Over a year after hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans and the Golf Coast region at large, a multitude of problems still exist. Some of the troubles currently facing the Crescent City include high rent, FEMA/insurance companies being slow to pay, contractor scam artists, squabbles over land rights, the West Nile Virus, citizens not returning from their “surrogate” cities, lack of employment opportunities, and the oh-so-popular and pervasive government inaction. While brilliant political pundits will debate the veracity and severity of the multitude of problems, I really have no desire to throw my hat into that ring. Instead, my dispatch from the former flooded plane of the Mississippi delta attempts to get to the bare, naked truth of the matter. At the heart of this story are the human hearts of the people and the very soul of the New Orleans area.

The buildings can be re-built is the sentiment of many both locally and nationally. Normally this outlook is couched with some variation of “at least we have our health” or some other silver-lining comment. It is true that eventually the homes can be built again depending on the whims of impersonal faceless organizations that pay off slower than the penny slots on Coney Island. The bacteria left behind from the angry sea can be killed, as can the mosquitoes which delivered at least half a dozen cases of West Nile Virus during my four day visit. But can the folks of Ray Nagin’s “chocolate city” ever be returned to their full status as citizens of this great city? Can the dispersed people be returned to the city to help create and enjoy their hometown’s resurgence or will they remain scattered like Nimrod’s populace after God threw down the Tower of Babel? And who will gather these good people up again? Ray Nagin? FEMA? Nobody? If by some miracle they are gathered, where will they be able to find work to provide for themselves and their families? Furthermore, will New Orleans ever fully rebound to the pre-Katrina status quo, let alone see a gilded resurgence? Will New Orleans become New Orleans, INC? For an explanation of how New Orleans INC would look, picture those wealthy kingdom builders that construct communities based on wealth potential and not community. This set of soulless soylent green material is salivating over the chance to turn the gorgeous old jazz town into the proud American south’s version of Atlantic City. For a study on Atlantic City see crime, hookers, and the sound of money being sucked from a local community to be dispersed among greedheads like Donald Trump and his colleagues. These “developers” don’t give a crawdad’s ass about the local people who actually have to live, work, and raise their children in their aesthetically impressive community/product. These “leaders” are chronically shortsighted, utterly contemptible, wrongheaded and cutthroat. If they are able to gain more of a grasp and foothold in New Orleans it will likely become the next Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Disney World all wrapped into a grand family-friendly presentation. This much I am absolutely certain as the beginnings of this were already being witnessed in the local landscape before Katrina hit. If my hunch is correct, while the “progress” of New Orleans, INC is proceeding we’ll be asked to forget about the poor people that used to live in the old Victorian houses like the one William S Burroughs lived in on a street in Algiers, which Jack Kerouac wrote about in the seminal beat novel and rite of passage “On the Road”. None of this will matter as long as the dunderheaded President and the Donald are in a position to consolidate their already ungodly powers. The nation will be encouraged to sit back, watch CBN, and pray for the wretched liberals, homosexuals, and poor. These people obviously must have been cursed by God for their bad deeds, because the rightwing God is a just and righteous being and would never allow his people to be poor. The Rightwing Christian in a remnant population that will see heaven and those few people obviously only deserve the best while on Earth. The proof of their spiritual power is what they own, duh! The fruits of the spirit the Apostle Paul spoke of are old hat and not to be taken seriously! You must ignore the great religion actually written of in the pages of the Bible and pull out any text to justify further domination of our country and world. Can this compassionate conservative carving up of the grand old city under the general covert title of New Orleans, INC emerge as a savior to local citizens and returning citizens in need of work? If so, will this just be a temporary solution, that will ultimately cause the long term problems associated with a community that is turned into a crass capitalistic spectacle by the elite economically immoral of our republic? Now hold on folks, I only raise these questions to give you insight into the day-to-day realities of the people I interacted with while in Voodoo town USA. I am not running for office in Louisiana nor am I in any race for a national office. I don’t feel compelled to begin the monumental task of articulating an exhaustive plan of how to re-build the amazing city of New Orleans. What I will say is that the rebuilding needs to center around the soul of the city, the people. The culture of New Orleans will be spoken of at length in this series of articles and a NOLA without these two characteristics becomes a new thing. It simply ceases to be the same city our country has celebrated lo these many years. With this as a backdrop, the beginning of my re-telling of my adventure in New Orleans can begin.