Is "Drone Jett and the Black Ops" the best name you've heard for a punk rawk band, or what? Anyone who wants to use this name for their own upstart punk band (a female lead voice works best), please feel free.
A little snippet of local punk history inspired me to create the band name. A few months ago, Antigravity magazine interviewed visual artist Skylar Fein. Fein had an exhibit at NOMA[!] titled "Youth Manifesto". One of the pieces in the collection referenced a local punk band from twenty years ago named "Harry Lee and the Black Problem".
[AG] Tell me more about that Harry Lee and the Black Problem piece.
[SF] Harry Lee served for decades in Jefferson Parish and in that time he managed to make dozens of incendiary comments about people of color. A New Orleans punk band took that name as a way of memorializing his [alleged] racism and of protesting it. What I’ve done is, I’ve made a giant eight-track tape that looks like one of their tapes. I don’t know that they ever had an eight-track tape; in fact, they undoubtedly did not. But I just thought it would look cool if this really radical, controversial punk band had what looked like an eight-track tape. Some of the song titles are their actual songs and some I made up. And I’ll leave it to viewers to figure out which is which. It was only since coming here and reading about New Orleans history—and New Orleans music history—that I found out about them. I think it’s great to find role models like that in your past and to realize that people have been fighting for what’s right for a long time. It was probably really scary for them to do that. Harry Lee is still such a beloved figure. He’s dead, but he’s beloved—by white people, I might add. And I want to keep the memory alive of both of him, the work Harry Lee did and the things he said, and the music that was made about him. It’s all part of our history.
Skylar Fein's wistful adulation of this punk band (in his view they fought for "what's right"), is kind of charming. But I do think he's right about it being "really scary" for some of the controversial punk rock bands back in the day. They were largely flying under the radar in the 80's and early 90's, but I do think many acts did some pretty brave things that would be unthinkable in the current decade.
For example, the Fearless Iranians from Hell were a punk/hardcore act from San Antonio who dressed as terrorists in ski masks, while the Iranian born lead singer (Amir Mamori) shouted lyrics penned from the perspective of a hash-smoking Iranian terrorist. This was a joke, of course, but it was such an edgy, uncomfortable joke that it went over some people's heads. Others didn't find it funny in the slightest. At least one member from the Fearless Iranians went on to the Butthole Surfers.
As my punk historian friend Mark Owens said, “At this late date it’s probably a little difficult to untangle the odd mixture of humor, progressive politics, and wise-ass nihilism that was the stock in trade of thrash bands of this period...”
Indeed. Honestly "at this late date" I don't think the equivalent of a "Fearless Iranians from Hell" could perform without everyone getting bent out of shape and throwing a major sh-tfit. Such an act would be destined for a segment on Beck or Hannity, and the group's lyrics would be read on air, with no context, in order to panic patriotic Teabag-Americans who believe the jihadic takeover is already in progress. An Iranian-born singer surrounded by menacing men in ski masks, singing "Die for Allah"... are you kidding me?
There would be death threats, protests... I truly think it would blow up into a national issue.
How does Rob Couhig get away with attending forums for mayoral candidates when he won't yet declare whether he's actually going to run?
Recall that in '06 Couhig blastedMitch Landrieu for taking too long to decide whether to run for mayor. He criticized him on the radio, in commercials, and on blogs for not being decisive enough. Couhig called Landrieu the "Prince of Vacillation"-- a person who freezes at the moment when "bold leadership is required". This claim was the centerpiece of Couhig's attacks on Landrieu.
Fast forward to September 2009. Couhig boldly announced that he would announce something "soon" about his mayoral intentions. This excited the Couhig Conservatives, who are (it cannot be repeated too often) very, very smart voters. However: curiously-- inconceivably-- weeks and months have passed without Couhig announcing a decision about his candidacy. At the very moment bold leadership is required, Couhig... has dithered. He isn't ready to formally commit. He has said that he wants to make sure that if he runs he will win (I could save him some time and money on that analysis). And, in a truly bizarre statement, he claimed he needed to make sure he could win because "the city's psyche is fragile".
Yeah, he said that. Couhig's mulling things over because, if he ran and lost, it might shatter the city into human fragments. Our collective psyche might never recover. Things would boil over and there'd be race riots or teabagger riots or more cat tossing or something equally apocalyptic. Suffice it to say, Couhig is dithering because he cares about our minds.
What bothers me is that Couhig gets a platform at a mayoral forum without officially announcing that he intends to be mayor. How does he get away with that? What if he surprises everyone and decides not to run (read: Georges pays him off)? Then what? Isn't it unfair that he gets to enjoy a public platform with no risk as an official candidate? If he attends forums and decides not to run, didn't he diminish the public's opportunity to evaluate the announced candidates who are serious about becoming the next mayor? And if Couhig is definitely running, then why is he taking so long to announce?-- especially after he promised to announce something "soon", and especially after he lambasted Landrieu's "vacillation" during the last election?
How is Couhig allowed to get away with this? When will the media ask him why Landrieu is the "Prince of Vacillation" but he's not "The Duke of Dithering"?
=== At the Gambit blog, Kevin Allman has this most satisfying observation to report about the debate:
About the third time Couhig bashed Mayor Ray Nagin, the audience was getting restive; it was obvious somebody wanted to stand up and yell “Then why’d you endorse him last time, Rob?”
In an important post that you should read more than once, Jeffrey writes:
something must explain why a supposedly free people allow themselves to be ruled and misused this way; why we arrive at a government that can't deliver water to stranded citizens but can build a mini-GITMO in less than five days.
A federal grand jury this morning indicted former city technology chief Greg Meffert, his wife, Linda Meffert, and his former friend and business associate Mark St. Pierre on 63 federal corruption charges in a lucrative bribery scheme related to the awarding of major technology contracts.
Federal prosecutors charge that Meffert, at one time one of Mayor Ray Nagin's most trusted advisers, was steering millions of dollars in taxpayer-financed contracts to St. Pierre's companies in exchange for $860,000 in kickbacks, including cash, credit card charges, grass-cutting and even payment of membership dues to two Carnival krewes. ... If not unexpected, the indictments still represent a bombshell of sorts. While Nagin's seven years in office have not been free of scandal, the grand jury's action marks the first time that corruption charges have been filed against a high-level member of his administration.
For four years, Meffert was among Nagin's most trusted and powerful aides, a man who eventually oversaw much of city government and called himself "deputy mayor." Not only were the two men neighbors, they also vacationed together at times -- on St. Pierre' s dime, according to records unveiled in the recent civil trial.
Watcha gonna do now, Meff? I'm sure the Feds would be interested if you can escalate things up the political food chain. Do you got any angles left to play, Meff, or are you and the missus going to risk a long stay at club fed?
Speaking of Nagin, the American Zombie (who has owned this story from before day one) recently heard that
within the last 2 weeks Nagin has been quietly shuffled in and out of federal court no less than 3 times. He has apparently been slithering down to the other end of Poydras street for what? I don't know...but I think we can all guess.
A very talented and informed YRHT fan alerted me to mayoral candidate John Georges' interview on Eric Asher's radio show. Towards the end of the interview, when Asher asks Georges about his connections to Sherman Copelin, Georges states that he "didn't spend any money in the [New Orleans] black community" when he ran for Governor in 2007.
Umm, I remember it a bit differently. Two years ago, political operatives were utterly shocked by the money John Georges dumped on the street before the gubernatorial election. For example, Georges was paying triple what another well-funded campaign was willing to pay for the usual and customary election day considerations. Georges got the local endorsements, and won Orleans parish, but it wasn't because he was some swell independent candidate who inspired voters to buck the political leadership in their ward, and vote for him over candidates who were willing to "pay to play". In fact, it was the exact opposite: Georges may have set a record in terms of dollars spent per votes received by a gubernatorial candidate in Orleans parish. He dumped big bucks into New Orleans, and not all of that went to conventional advertising, I promise you.
The media should ask Georges about his claim that he didn't spend money in "the black community" for the election. If Georges denies that he spent street money in New Orleans in 2007, that will be the biggest lie in the campaign, and it came right out of the gate.
Professor Sadow writes a masturblog titled "Between the Lines", and he caught my attention again. I call Sadow's web journal a "masturblog" because he links back to himself so often that it becomes a rather tedious display of online onanism.
With the issues preferences of the Louisiana public solidly on [Vitter's] side (as well as his continuing to hold comfortable poll leads a year out from the election), Democrats have engaged in the age-old strategy of coming up with as many implausible accusations as possible and throwing them all at Vitter, desperately hoping some mud sticks that portrays him as some insensitive weirdo.
First off, "insensitive weirdo" would describe most politicians. But even most Republicans who've had contact with Vitty-cent would tell you he's the Lizard King of the Insensitive Weirdo political club. You're not going to hear a lot of people say "Vitty? Aw he's a helluva chap. A man's man. Life of the party-- so comfortable in his own skin! He loves to share credit and pal around with his many friends. Great guy to have a beer with." No. When you ask connected politicos about Vitter, the person, you often get a reaction that begins with a deep, unsettling shudder, then a thoughtful pause, and then a statement along the lines of: "Remember in the Conan the Barbarian movie where the evil priest Thursa Doom transforms into a serpent...?" In my opinion, portraying Vitter as an "insensitive weirdo" is much more a descriptive act than a slinging of mud. But I'll admit I'm a bit biased. Anyway, Sadow continues:
The latest effort was a coordinated attempt to make Vitter appear, in the words of the Democrat operative, to “support a law that tells a rape victim that she does not have the right to defend herself.”
This is the story to which Professor Sadow refers. Vitty is confronted on camera by a rape survivor (who was recruited by the Dems) about his "nay" vote on the Franken amendment. Vitter responds to her questioning by getting legalistic and professorial, answering her questions with questions, showing no real empathy, and turning his back on her and walking away. About par for the course for Vitty-cent. No big whoop. Then Sadow writes one of the most willfully ignorant and bizarre statements I've ever read.
(It is shameful that Democrats took advantage of a woman with personal tragedy to try to score political points this way. More to the point, if Democrats continue this line of inquiry, they’re going have to agree upon how they regard Vitter’s temperament. Because he said he committed a “serious sin” and his phone number turned up on a list of calls received by an escort agency, although he never has confirmed this, it is suggested by his political opponents that he paid for sexual intercourse.
I suppose this is where we all pretend to be total morons in some naive alternate universe. Fine, I'll play: Great point, Sadow! It's only Vitter's "political opponents" who dare suggest that he paid for sex. Everyone else with half a brain gives him the benefit of the doubt. Because: Who's to say what happened? Time and Hustler magazine contact Vitty one afternoon asking about his calls to hookers, and Vitty quickly issues a statement apologizing for a "sin", and hides from the media in an undisclosed location for days. Eventually, Vitty reappears with his wife to make another apologetic statement admitting to a "serious sin". But (like ya said Perfesser!) Vitter didn't specifically admit to anything, so we shouldn't assume anything. Perhaps the serious sin was Vitty leaving his phone unattended multiple times over umpteen months, and allowing some mischevious imp to take it and make calls to a Washington escort service. Yeah, that's the ticket. And another imp did the same grab-and-call maneuver with Vitty's phone in D.C.. Who can really say? Maybe Vitty-cent is just unlucky like that. Clearly, given the sequence of events, only political opponents would rush to conclusions and "suggest" that Vitty paid for sex. Who can possibly say what the "sin" was, unless Vitter admits to it in detail?
As Sadow continues, please attempt to follow his indomitable logic:
So Democrats are hinting that the same guy who allegedly paid for sex also would countenance rape by an unwillingness to let women defend themselves from it? Doesn’t seem consistent if he’d go so far as to pay for it, implying he would not want to prevent rape – if he didn’t think so, why pay for it?. But trying to figure out how and why liberals think the way they do has baffled even the wisest, keenest, and best-informed observers for decades.)
Good Grief! I'm sure in his mind Sadow thinks he's presented a stinging, ineluctable dilemma for Democrats. But really he's revealed more about his own mind's inner-workings rather than anything else. Once you untangle his awkwardly worded argument, I think it boils down to the following claim: why would someone who approves of rape pay for sex? In Sadow's mind, that' s a real conundrum. But what other inhabitant of planet Earth sees that as obviously contradictory? I'd like to know.
Umm, Dear Professor: Rape is about power and control, among other things. It's not some free market problem where economic agents opt to rape rather than pay for sexual widgets services. As if the Venn diagram of rapists and johns had no overlap. Why pay for it when you can you rape for free, Sadow wonders. It "doesn't seem consistent" to the keenly observant Professor. This is the horny dilemma that he presents to Vitter's Democratic opponents.
What: Blogging 101 Class: An Introduction to Blogging for the Utter Novice When: Thursday, Nov. 12; 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. Where: The Bridge Lounge, 1201 Magazine St Why: To Learn About Blogging and for Free Beer. Who: Rising Tide
This class will be taught by two local bloggers and will focus on blogging platforms, hosting, getting started, a walk-through of basic blog software, posting, adding media, blogrolls, linking, commenting and more. Laptops are encouraged.
Many thanks to Richard Rainey and the Times-Picayune for lifting a shroud of secrecy involving Jefferson Parish chief administrative officer Tim Whitmer being a financial beneficiary of parish insurance contracts, a deal emitting a stench worse than opening a refrigerator four weeks after Katrina.
Reading what Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche suspects to be a backroom deal, drenched in likely impropriety, eerily brings to mind shades of former New Orleans city councilman Oliver Thomas accepting funds from a city vendor in a parking lot scheme -- reserving Oliver Thomas three “hots” and a cot in “club fed.”
Tim Whitmer serving at the pleasure of parish President Aaron “13 count confessed felon Nick Baroni is a good friend of mine” Broussard, and Broussard appointing officials awarding contracts being secretly shared with Tim Whitmer, causes one to have visions of Jefferson Parish officials dancing to the beat of the Second Line Theme in a jazz funeral procession.
Because, most evidently, ethics and transparency in Jefferson Parish government, and possible illegalities, are being housed in a mausoleum.
And why no special audit has yet to be conducted, or requested by a “single” Jefferson Parish official -– as called for by the Times-Picayune -- on the $1,300,000 plus invoices submitted to Jefferson Parish by the combined twenty-six count confessed felons, Nick and Keith Baroni, is no longer quite as difficult to comprehend.
Moreover, Jim Letten, now is the time to demonstrate that you are needed more than ever as the U. S. Attorney and squash the accusations that you are more prone to investigate New Orleans African-American officials.
“Why There are Critics of the Federal Hate-Crimes Legislation, like Jindal and Vitter, Who are Hypocrites”
A person capable of enacting a hate crime, perhaps, and just maybe, might be dissuaded from committing a violent act due to the enhanced resources to prosecute and punish under the recently enacted federal legislation signed into law by President Obama.
Terrorism, an act likely to involve, and threaten, a broad sector of the population, understandably, is harshly punishable under federal law. And the most serious of all federal crimes.
Acts of hate are equally likely to involve, and threaten, a broad sector of the population. But, unfortunately, not all states have enacted hate-crime legislation, a justification for the federal legislation.
The African-American girls, murdered in a fire bomb attack on an Alabama church, while attending Sunday school, and the three civil rights workers murdered in Mississippi, had their civil rights violated. A violation of federal law, and justifiably so since Southern states were not generally aggressive in prosecuting, and convicting, such horrid acts of terror.
On the West Bank of Jefferson Parish, when a white person poured gasoline on an auto with a three year old African-American boy in the auto, attempting the set the car on fire, while shouting racial epitaphs -– well, thankfully Louisiana had a hate-crime law.
The accused, after being convicted of placing combustibles with the intent to ignite, had ten years of jail time added to his ten year sentence for two counts of violating the Louisiana hate-crime law. Although, due to a glitch in the law, the sentence for the hate crimes was later overturned by the Louisiana Supreme court.
For many many years I have heard conservatives (like “Limbaugh” wishing to put drug users to death) advocate more severe punishment for drug dealing and drug usage to possibly solve, or reduce, the scourge of drugs, but not advocate enhanced punishment to curtail violence manifested by hate.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is on record requesting that the U. S. Supreme Court reverse the court’s decision striking down a Louisiana law which can execute a person convicted of raping a child. On the other hand, Jindal campaigned on a platform of repealing the Louisiana hate-crime law -– no doubt pandering to the right-wing.
As well, Sen. David Vitter, a long-time opponent of hate-crime laws, who most certainly opposed the expansion of the federal hate-crime law, has been strongly supportive of reversing the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Louisiana child rape law.
As there are rapes which are more heinous, there are acts of violence, involving hate, such as attempting to set an auto ablaze with a three year old African-American child strapped, and crying, in the vehicle, that are more heinous and to claim otherwise -- as Jindal and Vitter have -- I say, you are a hypocrite pandering to the religious zealots.
It chronicles Big Pharma's heroic battle against sugar pills.
Half of all drugs that fail in late-stage trials drop out of the pipeline due to their inability to beat sugar pills. ... It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time.
It's not that the old meds are getting weaker, drug developers say. It's as if the placebo effect is somehow getting stronger.
The fact that an increasing number of medications are unable to beat sugar pills has thrown the industry into crisis. The stakes could hardly be higher. In today's economy, the fate of a long-established company can hang on the outcome of a handful of tests.
Why are inert pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings—and potential therapeutic applications—of the placebo effect. At the same time, drugmakers are realizing they need to fully understand the mechanisms behind it so they can design trials that differentiate more clearly between the beneficial effects of their products and the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Whatever we do, let's not ever tap into the "body's innate ability to heal itself" (through belief or laughter or diet/exercise... etc). Let's not research that, because the profits are in daily pills. If you teach a person that there are alternatives to pills, you've lost a wonderful business opportunity.
Here is a summary of the the policy initiative Mayoral candidate James Perry introduced today, interspersed with brief bits of praise.
During mayoral transition, we will conduct a national search to hire a new Superintendent for the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD). I will appoint a diverse citizen’s committee to implement the search process, and we will hire a Superintendent who is committed to reform and to making our city safer.
Action Item #1: Crime Report Card. Within a week of that new Superintendent’s arrival, I will sign and personally deliver an Executive Order requiring the NOPD to compile and disclose data to members of the press and public in a monthly “Crime Report Card,” enabling everyone to monitor and evaluate how we are performing on public safety.
A thousand Amens!
Action Item #2: New Public-Private Economic Development Partnership. As Mayor, I will sign a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) to establish the first Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in city government. This PPP will create a new economic development organization to implement a long term, comprehensive, and coordinated plan for building the city’s economy.
A handful of Amens.
Action Item #3: More Open Budgeting, More Fiscal Responsibility. As Mayor I will sign an Executive Order directing the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to begin the municipal budget process earlier in the year by releasing preliminary revenue projections to members of the City Council and to the public. I will direct the CAO to engage all stakeholders, public and private, in an open public dialogue during the third quarter of the year, setting budget priorities and promoting a broad consensus before the critical budget decisions are made in November.
Back to the thousand Amen level!
Action Item #4: Reform City Contracting, Reduce Corruption. As Mayor, I will sign an Executive Order establishing a new and reformed process for the procurement of professional services contracts throughout all executive branch departments, agencies, boards, commissions, public benefit corporations, and other public entities while also maintaining the City’s commitment to DBE hiring goals. This reformed process will establish evaluation committees with expertise and diverse membership and will require them to review proposals in an open public process that allows everyone to observe how city government awards professional services contracts.
Transparent government contracting-- so sensible and overdue... it might just work! Five hundred Amens with another five hundred if the reformed contracting oversight process can be done in an expeditious manner.
Action Item #5: More Sheriff Sales, Less Blight. As Mayor I will sign an Executive Order to make Sheriff house sales a priority in eradicating blight. I will direct housing enforcement personnel to hold monthly auctions on properties where owners have ignored administrative orders to make repairs.
As long as we start with the serious offenders first, and are auctioning obviously blighted properties, I'm on board.
The Saints are like nicely restored wood furniture
You can smell the "great finish"*.
Well, it might not have been a "great" finish over the Falcons, but, like the Miami game, the Saints found ways to overcome mistakes that would've proven tragically lethal for any other Saints team. And, given the history of this franchise, that's a "great" step in its own way. Quite simply, this year, on the crucial downs where the game seems to hang in the balance, the Saints make clutch plays. That's especially sweet when it happens during a rivalry game.
With all due respect to the other defensive and offensive units and the coaches, the primary difference this year is the Saints' opportunistic, take-away pass defense. Long ago I learned that the element that (often) separates the elite teams from the rest is great pass defense. The execution of the secondary (read: "pick 6" interceptions) takes this team from "very solid" to "great". Granted, we love the Saints' "intangibles" (leadership, confidence, attitude, luck, made luck, beneficial calls, opponents' unforced errors... etc) and the coaching (great offensive and defensive schemas). We love when Brees throws to Marques "Big Smooth" Colston (or anyone else, for that matter). We love the Frenchy/Bell running game, the pressure blitzes, (and we understand that this pressure helps to set up the interceptions that distinguish this team). We love Morestead's leg... but still, to use a gender-specific description: the Saints' secondary is one dangerous hombre, one macho muchacho, one alpha male dog.
The talking heads hosting the MNF ESPN telecast sung the praises of the Saints all night long. It was almost nauseating-- and I'm a fan. When Chucky started demonstrating the special mouthpieces the Saints have that align their chakras or something, I rolled my eyes so far that I got dizzy. Liprap informs us that these mouthpieces were a creation from Doktor Moreau's island laboratory, which is disturbing. This is write your own punchline territory, btw.
Concerned fan pipes up: "But Oyster, that's part of the problem. It sounds like an absurd concern, but with the easiest remaining schedule in the league, there's a real danger that the Saints might go undefeated in the regular season. If they do, all of this tertiary nonsense and media puff-n-fluff will inevitably take its toll and the Saints will lose focus in the playoffs. We don't want that."
Yeah, but whatcha gonna do? Tamp down every fan's ecstatic throes so it will help Saints players focus? Please. Just enjoy the ride.
Remember: According to Greg Meffert, Meffert was Nagin's first choice to be recovery czar. When Meff bowed out of the sweepstakes, Nagin found Blakely-- and Blakely did nothing, stayed on the job even though he was tired of doing nothing, and then blames New Orleans' lack of recovery on its citizens, who he describes as lazy racists. Not a good day for Nagin's recovery team.
Four years ago, a cleansing natural disaster presented New Orleans with an opportunity to start over, and replace its crippling institutions of welftardism with a more hopeful, capitalist alternative. But the entrenched liberal interests would not allow the city to pull itself up from the floodwater by its bootstraps. They made sure an insidious "public option" was reinstated, and now private businesses must compete against a government entitlement funded by tax dollars.