Tears of a Clown

by David Weigel

An extra cookie, please, for whoever gave John Schwartz the green light to make Harry Anderson (of "Dave's World" and "Night Court") the focal point of a Hurricane Katrina thumbsucker. Anderson and his wife had moved to the city in 2000, had purchased and relaunched a club, were absolutely enjoying themselves. They even held out during the hurricane and in the weeks following. It's in the year since then that everything went pear-shaped.

The city tried to more than double their $17,000-a-year property taxes. A lawyer had the amount reduced, but “that just meant that the lawyer got the money instead of the city,” Mr. Anderson said. Then, in May, there was a repeat of an attack that had occurred more than a year before, when a stranger had approached Mr. Anderson, slammed his face into the side of a building and cursed him, saying, “You killed the Matador.” That was the name of the bar he had replaced with Oswald’s.

But it was the recent mayoral election, Mr. Anderson said, “that was the nail in the coffin.”

The re-election of C. Ray Nagin, whom Mr. Anderson holds largely responsible for New Orleans’s drift since the hurricane, came as a shock. The Sunday after the May 20 election, he said, he walked the streets of the Quarter, angry with a result that “pulled the rug out from any hope of” change for the better.

“This city hasn’t evolved,” Mr. Anderson said. “I just feel this place is stuck on stupid.”