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The Crude Erl Elephant

May 2, 2010
by

Owly Images

It’s dishearteningly amazing when, after all the rock bottom you’ve hit and then begged, borrowed, stolen, crawled, dug out, and run from to get out of, something else comes along and clotheslines you once again.

That’s very much how most of the people here I know feel about the still-flowing river of oil currently at our doorstep in the Gulf Coast…only the situation, in some ways, feels even more excruciating than that of the initial aftermath of the events of 8/29/05.

You see, the flood waters of 2005 have receded. The levees and pumps, as faulty as they still are, are there. Most of us are still here to carry on, and many of us are constantly raising awareness of the role Louisiana’s wetlands have historically played in reducing the effects of storm surges from hurricanes, a protection that has been eroding away over the decades at the rate of many football fields a day. Possible ways of eliminating the fragility of this ecosystem’s existence and putting it on some surer footing have been hampered by two things, mostly: money and our willingness as a nation to let the pipelines from offshore oil wells decimate the wetlands.

And now comes the Deepwater Horizon platform’s explosion and its faulty blowout preventers that are spewing crude oil from deep under water all over the Gulf. The oil has reached our shores and is already coating some oyster beds at a time when they are supposed to be making more oysters. Shrimp and crabs will be affected as well. Birds are getting oily. The wetlands, to express it in the crudest, bluntest way I can, are fucked.

Which means the fishing industry here and all over the coast is fucked.

Which brings me to this: say Janette Desautel survives the crushing debts she’s got on her hands four months after the storm. She’s no longer having to pay her suppliers week-to-week, the waitstaff and the kitchen staff aren’t schlepping off to other places, so that turnover isn’t as high, and her skill with seafood is better than ever, a real renaissance. Who knows, her house might be 7/8ths done by now.

And then this happens.

Janette’s crafty, now. She’s survived the storm and the hard times. There’s other foods she can cook, but carrying fresh seafood from Louisiana waters is going to get more and more difficult to do, as the costs of it will double. Places like Casamento’s, Felix’s, the Acme are already suffering … chefs with greater restaurant empires than she has will also be hit … terrible decisions will have to be faced , as the staples of much of Louisiana’s food culture were wiped out by BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron International, our governments’ laxity with regards to offshore safety, and our own dependency on fossil fuels.

Do you start doing the same ol’ dishes with seafood from out of state? From out of the country? Do you jack up the prices accordingly and explain that Big Erl did it? Do you pull a Creighton Bernette with Brocato’s gelato and refuse to cook any seafood dishes at all until the coast is restored to at least what it was pre-blowout? What is a Louisiana chef to do?

Thing is, there are three pillars to the tourism industry that is still getting back on its feet after nearly five years: New Orleans’ food, its music, and its culture. And here we are, crippled all over again.

To help with some funds: head for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund and contribute. Some resources on the oil spill and numbers to call to report oiled wildlife and oil on shore in your area are there as well. Another source, complete with a timeline of events, is at this link.

500 paid workers are needed right off to help clean up. Details are here.

Got technology solutions for what’s going on down there? Submit your solutions at this EPA site.

Some information on the treatment of affected wildlife is here.

Got anything else to add, any other useful information, any helpful things to say? Comment away. Nicely. We’re a tad hysterical down here, despite our U.S. senator’s admonition for us to remain calm.

6 Comments
  1. May 2, 2010 5:16 pm

    It’s so messed up. Very interesting questions. Thinking about the characters and what they’d be doing if they knew what was hidden in the future, I guess it’s a good thing we don’t know, but I have a feeling they’d all still go back and try to rebuild, ’cause it’s just who they are.

  2. JoeBozak permalink
    May 2, 2010 9:40 pm

    Suddenly, Treme seems much sadder and tragic to me than it was last Sunday.

    Still praying for a miracle here in Uptown.

  3. adrastosno permalink
    May 2, 2010 10:25 pm

    Yeah, you right, Sharon. It’s who we are. Treme captures the determination we still have. I am so relieved that there’s so little whining. Ranting, yes. Whining, no.

  4. rickngentilly permalink
    May 3, 2010 12:25 am

    a local cook’s take on the oil spew.

    when i have been between jobs and had to work at chains they allways had this mess in their walkin cooler.

    viet catfish
    chinese crawfish
    tiwanese tiger shirmp
    venizaulian canned and pasturized crab meat
    hondurian talapia
    pasturized oysters from who the fuck knows where
    frozen soft shell crabs from the same place as the oysters.

    if you love new orleans hamburger and seafood company and the other chains that offer that real cajun flavah your gonna love the next few years of seafood.

    it’s cheaper and all you got to do is drown it in enough spice blend and butter sauce to make it real.

    crawfish from the delta and des allmends catfish are about to become the next kobe beef.

    it was nice knowing you local seafood.

  5. Danielle permalink
    May 3, 2010 10:28 am

    I almost couldn’t bear to watch Treme last night because of these same thoughts… It feels like watching the city flood all over again in horrible, nightmarish slow motion… We just managed to get MRGO closed and have been finally making a little progress in wetlands restoration awareness and now this!? It’s a complete sucker punch. My heart is breaking for the fishermen, shrimpers, oyster men, wildlife of the gulf and wetlands, and the precariousness of our position. Today should have been a grand party welcoming our new mayor into City Hall but now it just seems… hopeless.

  6. Mistlethrush permalink
    May 3, 2010 3:51 pm

    I have two links posts on my Livejournal here and here.

    I’m going to add links, both informational and pro-active (donations, volunteering, etc.) as I find them and the posts will be public.

    As I said in my journal there, I am refraining from too much of my own commentary because every time I try to write something comprehensive, it devolves into helpless, angry ranting. I wonder how many people realize what a devastating thing this is Just because you don’t live there does not mean this will have no impact.

    Ugh. 😦

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