Still Singing the Blues
Press one button: "Excuse my French, everybody in America!"
Press another: "But I am pissed!"
Not that it has done much good. After more than a year of false starts, Nagin's re-election promises for the city's resurrection remain as broken as the neighborhoods he insisted would come back if only given the chance. The city's population has stalled out at about 200,000, less than half its size before the storm. And far from the "chocolate" New Orleans he envisioned a year ago, with a majority of its residents African-American, a recent survey found that the city's blacks make up only 47 percent of the population, down from 67 percent before the storm, while whites account for 42 percent. (Hispanics, who are providing much of the backbreaking labor for New Orleans's rebuilding, are now the city's fastest-growing population.)
But while many have given up on returning and a third of those here now say they are likely to leave the area in the next two years, a resolute few are determined to stayall coping with reality in their own way.
"I keep it together by not being here much," jazz singer Topsy Chapman said as she prepared to board a plane for a gig in New York City last week. Chapman had spent Christmas Eve singing her heart out at Preservation Hall, where she'd brought the sold-out audience nearly to tears with a rendition of Louis Armstrong's "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?" Given the reaction from the crowd, apparently the answer to the question was "Yes."