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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


Home of the Barking Moonbat


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

First plagiarized paper down

Not even thirty minutes into grading. Jeebus.

Here goes

I just returned home with a mountain of final papers.

I've had my dinner (a truly sumptious mix of organic greens which were on sale at the grocery --- unbelievable, i cleaned them out for nothing!) (which reminds me, I tried sprinkling them with a few coriander seeds and, oh. my. GOD., was it good) and downed a large glass of primitivo wine to calm me sufficiently ...

... and I am now off to the races. I have to be done by Friday morning. Imbelievable! They changed when our grades are due, which means I may not be getting a wink of sleep until Saturday.

So here I go ...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

An Osage Christmas Greeting

Courtesy Carl Hasthay.

It must be good luck because the minute it arrived in my email box, it began raining here. A good thing during a record breaking drought.


Let the drinking commence

I'm on the last leg of tabulating final grades. I pick up the last batch of papers tomorrow --- I plan to have them graded by Thursday and all grades tabulated shortly after. No monkeying around or cogitating on them this time around. They get what they get, and I get my sanity in return.

The Gumbo Diaspora, con't: Movement and Revival

Shortly after Katrina, I began seeing Louisiana license plates everywhere here, in part because so many evacuees were being housed locally at Camp Gruber, Cookson and Fort Smith.

And despite my better self, horribly selfish thoughts began bubbling up --- in particular, I suddenly realized this meant a potential migration of Cajun and Creole foods to this area. Sure, there's a Cajun butcher who's been working up at the little store down the road. Which has meant real gumbo every Tuesday since I first discovered the store. However, we can't live on gumbo alone now, can we?

So I've been patiently watching and waiting for that first sign of the first Cajun or Creole restaurant. And my efforts have been rewarded.

Some evacuees have just opened their doors in Tahlequah, officially moving their restaurant from New Orleans to Tahlequah. A group I work with will be having their annual dinner there in the next week or so. I can't wait.

But food isn't all that's migrated to this area. We're now getting editorials in the local newspaper written not just by an evacuee --- but a trombone player. And not just a trombone player --- the organizer of Tahlequah's first ever second-line parade. And not just a trombone player and organizer of Tahleqyah's first ever second-line parade --- but a wonderfully savvy and straight shootin' writer.

Now, I don't know if this is Chris Lewis' first editorial in our paper. I suspect it isn't --- I've seen a number of New Orleans related editorials at the paper but, to be honest, just couldn't bring myself to read them. My feelings of helplessness and outrage have been almost mind numbing. And truth is, I haven't felt as if it is my place to speak words for the victims. They have to find their own words and not allow me --- or anyone else, for that matter --- muffle them with our speculations and rage and horror.

And Mr. Lewis has proven to me my instincts to keep my yap shut were right. He's kicking a few asses around, he is, and doing it with style.

So here it is. I'm copying it in full because the paper it's in only keeps articles in its archives for a week or so. Mr. Lewis, kick some ass!

New Orleans, Katrina and racism: A Superdome survivor's take

Was it racism? Racism has become so cloaked in political correctness in this country that it becomes hard to tell. Some might argue this point, but I believe there existed a simpler time in this country when racists called you a “nigger,” and there! It was out there. You knew where you stood, they knew where they stood - oftentimes rope, tree, mob and all.

But today, in our new politically correct, affirmative action, rope-free reality, where separate but equal has given way to equal but separate; where a black man can live next door and share tools with you but he can't date your daughter; where a black man still can't get a cab in New York City; where in the papers, pictures can be shown of hurricane victims leaving stores with goods to survive, and the whites are called victims and the blacks looters, the line has become more veiled.

In today's world, it appears lynch mobs don't form. They use acts of nature and inefficiency to do their work. Take New Orleans as a prime example.

As a former resident of not only New Orleans, but Jefferson Parish and the Superdome (during Katrina), I can honestly say ignorance existed on both sides. But while ignorance on the black side of things basically constituted crimes of pettiness (theft, vandalism, inconsideration, grift, public drunkenness, drug abuse, assault and just being a general ass about things), on the white, or authoritative, side of things, people died - by the hundreds. Levies were blown, neighborhoods were lost, a city was brought to its knees and struggles still to rise.

At present (not to the credit of its citizens but because Louisiana needs the cash), even now, bodies washed out to sea, hundreds missing and unaccounted for, bodies yet to be discovered, a Mardi Gras is being planned. And though I, myself, and my bandmates (Of the Second Chance Second Line Brass Band From New Orleans), paid homage to the lost in Tahlequah a few months ago, New Orleans itself has yet to do so. I find that objectionable - intrinsically wrong. There have been those who've called New Orleans a “haunted city.” I feel it could never be said truer than it can be now, with so many souls yet to be laid to rest.

Was it racism? Not in the traditional sense. I think it was inefficiency allowed to run amok due to the apathy toward those left behind. Many of those considered less than intelligent for having stayed were, in fact, simply too sick, too old, and too poor - myself included - to have motive, means or opportunity to leave. Those who rendered those judgments never thought to ask why someone might stay behind in a disaster zone, aside from ascribing such behavior to either simple stupidity or stubbornness.

That same apathy allowed those who controlled mass transit - on an urban, suburban and national level - to move the transports out of harm's way but to allow those who pay for transit almost daily to remain stranded. The same apathy allowed the leaders of those municipalities to suspend bus service in outlying areas, while offering free bus service at the last minute to anyone who could make it to only certain locations, to the relative shelter of the Superdome.

But I can't just blame the politicians, especially the locals. I've met Ray Nagin on two occasions, once at a funeral for a mutual friend and again at the Superdome on Day 3, after the storm, when FEMA first appeared and disappeared in little over an hour, not to be seen again until well after we reached out of state shelters. He was a man coming to grips with his new reality. He didn't have the National Weather Service, NASA, the Hubbell telescope and whatever else the federal government had at its disposal. All he had was his experience, which, in this case, was nil, and the governor and the president to back him up. He got screwed, like we did. He listened to Gov. Blanco, who listened to President Bush, and (as the saying goes) “hilarity ensued.” But what followed and continues to follow people like me is far from funny. And now, as the holidays approach, families - still splintered with members still lost, displaced and with members missing in action - have only what our federal government has bestowed, which in some cases, amounts to naught.

In most respects, I was lucky. I was in the middle of a move; I took the most important stuff and sealed it in a closet in my second-floor walkup and duct-taped the door. I salvaged it a month or so later, and my family is safe. I found myself drafted into a band with men I think of as the brothers I never had by blood, and gained a certain amount of notoriety from that, and helped the Red Cross help others of my evacuated brothers and sisters along the way. I met good people, like Chuck Cissel, curator of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame (thereby discovering there was indeed a Oklahoma Jazz Hall Of Fame - which I was completely unaware of), and the mayor of Tulsa, Bill LaFortune, (who, by the way, is a pretty cool guy, for a Republican). The good people of Oklahoma, mostly white folk, took me in and gave me a place to stay. I found a job, and I've even started my own fledgling business, Flights Of Fancy LLC. In all things I have been truly blessed.

So where, might you ask, does my outrage come from? The ones who got left behind (both actually and metaphorically). Tragedy does a lot of things, most of them bad, but the one positive thing it does is shake loose apathy. It breeds compassion - ironically enough, mostly in the uninvolved. While in Louisiana, it was almost as if we were stripped of our citizenship, and in a very true sense, declared outlaws. It wasn't until we crossed the state line that it seemed to be restored. And as we crossed the distance, that reaffirmation became more acute. Make no mistakes, however, for every person uninvolved who helped us up after, there were those in the ‘Dome: gang bangers, drug dealers, Joe Schmoes, and John Q. Publics, anonymous in the crowd. People upstanding folks would consider either beneath them socially or would escape their notice entirely actually stood up where other more “upright” citizens became what they previously abhorred. I know this to be true, because I was both. The aloof, “upstanding” type, and in time, one who found himself shoulder-to-shoulder with people whom I previously shared no commonality, or bond. Indeed, people I felt an inherent need to avoid throughout my life, to save the lives of those fallen because, again, ironically, they were the ones who stood up while others fell morally and socially by the wayside.

This point in human history was truly a remarkable place to be stranded in. And while I personally am glad it's over, I know in many ways, for many of us - because of the trauma; the unrecoverable loss of irreplaceable loved ones and items of sentiment and true value; the surrounding ambiance of death; the memories of incompetence, injustice, callousness, fear and despair that still claw at the sleep, hearts, minds and souls of many of us - it can never be over.

Was it racism? Was it apathy? Was it incompetence? I think, be it one, two, none or all of those things to you as an individual reader, what it should be to us all, as a people, is a wake-up call.

- - - - -

Chris Lewis is a New Orleans evacuee who stayed for a time at Camp Gruber. He played the trombone in Tahlequah's “second-line parade,” and currently lives in Tulsa.

Monday, December 12, 2005

There's a bee in the house

It's the middle of December and there's a bee in the house.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

As for our current political state of mind ...

I dunno ...

Part of it is burnout, I know.

Part of it is the simple need for survival --- I have a lot of things I want to do, so I need to live a very long time and I have to find ways to do that without becoming yet another booted to the street scraggly grey haired old lady living in a cardboard box. So much of my energy is going to that.

But part of it is also some disenchantment with many progressives.

It comes as no surprise to me, for example, that progressives would rather listen to dolled up fellow progressives speaking in terms they understand than to real live Indians. The Ward Churchill matter was proof enough for me, but I've run into it in even more noxious terms in recent months.

That strikes me as emblematic of many of the problens with liberalism in today's world. It's also a key reason why so many Indian people I know consider themselves totally unrepresented --- and have no love for liberals.

This has really turned me off. If progressives can't get the simple message that they need to listen to the actual people, be they poor, Indian, whatever, instead of clownish knockoffs of the real thing, what's the point really?

And isn't this proof that while Republicans have come to be representative of only the wealthy, then Dems and progressives have become representative only of well educated suburban whites? The Latte Drinking charge?

In other words, I find myself finding myself with less and less in common with many progressives.

But I still hold progressive values and still believe a liberal agenda is much less texic to our wellbeing than the extremist Republican agenda.

But I'm still cogitating on it all. So that's why I just don't have a lot to say about it all right now.

Admission: I haven't taken a bath since last Tuesday night

And I've been sleeping in the same clothes --- an ancient velour black turtleneck which I've always favored because it makes me feel like a beatnik and the quasi-fashionable grey running pants --- , in other words, my beloved threadbare painting clothes.

It has nothing to do with depression, although that's the typical reaction I get whenever I do this.

It has to do with the mission quality of my life right now. Everything Is A Mission. Every Move I Make Is Purposeful.

On Wednesday, I canceled all my Friday classes, floored the car home and put my painting clothes on. I then began painting, determined to finish before classes begin again in January. I moved furniture from one side of the room to the other then back again then to the middle then to the kitchen then to the hallways. I've been teetering on ladders, pulling cans of beets and tart red cherries (unsweetened) off shelves, slapping paint here and there and everywhere and back again.

I've been painting to Kurosawa's Ran and Seven Samurai, as well as Supersize Me!, Igby Goes Down and the first I, Claudius.

Now the noxious pink walls which had infected my life, which had overstimulated my exhausted neurons and stem cells with all their red redness, which had created a horrible hellish "hotness" to my entire home --- now, nearly all of it has disappeared under layers of sedate, neutral, appropriate, pedestrian Navajo White.

I'll admit, I was sorely tempted by the color schemes in Meet The Fockers. I even have cans and cans of shocking pinks, darings blues, glaring greens, sueded oranges and worse, all purchased for $3 over the last year off the reject paint shelves of the local Lowes.

But the pink was so bad, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I settled for painting the kitchen cabinets a pleasant palish blue-green, a very old fashioned color which if you look closely enough, you can see in various rooms throughout the original Peyton Place.

The movies are the only place to find great color schemes.

The rest of the wild paints will go to painting much of the extremely pedestrian but functional furniture I've acquired in recent years. Most of it prefab and functional, but dullsville, man, seriously dullsville. So the steel topped cabinet which I use to make coffee and tea and to chop garlic and squeeze lemons and oranges and when they're in season ruby reds from Texas is fixing to be transformed from the silliest faux wood (except its steel top) to dashing red and bright blue and screaming yellow and some pink and green, too.

But that's not all. Even better, the heavy drapes I got for energy conservation which looked so good in the store and are made of a gorgeous almost Turkish kind of woven fabric but which acquired an almost imperial quality once up have been replaced by handsewn barkcloth curtains made with fabric I've been purchasing for two years now, just because. Because I really liked this fabric. You see, some of that student loan repayment money I've been putting aside has actually been going to one of my secret passions: cool fabrics.

Today in celebration of only having two more rooms to paint, including a tiny bathroom which I will go ahead and paint wildly maybe although I'll probably repaint again maybe --- today, I'm taking a bath and washing my painting clothes.

And tomorrow, I start it all over again.