Friday, September 23, 2005

The Place At Dawn

Friday, 4.45 AM (EST)

The first time I have been on an airport tarmac, the end of the night... or the beginning of the morning. We are led through ramps and onto other temporary ramps and then onto the ground level I have only seen from great-ish heights. And the Comair plane? I don't know what type of plane it is but I just hope I don't vomit. The thing is a large biplane.

Space is a premium; the big fellas behind me have been laughing about not being able to stand with the low headroom and tiny seats.

- Forget the movie on this flight, they say.

- The airline equivalent to an '89 Camry!, they declare.

The two may be headed to New Orleans; they talk about beginning to rough it. Perhaps they are with the woman who, earlier and in the terminal, conversed with a friend on her mobile phone about how she didn't know where any of the other aid workers were on the flight. It stands to reason, the biplane goes to Atlanta and that would be a logical transfer to New Orleans.

Luckily the person who should have the window seat is not here. Or perhaps the seat was never booked. Tiiiight. My eyes hurt from three hours sleep and the previous night (Minus the Bear was the best show!!! I crashed out at Hotel Dora afterwards) and from the hurried packing and my inability to get all of the CD's I had (from work, from Dora, from Gully) onto my ipod before leaving home (hence the discs in my bag).

Two girls from the Argentine or Chilean version of the OC are in front of me. We share a laugh about a vibrating THUNK sound, probably the wheels locking into place. Besides that, it is the smoothest take off ever. The guys behind me join in, I am surrounded by laughter, and am beginning Tom Perotta's Little Children by overhead light. I am trying to identify neighborhoods receding below by shopping malls and elevated train stations and dead spots in the light grids, and San Diego, here I come.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Return of the Marge 9.21.05

Marge is back in the states after a great “surprise friends, Marge is back” party at Park Bar on 15th this past Sunday. It’s good to see things are all the same, even a year after his not-quite-deportation. To wit:

We meet up in the afternoon but Marge and I think we’re meeting in different places. He asks if I’m annoyed and I of course lie because it doesn’t mean anything. We drink until Eben finishes his work and meets up. Sharma and Samantha arrive late.

We go to dinner and Marge says something offensive, Eben eggs us all on. Sharma raises his fists in Dip Set enthusiasm, I flail like a spastic schoolgirl in response, Samantha is sweet and affectionate until she throws a salt shaker at Sharma. She misses him and the shaker lands at the feet of another eating group, luckily missing the window. If Lissa was in the house it would have gone through the window and hit a passing dog.

The two women next to us look over in trepidation, we’re loud and silly, the waitress is reluctant to bring us our check. It’s not even 10 pm and we’re halfway to an incident. Good times, as always.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Go to Google.

Type in the word "failure," look at the first link that pops up.

Thanks, Starla!
our president, writing a note to condoleeza rice, while at the UN World Summit. the text: "i may need a bathroom break." thanks to
reuters. #1 or #2, president shrub?

Quotes on the Katrina Disaster

Here are some quotes, sent by Rob in SD:

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

1) "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." -President Bush, on "Good Morning America," Sept. 1, 2005, six days after repeated warnings from experts about the scope of damage expected from Hurricane Katrina

2) "What I'm hearing which is sort of scary is that they all want to stay in Texas. Everybody is so overwhelmed by the hospitality. And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway so this (chuckle) - this is working very well for them." -Former First Lady Barbara Bush, on the Hurricane flood evacuees in the Houston Astrodome, Sept. 5, 2005

3) "We've got a lot of rebuilding to do ... The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house - he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." (Laughter) -President Bush, touring hurricane damage, Mobile, Ala., Sept. 2, 2005

4) "Considering the dire circumstances that we have in New Orleans, virtually a city that has been destroyed, things are going relatively well." -FEMA Director Michael Brown, Sept. 1, 2005

5) "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job." -President Bush, to FEMA director Michael Brown, while touring Hurricane-ravaged Mississippi, Sept. 2, 2005

6) "Now tell me the truth boys, is this kind of fun-" -House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), to three young hurricane evacuees from New Orleans at the Astrodome in Houston

7) "Well, I think if you look at what actually happened, I remember on Tuesday morning picking up newspapers and I saw headlines, 'New Orleans Dodged the Bullet.' Because if you recall, the storm moved to the east and then continued on and appeared to pass with considerable damage but nothing worse." -Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, blaming media coverage for his failings, "Meet the Press," Sept. 4, 2005

8) "What didn't go right-'" -President Bush, as quoted by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), after she urged him to fire FEMA Director Michael Brown "because of all that went wrong, of all that didn't go right" in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort

9) "I mean, you have people who don't heed those warnings and then put people at risk as a result of not heeding those warnings. There may be a need to look at tougher penalties on those who decide to ride it out and understand that there are consequences to not leaving." -Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sept. 6, 2005

10) "You simply get chills every time you see these poor individuals...many of these people, almost all of them that we see are so poor and they are so black, and this is going to raise lots of questions for people who are watching this story unfold." -CNN's Wolf Blitzer, on New Orleans' hurricane evacuees, Sept. 1, 2005

11) "If one person criticizes [the local authorities- relief efforts] or says one more thing, including the president of the United States, he will hear from me. One more word about it after this show airs, and I-I might likely have to punch him, literally." -Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), "This Week with George Stephanopoulous," Sept. 4, 2005

12) "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn't do it, but God did." -Rep. Richard Baker (R-LA) to lobbyists, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal

13) "There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise." -Vice President Dick Cheney, Sept. 10, 2005

14) "It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level....It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed." -House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Aug. 31, 2005

15) "I believe the town where I used to come - from Houston, Texas, to enjoy myself, occasionally too much - will be that very same town, that it will be a better place to come to." -President Bush, on the tarmac at the New Orleans airport, Sept. 2, 2005

16) "I have not heard a report of thousands of people in the convention center who don't have food and water." -Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, on NPR's "All Things Considered," Sept. 1, 2005

17) "Last night, we showed you the full force of a superpower government going to the rescue." -MSNBC's Chris Matthews, Sept. 1, 2005

18) "We just learned of the convention center - we being the federal government - today." -FEMA Director Michael Brown, to ABC's Ted Koppel, Sept. 1, 2005, to which Koppel responded " Don't you guys watch television- Don't you guys listen to the radio- Our reporters have been reporting on it for more than just today."

19) "Louisiana is a city that is largely under water." -Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, news conference, Sept. 3, 2005

20) "I also want to encourage anybody who was affected by Hurricane Corina to make sure their children are in school." -First Lady Laura Bush, twice referring to a "Hurricane Corina" while speaking to children and parents in South Haven, Mississippi, Sept. 8, 2005

21) "It's totally wiped out. ... It's devastating, it's got to be doubly devastating on the ground." -President Bush, turning to his aides while surveying Hurricane Katrina flood damage from Air Force One, Aug. 31, 2005

22) "FEMA is not going to hesitate at all in this storm. We are not going to sit back and make this a bureaucratic process. We are going to move fast, we are going to move quick, and we are going to do whatever it takes to help disaster victims." -FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 28, 2005

23) "I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen." --GOP strategist Jack Burkman, on MSNBC's "Connected," Sept. 7, 2005

24) "A young [black] man walks through chest deep floodwater after looting a grocery store in New Orleans..."

"Two [white] residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans..." -captions at Yahoo News, Aug. 30, 2005

25) "Thank President Clinton and former President Bush for their strong statements of support and comfort today. I thank all the leaders that are coming to Louisiana, and Mississippi and Alabama to our help and rescue. We are grateful for the military assets that are being brought to bear. I want to thank Senator Frist and Senator Reid for their extraordinary efforts. Anderson, tonight, I don't know if you've heard - maybe you all have announced it -- but Congress is going to an unprecedented session to pass a $10 billion supplemental bill tonight to keep FEMA and the Red Cross up and operating." -Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Aug. 31, 2005, to which Cooper responded:

"I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated. And when they hear politicians slap - you know, thanking one another, it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours. And there's not enough facilities to take her up. Do you get the anger that is out here-"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Music 9.13.05

I have some great song files I have been receiving, thanks to everyone’s favorite dhol player and metrosexual, the Paul Wall lover, Sharma. So if you have an interesting or obscure track you'd like to send me, email that joint, or i-m me. I love listening to new music while I'm at work. It gtakes the edge off of the boredom and off of the jackasses at Cafe Metro I deal with on some morning. You really have to hear this live version of Sufjan Stevens' "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts."


At some point, does the spammer who sends out penis enlargement/ Viagra emails just stop? Dude. I'm sayin', bee- my jammie don’t need your help.


It’s time for a shopping trip pre-California. Shirts. New kicks. Style from the right coast (as opposed to the left, of course). Oh, I didn’t tell y’all? I am going west for a vacation. After the Minus the Bear show next Wednesday. It’s all ages!
The Good Plus 9.12.05

Go vote today. I mean, Democrats. If I have a republican reader, let me know. I'll even partisan up the conversations. Really.

Check out this poll/ ranking of presidents from the Wall Street Journal. You’ll want to check out the methodology. It’s interesting at best, interestingly weighted. It’s got 5-6 more days as an active link so read this joint.

My favorite bit is that Bill Clinton—a man who brought us a surplus and happy people—ranks lower than BOTH Bushes. Riiiiiiight.

From the article:

Most such scholarly polls have a strong liberal bias, reflecting academia's far-left tilt. But this survey -- conducted by James Lindgren of Northwestern University Law School for the Federalist Society and The Wall Street Journal -- aimed at ideological balance. The scholars were chosen with an eye toward balancing liberals and conservatives, and Mr. Lindgren asked each participant about his political orientation, then adjusted the average to give Democratic- and Republican-leaning scholars equal weight.

Mr. Bush's rating thus reflects the same sharp partisan divide that gave him a shade under 51% of the popular vote last year. GOP-leaning scholars rated Mr. Bush the 6th-best president of all time, while Democratic ones rated him No. 35, or 6th-worst. Even Bill Clinton -- 13th among Democrats, 34th among Republicans -- isn't as controversial.

** thanks to neverecho for the link

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Good Barbecue Brings Summer Back for an Encore 9.12.05

The Kuub-a-cue-a-ganza was a smashing success. Thanks to the work of Fuzzy and Jeremy. Special thanks to Eben for bringing coolers, everyone who brought stuff;

And extra special credit to Gully for driving to pick me up, pick up materials, helping me haul stuff, and most importantly, brokering the deal to share/ use the grill. When we walked to the picnic house, crews were straight holding down benches and grills. I walked to the 9th Street entrance to see if I could find a spot. I was told to talk to a young man at the end of one table, who had apparently claimed a second:

Pico -yo, y’all are using this grill too?
Fella Holding Down Da Grill- (eyes lift under yankee cap. Imperceptible movement of sizable shoulders, slight nod) *grunt*.

That’s what’s up. Meanwhile, Gully talked us into a table and even a grill area, sharing with Oberlin kids whose friends rolled in on bicycles. Nice.

*My pics

*Silver’s pics

*Gully's pics

Check back tomorrow when I add Fuzzy’s and Gully’s photos. Note that after the barbecue… the weather heats up. Coincidence? I think not.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Voting Guides!

The lady friend had forwarded this to me a few days ago, but it's an easy voting guide for the NYC Democratic primary this coming Tuesday. Get off your lazy ass and vote.

Voting Guide.

Oh, you want more?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Up North, My Life Has Been Good 9.3.05

I have been reluctant to post my usual happy-go-lucky, deadpan quick notes and rants about my social life in light of the events in New Orleans. But some quick shots, because the living has been hella good:

Ran into a friend, Jason; I’ve known him since kindergarten. I haven’t hung out with him since junior high school and I last saw him in college. He called me this afternoon after brunch, just to say that he didn’t want it to be one of those see you once and never stay on contact kind of things. Been hanging out with Dora and if you haven’t met her, there is a good chance you will. And you’ll dig her.

Been having lots of discussions about what’s happened in New Orleans along racial and planning lines. Times such as these remind me my friends are smart, good people. Maybe a set of people who will be heard about in their specialty fields, and maybe in the wide world beyond said fields. Maybe people who will shape the way we acknowledge and address the disparities in our nation.

Went to the MoMa with my co-temper Alana. Scheduled some interviews. Saw the Hoy band show which was badass, even though I felt ill halfway through. But afterwards I sat in City Hall Park after midnight with Sharma and caught up on things. Watched good college football games. Met Gully’s mama. Had a taco with Niffer. Drank happy hour with lots of people including Niffer and mjunior and Southern Yankee Martha and Julie Y aand Alana and Peter. Danced at the Rub. There's going to be a barbecue hosted by myself and Fuzzy Sweater and Jeremy next Saturday. I’m eating curry and ready for tomorrow’s West Indian Day parade. Up north, here? September has been beautiful, people are trying to stay aware, the living is good, and it’s important to relish these moments.
I know at times it is hard to find many writers/ bloggers going against popular opinion, but I always love to hear the other side. Does anyone have any links to anyone defending FEMA/ George Bush’s “work” in New Orleans? I know it’s fairly indefensible in my eyes, but there’s always someone with another opinion… even if that opinion is some archaic ridiculous survival of the fittest collateral damage claptrap from a person who invokes God but obviously missed the actual reading of the Bible.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

from Talking Points Memo

"...One might note as an aside that the administration is putting a lot of weight on the claim that it simply wasn't foreseeable how bad things were going to be, even though people knew there was going to be a major storm. And yet a similar lack of foresight apparently leaves many of the victims with primary responsibility for their own deaths.

I'll let the logicians pick that one apart. But let's note that, as we mentioned yesterday, a not-insubstantial number of people who did not evacuate did not do so because they didn't have the cash on hand to do so. ....I'm pretty sure there was publicly available information on hand (from the Mayor, I think) before the storm even hit that a substantial minority of the population had not left the city. Whatever their moral culpability may be in Brown's eyes, he knew those people were there. And yet, as I think we'll see over the course of the day, there's a concerted effort to say these facts were not known or were perhaps unknowable."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

A Rant By Chaz 9.1.05

concerning the government's response to the New Orleans/ Gulf Coast disaster. Not that anything could prevent forces of nature, but the evacuation has been slow, people are dying and the images are frankly horrifying. Here is a rant from Chicago; Chaz, take it away. this is printed with very limited edits and editor's notes.

Fact: Both FEMA and the Red Cross identified a cat 4/5 hurricane as the biggest potential catastrophe in the US, apart from some sort of national nuclear/chemical/germ warfare crisis.

Fact: The Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA) is facing a budget cut of 60% as proposed by a certain head of state.

Fact: The US Army Corps of Engineers is facing a $50 million shortfall this fiscal year. They're the guys who are in charge of repairing/maintaining the levee system that failed.

Fact: The entire system has been patched up for years, but recently, it has sunk to all-time lows.

Assumption: In light of knowing all of this, I would think a certain burden of responsibility must fall on certain groups to insure the safety of those if such a crisis were to occur, which everyone (yeah, everyone, accepted as an inevitable event).

From the FED: maybe not having expectations of you lowered so much that people feel honored you're taking two whole days of a month long vacation touring ranches with doped up athletes and such to get your head in the game. Maybe having your first full briefing on the crisis as it is happening rather than waiting until after you do a fly by and land 48 hours later to get involved. This ain't the Texas Rangers. Obviously, none of us are privy to all of the details, but maybe getting ships to leave port from MD could have been accomplished on Sunday when it was obvious something big was going to hit the Gulf Coast. Rather than waiting until yesterday.

I would say that part of the problem is what happened – the levees breaking – was not the disaster event everyone expected. They were thinking of the direct hit, streets and buildings torn off their moorings and then followed by a deluge; but the possibility of the levees breaking was real. I don’t know about starting the ships early; the Gulf Coast waters were likely very very rough even where the storm had passed. Perhaps that was a factor. And what’s with President ThumbUpMyAss anyway?

From the Fed/States: maybe donating more than 100 national guardsmen to restore order in a location where there are guns, hungry, thirsty, sick, ticked off people. You can send 100,000+ to Iraq, you can surely offer up more than 100. Especially when the ticked off people with guns are the reason being cited for lack of response to tend to the thirsty/dying ones. You think it's a little interesting that we can commit thousands to peace keeping for a project that began under the guise of protecting people here against those terrorist states bent on killing us? Especially when we're seeing something that will probably lead to more casualties than NYC.

So. Very. True. There are more guardsmen on the way; but it is important to note: this is why we don’t go off on wartime engagements with our reserves unless necessary. There was no imminent threat (which was clear but somehow obscured in the Congressional debates on Iraq). And anyone who though for a second would realize that everytime the US sticks its nose in somewhere, we end up leaving troops. The Philippines. Israel. Germany. We’re expected to stay and help out. And when we have eliminated the structure of a nation, we are expected to be that structure. Who the hell didn’t think “crapcakes, if something happens stateside, we don’t have as many capable hands at security and building infrastructure as we could”?

I can second guess to death here, but i would think that multiple, stocked, secured staging/triage areas would be important. With breathable air. On somewhat high ground. Telling people how to get to them would be important (blimps, planes with message banners, leaflets, anyone?). Medical ships and supply ships with helicopters ASAP would be important. A sufficient response here is still currently not in place. Storing 100-200 stripped down rescue boats on trailers, inland at multiple locations, would be important. At least preferable to patching together 20 or so on short notice and relying on additional fisherman volunteers to rescue tens of thousands. I would think that forcibly removing people from their homes (at least those who were healthy) and putting them on municipal buses might be good too. Pumps don't work because the motors are flooded. Gee, what about elevating the motor in a secured housing at an elevation above the water level they are pumping against? None of us have all of the answers here, but we're not paid to assess these situations and come up with these solutions.

Advance preparations. Like the boats at the ready. Maybe upriver. Maybe in Texas. This could have been done better.


Thanks, Chaz, for your rant.
W Indian Day Parade 9.1.05

A good September to all of you. It’s a pretty day, and it’s worth mentioning. Yesterday was a long day*, humid and sweaty, but not so hot, oppressive and thick, leaving sweat on your head and on your body and in your clothes where it won’t dry. And inside it was the same, everyone in a cranky mood, on edge, not up to doing much work.

And then there is today, bright and clear and dry air, what a late summer or late spring day should look like. I started it with a good run in the morning. And talked to Sharma about the W Indian parade party that he and Samantha are holding and some of the music he’s working on.

He also turned me on to a blog by and about the people moving into neighborhoods I always thought were scary, the kind of places where you really shouldn’t return from with your wallet. You might as well hand it over to someone and say, just make sure no one slaps the black off of me, thanks. And people are just rolling in from Ohio and Missouri and Tennessee and Minnesota and wherever, with no remembrance of the days of the Crown Heights riots, or why one should never set foot on Empire Boulevard. Is this neighborhood becoming hip too? Will kids start going to Prospect Heights for yummy food and cute boutiques? Ugh. You want to see a dangerous neighborhood and event for real?

I-M To Sharma: oliver and i need to take some pipes to their knees. talking proper the whole way

At the top of the dailyheights blog post? “Murder Day Parade,” taken from a post on their message boards.

I’d like to add that three people have died in the parade, 2 in ’99, 1 last year. For all the mass of humanity on Eastern Parkway, I have never even seen an incident. Everyone just wants to party and talk to women in mesh shirts and tight booty pants. And they want to eat shark sandwiches. Murder Day. You people.

* post-script: but my night was very very good.