C RAY’S RAP SESSION

Sat, 18 Feb 2006 06:13:21

The meeting was longer than a Grateful Dead concert or a Wagnerian Opera y’all. I believe that it’s still going on…

C Ray did his Lizzie Borden impression and axed the neighborhood leaders to bloviate opine and all that jazz. I went with my friend the Tomb Builder’s Son aka TBS; emphasis on the BS. He’s a very interesting guy: a retired theatre professor who is a civil war buff cat lover and well to my left politically which is pretty scary. As well as being a major character he’s one of the most reliable people I know: if you need a favor you can always count on TBS. Today he gave me a ride to C Ray’s Rap Session and I mean that in the ’60’s sense of the word rap. There wasn’t any hippity-hop music within earshot.

The meeting was held at the gynormous First Baptist Church on Canal Boulevard at the parish line near the cemeteries. Fellow Debrisvillians know it as the big ass silver church off the interstate. Size notwithstanding it was kind of hard to find but TBS was equal to the task. First we pulled up in front of a building that turned out to be a funeral home. Oops. We would have gone in and paid our respects but the place was flooded and gutted; just like much of the city.

Finally we found the fellowship hall of the church. (Protestant terms like “fellowship hall” make me nervous. I halfway expected someone to leap out and bathe me in the blood of the lamb. As far as Greeks are concerned lamb is for eating not bathing.) The first fellow we met at the fellowship hall was Councilman Batty. We had a pleasant exchange and I was relieved to see that I wasn’t the only one who looked as if he needed a drink. I nearly asked Mr. Batty if he had a flask but decided not to. I needed to be sober and fully alert for C Ray’s Rap Session.

The meeting’s official as well as officious title was <drum roll> Mayor’s Urban Planning Committee Focus Group Meeting. I’m usually a wee bit out of focus but I try y’all I really do. Time for pop music digression number 96: Does anyone else recall the ‘70’s Dutch band Focus and their big hit “Hocus Pocus?” There was a lot of hocus pocus going down at this meeting he said circling back to the issue at hand.

C Ray looked subdued when he arrived a mere 15 minutes late. I’ve attended some other Mayoral dog and pony shows during his tenure and C Ray usually works the room in an almost Clintonian frenzy. This time he looked a bit grim and wary of the crowd; only greeting the folks he knew.  Many hands were unshook (unshaken? unshaked?) mine included. The good news was that C Ray was NOT chewing gum for once. I have an almost pathological dislike of gum chewing but if he had a cud it was tucked in his cheek.  Hey we all have our pathologies: for example Dr. A is pathologically punctual. She is not now nor has she ever been on NOLA time. Being late is almost an art form here…

C Ray made some introductory comments as did an equally tall woman aide. She turned the proceedings over to Joe Cannizzarro developer Repub and bete noir of 9th ward residents who suspect him of plotting to steal their land. I think they may be a tad paranoid BUT when I shake hands with a developer I always check my wrist to make sure they haven’t stolen my watch. Mr. C as the Fonz would surely call him is a little fella (no the C is not for Clarence) and cracked a joke about needing a box to stand on to reach the mike. Someone took pity on the mighty mite of magnates and handed him the mike man.

Then we were treated to the sort of power point presentation that would wow your Aunt Minnie but left me cold. After that it was a blur of comments on the four sections of the report. Long comments; endless comments; windy comments; epic comments; C Ray comments; audience comments. Blah and blah and blah. I gotta give C Ray credit for not playing with his blackberry and either listening or doing a good impression of someone listening. Chief Clone Meffert on the other hand was fidgety and kept peeking at his blackberry. That’s not even a criticism y’all I was as wiggly as Shane on Survivor: Panama. (He’s the guy who smoked 3 packs a day until he was stranded and now he’s crankier than Norman Robinson on crack. This nicotine junkie reminds me more of the Jack Palance character in “Shane” than its eponymous hero. Talk about a misnomer: Alan Ladd has gotta be turning over in his grave.)

A few speakers stood out because of their passion. A woman from heavily flooded Holy Cross had one theme: MR GO must go. MR GO is an acronym for the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet which is widely and correctly blamed for flooding New Orleans East and Da Parish. Another woman urged C Ray to think of the working poor when he makes his decisions. I somehow doubt that’s what Mr. C and the other COC types have in mind. Of course if C Ray goes soft on the “undeserving” poor the maggots I mean magnates can turn to Gorilla Ron Hornblower; a man who never met a tycoon he didn’t put the bite on…

I wish that I could say that I gained some valuable insights from this meeting but I didn’t. I had a headache so I was relieved that nobody started shouting at the parade of Cs:  C Ray Mr. C or Chief Clone Meffert. <cueing up CC Rider the Peggy Lee version>

The meeting was droning on when the Tomb Builder’s Son and I left. Neither of us said anything at the meeting: we’re among the lucky ones who live in what some people insist on calling the sliver by the river. I hate that phrase: it sounds too much like liver and the only liver I like is my own. In fact I’m quite attached to it and it to me. If Debrisville can survive jokes like that it can survive anything…

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