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These are gonna be as hot as those FREE WINONA shirts.
June 26, 2009 11:22 AM   Subscribe

It all started with a t-shirt. When Tulane University art historian Thomas Bayer posted a list of thirteen reasons why Brad Pitt, whose local Make It Right Foundation builds post-Katrina homes in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward, should become New Orleans' next mayor (among them: New Orleans will become the magnet for conventions of professional women’s organizations worldwide. The warm glow of pink Cadillacs will illuminate our Southern nights. This mass of sensually charged femininity will attract male visitors eager to contribute their economic stimulus. ), a local entrepreneur whipped up a t-shirt designed to draft Brad. With many anxiously awaiting the end of Mayor Ray Nagin (Nagin's Last Day bumper stickers have popped up in town) and the Jolie-Pitts known for their New Orleans aid, the story's gotten legs.

Media outlets, both gosspiy and newsy, have picked up the story. There's even speculation as to whether Angelina's after a bigger political prize.
posted by liketitanic (50 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Tyler Durden in the city of Ignatius J. Reilly?
That is the best Project Mayhem idea ever.

Homes! Ikea Furniture! Anarchy! Dr Nut sodas! Paradise Hot Dogs!

Sign me up!

But I'll pass on the shirt, though.
posted by willmize at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hate to ask this, but really, what's the likelihood of a white person being elected NO mayor?
posted by ethnomethodologist at 11:32 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate to ask this, but really, what's the likelihood of a white person being elected NO mayor?

I thought "after the levies broke" the racial geography of the city changed. I could be wrong but i know a lot of people evacuated to austin and houston and end up staying where ever they were evacuated to.

Geologically speaking NO should be considered uninhabitable, of course the same could be said for SF and Seatle/Tacoma.
posted by djduckie at 11:35 AM on June 26, 2009


In 2006 it was 52% for Nagin and 48% for Landrieu, who is white, and who is not a hugely popular movie star that has donated a shit ton of time, money, and resources to the city.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:36 AM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is playing poolside at the W Hotel in the French Quarter this weekend. And it's cooling off from the recent record high temps around here, or at least we're getting rain that cools it off at times during the day, so I might go. I'll let you know if it's a political event in disguise, along with an excuse to gulp down cocktails while socializing and paying little or no attention to the movie, whilst people occasionally strip to their underwear, jump into the pool, etc.
posted by raysmj at 11:38 AM on June 26, 2009


Although people (myself included) generally balk at movie stars who want to get involved in politics, I'd love to see him actually do this. NOLA needs someone with an obvious desire to help the city and the clout/status to get things done.
posted by Roman Graves at 11:40 AM on June 26, 2009


What, Harry Connick Jr. too B-listy?
posted by schleppo at 11:47 AM on June 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


America treats celebrities as nobility; I've always felt like Pitt and Jolie took that attitude and attached a sense of noblesse oblige - for being able to act reasonably well and being very attractive, we have given to them great power and wealth, and they've consistently responded by using that power and wealth more responsibly than most people in their position. "Mayor Brad Pitt" seems at least as reasonable as Governor Schwarzenegger, and in some ways more so, because running a city is more of a pragmatic crunchy affair, as opposed to the more frequently ideological choices that go into state-level politics. It's also a much less inherently glamorous position.

I have no horse in this race, as I live a hell of a long way from NOLA. But from what I've seen, if I lived there, I'd give him some serious consideration.
posted by Tomorrowful at 11:54 AM on June 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I thought "after the levies broke" the racial geography of the city changed. I could be wrong but i know a lot of people evacuated to austin and houston and end up staying where ever they were evacuated to.

Half-right. A lot of people evacuated to Lafayette, Austin, Dallas and mostly Houston and have been unable to return because the New Orleans government is so shitty. Pitt is trying to help with the biggest problem - getting the Lower Ninth rebuilt, which will then bring back the old residents, which will repair the community that the residents so depended upon. All of this while Nagin treads water and Council President Clarkson (a fucking vile human being) covertly tries to repurpose the old properties of those who have been too poor to return.

So yeah, Mayor of New Orleans would be a horrible job, but Pitt would do a better job of it than anyone else down there currently, and hey, at least you get the perk of living in New Orleans!
posted by Navelgazer at 11:55 AM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I was going laugh at Angelina Jolie as president, but then I remembered we had The Gipper as California Governor, then President, and now we have The Governator. Jesse Ventura in 2012 doesn't sound so crazy any more. I'm looking forward to Terminator vs Lara Croft in 2016.

As a movie.

It would be funny.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:56 AM on June 26, 2009


On a serious note, there's no obvious front-runner at the moment. Nagin, who was never a grass-roots sort of guy before and had no strong ties to the old Civil Rights Era leaders or 7th Ward/Morial political machine, etc., has not concentrated on building a political legacy. A former staffer of his ran for Congress last time out, and got nowhere fast. The city still has a majority black voting population, or so it appears, but an imperfect white person could win with crossover voting against an even more imperfect black candidate, as was proven in 2007 with the win by Jackie Clarkson (mother of a fine actress who surely knows Pitt) against Eastern NOLA council rep Cynthia Willard-Lewis in an at-large race for a City Council seat last year. Otherwise, it's too soon to speculate, although that's not stopping people on the local blogs.
posted by raysmj at 11:57 AM on June 26, 2009


I try every few years, but I just can't hate the Pitt. That wife of his looks like a drag queen and seems obsessed to the point of hysteria with herself, but he seems like an alright dude. He'd be a significant improvement over Ray "AWOL" Nagin, anyway.
posted by littlerobothead at 11:59 AM on June 26, 2009


Brad Pitt? I thought he died yesterday.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:06 PM on June 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


Here is a graph of the number of voters by race in NO since '02.
Here is an article on the about voting in NO post-Katrina.
Pitt winning is not out of the question but I doubt he'd want to as NO politics is bloodsport.
posted by vapidave at 12:10 PM on June 26, 2009


posted by djduckie Geologically speaking NO should be considered uninhabitable, of course the same could be said for SF and Seatle/Tacoma.

Geologically speaking, your assertion is on very shaky ground.
posted by mattdidthat at 12:12 PM on June 26, 2009


... but an imperfect white person could win with crossover voting against an even more imperfect black candidate ... .

i doubt if that's what helena moreno would say.
posted by msconduct at 12:12 PM on June 26, 2009


FREE WINONA with purchase of Winona of equal or greater value.
posted by BrianBoyko at 12:13 PM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


NO politics is bloodsport.

I'd have gone with "continuing crime spree," but "bloodsport" works too.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:13 PM on June 26, 2009


Brad Pitt as mayor of New Orleans makes as much sense as Ray Nagin for the lead role in a major motion picture.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:16 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thank you, my brain just drafted a Pitt for President campaign sign in my head faster that I could stop it.

But you know, I honestly kind of like this idea...
posted by strixus at 12:18 PM on June 26, 2009


posted by twoleftfeet Brad Pitt as mayor of New Orleans makes as much sense as Ray Nagin for the lead role in a major motion picture.

Yeah! Brad Pitt as mayor of New Orleans makes as much sense as Ronald Reagan for president, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura as governors, Al Franken and Fred Thompson as senators, or Fred Grandy as representative!
posted by mattdidthat at 12:22 PM on June 26, 2009


msconduct: That was "even even more imperfect and inexperienced white candidate" against "even even even vastly more imperfect and experienced black incumbent," and it was also in a Congressional race in a district that did not include some of its most conservative, nearly homogenous white sections, including Lakeview. (I live in Mid-City near Bayou St. John, on a street that's a racially mixed--white, black and Hispanic--as any around, and was not in Jefferson's, now Cao's, district, for the record. We just get tossed in with Lakeview in planning districts and whatnot, which is probably the reason for being in District 1.) The 2nd Congressional District of Louisiana and Orleans Parish are not one and the same.
posted by raysmj at 12:24 PM on June 26, 2009


schleppo: What, Harry Connick Jr. too B-listy?

Um, well, yeah.
posted by marginaliana at 12:27 PM on June 26, 2009


Brad Pitt as mayor of New Orleans makes as much sense as Ray Nagin for the lead role in a major motion picture

Being an actor doesn't disqualify you for other jobs, especially when you're playing at the power level that Pitt is, both as an actor and producer. Part of his job is knowing how to get things done. In fact I'd say politics is a logical choice for someone with his skill set. He's obviously adept at surrounding himself with the right people, can inspire confidence (which goes a long way), and...ya know...he cares.
posted by Roman Graves at 12:27 PM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


OK--I got my t-shirt. Where do I sign up to work on his campaign?
posted by govtdrone at 12:37 PM on June 26, 2009


Ray Nagin was a local cable TV exec when he was elected mayor, not a longtime pol. What did his exec experience at local cable office have to do with governing? Apparently very little.
posted by raysmj at 12:46 PM on June 26, 2009


I guess that you have to ask yourself: what are the odds that Pitt would want to take a huge pay cut to do one of the most thankless jobs in American politics, when he's still at the height of his movie earning power? Nothing against Pitt, who seems like a super-decent guy, but why would he want to deal with all the hassles of negotiating with different city departments, legislative bodies, citizen groups etc. when he now has the power to make stuff happen by recording a PSA and cutting a check? Give him another ten years or so and he might run for Senate or something.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:48 PM on June 26, 2009


Ah, was going to include this example of Pitt's super-decency.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:49 PM on June 26, 2009


I want to point out just what an awesome organization the Make it Right Foundation is. I visited New Orleans this spring, I spent a morning helping Make it Right sod a lawn for a new house, and I got a walking tour of their project.

This non-profit has bought up much of the property in the really bombed-out part of the lower 9th ward, the area right near the levee break. This is where the water was still moving with a lot of force, so the housing got wiped out, annihilated. Using local architects and local construction companies, Make it Right develops and builds LEED platinum-certified*, sustainable single family housing. They then sell back these houses to the displaced families at prices commensurate with their insurance payouts.

All in all, it's a really cool program, and Brad Pitt spearheads the whole thing.

*LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and is a certification process for buildings. In the architecture world, its used as a metric for how green/environmentally friendly a building is. There's basically a set of criteria the building has to meet, and a building passes or fails accordingly. Platinum is the highest rating. It's pretty badass for something small, like a single family home, to have platinum certification.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 12:58 PM on June 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think I ever heard Bratt Pitt speak with Jolie around. Does he?
posted by dasheekeejones at 1:12 PM on June 26, 2009


I really want to hate Brad Pitt. But I can't shake the suspicion that he's actually a talented, smart and decent human being. But who in their right mind would want to be mayor of New Orleans?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:16 PM on June 26, 2009


Up-front disclaimer: I am a huge Brad Pitt fan. Seriously. Always have been, and yes I endure the "man-crush" jokes and all the shit I get from the hopelessly ignorant for it.

Up-front disclaimer #2: I am also an environmentalist, to the level of "keeps worm bin in basement."

Those two things said, I question the Make it Right Foundation's decision to make rebuilt homes LEED platinum certified. Because that generally makes them cost a freaking mint, and it seems like if you could get three houses built for the price of one LEED house, in this case, shouldn't you do it?

I know, ask Google, but anyone have any info on why and how they justify that? I see an awful lot of product brand names on the MIRF website. Perhaps they're getting materials for promotion, and that's how it works.
posted by rusty at 1:21 PM on June 26, 2009


Rusty,

I share your concern about the cost of LEED status, and I can offer you some vaguely anecdotal evidence.

When I was on the project site, I actually asked the "Make it Right" project leader about the high cost of the houses. My question was basically: " I know these green houses must be really expensive. How do the homeowners finance this? How can these guys, who didn't have money to begin with, afford it ?"

She didn't really tell me why they insisted on LEED certified houses at the cost of an arm and a leg, but she did talk a lot about how the cost wasn't passed onto the family, because the mortgage they give the family is somehow commensurate with their insurance payout, etc. (my recollection is vague on this point).

I always figured the houses were green and LEED certified because that is the way Brad wants it.
posted by HabeasCorpus at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


i, too, think brad pitt is probably a talented, smart and decent human being. that doesn't make him a good candidate for political office (and would probably be a detriment). and while i applaud his efforts in the 9th ward, i think they were & are misguided.

the area where make it right is building is a wasteland. it was before katrina, and it's no better now, not even with international publicity and the prettiest boy in the world behind it. and in spite of what you might believe, the 9th ward wasn't the hardest hit area in the city; mirf's own literature shows that lakeview had twice as much water. right up the road in chalmette some places had seventeen feet of water. but chalmette is bubbaville (built on white flight during the 70s/80s) & lakeview is full of middle & upper-middle class white people who by & large had insurance. they don't get a lot of sympathy. the homes that have rebuilt are looking very good. but i'd estimate that only 1/6 to 1/4 of the homes in lakeview are rebuilt & occupied. (haven't been thru chalmette enough to estimate population return.) given as how lakeview is where a large chunk of the city's tax base used to be, it will be interesting to see how new orleans is going to fare in the next decade.

maybe it's sour grapes. i'm a middle aged middle class white woman who got screwed by her insurance company & fleeced by a contractor. i was back in early october living without electricity or gas while i tried to muck out my house & figure out what my next step would be. i've come a long way since fall of 2005, but i did it myself because there ain't nobody who gives a damn about me & thousands of people just like me--people who are *still* trying to pull it together & put the chapter titled 'katrina' to bed. and we're trying to pull it together while holding down fulltime jobs and dealing with all the other shit life throws at a human being.

i'm over the oohs and the aahs, and i stopped waiting for brad pitt to come rescue *me* a long time ago. what i wish is that if he wants to rebuild new orleans green, that he'd provide a couple resources so the rest of us who want to do that have the opportunity without having to go to dallas or alabama to pick up basic green building materials. so that we'd be able to find a reliable, reputable, skilled labor force who knows how to work with the materials. and to maybe help to make it affordable. because for those of us who have been able to make it this far on our own, it gets tedious watching people figuratively pat half-assed efforts on the head & say, 'aw, that's so nice. and he's really, really hot.'

i'll just haul my cross out & put it right here next to the pile of stones to make it easy for y'all to crucify me. save you some trouble.
posted by msconduct at 1:47 PM on June 26, 2009 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I wasn't thinking they were gonna try to sell them to lower 9th returnees at LEED prices, because, like, no one could afford them. I certainly couldn't afford one. People a lot richer than me still can't afford to build a LEED platinum house.* I was more thinking that eating that cost has got to make the overall organization a lot less effective.

"The way Brad wants it" is probably right. What's funny is, if this organization is actually successful, we'll see the lower 9th become a desirable address for wealthier people, who will gladly pay four times what the returnees paid for these houses (which look fabulous and still will cost less at 400% profit than they would cost to build), and gentrification marches on...

----
* And in some ways, that's a criticism of the LEED program. It gets a lot of attention to the concept, which is good, but currently it's still kind of a fantasy. These things are not, in the real world, actually being built and used. They're ebing built at a huge loss and exhibited to drum up (conventional) business for builders and building material companies.
posted by rusty at 1:55 PM on June 26, 2009


Yeah! Brad Pitt as mayor of New Orleans makes as much sense as Ronald Reagan for president, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura as governors, Al Franken and Fred Thompson as senators, or Fred Grandy as representative!

Don't forget two-term Rep. Ben "Cooter" Jones.

Also, good on Pitt and Jolie. NO could certainly do worse than Pitt for mayor.
posted by notashroom at 2:00 PM on June 26, 2009


I go back and forth on the Make It Right Stuff...It's not like shotgun style homes were some feat of architecture to begin with, but the new ones are platinum certified sore thumbs. The garishness of the elements to Leeds certification seems to have prevented them from becoming an organic part of the NO landscape.
posted by redsparkler at 2:14 PM on June 26, 2009


I wish they were greener, but plainer. In other words...sending a message that becoming an environmentally responsible home DOESN'T have to cost a bajillion bucks and look freakishly shiny.
posted by redsparkler at 2:16 PM on June 26, 2009


I had no idea that Pitt was involved in the reconstruction. That's actually really cool.

I kinda get a kick out the fact that the #1 reason on the shirt is that Brad Pitt is hot, and that #3 is that his hot wife would be the first lady.
posted by quin at 2:20 PM on June 26, 2009


But it's reconstructing expensive homes in an area where all of this could very well happen again. This is uninhabitable land. Why do people not realize that? I know there is history there but the world will always win out. Geologist were not suprised by this disaster and building expensive LEED platinum houses in a catastrophic flood plain just lacks any sense to me.
posted by djduckie at 2:39 PM on June 26, 2009


You've heard of Gun Boat Diplomacy, right? With President Bradjolina it would be Dreamboat Diplomacy.

Who would start a war with us? Nobody. All President Bradjolina would have to do is say "Look. Let our weapons inspectors in and you can bang President Bradjolina. 'Kay?"

Against President Bradjolina? No can defend.
posted by tkchrist at 2:59 PM on June 26, 2009


"Mayor Brad Pitt" seems at least as reasonable as Governor Schwarzenegger, and in some ways more so, because running a city is more of a pragmatic crunchy affair, as opposed to the more frequently ideological choices that go into state-level politics. It's also a much less inherently glamorous position.

Ask more than a few Californians and you're likely to hear that nothing reasonable has resulted from Schwarzenegger's term as Gullyfornya's governor.
posted by notyou at 3:02 PM on June 26, 2009


But it's reconstructing expensive homes in an area where all of this could very well happen again. This is uninhabitable land. Why do people not realize that? I know there is history there but the world will always win out.

But is this really any different from people live in areas of California that are prone to mud slides or wildfires? I think that sometimes people just point at a spot and say, "I'm going to live here and I don't give a rats-ass about the risks; fire, rain, wind, zombies? Doesn't matter. This is my home."
posted by quin at 3:23 PM on June 26, 2009


liketitanic: Nagin's Last Day bumper stickers have popped up in town

Nagin's Last Day website (warning: music and terrible web-design)
posted by djeo at 3:24 PM on June 26, 2009


There's a huge difference between Pitt and Reagan, Schwarzenegger, Ventura or all the other celebrities who retired from film-making to start a political career. According to Forbes, Brad Pitt is currently the ninth most powerful celebrity on the planet (and Angelina Jolie is #1), unlike the others who either never had or had already lost that kind of prominence when they began politics. It would be incredibly stupid to step down from a position where he could have an influence on a zillion matters of international interest just so he could spend his time on the minutiae of one city.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:31 PM on June 26, 2009


I'm all for Brad as a mayor, so long as he plays the character of Jeffrey Goines from "12 Monkeys" the entire time.
posted by orme at 3:35 PM on June 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


It's not like shotgun style homes were some feat of architecture to begin with ...

i tell people that shotgun houses are the precusor to the trailer.
posted by msconduct at 4:22 PM on June 26, 2009


President Jolie. I don't know what to think of that.
posted by DU at 4:52 PM on June 26, 2009


But it's reconstructing expensive homes in an area where all of this could very well happen again. This is uninhabitable land. Why do people not realize that?

Funny how this "uninhabitable" land has supported a city for hundreds of years.

But is this really any different from people live in areas of California that are prone to mud slides or wildfires?

This.
posted by brundlefly at 5:24 PM on June 26, 2009


msconduct: I know you feel abandoned. Know that there are many of us all over the country who have not forgotten and continue to volunteer and donate to help your city. There are organizations that would be glad to help you if you could still use construction assistance. I've worked with Project Homecoming and I know they recognize that natural disaster affects everyone and have helped people of every income level.

But it's reconstructing expensive homes in an area where all of this could very well happen again. This is uninhabitable land. Why do people not realize that? I know there is history there but the world will always win out. Geologist were not suprised by this disaster and building expensive LEED platinum houses in a catastrophic flood plain just lacks any sense to me.

If you bother to go to the Make it Right website, you can see, as I saw last summer in the Lower 9th, that they're building the houses on stilts. I hope that helps you sleep better at night. And I hope you don't live in or value any of the other cities that have areas that sit below sea level, like Miami, DC, New York, Amsterdam, Venice, etc etc etc.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:47 PM on June 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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