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Tiny Demons October 27, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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The New Orleans blogosphere is quiet about the news that that Chris Rose was arrested in some sort of alcohol-fueled domestic dispute. Rose is a frequent target of blogger jibes (the term “douchebag” and “Rose” being nearly synonymous), and he is annually brought up as a possible guest speaker at the NOLA Bloggers’ annual Rising Tide conference, and the suggestion is routinely and ritualistically hooted down.

We tend to pick on Rose because New Orleans’ blogosphere is full of people who think they could do Chris’ Rose job better than he does. I’ll admit there are days I read his column and I am one of those. Frankly, there are reporters and writers in the blog list at the side of this page I would hold up any day against anyone at the Picayune. Still, most of the bloggers have never written for a newspaper, have never had space to fill without an idea in their head, with a deadline bearing down on them. Sometimes you pound out some crap and if you have half a talent and more than a little luck, everybody is happy and gets to go home to dinner. Forced to fill the columns of a newspaper Living section, Rose does his 60 Second Interviews and slavers over Brittany Spears in a distasteful way most middle age men secretly understand.

He is certainly full of himself in spite of the crap he sometimes passes over to the copy desk, and so an easy target. Still, I tend not to pick at him in my own little space here. I’ve lived that life where the line a good editor can file any hole isn’t just a lewd jibe over after deadline drinks but a daily fact of life, so I give him some slack for the nonsense. Being the Angus Lind of the X-and-Y generation probably isn’t as great a gig as we all think it is.

I did write one slightly snarky piece when Rose discovered his fellow writers on New Orleans in the blog space after Ashley Morris’ untimely death. I suggested we were more like Rose than many of my colleagues in the NOLA Bloggers group would happily admit. The first time I gave Rose some notice was something I wrote long ago, when the weight of survivor guilt watching It all unfold in my city was almost unbearable. It was a letter to Rose, posted on Wet Bank Guide but also sent as an email. I never got a response, but I didn’t expect one. If you can find your way back to the original Rose column I referenced in Shadow of the Elephant, I think it explains in part at least why I find myself writing this today when something tells me I should just leave it alone.

Back in his post-K hey day, Rose often wrote about his family, in particular about taking his children out to experience everything New Orleans. My children were not raised here, and I have great sympathy for that experience. In fact he wrote so often about his family I was surprised to find that this weekend’s incident took place at an ex-girlfriend’s. It’s hard to feel complete empathy for Rose. If you live here long enough you’ll know enough stupid drunks or worse, and you start to lose patience for that sort of behavior. Maybe it’s just my age. But then I think of those kids.

Rose also wrote about his battle with depression. Down here where people pop Xanax like breath mints it wasn’t as important a story for us as it was for the rest of the world. They need to know that Living in a post-disaster landscape is not anyone’s idea of easy, much less Big and Easy. Of course people go though Zoloft like they’re Chee-Wees. At least the pills are better than the alternative: for example, finding yourself dead drunk at an ex-girlfriends trying to explain how fucked up your life is when she (and her new beau) don’t want to hear it.

It’s been three years since Rose sat on that stoop he wrote about in late 2005, in the middle of the post-Flood bedlam, trying to figure out what happened to his world. Back them I felt an immediate empathy for him which time and his own goofiness have not completely erased. He set himself up to be the poster child for New Orleans post-K but to do that he had to stay through it all, had to continue to find new ways to tell a story we all sometimes wish had an end.

I was immediately reminded when I read the Rose story of Picayune photog John McCusker’s own confrontation with the police. It has taken them a while to catch up, but the demons that chased McCusker like the police have finally caught up with Rose.

Somewhere deep inside my own demon is chuckling as I read about Rose’s mishap, but I shove him back down and tell him to be quiet. We’ve all seen the demons down here get the upper hand. McCusker’s story has always stood out in my memory, as did the story about the elderly gentleman who couldn’t hold on any longer waiting for his Road Home money and walked into the river to drown. We all know of the marriages ruined, the children still afraid of thunderstorms.

It’s best we all just let it go. We don’t want all of the demons let loose down here by the flood and its aftermath to think they’re getting the upper hand. Pay no attention to that guy perched on the edge of your night table in the checkered pants. Demons are like that crazy lady down the street. If you start to pay them too much attention, you’ll never be rid of them. Best we all mix a strong drink and flip on Rob Zombie’s Halloween horror movie festival on cable TV, pretend that demons are only in movies and always meet their well deserved end about the time the popcorn runs out.

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Comments»

1. liprap - October 27, 2008

“Somewhere deep inside my own demon is chuckling as I read about Rose’s mishap, but I shove him back down and tell him to be quiet. We’ve all seen the demons down here get the upper hand. McCusker’s story has always stood out in my memory, as did the story about the elderly gentleman who couldn’t hold on any longer waiting for his Road Home money and walked into the river to drown. We all know of the marriages ruined, the children still afraid of thunderstorms.

“It’s best we all just let it go.”

Well, EXACTLY. To liken this city’s recovery to Mardi Gras, we are well past our Twelfth Night, the bleachers have been set up on St Charles by Gallier Hall, and Krewe du Vieux has come and gone. Despite some of life’s joys coming in on occasion, fact of the matter is, living here is a grind. When will the first of the New Orleans Carnival parades be coming around? When can we feel that we can celebrate some REAL change that can preserve our city and, at the same time, help raise it even higher?

ALL of us are hitting the wall, some more spectacularly than others, and some with more disastrous results than others. I hope, for all our sakes, that this man can pick himself up again and rebound from this – and especially for his kids. At the very least, when little can get you up out of bed, sometimes holding a piece of the future within your hands can be a great motivator…

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2. KamaAina - October 27, 2008

I don’t know whether I could do Rose’s job better than he does (no snickering, please; after all, you wrote the book — literally — on writing about NOLA from 1000+ miles distant!), but I do know one thing: My fake downtown accent is better than his. Way better. After seventeen years, no less.

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3. judyb - October 28, 2008

From the St. Petersburg Times, August 2007:
(http://www.sptimes.com/2007/08/19/Features/Through_a_Katrina_sur.shtml)

Rose told me he’s off antidepressants. Last winter, convinced they weren’t working, he substituted pain medication and became addicted. He’s out of rehabilitation and is going through a divorce from his wife of 11 years – news not likely to sit well with people like my flooded-out aunt from Gentilly, who has long been a fan and, as fans do, formed strong opinions about a celebrity’s life. “No one uptown gets it except Chris Rose,” she told me last year.

“It would be easy to lay this blood on the hands of Katrina,” Rose writes in the introduction to his new collection, “though there is more, much more, to the story. There always is.”

Things that were weak before the storm had a hard time surviving afterward, he says. Branches dangling from rotted trees crashed to the ground. Many who were emotionally fragile before the storm took their lives, and those who tended toward melancholy became clinically depressed.

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4. Wet Bank Guy - October 28, 2008

Crikes, did I say starlet?

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5. Wet Bank Guy - October 28, 2008

A clickable link for the story Judy quotes.

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6. GentillyGirl - October 28, 2008

I’ve hit the wall several times in post-Flood NOLA. Sometimes I could manage to crawl over the wall, but this cycle is debilitating physically and emotionally, but I’d never do anything to harm myself or get in trouble. There’s enough stuff left to deal with when it comes to our rebuilding.

(Well there was Mardi Gras ’07 when I went off on a jerk being pushy. Think it started when he started dissing our city. Wrong thing do around me. Yes, I was really drunk.)

I try to ignore my demon, but if he really gets me going again, I’m throwing him into the dumpster.

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7. Wet Bank Guy - October 28, 2008

I strongly encourage you read Oyster’s post here, and the one he referencesin it from the time of Rose’s big story on depression.

Good stuff, comments and all.

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8. Lorilie Lee - December 10, 2008

Where is he now??? Why is he not writing his column???

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