17 September 2005

The End of New Orleans?

Sure, Haliburton will get billions of dollars to rebuild the city. But is there any way to restore the spirit of the place, or has it, along with the foul floodwaters, been pumped out of the city and flushed out to sea forever? WWOZ general manager David Freedman is keeping a blog documenting the radio station's struggles to get back on the air, and the cultural changes that are afoot. Here's an excerpt:

The battle lines will be drawn—those who care about restoring the charm of New Orleans as well as the physical infrastructure, and those who only see the bottom line. Who will get to decide? I understand that the national chapter of the American Institute of Architects met yesterday to address the issue. I have heard directly from the Urban Conservancy, and indirectly from the Historic National Trust. The mayor has just announced that he is appointing a commission of 8 blacks and 8 whites to determine the direction of the reconstruction effort in N ew Orleans. Who would he appoint? Would the suits make the city over in their own image? Or would free spirits still prevail? Someone wrote me that he had read a quote from a doctor in slate.com, who's been doing emergency work in the city and feeding his elderly neighbors who aren't evacuating. When asked if he shouldn't go to Houston at least to get a tetanus shot, he replied, "I'd rather get lockjaw than live in Houston."
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