Sunday, December 31, 2006

And Throw Away the Key.

Apparently, shooting an unarmed, mentally handicapped man in the back is just part of doing your job as an NOPD officer. Hell, we should be thanking the seven cops indicted for the murder of two civilians, including the aforementioned Ronald Madison, the maiming of two civilians, and the attempted murder of still other civilians - at least according to an NOPD officer known online as "Darklaw," who had the following to say in a New Orleans community:

"Please Support the Seven NOPD Officers that are facing indictment and trial for doing their job. They stayed during Katrina and now the System has turned their back on them, with the DA calling them rabid dogs with a gun. DA Eddie Jordan is out to make his biggest political move yet - wait, he did that when he fired every white employee at the DA's office and got sued in Federal Court. Imagine doing your job, during Hurricane Katrina and acting approapriately, acting within reason, and acting to preserve not only your own life, but the lives of others...and being indicted for Murder for it. With no bond. You will sit in prison until the trial is OVER, regardless of verdict."

And so the true miscarriage of justice has been revealed; clearly, these cops were indicted because they're part of our country's most oppressed class - you know, good ol Southern white boys - that just so happen to shoot a lot of black boys.

Obviously, since their own department pronounced them innocent, the case should be closed.

However, before we adhere to this request, let's review some additional details of said case:

"Katrina trek led to bridge
So, when Hurricane Katrina was barreling toward New Orleans, it made sense that Ronald Madison would stay at his big brother's two-story condominium. The family's two dachshunds, Bobbi and Sushi, to whom Ronald was very attached, were with them. Although Lance Madison thought his townhouse would provide safety, after Katrina the area was surrounded by 6 feet of water. After spending a few days in the condo without food and water, the Madisons decided to seek better accommodations at the dental office of their brother Romell Madison on Chef Menteur Highway.

They ended up staying at the office for a few more days, getting supplies at a Winn-Dixie. Madison said they were hoping that buses would take them to safety. But on Sunday morning, six days after the storm, that hope evaporated. Ronald and Lance Madison were out on the highway trying to catch a bus to take them to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, according to Madison's testimony from a Sept. 28, 2005, magistrate hearing. When no buses appeared, they decided to try to get to Fuki Madison's house, but they eventually turned back toward the dental office.

As the Madisons were walking toward the Danziger Bridge, Lance Madison said, six teenagers in white T-shirts and jeans approached them and started shooting. As the Madisons ran up the bridge, away from the gunfire, a group of police in civilian clothes appeared on the scene, Madison testified. They also began shooting, and Ronald Madison was left dead with five gunshot wounds to the back and two to the upper arm, according to the coroner's autopsy report.

In his testimony, Madison said that one officer who shot at him and his brother jumped out of a small postal truck, although he also mentioned that officers arrived at the scene in a rental truck.

Clashing testimonies
In the three federal lawsuits stemming from the day's events, the victims said the seven officers who jumped out of the back of a rental truck did not identify themselves as police.

But police accounts are different, with officers saying they arrived because of reports of sniper fire targeting rescue workers. Sgt. Arthur Kaufman, a homicide detective who arrived after the officers in a commandeered Budget Rent-A-Truck, said at the Sept. 28 magistrate hearing that the officers identified themselves. They fired only after being fired upon by four of seven suspects on the bridge, he testified.

In his testimony and in a police report, Kaufman identified Lance Madison as one of the people shooting at police. He also said that one officer, Sgt. Kenneth Bowen, who has been indicted on a first-degree murder charge, saw Madison throw a gun over the bridge into the Industrial Canal.

David Ryder, who claimed to be a St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office deputy, also identified Lance Madison as one of the people shooting at rescue workers. In fact, Ryder was not a deputy but a man with a criminal record that includes a conviction for false imprisonment and arrests for battery on a police officer and possession of cocaine, according to court documents from Nacogdoches County, Texas.

Madison has said that neither he nor his brother was armed. Fisher produced a record of a polygraph test he said Madison passed on Oct. 3, 2005, in which he said he did not have a gun or shoot anybody.

At the Sept. 28, 2005, hearing, Orleans Parish Magistrate Court Judge Gerard Hansen said he believed Madison. 'I don't think you're one of the shooters. I don't think that, OK,' he said. 'I could be wrong, but I've been doing this for 32 years and I think I have a gut reaction on this.'

The state grand jury apparently also reached that conclusion."

R.I.P. Ronald Madison.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Lamb to ---

"My people, keep the peace; keep the murder rate down," he wrote.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Scooping Pretenders Left 'n Right.

Further proof that George Will is underestimating the power of the internet, preening in his usual faux-intellectual fashion:

Shootings/robberies that took place on December 26 at two uptown New Orleans bars, Parasol's and Grits, have been broken in the Times Picayune's sometimes-dubious chat forums (see: Thread #49255 while/if it lasts), rather than in the paper itself or any other local media source as of early morning, December 28.

Outside of this blog, that is.

Is That an AK-47 in Yo' Pocket or - ?

Truly Fine
For now, Fine, the cornet player, says it takes guts to remain in a city he sees as not only dangerous but wounded.

"There's a heaviness sitting on the city," he says. "There's a profound sense of coping with something that's lost and you can't quite put your finger on it."

Fine says he was almost robbed recently. "I was walking to my car, and I see this cat walking to meet me," he says. "And I see him start to reach in his pocket." Fine smiles. "So I started to reach into my pocket. And he ran."

Asked if anything was in his pocket, Fine says, "Courage."

Friday, December 22, 2006

Asparagus Fern

The old man that gardens, landscapes and mows in my neighborhood comes back soon after and gets right back to work. Though he walks with a slight stoop, shoulders and head hunched forward, he does not falter. He is the unseen, the enduring.

The roofers now living below me are quick to congregate, shout and litter everything from used Q-tips to raw meat packages - on the ground, in the rain - and are prompted to pick them up only by my screaming and photographing. The apartment manager thanks them for their efforts in rebuilding our city.

No one that I observe thanks the old man.

I watch him out my kitchen window sometimes, where I can see him tending to a house behind the one that contains my apartment. He does not falter in his work, even on the hottest August day. Gentleman to a fault, he retains his long pants and sleeves in the most sweltering Southern sun.

One such day, I fill a tall Mardi gras cup with ice-cold, filtered tap water and take it to him, telling him I appreciate his hard work and how thirsty he must be. His face lights up; he thanks me profusely. Later, I find the empty Mardi gras cup at the bottom of my stairs. Several weeks later, a few more men vacate, leaving stray, unbagged garbage all over. One blames it on "the homeless," who must have seen the clothes he threw away and ripped the bags open. There are no bags or bag remnants, however; only piles of clothes stacked haphazardly on the sidewalk, with records, food packages, styrofoam squiggles. Tired of cleaning up after everyone, including those who stay yet still treat the world as their dumpster, even after all it's been through, I pass the piles by, though their presence grinds at me - never more so than when I see the old man bending and straining to pick up the pieces of filth and discard left by men half his age and twice his physical strength; I go over and help him.

I'm told he is paid for his work - by the very same people that rent to and abide this pollution, so it can't be very much. I run into him again after some time and he beams, telling me that he has an asparagus fern he'd like to give me, how much he appreciates me helping him with the garbage, and that he didn't want to disturb me by knocking on my door unannounced, furthering his status as a rarity, given the series of neighbors who have laid claim to my porch and personal space with zero qualms.

A week later, I come home to some fuzzy new object there and inwardly groan; said neighbors once left me stuffed animals and also stole a shirt and plant pot from the space, though not in that order, so I'm wondering what the gag is now. I approach the stairs and realize: asparagus fern.

I still see him lope down the block and tear at the weeds, overturn dead earth like a Depression-era farmer tilling the soil, displaced in some cruel century. He goes largely unacknowledged.

But asparagus fern
thrives all the while.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Can't Stop, Won't Stop!

My comment to yet another "The people of Louisiana deserve this" thread has been received, but "is being held for approval by the blog owner" (not that there's anything wrong with that - oh, wait). So, I thought I'd share it here.

The 90 grand in the freezer is just the tip of the iceberg for this crooked guy. The people of Louisiana deserve him if they voted for him in the midst of this epic bribery scandal.

Posted by: Tye Caston at December 11, 2006 02:28 PM

First of all, Tye, the people of Louisiana do not deserve Dollar Bill, just as they didn't deserve to be abandoned and ripped off by government at every level. The people of Louisiana, like many in America, are also blindsided by the mainstream press at every turn. For a local example, the Times Picayune only announced today's event featuring — it turns out — a speech by Dollar Bill Jefferson in its morning edition. This, of course, discouraged attendance, especially since the event in question was held at 10:30 A.M. on a weekday. Yes, they are all in bed together and, like our federal government, this truth has never been more obvious - or more arrogantly displayed. Today’s last-minute announcement also ensured that the American public will only see shiny, happy pols, RTA reps and a high school marching band in tonight's blurb on tourist-dependent New Orleans’ re-ignited street car.

Like you, I am disgusted with business as usual down here and am of the opinion that Louisianan — and American — citizens need to be much more proactive, but I also acknowledge that, particularly in New Orleans, they are routinely denied proper educations, legal and infrastructure rights and, most importantly, information. Here and across the Gulf Coast, they also struggle under the psychological and economic weight of life in post-apocalypse times, which is big, but not easy.

So, I was glad to stand at the back of the thin crowd of sycophants and heckle Dollar Bill — "Can I borrow $90,000? Anyone? Dollar Bill?" — while the alleged journalists alternated between pretending not to hear me and looking as if they’d contracted a collective case of the vapors. I was also glad to then stand right behind Dollar Bill while he spoke; it served the purpose of making people lying to the public and misappropriating public funds uncomfortable, if only for a few minutes, giving me a brief opportunity to disrupt the p.r. machine in favor of what you might call unorthodox journalism, unpaid variety. I was also happy to give sarcastic thumbs up for the rolling cameras so that some form of protest would be documented, if not televised.

And you?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

This Is Just Embarrassing.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Saloon Mystic Redux

you walked rough
white walls
saloon dance halls
to show me
I seam
to remember.

Saloon Mystic, an international poetry zine, is currently available at Maple Street Book Shop, McKeown's Books and Difficult Music and Octavia Books in New Orleans and Charlie Byrne's Bookshop in Galway, though supplies are limited...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Adventures in New Orleans Real Estate

$1250 Renters Beware! (Treme)
Reply to:
Date: 2006-12-05, 10:49AM CST

I would like to warn my fellow New Orleans residents and renters to avoid doing business with Jennie V. Smith, Esq. and her stepfather, Frank. A neighbor, Greg, posted an ad here for the double shotgun they are renovating at 1526 Ursulines Ave. at Robertson. A friend and I put down a deposit on this apartment in early November for a December 1 move-in and when we went to check things out two days before our move, Frank announced that not only was the central heating unit not functioning, it was not even installed. He promised to buy us space heaters that evening and did not - repeat pattern for the next morning and the next evening.

In addition, the outside deadbolt was still broken that Friday, December 1, and we were not given keys for all of the doors - unlike the handful of workmen and Greg, bringing up obvious security and safety issues. Contrary to what we were told again and again, repairs and other work were still going on when we were due to move in, which would have given us zero privacy and created problems like our pets running out, as all of the doors were left wide open, not to mention that we would have been paying for all of the electricity being utilized. These men also felt it was a good idea to leave the gas stovetop burners on to heat the place, along with the two small heaters that finally arrived Friday and which we most certainly would have had to fight over with the workmen.

In what was to be our home.

The deal was officially off on December 1 when Jennie refused to give us a reasonable date in writing for the heating to be fixed; she had no problem taking our deposit money though the heating unit was not even installed, which, again, no one made us aware until two days before our move. She told us that she did not want to do business with us when we insisted on something in writing, and both of them treated us like we were crazy for being upset that the place was unheated, filthy, with unflushed toilets, natch, a non-functioning deadbolt, and other promised and basic amenities unfinished -- no rods in several of the closets, no shelves in the pantry, no mirrors in the bathroom, an incomplete and unstable porch. There were many good amenities, such as a dishwasher, newly finished hardwood floors and a new stove and refrigerator, but paying for renovations while living among them is unacceptable and we can't help but wonder if this is their m.o. (I.e., just how many security deposits have they collected?)

Fortunately, we were able to stay in our current apartments or we would have been homeless. As is, this has created major inconveniences with our mail and having to unpack and move back the preliminary items we had moved over (books, cookware, pantry items). We did get our deposit back, though Frank tried to get our keys, vis-a-vis the workmen, before we had our belongings and deposit back. We had finished loading my vehicle when he arrived with the deposit check, but felt so threatened by the combined shady tactics, as well as his large stature and now unfriendly demeanor, that my prospective roommate had "911" dialed on his cell in the event that the behavior escalated.

Jennie signed the letter voiding our contract with "kindest regards" --- as if their behavior was at all kind, professional, or acceptable.

Buyer beware.

This kind of short-sighted and unethical behavior is driving honest, hardworking citizens from this city in droves and, though it is blamed on "Katrina," the disaster is more the scapegoat than the cause of this conduct.

* Location: Treme
* It's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests