Saturday, April 14, 2007

"Sharing Dauphine" on the New Yorker.com--and other fact-checking adventures

I make a brief appearance in Dan Baum's New Yorker diary of living in New Orleans. Because it is the New Yorker, there was a lot of fact checking involved. "He says you are neighbors...would you say that is true?" "He says you wear hip glasses." But they didn't really let me change anything that was strictly complementary.

Meanwhile, over at the NOLA.com Forums, there have been a lot of fun rumors floating around. Chiefly, that I don't actually live here, that I live in Holy Cross, and therefore shouldn't have an opinion about anything. There are about five people posting under various names on that board, and they are mad at me, because I blogged about a condo development that is controversial. The main reason for the controversy, aside from the absurd enormity of the project, is that the developer of the project has a strange resistance to discussion of the impact the project will have on the community. She's the kind of person who talks a lot about how much she wants to listen, if you know what I mean. Two weeks ago, she presented the final plan to the Neighborhood Association, but as soon as that info was shared with the public, she insisted it wasn't truthful. A strange tactic. So then she distributed a fact sheet on the project, but avoided mentioning square footage or parking.

Meanwhile, there is stakeholders committee for Riverfront Development. The state has already raised issues of conflict of interest, and there is a real effort to appear to be taking input from the neighborhood. Our representatives include the president of the Neighborhood Association (that makes sense), another board member representing the non-existant Bywater Resdient Association, and yet another representing the Bywater Improvement Association, which also doesn't exist. This last representative of Bywater actually lives uptown on Calhoun. But apparently the representative who is perceived as being the central source of information on our neighborhood is an executive from Aveda Cosmetics, whose only connection to the area is a plan to open a beauty school at the Rice Mills, in a private project being developed by...the guy in charge of Riverfront Development.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Pit Bull Owners Sue Denver

I've mentioned before that Denver has an idiotic and ineffective ban on pit bulls and any dog that anyone thinks looks like one. A group of pit bull owners are now suing the city--I've met at least one of the people involved. I've met her dogs. And, considering the crazy atmosphere out there, I kind of feel like I need to say that they are now living in an undisclosed location.

Here's a link to the story in The Denver Post. Unfortunately, the unsigned story contains the kind of misinformation that characterizes most reporting on the issue, which is one of the many challenges we face in trying to address the real problem of irresponsible owners. For example, it quotes the CDC study that found "pit bull type" dogs resposible for a chunk of attacks. But the CDC itself states that the study was flawed, inconclusive, and should never be quoted for the purpose of supporting any kind of breed ban. No matter, they quote it out of context anyway. They also quote the city lawyer who says something about pit bulls attacking like sharks. Time to send him back to vet school. Oh, that's right, he's not a vet, he's a lawyer.

Another error is the number of pit bulls seized under the ban. They quote a figure of over a thousand in two years. I've been told its more like over 2,000 in one year.

This stunning cottage is ready for a complete renovation

I continued my insane search for a house yesterday. In the 700 block of Alvar, I looked at a double that was on the market for 139,000 and listed as having some roof damage. It has a blue roof (also known as a tarp) from the hurricane. The roof was never repaired. In two rooms the ceiling has collapsed from the rain and the insulation is hanging down. The carpets are soaked. In the two kitchens, the garbage has been removed but every surface is stained with mildew or mold. I didn't get close enough to really check.

From there we went to another double, on St. Claude Avenue across from St. Roch Market. Another foreclosure, this one is listed at 160,000. Someone had begun renovations on this one. Their shoes are still inside, with the paint samples and ladders. But no work was ever completed. There are no floors in either bathroom--you look down at the dirt. In the small yard, a shed is crammed full of furniture. In every room on one side of the double, there are yellow tags scattered on the floor. They are mattress tags. The kind that say it is against the law to remove. And the mattresses were "refurbished." What was going on here after the storm?

And we see a really nice, restored house with a back porch and a yard, listed at 165,000. It is on North Robertson, between Poland Avenue and the Industrial Canal. The other houses on the street are abandoned, but the area is made up mostly of warehouses, so even if the neighborhood "comes back" there won't really be any neighbors. The view from the front porch: the side of the post office and a highway ramp.

Meanwhile, at tonight's neighborhood association meeting (7pm at Holy Angels) we are supposed to hear the new plans for the icinola development. I'd provide a link to their site, but its been down for several days, by coincidence, I'm sure. (Update: now it is working.) So the only link I can find is this one. Essentially the project will include 105 loft style apartments, and 37,000 sf of retail, for a total of more than 200,000 square feet. That's the same square footage as Riverwalk and twice the size of the casino downtown (although the casino has a lot of empty air space). They will have to move several historic homes out of the way, and rezone the area. They are hoping to limit the parking by encouraging people to use mopeds. But somehow I think people who buy new condos will want a car when hurricane season comes.

Monday, April 09, 2007

The Beagle Who Bit Me


dogsihavemet, originally uploaded by kfoz.

This is proposed cover for my new book. I've been promised that it will not be the final cover. And I really hope that is the case.

The image would be great for a greating card, but it is a bit hokey and sweet for me--and for the content of my book. But the real problem is that people who love beagles might pick up the book, assuming there are beagle stories inside. And there is one--about a crazy beagle who mauled me in New York City.

I'd suggested a plain yellow mutt. No dice. Then I urged them to consider a gorgeous shot of Brando by the same photographer that did the cover for The Dogs Who Found Me. No answer yet on that.

What do you all think? Let's take a poll!