The Summer of Our Discontent

(promoted 1:00 pm EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

I’m going back and looking at the last few years, and like many others here, I’m bringing back past posts because they are still relevant.

This is from July of ’06:

This song has been driving me crazy all night… won’t go away:



“I must’ve dreamed a thousand dreams

Been haunted by a million screams

But I can hear the marching feet

They’re moving into the street.

Now did you read the news today

They say the danger’s gone away

But I can see the fire’s still alight

There burning into the night.

There’s too many men

Too many people

Making too many problems

And not much love to go round

Can’t you see

This is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in

And these are the hands we’re given

Use them and let’s start trying

To make it a place worth living in.

Ooh Superman where are you now

When everything’s gone wrong somehow

The men of steel, the men of power

Are losing control by the hour.

This is the time

This is the place

When we look for the future

But there’s not much love to go round

Tell me why, this is a land of confusion.

This is the world we live in

And these are the hands we’re given

Use them and let’s start trying

To make it a place worth living in.

I remember long ago –

Ooh when the sun was shining

Yes and the stars were bright

We walked through the night

And the sound of your laughter

As I held you tight

So long ago –

I won’t be coming home tonight

My generation will put it right

We’re not just making promises

That we know, we’ll never keep.

Too many men

There’s too many people

Making too many problems

And not much love to go round

Just tell my why

This is a land of confusion.

Now this is the world we live in

And these are the hands we’re given

Use them and let’s start trying

To make it a place worth living in.

This is the world we live in

And these are the names we’re given

Stand up and let’s start showing

Just where our lives are going to.”

Phil Collins wrote this during the last days of Detante to reflect his dissatisfaction with the rulers of both sides of the Cold War. I see this as a perfect illustration of what we all here on the Gulf, and New Orleans in particular, face every day. We are in a war, a cultural war, a war of values.

We live in a little part of the world that is very different from the rest of Amerika. Our slice of Life is not exactly like that of the outsiders. It’s not Civic pride (Heaven forbid!), but a sense of what we are a part of: that which is as if the Spanish moss grows upon our limbs, the Delta mud cakes on our feet, breathing the heavy air and stirring a bubbling cauldron of gumbo. The folks in our lives gather around… the buzz of voices is unstoppable. People dance in enticing ways… children run around in circles away from the adults. The smoke from the cook fires drift lazily to heaven.

Is our culture an anachronism? I don’t think so. It’s like so many cultures I’ve witnessed whilst traveling the world. Here in New Orleans, all of us are Creole, a living culture. The world can go to shit and we will still be here.

The oil flow stops and there goes the great cities. The highway system will become unused, people will not be able to reconnect with roots, can’t escape the living hell around them. They will be confronted with having to make real connections with the folks around them. Re-invent the social wheel, so to speak.

That will never happen here. I’ve only been home for four years, no family in the area, and there is so much Spanish moss growing on me… blows my mind. Like most others, I’m stuck in the hot Delta mud. We all are. New Orleans grows on you. It fills you, and then you cannot stop living here. Yes, we are fairly poor, have crooked politicians, but we have each other.

Walk down the streets in most of our towns and watch the little kindnesses, the recognitions that we are a part of our whole: New Orleans or the Gulf. Imagine walking into a bar and seeing a Creole shrimper, a gator-trapping Cajun, a Mexican worker, a Drag Queen, two lesbians, a professor and a transsexual having an in depth conversation about the various forms of Jambalaya or the Blues. Where your bartender answers to Miss Love. And then you can get on a bicycle and speed through the Quarter and the Marigny saying hi to folks you know even at 4 A.M.

Stroll down any street in the city, and you will see a Granny sitting on her porch: “How are you today Ma’am?”, “I’m fine honey-child. How about you?”, “I’m doing good Ma’am… take care.” She may invite you to her porch for some ice tea or lemonade, pretty much no matter who you are. I know this to be fact here.

Now this is why this is the Summer of Our Discontent. We are in very grave danger of of being destroyed by benign neglect. We are 35 days from the anniversary of the levees breaking. Our streets are a mess, two thirds of us are still in other parts of the country… many of us cannot start working on our homes yet, and the few others here need reparations for their losses. Most of our Medical/Psych facilities are gone. Same goes for our retailers.

Streets are littered with garbage and construction waste. Little white trailers abound, sans power. Broken trees and street lamps are everywhere. It rains and streets flood. If something catches fire, it takes airdrops of water to fight the conflagration. Schools are fenced off, broken windows and all.

The projects are slated to be torn down, even when the displaced are willing to live there because it means being HOME.

Our levees are still not up to par, and the Corps is falling behind their protection timetable every day. The Administration guts the Corps’ report on the failure of the levees in order to continue their funding of an unjust war. FEMA keeps scaring folks with announcements of ending rental aid in foreign cities. Many of us are going broke trying to restore our lives and homes as the State drags it’s feet. Our local guv’mit plans a freakin’ glittery Gala celebration for the anniversary of the storm and flood while people are in gutted, un-powered homes, in the heat and swarms of mosquitoes, hoping to be able to finish the repairs.

All the while, we are entering the danger time for this hurricane season.

This didn’t happen in NYC after 9/11. Same goes for San Francisco post Loma Prieta. (I know, I was there.) Why is this?

We are an island of sanity in a B/S sea of Southern conservatism. This is Bush’s back-handed way of fucking us for not supporting him. (The Bay Area suffered a similar fate under Raygun and Daddy Bush for their voting habits.) The PTB want goose-steppers in this town. They can come and “sin” all they want, but we will be forced vote for reprobates and criminals of the GOP persuasion.

My thought on this? ” FUCK YOU!, TWICE!”

We ARE New Orleans, and this is the Summer of Our Discontent. You have been warned Fuckmooks.

Sinn Fein!  


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    • pico on February 10, 2008 at 10:27

    I came back from college to spend a week or so at home, and I got in touch with an old high school friend of mine.  Shortly after I got in, we met at an uptown bar, sat at table by the window, and had a few beers.  We’ve had very different trajectories in life: I’m nearly finished a Ph.D., he barely passed high school; I’m an openly gay atheist, he’s marrying a nice Christian woman; I’m most at home in front of a classroom, he does construction and renovation – but we both share a first name, a high school, and a hometown.  We chatted a bit.  Midway through our conversation we stopped to watch the oak leaves above rustle in the breeze – it was a hot, humid night, and you could smell every single thing in bloom for miles.  He looked back and me, smiled and said, “God I love this city.”  

    Sorry for the rambling memory, but that was one of those moments when it hit me hardest, just how much I love that city, too.  It really gets under your skin, and homesickness on these cold winter nights can drive me deep into memory and melancholy.  

    Thank you for this diary, if only because it brought that moment back to me.  I’ll have to mention it to my friend when I come back for his wedding in a couple weeks.

    • Diane G on February 10, 2008 at 13:53

    Thanks for bringing this over (by my nagging, yes)!

    People need to be reminded every day that people from NOLA are still struggling, struggling to be home again in the place they so love, is so part of them.

    You rock, my friend.


    • Tigana on February 10, 2008 at 17:34

    tabasco gallon eyes t

    Welcome, GentillyGirl. I had hoped you would post – and that you will help us get some gallon-sized fundraising going for NOLA and the Gulf Coast.  

    • kj on February 10, 2008 at 17:57

    nice to meet you, moss-grown girl with mud for feet.  🙂  much poetry in this essay, must be much in your soul. that’s how i’ve always pictured New Orleans… as the living soul of this country.

  1. … and sharing with us what it means to love New Orleans.

    You were one of the first NOLA bloggers I encountered when I started trying to educate myself about what happened after Katrina.  This post from 2005 is only one of the many reasons I visit your wonderful blog regularly.

  2. is that what has happened to you is what is going to happen to all of us next…..

    it is the model for depop via the global climate crisis….

    these folks really do intend to ride the pile to the bottom…..

    all of us are in this together…..

    whether we realize it or not…….

  3. Nice to meet you, but you’re making me homesick.

    New Orleans grows on you. It fills you, and then you cannot stop living here.

    Part of me never left and the rest is going back soon. Thanks for the memories!

  4. Brings me back, way back to when I was living and working in Jackson, Miss as an outside agitator and escaping regularly to NOLA.  I credit NOLA with preserving my sanity and my life.  Frequently.

    There were two ways to drive there from Jackson.  The one I liked went through Pass Manchac, where you could stop, have a beer and a mess of crabs, and then slowly, euphorically swivel on down the highway.  I still think of Pass Manchac as the northern entrance to paradise.  The douane, where civilization begins after a long, flat, sweaty ride through hell.

    Thanks again.

  5. I have written much for the folks of the Coast and New Orleans  since the Flood and Katrina/Rita. They were always meant for the folks down here, but others have convinced me otherwise.

    There will be other pieces from my Blog and some from the e-list from which we founded a protective association for our part of the city. (Must clean them up since most were written very late at night in SoCal and also when I needed to say something to the folks down here to keep their spirits up.)

    I also wanted to do some educating: education brings dreams that begets hope. All of us are in peril at this point in time concerning climate and geological change. Things of this kind of magnitude have been seen all through Human History. The Little Ice Age, the warming that ushered in the Late Holocene Period, how about the melting of the ice caps over 12,000 years ago? Humanity survived because we are social creatures and we have the ability to think our way through things.

    Look at what the Dutch have done to save their lands. Theirs is compounded by being in a delta that is sagging under it’s own weight, isostatic rebound due to the melting of the northern ice caps and modern raising of sea levels. They’ve built for a .005% chance for the Big One in any given year. They are working together to protect their land and their peoples, their “tribes”.

    All of us, believe it or not, belong to our tribes. And the goal of Humanity is to not harm each other (though there are those voices that teach and commit harm), rather it is that we work together for the Family of Man. “Make Levees Not War”, “Swords Into Plowshares…

    In New Orleans the mix of all the different tribes (flavors) are added into the stewpot as you make a gumbo. There might be some mistakes in the preparation, but the result is that the Culture here tastes good. No matter who you are, like likes like. Folks choose to move here, or are called back to the swamps, and the others here never left. All of us are home.

    And we wish to keep it that way: This our home, so let’s get some Dutch-style thought processes going and figure out how to protect the Delta, one of this country’s biggest ports and the receiving/processing center for much of the Nation’s oil and gas. What will be learned in building protections for the New Orleans area can be used on all of our coasts.

    (and yes… I started rambling.)

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