Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Slouching towards Bethlehem

New Orleans continues its descent into the primordial ooze.

Last night, another blogger and I, neighborhoods apart, watched the same television-news report on the city's use of only 3 million dollars of the 16 million funded by FEMA for reparations to our public playgrounds. I was reminded of this essay I had read earlier in the day when the head of NORD (a black man) exclaimed in exasperation, “I can go out and champion against (sic) everyone and be unemployed. I have a family. I love doing what I'm doing. For me to go against my superior or employer, where will that leave me? ... I've sat with Mayor Nagin and expressed my concerns.”

It was sad to realize that those being hurt by having no place to gather together and play were the black children of New Orleans. How will you deal the race card in this instance, Mr. Mayor? Or is this just another brown paper bag test?

While your cronies dance barefoot in rooms full of dollars, our children must maneuver around nails and shards of glass. If it were ever in doubt that your actions since Katrina have been intended to radically alter the face of this city by driving its underclass out, it is becoming clearer and clearer with each passing day.

You seem to have no conscience. You clearly have no shame. A man would stand up and do the right thing, but you have been neutered.

By whom, and for what, sir?

I took as my title for this post the alternate title for The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats. Here is the poem:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in the sands of the desert.

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


  1. Here in Miyazaki there are small parks and playgrounds tucked into wherever they can put them. I swear, you can't walk more than a couple of blocks in any direction without coming across one. This is in probably the most crowded of developed countries (and I've noticed the same thing in much bigger places like Tokyo). Cities need these areas like you and I need peace of mind. Kids need to play outside, and parents need to see them playing. I ain't got no degree in urban planning, but any fucking idiot politician should know this.

    It's fucking weird, but I'd be willing to bet that a kid in Tokyo gets more outside play, at the taxpayer's expense, than any kid in America.

  2. It's horrible. And they're largely relying on volunteer groups like Kaboom to build what playgrounds there are in this city while still withholding most of the money that should have been used for giving the children of this city good places to go and play. Play is essential for learning, but all people like Nagin see is the color green and how best they can keep it for themselves.


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