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The New Orleans Levee: The Last Word in Ridiculous for the Last Five Years

I remember it well. It was exactly a year after Hurricane Katrina. Me and my coffee klatch were all sitting in PJ’s after Mass at St. Patrick’s and we were all still reeling from the feeling of the tidal wave of emotions the hurricane had rendered and all of us were quietly trying to put our lives back in order.

We were the lucky ones who had very little to deal with because we had little damage to our homes. At our house we just needed to replace our entire roof was all.

I remember coming back and inspecting our house for damage. Finding none I decided to go up into the attic to see if I was missing something. As I climbed the stairs I saw little pinholes of light coming through the wood between the rafters. We must’ve lost some shingles on the north side of the house. Upon further inspection by a professional it was found that shingles were torn up all over the roof and that it needed to be replaced. The roof was almost twenty years old as it was so a new one was due anyway.

Of course, replacing a roof was nothing compared to what others had to deal with. Although there was little damage to our house and to others in the neighborhood we had seen extensive damage to other parts of the city, especially Lakeview, Mid City and the Lower Ninth Ward. Seeing all that destruction felt like a punch in the gut.

The daily news was filled with updates about how the city was maintaining and recovering. Some of it was encouraging some of it depressing.

But anyone who lived in the city no matter what type of damage they had or what experiences they had were all affected by it. I mean New Orleans is our home, people were suffering, some people were trying to get back, others were in permanent or semi-permanent exile.

On top of that was having to live smack in the middle of all the government incompetence, the what now can be considered the “dark ages” of the Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco administrations, the floundering of the feds, and the almost daily revelations of the incompetence and negligence of the Corps of Engineers, perhaps the real villains in the Katrina story.

So on that day of August 29, 2006 one of our coffee klatch had found the newest periodical on the stand on the way to the restrooms, had grabbed several copies and gave one to each of us. We stared at this strange new thing and suddenly we all found ourselves laughing at the front page, the name and the slogan: The New Orleans Levee – We don’t hold anything back.

A brilliant play on words and a brilliant idea for a city much in need of laughter. We doubled over at the second page story of Bill Jefferson, the crooked congressman who had stashed $90,000 of cash in his freezer. But wait he hadn’t stolen the money, according to The Levee, it was just a rebate from Frigidaire!

That first edition was funny, I mean hilariously funny, some of us had tears in our eyes as we read the headlines to each other. It was good to laugh like that and it’s been good to laugh for the past 5 years at the humor and mischief of The Levee. I guess it’s been successful since they have not missed an issue since the beginning and they don’t seem to have trouble finding advertisers. The writing is funny, clever and to the point and it’s delicious watching how they skewer our local figures and their shenanigans.

So thank you Rudy Vorkapic and Gogo Geaux (whoever you really are) and all the people that put this paper together. Congratulations for your success in for bringing your brains and your ridiculousness to New Orleans, a city that revels in the ridiculous 24/7.

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Posted in Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans Art, New Orleans History, New Orleans Life.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sandy Rosenthal says

    Wonderful blog post! Yes, congrats to Rudy Vorcapic! And thank you Rudy for featuring our Levee County Map as the centerfold in the Fifth Anniversary Edition!

  2. Richard Bienvenu says

    Thanks so much for your kind words. And that Levee County Map was very eye opening. It’s interesting to see how every state has some type of work done by the Corps. This should alarm everyone in the country.

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