Tuesday, June 05, 2007

He gets it....

Dan Baum has been blogging from New Orleans for the New Yorker since August 30, 2005 and has just left the city. In his final journal post, he yearns for the city....

“Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” an old song asks; another reminds us, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.” Since Katrina, I’ve often been asked (though never by someone in New Orleans) why the country should bother rebuilding it. Is it really worth the billions it would take to protect this small, poor, economically inessential city, which is sinking into the delta muck as global warming raises the sea around it? But the question of “whether” has been settled—New Orleans is rebuilding itself, albeit slowly, fitfully, and imperfectly. Now it’s only a matter of how and how long. That is better news than perhaps the rest of America fully understands.


It’s the American way to focus on the future—we are dreamers and schemers, always chasing the horizon. Looking forward has made us great, but it comes at a price. .... New Orleanians, on the other hand, are excellent at the lost art of living in the moment. √Čtienne stopped at our house one afternoon to drop off some papers he wanted me to see. No, he said, he couldn’t stay; someone was waiting for him downtown. But we got to talking, and gradually moved to the chairs on the porch. We had a beer. The shadows lengthened as the day cooled, the jasmine across the street smelled sweet, and a few houses away someone was practicing the saxophone. Margaret brought out a dish of almonds. We all had another beer. It was dark by the time √Čtienne left. And here’s the true miracle of New Orleans: the person waiting for him downtown no doubt had an equally pleasant couple of hours, and √Čtienne surely paid no social penalty for being late.
.....
Right before Katrina, a Gallup poll found more than half of New Orleanians “extremely satisfied” with their lives, despite the city’s wretched state, a higher percentage than in any other city surveyed. New Orleanians have more time than money, and they like it that way...... I can tell you that, wherever we live, I’m comforted knowing that New Orleans is there. It’s no exaggeration to say that, without New Orleans, the United States would be lost.


Thanks, Dan. Godspeed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I found this radio interview about his stay in the city. New Orleans claims another victim. You can tell he has lost his heart to the city.
http://www.radioopensource.org/notes-from-new-orleans/
doctorj