My New Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal

Open Road Media
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A New York Times bestseller: A “charming” memoir of growing up Jewish among New Orleans high society—and finding a place in the bigger world (Winston Groom, The Wall Street Journal).

The Wolf family had been in New Orleans for generations. They were Jewish but—as Peter Wolf’s grandmother put it—“not in an obvious way.” In fact, they threw lavish Christmas parties to entertain Peter’s father’s friends in the cotton business and even put up a tree. But despite their success and their philanthropic work, the Wolfs were always excluded from NOLA’s inner circles, elite clubs, and high-status Mardi Gras krewes.

It took a detour to New England—where Peter attended Exeter and Yale, and met friends like Calvin Trillin—to put the young man in touch with his cultural roots, and an adventurous adult life beyond the Big Easy to see the corruption, insularity, and racism that lurked beneath the cultural and culinary delights of his home. With a fond heart and a clear, candid view, Wolf offers this reminiscence of his childhood in Metairie, Louisiana, and the unique social hierarchies of New Orleans, with its old Creole families and residents both rich and poor.

A meditation on place and identity, this is “a loving and beautifully written portrait of New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s” and a look at a landscape that was shifting and disappearing even before Hurricane Katrina altered it forever (Booklist).
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About the author

Peter M. Wolf is a sixth-generation member of a New Orleans family that has been long integral to that city’s culture and commerce. After Yale, Wolf earned a PhD in the history of art and architecture from New York University. Wolf is a nationally recognized land-planning, urban-policy, and asset-management authority. He is the founder of the Thomas Moran Trust, chairman of the Godchaux-Reserve Plantation Fund, and a trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and the Village Preservation Society. His research and writing have been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the American Federation of Arts, and a Fulbright Fellowship. 
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Additional Information

Publisher
Open Road Media
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Published on
Jul 9, 2013
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Pages
322
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ISBN
9781480413450
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Land Use and Abuse in America is a call to action. It is intended to inspire everyone involved in land transformation from rural to city center -- residents, business leaders, community officials and professionals -- determined to make a difference. In the past, all across America, at every level of geography and at every scale of community, the natural land has been treated harshly and unwisely with adverse consequences. Facing the inevitability of change and growth, and aware of past mishaps, there is urgent need for more insightful planning. As detailed in this book, a vast opportunity exists to do it well going forward. America shows distinct signs of relinquishing its world hegemony in military power, diplomatic influence, and economic solidity. As these transitions occur, we must utilize precious capital and time to improve our approach to new settlement, to upgrading our existing communities and infrastructure, and to the preservation and conservation of natural and built resources. There are promising signs. A new generation is becoming aware that the old systems of land use and abuse will not provide a sustainably desirable future. A shift in emphasis is detectable as responsible residents, business leaders and elected officials abandon long held assumptions that resource will never give out, that there is always another unspoiled place to settle, that everything will last forever. In this first decade of the twenty-first century, a half century after the environmental consciousness-raising years of the 1960s, a more aware generation is ascending to community, corporate and government leadership. Professionals in the land use arena have the opportunity to inform and to assist these more enlightened stakeholders. Well trained and well intentioned experts are in a better position than ever before to revise out-dated practices. Cities, towns, suburbs, and exurban development currently consumes only 7% of the U.S. land area. As the population expands and economies evolve, much more land will be transformed, and built-up areas will be reconfigured. Everyone working in the domain of land use transformation is at the center of a long-run epic. Whatever happens in the physical world affects land use, and land use affects everything that happens in the natural world, often over a very long time span. It is my view that enlightened land use planning and building induces a positive measurable ripple effect far beyond the appearance of the physical world. As the resources available to the nation become recognized as finite, there is no better way than through wise, bold, creative and fresh land use initiatives to enhance the social, economic, environmental and humanistic encounters that collectively compose our daily experience. Each community is like a distinct, complex corporation. It has vast assets -- all of the real property in town, and all of the human energy and good-will of its residents. Ideally, each resident comes to understand that he or she is a stakeholder in the quality of the overall physical place, way beyond next door and the neighborhood -- a shareholder in the total enterprise. Barriers to comprehensive and innovative land use planning have been weakened by long delayed public alarm about our degrading physical environment and our simultaneous looming shortage of capital, credit, energy, and natural resources. While these matters now roil financial markets, stir scientific inquiry, and engender political debate, they underscore the imperative for wiser use, and diminished abuse, of the land.
Eleven-year-old Cupcake Brown woke up on the bicentennial and found her mother still in bed. She struggled to wake her up, pushing and pulling until she managed to tug her mother's lifeless corpse onto her own small body, crushing her beneath its dead weight. After squeezing out from under her mother, Cupcake calmly walked over to the phone and called her aunt Lori. "Lori, my momma's dead."

Here is the threshold of a hell for young Cupcake. Rather than being allowed to live with the man she believed to be her father--who turns out to have been her stepfather--she is forced into a foster home where the kids were terrorized, the refrigerator padlocked, and Cupcake sexually abused. She eventually fled the house, only to find herself wandering from misadventure to misadventure in the "system," while also developing a massive appetite for drugs and alcohol, an appetite she paid for by turning tricks. She settled down in Los Angeles and found a home in the Crips, where she was taken in and befriended by gangsters like the legendary "Monster" Kody Scott. For the first time she found a family, but when Cupcake was blasted in the back with a 12-gauge shotgun, she was once more taken in by the system.

At 16, her stepfather reeneters her life and engineers an "emancipation," in which the courts declare her an adult and free her, finally, from the child welfare system. Cup takes advantage of her new freedom to start a drug-dealing operation with her stepfather, who also manages a stable of colorful prostitutes. Soon she meets a man, falls in love, and gets married. He convinces her to get a real job and learn to speak proper English--but he also abuses her and introduces her to crack cocaine. Cupcake flits from job to job, miraculously, given that she never fails to show up without some cocktail of narcotics floating in her system.

She hits rock bottom when, in desperation, she steals crack from her drug dealer. He beats her nearly to death, rapes her, and then leaves her body behind a dumpster. Cupcake wakes up days later, not sure of how she ended up in this state and from that moment begins to turn her life around. She was adopted by a lawyer who ran the law firm where she "worked," and slowly he assisted her in kicking the habit--with the help of an eccentric group of fellow addicts who became, at last, a family to her--and catching up on her education. With the support of her new family, she eventurally goes all the way to law school (although not without a few additional misadventures along the way) and joins one of the top law firms in the country.

Cupcake's story is an inspiring, at times hilarious, often distrubing, and deeply moving account of a singular woman who took on the worst of contemporary urban life and survived it with wit and a ferocious will. It updates classic memoirs like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Makes Me Wanna Holler, and gives a bold and gritty spin to contemporary memoirs like Finding Fish. At the center of it, Cupcake is a charming and inspiring narrator through the inferno of her life.


From the Compact Disc edition.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, Five-Carat Soul, and Kill 'Em and Leave, a James Brown biography.

The incredible modern classic that Oprah.com calls one of the best memoirs of a generation and launched James McBride’s literary career.

Over two years on The New York Times bestseller list

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut, The Color Of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother.

The son of a black minister and a woman who would not admit she was white, James McBride grew up in "orchestrated chaos" with his eleven siblings in the poor, all-black projects of Red Hook, Brooklyn. "Mommy," a fiercely protective woman with "dark eyes full of pep and fire," herded her brood to Manhattan's free cultural events, sent them off on buses to the best (and mainly Jewish) schools, demanded good grades, and commanded respect. As a young man, McBride saw his mother as a source of embarrassment, worry, and confusion—and reached thirty before he began to discover the truth about her early life and long-buried pain.

In The Color of Water, McBride retraces his mother's footsteps and, through her searing and spirited voice, recreates her remarkable story. The daughter of a failed itinerant Orthodox rabbi, she was born Rachel Shilsky (actually Ruchel Dwara Zylska) in Poland on April 1, 1921. Fleeing pogroms, her family emigrated to America and ultimately settled in Suffolk, Virginia, a small town where anti-Semitism and racial tensions ran high. With candor and immediacy, Ruth describes her parents' loveless marriage; her fragile, handicapped mother; her cruel, sexually-abusive father; and the rest of the family and life she abandoned.

At seventeen, after fleeing Virginia and settling in New York City, Ruth married a black minister and founded the all- black New Brown Memorial Baptist Church in her Red Hook living room. "God is the color of water," Ruth McBride taught her children, firmly convinced that life's blessings and life's values transcend race. Twice widowed, and continually confronting overwhelming adversity and racism, Ruth's determination, drive and discipline saw her dozen children through college—and most through graduate school. At age 65, she herself received a degree in social work from Temple University.

Interspersed throughout his mother's compelling narrative, McBride shares candid recollections of his own experiences as a mixed-race child of poverty, his flirtations with drugs and violence, and his eventual self- realization and professional success. The Color of Water touches readers of all colors as a vivid portrait of growing up, a haunting meditation on race and identity, and a lyrical valentine to a mother from her son.

 

Land Use and Abuse in America is a call to action. It is intended to inspire everyone involved in land transformation from rural to city center -- residents, business leaders, community officials and professionals -- determined to make a difference. In the past, all across America, at every level of geography and at every scale of community, the natural land has been treated harshly and unwisely with adverse consequences. Facing the inevitability of change and growth, and aware of past mishaps, there is urgent need for more insightful planning. As detailed in this book, a vast opportunity exists to do it well going forward. America shows distinct signs of relinquishing its world hegemony in military power, diplomatic influence, and economic solidity. As these transitions occur, we must utilize precious capital and time to improve our approach to new settlement, to upgrading our existing communities and infrastructure, and to the preservation and conservation of natural and built resources. There are promising signs. A new generation is becoming aware that the old systems of land use and abuse will not provide a sustainably desirable future. A shift in emphasis is detectable as responsible residents, business leaders and elected officials abandon long held assumptions that resource will never give out, that there is always another unspoiled place to settle, that everything will last forever. In this first decade of the twenty-first century, a half century after the environmental consciousness-raising years of the 1960s, a more aware generation is ascending to community, corporate and government leadership. Professionals in the land use arena have the opportunity to inform and to assist these more enlightened stakeholders. Well trained and well intentioned experts are in a better position than ever before to revise out-dated practices. Cities, towns, suburbs, and exurban development currently consumes only 7% of the U.S. land area. As the population expands and economies evolve, much more land will be transformed, and built-up areas will be reconfigured. Everyone working in the domain of land use transformation is at the center of a long-run epic. Whatever happens in the physical world affects land use, and land use affects everything that happens in the natural world, often over a very long time span. It is my view that enlightened land use planning and building induces a positive measurable ripple effect far beyond the appearance of the physical world. As the resources available to the nation become recognized as finite, there is no better way than through wise, bold, creative and fresh land use initiatives to enhance the social, economic, environmental and humanistic encounters that collectively compose our daily experience. Each community is like a distinct, complex corporation. It has vast assets -- all of the real property in town, and all of the human energy and good-will of its residents. Ideally, each resident comes to understand that he or she is a stakeholder in the quality of the overall physical place, way beyond next door and the neighborhood -- a shareholder in the total enterprise. Barriers to comprehensive and innovative land use planning have been weakened by long delayed public alarm about our degrading physical environment and our simultaneous looming shortage of capital, credit, energy, and natural resources. While these matters now roil financial markets, stir scientific inquiry, and engender political debate, they underscore the imperative for wiser use, and diminished abuse, of the land.
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