Was it Mardi Gras? Did I miss all the parades that come before Fat Tuesday? Or was all of the excitement last night for a little sports contest that was held in the Louisiana Superdome yesterday? I have been around this city for many events and I have never seen a reaction like the city of New Orleans had last night. When Garrett Hartley’s 40 yard field goal was halfway thru the uprights for the game winning points in the 2009 NFC Championship game, the streets of New Orleans erupted. People poured out of restaurants, bars, strip clubs, trinket shops and all points in between like they had just won the lottery. And in a sense, they had won the lottery. For a city that has been under-appreciated for it’s loyalty to below average sports franchises, Sunday night was a event that was beyond comprehension. Everyone can and will focus on what this team/franchise has meant to the citizens of New Orleans for the last five years. How the Saints were the one thing that we could all embrace and root for and at times kept us sane during a insane period in New Orleans history. The pure joy that was felt and seen on the streets of the French Quarter last night and into this morning, late this morning by the way, is something that just does not happen in other American cities. No other city identifies with it’s football team like New Orleans does and of course no other city knows how to show it like the great city of New Orleans. Who dat!
Today a friend sent me a link to this video (click link below) and I am so glad he did. T.G. Herrington wrote and directed this wonderful short which is an official selection of the 2010 Sundance Film Festival happening right now in Utah. Watch it now: Mr. Okra
Laureen Lentz wrote a little something about him a while back right her on nola metblogs, check it out.
Yesterday, BoingBoing posted a link to an article by Glenn Reynolds, which told Americans that the disaster in Haiti was a great reminder to follow the Boy Scout motto: “Be Prepared”.
At first I thought, “Wow, slow news day?” Then I thought, “Fucking ‘Be Prepared’ doesn’t begin to cut it, Glenn.”*
Here is the problem: no one can be fully prepared for disasters like the one unfolding in Haiti. Even in New Orleans, where we had time to hunker down before Katrina made landfall, there was chaos after the storm — and I’m sure that would’ve happened even if we hadn’t been led by a quadrumvirate of incompetents. During disasters, disastrous stuff happens: things get out of hand. And as the Gustav evacuation/revacuation debacle demonstrated, things don’t get any easier the second time around.
But although I don’t think we can be truly prepared for disasters in terms of our physical resources, there are ways to prepare ourselves emotionally and intellectually for the aftermath. Here are a few lessons New Orleans learned after Katrina, and if current media coverage of Haiti is any guide, I’m guessing they’ll be applicable there, too:
Haiti should expect help
The outpouring of emotional and financial support for Haiti has been remarkable. I won’t say that it’s unprecedented, though some of the fundraising methods certainly have been. Even asshats like Rush Limbaugh have encouraged people to support relief organizations (though in Limbaugh’s case, he’s advocated donating directly to agencies rather than through the White House website). As isolationist and blind-eye-turning as some may want to be, at the end of the day, we’re all human, and something inside most of us wants to lend a hand to people in need. That’s why half the world’s NGOs exist.
Haiti should expect interlopers
Many people came to New Orleans after Katrina to lend a hand. Most of them took a look at what needed to be done and did it, carrying us a little further down the road toward normality. Unfortunately, a few alleged “helpers” wanted to rebuild New Orleans in their own image. They didn’t care about our culture, our history, our identity; they wanted to tear things down and put in new clean strip malls. (Note: this group does not include Brad Pitt, whose exercises in experimental architecture and community building have been exemplary, not to mention selfless.) Many of us became a little gun-shy of these — for lack of a better word — carpetbaggers. Worse: Haiti has far fewer resources with which to fend them off than we did.
Haiti should expect to be watched like a hawk
For days, the media has run stories of looting and chaos in the streets. Many people have rightly pointed out that it’s not looting if you’re taking food and water for your family. But as in New Orleans, a smaller population of profiteers have marred Haiti’s entire population. I’m sorry to say it, but the narratives of chaos, blackmail, and instability aren’t likely to stop anytime soon.
Haiti should expect to be blamed
Even now, with search and rescue efforts ongoing, fingers are being pointed. People are forgetting about the vagaries of platectonics and looking for someone to blame for the earthquake. Haiti’s own government will have to shoulder some of that. Haiti’s citizens will, too. They weren’t prepared, the arguments will go. Their response was clumsy. And afterward, they couldn’t be helped. I can’t fathom why anyone would blame Hatians for being dazed and disoriented after surviving a massive earthquake in which tens of thousands perished, but someone will.
Haiti should expect things to be different
Haiti’s normal will be a “new normal”. Hatians’ circles of friends will change. Habits and patterns will, too. But the shadow of their former lives is still there; it’s a palimpsest of the old Haiti, the one from two weeks ago. If the people of Haiti can see through the piles of rubble and trace the old outlines, they’ll be okay. Or not okay, but better.
If you haven’t already given, please consider doing so. I recommend Doctors Without Borders, since they seem to be one of the few organizations on the ground in Haiti that’s already doing real work, but nearly any major aid organization will be happy to receive your gift.
*NB: I’ve been a regular BoingBoing reader for ages, and I’ll continue to be, but I don’t think this piece was up to snuff.
If you don’t live in New Orleans, the name Garland Robinette may not mean much to you. But here, he’s a fixture: a media veteran, a BMOC, a bigmouth. Although he’s anchored TV newscasts and was once married to New Orleans’ legendary Angela Hill, he now spends his time lording over local talk radio.
Now, talk radio is not exactly the most liberal planet in the modern media universe, but Garland is smarter than many on the airwaves, and his approach is compassionate and common-sensible. (Yes, I am aware that Limbaugh and Palin also fly the common sense flag whenever possible, but I think they’re being ironic.) Today, Garland published a piece on gay marriage, and apart from the fact that his keyboard seems a little sticky (minds out of the gutter, people), I’m pretty impressed.
I have one opinion on the gay rights controversy, and I know my opinion is correct, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Those of you actively fighting against gay marriage have waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on your hands.
I don’t believe your real reason for fighting gay marriage is because you are sooooooooooooooo concerned about the threat to the institute of marriage. If you were, you’d be protesting people like me. I have been married three times. Elizabeth Taylor and me are the biggest threats ever faced by the sacred institute of marriage.
Let’s not be a hypocrite…you don’t want gay marriage, because you don’t like gays. It’s that simple. You’re frightened by those icky things they do with their sexual parts. But, here’s another hypocritical part…have you ever seen what them-thar “heterosexuals” do with their private parts? Whoa, talk about icky!!!!!
[more at WWL]
Have those same arguments been made by other straight guys? Sure, but on talk radio? In New Orleans, Louisiana? Hmmm. Maybe not.
Warren Easton’s band has been out practicing today and all week, since Christmas has passed they are now into Mardi Gras Parade Training. Thing is, we are experiencing super harsh, record breaking lows. . . it’s fucking freezing here.
Last year it was unseasonably warm, I was wearing the standard wife-beater on Xmas day and raking up leaves over there at Rocheblave. . but today at Rocheblave, the pipes were frozen.
The Good And The Bad:
Fortunately, no pipes were broke. However, there was a toilet full of morning poops/toilet paper for which there was insufficient water pressure for flushing. We braced ourselves for the fact that it was going to have to be manually cleared.
I keep a 5-gallon drum of emergency water at the condo, so I retrieved it so we could use it to fill the tank and flush the terlet. However, the pressure was weak, so Nick and Josh and I went one courageous step further and emptied the terlet of all hardware; poop and paper first using the cat litter scooper. . . dumping it into a garbage bag with some kitty litter in it, and keeping a bucket of bleach and some water for the scooper, we successfully emptied the terlet.
Then, we used the huge jug of water to the tank to the fill line. We got a full flush and took our bag o’kitty litter/people-poop out to the trash. It was rather humiliating but we were thrilled when it flushed fine. We eventually got our water back and refilled the 5-gallon emergency jug and the sink with soapy water, just in case.
The water seems to be running without out trouble this morning after dripping all faucets last night. They dodged a bullet of any burst pipes, luckily and are able to flush freely today.
This cold is really enough to make us all coccooning and cranky. The yard looks like nuclear winter and we can’t stand to set sight on it . . . .so we just keep our jackets on and watch movies, grateful for electricity and heat!
Rather than posting gross pictures of our personal plumbing hell, which would surely have been very popular . . . I have, instead, included some of the troopers at Warren Easton, one of our best local high school bands, who deserve extra applause for continuing their practices in prep for what is shaping up to be a brutally cold Mardi Gras!