Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Broken Clock

"It’s been six goddamn years."

Ah, right on schedule. The ethos of certain "new" New Orleanians. The second-to-last line of the aforelinked essay stinks of it--stop right there: it just stinks. I don't know where these words originated, but they reflect something that comes rippling back to me in the form of a lifetime of living somewhere routinely castigated, judged and attacked--N.Y.--filtered through life in the second city I loved--N.O.--receiving the same treatment and then proceeding to fork it out.

The wonderful people interviewed in When the Levees Broke, at least one of whom has been senselessly murdered by a fellow New Orleanian since the documentary's release, seem a portrait of another time, a different ethos. An echo.

Hypocrisy: the apocalyptic swan song. A Nola friend bitching to me about the 2006 9/11 anniversary. A Nola writer telling me all about New York, how horrible it was, pushing the "rules"--no badmouthing New Orleans.

More and more, this kind of thinking became a popular post-apocalypse ethos--and when this particular rhetoric is stripped, what do we have left, per this faction? It's one thing to criticize apathy, but the desire to ignore, negate or ridicule the suffering of others--the very thing you decry--is this what you've become? Does it make you happy?

Having lived there for the better part of six years, I know that New Orleans was never much interested in the rest of the country. I'm not much interested in a lot of what's on offer from the rest of the country. In regard to "Katrina" and New Orleans, I'm much more interested in what should have been (and is still not) on offer from the federal, state and city government.

Never felt much need to go around blanket-bastardizing this "rest of the country" as is done so often among this subset of NewOrleansNow. Just as I have heard the people of Minnesota disparaged in the wake of the bridge collapse. Just as I did not hear a word from anyone in this set--outside of dreaded Yankees and regular, non-faux-diehard New Orleanians and other Southerners--on the actual day or, come to think of it, regarding the tsunami disaster, or any other major disaster. What I do hear from the clique is things like the Guardian Angels and other outside charitable organizations being put down despite their volunteer efforts. It's not good enough, not good enough.

Well, of course it's not because The Bitters are confusing the issue: people outside the city, people not from the city, people drowned out and turned away within the city can only do so much. The Bitters are too busy poisoning the well down there to listen to reason, driving the good people of New Orleans out. I can hear it in another friend's voice on the phone.

Did this pattern begin with the most recent levee failure? No.

But it did morph into this weird, uptight (weird because it's uptight and it's New Orleans), "only our tragedy" counts mentality that doesn't exactly encourage support. Get in line or get out. If you're going to leave, shut up and leave--you are no longer allowed a voice, snaps Poppy Z. Brite, who, in addition to writing, makes a practice of telling people what they should and should not do with their lives because New Orleans is more important than their lives. Who cares if you get shot dead there? Who cares about the people shot dead?

[Oh, and Poppy: Nah nah nee nah nah, still bitchin'---but back in NY! Flounce, Flounce!]

So, am I just some Yankee-fuck-Middle-American-Mountain-Woman-falling-into-the-ocean-California-crank suggesting New Orleans should not be rebuilt? Obviously

not.

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