Friday, September 02, 2005

Laissez les bons temps roulez

orleans boat

It's been an interesting week for news stories hasn't it?

Ordinarily I would be preoccupied with the video clip of one of the suspected London bombers making his testament which was screened on TV tonight.

It’s a curious thing, appearing as it has almost two months after the bombings. I’m impressed at the speed at which the person in the tape was confirmed as being one of the bomb suspects, Mohammad Sidique Khan. It took over 24 hours for the Metropolitan police to identify the bloke they executed in Stockwell station, yet the major media networks managed to confirm the identity of the man in the tape instantaneously. Tape transmitted by Al Jazeera 9.00pm UK time. Bloke in tape identified as Mohammad Sidique Khan, without any qualification whatsoever, 9.01pm UK time.

It’s also curious how all those news channels that down-played the uncharacteristic absence of suicide bombers’ testaments have suddenly realised that they are pretty significant things. And, of course, the tape was released through via Al Jazeera, so if it turns out to be bollocks or doesn’t actually constitute an admission to the 7/7 attacks well, it didn’t come from ‘official’ sources did it? So, it’s a fully deniable one way bet. Nice.

I've been waiting for something like this since the Stockwell Shooting statements were leaked. I’ll wait to see the full unedited version before I wet my pants over the significance of this little gem.

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Pretty slick timing on the release of the video though. Banging it out whilst everyone, including myself, is fully occupied with the horrors unfolding in Louisiana and Mississippi.

I’ve spent maybe, on and off, six months living in New Orleans. And maybe another five or six months on top of that travelling around the rest of the South. And because I spent some time there, and because I am wired the way I am, I had the opportunity to visit places a little off the beaten track and saw how the other half live.

You don’t have to travel very far actually. Two blocks north of the famous French Quarter, past North Rampart Street, and New Orleans started to look less like Party City and more like something from the Third World.

The Black Third World.

The thing that really chokes you up about those shitty, unmentioned places is just how decent and nice most of the people who live there are; courteous, friendly and hard-working. The kind of people you get chatting with at bus stops at 5.00am in the morning on their way to shitty cleaning jobs.

New Orleans is full of people like that.

And even after the hurricane and the flooding it still is.

Forget for a moment a smirking George Bush telling excrutiating lies about the effectiveness of the relief effort. Forget also the hypocrisy of a regime that spends $1,000,000,000,000 on an unnecessary overseas war, yet let’s entire cities and coastlines drown for lack of adequate defences. Just focus on all those people wilting on the streets of News Orleans, surrounded by their own shit and God knows what else.

What we’re looking at on television right now is the unusual spectacle of a major US city’s entire underclass laid out in the open, after it was left behind to drown. The single largest heap of dirty laundry in US history.

Not many white middle-class folks on-screen are there?

It’s our grubby little secret. We stomp and swagger all over the World and tell everyone, and ourselves, how fucking great we are, whilst meanwhile back at home millions of our citizens live shit lives. Really, really shit lives. Only, normally, our noses aren’t jammed into the truth so we don't have to worry about it. So much for all that bullshit rhetoric about declaring war on global poverty. We can't even keep our own house in order.

It’s not just New Orleans, it’s every American city. It’s not just America, it’s the UK and every other country in the developed world. London is certainly no different. There is the London portrayed in Olympic bid promotional videos and then there’s the London I know, and that London is much, much bigger than most of us would like to believe.

So lap up the show. That’s a rare glimpse into the dark heart of our way of life we’re being treated to and it’s going to swept under the carpet as soon as inhumanly possible.

7 comments:

Postman said...

Here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave it's a little like the phony war in '39.

Nothing is happening, The NOLA police are holed up in their stations - with depleted staff simply defending themselves whilst many colleagues have passed up their job, presumably to look after houses, property, and families, many youngor elderly and sick.

Ther is no power, mains drinking water, sewage systems, food, gas, petrol, diesel.

Tourists aching to exit are denied by armed police and fall prey to thugs.

There is a string stench of shit .. and it's coming from the White House.

Here in Middle America as CNN and Fox roll out scenes of third world horror on American soil there is hofified disbelief. THis is compounded by the tales (on CNN, ABC, CNN,Fox ) of years of stalling on building the sinking levess, the stripping of funds for Iraq, the whole of the Louisiana National Guard and 40% of the Mississippi National Guard in Iraq.

Apart from Condi the Whore on terror, tricking herself out on a pair of $3,500 Furrugamo pumps, and spending the night at a Broadway comedy - the politicians usually who are so anxious to be seen on TV have taken flight.

No-one wants to be associated with this crock.

de said...

This maybe the first time the internet has truly skewered the government. Anyone following the interdictor's live journal commentary know how truly bad things are.

This feels like a bit of a turning point for part of the administration not wired on war.

jackenstein of all trades said...

http://www.boingboing.net/2005/09/01/live_policeradio_sca.html
>>>
Live police/radio scanner from New Orleans
Haven't checked this out, don't know where it's from, YMMV, caveat streamer, etc. But is purported to be a stream of NOLA area radio scans
<<<

Ryan said...

Diddo, Stef. Everybody comes to America thinking it's one big yellow brick road. True, we do have a lot of freedoms, but so does ever other nation in the Western world. Also, like a lot of the western world nations, the USA can secretely be extremely ghetto. I live in Hartford CT, and just like a lot of other cities, we've got a drug war (thanks Reagan!) but not everybody in the hood chooses to live an immoral life - actually probably over 90 percent of the people are awesome, sweet, real people. I'll never forget a song lyric Pink once said..."Once I fed the homeless, I'll never forget/ the look upon their faces as I treated them with respect" - that song made me cry when I first heard it.

jackenstein of all trades said...

just dropping by with this
"Go here to hear the uncensored version of the interview that New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin did with a New Orleans radio station last night. CNN played parts of this but censored it."

Stef said...

@jackenstein: thanks for the links, particularly for the Nagin interview. It sounded slightly different when played in its edited form on the TV didn't it?

@postman: In the same vein as the Condi story, did you see the one about the hungry evacuees having to stop their lunch so Laura Bush could visit them?

http://tinyurl.com/8zaac

@de: skewered? God I hope so.

@ryan: One of the things that has really struck me about the coverage is the way the media has been harping on about looting and gangs. Yet those poor souls at the conference centre struck me as being anything but violent. Quite well-behaved actually, considering all that has gone down

Shahid said...

Great post Stef.