The ways and means to New Orleans

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I have been uncharacteristically quiet these past days. Not just here--everywhere. The truth is that I don't know what to say. I've been reading a lot--news and editorials and blogs, and pretty much all of my rage and sadness has already been expressed by someone else. There isn't any point in my reiterating it all here, nor do I have the emotional energy to do so. It's not that I don't care--far from it--it's just that I can't form words, and others can, so I leave that to them.

Or at least leave it mostly to them.

When I was 15 or 16, I made a list of the cities in the United States that I felt I *must* visit that I hadn't seen yet. It wasn't all that long. From memory, it went like this:

1. New Orleans
2. New York
3. Philadelphia
4. Boston

Things have changed over the past decade. I've been to New York twice, and to Philadelphia once, and to Boston twice, though the second time was just recently and I was only there for a few hours. Nashville has been added to my list. The one I wanted to see the most, though, the whole time, was New Orleans. When I made the list, my fascination with it was all Anne Rice and Concrete Blonde. Later, I knew people who lived there, and started my own (still growing) obsession with the south. Since I've lived in Austin, which is only a long day's drive, I've meant to go, but never gotten around to it.

And it may well be too late. There is a lot of talk about rebuilding, but I wonder how much rebuilding will really be done. And I wonder if what is rebuilt will in any way resemble what was.

Me not being able to see my dream city, which is entirely my own fault, as I had my chance and let it pass me by, is at the very bottom of the list of horrible things stemming from Katrina and her aftermath. At the very bottom of the list, and yet it brings tears to my eyes. At the very bottom of the list, and it's the only one I can even find words for.

I got the ways and means
To New Orleans
I'm going
Down by the river
Where it's warm and green
I'm gonna have drink, and walk around
I got a lot to think about oh yeah

-Concrete Blonde, "Bloodletting"

6 Comments

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Goddammit.

grace, i know exactly how you feel. new orleans has been on my list for ages. in fact, my vacation there has been my distraction therapy for two or three years now. i think just knowing that this vacation will *never* happen solidifies how horrible this hurricane was. an entire city has just been turned into atlantis.

I always said I'd get down to New Orleans, but I never seemed to have time and money (at the same time at least) to get there. I wanted to see the historic old buildings, and those probably won't survive this. I feel guilty that I want to cry over some old buildings when so many people are homeless or dead, but I still wish I had visited last year like I wanted to. I will go when they rebuild, and not just after everything is done. The city needs tourism dollars to convince them to save as much as possible. If no one wants to travel there for years until the building is complete, they won't be able to. Chain hotels and restaurants can handle some lean years, but the cool places like hole-in-the-wall restaurants and family run hostels or B&B's won't be able to afford all their repairs if they don't get customers. I'm hoping the infrastructure is done in 6 months, so that in a year hopefully those small places will start coming back to life. (and if you think they can get the power, water, and other services back to full capacity in less than 6 months, I hope you are right)

Reading the news, it seems that most of the French Quarter was spared. Preservation Hall was not affected. Though there is/was a lot more to see than the French Quarter, being able to see it still would be a wonderful experience. I was wondering if tourists in the next year would help the economy rebound too. The whole thing is just heart-breaking.

actually, i had every intention of still going down there once it's safe and i have money. they'll need the tourism money. and hey, i'm sure it'd be pretty cheap, too.

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