Category Archives: New Orleans

THE MAYOR’S RACE AS SITCOM

Tue, 17 Nov 2009 14:53:27

I’m beginning to warm to the New Orleans Mayor’s race; not because of substance there doesn’t appear to be any. The race as it slowly takes shape seems to have strong elements of farce. It won’t make for good guvmint but the comic possibilities are seemingly endless. It could be sitcomtastic or is that sitcomlicious?

There’s James Dot Com Perry who’s running his campaign on Twitter and Facebook and seems to spend much of his time raising money out of state. It’s a pity: James Dot Com is *potentially* an interesting outsider candidate but he needs to shut down his laptop stop tweeting and knock on some doors to meet some actual voters. This virtual candidacy thing is from hunger unless there’s some shoe leather expended in support of it. We’ve already had the Wizard of Oz for Mayor we don’t need a virtual one to replace  him.
 
Leslie Jacobs seems to be flirting with the idea of running even though her expertise such as it is is in education and the Mayor has bupkis to do with the schools. But she *is* rich and Sandy Rosenthal is her sister-in-law which could lead to a loose cannon relative sub-plot and that’s *always* fun. I was under the impression however that Ms. Jacobs is a Mike Foster Republican and this town isn’t going to elect a White Gooper. Just ask Rob Couhig. Oops poor comparison Ms Jacobs has a full head of hair and isn’t notably obnoxious… UPDATE: Ms. Jacobs had a meet and greet last night and said that she was a “lifelong Democrat” despite her association with Foster. That’s a fact that she needs to get out there. 

John Georges continues to disprove the notion that all Greeks have a bit of Zorba in them. He’s an opa nopa y’all. Mr. Georges has more money than God but no discernible personality. The only thing interesting about the vending machine magnate is his wobbly political journey from Republican to Independent to Democrat. (Hmm I wonder if he plans to revive the Whig party next?)  He mistakenly thinks that running first in Orleans Parish in the 2007 Governor’s race is significant when it was all about the street money. Georges has enough cold hard cash to finish as high as second or third in an open field but if he’s elected Mayor I will eat one of Mark Folse’s straw hats under the gaze of General/President Jackson in the Square. Having said that I do find Georges’ delusions of grandeur to be most amusing. He could play the eccentric millionaire who’s so dull that he’s funny in our sitcom. Yeah that’s the ticket.

Ed Murray’s part in the campaign is obvious: every sitcom needs a straight man and who’s duller than Ed? Well John Georges is but he’s already been cast. Murray’s main asset is that he’s not C Ray Nagin: a man who dreams big and delivers small. Murray looks increasingly like the tortoise in this race but now that I think of it there aren’t any hares. I have one suggestion for Murray to liven things up: he could claim to be baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Murray to capture the vital Orioles fan vote…

Mitch Landrieu is doing some polling to see if he should think again about considering to run even though he said he wouldn’t. I like Mitch; he’s a nice guy with a fine tenor singing voice but the Hamlet act is wearing thin. He’s becoming the Adlai Stevenson of NOLA politics: a guy who can’t make up his mind and wears his indecision on his sleeve. Adlai only won one election in his life so Mitch has that beat; except in New Orleans Mayoral races where he’s 0 and 2. Of course if he does run the Landrieus can revive their brother and sister act: Mary is currently dancing the old soft shoe about health care reform after all…
 
Finally I am somewhat alarmed about the impact that this sitcom of an election is having on Clancy DuBos. He seems to be channeling some movie or tevee wise guy in his latest column but I’m not sure which one it is. It can’t be Joey Pants from The Sopranos Jeffrey’s already got the pants angle zipped locked up. Clancy’s too tall to be Al Pacino in any of his wise guy roles although the fuhgettaboutit shtick is straight out of Donny Brasco. Hmm now that I think of it Clancy is more like Nathan Detroit of Guys and Dolls fame. Our local Damon Runyon Ronnie Virgets has been known to turn a colorful phrase or three in the pages of the Gambit after all. Btw Ronnie would be an outstanding recurring character in our wee sitcom: the zany Yat in a loud shirt who breezes in cracking wise and then takes every one off to the race track. Hilarity ensues..
 
Oh well this race could make the sanest person crazy and drive a Mormon to drink but at least it’s entertaining. It’s a pity however that the stakes are so high: the city is crying out for leadership and instead I’m casting a sitcom which is particularly ironic since the *original* 2010 frontrunner was Oliver the actor whose act is currently wowing them in the big house. 

 

THE (FANTASY) LIFE OF RILEY

 Wed, 03 Jun 2009 05:00:19

Someone in NOPD Superintendent Warren Riley’s family must have encouraged him to dream big reach for the stars and all that inspirational hokum. Unfortunately Chief Riley has an alarming tendency to confuse dreams with delusions. Last weekend I was gobsmacked to read that Riley is contemplating running for Mayor. LINK. My initial response was to laugh like a deranged hyena and make jokes about Riley spending too much time in the evidence room. I stopped laughing when I realized that it’s part of a pattern of Nagin-like self-delusion on the part of Riley.

Warren Riley is an unpopular and ineffective police chief running a department that has never recovered from its Katrina trauma. And make no mistake about it: the cops here were traumatized and their leader is a bureaucrat who is as inspirational as a CPA. It’s one of the reasons NOPD is the demoralized mess that it is today.  
 
Chief Riley is now contemplating applying his modest leadership abilities to politics. If he decides to run it won’t be Riley’s first attempt: he lost a race for Sheriff to Marlin Gusman. He ran of course as C Ray’s man and that’s how a run for Mayor would be seen as well. If you like Ray Nagin you’ll love Warren Riley. How’s that for a losing slogan y’all?
 
The last thing New Orleans needs is another Mayor who will surround himself with yes men and overreact to criticism. Warren Riley is just such a man: as his recent dealings with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro make obvious. The Judge is not one to lash out at someone publicly before making the same criticisms off-stage. Indeed Judge Cannizzaro’s complaints about slow arriving (and badly written) police reports and cops not showing up for court have been made by his predecessors. Riley’s response has been indignation and pettiness. He’s always right because he says he is. Hmm where have we heard that before?
 
The latest petty move by Chief Riley involves NOPD Captain Jeff Winn. LINK.  I’m oversimplifying things but what’s wrong with a bit of oversimplification among friends? Here we go: Winn received some good publicity in the aftermath of Katrina and the flood. That in turn made Riley jealous and he began working to damage Winn by using his bureaucratic skills bury Winn and end his career. But Winn has proven to be a resourceful adversary. Riley dispatched him to the DA’s office as punishment but Winn has done such a good job that Riley has reassigned him in a fit of pique at both the Captain and the Judge. Way to go Chief.
 
Back to Riley’s most recent dispute with Judge Cannizzaro. They have profound philosophical differences. The Judge is a big picture man who wants more detectives so that his office can focus like a laser beam on the most violent offenders by clearing as many cold homicide cases as possible. Riley like the fictional Baltimore police chief in The Wire wants bodies on the street and dope on the table as I pointed out a few years back in this post. Chief Riley seems to believe that by asserting that things are getting better crime-wise they are. It’s another delusion masquerading as a dream which sums up Warren Riley’s tenure as police chief quite nicely.
 
Breaking: Riley has cleared the cops involved in the dubious shooting of Adolph Grimes in Treme on New Year’s Eve. LINK. The officers involved will remain on desk duty pending the results of a federal investigation. Hopefully the feds know the difference between facts and wishful thinking; something Warren Riley has never mastered.

THE FOLLOWERS OF CHAOS OUT OF CONTROL

Wed, 27 Aug 2008 16:21:17

Mr. Wet sucks. Let me explain why. He’s one of my best  friends in the NOLA blogosphere BUT the sumbitch stole my Gustav related post title: Achtung Baby. It makes me wonder if he’s a psychic from all those years of wearing a hat and living in the frozen North. (It somehow gives me perverse pleasure to imagine him plugging in his car whilst conversing with a neighbor who sounds like Marge in Fargo. Oh ja you betcha.) But if Folse *is* a psychic I’m thinking he’s a fake; sort of like Sean Spencer the goofy fake psychic tevee detective on Psych. Hmm now that I think of it Mark’s son Matt is a goofball in the Spencerian vein…


Anyway since Mr. Wet stole my thunder I decided to use a line from another great ’80’s “alternative” band REM. The song Disturbance At The Heron House is actually political but the line “the followers of chaos out of control” sums up rather neatly the panic in the air here in Debrisville. Me I’m just cranky that this fracking storm may goose step into town this weekend and force Southern Decadence to cancel. It’s usually a big weekend for Quarter merchants. For the uninitiated Decadence is a cross between boys gone wild and a gay pride event. As my good friend with a thick French accent and a Russian name Paul Nevski once said to me: “During Decadence everyone in the Quarter is gay. Even the ‘omophobes are gay.”

Back to Gustav; at least the motherfracker has a proper scary name. I can respect a storm named Gustav; it evokes saurkraut beer gardens and Prussian militarism. As of now we don’t know where this Teutonic twit of a storm is headed but Dr. A and I are eyeing it cautiously and plan to indulge in a bit of brinksmanhip before deciding what to do which means we’ll be inviting ourselves to my cousin Tina’s house in Dallas if we need to bug out. Katrina was the first time we’d ever gotten out of Dodge and we’re only doing so this time if Gustav is a giant Stasi agent of a storm headed right towards us.

So it’s time to wait watch and prepare. I don’t think freaking out helps anything but I understand why folks who were hit hard in 2005 are flipping out. It’s time for us to be ghouls and root for Gustav to go elsewhere which only people in the Hurricane belt are allowed to do.  I usually hope that storms head to Kleberg County Texas home of the King Ranch where there are more cattle than people. So Gustav moove in that direction so the followers of chaos won’t get out of control:

THE RETURN OF RENEE GILL-PRATFALL?

Sat, 29 Dec 2007 16:35:07

No the dipshit former Councilwoman and State Rep isn’t planning to run for office BUT she’s been nominated for an administrative position at Dollar Bill U SUNO. LINK. According to a former senior SUNO staffer Gill-Pratfall is completely unqualified to act as director of recruitment and a bunch of other stuff. But SUNO is one of the last places that the Klepto Congressman has any pull and RGP is a wholly owned subsidiary of Dollar Bill Inc. Is this a major scandal in the context of Debrisville muck? No but it *is* a travesty. Plus I love the nickname that I gave her so much that I never miss a chance to deploy it. Repeat after me: Gill-Pratfall.

In other tales of Debrisville muck: former Council Prez and convicted felon Oliver (the Bad Actor) Thomas’ friends held a political style fundraiser for his family. I have nothing against Oliver’s wife but he should have socked away his bribe money for a rainy day instead of once again putting the bite on campaign contributors. Oh well once a pol always a pol…

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…

 

THE MELEE AT CITY HALL

Fri, 21 Dec 2007 15:55:34

The best thing that can be said about the public housing debate/debacle is that it’s over. And it’s over not in the sense of the original Roy Orbison version but in the way that Michael Caine croaked the song at the end of Little Voice. The end came as a death rattle which led several of the national newscasts last evening. Another proud moment for us. Hey the punch-up might make Oddball on Countdown: Keith is quite fond of fights in legislative chambers after all. We begin in New Orleans…

In spite of all the lofty and moralistic rhetoric this episode brought out the worst in everyone. Of course cant and posturing always seems to do that. I’m inclined to think (wishfully?) that the most violent moments were initiated by non-locals. Why? New Orleans is a violent place but like good Mediterraneans NOLA violence is usually *personal* and not political. And thank God or whatever for that. Council meetings here feature a lot of screaming and posturing but not much punching until today that is.

I’m feeling somewhat Shakespearean tonight so all I can say is a pox on both your houses. I’ve also got the flu which makes me feel poxy or something like that and I’d love to use epoxy to seal certain mouths shut. The extremists on both sides made a rational debate on this complicated issue impossible so emotion and humbuggery were the order of the day. Pro-demolition forces-including the local rag-engaged in suspect and ofttimes slimy tactics and the pro-projects status quo demonstrators played right into their hands. The punch-up in the Council chambers provided cover for Carter and the Cynthias to vote yea. Are you happy Jay Arena? 

I’m too ill and disgusted to say more this evening and I’m not sure that I plan to revisit the subject in any event. Since I made a Roy Orbison reference at the beginning of the post I’ll end with some beauty amidst the ugliness now that it’s all over but the shouting:

THE SLOW EDDIE BLUES: SECOND VERSE, SAME AS THE FIRST

Thu, 19 Jul 2007 15:48:36

Orleans Parish DA Eddie Jordan appeared before the City Council’s criminal justice committee yesterday to defend the indefensible; aka his record. Unfortunately some of the usual suspects (no not Kevin Spacey) showed up to defend Jordan on racial grounds. According to his defenders those who oppose Jordan are all racist rednecks which is manifestly preposterous. If anyone has the time to do some digging I suspect that we’ll learn that some of Slow Eddie’s defenders have ties to Dollar Bill’s machine. LINK.

My friend Brian Denzer has posted his reaction to yesterday’s hearing at Citizen Crime Watch. It’s an impassioned hearfelt and beautifully written post. Well done Brian. Thanks for all your efforts to make this a safer city. Please don’t get too discouraged: New Orleans needs your passionate advocacy.

CROSSING JORDAN

Wed, 18 Jul 2007 14:26:28

Crossing JordanSlow Eddie

 LEFT: Jill Hennessy as a cranky teevee ME. RIGHT: Slow Eddie Jordan inept real life DA.

The teevee show Crossing Jordan was recently cancelled and most New Orleanians would like to see the Slow Eddie Jordan District Attorney show canceled as well. I’m not standing up for Jordan: he’s been a bad and even worse stubborn DA. He seems to need remedial lessons in how to pick up the phone and talk to the NOPD. BUT I think one should look before one leaps. What happens if Slow Eddie beats an uncharacteristically hasty retreat? According to my diligent friend Celcus the First Assistant DA Gaynell Williams will replace the man who appointed her. I’ve only seen her on the teevee news from time to time but she doesn’t appear to be the brightest bulb in the lamp. Do any of my lawyer readers have any first hand experiences with Ms. Williams that they’d like to share?

The impulse to see Slow Eddie’s head on a pike is understandable but Ms. Williams is unlikely to be a better DA than her boss: she’s the first assistant so she’s part of the problem. Since Dollar Bill’s hatchetwoman Stephanie Butler controlled patronage at the DA’s office Ms. Williams is one of their peeps. This may be why some on the City Council want to bring in a special counsel to oversee the prosecution of violent crimes in the parish in lieu of demanding Jordan’s resignation. I’m not sure which would be the better choice BUT I’m not sure that creating a new incumbent is the best idea come the next election: Slow Eddie is toast but his replacement might have a shot. 

The *real* problems at the Orleans Parish District are institutional. The mass firings of experienced support staff and investigators at the beginning of Jordan’s tenure have demoralized the office ever since. I know an ex-ADA who was approached for one of the newly created higher paying jobs who declined because she didn’t want to work for Jordan and his minions which is in turn I realize another argument for his resignation.

There’s little doubt that Eddie Jordan has been a disaster. The arguments for his resignation and/or removal are compelling ones. I don’t however expect that he’ll resign or be removed until he faces the voters. Make that *if* he faces the voters. Slow Eddie’s critics need to keep the pressure on but they should also start shopping for a candidate to replace him at the next election.
That’s the end of my stint as the village contrarian; for now that is.

THE NIGHT I KINDA, SORTA MET THE CANAL STREET MADAM

Wed, 11 Jul 2007 05:01:13

How’s that for a teaser? And no I did not frequent her bordello. Get your minds out of the gutter folks. And that means you blondie.

T’was the night before the 2004 Presidential Election. Dr. A and I joined a group of friends,  Romans and countrymen at the corner of Napoleon and Magazine to wave Kerry-Edwards signs and encourage people to vote out the dolt. We all know how that turned out.

At one point I was on the neutral ground across the street from Miss Mae’s bar. There was a tall brunette who a tabloid writer would call statuesque. I suspect that Ashley or Ray would call her something else. Anyway I chatted with her for a few minutes about how horrible Bush was and I predicted that Kerry would win. We all know how that turned out too.
 
A few minutes later someone (I can’t recall who but it might have been Bob, Cookie Tom,  Julie or Jen) said to me: “Did you realize who you were talking to?”

“Nope. But she looked kinda familiar.”

“It was the Canal Street Madam.”

Tagged

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.