Color, Laskowitzpictures.com, Photography, Pictures, Ray Laskowitz
Comments 9

Little Bitty Christmas Details


Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

A Christmas rant. Just what you need.

Tonight is my favorite night of the season. In New Orleans, we hold an event called Caroling at Jackson Square. We usually go and join in with our fellow New Orleanians to sing Christmas carols. I make pictures. You get to see them and hopefully feel what I felt when I took them. Then we go to dinner. We eat something called a Reveillon Dinner. That’s a Creole holiday dinner that was traditionally served after midnight mass. It is truly something to which I look forward.

But, not tonight.

Crime has gotten progressively worse throughout the city. It has gotten especially violent in the French Quarter. In just the last week, there have been 25 violent assaults. People are gotten beaten to the point of hospitalization. They aren’t getting robbed. There is no score to settle. They are just being attacked by small gangs. Not that it should make a difference, but they aren’t out doing what people sometimes go the French Quarter to do. They haven’t been drinking. They haven’t been partying. They aren’t out too late. And, usually they are walking back to their hotels or cars on what I used to consider the safer streets of the Quarter in the early hours of the evening. Or, almost any time. Just this morning at 8am, a guy and his girlfriend were walking down Bourbon Street when he was shot. Enough.

Why is this happening? Why now? Criminals, some of them anyway, can read. Or at least, they can watch the local news on television. They know that the New Orleans Police Department is very severely understaffed. The NOPD is down some 300 to 400 police officers as I write. They are pretty much completely demoralized. For big events, the Louisiana State Troopers help out in the Quarter. They flood the area with at least 30 troopers. They’ll be around for the big college bowl games. They’ll be around for Mardi Gras and for New Year Eve. But, not tonight.

Yeah, yeah. I know. Right now police and civilian relations are not at their highest point. There have been questionable, to downright bad, legal calls There have been and big and ongoing protests. Two NYPD officers were killed as they sat in their car. RIP to them. This isn’t a political blog, so I choose not to comment beyond that. But, here in New Orleans, we generally all get along. Our police department works pretty well with us during what could be high stress moments, like Mardi Gras when the city is packed to the gills with tourists. But, short-staffed as they are, they can’t be everywhere in the Quarter. The bad guys know this.

I can’t put my family in risk. I can defend myself. I can maybe defend them. But, I don’t want to have to do that. The percentage for bad things happening just walking back to the car, or to catch the streetcar, is just too high right now. Yeah. I get it. You have to watch your back in all big cities. But, not like this. Not now.

The best I can do is show you a little sign tucked away in all the bright lights of Christmas. “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas.”

My heart is very heavy today.

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9 Comments

  1. Wow, you painted a picture of the violence that permeates communal life in the USA. Sad. Tragic. What does it lead to? I am glad that I spent my life and raised my children in other times. Sometimes it pays to be old. At least we knew a different America – not perfect by any means, but not sick as you describe – and it is so in most cities. Violence simmers under cover everywhere ready to erupt. Sad and tragic for a great nation.

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    • What does it lead to? Well, it leads to someone like me and my neighbors getting angry and taking the lead. New Orleans — and, especially the French Quarter, are relatively small places. Fixing them is not as hard as we make it seem. The entire country is a different thing entirely. I will also say this, I was in the 9th Ward photographing another second line today. This part of the city is run down and broken. Yet, I felt entirely safe there.

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  2. hrosson says

    my husband has been trying to instill in me lately that the fall of America is coming and that we should maybe just sell our house now instead of renting it out to pursue our dreams in costa rica. I think that even if you aren’t a political blog, it is still the responsibility of artists to represent the truth. with pictures and words. that signs you up for the task, my friend, and you have the eye, so…. get on board. you will do a great service to the people by just telling it like it is. just you reporting these few words has opened my eyes a little bit more, so I thank you. I need to know what is happening on the streets of my country, beyond what the idiotic mass media is representing. your words are valuable. know that. blessings and love… and be safe above all.

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  3. Thank you for that. But, nooooo… I spent many years working in newspapers and wire services. I have no desire to do anything that is vaguely political or to even cover news. The closest I get to news is documenting the many second line parades we have here. That’s a cultural thing. Having said that and telling you that I worked in the “idiotic mass media” for years, what exactly would you like them to cover? I’m always interested when people say stuff like that. I happened to work at a time when we were trying very hard to understand reader needs and desires. Of course, these days I mostly only read the New York Times, Washington Post and our local newspaper. I never watch cable news sources like Fox or MSNBC. I have no idea what those guys are going on about.

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  4. robert87004 says

    Feeling safe in Panama, Ray, certainly by comparison to NO. I imagine the next step is private security, much as most businesses have here and that seems to make a difference.

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    • The thing to remember is that the Quarter is not all there is to New Orleans. The Garden District, where we live, does have a couple of private security groups who mostly ride around in Jeeps and drink coffee. But, Magazine Street — tourist and local shopping area, Lakeshore and most of Uptown are relatively safe. Pre-Katrina, there were violence issues in the Quarter as well. But, the storm drove the people committing crime out of the city and the projects from which they came were eventually torn down. I have no idea where these new criminals are coming from.

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      • robert87004 says

        A new criminal element certainly makes it hard to figure out what to do, as it’s not predictable, known. That is a shame, Ray. Be safe and have an excellent Christmas.

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