Friday, November 28, 2008

Jefferson Parish, Lift Your Weary Head

The number of trailers remaining in New Orleans and surrounding areas is quickly dwindling. According to FEMA, on September 20th, there were still 2650 trailers remaining, with 716 of them residing in Plaquemines Parish. FEMA has made it clear that they desire trailer-dwellers to seek permanent housing since June of 2007. Their optimistic stance, which is, essentially, "They can find their own housing and maybe get government assistance or help from non-profits" does not sit well with me. How, exactly, are they supposed to rely on government assistance when, over three years later, people are still without the necessary funds to rebuild? Funds that they were promised, I might add. In Jefferson Parish, 260 trailer-dwellers filed lawsuits, but now, after so many trailers have been hauled away, only 52 lawsuits remain active. It won't take much longer, at their current pace, to simply "get rid of the problem" all together.
Citing pressure from civic officials, Jefferson Parish has stepped up its efforts to get rid of the remaining trailers and sweep the problems under the rug. It seems that Jefferson Parish's president believes that governments run on hopes and dreams instead of legitimate urban planning. Without informing people where help can be found (as if it exists to begin with), many of these people will find themselves without any sort of housing and no way of acquiring any in the near future. I'm sure, in the eyes of civic leaders, having an increased homeless population will really add to their sense of normalcy that they so desperately desire. Perhaps it's to give peace of mind to those that weren't effected or had the means to rebuild. Perhaps a better use of their time and resources would be to try to get a handle on their incredibly high crime rate or, perhaps, to help businesses rebuild so people have employment. Any of the things I outlined in my last post would also be fine ideas as well. So kudos to you, Jefferson Parish civic officials, you've continued to show us that special interests are more important than human dignity.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

One Crime At A Time

While I acknowledge the efforts being made by the district attorney's office, the inspector general, and the chief of police, we have to understand that the problems of society cannot be solved in a way that people think they can. If there are an increased number of burglaries in a certain area, for example, we may think that stepping up patrols around that area will solve the problem. We'll increase the likelihood of catching the criminal, right? Hypervigilance will not solve crime, nor can hopes and dreams. So what does solve crime? Understanding, intimately, why the problems exist to begin with will allow us to proactively solve the problem. So where do our problems begin? In our economies. Weak economies lead to higher crime rates. Cities that have less unemployment, smaller homeless populations, and fewer abandoned or condemned buildings generally experience less crime.
When we were in New Orleans, we were reminded on a regular basis that government assistance was slow in coming. Getting rid of the bureaucracy would alleviate a lot of the problems that homeowners are facing, not to mention a restored sense of normalcy. Additionally, we can give landlords tax credits and grants to rebuild abandoned and condemned properties. Also, we can increase New Orleans' capacity for social work to make those that are homeless employable again. Whether that's through vocational education or simply by offering psychological help, we can take an unskilled workforce and give them skills, like carpentry or bricklaying. These things would have a relatively short training period and make them available to work on a team fairly quickly. At the same time, they can use the money they get from their job and put it to use on further education, such as business management or construction management.
I realize that the infrastructure doesn't exist and it takes time to put this infrastructure in place, but if members of government would choose to understand the problem instead of trying to throw all of their resources into fighting it, they would be more motivated. In the end, it may become more economically responsible to understand the problem. Remember the "War on Drugs"? We've poured a lot of money into that. What about the "War on Terror"? How much money have we blasted away on that without any results? What about AIDS in Africa? We've thrown a lot of money at that with very little results. Why have these three things failed? Because we refuse to acknowledge what the heart of the problem is. All the money in the world couldn't fix those problems without understanding them on a base level.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

His Sign Read: Will Sell Organs For Framing.

I find it very unfortunate that frames for square images are impossible to find. Is the square not special enough? I always thought it was hip to be square. At least, that's what Huey Louis said. Was he incorrect? Did he misspeak? Perhaps. I suppose anything is possible. Now, I know some of you may be thinking, "Oh Ryan, why don't you just cram it into a 24x30 inch frame?" Should I have to compromise? I don't think so. I think it's utterly ridiculous that I should have to be held down by everybody else in the world that don't shoot square format. Mark my words, I will be Unchained (Capitalized as a reference to something else. If you can guess correctly what that reference is, I'll give you a piece of candy.) and transcend the world's rectilinear idea of itself. I rather like the uniformity of equal matting on all sides of the image. Does that make me unreasonable? I hope not. All I can say is that, for what I paid, they had better be the best damn frames I've ever laid my eyes upon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I've been cranking out prints for the photo essay portfolio and for the gallery show the last few days. I was sweating bullets the other day when I was using a newish box of sheet paper that had the sides curled up a bit on both sides, due to the fireplace being on and raising the humidity in the air. Necessity is the mother of invention, though, and I popped the box in the fridge for about a half an hour and that settled the paper down enough for it to be usable. I was a little surprised that such a plan actually worked. Looks like printing from home really did pay off, aside from the other obvious benefits, like being able to print in your pajamas while watching Law & Order. Hopefully, I'll have the prints dropped off at the framer today or tomorrow. Woohoo!