The Whole Word Foundation, which represents 15,000 art collectives in the United States and Europe, has come up with the following recommendations for transforming New Orleans:
1. Bring back everyone who left New Orleans and buy each and every one of them a condo or a house in the French Quarter or Uptown. The money that FEMA has already spent on unused trailers, hotel rents, cash cards, and who knows what else, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, is more than enough to make those purchases at assessed values. And there will be enough left over to buy every person a new car, but you won't need to because the new New Orleans will be an entirely pedestrian and aquatic city.
2. Return all low-lying areas of New Orleans to floodplain; if anyone wants to live here, build houseboats and pontoons; also allow water dwellings on Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River; encourage everyone who wants to come back to use their insurance cash, tax incentives, small business loans and whatever other money is available to rebuild amphibian housing after their own fashion. Amphibian housing will be the style of new New Orleans, a city in the water, not a city by (or ignoring) water. We live in water and cannot hide forever by raising the walls of the bowl or pretending that we don't live in it. We must embrace and be embraced by water and wetlands and go totally blue and green.
3. Amphibian housing developments should be incorporated for the purposes of increasing communal pleasure and the Mystery of Night (which is capitalized because New Orleans is a night city due to climate and habit). The new amphibian design should use the historical suggestions of existing structures and the swamp dwellings of the bayous. To paraphrase Huey Long, "Every house a boat."
4. Do not allow any national corporate chains to do business in New Orleans, and that applies to Harrah's casino, Wal-Mart, cruise lines, and all the rest of the mall culture. Make the whole city wireless and create a local transportation company to compete with the U.S. Post Office, FedEx and UPS.
5. Eliminate all zoning regulations to allow any sort of small business on any barge or houseboat in the city.
6. Legalize drugs, prostitution and whatever else they have in sister city Amsterdam; license small businesses only.
7. Encourage tourists to expect the unexpected and remove the quotation marks from around the word "culture." Initiate a permanent Water Festival in New Orleans, rooted in Mardi Gras, which is already rife with naiads, sprites, Neptune and other water deities. We can host our own Water Olympics every year.
8. Declare the ruins of New Orleans an American cultural treasure and subsidize nationally and internationally any artist willing to work here; any artist working in New Orleans should be exempt from local and federal taxes. Everyone should, in fact, declare themselves artists and be exempted from taxes and duties, making New Orleans a Free Port, like Hong Kong once was, or the fictional Crimea in Vassily Axionov's novel, The Island of Crimea.
9. Declare New Orleans a PAZ (Permanent Autonomous Zone) and an International City administered lightly by every nation on earth in alphabetical order; give priority here to the former colonial owners of Louisiana; encourage international nomads to pass through the city by giving free health care and shelter to anyone who can show a passport stamped in at least five countries.
10. Recognize the diverse spiritualities of New Orleans and produce various public works of gratitude to God for having protected us this long from the ever-efficient country of the United States of America.
11. Rename the city The Commune of New Orleans.
Andrei Codrescu's new book is New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing From the City.