The Real K-Ville

Curator's Note

After some reflection, I wrote the following words, then put some images together. Two years post-Katrina, a veneer of normalcy covers New Orleans. The French Quarter thrives, chefs cook, musicians play on, and the Garden District mansions stand tall under leafy oak trees. But the lower 9th ward is mostly a wasteland; generations of New Orleanians remain displaced; others dream of living in a town with lower insurance rates and a functioning justice system. People of all colors die, my friend Helen among them. She leaves behind her husband and 2 year old son, after a vicious home invasion, her killer still at large. Murderers go free here, while politicians waste time arguing about who’s to blame. The federal government spends billions in the name of democracy and homeland security, but reneges on promises to help our city. At least we’re getting own TV show, “K-ville,” so we can see justice mediated if not actuated. New Orleans has been called the city that care forgot. I wonder how many of our elected official forgot to care about New Orleans, especially the ones who made the biggest still mostly unfulfilled promises. I think about moving often but then I find faith in moments that can’t happen elsewhere; a strain of music pulls me off my front porch this early August evening and I am drawn to the corner as a brass band passes. At the clip’s end are the words and photo of George Brumat, recently deceased owner of Snug Harbor Jazz Club. So many hope that his prophecy comes true.


Betsy, thanks for the provocative video that captures the conflicts in living in New Orleans. I often suspect that those who leave, a possibility that you ponder, carry vivid memories of post-disaster New Orleans that are difficult to resolve with their new surround. I wonder if Joy, now located in NYC, has any thoughts about this? I have also been thinking about the media constructions of New Orleans. I have been considering an article about how murder stories in The Times-Picayune, available on, are often followed by a stream of hate and indications that the murder was a good thing when the victim is a black youth or adult. I wonder what happens when the purportedly unbiased news gets attached to an overwhelming stream of hate and intolerance that literally appears along with the reporting? What critical and political language reworks news accounts about young adults being murdered, a crisis in any place but particularly in a city where people have already lost so much, that are followed by indications that their blood wasted good ground. The prevalence of such cruel comments suggests we might want to rethink the ways the “comment” and blog format gets uncritically deployed across the web (I may now need to hide from Kathleen). Given the experiences of people like Kathy Sierra, we might also consider the risks in being different, writing differently, and critically responding.

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