Category Archives: New Orleans

Two Years Later

Chalmette, LA

I used to love telling people I lived in New Orleans. I’d come home for Christmas break or visit friends at other schools and watch people’s reactions when I’d say, “I go to school in New Orleans.”

“Oh man! Is it crazy?”
“How is Mardi Gras? I hear you can drink in the streets!”
“Is it really like ‘Girls Gone Wild’?”

I’ll be honest; I loved that people were jealous of me for living in such a cool city. I’m sure UC Davis has its subtle charms, but it probably can’t compete with Dunbar’s fried chicken or Ms. Mae’s one dollar well drinks. And in response to everyone’s questions:

“Yes, it is crazy. Strangers say ‘hello’ to you when you pass them in the street. They put the emphasis on weird syllables. UMbrella. TUlane. INsurance. They eat crawdads…I mean…crawfish.”
“Mardi Gras is kickass. It goes on for weeks, and the parades just get bigger as Mardi Gras Day gets closer. People will cut you for blinking beads or painted coconuts. Costumes are encouraged, if not mandatory. And of course you can drink in the streets; you can do that every day.”
“No, you fool. Only dumb, drunk frat boys from Ole Miss act like it’s ‘Girls Gone Wild.'”

Since Katrina, the reactions have obviously been a little different. Instead of envy, I get pity or concern or, my least favorite, morbid curiosity. I was patient with people’s questions in the months following the storm. I understood that, as a New Orleans evacuee, I could offer a perspective people might not get from watching the coverage on Fox News.

Two years later, I’m tired of talking about how quickly the storm came down on us and how I threw three days’ worth of clothes and my camera in a backpack and left the city that Saturday afternoon. I’m tired of recounting how we were all on the phone to our friends and families, making sure everyone was safe, then watching hours and hours of CNN footage (when we had power, that is). I’m tired of talking about the evacuation to well-intentioned people because, well, it doesn’t matter. I was lucky. I had the means to get out of the city early; I had friends kind enough to let me sleep on their floor for five days; I had a home somewhere else to go to.

Instead, let’s talk about the mind-numbing incompetence with which Katrina was handled. Let’s talk about why Louisiana has to fight tooth and nail for more relief assistance, while we’re throwing money into Iraq like it’s goin’ out of style. Let’s talk about why half of New Orleans’ population is still displaced and parts of the city look like the aftermath of the blitzkrieg.

I may be living 2,000 miles from New Orleans right now, but my thoughts are with y’all today. I’ll be the one rocking the fleur-de-lys necklace, drinking an Abita Amber on my balcony and pissing off my neighbors by singing the Jazz Vipers and Cowboy Mouth at the top of my lungs.

What’s in a name?

That Bitch

I’ve been thinking a lot about hurricanes lately, for obvious reasons. We’re deep in the bowels of hurricane season, and even though I now live two thousand miles away from the Danger Zone, I still follow the storms with stalkerish obsession. Dean. Erin. Flossie. I watch their behavior closely to see if I can predict who is going to screw me over this year.

It’s been almost two years since I evacuated from New Orleans for Katrina, and I still can’t hear that name without wanting to throttle, maim or give a strongly-worded lecture to whoever owns it (all you Katrinas out there, I suggest you go by Kat or Katie or even Trina).

Maybe that sounds silly to you, but let me explain. You know how you hate the name Mandy because of that bitch in junior high who watched “The Craft” too many times and spread the rumor that you were a witch and were trying to spike the basketball team’s Gatorade with a potion to fall in love with you? Yeah, since then, you’ve hated every Mandy you’ve met. Well, imagine she also flooded your city, destroyed your friends’ childhood homes and closed your favorite red beans and rice and fried chicken restaurant. Now who’s being silly?

It sucks because I used to kinda like the name Katrina. Except for that Katrina and the Waves “Walking on Sunshine” fiasco, it had never done anything to me. But now, it’s ruined for life, and I have to cross it off the list of my future children’s names.

To avoid this situation in the future, I propose we name all future storms after people we already hate (“we” meaning me, of course). I’ll start us off; if it were up to me to name the 2007 roster of storms, they would be:

1. Ann. She told a disabled Vietnam vet, “People like you caused us to lose that war.” She has no soul. She’d probably go off course and hit California just to destroy all the liberals.
2. Bill. Most of the time, he’s just so ridiculous, he’s kind of entertaining. Then he comes out with something really insane, like recommending that al Qaeda blow up San Francisco, and it gets personal.
3. Carmen. What exactly does she do, except hook up with formerly cool rock stars and take her clothes off? She’d probably wreak havoc just for the publicity.
4. Dick. I think the name says it all. I hold him responsible for the mess we’re in. And he shot a dude in the face.
5. Eminem. So much anger. Such a nasal voice. I don’t care if you’re the real Slim Shady, and I don’t care if you’re back.
6. Fergie. OK, I’ll admit it: I liked “London Bridge.” It’s catchy; don’t judge me. But “My Humps”? “You love my lady lumps?” That is unforgivable.
7. George. Oh, George, where do I begin? You know what you did. Let’s not make this uglier than it has to be.
8. Hannity. He’s Faux News’ other golden boy, after “Papa Bear” Bill O’Reilly, of course. He’d destroy every blue state in his path because we hate freedom and America.
9. Imus. It’s not his fault he looks like Skeletor, but it is his choice to chug that Haterade every day.
10. Jerry. Yes, I know he’s dead, and maybe this is in poor taste, but the man said AIDS is God’s punishment for homosexuality. He’s not exactly up for sainthood.
11. Karl/K-Fed. It’s a toss-up. The former is often referred to as “Bush’s Brain,” which is both frightening and oxymoronic. The latter subjected us to “PopoZao” and allowed Britney to procreate. You be the judge.

I’ll stop at “K” because I hope to God we don’t need more than that. Pray for November 30 to come quickly.