Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Central Business District
New Orleans, La.
Dear Family and Friends,
I met a girl the other day. Told me she watched a man fall from an upper-deck seat to the field in the Superdome.
"I can tell you so many stories," she says of her time in the Superdome during Katrina and her aftermath.
She's 21. After meeting her, I know that what people say is true: Age really is just a number.
Most 21-year-olds I know are happy to waltz into bars and pubs joking about the days-gone-away when they had to sneak inside.
Not many of my friends have ever seen a man die.
Her 44-year-old boyfriend kicked her out five days ago. She's sleeping down the road from the Superdome. You can't really call it sleeping, she says. If you sleep she says, as a woman, you're vulnerable.
"I try to keep standing, walking," she says. "But, I doze off sometimes." It's how she was at the Superdome, she says. The micro-society inside the dome didn't form protection fast enough. In there, often it was every woman for herself.
Tonight, all is calm in the Poydras St. moonlight. I have a copy of Chris Rose's 1 Dead in Attic in the backpocket of my linen pants. My linen shirt breathes. I wear no socks.
Damn New Orleans' heat.
If you haven't heard of Chris Rose, google him. He's made a name for himself as the post-Katrina voice. He is a satirical and real, laugh-inducing and tear-jerking local newspaper columnist.
As I sit on some granite with the Saint's Fleur de Lis logo etched in it, I open Rose. I've been reading it on and off for two weeks and knew there had to be a story about the Saints Monday night football game last September. A Night to Remember, he called his column.
I'd like to share with you excerpts from what I read in solitude under a dim streetlight outside the place that means more now socially, politically, economically--any ly than it did before Katrina.
A Night to Remember
...Now of course there were naysayers out there in the Great Elsewhere. All that money, they said, that could have been used to fix people's houses. All that effort that could have gone somewhere else. All this fuss--about a game?
The simple answer is that, for the city's economy to survive, the Convention Center and the Dome had to be fixed-first and fast-because they are the bread and the butter.
A more nuanced answer is this: Better a Saints game to rechristen the building than a boat show or a gun show, for the irony of that would have been simply too much, even here in the city whose chief export in the post-Katrina age is, in fact, irony. By the ton...
This building, this monument to our shame, our disgrace, and our sorrow, will always be so, but it always has been and always will be more than that. Neither Katrina nor Tom Benson has been able to make the Superdome go away.
Its durability is our durability...
The game. When they blocked the punt and scored the first touchdown, something inside me that I didn't know was there broke loose. I let out a yell so loud that my throat still hurts today.
I fell into a human scrum that consisted of a tall skinny guy, a short woman, a cop, and a beer vendor. Every layer of authority and sociology was stripped away. We literally fell on top of each other. I have never experienced a flash point of sudden emotion unloosed so fast...
It is superficial and meaningless and a total loss of perspective, but I stand before you and I declare: It is good to feel like a winner...
Ah, but let us live it, just for today, because who around here hasn't felt as though we've had a big L stamped on our foreheads for the past year and I, for one, am ready to wipe it off...
Only a game you say?
Like hell it was.
Now, Reggie, Deuce and Drew are the patron saints of New Orleans' spirit. They hold services every Sunday.
Michael, Mary and Joseph have some stiff competition.
To purchase 1 Dead in Attic
go to www.chrisrosebooks.com
To Read A Night to Remember in full, cut and paste the thread below: