I know what it means to miss New Orleans, but I don't know what New Orleans
means, or what to say about this still-beautiful city whose beauty is terrible.
See for yourself:
I don't claim to know New Orleans, but I do know that whatever New Orleans
is, it's not the Disney-fied French Quarter and the Made in China beads, any
more than New York is Times Square... The real New Orleans has always been found
on the streets of the second
line, the permit-less parade, the mutual aid societies you make yourself
when you can't get help any other way.
And I know that, as my friend Asia put it, "New Orleans needs superheroes."
Even back in the day, when I lived a couple of hours down the road in Lafayette,
New Orleans was a decayed and dangerous city, but the keening's gotten a lot
louder. The catastrophic
failure of Main Line institutions--FEMA, the insurance companies, the utility
companies, the NOPD, and the list goes on--continues to buffet the people of
New Orleans more than the storm ever did, and the city's recent murders
have sparked another exodus. Sometimes it seems that the city's 150-year jazz
funeral for itself is all dirge, no way back.