the oilpocalypse

no, it’s not a “spill” or a “leak” when we’re at 4 million gallons of oil spewed into the gulf and counting…

ever since the deepwater horizon oil rig blew up on april 20th, and then sank on the 22nd, i’ve been trying not to spend too much time thinking about all the ways in which louisiana, the gulf coast, and the life of every person and creature contained therein is now screwed. jazz fest was a good distraction, but now that it’s over and the crisis only gets worse and worse, it’s hard to put it to the back of my mind anymore. also, it smells bad in new orleans whenever we get southerly winds. when that happens, every time you walk out of your house (and sometimes even inside your house), you are reminded again about this clusterfuck of a disaster.

i won’t go into all the latest updates or any more of a rant, cuz there are many others who are far more eloquent and have much more of a grasp of the details and scope of this disaster. if you want news, you can check’s coverage which is pretty decent. there’s no shortage of coverage in the news online, on tv/radio or in print. details are ever-changing about the status of the effort to contain the oil and where the slick in the gulf has spread. i am not a news reporter, so i will not attempt to cover that kind of territory.

i am, however, an artist and intermittent t-shirt designer. so what i would like to pass along is some of the early response from my more successful peers, all of whom are donating proceeds of their oilpocalypse-inspired designs to organizations helping with the disaster response.

the first shirt i saw was from shultzilla, called “built to spill” and featuring a play on the “drill baby drill” stupidity of certain boneheads on the far-right end of the political spectrum. i think it’s clever but it doesn’t resonate graphically with me personally, though i appreciate the visual and word play involved. he says he’s donating proceeds to some local organization involved in the response, but he hasn’t figured out which one yet. (he’s taking suggestions.)

the second one i saw was fleurty girl’s “rescue me” sea turtle shirt (above). the graphic is cute while still making its point very effectively; she printed them using soy inks, so as not to utilize any petroleum products; and she’s donating 100% of the profits to the Audubon Institute’s Louisiana Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Program (LMMSTRP). i follow her on twitter, where i read that she got 500 pre-orders for the shirt almost immediately after putting up the web link, and she’s already sold 1000 of them, adding up to a $10,000 donation (so far) to LMMSTRP, which is frigging amazing. all in just a few days this week. i have to be honest – i haven’t always been the biggest fan of fleurty girl’s designs, graphically, but as a business she won me over during the whole “who dat” controversy and i was genuinely glad for her that it ended up being the best thing that could have happened to her business. and now this. this is pretty amazing, to have raised so much money so fast for such a great cause. it’s a wonderful example of how one person – or one very small business – can make a huge difference. and, well, validates the power of design via the t-shirt. i tip my squeegee to you and your entire team, lauren thom. keep up the good work!

but then thursday, i saw blake haney of dirty coast tweeting their new design. that day, it looked like this:

i LOVED the appropriation of the familiar tobasco hot sauce label logo to read “fiasco” (which several bloggers and tweeps have been using as their icons in the past few days). and i loved that it was a take-off of dirty coast‘s own make wetlands not war design that was popular post-katrina. (i always wanted to get one of the prints of this design to frame for my walls.) but then friday, as i was starting to write this blog entry, when i went to pull up all the reference pages including theirs, this is what i found:

so i guess something made them change it between thursday and friday. i still like it, though, despite the loss of the “fiasco” cleverness. and since i never got one of the “make wetlands not war” shirts, i’m happy to pick up one of these. this oil disaster isn’t going to go away anytime soon, and i’ve long been a critic of the oil industry and our continued drilling off the coast of louisiana (and elsewhere), so it won’t go out of fashion. dirty coast is donating proceeds of this design to the united commercial fisherman’s association, too, which makes me feel even better about indulging in a t-shirt purchase. (update: as of sunday afternoon, none of the now three variations i’ve seen of this design are available on the dirty coast website. i have an email into blake to find out what’s going on over there, but haven’t heard back. will update again when i know what the status is.)

i started writing this post on friday. yesterday, i decided to head down to the rally in lafayette square put on by the sierra club in response to the oil disaster. i heard about it via facebook but worried that the word hadn’t really gotten out about it. also, it was scheduled for a saturday, which in this town is never good for a protest/demonstration/rally. we woke up late yesterday after a big night of movie-watching (iron man 2) on friday night, so i didn’t actually arrive until about an hour into the event, which was scheduled for 12pm – 2pm.

these gals were standing out on st. charles across from gallier hall, getting motorists to honk in support. a handful of various environmental non-profits were set up, getting folks to sign petitions and handing out literature to educate people about what their organizations were doing in response to the disaster. there was a stage set up on the st. charles side, but i missed most of the music and all of the speakers. eventually, mardi gras indian big chief monk boudreaux did come on stage for a set.

i’m not really sure how much of a crowd was there earlier in the proceedings, but by the time i got there, it was dwindling. i’d say a hundred at the most. aside from the non-profit tables, there was this huge banner laid out on the ground and folks were asked to sign it with their thoughts on the disaster. the banner read “this is your crude awakening.” i didn’t really catch what they were going to do with the banner, or which group was sponsoring it. but i liked the idea, nonetheless.

i stuck around for about 45 minutes, long enough to hear the opening number by the big chief and to get my free “clean it up” t-shirt from the sierra club, after signing their petition.

simple. to the point. and i like the color. now if i can just get my noggin to thinking so i can come up with my own t-shirt design about all this. i feel like i’d rather go in a more positive direction, like the “save the coast,” “defend the coast,” or “save the wetlands,” but all i keep thinking is something along the lines of “when are we ever going to learn?” i’m mad and sad – heartbroken, really – at the same time, so i’m not really sure how to capture that in a t-shirt. but i’ll keep thinking.

unitasker blues…

oh my god, i’m SO not good at multitasking. my girlfriend calls me a unitasker – and she’s right. my brain just works that way. when i have something i’m working on, i like finishing it entirely before i move on to the next. and more often than not, i have a hard time switching gears to do something else if the previous thing isn’t done. so i will own it – i’m a unitasker, yep.

this is relevant only to explain just how scattered i feel right now. i think i mentioned in previous posts that i got hired for a temporary job enumerating for the census. (that means i go door to door trying to count/get info on all the folks who didn’t turn in their census form by april 1st.) it pays really well, and i made it through the first week of training last week just fine. (it was kinda boring to have the training manual read verbatim to me, but that’s how the gov’t does it and i was happy to take their $17.50/hr to sit there and listen.) this week has been sort of on-the-job training in the field, as we’ve all been sent out to tackle our first assignments. strangely enough, i’m finding i actually kinda like the work. it’s a little like being a detective sometimes, and since they started me off in my own neighborhood, it’s been nice getting to meet and get to know some of my neighbors. also contrary to my expectations, i’ve learned i’m pretty good at this. i guess my ever-so-brief stint as a paralegal/investigator for the death penalty defense law firm a decade ago taught me a few handy skills after all.

so yeah, i like the census work ok but the hours have slowed down as the week has gone on, because the higher-ups want us all to finish our first assignments completely before giving us any more. quality control, i guess. many of us, including me, have just one or two locations in our assigned areas to complete (can’t find the folks that live there home, keep going back at all hours of the day/evening trying to find them but so far no luck), which ends up meaning that on a day like today, i only get to log in the 10-15 minutes it takes me to knock on each door and have no one answer. i’ll be lucky if i clock in 2 hours of work today, sadly, unless i get lucky later in the day and find them. (that ain’t gonna pay the bills!)

in the absence of census work today, though, i’m finally getting the time to start listening to all the cds that have been piling up on my desk for my music column that was due, of course, several days ago. so far, lots of interesting stuff, including the new kelis album, deluka (which sorta sounds like a uk version of von iva to me), and this really great queer ragtime/vaudeville artist named sabrina chap (who sounds just like ani difranco vocally on several cuts, but her music is more diverse). i hope i can get through the whole stack today and decide what i’ll be featuring, and maybe even start writing.

meanwhile, fae’s son charles is in town for a week visiting – he just arrived yesterday. they are out running errands right now, but, you know, i’m trying to make time to hang out and do stuff with them, too, while he’s here.

and have i mentioned? i have to finish watching about a dozen lesbian/feminist films so i can then sit down and program the film fest for michfest this summer. by the end of may. ugh.

sadly, my crafty life seems a bit on hold at the moment until i get better at managing my work flow and extraneous projects. i did really well at jen’s jazz fest art show, selling lots of t-shirts, several signs and one clock. better than last year, even, which makes me really happy and grateful (thanks again jen!). but it leaves me in a bit of a dilemma, feeling like i don’t really have a very good amount of stock to be heading into the bayou boogaloo on the 22nd-23rd, which is my next and only market i have scheduled before the crippling heat of summer hits us. so i have to find time to strategize about that: make some more clocks and signs, print some more t-shirts, maybe even come up with a new design or two? it’s just one of my biggest opportunities all year to sell a lot of crafty wares, so i’d hate to miss out. but how to find the time?

also, while i’m talking about the bayou boogaloo… some of you will remember that last year the new orleans craft mafia did a wildly successful t-shirt recycling/reconstructing workshop out at the boogaloo. we were mobbed with people excited to learn how to make tote bags, halter tops and skirts out of their old t-shirts, and we got a lot of great press from it, too. plus it was a lot of fun! so how could we not do it again this year? therefore, of course, we are. we’ll be out there selling our eco-friendly and recycled wares, and then also doing two days of free workshops – 12pm-5pm on saturday the 22nd and 1pm-4pm on sunday. we’re looking for volunteers who’d like to help us cut and sew and direct traffic, and we’re also looking for your old t-shirt donations! (now i’m not talking stained and holes-worn-through old t-shirts, but rather stuff you’re not wearing anymore that’s still in nice wearable shape that you’d like to get out of your house and perhaps onto someone else as a skirt or halter or bag!) t-shirt donations can be dropped off early to unique products (2038 magazine street) or whole foods uptown during biz hours or just bring it to the boogaloo – we’ll have a donation box out. spread the word!

so see – what’s a unitasker to do? i really need to be working on ALL these things at the same time, but wow is that hard for me. it’s a major accomplishment that i’ve even managed to update this blog today while doing something else – even if it is just listening to cds. (don’t even get me started on all the various blog posts i want to be writing, on topics ranging from the last few episodes of treme, which i finally found online to watch, to the new police chief in nola, and the goddamn oilpocalypse happening out in the gulf and currently washing up on louisiana’s shores.)

i guess i’ll just keep trucking along, doing the best i can. it’s all i can do.