Monday, September 05, 2005

Life outside the Big Easy

Over the last two years I have made six trips to New Orleans to research material for a novel inspired by the ghosts of the French Quarter and to attend the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, an annual gathering of queer writers. I won’t relay my shock and horror at the unfolding events of this crisis -- many others are at work passionately writing about this already, but I was heartened to receive an e-mail yesterday from Greg Wharton and Ian Philips, the mighty hearts behind the Suspect Thoughts Press, which contained a wrap of the whereabouts of several New Orleans writers and their families.

Here’s a repost of their e-mail:

Greg and I decided to do something different this newsletter. Rather than do our usual show and tell about Suspect Thoughts Press, we thought we’d do a show and tell about what we know about the people we love in New Orleans.

And give you some numbers and websites, just in case you don’t already have them, that you can use to locate lost loved ones, offer up a room of one’s own, or make a donation.

As many of you know, Greg and I go to New Orleans each May for Saints & Sinners. The queer literary festival conceived of and made marvelous each year by Paul Willis. But Paul doesn’t work alone and we’ve met so many amazing fellow New Orleanians through him. And I know a lot of you getting this newsletter have met them too. So, here’s what we know.

Author/editor/executive director (of both Saints & Sinners and the Tennessee Williams Festival) extraordinaire Paul Willis and his partner, author/editor/blogger extraordinaire, Greg Herren are safe at Paul’s parents in Illinois. To learn more, please visit Greg’s blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/scottynola/. (I encourage you to check out the collage of Bush in New Orleans in the comments to Greg’s post of September 2nd under the heading “Until We Meet Again in New Orleans.” Nero fiddled while Rome burned, and our Bush, he plucked while New Orleans drowned.)

Author Poppy Z Brite (Liquor, Prime, and many more) and husband Chris DeBarr are safe at her mother’s house in central Mississippi. Unfortunately, they were only able to take their dog and one of her 28 cats. She hasn’t heard anything about her house in Uptown or her cats yet. You can find out more at Poppy’s blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/docbrite/. (There is a section of animal rescue sites in the links below.)

Author/bisexual activist/creatix of Mind Caviar and so much more/suspect thoughts journal columnist Jamie Joy Gatto and her partner Ben are safe--but only after witnessing firsthand the hell on earth of New Orleans the last week. They made it to Houston where she and Ben are staying with a fellow bi-activist. She wrote to say that what she and Ben saw was far worse than anything reported on TV. Sage Vivant and M Christian are raising funds for Jamie Joy and Ben through PayPal. [Per Sage: If you'd like to contribute (and honestly, any amount you can spare will be helpful), please go to http://www.paypal.com and send money to me (sage@customeroticasource.com), specifying that your payment is for Jamie Joy. PayPal's records will help me keep track of who gave what, and I will then send her a check for the total amount collected along with a list of names who contributed. M. Christian and I would like to send this check no later than September 8.]

Author Elyn Selu (Pretty Is Just a Face I Make) and her husband Brad are safe, but like so many others, including my aunt Gail and her family, their house is under water.

Author Martin Pousson (No, Place Louisiana and Sugar) and his Chihuahua, Butch, are safe and at his parents in Lafayette. Martin doesn’t have a car and didn’t plan on going to the shelters because they weren’t taking dogs. But his parents drove down and got them out Sunday night before Katrina made landfall.

Author Jean Redmann (Lost Daughters, The Intersection of Law and Desire) is safe and staying with friends in Orange, Texas.

Cherry Cappel (web designer extraordinaire who created the Saints & Sinners site) and her partner Beth Blankenship are with friends in Dallas.

Karissa Kary, Paul’s golden right hand at both Saints & Sinners and the Tennessee Williams Foundation--and one of the kindest and most on-the-ball people I’ve ever met, is safe with her boyfriend Rolf in Kansas.

Pat Brady, Saints & Sinners hostess with the mostest and author of Martha Washington: An American Life, is safe and staying with her beau in Hammond, LA.

The family of author Marty Hyatt (A Scarecrow’s Bible), including his mom and aunt, are safe and sound.

The family of New Orleans born-and-bred Patrick Ryan (author and founder and editor-in-chief of Lodestar Quarterly) are safe. Patrick’s mom is going to be staying with him in San Francisco until she can return.

The family of San Francisco’s own Melinda Adams, aka LilyCat, a New Orleans native and a networker, promoter of San Francisco’s various alt-lit communities through nonstop readings and benefits, is safe. She’s organizing a Red Cross benefit in San Francisco this October. To find out more, visit her blog at http://www.livejournal.com/users/mskittywhore/.

And now here’s some of those sites I mentioned earlier if you’d like to locate loved ones, offer up a room of one’s own, or make a donation.

Locating Loved Ones:

Katrina I’m Ok (http://katrina.im-ok.org)
You can enter phone numbers to let people know you’re okay as well as look for others.

Katrina.com (http://www.katrina.com)
This site belongs to a woman who has the same name as the hurricane. She got so many requests for information that turned her site into info clearinghouse. Also there are message boards for people locating each other.

Housing:

HurricaneHousing.org (http://www.hurricanehousing.org)
MoveOn.org created this site. If you have room to offer, post it here.

Donations:

American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/) or 1-800-HELP-NOW
Second Harvest (http://www.secondharvest.org)
Provides food--almost all the money donated goes to just that food, not overhead.
Acorn Institute (http://www.acorn.org)
This group focused on affordable housing is headquartered in New Orleans, yet it keeps on trying to find housing for others.
Mercy Corps (http://www.mercycorps.org)
I hadn’t heard of this group before, but they are focused on rebuilding the entire community that has been devastated, not just temporary emergency relief.
Episcopal Relief &Development (http://www.er-d.org/) or 1-800-334-7626
United Methodist Committee on Relief (http://gbgm-umc.org/umcor/emergency/hurricanes/2005/) or 1-800-554-8583
Salvation Army (or http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/) or 1-800-SAL-ARMY
Catholic Charities (http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/) or 1-800-919-9338
FEMA Charity tips (http://www.fema.gov/rrr/help2.shtm)
National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (http://www.nvoad.org/)

Animal Rescue:

American Humane Society (http://www.americanhumane.org)
Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (http://www.la-spca.org/)
North Shore Animal League (http://www.nsalamerica.org)
EARS (Emergency Animal Rescue Service) (http://www.ears.org)
Noah's Wish (http://noahswish.com)