Review of Jordan Peele’s “Twilight Zone” reboot (Book & Film Globe, May 2019)

Picture this: you’re stuck in a time warp, which forces you to re-experience the same rehashed ideas over and over and over and over. Maybe until someone gets it right? Or perhaps no one ever will. Do you keep watching?

What if the show appears on a mysterious subscription-only station called, CBS All AccessWhat the hell is that? you may wonder. And why would they pay hotshot director Jordan Peele (here playing executive producer, co-writer, and host) and people like veteran X-Files writer Glen Morgan lots of money, to then limit the reach of their work to whatever schmucks subscribe to the paid app of a free TV station?

Some things simply make no sense in…The Twilight Zone.

The black-and-white Twilight Zone series ran for five seasons beginning in 1959, and since then has since been made into a full-color movie, plus two new, failed TV shows. I wouldn’t have checked this new version out myself if not for the addition of Jordan Peele as the brand’s spokesperson. With the former Key and Peele star and Get Out and Us director playing Serling’s narrator role, I became suddenly curious as to whether this fifth Twilight Zone vehicle might indeed, as the saying goes, put the pussy on the chainwaxWell, it mostly does.

Our country’s current passion for social justice makes 2019 the right time for The Twilight Zone to try again. Serling and company’s original tales often bent and cracked Aesop’s didactic fables, creating new, spooky allegories that challenged the viewing audience to question its own beliefs and definitions of morality. Some of the best original episodes dealt with anti-racist and anti-fascist themes. That needle needn’t move very far to make modern Twilight Zone mostly about race, identity, bigotry, etc. Though Peele did not direct any of the five new Twilight Zone episodes dropped so far (he co-wrote only “Nightmare at 30,000 Feet”), this new show fits snugly in Peele’s…zone. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS PIECE AT “BOOK AND FILM GLOBE”…

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Cage-farmed oysters (Modern Farmer, March 2019)

During times when traditional farmers can be found working their soil, Brandi Shelley and her father and brothers are out on the water on Bayou Hertesa near Port Sulpher, Louisiana, tending to dripping wet cages full of growing oysters.

“The summer is the busiest season for us,” says Brandi of the new business her father started in 2017, after many years of traditional oyster farming. “In the summer here, the algae grows so fast you gotta clean the cages a few times a week to keep the water and the nutrients flowing through.”

Brandi is happy to report though, that Kelly Farms stays relatively busy all of the time, because the cage technology allows them to harvest oysters all year round.

Fans of Gulf seafood are familiar with the warning: Eat raw oysters ONLY in months that contain an R! “That’s because, during the summer, wild oysters spawn,” Brandi explains, “and when they spawn, they shrivel up and get milky.” Cage-farmed oysters, on the other hand, begin as triploid seeds. “Triploid oysters are genetically designed to not breed,” says Brandi, “and so they retain a nice size, shape and texture all year around.” TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE AT “MODERN FARMER” CLICK HERE…

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Review of Amy Schumer’s comedy special “Growing” (Book & Film Globe, March 2019)

Having run out of well-recommended Netflix products to consume, I poured myself a thick bubble bath and a glass of rosé. I lay down in the warm water to watch comedian Amy Schumer’s new stand-up special, Growing.

Many had written off Schumer. Since she came out the gate so strong in the early aughts, feminists had decided that she was racist, or at least overly entitled. I always considered her shtick to be a running gag about clueless white people who don’t seem to notice their own casual racism. However, I kinda ditched her too after I paid good money to see her perform, only to discover I’d already heard half of her jokes on TV. That seemed extra tacky at the time, given the holy dictum handed down by George Carlin, Louis CK, and other dicks decreeing that jokes were to be written, told just a few times, documented in a comedy special, and then discarded forever. Forever!

I also disliked her first Netflix original, The Leather Special, a collection of forced-seeming sex and toilet humor that aimed to pay homage to Eddie Murphy’s popular standup specials, right down to her all-leather outfit. Maybe I’m not the right audience, since I always thought Eddie Murphy was a shitty comedian too except when performing his Bill Cosby cover-band material about family. I love comedy with bad intentions, but Schumer’s attempt to one-up her PC haters by leaning into her own crassness suffered from just basic poor writing. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW…

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Walton and Johnson perform blackface on the radio. (Feb. 2019. Vice)

On the drive out to my young daughter’s Montessori school in the New Orleans suburb of Chalmette each morning, she became fixated on some funny voices emanating from my radio. I’d randomly tuned into the Walton and Johnson show, a talk radio program featuring two white, male conservative hosts, plus three other disembodied voices: a lispy gay man (“Mr Kenneth”), a militant black man (“Mr Eaux”), and a drawling, self-identified “redneck” (“Billy Ed”). The political arguments were… colorful, while never truly heated. Whenever Walton or Johnson couldn’t wrap their mediocre heads around a gay rights issue, Mr. Kenneth was there to help explain. Billy Ed would of course bash Barack Obama incessantly—for instance, about the ex-president’s imaginary “communism”—at which point Mr. Eaux would pipe in with some American truth, like, “No one would be saying this if he wasn’t a brother.”

The show’s comedy definitely had a conservative bent, but while I disagreed with most of the politics on display, my daughter and I listened on, finding the wacky, energetic show fascinating. That is, until the day I realized that Walton and Johnson’s co-hosts didn’t actually exist, and that for 35 years, co-host Steve Johnson has been performing blackface on the airwaves.

Over the years, the Walton and Johnson show has grown more political, but its hosts began in the early 80s as a regular comedy duo, recording demo tapes of their act in Beaumont, Texas. In 1983, they landed their first real radio gig in New Orleans (where blackface is still sometimes regarded as acceptable under very particular circumstances). The duo, plus Johnson’s three characters, showcased wacky news stories, performed skits, and hosted celebrities like Charlie Sheen, Kinky Friedman, John Goodman, even New Orleans vampire author Anne Rice. Back then, the show was less mean-spirited and more goofy, immature, and schizophrenic.

“I grew up in New Orleans and in high school I became aware of their show, and it took me a while to understand it all,” admitted Eddie Martiny, IHeartRadio’s president of the Houston region, who started as a WCKW intern for the Walton and Johnson show. “I was putting up the hot air balloons at the remote locations when they were out broadcasting live, and I got to see how much they could draw: They were just on fire in New Orleans in ‘86. They’d say they were gonna broadcast from a restaurant, and… there would be a line wrapped around the building. It blew me away, and that actually sold me on [the business of] radio.”

Johnson’s schtick—a white man performing a “black” voice on the radio—has a long history. “The use of an exaggerated, stereotypical ‘black’ dialect was definitely part of the blackface performance tradition,” said Noah Arceneaux, a professor of media studies at San Diego State University. “Blackface performers began appearing on radio in the 1920s… The author Mel Watkins called this practice ‘racial ventriloquism,’ and there were many shows beyond the infamous Amos ‘n’ Andy that used this technique for comic effect. The character of Beulah, a black maid, was first done on radio by a white man, for example.”

Arceneaux added the blackface tradition lasted longer in England, with a TV show called The Black and White Minstrels lasting well into the 1970s. “And some would question if this performance tradition ever really ended, or if it just shifted.”


Martiny says Johnson never performed his character voices outside of the studio except among friends. At events, the duo maintained a sort of kayfabe, making up elaborate excuses for why their “co-hosts” couldn’t make it. “At one restaurant in Metairie [another New Orleans suburb], they hosted a night where people were asked to dress as their favorite Walton and Johnson character,” remembered Martiny, “and I couldn’t believe how many people dressed up as Mr. Eaux, Mr. Kenneth, and Billy Ed—but they also showed up expecting to meet them.”

While climbing the IHeartRadio ranks, Martiny sold the Walton and Johnson show to stations in Baton Rouge as well as its current home base of Houston, where the duo has flourished for over two decades. “Here, I put them on a heritage rock station replacing Stevens and Pruett, who were an institution. They did well there, but we ended up flipping that station to Spanish, because the Spanish population kept growing and we had three rock stations and we needed to diversify,” said Martiny. “Then two years later, I put them on my classic rock station KKRW the Arrow, and they did well on that station—until we flipped that station and made it hip-hop.”

These days, the show appears on around a dozen IHeartRadio stations in Texas, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, and Louisiana for four-and-a-half hours each weekday.

Neither Walton nor Johnson nor their producer Kenny Webster has ever responded to my interview requests (I’ve tried for years). But if you believe those who’ve worked closely with the Southern radio duo over the last three-plus decades, no one has ever been offended by Walton and Johnson’s shtick. “I have some very strong conservatives talkers that work for me,” Martiny said when asked directly about Johnson’s blackface routine. “Some [hosts] are dealing with protesting all the time… people threatening to call our advertisers and not shop with them. But in my 20 years with John and Steve, I can’t remember even one time… I’ve never had any complaints about a white guy doing a black guy.”

Nathan Ales, who’s sold ads and done other work with Walton and Johnson for 30-plus years, and who considers Johnson his “best friend,” told me, “It’s satire. They stay in character, so Billy Ed is going to say things from that point of view, just like the black guy is going to say what a black guy would say; each character represents their group’s typical views. The gay character will argue with Billy Ed, and they’re all equally represented. Maybe that’s why people aren’t offended.”

Actual gay and black listeners, though, don’t necessarily agree. David Ahrens-Bryant, who’s both black and gay, moved to New Orleans from Detroit and had a similar experience engaging with the show. “I was listening on my way to work and it took about two days until I thought, ‘Something about these five guys doesn’t sound right.’ I went home and did internet research, and I was appalled. I haven’t listened since.”

More than a few black New Orleanians told me that, as far as racism goes, W&J are relatively mild. “Yes, I listened to Walton and Johnson. Making racist jokes don’t offend me, man,” said black New Orleans activist Anthony Straughter. “I make white jokes. Anybody can make jokes, they’re just jokes. That kind of stuff don’t affect me none.”

But others are genuinely offended. “I think some people in the South have this half-baked form of Stockholm syndrome, where they’re already so used to it they don’t care to change it,” argued Ahrens-Bryant, who says he also avoids the Zulu Mardi Gras parade due to the krewe’s blackface tradition. “But let me tell you how this would all go over in Detroit… The north isn’t a bastion of racial harmony by any stretch, but there are things that are accepted here that would get you killed in Detroit.”

DJ E.F. Cuttin is an outspoken black New Orleanian who grew up listening to Walton and Johnson after they replaced Howard Stern on his favorite station during the George W. Bush administration. “I never gave Walton and Johnson’s redneck-centric humor any real energy other than, ‘Yep, that sounds about white,’” laughed Cuttin. “I actually like the black character because he does say truthful shit.” Cuttin maintains, however, that Mr. Eaux and Mr. Kenneth’s mildly progressive remarks are actually the punchlines to jokes made for the benefit of Walton and Johnson’s conservative audience.

“The black guy usually just says shit [black people] say regarding racism, disparity, etc.,” Cuttin explained, “but though speaking truth, Mr. Eaux is usually saying it after stuff that doesn’t call for it, and that’s the rub.” The unspoken running gag of Steve Johnson’s Mr. Eaux character (who “met W&J while selling them a set of walnut handled steak knives from the trunk of his El Dorado,” the show’s website says) is that black issues are merely a cudgel that African Americans use to gain pity or free “Obama phones.” CLICK HERE to read the rest of this article at Vice. 

Or CLICK HERE listen to this sexist clip from their putrid show. 

 

 

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Jan Ramsey keeps music journalism alive in New Orleans (Columbia Journalism Review. Jan. 2018).

FROM HER OFFICE OVERLOOKING FRENCHMEN, New Orleans’s most musical street, Jan Ramsey commands OffBeat magazine, which has reported on the city’s music scene in painstaking detail for three decades, promoting musicians who might otherwise never receive a lick of press. Ramsey, who is 68, has recently let her trademark fire-orange hair go grey, but nonetheless radiates color in her quiet, messy office. Her handicap keeps her immobile; she doesn’t go out to the nightclubs much anymore, and only herthree young employees and her husband and publishing partner, Joseph Irrera, see the amazing outfits and accessories she wears to the office. On the day I visit her, musical-note earrings dangle from her lobes, a green scarab ring nearly eclipses her left hand, and a huge ceramic macaw hangs around her neck.

Ramsey gestures out the big windows onto Frenchmen’s typical late-afternoon crowd of tourists.

“I can’t stand the cover bands that play at this restaurant down here,” Ramsey says. When I suggest that OffBeat may be partly to blame for Frenchmen turning into the new Bourbon Street by advertising it as a musical mecca, she surprises me by shrugging the comment off.

“Pretty much everybody in the music business in New Orleans loves Jan,” says Scott Aiges, who later became the Times-Picayune’s first official local Jazz and Pop writer, and today works for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. “But it’s also fair to say that you aren’t really in the music business in New Orleans unless you’ve had a fight with Jan at some point.” It also seems fair to say that, if Ramsey weren’t a fighter, the world wouldn’t still have OffBeat.

Ramsey studied business at the University of New Orleans, and famously finished her bachelor’s degree from a hospital bed after being hit head-on by a drunk driver—which is why she now depends upon a mobility scooter. In the mid-’80s, Ramsey, a New Orleans music addict since her girlhood, made it her mission to educate everyone she could about the business of music, and how much New Orleans music helped everyone’s financial bottom line. She joined music-advocacy nonprofits, and started a couple others.

“I think I pissed a lot of people in the music community off,” she says. “I was like this outsider coming in, even though I was born here. I was perceived as a dilettante.” Ramsey also felt people minimized her because of her gender. When she met Cosimo Matassa, the producer whose recording studio birthed Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” he regarded her with skepticism, according to Ramsey. “I was wearing a suit and pantyhose and telling people what to do, and people didn’t like that,” she says. Ramsey’s traditional response to sexism in the music and media world? “Just watch me, motherfucker.” To read the rest of this excellent article at Columbia Journalism Review, CLICK HERE!

Or CLICK HERE to watch an interview/documentary with/about my spirit animal, Jan Ramsey.

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Fishing For Answers: How LA’s new Master Plan would effect fishermen. (64 Parishes. November 2018).

All photos by Rick Olivier

Recreational charter-fishing captains don’t elicit the same sympathies given to, say, fleets of weather-beaten men eking out a living harvesting oysters from the punishing seas. Over the last several decades, many have abandoned commercial fishing in favor of what seems like the easy life: Charter-fishing captains smile while working, and wear very expensive sunglasses. They make good money doing what they love, catching limits of redfish and trout before getting off work around noon, their polo shirts still clean. As such, they’re rarely who we picture when we worry for the worsening welfare of Louisiana fishermen.

But the state’s roughly 1,000 registered charter-fishing captains (up from 644 just eight years ago) represent a large, and growing, economy—especially when lumped into the bigger category of recreational fishing, or the behemoth, tourism—and they face as many struggles as anyone else whose livelihood depends upon Louisiana’s coastline.

Charter captains are currently still deciphering the newest Coastal Master Plan introduced by Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) in 2017. The Master Plan details 124 projects (79 restoration, 13 structural protection, and 32 nonstructural risk-reduction projects) that will hopefully build and protect more than eight hundred square miles of new land over the next fifty years. “In Louisiana, no two places are the same—there’s a lot of difference just within one or two miles,” Bren Haase of the CPRA pointed out, “which is why we expend so much effort in planning: there is no one answer or solution for our entire coast.”

Depending on whom you speak with in which coastal Louisiana town, the Master Plan’s projects will either ease fishermen’s woes, or deepen them.

Charter captains are split regarding the Master Plan’s five billion dollars’ worth of diversion projects, which fall under the restoration category. Sediment diversions, in this case, mean channels cut into levees and along the Mississippi River. These cuts allow river silt to flow into brackish and saltwater bayous and ponds where, for decades, the land has been sinking and the marshes disappearing. These Mississippi diversions do build the marshland up, but the accompanying fresh river water dilutes the salt water, which greatly effects ecosystems—for good and for bad, depending on your occupation.

Some charter fishermen appreciate the diversions for building back depleted marshes. Others despise the diversions for flushing away the salt water that redfish and especially speckled trout prefer. “At Salty Dog Charters, we catch bull redfish,” said Captain Markham Dickson. “Bull reds are big and they look good on Facebook, so we want to keep a good population out there.”  For these reasons, Dickson stands on the side of the salt. He takes customers far out east to Shell Beach on Lake Borgne, where a nineteenth-century fort stands crumbling and a giant metal crucifix pays homage to the 163 St. Bernard Parish residents killed when Hurricane Katrina ripped straight up the Mississippi River–Gulf Outlet (MRGO) shipping channel.

“I started fishing Shell Beach when it was salty,” Dickson said. “Then [in 2009] they dammed the MRGO, which lowered the salinity.” Still one of the saltier areas within driving distance of New Orleans, Shell Beach now sits in the projected potential impact area of the Master Plan’s scheduled Central Wetlands Diversion and Mid-Breton Diversion, which will allow hundreds of thousands of gallons of fresh water into the Shell Beach area each second.

“While the fresher water does create more hydrilla plants, which keeps the waters nice and clean,” said Dickson, “on the banklines where you would catch redfish, you are now catching largemouth bass and a lot of brim instead.”

Captain Ron “Ahab” Broadus, who has explored the massive, complex Delacroix marsh system east of the Mississippi for almost thirty years, prefers to put his clients on speckled trout. “You can always catch redfish all year around in Delacroix,” he claimed, explaining that trout are much pickier hunters, who follow the salty water for breeding reasons, and also because salt clarifies the water, making prey more easily visible. Freshwater and silt diversions, of course, muddy the waters for the sake of building land.

In 1991, Louisiana built the Caernarvon Diversion fifteen miles south of New Orleans with support of Breton Sound oyster fisherman who were convinced that the salt influx would eventually kill off their industry. From 1992–1994, research by the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Coastal Restoration Division showed a net increase in marshland of 406 acres, but the structure—a freshwater diversion, not a sediment diversion—successfully freshened the water.

Then in 2012, the Mississippi broke through the natural levee on its own, creating the Mardi Gras Pass, which still pushes river water into Breton Sound. “The river over time has started eating away at Mardi Gras Pass, where now it’s like a hundred feet wide, and something like thirty feet deep,” said Broadus of the pass. “So much freshwater is being pushed straight from the Mississippi, and there are no controls.”

The oyster industry recently spent two hundred thousand dollars creating a study, hoping to gain approval from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources and the US Army Corps of Engineers to close up Mardi Gras Pass. That may be a tough sell, since Mardi Gras Pass has already been proven to be building land, and is substantially benefitting several upcoming Master Plan projects in the area, including the Breton Sediment Diversion and the Breton Marsh Creation project, which is expected to create twelve thousand acres of marsh in Uhlan Bay.

Like many fishermen who prize the saltwater, Broadus would rather see sand dredged from the river to rebuild land in the marsh—a much more expensive procedure. Either way, he understands that something must be done. “If I get a guy I took out last year, and helped him and a friend bring home seventy-five trout and fifteen reds, and now this year the only thing you can offer him today is redfish, they’ll say, ‘We’ll wait.’ So the freshwater is having an economic impact.”

Just inland from the coast and near to New Orleans, Lafitte, Louisiana, already often looks, smells, and tastes like freshwater. “In Lafitte we always have less salt, and yet we still we have a little bit of everything: oysters, shrimp, crabs,” attested Captain Maurice d’Aquin, who’s helped tourists catch reds and the occasional speckled trout in Lafitte for several decades. “Some of the best fisheries are where that brackish and that saltwater mix, so you have two types of water and two types of game fish competing for the same two types of bait.”

And so, d’Aquin also welcomes the scheduled Mid-Breton and Mid-Barataria diversions, recently fast-tracked for permitting, with two more diversions (Lower Breton and Lower Barataria) still in the planning processes for the area. “Wetland loss has the biggest impact on the charter captains’ way of living,” said d’Aquin. “Out here you see it directly. After one storm, you can see that we’ve lost forty or fifty yards of coastline. Fishing camps on the edges that I stayed at back when I was a kid are already gone. We are soon gonna be fishing open bays, and it’s just not gonna be the same.”

D’Aquin is happy to focus on Lafitte’s abundant redfish, which don’t seem to mind the fresh water—whereas trout already generally avoid Lafitte’s abundant fresh water most of the year, especially in the warmer months. “The trout will still move in to some of these fresh water ponds though,” d’Aquin said with confidence. “Lake Salvador is pretty fresh, and trout will move in there when it’s winter and they’re looking for warmer, deeper water.”

Down the coast to the east of the Mississippi, residents of Buras, Louisiana, don’t worry as much about losing the marsh.

“The marsh is gone,” declared Captain Ryan Lambert, head of Cajun Fishing Adventures. To read the whole article at 64 Parishes, CLICK HERE.

Or CLICK HERE to watch a news video about Louisiana’s latest Master Plan. 

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Why We Shouldn’t Nominate New Orleans’s Mayor Mitch Landrieu for President (Vice. April 2018).

Until last year’s removal of New Orleans’s Confederate statues made national news, Mayor Mitch Landrieu was largely unknown outside of his city. Today, he’s the latest Democratic flavor of the month. Landrieu followed up the release of his new book, Standing in the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Faces Down History, with a few victory laps of the lecture and talk show circuits, fromThe Week to 60 Minutes to the Daily Show, where mentions of his possible 2020presidential run were met with applause. He’s also set to receive the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award in May.

As a New Orleans resident, I know the statues couldn’t have been removed without Landrieu—even though the energetic and righteous protest group Take Em Down NOLA is widely considered to have spearheaded the recent movement. Others trace the fight farther back: “That anyone would think Landrieu told us to care about this is insulting… Black leaders have been talking to me about this issue since I joined city government in 1977,” said City Councilperson James Gray during a contentious debate on the day of the vote to remove the offending statues. “I am the descendant of slaves—not free people of color, slaves—so I don’t need Mitch Landrieu to remind me to care about this.”

Landrieu surely won’t end up in prison like his predecessor Ray Nagin, and he has done a few good things while in office, like help get marijuana arrests down to almost zero (arguably a much bigger blow for racial justice than taking down the statues). And his speeches around the monuments’ removal were admittedly some of the best I’ve ever heard from a politician.

But Landrieu is not the president America needs. Dig past the statue issue, and you’ll find that Landrieu is known around town as the New Orleans mayor who aided and abetted a massive wave of gentrification. While he would clearly like to be remembered for removing New Orleans’s racist symbols, many locals will remember him for the following catastrophes:

Airbnb

In 2005, Hurricane Katrina flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and displaced 600,000 households. In the following years, as locals struggled to return to their city, Airbnb was invented at just the wrong time.

New Orleans’s status as a tourist destination has made Airbnb popular with tourists visiting the city. As a result, for almost a decade, New Orleans’s famous shotgun houses have been getting bought up and turned into amateur hotels, often by out-of-state, absentee (white) landlords, damaging the fabric of neighborhoods and forcing residents to deal with tourists literally in their backyards.

Landrieu and his administration have seemed mostly oblivious to how bad Airbnb has been for New Orleans’s tender post-K housing market, not to mention its (black) culture. Following years of inaction on the issue, the City Council voted in 2017 to legalize Airbnb’s fauxtel scam and create a permitting process, but that hasn’t solved the problem. Locals have been evicted from their homes in droves by greedy landlords who can make more money off nightly rentals than yearly leases. As the value of homes used as hotels spikes, that raises the assessed value—and thus property taxes—for locals around them. And because the Landrieu administration hasn’t improved the city’s bleak poverty rate, many New Orleanians can no longer afford homes in their own neighborhoods.

“Treme was too expensive, when I was putting my heart and my soul and my energy into trying to get my family back home,” said singer John Boutte, most famous for penning the theme song for HBO’s Katrina drama TremeThe Treme was America’s first black neighborhood where free people of color could purchase land. After Airbnb hit the Treme, Boutte chose to relocate 30 minutes away, onto New Orleans’s Northshore (which isn’t in New Orleans at all). “I lived in Treme all my life, and I know the real value of those homes,” Boutte told me. “There’s a big bubble right now, man.”

In 2015, The New Orleans Advocate reported a shift in New Orleans’s black population from the city to the suburbs—a change that cannot be blamed on Katrina alone, but on the combination of Katrina and Airbnb. Only now are Landrieu, Mayor-elect LaToya Cantrell, and other officials considering taking further action against laws governing Airbnb properties—which seems a lot like discussing the fire while standing in its smoldering ashes.

Cameras, Cameras Everywhere

There’s existed no question that Landrieu couldn’t answer with more cameras of one sort or another. Mayor Nagin installed New Orleans’s first 30 traffic cameras, and they quickly started producing revenue for the city in the form of traffic tickets. Landrieu has doubled and tripled that number, and today the city makes over $15 million a year off its poverty-burdened citizenry via those traffic camera tickets.

Landrieu’s love of surveillance extends beyond the traffic cameras: On his way out of City Hall, he unveiled an unprecedented $40 million citizen surveillance program that would have required cameras outside all 1,500 of the city’s bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and stores selling alcohol—and all of the cameras would have fed into the city’s newly-upgraded 24-hour monitoring center.

Under immense public pressure, the City Council eventually abandoned that part of Landrieu’s “safety plan,” but proceeded to post around 100 red-and-blue blinking cameras around the city, many right outside of surprised homeowners’ windows. Chuck’s Sports Bar, the Hangover Bar, and other watering holes received the obnoxious blinking cameras as punishment for perceived bad behavior. A whopping 150 more such cameras are planned for this year.

In this and other ways, Landrieu has been to New Orleans sort of what Giuliani was to New York. Except without the drop in crime. To read the rest of this piece at Vice, CLICK HERE! 

Or CLICK HERE to watch this video of New Orleans’s writer Michael “Quess” Moore explaining to the mayor that he shouldn’t take credit for others’ accomplishments. 

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