Next week's column is a big one and I really want to hear your thoughts and experiences.
As a local what was it like to watch our city on the national news suffering unimaginable disaster?
Click here to read it in one of the papers... or just read after the cut.
From Mardi Gras costumes to sugary bread pudding to all-night dancing at jazz clubs, New Orleans is a city of excess.
It's hard to comprehend that my beloved city of joyous surplus is now home to excessive disaster, excessive violence and excessive looting. Somewhere in between the grandeur of New Orleans life before Hurricane Katrina and the despair after the storm is the story of a city divided by socioeconomic extremes.
Without resources such as an automobile or money for a hotel room, a large number of Big Easy dwellers were left stranded in a disaster zone. They became victims of their own excessive poverty. As they ask, "Where's help?," many of these trapped New Orleanians chose looting over starving to death. When you don't know where or how help is coming, you're much more likely to go to extremes for survival. And the fight for survival is a common thread shared among the human race, regardless of finances.
Under a blanket of excessive heat, post-traumatic dehydration and utter misery, I would have looted, too.
But stealing televisions, committing rape on flooded streets, and firing guns at hospital rescue helicopters are not basic survival instincts. These crimes stem from much more than a group of people in need of conflict-resolution skills.
For decades, New Orleans has operated with populations of great wealth and great poverty. The City of Excess operates on an economic infrastructure of extremes. The lack of a large middle class found in most other American cities creates tensions on both sides of the financial fault line.
This, combined with an unfortunate element of opportunistic behavior often found in disaster situations, inevitably left some individuals viewing this tragedy as a big opportunity for escaping their class.
When the underprivileged steal electronics and designer shoes as television cameras watch, it's called "looting." But profiting from higher gasoline prices during the same disaster is called "economic impact."
Being powerless motivates people to commit outrageous acts to gain power. But does this mean extreme violence in times of devastation is somehow connected to the American dream? Absolutely not. There is more to the story.
Historically along American coastlines, major hurricanes have not affected heavily urbanized areas such as New Orleans. When hurricanes hit a major American city, a different mix of survivors is left in the wake of the storm.
During an emotional interview broadcast on WWL radio Thursday evening, Mayor Ray Nagin attributed the increased murder rate in the city over recent years to the heavy flow of drugs in and out of the metropolitan New Orleans area.
Unfortunately New Orleans is not alone among major cities when it comes to drug problems. But it is alone among comparable cities in its excessive damage and devastation after a record-breaking hurricane.
Excessive violence, rape and looting can be linked in part to drug-starved addicts wreaking havoc because they don't have anything to take the edge off.
These individuals catch the eyes of the national media with excessive actions that are so horrible no one can see around them. This small group in the spotlight creates the impression that everyone left in the city is a criminal.
Because of the attention of these acts, stories of those whose excess of desperation leads them in a different direction are overlooked.
I've read firsthand online reports of people who are scared and stranded, standing in single-file lines with the elderly up front waiting on help. They sweep the pavement, clean windows, and do anything else that quietly displays to anyone watching that they are not barbarians. They hope their efforts will lead to help.
These survivors are kind, hard-working and persevering in the most excessively desperate fight for survival they've ever faced in their life. This is the difference between doing what you must do to survive and committing criminal acts.
As our minds are flooded with the horrific images of the human race at its worst, please remember the quiet grace of the hungry, haggard citizens patiently waiting in line for help. They are frightened survivors of the most excessively destructive natural disaster to hit an American city.
A tragically fitting claim for the city of excess.