Category Archives: Books

Biographical Quote of the Day

Theodore Roosevelt: Awesome

“Last winter, in Colorado, he had leaped off his horse into a pack of hounds, kicked them aside, and knifed a cougar to death.”

–  Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris

Greetings and an Introduction to New Orleans

Editor’s Note: Not Responsible for Tom Duvall

Hello all.  My name is Tom and I will be posting on this blog as long as Nathaniel lets me.  My posts won’t really be as education-y or necessarily as NOLA-y, but they what they lack in those characteristics, they will make up for in length and lack of pageviews.

I wanted to start off with a post about Louisiana, as it does seem appropriate with the name and theme of the blog.  I read All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren two years ago and loved the great description of politics in the passage below:

More money for graft, they always screamed. “Sure,” the Boss had said, lounging easy, “sure there’s some graft, but there’s just enough to make the wheels turn without squeaking. And remember this. There never was a machine rigged up by man didn’t represent some loss of energy. How much energy do you get out of a lump of coal when you run a steam dynamo or a locomotive compared to what there actually is in that lump of coal? Damned little. Well, we do a hell of a lot better than the best dynamo or locomotive ever invented. Sure, I got a bunch of crooks around here, but they’re too lily-livered to get very crooked. I got on my eye on ‘em. And do I deliver the State something. I damned well do.” The theory of historical costs, you might put it. All change costs something. You have to write off the costs against the gain. Maybe in our State change could only come in the terms in which it was taking place, and it was sure due for some change. The theory of the moral neutrality of history, you might put it. Process as process is neither morally good nor morally bad. We may judge results but not process. The morally bad agent may perform the deed which is good. The morally good agent may perform the deed which is bad. Maybe a man has to sell his out to get the power to do good.

The theory of historical costs. The theory of the moral neutrality of history. All that was a high historical view from a chilly pinnacle. Maybe it took a genius to see it. To really see it. Maybe you had to get chained to the high pinnacle with the buzzards pecking at your liver and lights before you could see it. Maybe it took a genius to see it. Maybe it took a hero to act on it.

It’s a quote that says a lot about the political world of old-school Louisiana that is sadly gone, but it can do a lot more work to explain these last two years of politics.  The quote comes when the young formerly idealistic man is judging the world of Willie Stark, trying to come to grips with all of the personal corruption and public good that this man was responsible for.  It’s a tough issue to come to grips with and is one of many I hope to explore in my time on this blog.

First Saturday in the City

by necs2010


Clearly, a dunce.

This Saturday officially marks the end of the Teach For America scheduled, regimented training that we each corps member endures. I am still without a job, but that seems inconsequential compared to my realization that I am now, more or less, an official New Orleans resident. (I am putting this realization above thinking about being one of the TFA unjobbed for mental reasons.)

Additionally, this is the first time in several years I felt inspired to sit down and read an actual book that doesn’t have “Harry Potter”  in the title. So I went to Octavia Books and picked up a couple of items:

  • “A Confederacy of Dunces” by John Kennedy Toole – takes place in New Orleans and is described as “One of the funniest books ever written… it will make you laugh out loud till your belly aches and your eyes water” – The New Republic.
  • “New Orleans – The Underground Guide” by Michael Patrick Welch – hell, at this point I am still pretty much a tourist. Driving to Octavia Books without GPS was clear evidence that I never know where I am at any given time. After several of these experiences I figured a city guide would be good.

Update: I just finished reading The Underground Guide and it comes HIGHLY recommended for anyone new to New Orleans. It is focused on exploring the city’s music and art scene beyond the traditional New Orleans scene. With the motto “Frenchmen Street over Bourbon Street – Rap over Jazz” you the feeling that a local just spent an afternoon giving you the secrets to this city (which is also something the book highly recommends doing).

An example:

St. Roch Tavern – Marigny, 1200 St. Roch Ave: 504-945-0194

A 100% authentic no-hype dive bar where you will feel charmingly unsafe while meeting some fucked-up locals and hearing music from under-the-radar local bands, ranging in styles from harmonica blues to metal. There are always dogs, cheap bar food, and sometimes blood on the floor.