Linette and I love New Orleans. It’s one of our favorite places in the world. I refuse to either confirm, or deny, but there’s even a rumor going around the internet that our daughter was conceived there, between shifts spent working at the Crimewave USA table during the New Orleans Independent Press Bookfair in 2003… Anyway, it breaks our hearts to think that some of our favorite places (and, worse yet, people) may be gone forever. Here, in way of tribute, are just a few snapshots taken during our last visit. The first is of me eating at a fantastic, little place called Mother’s. The second is of Linette drinking at one of the oldest taverns in America, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. And the third is a shot taken inside Ernie K Doe’s Mother In-Law Lounge.
I could go on for pages and pages as to why I think New Orleans is one of the few authentic places left in the United States (if you can get beyond the Bourbon Street titty squad, the petty criminals, and the wannabe vampires), and why what’s happening now is a catastrophic cultural loss for our country. I could also spend a lot of time ranting about the racism creeping into the media coverage, and fact that the city apparently had no contingency plan for evacuating those without transportation, or the financial means to leave. But, all that stuff, as well as the discussion as to whether or not it makes sense to rebuild, can wait until later. What’s important now is that we all open our hearts and homes to the survivors along the Gulf Coast (not just in New Orleans), and our billfolds to the Red Cross.
It’s especially important that we give money to the Red Cross now, as most of the immediate burden is going to be put on them… Our National Guard forces and other government resources, as we all know, are tied up in Iraq. FEMA has been decimated. And, our leaders are preoccupied with more important matters.
I linked to it up above, but here, in closing, is a clip from a letter attributed to a New Orleans rescue worker (via BoingBoing):
The poorest 20% (you can argue with the number — 10%? 18%? no one knows) of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn’t leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn’t be able to get out. The resources — meaning, the political will — weren’t there to get them out.
White per capita income in Orleans parish, 2000 census: $31,971. Black per capita: $11,332. Median *household* income in B.W. Cooper (Calliope) Housing Projects, 2000: $13,263.
Now send some money. Please.