Friday, September 02, 2005

Whenever Swedes talk about America, they always say that New York is not America. But I always tell them, oh yes, it is in fact. New York is America, and so is Boston and Atlanta and Los Angeles and Chicago and Council Bluffs, Iowa and Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

I used to make one exception to this, even if I no longer believe it to be true exactly: New Orleans, that crazy mish-mash of a drunken beautiful mess of a city. My former mother-in-law's family was originally from New Orleans, and her thick and rich as crème anglaise upper-class southern accent (which her sons, growing up in Atlanta in the 1950s and 1960s never acquired; one deliberately dropped his southern accent completely, the other had a more standard-issue generic Atlanta accent) comes to mind. I've only been to New Orleans once, nearly 20 years ago, but I loved the way the city showed its age, beautiful like an old woman who has never had plastic surgery, as compared to the stiffer charms of a place like Georgetown in Washington, where everything's carefully preserved and renovated to the point of preciousness, kind of like, um, Cher, only 150 years older.

I cannot believe that New Orleans is all but gone. All those poor, poor people.

(Those fortunate enough to make it to Houston to the Astrodome, according to the New York Times, are able to get all they need to fulfil their basic human needs: a T-shirt, a slice of pizza and a Bible. A Bible? I think I'm gonna spit up.)

The Swedish verb for the day is att beklaga. It means to be saddened by or sorry for, as in the emotions one has over the death of someone who meant something to one.

- by Francis S.

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