I'm pretty much very excited about this. I'm also excited about being in Atlanta this weekend, even though I missed Bloc Party last night and will miss the Decemberists on Thursday. I'm not so excited about the fact that I've gained 20 pounds in the last six months. In fact, I'm somewhat fixated on that fact, but in a very bad way. Good-bye Budweiser and french fries, hello treadmill.


In non-Katrina news, the carnies have arrived. The Mid-South fair kicks off today. I haven't looked up the schedule of events, I'm sure it's nothing to write home about. It never is. However, it is worth noting that I studied to be a carnie when I was young. I worked at the fair every year in one way or another, and made friends and "interviewed" the people. I thought they must have very interesting lives, but they really didn't. Also, Goner Fest. The opening festivities last night were pretty ok, hopefully things will get kicked up a notch as the weekend progresses. And finally, I'm again inviting everyone between the ages of 18 and 24 to come to Newby's Saturday between 10:00am and 5:00pm to try out for the MTV's The Real World 18. Yes, 18. See you there.


Most importantly, I want to reiterate my non-support of the Red Cross. Again, and again, all I hear from those who remain in the areas most affected by Katrina is that the Red Cross and other such large corporations are NOT THE ONES responsible for what relief these people are receiving. Think about it, the Red Cross has massive overhead. They are bound hand and foot by berserker and board meetings. Tied up in red tape. The larger the animal, the more cumbersome and slowly it moves. Again I point to a blog of someone who has been documenting the hurricane and aftermath since the very beginning. Gulfsails is a poignant, intelligent, passionate and proactive woman and this is what she has to say about the Red Cross and organizations like it:
Monetary donations should NOT go to large national organizations but to the small groups with their feet on the ground. Individuals and grass roots organizations truly make the greatest impact. For example, the Red Cross has received over 200 million dollars, but I have seen only two Red Cross volunteers during this entire event. That just blows.
She offers these as alternative destinations for your charitable donations. And remember, even as I post this another levee has broken in New Orleans. These people are not out of the woods yet, and within hours millions, hell, billions more in damage will be occurring. Please do your research before donating, find out who makes the best use of what you can give instead of throwing it towards those who spend your money to advertise and pay cumbersome staff.


CY Invasion

I have wonky eyes because I lost a contact lens in NOLA and I stayed up 'til 3:00 this morning color coordinating my house. (Down to placing my shoes in corresponding rooms and making sure only things that were blue remained in my medicine cabinet.) Anyway, I haven't cleaned Bruce Campbell's litter box in a few weeks now, but while you're in Cooper-Young, stop by for a beer on my front porch. I actually had the lawn cut last week, so the roaches should be minimal.
Scheduled Musical Performances
East Stage: 12:30 Retrospect - Ardent Records, Alternative Rock 1:30 The Glass - Alternative Country Rock 2:30 Amy & The Tramps - Archer Record, Rock-a-Billy 3:30 The Pirates - Beatlesesque Indie Rock Group 4:30 Rusty Lemon - Rock n Roll Congo Stage: 10:45 New Ballet Ensemble - Dance 11:30 Rhythm Realm African Drumming 12:15 The Tennessee Boltsmokers - Madjack Records, Bluegrass 1:15 Dan Montgomery - Folk & Country 2:15 Valencia Robinson - Neo Soul, R&B 3:15 Caliente - Latin 4:15 The Tim Terry Experience - Soulstreet Records, Neo Soul/R&B Main Stage: 12:00 Announce Young Artist Contest Winners 12:30 U of M Jazz Band - Jazz Ensemble 1:30 Will Graves - Neo Soul and R&B 2:30 The Secret Service - Retro Rock n Roll 3:30 Papa Topps and the West Coast Turnaround 4:30 Olga Wilhelmine and Jimbo Mathus - Hill Country Blues 5:30 Jim Dickinson and the Midtowners - HEADLINER, Acoustic & Electric Blues
(Pulp recommended acts emphasized.)
Other happenings to check out:
And there's a CY Party at Two Chicks and A Broom (885 S. Cooper) starting at 2:30pm. Two kegs, $5 to drink, all proceeds going to the Red Cross or some shit.
Antique Curtains Noise Choir Jeffrey James Zippin Pippins Jock The Glass


From the Horse's Mouth

You might find a better use of your charity dollar than top-heavy Red Cross according to CU Wireless volunteer Jacob Appelbaum who's been working in Algiers, LA, an area hit hard by the storm.
"The American Red Cross is probably the least respected of all the groups in this area. The locals actually stay away from the Red Cross because of their experience. If you’re considering giving money to the Red Cross, try giving it to a smaller group first." -- more
The same sort of news is coming in from animal rescue workers: HSUS has reportedly not put workers in New Orleans due to liability risks.


Interim Update

Since I started writing that last one a million hours ago:
  • Delta Airlines kaput
  • So does Northwest
  • I find out MTV's Real World Afghanistan is casting in Memphis:
    On September 24, 2005 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Casting Directors from Bunim/Murray Productions, producers of the perrennial hit MTV show "The Real World" will be looking for seven new roommates at an open casting call at Newby's (539 S. Highland St) in Memphis, TN. All applicant, 18-24 years old, are asked to bring a recent picture of themselves (which will not be returned) and photo ID.
    To which I respond: "I am so there."

Calling out the Lynch Mob

A foray into the politics of Katrina: If you read this non-partisan study by the Congressional Research Committee, it clearly states that both Governor Blanco and President Bush took the steps necessary to declare a State of Emergency in Louisiana in a timely manner:
"From the above review of the statutory authorities under the Stafford Act, the letters of Governor Blanco to President Bush requesting first a declaration of emergency and then a major disaster declaration n anticipation of the effects of Hurricane Katrina, as well as the President’s responses to those requests in declaring a state of emergency with respect to Louisiana effective August 26, 2005, and continuing, and declaring a major disaster with respect to Louisiana effective August 28, 2005, and continuing, it would appear that the Governor did take the steps necessary to request emergency and major disaster declarations for the State of Louisiana in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina. In response to the Governor’s requests, it appears that the President did take the steps necessary to trigger the availability of Stafford Act emergency assistance and disaster assistance, by declaring first a state of emergency, and later a major disaster, and authorizing specific Stafford Act assistance to be made available to the State of Louisiana to respond to the effects of the Hurricane."
Why then would Congressman John Conyers, Jr., D-Michigan, put out a press release stating:
"This report closes the book on the Bush Administration’s attempts to evade accountability by shifting the blame to the Governor of Louisiana for the Administration’s tragically sluggish response to Katrina. It confirms that the Governor did everything she could to secure relief for the people of Louisiana and the Bush Administration was caught napping at a critical time."
What?! Did he even read the damn thing? Please note that this document makes no such mention of martial law because the state of Louisiana does not recognize the term. New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin declared martial law (though in name only) and further defined it under these conditions as giving local police enforcement the ability to stop looters without regard to civil rights or Miranda rights, but the President issuing a state of federal emergency in no way provides additional military presence. Also note that deploying National Guard is a responsibility of the Governor of a state, not the federal government. This would explain the discussion Nagin referred to in outrage as reported by, well, pretty much everyone. Without a strong military presence, FEMA may have been partially crippled when it came to actually distributing the aid that the declaration of the state of federal emergency made available to New Orleans and surrounding areas, particularly after attempts had been made by those on the ground to shoot down what military aircraft HAD been deployed and it was proven that additional forces were needed to secure the ground. Of further interest might be other references in the Stafford Act to the state government’s role, including stating that it is the Governor’s responsibility to implement the state emergency and evacuation. I also want to point out that I, myself, feel the President’s public response was rather weak; his general appearance and demeanor did not denote strength or reassurance, it patted those on the back who obviously did not deserve it (IE; FEMA director Michael Brown who appointed William Lokey, also of FEMA, to act as the Federal Coordinating Officer of this declared disaster.) However, the President has accepted responsibility for whatever part he may have played—which I believe primarily lies in poor choice of a FEMA director who in turn made a poor choice with Lokey—and now it’s time for the state and local officials to do the same in order to facilitate the resolutions of problems so we might make better use of an estimated 2billion dollars a day in federal aid which is being spent in response to Hurricane Katrina. Furthermore, a FEMA for Kids Rap Song. So all that's some food for thought.


The End of the World

So this whole thing hasn't been very Memphis lately, and chances are that won't change for the duration of this month, with a few brilliant exceptions. Mostly, though, I'm going to keep going on about NO for a while. Here's the short version of things in general: Christopher Walken runs
"Our great country is in a terrible downward spiral. We're outsourcing jobs, bankrupting social security, and losing lives at war. We need to focus on what's important-- paying attention to our children, our citizens, our future. We need to think about improving our failing educational system, making better use of our resources, and helping to promote a stable, safe, and tolerant global society. It's time to be smart about our politics. It's time to get America back on track." [via RachelandtheCity]
HS Thompson writes
"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt." -- Football Season is Over [via Waste Lagoon]
NO Locals blog
"New levee breach in London Avenue canal in Orleans Parish." -- GulfSails "It's one thing to see troops in the CBD, but it's bizarre seeing humvees and military trucks driving down the small streets Uptown. Even weirder seeing soldiers at various corners guarding that area with M16s (and M203s). I've never seen anything like it." -- The Interdictor
Apple pimps iPod nano
"Take everything you love about iPod and shrink it. Now shrink it again. With 2GB (500 songs) and 4GB (1,000 songs) models starting at $199, the pencil-thin iPod nano packs the entire iPod experience into an impossibly small design. So small, it will take your music places you never dreamed of."


Paradise Lost

When I was a little girl, I stuck my hands in ant hills and let the bugs crawl all over me because I wanted a pet. I was thrilled to graduate to a goldfish; I lovingly called him Frederick and cried as my mom flushed him down the toilet after I killed him by feeding him crackers. The point is, I've always loved animals. Enough so that I have worked at as a veterinary assistant, have shoveled donkey poop at the zoo, have shown dogs--yes, it is pretty much just like Best in Show--and aspired to train a pig to herd sheep like Babe. Taking this into consideration, I am understandably concerned about the status of the animals that were affected by Katrina, not only for the sake of the animals themselves, but for those human evacuees who might have only one possession left intact in the world--their pet. People attach huge importance to their animals and in this time of need, when they have lost everything they own, many are additionally mourning over the possible loss of their "best friend" because they were unable to bring them when they left. FEMA is currently not assisting in the evacuation of animals and has actually told rescue workers (still picking up people) that no animals are allowed onto boats. Furthermore, there have apparently been orders for military and other responders to shoot all dogs they encounter as they believe dogs are beginning to eat the bodies. Reports indicate that at this point, military personnel is refusing to follow this order and has been helpful in aiding independent animal rescue groups, but obviously, time is short and help is still needed all along the Gulf coast, as well as closer to home. I know there are a lot of people out there who are wanting to volunteer in varying capacities, but have had som trouble locating an organization who wasn't flooded with more volunteers than they could manage. Though of course all of the efforts listed below are also in need of donations--of both supplies and financial aid--many also desperately need volunteers.
  • Humane Society of the United States Good resource for keeping up with what's going on
  • New Orleans Animal Rescue -- Volunteers Urgently Needed Volunteers are needed in New Orleans and at the shelter, anyone with a flat bottomed boat, a truck, and/or a bit of competence is encouraged to help.
  • Memphis Humane Society A good starting point for volunteering to help in the immediate Memphis area
  • Contact List Information for volunteers, donations, fostering, et cetera.
  • Petfinder's Animal Emergency Response Network
  • Information on an Arkansas relief project on the ground in NO In desperate need of donations and supplies, possibly volunteers.
  • A Byhalia, MS pet friendly Red Cross Shelter In need of supplies
  • Anyone considering fostering (which is desperately needed by every organization listed,) should note that animals brought from these areas should not be immediately kept around your own pets as the potential for disease is considerable. If you're looking for something to do this weekend, I'm looking for people to go with me to West Memphis this afternoon in response to this request for volunteers:
    Date: Thu, 8 Sep 2005 09:29:42 -0500 I apologize in advance as this email is not going to contain many of the specifics you would like to know, but I will certainly keep everyone updates as information is available. It looks like anywhere from 55-80 animals will be coming into the West Memphis Animal Shelter from Louisiana tomorrow. I don't have a time yet, but will get it to you ASAP. These animals are flood victims and have been housed in kennels on horse trailers as they were rounded up over the last few days. Arkansans for Animals has been one of the few groups who have been allowed into these areas to get animals (with a National Guard escort). They are taking their mobile MASH unit to the scene today and will return with the animals tomorrow. There are 2 members of the West Memphis staff who are on the scene so needless-to-say the couple who are left are going to need mucho help. I am organizing a basic assembly line to cover: Bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, weights, wormings, temps, micro chip scanning, evaluation of spay/neuter, vaccination, heartworm testing, logging in and paperwork to help get these animals taken care of and need all of the help I can get. Also, there will be work to do cleaning out crates and kennels after this is complete. Some of these animals will definitely be going back to their owners (i.e. labs that belong to a fire station down there) and others will need to be placed in foster homes and registered with Best Friends. I think Best Friends is looking at 90 day fosters before they place, but I will confirm with Ginger to make sure. I also need someone to start calling foster homes from the HS list. Let me know if you can do this and I will work with Ginger to get it to you or if you could go to the HS and use your cell (so as not to tie up their lines) that would be great. My intent is to have everything run the process and then have rescues come in at a specified time to look at dogs that we know can be adopted out and then have fosters come in to look at the foster dogs. We are absolutely coordinating this via the MSCHS and I am going today to make sure we will have enough vaccine, wormer, snap tests, tags, etc and will get the protocol on how the HS has been checking these animals in. Please cross post to anyone who may be available tomorrow to help with these animals. Please respond to my kimandemily1291@aol.com address as I don't have access to this account from my home. Thanks, Kim
    So, other than helping Terance with the mosaic and trying to clean up the toxic waste growing on my dishes n the sink, that's the plans for the weekend. Funny how quickly priorities shift, isn't it?


    Step 2

    We got back from Trip #2 to the coast yesterday afternoon. The difference a few days made was impressive; I have no idea how many people were moved between Saturday morning when the extra troops arrived and Monday morning when we got back, but I'll put it this way--the airport went from being absolutely filled to bursting with a writhing mass of humanity (more arriving every minute) to completely empty sans 5 stragglers and a man on an OR table. The Clearwater exit on I-10 went from being a restless mass of 10,000 waiting to rush buses as they arrived, to being an empty garbage heap. The additional presence of the National Guard did more in less than two days than had been accomplished in the preceding five. If only the Governor had signed off to allow them in earlier... I don't have much time for the blame game, though. It's a sad story with enough fingers pointed for everyone with a say to get pinned to the wall. The fact remains that it was an absolutely unprecedented disaster and no predictions could really foretell the true extent of it all, though some had tried. The biggest problem of all has been ignorance and inexperience--not a lack of compassion, not laziness, not a lack of funds. Simply a lack of leadership by someone who had had to face the evacuation of an entire metropolitan city, the majority unable to evacuate themselves, from a death trap, a city built in a soup bowl. I have more thoughts on it all, but I'll save them for later. For now, I think it's important to focus on what we can do. This is what I'm doing:
    Habitat will seek to serve as a catalyst with other organizations, governments, corporations, foundations, etc., to bring people together to talk about low-income housing and recovery on a scale that Habitat alone would be unable to do, and third, to establish and implement a "home in a box project." Habitat’s plan is to assemble the materials needed to build a house -- either purchased or donated -- and then, working with affiliates, churches, corporations and others in communities all over the country, volunteers, working with building specialists, will "pre-build" the frame of a home over a few days. The house will be tacked together to ensure a rock-solid fit, then the frame will be taken apart and the components placed, along with other necessary construction materials, in a container and shipped to an area along the Gulf Coast or New Orleans where families, volunteers and builders will rebuild the home. President Jimmy Carter, who has volunteered for more than 20 years with Habitat for Humanity all over the world, said, "In all my years as a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, I cannot think of a more important program than Habitat's Operation Home Delivery. "Hurricane Katrina may be second only to the Asian tsunami in the amount of devastation, destruction and human suffering, and just as with the tsunami, unprecedented destruction and suffering calls for an outpouring of generous response. Habitat for Humanity is in a unique position to provide long-term housing solutions for victims of this storm. "After their immediate needs of food, clothing and temporary shelter have been met, Habitat's Operation Home Delivery will be working with churches, corporations, volunteers and other partners to get people back in homes and back on their feet. "When pledging support for the victims of this terrible disaster, I hope people in the United States and around the world will consider both the immediate needs and long-term solutions offered by Habitat for Humanity and other organizations," said Carter. Habitat for Humanity will pilot the "Operation Home Delivery" project in September in Jackson, Miss., working with the local Habitat affiliate and others. (Full Press Release HERE)
    I'm still talking to HfH to decide my exact course of action through them, but if you're interested in carpooling to Jackson or forming a team to sponsor and build a house, let me know. I'll get the ball rolling. (<--Executive speak to motivate and inspire.) Habitat for Humanity Also, new plans in the works for a benefit concert. If you've contacted me about doing one, I'll get back to you about it.


    Postcard from Apocalypse

    I got back at 5:00am this morning, a 36 hour trip that has been, perhaps, the most difficult 36 hours of my life. The initial plan had been to go as far south as we could without putting ourselves in danger running out of gas before we could get back. When the gas stations were out of gas in Memphis by 3:00pm, we thought we might do good to make it to Jackson, but through one stroke of luck or another, we were able to fill up in Greneda and again in Hattiesburg. We spent a few hours in the early morning sleeping in our car outside the Red Cross shelter so we could head for the coast after daylight had broken. An MP asked us if we were armed after we told him our plans, upon answering "no," he asked us again if we were sure we wanted to do this. I'm tired again, mostly just from what I've seen as I spent today resting up and watching the news. I wonder if maybe I'm in a little bit of shock, listening to the tone of my voice and the slow way I talk on the phone today. I keep getting teary eyed and wishing there were more for me to do. I have been in New Orleans. Somehow, someway, we made it all the way. I saw the Ambulances qued up outside of NO International Airport. I saw the confusion, the denial, the distant look in every eye, the slack-jawed disbelief on every face. We passed out clean t-shirts, granola bars, water to those who were afraid to leave the line to get rations. The airport was filled with a crush of every sort of person you could imagine; old ladies with birds in cages, young mothers with crying babies, men in sweatshirts who hadn't been able to find anything cooler to put on. It was reassuring to see the helicopters taking off every 2 minutes and returning with people as regularly, but I didn't see many buses coming and going. I'm not sure why. The confusion was monumental. Most of the evacuees did not seem to understand the full scope of the disaster they were in--one lady asked us to take her money and run around the corner to Eckerds and get her some flip flops since she had lost her shoes wading through 5 feet of water. Two Chinese exchange students asked us to take them to their car so they could get out of the city, we were skeptical that we could reach it and but decided to try to help them anyway. Sure enough, a little farther down I-10 and the water met the pavement, thousands of people stood camped in the grass alongside the interstate, waiting for buses to take them somewhere they could wait for more buses. But not everyone is desperate and devestated by what they had been through. Upon asking one man what he considered the worst part of the ordeal he answered unexpectedly:
    "The people's attitudes were unbareable. Instead of helping and trying to organize and care for one another and take car of one another, everyone is stealing and yelling and just out for themselves. I know what they've been through, I've been through the same thing, but they don't understand how much better this all could be if we maintained our compassion here when we need it the most. It's like that picture of the cat, with his claws stuck into the tree branch, and he says 'I'm hanging on 'till Friday.' They don't understand that as long as you wake up in the morning and you've got your head above water and the sun is shining and you're breathing fresh air, it's still a beautiful day."
    We're leaving again in the morning, this time taking little things like toothbrushes and materials for people to clean themselves with, a coffee maker that plugs into the car for emergency workers who have been working around the clock, diapers, formula, femenine products and the like. We're trying to take extra gas in hopes of helping at least one or two of the hundred or more families we met camped in their empty cars in parking lots in Bay St. Louis, MS get somewhere they can stay. Sane people are needed down there--everyone's in shock. All we can do is make ourselves available. I've had several calls and e-mails asking me about putting together a benefit concert. At this point, I have no plans for organizing an event like this, though that may change in the near future, after every refugee is fed and watered and sleeping somewhere safe. I feel like, well, like it's an acceptable course of action when the disaster you are trying to provide relief for happens on the other side of the world, but when it happens a mere 6 hours away from you, when it happens to your friends and family and neighbors, there are more urgent things that need our attention. If you would have made a donation at a benefit concert, please donate that money to an organization that can utilize it the best. We took a lot of video and pictures, they will be posted when we get back Monday or Tuesday.


    Plan B

    If you don't have anything to offer the victims of Katrina except for your time, here's information on how you can help.
    Dear potential volunteer, Late yesterday afternoon a meeting involving government agencies and non-profit organizations was conducted at the Memphis Shelby County Emergency Management Agency. The purpose of the meeting was to begin developing plans to respond to the influx of Gulf Coast refugees. Briefly here’s the current situation and the most likely next steps: - Approximately 10,000 refugees are now in the Memphis area with another 2,000 expected to begin arriving sometime Thursday. More will arrive as the rescue and evacuation operation progresses. Hotel rooms are not available and even if rooms were available many of the refugees are simply in no position to pay for rooms, meals, etc. Sometime today (Thursday, September 1) government officials will declare that we are a host state for responding to victims of Hurricane Katrina. The Red Cross will desperately need help in staffing these shelters for refugees with available volunteers. If you or anyone you know could be a standby volunteer for these shelters or to man the phones at one of these disaster agencies, please log on to www.1-800-volunteer.org and register to be a Hurricane Katrina Response Volunteer. We strongly advise you to utilize the website as a way to become involved in the relief effort! Thank you for your time! www.volunteermemphis.org

    All you can do

    I've been glued to my TV set for the last five days. I can't believe what's happening down there, I keep realizing I'm looking at places I loved, and they just aren't there anymore. I remember Bay St. Louis. The dappled sunlight and the heavy summer air and the mild smell of fish when you went out on the pier into the gulf. There was an old bungalow that a sweet little lady had converted into a coffee shop. I sat there a few times and drank my coffee over a notebook. There was a house across the street with a man that looked like some picturesque and perfect blending of Huck Finn and Santa Clause. He had wooden figurines in his well groomed but whimsical front garden and a picket fence surrounding it all. He sat on his front steps with his big yellow cat and read the newspaper. Now all I can picture is a big black X spray-painted on the front of his little yellow house. We (my boss and I) are leaving tonight or early in the morning with a truck full of supplies. If you can help us fill it up, please let me know ASAP.