Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Let's stop begging Washington. After Bush's speech tonight it's obvious we are off the agenda.
We should impose a tax of one dollar on every barrel of oil produce in the state.
That would generate 985 million dollars a year, which we could then bond to build levees and coastal protection.
And the rest of the country would realize we are producing a huge chunk of refined oil.
There hasn't been a new refinery built since 1975 in the U.S.
Refineries have nowhere to go.
Tax them now and make our coast safe.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This is a pretty good piece on Ray Nagin from a local lawyer.


He was basically a black Republican before he ran for mayor, his first elected office.
As for his chocolate comment, most people Uptown including me were ticked off.
But the background is this: the Bring Back New Orleans commission was studying plans for redeveloping the city and recommended that harder hit areas (Gentilly, Lower Ninth Ward, New Orleans East, Broadmoor and Lakeview)-- which are basically lower lying areas, should have a four month moratorium on development until the FEMA maps come out and people will know what they have to do to qualify for flood insurance.
At the meeting this met with very angry denunciations from both white speakers from Lakeview and black speakers from the lower nine. (It also met with a more interesting nuanced response from political boss and businessman Sherman Copelin, who represents New Orleans East.)
There is a feeling in the black diaspora that there's a plot among white residents in New Orleans to keep black residents from returning. (How that jibes with the same moratorium being proposed fro mostly white Lakeview, I don't know. But conspiracy theory is a substitute for thought.)
Nagin was already on the outs with parts of this community, and I think he was pandering to that base, and was pretty damned awkward about it to boot.
He was faking it up like a preacher when he really doesn't ever talk like that, and by referencing Uptown he really played into the conspiracy theory paranoia that's already out there. As one guy said, he stuck his foot in his mouth and then he shot himself in the foot.
New Orleans was about 2/3's black before Katrina, and I believe it will be majority black within a year, but with a substantial Hispanic and white minority. None of the more hysterical predictions or reactions about the city will come true.
Nagin will probably survive this unless a really formidable Democratic candidate comes along. He owned the white vote in teh last election; he's done all eh can to alienate it with this statement, but in the end I think unless Mitch Landrieu steps in , Nagin will win. If he really wants it... If we really have an election...
And that's how uncertain things are here on a late January day in the city that care forgot.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

ING 4247
This is the barge that was left in the Industrial Canal in New Orleans, and that came unmoored, crashed through the levee wall and caused part of the flooding of the lower ninth ward. As we approache dit we could see it sitting on top of a school bus.

It appears to be registered with the Ingram Barge company:


But responsibilty for the barge may lie with its particular operator. So far I haven't found out who that is.

Here is another shot of the barge on top of the school bus:

This home or what's left of it was in the path of the barge. Their stuff is still out in the street. The day I was there an idiot tourist from Texas was wandering around laughing, sitting on top of a car posing. Just chuckling her head off. But what I felt was, this was someone's home. Mo said: There are ghosts here.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Lower Ninth Ward
We took a ride to the lower ninth ward today. First we rode across the Claiborne Avenue bridge and headed towards the river.
We walked around the Holy Cross neighborhood. They still haven't got any electricity, water or gas. Forget about mail. We met a woman from Mississippi and her friend James and son Buddy. She owns about an acre just at the foot of the levee where the Mississippi meets up with the Industrial Canal. She kept horses there. She has a gorgeous view of the whole city just a short walk up the levee. Her house is over 100 years old, made of barge board, it was only minimally damaged. According to her, adn I heard it repeated later, the Army Corps of Engineers has been fighting with the neighborhood for 30 years trying to expropriate more of the land near the Industrial Canal (which is little used) so they can widen the lock. (The lock is extremely narrow and a bottleneck for barge traffic.) She believes the plan is to use this disaster to expropriate the Holy Cross neighborhood adn build industiral sites alongside the widened canal.
(For more info and history of the neighborhood go here. http://www.gnocdc.org/orleans/8/20/snapshot.html

What's clear is that with a few bobcats, some trash pickup, some electric power and gas, you know normal decent services, the people here could begin to rebuild their homes and reclaim their lives. Only that isn't happening and doesn't seem like it's going to happen.
The Holy Cross neighborhood is historic, and the housing similar to what you might find in parts of Bywater. Built on the natural levee near the river, there is no reason why it shouldn't be a safe area. But only if the Corps properly maintained the canal. You really have to wonder how a barge was allowed to be in the canal during a hurricane.
I went over to that part of the lower ninth ward, which is between Claiborne and Florida avenue. This is the absolutely most devastated, horrifying sight. This makes you angry. This should never have happened in the United States of America. Whole blocks are completely smashed up, you see where houses have moved across the street. I was photographing a clock which was stopped at 5 pm. A woman stopped and told me that was her clock. She pointed across teh street, she said I love my enighbor, but I guess too much, because now her house was on top of her neighbors. She said when she went inside she had a piece of crystal which was amazingly untouched. She was afraid to touch it. She said what the lady from Holy Cross said, that the Corps has wanted this land for years and years.
I didn't know what to say except, I wish you the best. Which was hardly adequate.
We went to see the barge. ING 4247 is written on the side. This huge rusty barge came sideways over the levee wall, completely smashed two homes and a school bus. AS we walked around, Moira said, there are ghosts here. I expect people died in this area. It is grotesque and horrifying, and to this day, we don't know who owns this barge. A whole huge section of the canal wall was taken out and you have to imagine that this played a large role in the devastation.

Collapsed house, Holy Cross neighborhoo Posted by Picasa

Cain and Rock St. Paul Church of God in Christ Posted by Picasa

devastation bet Florida and Claiborne Posted by Picasa

Car on levee Posted by Picasa

US MATTRESS Posted by Picasa

total devastation Claiborne and Florida Posted by Picasa

To my friends Posted by Picasa

Leave Cats HERE Posted by Picasa

Beauty spot Posted by Picasa

Lady from Mississippi 9th ward resident Posted by Picasa

Biker for Christ and his son Jeremy Posted by Picasa

Christmas tree sculpture on levee 9th ward Posted by Picasa

the gang Posted by Picasa

Inside school bus Posted by Picasa

East Jerusalem Baptist Church Posted by Picasa

Headless Mary in the 9th ward Posted by Picasa

Headless Mary Posted by Picasa

About Me

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Rodger Kamenetz is an award-winning poet and author. He wrote the landmark international bestseller The Jew in the Lotus and the National Jewish Book Award-winning Stalking Elijah. His five books of poetry include The Lowercase Jew --he has been called “the most formidable of the Jewish-American poets”. His memoir, Terra Infirma, has been described as “the most beautiful book ever written about a mother and son.”

            His 2007 book, The History of Last Night's Dream, was featured on Oprah Winfrey's Soul Series. Kamenetz takes us on an historical tour of dreaming from Genesis to now, and shows how dreams have been misinterpreted. He then shows how dreams can be used today to reveal the truth of the soul.

In 2010 came Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka, a dual biography published by Schocken and Nextbook Press.

  Rodger lives in New Orleans where he divides his time between working with dream clients and writing poetry. He is married to fiction writer Moira Crone  and is the father of Anya Kamenetz (author of Generation Debt) and Kezia Kamenetz.


Rodger Kamenetz is Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State  University where he was the Sternberg Honors Professor and LSU Distinguished Professor. He held a dual appointment as a Professor in the Department of English and in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. He is the founding director of LSU's highly successful MFA program in Creative Writing, and the founding director of the Jewish Studies Program. His students have gone on to successful writing careers, among them poets Martha Serpas, Virgil Suarez, Mark Yakich and Anthony Kelman and fiction writers Olympia Vernon, Ronlyn Domingue, Laurie Lynn Drummond,and Connie Porter. He holds a B.A. from Yale College and graduate degrees from Johns Hopkins and Stanford Universities.