Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Soul Of The City

Seven Years Bad Luck, New Orleans

My soul vibrated at a strange pitch those days. The world I grew up in torn apart. The future clouded and gray. Trapped, stranded in the silent French Quarter, so near the places of my childhood, the reasons I'd come here, yet unable to get to them. A stranger at home. The prodigal son talks like a Yankee now. And the babble of history around us in the Quarter, oppressing me with it's weight. Ursulines Street, the nuns came here almost 300 years ago, to teach the little Octoroon girls how to marry well. And the history made the current misery seem indulgent. How many have died in this ancient city? Hurricanes, floods, epidemics, murders, wars. Ghosts at every turn, making me feel a coward for my anxiety.

"This is nothing new," I felt them spit, "we've seen it all before. Grow up. You're not special. This is life. Life is death. Move on." But I can't.

A magazine contacted me, they were putting together an issue on Katrina and New Orleans, and wanted to know if I had any images of renewal, of hope, of the spirit returning to the city. I understand their desire. They want to move on. It's been so long, after all. Isn't it better, now?

No. The people are the spirit of the city. How can the spirit return, when the people can't?


Steve said...

"The people are the spirit of the city. How can the spirit return, when the people can't?"

That was really eloquent and succinct Clayton. NBC had a bit on the news last night about the children of New Orleans, or the lack thereof. They had a little boy, not more than 3 or 4 years old, playing by himself in a park, and it was the saddest image I think I've seen as far as a representation of the desolation that is New Orleans right now.

They followed it up with a story about Bono having lunch with Bush. I was hoping they'd go on to finish the report by saying "Mr.Bono then jumped across the table slapped the president in the face repeatedly and said "What the effing hell is your problem you silly old git?! Save New Orleans!!".

Tammy said...

It does get better, but it takes much longer then anyone wants to admit. My city was demolished in Hurricane Andrew, I suffered PTSD for two years, panic attacks everyday, I was only 17. Those were some of the darkest days of my life. But there was hope, and When FEMA gave us clothing vounchers, and the donation trucks rolled in. My home was a total loss, and all our belongings, everything..And last night, we boarded up for Wilma...

rose said...

a cyclone on october 29th 1999, ripped my beautiful city of Bhubaneshwar, in India apart. i was 11 years old at that time. i still vividly remember the awful howling of the wind, trees uprooted and lives destroyed. i was fortunate enough. my family was not hurt. but the villages near the city were drowned in the deluge. pictures of death were everywhere. there were fields and fields of bodies. it was so gruesome. as i write this i am being transported to the most harrowing night of my life.
when Katrina struck, it brought back buried memories. it is really sad how disaster management was so bungled up in new orleans. no offence, but i think relief operations were handled better in India.
but life goes on. my people united and rebuilt their lives, homes and city, with nothing but remnants of shattered dreams. human spirit is most powerful of forces. i am sure your city will stand back on its feet again, beautiful once more.
though i think George Bush is not going to be of much help.

Kris said...

Please don't let the magazine whitewash this mess. Yes, it's better than it was when the water was over the doors and people were still stranded. But the reality is that it is not fixed. It's not shiny and better and healthy.

And see if you can convince them to show the Truth - that this is more than New Orleans, and that New Orleans is looking pretty good compared to the small towns, like Pearlington, and others.

done said...

Your photographs are absolutely amazing.

The Wrathful Buddha said...

You know, after the reconstruction of NO, the only ones left to populate the city will be Mexican laborors. New Orleans will become New New Mexico.

For a blog that covers random blogs and cultural randomness in general, check out: Randos in the Midst.

Marco said...

Sidney Bechet said beautiful things about the remembering song, back to Africa. The people of New Orleans have to re-member the soul and spirit of their city. They have to put it back together. No one else can. Hopefully, the music will help the people put back together the city of New Orleans.
Your blog and photos are tops man.
I've donated, but I wish I had the energy to come and help out in person. I will always know what it means to miss New Orleans.

Trisha said...

Good news is the toilet paper for society, we don't like to see our own shit - it stinks. Other people's shit, however, is mesmorizing for some reason.

We live in a reality tv and celebrity society, the fab and fashionably dressed, while on the next channel is a child starving.

Americans have no sympathy anymore. It's all just something to talk about - the buzz, the biz, and if it isn't all about the money and who's getting paid then it's ignored by these capitalist minds.

Your pictures are absolutely stunning - you should try and sell a few on - you'll probably be able to help a lot of your fellow O'lean-ians.

Good luck =)
Patricia Mayo
Mayo Brains - Spreading Thought

lesbonstemps said...

I'm glad you are writing this blog, because it seems like the mainstream media has moved on. I've seen a few "happy news" stories, like a piece on CNN about the reopening of Cafe Du Monde, but not much coverage of the ongoing struggle. When I went down for a visit last week I was shocked to see the scope of the devastation. So many people are still living in tents or (if they're lucky) campers. I think that the rest of the country thinks the crisis is over, and it's unfortunate because the hurricane survivors need our sustained attention.

TonyC. said...

Hello, Im putting a New Orleans Benefit Art show on here in LA. On Oct 29th. I would like to ask you some questions, Please E-mail me and check out the site.

thank you and I hope to help!!
Tony C

MC said...

Blown away by your blog and chilled by your frequent suggestion that what has happened to NO is coming to us all.
You have put reality into my friday night.
Best wishes to you and yours. I have been inspired by the way in which you have handled the situation you have found yourself in.

Eva said...

If you decide not to work with this particular magazine, please consider publishing this blog in print - photos and comments combined. The two make such a beautiful combination, I would like to be able to touch and hold and keep it.

mistwhispers said...

this is one of the best blogs i have seen in a long time. blessings to you.