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New Orleans Intersections

The Evacuationmobile

Honda Element... in KiwiThe Honda Element is the unofficial evacuationmobile of New Orleans. They started popping up all over the place in October, when people began replacing their flooded cars with new ones and people who'd never even had a car before realized that maybe it was time to give in. "Oh, you got one of those Tupperware cars," Skip said when I acquired mine in May. And they are kind of like Tupperware. Everything folds, snaps and removes. You can hose the thing down inside. But I got it because I could imagine living in it if I had to.

Mine is in Kiwi. I figured I'd be able to find it that way. Not just in a parking lot, but just outside on the street, where there are several other Elements within a block. Kiwi is new, and they will only be using it this year. One of the first things I did in it was pick up a neighbor at the airport. Now Elizabeth has a Kiwi Element too.

Intersection | New Orleans

Press StreetAnne Gisleson and Brad Benischek have one of the early post-K Elements in the neighborhood. Before the storm, their Saab was on its last legs. Before the storm, I called them one day and said, "Have you ever thought of just starting a little publishing company?" "We were just talking about that this morning." Press Street, named after the division between the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods, was born. Anne, a writer, and Brad, and artist, had an idea for our first publication: pair 25 New Orleans writers with 25 New Orleans visual artists. Assign everyone an intersection somewhere in the city and see what happens. The result is the just completed book Intersection | New Orleans. Proceeds from sales of the book will fund a literacy project.

In addition to the book, Press Street has been keeping itself busy hosting events throughout the city in conjunction with other publishers and organizations. In December we celebrated Tom Piazza's book Why New Orleans Matters by opening Preservation Hall for one night only, with proceeds going to the Musicians Relief Fund. More recently, we also reopened the Saturn Bar with a reading and potluck with contributors to Chin Music Press's Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans (proceeds went to Rebuilding Together).

The Pit Bulls of Katrina

Over five thousand pit bulls were rescued from the flood waters of Katrina last year. No one was mauled during this rescue effort. In fact, I don't even know of anyone who was seriously bitten. Yet the threat of breed specific legislation looms increasingly over the heads of family pets around the country. In Clinton, Mississippi, a new law was passed banning American Pit Bull Terriers, Staffordshire Terriers, American Staffordshire Terriers and Rottweilers. But it doesn't stop there. Like most breed specific laws, this one includes any animal that is mixed with these breeds or appears to be mixed with these breeds. In other words, any animal that looks "funny." In Denver, they've already started house to house searches to remove pets that have "the look." In Paris, there is talk of "sterilizing twelve races" of dogs. The problem is that none of this addresses any of the real problem: irresponsible, criminal owners. And this seems to be typical of the way our governments address difficult problems: create something on paper, avoid actual interaction with the source of evil. If I lived in Clinton, or Denver, or several other cities in our country, I'd be given a choice: move, or have all three of my dogs killed by the city.

I know, this is a grim close to my week here at But on the other hand, it kind of artfully brings us back to those French news stories I was translating on Monday.

For people curious about the real factors in dog attacks, I recommend Meanwhile, I'm going to go tickle some pit bulls over at the Louisiana SPCA.

÷ ÷ ÷

Ken Foster, a writer and teacher, is the author of the bestseller The Dogs Who Found Me; its sequel, Dogs I Have Met; and the new book I'm a Good Dog. His collection of short stories, The Kind I'm Likely to Get, was a New York Times Notable Book. His work has been featured in Salon, Time Out New York, the New York Times Book Review, and other publications. He lives in New Orleans with his dogs Brando, Douglas, and Bananas.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The Dogs Who Found Me: What I've... Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Dogs I Have Met: And the People They...
    Used Trade Paper $2.95
  3. I'm a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America's...
    Sale Trade Paper $8.98

Ken Foster is the author of I'm a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America's Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet

5 Responses to "New Orleans Intersections"

    Heidi August 4th, 2006 at 11:51 am

    Ken - I have really enjoyed reading your blog this week! Thank you so much!

    KyleRanger August 4th, 2006 at 2:00 pm

    Thanks for blogging all week, Ken. I've really enjoyed it, even the bummer note at the end. Malcolm Gladwell wrote a great essay a couple months ago in the New Yorker about breed-specific legislation. Anyone out there who missed it, dig through your back issues; it's worth checking out.

    Maggie the Cat August 4th, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    It's a pretty tragic state of affairs when we come to discriminate against the family pet! I'm (sadly) picturing large internment "parks" with very short leashes... obviously, that's not at all the fate these dogs will really face (though it should be the fate of negligent and/or cruel *owners*). I didn't realize this had become law in parts of the country... how awful -- and sincerely misguided on the part of these cities' legislatures.

    Well, sad as that news is, thanks for pointing it out. And thanks for the great stroll down New Orleans way.

    Dave (Post Author) August 4th, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    My neighbor drives a Honda Element. Is there something he's not telling me? (We did have a small earthquake here the other night. Hmm.)

    Dar August 5th, 2006 at 2:49 pm

    post-K rides: the Element and the scooter.
    I bought a Yamaha Zuma (yeah the name almost stopped me) for living in New Orleans with few gas stations (85 miles per gallon with it) and fewer chances for fun now. I can imagine myself riding along the levee Uptown to get to an outlying parish in the worst of daydreams.
    If nothing else, I can get to Frenchman Street more often now.

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