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Old 02-09-2006, 03:38 AM   #1
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5 months since Katrina

Todd Martens Sun Feb 5, 5:44 PM ET

LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - Like nearly every house in New Orleans, Bethany Bultman's home has holes in its roof. Buckets to catch rainwater surround her desk, and she is hesitant to go out at night. Much of her neighborhood is still completely without power.

She is one of the lucky ones. Leaky roof aside, her house suffered little damage, and she has a second one in Massachusetts, a world away from the devastation Hurricane Katrina inflicted last August. Bultman admits to missing her Cape Cod getaway, but she cannot bring herself to abandon New Orleans. There would be the guilt of leaving behind the city and those who are suffering, but more important, there are checks to write.

Bultman inscribes upwards of 70 per week, each for $100, each given to a New Orleans musician. To date, her efforts have been funded largely by donations from Pearl Jam and nonprofit organization Jazz Aspen Snowmass; she recently was promised $250,000 from MusiCares, the Recording Academy's charitable arm.

The checks Bultman writes are allocated only to those who work, which these days in New Orleans can mean performing at a club in front of a handful of Federal Emergency Management Agency workers.

On many nights, money from the door is minimal or nonexistent. Bultman hopes her $100 subsidy is enough to dissuade someone from taking a gig in another city. If instruments and artifacts from the city's musical heritage were washed away, then New Orleans' soul -- the musicians who define it -- must stay.

"As the time wore on," Bultman says, "more and more musicians who were dumped all over the country wanted to come back. We soon realized that this is really about giving people instruments and giving people hope, and that's when we started paying the gig fees."

Two months ago, Bultman, a writer/historian and the co-founder of the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, was urging displaced musicians to return to the city. She started the clinic with her husband in 1998 with the assistance of Dr. Jack B. McConnell, the developer of Tylenol tablets whose son, Page, played keyboards for the band Phish. With a mix of pride and a dedication to preserving a music culture that she says "percolates out of the ground," Bultman hoped all New Orleans' evacuees would soon be returning.

'NEW ORLEANS IS NOT A HEALTHY PLACE'

Reality, however, soon sunk in, and now she is not so sure. "The goal was to get everyone we could get back to New Orleans," she says. "Now that we're back, we've moved away from that. We've moved away from the fantasy that everything would go back to the way it was. New Orleans is just not a healthy place for everyone to come to."

Eight of the city's ZIP codes are still without full power, according to the January 24 status report from the mayor's office. The area affected most by Katrina -- the Ninth Ward -- remains under curfew, and 911 emergency availability is scattered. Few hospitals are open, and the New Orleans Musicians' Clinic, which had free use of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, has lost such privileges, as much of the facility needs extensive repairs.

And for many, life was not all that great before Katrina. One in four of the city's residents lived below the poverty line, and a great number of its working musicians relied on a steady influx of tourists.

Bultman stays in touch with the national organizations providing relief to New Orleans musicians, including MusiCares, which announced its pledge in support of her efforts January 25.

She is heartened by the outpouring of generosity of her top donors and has nothing but praise for MusiCares. But five months after Katrina, Bultman feels that little has been accomplished. Nearly all of the 200 musicians she helps lack a place to live. She worries the situation will only get worse with a dearth of health care and tries to communicate to the national associations that the effort to restore the music community in New Orleans is one that will take years -- and one that will happen one saxophone at a time.

RETURN TO SELF-SUFFICIENCY

Pianist Joe Krown was playing 12 gigs per week prior to Katrina. His wife, who worked at Tulane University Hospital, was laid off after the hurricane. He filled out the paperwork for nearly every charity dedicated to helping musicians.

"I have a mortgage and a rent and no income, and before I said anything more to a couple of them, there was a check in the mail," Krown says. "That happened with MusiCares and the Musicians' Clinic and the Jazz Foundation."

He also benefited from the New Orleans Musicians' Relief Fund, which was started by one-time dB's member Jeff Beninato and his wife, Karen. Along with Chicago rock group Wilco, the couple brought Krown and such musicians as Leroy Jones, George French, Craig Klein and Cranston Clements to Chicago for a benefit show that raised more than $100,000.

Beninato says he started the charity two days after Katrina hit New Orleans, and a few days after that he heard from MusiCares. He began working with the national organization, providing names of musicians he knew were still in New Orleans.

Beninato is re-outfitting the New Wave Brass Band, hoping to get the big band in marching form for Mardi Gras. Providing instruments for working New Orleans musicians has become a group effort, and MusiCares is at the forefront. Wick says the charity has helped more than 600 musicians get new instruments, and he says MusiCares receives between 30 and 80 applications per day.

MusiCares has partnered with Gibson and the Guitar Center chain and launched its Music Rising replacement initiative in New Orleans with U2's the Edge. While an unknown number of musicians still need a place to live, they need the instruments to make a living.

Krown, for one, says he was able to replace some equipment thanks to MusiCares, and the program has made it easier for him to be self-sufficient. "It was starting to feel like I was begging, and I have too much pride for that," Krown says.

Reuters/Billboard
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Old 02-09-2006, 05:55 AM   #2
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Thanks for that. New Orleans was always music (and food). No place like it anywhere. Such a blend of flavor. I don't know that it will ever be near the same, but I appreciate the effort to keep the spirit alive, if not the reality yet.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:33 AM   #3
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The Katrina evacuees who stayed in our home for several months have gone back a couple times to check on their house (destroyed); their friends and neighbors (a couple dead; most displaced, struggling to put a new life together elsewhere; a few hanging on, in despair, under pitiful conditions); and their children's beloved dog (fate unknown, most likely dead). While they bitterly miss the culture, the excitement, the accents, the music, the food, and that utterly singular Franco-Southern joie de vivre, they will no longer be going back because, for them as for so many others, there is simply no place left for them there anymore. I had a student last semester who lost his father in the floods and he, too, will not be going back. Here in the Midwest, farmers are growing increasingly frightened for their own livelihoods with the longterm future of NO's ports uncertain.

MusiCares is keeping many devastated musicians economically afloat, and for that alone it is wholly worthwhile, but it will never achieve its goal of restoring the glory of NO's music scene if the city at large is not restored also. And it seems most unlikely that it will be.

All the political footballing and second-guessing aside, it is an awful thing to see such a proud, vibrant, irreplaceably world-class American city laid so low.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:06 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland

MusiCares is keeping many devastated musicians economically afloat, and for that alone it is wholly worthwhile, but it will never achieve its goal of restoring the glory of NO's music scene if the city at large is not restored also. And it seems most unlikely that it will be.

All the political footballing and second-guessing aside, it is an awful thing to see such a proud, vibrant, irreplaceably world-class American city laid so low.
I haven´t heard of many plans to restore it
Where is the American political initiative?

Great that you took some evacuees.

I still wish New Orleans´ glory will be restored.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by yolland
MusiCares is keeping many devastated musicians economically afloat, and for that alone it is wholly worthwhile, but it will never achieve its goal of restoring the glory of NO's music scene if the city at large is not restored also. And it seems most unlikely that it will be.

All the political footballing and second-guessing aside, it is an awful thing to see such a proud, vibrant, irreplaceably world-class American city laid so low.
New Orleans is never going to be the same.
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:18 PM   #6
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It might never be the same, but is there enough effort and financial backing to restore it? Or will it just be left like it is?

You know me, I am saddened first and foremost. But I´m also a little bewildered. Where is the American pioneer spirit? How much has been granted by government/ Congress to rebuild the city?
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Old 02-09-2006, 06:31 PM   #7
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We don't yet really conceive of what we have lost.
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Old 02-09-2006, 07:58 PM   #8
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Mayor: New Orleans Will Seek Aid from Other Nations
Reuters

Monday 07 February 2006

New Orleans - Shortcomings in aid from the US government are making New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin look to other nations for help in rebuilding his hurricane-damaged city.

Nagin, who has hosted a steady stream of foreign dignitaries since Hurricane Katrina hit in late August, says he may seek international assistance because U.S. aid has not been sufficient to get the city back on its feet.

"I know we had a little disappointment earlier with some signals we're getting from Washington but the international community may be able to fill the gap," Nagin said when a delegation of French government and business officials passed through on Friday to explore potential business partnerships.

Jordan's King Abdullah also visited New Orleans on Friday and Nagin said he would encourage foreign interests to help redevelop some of the areas hardest hit by the storm.

"France can take Treme. The king of Jordan can take the Lower Ninth Ward," he said, referring to two of the city's neighborhoods.

Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and killed more than 1,300 people in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The Bush administration has pledged billions of dollars to Katrina victims but five months after the storm, New Orleans remains largely in ruins.

Nagin said his message to President George W. Bush would be that the federal government needs to refocus on the devastated area.

"We need your undivided attention over the next six months," he said. "We need backup. We need for you to make the words that you spoke in Jackson Square a reality."

Nagin was referring to the president's September 15 address to the nation from New Orleans, in which he pledged "we will do what it takes, we will stay as long as it takes" to rebuild.

French Transport Minister Dominique Perben, leading the French delegation to a city that was founded by France in 1718, said, "This catastrophe has deeply upset the French people and the French government."

France, Perben said through a translator, "wants to be a long-term partner for Louisiana and New Orleans."
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Old 02-09-2006, 08:11 PM   #9
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Great, maybe France, Jordan and other countries will make New Orleans a city again. It's embarrassing to the U.S. that the mayor is having to appeal for foreign aid to rebuild a city, but maybe that's inevitable when you have something on the scope of a Katrina.
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Old 02-09-2006, 10:41 PM   #10
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I got my Gibson Music Rising guitar today.......{I traded in one I was not using}....not only the fact that the proceeds go to Music Rising to help New Orleans musicians it is a great guitar. The store even gave me a free guitar strap and Bass Magazine with Adam on the cover and a special poster which promoted the guitar. They could not praise the guitar and the cause enough.

Seems Edge should be thanked for that great idea. Thank you, Edge.
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Old 02-10-2006, 12:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
Where is the American pioneer spirit? How much has been granted by government/ Congress to rebuild the city?
Well basically the "pioneer spirit", whatever there is left of it, is mired in a hopeless snafu of bureaucracy, inadequate funding, political infighting, rampant confusion about who promised who what and how much and when, and not incidentally a whole lot of mold, debris, and vicious-circle economic catastrophes resulting from the near-total loss of just about every industry that once kept New Orleans afloat. In no particular order and not even pretending to be comprehensive, here are a few relevant obstacles:

--As of right now, Congress has pared the original allocation of $3.1 billion for levee rebuilding and improvement down to a paltry $1.4 billion. Especially with climatologists predicting worse-than-usual hurricane seasons for several years to come, this is at best insanely risky. (Though as melon observed not long ago, one does have to question the ultimate wisdom of maintaining a major metropolis below sea level smack in the middle of a hurricane zone to begin with.)

--Congressional block grants for housing relief and reconstruction for the *whole state* amount to only $6.2 billion, with no future supplementation as yet being proffered. Most independent developers' estimates for NO alone place the needed funds at something more like $30 billion.

--Mold. Staggering, suffocating, multiplying like nothing you've ever seen before amounts of it. You probably have to have lived through rainy season in the Deep South to appreciate just how tenacious and destructive this stuff is. It costs more than $9000 PER HOME on average to achieve mold remediation.

--Debris. Of the estimated 50 million cubic yards of debris littering NO after Katrina, only 6 million have thus far been picked up. Gutted cars are strewn about everywhere too.

--Tourist industry? What tourist industry? Of the 15,000+ "cultural workers" (mostly musicians and chefs) New Orleans boasted before Katrina, more than 11,000 are completely out of a job, so understandably, most of them are looking elsewhere. All habitable hotels are currently housing evacuees and FEMA workers (though FEMA funding for said evacuees is about to expire, which will mean thousands more homeless in short order). Mayor Nagin *does* have a committee specifically charged with spearheading rejuvenation of the cultural scene, and they *have* drawn up an initial plan of action--the only problem is, they have no committed financial backing as of yet.

--Bureaucracy. 90% of the power grid is back up, which is great, except that only 30% of all homes and businesses are actually able to tap into it. This is because NO requires property owners to first secure a *permit* before reconnecting the meters to their flood-damaged wiring. As you might imagine, current circumstances make wangling an appointment with one of the 3 or so people currently available to procure you a permit quite challenging.

--Oil production. It's running at less than two-thirds pre-Katrina capacity at the moment, and most of the nonfunctioning units are in the coastal zone (3-6 miles offshore)--the only zone from which Louisiana is permitted to collect its desperately needed oil royalties.

--General national disinterest. I have no idea how large New Orleans looms in most Europeans' mental maps of America, but most Americans have never been there and know nothing about the place, except that they throw a nice big drunken party with jazz and lots of beaded necklaces once a year on Mardi Gras. It simply doesn't have the same kind of sentimental resonance in the American mind that NYC, LA, SanFran, Chicago, or even Miami do. To some extent this is part of a larger syndrome of perceiving the Deep South, period (AR, LA, MS, AL, and to a lesser extent GA) as "America's sewer" and far too socioculturally hopeless a place to be worth feeling much urgency about. :yolland's embittered inner Mississippian rears its Yank-spiting head:

--Hundreds of thousands of NOlanites, like my student and the folks who stayed with us, have already made a "fresh," if painful and impoverished, new start elsewhere. And no way in hell would they go "home" to that mess now that they are finally, finally beginning to perceive a light at the end of the tunnel elsewhere. That's beaucoup tax dollars out the window, beaucoup brain drain for a city that often ran short on that front to begin with, and beaucoup baseline blue-and-white-collar economic muscle decamped to elsewhere. You would have to be a supernaturally diehard optimist at this point to believe that all these people will ultimately prove replaceable.

Are you depressed yet? I know I am...

Anyways that's just for starters.
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Old 02-10-2006, 04:15 AM   #12
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Originally posted by yolland
--General national disinterest. I have no idea how large New Orleans looms in most Europeans' mental maps of America, but most Americans have never been there and know nothing about the place, except that they throw a nice big drunken party with jazz and lots of beaded necklaces once a year on Mardi Gras. It simply doesn't have the same kind of sentimental resonance in the American mind that NYC, LA, SanFran, Chicago, or even Miami do. To some extent this is part of a larger syndrome of perceiving the Deep South, period (AR, LA, MS, AL, and to a lesser extent GA) as "America's sewer" and far too socioculturally hopeless a place to be worth feeling much urgency about. :yolland's embittered inner Mississippian rears its Yank-spiting head:
Thank you for this post.

I understand everything what you say, ok there has been funding and it would need $30 billion and the people don´t want to return when they just build up a new life elsewhere, and so on.

But there´s one thing I don´t understand, and that´s national disinterest. Miami? Woot? Fucking Miami Beach? Come on, it wasn´t even worth to leave the airport when I landed there . What kind of sentimental resonance can be there for cities like LA or Chicago? LA is many small cities scattered all over the place, doesn´t have nice architecture and except of Hollywood and the music industry, I don´t know why anyone would go to live there. Chicago is another big city but excuse me, Chicagoers, there are many cities like that on this planet, and it´s not that special.

This would be as if I would tell you "Venice is flooded, but the Italians have more sentimental resonance for Torino and Naples". I can understand - and I´ve seen it with my own eyes - that NYC and SFO are special, there´s no doubt about that. Well guess what New Orleans was even more special.

It says a lot about the intellectual and cultural level of Americans if they generally prefer Miami to New Orleans.

I don´t get it, I just don´t get it. Arguably the most beautiful city is washed away - if that happens in Bangla Desh, no one can rebuild it - but in America? I mean, how much does war cost you every day? Isn´t it the President´s duty to do all that he can?
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Old 02-10-2006, 06:19 AM   #13
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Well to be fair, let me start by stating once again that most Americans have *never been* to New Orleans and *do not know much* about it, except for the stereotypical associations with Mardi Gras. And unlike the other cities I mentioned, it lacks the cachet of being either a place where The Glitterati reside (like LA and Miami), or a national focus for the sort of affection and sentimentalization which characterizes our perceptions of NYC, SanFran and (to a lesser but still significant extent) Chicago. I don't really have any good explanations for why the latter is true, and I didn't mean to suggest by bringing up NO's Southernness that I feel this *totally* explains it (though I would contend that that is one important factor).

As a native Southerner, I am very touched that you would implicitly compare New Orleans to Venice. However--and at the risk of sounding condescending, which I surely don't mean to--this does also makes me wonder if you may be to some extent projecting a peculiarly European (or maybe just non-American?) concept of cities as precious repositories of longstanding cultural identity onto our own. For better or for worse, we are a young, highly mobile, and constantly transforming country, and we just don't tend to evaluate our cities in this light. I can't presume to speak for all Americans about what makes a city great, but I would feel *fairly* confident saying that we don't use the same criteria an Italian would to rate their cities.

That said, and having been to New Orleans myself, I agree with you that there is (was?) something wonderful and precious about how it managed to preserve, without at all seeming backwards-looking, a unique and *palpably* historic French/Creole/Old Southern cultural world unto itself. No place else in the US (that I have ever seen, anyway) possesses such a quality--though NYC and SanFran certainly have traces of it. Nonetheless, this is just not an attribute that we tend to measure a city's greatness by. For better or for worse.

And I think it *might* also be the case that we differ rather strongly from Europeans (and perhaps others) in the extent to which a sense of place-as-nationhood is involved in our feelings of national solidarity. I would venture to guess that if Venice were ever to sink irretrievably into its lagoon, most Italians--Romans and Florentines included--would feel as if they had lost an arm. I can't really imagine most Americans feeling that way about the loss of ANY major American city--except perhaps New York. I would guess if any great American city has attained the status of being "our nation's beating heart," it would be that one. It is where Ellis Island was, after all.
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Old 02-11-2006, 03:20 AM   #14
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Great.Only 4 more months until hurricane season here in So Fla. NO would have been ok untlit the levy broke. MS and AL got hit much worse with the actual wind and rain.
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Old 02-11-2006, 03:23 AM   #15
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Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars


Thank you for this post.

I understand everything what you say, ok there has been funding and it would need $30 billion and the people don´t want to return when they just build up a new life elsewhere, and so on.

But there´s one thing I don´t understand, and that´s national disinterest. Miami? Woot? Fucking Miami Beach? Come on, it wasn´t even worth to leave the airport when I landed there . What kind of sentimental resonance can be there for cities like LA or Chicago? LA is many small cities scattered all over the place, doesn´t have nice architecture and except of Hollywood and the music industry, I don´t know why anyone would go to live there. Chicago is another big city but excuse me, Chicagoers, there are many cities like that on this planet, and it´s not that special.

This would be as if I would tell you "Venice is flooded, but the Italians have more sentimental resonance for Torino and Naples". I can understand - and I´ve seen it with my own eyes - that NYC and SFO are special, there´s no doubt about that. Well guess what New Orleans was even more special.

It says a lot about the intellectual and cultural level of Americans if they generally prefer Miami to New Orleans.

I don´t get it, I just don´t get it. Arguably the most beautiful city is washed away - if that happens in Bangla Desh, no one can rebuild it - but in America? I mean, how much does war cost you every day? Isn´t it the President´s duty to do all that he can?
Get a clue before posting
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