Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Amendments on Oct 4 ballot

From: Michael Cowan
Sent: Saturday, September 20, 2008 7:31 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients
Subject: A decisive vote

Dear Common Good leaders,

In just over one week, New Orleans voters will have the opportunity to cast what may be the most important vote in the history of local government. That vote will not be to elect a candidate but rather to change decisively the way two important institutions—City Hall and NOPD—function. On the October 4th ballot will be an amendment to the city charter that will protect the newly established Office of the Inspector General from political interference by future mayors and city councils, whose decisions the inspector general will be monitoring. The amendment will also establish an independent monitor for the NOPD, who will report to the inspector general.

We need an independent inspector general because most citizens and business owners, and many state and national elected officials, perceive New Orleans city government as wasteful and contaminated by patronage and corruption. Unless this perception is changed, local residents and business owners, as well as potential public and private outside investors, will continue to be reluctant to bet on the future of New Orleans. The future of the city hinges on those investments.

We need an independent police monitor now because trust between the police department and residents of some New Orleans’ neighborhoods is so low that many people will not report crime or testify against criminals because they feel that they have been treated disrespectfully or brutally by police officers, while others feel that the police are not doing enough to protect them. Our crime problem cannot be effectively addressed without trust between citizens and police. An independent monitor’s office is a nationally recognized way of rebuilding that trust.

Members of the city council are appearing with Inspector General Robert Cerasoli on the following dates to speak briefly with citizens about this important vote and answer your questions. Please invite your members and associates to attend one.

Council member Mr. Fielkow, 9/23, 6:00 p.m., Touro Synagogue, 4238 St. Charles Avenue
Council member Carter, 9/24, 6:30 p.m., St. Jude Community Center, 411 N. Rampart
Council member Head, 9/27, 10:00 a.m., 2020 Jackson Avenue
Council member Midura, 9/29, 6:30 p.m., Grace Episcopal Church, 3700 Canal Street

The Common Good network of institutions has worked with council member Shelley Midura and other elected officials for the establishment of an inspector general’s office for almost three years, and actively supported the efforts of council member James Carter to establish the independent police monitor for the past year. On October 4th, the citizens of New Orleans can provide these two critical offices with the maximum independence possible under city, state and federal law.

Please do all that you can to encourage local voters to seize this rare opportunity to make New Orleans a city that operates fairly and effectively for all her citizens.

For the common good,
Michael Cowan
Loyola University
Makes my head hurt.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Geaux 'Noles!

Shrimp Po-Boy
and I have been talking about getting FSU fans together to watch the games and we are finally making it happen.

What: FSU vs. Wake Forest
When: Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Where: Big Al's Seafood (1377 Annunciation St., New Orleans, LA 70130)

The FSU game starts at 6:00 and the LSU game at 6:45. I'm not sure how crowded they get but let's get there at 5:30 to get a good spot and beat the rush.

If you want to join us, leave a comments and how many people so we can get a head count.

UPDATE: Original stated times were Eastern.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A glorious cold front came through. It’s like Mother Nature’s way of saying “sorry for all the really crappy weather the last few weeks.” I’m sure it’s a relief for the people who are still waiting for their electricity to come back on. My brother-in-law in Baton Rouge finally got power on the 11th and another friend as of Saturday still didn’t have power. It will get hot again I know. But not beastly hot like August.

The power and size of Ike really took people by surprise. And while I don’t want to wish harm or disaster on anyone, there was some smug satisfaction to all those who after Katrina said things like “why do people live down there where they get hurricanes?” Flooding in Indiana and Ohio from a tropical storm? Who would have thunk it. Weather happens. Everywhere. Talking with a friend of mine who I grew up with in Florida, I was surprised how little she knew about hurricanes. I later realized there weren’t many big storms then, not until Andrew, not like now. I’ve become an expert on them after living in New Orleans. People here still talk about hurricanes Betsy (1965) and Camille (1969). I couldn’t believe the people on the Texas barrier island who were staying for Ike. It’s not crazy to live somewhere hurricanes hit, it’s crazy to stay when a hurricane is coming right at you. People on the news in coastal Texas and Louisiana said things like “the water’s never gotten this high” or “I’ve never seen the water come up so fast.” Every storm is different and you just never know what’s going to happen. I slacked off this year on my hurricane food supply. Thankfully we haven’t needed it, but I’m not going to let it slide again. Here to hoping this is my last hurricane related post for a long time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Just after I posted, I got this in my in-box:

Today - in broad daylight - two of our neighbors were held up at gunpoint and robbed. This took place in the 700 block of Constantinople.

Our two female neighbors were talking. It seems that there was a car that passed them. The car dropped off two of the African American teenagers who walked down the street and held them up at gunpoint. We think the car then circled the block and picked up the thieves.

Some neighbors got a partial license plate. Police are searching for them. We will let you know when we hear more.

Apparently here is their method of operation: Four young men in car (a black Maxima this time) drive around until they see a target of opportunity (in this case two women standing along the side of the street). They pass by the women and stop on the next block letting two out of the car to walk back to do the robbery. The get-away-car then drives around the block and picks up the robbers after the job is done and then they all flee.
It seems like the winds from Ike have FINALLY died down. It’s amazing how big the storm was. The tree that was leaning towards our house after Gustav is thankfully NOT leaning on our house after all the additional wind. And I’m glad to report our friends Simon and Suzanne in Houston made it through the storm with only minor damage and with power!

I ventured out this morning to the Farmer’s Market downtown. The streets were quiet but the market was bustling. It was moved next door, inside an old one-story building. I took my kitchen knives to be sharpened. I had to hang out and wait a little while after I finished my shopping, but there was good people watching. I did learn today if you see something you want buy it then, don’t wait or it maybe gone. I had my eye on some cut sunflowers but wanted to get them last but they were all gone when I got there. When I picked up my knives the guy apologized for taking so long. He said he had (former councilperson) Peggy Wilson’s to do first and that they were a lot duller than mine. When I told G this story he said “I always thought she wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.” (rim shot) After the market I hustled over to Parkway Partners. On the second Saturday they have talks and sell plants. Today was about fall gardening and free seeds were given out. Since I got there late I missed out on the plants for sale but did take home an aloe plant. They had a chicken coup in the garden there; when I was in Albuquerque, I visited one of Dorie’s friends who raises fancy chickens in her backyard. It’s got me thinking… fresh eggs from my own backyard. I asked G to think about it. I also stopped by Green Parrot to replace my herbs that died during Gustav. Many of the plants there were pretty battered. They are located at the end of Nashville St. next to the train tracks and it’s very exposed. I then visited the community garden to see how it fared. A few small trees got blown over and a big branch is dangling over part of my plot. It looks like it bounced on my okra plants. I think they are goners. It’s time to pull them out and get the soil ready for my fall garden but the wind was still gusting and it was so amazingly humid. It’s always humid here but this was like 120% humidity. I decided to spend the rest of the day inside. Laundry and my road trip travelogue were calling.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I’ve been lying low since returning home. Things were strange those first few days, but to expected. Not nearly as strange as coming home after Katrina. Local businesses, especially groceries, restaurants and bars, were quick to open. Monday was a nice, normal day. I got up, went to work, worked, came home from work, made dinner, and drank wine. It was good. We don’t see the National Guard in our area of town any more. The power has gone out for short periods of time, just enough to have to reset all the clocks, but nothing major. Some Katrina flashbacks: piles of debris on the side of the road; that horrible stench from everyone cleaning out their fridges before leaving and then the garbage sitting out in the heat for a week; random traffics lights being out.

We started feeling some effects of Ike as early as this morning… sporadic wind gusts and rain. Saw some pretty dark and nasty clouds on my way home from work and briefly caught some heavy rain. My father called me at work to see if we were leaving or what. No. We should get some strong winds and rain but nothing to leave for. The worst should be tonight through Friday night. I’ll be happy once is gets past us. Best of luck to my friends in Texas!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

New Hurricane Cocktails

Usually email forwards aren't worth posting, but I'll make an exception for this one.

1 1/2 oz. Absolute Ruby Red vodka
1/2 oz. vermouth
Prune juice
Combine vodka and vermouth in cocktail glass. Fill remainder of glass with
equal parts clamato and prune juice. Stir. Drink. Ask next-door neighbor
whose tree blew over and crashed onto your roof - even though you'd
warned him for months to uproot it - if you can use his bathroom. Repeat.


1/2 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. tequila
1/2 oz. rum
1/2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. gin
Sweet-and-sour mix
Splash of fruit juice
Combine vodka, tequila, rum, bourbon and gin in a tall glass. Fill
remainder of glass with sweet-and-sour mix and splash of juice. Stir, then
garnish with an inverted drink umbrella. Drink during peak storm hours, and
vow not to believe anyone who tries to tell you the hurricane that flooded
your garage and destroyed your shed was just a Category 1.


1 oz. cinnamon schnapps
1 sugar cone
Pour the schnapps into the sugar cone. Every time you hear a TV weatherman
say, 'cone of probability,' bite off the end of the cone and down the shot.
If you hear Jim Cantore say it, drink two shots consecutively. (they should
change this to the 'Cantore Zone'... damn him.
Have you ever noticed that, despite all the cone of probability talk, if
Cantore is parked in front of your house your ass is toast?)


2 oz. Midori
2 oz. rum
1 scoop vanilla ice cream
After your home loses power, combine Midori and rum in a cocktail glass.
Add a scoop of the vanilla ice cream that is melting in your freezer. Stir,
and drink through a straw.


1 1/2 oz. Goldschläger
1 1/2 oz. apple brandy
1 pack Sugar in the Raw
Combine Goldschläger, apple brandy and sugar in cocktail glass. As you drink, seriously contemplate moving your Yankee butt back to New Jersey where it belongs.


1 1/2 oz. rum
5 oz. Jolt Cola
Combine ingredients in a cocktail glass.
Drink while trying to figure out how the heck you're supposed to go two
freakin' weeks without television and AC.


2 oz. Kahlúa
2 oz. Baileys Irish cream
4 oz. rum
Serve in a 6-ounce glass and laugh-cry deliriously as the mess spills
all over the countertop.


2 oz. Blue Aftershock
4 oz.. Sprite
Combine in a cocktail glass with crushed ice you received after
waiting in line for three hours at a mall parking lot. Take a deep
breath, sip and scream like a little girl when the cold beverage hits
your tongue.


1 oz. Jack Daniel's
Splash of sarsaparilla
Rock salt
Load both barrels of a shotgun with rock salt.
Climb to the roof of your house with gun, bottle of Jack Daniel's and
can of sarsaparilla. Fill shot glass with Jack and splash of
sarsaparilla. Watch for looters. When you spot one, blast him with
rock salt. Drink shot. Repeat.


1 oz. Goldschläger
1 oz. Rumplemintz
3 oz. Jim Beam
Splash of vermouth
Combine Goldschläger, Rumplemintz and Jim Beam in an empty soup can.
Add splash of vermouth. Drink. Remove chain saw from garage and attempt
to cut up fallen tree limbs in yard. Ask neighbor to drive you to
hospital when it all goes horribly wrong.


1 1/2 oz. vodka
1 1/2 oz. vodka and Midori
1 1/2 oz. vodka and Galliano
1 1/2 oz. vodka and grenadine
Pour each ingredient into a separate shot glass. Serve one to yourself
and three other people. The person with the clear shot of vodka drinks
first.. The person to his right drinks the Midori shot, and so on. If
somebody drinks out of order, develop a quick case of road rage and
beat the living crap out of him.


1 1/2 oz. Curacao
2 oz. pineapple juice
Splash of lime
Combine ingredients in a leaky paper cup and serve.
Wait six to eight months for someone to repair the cup.
If you're impatient, hire an unlicensed, out-of-state contractor to do
the job for an exorbitant sum and pray he doesn't hurt himself in the


1 1/2 oz. Southern Comfort
2 oz. sloe gin
Tonic water
One week after the storm has passed and your neighborhood is still in
ruins with no sign of help on the way, combine Southern Comfort and gin
in a cocktail glass. Fill remainder with tonic and add a dash of
Angostura bitters. Serve with a nut brownie.
Before drinking, raise the glass and say the toast, 'Doing a helluva
job Brownie

Saturday, September 06, 2008

G and went to our office since the power is back on. We needed to lug our computers and files back and set up to get back to work Monday. It’s very quite over here, strangely quiet. I don’t know what to do with myself this weekend since nothing is going on and I’ve had the last few days to unpack, clean the house, etc. I never did go on the bike ride yesterday. I may ride with a friend tomorrow. Thankfully there's football to watch as a distraction.

G called his folks and they said they were told they should have power by 6pm tonight. That’s impressive. G’s brother who lives in Baton Rouge still does not have power. I need to refill my prescription, which means a trek to the Target on the Westbank. Hopefully I’ll find an open gas station. One good thing about only going to the in-laws to evacuate is I still have half a tank of gas.

I’m trying not to get excited about Ike yet. It is too far away to call accurately. I’m not paying any attention to what comes out of C. Ray’s mouth ever again. I’m only listening to Bob Breck and watching Weather Underground. I really don’t look forward to evacuating again or trying to get Hana into her cat carrier. She drew blood from both me and G when we were putting her in to bring her home. I wonder if there’s a small dart gun we could pop a tranquilizer into her, like they do on the wild life shows. I tried luring her in with shrimp but she’s too smart. The shrimp did get her out of her hiding spot. Speaking of shrimp, Kyoto, our favorite sushi restaurant reopened last night and it was packed. No Who Dat ?! rolls though – no oysters. Oh the indignity!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Slowly the city gets repopulated. When we drove in Wednesday evening, it was quiet, hardly any traffic. Yesterday, we had breakfast at Slim Goodies (reduced menu and cash only). We walked over to the just opened Breaux Mart to pick up a few things. A woman told us the butchers were in their way in and they would have meat in a few hours. The only other thing they didn’t have was bread, but she said she was working on that as well. The rest of the day was spent unpacking, cleaning up, upboarding etc. Later that day, we drove by Martins Wine Cellar on Magazine (closed) and Rouses. There was a line to get into Rouses and they had little produce and no meat, but everything else. We took Magazine from Napoleon down to Washington. Almost every restaurant was open! Walgreens was open as was the Bulldog, Balcony Bar and Rendezvous. After unloading our groceries, G texted the Mad Irish Man “Rendezvous is open.” He replied “I’m on my way.” We decided to be social and headed over. It was good to see familiar faces, sit in the AC and drink a cold pint. We walked over to Reginelli’s for dinner. It felt like Mardi Gras! The street was clogged with traffic and people were walking all over the place. The restaurants were packed. This just 24 hours after we got back into a silent city. I think I’m going to hop on my bike and explore and see if the power is back on at my office.

Plug: my friend's bar in Mid-City is open with cold beer, food, AC and TV: Mid-City Yacht Club, 440 South St. Patrick Street.

Saw this bumper sticker on a car in the Rouse's parking lot: "If you have been reading this for the past 14 hours, you must be evacuating."

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It was so good to sleep in my own bed again. I’ve been on the move for the last 12 days having one adventure after another. Where to begin? I guess I will work my way backwards.

We arrived home yesterday around 5:00pm. We drove back home the way we came, on Hwy 61/Airline Hwy. It was smooth sailing except for traffic lights that were out; they became 4-way stops, which slowed things down. When we arrived home about 3 hours later (usually a 1.5 hr drive) G talked to one neighbor who was working in his yard and I talked to another over his fence. We unloaded the car and then looked around. A few sheets of corrugated metal got pulled off the shed roof but thankfully they didn’t go flying. A tree next to our house is now leaning towards the house. It didn’t fall on it and thankfully it didn’t take out the phone line. Fence neighbor said he didn’t notice any missing roof shingles on our house. I replied “there better not be, that’s a brand new roof.” The cats are elated to be back home. We have full power, water, phone and Internet. Today I will check out the grocery stores. We cleaned out the fridge before leaving so we need some perishables. It is very quiet. No traffic on the streets, no noise from the port. Just the occasional helicopter fly-over and a NOPD or a National Guard patrol drive-by.

It was miserable at Linwood. No power, no phone. The temperature was rising and the humidity was suffocating. The love bugs were swarming. Before we left, G helped his father put the window unit in so they could have AC. The cell signal was weak and many times in the middle of sending a text message I would lose the signal and have to try again later. It was a throw back to years past. My mother-in-law and I would sit on the back gallery fanning ourselves, trying to move as little as possible. Extension cords ran all over the place, plugging the TV and other things into the generator. You had to be careful not to trip over them.

Tuesday, the day after, would normally be clean up day but it was raining. Also, the debris was pretty big – whole trees were down, 7 total! It’s a miracle that none fell on the house. We did all go out to clear the mile-long gravel lane that leads to the street. No major trees fell, just large limbs, something we could handle.

Two large oaks that went over

G next to roots for scale

So sad.

We watched the local news and they did a good job covering the whole state, not just the Baton Rouge area. The press conferences by Gov. Bobby Jindal were a test of patience. He said so much and talked so fast you would zone out only to snap to when you heard something that was important to you. WWL 870 am was also a good source of information. Reading some of my fellow bloggers, there were many complaints about CNN.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Quick post - we are home and have power, phone and water. Not sure about internet. We are glad to be back! More details to come.

Monday, September 01, 2008

It is coming up on 8pm. I haven't been able to log in to make an update. The wind is still blowing but the worst is over. Several big trees blew over but none on Linwood (the house). The generator is going and we will be eating dinner soon.The poor kitties have been hiding under a bed all day. But we are all doing fine.

Uptown New Orleans seems to have suffered only minor damage which is encouraging.
We are coming up on 4pm. At 2:45 the eye wall passed near us at Zachary, LA. It has been pretty bad ever since. Strong winds plus huge gusts. Lots of limbs down - one whole pecan tree over and a front window got blown that G and his dad had to board up. But they got the generator going which is running the fridge and TV. This is worse here than it was for Katrina because the storm is west of us - Katrina was east. But all in we are fine.
12:44pm and we just lost power. The wind has picked up with some pretty strong gusts. The wind is coming from the east which means the eye is due south of us. A steady light rain and just some small branches down. Now is when things get boring but I will take boring right now.
It is just after 9am here at Linwood (name of my in-laws house) I was just going to write it has been quiet, just a steady breeze with a little bit of wind, but the first gust just blew. We feel fortunate we still have power - we are out in the country with plenty of trees. We know it is not IF the power goes out but when. We are prepared. I got a full night sleep and long hot shower, but feel drained from a week of travel and the last couple of stressful days. But I can relax for now. Maybe I will plug in my computer, download my trip photos and write up some notes from my trip. Or maybe I will go sit out on the gallery and watch the wind. Or maybe take a nap.

I did want to do my "national news is crap" rant. If you really want to know what is going on in New Orleans, log on to or Google "New Orleans news" and check out the local tv stations' web sites. Turn off CNN and Fox. Watching them after Katrina I can tell you they make stuff up or pass off speculation as fact.