three ways to help painlessly

We should all be helping out the Katrina victims, of course. Aside from my ill-fated (detailed below), I sent some money to the Red Cross and to the displaced employees of WWL (corporate sister to my employer) and the Times-Picayune, and I spent an hour yesterday afternoon accepting donations from passersby downtown.
But here are three relatively painless — enjoyable, even — ways to do your part:
1. Buy Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol’ Box Of New Orleans, a four-CD set of the best music New Orleans has had to offer over the last century: jazz, blues, Cajun, zydeco, R&B and funk. The tracks were selected by none other than Chuck Taggart: Los Angeles DJ, ex-New Orleanian, reader, and all-around great guy. Artists include Fats Domino, Dr. John, Rebirth Brass Band, BeauSoleil, Buckwheat Zydeco, Earl King, The Meters, The Neville Brothers and Louis Armstrong.
Says the Times-Picayune: “More successfully than any previous compilation, [it] captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music.” Says Scott Jordan, boss man of The Independent (and another crabwalk reader!): “The best collection yet of Louisiana music.” Detroit Free Press: “Excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated…New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don’t know what it’s like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand.”
And the best part: The record label has agreed to donate all profits from sales through 2005 to the Red Cross. See, easy way to help!
2. This one’s for Dallasites: The Angelika is having a benefit viewing of A Streetcar Named Desire, the New Orleans classic, on Monday, Sept. 12 at 7:30. Get tickets via a minimum donation of $10, all of which will go to the Red Cross. As Blanche DuBois said: “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Info at 214-841-4712.
3. Drink a New Orleans cocktail. The Museum of the American Cocktail is sponsoring a Save New Orleans Cocktail Hour between 5 and 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 12.
They’re seeking bars all across the country to help, so everyone, go to your favorite bar over the next few days and ask them to participate. (I just sent an email to the Meridian Room.) Drinks will be sold for $10 and all proceeds go to support the bartenders, wait staff and other service-industry folks in New Orleans left homeless. There’s even a drink recipe page for those who don’t know how to pour a Pimms cup or a Sazerac.
This is, of course, only fitting, because New Orleans is the birthplace of the cocktail.
Finally, just to set the mood for your donatin’, have three Louisiana-themed songs. If you like ’em, give big money to the Red Cross:
– A solo piano version of Louisiana 1927 by Randy Newman. Recorded live on KCRW back around 1997. “Rained real hard and it rained for a real long time / Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline / The river rose all day / The river rose all night / Some people got lost in the flood / Some people got away alright / The river have busted through clear down to Plaquemines / Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline / Louisiana, Louisiana / They’re tryin’ to wash us away.” The historical basis for the song is detailed in Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.
Big Chief by Professor Longhair. A more New Orleans song by a more New Orleans artist is difficult to imagine.
Louisiana Style by Tab Benoit, Louisiana blues man. Featuring Jumpin’ Johnny Sansone on accordian. I have fond memories of seeing Tab at Mid-City Lanes sometime around 1999.

wilmer-hutchins, r.i.p.

While my home state is slowly dissolving, some pretty big news on a familiar front to crabwalk readers:
The Wilmer-Hutchins school district is being put out of its misery. State Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley announced Friday that the long-troubled district will cease to exist July 1. Its boundaries will be merged into the Dallas school district – which is already educating Wilmer-Hutchins’ students, since Wilmer-Hutchins can’t afford to. The commissioner’s move – which awaits federal approval – closes one of the most traumatic chapters that a Texas school district has faced. The district saw two indictments of its superintendent, the forced ouster of its school board, a widespread cheating scandal and a complete financial collapse.”

new york, new orleans, san francisco

From 2001: “…earlier this year the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranked the potential damage to New Orleans [from a hurricane] as among the three likeliest, most castastrophic disasters facing this country. The other two? A massive earthquake in San Francisco, and, almost prophetically, a terrorist attack on New York City.”
If I’m living in San Francisco, I’m a little nervous right now.


I’m so glad that this cop will find time to watch DVDs in between rescue missions. Asshole.
“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” stated Repent America director Michael Marcavage. “From ‘Girls Gone Wild’ to ‘Southern Decadence,’ New Orleans was a city that had its doors wide open to the public celebration of sin. From the devastation may a city full of righteousness emerge,” he continued. Asshole.
House Speaker Dennis Hastert dropped a bombshell on flood-ravaged New Orleans on Thursday by suggesting that it isn’t sensible to rebuild the city. ‘It doesn’t make sense to me,’ Hastert told the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago in editions published today. ‘And it’s a question that certainly we should ask’…’It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed.'” Asshole.
And from the web site of Louisiana’s official racist, David Duke (, I don’t even want to honor it with a fucking link): “New Orleans descends into Africa-like Savagery!…One African-American was stopped by a TV news reporter. Carrying an armful of new designer jeans he was asked by the reporter if he was trying to save the inventory of his store. With a big toothy grin the looter replied, ‘This store be everybody’s now!’…The news reports from this morning on the WWL-TV website report that in their quest to loot, gangs of rampaging Negroes even raided a nursing home full of sick and infirmed elderly…I recently reached by phone a police officer friend in my home city of Mandeville, a community that has had tremendous wind and water damage, no electricity, no phone service, no alarms functioning, etc. He told me that there have been almost no incidents of looting or robbery of any kind. Mandeville is about 96 percent White.” Asshole.
Sorry, but everywhere you turn, there’s another fucking asshole.

harassing nye

Not that I ever had reason to, but when Nye was working on my college paper with me, I never would have picked him out as a guy to harass. Dude’s 6’3″, 220, and strong. (He always seemed even taller than that — maybe that was the rollerblades he was always wearing.) Which is why this seems to bizarre. fallout

What a strange 24 hours.
As the last post says, I launched yesterday morning, around 2:30 a.m. By the time I woke up, around 8:00, I had CNN on the phone asking me to do an on-air interview the next morning. I also had visitors pouring in at the at-the-time-unbelievable rate of 1,500 an hour.
People were posting about their conditions and their loved ones — heartwrenching stuff in many cases. I was happy, because the site was fulfilling its purpose. There were a few other similiar sites set up at about the same time, but I think that was the largest of the independent ones. (Sites set up by the Times-Picayune and WWL-TV were probably the same size or a bit bigger.)
Anyway, I was frustrated when the site started crashing around 9:30 a.m. I wrote to my web host — which, for the record, is not the crappy one I recently tossed to the curb — to complain. The server ended up fixed, but it failed again a couple hours later. When the site was up, it was grindingly slow. I was a little mad.
Which was dumb. Because, as it turns out, I was the one crashing the server. Because was drawing in an absolutely insane number of hits.
In the end, my host — completely reasonably — had to take the site down. Turns out the site was on pace to pull in 84 million hits in a single day. (To put that in context, here’s a note from my host: “Companies like have 60 load-balanced web servers, a large staff (and they spend 40 million a month) to do 20 million a day without issues. Yahoo’s Sept 11th memorial 3 day ‘event’ did 64 million hits over 3 days, took months to plan, was done on 500 servers and was fully staffed. That’s the kind of traffic that showed up here.”)
The wholesale bandwidth alone for a day’s traffic on was going to be $18,000. The site was generating 1,000 requests to the web server per second right before being shut down. (Again, from my host, “Wikipedia for example does a 1,000 requests/second on a 64-server cluster with about a dozen of those being squid proxy caches.” I don’t know what a squid proxy cache is — although it sounds totally awesome — but Wikipedia’s 64 servers compare quite favorably to the one server was on. And it shared that server with hundreds of other sites — among them.)
So — what now? The terrific people at Textdrive are working on a few possible routes to bringing it back without melting servers and emptying my 401(k). May have word soon. I’m hopeful. But I wanted those who used the site to know I’m sorry it disappeared, and that I’m working to bring it back.
(FYI, CNN called late last night and cancelled the interview — presumably because they realized there was no site left to talk about.)