Can't say I'm quite yet ready for a jazz funeral parade, but I'll get there.  Steve Gilliard's white hot brilliant life and mind were too much of a gift shared by thousands not to be celebrated before too long.  I'm not there yet.  I've cried a bit.  My stomach is a mess and I feel as if I've lost a dear friend.  Tonight I ache.
 
Steve and I never met in person.  We only spoke several times on the phone and slung snide, knowing emails back and forth.  No one could call "Bullshit!" like Steve. . . which, no doubt, is why he hated the Yankees.  We had the same Mets memories, reaching back just as far.  Only later did that make sense to me:  we were born the same year.
 
Among the many stories Steve wrote about so compellingly and originally, Steve wrote a lot about Katrina and the moral obscenity of the abandonment of New Orleans.  As you have a look at the jazz funeral in the above video, remember the people in New Orleans and keep fighting for them, as Steve would have done.
 
Finally, some of you remember me writing about my just released ex-con friend struggling to make it in Houston.  I wrote about him here and here.   He's in a tight spot right now, though he's landed a good paying job.  Here's what he wrote to me today: 
The Co-Worker who I ride to work with is expecting his girlfriend to deliver his child anytime in the next week according to the doctor. So when this occurs he will take leave. I am uncertain where this is going to leave me as for as getting to work and back. Trying to establish a "Plan B" but things seem uncertain at this point. This is going to get complicated I can see.

He still has a transportation problem, and needs any ideas or solutions anyone can offer.  Last time I wrote about him, some people suggested I ask for money for him.  That felt a little presumptuous, which is why I hadn't done it, but since some people asked, I'd say that small donations are welcome, and I can make sure he gets them.  I won't use the FDL gateway, but if you email me at pachacutec AT firedoglake DOT com, I'll work it out with you or get you directly in contact with Dan himself. 

He talked about his immediate financial need in his email, saying: 

I would even be willing to pay this money back in a few months and if you could keep track of who donated what, you could distribute the money back to them. It's would sort of be like Julie's idea of Prosper.com in a way.

I just don't want to lose this job because it pays well and is what it is going to take to get me where I need to be in a short time.

If I am being too much of a bother, don't be afraid to tell so. Just say "Fuck Off" and there won't be no hard feelings. I know you don't owe me anything and all you have done has been based on your own compassion and generosity.

So there you have it. 

To put this in context, and relate it to why I use this forum to bring all this up, let's recall that we've made of our country a large prison factory (links here in the first paragraph), and it's disenfranchising large swaths of people who have a very hard time getting a leg back up on life in the community. 

No one talks much about prison reform, sentencing reform, reform of drug laws and felony reenfranchisement, but these are all important progressive issues that affect the most vulnerable among us.  None of us are as prosperous and secure as we should be when we pursue destructive policies like these, and our mistreatment of non-violent offenders is just the first step that brough us to Abu Ghraib and the cessation of the Right of Habeas Corpus.

So, if you feel moved to help this one person, thank you thank you thank you. 

What's on your minds tonight?