New Orleans for Dummies

Only read this if you have about ten minutes to kill. This is the last post anyone will have to read in order to figure out what is going on in the city now, and what it was like pre-windy flood thing. Pay attention and read carefully as to not get confused. Please feel free to use this as a reference for any further shit you have to say. It will help you to not ask stupid questions and give you truthful knowledge of our past. History books and archive articles don’t explain everything. Remember the city was here before we had the internet. Remember that? Remember when you had to read the paper or go to a library to find shit out? I have devised a historical description to explain the situation. I would like hipsters and activists and community saviors to pay specific attention. I believe it will knock the proverbial high horse out from under you.

First, let me add that no animals were harmed in the writing of this post. I didn’t mix it with eggs, so you vegans can read it too. If you are white, and you have dreadlocks, put on your Widespread Panic t-shirt and focus. If you have a Sociology degree, your lack of judgment will come in handy when reading this. If you recently moved here to work for a non-profit that makes you feel like you can change the world, copy and paste this to your forehead. If you go to CafĂ© Reconcile on a regular basis and prance around on White Linen Night, you might want to pull up a chair. If you will be or have ever been in Nell Nolan’s Social Scene, first kill your self to stop the inbred bloodlines, and then listen up.
If you are a Bag of Donuts fan, put on your white Reeboks and learn to read, and then read this. If you thought “The Big Easy” was a legitimate portrayal of New Orleans, then buy the DVD then jam it up your ass. Ready? Here we go!

New Orleans
Established 1718

Population: White (French), Black, American Indian

Throughout the years, some members of the slave community became free and productive members of the city. American traders came in as well as the Spanish.

New Orleans sold along with the Louisiana Purchase to United States 1803.

Americans settle west of Canal St., French and blacks stay on East side.

Civil War.

New Orleans is now in Reconstruction mode

Over the years white neighborhoods and black neighborhoods form and naturally segregate.

Post war to turn of the century -German, Irish, and Italian immigrants flood city and form neighborhoods. Irish Channel, Gretna, Italians lived mainly in the Quarter.

Black families live in Treme’ as well as areas of Mid-City and Ninth Ward.

World War II

Post war-Baby boom-White families start to move to the burbs to find greener pastures. They also move in masses to Mid-City to raise children outside of the bustling city.

Black population rises as well, and certain areas that were white populated like Mid-City and the Irish Channel start to see black population increase.

“Oh No! We don’t want to live near black people!” say ignorant white guys. They then move to Jefferson Parish and St Bernard Parish. This was known as the “White Flight”.

As time goes buy, the black population comes to realize that by sheer numbers they can vote in the candidates that they prefer. This is when Ernest Morial and other positions of high office in the city were filled with black politicians as opposed to white. No big deal.

By no ones fault, the city begins to see less tax money coming in from property taxes and businesses. The black population being predominantly made up of less financially affluent individuals begins to raise dramatically which means more rental properties and slum lords come in to play. The black population had less money, therefore could not afford home ownership to the same degree as the white population. No banks would give them home loans anyway. This was a different time, remember? This was the transition from segregation to desegregation and the Civil Rights amendments.

It was kind of like the white population said, ‘You want it? You can have it!’

Fast forward to Morial II. Billy Dee Morial has the opportunity to go in one of two different directions. Industrial/Technological or Hospitality/Tourism. Through careful consideration, he decides that the tourism trail is the way to go. He already knows the population of blacks in his city are not getting the educations they need to support a technological industry. The tourism industry in turn backfires and keeps the black population in an endless merry go round of low pay hotel and restaurant jobs. This in turn keeps the cycle of poor non home owners in an eternal position of no way out. The youth of the city see an easy way to make money and the drug trafficking industry is born.

Drug trafficking promotes the cultures of violence and poverty. You would be pissed too if your mom worked three jobs and you had no guidance as a child.

Early 90’s- poverty and crime are rampant in the city. The city is not making the money it used to because the oil business went away a few years earlier and tourism is a seasonal cash cow. No neighborhood is safe from murder and armed robbery.

Massa Ray becomes Mayor and promises to fix everything. He Lied.

Katrina – August 29, 2005

1 year and 4 months later – Same old Shit!

Here is the easy part to figure out.

No Money from taxes = No civil repairs, no police, no reliable court system, no reliable public schools, no checks and balances, and of course, no political power in the state or federal government.

It is really very simple actually. Katrina did not cause this. We did. We watched it happen right in front of us. The less educated people are, the easier it is to control them. The politicians we’ve had here for the last thirty years would tell you what you wanted to hear, then business as usual after they were elected. They became politicians to make it easier to steal from you. It was the way things were. It was normal. Remember we elected a criminal to be Governor on several occasions. We boasted and took pride in the crookedness of our politicians. Look what that got us.

NO Money= NO nuttin’ plain and simple.

You need money to pay police a decent wage. You need money to pay fireman and to keep the schools open. You need money to fix street lights and repair drainage. Sure, we need it now, but we needed it twenty years ago too. This city has been financially in the crapper for decades now. That is why thousands of people didn’t have cars to get out, or jobs that would provide them with the funds to go to a hotel in Monroe. Poverty and crime were a way of life in this town. You saw it every day, but it was 400lb gorilla in the room. You only talked about behind closed doors and blamed everybody but ourselves for it.

You know, we blame the Corps of Engineers and everybody else for everything that is wrong here. We knew the levees sucked. We would make jokes about “the Big One’ and that we lived in a fish bowl. We knew it. We simply didn’t think it would happen in our lifetime. We loved not caring just like the Japanese loved technology. It was an attitude handed down throughout generations. Go drive down the river road on either side of the river when the river is running high. Water streams run across the streets form gaping holes under the levees. That has been going on for years. I would drive home on the clearest day and try to figure out why there were giant water puddles on the road. The levees sucked and we knew it. We can say we were caught unaware, but that is complete bullshit. That is why we were begging the Feds for money to fix them over the last few decades. We didn’t think it would happen.

Well it did happen and the city is sucking the big one. The crime is nothing new. The shitty schools are nothing new and neither are the civil repairs and the lame duck politicians and the poverty and the trash and the complete lack of giving a shit. Nothing new.

So for all of you who come down here with your views about what is best, think about it first before you spew out your ” I went to an Ivy league school and I can save the world” bullshit. Just because you go to meetings for organizations with titles like the GNOCCPPAA or the LRAGGEX% doesn’t mean you are better than everyone else. Everyone else might have to work an extra job now. You moved here to help, but if all fails, you still have Ohio. We don’t. We are from here and have no other options. So stick your “why doesn’t anyone here help their fellow man crap’ straight up your cake hole. Maybe we can’t help our fellow man because we can’t help ourselves at the moment. So fuck off. Take that shit to Africa or join the Peace Corps and show Ethiopians how to make bread or some shit. You have to realize the last thing we need is a hipster two years out of college coming down here to scold us for not clearing houses with Common Grounds on our lunch breaks. Fuck You. Would you go to New York to tell them how to make pizza? Would you go to Pittsburgh and teach them how to make steel? No, you wouldn’t because you are ignorant of these things. You are also ignorant of how the cultures here have collided into a giant storm of shit. You don’t know the history but from what you have read. You never lived it, so again, please go fuck yourself with the nearest downed tree limb. I have completely lost the direction of this post, please stand by while I go over it again.

These posts I write are usually laced with sarcasm and anger. That is because I am working what seems like thousands of hours a week to try to keep my business running. These posts are somewhat of an outlet to get the anger out. Would you rather I shoot your dog or perhaps myself to misdirect the hostility? I cannot physically help local charitable organizations. I am struggling to keep my head above water. All of my time is dedicated to keep my business open. I’m sorry I can’t get down to the meeting about whether the city will use purple or beige garbage cans. I have my own problems. I think some of the other authors will agree that this is a way for us to vent our frustrations with what is going on here. It is a way to tell those from places afar that we are not moving forward here and that back to normal is not yet in our vocabulary. When other people read about the crap that is going on, maybe they won’t forget us and the shit were going through. Maybe they’ll come down here and buy a house and go to the meeting at the NACCPPOG and they can hopefully tell us what color our garbage cans are going to be. I don’t care as long as they put money back into the system because ultimately that is the only thing that will bring us back, HUGE PILES OF MONEY!

Sorry about the length, Peace out Suckas!

15 Comments so far

  1. Ray (unregistered) on December 6th, 2006 @ 11:53 pm

    I can’t be the only one who gets to see this glorifulness capped off by an ad for “Chocolate flavored potato chips? You decide”

  2. Brian B (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 2:15 am

    Paul P, you are one of the main reasons that I come to this blog! Your truth coexisting with your comedy makes the stories and your view points some of the most entertaining I’ve ever heard about the city. You need your own show on Cox10.

  3. GentillyGirl (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 4:15 am

    You da Man baby!

    Great thumbnail history for those who just don’t “get” New Orleans.

  4. Marco (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 7:54 am

    Say it and say it again. Keep saying it until they go deaf from hearing it. Then say it louder so that regain their hearing. And you can’t shoot my dog. He’s too short and hard as nails. Bullets bounch off him.

  5. termite (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    Paul – reading this post and the points you made were so pathetic.. that i found it funny. for those of us born and raised here we get it. with all it’s broken dreams i still love this city and most of all, i love the people. (oh yeah, and the food as ain’t bad either)
    during the holidays i was on a plane seated next to a man from chilly gentilly. you would have thought we were long lost friends, we laughed for 3 hours.

    FYI – your remark about venting on your posts works both ways – for us the readers.

    great post as usual.

    the end – sucka ;D

  6. Jack Ware (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 9:35 am

    I’ve been side-stepping the bullets of people trying to make me feel bad for not going to every meeting under the sun. Fact is, I gave the meeting thing a shot for a while and realized I just need to focus my efforts a little more. Nothing was being accomplished – just a lot of talk and I’d find myself thinking about all the stuff I’m not getting done by sitting in some cafegymbatorium for three hours…eh whatever.

    I’ve recently started to look at the meeting epidemic in New Orleans as sort of a city sponsored opiate for the masses. I suspect more and more that these meetings are distractions from the real work that needs to be but isn’t getting done. Distraction from the rutterless leadership. Distraction from so much. I’ve noticed in my chemically managed friends, that at the right dosage there seems to be a sincere and inescapable desire to “organize”. Maybe that’s a clue to the debilitating meeting plague burying the city.

    I dunno – I need a drink….lol

  7. Laureen (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 9:55 am

    The pressure of the citizenry to recover is definitely real. I do not condone wasting precious energy going to all the planning bullshit meetings. But some information is and has been available at the source before this disaster. The source never being the newspaper. Which I don’t read. We just can’t expect to complain about it yet do nothing about it. Which is what Paul is saying here, it’s how things got this way in the first place. I also think that by being in touch with your neighborhood’s organization, you spread the burden of solving your local (as in say, Freret St.’s) problems across the group, you have a much better chance and making changes. That is my point. What I do, most people can’t do because they have to go to work everyday. But I have just been a position to do it, but there is a small group of folks who have assumed some of the work of getting information and asking questions on behalf of those who cannot. I do think we do have a window of opportunity here in Post-K to affect some changes and address some of these larger issues.

  8. coldH2Owi (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 8:37 pm

    So I should just stay home & not give a shit?

  9. crawgirl (unregistered) on December 7th, 2006 @ 9:33 pm

    I didn’t get the part about why you can’t move to Ohio. They don’t allow navel grazing and self pity?

  10. cajun (unregistered) on December 10th, 2006 @ 9:58 am

    This is an incredible post. I’m from NOLA, currently living in DE. I remember growing up and always hearing “they” decided how the schools were to be run, how the bus line would have just so may buses on which lines, would not pass your car at inspection unless you left at least a Five spot on the front seat – – you get my drift. It was never WE, I, or US always THEY!

    And every time I came back for a visit it was always still the same, like traveling back in time. Faces changed, but the issues remained the same.

    Most of my family lived near the lake front, close to the old airport, off Haynes Blvd. in what used to be called “Little Woods” but somewhere in the 70’s became New Orleans East. There is nothing left there now, from what I am told. I lost my last relative to the storm and cannot imagine what that area looks like today. I still have friends living there, in NO and Metairie, but they won’t tell me much and I don’t ask for more.

    I thank you all for this blog and for your continued love of the city. Blessings and prayers I send to you.

  11. bobthebuilder (unregistered) on December 10th, 2006 @ 10:18 am

    I am with Crawgirl. Why screw up a very good history of the city with exactly the shitty insular ‘you’re not from here, so you just don’t understand’ bullshit that is sinking the place?

  12. Crawgirl (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 10:56 am

    Poor Paul, now the Mexicans are taking over your city ! You’re gonna have to start posting your insulting tirades in Spanish. LOL !

    And thank god for their help ! It’s taking a lot of people who ‘aren’t from here’ to rebuild.

  13. Paul p (unregistered) on December 11th, 2006 @ 4:02 pm

    Oh geez, some Christians have worked their way into the blogosphere. Okay the Ohio thing. What I thought was pretty clear obviously was not. You come from Ohio and now live in New Orleans. You still have the option to go back home to Ohio if all things don’t work out living here. You have a home base in Ohio with family and friends. It is more difficult for a person to move from this place to another state because they have no family or acquaintances there,they are here.

    Trust me, I know the History of the city. I was writing a quick reference to show the reasons why the city was dog shit before Katrina, not after. If you find untruths in that list, I would hope you can point them out.

    As far as the ” you have to be from here” thing. I simply stated that I was tired of getting scolded by newcomers for not being a perfect citizen who goes to community meetings and celebrates twelfth night and dances behind every jazz funeral.

    I know the History of this town very well, that is why it pisses me off so much to see it the way it is. This town used to be the wealthiest city in the country. We had the largest port and many businessmen from around the country came here for financial opportunity. Now, we have to beg McDonald’s to invest money to rebuild their shit.

    Its not self pity, I could be working for someone else somewhere else making more money. I choose not to because this is where I’m from and if the tiny shit amount of taxes I take in from revenues and pay to the city helps out in any way, then I’m doing my job.

    I believe I ended the post with this: “Maybe they’ll come down here and buy a house and go to the meeting at the NACCPPOG and they can hopefully tell us what color our garbage cans are going to be. I don’t care as long as they put money back into the system because ultimately that is the only thing that will bring us back, HUGE PILES OF MONEY!” I think that covers it.

    About the Mexicans. I don’t care who the fuck lives here as long as you do something. The Mexicans working at the apartment complex across the street are the nicest guys I ever met. They work their asses off every day over there. I got no problem with that. Come on in live here, as long as your contributing. I teach them English and they teach me Spanish. Its a great trade off.
    Now, if one of them came in here and told me I was not doing my part because I don’t gut houses, I’d tell them to eat shit as well.

    Thank You for your patronage.

  14. Nightprowlkitty (unregistered) on December 12th, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

    Good post. Fact is, you are doing something … you’re trying to keep your business going. That’s a job worth doing.

    Good luck to you. I’m writing from New York City. I love New Orleans and every goddamned person in it, no matter what they’re doing.

  15. roux (unregistered) on December 13th, 2006 @ 11:25 am

    Can’t argue with most of your history. Katrina effect on NOLA was if you pulled the siding off of a house and realized it was termite eaten and about to fall down. Everything looked fine from the outside but all along it was crumbling.

    Marc Morial had an opportunity to turn some things around but he ended up being one of the most corrupt leaders NOLA has ever had. He and his admin set the example of selfishness on a grand scale. Nagin actually looked like a change in direction and then came Katrina.

    One thing though, NOLA has the opportunity to be reborn. It won’t happen overnight as the vestiges of the old New Orleans still haunt her but there is a chance.

    It has to be depressing to see your options of a congress member be between Dollar Bill and Dollar Bill Lite. I do think you’ve had some good changes on the city council and that’s where you have to start.

    There will be a lot of money coming in the next 5 years. Enough if spent wisely NOLA should be able to be reborn into something better.

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