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Paying the Price August 27, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Dancing Bear, New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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I think we’ve all that that feeling, the sense that we would love to live at some fantastic vacation destination. I often feel that way when I visit the ocean, a landscape I love almost as much as I love New Orleans. All we see are the beautiful views as we live the lazy life of the visitor and we think: this could go on forever. Why don’t I just move here, open a business, live this life year round?

I wonder sometimes if visitors to New Orleans have that same reaction, if they imagine themselves living in a slave quarters somewhere in the back of the Vieux Carre’, getting some tattoos and a tricked out bicycle and hanging every night on Frenchman Street. It would be a powerful temptation to a cloistered office worker with a sense of the Romantic. Just think, to be here all year: all that food, all that music, Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras.

What they don’t know is that we pay a price to live in these places, whether in New Orleans or on some bucolic bit of Florida beach. When a tropical storm with the makings of a powerful hurricane starts to drift toward the Yucatan Straits, that is when we pay the piper. First there’s worry, then a brief flash of panic. After that, it’s all on autopilot in a sort of state of shock: find a place to stay, pack up the important papers and a bag, gas up the car, start to put away and and tie down outside. Where’s the cat’s travel bag?

People who live in the city hate the term Big Easy because that’s not what life here is about. It’s never been an easy place to live except for the very young and rootless, and the storm blew away a lot of the cheap flops the bohemians once relied on. Crime, corruption, and now the interminable marathon of reconstruction. It’s anything but easy but we find the city compensates for that in other ways, some visible to the tourists and some not. That is why we find ourselves three years after the flood, anxiously watching the Gulf.

We look at Gustav circling our cousin Haiti to the south and know the reckoning is at hand, the price we pay for the life we have. No one here wants to wish a hurricane on someone else. We all know too well what that means. Still, everyone at some level wishes it so, wants to make it go away and knows that the chances are it will not just vanish.

It will be an odd anniversary, this 8-29. By Friday we will have a good idea of our fate (but storms are fickle, watch them until the last moment). Some of us may already have begun to leave. One of the last things I plan to put away is the furniture on the porch. Like some traveler on the last day of vacation, I want to savor that moment and carry it away in memory because of something we all know in New Orleans: I don’t know when I’ll be back to that place again.

That’s a burden most of America can’t imagine: fleeing their homes not knowing when they will come back. It’s a high price to pay, but in the end I know we will be back. That is why the very last thing I will do is to strike the colors, the flag of New Orleans that flies on my house every day of the year, Fourth of July and Christmas. In my head I won’t hear the mournful strains of taps, but something like the dirge march of a brass band, something like St. James Infirmary. Taking down the flag will not be a coda but an act of continuity, an affirmation of who I am. It will come with us to remind us that whatever happens and where ever we are, we are always first and foremost Orleanians. And as we have proved these last three years, we will return.

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Recovery, Courage, Leadership and Nausea August 14, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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As fond as we are of the Odd, there are moments when it seems Toulouse Street has slipped into the Twlight Zone, and hot in a happy way. It is like the fellow who wakes up after the apocalypse free to read every book in the NYC Library, only to drop and break his classes.

Receiving a link to this in an email was one of those moments.

The Award of Distinction for Recovery, Courage and Leadership to C. Ray Nagin? W. T. F.

I think we need to find out 1) who is behind this bizarre event and 2) let them know we’re taking this circulated email to be an invitation. I hope they have a big room, because we are all coming looking for some explanation of this insanity.

This event should no more take place than the ill advised 8-29 party the Mayor once proposed for 2006. What sort of people are sponsoring this? No one outside of the mayor’s own staff or family could possibly take this seriously.

Update: Read this, in particular the part about the hit-and-run victim. At what point do we declare we live in a failed state and either begin to organize militias for our own protection, or request the protection of the international community?

A hit and run driver, who left a Bywater resident and business owner bleeding in the street with protruding broken bones, telling the victim, “I never hit you”, can only be ticketed for a misdemeanor, and then only if witnesses come along for the arrest to identify him to his face. The Ticketed driver would not be arrested, nor the witness protected.

The police asked a witness, a single women who lives near by, to accompany them to the front porch, where almost a dozen young men were gathered, and stand there pointing out the one who drove the vehicle so cold bloodedly over her friend, while his friends watched her make the identification. The cops said they would issue a traffic citation upon her identification, but make no arrest.

She must pass this house on an almost daily basis.

Another, happier Update: At least now I am laughing: How long can the Excellence in Recovery Host Committee hold a bong hit before laughing hysterically? Thanks, Schroeder.

Rising Tide III August 7, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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The Rising Tide organizers have been busy as hell while I was lazing in Destin and Miami. The schedule is finalized and it’s time to start banging pans together to build so momentum for this year’s conference.

If you are not familiar with this event, the NOLA Bloggers are organizing their third annual conference on the recovery of New Orleans. This year’s featured speaker is John Barry, author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America and commissioner for the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East.

Last year’s feature speaker, author and blogger David Zirin, told me at lunch in all of his travels for work and book promotion, he has never seen as organized and integrated a blogging community as he found in New Orleans. The success of the last two Rising Tide conferences reflect that clearly. The organizing group has put together a fantastic array of speakers. So far, the only thing missing is you.

So why haven’t you registered yet? You can get more details and sign up at www.risingtidenola.net or on the Rising Tide Blog.

Don’t Let It Bring You Down June 20, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Toulouse Street.
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As the scenes in Iowa slowly turn the sullen depression of the last year into a warm and encouraging anger, we continue our program of leaning heavily upon ripping off the song titles of our youth to get our idea across.

Katrina Every Day June 4, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, We Are Not OK.
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What Karen said.

Word.

New Orleans students take on Corps of Engineers November 7, 2007

Posted by The Typist in 8-29, Corps of Engineers, Debrisville, Flood, flooding, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Recovery, Remember, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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If you have a You Tube account/login, please visit this video’s page and vote for and favorite this video produced by New Orleans school children in support of an 8-29 commission: