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Astounding Video Shows the Flooding of New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina

In August will be the tenth year anniversary of the flooding of New Orleans caused by weak and improperly designed and built floodwalls after Hurricane Katrina. This video shows exactly how it happened.

Astounding Video Shows the Flooding of New Orleans After Katrina

This video is from Harry Shearer, the actor and voice of many of the Simpsons characters, who is a part time resident of New Orleans. Several years ago he made The Big Uneasy, a documentary about how the city was flooded.

One popular misconception is that the flooding of New Orleans was caused by Hurricane Katrina. It was not. It was caused by the incompetence of the federal government by way of the US Army Corps of Engineers who built our modern levee protection system. I’ve written about this repeatedly in this blog.

It is important that others around the country know what caused the flooding of our fair city: waste, incompetence, corruption and negligence from the mind and hands of the Corps of Engineers. Millions upon millions of dollars were spent to build these supposedly modern structures. And billions of dollars have been spent to supposedly rectify their mistakes.

You can ask most people who live here if they feel safer. I would bet that a majority of them would say no. We have the illusion of safety with these massive projects that they’ve built. But how can you really trust an organization that built some of the pre-Katrina flood walls out of sand. I mean really – sand?

If you live in another part of the country why is this important to you? Because the Corps has hundreds of projects all over the nation and you just may be supposedly “protected” by one of them.

It’s just an opportunity to be aware and stay vigilant. Does the federal government really have your best interests at heart?

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Videos.

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Dictator’s Dancin Darlins Bring North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un to New Orleans Mardi Gras 2015

What’s better than one North Korean dictator at New Orleans Mardi Gras? How about a whole dancing troupe of them! And here they are, the Dancin’ Darlins doing what they do best, tearing up the streets of carnival and giving their favorite fans a real show.

Krewe D’Etat Dictator’s Dancin Darlins Bring North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un to New Orleans Mardi Gras 2015

Here’s the famous dancing group doing their version of the wobble, showing to the world that despite the reputation of Mr. Jong-un being a murderer and a despot he can also do a mean dance. Yeah, you right, baby!

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Videos.

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14 Great Things to Know About New Orleans Mardi Gras

Maybe you think you know everything about Mardi Gras. Or… maybe you don’t. Maybe you don’t know anything about it. But what exactly do you need to know about this magical holiday? Here ya go. I spell it out for you.

14 Great Things to Know About New Orleans Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans: Krewe of Kosmic D...

Mardi Gras Day, New Orleans: Krewe of Kosmic Debris revelers on Frenchmen Street (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. It’s a way for folks to let off steam and let it all hang out and celebrate – we here in the NOLA are famous for that.

2. It’s a way to get exposed to the creativity and artistry of our parades.

3. It’s a great way for familes to come together to participate in something that is fun and wholesome. Well, mostly wholesome…

4. It gets visitors to the city who get to experience New Orleans, the real spirit of the city in a short period of time.

5. It’s a way for all social strata to contribute to and participate in the spirit and the life of the city.

6. It’s a great way for locals to celebrate all the great things about their home – the music, the dance, the food, the spirit, the culture and traditions that make up the heart and the true living spirit of New Orleans.

7. It’s a great way for organizations, specifially the many carnival “krewes” (private carnival organizations that actually pay for all the parades and celebrations) to give back to the city and showcase the many artistic, musical and culinary talents and wonders of our citizens.

8. It’s a great way to showcase all that is good about New Orleans, the culture, history and traditions to the whole world.

9. It’s a party that the people of New Orleans gives to itself and invites the whole world to participate.

10. The city of New Orleans is conscious about its past and its history, and is in love with itself and the idea of itself. So the festival celebrates the magic of the city, the cultural, the historical and it’s a way for all of the customs and traditions that have made this city great to continue to live on, a way for the older generation to pass down to the younger one all that is great about this city and what makes it tick and what makes it one of the bright spots in the world.

What would the US be without New Orleans? Just a bunch of stressed out, overworked white people dying of boredom.

11. It is a way to bring the magic of love, music, art, food and song to life. It stokes the fire of the life of the city to carry on and celebrate the wonder of life for another year until the next Mardi Gras comes along and we get to do it all again. Mardi Gras really keeps the city alive. That is why after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina not celebrating carnival was unthinkable. As long as there is Mardi Gras there will always be a New Orleans.

12. It’s a way for anyone to be really creative and don costumes and masks to step out of their normal day-to-day lives and celebrate their creations with others.

13. Despite the hundreds of thousands of people out on the streets, all the rowdiness and some inebriation it’s an amazingly safe and, for the most part, wholesome festival that parents have no problem taking even their youngest children along and making them part of the celebration.

14. It showcases the New Orleans Police Department as being the best in the world at crowd control. In fact, folks from other police departments around the world come to New Orleans to learn how we do it.

And for lagniappe:

15. From a masker on a passing float you can catch all kinds of beads, trinkets, doubloons, go cups, plush toys, balls and other kinds of, what many would consider, crap, and act like, just for a moment, that what you are trying to catch actually has some kind of value, when it really doesn’t, except that it was thrown to you and you caught it. And in actuality sometimes you can use some of the crap you caught! But most of it stays in a bag that you put in the back of your closet and forget about.

Anyway, that’s it in a nutshell. There are more things that are great about New Orleans Mardi Gras and I’m sure each New Orleanian has their own take on it. These are just a few that I was thinking of as we all gear up for the final day of carnival, the day before the 40 day preparation leading up to Easter.

And, yes, in case you were wondering Mardi Gras is actually a religious festival.

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Festivals, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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Brian Williams Lying About Chopper Incident Calls Into Question His Reporting in New Orleans During Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Seems that famous and respected NBC news anchor Brain Williams probably created some ‘false truths” during his Hurricane Katrina reporting in New Orleans.

I mean, does anybody still really think the news media tells the real objective truth? If you have ever been involved in any kind of story whether you are one of the main characters or just on the periphery, you know the media likes to have its way with the truth.

Brian Williams Lying About Chopper Incident Calls Into Question His Reporting in New Orleans During Hurricane Katrina Aftermath

Even if the story is one of those positive human interest stories the media wants to tell it their way so they can sell it. They will either leave out facts or add facts or twist the facts around so it will make an interesting story.

I’ve been involved a few times on the periphery of stories covered by the media. I was either involved in a group that made the headlines or knew some of the characters in the main story, and knew the truth well enough to know that the media was manipulating the facts for their own agenda.

Having seen how the media operates I realized that you can’t always believe what’s printed in the paper or what’s on the radio or TV. In fact, my rule of thumb is to assume that what I read or hear in the news is maybe 50% correct. The rest has been purposely fabricated in some way.

And now we have Brian Williams, a respected newsman, coming forth to say that he lied, I mean bald-faced lied about an incident in which he claimed he was in a chopper that got shot down. And recounting the story with such power and emotion that no one would suspect that it was an out and out lie. I mean, how could somebody lie like that?

And what exactly is to be gained by lying straight-faced about that? I mean, there were other people with him. Did he not think they would come forward and tell the truth about what actually happened? Which, years afterward, is eventually what they did. Amazing.

Now with such a stupid and unnecessary lie (at least for some reason he thought it was necessary) he mars forever his credibility. If he could lie about something like this – this is not just a little fib, this is a huge lie – what else did he lie about? Also, if he thought he could get away with this kind of lie then what does it say about the culture of news that he plays a major role in as anchor? How many others of his kind feel it’s OK to lie too?

And now let’s turn to Hurricane Katrina. He pretty much made a name for himself down here with his reporting of the aftermath of the storm. How much of what he said about what was going on here is a lie as well?

One glaring example is when he said he looked out his window and saw a body floating in the French Quarter. Now I’m pretty sure he had been to the city before and knew where the confines of the Quarter were, so it would be hard to make a mistake like that and say he saw a body floating in the Quarter.

Well, here’s the deal, there was no flooding in the Quarter. Yep, nothing. Why? All of the older parts of the city, where it was originally built saw no flooding. Why? Because those parts are either at or above sea level. It was the places, the newer parts of the city, the parts that used to be swampland that got flooded.

Maybe he saw a body floating in the pool of his hotel or in a fountain or maybe it was in his bathtub. But, no, that’s not what he said.

How much of a disservice did the news media do the recovery of the city by lying or manipulating the truth so they could report a “good” story? If Brian Williams could lie about this what else did he say about the city in those days after Katrina that was not true? What else did other reporters say that were blown up way out of proportion.

How much of media lying hindered the efforts to get help to the people in the Convention Center and at the Superdome?

There were truckers that were driving into the area to bring water and supplies into the city but stopped at the outskirts. Why? Because, as reported, they were afraid to drive into the city due to news of sniper fire. Over and over again the news media reported stories of sniper fire.

These truckers would be damned if they were going to drive their trucks full of supplies into the city and risk getting shot. It took some good samaritans loading up there own little trucks with supplies and drive them to the Convention Center to help these poor suffering souls.

How much did Brian Williams and people like him contribute to these people not getting the help they needed because all they cared about was making up stories of a lawless city to make themselves look good?

Remember the video of the looting on Canal Street? This video was played over and over and over again for days. Which made you think that this was continuing to happen over and over again for days.

So what should happen to Mr. Williams? He probably should be fired from his position as national news anchor. Maybe he could write books, but not history books or memoirs or anything like that. He is more suited to writing fiction since he seems to be so good at making up stories.

Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life, New Orleans News.

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Metalsmith Turned New Orleans Chef to Compete for $50,000 in a New Food Network Series

Thomas Mann, a metalsmith, jeweler, and now New Orleans chef, treats cooking like another one of his art forms. He always loved to cook, but food became even more important when he was creating meals for his wife while she was dying of cancer. Now, he creates elaborate dinners to stay close with friends and family.

Metalsmith Turned New Orleans Chef to Compete for $50,000 in a New Food Network Series

Now he’ll be competing with 10 other talented and successful home cooks from around the country for a grand prize of $50,000. They’ll be mentored by superstar chefs Bobby FlayAlex GuarnaschelliCurtis Stone and Michael Symon. That’s pretty neat, I’d say.

I don’t know of anyone in New Orleans that does not know how to cook. That’s who we are here. And some of the best cooking is not found in the great New Orleans restaurants but at home.

All-Star Academy, premieres Sunday, March 1st at 9pm ET/PT. Which for us New Orleanians is 8pm.

Best of luck to you, Thomas. Here’s hoping you go all the way and get the 50K. You’ll honor all of us home-cooking New Orleans chefs. Heck, just you being chosen to be on the program is honor enough.

Posted in New Orleans Life.

So Is New Orleans Really Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What About You?

Is New Orleans really sinking? Well, there are those that think so. At least that’s what some people would like you to think, because that notion sells. You know the drama of it all.

So Is New Orleans Sinking? The Tragically Hip Think So. What Say You?

Anyway, I found this Canadian band called The Tragically Hip performing this song a little while after Hurricane Katrina. During that tragic time when the federally built floodwalls failed (take note Sacramento and any other place in the country that’s got protective structures built by the Corps of Engineers) the news media just loved to paint the picture that New Orleans was sinking and all of it was below sea level.

Of course, like what most of the news media likes to put forth as “truth,” most of it was untrue. Yes, we do have some places in the city that have neighborhoods built on drained swamp land which are in effect a few feet below sea level. These were the places inundated by water that burst through poorly built and maintained federal floodwalls. The older parts of the city remained high and dry because these are at or above sea level. And they are not sinking.

Anyway, I’d never heard this song before and I like it. Although, I can’t really understand the words. So I’ve included the lyrics here. Being a songwriter myself I can really appreciate the lyrics, and these are great!

New Orleans Is Sinking
Bourbon blues on the street, loose and complete
Under skies all smoky blue green
I can’t forsake a dixie dead shake
So we danced the sidewalk clean

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

Colonel Tom, what’s wrong? What’s going on?
You can’t tie yourself up for a deal
He said, Hey, north, you’re south, shut your big mouth
You gotta do what you feel is real

Ain’t got no picture postcards, ain’t got no souvenirs
My baby she don’t know me when I’m thinking bout those years

Pale as a light bulb hanging on a wire
Sucking up to someone just to stoke the fire
Picking out the highlights of the scenery
Saw a little cloud that looked a little like me

I had my hands in the river, my feet back up on the banks
Looked up to the lord above and said, Hey, man, thanks

Sometimes I feel so good I got to scream
She said, Gordie, baby, I know exactly what you mean
She said, she said, I swear to god she said

My memory is muddy, what’s this river that I’m in?
New Orleans is sinking, man, and I don’t want to swim

So there ya go. Is New Orleans sinking, really? Don’t think so.


Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Art, New Orleans Life, New Orleans Music, New Orleans Videos.

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Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Coming to New Orleans All the Way From Turkey

All the way from Turkey the hundreds-year-old mystical religious tradition of whirling dervishes are coming to New Orleans for a one-of-a-kind performance.

Whirling Dervishes of Rumi Coming to New Orleans All the Way From Turkey

A dervish whirls to the sound of live traditional Turkish music.

A dervish in a state of ecstasy whirls to the sound of live traditional Turkish music.

This is not the first time the dervishes have been to the Crescent City. A year before Katrina these holy men graced the Mahalia Jackson Theatre for a performance.

Who are the dervishes and who is Rumi?

Back in the 13th century in Konya, Turkey Mevlânâ Jalāl ad-Dīn Rumi was a Sufi mystic who became known for his beautiful, transcendent poetry. In fact Rumi is considered to be the most popular poet in American today. Sufism is the mystical branch of Islam which honors and embraces all religions. In fact to many fundamental Muslims Sufism is considered heresy and many Sufi mosques and and sacred sites have been destroyed in recent years.

Much of his poetry would be considered ecstatic because he transmitted much of it to his disciples when he entered states of ecstasy in his communion with the Divine. It was in these states that he began his whirling and his disciples soon followed in this practice. The poems are universal and inspiring and can be enjoyed by anyone of any religion and even by those who have none.

The whirling is really a religious practice of these Sufi Muslims, creating  state of communion and ecstasy with the divine. Those who have never seen this may think that the dervish is spinning wildly. But he is not. The turning is slow and contemplative, almost like a meditation in action.

The effect on the audience is profound. You hear this beautiful music and watch as the dervishes slowly turn moving across the stage eyes closed. I’ve seen them twice and strangely I found myself transfixed and entered an altered state sitting there in my comfortable chair in the theatre.

The dervishes are not paid and travel the world giving performances. In their everyday lives in Turkey they have normal jobs, are shopkeepers or are retired. They do this as contribution to people and as a way to let others share a little bit of their personal religious lives and an experience of the world of Rumi and Sufism.

The Atlas Interfaith website states:

If you’re looking to put a spiritual spin on your evening and enjoy cultural music, you might want to check out the Turkish troupe “The Whirling Dervishes of Rumi” when they dance into New Orleans.

Group members are adorned in long, traditional white robes and spin about the stage as they interpret the teachings of the 13th Century Turkish mystic and poet Rumi.

“The Whirling Dervishes” will take the stage at 7 p.m., February 4th at the Louis J. Roussel Performance Hall, Loyola University New Orleans. “The Whirling Dervishes” have drawn acclaim for their unique forms of spiritual performance and accompanying reed flutes, drums and chants.

You can click this link to buy tickets and you can also pay at the door.

For an added bonus you can see me reading some Sufi poetry on stage during this special event.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Life.

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