After Katrina, everybody had a deep need to articulate what they were feeling, so they talked and talked about what and who they lost and conjectured about what would happen to New Orleans. Katrina was inescapable and it was obvious that her aftershocks would be felt for a long time.
Joe Longo and Jarret Lofstead recognized early on that there wasn't an outlet for these stories. There needed to be an alternative voice to the established media where personal accounts could be told without compromise. Out of this necessity came NOLAFugees.com, and though many would say the content is mostly satirical, funny, crass and often fabricated, what I have most enjoyed from the online magazine is the underlying truth and humanity in so many of the pieces, especially the essays written by Tara Jill Ciccarone, Sarah K. Inman, Andrea Boll and Anne Gisleson. Beyond the personal essays are call-to-arms manifestos, hilarious anecdotes about the absurdity of our lives, a column written by Cookie, the drunken, investigative puppet-about-town who rips the New Orleans literati apart, the smart and scathing assessments of our politicians, Adam Peltz's thoughtful serial portrait of the Lower Ninth Ward called "Bargewatch," and insightful coverage on everything from Saints games to the mayoral election.
The contributors are given free rein over the topics they choose and because of this the truth about our city is told. Nothing is off limits. No one is safe from observation, criticism and inquiry, and in this post-K world, where our leaders are often at the very best inefficient and at the very worst criminal, no one should be.
Year Zero: A Year of Reporting from Post-Katrina New Orleans (Lavender Ink, 2007) is a collection of works from the Web site. NOLAFugees is very clear about its stance on the current state of New Orleans. The contributors don't feign optimism where there is none or downplay the cataclysmic mental and emotional unbalancing we are all still dealing with today, but they understand the power of humor and know that those who don't laugh won't survive.
The mission of NOLAFugees is to document this post-apocalyptic world where everything -- the good, the bad, the dirty, the ugly and the profane -- is possible, and the writers do so with wit, humor, sarcasm, intelligence and compassion. At the Year Zero book signing the editors and contributors will read from and discuss their work. -- Katie Walenter
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 10
Garden District Book Shop, The Rink, 2727 Prytania St., 895-2266; www. nolafugees.com