Two thousand thirteen—lord, where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday I was living in another century. And just think; now for an entire year, every day we will write and speak the bad luck number, the one regarded with suspicion and superstition. “Thirteen” never gets the respect other numbers receive, and frankly that’s just wrong. As far as I’m concerned, 2012 wasn’t all that grand.
We lost the saintliness of our Saints and all respect for the NFL as an arbitrator of fair play. Most businesses in the Quarter have experienced a worse than usual summer slump. The convention/tourist season began with earnest in October, only to be greeted by the huge demolition of most French Quarter sidewalks and streets for a repaving project that now seems counter-productive.
Tourists cough and hack through the concrete dust that rises up with every breeze or jackhammer; then trip and stumble over and around barricades and hollowed-out sidewalks that they are expected to maneuver if they wish to shop, dine or drink. Cars, taxis, delivery trucks will all need new shocks after months and months of navigating these streets. Sure, it needed to be done but get this: at some point, beneath the refurbished walkways and roads, our underground water and sewage system of broken and weaken pipes will need tending. (In 2011 it was documented that we lose 50 percent of our drinking water due to underground pipe leakage.) It’s like getting your hair styled and highlighted before brain surgery.
We got hit with a commemorative hurricane— same day as Katrina. Three good people I know died in September. My shop was broken into. A week later the ceiling fell in. My rent paying job started taking credit cards and immediately morale and tips both went down the drain. My dog died. My friend’s dog died. Oil was leaking again in the Gulf. We lost our daily homegrown newspaper to the digital gods. And my favorite other city, New York, caught a bad hurricane. And during all of this Obama is struggling for the presidency and as of today, Oct. 31, I have no idea who will win and give meaning, for better of for worse, to 2013. I am sad, mad and feeling bad—bad to the bone.
We live in volatile times. Our planet is experiencing climate changes that surprise, astound and terrify—and lives are at risk. Yet both contenders for the White House avoided any discussion of global warming during the debates. Then Hurricane Sandy came ashore setting new records. She severely affected 17 states; became the costliest storm to date, and NYC has to live with the fact that you cannot evacuate eight million people.
Worldwide, civil wars are gathering more steam everyday. Dangerous men control weapons of mass annihilation and economies everywhere are struggling. And we here in the United States live in a vacuum--we are surrounded by bubble wrap that makes it nearly impossible to imagine living in constant peril.
In Nigeria the world’s largest oil spill is allowed to exist and continue unabated. It’s not an oil sheen shown on their television—it’s something they walk through, touch, drink. In another country a young girl is shot in the head for her audacity to seek and advocate an education for herself and other girls. In too many cities and villages, people fear day and night that they will be bombed, shot or raped. We have watched the people of more than one country fight and die for the privilege to vote while we here in America hardly give a good goddamn about our own elections.
When this column is circulated two months from now the man who will lead our country through these perilous times will have been decided. It is obvious that Obama is my choice. But regardless of who takes the oath on inauguration day, it is imperative that we as citizens stay vigilant and informed. Whether you are a Republican, Democrat or Independent, you must be involved—starting on the local level. Pay attention to your city and state elections; attend neighborhood and town hall meetings. Become an informed consumer—flex your muscle with your wallet. Read the news. Give a damn.
My crystal ball is on the blink (made in China) and I have no intuitive abilities to glean what 2013 holds for us. With so much room for improvement (regardless of who sits in the Oval Office) perhaps we can find some purpose. The problems may seem daunting but we are alive and the odds just might still be in our favor. But time is running out. Let’s not squander another year. Let’s make 13 our lucky number.