for me it usually takes a change of perspective to make real sense of most things. for example, if i am smoking trees or getting drunk sitting down inside somewhere, standing up and walking around outside will show me just how zooted i am. with new orleans, the same applies. we left louisiana this morning, and now we are in dallas. for the past month or so i've been living down there working and helping out and checking out the scene, and, well, i don't know. very little made a lot of sense. the whole place is just a notch below anarchy. the first people we spoke to were military police driving hummers. they don't do much, though, and the police are even more useless. FEMA and the red cross give the whole disaster relief a good try (i definitely respect the red cross, not so much FEMA) but my gedneral impression is that there is a good deal of neglect from the powers that be. i split up most of my time working my ass off with private contractors and helping set up this community kitchen with a ramshackle group of hippies and weirdos and general outcasts, convicts and mad scientists and workers and spirit chasers and voodoo priests, most of them excellent folks. mostly i was doing demolition work, cleanups, gutting houses, which is the removal of every contaminated/destroyed/unsalvageable object in the house. basically, you suit up in your tyvex outer layer, galoshes, respirators, gloves, safety goggles, the whole works, then you remove all furniture and appliances, then all clothes and toys and personal objects, then carpets, then damaged sheetrock, insulation then all the nails, and you have the inside frame of a house. it is exhausting and exhilirating work. it is also ridiculously filthy and unhealthy. there are immense mold growths on everything, all the waterlogged parts of a house are ridiculously contaminated, you are exposed to fiberglass dust and sheetrock dust and slate dust, asbestos insulation, varying species of bacteria. christmas eve i was finishing a ceiling tearout, cleanup, and replacement; i spent the better part of the day on a ladder installing new sheets with a vietnam vet and an ex-convict. a lot of the guys in my crew were wanted men or ex-cons, there was a junkie, a few crackheads, and one of my best friends was the new orleans acid guy in the late eighties until he was arrested by US marshalls and DEAs. the city is wonderful and impressively vivacious for something so dilapidated and abandoned. the bar and live music scene was amazing, wonderful jazz and blues and rock and all sorts of things. you can kind of tell what the city was like before the hurricane came. it is scary for me to imagine that. at any rate, i am in love with the place and the people. i haven't had a chance to read a book or write or draw or do anything normal for me in a very long time, but i don't mind. i am learning new shit and meeting new people, and hell, no one there cards me for alcohol. but here i am in dallas, thinking like i'm still in n'awlins. i spent tonight hanging out with ben's friend and her beautiful texan friends. we're driving to san francisco this week, hopefully in time for new year's eve. this time of year always sets my head reeling. 2005 went fast. i don't know what to expect for 2006, but it seems like whatever it is, it'll be weird as hell and probably a good deal of fun.