Monday, May 22, 2006

The Great Chocolate Hope

It’s not what I want to write about but earlier today I saw CNN Headline News running a story about New Orleans with the following byline, “Levee System Full of Holes?” Again, tell me something I don’t f..... know.

Now on to business; I’ve officially given up trying to figure out elections in Louisiana. Over the past 2 months I had the chance to solicit thoughts from various people about the New Orleans mayoral election. Almost to a person (male, female, liberal, conservative, criminal, musician, professional athlete, etc.) everyone told me Ray-Ray was doomed. The Chocolate City speech would do him in. Just to recap....

"I don't care what people are saying Uptown or wherever they are. This city will be chocolate at the end of the day. This city will be a majority African-American city. It's the way God wants it to be."

Well I thought he pissed off too many people like my friend Scott who happens to be a white Uptown homeowner to win. But lo and freakin behold on Saturday Ray Nagin defeated Mitch Landrieu to win a second term as mayor. I’m still not sure how exactly he won; maybe God liked the Chocolate City speech better than most? The most common explanation I’ve heard was the great support Nagin drew from the black community and a high number of “crossover” voters, crossover in this race apparently meaning white folks who have a strong dislike for any member of the Landrieu family running for public office.

But all and all it fits in perfectly with many of the crazy and altogether unpredictable Louisiana elections I’ve witnessed. KKK man David Duke hung around for way too long, getting over 40% of the vote in a 1990 U.S. senate race and almost 40% in his 1991 attempt to become governor. There were the two Mary Landrieu senate races in which the Democrats worked their New Orleans “vote farm” to perfection. And how can I forget the 2003 governor’s race where Kathleen Blanco defeated my fellow Baton Rouge High School alum “Bobby” Jindal. It’s amazing how many conservative white folks I heard complain about other conservative white folks who wouldn’t vote for Jindal because he has some “dark skin” or because they thought be looking like a Middle Eastern friend of that Osama guy. I found this long, but very good commentary on that election.....

So briefly back to Nagin, congrats on the great win. Dude I wish you all the best, you’re gonna need it.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I'm Mad

You probably couldn’t tell by looking at me cause I’m generally smiling but I’m mad; mad at the government (aka GW), mad at the world, but mainly mad at myself. The primary basis for my state of being is the city of New Orleans and the post-Katrina landscape of devastation. I mean I’ve been in the city at least 10 times, probably closer to 15 or 20 times since the storm and it’s still crazy. While riding with my college buddy KP heading to Jazzfest from the airport around noon Saturday a few weeks ago I observed how normal everything looked from the interstate. Of course when you leave the relative sanctity of the freeway and move into the neighborhoods the world changes quickly. It’s still ugly in a lot of places, I could be more descriptive, but ugly is an adjective that will have to suffice for today.

Maybe I’m just upset it doesn’t burn me up inside anymore. Like I’ve come to expect that it’s normal to see a city block with only 3 houses occupied. Like it’s normal to drive and not be able to see the sidewalks due to trash and debris. Like it’s normal to avoid side streets full of roofing nails and super-size potholes. Like it’s normal to drive down major thoroughfares and not see street signs or working stoplights. Like it’s normal to drive in large city after dark and not see any open restaurants, gas stations, or liquor stores on major streets. Like it’s becoming normal, that’s what pisses me off. Like uptown is referred to as an area of town that’s back to normal but you know what it was before and you see what it is now and you still can’t quite believe how everything went down. I’m also mad Slick Rick didn’t show up for his Jazzfest set but I can live with that. However it’s getting harder and harder to live with what I’ve seen in New Orleans. Like its ok that mostly white and affluent Lakeview is being put back together again while mostly black and working class 9th Ward still looks like a nuclear test zone.

Maybe Mitch (Landrieu) will make it better, not saying I would vote for him but enough people with enough money who didn’t have to go halfway across the country after Katrina will vote for him that he should have no problem winning. I actually like Mitch, but if we gave Bush as second term after he screwed up Iraq why can’t Nagin get a 2nd chance after his chocolate city remarks. Of course it won’t really matter who the mayor is till they fix the levees. Maybe I’m also just mad I got back to my car on the last Sunday of Jazzfest and found a parking ticket on my windshield. Maybe I’m just mad cause for most current residents of New Orleans getting a parking ticket in the city would be least of their worries.

I needed to write this. I feel like I didn’t write it well, but it’s done.

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Glorious Weekend

This morning I was listening to NPR while driving to work when they aired a short piece on Jazzfest. I got chills just hearing them talk about it, in fact if I was one of those emotional-type dudes I woulda probably shed a tear or two. Needless to say it was an amazing weekend in the Big Easy.

It felt good enjoying 30+ hours of music in two days on 4 hours of sleep. Of course work today doesn’t feel so nice, but I’ll recover. Like I said before having Jazzfest doesn’t mean the city is back but it does mean the spirit and music of New Orleans will never leave.

Now I get to spend all day reminiscing about the fest and checking MSN’s Jazzfest video for some of the great acts I missed. Thanks to all my friends who helped to make the past weekend a lot of fun. Can’t say yet what was the best act I witnessed the past weekend, I mean Robert Randolph got his steel slide guitar boogie on, the Ohio Players dooled out some serious old school funk, Jimmy Buffett was Jimmy Buffett, saw some good gospel, Big Daddy Kane was hot, Nicole Ritchie’s pops blew the place up, plus I can’t forget all the great Jazz, Blues, Brass and Zydeco I heard. Gonna have to get back to that question later.

More Pictures:
Saturday, May 6th
Sunday, May 7th

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jazzfest In This Post-Katrina World

I had an amazing time at Jazzfest on Saturday. Saw some great Jazz, Gospel, Latin, Blues, Funk, Zydeco, and Brass music. Hugh Masekela played an amazing set. Etta James rocked the house. Got pictures of Juvenile’s tour bus. Just a good day all around.

Jazzfest Album 1
Jazzfest Album 2

I do have one concern; Jazzfest seems to be getting a lot of well deserved national attention this year. I’m glad this is happening and I’m glad the lineup has some great “non-New Orleans” acts like Dave Matthews, Paul Simon, Springsteen, Buffet, etc., along with many great local artists. However I’m just slightly afraid some people will witness the headlines and assume New Orleans is back to normal. All one has to do is walk in the neighborhoods surrounding the fairgrounds to see this is not the case at all. For me Jazzfest did supply a period of Big Easy enjoyment and normalcy, but it’s still not quite the same. Now I don’t agree with those who argue Jazzfest shouldn’t happen until the city gets back together, those people are stupid (for lack of a better term). New Orleans as a city has always supported itself by providing entertainment for locals and visitors alike. Many locals need Jazzfest to provide a financial boost and nearly all the profit from the festival stay in New Orleans. I’m even paying $10 extra to buy tickets at the gate for each of the 3 days I’ll attend because I want the fest to do well and I would rather not give Ticketmaster any extra money. Despite being only 80 miles away I find myself sometimes thinking things are almost back to normal. However each time I venture down I-10 I realize how much remaining devastation there is in and around New Orleans. Done preaching, I had a great time Saturday, can’t wait to go back down this Saturday and Sunday.