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To the Moon, Alice December 11, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in A Fiction, Federal Flood, hurricane, je me souviens, Toulouse Street.
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The TWA terminal of gracefully contorted concrete stands ready to load orbital shuttles that will never come. I imagine  Stanley Kubric in transit from L.A. to London stepping out of that building to stretch his legs and standing agog as I do, strains of the Vienna Waltz spinning through the air.

My weather app on the phone tells me I am in Far Rockaway.

There is something equally fantastic in the Jet Blue terminal, an ominous normality while somewhere beneath the view of arriving and departing passengers survivors huddle in tents. My phones’ weather feature says I am in Far Rockaway. 8142818841_a5b7757e8d_b

This does not look like Far Rockaway in the wake of Sandy. It looks like Starbucks and Cinnabon and I ♥ NY t-shirts. There is no Sandy memorial newspaper or magazine. There is no sign that just across the way people are huddled in tents in the freezing cold. They lack the dramatic quality of the huddled Black masses at the convention center, the suggestion of the alien that makes it all OK. God forbid we should see real Americans shivering in the freezing cold like Syrian refugees.

There is no mention of Sandy’s aftermath on the Jet Blue in flight video. Nothing to see here. Move along.

It can’t happen here.

Come On Rise Up November 12, 2012

Posted by Mark Folse in Bloggers, Federal Flood, hurricane, Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, Recovery, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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My friend Sam Jasper’s post over at New Orleans Slate Unsolicited Advice to the Northeast in the Aftermath has gone viral in the Northeast. There are now 70 comments and dozens more private emails. Less than 1% of people who actually read a blog post (discounting those who drop in and leave) every leave a comment. You need to go read this wherever you are.

She starts off with a Bruce Springsteen Song Jersey Girl. The Springsteen song I can’t get out of my head is the one the NBC nightly news ran at the end of one of their broadcasts over a montage of the ruins of Sandy, the same song he sang to tens of thousands reduced to sobbing at Jazz Fest 2006: My City of Ruins.

When I could bring myself to watch the news the force fields went up. It is as if you have just had a minor stroke. The brain is empty, the body seems distant and alien, and the television a nightmare half remembered.

I only cried when I heard that song.

Come on, rise up.

You can do it. Your boots are on the pile in front of the house so you will somehow have to manage to lift yourself up by sheer will, above every gospel word Sam has written in her post. Some folks in the affected areas may not fare to badly. The government starting running dump trucks of money into Manhattan after 9-11 to repair utilities and such. Maybe you’ll be lucky, and your utility bill won’t double. Maybe you have stronger elected officials, who won’t stand for a property-and-casualty insurance bill larger than the principle on your mortgage. I hope so.

Come on, rise up.

We felt so abandoned after the Federal Flood a deceased friend adopted the term Sinn Fein, not a reference to modern Irish politics but to the origins of the party but to the translation: Ourselves Alone.

Sinn Fein, baby. But you are not alone. The people of the hurricane coast, who have done all this before in 2005 and again and again before this, stand at your shoulders like the ghosts of every soldier buried in a foreign land. The people of the south are a prayerful people, and right now millions of hands are clasped, a hundred thousand Saints’ candles burning, uncounted joss sticks lit to the Merciful Ones. Trucks are loaded. Checks are written. If you finally figure out what we’ve known down here since Camille in ’69 the mayor of Staten Island has figured out, and you will to, but one way or another help will come. It will come not from the insurance racketeers. It will come unsought from church groups. It will come in trucks from points unknown filled with cleaning supplies. It will come with all I see that remains of the America we were taught, and it will not come from the government. It will come from you neighbors. It will come up from the coast from those who stayed, from those who returned, by the heavenly intervention of the ghosts of the flood.

It will come.

“I pray Lord
with these hands
for the strength Lord
with these hands
for the faith Lord
with these hands

Come on rise up!
Come on rise up!”

Rise up.

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