Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Jefferson Parish and Vial Lemmons

When we moved to New Orleans 10 years ago, we quickly learned to dislike Jefferson Parish. This mostly came from the fact that whenever we went there to shop, older Caucasian people would approach us wanting to comment on our cute young children. They would shudder when we told them we just moved to New Orleans, and they told us to leave the city quickly. We'd ask why, and they'd tell us they used to live in New Orleans until the neighborhoods "went black," and "Blacks took over the schools" and so they moved to safer places like Metairie. To be fair, I have many friends who live in Jefferson Parish, but when I hear these racist things from so many strangers, well, Ick.

Jefferson Parish is full of WalMarts, SamsClubs, Olive Gardens, Taco Bells, and resembles pretty much any place in America. It's where Steven Seagal used to fight crime to honor his racist buddy Harry Lee until Seagal's sex slave escaped. Its identity comes from being the anti-New Orleans. As such, instead of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Jefferson Parish celebrates a "safer" version called Family Gras, which of course means Fat Family. There's much more that's fat in Jefferson Parish, most notably Fat City, which has been in the news for being sleazy even by Jefferson Parish standards. Now that's some sleazy. Perhaps most symbolic, Jefferson Parish looks like a rifle.

Rifles bring to mind one of the disgraceful acts ever committed by Jefferson Parish. It was no surprise to me that in the days after New Orleans flooded some Jefferson Parish police and sheriffs took over the Crescent City Connection bridge which connects New Orleans to Jefferson Parish. Several trapped residents of New Orleans tried to cross on this public road from their flooded homes to dry ground, and these police wouldn't let them. The police shot at the pedestrians with rifles, and hurled racial epithets. Again, no surprise here.

What is a surprise is the decision yesterday by Federal Judge Mary Ann Vial Lemmon. She ruled that it is reasonable for police to restrict with force people evacuating a disaster from using public roads. She wrote "Because restricting pedestrian traffic on the Crescent City Connection was a reasonable restriction, it is not an unreasonable restraint of liberty in violation of the Fourth Amendment." She then went on to note that these people who were shot at by police and degraded with racial epithets were eventually taken to Baton Rouge. As someone who spent some time in government care after Katrina when I was dumped off at the Causeway Concentration Camp, and then escaped this chaos, I believe Judge Lemmon would have a different opinion is she or a family member had tried to cross the bridge. No matter, it's a great day to be a racist in Jefferson Parish, as their anti-New Orleans identity has been further confirmed.

I'm currently looking for a copy of her 14 page ruling.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

12th Man

The most frequent topic of conversation this past week has not directly involved Katrina or BP oil. It's whether or not tonight's Saints game in which the championship banner is revealed will be louder than the Return to the Dome game against Atlanta in 2006. It is hard to imagine it will be. Back in 2006 we were screaming with primal frustrations that a year since the flood had wrought. We were screaming at our insurance companies, FEMA reps, and corrupt politicians. Tonight against the Vikings instead will be joyful yelling, hugs, and high fives. It will be loud to be sure, perhaps loud enough for Minnesota again to have 12 men in their huddle. I think it will be a very physical game with a few cheap shots against Brees and fights to follow. I will be wearing my Reggie Bush jersey. I think this year will finally be the year that he becomes a marquis back, but then I think that every year.

Friday, September 03, 2010


The five year anniversary of Katrina was difficult for me to get through, but I did, and right now, I'm sort of surprised to find myself happy. At home my kids are doing well. Gilgamesh is starting his first year playing football, and Kalypso is doing well at cross-country, violin, and she is going to work for the school newspaper. So my kids are engaged. Not in the southern/Mormon marriage way, but engaged with their worlds. At work the past two years were tricky due to a revision in the core curriculum and the reaccreditation process. But now there is nothing tricky on the horizon. Plus, it is a Friday right before a three day weekend, with the weather looking great for the Dash 'Stache. I made an awesome beer hat to wear during the ride. There are no hurricanes heading into the Gulf and Earl turned out to be not as bad as some predicted. And then we finally have real football starting with the big game next Thursday. Life is good in New Orleans...