What a couple of days...

Originally published in nin.com on October 29, 2005

What a couple of days...
We arrived in New Orleans Friday morning. A friend of mine at the mayor's office arranged for us to see the lower ninth ward that afternoon. I can't begin to express what I saw there. Utter, complete, incomprehensible devastation. Rob will soon be posting some photos, but you truly can not get a sense of how bad this is until you see it.
These people have lost everything. A large portion of the city is simply GONE. I realized I had been assuming things were getting "back to normal" here, but it will be a very long time before that happens - if ever.
200,000 people have been displaced, 7,000 are still unaccounted for. The mainstream media has begun to move on as the story takes a back seat to Bush's latest string of failures, but these people and this city need - and will continue to need - a lot of help. One of the reasons I felt it was important to attempt to have Voodoo IN New Orleans was to keep the spotlight on the city. To let people on the outside know this tragedy involves far more than turning the power back on.
I'm writing this riding on the bus to Memphis. The show in New Orleans went really well. Having Saul play with us was really great - I totally respect him as an artist and a person. The weather was perfect and the spirits of everyone involved were high. It was so nice to see so many faces from my past... and everyone really seemed to appreciate having something to take their minds off of what they're going through.
I spent some time with Mayor Ray Nagin and I'm very impressed with that man. Throughout the storm and consequences that followed, he struck me as one of the few people who wasn't bullshitting us and genuinely trying everything he could to remedy the situation. Today, he's providing determined leadership that's confident the city can be rebuilt - the right way.
I'm fading out now. Lots of emotions. I don't want to leave.


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