I arrived this morning in New Orleans, where I am going to resist the urge to use “deluge” or similar words to describe the press coverage surrounding August 29th, which marks a decade since, well, the deluge.
As I say in my piece, up today at Salon:
“Aug. 29 will mark a decade since the 2005 disaster that we’ve come to know by the name Katrina — for the hurricane, a natural disaster — but that is more accurately understood as unnameable and unnatural, a failure of engineering and due diligence followed by a long wake of indifference or worse.”
So the picture above, which you’ll see versions of all week, is a dodge: The real story is the failure of the federal levees, and all that followed.
In my Salon piece, I recalled that, when I returned to New Orleans to the mark the fifth anniversary of the flood, the word “resilience” popped up nearly everywhere—in city-sponsored press conferences, and on signs tacked to lampposts that read: “Stop calling me RESILIENT. Because every time you say, ‘Oh, they’re so resilient,’ that means you can do something else to me.”
That word is omnipresent now—on tote bags and on the lips of politicans. Ill get into that more in future posts. For now, I’m titling this series “Resilience Follies.”
In Salon, I say this, too:
“Within all the hoopla to come, expect trumpets and trombones and tubas and second-line parades in progress. The storied jazz culture of New Orleans will again provide prominent B-roll for TV. That culture belongs in the foreground.” That’s where I attempt to place New Orleans jazz culture, which helped carry the city back and yet now finds itself too often embattled or displaced.”
So I’ve returned to Salon, where I filed an October 2005 essay that sent me on a decade-long journey, to take stock and tell truths.
And I’ve returned to New Orleans, where I will moderate a panel discussion tomorrow (Monday, Aug. 24), gathering musicians and others at the heart of this culture. The conversation will be webcast live on WWOZ 90.7FM (go here).
Below are details about the panel:
The Crescent City Cultural Continuity Conservancy (C5) presents
TEN YEARS AFTER: THE STATE OF NEW ORLEANS MUSIC AND CULTURE
Monday, August 24 | 6:30-8:30pm | Basin St. Station
501 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 70112
Panelists: Evan Christopher — Clarinetist, composer and advocate for New Orleans culture and the city’s indigenous music traditions; Lolis Eric Elie — Author; formerTimes-Picayune columnist; co-producer, Faubourg Treme: the Untold Story of Black New Orleans; story editor, HBO’s Treme; Jordan Hirsch— Writer and advocate for New Orleans’ cultural tradition bearers; founding Director of Sweet Home New Orleans; staff writer for HBO’s Treme; Tamara Jackson— President of the Social Aid & Pleasure Club Task Force; President of the VIP Ladies & Kids; Executive Director of Silence is Violence, a nonprofit campaign for peace in New Orleans; Fred Johnson— Director, the Neighborhood Development Foundation; founding member of the Black Men of Labor; former spy boy with the Yellow Pocahontas Mardi Gras Indian gang;Howard Miller— Chief, Creole Wild West; President of the Mardi Gras Indian Council; veteran carpenter ; Bennie Pete — Founding member, leader & sousaphone player, Hot 8 Brass Band.