roller coasters


Shana just arrived from New Orleans via Houston. I can’t describe the look in her eyes – she has had to be a contact for folks this past week while her heart and brain began to process what has happened to her, to her and her husband’s home, to her city.

There’s another hurricane benefit tonight:


Join KEVIN POWELL and special guests

as they present a BENEFIT for New Orleans


285 West Broadway, at Canal Street
downtown Manhattan in New York City
21 and over with ID, and please RSVP to cher_harrison@yahoo.com

Admission is FREE but you MUST bring one or more of the following items for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. These items will be loaded onto a
big truck in front of CANAL ROOM and driven directly to Claiborne
County Health Center in Port Gibson, Mississippi, run by Dr. Demitri
Marshall. It is one of the closest rescue and help centers in the New
Orleans area and in a position to really get these items to people in
need. PLEASE make sure clothing and shoes and sneakers are new OR clean
and in good condition….

Clothing for children and adults, Adult shoes and sneakers, Adult socks, Children’s shoes and sneakers, Children socks, Bottles of water, Diapers, Baby wipes, Baby food, Baby aspirin, Aspirin, Vitamins, Toilet paper, Sanitary napkins, Portable radios with batteries, Plastic forks, knives, and spoons, Cotton balls, Cotton swabs, Hydrogen peroxide BUT NOT rubbing alcohol, because that is flammable, band aids, Shaving cream, Male AND female razors, Blankets, Air mattresses, Sheets, Pillows and pillow cases, Gift cards for gas, Walmart gift cards, Garbage bags, Cleaning supplies, Soap, Toothpaste and toothbrushes, Flashlights, Batteries, Candles, Books for children, including coloring books, Books for adults, Magazines

If you are placing donated items in a bag PLEASE LABEL.
For example, Children’s shoes or Adult shoes, or Children’s clothes or Adult clothes.

We will NOT be taking monetary donations. (go to www.sparkplugfoundation.org for a list of places to send $$)

CANAL ROOM ownership is generously donating the space but there will be a CASH BAR ALL NIGHT.

Guest deejays, musical performers, and corporate sponsors to be announced shortly

now back to me.

i got a digital camera for my birthday, and an ipod shuffle. so i have been taking lots of pictures. here is a before and after shot of me yesterday, watching the news.



i feel so strange.

i think i’m going a little crazy.

i think my heart is breaking over and over. i get it together to comfort this friend or that sister and then i go in the bathroom and cry. the weight of new orleans, the spirit of new orleans is haunting us all.

in moments of crisis, the spiritual, emotional, economic and environmental chaos we live in is briefly exposed to everyone. but maybe i’m crazy, cause i feel that way almost all the time, and have for some time. i see what people are doing to help now, and its amazing. but i can’t shake the feeling i always have that these same people are regularly trying to destroy us. we – we are a suicidal generation.

i feel helpless even as i am trying to make other people feel empowered to go and do something, to do ANYthing. cause i get so tired of self-righteous liberals and progressives and organizers who get on a high horse about what is and isn’t the right way to handle crisis and conflict  in this country. it’s irresponsible to act like we can ever do more than share information with each other. when you begin to dictate to others what is the right way for them to live in this world, you are not a hero or a revolutionary, you are merely a dictator. and you are a slave to your ego. and you cannot help anyone, cause you have no skill beyond pontification. i tell myself. 🙂

like i keep thinking of and hearing folks say race war, race war, and then look at their faces as they try to contend with how that could possibly work, since it isn’t possible for them personally, only ideologically. there is no unified white, no unified black to take part in that abstract war. its waging itself at this point.

and anyway, james baldwin in the fire next time told us our fates are tied to those of our white brothers. another friend told me yesterday that she thinks that’s the idea that drove him mad. i take the next step with it, i don’t see any way poor people or black people can separate their fate from the rich and white who employ and govern them, especially when we are trained from birth to aim for measurable prosperity and power.

plus i cannot let myself by dominated by hatred for whites or for the wealthy because that is debilitating to my spirit and doesn’t leave me the energy to do the work my people need from me. i just end up a reactionary. played out.

and we share a finite space, earth. after earth its heaven, hell, sleep, everything, nothing or right back to earth again. the whole damn thing is each of our homes – when one part drowns we all gasp for air.

but there are days when i need a break from that reality. it gets so exhausting. i don’t know sometimes if white folk can even understand how exhausting it gets. there is no doubt in my mind that no set of humans on this earth is elite when it comes to destiny.

but i also deeply believe that the majority of folks in this country – no matter what their background is – FEEL deep down that they will somehow be set aside for whatever their version of salvation is, and that makes us lazy in our compassion. like – "oh how sad but i ain’t gonna do anything REAL."

this is all over the place, i know…i just feel like all of my work, and the work of the people i know, is thrown in sharp relief against what is actually needed right now and we’re coming up short. at the least i am committing to learning basic CPR and emergency response skills this year and i invite y’all to join me, so when isht goes down we can make our way there and do what the gov’t won’t. and let’s get our octavia butler backpacks ready.

to close today, here are some words from my dear trina, who has spent the last week helping her family get up and out of her home in new orleans:

The destruction is unbelievable,
and certainly gives Kenner the look of a war zone. But what adds to that is all of the
military personnel everywhere. Literally there are snipers in helicopters flying above us, tanks rolling
through our neighborhood streets, and armed men patrolling every intersection.
Suburbia infused by militia is not
something I ever thought I would see in this lifetime – certainly not in the


But even more heartbreaking was
the image of our law enforcement officials and military I saw on those
streets. They were all either 18 or
50 it seemed. And many, especially
the police force, were clearly out of uniforms. They were on the street with jeans and
shorts to match their tattered uniform shirts. I can only imagine with the hurricane
did to their homes and everything they owned. Perhaps that could explain the glazed
look on their faces…most just stood their on the street corner with a cigarette
and a soda, trying to beat the heat, probably not knowing anymore about the
future than I did.


My sense of smell was also jolted
during our visit. At least 30 miles
outside of the city I started to smell the toxic mix of sewage and stagnant
water. But nothing, absolutely
nothing could compare to the putrid, putrid smell of rotting food. In our home, we have a refrigerator and
a standing freezer filled to the brim with food (like any good Bengali
family). So when my father opened
our kitchen door, we were all greeted by the juices of defrosting and
decomposing meats oozing across our tile floor. (I am literally gagging as I try to
write this as the smell was so unbelievably awful….imagine 1.5 million homes
filled with rotting food…) The
local officials asked residents to dig a hole and bury the rotting food, as the
city obviously cannot provide sanitation services at this time. So we obliged and went thorough four
bottles of Lysol in the process. My mom just kept spraying the stuff, hoping the
smell would go away. But the truth
is that the smell of rot and disaster isn’t going away anytime soon. Instead, her act was more metaphorical –
an attempt to disinfect the memory of this experience…as if she just kept
spraying Lysol, maybe this would all go away…


It isn’t going away though, and
we’re the lucky ones. The
unbelievably lucky ones. Our home
is ok, but what will life be like when my parents return? I can’t even fathom what the future of
New Orleans will
be, even as it remains under a global spotlight.


In the meantime I sincerely hope
all of the political bullshit will stop impeding the rebuilding process. In fact, I can’t even begin to wrap my
head around all of my anger. I
can’t begin to understand why it has taken me days just to figure what forms I
need to fill out in order to wait in which lines just to be told that I’ll hear
something eventually about the assistance my parents and so many others


But the red tape is only part of
the story. I am even more
infuriated that FEMA told my father that his civil engineering company could not
be given rebuilding contracts because he had done work for the city and parish
before. Apparently this poses some
“conflict of interest.” Apparently
his local expertise is a problem for the federal government. Apparently helping rebuild those who
have been affected by the disasters isn’t in our government’s


But I digress…because the stories
of inefficiency and bullshit could go on forever…


And as I sit here typing as
my father packs up his friend’s car with what’s left of their home, I am once
again reminded how fortunate we are. I am also reminded of clichés that tell me everything can be taken away
in an instance. But I also know
that the people of New
Orleans are resilient. Most of us will be back, because being
from New Orleans
is an inherent part of who we are. I just hope that we will come back to a least some semblance of the
beautiful, historical, magical city we had to leave behind.