Lying Media Bastards

September 27, 2005

Weird Tales of Despair


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You can read plenty of first-hand accounts of the New Orleans floods, but here’s one from one of my favorite journalist/writer guys, Matt Taibbi. Somehow he went along with the strange Sean Penn rescue mission into New Orleans, and stayed behind for a while afterwards. Fortunately, it’s not any kind of puff piece about how Penn is a Noble Actor. Actually, Penn doesn’t show up that much in the article at all. What does? Taibbi tries to get the lay of the land, so to speak, who’s doing what, what’s going on, how people are getting along or not getting along. A taste:

Everyone by now has seen the video and knows what much of New Orleans looked like that week. But it’s worse than it looks on television. What you miss on TV is the panoramic view, the dead stillness on the edges of the horizon in all directions, the whole sky filthy with helicopters. The vast scale of death and ruin is something that’s impossible to grasp until you’re in the middle of it. The black water sitting on top of New Orleans itself feels like a living thing, like a sci-fi creature that has swallowed a whole country and throbs faintly with malevolent life. It sends a chill up your spine to be out on top of it; it’s as if you can feel it breathing…

The centers of the streets are mostly still; the edges ripple slightly with floating things. In all directions the houses and buildings are smashed and every nook and cranny is fouled with garbage, sewage and debris. The first body we see is an older man facedown on the edge of a narrow street lined with crooked houses; we later see a woman bobbling in a parking lot, her skin bursting with huge gas bubbles. Most of the houses still contain the family dogs, who sit on the porches, keeping guard. This adds to the impression that these battered, broken-down neighborhoods have not been destroyed at all but have simply changed form, like an animal with two sets of skin — that these neglected, pissed-on city blocks have really looked like this underneath all along.

Posted by Jake on September 27, 2005 9:34 am

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