There’s a Mayoral Recall in New Orleans.
Mayoral Recall is dumb
Residents of Orleans Parish filed a recall petition against Mayor LaToya Cantrell in August. It was a silly idea then and it continues to be a month later. Here’s the top five reasons the recall is dumb:
5. City Leadership aren’t interested
At least in public. Oh, you know full well they’re quite interested. Like most folks, they just don’t want to give the petition oxygen.
4. Horrible timing
Petitioners filed on 26-August, which means they must produce 54,000 signatures. While the grass isn’t greener for the other six months of the year, the Fall, going into Carnival, is dumb. Any and all events taking place during this period become automatically more interesting. Events that attract tourists make it more of a challenge to collect valid signatures.
3. Costs will be more than $30K
The recall effort will absolutely cost more than $30,000. That’s basically the amount at issue here. Yes, the petitioners have a lot of things to say about the mayor’s “leadership” and such, but what they’re really upset about is that her honor sat in the front of the planes she took on her European junket. Your opinion on spending city money on flight upgrades doesn’t matter at this point. Someone decided first class was the rallying cry. That means the direct outrage focuses on thirty large. If the organizers get their signatures, the city will then be forced to spend half a million on the election.
2. Most problems with the city date back decades
While there are many things a city chief executive or manager can do to screw things up in a couple of years, those are relatively minimal. Pumping stations? The electric grid? NOPD? All of these items were a mess when Cantrell took office. Shit, they were a mess for Morial. That’s why the pro-recall types needed a specific incident that they could hang directly on Cantrell. This is why almost all of the city’s elected officials are silent on the recall. They don’t want to kick the hornet’s nest. They know this is a “there but for the grace of god” situation. It might not be air travel upgrades, but there’s something worth $30K in everyone’s past.
1. It’s racist
The motivation behind the Cantrell effort is absolutely racist. How dare a Black woman fly first class? Imagine having to sit next to her?! Horrors! Racism is what brings Whyte New Orleans out to vote.
New Orleans is a minority-majority city/parish. This drives the larger whyte population in suburban parishes insane. We’re talking about whyte people who simply loathe the notion of Black people in charge. If there’s an opportunity for the whyte folks to increase their control in the city doesn’t come around every day.
So, let’s rile up the whyte people! We’ll bring along some Black folks who don’t agree with the flight reservations, either. While whyte legislators squeeze the city regularly, this would be an internal foothold. And yes, I know how this sounds. This nonsense is for real.
It’s too late to completely stop the recall process. It’s possible to remind folks of why it’s dumb until next February.
Audubon Place is a “private” street in Uptown New Orleans, but it’s so much more to the city.
Audubon Place and its residents
The area of New Orleans now referred to as the University District stands in between Faubourg Bouligny and the old City of Carrollton. The city reserved a large amount of land for a public park. The Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884 drew attention to this part of town. Additonally, Tulane University moved uptown in 1884. New Orleanians looked past Napoleon Avenue. With Tulane’s property lines now defined, developers built streets and sold lots just off campus.
In the 1890s, George Blackwelder created a single-street development on the western side of Tulane. He allocated 28 large lots along Audubon Place. The development required builders construct large single-family homes with high values. With city approval, the neighborhood association took Audubon Place private in the early 1900s.
The notion of a gated street with one way in, one way out appealed to wealthy New Orleanians. The late Tom Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans (both Pelicans, BTW, the NBA team, and his abortive attempt to buy a minor-league baseball club), lived on Audubon Place. His widow still owns the house. John Georges, owner of Imperial Trading, the Times-Picayune, and Galatoire’s Restaurant, also lives on Audubon Place.
The most notable home on the street is 2 Audubon Place. Samuel Zemurray, founder and first president of United Fruit Company, built a magnificent home on the left side of the main gate, facing St. Charles Avenue. Zemurray later donated the mansion to Tulane. The university uses the home as the official residence of their president.
More than 28 lots
So, Audubon Place isn’t the only street where rich people live. After the Cotton Exposition at Audubon Park, other wealthy residents bought into the neighborhood just to the east of the park. Streets such as Henry Clay, Webster, State, and Nashville sport large houses owned by wealthy families. This continues up to Faubourg Bouligny and into the Garden District. Drive through these neighborhoods during Carnival season, and you’ll see the flags of the School of Design and the Mystick Krewe of Comus from a number of these homes. Those flags indicated that a member of the family was/is a past king of either parade.
These rich New Orleanians are the city’s business elite. They also donate large sums to the campaign funds of Orleans Parish politicians. While they don’t all live in Audubon Place, that 1900s gate and those 28 lots represent the class and their way of thinking.
Happy Gotcha Day 2020 to the #YatCats!
Gotcha Day 2020!
A year ago today, we brought the YatCats home from the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. When we lost Amber, our 18yo ginger familiar, last year, I pushed hard to not be long without a cat in the house. Wife wanted an indoor cat this time. So, we agreed that two cats was a good idea. One would be a ginger, the other, a black cat.
Meeting the cats
We went to the shelter on a Saturday. After looking at the “new intakes,” we couldn’t find a female ginger. The volunteer took us to the “older cat” room, where the one female ginger was supposed to be. She was there, but a black cat was sleeping on her! I picked up the black cat, and she started purring like crazy. Wife and the volunteer checked out the ginger. When we put the cats down again, it was clear that the two were buddies. Both were about four months old.
That made the decisions easy! The volunteer pulled the paperwork. We went back up front and got the process started. We couldn’t take the kittehs home right away, since they had to be fixed. So, we made arrangements to pick them up the following Monday, 26-August-2019.
That itty bitty kitteh in the top photo became a chonk! She moves fast, though, when you shake the food bag. While she isn’t as much of a purr-kitty as Arwen, she’s loveable. She’s claimed that bed as her own. Arwen will come up and sit next to the bed, but she won’t sleep in it.
I always felt that Nala was like a little sister to Arwen, even back at the shelter. The two of them still sleep close, and groom each other. They don’t have a lot of boundaries. Nala’s favorite spots in the house are the back bathtub, particularly right after we get out, and the garage.
Arwen is a week or two older than Nala. She’s definitely very protective of the ginger. Arwen didn’t have the breed traits of a Maine Coon when we gotcha’d her, but those traits came out here. She chirps rather than meows. Turn on a faucet and she jumps to it, pawing the water. She’s totally willing to get her head wet.
Arwen purrs so much! She reminds us more of Amber in that regard. While Nala is equally curious, Arwen takes her protective detail duties very seriously.
It’s been a wonderful year!
Renaissance Professional Branding presents challenges and complications.
Renaissance Professional Branding
I had the privilege of being interviewed by a top-level IT professional for their podcast a couple of weeks ago. (The ep hasn’t dropped yet, but trust me, you’ll hear about it when it does.) As I was introduced, they referred to me as a “Renaissance man.” While I, to paraphrase Professor Tolkien, “cordially dislike” that characterization, when someone you respect uses it, well, OK.
Thing is, I do have a wide variety of professional activities. My bread-and-butter work is in the IT sector, as a teacher/trainer. I started teaching at the high school level, specifically teaching social studies. Traveling 30+ weeks a year, doing computer training, presented an opportunity. I used free time on the road to write history books. So, now I have two professional skill sets. I market those skill sets.
Branding diverse skills
When skills obviously complement each other, branding flows naturally. Teaching computer subjects meshes with computer consulting. Teaching Enterprise Disaster Recovery and selling books on the history of New Orleans? Not so much.
The Business Networking International (BNI) folks told me, pick one or the other and focus. I get that. For a localized marketing strategy, being NOLA History Guy in a BNI chapter made more sense. The universe of potential consumers of my computer training in metro New Orleans is smaller than the potential buyers of history books. So, around town, I shunted aside the professional skills that, for the most part, pay the rent.
(Side note: I don’t do BNI anymore. The travel limited my ability to attend weekly meetings. I still fully believe in the concept of “Givers Gain, though.
To an extent, it’s not hard to separate my diverse skill sets on social media. On Da Twittah, I use @EdwardBranley for my computer consulting and training. I maintain a page on Facebook for seashell software, my consulting business. In 2010, I started a “social media consulting” company, YatMedia. That entity has Twitter and Facebook presences as well. So, it’s easy to point folks to my technical side. Promotion of YatMedia in particular flows from those presences. Targeted advertising eliminates confusion with the history stuff.
Edward the Author
I sell six history titles and four novels. While selling books I’ve written isn’t confusing at face value, it’s the diversity of topics that creates problems. Promoting my author skill set happens on @NOLAHistoryGuy Twitter account, NOLA History Guy on Facebook (page), and New Orleans Uncovered (group). So, there may be a disconnect/confusion when someone explores both sides of my body of work, one or the other usually flows OK.
The challenge of LinkedIn
LinkedIn presents the toughest challenge for Renaissance Professional Branding. You come to my LinkedIn presence. Are you there for my skills with respect to UNIX/Linux, Enterprise Storge, or Business Continuity? Or, do the history books interest you? Would you like me to speak to your organization on the challenge of regional disaster recovery, or on the history of retail shopping in downtown New Orleans? While Lafitte the Pirate is arguably more entertaining than Highly-Available Stretch Clusters, both have their audiences.
LinkedIn appears to be a jumble when you look at what I do. To help with that, I’ve some separation. I’ve got my personal umbrella, then seashell software and YatMedia underneath. I’m adding NOLA History Guy as a presence today. My goal will be to make an “omnibus” post daily or every other day that points to the specialized locations.
The bottom line
Renaissance Professional Branding is a work in progress. Please share your thoughts with me on what works and what doesn’t!
Blue Angels obey orders, even from Trump.
Blue Angels obey orders.
It’s really a simple concept. The National Command Authority says do it, you salute and do it. Members of our Forces do this daily. The Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron of the US Navy/USMC, along with the USAF Thunderbirds, get it. My son gets it, which is why the USS Topeka is out somewhere in the Pacific Ocean rather than docked next to a pier on Guam.
Flyovers are fun. The B-52s and F-16s that gave us a local treat last week. They offer a chance to step out the front door and look up. That’s advice I regularly suggest to what I call the “Blue Twitterati,” the folks on Da Twittah who rarely look up from their phones for anything.
Are the flyovers appropriate? At a time when these morons at the White House demonstrate absolute incompetence in the face of a pandemic, it’s not hard to figure out Donnie’s motives. Ascribing those motives to aviators, pilots, and their support teams is unfair.
Misuse of the military
Is Donnie Smallhands misusing the military? I look at the flyover of the Blue Angels tomorrow differently than the Angry Liberals Who Are Angry. People need more and deserve more than Pence and Kushner provide from government. Donnie’s people block experts from briefing Congress. They know their response to the pandemic is crap.
So, let’s have some military excitement!
Thing is, we’d have military excitement anyway. Air shows and public appearances are part of the mission of the demonstration teams. They can’t perform those parts of their mission during the pandemic. While air shows are outside, they’re not good social-distancing environments. Large gatherings and all that. Public appearances? Blue Angels follow orders – they can perhaps join school classes and other groups on Zoom. But their main mission, demonstrate the aviation capabilities of their respective service branches, well, that’s not happening on a Zoom session.
Let the aviators fly. Let the USAF pilots do what they do so well. Demonstrate those capabilities.
Lack of Liberal understanding
Do we need masks? PPE for healthcare professionals and first responders? Absolutely. Is a demonstration team flyover going to stop those things? Not in the least. What’s hindering our battle against COVID-19 is not Naval Aviation. It’s idiot Republicans who don’t mind watching people get sick and die. Hanging that on men and women obeying orders is wrong-headed. It indicates how badly liberals understand the military. That’s ironic, because so many Democrats actually serve their nation.
Disclaimer: My son is a Naval Officer (submarines), and I got to ride “Fat Albert” in 2012. I’m biased here.
Kittens become cats on May 1st!
Kittens Become Cats
We gotcha-ed the #YatCats, Nala and Arwen, on 26-August-2019. On their first visit to Metairie Small Animal Hospital’s clinic on W. Esplanade (our vets of 30+ years now), we told them the kittens were four months old. So, they backed that up to 26-April-2019. Mrs. YatPundit decided 1-May would be easier to remember in the future, so we designated May 1st as their birthday!
Gotcha Day still more significant
To me, birthday is a guesstimate. Still, since this first one is when they transmorgify, kittens become cats, We’ll recognize it. Gotcha Day is more concrete. We went on Saturday, 24-August, and found them. They got fixed on the morning of 26-August and came home that afternoon. They slept well that first night, post-op and new surroundings wore them out. Their food dishes and the litter box sat in the den for a couple of days. They moved into the garage when we were confident they could get through the flap in the garage door. The people who built our house had a dog, then we got a dog and cat (Pippin and Brandy). Then came Amber, now the #YatCats. They navigated the dog door just fine.
The ginger kitty put on so much weight in a year! She was tiny when she came home. Now? She’s a chonk. She keeps up, though, wrestling her buddy, running around, and generally being a kitteh. That Office Depot box was Amber’s bed in our bedroom. She made regular use of it.
And here’s the chonk now. She’s wonderful. Mrs. YatPundit hopes going from kitten food to cat food will keep her from chonking out much more than she is now.
When I first spotted Nala, it was hard to tell what she looked like, because Arwen was asleep on top of her, at the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter. My first impression of Arwen was, what a cute black cat. Then I picked her up and saw she was a tux kitteh. They were essentially roommates. So, the tux became part of the package. You
As she grew, Arwen demonstrated so many Maine Coon characteristics. Her mane grew out. Arwen’s “meow” is more a bird-chirp. She has an affinity for water (not surprising for m familiar, actually). The chirping meow is the most amusing to me.
Happy Birthday, #YatCats
2010 Movie – has the sequel to “2001” held up?
Passing by the hot dogs in the cooler at Zuppardo’s Family Market this morning got me thinking about how much I enjoy them. They also made me miss LT Firstborn, who could survive for weeks on end (and probably still does) on Hebrew National Hot Dogs.
I’m one of those folks who immediately associates hot dogs with ballparks. One of the most memorable scenes for me in Field of Dreams is when Ray and Terrence are at Fenway:
But my favorite hot dog interlude is in 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Dr. Heywood Floyd (played by Roy Scheider) talks with Dr. Walter Curnow (John Lithgow) about what they miss, because they’re on a spaceship near Jupiter:
Naturally, I fell down a rabbit hole of thought, which often happens while I’m sitting alone, waiting for a train to come by. Curnow likes the hot dogs in the Astrodome, and any good baseball fan knows the Astros don’t play there anymore.
So, my first reaction was, Curnow’s remark didn’t age well with respect to the real world. Shit, the entire premise of the film didn’t age well, given that the first NASA expedition to Jupiter was supposed to happen in 2001. While I’m willing to accept how that went off the rails, the details are more fascinating.
2001: A Space Odyssey vs 2010 Movie
2001 was a fantastic film, a Stanley Kubrick masterpiece. Like many films, 2001 was true to the novel’s spirit. While maintaining Clarke’s story, the film was more about the cinematography. That meant a lot of detail didn’t make the film. From Clarke’s original short story, The Sentinel to the book, there was a great extended story arc. An arc that needed completion.
That completion came sixteen years after the 1968 release of 2001, with the 2010 movie. I was fascinated! 2010 movie leverages the changes in tech from 1968 to 1984 nicely. It’s like the difference between Star Trek: TOS and ST:TMP. The story line for 2010 movie postulated a continuation of the Cold War political environment of the Reagan Years. That’s acceptable, in that nobody saw the fall of the Soviet Union a scant five years later coming.
Using a Soviet deep-space vessel to get out to the abandoned Discovery was quite prescient. Since the discontinuation of NASA’s Space Shuttles left the agency with no way to get to and from the International Space Station, Russian spacecraft haul supplies and replacement crew members into orbit. It’s taken to just the last five years for NASA to get re-supply going, with the SpaceX Falcon/Dragon hardware. Those have yet to bring humans up to ISS, though. So, NASA hitching a ride in the movie is quite believable. Doing so while the two countries are still picking at each other, yup, that’s not a stretch, either.
The technology behind the concept of deep-space travel isn’t all that much of a stretch. We have “medically induced comas” now, for slowing down bodily functions until the patient can heal enough for <insert surgery type here>. That’s aged well, as it were. Would that, in these days of the novel coronavirus, we could put folks into hibernation for six months to a year, then vaccinate them when we wake them up.
Cold War getting hot
A naval blockade and incidents leading to shooting incidents is rarely a stretch. The Russian Navy of 2010 was nothing compared to the Soviet Navy of 1984, but the attitude and possibility still existed. While the fifth column war we fight against Russia isn’t naval battles, the tension exists.
The backdrop of political tension on Earth as astrophysical tension builds up near Jupiter is solid. Being that far out brings Russians and Americans together. Being astronauts binds them. Clarke’s 1982 novel that inspired the movie offers more asides than can be included in a film. My favorite was the combined crew’s battle against “Russlish,” like you can stop tech geeks from lapsing, be it japanese and English, Dutch and English, or Chinese and any language.
The hot dog aside made the cut, and that made me happy. Floyd’s disdain for the Astrodome is typical of many who spend time in both Houston and DC. In either timeline, movie or reality, Houston is a different world. Floyd turning his nose up at “growing hot dogs indoors” may be influenced by having to go to Mission Control. Yankee Stadium seems too easy or mass-market a response for me, but the Washington Nationals weren’t part of the 1984 landscape.
The Brown Mustard
It is indeed important. Yellow mustard has its place, but a dog with mustard and relish needs to have brown mustard. Chili, cheese, and onions? Yellow is acceptable. The brand? I’m OK with Nathan’s, particularly since you can get their dogs at ATL Airport, but I opt for Hebrew Nationals, even though LT Firstborn has long left home.
Did it hold up?
Yes, the 2010 movie did just fine. Now, I’m off to go watch it again.
Support restaurants by ordering takeout or delivery
“Flattening the curve” is a legitimate thing. Stay away from people. Don’t gather in groups. Switch to remote. It all makes sense, and hopefully will keep a lot of people from dying. Of course, the businesses that rely on crowds, such as restaurants and bars, take a big hit when they can’t open. Revenue dries up, workers don’t work, and we all hope a couple of weeks is all that’s necessary.
There’s not much we can do about bars and clubs. We go to them to socialize, and, well, that’s what we’re distancing right now. Musicians are going to live-casting on various platforms. That’s a start. For many of us, it’s not just the crafty cocktail we crave, but time with our friends. Hopefully this all will improve.
Dining out is an important social event for New Orleanians. We go out to eat for the experience of going out to eat, not because we’re on the way to a show or something else. this makes it all a struggle.
While it’s difficult to support bars right now, we can support restaurants. Many places changed their model to delivery and/or takeout. Order your meal, run in, get it, and get out again. Less than ten people, not breathing on anyone, and you’re in your car most of the time. Socialize from a distance, maybe Skype or Facetime your meal with a friend.
Is Takeout a problem?
Yesterday, I shared the above post from Chef CDB at Revel Cafe and Bar to several groups on the Book of Zucker. The post is not all that different from the ones I shared from other restaurants. In one of the larger NOLA-focused groups, a woman commented, coming for the concept of takeout dining. While her comments were at a high level, she directed her venom at a single restaurant.
Well, that didn’t sit well with me. Chris is a good man, a talented chef, and an old soul. He and his place don’t deserve that sort of attack. I reported the comment to the group’s admin team, and it was quickly removed.
Stop this shit
If you see others coming for restaurants, please consider nipping it in the bud. Our friends, family, and neighbors work in the service industry. We want them to have jobs to return to when this passes.
Hashtag #rexcomus has been overrun by assholes
Hashtag #RexComus evolves into something awful
Live-tweeting the “Meeting of the Courts” as WYES broadcast of the bal masque of the Rex Organization isn established #NOLATwitter tradition for the last few years, The combination of the event’s television hosts and the activities at the ball make for fun Twitter fodder.
Rex Ball, Rex meets Comus
The “Meeting of the Courts” happens on Mardi Gras Night. The balls began at 9pm, back in the days when the Mystick Krewe of Comus paraded. Comus currently only presents their ball. The organization stopped parading in the 1990s. The tradition of the meeting dates to 1882, when Rex was ten years old.
As Carnival approaches its end, Comus extends an invitation to the King of Carnival and his court to join him at the senior krewe’s ball. Rex makes his farewells to his ball and heads to the Comus soiree. The two monarchs, along with their queens, perform a Grand March. After that march, general dancing continues. While they march at Comus, Rex ball-goers continue their party.
So much fodder for satire and humor here! It’s as if the Meeting was created for Twitter. Local folks on Da Twittah comment on all aspects of the event. From Peggy Scott Laborde’s gaffes to Errol Laborde (her husband) being more of a curmudgeon than the Curmudgeon Class of #NOLAtwitter, to the antics of the two carnival organizations, local folks are merciless in mockery.
Anger is not a good look
Over the years, hashtag #rexcomus became a place of anger rather than mockery. The event offers an opportunity for folks who are angry at Trump and conservatives to lash out. What was once satire is now flooded with bitter remarks.
I empathize with people who are not OK since Trump became President. It’s back to the old adage that liberals have no sense of humor. It also doesn’t help that Senator Sanders’ stature within the Democratic Party’s race for a nominee is falling. That exacerbates the anger among what I call “nonpartisan liberals.” They hate All Things Democratic Party. Unfortunately, they use hashtag #rexcomus as an outlet.
Nothing is permanent
I like to think that most of these angry people will slink away after this fall’s election, should a Democrat defeat Trump. The nonpartisan liberals usually only come out for the Presidential election cycle. We saw this in 2018, when many red Congressional districts went blue, thanks to the hard work of mainstream Democrats. I anticipate a better, funnier, less-angry hashtag #rexcomus in 2021.
Chris Roberts suicide deserves the benefit of the doubt from us.
Chris Roberts, dead at 42
Chris Roberts died yesterday, down off Engineer’s Road in Plaquemine Parish. From Da Paper:
The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office is leading the investigation into Roberts’ death, which an agency spokesman described as an apparent suicide. The spokesman declined to elaborate.
A law enforcement source with knowledge of the situation said Roberts’ parents had reported him missing to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office earlier Wednesday. The Sheriff’s Office tracked his cellphone to a wooded area off Engineers Road in Belle Chasse, near the Jefferson Parish line, and found his body there.
Roberts resigned his seat on the Jefferson Parish Council last year, under the shadow of an extensive federal indictment. He served on the Council for fifteen years. Before his Council service, Roberts sat on the Jefferson Parish School Board. For those unfamiliar with the workings of the Jefferson Parish Council, the body consists of five district and two at-large members. Since so much of Jefferson Parish is unincorporated, the district members function as the “mayors” of their respective neighborhoods. When a district member decides an issue, the others usually respect their decision and vote as they do. Therefore, politicians like Roberts carry a lot of influence.
Until they’re indicted by feds, that is.
Fall from grace
In 2018, the Department of Justice dropped a pallet of bricks on Roberts, with an extensive indictment filing. Again, from Vargas at Da Paper:
Most of the counts related to his work managing a Terrytown-based landscaping company from which he allegedly used money for personal purchases. Roberts was also accused of hiding hundreds of thousands of dollars in income over a seven-year period, and only filing amended tax returns accounting for the income after he learned of the federal inquiry.
The indictment painted a picture of Roberts as a profligate spender who used business and campaign funds to purchase a $16,000 engagement ring and spent thousands more at area casinos.
Then, to make matters worse:
In October, federal prosecutors added 10 new wire fraud counts to the indictment, ramping up the pressure on him. The new indictment also accused Roberts of improperly spending business funds.
So, the whole notion of deputies finding this guy dead in the woods, likely by his own hand, doesn’t sound far-fetched. When I read the initial tweets, it sounded like a classic case of, get your affairs in order and take care of your problems.
Benefit of the doubt
Chris Roberts presented himself as an arrogant asshole on social media. His attacks on Mike Yennni were bush league. His supporters say he worked hard for his district. The feds say he’s a thief. Suffering from depression was never part of Roberts’ public persona. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist! So many people struggle with depression, and it does indeed claim them. I can see the weight of his world crashing in on him taking that toll.
“Doing the right thing for the family” isn’t the same these days. People do time for white-collar crime regularly. They come back from prison and often do right by the community. It’s not like a guy like Roberts faced hard time for his crimes.
Influence of family and friends
People coping with depression need a support network. If someone doesn’t feel that support, their depression can deepen. That can lead to suicide attempts as a cry for help. Or worse, you go out to the woods and end it. It’s certainly unclear how much support for his condition Roberts got from friends and family. It’s too late for Roberts, but it’s not too late for those you care for. Check your people.