Things are Looking Up

Tuesday morning, on the interstate heading toward Alexandria, I reached for my glasses to read a line on something and as I was opening them up, the right earpiece broke in two. No stress on it or anything. It was just time, I reckon.

At the Wal-Mart in Opelousas, I bought a pair of reading glasses to get me through the next couple of days, and made a mistake. I chose the cheapest things they had, which turned out to be inadequate. That night, when I got home, I used the reading glasses usually parked beside the computer. I’ve had them several years and they work just fine.

Russell, my deacon friend who runs the optical shop at Ochsners, has ordered another earpiece for my regular glasses, but it’s not in yet.

Then, today, while buying groceries, I glanced at the reading glasses I was holding in my hand, and the right earpiece was missing. While I stood there, the left one fell off. This was not my day.

I drove to Wal-Mart and paid 20 bucks for another pair. That’s why I’m able to see what’s going on the computer screen at this moment.

Walking around without my glasses feels for all the world like I’m missing my pants or shoes. Undressed.

Hurry up, Russell.

“Philanthropist follows his heart, opens his wallet” read the front-page headline in Wednesday’s paper. Leonard Riggio, chairman of Barnes and Noble, announced Tuesday that he is devoting 20 million dollars from his family’s charitable foundation to erecting 120 homes in the Gentilly neighborhood. The paper says, “Those involved in Project Home Again believe it is the largest philanthropic project launched in New Orleans since the storm.”

Thank you, sir. The map that ran with the article shows the housing site on St. Bernard Avenue not far from Harrison Avenue. That would put it about half a mile from what used to be the St. Bernard Housing Project, now demolished, thank goodness.

The special session of the legislature, called by our new governor, Bobby Jindal, to deal with ethics reform, has adjourned. It appears the governor got everything he could reasonably expect. The newspaper says that “…key elements (in the governor’s program) cleared the House and Senate by overwhelming, often-unanimous margins.” The governor said, “They have hit an absolute home run with this session. We have literally passed the nation’s gold standard.”

Terrific. Now the only thing remaining is to see that the new laws are enforced. A law without enforcement is meaningless, and reminds me of the time as a 10 year old, I rode from Alabama to West Virginia with my Uncle John L. and his wife Cecile. John was speeding, the way he always drove, and Cecile was protesting. “Johnny,” she said, “I’m just going to put my foot down.” She said it over and over again, without the slightest effect on her husband. The only one putting a foot down in that car was the driver.

Out in East New Orleans, on Interstate 10 near Read Boulevard, things are about to change drastically. Readers with New Orleans backgrounds will recall the Lake Forest Mall which was new and exciting 35 years ago. In recent history, the entire shopping district had fallen onto hard times, and after Katrina the mall was abandoned, then bull-dozed. Now, there are three signs indicating exciting developments.

A large billboard depicting a lovely center of quaint shops and eateries announces that this is what is about to be rebuilt on this spot. Next to that, a massive Lowe’s is going up. Since the entire Eastern section of this city has to be rebuilt, this will certainly prove to be the busiest store in the Lowe’s chain before long. And next to that, stands a church building, “Household of Faith.” If the structure looks familiar, it used to be a Service Merchandise.

The North American Mission Board, through its local presence called NOAH, is contracting with the pastor of that church to turn the building into a “volunteer village” which will house the thousands of church volunteers we’ll be welcoming over the next several years. Freddie Arnold in our office tells me they’ve got all the permits now, and that the interior work should start soon. When finished–kitchen, showers, toilets, bunk beds will all have to be built and installed–this should accommodate more than 400 people a night.

An interesting comment I picked up from a recent Newsweek.

Ken Burns was talking with a Newsweek reporter about the World War II series he put together and which has since run on PBS. Burns was contrasting the politics of the FDR era and present-day Washington, D.C. He said, “In the early 1930s, Roosevelt came up with the idea of the Civilian Conservation Corps–the CCC–and within 90 days, they had 300,000 men signed up. But FEMA couldn’t even get one trailer into New Orleans within 90 days after Katrina!”

True, but I think FEMA is learning. In fact, we all are. Things are looking up, you might say.

1 thought on “Things are Looking Up

  1. Joe, My family will be in New Orleans mid August.

    We are interested in helping with Project Home Again. My wife, 2 grandchildren and myself worked

    for a week @ Musicians Village. This time it will be eleven of us. Please have someone provide information as to how we can help on this project.

    Richard Brown

    407 656-6417

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