Yesterday morning about this time I checked my email to find that a local doggie daycare person (actually, a suburban doggie daycare) had just emailed me to say that 99.5, our local conservative talk radio station, was having a discussion of pit bulls. And they were out of control. The female half of the team was saying that she wanted to go to a cock fight. I forwarded the email to a producer that I know at the station and she said, "Call in!" So I did. Now, the odd thing about all this is that I used to be a guest on the station fairly regularly, back when it actually had local hosts devoted to local issues. But they recently fired all the hosts and began airing Rush Limbaugh round the clock, with a few new locals hosting in between. And by new locals, I mean, literally...they brought people in from out of town to be the local hosts. As part of this transition, I went to roundtable meeting with all of the hosts and mentioned several of the organizations I'm involved with locally, including The Sula Foundation. I was pleasantly surprised that everyone in the room agreed that pit bulls can be great dogs and that owners are the ones to be held accountable.
So I began by telling the host how surprising it was to hear her stirring up her listeners with this completely new point of view. This did not go over well. We then talked about a horrible incident in Slidell, where two pit bulls got into a man's yard and attacked his dog. He then shot and killed them. His dog will be fine, and although some news reports claimed that the man had also been attacked, he apparently needed no treatment of any kind. Of course, whoever owns the pit bulls needs to be held responsible. Yet, their being allowed to roam stray is not indicative of all pit bulls. And, as many of us know, dogs do get into fights. So while I don't doubt that the man was terrified, and technically within his rights to defend himself, it doesn't mean that this is typical in any way. Except perhaps in the hysteria created by the media. (I also wonder how often these two dogs may have behaved in this way in the past, and how many times it was ignored, either by the owner, or even by authorities who might have received complaints. Some of my high school students have said that the two men involved have been in conflict with each other for quite some time, and that they doubt the dogs had much to do with it at all.)
So why do we only hear about pit bulls attacking, I was asked. And I began to answer, giving examples of media over reporting pit bull attacks and under reporting incidents with other breeds. And...that's when they cut me off.
So, later in the day, I headed up to the CAC for a tour of the Prospect 1 exhibits led by Dan Cameron. Prospect 1 is the newly established biennial, with over 80 artists from around the world on display in galleries and found spaces throughout the city. It opened a few weeks ago to seemingly little fanfare. I've seen a few of the outdoor pieces in my neighborhood, including a really awful piece that consists of a friend's house (often identified as derelict by critics from out of town) spray painted orange by an artist who didn't even come to town--she sent others to do her work for her. So, perhaps my expectations were low. But it was a free event for members, with drinks and food from Bayona, so I went. The food turned out to be a giant bowl of salmon dip with a small cereal bowl of chips for everyone to share. And Cameron's comments mostly dealt with how amazing it was that he pulled it all together, how impressed everyone has been with it, how outside of New Orleans people are talking about the city for the first time because of this....Uh huh.
But the art itself, is pretty spectacular. Of course I didn't love everything, but I did find nearly all of it fascinating. There's a house designed by a man in solitary confinement at Angola; an interesting three screen movie that is...well, surprising; A series of tapestries made from small plastic toys woven together; a large installation addressing an infamous New Orleans bar fire...
And that's just a bit of it. I'm going to have to go back. But if anyone has been wondering if it is worth the trip...It is. It definitely is.