September 08, 2005


Wooden Boat.jpg

Wooden Boat, Harbour, Howth

This is from my trip to Howth a few weeks back. Ah, old phone. Memories.

Posted by Diablevert at 06:56 PM | Comments (0)

September 04, 2005

There are times when you know you've backed yourself into a corner

So the other night Skillz made a delectable dinner, rounded off with Strawberries in White Balsamic Viniger with Basil. It was unspeakably delicious. I must make it for you sometime. So I was surprised when I noticed Illn'P didn't seem to be partaking.

Diablevert: Are you not having any?

Illn'P: Oh, I'm mildly allergic to strawberries. I can have one or two, but more than that and I break out in hives.

Diablevert: Aw, that's a shame. Everybody groan orgasmically and stare at Illn'P.

The Librarian in Red Sneakers, alone of all present, dutifully groans. General laughter. A slight pause ensuses.

The Librarian in Red Sneakers: Not that that's what my orgasm sounds like. It's's, uh...more...different from...hunh.

After the passage of several minutes, when our fusillade of wisecracks seems to have petered out, the Librarian said, "Could we just kinda forget I made that joke?"

We are all, of course, kindhearted people, and fond of our friends.

But that didn't stop us from making the motto of our vacation "Uuhhhhhnnngh."

Posted by Diablevert at 11:55 AM | Comments (0)

September 03, 2005


I've been reading about Katrina this morning. I had a bunch of light little fluffy posts planed, but that'll have to go by the wayside for the moment; I'm in a black mood, which, per the blogger code, I've chosen to burden the internet with.

I have to begin with a confession: I have been callow, and blithe. Appallingly so.

I had some friends visiting last week, and when the storm hit I was in the countryside for a few days. There was a TV in the house but we barely touched it, spending our days leisurely visiting the sights and our nights relaxing with dinner, conversation, games.

So the first I heard of what happened in New Orleans was when we walked into a pub in Kilkenny for lunch and saw a big screen over the bar tuned to Sky News, the British tabloid news channel. The headline runner on the bottom of the page said "New Orleans Under Martial Law."

"What the fuck?" I said loudly, startled. My friends and I glanced wide-eyed at each other. They live now, and I used to live, in New York City, and I think our first thought was the same: That the city had been blow up. Attacked somehow. A dirty bomb, maybe. We realized quickly that it wasn't a terrorist attack but a hurricane, and we watched the coverage for a few minutes. The waitress offered to turn the music down so we could hear the coverage, but we declined, a bit sheepish. We thought we might have shocked the bar staff a bit with our sudden burst of worry.

While we waited for our food, we watched the shots of flooded streets. We watched a close-up shot from a helicopter of a man standing bare-chested on a rooftop, flapping his white t-shirt in the air; it seemed at first that he was merely trying to attract the attention of the news cameras but gradually it became clear that he was trying to direct that attention off to the left, and then the camera pulled back and revealed a large house on fire a block away, burning in the midst of floodwaters. There was no way for the fire trucks to get to it. There were more shots like that, buildings burning in the water, fire in the French quarter, highways and bridges collapsed in neat slices into the bay. Devastation vast as a Biblical plague. Vast, awesome, terrible.

And then we turned to our lunch. I do remember sparing a thought to those fires --- could they not get helicopters to dump water on them, as they do with forest fires in the West? And for the gas --- one of the smaller headlines that run along the bottom of the screen prompted the recollection that the Gulf is home to a large number of oil pumps and refineries, and I wondered how the prices would fare at the pump. But I do not think I worried overmuch. This was a hurricane. A natural disaster. We have had them before, we will have them again. Much larger, much worse than previous ones, but we have experience of them. Surely the rescue crews were already on their way, as we sat in that pub in Kilkenny. Surely the Guard was there, and the Red Cross, bringing water and food. Surely. Sure as it had happened for Andrew in '92, and for Floyd several years later.

I was callow. I was blithe. And most of all I was inattentive. Over the next day or two, driving back to Dublin and then packing my friends off to the airport, I had heard an occasional scrap of worrisome news --- the crowd at the Superdome had not been evacuated yet. It would take a month or more before people might be allowed back into the city. They were having difficulty getting food and supplies in. A scrap, here and there.

It wasn't really until today that I sat down at my computer to catch up on the news and began to understand. I find it difficult to read for long. It makes me nauseous. The nausea fades quickly, once I stop literally looking at photos of people starving the streets, dying in the heat, living in filth. But when the nausea goes the shame rises, and that has staying power; even trying to imagine what I might say to an Irish person who asked me how this could have happened makes me bow my head, now, here, alone in my room.

There is one thing more and yet I don't know how to describe it to you. One thing I wonder about, and can't decide on, even whether to call it a feeling or a question or a worry. But I'll try and describe it. It seems, to me, that this disaster is an example of incompetence so horrifying it ought to rob we witnesses of our breath. But I also know I am a partisan; I have long despaired of my government, and of this administration. I know that I would have been alert to a fuck-up on their part of one-thousandth of a percent of this disaster. My mind was a stony field, fertile only for one who wished to reap casting stones. And I know that there are others who feel the opposite, who would cling to any straw, and swallow any pabulum, that would enable them to believe that the administration was not to blame for what we all have seen. And Bush don't make hurricanes; God does.

The thing I don't know is whether we Americans have all become so viciously divided that we cannot come to grasp a common truth: That what happened in New Orleans and elsewhere in the Gulf was wrong and should not be, and could have been prevented. I do not know if the incompetence, the lies, the cruelty born of ignorance and carelessness that the highest officials of our government have displayed in this crisis is something we all see or only some of us. I do not know if the truth of our failure as a nation is a truth big enough to break through our color-coded, red and blue minds. Which perhaps explains why the shame is what lasts when I think of these events.

I could say that I feel angry, at this notion. I could say I feel heartsick. Both things would be true, if allowed myself to dwell, to bet for certainty that we are so divided. But I cannot yet allow myself to believe that, sitting here on the other side of the world. I tend to believe that people, on the whole, are capable of great cruelty and bigotry and ignorance, and of great compassion, and sacrifice and loyalty. I know it is a possibility that we are indeed a house divided, now. But I need to believe that we are also a people, that we share in common certain ideals, and that when they are so betrayed we can all sense it, and take offense. That though there may be much we disagree on, there is yet some common bond that unites us, that makes us stand together in compassion for those who were hurt and in opposition to those who so cruelly, foolishly, manifestly failed them.

I go home to visit in a couple days. I guess I'll find out.

Posted by Diablevert at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)