READ ALL ABOUT IT
Block's "soul-searching... essays (on the War)... are
among the most readable to come out of Los Angeles (that)
smartly combine outrage and eccentric observations with levelheaded
warnings about the loss of civil liberties."
Most of Dr. Block's essays are reprinted in Counterpunch, "America's Best Political Newsletter," edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair
thrilled to have you on our site, lending distinction and intelligence."
and I love your stuff... So do most of our readers. The ones who
don't?...well, fuck em. " Jeff St. Clair
am a newspaper reporter and read a hell of a lot every day. I must
say that your column on Janet
Jackson at the SuperBowl was one of the funniest, most insightful
and brilliant columns I have read in recent years."
Block's Terror Journals
by Dr. Susan Block
The other night, after spending far too much time watching the news, I saw Katrina. At least, She said She was Katrina, appearing to me as a giant, soaking wet, filthy but stunning dominatrix rising up from the eye of Her storm, bellowing like thunder. Let me see if I can remember what she bellowed....
“I am Katrina, Goddess of the Hurricane, Super-Domme of the Superdome, Water Witch of Dixieland, Mother of All American Disasters, your Mistress of Destruction, your Lady of Pain. Down on your knees, America! Lick My muddy boots, covered with My special toxic gumbo of sewage, oil, lead and e-coli bacteria. Sniff My soiled panties; they smell of dead babies, and so do you. You will never wash away that smell.
"You thought you’d ignore Me, didn’t you? Thought you’d just stay on your endless vacation with your pernicious Perma-War raging in Old Mesopotamia, just far enough away to make you feel safe. Well, didn’t I just burst through your gated community of clean, pressed oblivion with a flood of soaking wet, stinking rotten reality? Didn’t I just deluge your world?
"Down on your knees, America. Down in My sea of sludge. I breathe, and the winds blow. I weep, and the rains fall. Indeed, I am more terrible than terror. Yet when I warn you I’m coming, you ignore me.
"You blame your leaders, and they deserve the blame, especially your Clown President, Mr. Preemptive. The only attacks he’s good at preempting are the ones on himself. Of course, he ignored Me. What did you expect from a guy who continued to read “My Pet Goat,” then jetted around aimlessly while passenger planes were flying into the World Trade Centers and Pentagon?
"But you ignored me too. You know you did. For years, I’ve been #3 on America's list of "Worst Possible Things Likely To Happen." I may be a natural disaster, but your willful ignorance has turned me into a crime against humanity. Well, now that My clean-up is going to cost thousands of times what preparing for Me properly would have cost, perhaps you won’t ignore Me anymore.
"I am Katrina, Queen of Your Guilty Conscience, Empress of the Undead who haunt your deepest feelings. Kneel down in My flooded streets and worship My terrible power. Suckle at My teat of tainted milk. I am Katrina, Water Witch of the South, Belladonna of the Unsaved, Weeping Mother of the Children and the Elderly in wheelchairs, mostly poor, mostly black, many dead, more sick, even more displaced, images debilitating your attempts to think about anything else.
"Like My Hindu Cousin Kali, I am the Destroyer. In my Dance, I destroy homes, infrastructures, lives. But I also destroy ignorance. As I dance, I strip away illusion. As I dance, I strip away the $14,000 Oxxford Presidential suits, the photo-ops and platitudes, and show the world the Little Emperor has no clothes. “Mission Accomplished!” indeed, if the mission is Apocalypse New Orleans.
"As I dance, I whip the rose-colored glasses from your nose. My tears fill your eyes as I show you otherworldly horrors unfolding in real time in an American neighborhood near you. As I dance, I strip away the white sheets, exposing the bigotry that seeps into society like lead in the water. As I dance, I break down walls, revealing the heartbreaking face of poverty in America when no one comes to help. Poverty in America, the wretched result of trickle-down Reagonomics, has risen 17% under the God-invoking regime of Mr. Compassionate Conservative, and is still rising like My waters in the Bayou. As I dance, I strip away the veils that gloss over the fact that there are Two New Orleans, and Two Americas: the relatively secure High Ground and the poverty-stricken, drowning-in-the-muck Low Ground.
"What's the matter? You don’t like My dance? Too destructive? Too revealing? I’m sorry. Really, I am. I weep for you. I weep, and I rage and I destroy…
"But please remember, it is you who seduced Me. You let Me in. You received My weather reports, just like everybody else. You knew I was coming. I’m just a natural female, a squirter, you might say, wild, but predictable. You chose not to heed My warnings. It’s as if you wanted Me to flood all the poor sections of New Orleans, so your Preemptive President and his looting cronies could make over the whole Gulf Coast into a Disneyfied extension of Trent Lott’s porch.
"You opened up My floodgates. You’ve been opening them up for years, with your corporation-cozy environmental policies that have helped to widen the hole in the ozone layer, heating up the waters of the Gulf, perhaps helping to make Me more virulent. Multiplying My damages, your Preemptive President’s doomed Iraqi Adventure and welfare-for-billionaires programs left you with no money for the basic necessities of protecting one of your major port cities. The ironically named Operation Iraqi Freedom also gobbled up more than half the sorely needed Gulf Coast National Guard units - and their high water humvees (and would someone tell Me why you need flood vehicles in the desert?)
"Need I mention those levees that everyone knew had to be built up? Maybe Mr. Preemptive just didn’t get it. He’s so busy playing on your sexual fears…When they told him they needed to reinforce the dikes, he thought they wanted to give lesbians the right to marry each other.”
At this point, Katrina was starting to sound more like my Aunt Millie than a Goddess of the Hurricane. Nevertheless, I knew she was right.
“He's your President,” she reminded me, as I found myself wishing one of Her 145-mile-per-hour winds would blow him face first into one of those mountains of feces that piled up in the restrooms at the Superdome.
No such luck. That's another depressing truth that Katrina's Dance exposed: Ours is the society that created George W. Bush, and elevated this pampered sociopath to the most powerful position on the planet. Our so-called President is nothing but a lackey-cum-figurehead for his corporate sponsors. We are his troops, his dupes, his victims and his enablers. Ugh. It’s enough to make you want to jump in the fetid floodwaters. But wait.
Katrina revealed something more: We are not him. We - at least most of us - aren’t that bad. We aren’t that sociopathic. We haven’t sold our souls to corporate interests quite that completely. We look at the images from Katrina, and we feel the pain and the shame, even if he and his Momma don't seem to. Many of us feel it so deeply that we are opening not just our hearts, but also our wallets, and some of us have opened our homes. We Are All New Orleaners Now.
And we are putting on the pressure, weeping and bellowing like Katrina Herself. And we are hitting Little Big Ears where it hurts - right in his sagging polls. And you and me and Kanye West and Cindy Sheehan are pushing this flaky, trigger-happy federal government into getting off its duff and really helping some people. Better late than never. But we have to keep the pressure on, way past our usual gnat-like attention spans, or the Gulf Coast becomes a Golf Course for the Bush-Cheney Crony Club.
Katrina’s Dance of Destruction has stripped away a few layers of ignorance about presidents, about poverty, about our environment. Our current clarity may be fleeting. But right now, we can see it, and if we’re there, we can smell it. We can see that our enormous consumption of fuel and other resources, and our massive emission of carbons and other pollutants, has consequences. Katrina is one of those consequences. Gas prices are another. George W. Bush is another.
To those of us who loathe his filthy war, Bush's cold 'n' clueless routine is almost more maddening than the caprices of Katrina. Will that mollycoddled war criminal ever be held accountable? Hopefully, but not likely. Though soon enough, he will sink into his properly reviled spot in history, just as surely as New Orleans will rise again.
The signs are already here. Just a day or two after federal help finally started to arrive, that romantic, pagan Spirit of the City briefly rose again with a tiny but spunky Gay Parade through the French Quarter that assembled faster than you could call FEMA – a spritz of sparkly, multi-colored joy in a devastated City of Mud. Just goes to show, you can neglect the dikes, but you can’t drown human sexuality, at least not so long as there's a human species.
September 7, 2005,
Dr. Susan Block