There's a terrible statistic that the population of New Orleans passed away at a far greater rate in the years immediately following Katrina than they had previously. It makes sense: your neighbors are missing, your home's in shambles, your doctor's still out of town, you have nothing but the clothes on your back - so many of the things that made your neighborhood into a community are missing. All that and then your government humiliates you and your city by making you beg to be treated humanely. Even nearly five years later, note all the empty space around Brad Pitt's eco-friendly homes in the lower 9th ward. It didn't use to be that way.
The hope and devastation bus tour on my fifth trip to New Orleans had more hope than devastation but it's because of people like Doc and Annabelle Watson who are in their seventies. They've just finished rebuilding their home for the fourth time in 40 years and were practically more interested in telling us about their grandchildren. And it's because of Big Chief Ironhorse of the Black Seminoles who spends four hours a day beading his outfit for next year's Mardi Gras parade because he knows that his city and his tribe are still going to be there to appreciate that outfit.
I had a fantastic time as I always do in New Orleans - lots of great food, a rockin' show, a chance to catch up with friends new and old, my very first crawfish boil, photographic evidence here and here - but I also feel like I owe it to the people who I've met there to use my corner of cyberspace to talk about the New Orleans that's been forgotten because the world has moved on.
So watch the Spike Lee documentary, get pissed off all over again, tell your friends and then go visit (and leave Bourbon Street).