Tuesday, August 29, 2006

"we're not dead, and we're not dying"

Wherein later this fall I need to take a Monday off so I can make it to one of Pete's Sunday dinners


Poppy Z. Brite, writing in the Boston Globe, reminds us why we should care about New Orleans. Quote:
Yet we survive. In New Orleans, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and (especially) in the mind-bogglingly devastated St. Bernard Parish, communities relegated to the status of Third World nations have pulled together to ensure that the places, customs, cuisines, and ways of life we love will not be destroyed by incompetence or neglect, the way so much else has.

Life in New Orleans is extraordinarily difficult now. Business is bad, essential services are shaky, and the people rebuilding our levees seem to tell a different story every day. One side effect of the hardships: The people still in town are the ones unshakably committed to New Orleans, the ones willing to invest in it and fight for its future.

Our tourism industry struggles because people elsewhere don't realize that it is still possible to have a great vacation in the city .

Nevertheless, the theater and art scenes are vibrant. The cocktails are flowing as always. Chefs freed from the obligation to cater to cautious tourist palates are creating some of the best food New Orleans has seen in years. Pete Vazquez, who lost his restaurant, Marisol, uses a portable grill to prepare weekly ethnic feasts at a Ninth Ward wine bar.

And with the local school board replaced by a network of charter schools, we've got a chance to ensure that current and future generations of New Orleans children will receive a high-quality public education rather than enduring the horrors of pre-Katrina public schools. We can begin to address our crime problem by teaching kids that they matter, that there are possible lives for them other than that of the street and the gun.

You can help us get through this difficult time by acknowledging that we matter, and by reminding your representatives. Coastal Louisiana provides America with 30 percent of its annual seafood harvest, 18 percent of its oil supply, 24 percent of its natural gas, and vast amounts of imported goods that come through the Port of New Orleans.

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