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Anne Rice on New Orleans: past, present, future

Katrina New Orleans

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#1 MuseZack

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 01:32 PM

This essay by Anne Rice is definitely worth a read, as a fascinating history of the city she's set so many of her works in, a lament for its destruction, and a hope for its rebirth.  It ran in the New York Times today, but here's a non-subscription link:

http://www.wwltv.com...e.21ad697f.html

Excerpts:

What do people really know about New Orleans?
Do they take away with them an awareness that it has always been not only a great white metropolis but also a great black city, a city where African-Americans have come together again and again to form the strongest African-American culture in the land?
The first literary magazine ever published in Louisiana was the work of black men, French-speaking poets and writers who brought together their work in three issues of a little book called L'Album Littéraire. That was in the 1840's, and by that time the city had a prosperous class of free black artisans, sculptors, businessmen, property owners, skilled laborers in all fields. Thousands of slaves lived on their own in the city, too, making a living at various jobs, and sending home a few dollars to their owners in the country at the end of the month.
This is not to diminish the horror of the slave market in the middle of the famous St. Louis Hotel, or the injustice of the slave labor on plantations from one end of the state to the other. It is merely to say that it was never all "have or have not" in this strange and beautiful city.
...

And where was everyone else during all this? Oh, help is coming, New Orleans was told. We are a rich country. Congress is acting. Someone will come to stop the looting and care for the refugees. And it's true: eventually, help did come. But how many times did Gov. Kathleen Blanco have to say that the situation was desperate? How many times did Mayor Ray Nagin have to call for aid? Why did America ask a city cherished by millions and excoriated by some, but ignored by no one, to fight for its own life for so long? That's my question.
I know that New Orleans will win its fight in the end. I was born in the city and lived there for many years. It shaped who and what I am. Never have I experienced a place where people knew more about love, about family, about loyalty and about getting along than the people of New Orleans. It is perhaps their very gentleness that gives them their endurance.

...

But to my country I want to say this: During this crisis you failed us. You looked down on us; you dismissed our victims; you dismissed us. You want our Jazz Fest, you want our Mardi Gras, you want our cooking and our music. Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs. Well, we are a lot more than all that. And though we may seem the most exotic, the most atmospheric and, at times, the most downtrodden part of this land, we are still part of it. We are Americans. We are you.

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#2 Enkanowen

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 01:59 PM

as much as I despise Anne Rice and her work, she is absolutely right. New Orleans was abandoned. Not only abandoned but abandoned in the favour of a non-war waging in Iraq.

#3 Hibblette

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 05:02 PM

:cry:

She's right.
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#4 Norville

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 07:29 PM

Quote

as much as I despise Anne Rice and her work, she is absolutely right.

I used to enjoy her writing, before she "lost it" (and way before she had tantrums on www.amazon.com ranting at her critics with such overblown lines as "You're interrogating the text from the wrong perspective!"). I'd say she's right on target here.
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#5 Psyche

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 08:14 PM

She said it far more eloquently than I would've been able to.

Its bad when a country will rather concentrate on fricking Iraq over one of their own cities, thousands of their own people.

#6 Christopher

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 08:16 PM

I have to disagree.  True, there were a few TV commentators and such who were more fixated on the looting and gunfire than the greater human tragedy, but I don't think that had any bearing on the pace of the federal response.  The cause for that probably has more to do with the way FEMA's been folded into "Homeland Security" and had its efforts redirected toward terrorism.  As usual, we have a one-track mind as a nation, and got caught up in fighting the last crisis to the detriment of our preparedness for the next.  Budgets for natural-disaster preparedness were slashed in favor of terrorist-attack preparedness.

On top of that, there's the sheer immensity of this disaster.  This was literally the worst-case scenario, just about -- the strongest category of storm, changing course unexpectedly, hitting New Orleans almost head-on, overwhelming the levees, and meanwhile devastating the whole Gulf coast of three states.  Dealing with it demands vast amounts of resources, equipment and personnel.  It took time to assemble them and get them moving, and it was hard to get them in.  Helicopters can only do so much.  Access by road was limited because many roads were flooded or destroyed.  Access by boat was problematical because of debris and shallow waters.  Only relatively flat boats could safely pass, and there were only so many of those.  And there's just so much that needs to be done, so many places and people that need help.  Even if the response could've been faster, it could never have been fast enough to rescue every one of the hundreds of thousands of affected people within just a day or two.

Perhaps more could've been done, or it could've been done more quickly, but it probably comes down to failure of imagination.  We try to avoid admitting things like this are possible, and when they happen it can be hard for the reality of them to sink in.  We did drop the ball, as we often do with regard to disasters.  (There were abundant warnings of 9/11.  And look at all the disaster predictions today that tend to get glossed over: the Three Gorges Dam, near-Earth asteroids, the possible collapse of the Gulf Stream.  People don't like to think about such things, so they don't do enough to prevent or prepare for them.)  But I don't buy that anyone in FEMA or the government deliberately dragged their feet or "turned their backs" once they saw what had happened.  We shouldn't blame the whole of society for the insensitive comments of a few media pundits.
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#7 DWF

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Posted 04 September 2005 - 08:29 PM

I doubt if there was any lack of imagination.

http://www.sciam.com...umber=1&catID=2

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#8 Cheile

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 12:25 AM

she makes some good points, but....

Then when you saw us in real trouble, when you saw a tiny minority preying on the weak among us, you called us "Sin City," and turned your backs.

only the dumb f****s like Phelps were turning their backs in this manner, so i fail to understand the point of that statement.  the spewing of slime such as him is not the opinion of the true American citizen--nor the government.

Edited by Cheile, 05 September 2005 - 12:26 AM.

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#9 Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 05:00 AM

Cheile, on Sep 4 2005, 10:25 PM, said:

only the dumb f****s like Phelps were turning their backs in this manner

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well and dumbf***s like Hastert too.  I think he's got some kind of important govment type job, right?   :devil:

Edited by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, 05 September 2005 - 05:03 AM.

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#10 D'Monix

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 05:02 AM

they remove that article already, Robert? I cant make a connect

#11 Robert Hewitt Wolfe

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 05:04 AM

Couldn't make the link work.  It was a NY Times article quoting SotH Hastert questioning whether or not New Orleans should be rebuilt.

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#12 Julianus

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 05:23 AM

Anne Rice sounds like another drama queen, bitching and moaning when there's work to do.
Christopher's point about the scale of the diaster is imho being overlooked to a great extent. The Gulf coast from New Orleans to Mobile got wracked, but the coverage of the areas outside of New Orleans is not nearly as focused. Maybe it's because New Orleans is below sea level making it incredibly more difficult to get the water out whereas in most other places it naturally drained away.  In those places it's just a matter of clearing the physical mess.

Edited by Julianus, 05 September 2005 - 05:25 AM.


#13 D'Monix

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 05:27 AM

Julianus, on Sep 5 2005, 10:23 AM, said:

Anne Rice sounds like another drama queen, bitching and moaning when there's work to do.
Christopher's point about the scale of the diaster is imho being overlooked to a great extent. The Gulf coast from New Orleans to Mobile got wracked, but the coverage of the areas outside of New Orleans is not nearly as focused. Maybe it's because New Orleans is below sea level making ing incredibly more difficult to get the water out whereas in most other places it naturally drained away.  In those places it's just a matter of clearing the physical mess.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


carnage=ratings, drama+carnage=even more ratings.  New Orleans is a hotbed of both, even though the rest of LA got it just as hard, and Miss and Alabama got nailed hard enough that some small towns were erased off the map.

National News crews flock to where the drama is and tend to forget the rest except for in small segments, that will never change.

#14 Julianus

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 10:22 AM

D'Monix, on Sep 5 2005, 10:27 AM, said:

carnage=ratings, drama+carnage=even more ratings.  New Orleans is a hotbed of both, even though the rest of LA got it just as hard, and Miss and Alabama got nailed hard enough that some small towns were erased off the map.

National News crews flock to where the drama is and tend to forget the rest except for in small segments, that will never change.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, as you say.

It will take awhile to get a good assessment of what happened and the timing of events. I'm looking forward to Frontline's report on this. Maybe Nova will do something too.
Have you heard anything about the levees being repaired and if they are starting to pump out the water?

#15 Call Me Robin

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 11:08 AM

Robert Hewitt Wolfe, on Sep 5 2005, 10:00 AM, said:

Cheile, on Sep 4 2005, 10:25 PM, said:

only the dumb f****s like Phelps were turning their backs in this manner

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Well and dumbf***s like Hastert too.  I think he's got some kind of important govment type job, right?   :devil:

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Jackasstert is trying to talk his way out of trouble.  However, it is a little too late.  A certain former president is really mad at him:

Quote

Hastert later issued a statement saying he was not "advocating that the city be abandoned or relocated." But Louisiana Democrats were incensed. Gov. Kathleen Blanco demanded an apology. "To kick us when we're down and destroy hope, when hope is the only thing we have left," she said, "is absolutely unthinkable for a leader in his position."

In Syracuse, N.Y., President Clinton was discussing New Orleans' dilemma when someone described the comments. Had they been in the same place when the remarks were made, Clinton said, "I'm afraid I would have assaulted him."

Note: Hastert is up for re-election next year.  Hopefully, this will be a chance to get rid of him.
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#16 Smitty

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 08:56 PM

Hastert made some good points, but he picked a crappy time to say it!

Funny, Christopher and Delvo said similar things recently.

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#17 MuseZack

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 09:48 PM

Julianus, on Sep 5 2005, 10:23 AM, said:

Anne Rice sounds like another drama queen, bitching and moaning when there's work to do.
Christopher's point about the scale of the diaster is imho being overlooked to a great extent. The Gulf coast from New Orleans to Mobile got wracked, but the coverage of the areas outside of New Orleans is not nearly as focused. Maybe it's because New Orleans is below sea level making it incredibly more difficult to get the water out whereas in most other places it naturally drained away.  In those places it's just a matter of clearing the physical mess.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yes, the city Anne Rice has loved all her life and devoted not inconsiderable resources to preserving is mostly underwater, along with God knows how many of her dear friends, in what's probably the worst natural disaster in American history, and she's being a
drama queen.   :angry:  And did it perhaps for one nanosecond occur to you that her personal connection to the tragedy aside, Anne Rice is a writer, and by penning this op-ed is helping explain to the rest of the country what a historical, architectural, and cultural treasure New Orleans is, and hopefully helping build public support for its preservation and rebuilding?

And you'll pardon me if I find myself deeply unimpressed by Christopher's analysis, which ignores the copious documentation of the numerous ways in which this disaster relief effort has been botched from top to bottom.

I apologize for the somewhat harsh tone of this post, but I'm really sick of getting lectured about how we shouldn't be getting angry at the how the worst natural disaster of our lifetimes has been made an order of magnitude worse by criminal incompetence and outright callousness at all levels of government.
"Some day, after we have mastered the wind, the waves, the tides, and gravity,
We shall harness for God the energies of Love.
Then, for the second time in the history of the world,
we will have discovered fire."
--Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

#18 Anarch

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 10:04 PM

MuseZack, on Sep 6 2005, 02:48 AM, said:

I apologize for the somewhat harsh tone of this post, but I'm really sick of getting lectured about how we shouldn't be getting angry at the how the worst natural disaster of our lifetimes has been made an order of magnitude worse by criminal incompetence and outright callousness at all levels of government.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Cheer up, Zack.  Console yourself by thinking about how many people are going to get Medals of Freedom once this is all done.  :hehe:

#19 Hibblette

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 10:05 PM

{{{{{{{{{{{{{Zack}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}
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#20 tennyson

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Posted 05 September 2005 - 10:21 PM

Your sarcasm is unappriciated. (Although if you weren't being sarcastic and such a thing does come to pass you can pretty much name your favor.)
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