Tears of a Clown

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An extra cookie, please, for whoever gave John Schwartz the green light to make Harry Anderson (of "Dave's World" and "Night Court") the focal point of a Hurricane Katrina thumbsucker. Anderson and his wife had moved to the city in 2000, had purchased and relaunched a club, were absolutely enjoying themselves. They even held out during the hurricane and in the weeks following. It's in the year since then that everything went pear-shaped.

The city tried to more than double their $17,000-a-year property
taxes. A lawyer had the amount reduced, but "that just meant that the
lawyer got the money instead of the city," Mr. Anderson said. Then, in
May, there was a repeat of an attack that had occurred more than a year
before, when a stranger had approached Mr. Anderson, slammed his face
into the side of a building and cursed him, saying, "You killed the
Matador." That was the name of the bar he had replaced with Oswald's.

But it was the recent mayoral election, Mr. Anderson said, "that was the nail in the coffin."

The re-election of C. Ray Nagin, whom Mr. Anderson holds largely
responsible for New Orleans's drift since the hurricane, came as a
shock. The Sunday after the May 20 election, he said, he walked the
streets of the Quarter, angry with a result that "pulled the rug out
from any hope of" change for the better.

"This city hasn't evolved," Mr. Anderson said. "I just feel this place is stuck on stupid."

NEXT: The Long Arm of the Law

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  1. Excuse me, but it should read: of “Night Court” and “Dave’s World.” The superior work never follows the crap.

  2. I have never understood why places like Detroit or post-Katrina New Orleans–cities which would be vastly helped by people moving in, buying homes or businesses and settling down–make this so damned hard. Were I the mayor of such a city I’d try to offer incentives for people to migrate in, not set up punitive tax laws to make the cities even more undesirable than they already are.

  3. “I just feel this place is stuck on stupid.”

    Thank you Harry Anderson, for a defining quote of the past five years.

  4. I don’t know about Detroit, but the fear in New Orleans is that too many newcomers would change the unique character of the city.

  5. That’s right, Zoidburg, we don’t want any of those outsiders with their “jobs” and “money” screwing up the unique character of our town!

  6. I picked up the New Yorker to read the Hersh piece; there was also a piece on New Orleans. Interesting, but of course it involved a tremendous amount of boo-hooing about the lack of a federal rescue. Typical nonsense; a call for more government action (and much, much, more federal money) to solve the problems caused by prior government actions.
    Nagin’s incompetent boobery is nicely glossed over.

    Quoting a resident of the Ninth Ward:

    ” ‘All that waiting around hurt us. They dangle resources, and everybody waits to get them instead of just starting in. I don’t care if I’m the only person on my block, I’m going to live in my house.’

    “Only in the bizarre world of the first post-Katrina Mardi Gras could the witholding of federal aid be considered good news and the prospect of living in an abandoned neighborhood victory.”

    Only in the bizarre world of the New Yorker would you deride people willing to be independent and take control of their own lives without waiting around to be rescued by the government.

  7. I have never understood why places like Detroit or post-Katrina New Orleans–cities which would be vastly helped by people moving in, buying homes or businesses and settling down–make this so damned hard. Were I the mayor of such a city I’d try to offer incentives for people to migrate in, not set up punitive tax laws to make the cities even more undesirable than they already are.

    Actually Detroit is offering incentives to move in, and people are moving in. There are hundreds of new lofts being built downtown (and even here in mid-town, next to my office)and I believe they are largely already spoken for. A dozen or so new lounges and restaurants have opened in the past year (largely spurred by the Superbowl), and they’re either places you could take your family to or go on a date.
    The people moving in are either ambitious twenty-somethings or empty-nesters who want social amenities such as the symphony, opera, nightclubs, martini bars and such.
    Not all of it is going to last, and I don’t know exactly how much is due to actual subsidies as opposed to just getting out of people’s way, but many of us who live in Detroit are actually hopeful it can come back.
    Of course, if one of the Big Three goes under, or Northwest dies, that might not be so good…

  8. Jennifer,

    They make it so hard because they have corrupt elites who don’t want new people and new jobs who are not willing to pay the elites protection money. The cities are completly corrupt. New Orleans is in a different league than even Detroit. It is hard to explain or imagine how bad it really was and is there. A total embarassment than an American city could be allowed to get that bad.

    The best thing for that city is for the people to not move back. Most people who moved as a result of Katrina moved to better lives other places. The rational thing to do is bulldoze the parts of the city that flooded and let them go back to being swamps and have the port and the quarter and suburbs north of the lake. Yeah people would scream about “lost communities” but those communities were so bad that no one should ever be forced to live in them.

  9. Partisan, I’m not suggesting that’s the right attitiude, just a prevailing one.

    There is also a culture of corruption in Louisiana and any significant influx of outsiders threatens that.

  10. I suspect that a lot of those people who insist that the Lower Ninth Ward needs to be rebuilt and repopulated just as it is before are white-supremacist Klansmen in blackface makeup, pushing their insidious Machiavellian plan code-named “Operation Let The Poor Darkies Drown.” We’ll put them in a place almost guaranteed to see catastrophic flooding in the next few years! And they’ll all be too poor to evacuate the city when the floods come! And they’ll DIE! Heh heh heh. Best of all, we’ve twisted the language so that anybody who opposes Operation Let The Poor Darkies Drown is branded a racist.

    Then, the Klansmen will go to California, lighten their makeup just a bit and encourage Hispanics to build unreinforced-masonry houses right on the San Andreas fault.

  11. The best thing for that city is for the people to not move back. Most people who moved as a result of Katrina moved to better lives other places. The rational thing to do is bulldoze the parts of the city that flooded and let them go back to being swamps and have the port and the quarter and suburbs north of the lake.

    I agree with you on this John. It doesn’t make any sense to go back into an area that is still susceptible to the same type of disaster that drove people out in the first place.

  12. From the beginning, I thought the role of the Federal Gov’t in the New Orleans rebuilding project should be to monitor for corruption, and then just step back and let the people rebuild the city.

    What we have in New Orleans is a situation where people are spending there energy and resources competing for handouts (or even just squandering that most precious of resources, time, by waiting for handouts) rather then rebuilding the city. It is a similar situation that you see in foreign countries for which foreign aid is a large part of the economy, people are fighting for a larger slice of the pie rather then trying to expand the pie.

    One example of this is the Oschner Clinic Foundation, named by the Economist as the largest private employer still operating in New Orleans. It was the only hospital to continue providing service throughout the entire Katrina disaster… it was also the only hospital to receive no federal funds for the emergency relief they provided. In response, they have decided to severely restrict the Medicaid/Medicare patients they treat because they are afraid they will lose out to those who have more political weight.

    People are waiting on the Federal, State, and City Gov’t to see what kind of aid they can expect, to see whether the new buildings will be protected by the Federal Gov’t and the corps of engineers. The gov’t needs to remove this doubt about what people will get (I would prefer nothing, but that is not realistic), enforce contracts, and allow people to move on with their lives.

  13. http://wizbangblog.com/2006/08/28/the-katrina-video-congress-didnt-want-you-to-see.php

    I am not an engineer, so I can’t vouch for this guy. He may be a crackpot. If there are any engineers on here, I would love to hear your opinion. This guy’s idea is pretty mindblowing if true.

  14. I am not an engineer, so I can’t vouch for this guy. He may be a crackpot. If there are any engineers on here, I would love to hear your opinion. This guy’s idea is pretty mindblowing if true.

    I wouldn’t call him a crackpot at all. Obviously I’d like to see more information regarding the walls but I would not rule out his theory. If there was seepage beneath the walls before they failed then failure could have occured with or without a hurricane.

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