A year after Katrina

On the left is a Long Beach, Mississippi restaurant that was once called Pirate’s Cove and served the most delicious shrimp poboy I’ve ever eaten. My grandparents took my sister and me there every time we visited.

I fantasized so hard about that sandwich — the crusty bread! the ripe tomato made even more tender by the heat of the shrimp! — between trips that I should’ve been setting myself up for disappointment. But every time I went, the concoction was even juicier and crunchier than I remembered. (The place eventually became the Cajun Crawfish Shack. Soon after that, my grandparents moved away.)

On the right is the slab left of the restaurant after Katrina plowed through last year. Many other landmarks I always counted on were decimated, too. The Sleep Inn where Sister and I would stay. Annie’s Restaurant. The amusement park with the dinosaur. Essentially the entire bleeding coastline — apart from the S.S. Camille. (When Metafilter led me to these photos on the Sun-Herald site a few months ago, I was glad my grandmother died before Katrina hit. Hurricane Camille turned her world upside-down; I can’t imagine how she would’ve reacted to the horror of Camille’s successor.)

Then, of course, there’s New Orleans. While the bells ring to commemorate the 1-year anniversary of the storm, Bush, whose administration has ignored the city for eleven months, returns for a photo op — ideally one featuring grateful-looking black people. Here are some more meaningful commemorations:

  • Spike Lee — who is, I don’t care what anybody says, one of the most brilliant filmmakers this country’s ever seen — has put out a documentary, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. It aired last week, and some friends who used to live in New Orleans tell me it gets right to the core of the city’s spirit and what’s been done to it. All four acts are rebroadcast tonight (and will someone with HBO please, please, please record them for me?). There’s a fascinating interview with Lee on the HBO website, and David Denby reviews the film (alongside that abomination before God, Snakes on a Plane) in this week’s New Yorker.
  • A prank exposes the federal neglect of New Orleans.
  • Poppy Z. Brite pens an editorial for the Boston Globe. “As a New Orleans native planning to spend the rest of my life in this half-drowned but still vibrant city,” she says, “I’m scared to address you . A year after Hurricane Katrina, I’m scared that you’ve forgotten me or are sick of me or think I’m stupid to keep living in a place that almost killed me.” (Via.)


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