I know I’m late with this, but I can’t let the event pass without some small comment.

New Orleans was my favorite city in the whole world, at least of the few places I’ve actually been. And now, it seems, it will have to live on in my memory. Partying, drinking, eating the most amazing food, the local color and history and architecture. Of all the cities I would have liked to retire in, to sit in the shade, drinking and writing and people-watching…

Mark Twain, Tennessee Williams, Andy Jackson and Jean Lafitte, Delphine LaLaurie, Marie Laveau… The Garden District, the French Quarter, Storyville… Preservation Hall and CafĂ© du Monde…

Katrina has all but wiped it from the face of the Earth.

The sewage, the toxic chemicals from the refineries and industrial ports, the dead bodies being exhumed from the Big Easy’s unique above-ground gravesites and floating down streets-turned-canals… It’s going to be uninhabitable for a long time to come.

My thoughts go out to all the victims of Katrina.

And… the economic devastation is going to be rather harsh, too. The Port of Southern Louisiana is one of the five largest ports in the world, and the largest port (by volume) in the United States, larger than New York, larger than Los Angeles. Not only does New Orleans handle oil imports, but it handles food and timber exports to the rest of the world.

We haven’t even begun to feel the effects of this natural disaster.