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August 1st, 2006

Don't Ever Do This

If it should ever occur to you to urge me to leave New Orleans because you saw the Al Gore movie or read the Mike Tidwell book or whatever, I have one word for you: Don't.

I just received such an e-mail from someone who'd recently returned from Gore's Aaaaaaaaa!!! The Planet Is Melting And We're All Gonna Die or whatever the thing is called (and no, I'm not really making fun of the movie, though I have no interest in seeing it; while I'm not a Gore fan, I certainly believe that global warming exists and was a factor in last year's storm, though not nearly as much of one as, oh, say, THE FAILURE OF THE FEDERAL LEVEE SYSTEM or the fact that WE NO LONGER HAVE ENOUGH COASTAL WETLANDS TO BUFFER US FROM EVEN A MEDIUM-SIZED STORM). The e-mail came from someone I like a lot, so I tried to be polite, but there is nothing that infuriates me more than a well-meaning person telling me to desert my home. If you want to help me, don't tell me to run for the hills; write to the White House, Congress, the damn Army Corps of Engineers. Tell them to put money into wetlands restoration, give us the levees we were promised in the first place, and rebuild the homes and businesses that were destroyed by their lying negligence.

I will never leave New Orleans and it is no one's place to advise me to do so, no matter how good their intentions. I plan to buy property here within the next year, to spend as much money as I can within the city, to do whatever I can to ensure its future well-being, and to urge any interested, capable parties to move here and join in the rebuilding. If that makes me stupid, then let me be stupid in the place of Divine Stupidity. If I die here, that's absolutely fine by me. I'm really sick of people telling me "for my own good" that I need to leave, as if I don't have sense enough to know what's best for me. New Orleans is the only place that's good for me on any long-term basis, and I'm not going to be a deserter.

Yeah, let's just fucking give up. NOT. Let's close MR-GO and do controlled diversion of the Mississippi to rebuild the wetlands and make the feds give us our oil revenues and our levees and our fair due of what was taken from us, but let's NOT give up on something unique, strong, beautiful, and necessary to the rest of the country and world because a failed politician made a movie or a writer wrote a book or a geologist (remember him?) went on Sixty Minutes and said we better invent purple, green, and gold water wings.

Something you need to understand, if you're not in New Orleans or in unwilling exile from here: This is probably the worst, scariest, most unstable time for us since the immediate aftermath of the storm. It feels like we've reached an unsatisfactory plateau of progress, especially with Nagin back in office and not talking to us, and many of us are still waiting on insurance/FEMA/LRA while our homes sit and rot, and the one-year anniversary is coming up and we've all got to argue about how it should be observed the same way we had to argue about whether or not we should have Mardi Gras. Things are just going to get rawer and rawer and crazier and crazier in this town until August 29. I don't know what's going to happen after that, but until then, we don't need people who don't know what it's like to be here SAYING SHIT TO US.

(By the way, I gave up seeing movies a long time ago and I find that my life is much happier now.)

On A Lighter Note ...

As far as I've ever been able to tell, the only interesting thing about Al Gore is the fact that he is one of the many famous people I've seen at Casamento's. Here are the others:

Tipper Gore (with Al, obviously)
Peyton Manning
Eli Manning
Harry Connick, Sr. (former DA; Harry Jr's dad)
Art Neville
Vinny Mosca (former mayor of Harahan; famous N.O. criminal defense attorney)
Julia Reed (food writer)

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