". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Down In New Orleans!

What a beautiful morning! It smells so good, at least it does today, though now the oil's in the Lake, the stink is hitting the town a lot more, TR says.

In an inexplicable reversal last night I slept as deeply at TR's as I did that first night back in NYC after leaving New Orleans. I cannot express how happy I am to be here. We are guessing that between HBO Treme turning the city into a television vision, and the BP Oil Blowout Crime, subsconsciously we'd come to think the city didn't really exist. But the city does exist, and among the development, real estate market and housing reno going on, even here in the Bywater and the edges of the upper 9th, it's jumping. But -- TR fears this may end in about two years, particularly if the Blowout doesn't get shut off, serious work on cleanup and restoration isn't done.

In the meantime PG gets in this afternoon. This is his first time here. We plan to take him to John Boutte, then on one of TR's magical moon drives, then on to Tippitina's. PG's a horn man, and there's a benefit of brass bands for the fishermen. I won't make that as Tip's is not friendly to people with back conditions.

Other news -- Mz Minneola KittyKat Empress of the Universe -- she remembers me. Or something. She started twining herself around my legs within a few minutes, threw herself over so I could be allowed to provide tummy strokes and just generally was very friendly for her. TR thinks she remembers me from earlier. Or -- I think she senses something in the air and knows I'm going to be the one who fills her food bowls ....

TR reminded me that this is the time of year she gets very clingy, and anxious that her food bowl have something in it at all times. He says she's got a deep memory of being alone and starving slowly in that house after the levees failed, in the weeks it took for him to get back and in to rescue her. As the residents of New Orleans get skittish and anxious at this time of the year too, and remember, why wouldn't Mz KittyKat, who also went through her own hell?

Last night TR gave us the installment from his Katrina journal that covers those first weeks back. What he went through makes Treme look mild, and what he went through was actually not that terrible compared to so many or even most who lost their homes or had extensive damage, and who lost their loved ones. But it was farkin' bad. Amply bad. Not to mention downright frightening and dangerous. I knew all of it before, but we've received this in pieces, over the course of five years. This was the first time he'd put it down in the smooth organization of a professional writer's account. He's a very good writer, as well as a good person / man. It was harrowing to read. I cried.

If anyone can't understand what the Gulf residents are going through now because of BP's crime, if they read TR's account of that time, they surely would. Unless they are heartless criminals, which of course BP and all our corporate masters are.

1 comment:

K. said...

There appears to be increasing optimism about the relief wells, although there's no point in cooking an omelet without eggs. The cleanup work will take longer than two years, though. It might take longer than 20. Some of it is probably beyond man's capabilities.

I hope that the state and federal governments hold BPs feet to the fire, but as this recedes from the headlines, the influence peddlers get room to work their black arts. The state governments and the states' national politicians are all oil friendly; as soon as the posturing is over, they'll quietly work hand-in-hand with BP to minimize their responsibilities. And no one will care because, well, Bobby Jindal and David Vitter don't want to take away guns.

You may notice that I have a certain degree of cynicism about the Gulf and the people that the voters put in office...