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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New Orleans Lower 9th District April '07

If the Upper 9th is a sort of Wild West, the Lower 9th is a sort of post-bomb Hiroshima. It is quiet with very few people around save for the tourists driving around with cameras like myself- over 18 months after Katrina. There are many vacant lots where houses have been razed and tall grass has reclaimed the plot after a lengthy interruption. Zac says that each time he has come to see it, there are fewer structures; more open land. Hand written, makeshift streetsigns have been put up on poles, since the old ones have vanished. The levee wall is standing again and what once was a neighborhood is now like a field splattered with misshapen houses that crumbled in on themselves or floated to new resting spots and positions. The doors are usually gone and you can look in to see washers and dryers, toilets, bicycles, couches, desks, mattresses, light fixtures overturned or jumbled together. There was a water heater that had somehow floated up to an attic. In one house you could see some clothes hanging neatly, totally anomalous to the mashed potato crunch of most everything else. It is voyeuristic, peering in to the empty broken rooms searching out the everyday articles that belonged to other people’s lives before the last hours when they had to flee or drown. Like the broken watch that was laying on a mattress, every house was a picture of time standing still and broken.

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