The Big Uneasy
I haven't been to New Orleans in nearly 2 decades. My fondest memory was sitting in Preservation Hall seeing the jazz band performing. I vaguely remember the Latin Quarter, my personal memories have been replaced by commercial images. But I know I was there. I recall the Superdome being this immense structure, like a wayward spaceship that landed off Bourbon Street. Recently, N.O. had been put into mind by the movie, Skeleton Key. And I've become quite a fan of Delta Blues in the past 5 years. Some of you may even remember a song called Southern Belle. Now, the lost city of Atlantis comes to mind.
The region is one of the cradles of American pop culture. The Mississippi and it's Delta spawned the first great American storyteller, Mark Twain. The Big Easy gave us Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and Jazz. The plantations gifted us with the McKinley Morganfield, Robert Johnson and the Blues. There are apocalyptic stories of levees breaking along the muddy river circa the Depression. But never before has the damage and sorrow been so graphic. I know this is a heavier topic than usual, but I had to write about it.
If I was on vacation and my home flooded and damn near sunk into a marsh, I'd come home immediately. Yeah, the last time it was some neighbor down the street at Christmastime, so we thought we could wait a couple of days to say "Hey, need anything?" This time it's our own house and we're just watching it disappear. Somebody isn't moving fast enough. And that Somebody was probably the people's favorite in that part of the country this time last year. The reaction time is pathetic. It took 2 full days before an aerial tour was taken.
We as citizens will have to do all we can (even if it's only prayer) for the homeless and hurt in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. It's the poorest part of our country and the government isn't moving fast enough. Thinking fast enough. This is our tsunami. The natives you mainly see are the country's most destitute blacks. They have no drinkable water. No food. To see the faces of the hungry babies and angry parents is heartbreaking.
There are going to be relief benefits, drives, etc in the coming weeks, contribute wisely. This is the greatest natural disaster in America in our lifetime. Read the accounts. The toll of this disaster could be much worse than Sept. 11. That's no exaggeration and it's not to minimize the impact of 2001's tragedy. Can you imagine losing your home, maybe family members, then taking refuge in a deteriorating football stadium only to have your daughter assaulted and your last remaining possessions ripped off? That's what's happening. Oh, and parts of the Superdome were ankle deep in urine and feces by the time the evacuation started.
The local government has lost the ability to govern.
That is why Our response is crucial; we have to help our fellow Americans. The fate of the nation is at stake. If the gulf coast can't be rebuilt and resettled pronto we're going to feel the heat economically and politically. Refineries closed. Millions displaced. The estimate is 3 to 6 months. It could be a year. One of our biggest cities is gone. Can you imagine?
So with all of this on my mind, I'm going to suit up and be ready to entertain you tonight. That's what making music is to me: the power and liberation of the spirit. No sad songs this evening. Only a joyful noise so that we can re-energize for the times ahead and celebrate our ability to endure. That's the way festive mourners do it in New Orleans. That's good enough for me.
Love, Power, Peace to our Southern Brethren.