Daily Archives: May 11, 2006

FORUM FOLLIES: ASHE CULTURAL ARTS CENTER EDITION

Thu, 11 May 2006 05:00:00

The District B/At Large Council Candidates Forum is over and done with. There were a few technical glitches but on balance it went well. Hey all the candidates showed and we had a better than expected crowd.

Dr. A and I arrived early. I needed to help with the door and she had a repeat engagement as the timekeeper. We also had car trouble: another post-K leaky tire issue. Mercifully our friend James Einstein Hair has an air pump that he travels around with so we were able to pump it up and get home from Central City unscathed. Alas this morning Dr. A had to buy a new tire for our 3 month old Prius. This is our fifth flat tire post-K and the second time we’ve had to buy a new tire. I’m not sure who we should send the bill to: C Ray FEMA or the Shaw Group.

Back to the forum. It was held at the Ashe (it has an accent grave but this pesky blogging program doesn’t) Cultural Arts Center on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard in Central City. I’d never been there before. It’s a really cool space; part catch-all cultural and arts center and part community gathering place. I was impressed. It was a huge contrast with our previous forum in the sanctuary of Touro Synagogue and vive le difference. This contrast is what New Orleans at its best is all about.

After helping forum honcho Irish Channel Ed schlep tables around the auditorium I strolled outside to help man the doors.  But I refused to wear the doorman suit they gave me: I look terrible in epaulets. It was steamy outside but there was a breeze to keep me from sweating too much. Thank God for small favors: it’s the time of year when Debrisville starts to feel like the world’s largest steam bath.

I had a reunion of sorts outside with District B 3rd and 4th place finishers Michael Duplantier and Shane Landry. They were of course joined by their wonderful spouses Bettye and Becky who I call the killer Bs. I must admit that I neglected my door keeping duties to schmooze with them. They showed up to support our effort to establish a public dialogue between pols and citizens that will (knock on wood. Ed or Natalie?) continue after the election. At least we hope so. We may need to stop knocking on wood and start using it to knock some sense into our elected officials. In some cases it would take more than a few trips to the woodshed…

I was so busy chatting up my friends the Duplantiers and Landrys that I’d neglected my other duty as moderator wrangler. I lined up ace Picayune political columnist Stephanie Grace to be the moderator. Stephanie lives in my hood and tolerates my frequently OTT emails about local politics. I do go on sometimes. Of course y’all already knew that. Stephanie was a wee bit nervous: I was pleased that she didn’t ask me what the hell I’d gotten her into. I had been teasing her that perhaps she should close the evening with a song; given the setting I thought that “Big Chief” would work. She told me that she only sang in her car with the windows rolled up or at Jazz Fest when thousands of other people were singing along. I decided to let her slide. I *am* capable of random acts of niceness. It’s a strain but Dr. A insists…

In classic local fashion everyone arrived on NOLA time: L-A-T-E. There were a few panicky moments whern we thought that the only people to show up would be committee members candidates and people working the forum. Mercifully by 7:00 PM we had a packed house and three of the four candidates (Head Gill-Pratfall and Fielkow) but Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson was late again. I’ve lived with Dr. A long enough to have caught her dislike of people who are forever late. Some people in the crowd who know Jackie well told us that she *always* does this so she can make a grand entrance. I think that’s rude. She breezed in like the Queen Of Hearts; acting as if she was doing the peasants a favor by coming to them. I was leaning towards voting for Fielkow anyway but her bad attitude and queenly airs during the forum made my decision an easy one. Ya blew it Jackie.

The forum had some technical difficulties to begin with. The microphones didn’t work and that meant trouble: the hall is long and cavernous with a 20 foot ceiling. Stephanie was doing her best but her voice only carried halfway. Mercifully the cavalry showed up in the person of a dreadlocked  soundman who put things right and the show went on. Frankly Murphy’s Law always applies at these events but something different goes wrong each time. Now that I think of it sound is the most common problem: mikes have a nasty way of dying at the worst possible moment.

On to the forum itself. It’s sort of a blur: Jackie Clarkson wore red Stacy Head and Renee Gill-Pratfall wore almost identical cream colored suits and Arnie Fielkow wore pinstripes. Arnie was the only one who was NOT in a skirt. I was disappointed. I was hoping for a kilt. Btw both the Z-Man and I wore our Jazz Fest 2006 How Are Ya shirts. I introduced him to several people as my twin brother. I’m 5 inches taller than he is but that’s a mere detail. We’re both verbose and semi-obnoxious so the twin thing works.

Stephanie Grace did an excellent job as moderator. She’s very nice and looks deceptively innocent but she’s a killer when it comes to asking probing questions. You gotta watch the innocent looking ones. I know first-hand: Dr. A has what trial lawyers call an “affidavit face” meaning that she looks as if she’s incapable of lying. Stephanie has the same thing going. So Stephanie if the column thing doesn’t work out you have a promising future as a con woman. Women with affidavit faces can sell ice to the Inuits. I look shifty so I’m not con man material. I am however a first rate bullshit artist. Oh that’s right y’all knew that already.

A few comments about the candidates. The Queen of Hearts aka Jackie Clarkson is past her sell buy date as a candidate. She was cranky querulous and imperious. I kept waiting for her to shout “Off with their heads.” I also disliked the way she and Gill-Pratfall tag teamed Arnie Fielkow and Stacy Head.  Speaking of Gill-Pratfall she was in mid-season dumbass form last night. If there was ever anyone who deserves to be labeled with the Britism “stupid cow” it’s Gill-Pratfall.

I thought that Arnie Fielkow was the most impressive candidate. He was less like Mr. Rogers in person. He came off as very smart as well as very nice. The combination of his performance and Jackie’s snarkiness pushed me off the fence in the At-Large race and into the Fielkow camp. We also need as few incumbents as possible on the council and I’m afraid that Jay Batty and Gill-Pratfall may ooze back into office. <shuddering at the thought>

Here’s another Fielkow factoid: my friend Julie asked me if I noticed that Arnie hitched up hs pants every time he stood up. I missed that completely but I’m still voting for the pants hitcher. Hey it’s better than letting them fall off and making us see his naughty bits. I’ve never voted for a flasher and I don’t intend to start now.

One more thing about Arnie: he has an alarming tendency to use the word utilize. I hate that word: use is good enough for me y’all. Our moderator knows that I hate the word and I thought I saw Stephanie glance my way when Arnie was using utilize; either that or I have delusions of grandeur. Fortunately he only used the U word three or four times so he held onto my vote. Watch it Arnie…

Stacy Head also performed well. I’ve heard her set answers many times by now so I wound up riffing on the debate with Shane Landry part of the time when she and Gill-Pratfall spoke. (Sorry Stacy. And Renee we’re bad persons so don’t sweat it dawlin. Btw persons is Gill-Pratfall’s favorite word. She uses it the way some people I mean persons use ketchup: she puts it on everything. Mmm ketchupy persons.) I think that Shane is probably too much of a smart ass to be on the city council but it would have been interesting. At one point the candidates were discussing alternate revenue sources for the city. Shane and I decided that they should open a bar at City Hall. A proposal that would surely be popular with Council Clown Jay Batty.

One more thing about Stacy Head. I got a robo-call from her campaign the other day. It’s truly weird to get such a call from someone you know. I’m thinking that I should start making robo-calls to my out of town relatives and friends that way my feelings wouldn’t be hurt when they hang up on me… For the record they don’t hang up on me but they should. I’m a terrible pest. Just ask Stephanie Grace. Actually she’d tell you that I’m good at being pestiferous…

When the forum was over I felt a sense of relief. It’s the last one I have to help put on. I’m planning to see C Ray and Mitch in person tonight at Lie-ola. I may need to wear shades so the gleam from Hizzonner’s bald pate doesn’t blind me like the last time I saw him in person. I think he knows that I don’t like him. Mitch at least has a Seventies style shag rug atop his head which is typically thoughtful of him. The Landrieus are very polite people.

This is the end of another fabulous forum foray folks.