Snapshots Of The Flood

Brad Goins Thursday, September 15, 2016 Comments Off on Snapshots Of The Flood
Snapshots Of The Flood

There are always a good number of brilliant writers around. But even the most brilliant can’t do justice to a full-scale disaster right after it happens. With the Louisiana Flood, as with Hurricane Katrina, we’ll probably have to wait at least a couple of years to get the first good book on the event. (If you know a good book on Rita, give me a holler.)

All of that is by way of saying that what follows won’t provide a comprehensive picture of the Louisiana Flood. But these diverse comments may give some hints of the parameters of the unprecedented event (which was called by one weather expert “a 1,000-year event”).

On Tuesday morning, Aug. 16 — the fifth day of the flooding — The Times-Picayune reported that 78 miles of I-10 in Louisiana were still closed. These were the stretches between Iowa and Lafayette and between Baton Rouge and Dutchtown, which is about 15 miles southeast of downtown B.R. This second stretch is usually used by 177,000 vehicles per day.

On this same morning, portions or the entirety of 280 Louisiana highways remained closed.

I guess Advocate crime reporter Bryn Stole was being serious when he Tweeted that looters should refrain from breaking into shelters that were receiving food donations for flood victims. Stole reported that he had seen several break-ins as he drove around the B.R. area the previous night. He was also using Twitter to give his colleagues advice about how they could drive to the Advocate office. (Roads in or near Denham Springs, for example, were not an option.)

Banner headlines of the Advocate for the previous two days of flooding read simply: “STATE OF DISASTER” and “INUNDATED.”

Now here’s a shocker. Somebody caught at least one Louisiana political figure using the crisis as a chance to engage in bad behavior. Louisiana campaign director Mary-Patricia Wray (whose slogan is “I like to win”) Tweeted “Anyone branding public information w/campaign logo to ‘assist’ with this flood has other motives. No other explanation.” She appeared to be making a reference to someone in the La. Senate.

Advocate correspondent Mary Lau reported that there were so many flooded houses in Baton Rouge that first responders had run out of spray paint to mark them with and were wrapping strips of yellow police tape around door handles instead.

I noticed that each of the local casinos had placed bright red banners across the tops of their web pages. These were warning gamblers from outside the area to drive to casinos with caution, and were providing information about which roadways weren’t safe.

A fair number of B.R. reporters spent the week after the start of the flood driving around photographing flood scenes and roads that still had water problems. A smaller number were using helicopters to show flood waters receding in some places. All this information helped affected residents determine where they could and couldn’t drive.

By Aug. 18, a few Louisiana columnists were complaining that the Louisiana floods weren’t getting enough coverage in comparison to other stories, such as the Olympics and changes in the Trump campaign. New Orleans Gambit editor Kevin Allman wrote that he turned on MSNBC to watch its flood coverage and saw instead the “BREAKING NEWS” that Montel Williams was voting for Clinton.

But the loudest of these voices was that of Advocate editor Peter Kovacs, who wrote a major editorial stating that President Obama should end his vacation and visit the flood-stricken state. Kovacs wrote that “the optics of Obama golfing while Louisiana residents languished in flood waters was striking,” and noted that Obama had chided W. in 2005 for that president’s slow response to Katrina.

At least a few in national media got the message. CNN interviewed Kovacs about his editorial. And Atlantic ran a story titled “America Is Ignoring Another Natural Disaster Near The Gulf.”

NOLA Bounces Into Art

The Up Fronter has always tried to follow the development of new musical sub-genres that sound intriguing. I remember spending several months a few years ago immersing myself in the new, eerie music of the witch house subgenre.

New Orleans has a relatively new musical genre that’s of interest: bounce music.

From intensive listening sessions, I’ve come to think of bounce as centering around fast, elaborate raps, some of which are too fast or complex to understand. At times, more than one rapper lays out a unique melodic or rhythmic line, so that one ends up with the rap equivalent of counterpoint. Raps are layered on top of raps with electronic manipulation. Rappers make up words or sounds or distort words to create a rap version of scat. When it’s all put together, it can sound as if dozens of people are rapping and singing at once. In fact, it’s probably two or three.

Mixed with this dense, fast rapping is a healthy dose of turntablism. Musicians sample music from computer games or riffs from Jackson 5 songs; recordings of rapper’s voices are manipulated.

Bounce is a music that’s fast, frenetic, dense, percussive and doesn’t stop. It’s little surprise that New Orleanian Jay Pennington, who’s just opened a bounce music and art project in conjunction with the arts organization Airlift New Orleans, says that early bounce shows in New Orleans were booked by promoters who had previously booked punk shows. Says Pennington, “They saw a punk energy in bounce they could relate to.” Although Pennington has lived in N.O. for 16 years, he grew up as a punk enthusiast and drummer in Houston.

If you buy into the stereotype that drummers aren’t too bright, you’ll be surprised by the depth of some of the statements Pennington — who works in N.O. under the name DJ Rusty Lazar — made in a lengthy interview with The Times-Picayune’s Chelsea Brasted. Here are some highlights:

“I’m not a deeply ambitious and motivated person … I’m really good at supporting, bolstering and encouraging things to move forward. But I wouldn’t say I’m particularly good at waking up, pointing my energy at something and doing that.

“I’ve always known having a regular job wasn’t going to work well.

“I don’t think I have spare time.

“I don’t know that I have a guilty pleasure. All mine are right on the surface.

“I just wake up and see what presents itself.”

Pennington, who is now 45, is seeing his son, Nicky da B, become a rising bounce performer and promoter in N.O.

To learn more about what the New Orleans arts project Airlift has to do with bounce music, visit; click on the PROJECTS tab to the left of the page; at the bottom of the first list of projects, click “LOAD MORE”; then click on the photo with the title “BOUNCE PROJECTS.”

To readers interested in an introduction to N.O. bounce music, the Up Fronter recommends the Sissy Nobby CD Suicidal Bounce (Reloaded), which can be heard in its entirety free of charge on Spotify. Those who are concerned about such things may want to know that bounce music contains lots of strong language.

Is Louisiana Most Trumpish?

Do you think that Louisiana will be the state that goes most heavily for Donald Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election? If you do, Nate Silver might have a bone to pick with you.

Who’s Nate Silver? He’s the head of 538 Polls. That’s the group that gained international press in 2012 when it predicted the outcome of each of the 50 states correctly.

As of mid-August, Silver identified five states he thought Trump had a 90 percent or greater chance of winning. And Louisiana wasn’t one of them.

The five most Trumpish states were Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Alabama and West Virginia. Of these Wyoming was far and away the most Trumpish, with Trump holding a 24 percent lead over Clinton. Idaho and Alabama brought up the rear, with Trump notching 17-point leads in both states.

You don’t have to be a political genius to see the problem here. All five of the states are rural states with few electoral votes. Taken together, they produce only 28 electoral votes — roughly a tenth of what Trump would need to win the election.

In fact, Trump’s dilemma is that, with the notable exception of Texas, he’s leading only in rural states with low electoral vote totals. 538 Polls gives Trump an electoral vote total of just 169. It’s a respectable total, but still exactly 100 short of the 269 electoral votes he’d need to triumph.

None of this is to say that Louisiana isn’t in Trump’s column. Silver has Trump leading Clinton by more than 10 points in the state. But it’s the same problem. Louisiana has only eight electoral votes. (At least we beat West Virginia — by three.)

The Funnies

Police Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen): [Meeting the love of his life after a long separation] How are the children?

Jane Spencer (Priscilla Presley): We didn’t have any children.

Drebin: Yes, of course.

Drebin: That’s the red-light district. I wonder why Savage is hanging around down there.

Cpt. Ed Hocken (George Kennedy): Sex, Frank?

Drebin: Uh, no, not right now, Ed.

Spencer: I feel like such a fool. I should have never doubted you [and turned to another man].

Drebin: There, there. You had no way of knowing the man you were dating was a vicious, murdering sociopath.

The Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1991), the Zucker bros.

Not Beat. Bite.

The other day, I noticed a headline in the U.K.’s Daily Mail that read, “Researchers analyze Sting’s brain to find out what makes a musical genius.”

I don’t get it. If a researcher wanted to know what makes a musical genius, wouldn’t he want to analyze the brain of a musical genius?

Now, I will admit that if some researcher wanted to find out what makes a third-rate musician, he’d be hard pressed to find a better mind to analyze than that of Sting. Of course, for that matter, my mind would work just as well for this particular purpose. And if Sting is charging anything for the analysis of his mind, I can promise everyone involved that I’d charge one hell of a lot less. I’d even be willing to change my name to Bite.

The News

“10 of the best loafers for men”

— Headline in the U.K.’s The Guardian, Aug. 17


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