I'm happy to say that my fourth trip to New Orleans in two years revealed a city rebuilding. There's still way too much to do to be conscionable, but what our government neglected, the residents of the city have stepped in to do with grace and class (with a little bit of help from Brad Pitt).
If you ever make it to New Orleans, I highly recommend you visit the Mother-in-Law Lounge, the former home of and now tribute to Ernie K-Doe. Ernie's widow Antoinette K-Doe tells the story of how she waited out Katrina for days in the second floor of the lounge before she got airlifted out of the building still flooded in six feet of water, but you wouldn't know it from seeing the new tiki bar in the back and the Christmas decorations alight.
That first night at the Mother-in-Law cascaded into a day of meetings about musicians engaging in activism, which segued beautifully into a thoroughly entertaining benefit concert for Sweet Home New Orleans, an organization that helps bring New Orleans musicians back to New Orleans post-Katrina and helps keep the city's musical traditions alive. See the nice Rolling Stone write-up and lots of photos here.
[Update: I've been cross-posted on the FMC blog, too...multi-tasking!]