Harry Shearer Speaks

Many thanks to Crystal Kile at the Newcomb Center for Research on Women's New Media Lab (@Sophielab on twitter) for shooting and sharing the following video of Mr. Shearer. It's not the whole thing, but its a solid 26 minutes of horrible facts and biting wit.

As she puts it, "In his address, Shearer reflects on the mediated, politicized aftermath of Katrina from his perspective as a New Orleans-identified blogger, thinker, entertainer, and professional human being."

Harry Shearer: Comments at Rising Tide IV in New Orleans (22 Aug 2009) from Crystal Kile on Vimeo.


Quickie Post on the Conclusion of Rising Tide IV

Sorry, folks, had to stop the updates because I ended up moderating the health care panel. A spot-on account of what wasn't discussed on that panel can be found here. A sampling:

And here is where I am embarrassed. My one note, the one thing I most wanted to discuss, maybe even the most important thing to discuss within the context of health and New Orleans, did not get mentioned. I didn’t know where to put it in without sounding like the crazy loon in the armchair throwing off the conversation… so I waited for a question from the audience that would let me bring it up. Unfortunately, it didn’t come. So I didn’t say anything about the issue of race and class… and neither did anybody else.

Which is a shame because we cannot consider the scope of health challenges of any kind within our city — access, stress, mental health, behavioral concerns, nutrition, whatever health issue one can think of — without discussing race and class. Race and class shape any health experience irregardless of the location. But in New Orleans, it is a paramount issue. For one, before 2005, New Orleans was the only city in the country that had a defined two-tier system with separate and (un)equal medical facilities for the haves and have-nots. What has not returned post-Flood are those services for the have-nots. So what isn’t being said is that the reason these services aren’t here, or are being taken away, is because they are for a population that many do not want here in the first place. The rest of us work away at putting money and resources into community clinics (whose funding is not indefinite) and outreach and signing individuals up for public services — but how effective can we be in the long run if we never take a step back and look at the big picture?

Some other accounts can be found at Maitri's here. It was much, much more than nola.com did: according to the local paper, the story was all Harry Shearer and nothing else.

Coozan Pat chimes in, awaiting accounts from other bloggers.

As does Adrastos. The man has now immortalized Diaper Dave Vitter as "the Keith Richards of Louisiana politics". NOLA-Dishu adds some visual zing to the "Alien" comparison Clancy Dubos threw out there concerning Vitter during the politics panel.

The recipient of the fourth Ashley Morris Award had this to say, but he/she couldn't say it in person. Jacques Morial filled in quite well for Dambala:

What I would like to tell the people in this room is that you are all special. You all share a collective love for this city and are using your blogs and activism to shape a better vision of New Orleans. While we all may not agree on everything, we all….most certainly…..care. We care enough to pay attention….and that means everything to the health of a community.

We all know that traditional mainstream media resources are facing some serious challenges with the advent of the internet and quite often blogs are portrayed as the nemesis to quality journalism. I don’t believe this is true. Blogs are just another tool for the 4th estate to perform it’s job. In a way, I think the internet is the ultimate evolution of the 4th estate. All of you…particularly you….New Orleans bloggers…have proven that in the years following Katrina. Nowhere have bloggers made such an impact as they have here in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina.

And for that matter, I think the MSM, investigative journalists in this city are head and shoulders above the national pack. I am personally not worried for their future as some….as I have faith that quality and integrity is always in demand regardless of the medium or technology used to relay the message. I hope our blogs continue to serve them in the future. After all…we’re on the same team.
It was an honor to craft the Ashley for Ashe Dambala.

Yashir koach, D, and FYYFF!


Politics, hosted by Adrastos!

"Welcome to the politics death panel!"

Introductions of Clancy Dubos, John Slade, Lamar White, Jr., and Ethan Brown.

Talk about the Jeffersons, Mose and Dollar Bill.

Clancy: "conviction of Mose was in some ways more important than the conviction of Bill." Mose was the muscle, Bill the brains.

John Slade: "not the worst thing that has happened to us by far". Disturbed by nola.com commenters and callers to his show on WBOK who are rejoicing to the point of exclusion of the crooked pol in Mandeville. "You can't cherry-pick black people."

Lamar White: tragedy to the Jefferson family. And it's sad how Democrats statewide didn't step in when all this was happening, how passive they were.

Slade: "LSU will be insufferable. 'We're better than Harvard, we're better than Harvard.' " (Bill's alma mater)

Brown: Hopefully, the convictions will get people running for office to work for the common good.

Clancy fills us in on some speculation of what will happen with Renee Gill-Pratt, another Jefferson crony.

The mayoral election: will we elect someone completely unlike Nagin and follow a trend from past mayoral elections?

Clancy: "mayor's race like a football season, we won't get really engaged until about the eighth game. There's several people we are against, but nobody we are really for."

Slade: "Anybody that says we need to run City Hall like a business, don't listen to them, go the other way." Nobody ever confabs with folks such as the mom and pop stores, with people like Leah Chase. "I'm scared to be excited, 'cause I was excited for Nagin" and look how that turned out. "Nobody has the killer instinct." WE will have to ask the ugly questions, since the candidates aren't going after each other.

White: Get someone who will restore integrity to the office. prefers Carl Weathers as a candidate at this point.

Brown: Baffled by the mayor's race - mayor with lower ratings than Dick Cheney, loads of issues to run on - but where is the political instinct. Mixed feelings about Cannizzarro, but what he said recently about the justice system here and how critical he was about it was spot on.

Slade: "You like what Cannizzarro said? I guess somebody has to."

Moves on to Charity Hospital...

Are Jindal's presidential ambitions good, bad or will have no affect on the state of Louisiana?

Clancy: They're bad, very bad. What is good for the country is almost diametrically opposed to what is good for Louisiana.

Slade: Had Blanco run again, he would have voted for Jindal right off - can't forgive Blanco for what happened during the storm and the flood. Jindal will probably be reelected however, because North Louisiana hates New Orleans. To Obama: bypass Baton Rouge with recovery funds and give it directly to New Orleans.

White: Blanco against Jindal - "would have voted again for her a thousand times over". Recounts Jindal's checkered political past and his ineffective leadership.

Slade: The women went for her, but Blanco did not do them any favors in terms of jobs.

Brown: "All about working against your interests." Jindal's higher aspirations, as well as Palin's, have borne that out.

Slade: "None of us work at a chicken factory, so we are really screwed."

Adrastos on Vitter: "The Keith Richards of Louisiana politics"

Clancy: Vitter is the Alien in "Alien": he will do anything to survive in politics.

Slade: "I'm voting for Stormy Daniels." As long as those pols are gonna toe the conservative line, they will be forgiven by their party faithful.

White: Stormy Daniels' campaign shows the state's Dem party is not organized enough to take the Vitter seat seriously. There are Democratic mayors in many small towns across Louisiana that could benefit from a more organized party.

Brown: Vitter is a true political animal, who will keep "banging away" at the things he espouses, and we haven't found a way to counter that.

Adrastos: Joe Cao: "might" support the president, but then he votes the other way. But is Cao an endangered species or a hardy survivor?

Slade: Had Cao on his show: went from having a shy voice to parroting talking points. Abortion is beside the point, people have to have health care. "He chose to be a freaky-deaky Republican in an oddball district - a one-term wonder."

White: Election had to be delayed, Cao was a fluke in the election, Will definitely be an engangered species.

Smithers, Release the Hounds!

It's Harry Shearer!

When he's away...is loving New Orleans just a romantic notion? Fuck no!

"We have lost the media battle regarding the story of what has happened to us." He has spent a lot of time and energy restating the facts over and over again.

The media's "main bias is towards laziness".

"If they could get Geraldo Rivera in here why couldn't they get food and water?"

The media never got to Lakeview, or St Bernard, or any place that wasn't close to an off ramp on the interstate. They follow a predetermined "template" in reporting on stories such as Katrina and the Federal Flood that is still dictating what the rest of the country thinks about New Orleans.

As bloggers, we have to write what we do because nobody else is going to.

Keep stating the factual context of 8-29-05 and after.

Daily pressure is shared by bloggers and journalists for news, news, news all the time. BUT, in his position blogging for HuffPo, he feels he has the time to keep the facts ever-present and not just publish something because it makes a good story, whether it is true or not.

Protection of sources is always a complicated relationship, as sources have an agenda as well in feeding information.

On the suggestion from HuffPo commenters that Shearer take his beef about New Orleans direct to Obama, he put on his best Edward Burns and talked of "placing a nuclear plant in every city".
He tried to get in touch through friends, nothing happened, then was contacted by a David Washington and laid out why he had problems with the Corps' protection of the city. Washington connected him to a Corps' PR person. The PR person connected him to Janet Woodcaye "Gulf Coast Recovery Czar": no power in the job, and it expires in a month. Shearer put her in touch with a fellow who has great ideas about how to live with water instead of being at war with it. It was all he could do. That marked the end of his adventure with "the inside game", which he will be posting about as soon as he can.

The man of many talents and voices is still keeping the light on on what happened and is still happening here. What's important is not just to tell what happened and what is happening, but WHY IT MATTERS.

Live blogging in the morning from the registration table

9:55 AM - Rising Tide has begun, with a bombastic intro by our emcee, George"Loki" Williams.

9:56 AM - Mark Folse introduces Susan Tucker, Bruce Raeburn, and Edward Butler, the panelists who will discuss New Orleans culture four years after the storm. The "three legs of New Orleans culture" are duly represented: food, music, and parading.

According to a recent L.A. Times article, about 60% of the population has returned, but there are fewer music gigs and the gigs that there are available are paying less, according to Raeburn. The economic viability of the musicians here is in greater question than ever before.

Caught between trying to sustain a culture in parading and dressing as an Indian with few financial resources and no support from the city and between the hardships of day-to-day living here is the current state of those in the parading culture, says Edward Butler.

Skyrocketing costs of living in New Orleans are eating into the survival of the parading clubs.

Ashley Morris' calling out of the tone-deafness of the Musicians' Village comes up in this context.

Cuisine needs discourse, Susan Tucker says. Obituaries she reads tell some stories: One tells of a deceased's recipes as"My Cookbook of Immeasurable Pleasures", hinting at "an accessible longing" through preparation of food. Another obituary mentioning a musician's studies of many religions stated he didn't eat pork unless it was on a muffuletta."

To see that the public schools have not embraced the music...to come home to find that the police department has changed the rules (clubs down to 39 from 50+)...when you centralize the residents in one place, you aren't passing on the street music, Butler says.

"The Porch is a direct part of the community dying.", a response to what is happening when the young pick up guns and have children when they are children.

In getting rid of the projects, the musicians were got rid of as well.

Tucker: Know what your neighbor cooks, find out what people are putting in their bodies and how to share it.

Raeburn: the neighborhoods will take care of themselves if they are given the resources to continue what they do, and to pass on the culture through the schools. "Reinforcing without controlling" should be the norm.

Tucker: blogging can certainly get a little beyond the one-dimensionality of cookbooks: can tell you about how well recipes worked out, share variations, tell everyone which restaurants are good and how expensive they are.

Support The Porch!

More after our 5 minute break....


Full Rising Tide Schedule

9 - 9:30AM
arrival and breakfast, sponsored by levees.org

9:30 - 10:30 AM
Culture panel, hosted by Mark Folse:
Speaking on parading culture will be Edward Buckner of The Porch Seventh Ward Culture Organization and the Original Big 7 Social Aid and Pleasure Club Our food panelist will be Susan Tucker, editor of New Orleans Cuisine: Fourteen Signature Dishes and Their Histories. Our music panelist will be Bruce Raeburn of the Hogan Jazz Archive and author of New Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History

10:30 -10:40 AM

10:40 - 10:55 AM
Net2NO presentation by Jessica Rohloff

10:55 - 11 AM

11:00 AM - 12 PM
Keynote Speaker Harry Shearer!

12 PM - 1 PM
Lunch catered by Cafe Reconcile

1 - 1:50 PM
Politics panel, hosted by Peter Athas:
includes Clancy DuBos of the Gambit and WWL-TV, ace NOLA political cartoonist and WBOK radio talk show host John Slade, blogger extraordinaire Lamar White Jr. of CenLamar fame, and Ethan Brown, author of Shake The Devil Off.

1:50 - 2 PM

2 - 2:15 PM
New Orleans Institute presentation by Ariella Cohen

2:15 - 2:20 PM

2:20 - 3:10 PM
Health Care panel: participating will be public health Ph.D. candidate and local blogger Holly Scheib, Cecile Tebo, crisis unit coordinator for the NOPD and one of New Orleans magazine's Top Ten Female Achievers; Dr Elmore Rigamer, medical director of Catholic Charities, and another panelist TBA.

3:10 - 3:20 PM

3:25 - 3:40 PM
presentation of the Ashley Morris Award for Excellence in Blogging by Oyster of Your Right Hand Thief.

3:45 - 4:35 PM
Sports panel, hosted by Jeffrey: Alejandro de los Rios, reporter/blogger for the Gambit, Leo McGovern, Editor/publisher of ANTIGRAVITY Magazine which is the only local alternative music zine I know of that features a regular sports column. Leo is also a character in Josh Neufeld's After the Deluge, Chris Wiseman (AKA Mr. Clio, AKA Dilly, AKA Lee De Fleur) Long-time local blogger, ever-enthusiastic member of the Black and Gold Patrol and locally famous Crescent City Classic participant.

4:35 - 4:45 PM
Concluding remarks, thank yous, etc.


Extra Points

So one of the best kept secrets about this year's RT is the seemingly unorthodox decision on the part of the possibly Schlitz-addled organizers to make room in the schedule for a Sports panel. Why would they do this, you ask? Well other than its clever placement at the end of the day for the sake of a smooth transition into cocktail hour, it actually fits the program quite well. I don't necessarily speak for everyone involved but the reason I wanted to have a sports panel at this Rising Tide was because I think it dovetails well with the overall theme (particularly that of the first panel) of taking the city's cultural pulse, so to speak, four years after the Federal Flood.

In planning this conference we asked ourselves the question "Are We Ok Yet?" meaning what aspects of our lives in New Orleans have reacquired a functionality similar to what they exhibited before the flood? What has been lost? What has been preserved? And so forth. Our "Culture" panel asks these questions about New Orleans's folkways; its parading culture and its food and music traditions.

I think that sports also plays an important role in the civic and cultural life here. Our experience as fans or as athletes helps us define part of what it means to be New Orleanians. I'd like to talk with our panelists about how that identity has been affected by the flood. Have some things been lost or gained? Has sports been a psychic or substantive aid to recovery? Or has it been a distraction and a drain on resources?

But it isn't all heavy stuff. There will also be plenty of time to argue over how many games the Saints will win, whether or not the Hornets should have traded Tyson Chandler, and how soon is too soon to fire Les Miles.

Our sports panelists are Chris Wiseman, Alejandro de los Rios, and Leo McGovern. Chris is an avid and thoughtful sports fan and New Orleanian. His personal blog is called World Class New Orleans. Alejandro is a young professional journalist who writes and blogs about the local sports scene for the Gambit. Leo is a bit of both of those things. He is the editor and publisher of ANTIGRAVITY Magazine where he manages to fit in a fair amount of sports commentary among the usual alt arts and music coverage.

So if you haven't registered for Rising Tide yet, do it now. If you have, do it again just to be sure. And stick around with us for a bit of fun at the end of the day. Hope to see you there.

The Speaker Speaks

Gambit Senior Hyphenated Writer David Winkler-Schmit has just posted a quickie interview with this year's Rising Tide keynote speaker Harry Shearer on the tabloid's Blog of New Orleans site. Shearer offers the following preview of his scheduled address.

Any preview of what you’re going to address during your speech?

“No because I don’t know yet.”

Mr. Shearer will undoubtedly fit right in with this crowd!


The Clock Is Ticking

Tomorrow will be the final day for our $25 registration fee. The cost will be rising to $30, so if you want to sink to new heights with us, register today.

We got a mention on nola.com today, which was even on the homepage for a bit:

Big thanks to Susan Larson of the Times-Picayune

And also today, our sports panel moderator Jeffrey of the yellow blog mentioned, among many other things, the panelists he will be chatting with this coming Saturday at the Zeitgeist:
Alejandro de los Rios reporter/blogger for the Gambit

Leo McGovern Editor/publisher of ANTIGRAVITY Magazine which is the only local alternative music zine I know of that features a regular sports column. Leo is also a character in Josh Neufeld's After the Deluge.

Chris Wiseman (AKA Mr. Clio, AKA Dilly, AKA Lee De Fleur) Long-time local blogger, ever-enthusiastic member of the Black and Gold Patrol and locally famous Crescent City Classic participant.

The big-picture discussion will be about the role of sports in the local cultural fabric and how that has helped sustain civic identity in the years after the flood. The rest, I'm sure, will be a knuckle-headed argument about the upcoming football season. It should be a fun way to finish the day.
Hope to see you all this year at the Avenue Pub on Friday and the Zeitgeist on Saturday.


It Took A Gambit On Us

...and we are glad the Gambit did. :
According to (our emcee, Loki) Williams, blogging provided a forum for New Orleanians like Army Corps of Engineers watchdog Matt McBride and community activist Karen Gadbois to produce heavily researched citizen journalism that belied what was being reported in the national news, but didn't fit, as Williams puts it, "into a two-minute sound bite or a heavily biased Fox newscast." Others, like (Leigh) Checkman and Mark Folse, a New Orleans native who moved back to the city following the flood and wrote about his experience in his blog, Wet Bank Guide, offered a slice of life in the disaster zone.

  By late 2005, local bloggers were finding each other. An Internet discussion group began, giving bloggers a chance to share tips and news. Someone suggested a conference, and Mark Moseley, aka Oyster, who writes Your Right Hand Thief spearheaded the effort with others, including (Peter) Athas and Maitri Venkat-Ramani (Maitri's Vatul Blog). The inaugural Rising Tide conference was held Aug. 25-27, 2006, the weekend before the storm's first anniversary.

  "The Rising Tide Conference will be a gathering for all who wish to learn more and do more to assist New Orleans' recovery in the aftermath of the natural disasters of both Hurricane Katrina and Rita, the manmade disaster of the levee and floodwall collapses, and the incompetence of government on all levels," Folse wrote on the first day of the conference.

  Though local bloggers organize these conferences and the central theme is New Orleans' recovery and future, Rising Tide isn't for bloggers only, nor just for locals. Since the first conference, there has been an effort to get the information to a wider audience through live blogging, YouTube and other new media. Williams says he is promoting this year's event via Facebook and Twitter, two popular social media networks. Even if these efforts don't attract more attendees to the actual conference, it will create a permanent online record for anyone to access. Williams does, however, think this year's attendance could be the highest ever.

  "This year we have the potential to break through and have a number of people there who wouldn't normally have come, simply because of the name recognition of Harry Shearer," he says.

So I added the links myself.

Big, big thanks to David Winkler-Schmit, who put up with us itinerant mad blogging folk and came up with a great article.

This week's issue also featured our webmaestro Varg and his Leveeland Creations. Check it out.

Keep in mind: the registration fee for Rising Tide goes up to $30 this Thursday, August 20th. Get registered today.


Thanks For Breakfast!

I'm sure that there will be a few of you out there who go out after the Friday night gathering and the possibility of a few bleary eyes is probably pretty good. Hazard of having an event in New Orleans.

With that in mind I'd like to take a moment and say thank you to Sandy Rosenthal and Levees.org for being kind enough to donate breakfast for us on Saturday morning. Just look for the coffee pots, I'll be there...


Friday Night Reception

The Friday Night Reception will be Aug. 21 from 7-10 p.m. (or until people realize they have to get up the next morning) at the Avenue Pub, 1732 St. Charles Avenue, between stops #11 and #12 on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. Catering will be by Craig and Kim Giesecke of J'Anita's at the Avenue Pub (who catered lunch last year)

We will be in the upstairs rooms/balcony, so we will truly be Sinking to New Heights on Friday Night.

Rising Tide Interactive

Here are a few things that will help you get a bit more out of the conference this year. Since it was a bunch of bloggers who started the event these are going to be social media oriented.

Twitter users
If you are twittering from or about Rising Tide please add #RT4 to your tweets so that others may follow easily. You may just make some new friends.

To follow tweets from the conference search for #RT4, the official hashtag of the event. If you use Tweetdeck or HootSuite you can set up a dedicated search column and watch the stream live. HootSuite users can also create an embeddable version of the column which can be added to any blog post or sidebar.

LinkedIn users
If you use the Tripit app enter your travel details.

Flickr Users
There is a Flickr Community for The Rising Tide Conference, come join us. We have pictures going back to the seat of our pants days in the first year after the levee failure.

Facebook Users
We have a handy, dandy Rising Tide group on Facebook that is now over 200 strong.

And of course you can always interact with us right here on the blog!


Get That Registration In While The $20 Fee Is Hot

Just what the title says, everybody.

Our registration fee goes up another five dollars starting tomorrow.

We know you're gonna love the program we have pulled together for you. Harry Shearer is coming, and if you're not wild about him, I don't know what will get you going.

But hey, if those reasons aren't enough, think of what can be done with an extra fiver in your pocket:
  • the ability to donate a little extra towards making the conference happen and thus putting a little swagger in your step, knowing that your funds have helped make Rising Tide a reality
  • the ability to purchase more swag such as our posters, t-shirts, and koozies
  • putting those funds towards purchasing a copy of Ethan Brown's new book, among many other New Orleans-related books that will be available for sale at the conference
  • buying a beer for that attractive other you met while picking up your badge at the Friday meet & greet
  • hey, it's good for a round trip on the streetcar
And hey, if those still aren't good enough reasons for you to get the registration over with now, perhaps I'll have to put some Jewish mother guilt over on you.

It's alll right. I'll be sitting here by my computer, counting those minutes as they tick away and you haven't written, called, or registered. Oh, it's not about me, I know that. It's about whatever excuses you can conjure up that I will outwardly accept, but will be writhing inwardly at your callousness. I know how this works.

There's more where that came from, so just register, okay?


The Ashley Morris Award

On of my favorite parts of Rising Tide is the presentation of the Ashley Morris Award. Named in honor of the late Ashley Morris, it is awarded to a citizen who passionately works to defend and improve New Orleans through their actions.

Photo by Emily Ardoin

The actual award is an ingot of transparent glass with a image based on the graphic design for Rising Tide 2 by Greg Peters. The design was adapted and the Award made by Leigh Checkman.

Past winners are Ashley Morris, Matt McBride and Karen Gadbois.

This year's award will be presented at Rising Tide 4 - Saturday, August 22.


Ethan Brown Joins The Politics Panel

Friends, Romans, Countrymen...

Oops, sorry, wrong speech. Back to Rising Tide 4, which makes us one up on the Godfather series and nobody dies at the end of the conference either; at least I hope not.

Now where was I? Oh yeah, the politics panel. The original lineup of Clancy DuBos, John Slade and Lamar White Jr is being augmented by the distinguished journalist and writer Ethan Brown. Ethan has a new book, Shake The Devil Off, coming out and arrangements are being made for it to be sold at Rising Tide prior to publication. Do we have pull or what? The book is a true crime saga set in (where else?) post-K New Orleans. I'm looking forward to reading it especially since it has a blurb from one of my favorite novelists, George Pelecanos.

So, if you want to buy Ethan's book early (fingers crossed) and get a signed copy, register for Rising Tide. If you do it now, to use one of those Britisms I'm addicted to, it's as cheap as chips. Holy crap, I'm channeling tevee's David Dickinson...