Saturday, September 24, 2005

The idiotic media coverage of Rita

The coverage wasn't even over before the simplistic, small minded media analysis began. Among the illogical conclusions:

Evacuations for Rita were handled more responsibly
Over and over I have heard praise for the fact that the evacuations in Texas were issued 72 hours ahead of time. True, but 72 hours before Katrina hit New Orleans, no one even knew she was coming. Similarly, Lake Charles, a much smaller town, was held as an example for having successfully evacuated 90% of the population. That's not much different from the evacuation rate of New Orleans, which did 80% in even less time.

Rita had few casualties because people were better prepared
Yes, because the storm announced itself. But it also dipped down to a category 3 and hit less populated areas.

It's curious that no one is reporting much on the 10% that weren't evacuated in TX. Who are they? Why were they unable to leave? We may never know. Also, while many reports are being filed on how impossible it was to evacuate large cities by car, no one is making the connection between those horror stories and the reluctance of people to flee New Orleans last month.

UPDATE: Now they are actually warning viewers about the dangers of post traumatic stress disorder. Not for actual victims, but for viewers of the news. It is called "Vicarious Post Traumatic Stress."

The Ninth Ward floods again...


The Ninth Ward floods again...
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
Last weekend I had begun thinking I might go home by the end of the month. Then on Monday I discovered my street was closed due to a chemical spill. And now much of the 9th Ward is flooding again, which means the process of draining the city, restoring the water supply and electricity will start all over again.

This AP photo shows a dog racing through the water on North Claiborne Street.

Friday, September 23, 2005

A thousand pit bulls abandoned during the storm

According to Pit Bull Rescue Central, at last count there were 768 pit bulls at the temporary shelter in Gonzales Louisiana. But certainly there are more. And that's not counting the ones still left in abandoned homes or housed at some of the other shelters that have been established througout the state.

Needless to say, I'm worried about what will happen to these dogs. Many of the other shelters willing to displaced animals will not take pit bulls, and if they do, these dogs are likely to be the first to be put to sleep. It is easier, apparently, than doing the work of finding them a responsible home. For this reason, several organizations are mobilizing to provide the neccessary care for these dogs.

Pit Bull Rescue Central has established a fund for pit bulls orphaned by Katrina. You can contribute at the Pit Bull Rescue Central Katrina Fund. And, if you are strong enough, you can view some of these wonderful animals from the Gonzales shelter.. Some the photos are hard to take: one puppy is so starved that it can't even stand on its own at the water bowl.

Bad Rap, a terrific San Francisco based organization, has also sent a team of people to Louisiana. For information on their activities, you can visit www.badrap.org, where they are selling a special t-shirt to help raise money for my friends at the LA-SPCA.

Treehouse


Treehouse
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
The quality of this photo is awful, but I thought I'd share it anyway. This is the infamous house in Hattiesburg where we stayed during the storm. I learned earlier this week that it has been officially condemned. At the time, I actually considered spending another night in it with my dogs before moving on.

The following day I drove over to the other side of town to check on the house I had been living in before moving to New Orleans. Part of me hoped that it would have been destroyed, so that then I could feel "lucky." But, as luck would have it, all of the trees surrounding the house were down, but they fell away from the house, which appeared to be fine.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Pit bull remains in his family home


Pit bull remains in his family home
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
If you look into the demolished attic of this New Orleans home, you can see the gorgeous, mournful face of a pit bull waiting for his family to return. After reading the story that appeared in the New York Times today, I am unsure as to whether the dogs they photographed were ultimately rescued, or just used as convenient models for their coverage.

WWLTV.com also has a slide show of a litter of starving pit bulls being rescued by boat.

Until now, I've been avoiding most of the animal coverage, in part because I think the human story is a priority. Today I want to go and help out, but I'm not allowed back. This is what is so baffling: the Times interviewed a woman from Atlanta who flew down to help collect animals. But those of us actually live there are still not allowed to return.

I just hope the pit bulls aren't needlessly put down. Particularly this cutie. He deserves a home.

A familiar looking dog...


A familiar looking dog...
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
This little man (and I'm not talking about the dogcatcher) looks like a smaller version of my dog Brando. When I saw him in the Times Picayune this morning, I couldn't help thinking that Brando would probably be equally stubborn if I'd left him behind to fend for himself for a month. The paper reported that the dog got away and is still living on the barren streets of the city.

Perpetual State of Transition

I've been wearing hand me down clothes since I left New Orleans. In fact, the bedroom I'm sleeping in is now filled with bags of donated clothes--more than I need right now. So today I pulled out a t-shirt that looked like it was from some university athletic department, but as I was putting it on I realized that it said:

Perpetual State
Of
Transition

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The National Guard takes advantage of NOCCA's excellent musical theater facilities


Dance Studio
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
For the past few weeks, the National Guard has been using NOCCA--the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts--as a base camp for their operations in the city. In this photo, an exhausted soldier takes a brief break while learning the choreography for his role in CATS, the school's fall production. The armed dance captain stands with his back to the camera and his rifle ready.

No, that's not really what's going on. I was joking!!!

More photos and updates are available at www.nocca.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A note to the Neville Brothers

Dear Aaron and Cyril,

I saw you on the news today declaring that you will never return to New Orleans, "except to play music." I am curious. How will your abandoning the city make up for the fact that the city was abandoned by those who might have helped? Will those who return be better off without you? Do you think that withdrawing your support will bring more attention to the problems the city may face? And what should be made of the exception to the rule: you'll willingness to return for an evening, in exchange for money.

I'm hoping there's been a misunderstanding. Perhaps, like many of us, you are simply in shock. Maybe you can't imagine returning. Maybe, when you say "to play music" you mean that the music will remain and draw you back, not that you, too, will forget the City that Care Forgot.

Sincerely,

Ken Foster

Monday, September 19, 2005

Piety Street Chemical Spill


Piety Street Chemical Spill
Originally uploaded by kfoz.
A large chunk of my neighborhood has suddenly been blocked off with signs warning of a chemical spill. This is the first photo I've seen of my street since the storm hit. It looks unchanged, except for the barbed wire, and the fact that I can't return there. My house is visible down this street...no need to point out which one.

The state of my neighborhood

One of the strangest things about this whole experience is not knowing. It's been three weeks since I left. What do I know now? Not much.

From what I can tell, the flood waters stopped at my street. Two blocks on the other side of me, along the river, the warehouses burned down. So my immediate neighborhood may be okay, including my own house, but everything around it is gone. My landlord finally called me, to report that he is okay and tell crazy stories about trying to hold the neighborhood together--escorting women so they wouldn't be raped, etc--until the National Guard forced him out. Another friend told me that he had friends in the Marigny who managed to get back to check on their things and found that everything--everything--was gone. The house hadn't flooded at all, but someone had helped themselves to the furniture, appliances, clothes, and art.

And yet, every day brings a new, contradictory report, like this one describing a four block area that my house borders:
"A friend of mine went to the Bywater yesterday, he is a doctor and managed to get past the road block. He told me when he got to Clouet Street, there was barbwire across the streets of Chartres, Royal, Dauphine and Burgundy, and the area was closed two blks down to Piety. On the Barbwire, was a sign that read, "Closed to Public, Chemical Spill Keep Out!" Of course he went in anyway and checked on our house at 814 Louisa St. He didn't see any sign of a spill anywhere, i'm thinking this could be from the Fire at the wharf...

After a couple of days of feeling much better, I'm starting to feel worse.

Benefit Reading in Tallahassee

On Tuesday, September 20th, I'll be reading with Robert Olen Butler, Elizabeth Dewberry, Janet Burroway, Virgil Suarez and David Kirby at the Warehouse at 706 West Gaines Street at 8 pm. Suggested contribution is $10; books have been donated by the authors for sale. All proceeds go to hurricane relief via Share Our Strength.