Monday, April 09, 2007

even zombies dream

I was about 5 years old the first time I visited The Magic Kingdom. Having grown up in a small Kentucky town, population - 830, you can imagine my wonderment at seeing Disneyworld for the first time. It truly was a magical place to a little country boy who'd seen nothing but tobacco fields his whole life.

We stayed at the newly built (1971) Polynesian Resort and I can still vividly remember eating breakfast with my father in the resort's main restaurant while watching the monorails slide in and out of the building. I thought it was just about the neatest thing I'd ever seen...and actually, it may still be.

The Disneyworld monorail

I have this thing for monorails. I actually got a bigger kick out of riding it than the rides at the park itself...well with the exception of maybe Space Mountain...and the Haunted Mansion (although I think I got scared and cried). I can still remember the smell inside the monorail and how refreshing the air conditioner felt coming out of the vents below the was July in Florida and hotter than hell. The view was spectacular...even sitting backwards.

I remember listening to the recorded announcements explaining how in the future, monorails will be built around the world and become a primary means of transportation. I was daydreaming of jumping on a monorail from my little Kentucky home and heading off to Florida whenever I got a hankering.

Driving back to Kentucky from N.O. last week...I had that daydream again.


One thing about Louisiana which has always irked me is the phenomenon of what seems to be a cumulative self-esteem complex of it's inhabitants. It's like we've been told we're at the bottom of the barrel so many times we have just come to accept it as inevitable. I think we have developed a hive mind inferiority complex and it's so seems we have lost the ability to even dream. I think we cover this attitude up with sarcasm and dark humor...we laugh at our problems and make fun of our plight, ie. "Vote for the's important."

I don't know about anyone else...but I'm pretty sick of this. I don't think it's funny anymore. Corruption, crime, poverty, and poor education just don't make me matter how you package it.

I want to dream bigger dreams...I want to believe this city and state can do better than worry about what Mississippi is up to and if they're one upping us. I want to think about what Tokyo is doing...what Dubai is doing...what Seattle is doing...then I want to do something none of them have done.

Shortly after the storm there was much talk and speculation about rebuilding our crippled city into a greater vision than what it had become before the storm. Engineers and architects from around the world were salivating at the very rare chance to rebuild a major American city. I remember seeing sketches of entire communities on stilts, homes built into levee walls, renewable energy power sources, etc.

What happened to those daring visions of a new New Orleans? It would seem the only thing we're talking about now is duct-taped pumps, corrupt, idiotic politicians, and a spiraling crime rate. What happened to the dreams? It seems the demons of self doubt have crept back in to our collective minds and now we'd be happy to just settle for working street lights.

Maybe I'm a fool, but I still have a dream.


There was some talk about building a light rail train system after the storm that would connect the state's major cities: Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Lafayette, Lake Charles and Shreveport. What a great idea...but why not dream an even bigger dream? What if we built the largest elevated mag-lev monorail system in the world. Why a mag-lev monorail? Because it's cooler than the other side of my pillow and no one else has done it.

An artist's vision of a futuristic suspended monorail...makes me think of Lake Pontchartrain

Can you imagine an elevated monorail that runs over the wetlands from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to Lafayette? People would ride it just for the view. It would go a long way to exposing the beauty of our wetlands and help promote our need to restore them. It could possibly remedy our airport localization issues as well....if you could hop on the monorail at Louis Armstrong National and be in Baton Rouge in 15 to 20 minutes...why build another airport closer to Baton Rouge? Think about how much of a tourism boost it would provide to B.R. and especially Lafayette. We could build a second stadium in Shreveport for the Saints to play a couple times a year...hop on the maglev monorail and be there in a couple of hours (traveling at speeds of 100 mph +). Think about what it would do to bring our state together...I would bet within 20 years, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida may even build their own systems and link with ours....but we would be the leaders...something we've never been. We could develop the mag-lev factories in Alexandria and/or Lake Charles and build an entirely new the system grows, we would become the hub for repairs and new vehicles. Who needs a Boeing factory when we've built "The Bayou Bullet" with plans to expand across the nation and perhaps North America?

Ok...that's it...that's my dream. Whaddaya think?


TravelingMermaid said...

I think it's a wonderful dream. But I don't think we have the leadership with the vision to accomplish anything near it. And I don't think the populace can even dream it when they can't even get back home. This isn't LA, sorry to say.
You're right, we are pretty much the bottom of the barrel.
Talk to me tomorrow.....I'll be more optimistic then. I want to be optimistic. It is a nice dream.

Anonymous said...

that is one sweet dream. and to be honest, i don't think it's out of reach. we just need to figure out a way to get bill jefferson and co. a chunk of the mag-lev contracts and we'll be breaking ground in no time. and i'm not being facetious here - i'm dead serious. if BJ can get a good hookup from this, i think we can make it happen.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Amen and amen again. From your lips to fates' ears.

What in the hell ever happened to that railway that was supposed to eradicate Causeway traffic? Oh, wait, lemme guess --- the Nawthshow ("DUKE COUNTRY!") folks didn't want PEDESTRIANS entering their precious environs?

That gorgeous idea of melding North & South Louisiana (or even SE & SW!) into "one state" --- it'll never happen. These people can't even agree on COOKING, how in the hell do you expect them to share a train car? Protestant N.LA crackers v. cafe' au lait catholics --- I don't see it happening, as glorious a concept as it may be. That's probably why there'll never be enough interest to get a monorail started --- that, and they'd never consider giving up their gas-hog SUVs, the majority of which are driven by 5' tall, 100-lb. hausfraus with no kids on board. 700 cubic feet of space, about 2 miles to the gallon, and yet they "need" it.

A monorail would do great things for the working-class and the poor of this state, which is probably the other big reason that it'll never happen.

Anonymous said...

"Well, sir, there's nothing on earth like a genuine, bona fide,
electrified, six-car monorail!
What'd I say?"


"What's it called?"


"I hear those things are awfully loud...."

"It glides as softly as a cloud!"

"What about us brain-dead slobs?"

"You'll be given cushy jobs!"



Anonymous said...

Becoming a transportation hub and adapting to changing transportation needs has worked well for Atlanta. This is a fine idea. Most fine ideas seem radical and impossible when first heard.

LAW70 said...

This is truly moving...I feel better knowing that I am not the only one who dreams. Keep dreaming baby!!I believe this city could possibly meet this dream and many more once the corrupt individuals leave office and get out of the city's money. There needs to be a new vision, direction and follow through but it is difficult for "some" of the old school to dream or think big. There needs to be a SERIOUS meeting of the minds.

At one point prior to Katrina, I considered buying real estate and making NO my new home. This city is filled with a "flava" unlike no other. The people are beautiful and unique. When I visit, I truly enjoy hearing that familiar accent which lets me know that I am welcomed just the way that I am. I will ALWAYS have love for this city, but the current city government has got to go. Tell me, do you feel Nagin is open to listening to the residents vision for this city OR is this wishful thinking?

Jason Brad Berry said... way. If this were to actually see the light of day, it would have to be done on a state level.

Nagin isn't even paying attention to the basic needs of the city...he's just concerned about himself and his peeps.

Sam Jasper said...

I think this is a wonderful dream also. I'm a staunch proponent of mass transit anyway. I am an aberration among my generation in that I didn't have a driver's license or a car until I was 28 yrs old. Never needed one. I lived in NYC with it's subway and bus system then lived in SFran with it's bus and Muni system. It wasn't until my daughter's entry into a school that was across town that I had a car, and frankly I've resented them ever since. I moved here precisely because I didn't want to HAVE to have a car and I now drive maybe twice a month, using my bicycle the rest of the time.

If the city could get its mass transit infrastructure back up and running (I met a guy who'd been living in Austin but returned to his home in NO East saying that he can't get to work because the bus service is so crappy so he may move back to Austin), then I think a state wide system would be a great idea for all the reasons you mentioned.

Great post, D.

Anonymous said...

I really don't think that this is out of the realm of possibilities. The problem is the people here want things handed to them; there are only limited amounts of people that are willing to "work" for things like this. That is why I believe we had great visions for a post-K New Orleans; those with their hands out were not here. Well they are back, and we have an increase in crime.
Now I know that a bunch of you are going to bash me on this, but that is what I think. And I do have some fact to back me. Post-K we had limited crime...BUT...Houston had a huge increase. Can someone who doesn't agree with me explain this?
Katrina exposed a MAJOR problem in New Orleans, the people! Both civil and political leaders, that is just the way it is. You want to make New Orleans become a leader? Don't JUST go after the politicians, go after the people too. People should want their kids to be BETTER then them, that is what I do. My son is learning about computers, other cultures, and learning new languages...and he isn't even in school yet. But many New Orleans parents show their kids the "wrong" way and the kids grow up being being "wrong".
Lets look at the bigger picture; we need to reprogram the populace. Having an anti-violence rally is a waste of time, the violent people will not attend nor will they care. The police can go after everyone, but that will not solve it. We need to teach the children that selling drugs and being “all-hard” is not the answer. Along with that, the parents need to reinforce that message. But the parents think its ok, so we are stuck.
If you hire someone to train you dog then let your dog do whatever it wants…you have accomplished NOTHING. That is why Cesar Millan trains the dog and the owner. The same theory applies to raising kids and improving this great city.
Make things better by teaching or throw stones, the choice is ours!

jeffrey said...

Were you sent here by the devil?

No, my good man, I'm on the level!

Anonymous said...

Actually, we have done something big before; it turned out pretty good.

"I want one of these, only bigger,"

You have to dream big, because that is the only way big things ever get done.

Anonymous said...

I'm on board, but right now, I think the best we can hope for is Port Arthur to Biloxi. I don't see anything going North.

LAW70 said...

Yesterday, I was reading an article online and you came to mind. The article was entitled "City Leaders answer questions about nation's perception of N.O.". Brother Dambala, keep doing what you are doing. You are making a difference even if you feel as if you are hitting a brick wall. Because of bloggers like yourself, someone is reading and seeing exactly what is going on. I have always questioned the release of funds and why it is taking so long for the government to do this. Could it have something to do with the "corrupt" city government? At one point the article said this, "Thomas acknowledged that the perception of corruption has lingered and said he's had to answer several questions about inefficiency or inadequacy at City Hall." YOU are making an impact - believe that.

Anonymous said...

" there nothing they can't do?"

Right on, Celcus. Sometimes we get so comfortable with failure that we forget that we HAVE been pretty sucessful at times when we've dared to dream large and say "I like what they did...but we're gonna do it even better than they did." Let's not forget that at about the same time the Superdome was being conceptualized that a little farther east in our fair city what was probably one of the world's largest and most reliable pieces of machinery ever was being built...and then replicated a few more times.

Don't accept that dreams are for others.

Jason Brad Berry said...


- a little farther east in our fair city what was probably one of the world's largest and most reliable pieces of machinery ever was being built

forgive my ignornance....what was that?

Anonymous said...

The CCC?

Jason Brad Berry said...

yeah, I thought about that too but it's not the east. Is he talking about Michoud?

Anonymous said...

Bingo, Dambala. The Saturn V First Stage was probably one of the largest pieces of machinery every engineered and assembled by man to date, and each one constructed at the Michoud plant performed essentially flawlessly.

Jason Brad Berry said...

interesting. I had no idea. I thought they just made the Space Shuttle tanks. Thanks for that factoid PH.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

I love that y'all ignore the chickenshit "anonymous" bigots, but can't they be deleted, too?

"Those people" bring all the crime.


Houston's crime level isn't any distinguishable amount higher than it's ever been. It's the fucking bigots out in gated communities like KATY, TX (much like the NawthShaw and River Ridge, where the bestest yuppie klan live) who are COMPLAINING about "crimes" that haven't happened (and certainly not TO THEM), and the ones that HAVE happened are being BLAMED on Katrina evacuees, when 9 times out of ten, they're proven to be perpetrated by LOCALS IN HOUSTON OR ITS SUBURBS.

So spare us your lame-ass attempt at "sociological" input that is nothing more than purposefully-generated "urban mythology" used to support your bigotry, fear, and hatred for anybody who isn't white. And I'll tell you something that you probably don't want to hear, either:

All of those "guest workers" (temp visa or flat-out illegal immigrants) that you're employing to do your landscaping, remodeling or renovation of your house? Guess who they brought with them, aside from G.W.Bush's whole-hearted approval, so that corporations like Boh Bros., Shaw Group, Bechtel and Halliburton don't have to pay fair wages or payroll taxes or healthcare?

They brought their fellow GANG MEMBERS.

So before you start painting every single generations-long New Orleans native with that ignorant-ass fear and bigotry that blooms inside your senility-addled head --- DO A LITTLE FUCKING RESEARCH, GRANPA.

We've got legalized slavery going on in this country, not just in sweatshops, not just in Wal-Mart, not just in federal construction jobs --- but ALL THE FUCK OVER NEW ORLEANS AND THE SUBURBS. Those "guest workers" from South & Central America and Mexico are herded into tiny apartments, dozens at a time, with no green cards, no legal protection, paid less than three bucks an hour to do back-breaking work, and very few of them plan on staying on this plantation or becoming American citizens. And yes, they brought their gangs with them. The majority of the crime that's happened in the post-Katrina era wasn't home-grown, it was imported.

And you can thank your wunnerful klan-wannabe preznit for it. He's the one who opened the floodgates so that the corporations could reap the rewards, and the cities could clean up the mess. And as soon as the corporations have used them up, they'll be rounded-up like livestock and shipped back on another INS bus. So who will you have to hate and blame for all of society's ills THEN? Guess you'll have to wait for David Duke to get that ankle bracelet off and do his next aryan-wannabe plastic surgery before he can give you his marching orders.

Anntichrist S. Coulter said...

Nice backpedal.

The whole "some of my best friends are... (fill in ethnicity here)" line is tres' been done, though.