Notes From The Front Lines- George Ingmire

Oct 11, 2005 by

Loki – forgive my long delay in responding. My heart and head have been playing ping pong these days with my last shred of rational thought. I’ve been on the sidelines trying to keep score. Sallie and the house are bringing it back to N.O. – day of the dead is on, as far as I know. I will be back in the city in a week (or so) as I prepare to teach a class for Tulane University College in Biloxi. Since leaving the city, I have sought refuge in Virginia Beach with my mom and my girlfriend, Raphaelle – I believe you know each other. Anyway, it is hard to function outside of New Orleans, everything runs too smoothly, the roads receive way too much care, the lawns are edged at the sidewalk and everyone has a garage full of clean tools.

My friend and fellow documentarian, Aaron Walker, and I went back to the city for a week of filming and chores. The city is in bad shape, but everyone you see has a look of “we can make this work!” on their faces. Refrigerators full of maggots, wrapped in Duc tape share the curbside with tree branches. That’s the pretty part of the city. We accompanied two Big Chiefs back to their homes and visited another chief’s home without him (we couldn’t find him) –

Loki, I cannot tell you how heartbreaking it is to see a Mardi Gras suit covered in mold or worse, wrapped in toxic sludge. Mind you, these guys ALL plan to rebuild. They are craftspeople first and foremost, and their love for their homes and community far outweigh any gesture of recovery support offered by a gremlin with the St. Louis Cathedral at his back bathed in an eerie blue light.

Which brings me to another and final point – what are we going to do about the environmental disaster left behind? The EPA is passing the buck (imagine that) to the local and state level. They offer up measurements from locales throughout the city without any follow up or context. This information is only available as a download for the web savvy. The only other way these environmental problems are brought to light is in the form of “enter at your own risk” – WHAT THE HELL DOES THAT MEAN?. I’ll tell you what it means to me. We are seeing the same process and historical circumstances that indigenous peoples have experienced from the get go being brought to the Big Easy. Who cares if the benzene levels at Canal and Rampart are over twice the levels considered safe?

I have attached a pdf that I found during one of my recent paranoia induced googlethons – “New Orleans Toxicity”. Loki, what are WE going to do about this? Let’s call upon the spirit world, let’s shake the earth from its slumber of comfort and 30second soundbytes, let’s find a way to revitalize and cleanse the last bastion of where Freedom truly dwells. I miss my people, I miss the purple vortex of New Orleans where the spirits walk with the living, hope trumps despair, and the life is life (not a virtual artifice).


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