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New Orleans Commencement Speech
May 15, 2006 8:08 PM   Subscribe

"The water, it came to your school. The gasoline, chemicals, sewage and blood came to your doorstep. It settled into the ground of this courtyard where we now gather." Chris Rose's commencement speech at Ursuline Academy in New Orleans.
posted by ColdChef (13 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Chris Rose's 1 Dead in Attic is required reading.
posted by 3.2.3 at 8:24 PM on May 15, 2006


Indeed.
posted by brundlefly at 8:43 PM on May 15, 2006


third that. he deserved that pulitzer, dammit. one of the few local voices of reason, concern, compassion and humor throughout this ordeal.
posted by ab3 at 10:13 PM on May 15, 2006


Brilliant.
posted by dejah420 at 10:48 PM on May 15, 2006


Respect. Thanks ColdChef!
posted by po at 11:38 PM on May 15, 2006


Goddamn it, ColdChef. I just finished it. Why'd you have to go and make me weepy?!

Thank you.
posted by brundlefly at 11:47 PM on May 15, 2006


Nice speech, even if I really don't appreciate some points

You -- all of us -- are marked for life by what happened here and if you go out into the world and you shrug it off -- if you are soooo over the Katrina thing -- then you are doing a disservice to yourself and to the community that gave you your spirit and identity.

Christ, nothing should "mark for life" ..why make an obsessive tought of a tragic event ?Katrina and other events must be remembered and the experience must be treasured and passed to next generations, for people that forget their past are condemned to repeat the same errors..but "marked for life"..it creepingly sounds like "remember PAIN from 9/11" instead of "treasure lessons from 9/11, remember it was also very painful"

For those of you who fall into that huge swath of our community known as "lost everything," people try to tell you it was just stuff, get over it, at least you're alive and what you lost was just stuff. and But move on. Make the anger work for you.

Anger doesn't feed anybody these days, work somehow still does. In american and in most of the modern western world losing everything isn't exactly a thing you can just "move on" from easily, even if drowning in self commiseration is a bad idea. It has economical impact, it has costs. Happy to be alive ? Sure ! Happy to be fucked up and forget I am in a sea of shit ? Easier said then done.

Perhaps the most valuable lesson we have learned as a community is humility. The great equalizer.
Death is the great equalizer.

He said: "A time will come when someone asks you: 'What were you doing about it?' You can't tell them: 'I was just watching it. I was just an innocent bystander.' Let me tell you something: There are no innocent bystanders in this." No truer words have been spoken.

You, Sir, may be abusing some substance. There are innocent bystanders because most of them didn't want any friggin hurricane to destroy their houses,
by definition they are innocent at least of destroying anything. Certainly that doesn't allow them to just claim they are NOT supposed to do anything because
they didn't cause the damage, as no hurricane is going to "repair" the damage, nor is the government supposed to do _everything_ and pay for everything.

But if finding your own way involves putting on work boots and heavy gloves this summer and going into neighborhoods you've never seen in this city before, then all the better.

Now we are talking ! But offering free lawyer advice, rebulding networks, doing professional job for a lot less then full rates or *gasp* for free is going to help even MORE then just garbage scrubbing ; which still must be done, but almost anybody can do that. Try something harder AND garbage scrubbing.
posted by elpapacito at 4:17 AM on May 16, 2006


Thanks, ColdChef.
posted by safetyfork at 9:43 AM on May 16, 2006


Thanks, coldchef. I enjoyed that.
posted by shoepal at 10:12 AM on May 16, 2006


Excellent Cold Chef. Truly excellent.
posted by tkchrist at 10:57 AM on May 16, 2006


The gasoline, chemicals, sewage and blood is the life, Mr. Renfield

“There are no innocent bystanders.”
True.
“Nothing is more rewarding than a purpose-driven life.”
True.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:06 AM on May 16, 2006


elpapacito, I see from your profile you are located in Italy. Perhaps english is not your mother tongue, which would explain how badly you seem to have misinterpreted the quotes you objected to.

Even if you are fluent in the language, this was a speech made by a native of New Orleans, to others who survived the disaster. I can't say for sure but I'll wager you do not fall into either category. This means that important nuances of what Chris Rose had to say may be missed by you.

I'll not bother debating you point by point, but there was nothing inappropriate in that speech, and certainly nothing worth the level of hostility you seem to be conveying.

It's a beautiful speech for an important occasion in the lives of those who lived through those dark days, and I am richer for having read it.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:07 AM on May 16, 2006


BigLankyBastard : maybe my disilussion with years, years of empty speeches (we are extremely used to politicians, Church and almost everybody else using them to manipulate us) is becoming a little too transparent. Obviously I have no harsh feeling toward the people in New Orleans, as Italy is plagued by less catastrophic, headline grabbing events, but has its share of constant, decades long problems with nature. Earthquakes did and still do deep damages, idrogeological problems are slowing eroding away precious parts of our limited land, years after years of corruption, misplaced funds, mafioso substractions have only worsened the problem.

I could mention volcanic activity, but THANK nature we still haven't suffered much from our two most menacing volcanoes.

You see, when I hear a speech I start analyzing it cynically because I am so fucking fucking fucking tired of how words are being abused, how emotive manipulation is going on, rethoric etc that I really can't help not looking like an asshole, sometimes. I would like to blame my fellow citizens for being smart assholes, wanting to be sleazy and obtain their easy profit and then cry a river when they are reached by the same injustice, hypocrisy, bully mafia tactics they employ. One second they are behind a politician chanting "give me give me" then they cry the same politician gave 10 and took 100. And blame the oppositive party for that :D !

I understand some people may see a speech as motivational, an inspiration, something to believe into and I urge them to follow their deep down sentiments of justice, of helping each other, collaborate, if their sentiments are inspired by a speech in that direction.As for me I may reconsider my style, but my fundamental idea that speeches need to be analyzed, not only emotionally, but also logically. Sorry if it sounds harsh.
posted by elpapacito at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2006


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