I initially started this list for discussion around the 1-year mark, but I wasn’t feeling it, as the kids say. So I thought as we near the 18-month mark and it’s Oscar season, I’d finally put it out.
We’ve all had a lot of folks going through our minds as winners or losers from the storm. I initially was inspired by the incredibly cheerful and cool waitresses at Surreys that made me feel not-quite-so alone when I first got back; if I recall, they were the first people I’d seen wearing storm-related rally t-shirts, and it was a morale boost. So they’re in here (as is Slim Goodie’s, as far as I know the first real restaurant to open). I made the whole thing pretty short & easy, and with an emphasis on the positive, because that’s my bent.
So yes, I know I’m more sympathetic to Chris Rose than many people. And I know that many of you are more up on people who should be here than I am, but these are folks who’ve particularly struck me. None is perfect, but I’m giving my assessment; this is just one man’s opinion, and I welcome your comments. No links here because I’m still sick, and you know where to find them.
Times-Picayune in general for publishing, as they said, come hell and high water
Chris Rose, for saying what we were all feeling, and doing it so well. No more Britney. Yeah, he was light on the protesters, but that doesn’t cloud for me the great stuff he’s written for a long time.
Jarvis DeBerry, Stephanie Grace, & Lolis Eric Elie, for poignant perspectives we weren’t getting elsewhere
Garland Robinette, despite his problems, he was passionate about getting the job done, and a consistent source of information early on.
New Yorker, for an empathetic perspective that got through and took the feds to task
WWL’s satellite for allowing us to get some sense of home and information
WWOZ for keeping the groove alive and helping to account for our beloved musicians (we were actually listening to WWNO when they signed off, and that was eerie. I believe the last words were, “See you on the other side.”)
John Biguenet, for giving the country the feel for what New Orleanians really are through his NYT pieces
Bart Everson, for helping to put a face on the frustration of the people
Other bloggers, for getting out there and reporting the scoops
Music—Really, all of them who’re still here
Walter Wolfman Washington, for being among the first musicians back, and staying
Branford Marsalis & Harry Connick, Jr. I don’t share Ashley’s anger toward them, and I think their efforts are doing a lot more good than harm.
Fredy Omar, for his unbridled enthusiasm and gratitude for the Musicians’ Village
Fats Domino, for wanting to go “home” right away and making that JazzFest appearance (not to mention donating all his proceeds from his recent album)
John Boutte, for his unbelievable JazzFest appearance that threw sand in the face of the idiots in Washington
Bob French, for continuing to beat the drum that this is the only place to be
Spencer Bohren, for the soon-to-be-classic Long Black Line
Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, & Michael White, for losing so much but keeping the faith
Dinerral Shavers, RIP. Thanks for your work with Rabouin; it won’t be forgotten.
Bo Dollis, Jr., Sunpie, & Antionette, for keeping the traditions alive
Food & Culture
Those beautiful waitresses at Surrey’s, for good cheer on innumerable rough days, and putting out great food
Slim Goodie’s, for opening up when no one else thought it was worth the trouble
Les Bon Temps Rouler, for getting it together and “not giving up the ship”
Harry Shearer, for sticking by his hometown and pointing out what’s what
Krewe du Vieux, for making the most of the first big MG parade of ’06 and showing that we would, indeed, continue to have a good time
Reggie Bush, for showing what a classy athlete can do, even a rookie. Not many would have worn a Katrina bracelet at his first press conference, let alone gotten his endorsers to match his fees with donations. You think Eli would’ve played here?
Drew Brees, Sean Payton, & the rest of the Saints, for inspiring and distracting.
Arnie Fielkow, for sticking by his town, even if it got him fired
Chris Paul, for giving us something to cheer for and doing it right, without saying he’d rather be elsewhere
Paul Tagliabue, for giving us a real shot; we know you played hardball with Benson
Politics (shouldn’t there be more people here?) & other “Officials”
Oliver Thomas (initially at least), for being the only city council person worth re-electing
Norman C. Francis, who deserved the Presidential Medal of Freedom; too bad it’s from W (and for not canning me)
Sens. Mary Landrieu & David Vitter, for being willing to get into it to work for what’s best for their state, even if it meant (for Vitter) being somewhat critical of the emperor)
Honorary New Orleanians
Bruce Springsteen, for the transcendent JF set that made us feel so good to be here
The ALA, for risking your convention to come, and being glad you did
Qatar & France for donations and compassion our gov’t didn’t have
Immigrant workers, for helping get it done, with good cheer, despite some flak and some mistreatment; I’ve enjoyed the increased diversity
Reservists & National Guard, for being generally professional and courteous, especially when the needs were so acute
Coast Guard, for saying, to hell with it, we’ll rescue people and deal with the bureaucracy later
SPCA rescue workers, who do it all for the animals
Sean Penn; it didn’t seem like a publicity stunt to me, and he was more effective than W
Grambling U, for rescuing XU students
NPR, for giving us some real indepth attention. The first time I cried was hearing Steve Inskeep talk about people he met here.
Juan Parke, for being 10 times the man I’ll ever be
General Honore, for a measured but firm response to the chaos
Dr. Anna Pou and the nurses with her who were charged with murder
Katrina Krewe, for at least attempting to handle what the agencies were not
Women of the Storm, for spotlighting the shame
Citizens for 1 New Orleans, for working toward the no-brainer of the initiative they represent
My parents for putting up with all of us for so long (9 days tripled our previous longest stay with them)
Tom, for so graciously loaning us his “spare condo” for 3 weeks
The many people who gave us financial, professional, and moral support
Catholic Charities, for so many free house guttings
Michael Pierce and other cops and firefighters who stayed on the job when others wouldn’t have
George W. Bush, for strumming while his people drowned, and for bullshitting us ever since
Michael Chertoff, for not knowing what the hell was even happening
Michael Brown, for not pushing hard enough and for being an idiot
Donald Powell: has this guy done anything except steal W’s “it’s tough work” line?
Bobby Jindal, for continuing to carry W’s water at the expense of his constituents.
Ray Nagin. Had him as a mixed-bag for a while, but we all know why he’s no longer just a qualified failure. Unlike many people, I was glad when he cussed and cried right away, but then he stopped caring. If you’re over your head, admit it.
Eddie Jordan, who couldn’t prosecute his way out of a paper bag.
Eddie Compass, for perpetuating unsubstantiated rumors and for cracking
Warren Riley, for not being much better
US Army Corps of Engineers (natch)
Chains (Starbucks; HoB) who, despite their deep pockets, wait to see if we’re worth the investment
Cyril, for bailing and then dissing the city that made him popular
Aaron, for bailing on his city and lying about why. Yeah, I’m sorry about Joel, but not being able to face his city is an affront to the people who are soldiering through, and even a token JazzFest appearance was too much to ask.
Bob Breck, for shrilly telling us to go the wrong way on our evacuation
Looters. I know, I know, but it still sucks and makes the job a lot tougher on the rest of us
Harry Anderson, for going when the tough got going
Adam Nossiter & most of the NYTimes, for taking the tabloid approach to our situation
Al Copeland (who is seriously ugly), and all the business owners who’ve let their places rot instead of doing what’s right. He gets special blame for pretending to present New Orleans food and not supporting the city, for being rich and still not getting anything done on his prominent properties. Hope his goons don’t get me, but someone needs to throw a beer on him at a Hornets game.
Loyola & Tulane, for disregarding faculty and thinking that this would be a good time to shuffle things up
Baton Rouge, Houston, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, &
Boise Greenleaf, ID: F-U, you know why.
Dennis Hastert, for thinking we’re not worth rebuilding
Jesse Jackson, for using XU students as a photo op
Charles Foti, for pursuing the wrong people in the quest for a bust, and then passing them along to DA Eddie Jordan
Jack Strain, for not admitting that he’s profiling
Gretna Police, for putting fear above humanity
Police in Vinton and Weatherford, for giving us tickets on our evacuation and being dicks about it
Rush Limbaugh, for passing along that everything is fine, just because his friends said so
Landlords, for jacking up rent; how is that not profiteering?
WalMart, for not storing guns in an appropriate way for an evacuation
Bears fans, for making Katrina a trash talk opportunity.
John Derbyshire & Alan Richman, for being simple, simple people who pass themselves off as sophisticates
Tom Benson: Absolute devil after the storm, but came around, though probably from some coaxing; current status: We’ll tolerate for now, but eager for granddaughter to take over
George Shinn: You looked great in contrast to Benson, then gave up on us when OKC sold out (confounded with novelty and high quality); current status: Who the hell knows what this guy will do?
Emeril Lagasse, for taking too long to get on board and not having the faith, claiming that no one was eating out, even though we could never get a table; current status: Did you get paid for those “Come back to Louisiana” ads?
Most national media figures, for giving the simple story, rather than the true, nuanced one; current status: Now they’ve just forgotten us
Douglas Brinkley, for initially being too quick to criticize the local folks, when the national ones were the true villains here; current status: Pretty good on Colbert, but a mayor crying is a sign of sincerity
Andrei Codrescu, for insisting that the city won’t be good anymore, despite the fact that we still have more character than anywhere else in the US; current status: He just seems a little more cynical.
So that’s my list. I’m sure it seems stupid to some of you, but like I said, I’m eager to hear what should change. I’ll update as needed.