shake that cola drag

The office-block persecution affinity.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Righto, back to inane bullshit. You know, I thought I was well over the 'bizarre juxtaposition surprise syndrome' that the onset of the lengthy computer/mp3 player random music playlist has given us. I'll listen to the wildest fluctuations in musical style over the course of a day without batting an eye. But I think I just outdid myself: The Minutemen's 'Themselves' followed by Dolly Parton's 'Heartbreaker'. Even I couldn't avoid noting how weird that was.

Oh, and while I'm here, the most ridiculously coincidental Creative Zen moment of the last month was The Beatles' 'Rain', followed by Missy Elliott's 'The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)', (then something else we'll ignore for the purposes of this anecdote), and Ann Peebles' 'Can't Stand the Rain'. Wacky.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I usually talk about inane bullshit here. Mainly because I don't have enough time to devote myself to lengthy discussions of things. And because I am, as we know, a fundamentally trivial person. But I want to mark the first anniversary of Katrina somehow.
Standard disclaimers: of course there have been worse natural disasters in my lifetime, by several orders of magnitude. (The Boxing Day Tsunami is almost unimaginably bad.) There are also scores of other historical examples of negligence, and contempt, and scorn, and racism, and inhumanity I could list right now. But - just for me, and I'm not saying it should be that way for everybody else - Katrina and its aftermath are so heartbreakingly horrible that even thinking about it makes me all teary-eyed. Which can get a bit embarrassing at work. 
Last night, we watched the opening three minute montage of Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke, set to Louis Armstrong's version of 'Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans'. It was too late to watch any more because we had to go to bed. Besides, both of us were probably going to cry. I am dreading watching all four hours, but I know I must.
It's not like I ever lived in New Orleans: I was in Baton Rouge for several months, and I visited it a few times for Mardi Gras and Halloween. I spent a few weeks in Bridge City with my father, drinking coffee in his local cafe and going to his local dancehall. I explored the Quarter, went to the record shops and restaurants and antique stores and stupid tourist shops. Brent and I spent a great New Year's Eve 1999 there, and did a walking tour that encompassed everything from nunneries to slave-holding pens to the film sets for King Creole. We saw Bob Dylan there in early 1999, and ate great hamburgers at a place with a waitress that looked almost exactly like Jimmy Page (friend Gary was not sober enough to keep this discovery to himself, unfortunately). My father and some siblings live(d) there, but we are not close; my closest US family members live in tiny Cajun Simmesport, three hours' drive away in Avoyelles Parish. I'm no New Orleanian by any stretch of the imagination, and I'm sure I never went near the Lower Ninth Ward.
But New Orleans was a beloved city even by those with no real ties to it. A significant number of New Zealand's middle class subculture of obsessive travellers can talk about Cafe du Monde and Preservation Hall, and the food, and the music, and the buildings, and the Mississippi River, and the Spanish moss, and the Garden District. It was different and beautiful and its music and culture were important to the west in general, not just the USA.
Most of the people who made New Orleans special and important didn't live in the French Quarter. A lot of them lived in shotgun houses in poor neighbourhoods. A lot of them were black. To watch those people on the news last year, stranded and ignored and desperate while every authority figure utterly failed them, was something that put the final... kybosh, if you like, on my feelings that the US can fix itself, can dig itself out of its hole of fear and confusion and inequity and despair.
What continues to depress me a year later - and perhaps this is a function of the high proportion of libertarian dickheads on the internet - is the way in which so many people on the web blame New Orleanians themselves, as if they shouldn't have lived in their own hometown. And the other ridiculous idea bandied about is that the job of fixing New Orleans is so huge that the US government can't do it. The richest country in the world, which is spending billions and billions of dollars on a failed war, can't step in and save one of its own richest cultural and historical centres? Can't fix the levee system? Can't overrule silly old Nagin? Are you fucking kidding me?
No, the real reason that 60% of New Orleans still doesn't have power, and that the federal government has backed out of a gazillion dollars worth of aid, and that no aid even arrived until May this year, and that there are still little old ladies living in gutted cypress shacks in deserted neighbourhoods, and that most people are rebuilding their own houses without knowing whether they'll survive the next big storm, is that if you're poor and black, no one at the top of the totem pole gives a good goddamn. And I suppose they never have. In fact, they actively despise you. Your petty little desires to have your home and neighbourhood and friends and family back again, the way they were? Why, that's ridiculous! How dare you expect empathy and help?
So, now I live very far away, and despite reading about it extensively, I don't really know how bad it still is. Maybe New Orleans will do a Lazarus and it'll all work out in the end... but the way it made me feel last year to watch those people begging for help - that definitely hasn't gone away.
Here's a
for the (still, I believe, inaccurately tallied number of) people who died in the storm and its aftermath, while they waited for the help that didn't come in time.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Wow. I'm making a habit of this 'quoted on Public Address' thing. Well done Brent! You give me my best material.

Friday, August 25, 2006

So the FDA has finally approved the morning-after pill. Um, yay! Although frankly, I can't believe it's taken this long. Hey, US sisterhood, keep this on the downlow, but you could have just taken about six normal contraceptive pills. It's the same damn thing.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hey! Marika has a blog now, instead of a static-ish site! How very... *Web 2.0* of her!