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Katrina - The Two Year Anniversary

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Last year I was lucky enough to land the fine job of being editor of LAist, the city I love. So naturally three months after covering LA I had the brilliant idea of taking a road trip around the country, thus covering anything except LA.

Everything was just a little whimsy roadtrip discovering parts of the US that I hadn't imagined, until in New York people demanded that I go to New Orleans and see for myself what the deal was down there. I was like, "nah - road trip whoooo!" But they were all, "yeah but go there too."

Needless to say New Orleans kicked my ass. But not in the way I expected. I expected sad and fucked up and pitiful and crappy. It wasn't really that. In fact it was the opposite.

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Some had given up and moved away. But way more people than I expected were still there and living in mobile trailers in their front lawns or in converted parking lots that were now semi-refugee camps of mobile homes. It was not the suburban living that they had literally bought into a few hundred yards away.

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But the other thing that kicked my ass was interviewing high school kids in the 9th Ward. They told me that every day there was a reporter or a news crew from somewhere that wanted to talk with residents about the hurricane and the events afterwards.

Imagine every day someone picks at your scab that never heals. Then imagine you look around and your beloved city literally looks like a giant scab that isn't even close to healing.

Most of the kids had no problem talking to me off the record but as soon as I invited them to talk on camera these very tough kids suddenly got incredibly shy.

I did however find one young girl who wasn't afraid at all. In fact she wanted everyone to know her story, which was it's tough enough to be young but it's very hard when you go back to school and most of your friends are gone, and aren't coming back.

Or worse, having to constantly be told that Donald Trump is considering buying up all the suddenly dirt-cheap real estate and turn it into a new Atlantic City.

Feel free to enjoy the photo essay and video interviews I was lucky enough to get while in New Orleans last October:

Ketesha White, 9th Ward, New Orleans

Fren Quarter Tower Records Guy

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New Orleans Hot Dog Guy Who Says New Orleans is History

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photos by Tony Pierce for LAist