Pierre Garcon pleads for Haitian help as the Colts advance

By  Kyle Walke

Source: Pierre Garcon via Facebook

Indianapolis Colts receiver Pierre Garcon was a virtual unknown four months ago.  Now, he’s catching touchdowns from four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning.  However within one week, Garcon’s extraordinary life has taken a major turn. On January 12th his family’s homeland of Haiti was devastated by a level 7.0 quake.  With an estimated hundreds of thousands dead, and countless more unaccounted for, Garcon’s focus has been drawn away from the playoffs and more on the safety of his relatives.

Garcon, who was born of Haitian descent, was raised in the United States, but still has family living in Haiti.  Typically upbeat with a glowing smile, Garcon seemed physically exhausted as he met the press with updates after the game.   Last Wednesday Garcon said, “I’ve heard from some family, got some good information, but were still looking for the rest of them.”  Contacting relatives has been extremely difficult due to power outages and mass displacement of people.

In a request Garcon posted this on his Twitter account, “We need the US military as soon as possible n haiti We need the four million Haitian that live out side of haiti to Act now, we need da world!”  A powerful plea from a man desperate for help, Garcon is offering autographed memorabilia for donations to the Haiti relief fund at his website: http://garconauthentic.com/.

Garcon rarely played his rookie season, but is having a standout year with 47 receptions and four touchdowns.  Coming into the playoffs the Colts were the number one seed, but they seemed to stumble to the finish line losing their last two games of the year.  In the biggest game of the Colt’s season they faced a stingy Baltimore Ravens team in the AFC Divisional game.  Up to the challenge Garcon made his presence felt with 5 catches and a potential game saving forced fumble after safety Ed Reed made an interception.

After the game Garcon celebrated the Indianapolis victory draped in the Haitian flag. Upon the national emblem in fine print reads: “L’Union Fait La Force.” ” In Union There is Strength.”  A motto fitting for both a team fighting to win it all and a country struggling to survive.

If you’d like to help, please visit Pierre’s website at http://garconauthentic.com/







Haiti Relief Aid Slowly Reaching Victims

The Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Precious water, food and early glimmers of hope began reaching parched and hungry earthquake survivors Saturday on the streets of this shattered city, where despair at times turned into a frenzy among the ruins.

“People are so desperate for food that they are going crazy,” said accountant Henry Ounche, in a crowd of hundreds who fought one another as U.S. military helicopters clattered overhead carrying aid.

When other Navy choppers dropped rations and Gatorade into a soccer stadium thronged with refugees, 200 youths began brawling, throwing stones, to get at the supplies.

Across the hilly, steamy city, where people choked on the stench of death, hope faded by the hour for finding many more victims alive in the rubble, four days after Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake.

Still, here and there, the murmur of buried victims spurred rescue crews on, even as aftershocks threatened to finish off crumbling buildings.

“No one’s alive in there,” a woman sobbed outside the wrecked Montana Hotel. But hope wouldn’t die. “We can hear a survivor,” search crew chief Alexander Luque of Namibia later reported. His men dug on. Elsewhere, an American team pulled a woman alive from a collapsed university building where she had been trapped for 97 hours. Another crew got water to three survivors whose shouts could be heard deep in the ruins of a multistory supermarket that pancaked on top of them.

Nobody knew how many were dead. Haiti’s government alone has already recovered 20,000 bodies not counting those recovered by independent agencies or relatives themselves, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive told The Associated Press.

In a fresh estimate, the Pan American Health Organization said 50,000 to 100,000 people perished in the quake. Bellerive said 100,000 would “seem to be the minimum.” Truckloads of corpses were being trundled to mass graves.

A U.N. humanitarian spokeswoman declared the quake the worst disaster the international organization has ever faced, since so much government and U.N. capacity in the country was demolished. In that way, Elisabeth Byrs said in Geneva, it’s worse than the cataclysmic Asian tsunami of 2004: “Everything is damaged.”

Also Saturday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew to Port-au-Prince to pledge more American assistance and said the U.S. would be “as responsive as we need to be.” President Obama met with former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and urged Americans to donate to Haiti relief efforts.

As the day wore on, search teams recovered the body of Tunisian diplomat Hedi Annabi, the United Nations chief of mission in Haiti, and other top U.N. officials who were killed when their headquarters collapsed.

Despite many obstacles, the pace of aid delivery was picking up.

The Haitian government had established 14 distribution points for food and other supplies, and U.S. Army helicopters were reconnoitering for more. With eight city hospitals destroyed or damaged, aid groups opened five emergency health centers. Vital gear, such as water-purification units, was arriving from abroad.

Thousands lined up in the Cite Soleil slum as U.N. World Food Program workers distributed high-energy biscuits there for the first time. As the hot sun set, the crew was down to just a few dozen boxes left from six truckloads. Perhaps 10,000 people were still waiting patiently, futilely, in line.

Seven months’ pregnant, and with two children, 29-year-old Florence Louis clutched her four packets. “It is enough, because I didn’t have anything at all,” she said.

On a hillside golf course, perhaps 50,000 people were sleeping in a makeshift tent city overlooking the stricken capital. Paratroopers of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division flew there Saturday to set up a base for handing out water and food.

After the initial frenzy among the waiting crowd, when helicopters could only hover and toss out their cargo, a second flight landed and soldiers passed out some 2,000 military-issue ready-to-eat meals to an orderly line of Haitians.

More American help was on the way: The U.S. Navy hospital ship Comfort steamed from the port of Baltimore on Saturday and was scheduled to arrive here Thursday. More than 2,000 Marines were set to sail from North Carolina to support aid delivery and provide security.

But for the estimated 300,000 newly homeless in the streets, plazas and parks of Port-au-Prince, help was far from assured.

“They’re already starting to deliver food and water, but it’s mayhem. People are hungry, everybody is asking for water,” said Alain Denis, a resident of the Thomassin district.

Denis’s home was intact, and he and his elderly parents have some reserves, but, he said, “in a week, I don’t know.”

Aid delivery was still bogged down by congestion at the Port-au-Prince airport, quake damage at the seaport, poor roads and the fear of looters and robbers.

The problems at the overloaded airport forced a big Red Cross aid mission to strike out overland from Santo Domingo, almost 200 miles away in the Dominican Republic. The convoy included up to 10 trucks carrying temporary shelters, a 50-bed field hospital and some 60 medical specialists.

“It’s not possible to fly anything into Port-au-Prince right now. The airport is completely congested,” Red Cross spokesman Paul Conneally said from the Dominican capital.

Another convoy from the Dominican Republic steered toward a U.N. base in Port-au-Prince without stopping, its leaders fearful of sparking a riot if they handed out aid themselves.

The airport congestion touched off diplomatic rows between the U.S. military and other donor nations.

France and Brazil both lodged official complaints that the U.S. military, in control of the international airport, had denied landing permission to relief flights from their countries.

Defense Minister Nelson Jobim, who has 7,000 Brazilian U.N. peacekeeping troops in Haiti, warned against viewing the rescue effort as a unilateral American mission.

The squabbling prompted Haitian President Rene Preval, speaking with the AP, to urge all to “keep our cool and coordinate and not throw accusations.”

At a simpler level, unending logistical difficulties dogged the relief effort.

A commercial-sized jet landed with rescue and medical teams from Qatar, only to find problems offloading food aid. They asked the U.S. military for help, surgeon Dr. Mootaz Aly said, and were told: “We’re busy.”

As relief teams grappled with on-the-ground obstacles, the U.S. leadership promised to step up aid efforts. In Washington, Obama joined with his two most recent White House predecessors to appeal for Americans to donate to the cause.

“We stand united with the people of Haiti, who have shown such incredible resilience,” he said.

Their resilience was truly being tested, however.

On a back street in Port-au-Prince, a half-dozen young men ripped water pipes off walls to suck out the few drops inside. “This is very, very bad, but I am too thirsty,” said Pierre Louis Delmar.

Outside a warehouse, hundreds of desperate Haitians simply dropped to their knees when workers for the agency Food for the Poor announced they would distribute rice, beans and other supplies. “They started praying right then and there,” said project director Clement Belizaire.

Children and the elderly were asked to step first into line, and some 1,500 people got food, soap and rubber sandals until supplies ran out, he said.

The aid official was overcome by the tragic scene. “This was the darkest day of everybody living in Port-au-Prince,” he said.


Look tomorrow for two stories. One will be on the Conan/Leno/NBC scandal and the other will be on Pierre Garcon and the Haiti tragedy.

Colts fans howling over bar manager’s barbs

January 15, 2010
Colts fans threatening boycott after Howl at the Moon manager invites Ravens fans to come party in Indianapolis. Blue Crew thinks invite was laced with insults to Indy.

More than 24 hours before kick-off and the hostilities spewing from the Colts-Ravens game are already boiling over.

Colts’ Peyton Manning and Ravens’ Ray Lewis are not involved. But its turning out to be nasty and rancorous all the same.

Lots of the usual suspects—and a few unusual ones—are involved. That is to say, this dispute is between angry fans. And the lines of battle are blurred.

It all started earlier this week when Mike Augustinos, manager of the local downtown bar Howl at the Moon, issued an invitation to Baltimore fans to come visit his bar before, during and after the Colts-Ravens game at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

Nothing wrong with that. After all, Augustinos is a transplant from the Baltimore area, and he has his allegiances.

But the next time he issues an invitation, he might want to consult with a public relations guru. Now he needs a crisis management cognoscente. Either way, Augustinos might want to add Myra Borshoff to his rolodex.

Augustinos put word out on Ravens Roost, a Ravens fan Web site, that Baltimore fans were welcome at Indy’s Howl at the Moon. Trouble is, in the same note, he went out of his way to say how “It sucks living in Colts Country …”

He also kindly pointed out how “horrible” the tailgate scene is in Indy. Eric Griffin, vice president of the Blue Crew, the Colts’ fan club, quickly put his own scathing note on-line, detailing the Crew’s 524-spot downtown parking lot, noting that the Blue Crew is alone among NFL fan clubs that own their own parking lot.

Apparently, Griffin thought Augustinos’ note amounted to fighting words. He wasn’t alone. Augustinos reported to police yesterday that he got several threats, and the Ravens booster apparently took them pretty seriously. OK, not even Myra can help you with that.

“You could do a Ravens promotion without [insert euphemism for dropping fecal matter] on the locals,” Griffin wrote in his note. “I hope that one game makes your annual budget.”

Yikes! Talk about fighting words. Boycott threats like that could certainly hit Howl in the pocketbook.

Augustinos and his bosses at Howl’s corporate tower in Chicago were in a spin mode Thursday that would make Dwight Freeney jealous.

Augustinos passed along a “sincere apology” in his on-line mea culpa.

“My comments never stated anything negative nor were they meant to be interpreted negatively about Colts fans,” Augustinos said in his note. “I, just the same as many of you, am passionate about my team. My comments about “horrible tailgating” were not intended to reflect negatively on the City of Indianapolis, The Indianapolis Colts, nor the fans. I made a bad choice in words when comparing Indianapolis to several other cities that I have been to for NFL games. I was only referring to the sheer size and area that which the tailgating is available takes place in.”

Again, Borshoff’s posse—with a little more carefully worded apology—might have helped kill this crisis once and for all.

But bygones, I say.

After all, Augustinos is the boss at the local Howl as he pointed out in his first letter to Ravens fans. That means he has the last say, sort of.

Bud Light’s for $2 all around on Saturday.

And it doesn’t matter what color jersey you’re wearing as long as the color of your money is green.

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Top 10 Albums of 2009

By Kyle Walke

In no particular order here are my Top Ten albums of 2009.

Animal Collective- Merriweather Post Pavillion (Experimental, Psychedelic pop, Neo-Psychedelia, Indie rock)

Psychedelic pop masters Animal Collective bring a whole new sound to 2009. This album feels like you are a child all over again riding your favorite roller coaster.  Up and down, fast and slow, flashing neon lights are clouded out by memories of nostalgia.

Animal Collective- My Girls

Julian Casablancas- Phrazes for the Young (Indie pop)

Casablancas shines bright on Phrazes for the Young.  At first you might think these are just tracks that should be on a Strokes album, but realistically these songs wouldn’t fit on a Strokes album.  Not better or worse than Casablancas’ previous efforts, these songs just seem to really come alive on his solo venture.  One of the best tracks of the year, “11th Dimension,” is so indie pop, that you can just imagine in some dank dive bar Neil Diamond and Lou Reed are high fiving and arguing over whose buying the next round.

Julian Casablancas- Glass

Discovery- LP (Indie rock, electronic)

LP is the collaborative work of Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot, friends who began recording together in the summer of 2005.  Discovery is truly one of electro pop’s guilty pleasures.  Keyboards galore and an array of synthesizers give this album the feeling of falling in love during the eighties, but in a cotton candy sort of way.

Discovery- Swing Tree

Grizzly Bear- Veckatimest (Psych-folk, Neo-psychedelia, Experimental rock, Lo-fi)

Ominous and gloomy may be the first words that come to mind when thinking about Grizzly’s Bear’s newest album Veckatimest, however those adjectives do no real justice in describing  the brilliance of their third studio album.  Vekcatimest is a dark hauntingly beautiful disc.  The folk nature of vocals from Edward Droste and Daniel Rossen give the vibe of a long-lost love singing in halls of an abandoned church.

Grizzy Bear- Two Weeks

Passion Pit- Manners (Indie rock, Electronic, Alternative dance, Electro pop)

Easily the catchiest album of the year, Passion Pit brings heartache with fun pounding beats on their 2009 release.  While there are so many elements to their sound, if it was possible to boil this music down to one key ingredient; it would have to be passion.  The band name Passion Pit is actually derived from a 1950’s nickname teenagers used to have for drive-in movie theaters in reference to their romantic escapades.  Lead singer Michael Angelakos passionately wrote half these songs as a gift for an ex-lover.  The lyrics are sincere and the sound is pulsating, this is a truly carefully crafted masterpiece.

Passion Pit- The Reeling

Dirty Projectors- Bitte Orca (Experimental rock, Indie rock)

Another Brooklyn-based experimental band hits the scene, but do these hipsters offer something of substance or more of what were used to?  They say it’s a thin line between genius and crazy, but the Dirty Projectors walk this high wire perfectly.  With lyrics like, “I know there’s a space for you in the basement; all you have to do is help out with the choirs and dishes.  And I know you will,” it would be easy to think these guys are lost somewhere looking for Cheetos and pot.  But the truth is when you hear the music, it’s not just what they say, but how they say it and the arrangement comes out magnificently.

Dirty Projectors- Stillness is the Move

Miike Snow- Miike Snow (Electro pop)

Swedish band Miike Snow are good, they’re real good.  In fact these kids are so good they had a grammy racked up before they released their self titled debut. Miike Snow are the masterminds behind uber pop sensation Britney Spears track “Toxic,” which won the Grammy for best dance track.  Well if “Toxic” is a sign of what to expect, there may be some truth in foreshadowing.  Miike Snow is full of amazing electronic pop tracks, but this is a well designed album from start to finish. Miike Snow, guaranteed to please.

Miike Snow- Animal

Phoenix- Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (Indie rock, Alternative rock, Electronic)

These Frenchies know how to make one hell of a beat.  This album is like an electronic dance party, but without the dance; everyone just grooving to the beat of their own drum.  Songs like “Listomania” and “1901” have historical references while songs like “Fences” are just flat out fun. This album has an edge we are not necessarily used to from Phoenix, but it works and fans turn out to be the big winners.

Phoenix- 1901

Raekwon- Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Pt. 2 (Hip Hop)

If Hip hop is dead then Raekwon came to resurrect it.  His rhymes are reminiscent of old school Wu Tang, his beats are solid and the production is second to none.  Tracks like “10 bricks” demonstrate his ability make himself relevant in an every growing pop-centered rap society. Raekwon takes it to the hood and gets things dirty.  He doesn’t just go old school hip-hop he transforms it into something fresh.  While the kids out there may be listening to Jay-Z hook up with Alicia Keys, rap purists are bobbing their noggins to the drums of “Only Built 4 $ Cuban Linx, Pt. 2.”

Raekwon- House of Flying Daggers

Yeah Yeah Yeahs- It’s Blitz (Indie rock)

This is the most complete Yeah Yeah Yeah’s album yet and that’s saying something with the rave reviews they’ve accumulated with their previous two releases.  Karen O’s vocals are so powerful and sweet they make your knees shake and your heart physically hurt.  There are five tracks on this album that are so good any of which could be used in a music 101 class on how to write the perfect love song. All this talk about romance doesn’t mean they’ve left their angry punk side behind (tracks such as “Zero” keep that tradition alive), but if you’re looking for album to long for that perfect someone, you have found it.

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s- Soft Shock