No city has the ability to make my heart swell with love for it the way New Orleans does. I can’t put into words what this town and its people do to me, but over the years and despite my many visits my fascination and affection just keep growing stronger.
There’s a painting in my home that a friend drew for me 12 years ago that features a scene from NOLA, along with the words “strange, wonderful doom” hidden in it. It’s something Lord Dunsey exclaimed when he first visited the city centuries ago, and I believe it accurately describes how one feels about New Orleans. It’s perhaps the precariousness of this flood-riddled town, the fact that it always feels like it’s on the brink of disappearing under water that makes it all feel so amazing, so vulnerable, so impermanent and so valued. It could all go one of these days…
“If you threw a dart at a map of the United States 999 times, you could not hit a worse spot to locate a metropolis,” wrote the Philadelphia Daily News.
They’re right. Surrounded by two flood-prone bodies of water and as much as three meters below sea level in some places, this was not a good place to build a city.
But this was also the best place to build a city.
Writer Andrei Codresku (who’s lives and worked there for years) once said: “There is something about New Orleans that makes writers happy” and I have to agree.
In this very short, yet powerful essay a writer and photographer capture NOLA’s beautiful resilience, suffering and renewal ten years after Katrina.