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Feb 232017
 

Patrick Armstrong

There’s an old political science phrase called the “tragedy of the commons.” This is a dynamic that states any public resource that can be used by everyone will be overused until it is exhausted and no longer has value. Way back in college, a professor described it in terms of cows. There was a field of grass owned by the townspeople and anyone could graze their cows there until their cows became too fat and ate all the grass. Or something. It was always a difficult concept for me to grasp when put in a bovine context, because what town has a bunch of people who own individual cows? Continue reading »

Feb 202017
 
Skyline

Photo by Bart Everson

Tearing down vacant warehouses to make way for apartments alongside the Lafitte Greenway.

Bart Everson is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband, a father and a resident of Mid-City. He is a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana, past president of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle. More at BartEverson.com.

Feb 132017
 
Photo: at the Women's March

My wife and a friend at the Women’s March in New Orleans. Thanks to the random stranger who took this photo, whoever you are.

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History will record that Donald Trump’s presidency was greeted with massive protests worldwide. That is, of course, if any historians survive and are allowed to write anything approaching the truth. Here in New Orleans, the Women’s March on the day after the inauguration drew somewhere close to 15,000, surely the largest demonstration in our city, ever.

This is a good thing. We need more protest in this country. Protest should be a widespread part of our general culture. Unless, of course, everything is OK. (It’s not.)

To reach the epic levels we’ve seen over the last month, it stands to reason there must be plenty of fresh blood in the mix. Many people protesting have never done so before in their entire lives. I know at least one such person. I bet you do too. Maybe you even are that person.

This also is a good thing, a very good thing. It’s inspiring to me. Seeing so many people out at demonstrations, marches, protests and rallies, I get excited. Surely revolution is imminent! I got so worked up after this last round of protests, I almost felt optimistic about the future for a moment.
Continue reading »

Feb 072017
 

Patrick Armstrong

What does the bumper sticker slogan say? “New Orleans – 3rd World and Proud of It?” That sentiment may be fun on a snarky souvenir, but I lose the joke when it is made at the expense of so many individuals living in our city. What may be enjoyed by some tourist looking for an authentic weekend experience in a gritty New Orleans neighborhood takes on a very different meaning when we think about the living conditions of the neighbors who live there every day.

Too many of our New Orleans neighbors live in conditions that are not fit for human habitation. That’s why I’m glad to see New Orleans City Council working on the Healthy Homes ordinance. Most of you may know it as the Rental Registry. Continue reading »

Feb 062017
 
Banks Street Bike Lane

Photo by Bart Everson

I’ve been biking down Banks with my baby for years. We love the new stripes. Our only question: What took so long?

Bart Everson is a writer, a photographer, a baker of bread, a husband, a father and a resident of Mid-City. He is a founding member of the Green Party of Louisiana, past president of Friends of Lafitte Greenway, and a participant in New Orleans Lamplight Circle. More at BartEverson.com.

Jan 302017
 

Former Gretna mayoral candidate William Boartfield and Green Party Presidential nominee Jill Stein working for flood relief in Denham Springs. (photo by Miranda Murray)

bart-everson-headshot-2013

Can we talk about Gretna for a moment? I rarely get over there, as crossing the Mississippi River on a bike presents challenges, but there’s clearly some cool things going on. Two musical heroes from my youth rocked Gretna Fest in recent years: Joan Jett and Blue Öyster Cult. Plus, as I recall, there’s a store that still sells unfinished furniture made from solid wood, much appreciated in these days of particle board and plastic.

However, there are also some things that are decidedly uncool. Gretna has a policing problem. The online publication Fusion recently reported that it is the “most arresting” city in the country. That is, Gretna arrests more people per capita than any other city. In one year, they may arrest over 6,000 adults — this in a town of only 18,000 residents. Kind of astonishing. Continue reading »

Jan 162017
 
Cloud Formation New Orleans 2003 (photo by Bart Everson)

Cloud Formation New Orleans 2003 (photo by Bart Everson)

As I draw on to the end of my fifth decade, I’m feeling reflective. Indulge me in a little reminiscence, and by all means come to my birthday party.

Stone Cold 97

bart-everson-headshot-2013

My fourth decade kicked off with a knock-down, drag-out, protracted dispute between my father and me. We worked through many longstanding resentments and misunderstandings in counseling sessions that went on for the better part of a year. As part of the deal, we both agreed to swear off drugs, including alcohol and tobacco but not caffeine or cough syrup, thankfully. Continue reading »

Jan 022017
 
I'm your groove thing.

I’m your groove thing.

As I draw on to the end of my fifth decade, I’m feeling reflective. Indulge me in a little reminiscence, and by all means come to my birthday party.

A spiritual quest

I celebrated my 20th birthday in 1987, just as I began my second semester of college at Indiana University in Bloomington.

I found much to love about the academy. Here at last was a community of mind, a place where all manner of ideas could be explored. I took an eclectic array of classes, studying whatever seemed interesting: religious philosophy, linguistic anthropology, comparative literature, semiotics, folklore, Latin, Chinese, Asian-American literature, criminal justice, 3D art, bass guitar. I even took an accounting class to humor my father, who was after all footing the bill. bart-everson-headshot-2013

If I had little regard for how my studies would lead to a degree or a profession, it was because I wasn’t focused on the future. I felt I didn’t have a future. I had come to see society a monstrous, self-perpetuating machine, fueled by the souls of the hapless humans who had invented it. I was on a spiritual quest, as many young people are — a search for meaning in life.

For a while I thought romance alone could supply that missing value. Yes, I had a girlfriend, but she dumped me after a couple years, and I learned I was not immune to the pangs of jealousy. Continue reading »

Dec 152016
 
The frozen north.

The frozen north.

As I draw on to the end of my fifth decade, I’m feeling reflective. Indulge me in a little reminiscence, and by all means come to my birthday party.

The insufferable nerdiness of being

At ten years of age, I was a big nerd. Big? Sure, I was almost five feet tall. But the true magnitude of my nerdiness was measured in other ways.

Other kids wanted to be firefighters or race car drivers. I wanted to be nuclear physicist. I could tell you anything you wanted to know about electrons, protons, and neutrons. My 4th grade science fair project on atomic fission won a blue ribbon. bart-everson-headshot-2013

I had 50 cents to my name, which I kept in a little safe labeled Fort Knox. On the side of the safe, I had one of those molded rubber fridge magnets, a yellow one picturing a lightbulb, with the slogan, “Whatever Turns You On.”

It was the 1970s, after all. I made ten in ’77, the same year the Sex Pistols came out with Never Mind the Bollocks. But I didn’t know anything about that until later.

I was into planets and space exploration. When the rings of Uranus were discovered in March of ’77, that made my diary. When I discovered a discrepancy between our textbook and my Dad’s Time-Life encyclopedia regarding the number of moons orbiting Saturn, I confronted my fourth grade science teacher. She just stared at me.

A huge, insufferable nerd. I haven’t changed much over the years.
Continue reading »

Dec 092016
 

Metal detectors at the entrances to the French Quarter? I can only imagine what Santa Claus and his merry elves are going to think when that wish letter makes it to the North Pole. I reckon they’re going to take another hit off the ole eggnog and talk about just how crazy they all think we are. It never fails to surprise me the mental gymnastics some folks will do to avoid coping with a serious public safety issue directly. There are real answers to our real problems that don’t involve some TSA checkpoint to get onto Bourbon Street.

Patrick Armstrong

Patrick Armstrong

Have you ever participated in an online comment thread about crime in New Orleans? If you have, you’ve probably figured out why we still have such a crime problem in New Orleans. Most of the solutions offered in those internet think-tanks include a lot of science fiction and fantasy that are equal parts unaffordable or make a mockery of civil liberties. That’s before we get to the dark conspiracy theories about all the things NOPD command and the Mayor’s Office are supposedly doing instead of fighting crime. Continue reading »