Category Archives: Fog Of History

THE NEO-YIPPIES

Sat, 22 Dec 2007 06:00:10

It was a nasty Friday in New Orleans: gray damp and foggy which was fitting weather for the day after the debacle at City Hall. The weather also matched my mood but I did have a brief moment of clarity (sunshine?) when I realized who the loony left activists who have hijacked the public housing debate remind me of: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin who dubbed themselves Yippies. In reality they were the Abbott and Costello of the Sixties New Left: they were in it for the theatre and nothing else.

Abbie HoffmanRubin-Pig

L: ABBIE HOFFMAN DEEP THINKER. R: JERRY RUBIN & A PIG.

I’ve heard from several people who were in the Council chamber at the beginning of the day that the whole punch-up looked staged to provoke an overreaction from the Council and cops. If that’s so it worked as did the gate rattling by the neo-Yippies outside. While it may have been great drama it was a disgrace: both the police and demonstrators acted badly. I intensely dislike the use of tasers; if applied to a person with heart problems they can be fatal. Mercifully that didn’t happen. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

I think that the neo-Yippies will only be in town for as long as they can have their antics splashed on teevee and all over the internet. What’s more worrisome is the way that more sincerely motivated local activists have allowed these clowns to hijack their cause. The neo-Yippies are in it for the theatre: they don’t care about poor people in New Orleans. They’re into bringing bullhorns into public meetings and live to brag about lying down in front of bulldozers. Drama for drama’s sake is what the Jay Arenas of the world crave. 

Back to the original Yippies: Hoffman and Rubin. They were experts at hijacking worthy causes and turning them into violent farces by provoking the police to use the weapons of the day: nightsticks and tear gas. On black Thursday we saw tasers and pepper spray used at our very own mini-riot. Here’s hoping that it’s not just a warm-up for a bigger conflagration.

Finally,  my favorite Abbie Hoffman story. At Woodstock Hoffman briefly commandeered a microphone during the Who’s set. The Who were neither Yippies nor Hippies so when Pete Townshend realized they were being upstaged by Hoffman he did the only sensible thing possible: he kicked the Yippie foole in the ass and off the stage. Talk about direct action…

 

MUDDLING THROUGH

 Mon, 02 Jul 2007 13:50:10

There’s a lot of angst in the NOLA blogosphere this summer. Progress in the city seems to have come to a standstill: the charges against Dinneral Shavers’ accused killer have been dropped and looming in the background is Hurricane season and whether or not the levees will hold. Things do indeed look grim but I remain more sanguine than most about the future of New Orleans. Am I crazy? Well I’ve stayed despite manifold misgivings so I’m at least semi-crazy. The reason I think we have a shot at being okay is that New Orleanians are experts at muddling through. We’ve done it repeatedly throughout our history.

Before the Civil War,  New Orleans was one of the richest cities in the world. Of course antebellum NOLA’s prosperity was built on the rotten and sordid foundation of slavery. The city fell early in the Civil War slavery was abolished and many believed the city would die. It didn’t. We muddled through.
 
The 20th Century brought a series of  calamities: the flood of 1927; Hurricane Betsy; economic stagnation; middle class flight; crime corruption and crack. New Orleans has been declared dead many times. It’s hung in there. How? We muddled through. 
 
Most of our long term problems-crime incompetent leaders bad schools corruption to name but a few-have been with us forever. We’ve survived by learning how to muddle through. Surviving isn’t as uplifting as thriving but there are worse things than muddling through; like giving into despair. I always thought that the post-K  recovery would be a slow and painful process given the profound problems we had before the levees broke. New Orleans was a glorious mess pre-K and now it’s even messier. It’s going to take time patience and above all else the ability to muddle through. It’s one of the things we do best after all.

Storyville 2006/1990 Repeat

Sun, 21 May 2006 05:00:00

“To some of the folks who went on the other side   you went to the red light district.  I forgive you.” The Reverend C Ray Nagin 5/20/2006

The one good thing about this election is that it’s over. The people have spoken and they may be nuts but they have spoken. Let’s start with the good news: there will be 4 new members of the city council and I won’t have the Queen Of Hearts Jay Batty and Renee Gill-Pratfall to kick around any more. That’s the glass is half full part of this post.

Here’s the glass is half empty bit: C Ray was re-elected. Mitch ran a valiant if overly polite campaign but I think he was done in by things beyond his control. A tip of the hat to Jeffrey of the Library Chronicles for his prescient post about identity politics and how it would enable C Ray to win. Jeffrey was right.

Another key to C Ray’s victory was that he got out of the way and allowed his veteran campaign consultant Jim Carvin to run the show during the runoff. Carvin was instrumental in stage managing C Ray’s subtle message of fear and in helping Nagin to assemble his weirdo coalition. One component was conservative whites who hate the Landrieus and don’t care for black folks either but think of C Ray as “one of the good ones.” Another component was black people who were worried that THE MAN was about to take away their hold on power in New Orleans. As proven by Presidents Beavis in 2004 and Tricky Dick in 1972 fear of change and of the other is a very powerful electoral tool.

C Ray’s victory speech was typically bizarre. He started by quotin’ scriptures and later startled his audience by thanking President Bush for his help. Yes folks it was Oyster-Adrastos theory time. I heard a few people in the crowd gasp but C Ray boogied on in his ADD way.

There was one part of C Ray’s speech that was an in yo’ face shot at Landrieu supporters. That’s right the quote that began this post: …you went to the red light district.  I forgive you. Gee Ray thanks a lot but you’re sounding a bit too much like dangerblond for comfort. Some of us went to Storyville willingly and are proud to be whores…

Finally C Ray’s victory tonight is eerily reminiscent of Sidney Barthelemy’s 1990 re-election campaign win. (Jim Carvin also worked for Sidney. So much for C Ray being purer than Caesar’s wife.) In 1986 Sidney ran against my good buddy Dollar Bill Jefferson. Sidney was elected by a coalition of middle class blacks and white voters just like C Ray in 2002. As Mayor Sidney was if anything even more incompetent than C Ray. Scary no? In 1990 lawyer and civic activist Donald Mintz ran against Sidney. Donald was an outstanding candidate: smart   articulate and a staunch liberal. He was also probably too much of a gentleman for his own good. Sound familiar? Sidney was able to whip up fears in the black community that THE MAN was coming and was re-elected by the same people who opposed him 4 years earlier. History alas has repeated itself. I was hoping that the crisis would break the pattern but it did not. Debrisville has a long history of tolerating incompetence which the voters just extended for another 4 years.

EPILOGUE: Sidney Barthelemy’s second term was even worse than his first: crime exploded and the city continued its decline. The main difference between C Ray and Sidney is that C Ray isn’t  perceived to be corrupt.  Otherwise the parallels are eerie. <cueing the theme from The Twilight Zone>

 Gandhi, Mandela, Parks, King and Crazy Kim

Fri, 10 Mar 2006 06:09:23

The title of this entry sounds like an SAT question (at least when I took it in the paleolithic era) which one of these names doesn’t belong? Or is that which one is insane? My money’s on KWB…

Missing out on Crazy Kim’s exit from the pokey makes me feel like a slacker blogger.  Here’s why it took me so long to flame her: I had lunch with Dr. A the Bird Lady and Judy In Disguise at Cafe Degas. Then Dr. A and I went car shopping to replace our beloved and now officially totaled Jetta Wagon; to our surprise we bought a car. We are now official as opposed to unofficial tree-huggers. We bought a Prius. It’s a pretty amazing automobile the control panel is more like a computer than a car. It’s a bit tricky but we’ll get the hang of it: it made us feel like Picard and Riker. Of course Dr. A has a helluva lot more hair than Picard and I have a helluva lot less than Riker. <sigh> End of endless Star Trek TNG reference and back to our martyred heroine.

I gotta give Crazy Kim credit for gall chutzpah audacity; you name it she’s full of it. One thing she’s NOT is unpredictable. But it takes a lot of nerve as well a few loose screws to say rubbish like this:

“I committed no criminal act ” she said. “I was confined for my convictions.” Butler said that giving up her power on the order of nine judges would have been to invalidate the people who voted her in to office.

Butler who announced her candidacy for mayor last week after finally appearing in court then drew parallels between her and other noted historical figures. “I consider myself among many heroes ” she said to a gathering of supporters and local media. “Heroes like Rosa Parks Dr. Martin Luther King heroes like Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.”

Reading about Mad Kim’s 72 hours of suffering choked me up; or did it make me want to choke her? I get confused easily. I was particularly touched by the way she compared herself to the great Nelson Mandela. I think she’s on to something (or is that on something?) Crazy Kim was in jail for 3 days; Mandela for 25 plus years. Crazy Kim whines incessantly and blames everyone but herself for her woes. When Mandela emerged from jail he forgave his enemies never whined never complained and destroyed apartheid by peaceful means. Damn they’re so alike they remind me of Chang and Eng. Maybe Kimba’s campaign slogan should be Crazy Kim & Nelson Mandela: Peas In A Pod. Now that I think of it there *is* a Mandela who Crazy Kim reminds me of: the great man’s lunatic ex-wife Winnie.

I want to be fair to Crazy Kim and take a brief look at the other names she invoked:

Mohandas Gandhi? Not unless she starts wearing a loincloth and stops wearing those big ass earrings. Kimba’s not even like Indira Gandhi; the latter actually accomplished something. Indira and Kim do have one thing in common other than martyrdom and a flair for drama: gender. Unlike Indira Crazy Kim won’t go to war with Pakistan but if elected Mayor I worry that she’d declare war on Bogalusa…

Rosa Parks? Crazy Kim and the late Ms. Parks are both African-American women. I don’t recall Rosa Parks wearing earrings bigger than manhole covers a la Crazy Kim but I’m not certain. Howzabout another campaign slogan: Rosa Parks Fought For Civil Rights So Crazy Kim Could Make An Ass Of Herself. It’s long but it’s sorta catchy.

Martin Luther King? Let’s see both MLK and KWB are martyrs. Using Crazy Kim style logic being publicly ridiculed by C Ray is just as bad as being murdered. This gives me an idea for a Crazy Kim campaign song: U2’s “Pride In the Name Of Love” with Kimba friendly lyrics.  Or she could adapt the Neville Brothers song “Sister Rosa ” the possibilities are as endless as Crazy Kim’s self pity.

What would I do without Crazy Kim? I gotta enjoy this while it lasts: there are only 45 days until election day. After that I won’t have Crazy Kim to kick around any more. Of course there was a new Nixon after his 1962 loss to Pat Brown so perhaps there will be a new Less Crazy Kim. God only knows that she needs an extreme mental makeover OR better meds…”

OUR GOVERNMENT IN ACTION/WAVING THE BLOODY FLAG

Sat, 21 Jan 2006 17:59:16

Item-1 Our Government In Action:  There was an almost breathtaking story by James Varney in today’s local rag about the monthly costs of FEMA trailers: $3 322. And y’all these are not like the fancy trailer Jack Nicholson had in “About Schmidt.” We’re talking generic flimsy pieces of shit. There are plenty of rentals in the metro area for less and if you can pay 3K you can get a helluva spiffy crib Uptown or in the Quarter. The thing that blows me away is that FEMA’s direct rental assistance program has a cap of $786 a month. You know things are bad when Councilman Eddie Bad Hair starts making sense.
Why are these shitboxes so expensive? I don’t know for sure but I have a hunch: FEMA is part of the Porkland Security Department. The feds of course  are the ones who gave us $150 screwdrivers and $400 toilet seats. Mmm pork. Remember when the Repubs were the party of smaller government? Those days are long gone. Brownie the fashion god  was not the only incompetent at FEMA or Homeland Insecurity.
Item-2 Waving The Bloody Flag: History buffs out there will recognize the 19th Century origins of this phrase. It was what the Repubs did from 1868-1888 once they had morphed from the party of Lincoln Seward and Sumner into the corrupt tool of the robber barons. At every election they ran against the “bloody flag of rebellion.” You woulda thought that Grant was running against Jeff Davis BUT it worked.
Yesterday White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl (Turd Blossom) Rove oozed back into the spotlight. He spoke to the RNC and urged Repub candidates to wave the bloody flag of 9/11 and the endless “war on terrorism.” It did after all work in 2002 and 2004 when war heroes like Max Cleland and John Kerry were smeared as “unpatriotic” by chickenhawks like Vice President Duce. The problem is that the big lie often works: ask John McCain or Horace Greeley for that matter. Of course Horace went…um…west quite some time ago.
I know one thing for sure: the closer we get to election day the administration will start chattering about chatter and raise nationwide security alerts as they did throughout 2004. Btw there has not been a *single* nationwide security alert since November 2004. Jeez I wonder why…