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Micheline Bérnard always loved Lionel Desormeaux. Their parents were friends though that bonhomie had not quite carried on to the children.
Micheline and Lionel went to primary and secondary school together, had known each other all their lives—when Lionel looked upon Micheline he was always overcome with the vague feeling he had seen her somewhere before while she was overcome with the precise knowledge that he was the man of her dreams.
In truth, everyone loved Lionel Desormeaux. He was tall and brown with high cheekbones and full lips. His body was perfectly muscled and after a long day of swimming in the ocean, he would emerge from the salty water, glistening.
Micheline would sit in a cabana, invisible. She would lick her lips and she would stare. She would think, “Look at me, Lionel,” but he never did.
When Lionel walked, there was an air about him. He moved slowly but with deliberate steps and sometimes, when he walked, people swore they could hear the bass of a deep drum. His mother, who loved her only boy more than any other, always told him, “Lionel, you are the son of L’Ouverture.”
He believed her. He believed everything his mother ever told him. Lionel always told his friends, “My father freed our people. I am his greatest son.” In Port-au-Prince, there were too many women. Micheline knew competition for Lionel’s attention was fierce. She was attractive, petite. She wore her thick hair in a sensible bun.
On weekends, she would let that hair down and when she walked by, men would shout, “Quelle belle paire de jambes,” what beautiful legs, and Micheline would savor the thrilling taste of their attention. Most Friday nights, Micheline and her friends would gather at Oasis, a popular nightclub on the edge of the Bel Air slum. She drank fruity drinks and smoked French cigarettes and wore skirts revealing just the right amount of leg.
Lionel was always surrounded by a mob of adoring women. He let them buy him rum and Cokes and always sat at the center of the room wearing his pressed linen slacks and dark tee shirts that showed off his perfect, chiseled arms.
At the end of the night, he would select one woman to take home, bed her thoroughly, and wish her well the following morning. The stone path to his front door was lined with the tears and soiled panties of the women Lionel had sexed then scorned.
On her birthday, Micheline decided she would be the woman Lionel took home. She wore a bright sundress, strapless. She dabbed perfume everywhere she wanted to feel Lionel’s lips. She wore high heels so high her brother had to help her into the nightclub.
When Lionel arrived to hold court, Micheline made sure she was closest. She smiled widely and angled her shoulders just so and leaned in so he could see everything he wanted to see within her ample cleavage. At the end of the night, Lionel nodded in her direction. He said, “Tonight you will know the affections of L’Ouverture’s greatest son.”
One of my first complete sentences in Creole was “Gen vréman vre zonbi an Ayiti?” Or: “Are there really, truly zombies in Haiti?”
Ten months after the quake, Haitians scour a Port-au-Prince garbage dump for food and supplies (more photos from Antonio Bolfo here). On Haiti’s recovery, Jeneen Interlandi writes, “The people of Haiti need food, shelter, and clean water, but they also want their country back, and eventually they may have to reclaim it from the very people who rushed there to save them.”
Ommanney shoots from Haiti.
NEWSWEEK: You’ve noted that the relief effort so far has been overly militarized. Given that the military is responsible for coordinating much of the aid, why do you think that’s inappropriate?
KLEIN: It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Every day that people are not receiving food, it becomes harder to maintain order. What we’re hearing from U.N. and aid agencies is that they’re afraid of going out without military escort. And what we just saw during the quake is that some foreign investors had their own parallel privatized disaster infrastructure. Citigroup sent in private-security SWAT teams equipped with medical supplies and satellite phones to save their people, but not their neighbors. That’s dehumanizing. Aid should be prioritized over security. Any aid agency that’s afraid of Haitians should get out of Haiti.
Naomi Klein, on Haiti
Turns out houses made of straw are surprisingly stable. From Janeen Interlandi’s really great piece explaining why Haiti’s buildings collapsed, and how they should be rebuilt:
A stronger Haitian capital will have to include more earthquake-resistant housing. And while such engineering is expensive, there are some cost-effective options that experts say could be a good fit for Haiti. Straw-bale houses, which are already being built in Pakistan, have proved to be just as resistant as other earthquake-proof designs, at only half the cost. In one recent study, the houses—made of clay, soil, straw, and gravel, and built by unskilled laborers—withstood forces comparable to the 6.7-magnitude earthquake in Northridge, Calif., in 1994.
Joanna Muñoz: “Help Haiti”
Figured I’d put my creativity to good use and gin up a poster for the American Red Cross.
Text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10 to Red Cross. $10 million donated as of 2:30pm on January 15, 2010.
In his narrow, malicious way, Pat Robertson is making a First Commandment argument: when the God of Israel thunders from his mountaintop that “you shall have no other gods before me,” he means it. This God rains down disaster—floods and so forth—on those who disobey.
But Robertson’s is a fundamentalist view. It’s so unkind and self-righteous—and deaf, dumb, and blind to centuries of theological discourse on suffering by thinkers from Augustine to Elie Wiesel—that one might easily call it backward. Every Western religious tradition teaches that mortals have no way of counting or weighing another’s sin. “If that happened to the Haitians because they’re so sinful, then why hasn’t it happened to him?” retorts Bart Ehrman, a Bible scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Miller on the theology of suffering.
Haiti’s earthquake, before and after