Unfathomable City

Unfathomable City: A New Orleans AtlasUnfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote an earlier review of this book ( I keep busy) and have now decided to update it since receiving the actual published book as I used the advanced reader copy for the previous review and now after reading more of it in a different location than the last time and viewing all of the maps that weren’t in the ARC and let me share that I did all of that new stuff all on All Saints Day, no less. Told you: multitudes.

I decided to do it without the cranky insertion of MY New Orleans up front that was in the previous review and to simply state that it’s a well designed, well-edited and at times beautifully written and illustrated homage to our mysterious city.
This book gives credit where credit is due. To the city’s geography, to its outlandish robber barons of bananas and oil, to the nameless and named that have brought us and bring us music, food, and public displays and joy and sorrow and pain and punishment. It neatly shows a number of juxtapositions that may be uncomfortable for some to view and others that are certainly unfathomable, but it does show them. There. credit given.
Now, back to me:
If you look through my reviews, you can spot a certain fondness for maps. I love them and love poring over them before, during or in spite of actually traveling to the place depicted.
If you read my reviews, you will no doubt spot a serious fondness for essayists. I admire what seems to me to be honest human bravery in extending a point or a purpose to a new end. Taking a walk with an author is how I visualize an essay, and yes there are times that I turn back before getting to the end, but I still appreciate the offer. So maps and essays seem like two sides of one coin and when put together well can alter or color each other’s point and purpose.

So that this is a book of illusory and real maps combined with odd and delightful essays, edited by two sensitive writers is enough for me to tell you.

Let me let the writers and artists tell you themselves in essays and maps such as:

Civil rights and Lemon Ice

Hot and Steamy: Selling Seafood and Selling Sex

Ebb and Flow: Migrations of the Houma, Erosions of the Coast

Juju and Cuckoo: Taking Care of Crazy

Stationary Revelations: Sites of Contemplation and Delight

The first essays introducing this book are alone worth poring over and sharing; how often is that true? That should tell you about the care and thought put into this entire work and offer the best reason to plunk down your money, open it and thumb through while having a Pimm’s or a coffee in front of you, tucked away in a shady corner of our shared city. Enjoy it all.

View all my reviews

8 years ago, 5 years later, 1 year since.

2005: Katrina/Federal Levee breaks

2010: BP oil spill

2012: Isaac/destruction of levees and chemical spills in Plaquemines Parish.

See other indignities suffered by our little watershed:
Neither too early nor too late

(Anyone still wonder why we drink every day?)

’73 Upstairs Lounge fire ‘worst mass murder of gays in U.S. history’

I wrote about this before on this blog and appreciate that some of our media at least bothers to note this date of this terrible event. Recently, I saw a husband/wife set of tourists stop and read the plaque that was only recently put there to note the spot. Maybe if more people were aware of this crime and the lack of concern at that point by city officials-and the churches that refused to have services for the dead- we can begin to understand why we need to push human rights issues forward in every generation.

'73 Upstairs Lounge fire 'worst mass murder of gays in U.S. history' | wwltv.com New Orleans.

Johnny White’s

As someone who had a family member who was associated almost daily with JW’s bar, I have a hard time understanding the confusion over WHICH Johnny White’s were talking about, when people read stories like the current one on the “closing” of the Sports Bar.

Closing Sports Bar
The one on St. Peter is the “real” one for lots of full-time Quarterites, and not just for motorcycle riders. It exists as a home away from home for many, and are treated as family like when the fine folks on St. Peter gave my family member an honored send off when he died last year. Those who frequent the St. Peter one (and probably hung out at Johnny’s Annex too) usually also believe that the “Sports Bar’ on Orleans is pretty bad and not one to hang out in with friends. It, like a lot of things directly on Bourbon, is too full of, well lets just say there’s too much potential for a bad time.

there are 4 places with Johnny White’s name on them in the Quarter and the ones managed by the family of Johnny White are the three BESIDES the Sports Bar. The family is taking control of that space again and probably reopening it slightly altered, which is fine with lots of us.
JW website

There. hope that helps. Now, let’s get a drink.

Program To Fight French Quarter Termites Nears End – New Orleans News Story – WDSU New Orleans

Program To Fight French Quarter Termites Nears End – New Orleans News Story – WDSU New Orleans.


Great. Now they will be returning, and since the city is working to find a way to make as much money from any group that visits that they can, we’ll have to wait for the “Formosa Festival” that will no doubt be added to the tent and table schedule on the FQ calendar.
Or maybe the termites will start a FQ Formosa walking club met by residents armed with Insecticide foamers and treated wood bats with battles held at dusk at the corner streetlights with sadly, no clear winners day after day.
Either way, we got trouble right here in River City.