Thank you Chris Rose

From columnist Chris Rose of The Times-Picayune

Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We’re South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We’re not much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn’t ask for this and neither did we, so we’re just going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We’re a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don’t cotton much to outside interference, but we’re not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.

Just don’t get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don’t try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.

We’re not going to listen. We’re stubborn that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you’d probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard.

We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.

But we’ll try not to judge you while we’re in your town.

Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana with a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead in LSU sweatshirts.

Often we don’t make sense. You may wonder why, for instance – if we could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state – why in God’s name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can’t really explain that. It is what it is.

You’ve probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, many of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we call Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We’re good people. And don’t be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don’t pity us. We’re gonna make it. We’re resilient. After all, we’ve been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That’s got to count for something.

OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at inappropriate times.

But what the hell.

And one more thing: In our part of the country, we’re used to having visitors. It’s our way of life.

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of our despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.

Chris Rose can be reached at

40 Comments so far

  1. sean (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 6:43 am

    Thanks for that Chris from London.

  2. sputnik (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 7:29 am

    Holy sausages. That’s sweet.

  3. holly (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 8:19 am

    A beautiful and touching letter. Thanks for posting it.

    I grew up in Massachusetts and am currently here for a visit. Two days ago the governor announced that we would be welcoming the first 2500 refugees from NO. He very eloquently said something to the effect of: “people of Massachusetts I know you are good and kind, now, put your money where your mouth is and open your hearts…” There isn’t a doubt in my mind that this is exactly what the people of MA will do.

    A word of caution to NOers who might end up in MA. Um, it get’s pretty chilly. Er, pretty damn chilly in fact. And the food…well, I hope you like clam chowder. Maybe you can teach us a thing or two about cooking.

    -Subs, Heros (any big fat sandwich full of meats and cheese and etc. on a crusty roll, bun, baguette etc.) are referred to as “grinders” here. I have no idea why.

    -Oh, except for the “Lobster Roll” (um, lobster on a roll) this is pretty much a Lobster Po Boy, same goes for Crab Roll and Clam Roll and Fried Oyster Roll. These are fine examples of Massachusetts cuisine.

    -Soda is often referred to as “pop” and “tonic”.

    -“Wicked!” is a good thing. As in: your hair is wicked cool..or I can do a wicked trick with my bike. It can also be a bad thing as in: it’s wicked freezing today.

    -“A-yup” means “you betcha”.

    The refugees will be housed on Cape Cod and that is good news because Cape Cod is one of the most beautiful parts of the Eastern Seaboard and the climate through the winter stays pretty moderate compared to the rest of the State. Vast sandy beaches, white capped waves, old houses and small towns with lots of fried fish (Fish Rolls) and crusty old time New Englanders that say things like “a-yup”.

    Cape Codders and NOers…somehow it works. I love it.

    I hope to hear more stories of States and citizens opening their hearts to those who have been so terribly affected by this.

    Thanks for posting that beautiful letter.

  4. Lisa (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 10:07 am

    Just wanted to tell y’all our hearts are with you.Virginians are alot like you.I know you are tough and gonna make it.This I believe,shows we are all NO people…in short,Americans.

  5. Terri (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 11:29 am

    OMy! Thank you for posting this. We’re living in CA right now and this has made me miss Louisiana all the more. Especially the part where he wrote “when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.”

  6. palochi (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 12:26 pm

    After reading this, I think I just fell in love with everyone from South Louisiana.

    And, as I wrote Mr. Rose, I personally know what your resiliency is all about. I’ve been a Cubs fan since birth.

  7. JC (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 1:33 pm

    1. What about the cost of gas that is already in the ground at the pump?
    2. Has anyone thought about that?
    3. The chain of supply is right out the window here when the news airs something going on in the world.

    The chains of supply are the same for the oil companies as they are for the rest of the business world.

    First you have to pump the oil out of the ground then ship to a refinery then refine and store that gas then sell it to a gas station and then ship it to the station where the gas station owner has purchased the gas at a fixed wholesale price. This all takes several months for the gas to get from the ground to the pump.

    Yet when something happens in the news the price of gas jumps up in the same day. WHY does it do that. The reason is only GREED. There is no magic that puts the oil that will cost more in a few days or weeks all the way over into the pumps in the ground at the gas stations the same day. The only reason is to make money from the gullible public that just saying well what are you going to do, you have to buy gas to get to work to make some money to buy even more expensive gas.

    I guess I seem to be the only one that says HAY WAIT A MINUTE the gas that this station purchased this month does not cost the station owner anymore today than it did when he bought it. The station should not be raising prices until the higher cost gas actually reaches his pumps. That can take several months. Now the gas station owners don

  8. charles r (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 1:48 pm

    Beautiful…Thank you for putting it on the blog Craig.It is soothing and calming…we are all the same,wanting to be loved and live in peace,and to lose your home and not know where your friends and neighbors are…to be forced to leave your home now..without your beloved pets…as some rescue boats are refusing to take animals is heartbreaking.To think that this is America and not a Third World country…shows us with shocking clarity and realism the fragility of our lives,and the ever nearness,ever present threatening/looming danger of poverty,disease..disability,et all, that despite our constant ” wall building and strengthening”, may break at the seams anytime..and lead us to fall into the same place as so many of the people we have seen on the tv over the past week,and even worse. We are always a paycheck away from poverty..and mayhem…I am,as a disabled,caucasian..53 yo gay man here in SF.I fear for an earthquake which would trap me in my apt…I only go out to the local grocery store or to see my Dr’s..and I take morphine for pain..and other drugs to get me through the day.I cannot travel anymore…I used to travel all over the world… and have done so.. but now I have a tuff time just cleaning my apt..and making my bed,doing the laundry. I know what it is like to be poor…I am,financially..but rich in spirit..and hope and faith… Keep on…keep the faith…it will get better..things happen for a reason…that is what I tell myself…and pray. Charles r.

  9. Cynthia Antoinette (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 2:23 pm

    God Bless You!

    I am so lucky! I am lucky to have found this site with this letter. Amid all the squabbling, to have found one of the People–is a blessing! Truth is in the People! Amen! We love you!

  10. Carrie (Alberta, Canada) (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 3:06 pm

    Thanks for posting these heartwarming, positive and to me, healing words. I sent it to CNN, maybe Lou will read it tonight.


  11. Izzy (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 11:44 pm

    I know what it’s like to lose your home with no hope of rebuilding. I lost mine to a housefire in 2004. It was the home that I was born and raised in. When my dad died, I bought my brothers out and moved back in. My children and I were homeless for a month and a half. This past month, we were able to move back to our hometown which we missed tremendously. I know what it’s like to have to leave “Home” without it being a choice. I alway’s wanted to go to Louisiana for Mardi Gras ! On behalf of the Citizens of the United States of America…I apologize for the red tape created by our government and I applaude our fellow Americans who took a stand and started collecting food, water, diapers, money, etc. for Louisiana ! You can alway’s depend on your fellow Americans. It took a whole of lot bitching but we finally got the President to move his ass !

  12. Omar in California (unregistered) on September 6th, 2005 @ 11:51 pm

    Thank you for such a moving letter, and for holding on so graciously and courageously. My prayers with all of you.

  13. Jim Carpenter (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 10:17 am

    Chris see you in the French Qtr
    The Jager is on me

  14. Katie (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 2:06 pm

    I love this letter. It reminds me of the frenzied state that Houston has been in trying to help the influx of people. It’s like we’ve been sitting around waiting for someone to help. It’s like we needed someone to help. It’s like we are helping ourselves by helping others. I think Texans really identify with you guys because we are also seen as “different” and a little off. Of course we’ll harbor our Lousiana friends. And, as I told my husband yesterday (He’s from NJ) it’s cheesy but you learn from your first day of grade school here “Texas means ‘friends’.”

  15. Kristen (Lewis) Jerisha (unregistered) on September 7th, 2005 @ 4:49 pm

    Only Chris could put this into words for everyone there and coax a smile out such a tragedy. As a transplanted New Orleanian living in Chicago (and yes, I am a Cubs fan…), keep up the faith, people. And Chris, if you are reading this, you and your family are in my thoughts. See you at Le Bon Temps!

  16. DC Girls (unregistered) on September 8th, 2005 @ 12:59 am

    Chris…well said. You showed your 5 DC girls such great sides of your city last year. The amazing cafe near the racetrack, your home, the restaurant and bar nearby and your beautiful wife and awesome kids. We would have loved your city as it was…but seeing it through ‘Rose colored glasses’ was a rare treat. We’ll look for you in DC at Thanksgiving if you’ll be there. Meanwhile, stay safe!

  17. A Brabham (unregistered) on September 8th, 2005 @ 12:47 pm

    I agree with Chris we are a resilient people in South Louisiana I am 45 mins north of New Orleans but I did live in Kenner for a year. And my mothers family is from New Orleans. So there is a history in my family with that wonderful city. It will be rebuilt and be better than it was before due to the perserverince and determination of the people. Great article and keep it up.

  18. karena cawthon (unregistered) on September 9th, 2005 @ 8:48 am

    Chris– Raad and I were thrilled to find out that you and your family, as well as our other close friends in NOLA are safe. We love you–Karena

  19. Kbee (unregistered) on September 9th, 2005 @ 4:01 pm

    To Holly from MA: I used to live in Boston, and you forgot a few things :)

    SCROD – whatever whitefish the chef has left in the kitchen. They’ll tell you it’s baby cod, but it ain’t.

    HIHOWAHYA – the typical greeting from one New Englander to the other.

    Are the banks open on Saturday mornings? Do you have a SHAHMUT COD? What? A cod? A fish? You know…one of those cods you put in the ATM machine!

    They sure talk funny up there, but the Evacuees will have a great time because they’re suckers for a southern accent…

  20. Charles Barnette (unregistered) on September 9th, 2005 @ 9:15 pm

    I wanna thank whoever posted this and Chris Rose for writting it. Hello from SOUTH LOUISIANA. I live 40 miles north of NOLA and work in the public safety field. That means I am a firefighter/EMT. I have seen the sorrow and saddness first hand. I have cried and held the hands of victims coming off the helicopters at the airport. I have done all i can to help people find missing loved ones or atleast point them in a direction. I have seen and heard it all these past two weeks. But in my profession, I can’t show my emotion right now. I am too busy taking care of these displaced people to worry about myself. My body suffers from it. My marriage suffers from it. My heart suffers from it. I will have my time to cry it out and feel better about it. But for now, I have to keep it locked up and out of the way. Chris’s letter made me feel better and smile. Thanks. It just might help me get through this.

  21. Rustam (unregistered) on September 10th, 2005 @ 12:46 pm

    Chris thank you for you letter. I truly understand citizen of NO. I used to live in Baku in time when USSR broke apart, so i saw by my 5 years old eyes what happend with people in heavy times. How bro can kill sister. Freind betrayal. It was hard to see death in the streets of NO. But all world with you.
    It is hard time.
    You’ll manage with this.

  22. Larry Grady Sr (unregistered) on September 11th, 2005 @ 5:40 pm

    For the people of Southern La.
    As and Atlanta native, I had the good fortune of attending LSU for my Graduate School of The South
    Banking School.
    During this time I learned that I really should have been a Baton Rouge native.
    Why? Because they know how to party and are absolutely resiliant. Nawlins folks were about the same cept a little more tourist acclamated.
    So La will recover, but, until then, we will take care of our sisters, brothers, and children.
    The heart of the South rests in Southern La. and when the chips are down we will care for each other until whenever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. wendy good (unregistered) on September 12th, 2005 @ 4:16 pm

    how sweet it is to get a little of what we miss from home: a chris rose column! thanks, chris, and keep the faith.

  24. jeanne' (unregistered) on September 13th, 2005 @ 10:59 am

    Thank-you for the insightful letter, Chris. I have traveled through y’alls state with my daughter three years ago and loved the hospitality shown to us! We pray the process of rebuilding will be gentle on all whom were affected.

  25. Officer X (unregistered) on September 17th, 2005 @ 1:59 am

    I am rode out the storm and fought the looters and psychos after the storm. I was born in NOLA, but moved when I was young. I returned a decade ago and will never be forced out. Not crime, corruption, storms, sky high home prices….nothing. I love this city and all of it’s inhabitants. There is an electrical current that runs through the city that the rest of the country will never understand. It is the only place in the world where a cop like me can shut down a barroom with his two best friends, a musician and a politician. New Orleans will survive. Why? Becuase it always has survived. I am not a big Mardi Gras celebrant. But I am already looking forward to this years Carnival. It is going to be the most bittersweet celebration ever. I hope everyone remembers what they love about this city and not what they lost. No storm can wash away those memories. “Take me back to New Orleans and drop me at my door. I might love you, yeah, but I love Her more.” – Fred Leblanc/Cowboy Mouth.

  26. Vanessa (unregistered) on September 17th, 2005 @ 11:53 pm

    IT’s good to read something from “the people”! I live in the NO area, and love the city. The one thing that I would like to add is that the bars and the “party-goers” that make our great city so well-known are not the only ones that are coming back with full force. The churches in our great communities are coming back, also. We are bringing a renewed passion for serving God home with us, and are going to rebuild our city through prayer and faith in God. Religion is one VERY important aspect of our lives in Southern La., and we are not letting this horrible tragedy put a question in our minds about who we should look to in time of great need. “Nothing good and nothing bad happens unless first it goes through the hands of God”. That gives me great comfort to know that God is going to bring us back better than we were before! It’s exciting, now, to sit back and see the handiwork of God in progress. Things can only get better from here.

  27. Donna Dronet-Raskin (unregistered) on September 28th, 2005 @ 3:58 pm

    Thank you so much for the article. My mom was right; I cried my eyes out. I know from living in KCMO that people are doing and trying their best to be helpful but here are a few things you should also know: No one in LA wanted this to happen. In the “throw away” society that we live in today people have the attention span that is always saying, “next”. Well folks, there is no next right now. We need to SLOW DOWN and take care of our friends, family and neigbors of all walks of life in Southern Louisiana. Cajun people are very proud people and I know from living the first 25 years of my life in Louisiana that asking for help does not come easy for south Louisiana folk but now is not the time to be independent. Please remember America that some day, some how, somewhere you are going to need help from your countrymen in Southern Louisiana and we will be there for you but for now we are asking you to stop thinking about tomorrow and help out today. With all the red tape in dealing with FEMA and the Red Cross a group of professionals including myself are working directly with the Mayor of Abbeville and other Mayors in the area to take care of immediate needs. We are supplying food, water, clothes, school supplies, hay for horses and cattle, and through Heart to Heart International; medical supplies. We have been able to do what big business can’t do and that is make things happen and make them happen fast. Please help the people of Louisiana. I am begging you to open your wallets, pantry, closet and whatever resources you have and help your fellow human beings. Without Southern Louisiana the United States is not the same. So save the blame games for another time; their is enough bullsh*t in the water already. Thank you, Donna Dronet-Raskin, Kansas City, MO – A cajun for life!I can be reached at:

  28. Michelle Champagne (unregistered) on October 9th, 2005 @ 7:50 am

    My heart swelled with pride as I read your touching Katrina article.
    I felt so desperately sad to see our city swallowed by so much ugliness.
    Thanks for reminding all of us that we are a treasure…
    Our uniqueness is what makes us Southerners so resilient.
    Keep up the good words!
    Michelle Champagne/former Westbanker

  29. Holly in Slidell, LA (unregistered) on October 12th, 2005 @ 8:48 am

    Thank you Chris for the letter. New Orleans will be back and better than ever.

  30. Teft (unregistered) on October 24th, 2005 @ 1:01 pm

    Nice nice. A lot of useful here. good work
    Thanks for all.

  31. child (unregistered) on October 24th, 2005 @ 1:02 pm

    Nice nice. A lot of useful here. good work
    Thanks for all.

  32. mike k (unregistered) on November 10th, 2005 @ 4:38 pm

    Think of the bright side,re not from Cleveland and a BROWNS fan .IT looks like a natural disaster had came in and stayed.

  33. Renew (unregistered) on November 19th, 2005 @ 3:45 pm

    Good job done. I consider you are not lazy… :)


  34. Laurie (unregistered) on November 22nd, 2005 @ 9:52 pm

    Well, Chris, Angus Lind and you got me through it. You made me laugh!! I can’t take the double hurricane warning flag any longer!!! I live in a pocket. St. Charles’ Parish, lots of wind damage, a tornadoe here and about, but not no serious damage to life or limb,well, there were 8 dead and flooding on the other side of the river in St. Rose and Norco.
    I think some do gooder stole my puppy!
    Like I said, you make me laugh! ‘Xcept for the article two weeks ago when you wrote the ninth ward piece that had me crying for 3 days-that made me mad, you’re supposed to make me laugh!!
    Why did all of the older pecan trees die? We lost three.



  35. dormirse123 (unregistered) on December 28th, 2005 @ 5:30 am

    nice blog

  36. militicone (unregistered) on January 12th, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

    nice blog

  37. emoticones (unregistered) on January 16th, 2006 @ 3:31 am

    nice blog

  38. telegra (unregistered) on January 18th, 2006 @ 4:16 am

    nice blog

  39. telecharger jeu (unregistered) on January 21st, 2006 @ 8:20 am

    hi, how are you!

  40. carls (unregistered) on January 26th, 2006 @ 10:44 pm

    carls levis

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