Next year’s model July 20, 2006Posted by Mark Folse in Bloggers, Citizen Journalism, Mid-City, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
Tags: Journal, Media
How did I manage to elect myself the model of anything? Today, an LA Times photographer came by to snap my family and I for a story on returning ex-pats, and next week I will have coffee with an NPR reporter on the same subject. Fellow blogger Schroeder has asked me to read a post for broadcast on WTUL’s Community Gumbo radio show.
While I have publicly chronicled aspects of my return through the past year, I hardly expected to make a national stir. I appreciate it when people take interesting in what I write, as my readership slowly grows and prominent bloggers link back to my posts, when I found myself listed on the Radio France Katrina page–the only blogger–between the links to the BBC and FEMA.
Today I found a link into the Wet Bank Guide from the TPM cafe, where I was once again quoted by Boyd Blondell of After the Levees . Boyd seems to fancy my angry, ranting side, the same approach that got me some notice from Will Pitt of Truthout back in January. I’ll have to ask the photog if he can get a shot of my angry side. Then I can post it up in the gutter of the Wet Bank Guide; perhaps I should also have a wistful, thoughtful shot to chose from, a sort of avatar of the mood of today’s post.
The angry posts are the easiest to write and the hardest to publish. I don’t want to tip over the edge in anger, and when there is so much to be angry about that’s a highly springy tightrope I find myself crossing like a bear on a unicycle. Now that I’m about to go national, I think I will have to watch it even more closely. The angry tenor of political blogs, while it has been energizing the marginalized left, is not going to result in a rapid return to civic discourse. Angry sells, but I don’t know that I want to be remembered as a footnote in this history of political talk radio and blogging as the angry voice of Katrina. (And, lets face it, I think Professor Morris does angry so much better).
Instead, I hope I can inspire. I’m glad that, through the agency of some former colleagues in journalism, I have this opportunity to tell my story to a wider audience, and to bring in the stories of another half-dozen returning ex-pats I know of. I hope that the outcome of the stories will be by Ashley (aka Professor Morris) and Ray and myself telling our stories, we will discover we are not alone.
Even more important, I hope that there a hundreds if not thousands more in the ex-pat community who have felt as I have since the unfolding of the flood and its aftermath last September: a powerful desire to come home, to plant their flag for the future of New Orleans, to be another spear in the host who are committed to the future of the city.
I’m reminded of the long, narrative anti-Vietnam war ballad Alice’s Restaurant, which everyone in a certain Baby Boomer age bracket will remember. Toward the end, when Arlo Guthrie talks about singing the song to the draft board, he says this:
You know, if one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him. And if two people, two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either of them. And three people do it, three, can you imagine, three people walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. They may think it’s an organization. And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.
And that’s what this is about–the blogs, the stories–the Rebirth of New Orleans Movement. If these articles push even a couple of ex-pats or lingering evacuees over the edge and make them decide to come home, I can lay aside my lingering doubts about my own suitability as poster child, the nagging fear that I have over taken the story, that the Gonzo Journalism Version 2.0 style that defines much of Citizen Journalism in the blogosphere has eclipsed the subject.