Sunday, August 30, 2009

Contest at Voices to Hear

I'm having my first contest over at Voices to hear. You can win a copy of Assembly of Dust's newest album. The more I hear of this group, the more I am liking them. Their new album is full of guest stars like Bela Fleck, Richie Havens and Theresa Andersson. Go over to Voices to hear and check it out and take a chance to win.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Look Back At Katrina

I hope everyone can forgive me for a few posts indulging in my memories of Hurricane Katrina. A lot of people probably don't want to hear anymore whining about the storm, it was four years ago, right? But even though it was four years ago it still lives large in my memories and the memories of a lot of people. I couldn't let the day go by without talking about it. I might have went a little overboard, but the following posts are some of my thoughts now and some of the posts from the days of Katrina.

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Today with Katrina

From and Katrina in the news four years later, go check it out here.

Some Good Moments From Katrina

That first year after Katrina there was a lot of talk if the city should have a Jazz Fest. Some felt it was too soon, that it would be sending a wrong message to the rest of the world. Thankfully those people weren't listened to and we had a Jazz Fest. We needed it. It was a Jazz Fest unlike any other. One of my favorite posts and one of my favorite shows was Springsteen at the Fest. Instead of linking to it I'm re-posting it here.

It's been almost a week since the end of last week's Jazz Fest. I'm sure most of you have heard about Springsteen's appearance at the Fest. In Springsteen lore there are tales of his legendary concerts: the appearance at Bottom Line where Jan Landau came up with the future of rock and roll quote, his first London show, and others. These are the shows that his fans talk and write about, the ones that every Springsteen fan wishes he had been present at. Now you can add another one to that list.

I've seen Springsteen a few times over the years and he always gives a good concert. He puts on a good show, he knows how to play to the crowd. He doesn't stint on his time, he puts it all out there for his fans to see. But no show by Springsteen that I've seen comes close to this show. In fact I'm trying real hard to think of any show that I've seen that can compare to this one.

I talked in a previous post about the importance of this Jazz Fest to the city of New Orleans. In this one concert Springsteen shows he understands what is important and delivers on it. I'm not a religious person and I have never gotten what such a person gets from going to church, until this show. This might be the closest I have come to finding my religion. I've always thought music was the closest I've come to following a religion and today I was in church.

Springsteen opened with a rocking version of "Mary, Don't You Weep" and continued with his versions of the songs off his newest cd "The Seeger Sessions." He added "What's A Poor Man To Do", a song originally wrote in 1929 after the crash of the banks that eventually lead to the Depression. He kept the first verse, but wrote his own second and third verses to fit the destruction and aftermath of Katrina. And he dedicated it to President Bystander.

But the most moving moment came during his own song, "City in Ruins." This song started with him alone on his guitar. As he sang the lyrics it was obvious that this song could have been written for New Orleans after Katrina. And than when the band kicked in with the chorus of "Rise UP!" Hands went in the air, waving back and forth. But many of these hands kept returning to faces, to wipe away the tears. I don't know if I've ever been moved to tears at a concert, but I found myself wiping my own eyes.

Springsteen ended with his version of "When the Saints Come Marching Home." He sang it almost as a hymn. It was one of the most beautiful versions of the song I have ever heard.

This concert went from joy to despair, from laughter to tears. Springsteen made the truth of the importance of the Jazz Fest on this day.

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First Sight of Home After Katrina

This was what greeted me after Katrina. I had already been over my parents house and things were not that bad. Driving back towards my house I had to dodge around a lot of fallen trees, so I was getting kind of worried. And than I got home and saw this. It actually isn't quite as bad as it looks. The house was in good shape, no trees on it. Under all those limbs was a BBQ grill that I had forgotten to bring inside when I left. In the background behind the pile of limbs where you can see to the other homes there is supposed to be a wooden fence. The storm blew it down. You can see the gate in the front of the picture lying on the ground.

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Thanksgiving After Katrina

Before Katrina my Mom and Dad lived in Picayune, a small town in Mississippi. I assumed that would be where they would live the rest of their days out. I think they thought so too. Even though my Mom owned twenty acres in Tennessee from her Dad's old farm, they were content where they were. Than Katrina came.

Even though the storm did very little damage to my parent's house, some shingles, a car port twisted into a pretzel, they even got power back within days of the storm, my Mom no longer felt safe here. She thought of the next storm. She wanted to move back home, to Tennessee, home even though she hadn't lived there in over forty years. So they sold their home within two months of Katrina and were preparing to move.

Thanksgiving found them homeless. They were out of their old home, but the new one wasn't ready yet, so they had no place to go. They stayed with me for the holiday. My brother came over and we had a nice Thanksgiving. The above picture is from that day, my Dad, my Mom and Buffy.

As I was searching back though my old posts about Katrina I came across this picture and a post similar to this one about that Thanksgiving. I really like this picture, this was before my Dad started to get sick again and they looked like they were so happy and had so many years still together.
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Our Government's Attutidue During Katrina

This post was written during Katrina and I think pretty much sums up the mind set of the people in charge at the time. It's said that Katrina was when a majority of the public started seeing George W Bush in a new light and it wasn't a pleasant one.

Four Years Ago

Hurricane katrina - Downtown new orleansImage by aja via Flickr

It was a Sunday four years and a day ago I posted this:

Well, I guess I've decided to leave. Katrina is a cat 5 hurricane now, with gusts of 180 mphs. So I don't think I want to be around when it hits New Orleans. I may not be online for a few days (or more, who knows?), depending where I end up. Gotta go pack up the car and get Buffy ready to move.

Than three days later I was able to post again.

Just a quick note, we're in Tennessee safe and dry. No internet connection where we're staying. I'm at the local library trying to find a way back into the city. I'll post more when I get a chance. Thanks for all the good thoughts.

Afterwards I went back and tried to write some of what happened along the way. My first post in my Katrina posts was here where I wrote about the day of leaving. This is the post I wrote about our trip back home. My first day home was recorded here.

Re-reading these posts was strange. Four years isn't long enough to forget, but it is long enough that you put a lot of those thoughts and fears away in a part of your mind that you hope you don't have to visit again. Visiting these posts brought up a lot of these feelings. A lot of it at the time was the not knowing. I mention in one of the posts that Oakwood Mall had been burned down, well, not completely true. Looters had broken into it and burned part of it, but the mall was still standing. But that was how our information went at that time, in bits and pieces, sometimes factual, sometimes fanciful. I remember the nights trying to sleep, no air conditioner and down here September is still part of summer as far as temperatures go. I also remember the eeire darkness and quiet. No electricity meant no street lamps, no lights from houses, everything was just black. No power mean no phones, no noise. When I first came home I was one of the few in the neighborhood so every noise was a revelation. Lying in bed at night brought thoughts of helplessness and fear. What if looters broke in, there was no one to call, there was no one around. It made you feel like you were completely alone.

Katrina didn't end when the waters finally receded from the city. I don't even live in the city but Katrina impacted my life. Katrina still really hasn't ended. Yes, the city has done a lot in recovering, but not enough. I know people that are still trying to finish their houses, get their lives in order. We had insurance companies that did all they could do to get out of paying, we had a government that flew over heard and looked down at us, we had sister cities in our own state that didn't want to have anything to do with people from New Orleans.

I know a lot of people outside the city, outside the state wonder what the big fuss is still four years after Katrina came aground. It wasn't just a big storm. It was that and more, the aftermath was worse in many ways. We're making our way back, but it's not always easy or as quick as we'd like.

(Personally I came through the storm fairly well off. Today I am not struggling to put my home or life back in shape from the storm, but I know many who are, so I feel the effects.)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Beatles' News

Coming next month a Beatles game on RockBand and their albums being being digitally remastered. Are we close to an announcement that their catalog will be offered online soon? Go read more here and see.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Boy, Do I Feel Old

Does the younger generation not know who Bob Dylan is? Evidently not if you read this.

Friday, August 14, 2009

New Cell Phone

I realized that I haven't been very good on blogging over here lately. I've been spending a lot of time on re-working my music site Voices to hear and this blog has unfortunately gotten the short end of the stick.

What made me realize how lacking I've been in keeping everyone up to date on here was that I haven't mentioned the fact that I bought a Palm Pre. I've had it for awhile now and have never once mentioned it here.

I admit it, I'm a gadget freak. I can't help it. I know it wasn't that long ago I bought the Instinct and was blogging about it here. In fact I didn't think I would be able to get the Pre, because I figured that it was too soon to get the deal. But they let me get it for the renewal price and I went with it.

I liked the Instinct, but it seemed Sprint pretty much decided to ignore it after they built it up as the I Phone killer. No apps, no real support behind it.

Now along comes the Pre and a lot of the hype I heard about the Instinct is being parroted for the Pre. But one big difference I think, the Pre is Palm's last big hope and they have to support it if they want to survive as a company.

So how do I like it? I really do like it. Palm is still way behind in making apps for the phone, but there are now over a hundred homebrew apps out there. I've got an app that translates for me, will convert currency, a comic strip app and many more.

I'm hoping that this will be my phone for awhile. I like it so far and hopefully will continue to like it and use it and not want to get another one too soon.

I know, it's a sickness....I can't help wanting the newest gadget....

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Wall Street Back To Same Old Tricks

Go to and read about how Citigroup, a company that we bailed out with $45 billion, wants to pay its top 25 executives an average of $10 million apiece for their work this year. Work that was so good it entitled the company to take a $45 billion bail out from the United States Government. I thought these type of payouts was supposed to be over, that there were going to be real changes on Wall Street.
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Some Thoughts From Work

Something happened today to make me thing about a few things while at work today.

If you're adult enough to get a job and come work for me be adult enough to call in when you're sick and not have your Mom or Dad call for you. (Of course if you're in the hospital than I understand a second party calling in for you.)

If I have to fire you because you're not doing your job, which means I've sat down with you at a minimum of three times to discuss whatever problems we're having, don't send your Father in to ask me why I fired their child. I'm not going to discuss your job performances with anyone besides you and that includes your parents.

If you have to work a day you want off don't have your Mom or Dad call me to ask if I can give you the day off. I make the schedule two weeks in advance and if you put in a request I try to honor it, but asking me two days before the day you want off because you want to go to the beach or whatever, it's not going to happen.

Ok, I could go on and on but I won't. It just surprises me sometimes what people will do or try to do. I just always assume if you're adult enough to get the job than you're adult enough to handle it. I guess that's not always the case.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Greater Kennedy

Eunice Kennedy ShriverImage by dbking via Flickr

Eunice Kennedy died today. She was a daughter of Joseph Kennedy and brother to John F and Robert Kennedy.

When I was younger (much younger, back during my final school years and soon afterwards) I all but revered John F Kennedy. I bought every book I could find on him. I devoured any facts I came across if they related to Kennedy. At that time most of the books were little more than love letters to the fallen leader. It was fifteen-twenty years after he was gunned down in Dallas but we as a nation still pictured him with a halo.

Somewhere over time, like with anyone that once was held in such high esteem, the books began to turn and what once was written in reverent tones now the words were scathing and mean. But somewhere in that time the truth was coming to light. Once considered an underdog we soon learned that Kennedy was not above throwing his wealth and connections around to get what he wanted. And what he wanted was nothing short of the Presidency of the United States.

I've read enough, good and bad, over the years about John F Kennedy that I no longer consider him a hero. I know that his name is still considered fairly saintly in many circles, but Kennedy's Presidency was not the bright shinning beacon that many look on it as.

His sister commanded nowhere near the presence that he did, to the majority of the public she is probably unknown, but of the Kennedy clan I think she was more the hero. Eunice Kennedy helped create The Special Olypmics. The Special Olympics helped people with intellectual disabilities develop self-confidence, social skills and a sense of personal accomplishment.

My sister was born with Spina Bifda. In some ways she was lucky. She can walk, which I've found a lot of children born with Spina Bifda cannot. Before she was five years old she had a shunt put in her head to help drain excess water buildup on her brain. She died on the operating table at one point. While operating on her brain they think now someone cut a little too deep or a little too wrong and she's had seizures ever since.

When she was in high school she was in the 'special kids' class. You know which one that is, the class with all the kids in wheel chairs and those that talked out loud, and that most of the other kids made fun of. But she loved it. For one the class was small, I think less than a dozen kids, and of those kids she was the least handicapped there. She helped the teacher with the other kids, she was the star of the class. She was there when these kids praticapated in Special Olympics. With less than a year left of her high school career some burecrat decided in their infinite wisdom that these kids should be mainlined back into normal classes.

So my sister went from being the class star to one of those kids that don't fit in.

But she graduated. My Mom wasn't going to let her not graduate.

After school she volunteered at the school in the library. That year at the annual parish (a parish down here in Louisiana is what most of the rest of the country calls a county) where the school boards recognizes notable teachers and such she was awarded Volunteer of the Year.

I wasn't there, but I watched a video of it. Even today, many years later I can remember sitting at home watching the video. My sister walks hesitantly and when her name was called she walked up to the stage and I was watching, hoping she didn't trip or stumble. She has trouble with her hands, her left hand shakes and she has trouble holding things. I watched as they handed the plaque to her and she gripped it in her hands, smiling and walked off the stage. I didnt' even realize I was crying until I wiped at my eyes.

So to me Eunice Kennedy is the greater Kennedy.

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Sunday, August 02, 2009

New Look over at Voices to hear

I've spent the weekend behind this desk and staring at the computer screen and typing and typing away. For what you ask? I've completely resdesigned the look of my music site Voices to hear. Please go check it out and let me know what you think.

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