10 February 2006

Some Current New Orleans Talking Points . . .

Yet More Casualties from KTMB:
Last night I was in the commercial area of Carrollton at the River--referred to as Riverbend. In the past few months I've slowly noticed a fair number of businesses in this area and also along Carrollton's other commercial corridors of Oak Street and Maple Street permanently shutting down. Many never reopened after KTMB, but they weren't cleared out or displayed for sale signs signaling a final "throwing in of the towel." In the past month I've noticed this seems to be happening more often--and in many cases long-time established locally-owned and operated businesses. I know of several cases where business owners lost their homes and decided to relocate elsewhere--or just remain where they ended up when they evacuated in August. For others, they apparently have no faith New Orleans will rebound anytime soon and don't like their odds for survival. We've already lost (hopefully temporarily in many cases) so many businesses and institutions in heavily flooded portions of New Orleans so its imperative the ones on the high ground locations such as Prytania, Magazine, St. Charles, the Vieux Carre, and Faubourg Marigny remain.

Notable businesses in Carrollton yet to open include the Camellia Grill, the Double M Feed Store on Oak, both the PJs and Starbucks on Maple, and multiple Rite Aids (see below). Some business gone for good are: Paul's Framing on Oak, Cote Sur on Maple, Figaro's on Maple, and Margaux's (formerly Zachary's) on Oak. One thing that makes New Orleans what it is has always been the locally-owned small businesses--which in many cases amazingly we've retained for so long. New Orleans starts losing these wholesale and we take yet another step into the generic abyss that unfortunately defines the majority of this country.

Levee Board Reform
All indications from the special legislative session in Baton Rouge are that the proposed bill for integration of all of the levee board fifedoms into one megaboard is doomed to fail--at least in its current written form. At this point, I do not care if there is one board or several streamlined boards (I think I heard that the Netherlands has eight or nine boards under the DeltaWorks). For the love of God, just remove (or significantly reduce) the political appointment thing completely from the board(s). Staff these boards (or megaboard) with professionals in fields that have relevance to flood protection--hydrologists, geologists, engineers, wetland specialists, etc., etc. No longer have these appointments act as rewards for political friendship and loyalty but instead opportunities for educated experts to apply their skills towards providing the best flood protection scientifically possible for the entire State of Louisiana--not just the New Orleans area.

It's no surprise the all-out consolidation probably won't fly with the state's politicians. For instance, Livingston Parish wants out. The Westbank portion of Jefferson Parish wants out. (Or at least certain politicians from these areas have voiced they don't want to reform). They'd like to see the levee boards remain over their jurisdictions stay just the way they are.

Their angle: we didn't flood during KTMB and we're happy just the way things are. It all works just fine for us. And also, this whole thing is New Orleans' problem--why should the whole state have to deal with it?

The truth is the relationship between New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana (and even the neighboring parishes to New Orleans--especially St. Bernard and Plaquemines) has always been rocky. I have always said that the City of New Orleans is a northeast-type city (the era of development, the ethnic/racial diversity, the cultural aspects, etc.) cast by itself in the rural Southern United States. The other 63 parishes have always felt slighted that New Orleans drains an unfair proportion of the state's resources and the other areas don't get their fair share. The proposed levee consolidation idea is no different in their eyes. This proposal is viewed as a power grab by the New Orleans area politicians (and therefore a power loss for eveyone else). Also, the past (from their perspective) tells them their problems will always be given the back seat to those of New Orleans and they perceive the centralized levee board as focusing primarily on the New Orleans issues while neglecting their flood protection interests and concerns.

A flooding Mississippi River or Atchafalaya River or hurricane-driven storm surging Gulf of Mexico or Lake Pontchartrain or Terrebonne Bay or Vermilion Bay knows no political boundaries or jurisdictions. Therefore, protection of Louisiana from these threats should not be impaired by political boundaries or jurisdictions. If nothing else, there needs to be an independent oversight commission to assure the flood protection elements within the various jurisdictions work in unison and also to monitor and assist the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who ultimately has sole responsibility for Louisiana's flood protection. Hey, they decided they'd handle it--twice--in 1927 and 1965.

I personally resent the Administration treating Louisiana like a first grader by forcing us to prove our seriousness by reforming our levee boards--or we don't get the candy. They have framed this issue in their usual fundamental way meaning that anything (such as a compromise which will likely be the outcome if any reform is passed at all) short of one megaboard will be treated as an utter failure and therefore, we can't be trusted with any money, etc. Tis a setup in my humble opinion.

Rite Aid: Worst. Ever.
The Rite Aid Corporation just plain sucks. Really its that simple. Most of their New Orleans stores remain shuttered with no real signs of progress towards reopening anytime soon. The one nearest me on Oak and South Carrollton just sits there empty as it was cleared and gutted in November. Do these idiots not want to make money? Do these idiots want to lose more market share to Walgreens? And they are idiots--here's why:

Back in 1998 when Rite Aid agreed to purchase the K&B chain the K&B name could have been retained in this region but Rite Aid refused. I can just hear Rite Aid's marketing firm trying to explain to the executives about the unbelievable store and brand loyalty this region had for K&B and how they'd be absolutely moronic to outright change the name to Rite Aid. Keep the name of the stores in this region as K&B and print your own purple money or change the name and piss everyone off and have them running away from the stores. They could have done the K&B: A Rite Aid Company or something such as that, but no. The loyalty and affinity for K&B runs so deep in New Orleans that soon after they were bought out they conducted a firesale of K&B everything: from their own "generic" K&B products to K&B shopping carts and K&B clocks. Hundreds and hundreds of people showed up in Metairie for this thing. It was crazy--I was one of them.

So now having relic K&B products to show off to friends is considered cool. We stumbled upon a whole milk crate full of K&B toothbrushes at a flea market in Panhandle Florida a couple of years ago and I think we bought them all. The Circle Bar, however, has the holy grail: mounted onto the ceiling on one of the rooms in the bar is an exterior K&B clock which probably measures six by six feet--at least.

So, my point is Rite Aid is just horrible and they've managed to screw something up that was virtually impossible to mess up--and I'm talking before the hurricane. The store on Broadway is open (with limited hours) for beer buying since Walgreen's doesn't sell beer but it just seems like there is absolutely no progress coming along with the closed locations.

Nagin Questions Motives of Tulane Historian Douglas Brinkley:
Did anyone else see Mayor Nagin with Norman Robinson on WDSU after the 10pm news last night? He implied Brinkley's (his name was never actually said) upcoming book about New Orleans and KTMB is politically-motivated painting Nagin in a negative light and is purposely being released a few weeks before the mayor's election to hurt his re-election bid.

They're tryin' to wash us away . . .


At February 10, 2006 11:27 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

Good riddance to Rite Aid and the Camellia Grill. The latter was clearly being used as a cash cow by whatever family owns it. It was really sliding. Let somebody else take it over and treat it in a first class (a world class) manner, as the old lady ought to be treated.

At February 10, 2006 11:28 AM, Blogger Mr. Clio said...

On the Nagin, thing, Brinkley has been ripping Nagin since days after the storm. I thought it was strange that Brinkley was going THAT hard after him. There's a deeper story there somewhere.

At February 10, 2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous ashley said...

I used to live at Oak and Burdette, and yeah, everything around is being shuttered, but man, does it make you happy for the things that are around.

Going to Vaughn's on a Thursday night makes me remember why this is the only place in the US worth living in.

I truly hate Rite Aid. And that "store" on Broadway and St. Chuck is horrid. Good luck finding any Louisiana products in there...not even some hot sauce. Idiot marketers.

The only K&B things I have left are a purple hat from a bottle of K&B tequila, and a couple of decks of K&B cards. That, and the cases for my drum set. They looked nice enough in the catalog, but when they finally got to my house (in 1996), the only thing I could say was "They're K&B purple".

Some people now know EXACTLY what color they are.

Man, since everyone's abandoning us, I think we need a new K&B, a new canal villere, a new Kress, and so on.

When I go through Dorignac's, I look at labels now. All of Emeril's stuff is made in Cincinnati or Jersey. Sorry, but I buy local. And guess what? It tastes better.

At February 10, 2006 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Margaux's was never as good as Zachary's.

But I'll miss Figaro's

At February 12, 2006 7:23 PM, Blogger Ray in New Orleans said...

What's up with Camellia Grill anyway? When I drove by it in November, they had their lights on and their pink slip from the health department in the window approving them to re-open.

At February 14, 2006 3:13 PM, Blogger Hollis P. Wood said...

Another I think we may never see again........Brunning's. Whole fried flounder....mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Truely sad if they don't come back. Has anyone heard?


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