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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 »

Nov 282016
 
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.

slope

Earliest intimations of artistic pretense. The author took this pinhole photo of a snow-covered slope on his grandparents’ farm in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, circa 1974 (Bart Everson).

Out of Oklahoma

I was born in January of 1967, two days after the first Super Bowl in Los Angeles, and I was named after the Starr player. However, I was not born in California. A couple weeks later, in New Orleans, the first Endymion parade rolled. However, I was not born in Louisiana. I was born in Oklahoma. I was baptized in a church in Tulsa at the age of twelve days.

War was raging in Vietnam, but I knew nothing of that. There were over a hundred and fifty race riots across the United States that summer. And they called it the Summer of Love.

In the midst of all this, my parents moved from Tulsa to Norman, Oklahoma, so my father could enroll in grad school at the University of Oklahoma. He wasn’t worried about getting drafted. He’d already served in the peacetime army in Germany. In fact, he was able to attend college full-time because of the G.I. Bill.

That fall, while my father worked on his MBA, hippies levitated the Pentagon, part of the largest antiwar protest in US history. bart-everson-headshot-2013

Around the time of my first birthday, the Tet Offensive began. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on television; I would watch many episodes as I grew up. There was a general uprising in Paris in May of ’68, about the time my father finished his degree.

That summer, we moved to a suburb on the south side of Indianapolis. My father had gotten a job at a major pharmaceutical company headquartered there.

Cops beat protestors at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and Nixon was elected president.

Humans were venturing into space, and we landed on the moon when I was two. We gained a new perspective on the Earth, one which we are still struggling to assimilate. Continue reading »

Nov 212016
 
Third District Commander Gary Marchese walks through the Third District station (via Youtube)

Third District Commander Gary Marchese walks through the Third District station (via Youtube)

Last Thursday night I attended the NOPD 3rd District NONPACC meeting. NONPACC stands for New Orleans Neighborhoods & Police Anti-Crime Council, and serves as the monthly after-hours meeting between citizens and their police district command. Out of the many public meetings you can attend in New Orleans, I continue to find NONPACC meetings among the most informative and important. Depending on the Commander sitting at the table, they can also be among the most accessible meetings for citizens. 

Patrick Armstrong

Patrick Armstrong

The reason I feel this way is due in no small part to former 3rd District Commander Gary Marchese. While I am a relative new face at these meetings, having attended for less than a year, it was easy to see that Marchese had invested the time and effort building a positive atmosphere among the longer-term attendees. Understanding law enforcement policies and procedures can be heavy lifting if someone isn’t patient enough to explain things to you, and Marchese was great at patient explanations. If he didn’t have an answer immediately, Marchese was always good about finding out and getting back to you. Even on the hardest of questions, the Commander didn’t get flustered or frustrated with the folks who were asking, and there are a lot of hard questions the NOPD gets asked. I know I added my share.

But you build community trust in law enforcement by answering those hard questions honestly, and working through the hard answers together. Marchese never shied away from that, and it showed at 3rd District. He retired from NOPD earlier in November, and I hope the hardest question he has to answer from here on out is “would you like to see the dessert menu?” Congratulations on your retirement, Commander, and good luck with whatever is next. Continue reading »

Nov 142016
 

The first results came in from Indiana, my home state. Us grown folk were not surprised, and we knew the final results would be different — or so we thought. bart-everson-headshot-2013

But my eight-year-old daughter was dismayed. As she contemplated the prospect of a Trump presidency, she wondered, “Why am I worried about studying for my math test if the world is about to be in an apocalyptic state?”

(I can’t even tell you what the ten-year-old neighbor boy said, or the Secret Service would be knocking on his door.)

Now that we’ve seen how it all went down, many of us are sharing her anxiety. The apocalypse is here, it seems. The sky is falling, only this is no Chicken Little fairy tale. It may feel like a nightmare, but this is for real. Continue reading »

Nov 072016
 

“Politics in New Orleans is the dominant industry.” – C. Ray Nagin

Patrick Armstrong

Patrick Armstrong

There’s been a huge increase in early voting participation across the country. Political scientists have this or that theory about what is going on, but if my friends’ social media profiles are any indication, I know a bunch of people voted early because they are sick and damn tired of hearing about this election. Family members and old high school friends have muted each other on Twitter to keep their respective ranting to a minimum. Yard signs were skipped this year because getting into it with the neighbors just wasn’t worth the trouble.  A few folks took a long weekend, and went off to the woods where signals wouldn’t reach their cellphones.

These friends and family of mine sent their absentee ballot in, or waited in line at their county clerk’s office, cast their vote and promptly tuned out the wall to wall news and internet memes that have clogged every avenue of our national information arteries for the last 18 months. They’re more done than that sausage you forgot to take off the grill at the tailgate and now the dog ain’t even interested. Over it doesn’t even begin to describe their emotions.  Continue reading »

Oct 312016
 
A voter "cheat sheet" from some New Orleans Greens. More details at lagreens.org/news (Bart Everson).

A voter “cheat sheet” from some New Orleans Greens. More details at lagreens.org/news (Bart Everson).

I’m excited about this election. Aren’t you? No? I keep hearing how people are sick of politics this election cycle, but I’m excited because my name will be on the ballot — right near the top.

I’ll get to that in a minute. But first let me start at the bottom. Continue reading »