Day #4: Raphael Saadiq – “Big Easy”
When I think of New Orleans, I usually associate it with Raphael Saadiq’s song, “Big Easy.” And the Zatteran Chicken jingle, but mostly “Big Easy.” It isn’t your typical tale of heartbreak and lost loves because Saadiq isn’t singing about a girl. He’s singing about post-Katrina New Orleans.
It’s strange to visit a place that, in very recent memory, was marred by utter catastrophe. Because, it wasn’t just a storm. It was a storm that exposed critical flaws in infrastructure and a federal response. And it wasn’t just any place. It was New Orleans. An American icon that now, kind of bears this permanent limp like the way Manhattan does since the Towers disappeared from the skyline.
Hurricane Katrina struck the coast nearly seven years ago and was the costliest natural disasters of all time and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history. As we drove down the highway, first time visitors (except for Tom), we stared out the windows, looking for the scars.
There are Katrina exhibits all over the city. The New Orleans Museum of Art had a wall of photographs that were shot just days after the storm. A car inconceivably rested against a house. Naked slats of a house where the rubble was swept into piles. A ceiling fan still hanging from the ceiling, but it’s blades drooped down as though cut from floppy rubber. The layers of toxic mold. Things. Things, but no people. As though the city had become the ghost town everyone feared it would.
But, the city looks healthy now. And yes, there are scars. Historic markers. Buildings gutted. Some completely fallen down like those old barns you see along the interstate sometimes. As though it weren’t cost-effective to rebuild. Houses with a faint marker of demolition. Developers came in and threw up “luxury” condos. That they couldn’t sell enough units, though, is a devastation of another kind.
But oh, what a city! (The story continues tomorrow)