And the Nominees are ....

One of the now traditional events at the Annual Rising Tide Conference is the recognition of the winner of the annual Ashley Morris Award. This year we are pleased to open up the nominations to the entire New Orleans Internet Community. We are asking everyone to submit their nominations for this award by commenting on this post.

Photo by Emily Ardoin

The Ashley Morris award was established in 2008 to honor and remember one of the founding members of Rising Tide, Dr. Ashley Morris. It is presented in cooperation with Hana Morris. The award is given annually to someone who embodies Ashley's fierce passionate defense of New Orleans, its people and its culture.

Past recipients are:

2006 Dr. Ashley Morris (retroactively and posthumously). Ashley was a major figure in the New Orleans Internet community and beyond. He carried his love for New Orleans literally on sleeve, or rather under it in the form of a very large fleur-de-lis tattoo. His famously fierce and profane reactions to any attack on New Orleans became legendary in the months and years after the Federal Flood. His larger than life personality still resonates as one of the inspirations for the Treme character Creighton Bernette, played by John Goodman. Bernette has been known to speak words originally written by Ashley. Ashley's blog is still available, check out the greatest hits.

2007 Matt McBride (retroactively). Matt chronicled the construction of the temporary pumps and other features of the flood protection system of New Orleans. Matt's detailed research and on site observations showed that a committed person with the right knowledge can make a difference. Matt continues to cover the work on New Orleans Flood Protection at Fix the Pumps.

2008 Karen Gadbois quoting from Gambit's January 2009 recognition of Karen as A New Orleanian of the year for 2008;
... armed with little more than a laptop and a digital camera, singlehandedly blew the whistle on the New Orleans Affordable Housing scandal, which she documented on her blog, www.squanderedheritage.com. The result? An FBI investigation, admiring writeups of her efforts in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and new respect for the power of the citizen blogger.
Karen later won a Dupont Award for her work with Lee Zurik on a 50 part series exposing problems with NOAH. She also has since founded The Lens, a non-profit investigative news site that works with WDSU Fox8 on joint investigations.

2009 Ashe Dambala a.k.a. The American Zombie. Writing anonymously about the shenanigans in the City Hall IT department publishing rumors and reports from insiders Dambala had the whole Meffert/Nagin scam long before it surfaced in the main stream media. He had the goods and Meffert is now under indictment. Jason Berry has revealed he is Dambala.

Like a lot of things connected with Rising Tide the qualifications are flexible and subject to subjective interpretation. The organizers of Rising Tide will consider all nominations when deciding who to honor. The Award will be announced at Rising Tide V, August 28.

Rising Tide NOLA INC, reserves final responsibility for all decisions.


  1. I'd like to nominate Rex Dingler from NOLA Rising

  2. I'd like to nominate the staff at The Lens.

  3. I'm putting in a nomination for Cliff Harris of Cliff's Crib.

    Since I started reading his work, Cliff has offered a poigniant and self-evaluating insight to culture in New Orleans. His posts are ardent defenses of New Orleans even as they drive stinging criticisms into the very things that strangle this city.

    While he may not display the in-your-face emotion, Cliff has consistently done this with equal parts humor, heartbreak and defiant resiliency that epitomize the reasons I started reading Ashley's blog in the first place.

  4. I'd like to nominate Len Bahr of LaCoastPost for his being the first to call-out the failure of local leadership to bring in coastal geologists in formulating what he coined, the "sandy band aid" approach to dealing with the oil. Rachel Maddow has been the only major media journalist to tell this story and Len is the first blogger and coastal geologist to blog extensively about it. Additionally, he consistently brings up science-based facts about coastal restoration issues that challenge political motives and actions.

    He will be one of the panelists on my panel.

    Len Bahr

    Check it out if you haven't before.

    Steve Picou

  5. Harry Shearer has been defending us regularly on the Huffington Post and on various national TV programs such as Bill Maher. He recently contributed his time to Gulf Aid. Although not a native, no so fully recognizes the essence of this place.

  6. There are many worthy recipients already mentioned, and I could second (or third) a couple of them, but... tossing a new hat in the ring: Maitri Erwin.

    VatulBlog has been smart, funny, personal, political, caustic, and heartbreaking. And Back of Town this year has carried New Orleans voices to places they haven't been read before. It was the go-to blog for Tremé for The New York Times, the Atlantic, New York magazine, and the creators of the shows themselves.

    That's impressive enough, but what's really impressive is that she did it by showcasing the eloquent work of New Orleans bloggers. Anyone who came across Back of Town could only come away with the impression "Damn, these people can WRITE."

    Lots of good folks, but for me, this year, Maitri.

  7. I second Maitri. She's the brains behind two fantastic blogs.

  8. I couldn't agree more. A third for Maitri.

  9. I love Maitri, but I think Oyster is more deserving this year. And even last year. I vote for Mark.

  10. Another vote for Maitri. Vatulblog was always one of the go-to places from Day One. When life called her away, she took the opportunity that Simon and Treme presented and gave us BOT, not just a blog but a collaborative space and a community out of the same imperatives that gave birth to Rising Tide, presenting the ground truth of New Orleans with heart and with soul, to an audience most of us can only dream about. I can't think of anything more in the spirit of Ashley Morris.

  11. There are so many folk deserving of this recognition - most of them frequent contributors to blogs, online news sources & social media - in addition to their "outside world" pursuits & passions. To pick only one is a daunting task, so if I may I offer:
    1 vote for ReX Dingler - for never painting himself into a corner and contributing directly to his community in full colour.
    1 vote for Maitri - for bringing class & encouraging thought through social media.

    ...and a large helping of Vote for the ubiquitous George LOKI Williams for "Handing New Orleanians A Megaphone" - and sharing it with everyone else on the planet so they too can learn about our favourite city! Not just supporting & promoting NOLA thought, culture and "vibe", but encouraging others to do the same - even when many were too shattered to speak.

  12. one vote for loki - capt john swallow beat me to the nomination, but for all the reasons cited above and for continuing to do all he does from another state now!

    and one vote for maitri as well, also continuing to defend new orleans from afar, ever so eloquently.

  13. Well, I was just informed that Oyster took himself out of contention. So in lieu of Mark, I vote Maitri.

  14. I want to second Pat's nomination Cliff has been "keeping it real" for a long time.

  15. Great nominations all.

    I'd like to ask everyone to spread the word about the Ashley and the nominations.

  16. I nominate Bart Everson (b. rox). For years he has provided a passionate defense of "New Orleans, its people and its culture" in his own unique voice and he's also done the hard work of making the Lafitte Corridor a likely reality (no small achievement that).

  17. I would like to nominate the blogger who writes under the nom de plume "Grandmaster Wang" at Moosedenied. GW writes about the New Orleans Saints with the same brand of wit, passion, and depth Ashley himself brought to everything he wrote about (including Saints football).

    The 2009 Saints championship season was an immeasurable cathartic moment for every New Orleanian recovering from the Federal Flood experience. Classes were cancelled, trials were postponed, and a critical citywide election was pushed to the back burner to accommodate the Saints' SuperBowl appearance. No football team has ever meant as much to a city as this team did this year. And every step of the way no one writing about it had his finger on the pulse of the matter better than GW who wrote this just after the Super Bowl. (Please excuse the extended quote)

    But this? This wasn't "just another Super Bowl" and these Saints aren't just another Super Bowl Champion. This was epic. It was special. Hell, special doesn't even cover it. It was unique. Singular.

    And Saints fans aren't the only ones who think so. No, even people who didn't have a dog in the hunt agree. Casual observers got swept up in it. Cynical sports fans softened. Even many Colts fans, with the sting of defeat still fresh, tipped their caps and, to a degree that I'm sure had to have been surprising for them, smiled right along with us and shared a little of our unparalleled joy.

    These Saints were a real life Rocky fuckin' Balboa.

    Why? Because it was special. Not just because the Saints won, but because of how they won. Because of who they are. Because they did it right. They did it clean. They did it convincingly. They did it with class and poise and discipline and a genuine appreciation for the profundity of what it was they were in the final stages of accomplishing. Not just for them, but for us. These guys get it.

    And you didn't have to be a Saints fan and you didn't have to have followed them all season to see it, and to know that there wasn't anything phony about it. The Saints weren't shy about putting it all out there. They praised us as much as we praised them. They thanked us as much as we thanked them. They kept us front and center, and they didn't have to.

    Wang is one of the guys who gets it. And so are the other excellent nominees here. I think this is a strong group.

  18. Cliff and Bart are also great nominees (and Oyster).

  19. Another Cliff person here: for excellence as a writer with a very unique voice.

    The Lens is terrific but Karen has won and Oyster can't be nominated because he's on the committee.

  20. I'm jumping on the Maitri wagon. I'd nominate Jeffrey at the Yellow Blog, but it would probably make him cranky.

  21. Damn. Jeffrey took my nom!

    Grandmaster Wang was the best Saints blogger during the best Saints season ever, and wrote the most entertaining commentary about a team that delivered a high point for this city that might not be revisiited for a long, long time. An excellent and appropriate choice.

    So, while there are many RT organizers who write outstanding blogs, I'm going to nominate someone who hasn't been nominated yet: Grandmère Mimi of Wounded Bird. http://thewoundedbird.blogspot.com/

    Mimi's in her seventies, and is a prolific blogger on religion, politics and (I believe) a native New Orleanian who loves the city despite living in Terrebone. So this year I'm going to nominate her work at Wounded Bird.

  22. Cliff and Maitri, mos def, for their stellar work.

    I also nominate the Big Man at Raving Black Lunatic http://ravingblacklunatic.blogspot.com/ , because he always jolts me into a whole lotta think.

  23. a lurker....

    has had enough to drink to nominate Jeffrey just to make him cranky. He's my favorite; thoughtful and often erudite under his black cloud, in the manner of Mr. Diogenes and his lantern.

    But also, I love Cliff and his manner of speaking as he writes, and 100th his nomination. I appreciate his point of view. I read him after all the immediate twittery bloggery tumult to find some sensibility; he's a grounded, humble gentleman who understands exactly what his perspective means to this City, and is not afraid to say what's on his mind after taking it all in. Or, that's at least what I gather from his writing.

    & a third for the Moose and his wit. For a time that will never come again.


  24. I thought that I posted some time ago a nomination for Brian Denzer for his work at People Get Ready and NolaStat. Now I don't see it among the comments. Did that nomination not go through? Or was it removed because Brian took himself out of the running, or because Brian is ineligible for another reason? Just curious. If the latter, that's fine; I just want to make sure that it was submitted and received.

  25. I would like to also throw myself into the fray in nominating for Cliff. I'm far away, but his blog always helps me to remember where I came from.

  26. cliff and grand master wang, duel awards this year. i'll paypal yall some money if you cant afford two ashley's

    these guys brought it home all year and are both deserving of some propers.


  27. All good nominations. I find myself still in the Maitri or Cliff corner.

  28. I'm insanely flattered that someone out there was foolish enough to nominate me, but as a member of the organizing committee I am not accepting the nominations.

    Thanks though, you gave me a big smile on a rough morning!

  29. Piggy-backing on what Loki just said, I'm also a little flattered (although mostly disturbed) that a couple of people mentioned me. But at the same time I'm (mercifully) ineligible for as well as undeserving of this award.

    Besides, the only prize I'm really interested in is an Excellence in Recovery Bernardo. Or maybe someone will build a crappy crumbling statue of me in Armstrong Park someday. But until that day I'm afraid we'll have to reserve our recognition for those who have earned it.

  30. While I definitely have to say that the guest columnist article written by Len Bahr is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to understand why our state government is failing us in this oil disaster, I too must give my props to Maitri as well.

  31. Jeffrey, you're in line for a statue right behind Chris Rose.

  32. Since I can't vote for Jeff to piss him off or Oyster because we share a birthday I guess I'll vote for Cliff because he's so gosh darned LOVEABLE. (aww)

    Grandmaster Wang would be my close second. I guess I should read Maitri's blogs more often.

  33. Nominations are now closed. Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate.

    We will be deliberating soon. We will seriously consider every candidate.

    The winner will be announced at Rising Tide 5, Saturday August 28, 2010.