Pick Up A Book, Put Down The Gun

I just polled the OffBeat staff to see how many of us are actually reading books these days. I’m relieved to say that almost all of our staff are big readers. Fewer Americans read books, unfortunately, as Jimmy Kimmel showed on his late show recently:

Funny? In a scary kind of way.

I was raised on newspapers, so I still read both local papers every day (or at least every day when they are printed), and also subscribe and get news from online news sources (AP, CNN, MSNBC, Fox, the Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.).

I want to mention two articles I read today in the Times Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate. The first is Jarvis deBerry’s column on how short-term rentals that have become rampant in New Orleans are changing not only our neighborhoods, but our culture. Read it here. The comment that there “will be no more Trombone Shorties on the streets of Treme” broke my heart. While I’ve written about my own personal distaste for short-term rentals, this one phrase puts it into a nutshell: our culture is going to die if we cannot preserve our neighborhoods.

Okay, I know I’ll get pushback from people who say that the culture is inevitably going to change; I can deal with that. What I can’t is New Orleans becoming another gentrified playground for people who want to enjoy the city but who really have no skin in the game when it comes to keeping our culture alive and thriving, and preserving our music and cultural traditions—based on our neighborhoods’ inherent structures.

I seem to be writing about this more and more. Perhaps it’s because I was born here and have lived and worked the majority of my life in New Orleans, so I can see what it “was” and what it’s “becoming.” And it’s not good for the city.

I’m very glad that the new city council has at least stepped up to quiet the short-term rental rush. Whether it’s enforced is an entirely different matter. But if the new rules are to be effective, let us give up the “who you know” mentality of real-estate zoning and permitting. It’s destroying our neighborhoods.

Next, I read a repeat-worthy Letter to the Editor in the New Orleans Advocate today promoting the fact that Friday, June 1 has been declared “National Gun Violence Awareness Day.” This is another issue that’s close to my heart: I’d encourage all citizens to show their support for gun violence prevention this Friday and throughout the weekend by wearing orange (read the letter online for the reason behind the orange color)  at any rallies, marches or gatherings put on by grassroots, “gun-sense” supporters.

Moms Demand Action NOLA has planned a “Wear Orange Second Line” on May 31. It leaves the Chart Room at 300 Chartres St., in the French Quarter at 5 p.m. James Andrews and the Crescent City Allstars lead the march to Armstrong Park. Free T-shirts, beads and buttons will be handed out while supplies last. The gun violence has gone on long enough. I’m tired of hearing about children and teachers being maimed or dying school shootings, accidental shootings of innocent bystanders, and horrible violent crimes that affect everyone in this city and country. Enough is enough.