Janis and I are sitting in the San Francisco airport, waiting to board our flight home to New Orleans. We've been busy, but not too busy to notice what is happening at home in our absence. On Monday, Mayor Nagin spoke in honor of the Martin Luther King Memorial holiday and proclaimed that New Orleans would once again be a "Chocolate City." (You can read more here.)He said he would not listen to "folks uptown" who would have it otherwise. He then went on to say that God was punishing America for a war fought on false pretenses. Apparently, this is what happens you doesn't get enough sleep and then proceed to speak off the cuff.
Since then, the remarks have spurred T-Shirt sales and once again made New Orleans the focus of less than desireable publicity .
I have been a supporter of Mayor Nagin. He's no Rudy Gulliani, but Rudy didn't have to deal with evacuation of half-a-million people and flooding of 80% of his city. So some tolerance is warranted. But this was just off the deep end. On Wednesday I received the following doctored picture of Nagin in my email:
Nagin as Willy Wonka overlooking a flooded "Chocolate" city.
We have noticed that CNN has taken on New Orleans as a cause of sorts, which is good. People need to see that the city, as a whole, is not back to normal. Anderson Cooper finally got his interview with Mayor Nagin, where he dismissed his rantings, saying he had used the term "Chocolate City" in many speeches even before Katrina. He then went on to say that his comments about God and the war were entirely out of line. But I fear the damage has been done. Regardless of how he (or any of us) may feel about the war in Iraq, pissing off the president isn't going to help us get the funding we need in New Orleans.
If you have been watching these reports on CNN I have a request: send them an email and ask them to stop showing pictures of the city flooding or flooded. Tell them to stop broadcasting from the French Quarter and broadcast from an area where people can actually see the devastation. Or perhaps they shouldn't see it. Maybe they should broadcast from the lower ninth ward after dark where five months after Katrina struck there is still no electricity.
The January 21, 2006 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle had a special piece on a new photo exhibit with pictures from the 1906 earthquake. Two pictures were particularly striking. One showed a panorama view of the city from 2000 feet over the bay, showing the magnitude of the devastation. You might ask how, in 1906, such a picture was possible. It was taken by photographer George R. Lawrence with a camera rigged tto a network of kites he called the "Lawrence Captive Airship."
San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake.
The second photo was of steps leading up to a home that was no longer at 821 Leavenworth Street, along with a picture of what it looks like now:
821 Leavenworth, San Francisco today (left) and just after the 1906 earthquake (right).
It was eerily reminiscent of some of the scenes we have seen in the aftermath of Katrina, such as the steps that led to where SidMar's restaurant used to be:
Steps that used to lead up to SidMar's Restaurant
I wonder if, one hundred years from now, Katrina will be remembered the same way. I am sure the before and after pictures in 2106 will be fascintating.
We are looking forward to getting home. Like the movement of hands on a clock, it is hard to perceive change when you are there every day. We have heard the college kids and many families have come back, and traffic on St. Charles now crawls along at about 7mph during most parts of the day.
As it turns out, we won't be home long. Janis and I leave for England on January 28th for eight days. I will be doing presentations for MacSpeech at a conference and all five Apple stores in England. It will be a whirlwind tour, with seven presentations in eight days, so we won't have much time for sightseeing, unfortunately.
The trip will literally take us all over the country, from Manchester and Sheffield in the north to Kent in the south. We've never been to England before, so we are looking forward to the trip. We are also looking forward to seeing Janis' niece Terri, who has lived there for several years now while working for Oracle.
So if I don't get an update posted next week, you'll know why.
A friend of ours, Clarence Hill, who we met through Coop's Place, moved to the Baltimore area before Katrina to start his own restaurant. Another friend, also who we met through Coop's Place - David "D.R" Roe also moved to the Baltimore area before Katrina, although for different reasons. Clarence's restaurant, "Clarence's Taste of New Orleans" opened up recently in Edgewood, Maryland. An article appeared in the Baltimore Sun this past week about Clarence, DR, and the restaurant. You can read it in the Stories section.
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