Tuesday, May 23, 2006

And the Dog Tried to Eat the Window Shades

What a weird weekend, and my tongue is positively bleeding down my chin from biting it. So many things to bite my tongue about. I have a lot to do today, so I'm probably going to forego the links (most of the folks I reference today are linked on the left side of the blog anyway), and just tell you what this weekend has been like.

In a word: schizophrenic---lots of "hearing voices." What are the voices saying?

We'll start with the election. Landrieu, for whom I voted, lost. Anyone who's been reading what I've been writing here knows why I voted for Landrieu. I didn't hate Nagin. I just thought Nagin would not be as effective as Landrieu.

I've read all the articles and various blogs. Read the analyses of the elections,and heard locals discussing it. I will say that I was surprised by Nagin's victory. That being said, I'm really hoping that some of the near panic I heard from people upset by Nagin's re-election will abate over time. Fellow blogger, Ashley, is very upset, but also said that the new faces on the City Council might help things. I think he's right. He also has a great refrain that I think we should all tattoo on our foreheads, or at least have some banners made: "It happened on their watch." I said in a comment that since Nagin won, we really have to hold his feet to the fire now. I think Ashley's "It happened on their watch" is a good bottom line approach. We need to remember that. Fellow blogger, Mark over at the Wet Bank Guide, is talking about "Playing the Hand We're Dealt" (again, forgive the lack of links today. If I have time later I'll put them in, but am in a hurry. Check the blogroll and you'll find these people there.) Mark is correct. It's a done deal. Keep whining, keep panicking, keep fleeing and we'll never accomplish a damn thing. If Nagin is the one in office, then we have to play that hand. We simply cannot go into a negative spin and assume that we're all doomed. Instead, we now absolutely must become more activist. Another NOLA blogger, Da Po' Blog, had a great take on the Chocolate City remarks. He reminds us that it became a chocolate city when the vanilla folks all ran away, the great white flight. He also explains beautifully how much more impact Katrina had on the black population here than the white. They were disproportionately impacted and they are also disproportionately displaced. Great piece of writing and perhaps offers a bit of understanding for why the vote went the way it did.

Ashley's information on, as it's now called, the Oyster/Adrastos theory (I will be adding links to those two blogs this afternoon), was incredibly helpful. In a nutshell, their view was sort of two fold. First that Republicans would rather have Nagin than Landrieu. Second, that there was a kind of "up yours" from New Orleans to the rest of the country for not supporting us with federal dollars in an almost cut off your nose to spite your face New Orleans oppositional disorder vote for Nagin. There was also the fear of the "Landrieu dynasty," which I can't help but wonder might have been fueled by looking at what the Bush "dynasty" has done lately. I had said in a previous post that if Landrieu won it would be because of or in spite of his connections. As it turns out, people who voted against Landrieu felt much concern over the "dynastic" family idea, although the surprise vote, according to the Times-Picayune today, was the business owners who felt that Nagin was more supportive of businesses than Landrieu. (Of course, Ray's comment on sending businesses who chose to leave a postcard probably made some of them re-think their votes. Can't we PLEASE get this guy a handler?)

Then of course, we have the glorious out of towners who have no idea how New Orleans people actually feel, or what kinds of issues we're looking at, who are busily saying we're all crazy or drunk down here and that's why Nagin was voted in. They're sick of hearing about us, they're sick of a guy who cusses out the President, and of course, the always lovely Michelle Malkin drags out her "wingnut" epithets and barely disguised racism in her analysis. (I guess we can count our blessings that she didn't publish the names of everyone who voted for Nagin so they could get death threats like the protesters in California. She likes to do that stuff.) I'm sick of these people. I'm also sick of some of the New Orleans residents that post to the Times Picayune forums fanning the flames of racial and class divisions, and tossing out slurs of one sort or another. Some of them busily telling people who are writing to ask if they should come home that the city is going down in flames and they should stay put in Idaho. Fear mongering and ignorance of the realities. I'm sick of it, sick of them and sick of trying to be nice about it.

This is all happening days before the new hurricane season starts. With reports of new evac plans and supposedly fewer hurricanes this season, the post-K tension is in the air. I can see a bit of fear in everyone's eyes as the season approaches. Ashley's view that we are in this "Ourselves Alone" is shared by most of us here and is an overwhelming weight on already tense and weakened emotional shoulders. And there is anger blending with the fear. And this morning's news reports that a new report has come out stating that 80% of the city's flooding was caused by levee breaches not the storm and could have been avoided. Naah, really? How many MRE's do we have stashed in the shed, darlin?

In our little NOLA blogosphere, there is a difference of opinion. Some, like Traveling Mermaid, whom I read every day, is hoping for a more upbeat, positive slant to our posts. She totally understands that people outside of NOLA are reading our writing. She wants us to stop bashing and be less negative. I understand that. I've been carrying on about perception for a long time now. She's got a point.

Meanwhile, over at Suspect Device, whom I also read every day, the view is that we're angry. That we must keep the reality of life in New Orleans in front of people. Bash them if we have to. We simply can't go over and give the Corps of Engineers a medal and a pat on the back. The feds built these levees and we have to hold them accountable. (For the record, I've edited out at least seven "fucks" in this post. I understand the anger.) I understand his point of view. He's as right as Mermaid is.

What's concerning me most is the damn divide. Our country is already in a state of silent civil war, even within our own families. As the ever balanced super-blogger Polimom says, the middle ground is harder to find these days.

So now what, New Orleans? The election was close, less than 6000 votes in an already population depleted city made the difference. So do we now keep those divisions active and have a city in the midst of a civil war? Do we do the "blue/red" rubber bracelets in purple for Nagin, green for Landrieu and gold for "hey I wasn't here, I was displaced?" Look how well that's worked for the country! We absolutely cannot have that here.

We keep a racial divide? Not gonna help. Class divisions? Lakeview vs. Ninth Ward? Not gonna help.

And now NOLA bloggers are going to argue over who's too positive and who's too negative in their perceptions? It's not gonna help. Let's not go after each other.

With the election over, we've analyzed and commented. Now let's get on with it. Find a way to be helpful, find some way to contribute to the rebuilding of this city that's positive, regardless of your feelings about the outcome of this election. If you can't do that, then all the romantic rhapsodies you're written about your love for this city will be for naught. In fact, they will be lies. If you love it, then help it. We need to hold the feds accountable. Let's get on that. Write some letters. Put Senator Landrieu on your speed dial. Hell, put Jindal (god help us all if he runs for Governor) on your speed dial. Do SOMETHING.

If you're blogging, don't worry so much about what one person or another thinks of what you're writing. When this is all said and done, it's going to be all perspectives that will matter. We need some people writing and talking about the progress being made and we need others to bash. Some in the middle wouldn't hurt, but both sides are right as both sides are reporting from their own personal emotional vantage point, and lord knows, those are all over the map in New Orleans right now.

We're all schizophrenic, but let's put ALL the voices in our collective heads out there with a vengeance. Shine the Light, but make sure the readers also get a tour of the Dark. Thank those who helped and are continuing to, bless those who helped and are continuing to, and say fuck you to those who are ignoring or bashing us.

With any luck Mitch Landrieu will run for Governor next year.

Now I have to go fix a shade that the schizophrenic dog tried to eat. Luckily they just came down, no real damage. My vet says the dog has such severe separation anxiety that he needs pheno-barbitol. Maybe I should share it with him. I am developing a severe case of "division anxiety."

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