“To New Orleans: Our Favorite Former City”

At dinner on Sunday night, Chad proposed this toast. That was the night before Katrina came a-calling, and we had no idea, lifting our glasses of cabernet and chiming “Here-here,” how prescient those words would prove to be. (We weren’t being flippant, by the way…gallows humor runs wide and deep in that tender-hearted circle of friends. I bet funeral sex does, too…I’ll have to ask. Something about staring down death and kicking fear in the teeth. No, not flippant at all.)

For New Orleans, I believe, can no longer be called a city. It has been suggested that successful cities can be identified by three elements: a city needs to have good thinkers, good makers, or good traders. Per the news reports I’ve been reading and the pictures I’ve been seeing, I’m gonna go with a no on all three. What in the hell?? Here are a few things, outside of the general devastation and loss of life, that are really weighing on me:

1. Put the gun down. Why are you firing your guns at people like my brother who are trying to help? Yes, the government is evil and stupid (hyperbole alert), but do you really think shooting my brother out of his helicopter is going to make your point, or save your family for that matter? I feel extreme pity for your situation – EXTREME pity. But please don’t shoot at my brother, or you will test the limits of that sympathy.

2. Mainstream media is going to flush any progress made in racial reconciliation right down the pooper. Today I saw a picture of a white woman carrying groceries over her head with the caption “A woman makes her way home after finding a grocery store” and a while later, a picture of a black woman carrying groceries over her head with the caption “A looter carries stolen goods.” Now, maybe the white woman paid for her goods fair and square and maybe the black woman robbed a grocery store to sell the booty to feed her baby-daddy’s habit. I don’t know. But are you really gonna tell me that there are no white looters going to town down there? Gimme a break.

3. Did Brennan Manning and Sister Helen Prejean make it out okay?

4. There are many thoughts swirling around in my head contrasting the emergency response to this disaster with that of September 11. These thoughts are still amorphous and hard to pin down, but it’s crazy how freakin’ different the scenarios are turning out to be. Is it because these people are mostly poor? Is it because our resources are stretched too thin? Is it because we don’t trust our government anymore? I don’t know. What I do know is my long-held suspicion (left over from The X-Files days) that FEMA controls the universe has been ground to dust. Unless looking like they don’t have their sh*t together is another FEMA conspiracy.

May God have mercy on us all.

3 thoughts on ““To New Orleans: Our Favorite Former City”

  1. Chad


    This is the first time a non-flippant, gallows humor, funeral sex toast made it as a blog headline. I’ll make sure and be more thoughtful in the future with this in mind.

    There are not many things to be said here. I agree with every sentiment that Aly expressed. I would like to call out both the media and the participants for reinforcing negative racial stereotypes. The inner city residents of New Orleans are missing an opportunity to show the world the best of what America can be. They are listening to and acting upon the poorer angels of our nature.

    I cannot say for sure that the residents of Los Angeles would do any better, but it’s not our moment, is it?

    I heard on NPR tonight that money earmarked for the improvement of the levees was directly redirected to Iraq. If this is true, for shame. For shame.

    I am overwhelmed with the irony and sadness of New Orleans’ destruction. Critics say that emergent, post-conservativel, fuzzy math gen’x'ers are weak on sin. Lemme get hellfire and brimstone on yo asses.

    The suffering that we witness this day is a result of a great and unrestrained systemic series of offenses against the maker.

  2. Morphea

    I must keep reminding myself that I haven’t really been in that many disasters and have no idea how I’d react. So many people are without help, food, medication, safety, that I feel that the violence and desperation is a result of people feeling that no one cares for them, no help will come, and they must do as they can. I guess it’s true that when we’re desperate we return to our basest (this is not a criticism) instincts – care for ourselves and our own at any cost. I can’t get too angry at the regular folks acting crazy – there must be a colossal feeling on their part that the government and planners at every level have completely failed them. Everybody knew the levees would fail at some point…did the government just shut their eyes and hope it didn’t fall on their watch? Now the best help, I think, will come from the regular people like Tim who GO THERE to donate their skills and from us Americans who give what we can. And the rulers in their clean shirts will keep flying here and there to make speeches and look out their clean windows and sip clean water and shake their heads. Fie.


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