Thursday, April 12, 2007

On Leaving '07 New Orleans

Imagine going out to get your paper first thing in the morning and finding blood on your front steps. A "pulpy puddle of blood" to use my friend's exact phrasing via text message last night. Imagine then finding a torn-up, used pair of men's underwear in your garbage can, alongside requisite empty pill bottle.

Of course, being sane, you call the police. Of course, the officers need a little prompting to file a report because, in one's words, "It's not a crime."

His solution?
She should "buy a gun."

She should keep it locked and loaded.
She should hit up the ol' shooting range.
She should expect to fight for her life.
She should know better than to live alone without one.
Perhaps she should know better than to live alone at all--after all, she is a she and this is 21st century America.

Why should we--New Orleans residents past, present, future--expect more?

Why should we expect anything?

Why even recognize that the world we inhabit--a world where the nation's highest murder and incarceration figures collide with its lowest conviction rate--begets not safety but, seemingly, more violence? That the more troops we call in, the worse things get?

It's hard not to feel under siege when, well, you are, whether you're being jacked by Entergy or man with gun, taking the daily grim tour out in the East or the Lower 9th or even just looking out your window at the burned houses on your deteriorating block, when the levees are being held together by the equivalent of gum and masking tape, you're being followed down the street at night while walking your dog, pulled over by drunk police officers for d.a.w.f. (driving alone while female), criticized for leaving, exhorted for staying, pressured to come back--on and on until, for some, the post-apocalyptic, New-Orleans-on-high-voltage-crack cycle comes to one abrupt end.

Being dead's not enough, though. You must be criminalized, explained away, scapegoated by the local media and that denial-lovin segment of this Catholic city, as with the recent murder of Noizefest founder Keith Moore. In pitch-perfect "first my body, now my corpse" style, Moore was next done in by WDSU, who decided it was more important to emphasize how and why it was his own fault, i.e., the header "Deacon John's Son Killed in Drug Buy," than that the execution occurred at 3:20 P.M. in a very public, residential area. That sort of emphasis is the norm there.

Still the bodies fall and I can hear them from here and my worry for those I love is a visceral, nauseous knife in the gut and still They scream for help and still They snit when someone like experienced, if blunt, recovery czar Ed Blakely speaks out because to them his crime, of course, is being "an outsider," and still the bullets drop inside,




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