A city which normally at this time of year reeks of decaying animals, now fills with water, oil, gasoline, and raw sewage. Dogs and cats seek refuge on roofs as humans ride boats down former streets, searching for friends and family. The stadium normally reserved for jocks and fans is taken over by men with rifles corralling people into order who have lost their entire material lives. Seniors lacking the proper medical care they need pass away, as minor injuries on young folks fester in the fetid water to the point of needing amputation. Desperate folks without transportation are arrested for acquiring a postal vehicle while attempting to leave the city. White folks with guns are patrolling Uptown shooting Black folks that don’t “seem to belong” in their neighborhood. It’s the end of the month when food stamps run out, and people are armed, and in withdrawal from the substances that help them get through the days. It’s a scene of desperation; a low-income city drowning in ill preparedness for this kind of disaster, which is made worse by Bush and the federal government that would rather leave people starving than help its citizens that aren’t white and rich.
New Orleans is a city where I’ve spent almost 8 years of my life; a city I will probably always consider home. It’s a place where I don’t have to explain my existence, where my conflicting personality and interests makes sense. Most every where else I’ve lived I always feel slightly wrong; I’m either too much or too little of something. New Orleans is the perfect combination of scrappy, weird, diy, nihilism, collaboration. I can breakdance with Nathan on the stage of the warehouse or go to a metal show with Brice; we’ll all work on a Critical Resitance Conference and then smash bikes while wasted on free booze after 80’s night. I can’t ever really pin down what I love about the “city that care forgot”. But then there’s Nowe Miasto, my real home. It’s the history, the present, and the future of that place that makes me really feel grounded in that city.
Nowe Miasto is a three story warehouse building, collectively owned as of May 2005, by several rad folks. It got six feet of water in there that is now rotting and molding walls; which are housing disgusting debris. The roof is totally fucked, and a tower that housed the hand operated elevator blew off the roof leaving a 10 foot by 10 foot gaping hole which allowed torrential rain and flying debris to fly inside. The door was jammed open, allowing folks to steal $5000 of video and music equipment. The total damage will be unknown until people are officially allowed back into the city. But somehow, amidst all the ruin, Minnie is still roaming around. She’s a mama cat, a drooling squatter kitty with few teeth, who gave birth in our attic. She squatted Nowe Miasto while preggers (pregnant) and never left. Somehow, all I could focus on when everything was fucked up was if Minnie was ok and still around. Somehow I felt that if she was ok, New Orleans would recover.
We just had a benefit here in Providence, RI where we had an art raffle, hair salon, a kissing booth, and DJs where we raised $2000 for New Orleans (50% for Nowe Miasto/50% for TIDES foundation). People here who had never been to New Orleans came out, donated money they didn’t have, and partied for the city that always parties. I haven’t felt so at home since leaving New Orleans as I did this week. People who barely know me came out to support this city I love; donated beautiful artwork; and kissed dozens of strangers. People who couldn’t make it donated money later. It’s miles and miles from New Orleans, but folks understood. Over forty people got evicted a couple years ago in the middle of the dead cold winter, without a days notice. Dozens of folks helped each other move and start over.
New Orleans is going to need a ton of work. Nowe Miasto needs warm bodies to haul crap, scrub walls, rebuild and reinvent itself. Maybe in January? Maybe in May? Definitely for many months to come. If anyone wants to come down to help when the time is right, or help Nowe Miasto get a new roof, please contact me and put “NOWE MIASTO” in the heading. firstname.lastname@example.org
Providence rules. Minnie drools and rules.