Thursday, April 05, 2007

Some Sort Of News

It’s been a week. That’s not saying too much these days. Used to be, about one thing would happen in this city per month. Maybe one thing per week, if lots was going on. Everybody’d know about that one thing; everybody’d be talking about it on porches and street corners, at bus stops and corner bars and coffeeshops, and that one thing would set the tempo for what you’d say to the guy at the crawfish place or the drycleaners that week. Edwin Edwards Is Going To Prison! The Saints Lost Again! You and the person and the crawfish place would shake your heads in mutual amazement, the way people in other places have collective bewilderment when the weather, say, isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.

Oh well. Those were the old days.

Now that we live in a fast-paced city, it’s been a little more challenging to keep up with the news. Thank the Lord I have so many active and involved housemates and guests living with me, otherwise I’d never know what’s going on. For those of you who don’t get to live with all these fabulous wellsprings of information, here’s some updates:

Updates from the fight to preserve New Orleans culture and the people’s right to return

Yesterday at a hearing, a city judge agreed to reduce astronomical security fees for this Sunday's traditional Easter parade by the Original Pigeontown Steppers after the Social Aid and Pleasure Club and its allies (including the ACLU), argued that the over 300 percent increase on fees would prohibit the parade from being out on the streets this Easter. This decision is the latest development in a long struggle by Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs across the city, who have been protesting the fee increases, which have made it increasingly difficult to carry on the centuries-old tradition. See an informative article by Katy Reckdahl giving context for this struggle, as well as insight into the likely racially-motivated decisions by the police department to charge these higher fees almost exclusively to second line organizations.

Also, I’m posting a link here about the city-sponsored demolition of Resurrection City, the latest development in an inspiring creative movement by public housing residents and allies for affordable housing for all New Orleans residents. For more about housing struggles and the Right of Return, visit Survivors Village and Justice For New Orleans.

And last, the bizarre and Orwellian

No, this isn’t about Elizabeth’s restaurant going through another one of those “We Don’t Serve Breakfast. We Never Served Breakfast” phases, which is just totally weird, not to mention disappointing during those times when only praline bacon will warm the drafty cracks in my heart...

No, this is about a pretty recent and more-than-slightly-alarming decision by Google Maps to go back to using pre-Katrina images in their maps of New Orleans. (Are they joking? Who do they think they’re fooling? People who aren’t from here, so they can feel totally comfortable because they can look on Google Maps and think, New Orleans is Coming Back? People in New Orleans who are actually looking on Google Maps ‘cause they need to get someplace and then they’re like, “Wait, is Ms Geraldine’s house down the block all finished up and back to normal again? That’s so awesome!” only to go outside and realize that indeed, reality is quite different from what we just saw of our city on satellite? Do they really want to re-traumatize us all over again?)

I just heard about this and about how, of all people, Congress was launching some inquiry into why Google was “airbrushing history,” and how a group of folks calling themselves--I am not joking— People For Post-Katrina Accuracy On Google Maps, had actually started an online petition to get things back to how they were.

Lest anyone be lulled for a moment into thinking that starting a ruckus about the things you care about won’t get results, I just checked out the satellite images for myself and, comfortingly or not, there’s hella blue tarps up on those rooftops again.



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