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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Knee Deep in Steinbeck

Over at the Huffington Post, Harry Shearer posts the body of an email from a director friend of his down in New Orleans. Powerful stuff. Y'all should give it a read. Here's a snippet:

The NOPD has become a horrible, rabid, festering animal. Luckily the National Guard remain amazingly even-tempered, and have been a life-saving defense against our own cops, keeping the twisted remains of the Police Department at bay. I don't know what will happen when the Guard leaves us.

Like I don't know who is coming back. More than half the City is unlivable, and will never be again. I know now. I've seen it.

Daily life, breathing, is eerie and disconcerting. I ate a hot meal at a soup kitchen at Washington Square around the corner last night, from a group of old-time hippies called The Rainbow Coalition", and felt myself a character walking knee-deep in Steinbeck. These folks from around the country raise their own money, use their own credit cards, and just drove in and started feeding and caring for people. They have a doctor and a midwife and a big battery-fed boombox with a great collection of ‘60’s NOLA R&B. They do not like FEMA. They got permission from the City to do what they are doing, but the NOPD came to roust the crowd when a brass band walked into the Square to play to the hungry people who were eating. “No permit.” Yes. “No permit.” Luckily a Humvee of Guardsmen showed up just then – the Coalition had been feeding them too – and shooed the local cops away.

There are more flies than I ever experienced in the poorest parts of Mexico or India, and mosquitoes who have been feasting on the dead descend in clouds if you stop for more than a minute. i wear insect repellent from the moment i wake up until i go to bed at night.

A FEMA flier decorated my gate this morning. I opened it to find a warning to residents not to place cadavers or feces on the sidewalk for curbside collection.

A bright yellow dust coats anything non-moving. You can watch it rise from the top of the drying black mud in the streets -- the remains of the poisonous floodwaters. Death pollen, everyone calls it.

Corporate carpetbaggers are everywhere. They are taking carriage rides, as tourists, through the Armageddon movie set that is our neighborhood, drinking and raising hell as the mule-pulled carts clop and creak down streets full of rubble. The well-dressed passengers cheer and toast each other, while staring off the carriages at New Orleanians sorting through their possessions.

They are making lots of money off our misery.
They almost always do.

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