Sunday, October 28, 2007

New Orleans 2007

Marianne and I went to New Orleans for two to see what’s going on. We stayed with the Director of the New Orleans Film Festival (and ex-Heavenbent member) Ali Duffey, and made contact with music historian Lynn Abbott, gospel singer John Lee, pianist Tom McDermott (all of whom emerged relatively unscathed from Katrina) and other friends. I even heard some music: trombone band Bonerama(
Ali took us on a ‘misery tour’ of the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the most Katrina-devestated areas, which, two years after the event, is still - devastated, bleak and discarded. 2031 Caffin Ave, where Mercy Seat Baptist Church once stood, and where its pastor Rev. Malcolm Collins preached and worked so vitally, is a vacant lot. Some concrete steps remain. Grass has grown where houses once stood. Piles of rubble, the odd trailer home, FEMA codes spray-painted on decrepit houses tell of animals found within and deaths…

Lower ninth ward

I finally caught up with my friend Pam Landrum, gospel singer and member of a distinguished church dynasty. She and her some Rev. Jermaine and her two grandchildren spent three days in the Superdome and were evacuated to Houston. When she returned six weeks later, she trawled through the remains of her house, and fled from an alligator in the bedroom. The house was later demolished, but she’s now back in in New Orleans looking for work and trying to find a school for her grandchildren. Even before Katrina, work was scarce and schools were scarcer. Rents have doubled or tripled, and no help is forthcoming. It’s not over, and the prevailing mood, even in the historically upbeat French Quarter is one of frustration and bitterness.
Read The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley for the whole ghastly story.(

Good news: Ebenezer MBC (a church for which I have great fondness - the new pastor is Rev. Jermaine Landrum) is back, rebuilt after being trashed by Katrina:

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