Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Missing, Mardi Gras


Mardi Gras beads rest on a flooded crypt. It had floated out of its cemetery. Pearlington, Ms.

I've been missing, but I've been here. I've not abandoned this, or you, or lost hope, I've just been working hard in other ways. Ways that I'll talk about later this week. I'm just one person, and can only do so much at once, so I had to shut down parts of myself in order to invest in the future survival of my family, and my hometown. Most of you will understand. Some of you will never understand. I'm fine with that, but I'm sorry I've been gone.

I'm stuck in cold NYC right now. My mom and little brother are still in North Carolina. I just wish we were all in New Orleans today, wearing blue tarp costumes, screaming throw me something mister, scrambling for doubloons and beads, hoping for that Zulu coconut we'll never get.

But the fact that we're not there won't stop me from feeling it. I ordered a king cake, it should arrive today, just in time for my birthday on Thursday. I'm going to throw a big king cake party for all my Yankee friends, and we're going to eat and drink and be merry, knowing that tomorrow we could die.

And that feeling is Mardi Gras. And it's New Orleans, no matter where you happen to be. So, to all my fellow missing and exiled, laissez les bons temps rouler!

47 comments:

LaneinPA said...

Relieved to hear from you. Have been checking your website everyday in hopes of a message from you.

As always, another compelling and haunting photograph.

Anonymous said...

I've been checking for new entries every day since Christmas. I'm glad tou're back!

Duly Inspired said...

Your absence is understandable, but glad to find your words and images again. Still though, whenever I checked to see if you'd posted, and saw that you hadn't but still saw the wedding photo of Miss Suzie and Mr Josh, how could I do anything but smile?

Laura from Lake Terrace said...

Yeah you right, dawlin.

Randall said...

You were missed. I hope you'll be able to continue posting. Let me know what you and your family need.

ocean said...

Welcome back. You were missed. Had I not seen the pictures of the of the painted rooms that you took, I would have thought something horrid had happened to you. (I'll post the link when I find it, if that's alright with you. I believe it was on MSNBC under "Clicked".) Next time, don't stay away so long. It has to make you, your wife and your family feel good to know how much you're thought of and loved (yes, loved, there's a ton of love here). You all are not forgotten, even CNN continues to show segments. Hope you have a Happy Birthday.

ocean said...

Link to pictures: http://www.2loop.com/3drooms.html

CM said...

You gotta do what you gotta do. I'm happy you came back & gave us a post. BTW - I was in NYC a few weeks ago and I walked on the Brooklyn Bridge at 4pm under a spotlessly sunny sky and it was warm enough for me to take my jacket off. What a change!

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I stumbled onto your blog during the Katrina aftermath, and I am profoundly impressed by your stories and your stunning photography. Please keep posting!

Karlos said...

I've been checking your site daily since your last post. Glad to hear everything's okay. Welcome back.

JLB said...

I'm glad that you are taking care of what needs taking care of. It's a welcome window to see New Orleans through your blog and your eyes.

I hope you have a good birthday... :)

Varla said...

Clayton, I definitely understand needing to take time to do what you have to do. Been thinking about you and your family, and entertained myself yesterday drooling over your gorgeous commercial photography. Had a piece of king cake last night myself.
Much love from San Francisco.

Brittini said...

I am from Texas and my folks lives in New Orleans for years so mardi Gras is in my bones. I am also in NYC...had some king cake yesterday but am certainly feeling that little empty spot not being there. I am taking some of my yankee friends to New Orleans in May to spend some cash there and do some volunteer work. Hope your Mom is well.

Megara said...

I wore beads and told everyone within earshot to "throw me sumpthin mister"..unfortunately, folks in Fort Wayne,IN just looked at me like I had done gone retarded...I have lived vicariously through your experiences and want to thank you for sharing...happy birthday....megara

David Davis said...

Holy shit, Clayton! When I checked your blog and saw that casket I burst into tears. Finally!
Mardi Gras was kind of sad. Just not real, you know. It was important to do for some, and an insult to others. After 52 years here I can understand both.
Glad to hear from you again!

daddyslittlecommie said...

so glad you are back and posting. i find it fitting that you came back for mardi gras! your crewe was waiting!

Crack Head said...

So glad to see and hear that your still around! We were all worried about you. All of us who post here and the readers who are too afraid to speak up...

It's funny how connected you can be with a group of peopl eyou have never met, but the internet shows the power of the people in the true sense. If only our response on the ground could react and spread the message as quickly.

On a good note, I am happy to know your still alive.

On a sour note, I feel the importance of Katrina means I must leave this little tidbit of reality for those who sometimes forget what this blog is about. Straight from the horses ass, er, I mean mouth... Video shows President Bush got explicit Katrina warnings on the dangers of Katrina and the Levy breaches before the storm hit!

President, Chertoff were clearly told of storm’s dangers numerous times!: http://www.cbc.ca/clips/mov/macdonald_katrina060301.mov

Keep us up to date on whats happening in your neck of the woods. Pearlington was once a word I had never heard of. A town probably not know to most people. Now it's one of those words that you can never get out of your head. It's like "World War", Holocaust, Kennedy, Vietnam, etc.

Its significant in some way and I think it will be talked about for some time to come...at least, I hope.

lori said...

clayton,

forgive me for repeating what everyone else has said...but so glad you are back!! you have been mightyly missed. i linked to your blog through "the wreckroom" 2 or 3 days after katrina and had been a daily reader 'til your sabbatical. i hope your break was at least somewhat refreshing.
just as a side note, i teach in texas, and one of my favorite students came here in the wake of katrina from n.o. he definitely has the spirit!!
let the good times roll indeed.

looking forward to your next post.

lori in texas

slidell said...

Good to hear from you again. It was the perfect day for Mardi Gras. I stayed in Slidell, but listened to the radio, describing Zulu and Rex....twas then that I felt I should've crossed the lake. But, celebrated carnival with a few of the Slidell parades this season, so I got some beads and plastic cups.

Stay warm & healthy!!!

DrNaste said...

Happy Birthday!

Jewelz said...

It is awsome to hear from you!! Your absence is more understandable, but it is good to have you back!! You were missed by many!! You gotta do what you gotta do!! Hope you have a happy birthday!! Stay warm, and once again, it is good to see you are back..

lindaann said...

Happy Birthday Son

On your last birthday You bought Me My Garden of Eden - now a year later it will be demolished this weekend. I'm going home tomorrow to accomplish this...it will hurt to see it happen but We still have the land, a waterpump, a muddy, moldy garage and most of important of all We still have each other!! Me and Your Brothers Love You very much and miss You with all our hearts and thats what matters!

Yo Mamma

Anonymous said...

Clayton,

Happy Birthday!
Glad you're back....we all missed you. Your mom's post made me weep. Eden is where your heart is. Your Eden will never be lost. Please try to focus on letting go of the "old dreams" to make room for the new. I believe that in the end, we all get exactly what we deserve. Your family has many good things to look forward to!

Me said...

Happy Birthday. Glad you're back.

jo said...

Happy Birthday! I know how hard it is, I'm still sending school supplies and coupons down to the families there in Bay St. Louis and Waveland...I took a break after Christmas too, I was so exhausted from taking on so much, but we have to bear what these people can't and be there to listen, cry and talk it through...it's very emotional, even if you weren't in the storm itself...but taking a break allows you to strengthen yourself so you can absorb more...for me I had to take a few weeks off as well and it allows me to look at things from a different perspective as well...Anyways, know you aren't alone and I hope you and your family are doing okay...and remember one day at a time...Luckily, I was able to get a group, Eight Days of Hope, to go in and gut my in-law's house there in BSL, it was the greatest Xmas present ever:) They were so happy, and now Granma and Granpa are back down there in their FEMA trailer with my brother-in-law and his family:) Eventually, I hope to get down, but until then I'm still running both of my sites to help out, www.generation2b.com and www.clippingcoupons4acause.com...I think if we all do something small every day toward this cause, it'll add up...Well, take care of each other!
Best Wishes,
JoAnn Bush
Los Angeles, CA

Cheryl of Slidell said...

CHERYL OF SLIDELL,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY KID.TIME OFF HELPS EVERYTHING.GLAD TO SEE YOU TAKE A WELL DESERVED BREAK.
I TOLD YOUR AUNT I WOULD LIKE TO HELP WITH YOUR MOM'S HOUSE WHEN IT HAPPENS.
THE WORLD HERE IS STILL THE SAME SO MANY FAMILIES STILL LIVING IN TENTS OR GUTTED HOMES,IN THEIR CARS,AND WHERE EVER THEY CAN FIND.
THE WORLD SEES MARDI GRAS,AND THE PEOPLE CELEBRATING THEY NEEDED IT. THANKS TO SEVERAL MEDIA SOURCES THE WORLD ALSO SAW THE DESTRUCTION HERE IN LA.AND MS.THE RE-BUILDING WILL TAKE YEARS,SOME WILL NOT RE-BUILD NOR WILL THEY RETURN.
THE FEDS ARE STILL SCREWING WITH PEOPLE.WHY IS AID GIVEN SO QUICKLY TO OTHER COUNTRIES & SLOW AS HELL FOR IT'S OWN?
I FINALLY DROVE OUT TO PARTS OF SOUTH SLIDELL NEAR THE LAKE.HOMES I KNEW AS A CHILD ARE GONE,HOMES OF ADULT FRIENDS OF MINE ARE GONE,THE PLACE WHERE WE AS A FAMILY CELEBRATED MY PARENTS 50TH WEDDING PARTY GONE.SLABS AND MORE SLABS,HOME THAT HAVE STOOD FOR YEARS ARE GONE.IT MADE ME CRY AND ANGRY AT THE SAME TIME.PART OF MY LIFE HAS DISAPPEARED AND WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.
SEEING THE IMAGES ON THE TELEVISION IS OK BUT I ASK THAT ANYONE WHO CAN COME DOWN TO LA AND MS.PLEASE COME AND SEE FOR YOURSELVES.
PLEASE DON'T FORGET ABOUT EVERYONE HERE IN SMALL TOWN LOUISIANA,AND MISSISSIPPI.

Audi said...

Glad your okay. Been checking here for a new post. Enjoy your shindig.

missbhavens said...

Happy Birthday and keep on keeping on.

You were much missed.

Cyndy said...

Happy to see you back! Was hoping you would continue at some point.

Hope you enjoyed your King Cake for your birthday! Looking forward to more pictures and commentary from you!

Steve said...

OOOOOHHHHH!
There He Is!!!
Good to have you back man!!
Like everyone else, I dutifully have been checking your blog daily for signs of life. Cant tell you how relieved I am to see the ffort was worth it! I dont think anyone has given up yet man, I know I've actually stepped up my own efforts with "homegrown" fliers and bumperstickers. The fliers arent exactly what you'd call "pleasant" but then, not a lot in La. or Miss. is right now, is it? Get the point across, that's all that matters.

Great to have you back!

Jessica Melusine said...

Glad to see you again and I hope you had a happy birthday. Thinking of you and your family!

Kim said...

Welcome back and happy birthday. We were a bit worried about you and are really happy to hear you're ok.

Tim said...

Glad to hear all is OK. You have been missed online... but we understand.

...e... said...

YAY! he's back!

db said...

So glad to hear from you. Your blog is the best I have seen. Your photos and words are amazing. You give ol' Anderson Cooper a run for his money. Happy Belated Mardi Gras. Know that lots of people look forward to your posts and are glad you are doing okay. Best to your family.

Hokule'a said...

thinking about you and thought that I would see how you are doing our church is going down to work this month, we were there in Nov. Its going to take time and its hard...

Love your writing said...

I've read your blog off and on from early post-Katrina, and want to compliment you. I hope you are promoting your writing and photographs to a publisher. You are very, very good at both, and I can't imagine that someone wouldn't pay you for your hard work on this. In my opinion, your work far exceeds "The Year of Magical Thinking", which has been on the top 10 for a long time. Your work is compelling from both a human and political viewpoint, and needs to be published. I hope you leave a comment - I'm so curious if you have tried.

fletch65 said...

Welcome back. I knew you wouldn't be gone forever. Keep up the good work, CJC. Impeach Bush! Robin Fletcher, Denton, Texas

lukewarmluxe said...

hi, i came across this blog while searching for post-katrina pictures. i don't really know what to say, everything i have in mind has been said already. i like your photography; it pulls at me. i can't explain it. anyway. post more. it's good stuff.

Crack Head said...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11917853/

So, when things get tough, pass the buck, er, pass the job along, but don't pass the buck, keep it for yourself.

Lessons to be learned from the Bush Administration and their ability to get nothing done. It's bussiness as usual...

Anonymous said...

You have no idea how happy I am to see sign of you. Of course we understand, and of course you were missed, and no doubt will be again. Enjoy your cake! I've been reading Chris Rose's "1 dead in the attic" and thinking alot about how it feels to be your shoes.

Shrink in SF

Rialle said...

You scared me, boy. Thought you'd gone off to some freak show or something. Good to know you and you're family's OK. Say hi to your mamma for me.

not neat freak said...

As everyone else said, it is good to see a posting from you again. I come here to read and see more of your work on a regular basis, and am thinking of you and those like you, here in Toronto Canada.

Anonymous said...

Long time reader, first time poster.

A belated happy birthday! It's good to see a new post. You've poured a lot of yourself out over the last ~7 months. Please refill yourself as necessary.

I believe that music is food for the soul. While I didn't "cook" this, sometimes I find a place where I can get a good meal. I humbly offer to you and other readers a link to a radio show from WFMU, originally broadcast on September 3rd, 2005. All New Orleans related music, along with radio air checks and commercials (check out Ernie K. Doe's aircheck at about 1:29:09 into the program). It brought me a little closer to the area (by way of metro NY area) from my home in NC...hopefully it will do the same for you all.

Thanks for putting a human face on all this, and finding beauty in unspeakable tragedy.

http://www.wfmu.org/listen.ram?show=16258

Anonymous said...

I was in the hospital having had my daughter by emergency caesarean section when Katrina hit New Orleans. I watched, captivated, horrified, and awestruck at the devastation caused by Katrina. Safe in my Canadian hospital bed, I wept for the victims, for the missing, for the dead, and for the countless faces filled with sorrow seen minute by minute by millions on CNN. I will never forget it. Having celebrated Mardi Gras 2000 with my previous husband, I had fallen in love with the city and people of New Orleans, the rich culture steeped in traditions like no other place on earth...heartbreakingly,my current husband Shane and I had discussed the very likelihood of this sort of natural disaster after Canadian newsmagazine McLean's published an article several months prior to Katrina about New Orleans vanishing coastline. The article showed the decline of natural vegetation protecting the fragile shoreline of New Orleans due to the introduction and mass infiltration of nutria into the swamps surrounding the gulf. That and major offshore oil drilling had caused serious damage to the natural protection of the swamps and vegetation protecting the city and subsequent state from natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, this horrific event was an eventuallity. As a caring neighbour of your proud country, my heart weeps for the poor and displaced people who could have been helped had the government paid attention to what scientists and geophysists had been telling them for years, that the coastline along the Gulf of Mexico was compromised, that something needed to be done, that disaster was inevitable. I am sad also for the delay in emergency aid given to the victims of Katrina, the embarassing lack of action by FEMA and the bumbling of president Bush who was ill equipped to handle a disaster of this magnitude. What have I done to help? Not much other than donate what I could afford to donate for disaster relief and to pray for the victims and the majestic city of New Orleans. May you never let your spirits down, and remember, the world will never forget you.

Hokule'a said...

I just heard from our Group down in Waveland MS, that while a few are putting their lives back together, mostly its slow going not even the trash has been hualed off. I find it very discouraging that the media and the press seem to concentrate on politics and not the people that are suffering. Cant we take the funds we give those that hate us overseas and give that to our own... I dont understand...

Shirley Hay said...

My ancestors lived in Pearlington. I hope to visit there this year & hope to help with something and also find some family history. Your pictures are great!