIP, Miss Ruthie Moulon. They should make you a statue in the French Quarter.
"She represents something that's uniquely New Orleans," says Rick Delaup, a filmmaker whose credits include the 1999 documentary Ruthie the Duck Girl. "She's really the last of the old French Quarter characters and these were characters that lived these really colorful lives. ...
"She spent her life drinking for free in the Quarter, bumming cigarettes off people. People took care of her, they fed her, they gave her money by taking pictures of her, and if she had lived in any other city they would probably have locked her away. But that kind of lifestyle is celebrated here, and I think it should be appreciated more, that's for sure."
Because Ruthie’s parents did not enroll her in school for whatever reason, Ruthie wound up walking the streets during the day with her ducks. Tourists and locals alike would turn their heads as Ruthie strolled down the street with her ducks following behind.
Ruthie began charging people to take her photograph. Soon, she began selling picture postcards of herself [above]... Ruthie sold the postcards for twenty-five cents each or three for a dollar. Susan Allen remembers, "she wouldn’t understand that maybe she should sell them five for a dollar, that it wasn’t a bargain to buy [three] for a dollar, but if you bought them for twenty-five cents a piece, you got more for a dollar. And she never could grasp that. So I bought a dollars' worth anyway – in quarters."
Houston and Texas, please don't underestimate Hurricane Ike. Please prepare, take care and be safe.
Since yesterday afternoon, the quick moving storms in the very outermost feeder bands of Hurricane Ike have spooked me. While brief, they seem remarkably intense for being so far away from the center of the storm. Water levels have risen throughout South Louisiana and many schools have closed. This morning thunderstorms cruised through the area, with winds gusting up to 48mph.
The wind gusts have been a problem in New Orleans, because they blew around a lot of the remaining Hurricane Gustav debris piled on the side of the street, which was waiting to be cleared.
Luckily, Mayor C. Ray Nagin-- who always wants folks to get "especially" good value for their money, and to find lucrative work in the Crescent City-- will perhaps fire the current emergency debris collector who charges $12 per ton for removal, and replace them with Trashanova, who charges $200/ton. Read about this wonderful maneuver at Some Came Running.
[At every turn it must be repeated that Mayor Nagin was (in part) re-elected by folks who told everyone that Nagin "understands business", and that electing his opponent would be a retreat into the "politics of the past".]
=== During Carnival, mindfreaker/illusionist Criss Angel came to New Orleans and did a trick involving himself in a trash can on Bourbon Street. Here's the video.
My only qualm is that Angel didn't use a celebrity participant like Ray Nagin, just in case some strange complication occurred with the trick. (You may wish to fast forward to the 4:30 minute mark of the video.) ===
The Jeff Crouere program ["Ringside Politics"] is aired in the metro New Orleans area on 990 AM WGSO and can be streamed at www.wgso.com and the call in telephone numbers are: (504) 556-9696 and (985) 661-2929. Mark is an extremely talented liberal blogger and I know the program will be well worth listening to and participating in as well.
Thanks, David. And thanks in advance to Jeff Crouere for having me as a guest on his show.
Government officials handling billions of dollars in oil royalties engaged in illicit sex with employees of energy companies they were dealing with and received numerous gifts from them, federal investigators said Wednesday.
The alleged transgressions involve 13 Interior Department employees in Denver and Washington. Their alleged improprieties include rigging contracts, working part-time as private oil consultants, and having sexual relationships with - and accepting golf and ski trips and dinners from - oil company employees, according to three reports released Wednesday by the Interior Department’s inspector general.
You can bet that this is just the tip of the iceberg, too. But what a scandalous "tip" it is! The sex and drugs dimension to the story makes it widely interesting. Who doesn't want to hear about that stuff? However, I'm convinced there's a larger story under the surface, involving billions of dollars, and that's the important thing to remember. American taxpayers are getting swindled and cheated by Big Oil greedheads who-- even during a boom period of windfall profits-- will always go to great lengths to avoid paying their fair share. (See below.) What can be "proven" is always a different matter, but please... it's utterly daft to think that this is just an isolated ethical "lapse" involving a dozen Interior Dept Bushies in two offices. You think these are the only ones who got wined and dined and fellated on Big Oil's tab? No way.
As the links below demonstrate, there's much more that needs to be publicized, revisited, and re-investigated. Since John McCain and high gas prices have made energy such a big national issue, the press might follow all kinds of trails on this one. Who knows where they might lead?
Ashley conveyed the proper level of outrage over George Bush's corrupt Interior Dept's coziness with Big Oil greedheads. It should outrage any citizen, of course, but as we all know the stakes are higher in Louisiana. Our oil/gas royalties are going to be used primarily for coastal restoration, so it's vital that we get our fair share. Since the Federal government won't make a serious commitment to repairing our protective coastal wetlands (which Big Oil infrastructure helped destroy), we're relying on oil/gas royalties to rebuild our state.
I tracked alleged Interior Dept corruption for a while almost two years ago.
Almost every time a company drills for oil or gas on federal property, it's supposed to pay a royalty or tax to the government... But CBS News has learned from a Congressional source that the federal agency responsible for collecting billions of dollars in those royalties has routinely failed to hold the companies accountable. ... The sense is that the MMS is just in bed with the oil and gas industry when it comes to accounting and auditing...
--- Again, I'm of course outraged that these things transpired, but I'm delighted to see that there's a "sex and drugs" angle to this. That will perhaps spur widespread notice and investigation, and lead to the really big stuff.
E at We Could Be Famous points us to a recent T-P story which features another classic quote from Mayor C. Ray Nagin:
"Gustav proved . . . that our community and the levee-protection system probably can handle a Category 3 storm," though [Nagin] acknowledged that it had weakened to a Category 2 before making landfall. ... "I don't think the mayor's comment is helpful, " said John Barry, author of "Rising Tide" and a member of the levee board that oversees the city's storm protection. "I wish he were right. He is, unfortunately, simply mistaken. We were lucky. The storm missed us. But it is good to know that in the areas where the storm did exert pressure, everything held up well."
As Gustav's surge pushed water over federal floodwalls, about 70 barges and ships from Southern Scrap's yards broke loose.
None of the loose vessels hit those floodwalls. But runaway barges caused substantial damage to nearby businesses and could have put vast areas of New Orleans at risk of catastrophic flooding.
Joe Sproules, president of nearby Tri-Dyne Industries, said some Southern Scrap barges that ran aground in his company's property did not reach the federal floodwalls only because industrial equipment was in the way.
If Mr. Sproules is right, this industrial equipment "probably" spared New Orleans from a second catastrophic ("man-made") flooding.
Big thanks to intrepid YRHT reader, joejoejoe, who emailed me with a bit of preliminary research on oil spillage in the Gulf during and after Hurricane Gustav. Here's the text of his email in full:
I was trying to find any MMS or Coast Guard press releases from any spill response activity post-Gustav but neither site has any press releases mentioning any activity that sounds like spill response. That struck me as odd because even a tiny spill creates a sheen that can lead to a report. So I queried the database on the National Response Center website (a joint project staffed by the USCG but tied to just about every alphabet agency in the Federal government). Below are a few of the 322 incident reports returned from my two-week search query.
query - location: Louisiana, dates: August 25 - September 8, 2008
25-AUG-2008 20:02CALLER IS REPORTING A SHEEN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO FROM A PLATFORM DUE TO DAMAGE FROM HURRICANE IVAN. (apparently new storms release oil from old damage)
26-AUG-2008 11:07CALLER STATED THERE WAS A SPILL OF MATERIALS FROM A DOWNED PLATFORM DUE TO HURRICANE IVAN.
27-AUG-2008 00:39THE CALLER IS REPORTING THE DISCOVERY OF A CRUDE OIL SHEEN IN THE GULF OF MEXICO COMING FROM A DOWNED PLATFORM INVOLVED IN HURRICANE IVAN.
27-AUG-2008 10:26CALLER IS REPORTING THAT .00081 GALLONS OF CRUDE OIL DISCHARGED FROM A DOWNED PLATFORM FROM HURRICANE KATRINA.
27-AUG-2008 11:23CALLER IS REPORTING A DISCHARGE OF CRUDE OIL FROM A PLATFORM DUE TO HURRICANE IVAN.
8-AUG-2008 10:56CALLER IS REPORTING THAT CRUDE OIL DISCHARGED FROM A DOWN PLATFORM DUE TO HURRICANE KATRINA.
28-AUG-2008 20:54THE CALLER IS REPORTING THE DISCHARGE OF OIL INTO THE WATER FROM A PLATFORM THAT WAS DAMAGED BY HURRICANE IVAN.
29-AUG-2008 13:40CALLER STATED THERE WAS A SHEEN ON THE WATER DISCOVERED BY A HELICOPTER DURING AN OVERFLIGHT OF THE GULF OF MEXICO. THE SPILL IS FROM A DOWN PLATFORM DUE TO HURRICANE IVAN.
29-AUG-2008 20:03CALLER IS REPORTING A DISCHARGE OF CRUDE OIL INTO THE GULF OF MEXICO FROM A PLATFORM DUE TO DAMAGE FROM HURRICANE IVAN.
30-AUG-2008 11:51CALLER IS REPORTING A DISCHARGE OF CRUDE OIL FROM A DOWN PLATFORM DUE TO HURRICANE IVAN.
30-AUG-2008 11:52CALLER REPORTING A SPILL OF MATERIAL DUE TO BLOWING DOWN A PLATFORM FOR EVACUATION DUE TO INCOMING HURRICANE.
At this point there are about 200 additonal incident reports related to Gustav or disturbed old incidents from Ivan or Katrina. Here are a few sample reports.
02-SEP-2008 20:50CALLER IS REPORTING AN UNKNOWN SHEEN FROM AN UNKNOWN SOURCE. REPORT WAS TWO HAND REPORT. DURING OVER FLIGHT FIRST CALLER REPORTED SHEEN TO NATIONAL GUARD. CALLER BELIEVES IT IS FROM A TANK BATTERY BUT IS UNSURE.
02-SEP-2008 22:22CALLER IS REPORTING A POTENTIAL FOR A DISCHARGE OF CRUDE OIL FROM TWO WELLHEADS DUE TO THE HURRICANE. DURING AN OVERFLIGHT THE WELLHEADS COULD NOT BE SEEN AND THERE WAS SOME SUSPICION THAT A SHEEN MIGHT HAVE BEEN SPOTTED. THEY WERE HAVING A DIFFICULT TIME ACHIEVING GOOD VISIBILITY DUE TO WEATHER CONDITIONS AT THE TIME. A BOAT WILL ARRIVE ONSITE TOMORROW MORNING TO DETERMINE IF THERE HAS BEEN ANY POLLUTION OR DAMAGE TO THE WELLHEADS.
03-SEP-2008 14:22***THIS IS A DRILL*** UPON RETURN TO THE PLATFORM FOLLOWING HURRICANE EVACUATION, THE EQUIPMENT WAS DISCOVERED DAMAGED AND LEAKING CONDENSATE. ***THIS IS A DRILL***
[I think the ***THIS IS A DRILL*** refers to an actual physical drill, not a test]
03-SEP-2008 14:28CALLER IS REPORTING A CRUDE OIL SPILL FROM A PLATFORM DUE TO BROKEN PIPE ON THE SUMP SYSTEM FROM HURRICANE GUSTAV.
03-SEP-2008 17:55CALLER IS REPORTING A RELEASE OF CRUDE OIL FROM TWO SOURCES ON THE PLATFORM. THE FIRST DISCOVERED RELEASE OF THIS MATERIAL FROM THE STORM WATER DISCHARGE PUMP AND A WELLHEAD BOTH DUE TO HURRICANE DAMAGE. THE SHEENS WERE DISCOVERED FROM THE AIR.
I'm pro-drilling (in a way that benefits the US citizen a la Norway, not the oil companies) but the "not one drop" crowd should really have their nose swatted with these incident reports in real time by people who support environmentally responsible drilling, not a year from now in a yearly report issued by the Coast Guard or MMS.
Oil drilling results in some spills and more spills in hurricane prone areas. That is reality. 'Not one drop' is a lie.
In the small town of Bon Temps, in Renard parish Louisiana, a psychic waitress falls in love with the first vampire she meets and...
Well, I don't know the rest because this new HBO show, True Blood, is unwatchable. Or should I say, "unlistenable". Shockingly, the characters' accents in this show set a new standard for Louisiana inauthenticity-- and that's saying something! But supposing you could get past the galactically awful accents, the story itself is boring and predictable. Most of the characters and sets are bad cliches and there's no real suspense or humor. Even the gratuitous nudity can't redeem this mess of a show. Yuck.
Apparently, Alan Ball, the creator of Six Feet Under, is responsible for True Blood. He calls it "popcorn for smart people", which is an insult to both popcorn and smart people. The show is based on a book series, which surely isn't as bad as this TV adaptation.
--- Full disclosure: vampire stories have never, ever impressed me. (Except for perhaps Ravenloft). For whatever reason, I've never found them scary or sexy or cool-- just dull, dull, dull. The only time I enjoy them is when they parody themselves, and I'm allowed to laugh at them. Fright Night, for example. Or, even better, the last half hour of Vampire's Kiss where Nick Cage goes far beyond "over-the-top". I loved it.
I learned that my other favorite punk band of all time is on hiatus. (Sans Jello Biafra, of course.)
Dead Kennedys sadly announce that the band will no longer be touring in the foreseeable future due to health related issues of bassist Klaus Flouride and drummer D.H. Peligro.
I can't tell you how much this band meant to me when I was becoming a politically aware teenager. Earnest wishes for improved health go out to Klaus (glasses) and D.H. (far right). It was an honor to have seen y'all perform.
I'm blogging over at First Draft today, so let's just embed the DK's "When Ya Get Drafted". Three decades after this song was written, it seems all-too-relevant again. I guess the big business/war contracts nexus never really goes out of style. If you have a minute, read the lyrics while you listen to the song.
Leading ice specialists in Europe and the United States for the first time have agreed that a ring of navigable waters has opened all around the fringes of the cap of sea ice drifting on the warming Arctic Ocean.
This can only mean one thing: the Godhead is telling us to drill for more oil in the Arctic.
Re: "In Gulf, McCain pushes drilling," Page 1, Aug. 20.
In the debate about tapping petroleum reserves within U.S. onshore and offshore territories, I have yet to hear anyone point out that petroleum produced in the United States does not necessarily end up being sold in our markets.
The U.S. doesn't currently export much oil, but this is not because big oil companies are patriotic. They sell where the economics of production and marketing dictate; no oil company is under any obligation to sell oil or gas from American sources in America.
Increased supplies in the future might make oil cheaper than it would be without those supplies, but petroleum from our land and water will be sold to the highest bidder, wherever the market dictates.
That highest bidder may not be us.
So, are pro-drilling Republicans willing to adopt "closed-market" strictures so that oil companies won't export oil that is drilled in the U.S.? Currently the U.S. is exporting record amounts of oil. In the coming decades, as currency values fluctuate and world economies grow and contract, how will our free marketeers stop a global commodity like oil from being widely exported (and imported)? Shouldn't the unfettered sacred free market show us the way?
Othershave noted that Jindal is "just doing his job" and that officials have already congratulated themselves too much, but I want to say that Jindal has been impressive the past couple of weeks, and deserves credit. I'll even give some props to his Chief of Staff Timmy Teepell, who has been working hard to make sure the "authority structure" runs smoothly during these challenging times.
During his news conferences, Jindal rapidly conveys information. (If anything, he errs on the side of giving too much info, which is fine with me.) Most importantly, however, he seems to understand exactly what he's saying, no matter how technical. He's been very visible, unscripted, methodical, hard-working, and under control. I've been reassured by his statements and press conferences, rather than nauseated. He gave me the information I wanted to hear. He didn't exaggerate, bloviate, mispronounce "Lafourche" parish, or direct me to pray.
So, YRHT applauds Jindal and his team. Keep up the good work!
I mean it.
=== I daresay in the last two weeks Jindal has probably exercised more executive authority and leadership than Palin has done in two years as Gov. of Alaska.
=== Fwiw, I wrote a draft of this post last night at 1:04am, before Pistolette's post.
1. The NFL needs to stop using Morrissey's lyric "Everyday is like Sunday" in their commercials, because it's the very antithesis of football (except for the vague homoerotic undertones, of course).
2. It was funny when rookie color commentator (and former Ravens coach) Brian Billick apologized on air for leaving his co-host "hanging" before FOX had actually gone to a commercial break. All in all, though, Billick was a pretty decent analyst.
3. I enjoyed seeing Coach Chucky apply some chew under his gum when he was stressed during the 4th quarter. *Spit*
4. Not to pre-empt Mr. Gloomypants, but I will make an observation: an un-alloyed Reggie Bush highlight moment is a very rare thing. On his biggest plays, Bush is too often taunting, or grabbing a facemask to negate a decent run, or getting the benefit of (crucial) non-calls. For example, during the Saints' game-winning drive midway through the 4th quarter, Bush was carrying or catching the ball on every play. However, his two biggest plays during that drive benefited from missed calls. There was an obvious hold by the OL that the officials didn't flag on one reception, and then during Bush's "touchdown" scamper the officials overruled the line judge who had correctly marked the ball at the two yard line. (Bush's shoe went out of bounds at around the 4. The Bucs definitely should've challenged that one.) Also, you can bet that if Derrick Brooks hadn't been sidelined with a sore hammy, he would have taken a much better angle on Bush than his linebacker replacement (McCoy).
I should also say that Bush's "alloyed" nature doesn't annoy me very much at all. Just making observations, here.
4. In an attempt to stifle any complaints about the Saints victory, Cliff makes perhaps the biggest understatement of the year:
Is Kim Kardashian going to be at every game? Will they show her on television every time Reggie does something good? I just hope Reggie isn’t hanging out with the rest of the people who were in that suite. That was not a New Orleans looking group. I can’t see them coming to a crawfish boil.
Seriously: someone tell the kids enjoying the "suite life" that wearing Saints paraphernalia is not a crime. And who the hell was that male model in the red shirt sitting next to K-squared's sister? Someone inform that chap that if he wants to be that pretty, he should go down on the field and perform with the Saintsations (and/or get his face on the jumbotron so he might distract Garcia on a crucial 3rd down play).
Trudging slowly over wet sand Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen This is the coastal town That they forgot to close down Armageddon - come armageddon! Come, armageddon! come!
[T]he Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) arranged for the takeover of the 11th failed bank of 2008 on Friday.... the FDIC likes to close banks on Friday after hours so they can reopen as branches of the acquiring bank on the following Monday morning. According to the Associated Press, the bank in question is Nevada's Silver State Bank.
Nevada State Bank of Las Vegas will take over the insured deposits of Silver State -- which had $2 billion in assets and $1.7 billion in deposits at the end of June. AP reports that "[Silver State's] branches will reopen Monday as offices of Nevada State Bank in Nevada and National Bank of Arizona in Arizona."
John McCain's son, Andrew, who is also CFO of his mom's beer distributorship, "sat on the boards of Silver State Bank and of its parent, Silver State Bancorp, starting in February but resigned in July citing 'personal reasons.' Andrew McCain also was a member of the bank's audit committee, responsible for oversight of the company's accounting," according to AP.
The failure -- which was caused by "poor-quality loans primarily related to real estate development" -- will cost the FDIC deposit insurance fund between "$450 million [and] $550 million," according to AP. Silver State's motto was "When the casinos treat you poorly, let Silver State treat you like a valued customer," according to its website.
If Mr. [Andrew] McCain had remained on Silver State’s board another four days, his position on the audit committee would have required him to sign off on the company’s second-quarter financial statements.
This will cost the FDIC half a billion tax dollars. It's also a natural opening for the media to discuss Sen. John McCain's "poor judgment" during the Keating five affair-- which he described as the "worst mistake of his life". But, I'm sure that's not gonna happen.
Update: The Cunning Realist has a great post on the Freddie/Fannie bailouts. Killer quote:
If people really understood what was going on here -- essentially a system of "soft slavery" in which an ever-increasing amount of one's daily labor subsidizes Wall Street and the speculator class via inflation and the socialization of risk -- they'd be in the street.
If that's not enough of a recommendation to see "Trouble the Water", I don't know what is.
But prior to his ignorant and rude exit, Nagin had a conversation with the indefatigable Kimberly Roberts, whose Federal Flood experience is profiled in the film. Here's a transcript of what was said. There's so many "quotes of the weak" here, I can't even excerpt them all:
KIMBERLY RIVERS ROBERTS: I want to know what is— you know, what are the people, the leaders of New Orleans, are going to do about the neglect that’s going on in the city?
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: Unfortunately, we can’t change 200-300 years worth of habits overnight. The good thing about Katrina, if there is a good thing, is that we’ve got our economy going in a much better direction. There’s lots of jobs, opportunities, and business.
"Habits"? "Good thing"? Pardon my french, but that sort of talk is bug fuck crazy.
And why does OUR businessman mayor credit a disaster for turning our economy around in a "much better direction"? When he was first elected, didn't he promise to do that without "benefit" of a disaster that killed thousands, and destroyed untold billions of property and infrastructure?
KIMBERLY RIVERS ROBERTS: I’m talking about real jobs with living wages. We’re still—
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: Let me just tell you a couple of examples. And I know this is something that is—we need to have a deeper discussion about.
KIMBERLY RIVERS ROBERTS: Right, right, right.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: Just things like, you know, working at Gene’s po’ boy shop.
KIMBERLY RIVERS ROBERTS: Yeah, yeah.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: They’re paying, you know, $1,500, $1,800 a week to their cooks.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: I’m telling you what they’re doing.
KIMBERLY RIVERS ROBERTS: I cook. I cooked in the French Quarter before, and I’ve tried everything.
MAYOR RAY NAGIN: You ought to try, because I just left Gene’s not too long ago.
I never knew that making po boys could be so lucrative. But our Accountant-in-Chief assures us that cooks at Gene's are pulling down 80+ grand per year, serving up sandwiches. And we've been assured by others who endorsed his candidacy that Mayor Nagin "understands business"... so who am I to question OUR Mayor's assertions? After all, he just left Gene's not long ago.
I wonder what Nagin will say about New Orleans, after he leaves office?
Hey man, y'all have no excuse for being poor at this point. I told you to let go of all those old French/Carribean/outlaw habits, and cultivate a proper work ethic. Fill your schedule with profitable business. Show up. Get yourself some "dirt", or a city contract. Embrace the opportunity to participate in disaster capitalism. Pretty soon, you'll be farting through bamboo silk undies.
Maitri, Karen, and all other New Orleans area citizens who have not forgotten about our brothers and sisters "down the bayou" in the coastal parishes. Many of our fellow South Louisianans did not experience Hurricane Gustav as a "near miss", or a disaster "averted". Their current troubles go far beyond temporary power outages, interstate traffic frustrations, and inadequate localleadership. So let's remember Terrebone and Lafourche parishes and the Houma Nation, and let us show them the same generosity and attention they showed us after Katrina (many New Orleanians, including myself, lived in Houma for a while during the Katrina aftermath).