Tide and Talk

UPDATED: Saturday, the Howlin’ Wolf was full of tables, the better to support laptops operated by the bloggers present for Rising Tide 5, the bloggers’ conference focused on New Orleans’ recovery (live blogged here and here). The strength of the conference was the dedication and the seriousness of purpose of the attendees. The woman who blogs Watching Treme was active on Twitter during the Treme Panel while taking copious notes on her steno pad.

On the other side, it might be time to rethink the event a bit. I gather the original impulse was to give bloggers the ability to share information about the recovery by bringing together people who could talk authoritatively about what was really happening in New Orleans. On Saturday, there was less information from unofficial perspectives and little news, particularly in the Politics Panel and the Treme Panel – ironically, both of which were well-received in the room. It wasn’t that they weren’t entertaining and that there wasn’t good information, but there was little in the way of a call to action in either. Far better was the Environmental Panel, which advocated for green initiatives and talked about what people can do on their own.

The Politics Panel suggested a possible recalibration of Rising Tide’s focus. The panelists talked about the prospects of Joseph Cao, David Vitter and Bobby Jindal’s re-election probabilities as well as the weakness of the Democratic Party in Louisiana. As lively as the conversation between Stephanie Grace, Jason Berry, Jacques Morial, Clancy DuBos, Jeff Crouere and moderator Peter Athas was, I’d rather have had a discussion of the role bloggers can play in advancing progressive politics in Louisiana. Rather than go behind the scenes of Treme, I’d rather have heard bloggers talk about the meaning and significance of the show and representations of New Orleans in popular media. In short, Rising Tide would be stronger if it was more oriented toward the practice of blogging and the role bloggers can play in shaping conversations in our culture instead of casting them in the role of information conduit.

… and to the blogger who asked Eric Overmyer if Antoine Batiste could read sheet music in Treme, I had the same question. Overmyer seemed surprised when asked that question, but I too wondered if his unease when he started to play with the all-star R&B revue was because he couldn’t read music, and that he was playing from memory and experience rather than from the charts.

Update August 30, 1:20 p.m.

I added the second live blog link.

  • http://www.dotcalm.blog-city.com Sophmom

    I still think Antoine can't read, and thought Overmyer's startle before responding was protecting the story line. I could be completely wrong, but intend to hold onto it until proven otherwise. Thanks so much for coming and for making some very interesting points.

    • http://twitter.com/MoxieB Maura Alia Badji

      I agree w/ya. ;)

    • Davisrogan

      I don't know if the background written for Battiste goes so far as to indicate where he went for Junior High School, but chances are he went to Andrew Bell Jr High School where he, like everyone in the Rebirth and the Dirty Dozen, studied under Donald Richardson. Also I believe Battiste says he went to HS at St. Augustine, and played in the band. Brother can read. The shot where we see him playing is during Irma Thomas' “Time is on my Side” which is in Bb, i.e. an easy key.

      • http://www.dotcalm.blog-city.com Sophmom

        Well, I'm thinkin' that there we have it. Thanks, Davis. I believe you, and thanks so much for coming to Rising Tide. I loved the Treme panel.

  • http://twitter.com/MoxieB Maura Alia Badji

    Glad I found this site! Thanks for the RT5 news.

  • http://www.LeveesNotWar.org Mark LaFlaur

    There's some good constructive criticism here. This is useful to hear thoughtful critiques.
    As a former (and future) New Orleanian, now a New York City resident with a New Orleans–dedicated blog, LeveesNotWar.org, I have been to 3 RTs and have been inspired and energized by each one of them. They get better each time. I am not one of the organizers but I'm friends with many of them.
    Your point in paragraph 2 about the blogger-oriented original intention may be something of a misunderstanding (or the conference has evolved); bloggers are the organizers of RT, but we want as many N.O. devotees, wired or otherwise, to come and learn and share. Probably bloggers will always the primary species of tree within the forest, so to speak, but the conference thrives better if it's left open and the organizers, who meet frequently and e-mail and tweet each other almost constantly, can continue to think about and seek a balance.
    As for the high-quality Enviro panel, some of us thought that the discussion would have been improved by adding a grass-roots activist or someone who could tell individuals and civic groups what they can do to help with coastal restoration, greening of New Orleans, electing coast-friendly public officials, and so on. Rob Verchick talked some about permeable streets and roof gardens, but we could have benefited from more “grass-roots” green action ideas.

    P.S.: I also live-blogged, and your readers can see my notes here (except for the Treme panel, sorry): http://www.leveesnotwar.org/?p=3379

    —Mark LaFlaur
    formerly of South Murat Street, Mid-City

    • Alex Rawls

      Thanks for the thoughts, and I’ll add your notes to the post. Enviro – I would have liked a grass roots activist as well, and though Steve Picou had some good information, Steve also likes to hear Steve talk. I’d also give anything to un-hear the phrase “cancer with an edible crust.”

  • http://www.leveesnotwar.org/ Mark LaFlaur

    One more thing about Rising Tide (if I may quote myself): In reply to a good question at the Back of Town blog in July, “In what substantive ways have previous Rising Tide conferences helped make a difference in the recovery of NOLA?”, I wrote: “I would say the 2 RT conferences I’ve been to (and I’ll be back for 3rd in August) have probably helped the recovery by bringing smart committed people together to talk about what’s been done, what has not been done, to learn about the infrastructure repairs (Tim Ruppert at RT2), the charter school vs. public school situation (RT3), the public safety and police dept. issues discussed by Brian Denzer (and again this year), and so on. Sometimes politicians or candidates come to check in. The keynote speakers have been superb, often leading specialists in their field (such as John Barry, author of Rising Tide on the 1927 flood at RT3). Much of the positive effect is bringing people together, keeping the momentum of commitment, interest, caring, and action (consider the good that Karen Gadbois of Squandered Heritage and The Lens has done). It may seem hard to quantify, but you can definitely feel the energy when you’re there, and you can take it home with you and build on it. We hope you’ll come see for yourself.” Not sure if the questioner, machine, attended, but we hope so.
    http://backoftown.wordpress.com/2010/07/15/trem