New New Orleans: The Big Future

Okay, New Orleans is flooded out. Most of the city will be uninhabitable for months. Contamination from ruptured and damaged chemical and industrial storage facilities will probably turn sweeping areas of the city into a Superfund site for years. Initial estimates to restore the city are running at about 25 billion dollars; I think that's probably highly optimistic.

Maybe it's time, rather than thinking about restoring New Orleans, to think about replacing it.

And if we need to replace it, why not go for the big picture, why not go for... the future?

Why not go for something like... this?

An arcology. A self-contained city in a single building. Utilizing a variety of alternative energy sources (solar, wind, atmospheric diferentials).

"But that's not New Orleans!" you cry. No, but it doesn't have to be.

One of the things about this particular arcology idea, Ultima Tower, is that it's built in a lake, to provide water and cooling. Like say, Lake Pontchartain?

You could build the tower in Lake Pontchartain. Most of the original New Orleans would be dismantled. What would be left would be the "classic" areas, Bourbon Street, etc, and probably the rail and shipping facilities, the heavy industry. The tourist areas would be, basically, a theme park. And there could be high-speed transit lines between the tower and New Orleans Classic, for workers and for tourists. New Orleans Classic could either be protected from future floods by a high coffer dam, or possibly by having the entire area jacked up above water level. (Either would be a large project, and expensive, but a lot easier than trying to preserve and protect the entire city.)

Of course, "build an arcology" is a simple thing to say. In reality, as always, everything takes longer, costs more, and doesn't work as well as originally planned. (Just how many years has Paolo Soleri's mini-arcology, Arcosanti, been "under construction"?) An immense project like this, with this much money involved, would be a graft and corruption magnet. And since so many New Orleans residents live at or barely above the poverty level, would the inclination be to build the tower "on the cheap", with substandard materials and facilities? Would New New Orleans end up as a low-income housing project on steroids? Would the environment and ecology of living in an arcology produce new social customs? Would those new customs displace the traditional jazz-booze-Big-Easy traditions of the original city?

I don't know, but the possibilities might make, at the least, for some interesting science fiction....


Guest Writer: James Patrick Boyne

From Smirking Chimp's comments, in response to this article, James Patrick Boyne compares himself to George Bush, Cowboy Rancher:

I'm just like Bush. I'm a cowboy and I live on a ranch.

I live in a little 3 room apartment in an urban area of Connecticut----but its really a ranch. I call it a ranch and I think of it as a ranch and I use Krafts Ranch Dressing all the time too.

Its not 1600 acres like Bush's ranch but it is about 1/80 of an acre or about 792 square feet if you count the foyer (the entrance to my ranch).

I know its a ranch because my wife always yells, "Will you clean up the fuckin' ranch", so it must be. Not many tumbleweeds, or coyote, or praire dogs around here but last year we had a drive by shooting------it must have been one of those cowboys thinkin' this was the OK Corral.

There's an open field about 35 miles from here with two cows in it. Sometimes on a nice summer day I drive there and get out of the car and go over and pet the cows. I like to walk in the cow shit and get it all over my Florsheim Wingtip shoes so i feel like a cowboy. My wife won't let me in the house when I get home. I like the cows. I live on a ranch. I'm a cowboy.

I wear a cowboy hat just like Bush. And cowboy boots, and tight jeans and a big belt buckle, just like Bush. I like to sweat under the armpits just like Bush. It shows I like hard work. Hard work makes you sweat and I sweat, just like Bush.

Bush likes to cut trees that have already fallen with a chain saw. He always seems to need about 6 big guys with him when he uses that chain saw. Where do you always find six big guys when you want to chainsaw a big tree that has already fallen? I have a chainsaw but my wife says I have to bring it back to the store because there are no trees around here, only telephone poles, and she said I'd get in trouble if I tried to cut down a telephone pole. And I dont think that I could find 6 neighbors that would want to help me cut one down, especially with drive by shootings going on in the neighborhood.

How come every time Bush chainsaws a tree a camera crew always arrives? A camera crew is never allowed to show him mountain biking nor does a camera crew ever show him eating at the kitchen table, or watching TV, or writing, or reading, or talking with Laura on the front porch, or nothing else on that ranch. He is always just chainsawing trees that have already fallen down. I never ever hardly see any standing trees so where do all the fallen trees come from? Maybe they have them trucked in just so he can be filmed chainsawing a tree.

I tried to drag a small tree into my apartment, I mean my ranch, because I wanted to chainsaw it and my wife had a shit fit.

I'm a cowboy, just like Bush.

Cowboys like outhouses. Flushing is for sissies. So I constructed an old outhouse and placed it in the corner of my kitchen so I could take a shit, just like a real cowboy, in my very own outhouse, on my ranch, I mean my apartment. Wifey says it's got to go, or I'll never get another meal made in that kitchen of mine.

I'm a cowboy. Just like Bush. He's my idol. I voted for him because I like his big belt buckle.

I'm born again, just like Bush. I even started to drink heavily just so I could stop just like Bush. I even snorted cocaine just so I could stop just like Bush (but not before I cooked my brain, just like Bush).

I talk to God all the time. And HE talks to me. Just like Bush. I carry the Bible all around with me. Thats why I got fired. My boss said I was neglecting my work. I told my boss that I was just praying for the fallen heroes and those who had given the ultimate sacrifice. My boss said, "Thats fine, but you're fired." I said back to him, "Fuck you," and he replied, "Up yours."

Its fun being just like the President.

Well, gotta go, gotta oil up that ol' chain saw and sharpen the teeth on it. Never can tell when a tree may come by and 6 big guys will show up to help me and all the local news stations will arrive with their cameras so I can get on the Nightly News.

I wonder how Bush arranges all that? Do you think he gets up in the morning and Karl Rove gives him a call and says, Hey George, we need you to go out and saw a tree with your chainsaw? I just called CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, FOXnews, PBS, the History Channel, National Geographic, and the Animal Planet and they will be out this afternoon to take a 15 second shot of you chainsawing a tree.

And whats with the background scenery at Crawford of the giant round bales of hay, the old fence, the tractor, and the old unpainted barn that looks like its about to fall down? How come all the TV achors all stand in the exact same spot. The tractor never seems to move and that hay has been in the exact same positon for 5 years now. And I've never seen a single soul in the background either coming out of or going into that old barn. Where is that place? Is it real or is that just a giant picture in a sound studio somewhere back in the White House? I used to have a scene like that that was really wallpaper. It covered the whole wall and when I stared at it I got the feeling I was really on a ranch. Hey, I think I'll get another one. I'll surprise my wife for her birthday.

My wife's name used to be Jennifer but I made her change it to Laura. I call her Laura all the time. She hates it, but shes getting used to it. When we make love I blow in her ear and call her "Laura" and tell her she is my little own "First Lady". When I introduce her to people I call her my "my bride", just like Bush calls Laura.

My dog's name used to be Abby. I changed it to Barney, like Bush's dog. Even though it's a German Shepard I tell everyone its a Scottish Terrier.

My son's name used to be Billy. I call him Karl now. He's only two, but he'll understand when he gets older, I told him. He looks a little like Karl Rove. I shaved his hair off.

I always wanted to meet Dick Cheney. He's my idol. Whenever I meet anyone, whether it be in the bank, at the supermarket, at the gas station, or at the unemployment office where I pick up my unemployment check, I always say "Hi Dick". They just look at me funny. My favorite all time quote of Dick Cheney's was when he told Senator Pat Leahy to "go fuck yourself" so instead of saying "good morning" to people I just say "go fuck yourself".

Anyway, I'm just like Bush and I live on a ranch.

More of James Patrick Boyne's work can be found at pulsetc.com.


Simple Salmon Cakes

As an antidote to our previous post, here's something I whipped up for tonight's dinner:

Simple Salmon Cakes

6oz can of salmon
1 egg
1/4 cup bread crumbs
2 Tbsp minced green onion
salt, pepper, garlic to taste

Combine all ingredients. Take about 1/3rd cup of mixture, put it into a medium-hot skillet. Use spatula to form into patty, brown on both sides. Makes about 4 salmon cakes.

I served these with boiled potatoes, seasoned with butter, parsley & dill, and a salad. Pretty darn good, if I say so.

Worst... Recipe... Ever?

At a yard sale a few days ago, I picked up a copy of a 40-year old cookbook, CULINARY ARTS INSTITUTE ENCYCLOPEDIC COOKBOOK (1964 edition), thinking it would be interesting to see how it compared to more modern cookbooks.

So, when I flip open the book at random, the very first recipe my eyes alight upon is:


I won't print the full recipe (but if you insist, it's reprinted several places online, such as here), but basically you make two ground organ meat pastes, one with bologna & mayonnaise and the other with liver sausage & mayonaisse. Sounds real healthy so far, doesn't it?

But wait! You put down a layer of sliced bread on a baking sheet, spread the bologna mixture on it, top with more bread, spread the liver mixture on that, top with another layer of bread, and then... SPREAD THE ENTIRE "LOAF" WITH BUTTER.

But wait, there's still more. On top of the buttered "loaf", you put alternating slices of yet more bologna and liver sausage. Then bake the entire thing for about 30 minutes.

I don't even want to think about what the fat and cholesterol content of this dish must be. I have the mental image of entire 1960's families keeling over at the dinner table from cardiac arrest.

There's an accompanying photo in the book; I'll see if I can scan it and include it here. Fortunately it's in black & white; I think seeing the finished object in living color would be the stuff of nightmares.

Liver Sausage Bologna Loaf Posted by Picasa

- - - - -

So how was the rest of the cookbook, after that?

Umm, interesting, in a time capsule kind of way. Very, very few ethnic recipes, and the few I spotted in my skimming and skipping around were generally a)not identified as ethnic, and/or b) Americanized versions. Most of the few "Mexican" recipes call for using green peppers, rather than chiles. And the only "Chinese" dish I could find was Chop Suey, which isn't.

There's a list of calories/serving for many ingredients, but nothing about fat or sodium content. And under "Requirements For Good Nutrition", it includes "Bread and Butter: At every meal."

A list of coffee bean varieties makes no mention of "Arabica".

The section on parties and entertaining seems overly labored and elaborate, even the subsection on "Informal" entertaining.

On the positive side, this is a big book, over 1,000 pages. If it seems dominated by the worst of the "Midwest" cooking style of the 1950s, nonetheless there are some recipes included that sound not only promising, but actually good. (Particularly some of the dessert recipes.)


Poets, Peace and Postal

From a recent e-mail from Poets Against War:

Also, PAW supports a mailing campaign that has been organized in
support of Cindy Sheehan. The idea is to write her a postcard a day, inundating
the Crawford P.O. Please send to:

Cindy Sheehan
Crawford Peace House
9142 East 5th Street
Crawford, TX 76638-3037

It is important to include all 9 digits of the zip code. The Crawford Post Office is not delivering mail that does not include all 9 digits.
[emphasis added]

Several thoughts come to mind about this:

First, I think it's great that Cindy Sheehan and (growing) company's camp-in on the road to Bush's ranch is generating public discussion and news about the wisdom, or lack thereof, of our war in Iraq.

But... "inundate" the Crawford PO? You know, poets are supposed to be good with language; they're supposed to be able to choose the proper word, the accurate word. But what "inundate" says to me is to wash over, to cover, to drown. What the e-mail seems to be calling for is to generate so many postcards coming into the Crawford PO that the office will be unable to handle the load.

What "inundate" makes this sound like is a Denial-of-Service attack, via snailmail rather than email. Is that really what PAW is trying to do? I hope not. I hope it's just a poor choice of words.

The Post Office, in Crawford or otherwhere, is not the anti-war movement's enemy. No means of communication is, ever, the enemy.

Now, people who make policy for those means of communication might be. If someone in the Crawford post office (a supervisor? station manager? Someone higher up the chain, outside of Crawford?) has issued a directive that mail for Crawford Peace House will not be delivered without a full 9-digit zip code... well, that's just despicable.

The job of the Postal Service is to deliver mail, not to restrict the delivery of mail to particular (politically incorrect) destinations. Whether the mailpiece has a Zip code with 9 digits, or 5, or none at all. Period.

But to "inundate" the Crawford post office with a blizzard of postcards? That just dogpiles the clerks who have to process the extra mail, and the carrier who delivers that route. It doesn't do shit towards hurting the people who made the questionable policy. And thousands of postcards, however nicely written and phrased, won't really do anything to help out the Crawford Peace House.

You really want to help the Peace House? And piss off the persons trying to restrict their mail delivery? Use a regular envelope, not a postcard. Write a thank-you note for their support of the camp-in, and put it in the envelope. Then write out a check, and add it to the envelope. Seal and mail.

(And don't forget to use all 9 digits on the Zip.)

(And by the way, if you're interested, I have a couple of poems of my own in the PAW archives, from 2003, just before the US invaded Iraq.)


IS MY BLOG BURNING? -- #17 Roundup, #18 Theme

Updates on the current and forthcoming IMBB foodblogging events:

The roundup/linkfest to-date for IMBB #17, with the "TasteTea" theme, is posted at A La Cuisine, in three parts so far. (As the IMBB gets more popular, compiling the increasingly long link-lists is becoming a bigger, and more time-consuming, task for the hosting blogs. So A La Cuisine still has at least one more list of links to post for remaining entries.)

The theme for IMBB #18, with a deadline of August 28th, is "Frying", and is hosted by At Our Table.

Revisions & Editing

I finally (after months of off-and-on, mostly off, hacking at it) got one of my longest stories, "Junker Tommy", whittled down from close to 37,000 words to almost 29,000.

I've sent out the longer version a few times, but there are few markets willing to look at something as long as 37,000 words. So it was either try and pad it out to a length where it might be marketable as a short novel, or try and cut it down to where it could be sent to more short-fiction markets.

I opted for the latter approach. I think the resulting version takes an already strong story and makes it leaner, trimmer and more effective.

Yeh, I'm prejudiced about my own writing. But JT is one of those "important" stories writers have more than the usual hopes for. It's about a young boy whose parents trade him in at a Used Kid Lot, and what happens to him afterwards... and it deals with some pretty disturbing stuff. I want this story to be published someday.

At 29,000 words, it will still be a bitch to market. But it won't be quite as vicious a bitch.

And maybe now I can start writing something new.


Classics of Questionable Taste

In the proud tradition of the toilet-shaped ice bucket, is Mr. Moose, a moose-shaped candy dispenser that will, umm, "drop" candy into your hand with a push on his tail.

The images show bright-colored candies being dispensed, but you'll impress friends and family far more by using chocolate-covered raisins or something similar.