We've worn out our welcome
"It's hard not to look away. It's hard to know what to compare this to. It's seldom that a music that once thrilled you now repulses you.
We move on to the Industrial Canal and beyond. There's the grainy, long-ago newsreels of WWII Stalingrad, bombed-out, shelled-out buildings, block after block, fallen or even more, half-fallen where they stood, ruined but not yet destroyed, shattered but not yet abandoned. Along St. Claude Avenue, some of the shells are again occupied by a half-hidden army, moving in the inside shadows of generator light, sniping at the enemy. They'll have to be rooted out of the rubble, house by house. ..."
These were American citizens. Two thousand of them died.
New Orleans has been a major city for almost three hundred years. It's the birthplace of American culture, period. Despite the crime, despite the poverty, despite everything, New orleans bred a fierce bond with its people. They loved New Orleans like a lover, a physical being so deeply tied to their souls that they could never give her up, even if she was bad for them.
The citizens of New Orleans had families, jobs (they really did), dreams, tragedies, hard times. They were alive, more alive than any of the zombies you see walking the streets of Atlanta or the ghosts hiding in the corners of Detroit. Despite the crime, despite the poverty. They were living in the truest sense of the word.
And then the hurricane came and took it all away. Took away the homes, the lives, the dignity, the dreams, everything. You'd really have to see it to understand: it's not just water damage. It's not a ruined house here and there. It's bad. People died, people fled, the proudest and most vibrant and most alive city in America was hammered, knocked to its knees and left for dead.
People are coming back. The city is slowly being rebuilt by people who can't live anywhere else or do anything else, who won't abandon their lover when she's hurt and sick, maybe dying. No one knows if it will work, if New Orleans will live again. Or if Cameron parish or Vermilion parish, blown to smithereens by Hurricane Rita, will live again. But we haven't given up.
You've given up on us because we're poor, black, southern. We're clowns, partying all day, drinking all night, and running a banana republic government on graft and free drink tickets. Deep in your hard little hearts, you think we deserve this. Had it coming, carrying on like that. Its as if we had been daring God to put a stop to the nonsense, and he finally did.
Besides, black people, poor people -- do we really want to build new nests for them? Shouldn't we accept their dispersal as a gift, a way of diluting the concentrated oil slick of beastly black faces and exasperatingly poor white ones? Mostly Democrats, too, if I recall. Maybe if they're far apart they won't breed. If they're scattered, they can't organize, either, so its win-win, right?
We're not going to go away. We are going to keep staggering along, demanding attention, pulling on your sleeve like some scabby beggar who knows you from another life. We're going to come to all your functions and introduce ourselves, the legless one-eyed veteran, the black sheep of the family who mortifies the guests, even as they can't stop gazing into that sightless, empty socket, at the red, raw stumps where legs used to be.
We are not going away. And if we go down, we're going to take you down with us.