Friday, November 18, 2005

Carpetblogger wreaks havoc on dog tummy!

Brando has colitis and I blame Case, aka

Not only did that carpetbagger/blogger squat in our living room, he made no effort to engage the dogs while he was here. And he paces! Then he moved three blocks away and Brando had his latest breakdown. The physical manifestation was some really bloody poop, which I subsequently dropped off at the vet in a nice tupperware container. The diagnosis: colitis caused by stress.

So this morning I tried to pamper the Brando a bit more than I have lately, and I took him for a walk and then a frolic in the park with Dixie, a catahoula pit bull from the French Quarter.

Yesterday we found a female dog in heat--an adorable rottweiler/corgi, if you can imagine. While I wrangled Brando back into the house, the Carpetblogger came by and sat on the stoop with the little bitch in heat, and the combination of the two of them was, I am certain, the final straw for my Brando.

Meanwhile, I've delivered the girl dog to the SPCA,where I've been volunteering opening envelopes and filling out deposit tickets for the many contributions that are coming in after the Humane Society of the United States sent out a mailing on the Lousiana SPCA's behalf. What a nice example of how animal groups can/could work together.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Faulkner House is open

Faulkner House, the great little bookstore in the French Quarter, is open again. I stopped in yesterday and on my way back up Royal Street I stopped in a few other places, talking to gallery owners who said they weren't selling anything but figured that someone had to be the first back. One owner lost her house and is living with her ex-husband again. "At least when the FEMA trailer arrives I'll have a place to go if we start fighting again," she said.

But many other places where still closed, and others had already vacated, including The Living Room, which used to me my favorite stop back when the owner still kept couches and dogs along one side of the room. Three Dog Bakery is also shuttered--literally--and there was an eviction notice posted on the door. I haven't shared this information with my dogs. But I did send an email to the corporate office suggesting that they might want to keep the store open and help out the local franchise to show support for the city. They are, after all, selling Katrina shirts on their website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

More NOCCA/Riverfront trouble

According to a few reports I received today, the legislature quietly voted to increase the cuts to NOCCA/Riverfront by an additional 850,000 dollars, bringing the total cuts to nearly 1.6 million, leaving very little left for faculty salaries or supplies for students, let alone concerts and other programming. Meanwhile, the morning paper reported funds being diverted to a school for the deaf from a closed New Orleans art school. I'm all for funding a school for the deaf, but I'm a little surprised to learn that my school is "closed."

Many, many families have been waiting to hear news of NOCCA/Riverfront reopening before they make their decision to return to the city. And the state seems to be content to close the school and give them--as well as the many residents who enjoyed attending events there--one more reason to abandon the city.

and now I've lost my bank too

...which may not be a problem since I seem on the verge of losing my job.

I made a point of putting all my money in Hibernia, because it is a New Orleans based regional bank. No more. Beginning in the New Year, it will become Capital One Bank. The notoriously awful credit card company has taken over. Capital One made its fortune and name by offering high interest credit cards--$40 annual fees for $300 credit at 23%. So I'll be withdrawing all of my money and transfering to another bank.

Of course, even if Hibernia remained independent I'd be stuck. The branch nearest to my house is the one remaining building on a block that burned down and the branch that I opened the account at lies on the border of the lower Ninth and St. Bernard Parish. I doubt Capital One will be opening either of them anytime soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

New work out in The Bark and Poets and Writers

Every now and then I am reminded that in spite of everything, I'm still a writer.

My profile of Ernest Gaines is out in the November/December issue of Poets and Writers magazine, and it includes a really embarrassing copyeditor's typo in the opening pages. I'll be posting more about that later, just because it is a little embarrassing and therefore amusing. But mostly embarrassing.

And the new issue of the Bark has a short essay about the evacuation, and the dog I left at the LA SPCA in the days before the storm. Some of you have already heard about that, but they've also included a gorgeous photo my Zephyr, taken by Cami Johnson. Brando, Sula and I can be seen in various degrees of blur behind Zephyr as she hunts in a New Orleans garden.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Elvis comes to Piety Street

Elvis Costello is coming to record in the studio at the end of my block starting next week. Joe Henry is producing, and it will be a collaboration with Allan Toussaint. If only the Po Boy shop would open up across the street I'd have the perfect venue for stalking them.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

A note from the Lousiana SPCA

Hello all,

I haven't spent time engaging in dialogue via email or responding to the internet rumors as I’d be spending my entire day doing so.  But, I wanted to respond to the message below.  Please feel free to forward onto your lists.

In an effort to get closer to the truth amidst the rumors and conflicting reports, we have developed a multi-agency assessment team that will be fanning four New Orleans hot spots --  Lower 9th, East New Orleans, Lakeview, and Gentilly – to systematically evaluate at our animal situation.  We’re working two shifts (6 am - 9 am and 5 pm – 8 pm) as animals are most active at dawn and dusk.  We’ll tally our results on Thursday and determine next steps.

It’s my hope to a) obtain a better understanding of the state-of animals in New Orleans by using a systematic approach, and b) to tailor future animal response efforts to match the needs of the community.  The team includes two members each from HSUS, ASPCA, Best Friends, United Animal Nations, LA/SPCA, and individuals who have been working at independent rescue sites (Richard from Winn Dixie, for example).

We hope that this assessment will offer greater clarity about our true situation (NOTE: The LA/SPCA is only focused on New Orleans and is not working in the other parishes such as St. Bernard, Plaquemines, etc.).

I’ve never been one for perpetuating myths or histrionics.  If Jane Garrison or others have specific information about animals in need, I’ve asked them to call us at 368-5191, ext 100.  Sadly, we were forwarded emails where people entioned “testing” us with false reports to see how fast we’d respond.  Yesterday, one of our visiting teams responded to a call only to find see an “animal rescue” vehicle flee when they approached.  I would hope that would-be rescuers wouldn’t waste valuable resources playing games with animals’ lives.

Thankfully we’ve received a tremendous outpouring from professionals across the country who have sent staff and resources to help us with the overwhelmingly challenging tasks of establishing a semi-permanent shelter, vet clinic, housing staff, capturing strays, reuniting pets & owners, working with the military & cadaver teams, and the daily care of the animals we rescue.  In just the past few weeks, we’ve had staff from HSUS, ASPCA, Missouri, Texas, and Nebraska, San Diego, Pasadena,
helping us every day to make things happen.

I also wish to clarify that the LA/SPCA has not stated that it has everything “under control” but has said that its visiting animal control teams and local residents are not seeing evidence of the thousands of starving animals that Jane writes about.  We're trapping every night and definitely seeing strays, but we're not seeing thousands.  We always need volunteers to work with us to serve the needs of New Orleans’ animal community.  Not everyone, however, wants to work within the system.

Laura Maloney
Executive Director
Louisiana SPCA

The animal rescue craziness continues...

A friend emailed me after receiving an email about how the LA-SPCA is limiting animal rescue efforts and "thousands" of animals are dying in the streets. She wanted to know what was really going on. My response:

Here's my take on what I've had to deal with as a resident and animal rescuer myself:

Upon coming home, piles of dog food and treats knee high on every street corner attracting rats and stray dogs that made it dangerous to leave my home with my own dogs.

"Katrina Animal Rescue" cars driving at high speeds going the wrong way down one way streets in neighborhoods where pedestrians where at risk of being hit if they weren't expecting such careless out of town driving.

Countless instances of homes being broken into even after the the owners had returned with their dogs.  In one case, a police officer's rottweiler was rescued while he was on duty.

Jane Garrison and others have told residents that it is our responsibility to make sure they don't take our animals.  Funny way of thinking.  LIke telling me that it is my responsiblity to make sure I'm not robbed.

Whlie in the dog park one day I turned my back for a second and heard someone whispering to my dog from an open car window.  Who was it?  Katrina Animal Rescue, who then zipped away going the wrong way on my street.

Many of these groups refuse to list their animals online, or particularly refuse to list them through Petfinder or the SCPA.
Graffitti is everywhere.  The majority of it from animal rescuers reporting three or four times, in spray paint sometimes a foot high, that there is no dog in a house.

Many of these volunteers took rescue lists from the SPCA and then selectively rescued only certain dogs on the list, leaving behind others.

I could go on, but my point is that it is out of control, and while many of these groups mean well, or meant well, they are out of control.  It is total chaos, and the end result is that those of us lucky enough to return are having to deal with the chaos they've created.   If they really wanted to help at this point, they'd find a way to work within the system and considering the extreme problems we are facing.  But they won't.

NOCCA on the chopping block

The New Orleans Center for Creative Arts is in danger of being shuttered. Obviously cuts need to be made, however cutting the proposed 67 positions would leave the school without a faculty. This is the high school where numerous Marsalis family members were trained, where Harry Connick Jr. got his start, etc.

This bill, HB 156, is online at the LA legislature site.

"The commissioner of administration is authorized and directed to reduce the State General Fund (Direct) appropriations contained in Act 16 of the 2005
Regular Session of the Legislature for the following agencies in the following amounts:

New Orleans Center for Creative Arts by $2,147,595 and sixty-seven
(67) positions. "

It is scheduled to be heard on November 13, 2005
4:00 pm
Room 5

The legislator presenting the bill is Representative John A. Alario, Jr, chairman of the appropriations committee.  His district office phone numbers are (504)340-2221 and (504)341-0794 (Fax).  His email address, as listed on the legislature's website, is 

I'll be posting more people who can be contacted if you have an opinion on preserving arts training in New Orleans. And you better...