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Two Views

I look to houses and buildings for signs of our progress — or lack of it. People are more important than buildings, of course, but people move around. Many people never returned to the city. Besides which, people can hide their pain. The buildings are easier to read.

Five years after Katrina, we still have houses like this all over.

Five Years After

Note the front door is just standing wide open. This was taken in the 3000 block of Banks Street.

But here’s another photo that tells a different story.

Re: Building

Three years ago I took a photo of the building on this lot being demolished.

Now it seem a new building will stand where the old one fell. This is heartening. In fact there are five more buildings going up within a short walk from this one.

So which photograph represents the state of New Orleans today? I think they both do. This remains a city of contrasts. It can be a challenge to keep both these images in mind. We seem to have a natural tendency to reduce and simplify. We want to view things as black or white, positive or negative, with little nuance and few shades of gray. It’s difficult to integrate stark contradictions into a coherent whole.

But that’s exactly what we have to do if we want an accurate picture of where we live.

Published inKatrinaPix


  1. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    We look at way too much TV….Too bad they don’t pay me…
    There is a genre of “house flipping” real-estate real-actuality show. They follow the activities of guys and gals who buy old places, try to renovate as cheaply as
    possible, and sell….pretty educative and with the hook of real money spent by
    real folks to create a profit on real hard work activities, and the “price-the-market-will-bear”…
    You-all have documented for us your struggles with the old house, and now the
    probs at the new place (I still wanna update about the attic rats!)…and if only you-all had filmed your progress, you could have entered this TV make-over trend.
    The Pix you post, and the Hope you express, make me want to share
    this latest TV show: “Flipping Vegas”.
    Now, I don’t now if you’re hip to the boom-bust out West, but Vegas is the worst-affected Depression city right now. Folks walked away from doubly-overpriced “properties”….I loved your “Property is Theft” ROX-TV episode…
    These hopeful guys bought sight-unseen foreclosures at (GULP?) rock-bottom
    prices, then went to see the houses…
    Only five years old or so, or less, some of them…with total vandalism inside.
    Electrical Wiring ripped out, with gaping holes in drywall, paint graffiti, crap
    and piss and little fires set against walls… so they go in and, can you believe it?
    Invest in total make-over, drywall, carpet, wiring, etc…
    place is Still in REALITY-ville, where gangs of idiot glue-meth-paint-sniffers
    go undisciplined and unparented, to attack the brand-new Make-over again!
    Have you read, Bart and everybody, about “Gated Communities” in California
    which are now part-deserted, crack-house, gangster, deteriorating places?
    Let’s get Real.
    You need to build like the Third-World Rwanda reality which faces you:
    gangs kicking in your wimpy-ass door and dragging you out to “Necklace” you
    with a burning car-tire around your neck.
    You need to have a fire-bomb-proof fortress, with ideally some secret underground emergency escape tunnel, which in Nawlins will be full of nasty Rat-piss sewer water.
    A serious research question to follow up your Hope: Is there Really a Plan these
    folks are pursuing? The ones building New in the ‘Hood? Do they Really have
    some Real Jobb with a Future? Some actual activity which is actually rebuilding
    this city into a viable, robust economic engine? OR-I say OR?- are they just
    barely getting a ROOF over their heads, with a last-gasp “stimulus” of fake money, with only a vague notion of How they will make a living?? It would be educative, and of management interest, to KNOW!…I would interview them…
    Question: Do y’all have a Bizness of your own? whazzup? Have a JOBB?
    We have a crisis out west, where “developers” apparently thought they could always make bucks on endless construction.
    Guess what?
    We don’t need endless construction. These guys oughta be building a green-conservation-based-concept structure with food-production garden-beds planned-in, and grey-water usage, and, and, and, I’m sorry, but
    the platform is Not high enough.
    I saw the mama-bird working diligently. You gotta give ’em credit.
    I saw the mama-bird finishing her work on her nice Nest.
    I saw that the Nest was placed squarely over the downspout hole,
    in the rain-gutter.
    It looked cozy and protective, there in that convenient rain-gutter.

  2. […] B photographs and writes about two different states of New Orleans today. So which photograph represents the state of New Orleans today? I think they both do. This remains […]

  3. Tim Tim

    The TP reported the other day that almost 20% of houses in New Orleans were vacant. That’s a daunting statistic to overcome as it poisons everything else: police protection, fire protection, schools, businesses, on and on.

    See you Saturday at Rising Tide, and peace,


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