“I'm a walking nightmare, an arsenal of doom
I kill conversation as I walk into the room
I'm a three line whip, I'm the sort of thing they ban
I'm a walking disaster, I'm a demolition man”
Our house is dead. It has been for some time. It just hasn’t fallen over yet.
New Orleans always was famous for its cemeteries. The above-ground mausoleums attracted both the curious and the faithful. Movies like “Easy Rider” featured them as a place to revel in the celebration of life that is inherent in the way we honor the dead.
New Orleans after Katrina is a city of thousands of more above-ground tombs. Vaults of life, love and happiness--now empty and silent. The smell of decay fills the air in neighborhoods like mine. The fungus flourishes.
And so we met with a contractor this weekend who will finish the job the hurricane left incomplete. We hired a demolition man to smash what remains of our house and cart it away. We asked him to pull up the slab, the sidewalks and the driveway. We told him to take the damaged fence and the dead trees, too. This he agreed to do for a fair fee.
It’s the quintessential act of insult added to injury: you have to pay someone to remove the wreckage of your home. Just another cost courtesy of Katrina.
We drove around the neighborhood to see if anyone else had done it yet. We found a pile of splintered wood and broken walls on the next street over. Down our street, a clean plane of sand fill covered a lot that used to have a house. The demolition business is good right now, and is surely picking up.
We have a tradition of Jazz funerals in New Orleans. Somber music accompanies the procession to the cemetery, but happy music ensues on the return.
For now, it’s still the somber music I hear when I visit my decimated home. I’m hoping that will change in the weeks to come.