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Hmmm, maybe I need to bombard them with my moving back post-Katrina story.

And second your response in the process...


So thoughtful and articulate. Nice job. And I like that she quoted Poppy--I remember reading that editorial last year and thinking "yeah, right on."


This kind of press may be as damaging to a long-term recovery as the NOLA reality itself, assuming there is the difference you imply.

Are you more representative of that reality, or are they? You say there are more of you than them, and if that's true, the press is doing its usual fine job.

But as someone contemplating not a return, but a first-time residence in that place, a major conduit of my NOLA reality is you and the other NO bloggers, and well lately y'all been scaring me a bit.

So now the Tribune and the NYT are saying the same kinds of things. What am I supposed to think?


New Orleans is worth saving to people who have some kind of connection to the place. But that's not enough. Until some kind of leadership emerges to make a compelling case, beyond the moving but sentimental PBS approach, real capital -- human and monetary -- will remain the missing but crucial element. Where are the creative thinkers? Where are the innovative incentives for would be entreprenuers? The irrestible tax breaks? A resolution to the many lingering issues including a master plan, reasonable insurance prospects or some kind of central and coherent redevelopment authority might be a good place to start.


Peris, sir, maybe you're supposed to think that the NOLA are like any other family on this earth. We love this city, but we hate what's being done to it, and we care enough to blog about it so that as many people as possible know about what's being done.

For most of us, it's our small way of trying to be the change we wish to see in this world in which we live. It ain't easy, and it ain't pretty, but most of the NOLA people I've encountered are willing to stay and duke it out.

In other words, come on down and see for yourself.


Professor, a simple great letter.
Go on down, Peris. You'll never leave.


New Orleans is like The Clash?


Hmmm...should I stay or should I go now?


New Orleans is like Sandanista. It's big and complicated and contradictory, and everybody wishes they would have just left some parts out and everybody thinks some other parts are brilliant and irreplaceable, and we will all argue to our dying day whether it is the most beautiful and essential thing ever created, or a muddled mess that would be better off half its size.


Hey Ray, enter that one into the Dirty Coast contest! I like the analogy...


Hey Ray, enter that one into the Dirty Coast contest! I like the analogy...


Steve, are you saying that to compensate for those with connections that cannot return, NO must attract those without to relocate? And this would be to restore it to a pre-storm population level? Or is there some less-than-original number which we can agree is enough to be able to say "New Orleans is back"?

I for one wouldn't need an economic incentive (though I would probably take one if offered!); a lack of disincentives would matter, though. Chicago, for instance, has a lot of disincentives for to locate within the city itself, especially if you have a business: regulations and taxes of all kinds.

liprap, those of you who came back, or never even left, and are still there are the strongest of the strong. The relatively young, such as yourself, must be the backbone of the recovery. One of the greatest tragedies (which I've yet to see profiled) has been the the dislocated elderly: those with the greatest ties to the place are among those least able to return. The ability to retire and finish life at home is more important, the older you are.

Ray, at present it sounds like New Orleans is most like Police and Thieves. Oh Yeah! :{)>


A while back, there was a Times-Pic article about an estimated 1500 or so people who evacuated, never returned, and died shortly after the storm. It would be interesting to see a study of it, but the bottom line is that it takes being a relative youngster to fight for your home here.

However, this place can grab you no matter what age you are. One lady in Gentilly was the only tornado casualty when it picked up her FEMA trailer and dashed it to bits. She was 85 or so, and had refused to relocate when her children and other relatives offered their homes to her, because she was determined to rebuild.


Yes, I am saying that something dramatic has to happen, and happen soon, to interest people like me -- a native son who has lived around the country -- to come back. Poppy Brite might be willing to sacrifice her life, but I've got two small kids to think about. As for financial incentives, I am talking about businesses, not individuals. As the couple quoted in the New York Times said rightly, the window of opportunity for turning things around is getting smaller every day.


I don't get why something has to happen "soon" to attract people who haven't lived here in a decade or more. If you've been gone ten years, what's the rush?

My two kids love it here. And of all the cities that I've lived in my life (New Orleans, Boston, Houston, Austin, and San Francisco), I think post-K New Orleans is competitive to them in terms of safety and affordability, if you base your comparison on living in the urban core of the city (i.e., no fair comparing Uptown N.O. to Burlingame or Needham or Cedar Park). No mere mortal can afford to raise a family in Boston or SF without moving to distant suburbs, central Austin is insanely expensive and has the same problems as New Orleans in terms of the only good schools being either magnet schools or private ones. Houston's crime problem is nothing to cheer about, and the city is a cultural and political wasteland. Austin's culture is largely manufactured since the 60''s entertaining but shallow. San Francisco neighborhoods have gunfire every night and property crime is rampant...I'd much rather let my kids walk the streets here. And Boston's violent racist past is legendary and not exactly in remission.


Here's my letter, and their response.

I may have gotten some hackles up because I told them where I moved from.


You're right, Ray. There is no time table for people like me, who aren't as brave or principled or committed to the city. I have tons of admiration and respect for the people who have stayed or the people who have moved back. Moreover, I agree with you that New Orleans still has a strong hold on authenticity, having lived there as well as Chicago and L.A. Yet myth and stereotype often get the better of reality in New Orleans too. Where I disagree is with your argument that the challenges of living in post Katrina New Orleans somehow compare with that of other cities. Things seem much worse there, without much evidence of improvement. It's New Orleans that needs something to happen soon, and I hope it does, from a leadership perspective. Brave souls, like you and Ashley and many of the other bloggers, can only hold out for so long, and a city bereft of entrepreneurs, business leaders or an educated workforce will have a hard time standing on its own.

Mr. Gunn

I have a step-acquaintance, a wealthy Jewish Bostonian, who always sends me those articles about New Orleans from the NYT. I hate them. They're just SO stupid and wrong. The articles they're writing today sound like the articles other people were writing last year around this time. Hell, I even caught one of the Living section authors writing, recently and in a quite maudlin fashion, about a restaurant that she couldn't possibly have gone to, since it closed shortly after reopening post-Katrina.

Everyone is ready for things to get back to the usual state of abnormality. What we need now is for the bureaucracy to issue some kinda long-term guidance regarding the plan for the city, to start delivering the road home money, to replace Jordan with someone who knows how to deal with violent crime, and to condemn and tear down those buildings abandoned by the people who have abandoned New Orleans.

So Steve, Peris - The people who are here now aren't heroes enduring unimaginable hardships in a wrecked shell of a city with no infrastructure, despite what the NYT would have you believe. We're mostly average ordinary people trying to get on with our lives. Just come one down and see for yourself, because if all you know about how things are down here is what you've read in the NYT, you don't know a goddamn thing.


Wow. Thanks all.

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