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Day 330: How “The City” Plans To Commemorate Katrina

Just because someone is in power doesn’t mean he/she represents all of us, or even most of us for that matter.

Jack and dangerblond (via email) talk about the city’s upcoming Katrina Anniversary and how tasteless it all looks.  Between scattered church services and laying wreaths at the various levee breeches, there are plans for charity silent auctions, a cooking show featuring Emeril and – get this – a jazz funeral from the Convention Center to the Superdome with Lieutenant General Russel L. Honoré as Grand Marshall.  The real cherries on top are Comedy Night, the Ambassadors of Swing talent search, a Masquerade Gala for Diamond & Platinum tickets at Harrah’s Casino and fireworks.  Yay – let’s remember Katrina – whee!  Is this a tourist event?

The poor of New Orleans bore and continue to carry the largest brunt of Katrina and its aftermath.  Even the moneyed in this city (from Lakeview, New Orleans East, MidCity and sprinkled all over) have been humbled after almost a year of fighting for insurance money, the right to rebuild, their jobs, and in some cases, their very lives.

Our city is bankrupt, almost rudderless thanks to our invisible mayor and sans Recovery Plan.  We don’t even have the neon lights on City Hall fixed.  And this group of people has the audacity to spend vital city (recovery) money on a trite set of fêtes amidst timed prayer services, some reserved for only the ones who can afford to attend?  As if we haven’t enough rot to deal with.

We had a Jazz Funeral for Katrina and Rita.  Leave processions and Grand Marshalls for Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day.  And please dispense with terms like gala, diamond and platinum when talking about anything Katrina-related.  This is supposed to be the remembrance of a ghastly series of events that killed almost 1200 people, displaced tens of thousands, wiped out 75% of our city and brought us to our collective knees to this day.  The national/international media will cover this and it’s embarassing to imagine the image people will take away from it – when you’re happy, sad, angry, confused and you know it, throw a party!


Along with people the nation over, I am going to relive a day of realizing I wasn’t going back to my home for an indefinite while and watching aerial footage of friends’ homes flooding, people walking on Hwy. 90 with nothing but the clothes on their backs and fires consuming familiar city buildings.  I will meditate on the love and sick-to-my-stomach concern I felt for friends who didn’t evacuate.  I am to remember a day when I was proud of my mayor and equally disgusted with the abject failure of our protection systems on all fronts.

These are the sentiments of an anonymous commenter on New Orleans Metroblogs:

“… imagine on that day EVERYONE in the city is outside, and everyone is wearing the same color – red or purple or something – and everyone is working on fixing some part of the city – picking up trash, fixing your own house, fixing someone else’s house, painting a school (’cause even though school will have started then, i’m sure it will still be needed) … what a statement.”

What a statement, indeed, Anonymous, and I’m right there with you.  On August 29th, what if all of us take a day off work and spend it with Katrina Krewe or at a school helping pick up trash, cleaning classrooms, inventorying supplies and doing something, anything productive?  That would be a better celebration of the spirit of recovery than consuming petitfours and champagne at some dress-up ball. 

Hell, even going to work and contributing to the New Orleans economy would be a better bow to the New Orleans blues that began on August 29th, 2005.

Update: The T-P refers to this absurdity as “solemn events.”  Almost lost my hot tea until I remembered: it’s the T-P.

11 comments… add one
  • adrastos July 24, 2006, 1:41 PM

    These plans are appalling and show yet again the cluelessness of the folks who run this city. And Wynton is just as bad.

  • Markus July 24, 2006, 2:48 PM

    My initial reaction was, somewhere in this city is an unopened refrigerator. We should find it and (in hazmat suits, with bottled air) dump it and its contents in front of the entrance to the Diamond and Platinum Galas.

    This is really going to be the celebration of How Rich Some Of Us Are Going To Get Off Of Recovery.

  • Ray July 24, 2006, 3:24 PM

    Diamond and Platinum aren’t my style anyway.

    We should have the Mold Gala at Molly’s.

  • Maitri July 24, 2006, 4:24 PM

    How about we work off our behinds gutting or cleaning a community center or school and then meet up at Molly’s for our own personal commisserative Mold Gala? Everyone has to come in the attire they wore all day.  We ask the press to show up there and tell them to Lay A Wreath On This.

    The more I think about the city plans, the more they gross me out.  There’s symbolic and then there’s tacky.

    [Oh, Ray, there is a time and place for a beautiful blood-free diamond and some platinum.  I’m more of a gold, silver and one diamond max kinda gal myself.]

  • Morwen July 24, 2006, 4:46 PM

    I have two fridges and a freezer that haven’t been removed yet, but hopefully they will be removed before August. (Too bad… I’d love to save them for the “Gala”)

  • TravelingMermaid July 24, 2006, 7:29 PM

    Yet another example of our mayor’s lack of judgement and leadership. This sounds more like a celebrate Ray day.

  • Karen July 24, 2006, 9:28 PM

    When I first read about the Gala I thought it was posted from The Onion. It is that hard to believe

  • Dave July 25, 2006, 10:23 AM

    How about we have a jazz funeral for good taste?

  • Maitri July 25, 2006, 3:12 PM

    Even sleeping in on my own bed would be a more fitting tribute.

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