Starbucks Iced Coffee — “Italian Roast”

by Rex Noone

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The Big Easy has become The Great American Failure. Over the past year, my city has come to represent the failure of America, the crumbling of the American myth. That “American Dream” idea was always a myth anyway, but like any good myth, it had some truth to it. The country, at one point, was able to create and to improve life. We had our Ben Franklins, our Thomas Edisons. We built railroads. My God, look at what we have now.

It is not that the citizens of New Orleans are sitting and waiting for help. The Big Easy has also become a hard working city, with the sounds of hammers on rooftops and of trucks hauling an endless amount of trash (trash that once composed our homes), the pounding sounds of crews working on levees. I have heard that sound echoing through the night, and it is still not enough. To this day those levees offer little security.

And let me make clear that it was the levees that created the great disaster, not the hurricane. Hurricane K. (which I will leave unnamed, with only a Kafka-esque initial) tore off some rooftops, broke some windows and knocked over some trees. Alone, that hurricane destroyed a handful of houses. I will leave the hurricane unnamed, because it is not to blame.

The Army Corps of Engineers is to blame. When we speak of this disaster, we need to speak of the levee failures. The flaws in design, the failures of maintenance. This was plain American decay. What was once a grand achievement, is now crumbling away before our eyes, while our government remains focused on Iraq.

New Orleans is the victim of American Incompetence.

This is the Great American Failure, but it is not a failure of the people, or, at least, not of all the people. The people have always been better than their government. I have met people from all over this country who have come to New Orleans to help. A choir came from Seattle to do what it could. Countless young people gave up their spring breaks to come shovel debris. There is a woman in a bookstore in Austin, Texas, who spent some of her time to help save animals in this area. People have opened their homes to the refugees of New Orleans, less than half of whom have come back, a year later. People have given of their time and money and it has helped.

Of course, on the other hand, there are many people who responded to our disaster as they would to any television show, and are now enjoying the latest flare up in the Middle East. (Hollywood often remakes old television shows, so does the news.) Or perhaps these folks are focused on the most recent chapter of Terrorists of Our Lives. (People love to be scared, so they flick on Fox News after putting down Stephen King.) Other viewers are wonderfully excited about an unexpected new chapter the Jon Benet Ramsey Soap Opera. (Who is this creepy new character?)


If you watched the disaster of New Orleans on TV and cried, guess what – that didn’t help.

Anyhow, I no longer blame the people of this country for the Great Failure. How can I blame the people when the government itself only seems mildly interested?

There is no plan at any level. No leadership anywhere. Homeland Security has proven to be a failure. One real test, one F. People I tell you – I tell you through a forum that gives you canned coffee reviews – that you are on your own.

The leaders wait, as though some plan is forming in the mythosphere and will descend benevolently upon us. Meanwhile, we hammer.

Those of you who read my piece in Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? may have thought that I was funny. I apologize. To those of you who enjoy this canned coffee site for its irreverent humor, I also apologize.

A silver cylinder sits on the table next to me as I write. I have often utilized coffee to perk my muse. It is the writer’s best friend. I have had coffee, here in New Orleans, that can give one a greater reason to live. Life is stronger after a good cup of N.O. joe.

However, today the coffee remains untouched. What I have written above came from the greatest necessity. I had no choice. There was no call for caffeine. If I had been asked to review a children’s story, I would have written exactly what I wrote here.

I walk around the city of New Orleans, and every step I take calls for an editorial, at least.

I hope I have not been too negative. I still love New Orleans. It is by no means dead. It’s just that we only have a few small hands to rebuild an entire city.

That would be my conclusion, but I have been asked to drink a can of coffee.

I rarely sip anything. My manner is to guzzle. Half this can is emptied on my first taste. Coffee. The second half is finished off on the second taste. Nice.

Rex Noone is an expert in so many fields that it becomes redundant. He is the offspring of the gods Bacchus and Nihillia, the sacred gods of grapes and grapelessness, respectively. They are also the gods of insight and ciphers, again, respectively. After dark, he has been known to declare, "My knowledge abounds!"

He is also a contributor to both The Voices of New Orleans and Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?

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