Location: St. Vincent & Grenadines

You were driving home in the dark on one glass-slippered heel, window sliced open and bathing in the snowliquor of the night air. We heard you singing, and couldn't bear to wake you.

03 September 2005

Gonna stand on that bridge, keep my eyes down below.

Excerpts from New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's interview with Garland Robinette of WWL Radio.

GR: Have you talked with the president?

RN: I've talked directly with the president --

GR: What did he say?

RN: -- I've talked to the head of Homeland Security, I've talked to everybody under the sun. I've been out there, man, I flew these helicopters, been in the crowds, talking to people, crying, don't know where their relatives are. I've done it all, man, I tell you man, Garland, I keep hearing that it's coming. This is coming, that is coming, and my answer to that today is: B.S. Where is the beef? Because there's no beef in this city, there is no beef anywhere in southeast Louisiana, and these goddamn ships that are coming, I don't see them.

GR: What did you say to the president of the United States, and what did he say to you?

RN: I basically told him we had an incredible crisis here, and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshall resources, and we're outmanned in just about every respect.

You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people, that were stuck in attics, man... old ladies... when you pull off the doggone ventilator vent, and you look down there, and they're standing there in water up to their fricking neck...!

And they don't have a clue what's going on down there. They flew down here one time, two days after the doggone event was over, with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kinds of goddamn -- excuse my French, everybody in America, but I am pissed.


RN: But -- we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq, lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers -- lickety-quick -- to take care of New York and other places. Now you mean to tell me that a place where most of the oil is coming through... a place that is so unique, when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody's eyes light up... you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died, and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can't figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man.

You know I'm not one of those drug addicts, I am thinking very clearly. And I don't know whose problem it is. I don't know whether it's the governor's problem, I don't know whether it's the president's problem. But somebody needs to get their ass on a plane, and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.

GR: What can we do here?

RN: Keep talking about it.

GR: Okay, we'll do that. What else can we do?

RN: Organize people to write letters, make calls to their congressmen --

GR: Emails...

RN: -- to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous.

I don't want to see anybody do any more goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don't do another press conference until the resources are in this city, and they come down to this city, and stand with us, with their military trucks and troops that we can't even count. Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here, they're not here! It's too goddamn late! Get off your asses and let's do something. Let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country!

GR: I'll tell you, right now, you're the only politician that's called, and called for arms like this. And whatever it takes, the governor, the president... whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes... I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.

RN: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just... I'm at the point now, where it don't matter. People are dying. They don't have homes. They don't have jobs. The City of New Orleans will never be the same. And it's time.

(Then there's silence. Background studio noise comes up as the microphones self-adjust to pick something up. You hear sniffling... Nagin's in tears. Interviewer too.)

GR: We're both pretty speechless here.

RN: I don't know what to say. I've got to go.


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