Sunday, August 28, 2011

New Deepwater Horizon Oil Leak

The news circulating communities in the area is that the Deepwater Horizon well is leaking again. Oil has been seen bubbling up in the area of the site of the Gulf Coast nightmare of 2010 again. The oil found near the site is confirmed to be MC252, BP oil disaster oil. Now a couple things could be happening here.

(1) The well-head capped on July 15, 2010 is not actually capped
(2) The relief wells are not capped
(3) The huge amount of Deepwater Horizon wreckage from the two explosions that are now sitting at the bottom of the Gulf is leaking oil and gas from all the equipment that was stored on that platform
(4) Natural seepage from that canyon (MC252) is leaking as happens all along the bottom of the Gulf
(5) The capping of the well through the top kill has caused breaks along the bottom of the Gulf and the pressure from the oil and gas within canyon  MC252 is now breaking those smaller cracks open

It is highly unlikely that it is natural seepage. Ian MacDonald at Florida State University has mapped all the natural seepages in the Gulf of Mexico. The circular oil slicks being reported are within a mile of the Maconodo well, no where near the closest natural seepage.

Almost two weeks after first reports started coming in to the Natural Resource Center reports (the daily catalog of oil spill reports) BP is still denying that the oil is theirs. A reporter from the Alabama Press Register took samples and tested the oil at Louisiana State University, one of the only institutions that legally has a fingerprint of the MC252 oil. Did you know that that fingerprint is not available to just anyone?

Most likely two things are happening. (1) The wreckage is leaking and will continue to leak for decades. There are still oil spill reports from Pearl Harbor because of the wreckage sitting at the bottom of the harbor because of the attack in 1941. (2) The Top Kill method created small breaks on the Gulf floor. The pressure of the canyon is forcing gas and oil out of these breaks, creating larger cracks.

The fear that the well isn't capped has been spreading over the past week. It's not fun. It's creating anxiety to a group of people getting ready to memorial the 6th year after Hurricane Katrina tomorrow, the first Monday since that deathly Monday in 2005. Clean up crews are being hired again to go out with booms. Most of this is not being reported by the press. The national press has disappeared from this ongoing oil disaster. The well could still be leaking and I haven't seen any national press cover this. If you have, please let me know.

If this well, with so much attention on it, is still leaking, or if any of those things (except the natural seepage theory) are happening and nothing is being done to change our regulations and enforcement of offshore drilling and BP is still denying they are responsible, then every community should be preparing for their own extraction disaster because no one in the industry or government is working to prevent it. Then BP has officially won and brushed the millions of lives impacted by this disaster under the rug and the Obama Administration is sitting back knowing this spill is still happening and doing nothing. In fact thinking about allowing an even larger disaster that will impact millions more communities to happen.

The Tar Sands pipeline project Keystone XL that will travel from Canada to Texas will be another national extraction disaster. The State department just gave their approval to proceed with this project. If a spill or accident happens, which it will because the industry continues to prove it can't prevent disasters from happening, our food source and water sources will be contaminated with both oil and toxic dispersants. Hundreds of people have been arrested over the years protesting this project and this week in DC already 200 people have been arrested in acts of civil disobedience. Everyday since last Saturday 40-60 people have sat down (or stood up) in front of the white house, including Gulf Coast residents, parents and children, Native people, college hippies, gay and lesbian civil rights leaders and retired hippies. I even saw a black guy out there in handcuffs. Not unusual for Washington DC but unusual for environmental protests.

The oil and gas industry is proving everyday that it has no control over its own extraction process. Oil spills happen everyday in the Gulf of Mexico. I read those stupid NRC data reports each day. The reports mostly say unknown substance of unknown volume spilled into the Gulf. No follow up. No Clean Water Act fines given. In fact Bloomberg News found that only 1 in 100 oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico result in any fine, effectively financially incentivizing oil pollution. Remember you are eating the seafood from that body of water. Except for CH of course. Damn gluten free vegan San Francisco hippie.

On Friday Waterkeepers from Louisiana went out to the Macondo site to take oil samples. There was also another Flyover by environmental activists and volunteer pilots to get more photos of the leak. We should hear soon what they found.

Don't forget to light a candle or add an extra mediation to your practice tomorrow for all of those lost on August 29, 2005 and in the aftermath of the government's failed response to Hurricane Katrina. I will be attending a memorial second line that goes from the levees in the lower ninth to St. Bernard St in the seventh ward. The memory of Katrina isn't gone from this city, but tomorrow is a particular day of mourning for everyone impacted by the storm. The people of the Gulf Coast could use your thoughts and prayers (if you do that sort of thing). 

Happy Sunday! 

ps. And now for something that doesn't make you want to hire a face punching service.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Zuki Wants to Cuddle With You!

Zuki is a loving sweet little pitt mix that needs a home. He is one of those usual pittbulls that thinks he is a lapdog. He will crawl up on your lap while watching tv (or hulu in my case) and give you kisses. He is looking for a good home. This morning he found out he loves the beach! He loves running through the water and laying belly down on the cold sand. He also loves to walk under the trees and enjoy big Mississippi River breezes. Check out Dogs of the 9th Ward to learn more about how to adopt Zuki or any of the other lost souls in this wonderful city.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sister and brother from another mother.

Georgia and Zuki, loving the Saint Ferdinand Blanchard house afternoon naps.

Monday, August 22, 2011


In case you don't know, people from all over the country have traveled to Washington DC this week and next week to take action against a dangerous tar sands project. Already over 100 people have been arrested. 70 of those were held in Central Cell Block (where I spent my first 48 hours under arrest many many years ago too!) for over 48 hours. check out all the great people standing up (or sitting down) to protect our water, air and planet. Wish I was there! At least the air con is better in jail than it is at my house. Renee

Saturday, August 20, 2011

On My Way

2008 To Do List: (1) buy gold plated woodchipper charm necklace (2) launch face punching service (3) launch baby rental service (4) finish online boyfriend application (5) open New Orleans headquarters I can finally check off something from 2008 To Do List. That feels good. Going through some old personal emails yesterday I found this to do list from the e.m.p.i.r.e. A sarcastic-art-writing collective created by a couple friends in 2007 that quickly and regrettable dissolved for totally predictable unforseen circumstances. In an effort to create a more strategic and creative confrontational groundswelling of pressure to hold BP and the government accountable, I, along with one of my activist idols, are creating an art collective here in New Orleans. I'm going to host a regular art making party each month to create protest songs, posters, and strategies. I'm pretty excited to get this going! The boy is taking me here on Monday. You should adopt this dog:
His name is Padlock, though I think that needs to be changed. He was recently found in the Ninth Ward with a giant padlock holding a big metal link chain around his neck. The women that found him had to have it cut off by someone. He's almost two years old and he needs a home. He might come hang out with Georgia and I for a little while until that person comes along. He's pretty cute!! Renee

Sunday, August 14, 2011

I Support Your Delusion

Work isn't much better, but my perspective of it all is. This work is fucking hard and I don't make much money. In fact I took a hefty pay cut to take my current gig. My rent increased and now I have to keep something alive everyday, so that increased my expenses. I have car. I pay for internet. The weather isn't as wonderful as it was in Oakland and the kale doesn't look like kale here. So what I get to spend on consuming things in order to feel better about how hard my job is has decreased. In other words all my stresses went up in one fell swoop, but the possibility of what I get to accomplish through my work is closer to the change I wish to see in the world and what I wish to be part of achieving. I also get to live in New Orleans. A place where I finally feel at home.

As I sat for about an hour in the Apple store in Metairie, I got to catch up on my New Yorker reading. In the July 11 magazine, Sheryl Sandelberg was featured. She is the Chief Operating Officer for Facebook. The article is about women in the tech industry and the low number of women in high executive levels. One section stood out for me, because I know I spend a lot of time doing it. Especially in rough times like I'm facing now.

Here is an excerpt:
On listening to a speech called Feeling Like A Fraud: "'I thought it was the best speech I'd ever heard, she recalls. 'I felt like that my whole life. ' At every stage of her time in school, Sandberg thought, I really fooled them. There was 'zero chance,' she concluded, that the men in the other room felt the same."

On women's self doubt: "Sandberg says she eventually realized that women, unlike men, encountered tradoffs between success and likability. The women had internalized self-doubt as a form of self-defense: people don't like women who boast about their achievements. The solution, she began to think, lay with the women. She blamed them more for their insecurities than she blamed men for their insensitivity or their sexism."

In early June I wrote an email to a good friend, where I stated, "i got another job offer from [another person] that quit. (s)he is starting her/his own shop at [insert awesome organization here]. (s)he said that he(r) will have room to grow it and (s)he wants to bring me on when it gets going. i have no idea, clue why these people think i can do anything, but I'm willing to support their delusion. maybe that's what i should say to people when they say nice things to me. ' i support that delusion'." I wrote all of this with a laugh of course. Because I know it's ridiculous, but it runs through my brain everyday regardless. And turns out it does for most women too.

As I get some years and experience under my belt I'm starting to realize that the things that run through my brain are often less about who I am as a person and more about the falsehoods society throws at you about who you are that I've been naive enough to fall for over the years. I know these things are true. Just like I know the work that I do is incredibly difficult and just because I struggle doesn't mean I'm not succeeding. I also know that men don't usually think of these things. They think, damn I'm hot. Damn I'm smart. Damn I'm talented. Where does that come from?

The article also mentions Sheryl's TED talk. I watched it when it first came out. It's worth a look. 
She discusses in more depth why there are so few women executives.

After an hour wait at The Apple Store i have a new keyboard, confirmation there is nothing wrong with my computer after 3 years, confirmation that Apple will refuse to do anything with my laptop after 5 years, and new speakers since my three year old laptop speakers are failing already.

hot, humid, and hazy,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Mighty Good Man

Last night I had a second date with a man I met at last week's Stooges show. He happened to be sitting next to me and we struck up a conversation. He asked if I was a teacher. He said I looked like some kind of do gooder. I'm not sure how I feel about that, but I did learn that his sister was a teacher and is now an administrator in Atlanta and his mom was a social worker in 7th ward for 32 years. So maybe it wasn't a complete insult on my matronly dress.

We went to Cure, this fancy cocktail place Uptown. I'm not usually a fan of Uptown, too many Uptown people. And it's about a 15 minute drive from my house. It was really fantastic. He did good. They have a huge apertif selection. I could drink my old lady drinks without being denied my first couple choices; Campari and a good Dry Vermouth. I also sampled (more than sampled) something called Scotch and Salt. It was a great mix of scotch and a few other ingredients that made it into a salty whiskey, my favorite!

As he drove me home, after I had attempted to pay yet again, he asked if men usually let me pay and then made a joke about looking through the bill to find the exact amount that I owed. I stuttered a bit and said yes, I have had more than one man ask me to pay on the first, second, and every other date. His reply was, and you let them get away with that?  As I got out of the truck, he said you know there are real men in this world. Straight through the heart! And by that I mean sucker punched in the face.

Renee Claire

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Friday, August 5, 2011

Brass Bands are Awesome. . . but So Is Justice

You know how your yoga instructor is like breath in, breath out, life is hard, breathing helps? And you are like 'fuck you perfect little bitch' and then you go home and listen to brass bands that tell actual stories that help rather than your skinny ass mother fucker at that expensive studio that keeps telling you to keep a zen fucking mind?

yeah, I totally relate.

Brass brands help with almost everything . . . and so does seeing an emerging neighborhood rap group give up too fast after being blasted by the sound engineer. Because that's what I have been doing for the past several weeks. I gave up. Too fast. And instead I should I have just said fuck you and kept on going, but I forgot that sometimes the people that are suppose to be friends just aren't. I should have known better. I should have remembered I was an American and people get out of my way! But I shouldn't have given up. (hint: you can't worry about people that say they are your friends that are just lying even if they are a huge part of your life and aren't going away any time soon) (hint2: I know you all know that, but I just remembered) (hint3: thanks for being patient with me all these years, I'm pretty naive)

So, today  (1) I hung out with someone that drove me to escalate (almost nonviolently), (2) I saw a neighborhood group give up after the second week of ONE sound engineer being an asshole, and (3) I saw a mother of 6 and the wife of an oil rig worker get arrested for demanding that BP clean up its mess. (hint4: no one from BP has been arrested for discharging 250 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico)

I also saw one of the best brass band shows of my life. It was the birthday of a former Stooges member who had been shot. It turns out I know all the words to "Fuck the Po Po" without knowing why it was written (hint 5: I'm the white girl in the all black neighborhood). Hello: I have trouble with the police, even if I am little white girl, so it wasn't a difficult weekly anthem to get behind. A member of the Stooges Brass Band was murdered by a cop in 2004. The group sings that song every week. Yesterday was the 7th anniversary of his death.

The Hi Ho Lounge is an amazing place to visit every Thursday and listening The Stooges sing Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On' was a bit intense. Justin even was getting into it. (hint 6: Justin is a bit shy and often looks like he hates brass bands shows, even though I drag him there all the time and he tells me late he likes them. Justin is my cousin)

Then I got into a conversation with Titus, the dude standing next to me, we spoke on the side walk next to my car as the cop car lights flashed and I watched a man smaller than me get arrested by 6 NOLA cops. 6 dudes for a guy that was 5 foot and maybe 130lbs.  Titus and i spoke about St. Roche's and Washington DC's segragation. The fact that I'm one of the only white people on my side of St. Claude. And that the city is just not the same. Maybe for the better, Maybe not.

The bottom line of that conversation is that Katrina is alive and well. And so is the BP oil disaster. 

Cherri Foytlin was arrested Thursday August 4 by NOPD for demanding BP clean up its mess. To date, no one from BP has been arrested for discharging 250 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.