The first time I met Jim Gabour, it was at a party I hosted on a canal boat on the Seine in Paris... for the French Bicentennial almost twenty years ago. A bearded wild man throwing dubloons and Mardi Gras beads arrived at 1 AM from London and announced, "I have arrived!"
Being from the Gulf Coast, I was happy to meet up with a fellow Southerner, one from the city my family loves deeply, New Orleans. Jim has had offers to move to New York or LA many a time over his years as a director of films and music videos, but he stays put in New Orleans because Southern Louisiana is in his blood.
Jim made it through Katrina though the old lovely home he has fixed up himself had a good amount of damage and he and his brothers went back and fixed it up again. He wrote about Katrina often and has published a three-year anniversary piece.
But I found that the email he sent me this morning needed to be shared... so here it is. Pray this hurricane does not grow stronger and misses New Orleans.
It's a boy, this time.
Tropical Storm Gustav wobbled unsteadily through much of the Caribbean, but as Hurricane Gustav approaches Cuba he has recovered his macho nature and his track is straightening. The storm center now seems to have its sites firmly set on the Louisiana coastline, a rag-tag string of barrier islands still completely unrecovered from the Katrina-Rita one-two punch three years ago.
All the various media and governmental information outlets vary on their opinions of the final track -- where this thing will finally come ashore, each saying they expect a last-minute veer east or west as it approaches the Gulf Coast. One thing on which they are in agreement, though, is that New Orleans is getting a piece of it.
Which is probably why seven thousand National Guardsmen armed for war are at this moment pouring into the city, their mission more weighted toward protecting people and property from the human bad guys such an event generates than from the storm itself. Which is also why helicopters whose numbers are reminiscent of scenes in Apocalypse Now are this moment scurrying to and fro above us, hauling massive sandbags and equipment to the three places where, we have been told, the levees and floodgates cannot yet handle the surge of another massive storm.
It has been three years and a day since Katrina violated this city. We are not yet safe, and the world has tired of our story.
I am staying this time, as I refuse to go through the fourteen-hour hell-in-a-tiny car evacuation scenario I endured escaping the night before Katrina. In 2008 I have two full propane tanks for my outdoor stoves, a generator with ten gallons of fuel, four hurricane lamps and oil, three flashlights, a battery-powered TV and lots of batteries, and sufficient reading material.
Plus half a case of Wild Turkey.
I am waiting until the last minute -- tomorrow, Sunday, August 31 -- to get up on my ladder to install the heavy and cumbersome plywood storm shutters, because it is such a huge ordeal. I must be absolutely sure Gustav is truly headed this way before I make myself once again get into major emergency carpentry.
Actually, I'm just getting too old for this.
The streets are already almost deserted, and we have been informed that the U.S. mail is now cut off until further notice. I am to teach my classes online Tue-Wed, as the university and student body have already been evacuated elsewhere, though that assumes I will have electrical power and the internet here in New Orleans.
The only good storm news is that all my old hunting comrades and drinking buds down the bayou in St. Bernard parish are getting the hell out because their levees aren't among the protection structures not yet completed. The prolific sportsmen of St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes all have freezers full of wild game left from this spring. When the last storm hit and the electricity was shut off, months worth of frozen bounty rotted. The power outage seems likely again, so they are completely emptying their freezers of serious goods.
The bottom line on that is yesterday afternoon I picked up a large bag of wild duck breasts, venison, and wild boar sausage from my down-the-bayou connection at Tujague's (thank you, David & Lisa), so I intend a hurricane party with some serious chow coming up Monday to divert myself with cooking a massive meal as the Thing gets near.
I am already getting hungry. The LSU college football game has been moved to a 10am start for the first time in history, and also moved to the obscure ESPN Classics channel which neither I nor Tujague's have, so I am headed around the corner to a friend's house in just a few moments to celebrate the return of our favorite sport. I am sure they are already into bloody marys and screwdrivers.
I am prepared to eat and drink well in adversity. What else is there to do?"
Jim Gabour -- rue Marigny -- New Orleans