30 November 2006

Photo du Jour: New Orleans 1 Hurricanes 0

Hollis Wood, Paul S. Pierce and I headed out for a few Mid City drinks tonight to celebrate Paul S. Pierce's return to his home after a flood-derived 14 month exile. We started the night out at Pal's Lounge and then found ourselves to Finn McCool's where tonight was denoted as "Celebrate the End of Hurricane Season 2006 Night." On a chalkboard in the men's bathroom was the 2006 New Orleans/Hurricanes soccer-like score . . . In da face.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Hurricane Season 2006, Finn McCool's

City of New Orleans/Earthlink Wifi Network . . .

Turned on the laptop and a new wireless network appeared in my wireless network connection box yesterday morning: Feather By Earthlink. This is the long-to-be-touted City of New Orleans/Earthlink wifi service which supposedly will be eventually accessible from anywhere within the city. It appears they are offering a subscription-based service for faster access and slower access for free. Currently, I am connected to the network in the free mode--this blurb is being posted to the site from a location Uptown using the wifi service . . .

Anyone else have success connecting to it???

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Earthlink, WIFI, Uptown

Ahh, a boy can dream can't he

Any chance we can get Louisiana to implement this retroactively?

*San Diego to Ban Wal-Mart Supercenters*

AP Business Writer

Nov 29th

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The City Council here voted late Tuesday to ban certain giant retail stores, dealing a blow to Wal-Mart Stores Inc's potential to expand in the nation's eighth-largest city.

The measure, approved on a 5-3 vote, prohibits stores of more than 90,000 square feet that use 10 percent of space to sell groceries and other merchandise that is not subject to sales tax It takes aim at Wal-Mart Supercenter stores, which average 185,000 square feet and sell groceries.

Mayor Jerry Sanders will veto the ban if the Council reaffirms it on a second vote, which will likely happen in January, said mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz The Council can override his veto with five votes.

"What the Council did tonight was social engineering, not good public policy," Sainz said.

Supporters of the ban argued that Wal-Mart puts smaller competitors out of business, pays workers poorly, and contributes to traffic congestion and pollution Opponents said the mega-retailer provides jobs and low prices and that a ban would limit consumer choice.

"Quite simply, I do not think it is the role of the San Diego City Council to dictate where families should buy their groceries," said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who opposed the ban.

Councilman Tony Young, who joined the 5-3 majority, countered, "I have a vision for San Diego and that vision is about walkable, livable communities, not big, mega-structures that inhibit people's lives."

Wal-Mart spokesman Kevin McCall said the Bentonville, Ark.-based company may consider a legal challenge or voter referendum if the measure becomes law.

"Certainly we're disappointed but there's still a number of steps left in this process," he said "We need to look at what our options are."

The ban is modeled on a law in Turlock, a city of 70,000 people 85 miles southeast of San Francisco Turlock prohibited big-box stores over 100,000 square feet that devote at least 5 percent of their space to groceries.

Wal-Mart recently dropped its challenge to the Turlock ordinance, which prevented it from building a planned 225,000-square-foot Supercenter store In July, a federal judge in Fresno said Turlock's zoning law did not infringe on the company's constitutional rights The state Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Wal-Mart has about 2,000 Supercenter stores, including 21 in California, but none in the San Diego area The retailer has 18 regular Wal-Mart stores in the San Diego area, including four within limits of the city of 1.3 million people.

Wal-Mart has not disclosed plans for a Supercenter store in San Diego area Sainz, the mayoral spokesman, said the retailer probably wants to expand

"It's complete and total guesswork but I'm inclined they would," Sainz said "Everything I've seen and heard from them makes me think they would."

San Diego's move comes two months after the Chicago City Council failed to override Mayor Richard Daley's veto of a so-called "living-wage" ordinance that would have required giant retailers to pay their workers higher wages.

27 November 2006

Saints in First Place/Cowboys Game is Flexed

One day late, but better late than never.

I was able to watch the entire game at a Hooters outside of Memphis. Here's what I thought:
  • The defense looked good. They took away the non-Vick running game and made Michael Vick win the game with his arm. That's the blueprint for beating the Falcons.
  • The Falcons wide receivers are THE WORST RECEIVING CORPS IN THE HISTORY OF THE NFL. PERIOD. Terrance Copper would be "Mr. Clutch" on this team.
  • Speaking of Copper, time to give him credit for catching the Hail Mary. To me, that was the deciding factor in the game. So he's lost one and won one. It all evens out in the end.
  • Drew Brees could ultimately make us forget about Archie Manning. And I am the biggest Archie Manning fan on the planet. Yes, he makes stupid mistakes sometimes. But he gets angry about it (did you see him on the floor after the INT vs. Cincy?), and comes back a better player every time.
  • The WR corps is beginning to look like the Broncos running game. It doesn't matter who you plug in, that guy is going to have a huge game. And they didn't drop big passes this week.
  • Welcome back, Fred
  • The Falcons are D-E-A-D, dead. The Saints have a 3-game lead on them. You figure they'll lose to Carolina and Dallas. That means the Saints would have to go 0-5 to have the Falcons catch them.
  • All the Saints have to do is make sure Carolina doesn't get more than one game ahead of them by game 16. They'll beat the Panthers at home. That will give the Saints the 5-1 tie breaker in the division.
  • Up to the Carolina game, the Saints have only one game left where they should be the decided underdog: Dallas. If they lose to Dallas but win the rest (or maybe lose one of them), they'll be in that position to win the division on game 16.

And speaking of Dallas, a tipster gave us the word that the Saints/Cowboys game will be Flexed! Primetime Sunday night, baby! Thank you NFL for making the right decision! Maybe one day the NFL will decide that the Saints will be good enough for primetime when they're not playing the Cowboys or a New York team. Look at the Saints primetime games in history and see how many times they've been against Dallas or New York.

But I'm not complaining. Much.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, Drew Brees, Michael Vick, Flex Scheduling, Dallas Cowboys

26 November 2006

Thanksgiving Tradition Renewed

I attended the season opener at the Fairgrounds on Thanksgiving and was part of a record crowd (nearly 9,000 people) treated to a great afternoon of racing. The combination of fantastic south Louisiana fall weather, a fully restored grandstand, and 600 new flat-screen TVs created a great horse-racing experience. I have had the pleasure of attending racing events at horse tracks from coast to coast including many pre-Katina visits to the Fairgrounds, but am still impressed by how close of a relationship the Fairgrounds has with the community. Being at the track on Thanksgiving is a great New Orleans tradition; it is good to have it back. If you have not had the chance yet to get out to the Fairgrounds for a day of racing, you need to go. The Fairgrounds is the third oldest horse track in the U.S. and is always a great place to pass a fall or winter day.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Fairgrounds, Mid City, Thanksgiving

21 November 2006

The Budget Surplus Fiasco

Our Governor is worried about only one thing - her political future. You can see her declining interest in doing what is best for New Orleans from the shedding of her responsibility in the Road to Nowhere Program (formerly Governor Blanco's Road Home Program) to the giant handout for all as a result of the state's one time budge surplus (estimated to be $827 million).

I have ranted about the Road to Nowhere Program. I also predicted (not that it was really all that insightful) on October 20 when the budget surplus was announced that Blanco would use it to win votes. Now I am going to rave about her announcement yesterday as to how she intends to spend OUR money.

Before I begin, point by point, remember that this is a one time budget surplus. If the state commits monies from a one-time budget surplus to renewable annual spending, the state will eventually have to cut the budget when the surplus is no longer available and revenues from taxes and other sources decline. The state spending money on items that require a long-term funding commitment is analogous to you getting a one-time end of the year bonus of $5k from your boss and going out and buying a new Mercedes Benz with $800/month payments for the next 5 years, even though your annual income did not change. You wouldn't base a long-term monetary commitment with large payments on a one-time cash bonus - but Governor Blanco will.

1. Governor Blanco proposes to raise schoolteacher salaries to the regional average with the budget surplus. Of course teachers in the state deserve a raise, and they realistically deserve even a larger raise then the Governor is proposing, but this is not the correct source of revenue for the raise. This will never fly and she knows it. She is going to use this against the legislators that refuse to commit to this budgeting mistake during her future reelection campaign (as in, "I demanded teacher raises but the legislature refused to fund it"). Instead, if the money is to be spent on education, it should be spent on facilities that need repair, or materials needed for operation. These are one-time costs and there is no better place in the state to spend the money on facilities and materials then in New Orleans.

2. Governor Blanco is going to ask for a tax cut in the form of a child tax credit. A tax cut? How can this state with its ever deteriorating infrastructure, lack of decent public services, eroding coast, and its largest city in shambles handle a tax cut? How can you get teacher raises and tax cuts at the same time? Sure we have a nice budget surplus now, but we will need every dime of revenue we can get several years from now when the rebuilding dollars quit flowing into the state. This is absolute nonsense and is no more than a reelection ploy. Instead of a tax cut use the a portion of the budget surplus to fund road and transit projects in south Louisiana to improve connectivity for business purposes as well as for future evacuation needs.

3. Governor Blanco proposes to speed two business tax cuts that are currently being phased out. One tax cut reduces the sales tax on business machinery and equipment and the other eliminates the state franchise tax on corporate debt. These taxes are already being phased out; what is the point to expediting this? Businesses are capable of planning on the changing tax structure and are aware of the current program to reduce this tax burden. All speeding it up does is reduce the state's near-term revenue, which is needed for rebuilding, and give Blanco a chance to tout her skills in tax reduction. This is political nonsense.

4. Governor Blanco proposes to give all homeowners an insurance rebate check to offset the higher costs of homeowners insurance primarily due to the Louisiana Citizens Property Corporation's 15 percent surcharge. Yes, if you have homeowners insurance, Governor Blanco wants to send you a check in the mail. How can you not vote for a Governor that sends you a check? We all love to get checks in the mail! But again, this does not resolve the real problem in all of Louisiana: insurance reform. The problem with insurance rates is not due only to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, or the massive debt incurred by Citizens Property Corp. Instead the problem for all of us is living and working in a state that has been in an insurance crisis for 15 years. Insurance rates are amongst the highest in the Nation, including homeowners, business and auto; multiple insurance commissioners have been in prison, and it is becoming more and more difficult to get a policy in this state. The insurance crisis is not just due to flooding in New Orleans - flooding has nothing to do with homeowners policies (they do not cover flood) - but is due to a lack of competition and adequate control of the insurance industry. Basically, nobody wants to do business with us. So knowing all of that, how is sending me a check going to solve this real long-term problem with insurance in the state? How will we, as homeowners, have a choice in insurers instead of being forced to use Citizens Property Corp.? How can people make decisions about returning home if they can't figure out how they will insure their assets in the long run?

Instead of these stupid, politically-motivated uses for our one time budget surplus, how about we fill some real needs. Schools, parks, roads, and mass transit throughout New Orleans need funding for rebuilding. Dump $300 million into these needs. LSU currently lacks state funds to match Federal funding that would help to rebuild the medical center in New Orleans. This is a critical economic need for New Orleans and the state, and a morally-responsible funding opportunity. Fund it and fund it now and figure another $300 million. Lastly, take the remaining surplus and fund coastal restoration projects. $227 million may be just a small piece of the needed funding, but in order for any of us to have a future in south Louisiana, we must get serious about paying for this work.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Blanco, Road Home Program, Louisiana

St. Bernard Parish Junior Rodriguez Speaks at MRGO De-Authorization Forum, 28 October 2006

I took this video about three weeks ago at the MRGO De-Authorization Forum at UNO. There are some good quotes here from Mr. Rodriguez. In the beginning of the video, he stares down the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers representative (off-frame) before he addresses the audience . . .

This is my first foray into YouTube.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, MRGO, St. Bernard, Junior Rodriguez

b.rox: Guerilla Art Appears in Mid City

How precarious a position is Louisiana in???

Via b.rox, check this statement out.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Mid City, Guerilla Art, Louisiana

Bye Bye Freeport-McMoRan

Just like that, another corporate headquarters is likely abandoning New Orleans. The proposed merger of Freeport-McMoRan with the Phelps Dodge Corporation, an Arizona-based mining company that controls much of the copper and gold mining and private lands in the southwestern US, will likely lead to the Freeport headquarters moving to Phoenix. Of course, some of Freeport's staff and office space in New Orleans will be utilized for the near future, but as the merger takes shape and costs are cut through the reduction of duplicate staffing and services, the Freeport/Phelps Dodge office in New Orleans will slowly disappear. The abandonment of New Orleans by Freeport will leave the area with just one Fortune 500 company, Entergy. The continued loss of corporate headquarters from New Orleans, and South Louisiana is a major drain on the economy in the long-term, reduces the number of highly-skilled and well-paid jobs in the region, and makes it difficult for local and state leaders to attract new business. Not to worry though, maybe Blanco and Nagin can get together and turn the Freeport building into a new casino-hotel complex and replace all of those engineering jobs with card dealers.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Freeport-McMoran, Phelps-Dodge, Entergy

20 November 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Week

I know that some of you show up on the webpage to check out my comments on the Saints games. Unfortunately, I have to keep it short. I am writing on a computer in the local public library because my family house doesn't have an Internet connection. So I'll keep it short.

  • Fred Thomas has had some good games with the Saints, and I know he's hurt. But yesterday he was Milton Mack bad. More than half the yards the Saints defense allowed was his fault. He was burnt THREE TIMES on long passes. Thanks, Fred. I blame him for the loss more than anything. It was 10-10 when he got burnt the second time, and it was 17-10 when he got burned the third time. Both of those could have still been overcome, even with all those turnovers.
  • Terrence Copper is still on the list. But so is Devery Henderson. He would have had the biggest receiving day in Saints history if he wouldn't have dropped so many passes.
  • Of course, I can't name any Saints receiver who didn't drop a pass yesterday, except maybe Reggie Bush.
  • Drew Brees made too many mistakes again yesterday. But you can't rant on him yet, because he's the reason why we have 6 wins.
  • I think it's time to retire my Kyle Turley jersey. My two jerseys are Turley and Ricky Williams. I hope you understand why I'm afraid to buy another new jersey. Every time I pick one, the guy flames out.
  • I just read that the Cowboys/Giants game wasn't flexed for next week, so there's still a slim chance that the Saints/Cowboys could get the call. Of course, I'm not sure that I want America to see the Saints right now. At least until we stop turning the ball over.

And, on one unrelated issue:

  • I am FULLY CONFIDENT that LSU will beat Arkansas Friday. Don't ask me why. I just have a feeling. I want that to happen. I want to get a BCS berth. I want to play USC in the Rose Bowl. I think the chances of that are less than slim, but wouldn't that be fun?

So anyway, that's all for today. Have a happy holiday. I'll be on the road and may miss the Falcons game. So my best guess is, everything will be back to normal in 2 weeks.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, Drew Brees, Devery Henderson, Fred Thomas, Reggie Bush

Topics du Jour: Miscellaneous Ramblings

1. Passing of the Consolidated Orleans Parish Assessor Amendment/Other Amendments.
I am amazed this amendment to the state constitution passed so overwhelmingly. I figured it would be approved both statewide and within New Orleans, but the percentages were surprising. I also thought sure the pro-the-old-way crowd (i.e. the assessor cabals and the incredibly under assessed property owners) would provide more of a fight. "Grassroot" signs did appear around town a few days before the election that stated approval of the amendment would lead to the elimination of "neighborhood assessors." Ya, "neighborhood." I live in the 7th Municipal District in Carrollton and with that mentality, my "neighborhood" includes West End. There are going to be some people that pay more property tax as a consequence of the consolidation when it takes affect in 2010, however so long as it is equitably distributed and everyone "pays their share," I don't have a problem with it. No more of the completely homestead exempt St. Charles Avenue house and the like crap. Of course Jefferson Parish will continue to under-assess the hell out of everyone creating a ridiculous disparity . . .

I voted for the elimination of the City of New Orleans car tax which I think has been a nuisance tax (and one that has really pissed people off and I've often heard cited as Reason #234 to move to Jefferson or across the magic pond). I also voted against that Central School District amendment (which passed statewide and locally in East Baton Rouge Parish). In my opinion the motives and reasons for this by the good people of Central can be questioned--let's put it that way.

2. Dollar Bill vs. Karen Carter U.S. Representative Runoff .
I voted for Carter in the primary--not for any other reason than she seems to be the one with the best chance of the candidates to replace Bill Jefferson. Troy Carter once again way-underachieves in yet another election (translation: gets his ass kicked). Unfortunately, I think da po boy may be on to something with his "best guess" about the upcoming runoff. Despite Jefferson's dismal showing in the primary he may still pull it off. Adrastos compares this election to the 1991 Governor's Race.

3. Journey/Def Leppard Concert at New Orleans Arena.
Yes, I admit it--I, along with several friends, attended this packed show Friday night. Funny thing was instead of the mostly "hey, bruh" crowd it consisted of the "ok, this show has to end at 11pm so we can get home to relieve the babysitter" crowd. From their appearance, I did see some people that apparently magically teleported from World's Fair 1984-era New Orleans to the current post-KTMB New Orleans, but surprisingly those were the minority. Of the two bands, I thought that Journey provided the better show even with the scab's scab as lead singer. Steve Perry is of course long gone and his replacement (who sounds and looks like Steve Perry more than Steve Perry looks and sounds like Steve Perry) has had throat problems which led him to be replaced earlier in the tour. Its like that position is jinxed. This was the first time I set foot in the New Orleans Arena post-KMTB although I plan to make an effort to attend the remaining five "home" Hornets games.

4. Ole Miss/LSU Game.
I had plans to attend the LSU game up in Baton Rouge Saturday night versus Ole Miss, but between the concert and the Saints game on Sunday I decided to not go up. I had multiple offers to go and watch the pay-per-view game at a couple of different bars, but decided to go old school and listen to Jim Hawthorne at home on the radio. A friend of mine has said since Les Miles' inception as head coach he didn't believe Miles was a very good coach and that LSU's success under Miles has been because of the amount of raw athletic talent that LSU has successfully recruited in recent years. I have always told him I didn't think--and hoped--that was the case, but I am starting to have that exact feeling as the Ole Miss game was yet the latest example of a game that fit that criteria. Miles was outcoached by Coach O. Period. LSU simply has better athletes than Ole Miss and that allowed LSU to overcome all of the sloppiness and bad coaching decisions. To eek a game out in overtime (after an extra point is blocked--77 straight converted extra points before that) as a 27 point favorite to an undersized, underskilled Ole Miss is ridiculous. Dandy Don's take on the Ole Miss game.

A TAF friend says "Miles is holding it all back and not showing anything for next week's Arkansas game." We shall see . . . I believe LSU is going straight to the always 27 degree Cotton Bowl in Dallas--probably versus Oklahoma, but things may possibly change with a victory this week in Little Rock. LSU still has an outside shot at an at-large BCS bid, although I just don't see it happening.

5. Lakeview Fine Foods Is No Mas.
Despite noticeable renovation--and expansion (the taking over of West Marine)--the Harrison Avenue grocery store is now not returning allegedly because of insurance issues. Yet another sad KTMB casualty. The owner says however he is in negotiations with another chain to re-open a grocery store on the site. (My guess would be Winn Dixie or maybe Rouses). Additionally, their attempt to offer a small grocery on Esplanade at the former Whole Foods location failed as they shuttered it a couple of weeks ago. Supposedly the employees there had so idea the pink slips were on their way and given 72 hour notice. I tried to go there last Friday to check the place out for the first time to surprisingly find "closed for business" signs taped to the doors.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, William Jefferson, Lakeview, Assessor Consolidation

19 November 2006

RTA: St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Not to Return Until "End of 2007"

I didn't hear this live, but while trolling the WWL Radio audio archives over the weekend I found a brief interview with an RTA spokesperson conducted Friday.

The good news: the portion of the St. Charles Avenue Line from Canal Street to Lee Circle will be back online "sometime before Christmas." Testing (using a streetcar) to begin this upcoming week or perhaps the following week. The bad news: The full line isn't slated to return until the "end of 2007." And that didn't even sound so definite.

Its already been 15 months. The end of 2007 would be 28 months with New Orleans minus the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line. I guess I should be thankful the carpetbagger parking on the St. Charles and South Carrollton neutral grounds is no longer an issue.

Restortation of the Line should be of the utmost priority and I don't get the feeling that it is . . . .

Audio clip from WWL Radio. Listen and weep.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Streetcar, St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line, RTA

Road to Nowhere Program

Although I know it is not too hard to believe that the State of Louisiana could screw-up handing out $7.5 billion to those in need in order to rebuild in New Orleans, the stupidity of the entire Road Home Program would be laugh-out-loud funny if it did not effect so many peoples already shattered lives.

For those of you who are not aware of how the state has bungled this important opportunity to show the Nation that we can take care of our own business, it starts with the state awarding a $87 million contract (a portion of the larger overall contract that will be awarded) to a Fairfax, VA based company called ICF International. It is ICF's job to manage the process of delivering the money to the people in a timely manner. So far ICF has managed to send a letter to a total of 83 homeowners telling them how much money they will get to rebuild their lives. Whatt is even worse than sending out a total of 83 letters is that there is no timetable in place for actually getting money to individuals. It is a terribly pathetic arrangement.

Gov. Blanco has started making noise to cover her butt. She is demanding that ICF deliver 10,000 letters to homeowners by the end of November telling them how much money they will receive from the program. ICF has claimed they will work through the Thanksgiving holiday to meet the Govenor's mandate. How big of them; maybe they should all try cooking Thanksgiving dinner in a 380 square foot FEMA trailer to get a bit more motivated to do their job.

The total number of applicants continues to be a mystery, but it is somewhere between 80,000 and 120,000 according to various reports. Our Govenor is mandating that the state's contractor have letters (no money yet!) sent to 10,000 of these applicants by the end of the month (approximately 10 percent of the total applicants). Even these people who receive letters will likely not see a dime from the program for many months. The Govenor, the contractor ICF, and the state of Louisiana should be ashamed; I know I am.

Worse, why has the state continued to pay large amounts of money to an out-of-state contractor that has miserably failed at meeting the contract requirements? Govenor Blanco talks about cleaning up politics in Louisiana, but this arrangement really smells, and in Louisiana if it smells like corruption, it usually is. Time for our Governor to live up to her empty promises and fire ICF International, and hire local contractors who care about the future of the state, its economy and most importantly its citizens to get the job done. It is not just the fiscally responsible thing to do, it is the only morally just thing to do.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Louisiana, Road Home Program, ICF International

16 November 2006

Uhhhh . . . Old Jefferson Libeskind-ed

Did anyone else fall out of their chair when they saw this rendering on the front page of today's Times-Picayune? This conceptual drawing is the current proposal for the re-development of the underutilized and out-dated Jefferson Plaza Shopping Center site in Old Jefferson. For years I've thought this site bound by Labarre Road, Causeway, River Road, and Jefferson Highway was among the most desirable for re-development and among the most squandered in the New Orleans area. I always envisioned a mixed-use development with commercial/retail likely including a modern grocery on the ground level along with residential ontop--maybe including a mid-level residential component or two (like maybe 10 stories or so).

Architect Daniel Libeskind's above design was not what I had in mind--and I am not completely against multiple floored residential buildings at this site unlike many residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. Libeskind, of course, is the guy who designed the most lamely named Freedom Tower--at the World Trade Center site in New York City. (The Freedom Tower is going to be 1,776 feet tall because that's the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. Get it? In third year design if a student in my class would have said such a thing they would have been laughed at. In the bizarro world we live in, this thing at 1,776 feet is getting built.)

Going to be interesting to see how this all pans out. The pre-construction fences went up on part of this site nearly six months ago. According to Old Jefferson resident Hollis P. Wood the Frostop on the site was told they'd have to soon relocate at that time. The Daquairi place and pawn shop formerly on the site burned down to the ground in immediate post-KTMB days. Its amazed me that a galvenized effort opposing this re-development (granted that this is the first time a rendering has been made public to my knowledge) hasn't already been underway. I would think its about to kick into high gear and I've noticed "No Skyscrapers" signs beginning to appear along River Road in the the adjacent neighborhoods. I have a feeling parish government is going to let this project happen . . . .

19 NOVEMBER 2006 UPDATE: On Thursday, this project passed another hurdle towards becoming a reality as a request by the developer to merge several individual lots to form one large lot was endorsed by the Parish Planning Advisory Board.

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Old Jefferson, Libeskind, Jefferson Parish

A Suggested Link: Meet James Knustler . . .

I was first exposed to Mr. Knustler's work in the mid-1990's with his book THE GEOGRAPHY OF NOWHERE: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Landscape. His weekly blog is entitled a mood-setting Clusterfuck Nation--one of my regular online reads (among others). . . His commentary is far-reaching about what the places of our country have become and he unapologetically discusses the upcoming train wreck in which he thinks it is all heading. He believes the United States (and the World) is at the onset of a energy emergency where the last 50 years of rampant American suburbanization and near-abandonment of our core cities has essentially written a check we can't cash without continued cheap energy.

Also, he may be the guy who initially coined the phrase "McMansion" . . .

For traditional stinging Knustler commentary check out the 30 October 2006 entry on his visit to a Georgia college town . . . What he describes is what New Orleans has managed to mostly avoid (at least better than most places) in the past 50 years. Will we be able to sustain "it" in the post-KTMB world?

Also be sure to check out his Eyesore of the Month . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, James Knustler, Urban Planning, Suburbanization

13 November 2006

New Orleans Saints: 0-for-3 on the Flex

...And soon to be 0-for-4. Because you know they ain't picking a 49ers game. Unless they somehow miraculously keep winning.

NBC has chosen the Colts/Eagles game as the 3rd "Flex" game. The Saints have a first-place showdown with the Falcons scheduled that weekend. But the NFL went with the "sexier" game.

That leaves the Saints with few opportunities left for national television. I seriously doubt that they'll pick the Dallas game, because Dallas is already on national television something like 4 times in the last 6 weeks (I think there are rules prohibiting being on national television too many times, but I'm not sure). They probably won't pick the Redskins game, because the Redskins SUCK. And they can't pick the Giants game, because there's no Sunday night game that week.

So that leaves Carolina on week 17. If they don't choose that one, then the Saints (and their 6-3 record) will get ONE, count 'em, ONE national television appearance this year. And that was only because we were re-opening the Superdome after over one year. It took a hurricane to get our only national game.

Earlier, some of you said "Don't worry about it." Now it's time to worry about it. I don't know how else to say it.

POST-SCRIPT CLARIFICATION: If the NFL chose Saints/Dallas, the Cowboys would have three straight nationally-televised prime-time games. And I'd say there's a better-than-likely chance that the Dallas/Giants the week before the Saints game will be chosen too (unless Fox protects it, which might happen). And that's not including their Thanksgiving "tradition" game. That means that, without any "Flex" games, the Cowboys already have SIX nationally televised games (including Thanksgiving). And that's not counting their "national doubleheader" games against the Jaguars and the Eagles (the T.O. returns to Philly game). So right now, the Cowboys have EIGHT national telecasts without the Saints game or the Giants game being picked up.

And the Saints have one. Two, if you include the Steelers game (which I, among others, didn't get to see anyway).

12 November 2006

Thanks, Terrance Copper: Steelers 38 Saints 31

Terrance Copper makes up for dropping a big pass
by fumbling a key reception a few plays later.

There are at least 4 NFL rules that were illustrated in the game this afternoon:
  1. A team with a 300-yard passer loses a lot of those games.
  2. A team with a 200-yard rusher wins most of the time.
  3. If you're -3 in turnover ratio, you're gonna lose no matter how well you play.
  4. If you're the Saints, and you're playing against a mediocre LSU defensive back, he gets to be a hero. Thanks, Ryan Clark, for recovering two fumbles. Couldn't have done that for the Tigers, right?
Of course, rule #4 could apply to any Louisiana player or former Saint that the Saints go up against.

And then there's this:
  1. Reggie Bush fumbled vs. Carolina: LOSS
  2. Reggie Bush fumbled vs. Baltimore: LOSS
  3. Reggie Bush fumbled vs. Pittsburgh: LOSS
Yes, that double-reverse was amazing. But you can't afford to fumble 3 times in 9 games. In my opinion, at least two of those turnovers directly impacted a loss (this week's and the one in Carolina where the Saints were in field goal range). I have given him the benefit of the doubt so far. But now it's time to step up.

And don't get me started on Terrance Copper. Yes he had 90+ yards receiving, but he dropped too many balls and cost the Saints a chance at a tie on the final drive. TWICE. He made a big play in the Eagles game, but what else has he done? This is the guy you brought in instead of keeping Fred McAfee or Mike Hass?

The one silver lining about the loss: it's out of conference. Two of the Saints' losses are against the AFC. That comes in handy for tie-breakers.

  • Drew Brees threw for 398 yards and looked like the ultimate team leader.
  • Marques Colston: 10-169
  • Bush and McAllister: 25-109-3
  • Aaron Stecker made his first major offensive contributions of the year.
  • How did Brees get that first down on his scramble on the final drive.
  • Reggie Bush's touchdown run (and dive)
  • The snap to McAllister and the touchdown
  • The Saints scored a touchdown on the two-minute drill in the first half.
  • The defense gave up 467 yards of offense
  • The defense gave up 3 touchdown passes
  • The defense gave up a 200-yard rusher
  • The defense gave up two 70-plus yard runs
  • Minus-3 on the turnover ratio (already discussed)
  • Reggie Bush's fumble (already discussed)
  • Terrance Copper (already discussed)
  • Challenging the Reggie Bush fumble
  • Nice bite on the pump-fake, Jason Craft. You're getting on this list a little too often.
  • What was up with kickoffs and coverage? The Steelers' field position was too good all day.
  • You're playing against a team that can't hold on to the football. Big Ben has 14 interceptions in about the equivalent of six games. AND YOU STILL CAN'T FORCE A FREAKIN' TURNOVER???????????? WHAT THE HELL IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE DEFENSE NOT FORCING TURNOVERS??????????????????? I CAN'T TAKE IT ANY MORE! I'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT THIS FOR OVER A MONTH NOW!
  • 3rd quarter meltdown: Jahri Evans' personal foul costs the Saints a chance for at least a FG.
  • 3rd quarter meltdown: Reggie Bush fumbles on the next drive. The Steelers score on the next play.
  • 3rd quarter meltdown: The Saints drive down the field immediately afterwards, and John Carney misses a FG.
  • The Saints are prepared to down a punt at the 3 yard line. But Omar Stoutmire and Bryan Scott can't down the ball. Willie Parker's off to the races a few plays later.
  • Terrance Copper (one more time). Yes, Marques Colston dropped a couple too. But he's earned a reprieve.

Next weekend, I WILL BE IN THAT NUMBER. Mr. and Mrs. DarDar will be back down for Thanksgiving vacation. We have already been guaranteed the family tickets for the Bengals game. Maybe I'll see some of you there. I can hardly wait.

SEYMOUR D. FAIR ADDENTUM: Is it me or does it seem Deuce isn't getting enough "touches?" I know the circumstances forced "throw mode," but even the first two drives of the second half before the game slipped out of control Deuce wasn't even on the field. Secondly, Jason Craft is terrible--I mean bad. He was bad last season and somehow he's still on the roster.

TAGS: NFL, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers, Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Marques Colston

11 November 2006

The Rumble of the Streetcar Returns to South Carrollton Avenue . . . Albeit Pulled by a Dumptruck

A strange sound was heard at Oak and South Carrollton yesterday afternoon--the rumble of the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line. Unfortunately, the return of the streetcar wasn't the real deal, but instead orchestrated as a background prop towed by an RTA dumptruck for the filming of the motion picture The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The No Parking signs showed up Wednesday on Oak and Zimpel announcing filming for Friday. The filming I saw took place along South Carrollton in front of Rite Aid and consisted of actor Peter Badalamenti hobbling towards the camera as 1920-era cars and 1920-era clothed extras provided a background setting back towards Zimpel. I witnessed at least ten takes of this shot. Carrollton traffic of course was a mess in both directions and through-traffic (minus the RTA buses which were allowed to pass) was diverted to the side streets. An extra in the film told me that morning they were filming on St. Charles near Napoleon (where the streetcar also made a towed appearance) and the disruption there was even worse and according to my neighbor the drop-off at Sacred Heart was a nightmare.

Nearly all of the neighborhood people that stood around watching the filming had the same sadness and longing for the streetcars seeing one of the Perley-Thomases on South Carrollton once again. The rumble. The hum. The vibration. We all talked about it and that same extra (a local) told me it was the same by the by-standers at Napoleon that morning. I don't know this for sure, but I assume that the 15 months the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line has been offline due to damages incurred because of KTMB (Katrina That Miserable Bitch) is the longest sustained absence since the line's inception.

Having digital camera issues these days--I was forced to use the camera on my cellphone. Good quality, huh?

Its been a month since I last posted?? JHC. I could have sworn it was only two weeks . . .

TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Carrollton, St. Charles Streetcar Line, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

05 November 2006

Soundly Answering the Critics: Saints 31 Bucs 14

Drew Brees picked apart the Buccaneers today.
Stats: 24 of 32, 314 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INTs

The best way to respond to an ass kicking is to give out an ass kicking of your own. That was impressive today. Congratulations to the coaching staff for putting together an outstanding game plan. And congratulations to the Saints for playing hard and strong on both sides of the ball. I thought the Saints had a good chance of losing this week without Joe Horn and Jammal Brown. But the team responded to losing two integral parts of its successful passing game by having its most efficient air performance this season.

So the Saints are 6 and 2 on the season at the halfway point. They're 3 and 1 against the South, which is huge in tie breakers. They also have a huge 2-game lead in the division. You can do the math. If the Saints go 4-4 in the second half (which is definitely within reach), they finish the season 10-6. The Panthers and Falcons would have to go 6-2 to tie them. And even if they caught the Saints, 10-6 should be enough for a wild card.

I'm feeling pretty good about the Saints chances right now.

  • Have you ever seen a better single-game performance by a Saints quarterback than the one Drew Brees had today. If you can, they're probably on one hand.
  • The Saints defense didn't give up a first down for the first 25 minutes of the game.
  • Except for the final 5 minutes of the first half, the Saints defense had one of their best performances ever. For the other 55 minutes, the Saints gave up 80 yards of offense.
  • Marques Colston: 11-123-1
  • Devery Henderson: 3-111-2. That's how you step up for Joe Horn.
  • The Saints' offensive line (with Zach Strief starting at left tackle) didn't give up a sack.
  • Great game-planning by the offense. The RBs helped out Strief on the left side, and the designed roll-outs to the right side were brilliant.
  • Will Smith: 3 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
  • Scott Shanle: 8 tackles
  • Saints offense: 0 turnovers
  • The Saints couldn't run the ball.
  • Reggie Bush: 11 carries, minus-5 yards
  • Fred Thomas got burned on Joey Galloway's first touchdown.
  • The Saints gave up a touchdown on the two-minute-drill in the first half.
  • Drew Brees (and the Saints in general) had a really, really bad 2nd quarter.
  • The Saints still can't force turnovers. Their only turnover this week came in garbage time.
  • Why was Scott Fujita covering Joey Galloway on the second touchdown?
  • Back-to-back 5 yard penalties on offense on first down on the first drive of the second half. It's hard to have a successful drive when you're starting out 1st and 15.
Next week, Pittsburgh. Who would have thought when the season began that the Saints would be EXPECTED to beat them? Strange season, but I like it so far.
WRITER'S POST-SCRIPT: The Saints do indeed have a 2 game lead over the Falcons, by virtue of the head-to-head victory. That rematch in Atlanta in 3 weeks is going to be HUGE.

01 November 2006

Mmmmmm....Charbroiled Oysters

Good news................................Drago's coming Downtown.