≡ Menu

Day 51: Jazz Funeral For Katrina; Krewe Du Vieux Update; Fielkow Released From Saints; Feeble FEMA

Jazz Funeral For Katrina: This past Sunday evening in the Quarter saw a jazz funeral for Hurricane Katrina led by a few musicians and many New Orleans residents. For those of you who don’t know what such a funeral entails, it is held in two parts: a solemn procession with the deceased’s casket until it is interred, after which a major party ensues. In this particular case, two dead were sent off – Katrina and Rita.

CNN and NPR covered the ceremony, in which they include the pictures and comments of members of my very own Mardi Gras krewe, the great Krewe De C.R.A.P.S! As my krewe captain, Louise, said in a recent email, “The secondline was totally awesome! The NPR link is cooler, and even has sound & video! Wish you were here this weekend. It was a hoot.”

In fact, Louise made it into a picture on the NPR All Things Considered page on this event. (I’ll let you figure out which one she is.)

Jazz Funeral For Katrina
Musicians Lead The Procession . Courtesy NPR

[With] two floats, one bearing a fake coffin with an expletive-laden adieu to Katrina [and] following a quartet of musicians playing funeral dirges, a couple of dozen revelers tossed beads to tourists and neighborhood residents.

Dawn Tolley … held a ferret named Disaster while sipping a beer and throwing strings of plastic beads to bystanders who stepped out of bars to greet the parade. “We needed to bid farewell to Hurricane Katrina,” Tolley said, stroking the ferret she rescued from a cage as floodwaters rose. “She needs to be put to rest forever.” The storm devastated parts of the city, but Tolley said the essence of New Orleans — its carefree optimism — remains and must be protected.

Dawn is also a member of C.R.A.P.S. Along with Michael, Louise and a few others in attendance at the jazz funeral, I am so proud of my group’s skills in representation. One of the paraders was wrapped in red tape, referring to himself as Count FEMA. I can’t believe I wasn’t there! More pictures from the procession are on their way to me, so stay tuned.

You see, this is the spirit of our city, evident not only inside New Orleans but also in the faces, words and smiles of evacuees. This is how we deal with devastation, sorrow and loss — not just with parades, but with hope, irreverence and exuberance. Show me another group of Americans that can cope with life’s curveballs in such a fantastic manner and I will stop wanting to go back.

Krewe Du Vieux / Mardi Gras Update: Krewe Du Vieux, the only big parade that goes through the French Quarter, will roll in 2006 and preparations are underway. Yours truly is now the official webmistress of the C.R.A.P.S. site following the resignation of its former keeper.

Speed up the TV, cher, we gonna have us a good time!

Fielkow Released From The Saints: For reasons yet unreleased, executive vice-president of administration for the New Orleans Saints, Arnold Fielkow was fired yesterday.

Fielkow led the club’s efforts in landing a $186.5 million inducement package from the state of Louisiana and under his leadership, club records were established in 2003 with season ticket sales as well as total attendance.

Arnie, a University of Wisconsin alumnus, and his lovely family graciously opened up their New Orleans home for a most enjoyable Badger event at the beginning of this year. The displaced New Orleans chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association wishes them well during this unsteady time.

Update: New Orleans’ WWL-TV reports, “Fielkow said he was called into {Saints owner] Tom Benson’s office Monday and told that he had five minutes to sign an agreement [to resign] giving up all his rights under contract while vowing confidentiality or be fired.” When Fielkow refused resignation, he was fired. It is surmised that the axe was dropped over Benson“s “desire to move all the Saints games to San Antonio this season” while Fielkow wanted to keep the games in Louisiana and lent support to “the plan later endorsed by the NFL to play four home games in Baton Rouge.”

As I just mentioned to Saheli, who doesn’t like the concept of selling teams, “Yeah. San Antonio. Good luck with the fan base when you can’t even keep it together with the two existing Texas teams.”

Feeble FEMA: Speaking of red tape and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the Washington Post reports on 20 of 80 emails to and from Michael Brown, former FEMA director, immediately following Katrina’s landfall. The findings are not surprising — right after the hurricane, at a time that required action and implementation, it was nothing but bureaucratic ego wars that resulted in miscommunication and chaos. The following are some of the more interesting and frustrating bits.

* As Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans … Michael Brown appeared confused over whether Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff had put him in charge.

* A misunderstanding of national disaster plan roles, communications failures, delayed decision-making and absent voices of leadership mark the documents …

* Brown has said the [Homeland Security] department caused “the emaciation of FEMA” by cutting funds, staff and denying spending on a New Orleans hurricane preparedness plan.

* As late as Sept. 1, the head of the military’s Hurricane Katrina Task Force, Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, was unable to reach Brown and asked FEMA officials to track down his satellite phone. “He [Honore] wants to speak with Mike very badly,” FEMA aides wrote at 1 p.m. Three hours later, the reply came from a Brown aide: “Not here in [Mississippi.] Is in [Louisiana], as far as I know.”

* The first FEMA request to the Defense Department was not reported in Brown’s e-mails until … Sept. 2 — nearly three days later — seeking “full logistical support to the Katrina disaster in all [emergency] declared states.”

Homeland security, my eye. With government like this, who needs enemies?

4 comments… add one
  • Blair October 18, 2005, 5:41 PM

    re: FE(eble)MA. It should not be a surprise that the government has trouble DOING something. We need a better method, probably involving throwing $$$ at major companies like Home Depot, Wal*Mart and Federal Express to actually deliver aid.

  • Alan Arkin October 19, 2005, 10:45 AM

    love your blog… i wanted to tell you about a website that my fiancee (a lakeview resident who lost her home, her family’s homes, our wedding, etc.) set up. it really is pretty cool — with blogs, a forum, and a lot of photos. check it out at http://www.hurricanerelease.com

    if you could link to it on your site, i know she would be grateful. thanks,


  • Kush Tandon October 19, 2005, 2:11 PM

    A friend of mine, Matt Hackworth joined Shell, Houston two weeks ago. He is a good guy, say hi to him whenever you get a chance.

  • Randy Perry November 6, 2005, 8:16 PM

    My uncle was a French Quarter resident,had cancer,hospitalized at Memorial ,evacuated to Thibedeaux,home to family in Dallas,died today.I need a name for a band for Dallas to do a jazz funeral on 11/09 at 4:00 p.m.Thanks. RP

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.