Saxophonist John Doheny was born in Seattle Washington in 1953 but has spent much of his adult life in Canada, primarily in Vancouver and Toronto. After early experiences accompanying strippers in bars and cabarets he became a professional R&B sideman in the late 1970s, touring and recording with artists both prominent and obscure. In 1991 he returned to Vancouver and began a program of intense musical study, both in academe (Vancouver Community College, the University of British Columbia) and in the more informal area of performance. He asserts that "all human intercourse is either an opportunity to learn or to teach. Everything that I know about jazz performance (to the extent that I know anything at all) I owe to those players, teachers and students who have suffered to share the bandstand and the teaching studio with me." Since 2003, Mr. Doheny has been a permanent resident of New Orleans, Louisiana, but makes every effort to spend summers in Canada because "it's too damn hot down here then."

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Repeat After Me.

Occasionally I forget how much misinformation (or perhaps a better word would be un-information) gets passed around about our situation here. I just fielded a query from a friend in Austin, a guy who's visited the city many times before, wanting my take on the crime situation. I replied that from a tourist perspective, it's a non-issue. Most of the slaughter takes place, as it always has, over drugs and turf in areas of the city most tourists have no reason to go anywhere near. Dinerral Shavers, the second most prominent non-thuggery-involved victim of homicide this year, died in the 2600 block of Dumaine St., corner of North Broad, not an intersection most tourists are likely to see, even from a speeding car.

As I've said before, Helen Shaver's murder was given a high MSM profile because she was a nice white lady. I mean no disrespect by that, but it is a fact. Most out-of-town media couldn't resist spicing up the porno-violence quotient by referring to her neighborhood (the Fauxbourg Marigny) as a "quiet, middle class neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter." This is slightly disengenious (their house was actually more in the St. Roch area, which real estate interests have taken to calling the "New Marigny" but that would be best, and most kindly, described as 'transitional') and shows no sense of even recent history. I have friends who moved to the area 15 years ago and described it as a part of town some folks wouldn't even drive through. In recent years it's started to gentrify, and post-Katrina it appears to be going downhill somewhat (as is a neighborhood with a similar history, the Lower Garden District) but it's still better now than it was then by a long shot.

Bottom line, tourist areas like the Quarter, Garden District proper, and Audubon Park are about as 'safe' as they've ever been. Probably more so than in the 80s, when crack cocaine hit this city like a bomb.

For those of us who live here, this stuff is of concern because of it's systemic nature. The city is broke. The local monopoly utility (Entergy) is broke, and rather than receiving a federal bailout (as did Con Ed after 9/11) it is taking it out of it's captive customer's hides. Darlene and I got a bill last month for $271 for heating our house, which is more than my cousin pays for heat in northwestern Canada. The actual gas bill was only $40, but the 'gas purchase levy' (read 'bailing out our bankrupt ass' fee) was $160.

Meanwhile, the city has no crime lab, so cases often get kicked because physical evidence can't be developed. The DA is a grandstanding egomaniac racist who was sued pre-Katrina in federal court for firing every white face in his office. And don't even get me started on the "Danziger Seven." There's enough villains and incompetents, both black and white, to go around several times.

The most egregious line of bullshit though, the one that keeps getting shouted from the rooftops even by allegedly well meaning sob-sisters like Anderson Cooper, is that New Orleans was "destroyed by a hurricane." We were not "hit by Katrina." We were missed by Katrina.

Repeat after me. New Orleans was destroyed by flooding resulting from incompetently designed and faultily constructed levees which failed well below their design specs.

Designed and constructed by the Army Corps Of Engineers.

Federal. Agency.

You can rattle on all you want about corrupt Louisiana politics (no argument there) and lazy negroes on welfare in the projects (even though the vast majority of project dwellers were employed, at minimum wage service industry jobs) but the failure of the levees belongs to the feds. It's their baby. They broke it. They should fix it.

Here's a letter that appeared in the Hartford Courant. The author puts it all in a nutshell, including a particularly pithy jab in the last 'graph, which I've taken the liberty of italicizing.

" I take issue with the statement that "Katrina was proof that the levee system is unable to withstand the strongest hurricanes" [editorial, Jan. 11, "New Orleans Needs Leadership"].The Army Corps of Engineers built the 17th Street canal to hold a column of 14 feet of water. According to its own report, mistakes in design caused the concrete structure to unzip from its foundation under a load of only 4 to 5 feet of water. The identical design at the London Avenue canal performed nearly identically in its failure.

This acknowledged engineering failure was responsible for flooding tens of thousands of homes, including mine.It means the Army killed more U.S. citizens on American soil than at any time since 1865.Had these levees not failed, political incompetence at the federal, state and local level wouldn't be an issue.

To those who would ask "Why would you build a city below sea level?" the answer is the same as why I would snack on peanuts in an aluminum tube five miles above the Earth: It was engineered to be safe. Had the Army Corps of Engineers built the last Boeing I flew in, the wings would have come off halfway down the runway. And the spin would be all about the race and class of the people aboard at the time of the crash.

Mike MoserOrlando, Fla.
The writer is a former resident of the Lakeview section of New Orleans.

Comments on "Repeat After Me."


Blogger Haze Ablaze said ... (4:54 PM) : 

Repeat After Me.

Wait - who's this Me guy?

And why would he build a city below sea level?


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