Friday, January 4, 2008


January 4th, 2008
New Orleans, La.

Dear Family and Friends,

It's the little things that kick people while they're down. We all drive past the schools that say classes are in session, reminders that people mark time here by the summer of 2005. Probably always will.

It's 2008 now, and some people are painting over the time capsules, saying it's finally time to move on. Today, I went back to one of my most favorite acts of artistic and social expression. In June, the side of the building said "Welcome to K-Ville."

The spray paint is gone now. I'd say the neighborhood is better for it. The entire City is better every day the "X"s are painted over and the time-stamped readerboards get updated.

Will 2008 be the year of the disappearing "X"s?

I didn't think I'd drive by the "Welcome to K-Ville" building today and find it painted over. It's not like it was even a job-well-done. The building is vacant--I hope it was a neighbor fed up with walking past the sign every day.

"This is my-ville," she might have said.

New Orleans, in 2008's infancy, has open its arms to the world once again. Ten-thousand Hawaiians traveled here to cheer on their University's football team in the Sugar Bowl. Today, the City hosts the BCS college football national championship. Then, it's on to Mardi Gras and the NBA All-Star game.

Even LeBron James threw a party last week, I hear.

The City is on stage. This is an audition with high stakes and big dollars. To those who ask, and there's a bunch of you, yes it's safe to walk in the French Quarter at night. In the areas visitors don't see, 2008 has been called a make or break year. Until now, it seems, day-to-day living have been social experiments in survival not strategy.

But, fewer people are calling my office with lumps in their throats.

More people, like my co-worker Loretta, are calling contractors and picking out countertops. The final steps, she says, to being finished and leaving the mortgage payment at the broken house and the rental payment at the temp-house life she's had since the Storm.

"I'm almost there," she says. "Just have to get those countertops."



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