Sunday, August 13, 2006

A City of Bad Grass

And that’s not necessarily a bad thing:
Strapping on a dust mask, she grabbed a shovel and with all her force, began pounding the deformed walls of her living room until they came off, falling to the floor like the rinds of a desiccated orange. She filled buckets with the broken drywall, which her son ferried outside. Bucket by bucket and week after passing week, she kept at it, resting occasionally on a stool, the only piece of furniture in her house to survive the flooding. Flanked by a worn statue of the Virgin Mary, hers is now one of the few houses that's been gutted in the city's most destroyed neighborhood, the Lower Ninth Ward.

Ask her to explain how a nonagenarian succeeded in doing what thousands of younger families have failed to do, Miss Barnes offers an analogy: "I'm like bad grass. Because it never dies. You gotta pull it up and even though you do, it still grows back. I don't care how hard something looks, I'm still going to try."
I want the bad grass to grow all over New Orleans. I want to see so much bad grass that I think it’s good. If Miss Barnes is like bad grass, I want to be bad grass too.

Because it never dies.

Yeah, you can pull up the bad grass. But it always grows back. It might not be the same bad grass as before. But it’s just as bad.

Because it never dies.

Some people like to pull up the bad grass and replace it with good grass. But I can tell the difference. I can feel the difference.

I feel out of place when I am surrounded by the good grass. The good grass takes too much effort to keep up. It’s high maintenance. It ain’t like the bad grass.

Because it never dies.

New Orleans is a city of bad grass. Because it never dies.

However, taking the word bad and making it good doesn’t solve all our problems. I wish it were that easy.

But, the title of the article with Miss Barnes, “Recovery remains slow year after Katrina,” gets it wrong. This ain’t no recovery mission. This is a rescue mission. New Orleans is still alive, baby.

Because it never dies.


Alan Gutierrez said...

A nice find and a nice response. Good anaology. I'm not sure what to add, but I'm going to link to this, and the source article. Thank you.

Ray in New Orleans said...


I want to hug that woman.

TravelingMermaid said...

Another great post! Thanks!

Sophmom said...

Wonderful article. Perfect analogy. Great post. Thank you.

GentillyGirl said...

Great story hon!

Yeas, we all are the bad seeds, but we are coming home.

Blessed Be!

Marco said...

Bad grass has deep strong roots.
She's the real deal, as are all the people who are determined to do it on their own and with their own. May strength and courage always be there.

Schroeder said...

This, friend, is inspired. I'm working on a post in which I have a place to link to your thoughts. Thanks!

judyb said...

thank you

Tim said...

"This ain’t no recovery mission. This is a rescue mission."

Yes, precisely!

I watched "The Matrix Reloaded" the other night, and I got chills as I listened to Morpheus give a pep talk to the citizens of Zion:

"I stand here now, truthfully unafraid. Why? Because I believe something you do not? No. I stand here without fear because I remember. I remember that I am here, not because of the path that lies before me, but because of the path that lies behind me. I remember that for one hundred years we have fought these machines. Iremeber that for one hundred years they have sent their armies to destroy us and after a century of war, I remember that which matters most: WE ARE STILL HERE!"

It may take a hundred years to rescue New Orleans, but no matter how long it takes, no matter how bad they talk about us, no matter how much they try to ignore us, the truth is plain and powerful: WE ARE STILL HERE!

Thanks for a great post and your great blog.



Dangle 24-7 said...

Off the subject but of great importance…..Clayton James Cubitt will be here over the next week making portraits of survivors for use in public service announcements highlighting the need to reach out for help when it all gets to be too much. Anyone who would like to participate, contact: