Monday, July 28, 2008

Hispanos en Nueva Orleans

Latina magazine wrote a great article in their July issue on Hispanics in New Orleans. As an ESL tutor, this was exciting to me because this is my clientele. The article explored the reasons why so many Hispanics have come to New Orleans and the obstacles they face.

Here are links to more articles on the same topic:

Christian Science Monitor

PBS Report

Times Picayune

It's complicated! New Orleans has such a strong culture of its own, I can understand why some here want to protect it. But, New Orleans essentially has a Caribbean culture and I think Hispanic culture could only change the city in positive ways that are compatible with the existing Cajun/Creole cultures.

And God knows we need some better Mexican restaurants here!

I especially like this time-line on the right column of the third page. It presents a chronology of Spanish and Hispanic influence on New Orleans. Nagin shouldn't forget that Louisiana was once part of the Spanish Empire and that jambalaya is a descendent of paella.

Manatees and Kayaks!

There is an inlet at New Smyrna Beach where you can easily see manatees. A long time ago we swam there with them, but that's against the law now. It's a good law, too. They are endangered creatures. Slow-moving, they are often hit by motor-boats. Most adult manatees have scars or open wounds from the blades of boats. I know these pictures might not even make any sense! It was so hard to take pictures of them because, as slow as they are, they are elusive, surfacing only for a moment and then disappearing. Here's what they look like in clearer water:

My cousins Ashlee and Sean were nice enough to let us use their kayaks on the St. John's RiverThe manatee-mailbox of some proud neighbors A mural on the bathroom at the inlet's park

Images of New Smyrna Beach

My family has been going to New Smyrna Beach since my mother was little. We have been going to the same condo since I can remember. This was the first year I was married though. Here are some images of my family's trip this past week:One of many summer stormsThe pool at night...My grandfather taught me to swim here. It was fun seeing my younger cousins swim here too.
A sandpiper playing in the Atlantic

Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, across from the Sunrise, where we stayed

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Streetcar Love: A Streetcar Named Inspire

The people of New Orleans love their streetcars. I love them too. The windows are always open, letting in a breeze, the wooden seats make the sound of a wooden rollercoaster. The best part is that they run on electricity , creating less pollution in the city-center. I kept seeing these painted streetcar sculptures on my route so I decided to take pictures of as many as I could. I found out later they are part of a fundraiser to fight crime. The Young Leadership Counsil named their project "A Streetcar named Inspire." Tell me if there are any I missed, and where they're located. Enjoy!

In front of the Audobon Aquarium, on the Riverfront

In front of Harrah's Casino, Canal Street

On the other side of Harrah's Casino

On Fulton Street

In front of the Sheraton, Canal Street

Near the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street

Near the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street

In front of Tulane's Medical School

On the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Poydras Street

At Lafayette Square

On St. Charles Avenue near Calliope Street

In the Garden District on St. Charles Avenue

In front of Superior Grill on St. Charles Avenue

On the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon

In front of the Jewish Community Center on St. Charles, with a real streetcar in the backround

Both sides of the streetcar in front of the Prytania Theatre, on Prytania Street

On Magazine Street, in front of Whole Foods

Monday, July 14, 2008

What The New Yorker should have done....

It's clear to anyone who reads The New Yorker that it is not a stronghold of right-wing values. The problem is, not everyone reads the magazine. This image is bound to stick in the mind of anyone who sees it, and for those certain Americans who think Obama would hand America off to the terrorists if elected, this image only supports their ideas. One statistic says 1 in 10 Americans believes (even after the pentecostal pastor made his debut) Obama is a Muslim. These certain Americans don't seem to understand that they are the joke in this picture, not Obama.

The problem with the image is that it lacks context. I read one comment on another blog that suggests the image should be on a canvass painted by Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly. I thought the same; it should be clear that this image is one created by a specific group of people- and not the editors of The New Yorker. Here's my suggestion for them:

It looks different now, doesn't it? This is what Fox News is feeding people everyday. Fox News is the joke, not the Obamas. Just make it clear to us, New Yorker.

Pony Survivor Of Hurricane Katrina

May 5th, 2008 - from the site Animal Chatter

Molly, an abandoned horse from Hurricane Katrina, has found a new way of life and is loving it. It took Molly several weeks of living on her own after that horrible day to be found and brought to an animal rescue site. While there, she was attacked by a pit bull which severely tore up her leg from under her knee. She was taken to LSU where they upon inital evaluation did not think they could help her, and being a rescue, anything they did would cost a lot of money, which in rescue is always a hinder. But, after the surgeon got to know Molly, he changed his mind. He saw how Molly, stoic as she was, would protect that leg laying down on the opposite side and would shift her weight so that it wasn’t always on one good leg. The surgeon agreed he would remove her leg from just under the knee down, and a human prothesis designer made her a leg. This has changed Mollys life. Though at times she wants it removed, and she lets you know it, she also lets you know when she wants it put back on. She tours the rehab centers with her new owner giving hope to those who are in the same situation she was in. Shes an inspiration to us all. Shes not a hundred percent back to herself, but in time she will be, and she is helping others along the way.

This story was so sweet, I had to post it. Enjoy!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Audubon Insectarium

The Audubon has opened an Insectarium on Canal Street. Yes- it can be a little gross sometimes (check out Tyree's blog), but it's a great museum. It's a great place for children too.
The best part of the museum, in my opinion, was the Japanese Butterfly Garden. Unlike in these pictures, the butterflies in the garden are alive. It's an indoor garden with a koi pond and flowers that butterflies tend to enjoy. Unfortunately, I spent so much time taking pictures of the dead and mounted butterflies that my camera died before we got to the lives ones.

And they have a petting zoo! Just kidding, the gator is a fake part of the Louisiana Swamp exibit.

Monday, July 7, 2008

English-Only Graduations?

I found this story on a New Orleans blog andI found this story on a New Orleans blog and I have a lot to say about it. In Terrebonne Parish, the two valedictorians, who were cousins, gave parts of their speeches in Vietnamese. Their family is from Vietnam. There is actually a large Vietnamese population in Louisiana. The school board is now looking into creating a rule that would require valedictorian speeches to be in English only.

Read the story here.

Along with anti-immigrant sentiment comes a fear that English will cease to be the America's first language. Yet, as the rest of the world scrambles for English classes, I don't understand how anyone could really think that the nation's future will not be in English.
While this story doesn't surprise me at all, I'm trying to understand what could be going through school board member Rickie Pitre's head. My suspicion is that he's never seen a foreign movie, failed out of Latin in high school and doesn't even know his last name or the name of his Parish are French. In some of Pitre's statements it is clear he is bothered by students who know something he doesn't. And he probably doesn't know that being bilingual makes all students more likely to pass state exams, do well in school and move on to college. I don't want to claim racism, but would he have had the same reaction if the students had used phrases in Latin or French? Is the fact that Vietnamese is so completely foreign to his ears, that he is uncomfortable with the changing demographics of his Parish?

We should examine the motives of the "English Only" movement and what it really says about our nation. I'm not surprised by this story, but it is ironic that it would occur in Louisiana, a state with it's own complicated linguistic history. There was a time when French-speakers were discouraged or prohibited from speaking French in school. I've met numerous people here who tell me their own grandparents never spoke English perfectly because they spoke French their whole lives. But despite the efforts of some, Louisiana has never been an "English Only" state and to try to make it that way would be to ignore the history most people here are very proud of.

Would Pitre also want to take down the "Bienvenue en Louisiane"?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Independence Day in New Orleans

New Orleans has the 5th best 4th of July fireworks show in the country. The first is Disney World- but I feel like that shouldn't even count! New Orleans does its show from two barges on the Mississippi River. It was great.

The Westbank Expressway Bridge across the Mississippi. I drive across it a few times a week to work.
After the show we decided to be really patriotic by going to the Pravda- a communist themed bar in the French Quarter. Essence Fest is in town, so downtown was crowded and full of energy. It was a fun night.