J. G. Ballard’s The Drowned World and Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren seem to offer some twentieth-century perspectives on the events of the past week. I have been thinking of Dhalgren in particular all week. This NYT sketch of the evacuated city certainly echoes it. I certainly hope Delany takes the time to write about what we’ve just watched.

Here lies Vera. God help us.

2 thoughts on “Time to reread

  1. hey….just got back to philly. my wife was freaking! had to get back. part of me wants to be in new orleans or at least memphis helping someone. but really I guess I needed to get back to my wife who has been alone through this. I read that article. so wierd. I pretty much almost know what it’s like, having been in new orleans in the after math of andrew, georges, and a coupla others when the city was almost vacated, power out, and trees down. it really is like that movie OMEGA MAN. but this this thing seem more like dawn of the dead at times….also I was in at least two major floods, so I know about the wading chest deep next to a floating s.u.v. thing….but none of those experiences involved organized looting, murder, and dead bodies. I can only imagine the horror.
    mike had to get a ride with a friend of ours named lakeview kid (real name patrick) who searched for hours for his two year old daughter and ex-wife to no avail. the hurricane turned into catagory 5 (the biggest, with 180 mile an hour winds) and headed for new orleans with only 24 hours before it hit the city. so a million people had 24 hours to leave a city that only has 3 highways that go over bridges leadiing out of it….(as you know, new orleans is an island surrounded by lakes, rivers and swamps) so you can imagine the chaos. total traffic jam. traffic jam with cars broken down, people freaking out, people running out of gas, and it takes 10 hours to go to baton rouge, which normally takes 90 minutes. so you have 24 hours to get out, except really you only have 20 or so hours because 4-6 hours before the hurricane hits, the winds start gusting up to 50-60 miles per hour and the soldiers block the exits to the city so no one will get killed on the bridges……so, there’s a little bit of panic in the streets, combined with questions like do you take your pet? do you take your wedding pictures? do you take your favorite records? do any of your friends need a ride? if so, can you get across town in the chaos to pick them up? anyway mike and lakeview kid (to make a long story short) on advice over the phone from amy, pick up this totally random 18 year old kid named woody on the way out of town who is wandering the streets with nowhere to go so they tell him GET IN THE CAR and give him a ride out too…lakeview kid had to leave behind a bunch of his personal possesions to make room for this kid woody, who niether he or mike even remotely knows, but they didn’t have the heart to leave this random stranger behind to fend for himself…
    for most of the 13 years I lived in new orleans, I didn’t have a car, so there was no way out anyway….so almost every hurricane I just sat in my house praying that it wasn’t going to be the one that destroyed new orleans. and it never was…until now~ and if I would have flown to new orleans instead of driving…I would not have had the remotest way out. I would have probably stayed with our friend catherine who had “two weeks worth of water, wine, and a boat.”
    I finally got ahold of her on the phone, she’s in baton rouge and when I said “I know you probably don’t want to talk about it…” shw said “no, I don’t, really”

    lakeview kid finally found his 2 year old daughter. she was in colorado! when will he see her again????????
    what a horrific situation this is. we played a coupla benifit type shows i guess you could call them that. (ironically everyone in the band except for me is homeless now anyway?!?! for that matter about half the audience was too….) but we did what we could, so we did this show in memphis (it beat sitting and watching cnn…) and about half the audience was our friends from new orleans…it was surreal to be playing a show in memphis with a new orleans crowd there…and everyone was homeless. no-one knew where they were going or what they were going to do. some of them I realized I won’t see for months or even years..some I may never see again! what a horror. but everyone put on a good face and we all had fun. and oddly, I know this is petty, but there were about ten people there I’ve dj’d with in new orleans….people who have amazing record collections…and I actually cried thinking about all those amazing records….

  2. Hear hear on the Delany thought.

    A friend of mine who evacuated from New Orleans took Dhalgren with him and might finally get around to reading it now. I hadn’t thought how appropriate that is until reading your post.

    And Matty, that’s come crazy stuff.

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