Friday, January 05, 2007

In an effort to get mind off of the horrible murder down the street, I've focused my efforts this morning on coming up with a pitch for an NBC TV show that's holding a casting call today in New Orleans. The show, called "Fortune" will give money to participants to fulfill some sort of dream. Now, of course New Orleans is filled with folks lacking the funds to fulfill even the most basic of dreams (dreams which arguably shouldn't have to be dreams, even--like rebuilding a home or a park that's been ravaged by the storm). Like those "dreams," my own has TV written all over it. I want to build a bridge.

In 1912, when the by-now notorious Industrial Canal was built between the lower ninth ward (including the Holy Cross neighborhood, where Simon and I plan to move next summer), it effectively isolated the Lower 9 from the rest of the city, which resulted in disinvestment (if that's a word) in the area, and a general downturn in the area's value and viability as a historic community. The two bridges which connect the Lower 9 with the rest of the city lie at Claiborne Avenue and St. Claude. Both drawbridges, they are hulking and unsightly structures--neither of which is pedestrian or cyclist-friendly. In a city where only 40% of the residents own cars, and where public transportation has become increasingly sporadic and inaccessible, post-K, these bridges further isolate the Lower 9, making an already-difficult revitalization of the neighborhood even more difficult.

My idea was to "pitch" the rebuilding of the St. Claude Avenue bridge. The St. Claude bridge is the smaller of the two bridges, and the one that connects the historic Bywater with hictoric Holy Cross. The bridge is narrow and far too scary for any pedestrian to safely cross. As the Preservation Resource Center's Operation Comeback steps up its focus on the revitalization of Holy Cross, and as other factors begin to bring life back to Holy Cross (Brad Pitt's Global Green Project; the rebuilding of the Jackson Barracks), a new bridge would aid the comeback of the Lower 9, including Holy Cross.

But there are more selfish reasons that I want this bridge to be improved. When I talked to Terrence about our moving across the Canal, he was sad because he said he wouldn't be able to see us anymore. I told him that of course he would, but really, he's right. He can't drive, and without a passable pedestrian bridge, he'll not be able to come see us. Jackie won't be able to ride her bike to our house as she now does. And in general, that narrow and uninviting bridge will discourage our friends from coming over to visit us.

So I'm getting my "pitch" together, and I start doing research, only to discover that of course, the notorious Corps of Engineers in in charge of the fate of the bridge. They do, in fact, have plans to rebuild it--in 2015. Their plans, though, focus on industry and improving the flow of maritime traffic, not on aiding the neighborhoods (which shouldn't surprise me, I suppose). There's a clause that suggests that two weeks before the destruction of the current bridge, an "advertising period" will occur, allowing for private entities to vie for possession of the bridge, but who, I ask you, would want to own and maintain a bridge when they know the government will foot the bill? Anyways, my little dream was squashed by the reality of bureaucracy. I suppose this is what so many homeowners with their own "dreams" are experiencing right now.

My dream effectively killed, I turn, then, to my next project: scanning months' worth of refrigerator magnets for my upcoming Nolafridge presentation at the American Popular Culture Association. (See my other blog.)

Sigh... I guess it's better than having the morbid thoughts that have possessed me for the past 24 hours. Again: sigh.

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