Rick Bragg's New Orleans Wish -- Sept. 4, 2005

A weekly feature on This Week.


Our voice this week is Rick Bragg, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author who loves New Orleans. He celebrates the city as it was -- and the city as it will be again.

Rick Bragg: It has always had my heart in a box. Ever since I was barely in my 20s, I have loved [New Orleans] the way some men love women, if that means unreasonably.

There is no way to explain to someone who has never lived here why every day seemed like parole. Every time I would swing my legs from under the quilt and ease my toes onto the pine floors of my shotgun double, I would think, "I am getting away with something here."

How long now before the streetcar rattles down St. Charles Avenue and beads swing into the 200-year-old trees?

I cannot stand the idea that it is broken, unfixable. I look at the men using axes to hack their way into 100-year-old houses to save people trapped there by the suffocating water. I know there is life and death to be fought out for a long, long time. But I can't help but wonder what will come later.

My wife, as wives do, voiced what most of us are afraid to say: "I'm glad you took me there," she said. "Before."

How long before that city reforms? Some people say it never will.

But I have seen these people dance, laughing to the edge of a grave. I believe that, now, they will dance back from it.


The "Funnies" segment was suspended this week.