Disenfranchised Citizen

Chicago, New Orleans and living a beautiful, angry life between the two…

Archive for the ‘Social Work’ Category

It’s a love/hate thing…now featuring GoatWhore!

with 2 comments

“Oh hell to the no…”

I woke up this morning in San Francisco, stumbled to the coffeemaker and then to my desk…and after turning on the computer, I put on the latest release by GoatWhore, one of New Orleans finest metal bands and leaned back in my chair. Coffee was good, not chicory good, but certainly Peet’s good. I heard shouting from the street, then police sirens and I turned the music up. I hear shouting on the street and police sirens every day, so much so that a lot of the time, they don’t really register and usually, that’s okay…

Today, I love San Francisco and am alright with not living in New Orleans. But yesterday, I was really annoyed with San Francisco and wished I could be in New Orleans.

This is the spectrum I drift across.

Oh, and the GoatWhore CD is called “Blood for the Master,” and it is crazy fucking good and imagine my surprise to hear GoatWhore mentioned in a recent episode of Treme…figures it would be the journalist from the Bay Area who wanted to see their show. But back to my point, what was my point?

Indecisiveness, that and 2001. And Albuquerque, yes, that’s my point…Albuquerque sucks.

But first, 2001 was a pretty big year in my life. I decided to leave Seattle and travel the country, writing. I wound up in Portland, Las Vegas, New York, the Black Hills, Los Angeles, but most important, this is the year I visited both San Francisco and New Orleans for the first time…and now in 2012, I’ve spent time living in both places.

The span I lived in New Orleans was pre-Katrina so rents were cheap. I worked 26 hours a week tending bar and this was enough to pay all my bills and go out, often. I didn’t really leave the Quarter much, where I lived and worked and I had a good time. Met a lot of good people and some not-so-good, but that’s to be expected. I was a bartender and the people who make up the service industry, at least back then were all drama, all the time. Kind of like living in a soap opera of who’s sleeping with who, who’s getting fired from where and who got beat up last night. I remember getting tipped with Saints tickets, with LSD, all kinds of fun stuff. Good times really, I enjoyed it. Funny to me that I had to move away to begin exploring the city more, leaving the Quarter’s comfy confines and heading Uptown, Mid-City or to the Bywater, the Marigny…wherever. But what I remember most about my time living in New Orleans, besides the amazing food and plentiful booze was that I was glad to leave…not because of any real dislike of the city, it was simply because I missed social work. I was unable to find a social work gig while I was in town and bartending, though definitely fun, was feeling overall pretty meaningless to me. I wanted to get back to work helping people and so I left for the Midwest, with plans to stay for a year and build up a nest egg before relocating again to San Francisco, a place where I may not have liked the culture as much as New Orleans, but it had the social work gigs.

And that’s what I did.

Did I mention GoatWhore’s new release?

Really good…and they’re playing One Eyed Jacks on November 19th. Do yourself a favor…go, and make me jealous for going. I won’t hate you…

Much.

Anyways…

So I moved out to San Francisco and stayed for about five years. It doesn’t have the culture of New Orleans and which culture is better would purely be a matter of taste, but I find mine more suited to New Orleans ease and friendliness and whatnot. Out here, people are less friendly, more isolated and really don’t appear to be having all that much fun. One of the bigger myths you might encounter is this idea of a progressive, liberal San Francisco and sure, there is an element of that, but it is not predominant. This city is about money. Greed. All the artistic freedoms so championed hides a big lie, being that the city is so expensive to live in the people who do live here as musicians or artists or writers really have two choices: live in a studio with two to three roommates or live in Oakland. Everywhere you look…every retail position, server, all the people who make this city run, they don’t live in this city. They commute in to serve the hipster-techies, the financial types and the oh so professional class. Even myself, with a good job…only way I can afford to live here is to reside in a small studio in one of the worst parts of town (worse being relative..I actually like it). But, the work I love to do is here. I have a job where when I get home at night, I feel satisfied and fulfilled for the most part and I have the time and a few dollars to do partake in that which I do enjoy. In a way, San Francisco is kind of like how New Orleans has become for a lot of people, post Katrina. The rents are so high, people can’t afford it. Property companies in San Francisco are buying up as many of the buildings as they can in my neighborhood, sometimes even sitting on empty apartments while they watch the rental market rate climb, then they hold open houses and charge each person thirty dollars to run credit checks, and a week later they’ll do it again, and again. On average, 20-30 people apply for each of these apartments, each time there’s a viewing. Do the math…

Yes, love/hate it is…the arts out here are something to experience…the art museums, all the concerts within walking distance, the scenery of the Bay and the Pacific Ocean, all the hills with their huge, majestic views of downtown or North Beach. Man, it’s really beautiful, especially if you ignore the police brutality in my neighborhood, all the tax breaks given to all the tech start-ups while the city cuts funding to social programs. That, and the drinks’ll cost you ten bucks, plus if you go to a bar with “Mixologists,” you’ll get some goofy drink with bacon in it for twenty dollars while everyone in the joint, mixologists and clientele alike take themselves really, really seriously.

Really seriously.

So yeah…it’s a love/hate kind of thing.

Just ask the guy who lives on the sidewalk in front of my building.

When I come home at night, he’s sleeping on cardboard. When I leave for work in the morning, he smiles and wishes me a good day and I like him, he’s one of the friendliest people in the City, but he’s got no home and I get it. The home he could have is an SRO room filled with crack, bedbugs, roaches, and other assorted predators. This is usually the housing solution for too many low-income people here and I get that it is the same most other places, but when your city lives on a bullshit myth of being “so progressive,” it does make the reality that much more glaring.

The spectrum:

I love New Orleans culture, the music, the history, the food…I can picture myself sitting down to a steak at Adolfo’s right now, or maybe lunch at Mandina’s, but there’s few social work jobs in town paying a liveable wage, plus I would more than likely need a car…and I hate cars. Cars suck worse than the San Francisco Police Department, or the NOPD for that matter. Meanwhile…I love San Francisco work, but the culture of this place is so much status, cliques and competition: two worlds of strikingly disparate haves and have nots. Ever see the Hunger Games? Think of all the regular people and the artists being bussed into Capitol City in the Hunger games. Hell, there’s a blog round here which pretty much exists to attack the unfortunate and a particular Chronicle columnist who seems to feel the best way to improve Capitol City would be a Wal-Mart in every neighborhood, built on the ashes of any non-profit and publicly naked person because you know, that’s just common sense.

Really, what an asshole.

Maybe there is a happy medium somewhere, but when I look at a map, that happy medium puts me in New Mexico, somewhere around Albuquerque and I’ve seen Breaking Bad…Albuquerque doesn’t look like fun: blue meth, bleak deserts and the plot lines get real complicated. So yeah, much ongoing in the thought process. Hell, there’s worse things to wonder about. I got a place to sleep, enough to eat and a job I enjoy. I just think a lot, probably too much at times…and I do plan to be up online more often from here on out, get back to the BP Spill…what? That’s still an issue? And more about San Francisco and New Orleans…two best cities in the country, problems or not…and GoatWhore. Much more to come about GoatWhore, spectrums, and the Saints, who won this morning.

Did you know Saints games start here at 10am?

Been a long time since I had a beer in my hand at 10 in the morning and now that I think about it, the last time was when I lived in New Orleans.

Ah, spectrums can be such dilemmas.

Have a nice day.

Today would be that day…westward.

with one comment

No, I can't afford to live in this neighborhood...pretty though huh?

By the time any of you read this, I will have left my comfy confines in the Midwest for a far more uncertain future on the West Coast…San Francisco to be exact. Got some money saved, a lot of social work experience, several contacts and possibilities and a 2nd job interview already scheduled for three days after my arrival…

Oh, and did I mention the San Jose Sharks are in the playoffs? If ur around, I’ll be at the Outsider on Geary Street watching the games.

Anyways, the past two years of writing this blog have been frustrating, fascinating and fun. I’ve met a lot of good people in the New Orleans area and plan to meet more. My change of scenery isn’t the end of this blog, however, it will be a bit spotty the coming weeks as I’ll be writing it on a shitty laptop over wi-fi connections until I get things all set up.

Furthermore…this cross country move will be my fourth of this type. Every previous transition has been one solely of great adventure, possibility and new experience…good things all, but this time it is bittersweet. Although it does contain that similar sense of thrill and excitement, it’s also tempered by sadness.

Those who know, know why.

Enough said…

Alright then, a couple of links before I go, for those not already in the loop…

Of course I will stay informed about all things New Orleans the next four days as I drive through Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Nevada and California…how can one not with Editilla around, putting together the New Orleans Ladder?

BTW…fuck Sean Pamphilon, what an asshole.

And of course I will stay informed about the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs by way of Fear the Fin.

BTW…fuck the Blues, Go Sharks!

So then, I’ll be looking forward to seeing you all back up here soon…and I’ll also be looking forward to May 12th, more than anything.

Have a nice day.

-Drake

So, this is the Tenderloin…San Francisco…

with 6 comments

Always liked the rain...

The Tenderloin: the TL, Little Saigon, the Loin, Tenderloin Heights…

Fifty square blocks or so wedged between San Francisco’s downtown Civic Center – City Hall, the courthouses and Federal buildings – and the main Shopping/Financial Districts with your Niketown’s, Apple Stores, Macy’s and rapists like Bechtel, the banks and their assorted bullshit…fifty square blocks crammed into the center of San Francisco that too many people of this city either try to ignore or take great pains to avoid.

Fifty square blocks that in my opinion, form one of the most interesting neighborhoods in the country…

Why?

Because, as a person, I don’t fit into a box…like so many I can be complex, conflicted and contradictory…and I never saw all these elements so put together and on display as the five years I lived in an apartment building at the corner of Turk and Leavenworth, and the affection I have for the place is one of many reasons why, one month from today, I’m moving back…

Oh…but it’s so rundown, so crime-ridden, drug infested and it smells like hella piss, don’t ya know…

Yeah, I know…

But I find it so much more vivid than so many of our American suburbs, or Home Depot homogenized cities, these monotonous places on a fast track to mass consumer conformity, so ugly that when one walks out the door, one knows precisely what headache one will get: a Burger King, a McDonalds, a strip mall Barnes, Bath and Beyond Noble Starbucks, and maybe a convenience store or two, a newly insatiable Wal-Mart and a few miserable, but shiny people walking quickly past you on the street, some hello’s maybe, so mundane, definitely… Things ain’t like that in the TL. In the Tenderloin, anything can happen, both good and bad and if you stay on the streets long enough, you’ll see all of that anything. Very few semi-lawless places still exist in this country, and take it or leave it, the Tenderloin is one of those last remaining, crumbling demonstrations of the best and worst of American culture and its consequences.

We got colorful street art covering whole buildings and public drunkenness stretched out for blocks…loud games of Mahjong played behind steel security doors and that guy, sleeping below an afternoon blanket strung between two stolen shopping carts…We got Vietnamese sandwich shops and human shit between parked cars. We celebrate great music at punk rock bars, drag shows at Aunt Charlie’s and classic bay window, SRO architecture. We vibrate with the neon signs, the gyrating strip clubs and the dimmest of dive bars, and not the trendy kind of dive bars either…but real honest to goodness dark and damp closets without windows or fresh air, stale and in need of repair and when the outside doors are propped open to the streets, we have a beer while watching some of the most interesting public observation the city has to provide. The TL’s got small neighborhood parks where kids play, and our people walk by chanting “klonopins,” or “OC’s” or “solids,” maybe we’ll see a fist fight on the corner, watched from a window eating cheap, but great tacqueria food. Maybe we’ll step past discarded hypodermic needles in the gutter or another lost soul hitting another crack pipe beneath his t-shirt, stretched over his head, too high to realize he’s not wearing pants while we listen to shrieking siren after siren after siren as the police race the one-way streets or the fireman jumps off the fire engine, races inside the SRO only to walk stiffly back out, grumbling as he gets behind the wheel and drives back to the station from this, another false alarm.

The Mitchell Brothers, O’ Farrell Street Theater and Behind the Green Door?

The Tenderloin.

The Compton Riot in 1966 that predates New York’s Stonewall?

The Tenderloin.

Tessie Wall, Sam Spade, William Vollman, the Nighthawk jazz club and Fantasy Records?

The Tenderloin…this place where there’s always something to see, hear or avoid twenty four hours a day…and though it is sometimes dangerous, it’s never boring and it’s an amazing place to be.

Oh, and I suppose it helps that I’m a social worker…

I’ve been in the field for twenty years, been everything from an adult crisis counselor to a mental health worker in shelters and support service hotels, doing the job by day while at night, I take in my surroundings on midnight strolls, emerging from my old apartment on Pill Corner and walking until three am…walking and watching and watching some more…and despite the neighborhood’s reputation, believe it or not, I was never terrorized, robbed, beaten up…

None of it.

In all those years of wandering, nothing ever happened to me, not while talking to the dealers I came to know while sitting and smoking cigarettes on the front steps of my building, or the odd corner conversation with those who live on the streets, maybe handing out a cigarette or joking around…I never even got hassled by the addicts I came to know through my work by day or the streets at night.

Sure, I spotted the precursors to a couple of robbery attempts: the baseball bat inside the trenchcoat on Turk near Jones, or the guy coming up behind me on Larkin, between O’Farrell and Geary while the guy in front tried stopping me for a light. Once I called 911 after the stranger I was talking to got jumped at Ellis and Hyde, and I waited around to make sure the ambulance came and hell, I even called in a body I stumbled across underneath the Moser Apartment overhang on Turk Street, right by the grocery store, the one owned by that cool Asian couple who let me borrow their hand truck when I moved…and that’s what I’m talking about…for all the bullshit reputations this neighborhood is forced to take on, the good stuff I’ve seen creates a more than equal balance. From the happiness of the toothless woman who begged change outside the Walgreens on Van Ness and Eddy, introducing me to her boyfriend, proudly telling me they were now engaged, to the guy I often spoke to out front of the corner store at Eddy and Leavenworth, telling me about his successful heart surgery…and I won’t soon forget the client I worked with at the shelter for just two weeks before he disappeared, only to have him break down and cry when I ran into him on the streets a year later outside Ken’s Kitchen at Polk and Eddy, emotional just because I remembered his name, and addressed him by it.

People.

They’re all people.

I don’t care how hard so many San Franciscans try to forget that basic fact, they’re still people.

The main newspaper in town, it loves to celebrate the occasional entrepreneur who raises himself up, out of the ashes of these streets, makes a success of himself and though these people should be celebrated, they shouldn’t be held up as a beacon to judge those not yet in the light. What about the guy who cries as you walk him into his first hotel room, the first place he’s been able to call his own in ten years. I’ve seen it…let’s celebrate that guy’s success too and let’s celebrate the people who made it through their haze, the needle or the pipe to get to another day, and another opportunity to do better, to be better. Yeah, celebrate them and don’t use the guy who made it shining shoes as an excuse to condemn those who pissed on yours. Rags to riches make a nice narrative, but they are the rare reality and surely not the benchmark with which to judge the rest of the Tenderloin, the rest of this amazing, colorful neighborhood.

Wanna know when you give up on an individual, for every poor choice he makes?

You don’t.

And wanna know when you give up on the Tenderloin?

Never.

Shit, you really want to fix these fifty blocks? Create jobs, lower rents, provide drug treatment, treatment, treatment… You want to get rid of panhandlers? You gotta do more than give people a room and call it a day…

That’s the reality.

The rest is just bitching from behind your closed, locked doors.

How can you give up on a place that is home to so many, and so unique, block after block of SRO’s and cheaper apartments, so many of which were built soon after the earthquake in 1906, and one of the few neighborhoods where low income individuals, families and for that matter, a social worker like me can afford to live…

And enjoy, and wander through and help to build…

It was my home a few years ago, and in a month it will be home again…and I couldn’t be happier about it…poetry readings at Edinburgh’s Castle, punk shows at the Hemlock and art shows at the Shooting Gallery…yeah, so the next time you find yourself in the TL, maybe having a beer at the Brown Jug, the 21 Club or taking in a Sharks game at the Outsider…

Take a look around, I just might be there…watching. Next to New Orleans, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be…

Have a nice day.

The hardest political choice…

with one comment

Yeah, I gotta hard choice for ya...

Compassion…

That’s right, compassion… I keep hearing politicians talk about hard choices, about tough decisions and being realistic…you know, their usual line and all of it typically means only one thing…but I’m getting ahead of myself here…

Let me start over…

So, few days ago I was blocking traffic on a bridge as part of a national day of action. Good time, didn’t necessarily agree with the tactic but felt it important enough to be a part of the overall message, the anger at the destruction wrought by income inequality in this country, the idea that people, wealthy people and corporations need to pay their fair share for a society they reap untold benefit from yet seem to feel they have little to no responsibility towards, this despite all the assistance they get, be it the use of roads, protection from the police, fire, maybe even generous financial subsidies from the government. Would seem pretty simple. If society goes to shit, wealthy people and corporations are going to be affected same as anybody else…perhaps not as severe but affected nonetheless. In any case, on the bridge, good feelings of doing something active, being a part of things and making a positive choice, myself and everybody else made a choice to be on that bridge…don’t know what everybody else gave up but I gave up needed sleep, some time to myself and it turned the better part of my day into a rush job so I could get back to work: third shift all night talking to and assisting people who have reached their end of it, either with thoughts of suicide, or actual attempts…and that night, like last night, like tonight…finances are a tremendous stressor and in these hard financial times, this is precisely when many people need help the most…but then, in between my time on the bridge and going to work I read in the news about how the mayor has passed a new budget, and surprise, surprise…the talk is about “hard choices,” about an “honest budget,” and while he and the city council talk solemnly about their honesty…they lie their asses off, either that or they are absolute bastards and either way, it doesn’t speak much to any of their character.

Why?

Simple…

Their “hard choices” meant they chose to close budgetary holes by attacking the needs of the poor and middle class.

These politicians chose to privatize city health clinics, thus ensuring fewer people get medical care and those that do,wait longer…all so someone else gets a profit and the city saves money. They chose to close half of the city’s mental health clinics, thus ensuring people with mental health issues either cannot get treatment or also must wait much longer. They also chose to lay off people working the 911 lines, this ensuring people who call for help, they too will wait longer…and they chose much more…higher city fees and penalties which will affect those of meager means far more than their wealthier neighbors…and by neighbors, I mean the people who live on the other side of town, far away.

These austerity measures are the politicians’ “hard choices,” for their “honest budget,” but in truth, there wasn’t anything hard about it at all. That’s just a vernacular they use at get togethers, or with the press to make themselves feel better for the damage they cause to real people.

You see, these politicians have been making these choices for forty fucking years and these politicians, and the corporations and the wealthy? They are the ones who benefit the most from these “hard choices.” Everybody else? Yeah, screwed just a little more, year after year after year…budget cut after cut after cut… The only way these choices would really be hard for the politicians who make them is if they truly cared about those who suffered as a result, but I would argue they don’t care, not really for if they did they simply wouldn’t do it. They would raise taxes, they would cut spending on subsidies for wealthy corporations, they would do a number of things that might even be the kind of hard choices to jeopardize their future electability…all in the name of compassion, and doing the right, moral thing.

Yes, compassion is the hard choice, the choice they are unwilling to make…and because of that people will suffer.

Some who are mentally ill will lose jobs, alienate family, abuse drugs and alcohol, or only receive treatment in prison where some will wind up as a result of their symptoms and what they do to alleviate them, which is especially sad as the city will pay more to lock them up then they would to provide treatment in the first place. Some people will die from physical illness or perhaps not go to the doctor until their ailments grow far worse and even more expensive, again to the city. Longer response time for 9-11 calls…again, suffering and some will die.

How many degrees of separation need to occur before these politician can sleep at night, distancing themselves emotionally from the blood on their hands as a result of their ballyhooed “honest budget?”

Hard to say, you’d have to ask the politicians themselves, but not just the politicians in my city, go across the country because these same decisions are happening nation wide and the same people are suffering as a result throughout the entire country.

Oh…but some will say we just can’t afford compassion anymore.

Yeah? Why is that?

I know…because for the past thirty plus years, politicians have been deregulating the markets, signing free trade agreements that are anything but, deregulating the banks and lowering tax rates on the wealthiest all so they can get elected, and as a result all the money that used to be used to pay for people, for compassion has been concentrated, hoarded, moved out of the country by the constituents these politicians actually do care about…the people who are not you or me and certainly not anyone who needs anymore help…They only really care about the job creators, those same job creators who aren’t creating any jobs…

And how long until this bullshit charade ends in the United States?

I don’t know…look in the mirror and ask yourself that question, because it really is up to you, up to all of us…and we’re all going to have to be patient in this fight because great change takes a long time…so if you’re game, settle in and let’s rebuild a nation that again gives a damn about the people living in it, and when this fight is over, it will be worth it…and if you have kids they’ll thank you for your trouble…everybody will except the 1% that loves it the way it is now…

Just a thought.

Oh, and on a more personal note…

Rahm?

You are truly pathetic and it’s easy to see how you were Obama’s chief of staff…the both of you only pay lip service to helping those who need it…especially around election time you lying sons of bitches…

And Boeing?

I lived in Seattle back when you played your corporate lottery to see which city would give you the sweetest deal for the headquarters of your corporate offices. Yeah just the latest company at the time to play community blackmail, thus forcing “hard choices” and “honest budgets” so you can line your coffers with blood money. You were a part of Seattle’s history and once a vital part of its community and identity, and you just betrayed them for profit.

Oh, and Twitter?

The progressive company…right. You threatened San Francisco with moving your company out of the city until they gave you a huge break on payroll taxes amongst other goodies that cost the city millions, all the while the city is forced to cut back on services, cut bus routes, cut, cut, cut…but hey, as long as you greedy assholes and frauds are getting wealthier…who cares, right?

Okay then, everybody else…

Have a nice day.

A day late and a dollar short…

leave a comment »

How Louisiana and California are linked, in mediocrity...

I know I said I’d be back on Monday, so I’m late, my bad… been doing some thinking this week about the website, reading the news, hanging out, taking a break…etc…and the one thing I can’t seem to get out of my head is this…

The number of people from Transocean, Halliburton and British Petroleum who have spent a day in jail as a result of the eleven people who died on the Deepwater Horizon is zero. Nobody either from the former MMS, nobody from any level of government who should have been watching developments on the rig, nobody.

The number of people from the financial industry who have spent a day in jail as a result of the 2008 recession and the ensuing financial destruction is zero. Nobody from Goldman Sachs, Citi, Wells Fargo, Wall Street, Lehman Brothers, the Lynch, etc…nor did any of the elected representatives who saw fit to decrease regulations or cut money from and/or turned the SEC into a revolving door agency for members from the same financial institutions previously mentioned…nobody went to jail, zero.

So who did go to jail?

Well, for starters…at last count, 3,362 Americans protesting the abuses of the banks, the financial industries and in no small indirect way the behavior of corporations like British Petroleum, their abuses, have gone to jail.

And I would argue this number is well on the low side…bad financial times leads indirectly or directly to desperate acts, both large and small, everything from petty crime to drunken driving, increased domestic violence to increased drug use…and on and on…how many people have wound up in jail who otherwise wouldn’t have as a result of the recession or the financial destruction that came with the oil spill?

Hard to say.

It would be understandable for an outside observer to suggest the rule of law in this country ends as soon as one reaches a certain plateau of wealth.

Just saying…

Ah, but what does any of this have to do with the site, and any upcoming changes? Well, the upcoming changes would be contained within the above paragraphs…

Understandably, I write about what is most on my mind, and my mind is mostly in a couple of places… Corporate malfeasance and their enablers, especially in regards to the oil spill and the corrupt financial industry, and all of their combined attacks on the American public…which is quite easily reflected in my affection for two cities…New Orleans, who suffered the breach of the levees and along with the rest of the Gulf Coast, the disaster of the oil spill, and San Francisco, where Bank of America began as one man with an outdoor table-top making small loans after the 1906 earthquake, and where the Koch brothers and their parasitical empire now creep from…

All of these aforementioned institutions and entities seem to be working their hardest to make each and every one of us at a dollar(s) short, to their own benefit….be they business or government.

So I guess one might say, the site will be officially expanding in its range of subject matter and upcoming, will be focused on two geographic locations…The Gulf Coast, specifically New Orleans and the Bay Area, specifically San Francisco.

Have a nice day.

Oh, and how ’bout them Saints? Next week…the Falcons…have  I mentioned how much I hate Atlanta?

Be back Monday…the trouble with the (personal) economy…

leave a comment »

2nd choice...

So, four months from now on March 1st of 2012, I am finally out of the Great White North and heading back to what I thought might be New Orleans. Would certainly make sense with all the writing I do on this site that this town is where my interests lie, and it is, but the damned economy…here’s the thing that keeps throwing rocks in my pool, floating the ripples so I can’t see so clearly through the water…

Louisiana, and New Orleans in particular which has been much spared by the recession and boasts an unemployment rate of 6.9% has essentially no social work jobs to speak of, or at least very few that would enable someone such as myself to be able to afford the rents that never seemed to go down all that much post-Katrina, yet in San Francisco, even though the city by the bay shamefacedly hosts an unemployment rate of 9.2% while the state of California struggles under its own 12.1% rate, there are social work jobs to be had, a few anyway.

So whereas I thought I would be able to head South, the ability to eat and sleep indoors may shove me West.

Needless to say this is disappointing and has led me to go on hiatus this week from the website while I figure out what this means both for me and for the website in general…

In any case…please excuse these more personal meanderings; just explaining an absence that maybe don’t need to be explained at all…

See ya Monday. Have a nice day.

-Drake

Written by Drake Toulouse

November 3, 2011 at 5:00 AM

And round and round we go…NOPD windfalls…

leave a comment »

"Oh I'm sorry, you thought I was listening?"

Ahem…for reasons of disclosure, let me start out by saying I am a social worker…I am a social worker but I am also not stupid. I’ve worked in some social programs in my day that were, shall we just say, not cost-effective. However, let me also say that those days were a long time ago. Things have changed in my field and now pretty much everything is cost-effective.

That’s what happens when there is no money.

Many Americans, over the past year or so, have been introduced to the term austerity, but in social services austerity has been the order of the day for close to two decades so this is why, when I read in the Lens about Mitch Landrieu’s budget for the city of New Orleans, it makes me want to steal a NOPD squad car and drive it straight through the front doors of City Hall to, you know, creatively air my grievances in a way the mayor might finally pay attention to, because apparently all them listening sessions he did? They didn’t amount to dick as he just wrote a budget doing the opposite of what the people, the citizens of New Orleans, suggested.

We heard folks at the budget meetings say spend less on public safety, but at the moment, we think it (spending more) is the right thing to do,” Landrieu said Monday in an overview presentation of his $495 million proposed 2012 budget to reporters.

Well, listening ain’t hearing, is it Mitch?

So though it will probably fall on deaf ears, let me try to explain a little something anyway, a little something about crime:

If you have a crime problem, and your solution to this crime problem is to cut the funding from every part of the budget that addresses social inequity, be it social services, education or whatever else…you will still have a crime problem. In fact, it will be worse, and if you then take all that money you cut and give it to the most bloated budget of every city in this country, to the police…well, then you will not only still have a crime problem, then you get a lost generation and a prison problem.

Why then a crime, lost generation and a prison problem?

Simple, if your only solution is to lock people up, you’re going to lock a lot of people up which then in effect, is throwing a lot of people away. In addition, social work ain’t the only place to become far too familiar with austerity, these same measures have long since ensured that in prison, there is no such thing as rehabilitation anymore. Instead of a trade or even a college education, all you get now is a criminal education and then people get out of the prison. They come back to your city where, because your mayor keeps giving all the money to the cops, there continues to be little or no support.

And then you still have a crime problem.

But hey, new cops in new uniforms sure do look good on the evening news and it’s something tangible a mayor can point to, puff out his chest and say, “Look at me, I’m doing something about the problem!”

Yeah, okay…but what the hell are you doing but perpetuating it? If I were to buy a shotgun and start driving around New Orleans and shooting homeless people, one might be able to argue that I am doing something about the homeless problem, but that don’t necessarily make it the right thing to do, and besides, then I might wind up in your cyclical non-solution to all things criminal in New Orleans.

Frankly, the simplest solution one can find to a complex problem ain’t necessarily the best way to go about it.

Call me crazy, but I’m thinking it’d be best to measure a city’s success in dealing with a crime issue, not by the number of arrests and convictions, nor by the length of prison sentences. I think a far better measure would be how many you were able to keep from committing the crime in the first place, by presenting them with opportunity to do something else, you know, give as many people as possible a realistic opportunity to display “personal responsibility.”

But yeah, I know…it’s a fuck of a lot harder to take a picture of that, to put crime prevention on the front page of the Times Picayune or to somehow fashion that into a bumper sticker to slap on the back of your car…

You know, before it gets stolen.

So congratulations Mitch, you’re now just like every other damned politician, offering a simple and ineffective solution to a difficult and complex problem…but hey…gotta fill Gusman’s bullshit jails somehow, eh buddy?

Read the article:

Despite community input, Landrieu increases NOPD spending, cuts most other areas

Have a nice day.

Written by Drake Toulouse

October 18, 2011 at 7:29 AM

An “adult crisis” metaphor for the economy…

with one comment

Politicians keep social workers busy...

Hey everybody…

So, the patient is wheeled into the emergency room on a gurney, after letting his best friend, George W Bush, talk him into slitting open his right wrist. He’s bleeding pretty bad, could die if the doctors don’t act quickly. Hearing the call, Dr. Obama rushes into the room and quickly stitches up the cut, but only a quarter of the way before going on vacation.

But the patient’s still bleeding, so the nurse rushes back to the break room where she finds Dr. Romney, Dr. Perry, Dr. BachmannDr. Boehner and Dr. McConnell. Hearing what has occurred, the doctors nod confidently to one another and go see the patient. They study the bleeding wound, then confer amongst themselves before choosing a new course of action, whereupon they quickly roll up the patient’s shirtsleeve and cut his left wrist wide open too. 

Finished, they jet off to Wall Street to party with the whores.

Have a nice day.

Pencils, not prayer…

with 2 comments

Hmm, a Texan with mediocre intellect and a more-religious-than-thou, post-fraternity mentality. I don't know, it all seems so vaguely familiar...

Sometimes, events just write themselves, such as this article at Think Progress…highlighting the two events in Houston last Saturday.

At Reliant Stadium, Presidential wannabe Rick Perry and 30,000 others got together and prayed for the lord’s guidance in solving both the nation’s problems and Perry’s seeming inability to not wear a suit that doesn’t choke his neck til his head looks like a well coiffed pimple before bursting.

Meanwhile, at Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center that same day, 100,000 people got together to get free backpacks and school supplies for their kids. They also received uniforms, haircut vouchers, immunizations, 20,000 boxed lunches and 25,000 three-pound bags of food.

Now word is, Perry wants to be President.

Reliant Stadium has a seating capacity of 70,000 plus and 30,000 showed up.

The Convention Center Back to School planners expected 25,000 and four times that showed up, so many they had to turn people away.

This might be what one calls the difference between public relations and fact: glitzy governors on big stages praying with people “who have lost hope,” versus the reality of the state, and the nation’s new priorities and the consequences thereof.

The people waiting in line that day for their kids, haven’t given up hope, they’re trying to hold on.

While Perry and his ilk, pray nobody pays attention as those same people have their futures looted by those seeking power, today.

Read the article:

Prayer rally dwarfed by Texans who flock to nearby convention center, desperate for free school supplies

Have a nice day.

Written by Drake Toulouse

August 9, 2011 at 4:13 AM

My first vote in 20 years…

with 2 comments

Making Jindal look like a humanitarian, one horrible, grinning speech at a time...

I haven’t voted in an election, local, state or national since the year 1992. I voted for Clinton. I felt it was important at the time to do so as I was convinced the GOP was working on destroying the things I felt were important to not only save, but bolster…but then Clinton went and did all the destroying: bombing Iraq, depleting the social safety net, the Telecommunications Act of 1996…just a few of his greatest hits.

Also back during this time, I’d begun reading Anarchist philosophy. The interest came primarily from the music I was listening to and soon I was reading Emma Goldman, William Godwin, Peter Kropotkin, Alexander Berkman…and as I continued to read, I also continued to watch Clinton move the political discourse towards the middle so that the centrist Democrats soon began taking the positions of Republicans…the philosophies I’d been reading became all the more important and reasonable, discourses on mutual aid, equality and toleration, a rejection of materialism and greed, the questioning of mass consumption at the expense of everybody, etc…

My friends back in the day, they looked askance at the books that soon populated my apartment…well, they kind of looked at any book that way but especially those books and despite my trying to explain that anarchism wasn’t a bunch of bomb throwing nihilists…(and really, bomb throwing nihilists would be a polite way of discussing people like Cantor, Vitter, McConnell, Walker and Boehner these days) my friends weren’t buying it. Besides, they all wanted to be at the bars anyway and whereas I used to be a part of that scene, I had been quickly losing interest, so instead I hooked up with the Autonomous Zone in Chicago and soon partook in the protests around the 96 Democratic Convention, also in Chicago. There I marched with thousands, lit bonfires in the streets, faced off against the CPD with their billy clubs and felt my new philosophies becoming more and more ingrained.

And I never voted again.

Why vote, participate in a system that had very little to do with any people I knew, or with reality, or with poverty? Voting to me was kind of like an atheist going to church, a fairly empty exercise so I preferred to let my discussions, my work, any and all volunteer activity be my political participation. It felt back then, and feels now today, more honest and sincere. Nobody likes to feel like a hypocrite.

Okay, so I did volunteer for three days with the Green Party during a brief stint in Seattle shortly after the WTO protests, but then I discovered what a crook Nader was so I quickly backed away from all that.

Anyways, anarchism still makes the most sense to me…I’ve heard all the discussions and arguments, but whether those around me find my beliefs to be feasable or not, it feels good to live according to them the best I can rather than trying to make them fit into a box they cannot, like when I considered voting for Kerry…or like these past couple of years watching one more failed Democrat like Barack Obama turn out to be only one more self-proclaimed hope and change artist who does no more than offer up the social safety net one piece at a time to appease a congressional minority, rather than just deep-sixing the whole thing like the GOP would prefer, and then calling this a decision he made according to his values. I suppose it makes sense, as its easier to betray your proclaimed consituency one bit at a time as opposed to wholesale, all at once. 

The man has no spine.

None, none whatsoever.

And because of this…I’m preparing to vote for the first time in twenty years, and it certainly won’t be for Obama. No thanks, I don’t feel things will really change until people get really uncomfortable and I think we can all agree that as the discussion continually moves right, then right some more, then the bankers get off for causing the recession, for fraudulently foreclosing on homes, for reaping enormous profit on the destruction of the middle class, and then the discussion moves right once again.

With the debt limit talks, the GOP says no new taxes, all cuts. The Democrats say lots of cuts and a couple of new taxes? Please? Pretty please?

Here’s what Obama, during his press conference, should have said, but of course did not. He really didn’t say much of anything, except to duck and dodge and appear to try and keep the doors open for more Democratic appeasement.

Had enough of all that.

So, now it would appear if I really want things to change, I’ll be forced to hold my nose and vote for the first time in twenty years.

Vote for Michelle Bachman. Goddamn right.

I think the time has come to really do something radical…to drive this country into the ground as quickly as possible. Essentially, kill it off in one fell swoop, rather than this slow death of failed appeasement that appears to be the Democrat’s way.

So bring in Michelle.

At least then, once its all over, the real work can begin. Then maybe we can all get together and have a conversation, plot the destruction of those who’ve become so consumed by the gathering of wealth, they decided that all of you, all of us were expendable in the process. So yeah, I’m voting. After all, President Bachman has an interesting, horrific doomsday ring to it.

The way I see it, the coast of Louisiana and the rest of this country doesn’t have any more time for the slow end. Time to start over. So who better to bring it to the brink then Bachman…in fact, that should be her campaign slogan: “Bring it to the brink! Vote Bachman!”

Or not.

Okay…maybe not.

I don’t know if I can actually go through with it: voting for her or voting in general, but hey, it’s a thought…

Have a nice day.

PS…if interested in anarchist goings ons in the NOLA area, please check out Nola Anarcha

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 218 other followers