I’ve been thinking through the summer of 2005 a lot lately. Not just because of Katrina 10 hype — though that’s a huge part of it — but also because of the quality of this summer’s heat; the varying kinds of emotional energy that have been flowing through both my life and the lives of people I love; my frequent visits to Sisters in Christ, which has an ambiance that is, to me, reminiscent of pre-Katrina New Orleans (must be all the early 2000s emo); and, most significantly, because I recently dredged up some old emails from the weeks surrounding the storm, which help me to reconstruct small pieces of my Katrina experience.
I started journaling many of these thoughts, memories, mental moments, reconstructions, and after-images. Most are my own personal memories; but some are the experiences of others that have haunted me or otherwise hidden themselves in my mind. They may find a home in a zine at some point, but for now, I’m sharing a few of them below…
Wake up to the sound of a pile driver thumping, the clack and hammer and building, mixed-income and private condominium and storefront and on-ramp and sunrise. It’s 6:40 AM. Watch the videos caught with a drone as it flies over an expanding sink hole. Listen to interviews, ingest media of all kinds, with an open heart of flare stacks and fiber-optic fencing along rail lines and through the structural decay and accretion of decades and eons of the physics that we wear as skin. Feel the flaring hometown and halogen basement downtown, both of them concrete and metal, both ticking like turn signals and gliding like tail lights whether walking or driving or biking or even standing still. Photons, Facebook, oil and gas. Node compile_incidents, git push and there it is on a map, all the points upon pixels that give contour to this shapeless capitalism that envelopes your world in its own distinct atmosphere. “Flaring as seen from the Luling Bridge at 8:10pm on January 3rd. Very bright, looked like a forty foot flame at least!” Eat, shower, watch Netflix, find peace.
Original 19th Century Plantation Map: LA-MS 1858— 1,136k. Baton Rouge to New Orleans showing land owners. Modified from Norman’s chart of the lower Mississippi River, by A. Persac. Engraved, printed & mounted by J. H. Colton & Co., New York. Library of Congress.