Friday, September 25, 2009

Thanks for Zeitoun, Mr. Eggers

I finished Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, during my trip to New York this week.

I was on a plane from JFK to Memphis as I read the last 50 pages. I couldn't swallow, such was the lump in my throat.

I think it would be a striking read for anyone. For New Orleanians--at least for this one--it is downright overwhelming.

Eggers gets the city right; he captures feelings and scenes that we all experienced.

On top of that, though, Abdulrahman Zeitoun's story is one that most of us couldn't imagine would happen, I think. Having read the story, I now feel stupid for thinking that this wouldn't happen. It seems obvious now that it would happen, given the country we've created for ourselves.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Great. The T-P is now covering fake games.

What up with this?

More Lyrical Whimsy from Saints DE Bobby McCray

As part of the Occasional Gridiron Poetry Series at World Class New Orleans, we present a new poem by Saints defensive end Bobby McCray, as taken from today's Times-Picayune:

So until Monday afternoon,
we can still be high off our victory.

You know,
talk about it,
talk to your parents about


'We saw you on TV, you did good.'

You know, 'blah,
blah, blah.'

But then

once 4 o'clock hits,

This has been today's edition of the Occasional Gridiron Poetry Series.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

David Byrne's Essay on the Ideal City, Biking, and New Orleans

Berto and I are preparing today to ride our bicycles to the Superdome tomorrow for Our New Orleans Saints' first regular season game. Fittingly, at breakfast this morning I read a great essay by David Byrne in today's Wall Street Journal, "A Talking Head Dreams of a Perfect City."

Before I get to the really good stuff, I want to cite the lines that really grabbed me:
As someone who has used a bicycle to get around New York for about 30 years I've watched the city—mainly Manhattan, where I live—change for better and for worse. During this time I started to take a full-size folding bike with me when I traveled so I got to experience other cities as a cyclist as well. Seeing cities from on top of a bike is both pleasurable and instructive. On a bike one sees a lot more than from a freeway, and often it's just as fast as car traffic in many towns.
That's the paragraph that made me take the article seriously. Bikes are the way to come to know a city. Period.

Anyway, he cites New Orleans a couple of times, and I think he pretty much gets it right. Byrne's perfect city involves the correct proportions of the following: size, density, sensibility and attitude, security, chaos and danger, human scale, parking (he correctly doesn't much care about this), boulevards, mixed use, and public spaces.

He rates New Orleans high on sensibility and attitude. I was struck by the fact that he mentions New Orleans as often as or more often than he mentions places like San Francisco, Venezia, and Berlin.

Here's what he says about the sensibility and attitude of World Class New Orleans:
New Orleans is a city where people make eye contact. There's a more open sensuality there as well. I'd take that in my perfect city, minus some of the other aspects of that town, such as its tragic poverty, corruption, and crime.

Here's what he says about chaos and danger:
To some, security means rigid order and strict rules. I do believe we do need some laws and rules to guide and reign us in a bit, and I don't just mean traffic lights and pooper scooper mandates. But there's a certain attractiveness to New Orleans, Mexico City or Naples—where you get the sense that though some order exists, it's an order of a fluid and flexible nature. Sometimes too flexible, but a little bit of that sense of excitement and possibility is something I'd wish for in a city. A little touch of chaos and danger makes a city sexy.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I will get more and better work done today because of Steve Gleason

Why? Because he said all of this, but particularly this (in remembering the Greatest Play in Saints History):
So I remember that moment. And I remember thinking -- as I broke through the line -- that I wasn't going to get there. I was like: I don't think I'm going to make it. I don't think I'm going to make it. And then: I am going to make it! And I remember running through the end zone and dropping to my knees. I remember looking at the crowd and fully comprehending the magnitude of the moment. It was pure joy. And I thought: This is it. We're back.
I will also have a better day because Jeffrey wrote this, but I don't have time to riff on it right now.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I Sent a Message to Senator David Vitter Using His Advertisement on the NY Times

. . . though I'm not sure it's the message he wanted.

I was peacefully reading an article at when I saw his ad in the sidebar. The ad was an attempted slander of Charlie Melancon. I didn't like the looks of it.

So I clicked on the ad--I have clicked on an actual Internet ad maybe 4 times in my life.

Anyway, I clicked through and found a way to send Senator Vitter a message. And here's what I said (you can use the same form here):
Sir, You bring dishonor to yourself by slandering Mr. Melancon. I am not a registered Democrat, but it's just wrong what you're doing. Please run on a positive agenda. I know almost nothing about what you are for. I only know what you are against. Your agenda seems purely negative. The only other thing I know about you is the horrible scandal that you have brought to our state. Feel free to contact me if you think it would be useful. Thanks, Mr. Clio