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John McQuaid

John McQuaid

Posted: January 18, 2007 03:09 PM

In New Orleans: Harry Anderson Out, Brangelina In


A few months back, Harry Anderson got fed up and left New Orleans, where the former "Night Court" judge and magician owns a nightclub. Post-Katrina, he'd been very active in the life of the city. But, like many, he just got fed up with the politics, the bureaucracy, the general recalcitrance of daily life in the post-apocalyptic Big Easy.

"This city hasn't evolved," Mr. Anderson said. "I just feel this place is stuck on stupid."

Well, okay. After the meteor hit the Yucatan 65 million years back, things did evolve pretty rapidly, so he has a point. I wouldn't put it quite that way. But I don't live there.

Now, word comes that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are moving in to fill - or rather, obliterate - the void Anderson left in the city's starpower:

The average income in New Orleans scooted a bit higher this month when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie dropped $3.5 million on a French Quarter mansion.

The Hollywood couple, who occupy the upper strata of celebrity, bought a three-story, 7,400-square-foot home in the lower French Quarter this month and have enrolled their oldest child at a local school. The house they selected -- their fourth, according to a tabloid that posted the story on its Web site this week -- is a gray-green, balconied affair near the riverfront, complete with a two-car garage, a detached guest house and a rear courtyard cloistered from view of even the surrounding houses.
....
Jolie, who is famous for adopting children from poor countries, and Pitt indeed seem to have adopted New Orleans and its recovery as a pet cause. Last year, Pitt held a competition for architects to design eco-friendly homes in devastated areas of New Orleans.

"This is a social justice issue," Pitt has said of Katrina recovery. "In a catastrophe, you help the most vulnerable first, and we failed to do that."

True enough, though the image of Pitt and Jolie, aficionados of the poor and oppressed, effectively lumping New Orleans in with profoundly needy spots such as Cambodia and West Africa is a little alarming, though probably inevitable. This is still America, We shouldn't need Brangelina's help.

But that's no reason to reject it. And as with John Edwards' recent foray to the 9th Ward, I say, let's bring 'em all down. Unleash the paparazzi on home guttings, cratered roads and empty schools. It can't hurt.

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