Tuesday, April 10, 2007

They finally mentioned it

I just read this morning the first actual news report on the reconstruction of New Orleans and surrounding areas that I have seen in over a year. It seems the relief money still hasn't been properly allocated, sad, but not at all shocking. The reason: relief money to home-owners must go through the banks who hold the mortgages on properties. Both the state and federal government are concerned that the banks will withhold money from the people who need to rebuild, so as a solution,...they are withholding the money from the people who need to rebuild.

I know what Jesus had to say about money lenders who might suffer in an economic downturn, and I wonder how long it will be before someone figures out that bypassing the banks isn't the most insane thing a relief organization can do. How good a job is the world bank doing at relieving the suffering in war zones and refugee camps?

I would love to be angry about this. I would love to have a quick burst of energy this morning upon realizing that once again the federal and state government have found an excuse not to help suffering people renew themselves and their lives. It seems to be business as usual now. For this reason I'm certain no-one is going to bother to protest, no-one is going to write any letters, and the only mention it will get on the political level is presidential candidates who naturally will all wax appalled at the galling insanity of the situation. I wish there were some hope that someone was going to get upset enough to do something, mention something. Volunteers are working in the city right now removing debris and waterlogged furniture from houses that flooded two years ago.

I would love to be righteously angry. Instead I feel drained, I feel sad, I am exhausted. We left our people to drown in their own homes. We blamed them for becoming violent and cynical. We failed to shelter them immediately after and now two years later, the moldy, wooden memories of their homesteads are still being quietly removed board by board by volunteers.

Do we remember even who we are at all?


Anonymous said...


Ryshpan said...

New Orleans based trombonist has a few posts on his blog (http://www.scratchmybrain.com) about the backlash towards Harry Connick and Branford Marsalis' Musicians Village. It's really disheartening that there's a strong possibility NOLA culture may not return the way it used to be. Archaic zoning laws regarding live music are actually being enforced.

I never got to go to New Orleans pre-Katrina, and it's absolutely devastating to see musical Mecca in ruins and nobody doing anything about it. Hours upon hours are devoted to an over-the-hill radio personality denigrating a basketball team, but there's no airtime left for the Gulf Coast or Darfur.

Freshwater Mermaid said...

Amen piano tickler! How are they enforcing archaic laws? Have they hired new policemen or something? I thought that along with relief and infrastructure, there was a huge shortage of law enforcement. Or is that one of the programs that in fact is federally funded?

Ryshpan said...

Well, what seems to be happening is that noise complaints are actually being taken seriously. King Bolden's, a fixture of the jazz scene there, was actually shut down for a while because they weren't licensed to have live music. The articles I've read aren't clear as to how or why these zoning laws are being enforced now. My inference is that because a lot of the musicians and patrons have been forced out of the city, unable to return, the anti-culture voices are rising in volume. Someone is quoted as saying the jazz clubs are merely for tourists; this person has also been a vocal critic of the legendary independent radio station WWOZ.

Freshwater Mermaid said...

Hah! I'd love to see anyone give that stance credibility. Music was never for the tourists. It brought tourists because the music of the bayou was a history, sort of a living map of the freed slaves, abandoned whites, indians, creoles and everyone who found themselves in the humid port. We bother to go as tourists to places that have some kind of heritage, generally because we are accustomed to the heritage of our own homes.

He'll never get anywhere arguing that the music of New Orleans was a put-on.