"I may be going to hell in a bucket, baby, but at least I'm enjoying the ride, at least I'm enjoying the ride." - John Perry Barlow
Every once and a while I'm prone to a hoaky, self-reflective rant....this is one, so read no further if you were expecting something of substance.
I've had a fury of posts in the past week (and to think I was going to take time off from blogging). However, it has caused me to reflect on the nature of this blog and the path it's taken.
I started this blog with the intention of just writing random thoughts about life in post-K New Orleans, as I find blogging to be rather therapeutic. I never intended it to become a sounding board for corruption within city government....but it took on a life of it's own and my inner journalist got tapped. So I ran with it and it is what it is. I have no regrets...I only wish I had more resources and time to put into it. But as I've said before...it's a blog, not the New York Times.
It's also important to note that if you have chosen to live in New Olreans in it's current state....you can't help but be engaged in this city's problems. If you're going to live here, you can't afford not to be involved. We are facing insurmountable odds....just to exist. This is not a habitat for the weak of heart or the complacent.
The flip side of that coin is that those of us who have chosen to stay have become very passionate about our community and more importantly, very active.
There is a Chinese proverb which states "May you live in interesting times." We not only live in interesting times...we live in the most interesting place in the country in these interesting times.
The Times Picayune recently posted an amazing report on the reality of coastal erosion in Southern Louisiana and hence the reality of New Olreans' sustainability.
Ten years....that's the amount of time they claim we have to implement the largest terraforming project ever undertaken by man and POSSIBLY restore our eroded wetlands along the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River Basins in order to ensure New Orleans existence.
I, for one, am not optimistic. I believe this city has about 60 to 100 years left...if we're lucky...and that's the part of the city that's above sea level or the "sliver by the river". I believe we will get hit by another storm...the levees will break and the city will flood again....I think it's inevitable. Eventually, New Orleanians will have to face the reality that we can't hold back the sea. I think the city will soon become a grander version of Grand Isle...the low lying areas will be sparsely populated with camps on stilts and our economy will become even more seasonal than it is now. And one day, the terra firma we stand on will become part of the Gulf altogether. That's just my opinion, I'm not a geologist...maybe a pessimist.
Having said that...I also believe that this will be the coolest place to live on the planet for the remainder of it's existence and I plan on sailing with this ship straight to hell if need be. I've seen the rest of America...it's a Carnival Cruise Boat filled with fat tourists headed to Cozumel for a six hour tour...New Orleans is an 18th century barque flying the Skull and Crossbones with no particular destination...we live for the ride, the rum, and the revelations. This is the only ship I want to sail on.
However, if we're going to make this city work for the time we have left...we're all going to have to get involved. We have many holes in our boat: egregious violent crime, what was the worst public shool system in the country, entrenched racism, and yes...rampant government corruption. I might add that I believe all of these issues are intertwined, and have fed off each other. We have much work to do, but we're more aware of it now than we ever have been.
Is it possible to patch these holes in our ship and overcome these problems? I don't know.
Why struggle for a city which is destined for extinction? I don't know that either, but it feels good and it feels right.
New Orleans is the frontline in a battle with mother nature. We will most likely be the first casualty of many, not just in America, but worldwide. I think it's important for everyone of us to understand this...this is our reality, it is our fate, and most importantly it is our responsibility.
I've heard a lot of New Orleanians talk about secession recently (a rather absurd notion, but fun to think about). If this country chooses to abandon us and not help us make an attempt to restore the wetlands...so be it. It will reflect the current values of America, but it doesn't reflect the values of New Orleanians. We won't abandon our city, and we shouldn't abandon our country, even if they choose to abandon us (and even if we could collapse the entire infrastructure of the east coast ~ a devlish grin). We should lead, not secede. We gave this country a soul...I believe we can help them find it again. We do that through character and integrity...mixed with jazz, Voodoo, and file' of course.
The rest of the country may wonder why we choose to stay in a city with a finite future...economically and physically. They may wonder why we choose to live in a city with so many problems, from crime to education. It may not seem logical to them. They may think we're fools and maybe we are....but they will keep watching us...and keep wondering....and that's good enough for me.
About 7 years ago, on a Mardi Gras day, I was walking down St. Charles, with one of my dearest friends, complaining about something with Carnival...I don't even remember what it was now. He stopped me and looked me dead in the eye, "Hey man...think about this. Everywhere else in America, it's just Tuesday." I think I would ammend that thought now, "Everywhere else is just America....this is New Orleans."
All right...I got that out of me....feel better.