Jim Garrison! thou shouldst be living at this hour


As the rebirth of impoverished New Orleans as Carmel-by-the-Bayou is pretty much guaranteed to include plenty of wholesale land grabs and reappropriation of low-income private residences, I'm guessing it won't be long before we start hearing conspiracy theories involving weather machines or at least intentionaly unreinforced levees. Allow me to get the ball rolling…

Today's San Francisco Chronicle features an interview with a French Quarter entrepreneur by the name of "Finis D. Shelnutt." In an unusually candid quote, Shelnutt lays out a vision of an economically cleansed Big Easy of the future:

"Katrina is the best thing to ever happen to this city," said 53-year-old Finis Shelnutt, who owns a French Quarter restaurant and now spends his day sitting alone at a table outside hoping to sell a cold beer or soda to journalists or rescue workers passing by.

Telling of the deep-rooted divide that exists between black and white and rich and poor in this Southern city, Shelnutt said the storm created an opportunity to clean up New Orleans, which is filled with "slums and too many bad areas."

He hopes the city builds a golf course or two where the poor neighborhoods, home to mostly black people, are still underwater.

"Change is good," Shelnutt said, denying it was a race issue. "They will find there is a better world elsewhere, like in Houston or Atlanta."

Well sure, you're thinking, of course a bar owner in New Orleans would look forward to a shiny new city more amenable to luxury commerce. That doesn't mean he's at the center of some weird wheels-within-wheels intrigue!

Oh yeah? It turns out Mr. Finis D. Shelnutt—who is variously described as a stockbroker, realtor, and entrepreneur and who for all his big talk has lived in New Orleans less than four years—is the husband of Bill Clinton accuser Gennifer Flowers (recently divorced, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) and a former brother-in-law of jailed Clinton crony Webb Hubbell.

Since the true operators are always working both parties, Shelnutt and Flowers are identified in a 2004 article in South Africa's Sunday Times as newly minted Republicans:

Finis Shelnutt, Flowers's husband, said he and his wife are now dedicated Republicans. "Look outside the window," he said. "That's a Union Jack flag we have flying here. We took down the French flag because of their position on the Iraq war."

"My husband and I will both be voting for George W Bush," Flowers said. "He's doing what's necessary for the country in terms of national security."

Finally, the informant who provided Reason with this inside dope informs me that when he googled Shelnutt this morning, he came across a link concerning Shelnutt's involvement in the Mena Airfield conspiracy—but that that link had disappeared when he went back to check it this afternoon!

Not convinced? Then consider that when he took in a 2002 show at the Gennifer Flowers Kelsto Club, disgraced New York Times reporter Rick Bragg produced the following prose grand mal, a passage so purple thousands of Americans spontaneously lost their ability to speak English after reading it:

When she sings it, kissing the words, it is obvious why people call it a torch song.

The golden-haired woman with the drowning pool eyes has just finished her escargot, pasta and assorted miniature tarts in a French restaurant called Maison Bleu, and has been asked to sing, even if only a little.

So there are the facts. Scoff all you want; but how come you're in such a hurry to dismiss the evidence right in front of you? While the Big Easy is going through it's Chinatown-style resurrection, I'll be down in the Gulf with Dick Gregory, looking for those submarine hurricane machines.