Editor's note: Cynthia Joyce (i.e., me) is a former resident of New Orleans – she'll be recording observations from New Orleans on the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
I hadn't been in New Orleans for more than 10 minutes when I heard the first reference to Hurricane Katrina on the radio station WWOZ, which was playing a live version of jazz vocalist John Boutte singing Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927." In it he alters the lyrics to reference the flood of 2005: "Bush flew over in his airplane with twelve fat men with martinis in their hand/Bush said, 'Fat man, great job...look what the river has done to this poor Creole's land.' " It might have struck me as tragic, except that the DJ, with typical New Orleans irreverence, kept playing over it samples of Bush's infamous "Heckuva job, Brownie" quote to then-FEMA head Mike Brown.
Which served as a good reminder of how much New Orleans is decidedly not wallowing in self-pity when it recalls Katrina--it's just claiming its own narrative of the event.
While the coming days will be all about remembering The Storm (as I write this, the owner of the coffee shop where I'm sitting just told one of her regulars, "God, I'm so sick of hearing about Katrina I could gag"...), people here were never trying to forget it – not that they could if they wanted to. They just have bigger fish to fry. Literally, in some cases. Not to mention a football season to gear up for. You can see the Superdome gleaming from just about every vantage point along I-10. It's being painted black and gold – in honor of the Saints, naturally – and though they're not finished yet, you can already see how spectacular it's going to be. I can't think of a better metaphor for the city's recovery.