Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Last Place

Matt Labash writes in the Weekly Standard:

As I write this, I'm listening to Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans. It features the Meters and Professor Longhair and Sidney Bechet & His New Orleans Feet Warmers, along with all those mad-genius brass bands bringing up the Second Line: Dirty Dozen and Rebirth and Tuba Fats' Chosen Few.

My gnawing sadness returns. Because all this music came from a place. And as a fellow New Orleans enthusiast I know says, "It's one of the last places that feels like a place." New Orleans had Voodoo doctors, and stride-piano professors, and Mardi Gras Kings and Queens. The rest of us have Home Depot and Applebees.

But his piece slowly morphs into a Dantesque tour of nightmarishly surreal realities in post-Katrina New Orleans, with cops casually killing a unarmed black man, dead babies stored in a freezer, and universal hatred for FEMA bureaucrats.
I have no words. So I'm forced to lean on those of Walker Percy, a good Louisiana boy who, contemplating race in Love in the Ruins, wrote: "Even now, late as it is, nobody can really believe that it didn't work after all. The U.S.A didn't work! Is it even possible that from the beginning it never did work? that the thing always had a flaw in it, a place where it would shear, and that all this time we were not really different from Ecuador and Bosnia-Herzegovina, just richer."
Read the whole thing.

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