Friday, October 09, 2009

Please read the update to the previous post 

Thank you.

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"Unpublished for two years" 

Times Picayune editorial:

A federal Minerals Management Service study concludes what Louisianians have known for a long time: oil and gas production has taken a significant toll on Gulf Coast wetlands, contributing to this state's land loss crisis.

Tell me something I don't know.

These findings, which went unpublished for two years, lend strong support to Louisiana's argument that the federal government should bear a greater share of coastal restoration costs. Oil and gas networks serve the energy needs of the entire nation, and it's only fair that the environmental cost be shared, too.

Unpublished for two years? Why?

Experts say that time is short to launch meaningful restoration efforts. Doing so must be a national priority, and that's a message that President Barack Obama needs to hear when he visits New Orleans this month. His itinerary needs to include a first-hand look at our devastated coastal wetlands.

Yes. At the least, Obama should take a three hour aerial tour of the devastated coast. A three hour tour...

Speaking of unpublished, I was looking for a link to Bob Marshall's outstanding opinion piece in yesterday's T-P on coastal restoration, but I haven't been able to find it. If someone can find the link on the execrable site, I'd be much obliged. Otherwise, I'll transcribe a couple of quotes later.

Update: Big thanks to Editilla from Noladder who finds it! Marshall's piece "Obama, Jindal have a job to do: Save the coast" makes several fine points that hardly anyone else has made in print. Please read the whole thing, but here are some extended, important excerpts:

President Obama [and]... one of his loudest critics-- our Republican governor, Bobby Jindal-- have been kindred spirits when it comes to the issue of Louisiana's coast. They don't have much to say about it.
Let's take this problem one man at a time.

By far the biggest failing lives in our governor's mansion. Three years ago coastal scientists said if Louisiana wasn't actively re-building wetlands in the eroding basins around New Orleans within 10 years, the problem would probably be too big to address. That meant responsibility for the solution landed in the lap of newly-elected governor.

Gov. Jindal certainly wasn't to blame for previous decades of inaction, but history had put him squarely in control. To use a sports analogy, he was now the quarterback of a team in sudden death overtime with the clock is running out and still 99 yards from salvation. If he fails, so do we.
The GOP's recent ideological opposition to large government projects - especially those for environmental improvement - has been a major roadblock for our coastal plans. As a rising star in that club, Jindal could use his bully pulpit to convince fellow believers our coast was an exception to their rule. He could explain there isn't just a role here for government , but a responsibility.

Eighteen months later, that potential has been wasted.
Like most of the Republican politicians from our state, the governor typically uses his stumps echoing the silly ranting of talk radio jocks: Government bad! Cap-and-trade a socialist plot! Global warming a liberal hoax! Environmentalist anti-American obstructionists! Restrictions on business socialism! Get the feds out of our lives!

That may be red meat at local Tea Party rallies, but when those same leaders show up in Congress asking for $100 billion for the nation's taxpayers to save our sinking skins, don't expect much help.
As a candidate speaking at Tulane, [Barack Obama] specifically mentioned the nation's responsibility for fixing our coast. Then he was elected and... nothing.
South Louisiana is a task that can't wait.
How about a national speech from the Oval Office by President Obama detailing the tragedy of our coast, explaining how the nation's thirst for cheap energy and a dependable industrial corridor eviscerated the continent's greatest delta, and imposed a death sentence on an entire region.

That is so clear and true! There should be weekly if not daily editorials continually hammering home these vital points. It's late in the game, and the stakes couldn't be higher. The last five years, when politicians have asked Louisianans "What kind of state do we want to live in?" My response has been "One that includes its southern half." The history, culture and resources of Southern Louisiana are profoundly vital. We have a handful of years to do something, and we haven't forced our leaders to act. This is a slow-motion tragedy on a grand scale, and its progressing, inexorably, into the final act.

Are we going to participate in our own burial at sea, or are we going to fight heroically for this region, whose extrinsic value is worth protecting, and whose intrinsic value is incalculable?

Hats off to Bob Marshall.


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Pres. Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize 

Pretty surprising... What did he do again?

According to the committee, Obama has already created a new international climate of diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation. Still, it seems a bit early to get such an award, doesn't it?

The NYT article notes some current challenges:

The prize was announced as the Obama administration wrestles with global crises from the Middle East to Iran to southwest Asia while American military forces are still deployed in large numbers in Iraq and the White House is considering whether to increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

Greenwald catalogues many ways in which Obama has not thoroughly altered the domestic "climate" on some issues.

YRHT congratulates the President and would advise him to press on, and not rest on his laurels.


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why is Vitter soft on RapeRape? (and more) 

The Daily Kingfish explains.

Vitty-cent's on top by 10 over Melancon in early polling.

T-P columnist James Gill recently advised Vitter opponents to not discuss the whoremongering. We've had our fun, he says. It's yesterday's news. Then he writes:

Vitter more or less admitted that he had beguiled his time in Washington with call girls when he admitted a "serious sin" in 2007.
Vitter was a very willing buyer, and the high-end girls who worked for the D.C. madam evidently had their heads screwed on all right.

Eh... You can read the links at the end of this post on Vitty's favorite DC working girl, and make your own assessment about the quality of her head-screwedness. The point I will make is that sex with subordinates is by no means yesterday's news. For example, the Letterman fiasco has been widely publicized, along with these other stories from the political sphere:

A) The NYT had a big story on Senator John Ensign's extra-marital affair with a campaign aide. Sen. Tom Coburn worked damage control, and discussed a "large financial settlement" with the aide and her husband.

B) The National Enquirer is reporting that Elizabeth Edwards is threatening to divorce former Presidential candidate John Edwards, after learning of allegations that he cheated on her with yet another woman, in addition to Rielle Hunter. Hunter of course, did some paid video work for the Edwards campaign. Edwards had an affair with her (which yielded a child) while telling the media how important issues like New Orleans and marital fidelity were to him.

C) Cynthia Tucker compares the Ensign and Edwards affairs to the David Letterman mess, and notes how elaborate cover-ups have led to the following problems:

[A]s usual, the cover-up may bring at least as much damage as the original sin.

Edwards is the subject of a grand jury investigation and a tell-all book.
As for Ensign, The New York Times has a detailed report this morning about the lengths to which he went to seek financial assistance for his lover’s husband (who also happened to be a campaign aide.)

What's this got to do with Vitter? Well, more than you might think. According to David Corn's 2007 reporting, one of Vitty's favorite paid escorts was a congressional staffer who worked on one of Vitter's committees. Corn didn't name the working girl, but it's pretty clear that it's Paula Neble. I'm unable to confirm that for 100% certain, and Vitter sure as hell won't say boo, but that's what I think based on my readings.

So: in D.C., Vitter enjoyed paid sex with a Congressional staffer that worked on one of his committees. We can't know if he recognized this girl when she saw him after hours. I'd bet on it, though. Pols are pretty good at facial recognition. Who knows, perhaps Vitty preferred this girl's services precisely because he knew she was his (indirect) subordinate. Clearly, though, these sorts of affairs between powerful men and their workplace subordinates are anything but yesterday's news.


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Often Chilly during Baseball Playoffs 


A new book by a former employee of Alcor, the company that froze Ted Williams' remains, alleges the baseball Hall of Famer's body was mistreated by the company.

Larry Johnson says in the book "Frozen: My Journey Into the World of Cryonics, Deception and Death" that he watched an Alcor official swing a monkey wrench at Williams' frozen severed head to try to remove a tuna can stuck to it. The first swing accidentally struck the head, Johnson contends, and the second knocked the tuna can loose.

Please tell me there is a security video of this. Read the rest of the article if you want the rest of the story-- it just gets worse.

Not sure which baseball teams made the playoffs this year. Some are well-known, like the Yankees, for whom I'll be cheering, and others are more "obscure".


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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Open letter to blogosphere from David C. Bellinger 

“If Re-elected, Vitter’s Shame Will Become Louisiana’s Shame”

Dear Blogger:

Re: “Sen. David Vitter's sins are yesterday's news,” New Orleans Times-Picayune, by James Gill, October 4, 2009

James Gill’s assertion that David Vitter’s history of whoremongering is no longer an issue that could defeat Vitter could be, and is likely, correct -- but only if Vitter’s lack of character is eliminated from the debate.

The evidence is overwhelming that Vitter was complicit in a criminally adjudicated racketeering prostitution organization that led to the suicide death of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, implicitly violating his sworn oath of office and his responsibility of being an officer of the court.

Furthermore, when I challenged Vitter on talk radio (transcript of first challenge on talk radio is below) in two well-documented conversations regarding a newspaper account in the Louisiana Weekly written by Chris Tidmore concerning allegations of Vitter engaging in sex outside his marriage with a prostitute, Vitter not only had the arrogance of evidently lying to the public, but in a response to a follow-up caller -– social activist and people’s champion, known as "Zorro," -- maligned an accuser -– referring to Republican activist and dual Republican office holder, Vincent Bruno, as a “thug and a liar.” An allegation Vitter promptly apologized for stating when threatened with a law suit by Bruno in a letter of apology delivered via courier to Bruno’s home -– evidently Vitter had the wisdom not to be placed under oath and lie in a legal procedure -– transcript of Vitter’s letter of apology is below:

Transcript of my first challenge to Vitter on talk radio, later played for Larry Flynt and Wendy Cortez on the Dan Abrams program on MSNBC network television and mentioned in Max Blumenthal’s book -– “Republican Gomorrah:”

{RingsidePolitics -- Host: Jeff Crouere
Guest: Congressman David Vitter
July 25, 2002

Flaming Liberal: Thank you Jeff for taking my call, always a pleasure to talk to the Congressman. Congressman, since spokesperson for the Republican Party William Bennett has said character counts. I would like to put the same challenge to you that I put to Representative Perkins and he accepted. Would you be willing to sign under the penalty of perjury an affidavit saying you have never had an extramarital affair and you have never known, met or been in the company of one Wendy Cortez.

Jeff Crouere: Are you finished Flaming Liberal?

Flaming Liberal: Yes Sir

Jeff Crouere: Ok sir.

David Vitter: Flaming Liberal thank you for repeating all these vicious rumors that my political enemies are trying to bandy about and those rumors are absolutely true and they really don’t belong in any political campaign and I’ve stated very clearly that they’re lies, but I’m not going to start jumping through hoops and taking orders from my political enemies who have absolutely no credibility. So, I’ll speak very clearly about that. I have in the past; I’ll continue to do so.}

Vitter stating that the rumors are “absolutely true” is not a typo, but actual statement and comment.

Vitter’s carefully crafted letter of apology to Mr. Vincent Bruno:

{July 27, 2002

Dear Mr. Bruno:

On Thursday July 25, a caller on a WTIX radio call in show asked me if I would agree to participate in a radio debate with you. I said I would not because you are a “thug and a liar.”

This was an emotional response on my part prompted by numerous ugly rumors which had been repeated about my family and me.

After the incident, I realized that you may believe these rumors and allegations. I cannot say that you know them to be untrue and lied by repeating. Therefore I should have not said that you are a thug and a liar.

With this in mind, and in an abundance of fairness, I hereby retract my statement about you referenced above. Please accept my sincere apology.

By copy of this letter, I would ask Jeff Crouere, the host of the radio show, on which I made my original statement to broadcast my retraction using at least an equal amount of time.


David Vitter
cc: Mr. Jeff Crouere and Mr. Ed Butler}

And my second challenge on talk radio to Vitter, regarding his whoremongering, was detailed and documented in the Louisiana Weekly on March 28, 2004, “Congressman Denies Affair with Prostitute, Says Charges Are Politically Motivated,” written by Chris Tidmore wherein, in response to my challenge, Vitter stated, "I think you know that that allegation is absolutely and completely untrue... I have said that on numerous occasions... I'll say that in any forum...Unfortunately, that's just crass Louisiana politics, now that I am running for the Senate. I have made that clear that it is all completely untrue...And, it's obviously politically motivated."

Moreover, prominent politicians involved in sex scandals have paid the piper for their behavior -- President Clinton was impeached, and had his law license suspended, and Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer resigned.

In addition, Republican Sen. Larry Craig did not seek re-election, Gov. Mark Sanford is an object of recall and impeachment by fellow Republicans -– including South Carolina Republican Lt. Gov Andre Bauer and Republican Bobby Harrell, the Speaker of the South Carolina House, and Republican Senator John Ensign’s political future is headed for the chopping block -- as well to a likely criminal investigation.

However, in Louisiana it is politics as usual, tolerating reprehensible immoral behavior detrimental to the image and well being of the state, and one cannot help to get the feeling that in Louisiana there is a signpost straight ahead that reads “Twilight Zone.”

And Vitter had the sanctimonious mendacity to express reservations to grant a pardon or commutation of sentence for former Gov. Edwin Edwards in November 2008.

If the citizens can condone and accept Vitter’s apparent lack of rectitude and unmitigated paranoid-schizophrenia while flaunting the law and disgracing high public office, then Vitter’s shame becomes Louisiana’s shame.

David C. Bellinger
(404) 762-8779
Atlanta, GA


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Open letter to blogosphere from David C. Bellinger 

“Gov. Jindal More Concerned Over Image than Louisiana’s Interest”

Dear Blogger:

Re: Rep. Anh 'Joseph' Cao calls on Gov. Bobby Jindal to support rail project, Times-Picayune, by Lolis E Elie, October 3, 2009

How interesting Gov. Jindal considered applying for-– that is, before he was against the request -- a federal stimulus grant for a rapid rail system between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

Given the no-brainer advantageous economic and environmental benefits the rapid rail system would create, Gov. Jindal’s refusal to apply for the grant is entirely rooted in the detrimental blow back to his political image -- which applying for the funds would create.

After Gov. Jindal was belittled and berated on the Keith Olbermann Countdown program on MSNBC in August, having chuckled while ridiculing President Obama’s proposed rail project on national television in the Republican response in February to the President’s stimulus package, Jindal’s consideration to apply for the funds, for a decades-overdue rail system, suddenly had the emergency brakes applied.

Jindal’s apparent high speed aspirations for national office, sparing Gov. Jindal from future criticism -– being before rapid rail, before being against it, I believe, has indubitably trumped the interest of the citizens of Louisiana, and what a shame.

In addition, to counter Jindal’s argument that the state could not afford the $18 million annual expense to operate the system, fewer helicopter rides to politic -– at the taxpayers’ expense -– disguised as trips to attend church service on Sunday would be a good start.

As well, the rail system would be a huge complement to a future regional airport between New Orleans and Baton Rouge.

And I thank and congratulate Congressman Anh 'Joseph' Cao, state Sen. Ed Murray, New Orleans City Councilman Arnie Fielkow, and state Rep. Neil Abramson for providing vital leadership.

David C. Bellinger
(404) 762-8779
Atlanta, GA 30315


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Under the moose light, the serious moose light 

In his latest post, Grandmaster Wang at Moose Denied leads the revelry here in "SufferJet City", with choice stats like:

The Saints currently lead the league with 316 yards on interception returns. There are four teams in the league who have fewer than 316 rushing yards on the season. (And two of those teams are Atlanta and Carolina. I’ll pause for a second while you chuckle.)

Then things turn for the serious, and Grandmaster says what no one else is saying but what everyone knows is true.

This goes out to Reggie Bush, who'll never let me down again:

Yes that's SRV on guitar.

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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

This week in rickshaw 

1. Lebanon Daily Star reports on some rickshaw theater:

BEIRUT: Anyone out for a late-afternoon stroll on the Beirut’s Corniche on Saturday may have got a bit of a shock. A pair of actors spat, slapped, made obscene gestures, shouted, cheek-squeezed, hair-patted, mocked and mingled with the audience. Thankfully, the reaction comprised mainly helpless guffaws, the most adverse reaction being a slight recoil.

In fact, it was the interaction between performers and audience that made “Rickshaw” – a piece of physical theater from Dansk Rakkerpak – such a success.

2. Apparently, an improvised "performance" of rickshaw theater broke out in NYC:

3. Citybusiness:

More than nine years after the city killed Turtle Taxi, its last rickshaw-based business, “PJ” Patrick James Lynch is ready to give it another go.

Lynch, a former manger and operator of Charleston Bike Taxi in South Carolina, left the company, packed his belongings in the back of his car and moved to New Orleans in July with the intention of resurrecting pedicabs in the Big Easy.

There are over 100 cities in the U.S. that have these and there is no city more perfect for it than New Orleans,” Lynch said. “This is a flat city that is heavily based on tourism. Plus the speed limit isn’t fast on most roads so it’s safe. Over the last two years it seems like, from a tourism perspective, New Orleans is really coming back and I want to get on board.”
But Lynch will be going up against the taxi cab companies who were instrumental in defeating Turtle Taxi and are prepared to go to the mat to defeat any new venture that could possibly cut into their business, said United Cab Co. President Pat Murphy.

I suddenly have more sympathy for the rickshaw driver in the video.

4. Kevin "Dow 36,000" Hassett and the Heritage Foundation's J.D. Foster mock Obama's "Green Jobs" incentives, and sarcastically argue that promoting the rickshaw industry would be the logical conclusion to all this talk of green technology and renewable energy. Foster writes:

Rickshaws are the way to go for green jobs. There are no rickshaw drivers in the United States today, so every rickshaw job is a new job. Even more new jobs would be created as the auto companies shift, with a little urging from Uncle Sam, to rickshaw production in the United States...

Often wrong, never in doubt, Hassett and Foster's record at forecasting is so spotty, they should get jobs as hacktacular economic pundits.

Oh-- Wait.

5. In happier rickshaw news:
A 26-year-old American tourist travelling in India hitched a ride in a rickshaw last week and married the driver a few days later, a report said Friday.

Whitney from Chicago met her prince charming in Jaipur in Rajasthan, a state west of the capital famous for its stately palaces, after hailing a motorised rickshaw and hiring the driver for her stay in the city, the Mail Today newspaper said.

"On the third day, he surprised me by popping the question," Whitney told the paper. "'I want to spend the rest of my life with you', he told me. I fell in love."


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Saints Defense Nickname thread 

After the Saints' defensive domination of the Jets on Sunday, some have decided that the Defense should have a nickname. This morning on WWL 870am the discussion was so painful ("snakes"-- really?) that I'm tempted to intervene.

But first, let's do our due diligence and see how far this topic has progressed on the fan forums. Oh dear. Right now, "Domeland Security" seems to be the top moniker. I'm not saying that's awful, but I'm sure we can do better than that. The aim is to conjure up a fearsome, descriptive image that is catchy. So, for the rest of this post I will attemtp to brain storm a nickname for the Saints Defense, and I invite my readers to contribute in the comments.

Just remember: "There are no bad ideas when you're brain stormin'"

1. Williams and the Conquerors (umm, not great, but at least that got things started)

2. Without David we are Goliath (spiteful and not really a nickname, more of a phrase)

3. Buddy Defense (cuz the D is a team effort, they use the Buddy system, Buddy D... get it?)

4. Engineers of Corpses (nice-- grim, scathing, slightly esoteric, very much my style)

5. Dead Zone (see, we can raise awareness)

6. Radical Gay Agenda (cuz our CB is Gay and Fujita said...)

7. Cancer Alley (horrible name, horrible timing, this being Breast Cancer Awareness month... bad oyster! And yet... no, no, no... we can't do that-- but remember: no bad ideas when you're brain storming.)

8. Jimmy Fallon's Monologue (the only thing I can think of more hideous than cancer)

9. Unfatigued (my "go to" play)

10. The New Normal (eh)

11. Saint Virus Dance (really reaching there, trying to be topical)

12. Polanski's hot tub (if I'm just gonna be stupid, I might as well stop)

13. Three Four, shut the door

14. Serious Sinners

15. Demolition Krewe (looks better than it sounds)

16. Catholic Discipline .... (go ahead, I'm done)

Bonus: Here's a preview of a shamelessly stolen game photo from that Jeffrey will likely use in his Weekly Football recap, which should be published no later than Friday. Caption: "going down like a lead zeppelin".


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Monday, October 05, 2009

Like yeah 

Over the weekend the T-P reported:

Greg Meffert has always been a big talker. When he was New Orleans' chief technology officer, he bragged to anyone who would listen at City Hall that he was taking Mayor Ray Nagin on vacation to Hawaii. He bragged about owning a yacht where he held parties for the mayor.
Then he contended [in court] that in his day job -- for which taxpayers paid him $150,000 a year -- he wasn't as involved in the crime-camera deal as the plaintiffs allege because he was essentially Nagin's right-hand man, overseeing several major city departments.

During his City Hall days, he would call himself "deputy mayor," a title that didn't exist. In court Tuesday, he repeatedly called himself the city's "recovery czar" after Hurricane Katrina, long before Nagin created the position by bringing in Ed Blakely.

...Meffert even laid claim to being Nagin's first choice for the czar position.

"I didn't even get home for six months after Katrina," he said. "I worked all the time. That's why I almost quit twice. I voluntarily resigned two days before the mayor was going to announce me as the recovery czar. I was burned out... precisely because of that schedule."

If we are to believe Muppet, then that means Nagin's top two choices for Recovery Czar were Meffert and Ed Blakely. Some quinella, huh? Who was third on the list, Godzilla?

In a splendid and delightful column Clancy Dubos at The Gambit writes:

To hear former City Hall technology guru Greg Meffert tell it, it’s hard out here for a pimp. A pimp for the city, that is.
Poor Meffert. He took a 50 percent pay cut to take a job that enabled him to help his friend and former business associate, Mark St. Pierre, score a multi-million dollar crime camera contract from the city-- but, like aspiring rapper DJay in the film Hustle and Flow, he’s still gotta get money for his Cadillacs — not to mention his yacht, strippers, and some first-class vacations for himself and Mayor Ray Nagin.

Muppet as aspiring rapper... I never really thought of it that way. But it resonates. So let me take this opportunity to "pimp" Calliope Var, a rapper with whom I've had sporadic contact over the summer. When I told Levar (as I know him) about my bus story from the summer, he was terribly unimpressed. "How do you get stuck on a bus like that?" he chided. Then he handed me a few promotional cards for his new album. Because I'm a white geek, I gave him this weird nod/salute with the cards, as if to thank him for giving me more than one, and saying: "These are in good hands, Mr. Calliope! I'll be sure to only distribute them to my most trusted rap aficionado friends, who can truly appreciate your collaborations with C-Murder... etc.".

Anyway, here's Calliope Var, the biggest Uptown Gangsta this side of Meffert, performing "Like Yeah". There's lots of talk of "ice" in this song and I think that has to do with summertime beverages or restocking the neighborhood snowball machine:

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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Silly Americans 

People were complaining that the Saints and Brees weren't getting enough attention, so USA TODAY featured him on the front page of their super duper Fri/Sat/Sun edition with this wonderful little factoid [in the article]:

Brees is more average Joe than "Broadway" Joe Namath, the Jets icon. He has a 120-year-old house in the city's oldest neighborhood.

The Gambit alerted us that this factoid was regurgitated by the Grey Lady:

After Brees came to New Orleans, he moved into a 120-year-old house in Uptown, the city’s oldest neighborhood. For the first month, neighbors filled his porch with Southern delicacies, leaving biscuits, brownies, even seafood.

Instead of at hello, New Orleans had Brees at gumbo.

The city's about to celebrate its tricentennial, and editors at two major papers didn't blink when they read "120 year old house" and "the city's oldest neighborhood" in the same sentence.

Granted, it amuses me that there's plenty of New Orleanians who look at Uptown, this relatively new "American" side of town, as an inauthentic appendage. Not long ago I was listening to two guys in conversation. The first guy was trying to convince the second to do something, but the second guy was having none of it.

"You're trying to take me past Canal Street," the second guy told the first.

"Huh?" said the first.

"He's not interested," I explained.

1718: La Nouvelle Orléans is established at what is now called the Vieux Carré. About a century later "Uptown" started taking shape.


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The Human Cost 

Humid Beings informs us that GRN and the Charitable Film Network awarded its competition’s grand prize to the short film, “The Human Cost,” by Edward Holub and Christian Roselund. Click link to view it.

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