Archive for August, 2006

New Orleans CSI

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Monday, 4:58 am. I am shocked out of sleep, sirens, flashing lights and gunfire. A quick reflexive assessment from my fight or flight instincts tell me the bed is safe and so I am still, listening for ricochet.

This went on for a while, lots of shots being fired moving right to left. After the shots stop, I sneak toward the front of the house trying to figure out what’s happening. I can’t open the door because I am in the middle of a lot of very pissed off police, no surprises. I heard them yelling at someone. With the police cruiser’s flashing lights flooding the house I was unable to see anything out the window. Thankfully, both of my neighbors call me to see if I’m ok over there in the middle of it all. They give me the details from their vantage point across the street. Someone stole this car, the police stopped them in the side yard, the perp exited the car from the passenger side and started shooting at the officers. The cops are chasing him through the neighborhood. Stay inside.

When I finally poked my head out the door, the cop gave me some shit. “You just coming out now? You hear that gunfire?” I said, “Yeah, all that shooting, I’m stayin inside.” He says, “Ima be honest, that was the first time I ever been shot at. I can’t tell ya what was going through my mind.”

They got the guy a block or two away with the search dogs. Now they are taking photos. The national guard just showed up too. I can make some coffee now, wait for the sun to come up and check the house for bullet holes.

Two worlds

I’ve been watching this Ernesto thing for the past couple of days, wondering at first if we’re going to face It all again and then watching things tail away toward Florida. Hell — y’all have read it.

In talking with neighbors and friends the past day or so, I find we’re divided into two worlds — Those Who Fear We Might All Die and Those Who Really Don’t Give A Shit. Not that the former worry about literally dying. And not that the others don’t really care (“gimmenothuhshotarumbabygirl”). I guess it’s like watching two different groups listen to an Etta James album — one group is in the listening-to-the-lyrics-and-crying crowd and the other is thinking the overall album is good background for everything else that’s going on at the time. Both can sing along, but their hearts are feeling it in different ways. But their hearts feel it nonetheless. “I’d Rather Go Blind” is either what they’re feeling at the time or it’s a case of been-there-done-that.
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Flooded Expressway

Coming from Florida it is not the hurricane that scares me it’s the flooding and as I drove to work yesterday the corner of the Westbank Expressway and Lafayette was completely flooded.

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I snapped this picture with my phone just before that car became water logged and I decided I was not going to make it after all. It has been raining but enough to make a major road flood? That is the scary part. When I walk out of my door and it hasn’t rained in two days but there is still a small pool of water by the side of the road, it is never out of the back of your mind how easy this whole place was and could be again under water.

On a lighter(?) note Ernesto seems to be making a turn toward Florida pretty much exactly where my family lives but that’s ok ’cause they can come visit me for the weekend.

Love Letter Number 4

This was written about three months ago, I just couldn’t bring myself to post it. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Hey Boo,

It’s been a rough couple of weeks. I’ve been running into people I knew before the storm left and right and they all have stories. Basically to a man they are back to see if they want to try and come back and rebuild and the future isn’t looking good. Thought I’d give ya an update on some of the people we knew before you were wounded so badly.

Remember James? The guy I met in the old hood cause he was always walking home when I’d be reading the paper on the porch in the morning? Or should I say he was stumbling home and always asking for spare change? One of New Orleans lost youth, a guy the system was built to basically defeat. The one who taught me what the phrase “murked someone” meant. He was always cool to me, you know how I am, scared of nothing and no one. I saw his sister last Wednesday at the Discount Zone on Claiborne. As we all do, I asked how she and James made out. I could see the tears coming and the feeling in my gut told me it wasn’t good. They didn’t get out, they were on the roof, one of James nephews slipped, fell into the water, James went after him and neither ever came back. She cried when she told me, and even though we only knew each other’s first name, I cried right along with her.
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Clean out your #@$%*@ storm drains!

Driving around in the recent monsoons has made me realize that most of the storm drains in flood-affected areas of the city are clogged with debris. Consequentially, many of our streets are becoming lakes when it rains. If you’ve got clogged storm drains anywhere near your house, clean those suckers out!!! The city has always relied on citizens to do this job, so do it already! If this Ernesto business comes anywhere near us we’re going to have major problems because of clogged drains.

I’m soooooooo tired

In looking at the Ernesto data this morning, it occurs to me, for the first time in nearly a year, I’m tired.

Whatever happens with this system, we’ll deal with it best we can. Any long-term Gulf coast resident knows it’s the time of year to get ready to face these things — and we like to say it’s simply one of the costs of living in paradise. Some folks ask, “why don’t you just move?” — to which we say why? Anyplace one chooses is going to have its own natural hazards — and there are going to be periods in which these hazards are going to rear their heads repeatedly. So no sense playing prairie dog and running the risk of being hurt when popping up someplace else. Our hearts are here and we watched from afar last time. It sucked — so if it’s going to suck anyway, we might as well see it close up as long as it’s reasonably safe. That’s to be determined.
…so we’ll watch this latest round and prepare as much as we can. August 29th and 30th (ironically enough) will give us a much clearer idea of what’s going to happen. I guess, after enduring the tough 2004 season in Florida and then 2005 over here, I’ve become philosophical about it all.

…but I’m tired. We all are.

No me gusta Ernesto!

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The Road Back

Two stories in this morning’s paper give a good outline of what’s happening and not happening in our city. This one talks about how expensive everything is getting, while another one outlines just how broken our infrastructure remains. No one ever said life was fair — particularly when Mother Nature and the Corps of Engineers are involved.

There’s also a third story that’s an offshoot of the other two. It’s this one, talking about how so many people are simply out of options when it comes to staying here — as badly as they might want to. Taken together, this triumverate of stories does a lot better job of describing day-to-day life here than most I’ve seen. We’re going to be hearing a lot of things over the coming week about the anniversary of The Thing — but don’t look for many New Orleanians to spend much time looking back. Believe me — we’re much, much too busy just trying to pay the power bill, concoct some scheme to pay the mortgage and praying the batch of checks were wrote two days ago will wait just one more day before going through the account.
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Love Letter Number 3

Darling,

We are celebrating Satchmo this weekend, one of your most famous peeps. I was sitting in the den earlier before the food and music and second line started and I was thinking about last year and the Satchmo Summerfest. I started blogging for the first time ever that weekend because I got run over by some fat ass on a Vespia. Gee, that feels like one hundred years ago but at least I can laugh about that now.

This is when you normally shine. When your worker bee’s decide to have a get together, a bash, a festival or a soiree’, you have always been elegant, a shining light that brightens us all. This weekend was no different but it was different at the same time. You held up fine but there was no one here to see it and it breaks my heart.

Thinking back to last year’s fest, the crowds were everywhere. The radio station ran out of paper fans because so many people came to see you. The temporary food booths had lines for days, the money was flowing and the music, oh the music!

The Rebirth Brass Band brought it like they always do. The Japanese guy who sounds JUST LIKE Louis Armstrong made me think of re-incarnation and you. Trombone Shorty got everyone dancing, it was a thrill and a sight and much needed but we need more people, more blood for you to get better and while the music helps, the people are what make you. It’s always been that way and every one of us knows it.
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Of Lucky Dogs and Pizza

I was on Bourbon Street a few weeks ago after the Abita 20th Anniversary Party. Now I love the French Quarter, but Bourbon Street is not usually my cup of tea. I tend to stay towards the darker, seedier, less tourist friendly joints in the French Quarter. Like Dejavu (the restaurant/bar, not the strip club) or One Eyed Jacks.

Well, this time I had a bunch of friends from Baton Rouge with me and Bourbon Street is where they wanted to be. When we got down there, all of the drunks that were with us decided they were hungry. They wanted food, and they wanted it in a hurry. I told them that there were pretty much two choices for quick food in the French Quarter: Lucky Dog, or pizza by the slice at some corner place. Not being brave enough to tempt fate, my friends all agreed on Pizza.
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