Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Bittersweet Chocolate (pt. 1)

Got back from New Orleans Sunday evening around 7:30 pm. Drove back most all the way in rain and it seemed most appropriate for the trip. Can't explain how good it was to be back in the City. Saw friend Phil. He's produced a new CD of songs written while he stayed on after Katrina. It's called Hurricane Romance and I really enjoy a few of the more poignant tunes on it. While there we spent two afternoons driving around looking at the conditions existant 4 1/2 months after The Flood.

Reflections from the visit:

The French Quarter is as clean as I've ever seen it.
The City; however, is a dirty as it has ever looked.

I can not imagine the magnitude of cleanup and reconstruction left to accomplish.

The spirit of the City still exists and so it will remain.

Mayor Nagin's career dissipation light has exceeded overtime and is running at warp speed.

Lakeside will rebuild and it will be a very long process.
The Lower 9th Ward won't, simply because it can't. The devastation in the Lower 9th is beyond description.

Daughter had been to a panel discussion the evening we arrived and came away with a pretty positive attitude. There is so much to do, to consider, and so many opportunities to make New Orleans a better City; that it will require leadership with tremendous vision, integrity and ability to do the job properly. All classes and social strata will need to be willing to compromise in order to get the job done right. But, New Orleans finds itself in the position of being able to finally rid itself of a great portion of its gang element, its utterly inadequate public education system, its corrupt Police Dep't., and all other facets of corruption that exist within the political power structure. Also some of its worst poverty. There is concern that illegal Guatemalans and Hispanics flooding into the City for "minimum wage" jobs will irreversibly alter the existant culture. I hope that it will only enrich it. These people are taking the jobs that no one else will and doing work that has to be accomplished to move forward.

For the most part the "Tourist" portions of the City are fine and as soon as lower wage employees (those in the service industry) and adequate accomodations are readily available, New Orleans will once again be a tourist mecca.

Tried to attend Sunday Worship at The Cathedral but they had altered their Sunday Schedule from its norm. Didn't bother to check before going (a mistake that will not be made again) so spent a few moments in prayer and then slipped off to begin our return journey. While there picked up a copy of "reflections" of the parishoners and was struck by one person's thoughts in particular. Paraphrasing the author: "Around 2:00 AM one sleepless night; I realized for too long now, I've been beginning all conversations with 'The worst thing was...' and each time it was a different worst thing. It's now time to start beginning with: 'The best thing was...'."

Yeah, the spirit of the City does remain; as does my NOLA.


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