Saturday, June 30, 2007

News from New Orleans.

It's not good, the norm for these dispatches to an ex-pat---unfortunate, just as my continued anger at what amounts to...a shadow is...not good.

"From : Hot 8
Sent : Friday, June 29, 2007 5:25 PM
Subject : A statement regarding the Dinerral Shavers murder case

We were disappointed and shocked to hear this morning that the murder case against David Bonds, accused of shooting our snard drummer Dinerral Shavers, has been dismissed. We are currently on the road, trying to spread the music and culture of New Orleans and to broadcast a positive message about the city across the nation. Dinerral's death, and now the dismissal of his case, only prove to us how important this work is. We will continue to fight for New Orleans, at home and away. We will continue to honor the generous spirit of Dinerral, who gave so much to our music and to our city.
--
Hot 8 Brass Band
www.hot8brassband.com
www.myspace.com/hot8brassband"

I respect their fight, their determination and Dinerral's contributions, which I learned a lot about in writing and researching a commemorative piece on him and filmmaker Helen Hill for the February issue of Antigravity.

Don't Stop The Music.

And yet.

I can't help but worry the phrase "broadcast a positive message about the city across the nation"--not because there are not positive things to broadcast, but because these things have been broadcast for so long at the expense of confronting out-of-control crime meets halved, post-K population; a lack of jobs and decent public schools; rising rents; one truly crazy police force (even by urban American standards); conviction rate--what conviction rate?; levees--what levees?; a hard-to-define yet tangible lack of empathy for women; and bitter race-baiting on both sides.

Community pride and community activism, of course, do not need to be mutually exclusive.

It's just that they still so often are.
And there's nothing "positive" about that.

Face The Music.

Addendum: I think what bothers me the most amid my gnarled feelings for New Orleans is the "Let's put our energy into telling everyone how great we are!" rah-rah, rather than into demanding change or even acknowledging the problems (kudos to the Hot 8 for that one, though)--as if the latter will invite further scorn from the national press, which lacerated New Orleanians in the immediate aftermath and continues to fall down on the levees-not-Katrina-caused-the-damage front, save for the New York Times.

However: Who cares?!

Why is the opinion of strangers more important than demanding accountability and change? Denying reality doesn't actually change reality.

Plus, it's been two years 'n shit.

Seriously, the level of local denial got to be staggering-- and continues to be vis-a-vis reports from friends and the usual litany of email/list messages. My last boyfriend became angry at me simply for being disgusted with the place post-K (see above) instead of, say, taking down Southern defense mechanisms long enough to empathize with the root causes of said disgust, which affect those in denial, too (naturally, they deny this).

In the Quarter, three people have been murdered within a three-block radius of him since then, and I remain disgusted and afraid.
---"Traitor"

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