Thu, 22 Jun 2006
The US Army Corps of Engineers recently admitted culpability for the levee breaches that caused New Orleans to flood. It was barely a blip on the news radar. Too many people long ago decided New Orleans flooded because New Orleans was vulnerable. They bought the original line, trumpeted by the Corps, that the levees overtopped and the flooding was inevitable. It's just crazy to live in New Orleans, after all. We should all just turn sod and move upriver.
Now we learn that the government in the form of a Congressional investigation has known for months. Why wait? Why hold the video back? What purpose did that serve exactly? Tell me again what I'm supposed to expect in return for the taxes I pay to this government?
Considering what it can be like living here it's hard not to get really, really angry about stuff like this. Do you know how weird it is to be happy that the National Guard is back in town? It's a little less weird then driving past Vera Smith's makeshift memorial in the little park at the corner of Jackson and Magazine on the way to work every morning. The traffic lights on that corner are still not operating. It all just wears you down.Thu, 25 May 2006
One of the many things Katrina wrecked was my guitar equipment. I lost two amps -- a Johnson modelling amp and a partice amp -- and two guitars. The acoustic was decent but I really loved my electric. It was a Franken-guitar with an old Gibson Melody-Maker neck and an SG-type body. The body was "finished" simply with lemon oil rubbed into the natural grain. It had two pickups including one aggressive Gibson "dirty fingers" humbucker. Someone had smashed all that stuff together and made a really fun guitar. It wasn't worth much monetarily but it was fun to play. It also confused the heck out of people who know guitars.
So I had been guitar-less since the big K. And while I didn't play much it really was an enjoyable way to relax and I definitely missed it. So when two of my friends hinted they were going to get me a guitar I was ecstatic. My friend Mike Raeder had a few of his gutars damaged by flooding. Our other friend, Mike Fowler, does guitar repair and setup work. So I figured they were probably just going to sand down a guitar, clean it up, and go with that.
Fowler went a lot further though. He hand-crafted an electric guitar body into a Gibson-SG style shape. he routed it all out by hand and assembled the entire thing himself using only one of the old necks from Mike Raeder's collection. It is his very first, from-scratch guitar build. I was shocked because I knew the amount of effort and labor that went into it. And it's wonderfully playable too. It sounds fantastic and looks great. As soon as I can get a link from Fowler, I'll put it up because he does great work and deserves the business in the future.Wed, 24 May 2006
It's been a while and I've been working a new job so not much time to say anything. Reading a lot of the New Orleans bloggers but I'm taking the long view and trying not to get wrapped up in the emotional side of things as much.
Par for the Corps - Washington post editorial asking why there isn't more outrage at the failures that actually caused our city to flood in the first place. John Barry's companion editorial and the discussion that followed are interesting too.
Anyone interested in what really happened should take a look at the T-P's interactive timeline. Of course you could also learn alot by following Chris Rose. Though his columns are informative and educational in a different sort of way.
Of course we're preparing to evacuate ourselves early and evacuate often this year. On the plus side of life, we bought ourselves a kayak last week. Not for paddling around NOLA after a flood, but just for the fun. We've been talking about doing it forever. So while we're waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for our house to be rebuilt, at least we can stick with some of our pre-katrina plans and goals.
Lastly, there's this list of links to various and sundry 80's videos on youtube. Videos you've probably never seen or last saw only once back when you were a kid suddenly available again. I could lose days on this.Wed, 12 Apr 2006
Before this space devolves into a litany of non-stop complaints, I should point out some good things that have happened in the days since the US Army Corps of Engineers' faulty levees burst.
First and foremost, Jennifer and I are OK. We got out of New Orleans with all of our pets, all of our pictures, and more clothes than many folks. We were reasonably comfortable at the friends' who kept us for the first month and at my parents'. And we have been extrordinarily fortunate to get into an apartment Uptown.
We're both working. Jennifer's work has started to pick up lately and we're pleased about that. I didn't lose a day of work since the storm. I was able to work remotely and my previous employer was very supportive of all their employees. Even if I had been unable to work, they still would have paid me for the month of September as they did for so many other employees who couldn't work. And I say previous employer because I have since gotten a new job. I had been ready to move on from my previous work site before the storm and opportunity began to knock. I'm enjoying the new gig and working hard.
We're also enjoying one of these now. Sure, it took 15 years and 8 feet of water to get my wife a new car, but it's been worth it. She's been craving a MINI for a while but we couldn't justify it. I've never been much of a car kinda guy -- the last car I bought was the utterly utilitarian Saturn -- but man this thing is fun.
Lastly, my mother in law sent us some pictures of Callie living it up on the farm. Yeah, I'd like to have her back here with us, but from the dog's perspective, she's probably having a better time up there right now. And of course this means we have our families supporting us in any and every way they can. I mean, they're putting up with my big, goofy, hyperactive German Shepherd who I am convinced thinks she is a much smaller dog. The pics really cheered me up. I've put them below. The other GSD is Petra. She's teaching Callie how to be a real German Shepherd on a farm.Tue, 11 Apr 2006
Last week we got a little note on our car asking us to please not park in front of a certain house. Now under normal, Pre-K, conditions this sort of thing would probably be amusing more than anything else. Of course, that never happened in our mid-city neighborhood where street parking is(was?) at least as difficult as it is in our current Uptown digs.
But this is post-K and things are different. And raw emotions are much closer to the surface. See, this note came just two days after we got ripped off by a shoring contractor. It came a week after one of my brother's friends was killed by a shotgun blast to the chest in the Marigny. It came the day after someone was robbed at gunpoint just across the street from our current apartment (and this person's house, as well). It came the same day that the US Amry Corps of Engineers announced that, oops, we need another 6 billion dollars to protect the region so we're going to have to hold up flood maps yet again. It came after we saw the utter lack of progress made on our little house by our General contractor.
I should note that the person who left the little nastygram is not elderly or handicapped. She looks to be about the same age as us and healthy. Not that we've met her of course, but I've seen her going in and out of her perfect little undamaged and unblemished house. Walking more that five measly feet on occasion won't kill this lady.
Then came the icing on the cake one week later. She had the audacity to leave yet another note on our car the following week. No, it was not to chastise us for parking in front of her home. It was to thank us for not doing so. See, this is not our neighborhood. It is a temporary home that we feel lucky and grateful to have but it is not our house. Thus, this is not our neighborhood. As renters, we're going to suck it up, keep our heads down, and quietly live our life until we can get everything put back together again. You know, like 80% of the rest of New Orleans.
And it's wasn't just any note either. She bought it and packaged it in a little envelope. She thought about it because the note she bought had a picture of a woman walking a pug on it. You know, like our little pug. I mean, Wow.
But wait, you say, she couldn't possibly know you guys were going through all that.
Nope. That's no excuse. She lives here in the sliver-by-the-river surrounded by miles of flooded out devastation. She gets the same paper as we do and watches the same local news. She even had a citizens for 1 greater New Orleans sign in her yard for a while though I suppose it messed up those perfect little hedges and had to go. When people in other parts of New Orleans make broad generalizations about clueless Uptownites, they're thinking about this lady.
I can understand this from someone who doesn't live here and you haven't seen it all with their own eyes. Out of sight, out of mind, after all. It's not right, of course, but I can make some sense of that. But to be here and be so utterly clueless and self absorbed. It's symptomatic of an all too prevalent attitude: "Well, yes, that's terrible and I really feel for you but you're messing up my view and cramping my style."
Although I can understand that feeling from someone outside of here, I certainly don't condone it. While there are certainly a great many Americans down here in the muck with the rest of us working and helping and caring, it feels like there are so many more with this attitude instead. And it's this attitude that allows people to believe the lie that we are ten feet below sea level and should just all move away. It's this sort of benign neglect that will let this city whither and die. "Gee, that's so sad but really those people shouldn't have lived down there anyway. I'm sure their lives are better now. I read somewhere that that city was on such a downward slide anyway. It's probably all for the best, really."
And that is why, for my own sake and sanity and personal therapy reasons, that I posted it here in a fit of utter passive aggression. At least you have a house you're unable to park in front of you jerk.
If you can't get mad, get even. And if you can't get even, just whine about it on the Internet for all to see.