Thursday, December 29, 2005

Art, Used Cars and Trailer Trash

There's a set of railroad tracks flanked by empty lots about two blocks from where I live. One of the lots is Nero's favorite poo spot. Before Kartina, the tree line along that lot was a well used illegal dumping ground for locals.

It wasn't unusual during a morning walk with the little black pug to discover a newly discarded item or two flung into the brush, maybe even a bulging black trash bag.

After Katrina, the area became one of many "official" unofficial trash heaps. I even dumped a pile of garden debris and flooded stuff from the garage onto one of the piles. We really had no choice. For more than a month, there was no streetside trash pickup. Hauling waste to the tracks was the only way to keep the stuff from stinking up the fronts of our houses.

The big piles have disappeared, but every few days new items show up again. I discovered the above pile while driving to work this week. I imagine it could be the creation of one of the eccentric artists who populate the Bywater neighborhood where I live. It spoke to me.

No art here. This is the scene below the Broad Street overpass next to my office. This space used to be overflow parking for newspaper employees. It's become a graveyard for flooded wrecks (note the water lines on the windows). Sometimes, some of the cars disappear. But within a few days, the lot is full again. Who knows when it will end.

I drove a few blocks through the Fontainebleau neighborhood near the center of the city the other day and counted more than 20 FEMA trailers, such as this one, in front of houses.

Not so long ago, I would have hurled at the sight of a trailer in a historic neighborhood. But the spread of mobile homes is heartening. They're a sign of change after months of stagnation, a signal that people finally are coming back to flooded sections of the city. Welcome to New Orleans - the nation's biggest trailer park!

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