Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hurrican Katrina 4 year Anniversary

Hurricane Katrina may have amped it up, but New Orleans tchotchkes still big after four years
by Chris Rose, Columnist, The Times-Picayune
Saturday August 29, 2009, 5:05 AM

The Times-Picayune Archive New Orleans love affair with itself didn't just start after Hurricane Katrina -- New Orleanians have always been proud folks.

New Orleans' love affair with itself is one of the historical, parochial, unifying and sometimes cloying characteristics of this city. For instance, very few of us feel the need to append any facts, statistics or evidence to the perpetual claim that is ours: "The most interesting city in America."
It's a given. Always has been. And if you live somewhere else and are generally tired of our prideful self-regard -- particularly every time the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina rolls around -- then get over it. Because it's true.

To paraphrase the late 7th Ward vaudevillian, Ernie K-Doe: Sure, we're cocky. But we're good.

And make no mistake: This is no Katrina effect, no manifesto of the "new" New Orleans. Our perpetual conceit is -- to put it in the popular lexicon -- a pre-existing condition.
After all, it was 1879 when the newspaper columnist Lafcadio Hearn took note of New Orleans' chronic states of decay, insolvency, lawlessness and prurience, yet still proclaimed: "It is better to live here in sackcloth and ashes than to own the whole state of Ohio."

Nothing against Ohio, of course. It's just... well, it's just not here.
And then.
And then one day. The unthinkable. The implausible. The impossible. They said the city -- our city -- was finished.
And we said: The hell it is.

The Times-Picayune ArchiveThe civic pride, nostalgia and general cussedness borne out of Hurricane Katrina fueled a massive and sustained commercial output of household items, textiles, novelties, songs, books, symphonies, tchotchkes and T-shirts -- lots and lots of T-shirts -- that identify New Orleans.

And in that one moment, that very big moment, the quaint expressions of our heretofore harmless vainglory -- tiny crawfish on polo shirts, Vic'n'Nat'ly, Cajun-in-Your-Pocket and the seemingly interminable productions of plays at Le Chat Noir about "ya mama an' 'em" -- shifted into a cultural, psychic and economic engine capable of delivering unto the city an organic unifying force and homegrown healing mojo that no business, government or charity could ever hope to achieve.

The civic pride, nostalgia and general cussedness borne of that moment fueled a massive and sustained commercial output of household items, textiles, novelties, songs, books, symphonies, tchotchkes and T-shirts -- lots and lots of T-shirts -- that identify New Orleans.

Look around your home, your office, your car, your wardrobe and your body: Chances are you will see symbols of this city sewn, stamped, affixed, printed or engraved on something, anything, everything. (As I type this story, I see a bracelet on my left wrist engraved with Hearn's proclamation of sackcloth and ashes -- $70 at Plum boutique on Magazine Street.)

Iconography of post-storm New Orleans -- those things that, to borrow a phrase from the Hornets, represent the city's pride, passion and purpose -- has become a cottage industry in this town and a none-too-trivial one. We make stuff that represents us and then we sell it to ourselves -- an economic paradigm that allows its participants to send a message, choose a team, stake a claim, flip-off the authorities, band together, broadcast pride and generally shine.

They don't teach this business model at Harvard. It's a veritable fleur-de-phenomenon.
Consider the fleur-de-lis, the mack daddy of New Orleans iconography, that delicate little sprig of a lily, the crest of the fallen House of Bourbon, the logo of the least successful team in NFL history and the international symbol of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

The little lily that could.

What do you suppose the dollar value of this symbol is? What is it worth to the New Orleans economy? Think about that.

I stumped a couple of local economists with this question. After all, it seems such a frivolous notion. Then again: How much money will be spent on fleurs-de-lis in New Orleans this weekend?

Statistical data is tough to come by in the field of fleur-de-nomics, but we know this much: For a portion of 2007, items with fleurs-de-lis on them accounted for exactly 50 percent of the retail and online sales at Mignon Faget, the noted jewelry designer. At the other end of the market, variations of the fleur-de-lis still account for more than half of the tattoos done at the Electric Ladyland parlor in the Faubourg Marigny, according to owner Annette LaRue.

"The fleur-de-lis has helped my artists live better lives today," LaRue says.
"It saved my business," Faget says, with no equivocation.

The fleur-de-lis has transcended any derivations of French royalty, football fandom and decorative value to stand as the most ubiquitous symbol this city has ever had, maybe that any city has ever had, and one with a resounding message: This is our place. We believe in this place. We will fight for this place.

That's a big message for an umbrella, scarf, bumper sticker, flip-flops or a shot glass to carry.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but in the men's room at my office the other day, I noticed that a fleur-de-lis was stamped on the rubber mat that held the urinal mint. Talk about a captive audience.

But it's not just the fleur-de-lis, of course. It's the hurricane symbol, reproductions of the city's water meters and ceramic street tiles, refrigerators, red beans, blue roofs, the number 504, the X-codes --even "Brad Pitt for Mayor"; these are visual glyphs, tokens and representations of who we are, what happened here and how we feel about it. And the weird thing is: With a lot of this stuff, we're the only ones who even know it means.

Do you know what it means? Print that on a T-shirt or coffee mug, and someone will buy it.
That's what it means.
So the question is: Why?

Why do hundreds of thousands of us -- here and in exile -- stamp our property, our bodies and our identities with the trappings of the city we love? Isn't voting, supporting the arts and maintaining clean storm drains enough to lay claim to good citizenship? Why is it so important to wear our emotions -- sometimes literally -- on our sleeves?

"People now understand that tattoos are not just for scumbags, bikers and junkies," LaRue says. "They can be very meaningful to their owners. They help people express their feelings and their love and -- in this case -- their love for this city.

"In some cases, a tattoo is a way for people to publicly prove how much they love this city and prove how much they belong here. It's elementally tribal. Think about it: You don't see people in Des Moines (Iowa) getting Des Moines tattoos."

And that raises an interesting point: Why don't people in Des Moines -- or most everywhere else -- get Des Moines tattoos? If an enterprising jeweler in St. Louis -- a proud, historic community; we can all agree on that -- made 75,000 sterling brooches of the city's famed Gateway Arch and sold them for $25 a pop, would they sell out in three weeks?

Not likely. The reason, Faget says, is not rocket science: "They didn't almost lose St. Louis."
In the post-Katrina age, Hearn's words never have rung truer.

"There is a certain amount of defiance in that quote and I think people are still feeling that today," says Dannal Perry, the proprietor of Plum, who commissioned the sterling bracelets with the sackcloth and ashes quote and has sold around 40 of them -- a paltry figure compared to the hundreds of bracelets she has sold that ask, "Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?"

"In New Orleans, we're proud of our history, of pulling ourselves up after tragedy," she says. "And it seems that everyone wants to be identified that way. Everyone wants to own a piece of this city."

Faget echoes LaRue's theory: "I think it's tribal, I really do. People in New Orleans love to proclaim themselves. It's the same reason people wear Saints colors on Sunday. It says: We're on the team. We love New Orleans. We want to be part of the rebuilding."

There's an ironic element to all of this that Faget likes to point out.

"What I find odd," she says, "is that the fleur-de-lis originally represented royalty. The French certainly don't wear the fleur-de-lis; they had a revolution over it. And, now, here we are, using this as a symbol of our freedom. We use it to help emancipate ourselves from misery and the blow that nature dealt us."

Obviously, lots of people have lots of ideas about all of this. The Fleur-de-Phenomenon is a constant, pervasive, all-encompassing chorus of unified voices, passionate advocacy and willful relevance; a loud, resounding, unmistakably defiant, crystal-clear clarion call that says: Hell yes!
Unless you disagree with us, of course. Then it's: Hell no.

I was talking about this the other day with Andrei Codrescu, the prickly author, surrealist poet and cultural provocateur whose distinguished career has been marked by -- as much as anything else -- an overt disdain for sentimentalism and mush. Yet, the first book he published after Katrina was a collection of essays called "New Orleans, Mon Amour."
My love, indeed.

"We adorn ourselves to show off our opulence and decadence," he says. "The only other places I have seen anything like this are West Africa -- and maybe Martinique -- where art is one thread of continuity; symbols of our survival of a past catastrophe and talismans for protection against the next."

As we spoke by phone, I gave him the test I give everyone these days: I asked him to take inventory of his immediate surroundings -- the room he was in, the furniture, his clothes -- and to gauge his degree of immersion in the Fleur-de-Phenomenon.

I listened as he fished around in the pockets of his jeans. After a moment, he said: "You know, I had a pen knife with a fleur-de-lis on it but airport authorities recently relieved me of it in the name of Homeland Security."

He allowed a pregnant pause as he looked around and concluded, "That's about all I've got. But, as far as Katrina goes, I've got that tattooed on my brain."

Columnist Chris Rose can be reached at

I couldn't find the right words to write about Katrina, so I posted Columnist Chris Rose's column here. I love all his writings, he has a way with words when it comes to New Orleans....

I did want to add a thank you to "all" the people that have come here and helped one way or another. A special thanks to Heather Graham and Sherrilyn Kenyon, wonderful writers that have brought many people to NOLA to spend some money to help out... Thank you ladies for continuing to keep coming back!!


What other people think of the books you have in your home.

Ever wonder what other people might think about the books you have around the house?

Being a writer I have tons of books stashed every where. But some of my books aren't books that I read for just pleasure, some are for research. I have to sometimes explain to people when they see a Voodoo spell book, a sprirts books, or psychic book that I'm not a Voodoo Priestess or a psychic.

Do I believe in ghosts?

Sure, why not. I'm open-minded, at least I try to be. Now, I'm more of the type of person that wants to debunk that its not a ghost. But, if I can't explain it, then who am I to say they aren't real.

Now my horror writer books with blood drops (not real ones) on the cover make people look at me differently. "I didn't know you like that kind of stuff."

Well, honestly I do. Thats why I'm researching how to write them. Only hard part is keeping the romance in a horror story, but I'm getting there. I think the romance sortof sits in the back seat to the suspense is all.

So do you have some really odd books hanging around your house? If so, what would people who didn't know you think they were about?

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

EPICon Conference in New Orleans 2010

(From Epic's website)

NOLA Bound!

What is NOLA? NOLA is New Orleans, LA. And EPICon will be held there March 4-7, 2010. To register for the convention, please visit Oh, and do they have some names teaching this year… Holly Jacobs, Debra Dixon, Deidre Knight, CT Adams, and even a forensic pathologist teaching 2 hours of class on the subject! To boot, if you’re an EPIC member, early registration is only $195 and $225 for non-members. That includes…

Thursday Night Mixer

Friday: Buffet Breakfast and Keynote luncheon

Saturday: Buffet Breakfast, luncheon, and awards banquet

The hotel rooms are discounted for the convention, as well. You have to mention the conference.
One more note. Membership in EPIC is $30 per year anyway. If you join EPIC while you sign up for the convention, you still pay $225 for the combination of member going to the convention and EPIC membership dues, but you get a year in EPIC to go along with it. That gets you $10 off all EPIC e-book contest entries (one more day to enter, folks!), networking on the EPIC lists, calls for submissions, a built-in place to ask research questions, industry information, and more.

So, you make out like a bear on that deal.

And you don’t want to miss the gala awards ceremony, where the new name for EPIC’s contest will be revealed this year

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Author Signings

Note to authors.

When having a book signing try not to have your friends and buddies cut the line. If they do, then put them back. We know how easy it is to get all caught up in the moment, but don't....

It's a little rude to fans who have been waiting a long time for your attention and signature. I've seen this done and I've seen fans walk off and say they'll never buy that authors books again. Not good business...

Just thought I'd share, just in case you don't realize, and when I get there one day and you see me do this, smack me one...


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dreamfever - Karen M Moning

Yippie, I just bought Dreamfever. I sooooooooo can't wait to read and post a review.

Love Mac and her friends!!!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Writers Conference In New Orleans - A must attend for all writers!

If you are a aspiring author or a established one, Heather Graham's conference is one you must attend.

Why? First its a small conference that you truly learn from.
Second, they have panels of Editors, agents and your favorite authors.
Third, they have appointments to pitch to editors and agents.
and Forth, you'll make lots of friends in the writing industry.

That's priceless.

The conference is small, but packs a huge punch. It was my very first writers conference ever, and I keep going back for more. (except last year, Hurricane)

Heather Graham invites everyone to come and have a great time in New Orleans. The price is fairly cheap, and the hotels aren't all that pricey...

To find out more info, go to

Hope to see you there!!
Dawn Chartier

Friday, August 14, 2009

Gator going for a bicycle ride in Boutte, Louisiana

Every now and then I like to post funny happenings in Louisiana. Well, this is one of those that you have to scratch your head at........

Gator draped over man's shoulders attracts cops' attention in Boutte

Alligators are a common sight in St. Charles Parish waterways, but they rarely travel by bicycle.
So when sheriff's deputies saw Terron D. Ingram riding his bike down Goodchildren Street in Boutte with a 3-foot-long gator draped over his neck late Friday, they had a few questions.

Ingram dropped the reptile and his bike and ran off, but was apprehended a few blocks away.

"We don't know what his intentions were," said Sheriff's Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes. He said it wasn't clear where Ingram had captured the gator.

Ingram was booked with a variety of charges, including cruelty to animals by abandonment, resisting arrest and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He was being held on $15,000 bond.

All ended well for the gator, however. Alligator Control Officer Kenny Schmill said he released it into the marsh near Bayou Gauche.

by: Matt Scallan, The Times-Picayune

Go figure! Oh, and Go Saints! (Pre-season game tonight, I'll be there in the dome.)

Dawn Chartier

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sola RWA August Writers Meeting - New Orleans, LA

For the August 15th Sola meeting our presenter will be Tolley Thompson, Psychic.

Tolley will offer insight and tales from the supernatural world of psychic communication sure to stimulate many "novel" ideas.

Meeting location for August will be at Piccadilly - 2222 Clearview Pkwy - Metairie, LA

See you there.

Dawn Chartier
Fantasy on the Rocks!