Learning to live in the shadow of environmental doom

Do we have what it will take for New Orleans to survive the next Big One?

One opinion from a young native New Orleanian, in view of the recent environmental devastation around the state. Some excerpts:

Growing up in Louisiana doesn’t exactly instill strong faith in the fairness or integrity of government or official agencies. The lopsided Katrina “recovery” solidified my cynicism….

…There is so much raw sadness here, so much raw joy. So many of my fellow citizens are treated without dignity or respect and they still manage to maintain open hearts and a clear-eyed love for the city. There is an art to pleasure here, life for life’s sake. Why can’t all the beauty here be enough to assure New Orleans’ survival?

The August floods spared the city while places 45 minutes away were ravaged. Countless thousands of Louisianans are now mourning a life that will be forever marked by the dumbfounding destruction floodwaters bring. My heart aches for them. And I feel stunned, the way you would if an 18-wheeler jackknifed and flipped on the Interstate 100 yards ahead of you….

…I know to live honestly in New Orleans I have to live like the imminence of disaster is a reality. If you choose to live here now, you’re signing up for a second job, which is helping this city survive. The question is whether enough of us will assume that burden.

Source: Katrina remembered: Learning to live in the shadow of environmental doom | The Lens

When was Carnival’s golden age? Take a look around — we’re living in it | The Lens

C.W. Cannon one of my favorite columnists, talks of our current Carnival period as a golden age with more democratic and satirical characteristics than we experienced in the late 20th century, where whites-only krewes had their way and superfloats flourished which led to the demise of many of the small neighborhood parades. I’ll tell him how much I appreciate this on the downtown parade routes that I am sure to see him on over the next few weeks..

Russian literary critic Mikhail Bakhtin, in a book about folk culture influences on the great Renaissance French writer Rabelais, outlined a theory of Carnival based on ancient and medieval traditions. Centuries later, it’s remarkable to witness how the “carnivalesque” spirit he details lives on so palpably on the other side of the world. A few of the key attributes Bakhtin ascribes to Carnival are a satirical impulse of a bawdy kind that he calls “grotesque realism,” the inversion of normal prevailing social hierarchies, and mass participation.

In light of principles like these, it’s a no-brainer that the latest city ordinance supports, rather than inhibits, the ancient foundations of Carnival tradition. Even here in New Orleans, one of the prevailing social strictures upended by Carnival has been segregation in public settings. Blocking off and segregating swaths of the public space for members-only parties doesn’t jibe with the carnivalesque injunction to cast off social distinctions and rub shoulders with strangers for a limited period of time.

When was Carnival’s golden age? Take a look around — we’re living in it | The Lens.