Full disclosure: I had made half-assed plans sometime this summer to visit big easy w/ a housemate, travelling hobo-style on a freight train. If Margaret Thatcher thinks a man's a failure if he's riding the bus when he's forty, I think he's a failure if he hasn't ridden a freight train. We're both pretty inflexible in our dogma, no?
Anyway, plan fell through. I worry I won't be able to do this thing w/ the train... omg! Life is sifting through my grasping fingers! Minor panic ensues... okay, I figure I got another forty years of good years left in me... okay, so I got time. Whew. I just won't enjoy it as much w/ my morning creaks in the joints. Hell, I already got those. I also can't enjoy malt liquor like I could back in the day. Oh well. Time marches on.
All these ridiculous anxieties. Now I'm worried there won't be a cultural landmark to visit; the region is basically a toxic waste site, with no indication how long it could be before it's habitable again. And then there's this: what's the new face of New Orleans? Rush Limbaugh brags that New Orleans "will be rebuilt by Walmart... all those corporations despised by the left." (sorry, can't find a link right now) Think of the flood as the penultimate manifestation of the gentrification god. Tens of thousands dead, all their rubbish possessions swept away, and beautiful (waterfront) property, in the City With A Viable NameBrand! Acres of clean land, oozing* with personality! Can you see the real estate agents salivating? Does it not have shades of Fallujah, Aceh, the cult of disaster capitalism? What will New Orleans look like when Walmart drains the bayou and sends the alligators to the taxidermist?
It's seriously easier to hate America than to remember it as New Orleans. It's almost easier to forget a place with a 'Decadence Parade' than to remember it as bygone thing. What happened to the landscapes of Kerouac, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck? Is there nothing left of it but daydreams in the library? Did America's heart die, leaving only the brain to occupy itself with the profanity-laced math of profit? D'you think the Wal-martian incarnation of Big Easy will have a Bourbon Street or contain any mention of Voodoo? What I'm saying is, you think you've been seeing looting up until now; wait until the professionals roll back into town.



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