Tuesday, June 23, 2009

"You're a damned public monopoly...make it right"

"Entergy throws our heritage into the dumpster." That's what Ashley Morris said about the thoughtless destruction of street name tiles set in the concrete of many New Orleans street corners.

"You're a damned public monopoly, guaranteed to make a profit," Ashley wrote. "Make it right. It's all important."

Once they were caught, of course Entergy promised to make it right in a letter published in The Times-Picayune.

Other NOLA Bloggers followed up on the story, including here and here.

That was more than a year ago.

So now we have a progress report from Oyster. Before you click on that link to get an update, do you want to guess what has happened since April 25, 2008, the day Entergy publicly promised in no uncertain terms that "tiles will be replaced"?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Discovery Bay

When I was about 9 years old, my dad came home from work and was greeted by his three children eager to show him their new shoes. It must have been spring or summer, because we had all just been outfitted with new “sneakers.”

“Wow, I bet you can run fast in those,” he said.

We immediately went out back to show him, racing back and forth our suburban lawn.

Dad always loved playing around with us. For every situation he had a joke, a comment, an observation that was intended to be funny or evoke a reaction.

We lived a worry-free childhood, thanks to Dad’s hard work and jovial demeanor. Even when he worked two jobs—for a while he was driving a taxicab at night after his office job, and sometimes he took seasonal work driving Mosquito Control trucks in the early evening hours—we had no idea how tight a budget the family was on.

One day, we packed up the car to spend the weekend on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But we did not go straight to the beach. We first had to stop at a community development called “Discovery Bay.” Dad spent several hours talking to the salesmen there while Mom did her best to keep us three kids from making a scene. We drove around the fledgling development looking at prospective lots until finally, happily, Dad concluded his business and we headed for the beach.

“Are we going to move?” we all asked.

“No, no, no,” Dad informed us. “We just had to go see what they were selling so that we could get a free night at the hotel.” I think they gave him money for gas, too.

It was a fun weekend, and while there were other times when we went to the beach or spent a night at a hotel paid for in the conventional way, I remember our trip to Discovery Bay in particular. I only vaguely understood it at the time but it became clear to me as the years went by: my Dad is a resourceful, clever man, always on the lookout for a deal and always eager to have a good time.

He is no different today.

When my own Precious Daughter spends time with her grandparents, she always comes home with stories of the crazy things her Grandpa said or did. Often I already know. I already know that he will walk up to any pay phone and pretend to find money, and then laugh as you check other pay phones but find nothing. I already know that he will play jokes on Grandma and then claim it wasn’t him, blaming one of the children instead. I already know that if you show him your new shoes, he will say, “Wow, I bet you can run fast in those.”

I never knew either of my grandfathers, so it is truly a treat to experience my own dad as a grandfather via my girl. It doesn’t matter if the jokes or old, or silly, or sometimes not all that funny. It only matters that every time he tells a joke or pulls a prank, he does it out of love.

And he sure does love us a lot.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

RTIV: Save the date

It's almost time for the next Rising Tide conference. This will be the fourth year of the gathering of NOLA Bloggers and those who care about the recovery and growth of New Orleans.

This year's conference will take place on Saturday, August 22, returning to the same venue as last year--Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Arts Center at 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. in New Orleans. The full program is still under construction and will be announced shortly.

So for now, save the date and get set for Rising Tide IV.

Monday, June 01, 2009

How can this even be a question?

Mark Singletary over at CityBusiness wants to ask you a few questions.

Go ahead, try it out. See if you can answer four simple questions about Louisiana, WWII, and the rock band Coldplay.

At least, these should be simple questions. People who live here, work here, stake their lives and fortunes in Louisiana and its most famous city, New Orleans, should know some basic history, shouldn’t they?

Well, not to spoil it for you if you haven’t already clicked through to see for yourself, but Mark found that precious few of the people he polled could answer basic questions about Louisiana and WWII history.

But--and this is the amazing yet unsurprising result of the survey--80 percent of respondents knew trivial, even intimate details about Coldplay.

Now, granted, this was a very small and very unscientific survey, but I think we all know from our collected anecdotal experience that the conclusion is likely valid: most of us don’t know much of anything about history.

What is it they say about people who don’t remember history? Yes, that’s right, and the results are almost universally unpleasant.

We’re entering another hurricane season today. Another cycle of tropical cyclones buzzing the coastal areas and like kamikazes coming in for the kill. Already I’ve heard some discussion of what to do if a storm heads our way.

What to do? How can this even be a question? Do we not remember 2005? Have we forgotten already?

Evacuate! Get out of harm’s way. Pack up your family, your friends and your pets and get the hell out of Dodge.

Most of the time it won’t matter. Hurricanes change course, loose strength or just turn out to be not as nasty as they first seemed to be. Most of the time.

But do you really want to be here when things go badly? Do you really want to be in your house when the roof comes apart? Or the water overtops the levee? Or the power goes out just as the roof comes apart and the water overtops the levee?

The informed answer is NO.

Spend a few days visiting an out-of-state friend or relative, or find a hotel North of Shreveport where you can relax safely.

You might even find time to read a good book. I’d recommend "Band of Brothers" by Stephen Ambrose or "A Short History of New Orleans" by Mel Leavitt—because you never know when someone might suddenly want to quiz you.