FreeDarko does care

I've realized over the last few days that there are two kinds of blogs: those that have a soul, and those that, out of feigned professionalism or deadening narcissism, are capable only of discussing one or two recurring subjects. And while FreeDarko might seem like the kind of place that would pride itself on such screechingly autistic behavior, I really can't talk any more about basketball without at least saying something about THE ONLY STORY IN THE WORLD RIGHT NOW.

Let's put it like this: there is absolutely no excuse for what's happened, and it's hardly a triumph of the human spirit if NOLA ends up with a minimal body count and a relatively optimistic plan for reconstruction. Some might see this blog as tasteless or irreverant when it comes to issue of race and class, but take it on faith that this shit-talking is actually evidence of a lasting investment in—or, if that's too pretentious for you, respect for—exactly the part of America that the federal government seems so intent on neglecting.

Pity, sympathy, and good will are certainly in order (be sure to get your donations up). But there's also a lot of anger hanging in the air, and in some ways I think that's the most appropriate, energetic reaction to harness as this grained nation of ours tries to fight through some shit that, even more so than 9/11, could have been avoided. This isn't just a battle against nature's fury—sickeningly enough, it also involves naming names, holding people accountable, and figuring out how to work things out in spite of the powers that be.

With that in mind, I would like to fast-track a non-hoops nominee for FBP. . .

(while we're on the music tip: this is certainly not a natural catastrophe of stars, but Allen Toussaint sleeping on the floor of the Superdome?!?!?!?!?!?)


At 9/03/2005 12:45 PM, Blogger Dr. Lawyer IndianChief said...

Did anyone see Joe Horn's brief comments? KEEPING IT REAL. He didnt say much, but said a lot more than what your average 21st athlete would say about the govt.

At 9/03/2005 4:44 PM, Anonymous aug said...


here is a good video of kanye being an idiot. Poor guy. It must be tough to be "socially conscious" when you're immature and ignorant.

Some priceless moments include:
Mike Myers' face as Kanye Rants
"Ge...George Bush doesn't like black people." randomly said by kanye

At 9/03/2005 5:31 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised that spammers would capitalize on tragedy to get their ads out, but it was enough to discourage me from commenting when I read this late last night. It’s good to see that Darko cares, though, and it’s good to see that Shoals can write as eloquently about things that actually matter as he does about NBA absurdities.

I’m commenting now because I’m trying to figure out the best way to help out. Starting Tuesday I’m volunteering at the Red Cross in town, but I’m not sure they’ll have me doing anything more than phone banking and they seem pretty well staffed right now. Shoals, since you’re at UT, and universities are often the best at organizing this sort of thing, I was wondering if you knew of anything in the area that seemed particularly worthy or in need of volunteers?

Much less important:
Was anyone else really put-off by Simmons column? I understand that, ostensibly, he was trying to make nice with the city, but the whole column seemed inappropriately egotistical. Why say things like: “[I] Tapped the full potential of an internet column in every respect?” And while he noted that the government waited until it was too late to respond, why not actually give names, especially since he purports to be a New England Dem? As Shoals put it: “This isn't just a battle against nature's fury—sickeningly enough, it also involves naming names, holding people accountable, and figuring out how to work things out in spite of the powers that be.”

At 9/03/2005 5:46 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

Fuck that. Maybe Kanye is immature, but how can you criticize him for using a platform and speaking from the heart? He was obviously emotional and not sticking to the prompter like Mike Myers (who is an actor and SNL alum experienced in reading prompters, not a producer/rapper).

And what he actually said was that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." What, you think he does? You think that it would've taken 4 days for a federal response(plus the 2 days in advance when everyone knew a direct hit was inevitable) if this was happening to a city that wasn't over 60% black?

At 9/03/2005 6:15 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Brick, are you serious? The bad preplanning is a major failure of the local/state govt and the mayor. Not only that, but plans were in place regardless of what armchair activists such as yourself want to believe. However, they could not be put in motion until the specifics where known. The fed. govt was astounded by lack of preperation of the local factions and police. The whole plan was to have the local police and other agencies at least hold down the fort until the federal support got there. The problem was that the local help was useless as most of the people stayed in the city for one reason, looting/robbing.


Look at the police. They're awful there. A recent report indicated that about 1/3 of the police force is missing. The missing range from officers who abandoned their job to loot, leave the city that needed help, those shot by looters robbers, and those who have simply lost communication. Bush doesn't have a magic "help" button that was delayed in being pushed because the majority of the city was black.

Yes, kanye was being immature. I can criticize him for using a platform and speaking his mind if his position is that of an ignorant black male who is embarrased by the actions of many african americans in NO and feeling helpless because there is little he can do to directly help, so he starts spouting ignorance and blaming the govt. and bush. The only way i don't blame him for saying that is because he has to do stuff like that because it's in his image. The faux intelligent socially conscious rapper is making him good money. Do you think he actually researched anything about the federal/local/state govs and their plans or do you think he just started blaming people because he didn't know what else to do? He should've bitten his tongue and tried to help by getting people to donate, not by creating a big race issue because this isn't a black crisis. It's an american crisis. Just as he should stick to producing(c'mon, we all know his rapping is a bit weak but tolerable), you brick should stick to basketball.

At 9/03/2005 6:26 PM, Anonymous aug said...

i'd like to apologize for mucking up a comment board of style. It wasn't my intention to bring politics into anything. I posted the kanye link mainly because of how hilarious it is. The other link is also pretty funny in light of the horrible situation. One thing i was wondering...

Am I the only person watching the WNBA playoffs?

At 9/03/2005 6:40 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

You're right, this isn't the place and it accomplishes nothing for me to respond to comments like: “most of the people stayed in the city for one reason, looting/robbing.”

I wouldn't even know where to begin.

At 9/03/2005 7:11 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

if kanye's just being immature, than i suppose the majority of the left-leaning media is, too. and the congressional black caucus.

and while new orleans is a severely fucked-up city, it still is a part of the united states. even if local authorities should have been handling a lot of this themselves (and a lot of that is based on this current administration's highly questionable views on the relationship between state and federal gov'ts), the federal gov't is supposed to be the safety net in situations like this.

desperate times demand desperate measures like, i don't know, washington closely monitoring this thing (repealing the estate tax can wait), and key officials taking a break from their vacations. the minute it became clear that all hell had broken loose, that the police had deserted, that the city hadn't been able to successfuly evacuate the city, SOMETHING should have been done.

i understand that things like large government institutions are cumbersome and mired in buerecracy, and generally must move slowly and as a whole if they move at all. but for christ's sake, you'd think that responding immediately to a national emergency—the outright destruction of one of the country's major regional centers—would be something that FEMA (what's in a name. . ) is not helpless in the face of until all the proper papers are filed.

i know that republicans tend to believe that states are sleek, self-motivated, and better suited to tend to "local" concerns, and the federal government an inefficient dinosaur that, for this reason, is best kept in the background, involving itself in state affairs only after much deliberation (and only when the states take the lead). but when we have to fight a war, the federal government moves almost recklessly to get its way; when we get attacked on 9/11, a military bubble envelops the entire northeast.

if the former is philosophically acceptable, and the latter logistically plausible, why couldn't they improvise at least a partial depressing of the "magical help button?"

and while evacuating citizens and holding down law and order may have been the city's responsibilities, all the factors that are making this such a god-foresaken mess—poverty, inhospitable health care system, poor race relations, incompetent people at FEMA, recognizing that this too is a vital aspect of Homeland Security—are most certainly issues that the federal government should be concerned with.

you tell me who's more immature and ignorant: kanye or bush.

At 9/03/2005 7:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

p.s. brick, i know they need medical professionals to tend to the arriving _______'s (i'm as against "refugees" as anyone else, but not quite sure what to say instead) in austin, and the foodbank is looking for non-weekend volunteers. but i think that at this point just getting enough bedding, etc. is just as important as getting people to hand it out. money always helps, too.

here are two very obvious links with further information:



At 9/03/2005 10:16 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

one last thing: aug, it kind of troubles me that someone who apparently likes freedarko would say that "most of the people stayed in the city for one reason, looting/robbing." i mean, you can think whatever you want (even though this isn't a battle of opinions—you're just flat-out wrong), but i'd hate to think that people can't see that THIS IS A BLOG OF LIBERALS.

At 9/03/2005 11:18 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

if anyone really thinks that this has nothing to do with race, peep this


yeah, i know, liberal media blah blah blah blah

At 9/04/2005 1:30 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I just think, a horrible natural disaster with people dying and the death count in the thousands is not the place to earn cool points by bringing race into it. After the human issue is resolved, and people are displaced, violence in NO is stopped, and rebuilding is starting, then start talking about the other social impacts that this had. As of now, Kanye didn't try to help the relief effort, just earn his political points. I agree with kanye on many points, the main reason i find him as an immature idiot at the moment is his timing. People forget all the problems places that were actually hit the hardest(mississippi area had the eye go directly over them) are having. Mainly because there is no violence there. That's why help got there sooner and they're already rebuilding. 2 reasons: better preperation by local/state govt such as coordinating with fed. govt and just getting ready for the storm, and they don't have the widescale shootings,rapes, looting, and just violence in general.

It's all about timing gentleman. I'm very liberal minded as well, but i don't go around pointing fingers at "big govt" because it's fashionable in the middle of a HUMAN(not racial) travesty. In a month, let the racial /wealth/class debates begin.

Until then, someone figure out a way to stop the Connecticut Sun, because it ain't happening anytime soon.

At 9/04/2005 4:25 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i don't really think you can compare what happened in new orleans, where miles and miles of densely populated neighborhoods were completely destroyed, to what happened in mississippi and alabama. you're talking about society as we know it being wiped out as far as the eye could see.

but what you're saying now makes a lot more sense to me, even though i still think that outrage over the racial aspect doesn't necessarily detract from the relief effort. . .it's part of what's motivating so many people to do something about it.

and like i said, i have no illusion about what kind of city new orleans was before this, and how this may have complicated the relief effort. but that's something that should've been overcome, not used as an excuse. on top of that, the fact that cities can end up like new orleans (pre-katrina) is almost certainly something that should concern the federal gov't; the fact that guns were everywhere is partly the fault of the people that lived there, but should also make us think about just what washington's doing to take care of cities.

i'm not such a bleeding hear liberal that i don't believe in people not being held responsible for their actions just because they're poor and/or black. but the government is might itself, and should redouble their efforts to restore order and save people. . . not give up or back off because of it. that's what we're doing in iraq, isn't it?

same thing for city and state governments. . if they're fucked up and less than capable (given the tremendous rate of police desertion, and the troubled state of NOLA beforehand, i don't think that it's fair to call it incompetence), all the more reason for the federal gov't to step in.

i don't think that kanye's comments were posturing. he spoke from the heart, and even if he was a little over the top and uncouth about it, i don't think there's any doubting his sinsurrity or desire to do something about the situation.

and given how consistently exploitative and inappropriate the right has been in its use of 9/11, Iraq, and just about anything else tragic that they felt they could milk for political capitol, what's so bad about someone on the left making this about politics (esp. when, unlike the republicans, there's some truth to what he's saying?)

they've gained the moral high ground by telling lies when emotions ran high; why are we forfeiting it if we make somewhat valid accusations under similar circumstacnes?

in a perfect world, no one would think about race or class here, or what this says about the government's views on them. then again, in that world, these wouldn't be such hot-button issues in the first place.

At 9/04/2005 6:23 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i'm not trying to downplay what happened in any other city, but in those places it was just a matter of withstanding the initial impact, which some buildings or blocks did and some didn't. that was a colossal storm shredding communities; new orleans was wiped off of the map, with thousands of people still in it.

At 9/04/2005 7:20 PM, Anonymous aug said...

I hear ya BS. I don't even want to get started on the ineptness of the govt on all levels.

Poor new orleans didn't have a chance though. The city was basically built in a bowl underwater and it's almost impossible to defend against a storm of that magnitude. It's funny, there was an article in Popular Science Magazine in April 2005 about this exact situation. It said that a cat 5 hurricane hitting the right spot would basically turn NO into atlantis because of the design of the city. The author was saying something needed to be done about it before a hurricane hit there but then added the probability of a Cat 5 hurricane directly hitting NO would be so low to the point where it would only happen every 500 years or so. Oops.

BS, we're on the same page here, i just think we're taking different routes there.

At 9/04/2005 7:29 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

Shoals is nicer than I am. Anyone who actually believes that "most of the people stayed in the city for one reason, looting/robbing," isn't liberal minded.

At 9/04/2005 8:03 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

i see where aug's coming from. . .if i forget he ever made that remark about the looters.

but given the tone of irony, sarcasm, and needless flippancy that usually prevails on here, i'm not going to let one off-hand remark disqualify everything else he said. if that was the case, i'd have blown my credibility a long time ago.

At 9/04/2005 8:22 PM, Anonymous aug said...

Brick, grow up. What i said was a bit exagerrated and didn't word it properly. I was writing hastily as it's a comment on a blog and not an article and shouldn't have said it. However,you're allowed grow up and discuss the situation, and not just harp on a single sentence without adding anything.

But because this is the one post that gets a lot of reads, i was serious earlier. Do any of you watch the WNBA playoffs? I try to make time to watch some playoff games and all the finals(never the regular season. kinda like the nhl/mlb). It sure is sloppy, but has some good moments. Last year's finals had one very very good game.

At 9/05/2005 5:51 PM, Anonymous brickowski said...

I probably should have just let sleeping dogs lie, but this whole incident frustrated me immensely. Watching coverage of New Orleans feels like having heavy objects flung at me for days. I was happy to hear Kanye spoke out. Shoals nominated him for FBP. And then you post and make it sound like it’s the funniest fucking thing in the world to see this rapper speak his mind (as if “emotionally” reading from a prompter is somehow a more sane reaction to the shit we all witnessed then conveying unscripted, almost-to-the-point-of-tears frustration at what had occurred??).

I responded with my opinion on Kanye’s speech. I corrected your misquote, said there’s nothing wrong with speaking from the heart, and indicated that I agreed that race played a significant role in the Govt’s response. You, in turn, try to stifle my opinion by calling me an “armchair activist” and telling me to “stick to basketball.” Why pull that shit? I’ve never claimed to be an expert on anything, and while sometimes I might sound “screechingly autistic” about the Spurs, I actually am capable about discussing other things. Less than a year ago I was in Louisiana working on congressional runoffs, so I do have some recent experience with the state’s politics and class tensions (I’m not a politician, but I know a lil bit).

Then Shoals posts and basically agrees that race was a factor and that Kanye was sinsurr (albeit with a good deal more information and in a more reasoned, coherent, and stylish shoals kind of way). To his credit, Shoals clearly has more patience than I do. Having already spent the previous couple of days feeling like a total schmuck for engaging in stupid Spurs blog bickering while society was collapsing, and having felt a combination of anger/dejection at what you wrote, I decided it was best to walk away (I wouldn’t give a second thought if I read this at byroncrawford, but FreeDarko?).

But Shoals restated the 2 things I said, and suddenly it’s all good? What the fuck? Suddenly, we’re all on the same page and you’re a “very liberal minded person?” Nah. It doesn’t work that way. You can’t just say ignorant shit and then walk away, especially when both Shoals and I re-quoted you—all but begging for some clarification. What young dude wants to think of himself as a conservative minded person? And if the right gets to claim “realist,” well, the least I can do is not allow you to wrongfully use “liberal.” (And what’s with this rapid-response tip you’re on? I haven’t seen you comment in weeks, and now you’re replying every hour and trying to get people to talk about the WNBA playoffs).

Anyone who’s read the comments on this blog over the last few months knows that I’ve said more than my share of stupid shit. But let’s be real: there’s stupid shit (said about goofy NBA athletes and teams)…and then there’s declaring that the majority of people still in New Orleans are there because they did the math and decided that it was worth it to wade through sewage contaminated water and go for days without food, water, shelter, security or any sort of comfort as long as they could score some new kicks and a flatscreen at the end of the day. I’m sorry, but all this talk about looting is the biggest fucking red-herring.

You can say I haven’t added anything new to the discussion. Fine. I was happy to see that FreeDarko cares about things beyond roundball (as I was pretty sure they would), but just as I don’t turn to the Times or Kos for my NBA information/discussion, I don’t come to Darko for political debate. I’m sure you’ll come back and call me names. Whatever, I’m done. Respond 5 times for all I care.


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