Friday, July 27, 2007

Louisiana on the Front Lines

Things here have been good. We are in Lafayette tonight. The show at 307 went really well and the place was really nice too. Lafayette is interesting because it's apparently much more Cajun, (historically lower-class, more recently-arrived French-Canadian outcasts) and less Creole (like upper-class New Orleans French). We met a guy, Devon, who grew up down on the Bayous south of here and he gave us a tour of Grand Isle and the rest of the swampland. Devon told us that Grand Isle used to be a mile away from the water, but since the Mississippi River was damned in the 50s coastal errosion has brought the Gulf of Mexico within 100 yards of town. Someday, he said, the water will overtake the town.

Then we had dinner with his dad who fixed us a boiled shrimp dinner. It consisted of 20lbs of shrimp and vegetables boiled in a ten gallon pot over an open propane torch in a garage. He stirred it with a wooden boat paddle and it was served straight onto a newspaper-covered folding table. Very authentic and very delicious.

Before that we were in New Orleans and the guy who ran the RV Park we stayed at, Corry, lived in a parish just outside the Ninth Ward. He took us around to see the devastation. At first it didn't look too bad. Most of the houses were still standing in his neighborhood. But then you looked closer and you could see most of the houses were completely vacant, with very few people returning. Every one had an X spray painted on the front of it. Corry told us that the X meant that rescue workers had searched the house for bodies and then there were other marks that meant they had found someone or not, or if they had found pets, etc. Then we drove over to where the levee broke and there were only cement staircases with tall grasses for blocks and blocks. The experience was profound and I hope it transfers over into the film.

All told, Louisiana is, as Kate has said before, the front lines of industry and the economic trade-offs we've made in bringing petrolium into our lives here in this country. Almost everyone here lives off oil money, yet oil has been cause for some of the worst problems the state faces.

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