Christmas scene on a stoop in Lakeview, near the breach of the 17th Street Canal.

UPDATE: November 30th, 2005. One step up, two steps back. I had these two new galleries ready last month. But then I accidentally deleted the password to my ftp site, and was unable to upload anything to the site. Thus, the picture of the week is a month old, and the galleries sat unseen.

We are back in the house for good. Vaughan's Lounge hosted Thanksgiving dinner for the neighborhood. It seemed like an appropriate time to return. The Bywater has come back to life, but things are far from routine. The power goes out once a week, sometimes for as long as a day. It goes out every time it rains. My friend Steve at the Sugar Park Tavern had started up again like gang busters, making pizza well past curfew in early October. But then there were problems with the gas pressure and he couldn't get the ovens hot enough for more than two weeks. Most of our block is back. Ms Teresa came back today. We had a long wonderful hug in the middle of the street. While most of the refrigerators have finally been picked up, the piles of debris are continue to grow. The one next door began as a small pile of branches. It is now ten feet high and twenty feet wide and includes limbs, furniture, books, and children's toys.

Today is the last day of the Atlantic hurricane season. The record year has seen 26 named storms, including the current tropical storm Epsilon. There have been 13 Hurricanes, seven of them major (Category Three or greater), four of them hit the U.S. Mainland. It was the first time that the National Weather Service had to use the Greek alphabet after it had exhausted the annual list of assigned names.

In New Orleans, it's all politics now. Not that it was any different before. Displaced residents and small business owners are waiting to see if the federal government will make a commitment to rebuild the levees before they decide to return to the city. In the meantime, a city that was once predominately black has now become mostly white. There are some that would like to to remain this way. But those of us who are committed to staying are the first to understand that this is unacceptable. We recognize that a "white" New Orleans will have no soul. It will have no culture. It will have no heart. And if this city is to have no heart, then I will leave. Because it will no longer be the New Orleans that I love, that I have called home for a quarter of my life. It will be, as a suggested in an earlier update, a Disneyland for white folks.

I have mounted two new galleries. The first one is from a trip I made to the Mississippi Gulf Coast in early October. The devastation of Bay St. Louis and Waveland continues to amaze me. Whole blocks were turned to rubble. The fire chief showed us the fire station where he and his volunteer staff hunkered down as the water rose almost six feet in the station. He fought back the tears as he told of early television reports that said everyone in Waveland was dead. It was more than three days before families discovered their love ones were actually still alive. There was the narcotics officer who huddled on the roof of the police station with 14 colleagues for seven hours until the storm passed. And then there were the hippies. Members of the Rainbow family arrived in Waveland the Saturday after the storm and set up camp in the parking lot of Fred's Dollar Store. They were organized long before FEMA or the Red Cross and was the first group serving hot food on the Coast. However, the destruction on the Gulf Coast continues to be overshadowed by the devastation in New Orleans.

The second update, The Muck, Part II is simply a collection of various shapes and patterns I observed in the drying muck in the Lower Ninth Ward and in St. Bernard Parish. It will be mounted shortly. I promise to try to update more regularly and to continue to fight for the soul of my adopted city. Why? Because it is worth the fight.

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