i’m too angry and too sad about what’s happened in and near new orleans – and what’s been allowed to happen – to try and be clear about everything i’m feeling today, or anything, really: i always wanted to know more, to get inside an understanding of the exact historical-cultural role of the world’s fifth largest port (and the regions round it) and i always felt, also, that – maybe more than any other part of america – there was something about its story which meant we always saw it, from our faraway place in geography or time, through a distorting scrim of sentimentality, simplified, stripped away from the complexity of itself and, well, orientalised or something — i wanted to do it justice when i wrote about it, if i wrote about it, and all i knew was that i didn’t know much yet, and that maybe knowing enough would take a lifetime on its own, and so i set the idea by and studied other, easier things. most pop phenomena are here and gone in a flash, and that’s the energy and the fun and the point: i liked how new orleans seemed to abide, an irreducible and beguiling anomaly just a little off the edge of routine consciousness about pop: you could ignore it but you could never really quite forget it; it mattered so much, and yet – it seemed to be saying – what was the urgency, fool? and now this hub of half-lost worlds lies shattered and drowned, and those still trapped can’t state the urgency strongly enough