Beyond the physical limits to rebuilding there’s the problem of access of the things people need to make living here possible. There are one a couple stores and gas stations and they are mostly by the FEMA Disaster Relief Sites where the demand is high and the people spending money on them are not spending out of pocket. Trees are knocked over, cars are flipped over and lay on top of each other, we only saw a couple kids and they were play fighting each other with debris from the hurricane.
When we returned to the new Common Ground site they were building some kind of storage space and had a few bikes waiting to be repaired, light fixtures to be moved, tent village of staff, and a “food not bombs” kinda vibe. While some were happy we were there others were a little resentful that we were doing “easy” work rather than physical labor. Some were turned off by this. I think there’s a disconnect between the work they are doing (fixing houses, communities) and what we’re doing (making sure the bank doesn’t repossess those house). In the end NOLAC will be staffing their legal clinic, but the small confrontational moment was just a small example of how people who agree about which communities to serve can disagree about the value of the work they are doing.New Years night: we did go out for New Years, and it was pretty damn fun. I found a more “authentic” hurricane drink (around from long before the most recent bout with the weather) at Pat O’Brian’s (actually I found two there but was some how missing them about 25 minutes later) and enjoyed them thoroughly. We watched a big bowl of gumbo descend at Jackson square at midnight, the crowd was immense and everyone was trashed … a great combination for someone who does not fit through small gaps between people too well and needs to pee. Before the gumbo fell we watched Arlo Guthrie play a 30 minute set next to Café Du Monde (one of the early stores to re-open) which was out of this world. I’ll try to get the set list from my more sober friends who were there later, but Tambourine Man (“a song by an old friend”) stood out for me. After the big strike of 12 we roamed Bourbon st. for a little longer then made our way to Frenchman st. (apparently a more local hangout area). Being a concerned older brother male type I intervened between my friends and some gropers occasionally, though once we got some mixed signals and my intervention turned out to need an intervention from a friendly 45 year old Georgia man (though we did trade beads in the end which was nice). The gang of would be lawyers and our med-student friends from Common Cause ended up in a Hooka bar/club that was full of hip folks who we made friendly with (we even got cake from a guy named David, thanks!). We danced until about 3am and took a cab home cause our feet were sore from all the boogieing down. Relaxing tonigh was great, tomorrow nothing is open so we will be off the hot seat for a while, we may go back to the lower ninth to see some of the worse areas.