Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Southern Storm

Born and raised in New Orleans, I have a warm appreciation for, what some call, a country all it's own. It's music, food, culture, and even smells were unique and utterly endearing to all who lived or visited. Most famous for its French-Creole architecture with Spanish influences, it was the quintessential vacation spot for all.

The dialog over these past years regarding Katrina has outraged those who knew the city, particularly me. I was 9 when a similar disaster changed lives and threw communities into disbelief and rage as well.

It was 1965 when Hurricane Betsy arrived in the crescent city. I recall the excitement of having to leave school at 10:30am because of the coming storm. My father prepared the house, boarding up windows and gathering extra water for the worse possible scenario. We went to the stores and bought everything that was not already purchased, as the entire city was out shopping as well. And by nightfall, the winds came and the lights eventually went out.

My dad had gone outside in winds of almost 85 miles an hour to check on neighbors. When he returned he was shouting orders and very anxious. Water had begun to move over the expanse of land that separated our home from the corner of the block. To see it coming in the moonlight was indescribable.

We forged our way to Holy Cross High School for shelter. In the end, we lost our home and most of the real estate that my dad had nurtured and lived on.

He was a community leader for the Lower Ninth Ward, one of the poorest areas of the city. Along with other city officials and community heads, they learned that the levee had been compromised by dynamite.

This was the information that I gathered while listening-in on adult conversations and speaking to others as I grew into my teens. I understood it well. An undercurrent of racial tension and greed existed that tourists and fans of the city did not know. The ninth ward, as impoverished as it seemed, was thriving and boosted a homeownership rate of 59 percent compared to the 46 percent of the parish as a whole. If not financially strong, it was healthy and stable, with some of the strongest grassroots and civic organizations in the city. There were efforts all the time to purchase the land of these residents by city state and national groups but they were faced with strong resistance. This was the climate of the Lower Ninth Ward.

It was understood that there would be a flood in that tremendous hurricane, but where and how? Should it affect prime property in the city or could it be diverted and thus save a thriving upper-class community. This was the premise for many. I feel the same.

Such conflict spawned leaders and activists. My father became the State Representative of the Lower Ninth Ward. His story, when he finally writes it, speaks of corruption from high places, places not seen from the humble streets of proud New Orleanians.

The landscape of New Orleans just before Katrina was not picturesque. Crime was the worse in the country. Big business left. People like myself left to find greener pastures only to learn that the grass was greener and taller in New Orleans.

So when Katrina came and the city experienced the worse catastrophe of our time, everyone who's heart was in it knew the truth. (1) The sound of the explosion was heard by many. The question that remains is "Why?" Government cover-ups are the threads which tie this country together. Who's plan was this?

The place where the levee broke during Katrina was literally in the backyard where I once lived. Who better to tell the story than I?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Call Me

I've been giving thought to the great and much sought after gadget called cell phones. It seems the best invention since TV. But since it's inclusion in the world of communication, the quality of life has plummeted.

Years ago when there was only land line usage, we were hostage to the confines of our homes for making and receiving calls. It meant going an entire day at work before finally arriving at home to learn of some important event missed while away. Or arriving at a shopping mall to pick-up your child only to learn, after hours of waiting, that your child has already left with a friend. It was very inconvenient, and cell phones became our salvation. Yet did they?

One Christmas I'd given my 14 year old a phone because it would help me monitor her after-school activities. She loved me for it. I was at her fingertips and she mine until the novelty wore off. It was no longer a pleasure and a comfort when I was capable of knowing her every move. So, on those occasions when she was late arriving home and I was interested enough to dial her number, her phone was inconveniently turned off. It was the beginning of a nightmare.

But there was a mutual freedom that she and I did enjoy. She no longer tied-up my land line for hours. Instead, she talked in her room as long as she desired ... after 7pm of course. With the land line I always knew if she was on the phone. Now I had to knock on her door to find out.
Sometimes it could be 1 or 3am.

On one occasion she was dating a special boy who phoned her day and night. My routine was to get both of my kids in bed by 11pm, and up the next day by 7. So as we said our good-nights, one evening, I assumed conditions were as they always had been. At 3am, needing water from the kitchen, I heard giggling and peeked into her room. She was wide awake and chatting up a storm.

There's nothing new about the abuse of cell phone usage. Situations like this go on in most households across the country. I also observe it while shopping, on college campuses, and in cars. Young people in particular have found this to be an alternative to the usual human social interactions that were once the basis for human connection. Gone are the days of the casual smile or greeting along a sidewalk or in the doctor's office. Some are too busy on phones to recognize on opportunity to talk to the person next to him. Although certainly not the case for everyone, cell phones have become the catalyst for the breakdown of human exchange; eye to eye, face to face. As necessary a tool it may be for society, does it out-weigh the advantages of interpersonal relationships had on our streets, highways and byways?

I add this to the growing trend for video games. In a 24 hour day, where is there time for thought, of serious contemplation, of sports activities or study? After learning the statistics from schools all across the country, we seem to have created a generation of (1) gamers and internet surfers who spend the rest of their leisure on cell phones.

I can't help think this is part of some grand plan. It's obvious that in the near future there will be fewer well-rounded personalities capable of driving a country or running a business. We'll be too submerged in the entertainment of cell phones and other time consuming gadgets to make the big decisions. Who's plan was this?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Eyes Wide Shut

In 1974 I found myself standing on the lawn of my 'newly enrolled' college campus. Burdened with books and the weight of the coming 5 years of study ahead of me, I stood alone and petrified, on the brink of knowledge and change.

There were students, the future leaders, future mothers and fathers of the country, walking, talking, sitting and conversing with an energy that I didn't yet command. So it was a surprise when a young man carrying a hand-full of papers, bounced up to me and thrust 3 or 4 stapled sheets into my face. He told me to read it. He said it would change my life. He said "... down with the system". I had no clue what he was talking about.

So I giggled; he'd taken me by surprise. I tucked the papers in with my books and went to class. Later, I found a bench and began to read the xeroxed pages.

I didn't know to believe in the Illuminati, the new world government, or corruption at the hands of those in places higher than president Nixon or Ford. I was excited by the possibility of new knowledge and I asked everyone I knew to read the material as well. I was merely looking for answers, and hoping that someone could show me, finally, that the information I'd read was false.

And what I learned was that people were afraid to question that which could change their stable realities: the US government could not possibly be the root of evil doings, there were no secret societies with great untold knowledge and power, the idea of placing a mark or chip on our bodies to monitor and control was merely science fiction, and we are the only beings in the universe.

The same people would have been convinced that the world was flat.

And now, moving forward 27 years, America gets a wake-up call. 911 was engineered by powers unknown. Was this the first malicious act at the hands our government? Of course not.

Is there a chip created to monitor and control people? Yes. They're being placed in pets and children for GPS tracking. It won't stop there. Under the guise of security, I suspect that there will be a mandate that everyone be implanted with such a device. The ramifications are astronomical. Just as the manipulated attacks on 911 facilitated reasons for such barbaric exploitations as racial profiling and phone-tapping, a micro-chip can put the last vestige of freedom that we as individuals have into the hands of corrupt and barbaric leaders.

We're just waking up from an overdose of BS. Wipe the coal from your eyes and take a good look at the issues. Was aides a disease that sorta-just showed up in African monkeys (why at that time?) during the 19th century or was it man-made? Could Katrina and other world disasters be a man-made front to create new world order? Why not. 911 was a hoax so why imagine that it was the only horrific abuse create to fuel the needs of master powers on this planet? It's worth checking into.

Confronting the issues is important for a free world. Close your eyes and your children and grandchildren can become slaves to one society run by few instead of many. Thirty three years later, since I was in college, the theories are taking shape. I don't have enough answers but I continue to ask questions.