Friday, August 31, 2012

defend New Orleans

I'm not sure if you heard or not, but the other night I was involved in a fight with some internet big shots on Twitter. This post isn't necessarily about that because yes, I realize fighting with people online is exactly as dumb as debating with an invisible person in a chair. But I do want to say that I got in trouble for calling someone a moron and saying they are insensitive without directly saying that person's name and now people are doing the exact same thing about me. I want everyone to know that I'm totally okay with this. These folks think I'm an idiot and that's their opinion, they are allowed to think of me what they want. Opinions: you're allowed to have your's and I can have mine!

That being said, I was also involved in a few fights about New Orleans. Specifically I got all hand flappy over people saying New Orleans should have never been rebuilt. I'm going to get bitchy for a second, but if you ever state that opinion I will assume you are a total fucking idiot. If I find out you live in an area that also suffers from natural disasters, chances are I'm going to be blinded with rage. I'm sorry for this. I can't help it. 

People seem to think New Orleans should have been left to rot after Katrina and everyone that lived there should have uprooted themselves and created lives in new cities. I can't even begin to understand this thought process. People should abandon their homes and buy new ones in another city? How can they afford this when they still have to pay for their destroyed homes in NOLA? Is everyone but me rich enough to say "Screw my first mortgage, I'm going to buy a new home!" 

The fact is that people can not afford to leave NOLA. People depend on that area's Gulf access, swamps, and rivers to make their livelihoods. The estimated income in 2009 (most recent that I could find) was $36,468. I mean, really. You tell me how on that income people can afford to leave their jobs and homes and set up shop somewhere else. Would they like to not worry about hurricanes? Yes, but it's not a worry they can afford to leave behind.  

The other thing is that people just don't want to leave that area. NOLA is their home, where their families are, where their history is. NOLA is their heart and soul. The love that people have for New Orleans is hard to understand unless you're from there. We are New Orleans, New Orleans is us. 

I'm sorry if I came after you on Wednesday because you said New Orleans shouldn't be rebuilt. I'm sorry that I think you're an idiot. I'm sorry that on the 7 year anniversary of the storm that changed my life forever I got a little defensive. I'm sorry that you said something like that while Issac was hitting New Orleans and I was worried about the safety of my family and friends and I attacked. 

If you want to put your money where your mouth is and pay for a family that lost their home to relocate to whatever magic, natural diaster free city you live in, then I will happily sincerely apologize to you. Until then, keep your fucking mouth shut. 


  1. I am commenting because YES. I lived in Central Louisiana for years while in radio, and those people, man. I made a mere $23K a year, but I never went hungry. Because THOSE PEOPLE. They are loud and they are larger-than-life and they are amazing and they are generous and MAN. We should all be so lucky.

    (I live in an area ravaged by tornados in 2011. Sadly, it took an event of that magnitude for people to find themselves even HALF as awesome as the cajun are on a daily basis.)

  2. It's crazy that people are absolutely okay with abandoning an entire city, one filled with PEOPLE and HISTORY and AMAZINGNESS. I'm not from NOLA but I fell in love with it during my travels there. That would be like letting NYC get nuked by aliens and shrugging your shoulders like, "Oh well. It could happen again so let's move somewhere else."

    Just amazing.

    Don't apologize for other people's sheer stupidity and insensitivity.

  3. I thought the same thing back in 2005 when people were spouting that shit. So let's just let California burn to the ground every time wildfires rage. Fuck Oklahoma and their tornadoes.

    I don't blame you for your reaction one tiny bit.

  4. I'm not from NOLA. I've visited it and love every part of that city. And if you don't realize how PASSIONATE people are there about their city, their home, then you apparently lived under a rock during Katrina and when the Saints won the Super Bowl.

    I am from Chicago. And I am a PROUD Chicagoan. So I GET IT. And good for you for defending it. It is your home, no matter where you live now.

    You don't just let a city as awesome as New Orleans die. That's just stupid talk.

  5. Amen.
    I remember being 11 when Andrew hit Florida and asking my mom WHY would anyone live there. Well, the universe/God/whatever has a funny sense of humor. I moved to the east coast of Florida eight years ago, just in time for four hurricanes to hit the state. The eye of two -- Frances and Jeanne -- passed less than 10 miles from my apartment, three weeks apartment. The next year, just after we bought our house, our area was hit by Wilma. I didn't suffer any damage really, but I saw what others suffered. I reported on it. It's hard to understand from the outside, but when you live through a disaster like that, you do.
    And even if you don't understand, there's this thing called compassion. More people should have it.

  6. I live in earthquake country (as did you, briefly. ;-) )
    I get it.

  7. Hey -- I'm a friend of MaryLynn's (we've met a few times) & one of the reasons I'm commenting is that there's a book Julia Reed wrote, "The House on First Street," which describes her experience renovating a house in New Orleans before and after Katrina, that is both a love letter to the city and all you need to hand to someone to explain how and why people can love that place so fiercely. I Got It after reading that book.

    I'm sorry the Twitters got out of control this week. It's way too easy for social media to become sociopathic media, IMO.

  8. Yes, and HELL YES. There is no place on earth like New Orleans. And everyone who lives there makes it what it is. If a place is your only home, and your family's only home, for generations, you can't (and you don't!) just pack up and leave. "Home" truly means something. Those jerks who say otherwise have no souls. I'm not from there, but I fell in love with everything NOLA is - good, bad, beautiful, ugly - and would be delighted to take down anyone in the reprehensible "don't rebuild" camp.

  9. I hear you, but I really think that at some point we have to just accept that some people are mindless. And clueless. It doesn't matter what they think--New Orleans is vibrant and interesting; historic and cutting edge all at the same time. If people think we can just live someplace else, then they just don't get it and no amount of explaining to them will help.

    And I'd like to go on record by saying that I think that picking on a Katrina survivor on the anniversary of Katrina and when a hurricane was hitting New Orleans again was a completely douche thing to do. That is all.

  10. "People seem to think..." See, that's your problem right there. You are assuming that the people you are arguing with have that ability. They don't. Most people want to be told what to believe, and they also want very complex issues to be boiled down to a simple sound bite. Most people are morons.

  11. I grew up watching the tropics every summer because we never knew when a hurricane would enter the Gulf. My first memory is from my brother and father walking out of our house after Hurricane Frederick hit Mobile in 1979. I was 2 and we had a tree on our house. As a child, hurricanes were just an excuse to get out of school and camp out in the living room. As I got older, hurricanes were annoying because everything shut down for days before and after the storm. As an adult, hurricanes meant I had to decide whether or not to go to work and what would happen to my stuff during the storm.

    I moved to Texas from Mobile a month before Katrina hit. I sat at my desk and watch the live feed from a local news station in Mobile the entire day. All I wanted to do was help. All I wanted to do was save my family and they weren't getting the worst of it. I can't imagine what it must have been like for you to go back and see your town destroyed. Katrina changed the face of the entire Gulf Coast of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. No one should ever treat Katrina as a joke.

  12. You know I agree with you 100 percent. Thank you for writing this.

  13. Good on you for defending your hometown. It's narrow minded to think people can just up and move away from their homes. New Orleans had been around for hundreds of years and with some ingenuity, it will be around for many, many more.

  14. WOW, some people are douchy. I agree with you though, rebuild, rebuild, rebuild.
    My hometown was ravaged by a pretty substantial fire a few years ago, a lot of people lost houses, a lot of property was destroyed. I can't imagine someone ever saying to just leave it dead and burned just 'cause it might happen again. Asshats.

  15. I know I'm not properly from there, but I spent the very formative ages of 18-22 in NOLA and Katrina broke my heart into a million pieces. Keep fighting the good fight!

  16. I've never ever ever understood that argument. You don't just...let a city die like that. People can't just pick up every part of their lives, and their histories. And if they could, they shouldn't have to.

    People are just asses. That's all there is to it.

  17. i worked at a restaurant in the french quarter for 4 years after katrina. one day in '08 or '09 two impatient men became so annoyed after 5 mins they decided to leave but made sure to stop on their way out to let me know that new orleans was a waste of money and should have been left to drown. TO MY FACE. in front of other staff and guests.
    let me just say guests in earshot had shocked looks on their face and staff began to close in from all over the restaurant. it coudl very well have gotten ugly. it wsa never in my position to tell some to leave (unless they were soliciting) but i very quickly let them know they had to get out. i was calm and as courteous as i could be while kicking someone out.

    they said this in front of staff who lost EVERYTHING, whose family lost EVERYTHING and were back and rebuilding in nola immediately. they worked to open restaurants as early as oct '05, even serving bush on paper plates and with plastic utensils. they notonly rebuilt their lives but the city itself as well as friends and strangers lives.
    if we were such a waste why the hell would you go and spend your money there, then have the audacity to tell the people the city should have been left to drown?

    now i live in laplace and watched neighbors flood this year, it was terrible.
    they only feel safe saying that shit bc they are protected behind a comp screen. dare them to come here and say it to our faces and see what happens.