Buy New Orleans for Christmas


I’m officially old.

Back in my clove-smoking days, sticking it to The Man was part of my daily routine. Whether the issue was queer rights, animal rights, or abortion rights, a day wasn’t complete without a heaping helping of good old fashioned activism.

Not so much anymore. Maybe I’ve gotten smarter (doubtful) or more jaded (probable) or maybe I’ve just morphed into The Man myself (though I still have lots of baby fat). Whatever the case, I’m way more skeptical of fresh-faced idealism these days and far more prone toward pragmatism–so much so that I’ve come very near to slicing the throats of more than a few Zendik Farm hippies hawking their crummy magazine in Jackson Square.

The most recent case in point: last week’s mildly infamous Buy Nothing Day and the upcoming Buy Nothing Christmas. Both were conceived by the folks over at as a way to stem the tide of conspicuous consumerism–which is fine, I guess, except that (a) that consumerism fuels our ailing economy, and (b) while such consumerism does have some ill effects on the environment, its worst offense is that it’s tacky, which is hardly a cause to get behind. I mean, Elsa Klensch might start a campaign to stomp out white shoes after Labor Day, but how many people are gonna stand with her?

Anyway, several weeks ago I wrote a letter to the folks at AdBusters. Basically, I said, “Hey, I get what you’re trying to do here, but what if, just for this one year, you changed things up? What if this year you made the events into ‘Buy New Orleans Day’ and ‘Buy New Orleans for Christmas’? Not only would it generate some kickin’ press for you, but there are plenty of local businesses who could use the help. Most of the places that have re-opened are the small places, not the big, national chains, so you’d be directly supporting our economy–and, in turn, our schools, our police and fire departments, and the city’s recovery in general. C’mon, how about it?”

You know, of course, what I got from them.

Bupkus. Not a form letter, not an “undeliverable email” notification, nothing.

While that’s probably typical for activist sites, where you’ve got jillions of nutjobs like moi writing in every day, part of me likes to think AdBusters hasn’t responded because they don’t have anything to say, no viable counter-argument. I mean, how could you argue against helping one of America’s most beloved cities get back on its feet?

If you’re listening, AdBusters–and I seriously doubt you are, but what the hey?–wake up and smell the coffee (which was probably routed through, roasted in, and shipped from New Orleans). If you’re really committed to improving life on Planet Earth, maybe you should spend a little less time pushing anti-capitalist merchandise in your online shop (I’m not the only one who sees the irony in that, right?) and do something that stands at least a slim chance of making a difference.

20 Comments so far

  1. Maitri (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 9:24 am

    How about we start making a list of Christmas offerings that will benefit New Orleans or New Orleanians? This will make it easier for readers to get their Christmas and Charity jollies on.

    I’ll start:

    1. Mercy Corps Katrina Rebuilding Kit – $100 (MercyCorps efficiency at serious high – only 8% goes to Admin)

    2. Proud To Swim Home products – proceeds benefit Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity efforts in New Orleans

    3. Your turn

  2. Tyler (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 9:43 am

    How about a donation to WWOZ,

  3. richard (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 9:53 am

    Or WWNO for that matter:

  4. rcs (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 11:09 am

    The New Orleans-based Urban Conservancy has a side project dedicated to this concept: Stay Local.

  5. cdn (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 11:27 am

    Of course, Adbusters should rename an international movement because a city in the US was demolished by a hurricane. What about Pakistan? didn’t thier natural disaster hit closer to the date? Or is America the most important country in the planet? Also. You’ve got a rich tax-base in the US, why isn’t your government doing its job to help the city and her people?

    “consumerism does have some ill effects on the environment”

    Let me posit a theory: Hurricanes happen in warm weather. Burning fossil fuels (among many other things related to the economy) raises the overall climate of the planet. Think about that. Perhaps it is this consumerist economy and its byproducts that are responsible for what happened to New Orleans.

    “If you’re really committed to improving life on Planet Earth, maybe you should spend a little less time…and do something that stands at least a slim chance of making a difference”

    Rebuilding a city that has a good chance of getting hit again by a hurricane due to “climate change” is such a great use of resources. Open your eyes. There is a connection.

    Ps. Stop watching Fox news.

  6. dan burton (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 11:45 am

    Hey CDN,

    Stop watching Fox News? Maybe you should start cause they’re right beside you with your “let’s not rebuild Nola” argument. And your a fucking idiot. There, I feel better.

  7. ashley (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 11:55 am

    Hey CDN,

    Fuck you, you fucking fuck. Why the hell should NY get rebuilt, as it’s obviously a terrorist magnet. Why rebuild Chicago or Atlanta after the fires? Why rebuild Florida after every hurricane? Why rebuild Cali after the earthquakes. Why rebuild anywhere in the midwest after tornados? Why rebuild Buffalo after blizzards?

    Fuck you, you fucking fuck.

  8. eli (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 1:04 pm

    yes i agree.
    Why bother rebuilding any mentally toxic,
    isolated yet crowded, dirty,
    individualistic and capitalistic City?
    Our modern cities are run and
    in existence by/for capitalism and
    the bottom line is always profit
    (before people, the environment, community, et cetera).
    Why continue the disfunction?

  9. richard (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 1:27 pm

    Sounds like Eli & CDN ought to get married and move to Zendik Farm.

  10. Michael (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 1:50 pm

    Here is a link to another site that is compiling a list of New Orleans businesses that are open for biz via the web:

  11. MindyMoo (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 2:04 pm

    Or, some Proud To Call It Home merchandise:

  12. Ex-NewYorker (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 3:56 pm

    Hey, Ashley, New York hasn’t been rebuilt yet! There’s still a great big hole in the ground where the twin towers once stood. The former mayor (a real leader, not a crybaby like in New Orleans) did a great job of getting the area cleaned-up, but it is still a vacant site!

  13. dan (unregistered) on November 29th, 2005 @ 5:53 pm

    First Nagin is far from a crybaby. He’s done a quality job in a situation that no one has ever really dealt with in this country.

    Second, I think the FOX News thing is interesting. My take on them is that they are more against keeping people on the FEMA feeding frenzy more than rebuilding the city. The four people I have talked to that are employed by those folks all say the country has to rebuild the city. They don’t say the country has to keep giving people money. Two seperate issues there.

  14. Emily (unregistered) on November 30th, 2005 @ 2:50 pm

    A local attorney in Cartersville, GA wrote an article shortly after Katrina on the responses to the devestation that suggest New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt. I cannot describe his point as articulately as he did, but I’ll try.

    (Since I didn’t ask him, and he’s a former boss of mine, I’m not going to include his name in this, if you have question, email me.)

    ~~People who look at the damage of Katrina and say “why should we pay taxes for New Orleans to be rebuilt?” express a reaction to horrific circumstances that is common in civil suits where the plaintiff recieved absolutely terrible injuries. When the jury sees photos of the injuries–the blood and the bandages–they often find in favor the defendant. The logic behind this is that the jury feels the plaintiff is at fault for their injuries, that they have to be. Because if the jury recognizes that the plaintiff was not at fault for his injuries, that it was completely out of his control and the fault of something totally outside of their control, then the jury is recognizing that such a horrible thing could happen to them. They are recognizing that bad things don’t always happen to bad people. And to admit that, to admit that there life isn’t in their control, that’s too frightening, too awful for them to do. So they blame the plaintiff.

    Saying New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt, it’s too risky, too ‘sinful’ of a city, too corrupt, too unequal, is to blame the plaintiff. ~~

    I think his point is excellent.

    Saying New Orleans shouldn’t be rebuilt, or that people shouldn’t live there, is like saying people shouldn’t live in Kansas, because the tornados are too risky. It’s like saying people shouldn’t live in DC because the risk of terrorist attack is too high. It’s like saying people shouldn’t live in California because of the risks of seismic shocks (earthquakes, mud slides, etc.) and wildifires.

    Life is full of risks and there is no way to insulate yourself against acts of nature and random, horrible chance.

    New Orleans should, and will be rebuilt. And US taxpayers will pay for (at least part of) it, either directly or indirectly, and probably a little bit of both.

  15. Laurie (unregistered) on December 1st, 2005 @ 6:26 pm

    “Mr. Bingle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”



  16. Cynthia Turcotte (unregistered) on December 2nd, 2005 @ 6:39 pm

    What is a good way to get the word out to New Orleans businesses that I’m donating
    web design services to small business owners victimized by Katrina? I plan to do one
    pro bono web site per month (maybe more if time allows) and handle all the hosting and

    I’ve sent sent letters to various New Orleans newspaper editors, but so far no response.

    I don’t have alot of ready cash, so I thought this would be a good way for me to help.

    BTW the qualifications for this (and believe me, there aren’t many) are on my web site
    on the News page if anybody knows anyone who could benefit.

    Many thanks and happy holidays to you all,

    Cynthia Turcotte

  17. Laurie (unregistered) on December 3rd, 2005 @ 6:15 pm

    Have you sent a lettre’ to Chris Rose or Angus Lind?


  18. Bob (unregistered) on December 6th, 2005 @ 9:56 pm

    I sure don’t want my tax dollars going to rebuild New Orleans. Not after hearing all the alligations of racism on c-span yeterday. There were several women from New Orleans speaking to congress about what went on there. They said the millitary bombed the levy and the situation was part of an ethnic extermination, plus the words consentration camp came up several times. Yeah…Blame the white man for everything. There was no mention of all the good people from all over the nation who went out of their way to bring strangers into their homes in the aftermath. It’s just a combination of poor governing at every level and unwise decisions on the residents part, not racism.

  19. Cynthia Turcotte (unregistered) on December 7th, 2005 @ 5:07 am

    I’m not sure who Chris Rose and Angus Lind are. Who
    are they and how would I contact them?



  20. Laurie (unregistered) on December 8th, 2005 @ 4:28 pm

    Times-Picayune columnist.

    You can get the information at


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