The title of the article is:
How the fates of two great cities, Detroit and New Orleans, symbolize what's gone wrong with America.
What brings up the bile for me is this comment in the Salon writer's piece: "Is it pure coincidence that these two landmark cities, known around the world as fountainheads of the most vibrant and creative aspects of American culture, have become our two direst examples of urban failure and collapse?"
Ah yes. The rise of the 'journalists' who never leave the comfort of their own desks before spouting off at the keyboard. Because had this write done so, he would KNOW -- just from a two day trip -- that while the post Katrina recovery in the past 7-8 years has had its share of tragedy, despair, and frustration, New Orleans today has more than 1100 new restaurants than its' Pre-Katrina calamity. Or that neighborhoods have been rebuilt better, smarter, and safer. Or that musicians have their own new homes. Or that summer festivals like Satchmo fill the streets, and that White Linen night has folks voluntarily walking in the August sun and heat. Or that the Essence Music Festival - held in New Orleans in July for crying out loud - is one of the most important "be seen" events in the music industry.
Had this lazy piece of crap writer taken a trip to New Orleans, he'd know that Mayor Mitch has done many things in advance of a Super Bowl. Improvement to sidewalks, streets, and trollies. He have known all that. Way back in the 20th century writers used to do that type of research. Maybe he did take a trip, and forgot to write about it in his piece. But he didn't visit the city, because he had done so he would have found information first hand not found on page one of Google or on Nola.com.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? You bet. Detroit's shot with the piece was this:
Detroit - this year
Now, a simple phone call or email would have yielded information on New Orleans that would have shown that - horrors! While it takes time to rebuild, it's not a generational purgatory of restoration. Here's a photograph that captures the polar opposite of what NOLA and the Motor City have become:
New Orleans, this August
What the writer completely misses is that post calamity there's this quirkly little thing called the human spirit that seems to take over. Not government. Hell, government's lesson in Katrina was made clear - you are on your own. It's stay out of the way and let the people do it. It's that people make the city - people opening bars and hotel like the Saint. People opening pop up kitchens and restaurants. Lawyers groups like AAJ deciding to come to New Orleans for a meeting, where 2,000+ people will party and have a good time. It's the Edge, Brad Pitt and others building homes for residents.
The next time some writer decides to compare New Orleans to any city in America, some 'lawyerly" advice before doing so: Walk the land first. Katrina will always be a part of the history of New Orleans, as opposed to the present. I know this sounds crazy, but leave the comfort of your office of loft. Endure the bugs.
The real shame of the article? It's not the message that right is to blame - whatever the "right" political boogey man might look like - or that the right that hates a city. It's what a city is or might be able to do with itself after it hits rock bottom. I don't mean financial rock bottom, I mean hundeds of lives lost, elderly drowning in nursing homes, animal carcasses floating in the street, whole neighborhoods obliterated rock bottom.
Come see me during Mardi Gras, Salon writer. New Orleans made it back. Could Detroit?