Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Mardi Gras Krewes

I'd like to send a big shout-out to the Knights of Nemesis, the only St. Bernard Parish parade to roll this year. I don't doubt that most krewe members lost their homes to Katrina's flooding. St. Bernard was particularly hard-hit. I really admire their spirit.

Another Krewe I greatly admire this current carnival season is the Krewe of Mid-City. Mid-City is a neighborhood that borders Lakeview to the South, and was flooded by the same floodwall collapse on the 17th St. Canal that flooded Lakeview. The den where they stored their floats took on several feet of water, destroying much of the artwork on their floats. But, the water isn't going to keep Mid-City from rolling! With classic humor, the Krewe blue-tarped the damaged bottom sections of the floats.

Mid-City will be rolling during the day the Sunday before Mardi Gras. (Bacchus rolls that night).

Thank you to all the parades that will be rolling this year, despite all the hardships. You really embody the perservering spirit of New Orleans. You'll bring a lot of joy to children who haven't had much of that since August, and you'll bring hope to the rest of us that, come hell or high water, nothing can destroy what makes New Orleans (and the Greater New Orleans Area) great.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

King Cakes, contd.

I have more to say on the subject of King Cakes, apparently. I called my mom yesterday to complain about the lack of McKenzie's in my life. She and I decided that we would try to bake our own king cake, if we have the time when I go back home for Mardi Gras. A king cake is a brioche pastry, made in a ring. You put purple, green, and yellow (gold) granulated sugar on alternating sections. On the "corners" you put a maraschino cherry surrounded by round sprinklies.

Sounds pretty easy, huh? So why can't a single company other than McKenzie's seem to do it right? King Cakes do NOT require frosting on top. They do not need to be stuffed with cinammon, cream cheese, or even delicious raspberry filling. To whom should I complain about this tragic turn of events???

By the way, for those who don't know, McKenzie's ceased to exist long before the Corps of Engineers' inability to engineer flooded the city. McKenzie's, which is the best bakery EVER to exist in the whole wide world (and I'm not using hyperbole or exaggeration), was shut down by the Health Inspector. Something about rats and roaches, and outdated equipment.

You know what I have to say to that? I never got sick eating a McKenzie's delicacy, and I ate pounds of petit-fours, tons of donuts, chocolate fudge pecan turtles, KING CAKES, chocolate cakes, and meringue kisses like no other. Nobody I know got sick, either. And dammit, if it takes rats and roaches to make a McKenzie's king cake, then rats and roaches are GOOD, if not NECESSARY, for king cakes.

If that's the case, the king cake I'm intending to make with my mom is doomed from the get-go. We don't have rats and roaches in the house - we just have mold.

I wonder if that'll do?

My Thoughts on ONE BOARD

There was a time when some boards in the city of New Orleans were manned by civic-minded men who didn't need or want to use their position to increase their political clout. That time is long past. Instead, we have board after board filled with political cronies who got their jobs by brown-nosing, nepotism ... anything BUT merit. We need reform. We need a lot of reform. We need it NOW.

So now, my uninformed, apolitical examination of ONE LEVEE BOARD. On the surface, it seems like a REALLY good idea. What could be better than replacing the panoply of self-congratulatory nincompoops with a single, organized panel of highly-qualified engineers, businessmen, statisticians, etc?

While I really like the idea of qualified people on the levee board with credentials more impressive and relevant than being 's spouse's 3rd cousin twice removed who has been ungainfully employed for decades, I don't like the idea of consolidation. Why, you might ask. It's very simple. If Orleans Parish has only one representative vote (or 2) on the board, they could always be out-voted by St. Bernard, St. Charles, Jefferson, The Plaquemines, St. Tammany, etc. We all know how little love the surrounding parishes have for Orleans. I'd hate to see my beloved city at their collective mercy.

Mind you, I'm not an expert. I'm not a politician. I'm not an engineer. I'm just a civic-minded student who doesn't want to lose her home in the next big storm, or the one after that. As such, I desperately want to see an end to the rampant and pervasive corruption that has plagued New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana pretty much since the area was settled (somehow, I suspect that we not only got super-corrupt explorers and settlers, but that they replaced corrupt Natives. I have NO facts to support this suspicion, but it just feels right). I also desperately want New Orleans to maintain, or more properly regain, its position in Louisiana and the U.S.

Leaving New Orleans subject to the whims of the surrounding parishes does NOT seem like a way to attain that goal. However, I don't have any solutions to offer, other than replacing the existing boards with competent people.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why Lakeview is Better Than Anywhere Else

Lakeview is the best place to live. Well, to be fair, it was the best place to live. Right now, it's not very nice, but it will be again - and soon!

Basically, Lakeview is my home, and I love it. Here's why!

Why Lakeview is Better than Old Metairie:
Lakeview has sidewalks! I went to highschool in Old Metairie, and while it's nice, THERE ARE NO SIDEWALKS! And sure, a lot of the Lakeview sidewalks were kinda rough, pitted, cratered ... but it's the thought that counts!

Why Lakeview is Better than The Garden District:
My friends who lived in the Garden District didn't get to ride their bikes around the neighborhood as kids. They all had big fences, and couldn't leave the yard. We Lakeview kids got to ride our bikes and rollerskate all over!

Why Lakeview is Better than Kenner:
Sure, Kenner has the airport, but Kenner isn't actually New Orleans. Lakeview is in New Orleans, so people from Lakeview can truthfully say when asked, "I'm from New Orleans." However much Lakeview may feel suburban in terms of the quality of life, it's a part of the City.

Why Lakeview is Better than Uptown in General:
We know our neighbors. The crime rate is lower. The grocery stores are better (I never liked Whole Foods that much - too crowded and too expensive). WE HAVE MORE SNO-BALL STANDS PER CAPITA! You feel safe pumping your gas.

Why Lakeview is Better than Baton Rouge:
Baton Rouge is fulf of traffic. The bars all close at 2 a.m. Tony Angello's restaurant is in Lakeview, not Baton Rouge. Russell's Marina Grill is in Lakeview, not Baton Rouge.

Why Lakeview is Better than Atlanta:
Did I say Baton Rouge traffic sucks? Atlanta traffic is even worse! Jimmy Carter Blvd. does not move, and the interstate near it does not move.

Why Lakeview is Better than Houston:
Houston has serious smog problems, that it shares with Baton Rouge. I've been to Houston, and I didn't see boulevards lined with oaks. There is a lot to do in Houston, but I've never heard people who moved away rhapsodizing about moving back. Lakeview is a generational thing - once you've lived here, you don't WANT to live elsewhere!

Why Lakeview is Better than Manhattan:
There's always parking in Lakeview, and you don't have to pay for it! No parking garages, no parking meters - just on and off-street parking as far as the eye can see.

Why Lakeview is Better than ANYWHERE ELSE:
The people, the places, the attitude - Lakeview is a truly unique area. It has the charm and safety of a suburb, while being IN a big city. It has the BEST restaurants - Tony Angello's, Reginelli's, Russell's, Lakeview Harbor - everything from fine dining to burger bars! The predominant architecture is beautiful - italianate villa-style homes with spanish tile roofs. Children can play outside - people know to be on the lookout for kids chasing balls into the street. Families live here for generations. When you leave, all you can think about is coming home.

Even if the rest of the city of New Orleans crumbles and falls, I have a feeling there will still be some of us trying to maintain a normal life at home in Lakeview.

That's why Lakeview is so special: it's HOME.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

King Cakes

I know I haven't written in a long time. Life's been busy, and I've been too disgusted at my local politicians' pandering and incompetence and George Bush's total wash regarding Louisiana to write anything civil.

However, I have a nice little rant that only true New Orleanians will understand.


Haydel's isn't good enough. Neither is Randazzo's. Don't get me started on Winn Dixie or Wal-Mart. The only place that makes a nice, plain, unfrosted, unfilled kingcake is McKenzie's. Or, should I say "was." I haven't bought a king cake since McKenzie's was shut down back when I was in Highschool. NOBODY makes a classic king cake. They all frost them, or fill them, or otherwise ruin them.

In the process of bringing back New Orleans, they should bring back McKenzie's.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Greetings from the Chocolate City

I've spent almost 2 days mulling over how to properly address Ray Nagin's speech of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I don't feel that I'm in any position to comment on the "Chocolate City" aspects of that speech. I also don't feel like dissecting Nagin's back-pedalling psuedo mea culpa "apologies" where he tried to explain that he didn't mean anything racial when he said that God intended New Orleans to be a majority-black city. Hey Ray, I know you aren't reading this, but if you were, let me put it plainly - THE LAST THING NEW ORLEANS NEEDS IS MORE DIVISIVENESS!

The first things we need are hard working people and money.

What left me shaking in awe-struck horror was the sheer and utter folly of attacking Bush's Iraq policy. The war in Iraq is Bush's political Achilles' Heel, and he's very sensitive about it. He's also a VERY religious man. Whatever your beliefs about the war, give this a thought: Is it really wise to say that God is mad at the U.S. for Bush's Iraq policy WHEN WE AS A CITY ARE TRYING TO GET BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FOR LEVEE REPAIR AND RECOVERY EFFORTS FROM THAT SAME FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HEADED BY THAT SAME PRESIDENT?!?!

It's one thing for Nagin to have committed political suicide by further polarizing a city that seems ready to tear itself apart with racial tension. It's yet another thing to further antagonize the only people in a position to give us the money and levee protection we need.

Sure, Nagin moved his family to Dallas, and will doubtless be joining them there when he fails in his doomed bid for re-election. However, there are many of us counting on the federal government to repair the levees to AT LEAST the level of protection we were promised by the federal government so many decades ago. There are people who are devoted to rebuilding their lives IN NEW ORLEANS.

On the other hand, if Nagin does get re-elected, what does that say about us as a city?

On a postscript, I have never considered New Orleans to be a Chocolate City. If I had to choose a candy to match New Orleans, it would be Rocky Road, without a doubt. Just take a drive through the back streets of Lakeview (look out for downed trees and the occasional collapsed family home in the road), and you'll see what I mean.