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Gordon Pepper

As you all know, all of us here at express our prayers any sympathies to everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the rest of the areas of the United States that have been hit by Hurricane Katrina. This is easily one of the hardest columns that I have ever had to write. Please bear with me as I go back and forth from the past to the present, as these moments automatically propelled me back into New York's moment of anguish, which happened almost four years ago exactly, but feels like yesterday as those feelings rise back to the surface.

We know what happened in the past week. We know about the damage that Katrina has caused. We know about the lives that have been lost. Seeing the pictures, being bombarded by the images of what's going on in New Orleans and the surrounding regions only reminded me of my own surrealistic sojourn around the Big Apple and the time that it took me to get home on the fateful day of September 11, 2001. As someone who was a mere 20 or so blocks away from Ground Zero on the morning of September 11, I can feel the pain and suffering that has been caused by this natural disaster.

Or can I? Can I truly feel the pain as to what's going on in Louisiana? I 'only' lost friends that day. Thousands of people, people who for whatever reason didn't leave the area, lost their lives. Thousands more are missing, or are in grave peril. As to the people who evacuated the city or who were rescued, almost everything that they have saved up their life savings for – or put their life savings into – has vanished from the Earth or has been transformed into an unrecognizable mass that is far beyond salvaging. From a physical standpoint, the damage that Katrina has wrought far exceeds September 11 or any other natural disaster in the United States in our generation. I couldn't possibly begin to feel the pain and suffering that thousands of people are going through as they have not only lost loved ones, but have lost almost everything.

Both of these events had the same effect on me – my mind went numb. Both of these events also elicited the exact same reaction – at the end of the day, after being immersed in these experiences, I just wanted to go home and get away from everything. Away from the internet. Away from people and their chatting. Just away. Back on September 11, the only station that wasn't flipped over to World Trade Center coverage was the same station up here that wasn't flipped over to Katrina coverage – GSN. For three hours, the network for games comforted me like it comforted me almost four years ago, taking me away from the events of the world – if only for a few hours. It was, however, a few hours that were needed, as slowly but surely, my mental balance was restored and I would be ready to face the world again – no matter what it held for me the next day.

This is the reason why we need game shows. Without this sort of escapism, we would be living on egg shells every single day. As much as we blast GSN or bad reality shows, we need them in our lives, because without them, we'd go off-kilter. In fact, this is probably why we at go out of our way to blast the bad shows – we would never want to see a day where we don't have that escapism on our television or on our internet or video game console system, and relaxing and escaping for that limited time that we have may be the only way that we can get through events like Katrina or any other disasters that happen in our own personal lives.

After September 11th, and after the donations, all of us at realized that the only other thing that we could do was to continue to provide escapism and give us all another form of entertainment to have through the trying times ahead. Giving you our e-mail addresses to contact us and to use us as an outlet is the very least that we can do. To everyone who is reading this, and to everyone who has been affected by Katrina in any way, our prayers are with you and God Bless.

If you're reading this and wish to help, go to Gordon Pepper can be reached at


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