Volume 75, Number 16 | September 07 - 13, 2005

Notebook

After the deluge

By Andrei Codrescu

There will be a little bit of New Orleans everwhere when our refugees move into your communities. Here are some of the changes:

Your food will get better. In the past 10 years, thanks to Asian and Latin flavors brought in by immigrants, American food improved. Now it will reach sublimity.

Instead of canned music you will have the real live thing. Clubs will mushroom and street performers will make your town a livelier place. Start working now to remove the tight-ass rules that forbid street theater. Get ready to hear strangers open up to you in public places and tell you stories. You will remember that once upon a time, before television, people used to say hello to strangers and tell stories.

Several times a year there will be festivals and parades that will remind you ritually that it’s O.K. to be alive and you don’t have to work like a dog without any joy in this lifetime.

There will be new coffee houses, bars and community centers where you will, hopefully, forget to be a couch potato. Sure, you might become a barfly instead, but I’ll take a living human drunk over a phony electronic pixel vampire. Many people will shoot their televisions; that’s inevitable.

Speaking of shooting, the gun business will boom, as it is doing right now. Other busineses will boom, as well, as skilled manual laborers from New Orleans pour in. (Just don’t expect them to finish anything on time). The real estate market is booming already. Schools will be filled to capacity and there will be a need for more teachers. There will also be more jobs for doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen and criminals.

You will experience an overnight growth in self-esteem as our refugee poets and writers will begin to use your city as a source of material. You will also experience an equal plunge into embarrassment when they reveal what they found out.

You will no longer experience any faith in your government — if you still have any. Our refugees will teach you how to be self-reliant, depend on your community and live without any faith in the government.

The bums who run the country now will be swept out of power, first Bush and his cronies, then all the spineless officials and bureaucrats wasting your money in Washington.

You will be renewed by the intelligence of a whole culture, just like we were renewed by the refugees of Europe after the Second World War.

On the down side, you will start smoking again.

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