I am still so upset about this tragedy that I can hardly speak or think about it without getting red in the face so I’ll leave my blistering criticism of the federal government’s reaction (it took 4 days!?!?) for another post.
In conjunction with my cousin Jimmy, proprietor of Jacques-imos, and the president of the NYC Tulane Alumnus Association, I have launched Nola Relief NYC, a site dedicated to information related to the New Orleans Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort that is going on in the Greater New York City Area. There are going to be many, many, fundraising events in the NYC area. This site will be listing all NYC fundraising events that are being held in conjunction with the NYC Tulane Alumnus Organization. There is already one planned at Jacques-imos for Wednesday, September 14th. It will be a night of food, drink, and live New Orleans music. We will celebrate while we mourn in the greatest of New Orleans’s traditions.
The copy below is from an email that Jimmy sent out yesterday:
Most of you have watched this weeks events in New Orleans and The Gulf Coast in horror. As many of you know, we operate a New Orleans restaurant here in NYC, Jacques-Imos, and have two restaurants New Orleans. Our sister restaurants, Jacques-Imos New Orleans and Crabby Jack’s of Jefferson Parish, employ more than 85 people.
To date, we have only heard from 5 of these employees. We have reason to believe that more than 60% of the homes of our employees have either been destroyed or looted. The personal stories we are hearing from our friends and employees down in New Orleans are horrific, often worse than what we are hearing on the news. Here in NYC, our staff has been personally effected by the events as more than 70% of our employees are from New Orleans. Due to Katrina’s wrath, Jacques-Imos NYC has become the orphanage of New Orleans’ residents and refugees in NYC.
For those of you who have been touched over the years by the majesty and charm of New Orleans, for those who simply want to help the people of The Gulf Coast, please come by Jacques-Imos NYC on Wednesday, September 14th, to show your support. 100% of the proceeds will go to relief efforts in New Orleans. For those of you in a position to donate something that can be auctioned off that evening, please email me or call me Jacques-Imos, 212 799 0150. Whether it be a weekend at a home in the Hamptons or in St. Maarten, 20 cases of Abita beer, plane tickets to Miami, a years subscription to the NY Times, we’ll take any and everything that we can auction off. Again, 100% of the proceeds from the evening are going to the American Red Cross.
Finally, there is a real need to find short term housing in NYC for our New Orleans employees and New Orleans friends. If any of you have access to apartments in the NYC area that we can rent please let us know or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone from New Orleans is in the same boat. Many of the financial institutions in New Orleans are very local as opposed to what we have here in NYC. Therefore their ATM and Credit Cards are not working. We are looking for large and small affordable apartments in NYC.
Please do what you can. Open your hearts. Open your homes. Open your wallets. Let’s make a difference when obviously our government has failed to do so. After the jump, feel free to read a poem I wrote about Nawlins after I visited the the city for the first time – Jimmy took me to Jazz Fest and I just fell in love with Nawlins. It was written during my sophomore year and included in my intermediate creative writing class portfolio.
Nola by Jeff Lipson
It came from out of the bayou,
a sound of jazz and of zydeco,
a sound of the blues and of funk,
a smell of gumbo and of jambalaya,
a smell of po boys and of crawfish
a sense that I found a home.
Black child eyes the crowd,
feet blazing away on the sidewalk,
dancing hard, dancing out of love,
dancing for me,
and I smile,
throw a dollar in the hat for his effort,
and he smiles back.
Seventy year old black man,
blind but never beaten,
damns his frail body, athritic fingers,
joins his friend down at the Howlin Wolf,
gets his remedy
jamming the night like he did in ’58
except there are white folk swaying in the crowd
swaying to his mastery,
smiling with love at the negro layin down the groove.
The nights are wet, are humid,
fifteen foot shutters seal doors and windows,
wrought iron gates protect secluded gardens,
they’re everywhere in the Quarter didn’t you know,
and the street names are in french,
and the city seems ancient,
and the city is ancient
and my ticket says I have to go home,
cab speeds away toward the airport,
up 36 hours and still ready for more,
I say I will call this place home.