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Above email address currently deprecated! Use gary underscore farber at yahoodotcom, pliz! Sanely free of McCarthyite calling anyone a traitor since 2001!
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I've a long record in editorial work in book and magazine publishing, starting 1974, a variety of other work experience, but have been, since 2001, recurringly housebound with insanely painful sporadic and unpredictably variable gout and edema, and in the past, other ailments; the future? The Great Unknown: isn't it for all of us?
I'm currently house/cat-sitting, not on any government aid yet (or mostly ever), often in major chronic pain from gout and edema, which variably can leave me unable to walk, including just standing, but sometimes is better, and is freaking unpredictable at present; I also have major chronic depression and anxiety disorders; I'm currently supported mostly by your blog donations/subscriptions; you can help me. I prefer to spread out the load, and lessen it from the few who have been doing more than their fair share for too long.
Thanks for any understanding and support. I know it's difficult to understand. And things will change. They always change.
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If you like my blog, and would like to help me continue to afford food and prescriptions, or simply enjoy my blogging and writing, and would like to support it --
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"The brain is wider than the sky, For, put them side by side,
The one the other will include With ease, and you beside"
-- Emily Dickinson
"We will pursue peace as if there is no terrorism and fight terrorism as if there is no peace."
-- Yitzhak Rabin
"I have thought it my duty to exhibit things as they are, not as they ought to be."
-- Alexander Hamilton
"The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport."
-- Barbara Jordan
"Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to
trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule --
and both commonly succeed, and are right."
-- H. L. Mencken
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
-- William Pitt
"The only completely consistent people are the dead."
-- Aldous Huxley
"I have had my solutions for a long time; but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them."
-- Karl F. Gauss
"Whatever evils either reason or declamation have imputed to extensive empire,
the power of Rome was attended with some beneficial consequences to mankind;
and the same freedom of intercourse which extended the vices, diffused likewise
the improvements of social life."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Augustus was sensible that mankind is governed by names; nor was he deceived in his
expectation, that the senate and people would submit to slavery, provided they were
respectfully assured that they still enjoyed their ancient freedom."
-- Edward Gibbon
"There exists in human nature a strong propensity to depreciate the advantages, and to magnify
the evils, of the present times."
-- Edward Gibbon
"Our youth now loves luxuries. They have bad manners, contempt for authority.
They show disrespect for elders and they
love to chatter instead of exercise.
Children are now tyrants, not the servants, of their households. They
no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents,
chatter before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize
"Before impugning an opponent's motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments."
-- Sidney Hook
"Idealism, alas, does not protect one from ignorance, dogmatism, and foolishness."
-- Sidney Hook
"Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We take, and must continue to take, morally hazardous actions to preserve our civilization.
We must exercise our power. But we ought neither to believe that a nation is capable of perfect
disinterestedness in its exercise, nor become complacent about particular degrees of interest
and passion which corrupt the justice by which the exercise of power is legitimized."
-- Reinhold Niebuhr
"Faced with the choice of all the land without a Jewish state or a Jewish state without all the
land, we chose a Jewish state without all the land."
-- David Ben-Gurion
"...the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him
an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this
or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages
to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also
to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing,
with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess
and conform to it;[...] that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion
and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty....
-- Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson
"We don't live just by ideas. Ideas are part of the mixture of customs and practices,
intuitions and instincts that make human life a conscious activity susceptible to
improvement or debasement. A radical idea may be healthy as a provocation;
a temperate idea may be stultifying. It depends on the circumstances. One of the most
tiresome arguments against ideas is that their 'tendency' is to some dire condition --
to totalitarianism, or to moral relativism, or to a war of all against all."
-- Louis Menand
"The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis."
-- Dante Alighieri
"He too serves a certain purpose who only stands and cheers."
-- Henry B. Adams
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the
poor to beg in the streets, steal bread, or sleep under a bridge."
-- Anatole France
"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
-- Edmund Burke
"Education does not mean that we have become certified experts in business or mining or botany or journalism or epistemology;
it means that through the absorption of the moral, intellectual, and esthetic inheritance of the race we have come to
understand and control ourselves as well as the external world; that we have chosen the best as our associates both in spirit
and the flesh; that we have learned to add courtesy to culture, wisdom to knowledge, and forgiveness to understanding."
-- Will Durant
"Glimpses do ye seem to see of that mortally intolerable truth; that all deep, earnest thinking is
but the intrepid effort of the soul to keep the open independence of her sea; while the wildest
winds of heaven and earth conspire to cast her on the treacherous, slavish shore?"
-- Herman Melville
"The most important political office is that of the private citizen."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."
-- Louis D. Brandeis
"It is an error to suppose that books have no influence; it is a slow influence, like flowing water carving out a canyon,
but it tells more and more with every year; and no one can pass an hour a day in the society of sages and heroes without
being lifted up a notch or two by the company he has kept."
-- Will Durant
"When you write, you’re trying to transpose what you’re thinking into something that is less like an annoying drone and more like a piece of music."
-- Louis Menand
"Sex is a continuum."
-- Gore Vidal
"I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should
make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state."
-- Thomas Jefferson, letter to the Baptists of Danbury, Connecticut, 1802.
"The sum of our religion is peace and unanimity, but these can scarcely stand unless we define as little as possible,
and in many things leave one free to follow his own judgment, because there is great obscurity in many matters, and
man suffers from this almost congenital disease that he will not give in when once a controversy is started, and
after he is heated he regards as absolutely true that which he began to sponsor quite casually...."
-- Desiderius Erasmus
"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule of what we are to read, and what we must disbelieve?"
-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to N. G. Dufief, Philadelphia bookseller, 1814
"We are told that it is only people's objective actions that matter, and their subjective feelings are of no importance. Thus pacifists, by obstructing the war effort,
are 'objectively' aiding the Nazis; and therefore the fact that they may be personally hostile to Fascism is irrelevant. I have been guilty of saying this myself more than once. The same argument is applied to Trotskyism. Trotskyists are often credited, at any rate by Communists, with being active and conscious agents of Hitler; but when you point out the many and obvious reasons why this is unlikely to be true,
the 'objectively' line of talk is brought forward again. To criticize the Soviet Union helps Hitler: therefore 'Trotskyism is Fascism'. And when this has been established, the accusation of conscious treachery is usually repeated.
This is not only dishonest; it also carries a severe penalty with it. If you disregard people's motives, it becomes much harder to foresee their actions."
-- George Orwell, "As I Please," Tribune, 8 December 1944
"Wouldn't this be a great world if insecurity and desperation made us more attractive? If 'needy' were a turn-on?"
-- "Aaron Altman," Broadcast News
"The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand."
-- Lewis Thomas
"To be ignorant of what happened before you were born is to be ever a child. For what is man's lifetime unless the memory of past events is woven with those of earlier times?"
"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it."
-- Samuel Johnson, Life Of Johnson
"Very well, what did my critics say in attacking my character? I must read out their affidavit, so to speak, as though they were my legal accusers: Socrates is guilty of criminal meddling, in that he inquires into things below the earth and in the sky, and makes the weaker argument defeat the stronger, and teaches others to follow his example."
-- Socrates, via Plato, The Republic
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, represents, in the final analysis, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
-- Dwight D. Eisenhower
"The term, then, is obviously a relative one; my pedantry is your scholarship, his reasonable accuracy, her irreducible minimum of education, & someone else's ignorance."
-- H. W. Fowler
"Rules exist for good reasons, and in any art form the beginner must learn them and understand what they are for, then follow them for quite a while. A visual artist, pianist, dancer, fiction writer, all beginning artists are in the same boat here: learn the rules, understand them, follow them. It's called an apprenticeship. A mediocre artist never stops following the rules, slavishly follows guidelines, and seldom rises above mediocrity. An accomplished artist internalizes the rules to the point where they don't have to be consciously considered. After you've put in the time it takes to learn to swim, you never stop to think: now I move my arm, kick, raise my head, breathe. You just do it. The accomplished artist knows what the rules mean, how to use them, dodge them, ignore them altogether, or break them. This may be a wholly unconscious process of assimilation, one never articulated, but it has taken place."
-- Kate Wilhelm
"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed."
-- Albert Einstein
"The decisive moment in human evolution is perpetual."
-- Franz Kafka, Aphorisms
"All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."
-- Samuel Beckett, Worstward Ho
"First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you."
-- Nicholas Klein, May, 1919, to the Third Biennial Convention of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (misattributed to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1914 & variants).
"Our credulity is a part of the imperfection of our natures. It is inherent in us to desire to generalize, when we ought, on the contrary, to guard ourselves very carefully from this tendency."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The truth is, men are very hard to know, and yet, not to be deceived, we must judge them by their present actions, but for the present only."
-- Napoleon I of France.
"The barbarous custom of having men beaten who are suspected of having important secrets to reveal must be abolished. It has always been recognized that this way of interrogating men, by putting them to torture, produces nothing worthwhile. The poor wretches say anything that comes into their mind and what they think the interrogator wishes to know."
-- On the subject of torture, in a letter to Louis Alexandre Berthier (11 November 1798), published in Correspondance Napoleon edited by Henri Plon (1861), Vol. V, No. 3606, p. 128
"All living souls welcome whatever they are ready to cope with; all else they ignore, or pronounce to be monstrous and wrong, or deny to be possible."
-- George Santayana, Dialogues in Limbo (1926)
"If you should put even a little on a little, and should do this often, soon this too would become big."
-- Hesiod, Work And Days
"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free."
-- Eugene V. Debs
"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."
-- Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign
"All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written "al-Qaida," in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies."
-- Osama bin Laden
"Remember, Robin: evil is a pretty bad thing."
Gary Farber is now a licensed Quintuple Super-Sekrit Multi-dimensional Master Pundit.
He does not always refer to himself in the third person.
He is presently single.
The gefilte fish is dead. Donate via the donation button on the top left or I'll shoot this cutepanda. Don't you lovepandas?
Current Total # of Donations Since 2002: 1181
Subscribers to date at $5/month: 100 sign-ups; 91 cancellations; Total= 9
Supporter subscribers to date at $25/month: 16 sign-ups; 10 cancellation; Total= 6
Patron subscribers to date at $50/month: 20 sign-ups; 13 cancellations; Total= 7
...writer[s] I find myself checking out repeatedly when I'm in the mood to play follow-the-links. They're not all people I agree with all the time, or even most of the time, but I've found them all to be thoughtful writers, and that's the important thing, or should be.
-- Tom Tomorrow
I bow before the shrillitudinousness of Gary Farber, who has been blogging like a fiend.
-- Ted Barlow, Crooked Timber
Favorite.... [...] ...all great stuff. [...] Gary Farber should never be without readers.
I usually read you and Patrick several times a day, and I always get something from them. You've got great links, intellectually honest commentary, and a sense of humor. What's not to like?
-- Ted Barlow
One of my issues with many poli-blogs is the dickhead tone so many bloggers affect to express their sense of righteous indignation. Gary Farber's thoughtful leftie takes on the world stand in sharp contrast with the usual rhetorical bullying. Plus, he likes "Pogo," which clearly attests to his unassaultable good taste.
Jaysus. I saw him do something like this before, on a thread about Israel. It was pretty brutal. It's like watching one of those old WWF wrestlers grab an opponent's
face and grind away until the guy starts crying. I mean that in a nice & admiring way, you know.
-- Fontana Labs, Unfogged
We read you Gary Farber! We read you all the time! Its just that we are lazy with our blogroll. We are so very very lazy. We are always the last ones to the party but we always have snazzy bow ties.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber you are a genius of mad scientist proportions. I will bet there are like huge brains growin in jars all over your house.
-- Fafnir, Fafblog!
Gary Farber is the hardest working man in show blog business. He's like a young Gene Hackman blogging with his hair on fire, or something.
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Gary Farber only has two blogging modes: not at all, and 20 billion interesting posts a day [...] someone on the interweb whose opinions I can trust....
-- Belle Waring, John & Belle Have A Blog
Isn't Gary a cracking blogger, apropos of nothing in particular?
-- Alison Scott
Gary Farber takes me to task, in a way befitting the gentleman he is.
-- Stephen Green, Vodkapundit
My friend Gary Farber at Amygdala is the sort of liberal for whom I happily give three cheers. [...] Damned incisive blogging....
-- Midwest Conservative Journal
If I ever start a paper, Clueless writes the foreign affairs column, Layne handles the city beat, Welch has the roving-reporter job, Tom Tomorrow runs the comic section (which carries Treacher, of course). MediaMinded runs the slots - that's the type of editor I want as the last line of defense. InstantMan runs the edit page - and you can forget about your Ivins and Wills and Friedmans and Teepens on the edit page - it's all Blair, VodkaP, C. Johnson, Aspara, Farber, Galt, and a dozen other worthies, with Justin 'I am smoking in such a provocative fashion' Raimondo tossed in for balance and comic relief.
Who wouldn't buy that paper? Who wouldn't want to read it? Who wouldn't climb over their mother to be in it?
-- James Lileks
I do appreciate your role and the role of Amygdala as a pioneering effort in the integration of fanwriters with social conscience into the larger blogosphere of social conscience.
-- Lenny Bailes
Every single post in that part of Amygdala visible on my screen is either funny or bracing or important. Is it always like this? -- Natalie Solent
People I've known and still miss include Isaac Asimov, rich brown, Charles Burbee, F. M. "Buzz" Busby, Terry Carr, A. Vincent Clarke, Bob Doyle, George Alec Effinger, Abi Frost,
Bill & Sherry Fesselmeyer, George Flynn, John Milo "Mike" Ford. John Foyster, Mike Glicksohn, Jay Haldeman, Neith Hammond (Asenath Katrina Hammond)/DominEditrix , Chuch Harris, Mike Hinge, Lee Hoffman, Terry Hughes, Damon Knight, Ross Pavlac, Bruce Pelz, Elmer Perdue, Tom Perry,
Larry Propp, Bill Rotsler, Art Saha, Bob Shaw, Martin Smith, Harry Stubbs, Bob Tucker, Harry Warner, Jr., Jack Williamson, Walter A. Willis, Susan Wood, Kate Worley, and Roger Zelazny.
It's just a start, it only gets longer, many are unintentionally left out.
And She of whom I must write someday.
Chaos and gunfire hampered efforts to evacuate the Superdome, and, Superintendent P. Edward Compass III of the New Orleans Police Department said, armed thugs have taken control of the secondary makeshift shelter at the convention center. Superintendent Compass said that the thugs repelled eight squads of 11 officers each he had sent to secure the place and that rapes and assaults were occurring unimpeded in the neighboring streets as criminals "preyed upon" passers-by, including stranded tourists.
Mr. Compass said the federal government had taken too long to send in the thousands of troops - as well as the supplies, fuel, vehicles, water and food - needed to stabilize his now "very, very tenuous" city.
Col. Terry Ebbert, director of homeland security for New Orleans, concurred and he was particularly pungent in his criticism. Asserting that the whole recovery operation had been "carried on the backs of the little guys for four goddamn days," he said "the rest of the goddamn nation can't get us any resources for security."
"We are like little birds with our mouths open and you don't have to be very smart to know where to drop the worm," Colonel Ebbert said. "It's criminal within the confines of the United States that within one hour of the hurricane they weren't force-feeding us. It's like FEMA has never been to a hurricane." FEMA is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We tend to think of natural disasters as somehow even-handed, as somehow random," said Martín Espada, an English professor at the University of Massachusetts and poet of a decidedly leftist political bent who is Puerto Rican. "Yet it has always been thus: poor people are in danger. That is what it means to be poor. It's dangerous to be poor. It's dangerous to be black. It's dangerous to be Latino."
The rushed mobilization of federal troops to the storm-desolated Gulf Coast was outpaced Thursday by New Orleans' rapid descent into chaos. Sniper fire threatened hospital evacuations and a mass bus caravan to Texas, corpses were found outside the city's decaying convention center and weakened refugees collapsed amid enraged crowds on city streets.
At nightfall, heavily armed police and National Guard troops took positions on rooftops, scanning for snipers and armed mobs as seething crowds of refugees milled below, desperate to flee. Gunfire crackled in the distance.
New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin implored federal officials for immediate aid. "This is a desperate SOS," Nagin said.
About 5,000 people filled the city's convention center and the trash-strewn streets outside on a city plaza where tourists once strolled. Outside the dank, cavernous hall, where temperatures soared and lights winked out, seven corpses lay sprawled, covered by blankets. Other deaths were reported nearby, and there was an increasing number of accounts of rapes and beatings, city officials said.
An attempt by New Orleans police to take control of the convention center collapsed in a shoving match as an angry mob ran off a team of officers who tried to force their way inside.
"We have individuals who are getting raped; we have individuals who are getting beaten," said Police Supt. Eddie Compass, who confirmed the attempt to quell the crowd. "Tourists are walking in that direction, and they are getting preyed upon."
Louisiana National Guard soldiers chased refugees and stragglers away from the intersection of Loyola Avenue and Girod Street in the heart of New Orleans. An unseen sniper holed up in a nearby building fired sporadically at soldiers and pedestrians.
Louisiana National Guard soldiers chased refugees and stragglers away from the intersection of Loyola Avenue and Girod Street in the heart of New Orleans. An unseen sniper holed up in a nearby building fired sporadically at soldiers and pedestrians.
"We think he's in one of those high-rises," Sgt. Matthew Gautreau said, nodding over his shoulder. "He's been shooting all morning."
In the flood-swept city center, another distant gunman hidden in a high-rise terrorized doctors and patients at Charity Hospital as staff worked feverishly to evacuate critically ill patients.
"Sniper! Sniper! Sniper!" nurses screamed as shots drove them back into Charity's emergency room.
Respiratory therapist Blake Bergeron was among staffers and National Guard troops who were forced to retreat when their truck was fired at after 11 a.m. He heard two or three shots and heard bullets ping into the floodwaters. "The soldiers shouted for us to get down," he said.
Later, hoping the coast was clear, medical teams again tried to carry patients outside. But more bursts sent doctors scurrying in retreat. Inside, nurses used bellows-like oxygen bags instead of mechanical ventilators to provide oxygen to patients too ill to breathe on their own. At nightfall, several seriously ill patients were evacuated by boat. But the boats soon returned, forced to retreat because promised rescue vehicles were not there to meet them.
By then, several of the sickest patients had died, said Dr. Ruth Bergeron. "They just brought a dead body down from the third floor," she said grimly.
The dead also lay under a punishing sun outside the convention center. At least seven bodies were scattered outside the hall, a squatter's hell for those downtown after their recent rescue from sodden attics and isolated rooftops. The dead lay among the refugees, who were hungry and thirsty and provoked by rumors of bus caravans that never arrived.
An old man lay dead in a chaise longue in a grassy median. Infants wailed around him. Nearby, an elderly woman lay stiffened in a wheelchair, covered by a plaid blanket. Another corpse was at her feet, wrapped in a white sheet.
"I don't treat my dog like that," said Daniel Edwards, 47.
Many of the dispossessed who sat slumped in the city center were from New Orleans' poorest neighborhoods; they had no way out and no place to go. Those with means, with money and families elsewhere, were long gone. The poor were left, begging for a ride to anywhere.
They had survived the storm and flood in old housing projects. But lacking food and water, and dragging wailing babies, they were miserable and sullen, prey to rumors about buses that never came.
Dierdre Duplessix, 32, left the B.W. Cooper Housing Project on Thursday morning with a neighbor, Lovely Peters, 32, and Peters' three children. They had escaped from a fire escape on a waterlogged mattress.
"They had maggots," Duplessix said. "They had dead cats and dogs in that water," she said. For a moment, she brightened. "God is so good. We made it. We're on dry land."
And then she started crying.
Later Thursday, another helicopter trying to drop off food and water was forced to retreat by the rush of the crowd. Troopers inside dumped their supplies before flying away.
Outside the storm-scarred Superdome, a 20-year-old woman collapsed amid crowds of exhausted refugees clutching suitcases and plastic bags filled with their possessions.
"She's not breathing!" someone screamed. Louisiana State Trooper Jason Martell cradled the woman, carrying her away from the gawking crowd with other officials. He tried to revive her. The woman's eyes fluttered, but her pulse vanished. In seconds, she was gone.
"She was like Jell-O when I picked her up," Martell said.
Lives were on the line throughout the flood zones in New Orleans, southern Louisiana and Mississippi. South of New Orleans, in obliterated St. Bernard Parish, scores of refugees were perched on flooded rooftops and apartment house balconies, waving makeshift banners pleading: "Help us!" Along obliterated beaches on the Mississippi coast, survivors picked through piles of rotting garbage for food.
Stray gunshots and threats from evacuees led some rescuers to suspend boat searches along New Orleans' swollen waterways. "In areas where our employees have been determined to potentially be in danger, we have pulled back," confirmed Russ Knocke, Department of Homeland Security spokesman.
Mayor Nagin said the city verged on total breakdown.
Since Hurricane Katrina came ashore Monday, I have walked these streets every day. The images have been searing:
The woman who died in a chair, in the middle of a road. Someone covered her with a tarp and left her there. The girl walking along the terrace of the Superdome who had lost both shoes and one sock. The fancy convertible in the French Quarter crushed by the brick facade of a four-story building.
Water is the enemy. Even now, it drips steadily into the lobby of my hotel. It gurgles up from storm drains, splashes against shattered storefronts and front doors when rescue trucks go by. It hides snakes, dead, bloated rats and, in the areas with the worst flooding, untold numbers of bloated bodies.
There is no air conditioning. There are no fans. There is no ice. Katrina knocked out part of a wall in the Hyatt Hotel downtown; some people I've met are envious because that has given my room a little breeze at night. Still, by 8 a.m. every day I sweat through my clothes. Nothing dries.
No one can bathe. The entire city smells, a syrupy, putrid smell of death and disease and rot. There is no sanitation. Toilets do not flush and are full. Well-to-do tourists who have been trapped here and protected for the most part from the suffering of the locals were, by Thursday, using plastic cups as toilets.
Everyone has a story to tell. The older woman who shared a tree branch with a hissing raccoon, holding on with one hand as the floodwater rose and hanging on to her ailing husband with the other. The woman who said she wished she had died rather than live through this. The man evacuating his family who had to gun his engine through an angry crowd as people desperate for a ride out rocked the car and banged on the windows.
There are people everywhere, but everyone seems to be in the wrong place.
I saw a man sleeping on the counter at a Wendy's. The window was broken and water lapped around him, high enough that it splashed up on the cash registers once in a while.
There's the poor soul I can see from the 22nd-floor window of my hotel room downtown. I look for him every morning when I wake up. He is alone on the roof of a Cadillac dealership. It looks like he can't get down. He looks comfortable enough, but I wonder each time I leave for the day whether he will still be there when I get back.
It is an inescapable fact that he is black. African Americans make up nearly 70% of the population of New Orleans and nearly all of the people stranded.
In two days at the Superdome, I saw four white people among the estimated 23,000 there.
These are the scenes of a dying city: an elderly woman dead in a wheelchair outside the convention center, a note on her lap bearing her name. A horrified family telling tales of pirates commandeering rescue boats at gunpoint. Corpses left rotting in broad daylight. Angry crowds chanting for the television cameras, "We're dying!" or simply "Help!"
All over the city hung a sense of helplessness, of an anarchy that not even top officials could pin down with hard facts or figures.
"We have individuals who are getting raped," the city's police superintendent, Edwin P. Compass III, said in a brief interview about the scene at the convention center. "We have individuals who are getting beaten."
Early Thursday the atmosphere in the dome seemed to be veering toward anarchy. Shortly after midnight, the military said, a man attacked a patrolling National Guard soldier with a metal club in a darkened locker room. The man tried to take the soldier's M-16 rifle. They struggled and three gunshots echoed through the stadium, one bullet lodging in the soldier's leg. The man fled, but a heavily armed Special Response Team in black baseball caps tracked him down, and he was arrested.
Military officers said the special team took steps to secure the area. But storm victims said the loud clack of the soldiers pumping live ammunition into their automatic rifles and then pointing the rifles at the crowd terrified them.
Later in the morning, at 6:20, a fire broke out on a sofa in a corridor and spread to a heap of dirty clothing. Though the fire was small and fairly contained, it filled the dome with smoke and the soldiers ordered everyone outside. At least three people have died in the Superdome since the hurricane, military officials said. Two elderly people collapsed and died in the heat, and one man jumped or fell to his death.
He said pirates had been seizing boats carrying refugees. "They were taking AK's at the people on the boat," he said, "telling them to get off the boat and flipping you and your children out."
About a half-mile from downtown, under an Interstate 10 overpass in Jefferson Parish, thousands of evacuees were spread across an open field without food, water, sanitation or any sense of where they were headed next.
Harry Lee, the Jefferson County sheriff whose jurisdiction is as closely connected to New Orleans as Queens is to Brooklyn, said that their arrival began Tuesday without any notification from the federal or state agencies involved. "They left them at I-10 and the causeway and they didn't tell me anything," he said.
Times-Picayune Thursday, September 01, 2005 100 said dead in Chalmette Thursday, 9:46 p.m.
About 100 people have died at the Chalmette Slip after being pulled off their rooftops, waiting to be ferried up the river to the West Bank and bused out of the flood ravaged area, U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon, D-Napoleonville, said Thursday.
About 1,500 people were at the slip on Thursday afternoon, where critical supplies like food and water are scarce, he said. Melancon expressed serious frustration with the slow pace of getting these items to the people waiting to finish their journey to safety.
Coast Guard rescue swimmer Scott Holway has answered hundreds of pleas to save citizens from murky New Orleans floodwater in recent days, but on Thursday for the first time, a shoving match on a high balcony led to an urgent call for backup from a fellow lifesaver.
"Brett was on the balcony, and there were six people getting really pushy with him, so he called me and I went down, and we both dealt with it," said Holway, 40, of Cape Cod, Mass.
Dealing with it meant, first, muscling four men back into the house and slamming the door, so Holway could safely hoist two other people onto a hovering helicopter.
Amid 100-degree heat and dwindling food and water, the growing desperation among the thousands of people stranded in New Orleans is adding a new threat of hostilities to the dangerous and exhausting mission waged around the clock by about 100 Coast Guard aviators flying from a disaster headquarters here.
"These people want off these roofs," said rescuer Scott Rady, 34, of Clearwater, Fla. As a result, some are growing "a little combative," said Rady, one of about 50 rescue specialists performing six-hour missions plucking people to safety in helicopters. The flights back and forth to New Orleans are a key part of the rescue mission now in its fifth day, and they constitute the biggest operation in response to a natural disaster in recent Coast Guard history, commanders said.
One or two people on a roof can often mean large families huddling out of view in the attic. In New Orleans, the rescues unfold almost organically, defying clear plans or territories to search because the need for help is everywhere. "They just say, 'Go fishing,' " Rady said.
To grab the pilot's attention, residents wave wildly and craft makeshift signs of cardboard, plywood or words scraped onto rooftops, with messages such as, "Two Kids, One Sick," or "Four People Need Help," crew members said.
At night, the stranded shine flashlights that make it easier for Coast Guard crews to spot them. One desperate mother of a 4-month-old infant stood on her apartment roof holding a full-length closet mirror, startling a Coast Guard team with the bright flashes created by the reflections of the helicopter spotlight.
Finding people is often a prelude to hazardous and strength-sapping rescues. Rescuer Joel Sayers discovered on a roof a woman whose husband was trapped in the attic, unable to use his legs.
"She was crying and begging me not to leave him behind," said Sayers, 32, of Dublin, Va.
So after taking the woman to a landing zone, Sayers borrowed an axe from firefighters and returned to carve a hole in the roof and rescue the husband.
Other swimmers had to break through rooftops with their bare hands, prompting the Coast Guard to begin outfitting all of them with axes. Gerald Hoover, 39, of Perry, Fla., used one to break through a window so he could lift a 160-pound woman into a rescue basket. He and his crew, their helicopter hovering, then had to work in concert to carefully lift the 70-year-old between her building and a tree so that the basket would not smash into either.
That incident showed how many New Orleans residents have gone to extraordinary lengths to help the frail. Hoover and his team would never have found the woman without the help of a boy who had been swimming back and forth to her second-story apartment to provide her with food.
The team was about to leave with seven members of the boy's family when he suddenly showed up.
Fear and panic are obstacles for rescuers, who use a harness similar to that worn by rock climbers to hoist people onto helicopters 100 feet in the air. Some people scream and cry, their terror so great that it overwhelms their desire to be saved.
"You just hold on to them and tell them it's going to be okay," said Coast Guard swimmer Joshua Micheltree of Hope Mills, N.C.
Families are often separated amid the urgent need to first rescue the elderly and the young, tugging at the sympathies of the Coast Guard rescue specialists.
Sayers took one teenage girl into his arms and watched her "cry as hard as I've ever seen anyone cry," her face screwed up with grief over leaving her parents. "I just kind of pushed her into the helicopter," he said. "They survived through this tragedy, and all they have is each other."
The sheer scope of the mission and its emotional toll is something the Coast Guard personnel say they will remember for the rest of their lives.
For Skarra, flying at night over the city of New Orleans presents an image as surreal as it is daunting. "Everyone is shining their flashlights," he said, "so as you're flying over, it's kind of like you see a sky full of sparkling stars. So which star do you pick?"
5:07 A.M. - CNN producer Jim Spellman, who has been stationed with police sharpshooters, says reports indicate that New Orleans officers are not showing up for work. In some districts as many as 60 percent of officers have not reported for duty.
4:55 A.M. - Refugee Alan Gould spoke to CNN from inside the New Orleans Convention Center. He said sick, eldery and children are dying and children have been beaten and raped. He pleaded for help.
4:41 A.M. - CNN reports fires, explosions erupting in southwest part of New Orleans. Thick smoke is billowing into the air. Police are working to get hazmat teams to the area, which is near Chartres Street. That is where railroad cars are housed.
BILOXI, Miss. — On the coast of Mississippi today, tempers were fraying in the unbearable heat as scores of National Guardsmen arrived to keep order.
Residents waited for hours for promised food and relief supplies that never arrived and motorists languished in lines up to 80 cars deep to buy rationed amounts of gasoline. Looters helped themselves to everything from DVDs to cough syrup, and officials warned that it might take several more days to identify all of Hurricane Katrina's victims.
Coastal residents desperate for water and ice began lining up at 4 a.m. in a parking lot in Pascagoula, Miss., where authorities had promised to deliver supplies come morning. Seven hours later, they were still waiting — with no delivery truck in sight. The lines — two of them by now — each stretched at least two miles.
There were more lines at every open gas station: Lines 60 or 70 or 80 cars deep. As they waited for hours for their $25 ration of gas — cash only, pay upfront -- some drivers ambled among the line, commiserating with neighbors. Others hunkered in their cars, using up their last gallons of fuel by running the air conditioning. Some had to push their cars to the pump.
Many told stories of waiting for hours, only to have the station close — no gas — just as they reached the front of the line. Exhausted, they would push their car to the next closest station and start again.
It was so humid and hot that it felt like work just to breathe.
The stench was nauseating.
Rotting sewage, human waste, burned wood and the sour tang of bayou mud merged in a foul, earthy smell that clogged throats and churned stomachs.
Along the coast, families tried not to breathe as they pushed through the wreckage trying to figure out which pile of debris used to be their house.
Communication systems were almost all down, but there was one bridge, west of Pascagoula, where cell phones worked, at least sporadically. Both sides of the bridge were lined with cars. Residents sat on the hoods — or stood on the roof of the tallest SUVs — waving their phones in the muggy air, trying desperately to get a better signal.
The coroner for Harrison County, home to a string of devastated coastal towns, warned survivors that it could take many days to identify all the victims. Bodies were decomposing quickly in the heat, making identification difficult.
And there were not enough refrigeration trucks to back up the overwhelmed morgue.
On Wednesday, few answers were forthcoming as authorities and citizens tried to assess Katrina's toll across Mississippi.
It seemed clear that the wind had done more damage much farther inland than officials had realized, toppling enormous old oak trees and stripping off roofs 100 miles and more from the coast. But there were no firm estimates of the damage; it was impossible to add up so much destruction.
Here on the gulf shore, this city of 55,000 was all but demolished. Authorities struggled to find a way to help the dispirited -- and still slightly awestruck -- residents who ambled in a daze around streets that looked more like landfills.
There was no phone service, no electricity and so little water that firefighters pleaded with residents to be extra careful with candles, lest they start a blaze.
Convoys of 18-wheelers carrying supplies began reaching southern Mississippi by afternoon, but distribution was spotty and generally focused on shelters. So when a Salvation Army truck rolled into east Biloxi at midday, scores of residents swarmed it.
Sweaty and drained, many waited in line for at least 30 minutes to get a plastic container of beef stew, a small bag of corn chips and a bottle of water, handed out by volunteers from Sand Springs, Okla.
"We wanted to go to the hardest-hit area, and this is it," Salvation Army Capt. August Pillsbury said. "Look around you. There's nowhere to live. There isn't any worse than this."
In truth, the same words could have been spoken in any community along Mississippi's once-golden coast.
In the small town of Bay St. Louis, whole neighborhoods washed away -- block after block swept down to the bare foundations.
In Gulfport, two hospitals were heavily damaged. A middle school was on the verge of collapse. Dozens of beachfront homes were missing.
It took rescue teams two days to even approach the town of Waveland, population 7,000. It was cut off from the mainland when a bridge over the bay washed out. Most of the town was in splinters, and the air smelled of death. Survivors scavenged the rubble for food.
Up and down the coast, survivors tried to catalog the mess: Lyman Elementary, lost. Hancock County's emergency center, swamped. First Baptist Church in Long Beach, leveled.
"It's unimaginable," said Vincent Creel, public affairs manager for Biloxi.
Lt. John Lowe, of the Biloxi Police Reserve, said he expected the death toll to exceed 100 in this one city alone.
Rescue workers excavating each block of debris said they were still searching for survivors. Increasingly, though, they found themselves counting bodies. And then moving on, with apologies, to the next pile of wreckage.
Well into Wednesday afternoon, four bodies lay crushed under the collapsed cement-block walls of the Seashore Mission, a soup kitchen in east Biloxi. It was unclear when they would be extricated.
"The police were here. They took their names. They just don't have the time to come get the bodies," said Kevin Miller, who was standing nearby.
But even with all the goodwill and lavish promises, many here said they could not imagine how they would recover.
Especially in the poorer Biloxi neighborhoods, most of the residents were renters without insurance. Even some business owners said they had no coverage, no way to rebuild.
At My-Viet Market, the floor was slick with mud, the merchandise was toppled in a heap, and the boxes of shrimp crackers were soggy. The air was ripe with the smell of coming rot. And the Vietnamese immigrants who ran the store were dejected.
"There's nothing left right now," said Huy Huynh, 21, an employee.
"No insurance. We lose everything," owner Oahn Kim Nguyen added.
The second reason for the receding water was that the lake had subsided so much that the water inside the city was able to flow back the way it had come. The 17th Street and London Avenue breaches became drains. By yesterday afternoon, 53 percent of the city was dry.
For three days, Corps officials had lamented the difficulty of gaining access to the canal, but yesterday a local contractor, Boh Bros. Construction Co., apparently drove to the mouth of the canal and started placing a set of steel sheet pilings to isolate the canal from the lake. This job was finished yesterday afternoon.
[...] Bradberry said the breach would be plugged by tomorrow. Then the pilings at the canal mouth would be removed to allow nearby pumps to discharge to the canal, which would carry the floodwater out to the lake and eventually into the Gulf. Where necessary, diesel-powered generators will be brought in to drive the pumps.
Anderson cautioned that pumping may not begin immediately, if pumps are damaged or wet, but Bradberry envisioned no problems: "We can't wait to press the button," he said. "The pumps are ready to go."