Friday, May 23, 2008

A Quarter to Midnight in 1970

I finally finished New Orleans After the Promises by Kent Germany.

There's one last passage I'd like to reproduce:


During his mayoral campaign, Landrieu articulated plans to attack organized crime and the drug trade and to improve the police department. He called for fiscal reform and for tax redistribution. He promised to make City hall more efficient, to rehabilitate "blighted areas," to secure more outside funding, and to "purify" Lake Ponchartrain. Over the next few years as mayor, Landrieu's efforts seemed to work. Errol Laborde, a local publisher and commentator, remarked that the image of the city as a backward-looking, stagnant society dominated by elites was being proven false. Landrieu's agenda was rooted in the idea that investing in individuals and building self-awareness were cornerstones of economic growth. "To live a life as a responsible citizen," he declared, "man must have hope" and must have proof that "the American economic system has failed no one." The poor, he asserted, "want to work, to achieve, to give meaning and substance to their lives, to become substantial and responsible citizens capable of bearing their fair load." The economic system had been wonderful in providing a high standard of living, but its failure for the poor meant it had failed everyone. He worried in particular about New Orleans's "unfortunate drive toward self-destruction." It was "a quarter to midnight," New Orleans could not "afford anything less than the truth about itself."


So I guess now we're about 5 till? Or are we already ten past?

Germany's narrative points to the Mark Essex rampage as indicative of the larger deterioration of widespread progressive political reform efforts and of the promise of the Landrieu administration.

For whatever reason, this paragraph really jumped off the page for me.

4 comments:

Leigh C. said...

Damn! We are still trying to slog past those times when this place had a hard time seeing its own shadow. And I'm still trying to slog through that book...

E said...

Don't get bogged down in the acronyms, the specifics are less important than the historical themes, if you're, as I was, looking for modern lessons.

The last two chapters were really fascinating for that.

Maitri said...

Call me hopeful, but I believe that as long as humans are alive even in the worst conditions, we will always have 30 seconds till.

E said...

Sort of like when a parent gives a child till the count of three to do something but extends the last second: 2 and a half ..... two and three quarters ......