Saturday, January 06, 2007

How to plan a march to city hall

Well, I'm still figuring that out, but I'll let you know how it goes.

Thursday morning I was sitting in Coffea when Kappa, the owner of Slim Goodies came in and announced that there'd been a murder in the neighborhood. A woman was killed and her husband injured. I went online and read that their two year old had been found cradled in the injured father's bloody arms. People gathered around the computer in disbelief. Gwen gave me my to go order on a real plate for me to take home, and when I came back with the plate an hour later, she was closing the shop. The woman who lost her life was Helen Hill. A few days earlier I'd shared the couch at Coffea with her husband and son, who wore bells on his shoes so his would know if he started toddling away.

I got on the neighborhood forum and asked "Is anyone planning a march to city hall?" No one was, but quickly responded that they would be there if there was one. I drove to Sound Cafe, because I knew that they were close with the Hot Eight Brass Band, who lost their drummer the previous Thursday. He, too, was shot and killed in front of his children. Baty Landis, the owner of the cafe, was talking with a few people when I walked in, and I knew that they could only be talking about one thing.

"We need to do something," I said. "But I don't know how."

None of us knew how, really, although we all have some experience doing things like this. And within twelve hours we were being interviewed by journalists and getting a surprise visit from the mayor's office wanting to know what role he might play in our plans.

This morning, the mayor and police chief finally had something to say about the insane crime wave that has overtaken the city. But they need to do more than say that they are talking about ways to address the situation. They need to actually address it. They need to respond to each event. They need to support the police and allow them to do their jobs. They need to acknowledge that they need more help. They need to fund the criminal justice system, which doesn't have the money to prosecute anyone. And they need to find something for people to do in the city if they are not here to work or attend school.

And that's just the beginning.

So, anyway, its a pretty busy, distracting, depressing time here. But I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A rally in New Orleans


It is time for our elected officials to face up to the violence that is strangling our neighborhoods.

Come march with us to City Hall to demand action
Thursday, January 11

Marigny-Bywater residents and ALL concerned New Orleanians, please come to a planning meeting this Sunday, January 7 at 1pm
at Sound Cafe (2700 Chartres St.)
More info: 504-948-0917

6 murders in 18 hours

This morning I headlined this "6 murders in five days". As you can see, I've had to update that info.

A few days ago, there was a news report that the current New Orleans murder rate is ten times the national average. Today, the city recorded its six murder of the new year. At 5:30 am a young couple, not far from my own neighborhood, answered a knock on their door. A man shot the woman, killing her, then shot her husband, who was holding their child in his arms. The man was hospitalized. The child is "unharmed", which might be true physically.

Last week, during one of the many year end murders, a local musician was fatally shot in the head while driving a car with his wife and kids. The police reported that the family was "otherwise fine" or something like that.

Meanwhile, Mayor Nagin has absolutely nothing to say on the subject. I guess that's because he doesn't really live here.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Buried under bubble wrap: A Pit Bull Rescue fundraiser update

PBRC has taken more than 200 orders for signed copies of my book, which is great news for them. They've raised more than $1000. However, none of us anticipated this response and there have been a few complications. First, I must order books from my publisher, which is currently, once again, out of stock. Next, I must sign each copy. Then I have to wrap them in bubble wrap, then in newspaper. Then I must put them in priority mail envelopes, and take them to the post office. Here is the last of the complications: I live in New Orleans, and my post office is pretty understaffed even under normal circumstances.

We promised Christmas delivery for all orders received by 12/10, but now I'm getting email from people who ordered late and are wondering why it hasn't arrived yet. It will arrive. In fact, even if you ordered them AFTER Christmas, you should have them by the end of the week. So, please don't ask the pit bulls for your money back.

Alice Hoffman and the "woman's novel"

I just reviewed Alice Hoffman's latest novel, and it occurred to me that a strange thing seems to have happened in the past ten years or so. The publishing industry is moving backwards. Specifically, it is no longer possible, from a marketing standpoint, for a woman to write a novel about a woman and have it sold as a literary novel. It must now be marketed as "women's fiction" or something like that.

This is all stuff I wanted to include in the review, but it was too distracting from the fact that her new book is, of course, very good. Yet, I couldn't help thinking of how her earlier novels--Property Of, The Drowning Season, Illumination Night, etc--were designed to look like novels, period. Her last few, with new publisher Little Brown, have been sold in quite a different way. This latest, for example, has a really not-so-great title: Skylight Confessions. And the cover seems to be a Nicole Kidman look alike with her eyes closed and long bangs matted to her face as if she's in a state of pain or ecstacy. If you look closely, you can spot of feathers floating around--they are the only element that has anything to do with the book.

And all of this is ashame, because there are probably lots of people like me who would enjoy reading the book, but may never pick it up, because we do, it turns out, judge a book by its cover.

That said, if you haven't read Illumination Night, please do. It is deceptively simple, and Hoffman is a master at point of view. She also wrote the screenplay for an overlooked movie called Independence Day (not the sci-fi film!) that has an early, amazing performance from Diane Wiest.

Progress in New Orleans: garbage pickup and a magazine in the mail!

This week the city is beginning regular, twice a week, garbage collection for the first time since the hurricane. For the past sixteen months we've been making due with 0-1 pickups each week. For my neighborhood this would occur sometime between 5am on Tuesday, and 11pm that night. Or sometimes not at all.

Also, sometime over the summer, the federal government lifted its ban on magazine delivery via the mail in New Orleans. Of course, most of our subscriptions had expired during that time. But I managed to get the New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly to restart my subscriptions, but Time Out New York is another story. Everytime they tell me that my thirty remaining issues will begin to be delivered again, they follow up with a post card telling me that the post office says my address is undeliverable.

The funny thing is, I actually write for Time Out, so you'd think I might be able to get the thing sent to me.

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Let's give this dog a happy new year!!!

Originally uploaded by kfoz.
This is, once again, Jambalaya, the dog whose photo appears in a lost pet poster at the front of THE DOGS WHO FOUND ME, and who, at the book's end, is shipped off to Ohio to find a new home. She's still in a shelter in Ohio, more than a year later.

She's also a bit pudgier than she was in this photo. Apparently the staff like to spoil her. They also say that she loves people, but would probably do best as the only dog in a home, or possibly with a male dog only.

Does anyone want to give her a new life?