I wanted to put down a few thoughts on this week’s shooting spree in Colorado at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises. I’ll try to put them down freely, without my usual self-obsessed care. But I’ll fail at that. I’m a self-obsessed man from a self-obsessed culture.
In the wake of this tragedy – ha, we know the drill, don’t we? We reflexively use the requisite sound bites: “in the wake of this tragedy”. The cliches come pouring out. Even the accounts of the victims become cliches: “I heard a popping sound”, “He just started shooting”, “I tried to get behind — “, “I saw someone lying on the ground”. It all paints the same spine-tingling picture, a kind of sentimental poetry of violence. But in the wake of this tragedy, the search for answers begins, the national debate begins, and we’ve heard it all before and done it all before. It’s as if the entire country is on autopilot, moving step by step by step through a predetermined media pseudo-grief drill. Attractive people on television will moderate discussions on gun control, on media violence. They will be moving through the same hypnotized routine, repeating scripts, emphasizing talking points. And each player in this mass, nationwide psychodrama will be using the mass murder to further his or her own agenda. There will be talk of “Why?”, “How did it happen?” But that will all be secondary to the pushing of agendas. Silence would be most appropriate, I guess – not a minute of silence, but days of it, a month of silence – a month of contemplation and grief.
We do this, we Americans. We go on sprees. We go on shopping sprees. We go on dieting sprees. We go on exercise sprees. One of the great inaugural American sprees was the mass murder by Charles Whitman, a student at University Of Texas at Austin, not terribly far from my birthplace. In 1966, Whitman killed 16 and wounded 32 more, with a rifle from the top of the university’s bell tower. “Ladybird” Johnson, wife of Lyndon Johnson, President at the time, graduated from the university, as did former First Lady Laura Bush and Mostafa Chamran, a Defense Minister of Iran.
I like violent stories. I write violent stories. I like Macbeth and Clive Barker and the history of medieval torture. I like Lawrence Of Arabia and The Wild Bunch and Dawn Of The Dead and Tom And Jerry. Being immersed in the violent action, then somehow surviving it, surmounting it, analyzing it, seems to give my animal brain a sense of power. And power, or the illusion of power, is what that animal brain craves most of all. To the animal brain, power means all the food, all the sex, and all the years that ever were or could be. The animal brain doesn’t know that these things are impossible to have. The animal brain believes it’s possible to have everything and an infinite supply of everything. The animal brain has faith.
America was founded on this idea that there was an infinite amount of everything and it could all be yours. European settlers arrived in a completely uninhabited land – not a human soul on the whole continent – no, not a single one. The only thing that stood in your way was Mother Nature. And through the power of your own will, vision, courage, faith, you could have anything and everything you wanted. It was all there in front of you in raw form. If you had the talent to shape it, there was nothing that you couldn’t have.
“I can make the world in my own image” is the American Dream. This is the American Tragedy too – the certainty that I am separate from the world. This belief is the prime motivator behind all American civilization. It’s the thing that got Charles Whitman to kill his wife and mother, then head up to the top of the belltower.
This separation of self from the world – the separation of me from nature, separation of me from the spirit, separation of me from my fellow human, separation of me from my self – is what has made America great. You can’t have a world empire without believing that you are separate from the world – superior, or worse maybe, than others. Or that your God is different from other Gods. The American success story is built on two ideas: Glorification of self and objectification of the other.
If I can objectify you, then I can conquer you, I can buy and sell you, I can blow second hand smoke in your face or believe that Likeing your Facebook status is meaningful contact, I can kill, I can ignore science and reason, I can disbelieve my eyes, I can destroy the future of my children, and more with no sense of any consequences. I can believe there is an infinite amount of what I want and that I can have all of it. Any crime becomes possible. And history has shown over and over that objectification of the other goes hand in hand with atrocity whether you’re shooting American Bison from a train, drawing up plans for gas ovens, drone warfare and human enslavemet. Or firing bullets into human-shaped targets in a movie theater.
Japan has for years had a far more violent media culture than the US. Japan brought us “Battle Royale”. In “Battle Royale”, school kids fight to the death on a remote island while the world watches, yet there have been no “Battle Royale” copycat killings. We know that violence in media is not the cause of random acts of senseless violence. We know it’s not the availability of guns either. Truye, Americans own more guns per capita than any other country, but Switzerland and Finland also have a high gun ownership. What Japan, Switzerland and Finland lack is a 300 year old culture celebrating the triumph of the self over its environment. Although this culture, the culture of narcissism, is America’s biggest export and it has begun to deform other cultures, reshaping them in its image.
I do not own a gun and do not ever plan to. But it just doesn’t stack up that the source of American violence is the number of firearms available. I think it’s rather the other way around. The obsession with the inviolable “Me” and dread of “The Other” stokes the desire for guns – and for money, for food, for entertainment, for guarantees of absolute safety, for immortality, for super-heroes who will kill and die in your name – and the more you cling to security and protection, the more insecure and vulnerable you feel.
Already, various special interests are using this latest Colorado shooting to promote their own agendas – as I am probably doing here. It’s unnerving – the stampede to again find enemies, to again and again point to a problem outside the self, the elimination of which will solve everything. As Einstein famously said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.”
But there is no desire to solve the problem. The media conversation that will judder on over the coming weeks will resemble that of a confronted narcissist – heavy on self-justification and blame and really slick sounding. Seeking personal humility and self-honesty and striving for the unity of ourselves with our fellow creatures, our world, our own futures would mean an assault on the fabric of American Civilization – of Western Civilization. And this civilization is well-armed and obsessed and will not be stopped.
Orwell, as usual, describes our situation with pinpoint accuracy. From 1984:
“A world of fear and treachery in torment, a world of trampling and being trampled upon, a world which will grow not less but more merciless as it refines itself. Progress in our world will be progress towards more pain. The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy, everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. “
From Michael Galindo’s “True Murders: A Book of Murders & Murderers”:
“The Foot Farmer”
Christopher Marmalate, aka “The Foot Farmer” (b. 1916 – d. 1951) murdered fifteen young men between the ages of 16 and 25 over a single summer in 1951. Marmalate lived in a small two-room house with no plumbing or electricity at the edge of a piece of public wasteground outside Spirit Lake, Iowa, USA.
Christopher Marmalate served in WWII in the Pacific and was several times disciplined for assault and drunkenness. He was discharged four months before the end of the war after his parents, along with two younger sisters, died when a tornado struck their Iowa home, leaving as the only survivor Christopher’s young brother, Paul Marmalate. In April 1949, Paul Marmalate was killed by a train. The wheels of the train parsed Paul’s body into 7 separate pieces. Christopher identified Paul’s body after it had been discovered by a group of teenagers. The remains were cremated.
In mid-May 1951, 20 year old bachelor Sam Knauss was reported missing, after he failed to report to his job as a delivery truck driver for five days in a row and family members found his house abandoned. Sam Knauss had been last seen at an after-hours bar on the outskirts of Sioux City by bookstore owner Morgan Krieger, a bar Christopher Marmalate was known to have occasionally visited.
Marmalate dispatched his victims by gunshot, usually with a single shot to the head. Although in at least three of the victims, multiple gunshot wounds to the back and torso indicate the victim attempted to flee or evade dying.
Spirit Lake, Iowa - aerial survey
After shooting the victims, he severed their feet at the ankle joints. Initially he used a newly purchased hacksaw, but by the end of the summer a heavy axe was employed. Marmalate then buried the severed feet in holes carefully plotted in a circle around his house.
Though there was no way to absolutely match up every severed foot with its owner, it is believed that Sam Knauss’s feet were the first to be buried, in a line 24 feet away from Christopher Marmalate’s front door.
All Christopher Marmalate’s victims were from the Sioux City, Iowa area. The feet of each man were buried, within hours of their owner’s murder, exactly 24 feet away from the killer’s front door. The number 24 was somehow significant to Marmalate, as revealed by the many diagrams and maps of the area he drew and which were found strewn around his dwelling – marked with the number 24, or multiples of it, accompanied by arrows and cryptic symbols.
Marmalate died of a self administered gunshot wound – fired from the same WWI issue Colt revolver he had used to kill his victims. Police arrived to find the body lying in a shallow, hastily dug trench after receiving an anonymous tip about the murders. It’s almost certain the tip was a call from Marmalate himself.
Over 100 maps and diagrams, drawn in pencil on cardboard and scrap paper, were retrieved from the Marmalate House. These are currently held by the State Historical Society Of Iowa. The Society’s museum has an extensive collection of material about the “Foot Farmer” killings.
So there I was thinking about the future, when I began to worry – very much worry – about the safety of U.S. President George W. Bush – and V.P. Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Karl Rove and Condie and, oh, everyone.
As we all know, the office of President has acquired the power to declare any American citizen an Enemy Combatant and so order their immediate arrest and indefinite detainment. So I’m very worried that the next President – the one to be elected in 2008 – could turn out to be the conniving, ruthless, chick-with-something-to-prove, Hilary Clinton. And that she will … well … I can hardly say it … she will immediately declare, as her first act in office, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rove, Condi, et al. – because of their so-called “crimes” – Enemy Combatants.
I wouldn’t have worried so much about this a few years ago, but now the law now clearly and unambiguously allows a President draw up his (or her) own list of Enemy Combatants, and to subject them to indefinite solitary confinement. No charge is required, just Mrs. Clinton’s conviction that it is so is legally sufficient.
Hey, while she’s at it, how about …
… Kenneth Star. Gennifer Flowers too. Why not Monica Lewinsky, that tramp? And has Bill outlived his usefulness? Her first E.C. declaration might be painful, but it should get easier over time.
Of course, all those Combatants would get a right to a military tribunal. Sweet deal when you’re the Commander In Chief.
Hilary Clinton is a merciless opportunist who makes Lady Macbeth look like Desdemona. All intelligent people accept this as true. So how will President G.W. Bush get himself out of this pickle?
I know what I’d do, if I was him.
I’d stay President for as long as I possibly could.
It was a no-brainer to put Netflix in my 2005 list, “10 Things I Love About The Film Industry”.
Netflix really has been revolutionary. By making virtually any DVD available on demand to anyone in the entire USA, it has smashed the local brick & mortar video store irrevocably, and it has altered the way people watch TV and movies as much as TIVO and digital video recorders have changed viewers’ relationship with the broadcast industry.
In the U.K. the most popular DVD-by-mail service is a company called LOVEFiLM.
LOVEFiLM is not Netflix.
The main thing that makes Netflix great is its genuine “on-demand” aspect. If I want to watch “Down By Law” (1986), “Gladiator” (2000), the entire series of “Freaks and Geeks” (1999), and “Andrei Rublev” (1969) – in that order – I will be sent “Down By Law”, “Gladiator”, the entire series of “Freaks and Geeks”, and “Andrei Rublev” – in that order. Rarely, and usually only in the case of extremely popular titles just after release, Netflix will be unable to provide a requested title. This is usually accompanied by ample warning from the company, and a reliable promise that the title will be sent as soon as it is available.
The other key to Netflix’s success – and it is a thing of beauty – is the Rental Queue. The Netflix Rental Queue allows you to fine-tune the order in which you want your movies to arrive. If you want to see Andrei Rublev first, and then “Down By Law”, then split up the discs which comprise “Freaks and Geeks”, maybe with 3 before “Gladiator” and 3 after, well, then no one’s going to stop you. In fact, to us morbidly incurably cinemonks, the populating and ordering and massaging of the queue is an end in itself. It’s a real pleasure to add movie after movie and then try to prioritize them, plan your viewing, create for yourself a 1st rate cinema education for the next year and a half. And of course there’s the maxing out of the queue and having to decide which individual title you will have to remove from the list in order to add another title that you want to watch.
And Netflix also has a good engine that encourages you to rate movies and then gives you solid recommendations based on those ratings.
If I were to make another list, a “List Of Reasons To Return To The USA”, Netflix access would go on it.
But, as I indicated, here in Britain, there is no Netflix. There is LOVEFiLM.
LOVEFiLM is very much like Netflix – up to the bright red envelopes in which the DVD’s are mailed and the white-on-red, black-bordered logo.
In the same way that minority ethnic groups can make jokes about themselves that no one else can, I being officially – and actually – British have to say that it’s a sad and wretched thing to see, over and over, Britain taking on ideas introduced from the outside and with the enthusiasm of an over-praised child, apply those ideas slap-dash to its own local situation while missing the core of what made the idea good in the first place.
Exhibit A: Mexican Food. What is Mexican food? Well, it’s – generally speaking – simple, meat and vegetables with spices often wrapped in a flour or corn tortilla, etc. I have eaten British-made Mexican food – I kid you not – which has been tuna and peas with chili powder wrapped in a pita. With cheddar cheese sauce.
Exhibit B: Sweet Potatoes. At University of Kent, a Thanksgiving dinner was arranged for the American students. Sweet, no? No. Traditionally, sweet potatoes are served at Thanksgiving. The American students were served sweet … potatoes. Yes, mashed potatoes … sweetened with sugar. There was weeping.
Exhibit C: British rap music and hip-hop. All I have to say is that if you don’t have genuine actual gangsters actually shooting each other with military-issue automatic weapons on a daily basis in your city streets, please, please, please avoid attempting rap music of any kind. It’s embarrassing for all of us.
And so, LOVEFiLM:
LOVEFiLM bills itself as “Europe’s NO. 1 Online DVD Rental Service”, but it offers relatively few continental titles, so I don’t know how seriously to take that assertion.
First off, LOVEFiLM is not a good name. I know some marketing person somewhere really worked hard on it and I appreciate that. But just step back and listen to the word: “Luvfilm”. The fricative “V” and “F” disappear into each other – and they are not helped by that disintegrating “ILM” sound at the end. “Lovfilm” sounds like the last thing a drunk might say before passing out cold on top of his girlfriend. Could we just have one hard consonant, please? Or an “S”? “LOVESFiLM” maybe?
And with the name “LOVEFiLM” you’ve already alienated half of your user base. Because no self-respecting macho-man-with-an-inferiority-complex is going to want to say to his colleagues on a Monday morning: “Hey guys, I joined LOVE-FiLM!” He would be shunned. Even I, who get weepy when Judy Garland sings “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, am loathe to say “LOVEFiLM” in mixed company.
But that’s nitpicking. LOVEFiLM has a similar engine as Netflix for rating movies, and then getting recommendations back. But it’s vague. And the accuracy of the recommendations doesn’t seem to improve much after a certain amount of rating. Whereas it is a pleasure to rate movies on Netflix and watch your recommendations gaining more and more focus, it’s depressing to rate film after film on LOVEFiLM and get back repeatedly “If you loved ‘The Seventh Seal’, you’ll love ‘Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves’”.
The LOVEFiLM rental queue – called, ironically, a “list” by LOVEFiLM, not a “queue” – is really not much of a queue at all. Whereas Netflix allows you to fine-tune your queued movies via an interface that allows you to assign an ordinal number to each, LOVEFiLM offers you the opportunity to put movies in one of three categories: “HIGH”, “MED”, “LOW” priorities. And that’s it.
The obvious – and typically British – problem this introduces is that it entirely removes the “on demand” aspect that makes DVD-by-mail appealing. The very point of having a rental queue is to be able to watch the movies I want to see exactly when I want to see them.
If I want to see “Down By Law”, “Gladiator”, the entire series of “Freaks and Geeks”, and “Andrei Rublev” – in that order (well, I’m not going to be able to get “Freaks and Geeks” because that is a particularly American tv series that executives somewhere have decided will not translate to the other side of the Atlantic and they are very wrong about that but you may insert your own imagined tv series) – the only way I’m going to have any chance of watching them in the order will be to put the one I want to see next in my HIGH priority list and put all the rest on the MED or LOW priority list. Because if they all go into the HIGH priority bin, they will be sent to me in an unpredictable order selected by some oily fingered worker at the LOVEFiLM distribution plant.
And that, if I’m lucky.
In a recent LOVEFiLM experience, my household received not a single one of the films in our HIGH priority list. We were told, after sending an email query, that none of the half dozen films tagged HIGH were available at present. And so, we were sent randomly selected titles from our very long MED priority list – one of these titles was a dull reality tv show about families building their new houses. That MED priority section can be a real quagmire of impulse clicks. We did watch the show. But our weekend was ruined. A queue that allowed you to put a title like that at the bottom of a long list would easily prevent such tragedies.
There is too the LOW priority section. But, let’s face it, the idea that you would select a bunch of movies so that you could put them in a list marked “Low Priority” – well, it’s kind of idiotic.
In LOVEFiLM’s defense, they do have a system to warn users that there might be a wait for a film. A gray, half-full hour-glass icon indicates: “It is likely there will be a short wait for this title.” A red, full hour-glass icon indicates: “It is likely there will be a long wait for this title.” However, I have yet to see the icon next to any of the HIGH priority movies we have requested that we have been refused.
The impression one gets, as a user of the service, is that LOVEFiLM wants to make it as easy on themselves as possible, but still get you to give them money. Apparently, it’s working because we continue to give them money.
I want to make clear that LOVEFiLM is not lousy. The service is perfectly adequate. But given the technology, expertise, and creative fire so readily available in this wide wired world of the 21st century, “adequate” is now synonymous with “insulting”.
If you want to become a multi-millionaire in Britain, you can – as I’ve said before – open a good, authentic Mexican restaurant. Or you can offer us the DVD-by-mail service that we deserve.
Today, in the U.S.A., is Martin Luther King Day.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot dead by a lone nut in the 1960′s.
Your chances of getting shot by a lone nut in the 1960′s were about equal to your chances of dying in a car accident.
So the fact that that Martin Luther King, Jr. began his rise to prominence during the Montgomery Bus Boycott, is really quite ironic.
But why does Dr. King get a special day to himself, and all of the Great American Presidents of America all have to share a day betwixt them? I ask this not because I care that deeply about justice and fairness and all that, but because I keep hearing other people ask the question. When they ask it, their voices get all huffy, and they start to sound like sixth graders who’ve just lost a dodgeball game. But I just didn’t want to feel left out. I wanted to be part of the group. I’ll do anything to be part of the group, you know. Anything. Put a hood on my head and hand me a torch. I’ll do anything. Just please, please don’t hate me as much as I hate them. Please.
Martin Luther King Day is a nice little koan of a holiday. It’s worth ten minutes or so of quiet contemplation. It’s worth taking a moment to compare and contrast the day with other American national holidays past and present. For instance:
- Presidents’ (originally Lincoln’s – Civil War – Birthday and Washington’s – War of Independence – Birthday) Day
- Memorial (originally “Decoration” – for War service) Day
- Independence (War of Independence) Day
- Veterans (originally “Armistice” – of World War I) Day
- Thanksgiving (War against the Turkish, as I recall) Day
- Martin Luther King (a man who systematically and thoroughly rejected War and violence in all its forms and, as a result, was shot dead) Day
Yes. It’s possible that the observance of Martin Luther King Day might be…well…unpatriotic. Unless, you’re celebrating James Earl Ray Day today.
And – believe me – someone somewhere is doing that right now.
On a lighter note, Wikipedia’s Featured Article Of The Day today is about…
…the Texas Rangers! And not the baseball team.
HAPPY MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY!
Below is the transcript of the radio interview given by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin on Thurs., Sept. 2, 2005, on WWL-AM. The transcript begins with Nagin’s answer to a question about his meeting with President Bush:
Nagin: I told him we had an incredible crisis here and that his flying over in Air Force One does not do it justice. And that I have been all around this city, and I am very frustrated because we are not able to marshal resources and we’re outmanned in just about every respect. You know the reason why the looters got out of control? Because we had most of our resources saving people, thousands of people that were stuck in attics, man, old ladies. … You pull off the doggone ventilator vent and you look down there and they’re standing in there in water up to their freaking necks. And they don’t have a clue what’s going on down here. They flew down here one time two days after the doggone event was over with TV cameras, AP reporters, all kind of goddamn — excuse my French everybody in America, but I am pissed.
WWL: Did you say to the president of the United States, “I need the military in here”?
Nagin: I said, “I need everything.” Now, I will tell you this — and I give the president some credit on this — he sent one John Wayne dude down here that can get some stuff done, and his name is [Lt.] Gen. [Russel] Honore. And he came off the doggone chopper, and he started cussing and people started moving. And he’s getting some stuff done. They ought to give that guy — if they don’t want to give it to me, give him full authority to get the job done, and we can save some people.
WWL: What do you need right now to get control of this situation?
Nagin: I need reinforcements, I need troops, man. I need 500 buses, man. We ain’t talking about — you know, one of the briefings we had, they were talking about getting public school bus drivers to come down here and bus people out here. I’m like, “You got to be kidding me. This is a national disaster. Get every doggone Greyhound bus line in the country and get their asses moving to New Orleans.” That’s — they’re thinking small, man. And this is a major, major, major deal. And I can’t emphasize it enough, man. This is crazy. I’ve got 15,000 to 20,000 people over at the convention center. It’s bursting at the seams. The poor people in Plaquemines Parish. … We don’t have anything, and we’re sharing with our brothers in Plaquemines Parish. It’s awful down here, man.
WWL: Do you believe that the president is seeing this, holding a news conference on it but can’t do anything until [Louisiana Gov.] Kathleen Blanco requested him to do it? And do you know whether or not she has made that request?
Nagin: I have no idea what they’re doing. But I will tell you this: You know, God is looking down on all this, and if they are not doing everything in their power to save people, they are going to pay the price. Because every day that we delay, people are dying and they’re dying by the hundreds, I’m willing to bet you. We’re getting reports and calls that are breaking my heart, from people saying, “I’ve been in my attic. I can’t take it anymore. The water is up to my neck. I don’t think I can hold out.” And that’s happening as we speak. You know what really upsets me, Garland? We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, “Please, please take care of this. We don’t care what you do. Figure it out.”
WWL: Who’d you say that to?
Nagin: Everybody: the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA. You name it, we said it. And they allowed that pumping station next to Pumping Station 6 to go under water. Our sewage and water board people … stayed there and endangered their lives. And what happened when that pumping station went down, the water started flowing again in the city, and it starting getting to levels that probably killed more people. In addition to that, we had water flowing through the pipes in the city. That’s a power station over there. So there’s no water flowing anywhere on the east bank of Orleans Parish. So our critical water supply was destroyed because of lack of action.
WWL: Why couldn’t they drop the 3,000-pound sandbags or the containers that they were talking about earlier? Was it an engineering feat that just couldn’t be done?
Nagin: They said it was some pulleys that they had to manufacture. But, you know, in a state of emergency, man, you are creative, you figure out ways to get stuff done. Then they told me that they went overnight, and they built 17 concrete structures and they had the pulleys on them and they were going to drop them. I flew over that thing yesterday, and it’s in the same shape that it was after the storm hit. There is nothing happening. And they’re feeding the public a line of bull and they’re spinning, and people are dying down here.
WWL: If some of the public called and they’re right, that there’s a law that the president, that the federal government can’t do anything without local or state requests, would you request martial law?
Nagin: I’ve already called for martial law in the city of New Orleans. We did that a few days ago.
WWL: Did the governor do that, too?
Nagin: I don’t know. I don’t think so. But we called for martial law when we realized that the looting was getting out of control. And we redirected all of our police officers back to patrolling the streets. They were dead-tired from saving people, but they worked all night because we thought this thing was going to blow wide open last night. And so we redirected all of our resources, and we hold it under check. I’m not sure if we can do that another night with the current resources. And I am telling you right now: They’re showing all these reports of people looting and doing all that weird stuff, and they are doing that, but people are desperate and they’re trying to find food and water, the majority of them. Now you got some knuckleheads out there, and they are taking advantage of this lawless — this situation where, you know, we can’t really control it, and they’re doing some awful, awful things. But that’s a small majority of the people. Most people are looking to try and survive.
And one of the things people — nobody’s talked about this. Drugs flowed in and out of New Orleans and the surrounding metropolitan area so freely it was scary to me, and that’s why we were having the escalation in murders. People don’t want to talk about this, but I’m going to talk about it. You have drug addicts that are now walking around this city looking for a fix, and that’s the reason why they were breaking in hospitals and drugstores. They’re looking for something to take the edge off of their jones, if you will. And right now, they don’t have anything to take the edge off. And they’ve probably found guns. So what you’re seeing is drug-starving crazy addicts, drug addicts, that are wrecking havoc. And we don’t have the manpower to adequately deal with it. We can only target certain sections of the city and form a perimeter around them and hope to God that we’re not overrun.
WWL: Well, you and I must be in the minority. Because apparently there’s a section of our citizenry out there that thinks because of a law that says the federal government can’t come in unless requested by the proper people, that everything that’s going on to this point has been done as good as it can possibly be.
WWL: I know you don’t feel that way.
Nagin: Well, did the tsunami victims request? Did it go through a formal process to request? You know, did the Iraqi people request that we go in there? Did they ask us to go in there? What is more important? And I’ll tell you, man, I’m probably going get in a whole bunch of trouble. I’m probably going to get in so much trouble it ain’t even funny. You probably won’t even want to deal with me after this interview is over.
WWL: You and I will be in the funny place together.
Nagin: But we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick. After 9/11, we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick to take care of New York and other places. Now, you mean to tell me that a place where most of your oil is coming through, a place that is so unique when you mention New Orleans anywhere around the world, everybody’s eyes light up — you mean to tell me that a place where you probably have thousands of people that have died and thousands more that are dying every day, that we can’t figure out a way to authorize the resources that we need? Come on, man. You know, I’m not one of those drug addicts. I am thinking very clearly. And I don’t know whose problem it is. I don’t know whether it’s the governor’s problem. I don’t know whether it’s the president’s problem, but somebody needs to get their ass on a plane and sit down, the two of them, and figure this out right now.
WWL: What can we do here?
Nagin: Keep talking about it.
WWL: We’ll do that. What else can we do?
Nagin: Organize people to write letters and make calls to their congressmen, to the president, to the governor. Flood their doggone offices with requests to do something. This is ridiculous. I don’t want to see anybody do anymore goddamn press conferences. Put a moratorium on press conferences. Don’t do another press conference until the resources are in this city. And then come down to this city and stand with us when there are military trucks and troops that we can’t even count. Don’t tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They’re not here. It’s too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let’s fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country.
WWL: I’ll say it right now, you’re the only politician that’s called and called for arms like this. And if — whatever it takes, the governor, president — whatever law precedent it takes, whatever it takes, I bet that the people listening to you are on your side.
Nagin: Well, I hope so, Garland. I am just — I’m at the point now where it don’t matter. People are dying. They don’t have homes. They don’t have jobs. The city of New Orleans will never be the same in this time.
WWL: We’re both pretty speechless here.
Nagin:Yeah, I don’t know what to say. I got to go.
WWL: OK. Keep in touch. Keep in touch.