Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I love New Orleans. I grew up near enough to make clandestine overnight visits often when I was a teenager, and almost all of my most outrageous drunks have taken place down there. I've been back many times since, and I've always had a phenomenal fun time there. I've never personally run afoul of the celebrated crime in the city, although everyone I know who has actually lived there was robbed more than once.

My heart goes out to the people who've lost everything to Mother Nature, and especially to the people still there, those too poor or stubborn to get out of the way of the greenest of tooth and claw, many of whom may not last the week.

However, I say we should abandon it. When Nature makes a point as unambiguously as She did with New Orleans, it is perhaps best to collectively take step back and allow ourselves to simply be awed by how small our works are in comparison. Too Schopenhauerian for you? Think of Pompeii. The Romans had the good sense to read the writing on the wall.

I'm not a religious person, but I think I could make a good argument that regardless of whether you attribute divine intelligence to it or not, raw Nature -- pure dynamic force -- is unanswerable and truly awesome, and it has taken New Orleans almost as an afterthought, partially spurred on (or at least omni-causally spurred on) by this nation's own destructive environmental policies. I only wish it could have taken Colorado Springs instead, because I fear that the self-righteous bastards are going to claim this as God's punishment of a wicked (and, incidentally, mostly black) city.

The Blackness of New Orleans is another point that is sticking deep in my craw. The media has spent an inordinate amount of attention documenting how those poor souls left in the city -- who are certainly some of the poorest people in the United States -- are "looting" stores.

Point 1: everything in that city is water-logged trash, and no insurance company in the world is going to pick among the, say, sneakers from a Payless Shoe Source that is currently under 8 feet of water to figure out which are salvageable. Hint: nothing is salvageable.

Point 2: In the worst natural disaster to strike this continent within recent memory, America is so fucked up on the race issue that it's still all we can think about. Check these links out: (thanks to Adam Lipscomb)

Caption (emphasis added): A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage when it made landfall on Monday.


Caption (emphasis added): Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Black people loot. White people find stuff. Go puke your guts out now.

Point 3: They have no food, no water, most of the clothes are destroyed, and they're battling for survival. The news today mentions stories of armed police called in to stop people from "looting" grocery stores. Need I remind you THAT THEY'RE LIVING IN A GODDAMN SWAMP THAT USED TO BE THE 35TH LARGEST CITY IN THE WHOLE COUNTRY? Christ almighty. Let them take what they fucking need.

Well, whatever you do, give a little money to Red Cross.

Here's a few more pictures that I find awe-inspiring.

From Pascagoula, MS (looks like an outtake from Fitzcarraldo, no?):

Biloxi, MS:

I-10 near Slidell, LA:

Dauphin Island, AL:

Bayou La Batre, AL:


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Cary, NC, United States
reachable at firstname lastname (all run together) at gmail dot com

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