Wherever You Go, There You Are

If I were a Republican — no, not even a garden-variety Republican but a movement conservative and a Freeper-type — I would view the above as a sign of hope and ingenuity, that see, people are pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and painting their own street signs. They don’t need government to do things for them!

Nobody ever waxes poetic about the lessons of poverty and the benefits of want while they’re still sleeping in a box and eating out of Dumpsters. It’s only in hindsight that the horrible thing that happened to you becomes a funny story or a useful life lesson, and having seen this block — one house immaculate, a watered lawn, play equipment for the kids, across the street an overgrown yard and busted up windows and a roof that has seen better decades — sentiments like the above mostly make me want to punch someone.

My default setting in moments of grief is anger. After my grandfather died I got desperately and irrationationally pissed off at the priest who, I felt, had failed utterly in his service to praise Grandpa as highly as the man deserved and had instead blathered on about love for the church and basically said things that could have been about anybody. I know now it was unfair to the poor clergyman (still, hack) but it got me through the first couple weeks (months). So as we’re driving through bombed-out block after bombed-out block, and I mean like a bomb went off and is still going off, like the earthquake was yesterday, Scout asked me what I thought and pretty much all I could come up with was that just right then I badly needed a punching bag.

That people are having to do this on their own. That we could drive around and around and see, but for the few homeowners who had their money or insurance doing work on their own, charity organizations working piecemeal, instead of an army. Instead of a wave — a surge, I’ll make the Iraq comparison, the switch, what if we’d sent 25,000 here instead? — of help rolling over these places, replacing the marks from where the first waves hit.

I’ll have constructive thoughts later. Mr. A, a WWII buff, has been talking to me about the Marshall Plan and about what it would take, money and manpower and how long it would take. Mostly, though, having now seen it, I would like very badly to rip somebody’s face off.


13 thoughts on “Wherever You Go, There You Are

  1. An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague
    who has been doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner due to the
    fact that I discovered it for him… lol.

    So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanks for spending time to discuss this subject here on your site.

  2. Does anyone else remember a creature named Somoza? He used to run a country called Nicaragua until the capital, Managua, was walloped by an earthquake. It wasn’t the earthquake that did him in; it was the fact that for years afterwards none of the damage was repaired. The aid money was eaten up by corruption, and even the Nicaraguans got sick and tired of it. I think a group called the Sandanistas took over, and started repairing the capital. Of course, this meant that we spent years trying to do something about the Sandanistas, but that was another story.

  3. When’s the Congressional hearings on Katrina reconstruction? I realize they’ve got six years of catching up to do, plus a few new things like PurgeGate and Walter Reed, but this one should have been first out the gate.
    I was in New Orleans on a work-related trip in Jan. 2006, and I drove over a good chunk of the city. Thanks for not just focusing on the Lower Ninth, because there’s a lot of NOLA besides that. And so much of it was just plain deserted, or just had a homeowner here and there, trying to work on their own place.
    The scary thing is, the neighborhood Spencer Ave is in should have been a natural for quick reconstruction. It’s right across the canal from Metairie, which wasn’t flooded, so you can go across the 17th Street Canal bridge on Hammond Hwy, three blocks north, and instantly be back in ‘normal’ America, with grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, and all that.
    If they haven’t rebuilt this neighborhood yet, it means they haven’t done squat in most of the city. That’s the scary part.
    If Clinton had been President, even if he’d blown the prep and the response (infinitely improbable), New Orleans would be a functioning city again by now. Clinton wasn’t the best President ever, but he knew how to get things done.

  4. HOLY MOLEY! That pic (the intersection at Spencer Ave and Fleur de Lis Ave)is where my aunt-by-marriage lived. Her sister, my former mother-in-law, lived two blocks away on Avenue A. It’s so sad.

  5. Truman? I’d settle for a Hoover. Before he sat on his hand when the Depression hit, Hoover won the office by his response to the Mississippi floods at almost the turn of the century.
    We used to know how to deal with things like this. Now, as a government (we are the sovereign; I refuse to let anyone forget that) we don’t even seem to care.
    May the righteous anger become a contagion that sweeps the country like a prairie fire!

  6. Anger is useful, A. — it can be the engine of creativity. It makes you swing the wrecking bar with more force, so that you can get the job done faster and better. It makes you think of what ELSE can be done, and ways to get there. Just watch out for bitterness, which can creep in uninvited. Bitterness kills. Six years of Chimpy McFlightsuit can certainly bring about some bitterness.
    I certainly identify with your remarks about the priest who blathered on about the church, rather than your grandfather’s personality and achievements. Probably he didn’t know your grandfather — I hope that’s the case, anyway. It’s hard to have to memorialize someone you didn’t know, but it can be done. Still it’s very frustrating as a bereaved person to hear someone deliver a canned speech while you are aching to get up and tell the assembled company something meaningful about the departed. You have a right to your anger about that.
    That anger is precious, A. — use it well. I know you will. All good thoughts go with you, Mr. A., Scout and the crew.
    Peace, V.

  7. I had to flee New Orleans a day ahead of Katrina. Since then I have been living in a relative’s house in Kosciusko, Mississippi. My residence in New Orleans East is being rebuilt but I am not looking forward to returning. I will be surrounded by miles of devastation. Each day I will be reminded of the heartless nature of the current administration that has turned its back on me and the other residents of our formerly fair city. I don’t think I could live every day with that anger and depression. It will never be the same. What a waste!

  8. I become most especially angry when those who cannot possibly understand criticize the very people who are doing the work, the New Orleanians rebuilding their community, for the most part, unassisted, at least by their government.

  9. God, I wish we had a Truman right now. He’d have been all over rebuilding NOLA, and he’d have done it while maintaining U.S. prestige abroad.
    Apparently your anger is contagious, A. Let’s hope the right faces present themselves.

  10. Hey there lovely ladies (and Mr. A)–
    I’ve still got that anger, and it isn’t going away…
    Nobody ever waxes poetic about the lessons of poverty and the benefits of want while they’re still sleeping in a box and eating out of Dumpsters. It’s only in hindsight that the horrible thing that happened to you becomes a funny story or a useful life lesson…
    I know y’all probably won’t have time, but if you’re in the area around Tulane, swing by 7907 Willow and take a pic of our old house.
    TJ, working hard and missing the crack den

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