Thoughts on Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and having a brand new baby boy
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
As I have returned to PA from another trip to New Orleans, I have thoughts.
A) Things in New Orleans are still bad. I feel guilty to have been there at JazzFest because I know there is so much to be done on the one hand. On the other hand, the economy down there needs an infusion of money and the best way to do that in New Orleans is be a tourist and spend. Which makes me think that having a tourism based economy is a bad idea. A region of this country with so many natural resources (oil, river, natural gas, fertile ground, etc.) shouldn't rely so heavily on something so fickle as the tourist dollar. However, we do know how to throw a party and invite everyone which we should exploit for our financial benefit. On the other hand, it seems to me that the major amount of dollars spent goes to some multinational corporation with little or no interest in helping New Orleans (airlines, hotels, Miller Brewing, etc.) So am I fighting against myself here?
B) On nola.com yesterday, current Mayor Ray Nagin has presented a plan to evacuate those with no other way out. Good for you, mayor. Are the people that couldn't evacuate back? And he also decided that there will be no "shelter of last resort." My friend Brian said that that shouldn't have existed a long time ago. So did most other people I know. So now people have to start creating a plan. I wonder if all the close calls made people think that the city government was crying wolf.
C) The people of New Orleans are so creative and have such humor in the face of this tragedy that I feel the need to recall the best t-shirts I saw at the JazzFest. Top 5 - 5. F(fleur de lis)ck FEMA 4. Defend New Orleans 3. I (fleur de lis) NOLA 2. I survived Hurricane Katrina and all I commandeered was this lousy t-shirt. 1. A t-shirt with a waterline halfway up it that said "I've had it up to here" with an arrow pointing to the water line.
I know I saw more than this, but these were the ones that I can remember here at work at 7:20 AM.
D) Driving across New Orleans from Carrollton to Magazine Street along Palmetto, Toledano, and Louisiana, it looked just the way it did for the most part as when I came down in October. Other parts like Mid-City and parts of Gentilly near the Fair Grounds (Esplanade Ridge?) seem to be making a better go. But I only saw little bits this time. I met a guy at Lucky's on Sunday night. I tried to explain to him how bad things were in St. Bernard and New Orleans East. I don't think i have the vocabulary.
E) I didn't get to see all my friends. I need to go back and take care of that.
F) The Meters still rock. The best quote I have seen in a while - "[They] are tighter than a size 8 dress on a 154 pound woman." Agreed.
G) Mom's house is almost finished. My brother had some guys over there painting the last coat of paint on the bead board. It has carpet, newly installed hardwood floors, and two full bathrooms. It feels like a house again.
H) Turncoats on Magazine. I asked to buy a print of some shopping carts from walmart back in January. The artist/photographer had gone around and taken pictures of them wherever they ended up after the storm and the looting of Wal-Mart. The guy took my phone number and never called me. I am not sure why he never called me. I spent a good bit of money in there. So I went to get my friend a "Defend New Orleans" shirt on Monday but the store, despite the sign out front, was closed. Does anyone know this guy? Despite feeling like I was screwed over, I would still like to give this guy some of my money. Is this business as usual? If so, maybe I don't want to give him my money.
I) Got a new tattoo. A fleur de lis. On my ankle. It is my best one yet. Thanks to the guys at Crescent City Tattoos on Magazine across from Le Bon Temps.
I grew up in Metairie, LA and lived in actual New Orleans for 12 years. The day that I turned 30, I moved to New Jersey and then to Easton, PA 4 years ago. As luck would have it, I was in New Orleans when Katrina approached and evacuated to Jackson, MS. Other than that, I am a Latin and history teacher at a small, independent school in NJ. I miss New Orleans a lot, think about it all the time, and try to go there whenever the work schedule allows.