Our own Kathleen "Mama" Barrow helped lead a Second Line through the French Quarter on Sunday, to both mourn the loss of so much in New Orleans, as well as celebrate its rebirth. Here's a video I grabbed off of a local newscast:
Things continue to get more normal any day. Perhaps some things are getting too normal. I went to register the Jeep yesterday. Took me an hour to find an open DMV office, then an hour in line outside the building before getting inside, where I was given a number. That number was "98." The next number called was "9." An hour later they called "15." I left and got some lunch. About 45 minutes later I came back and heard them call "23." At that point, somebody must have came in and started kicking some butt, because the started calling the numbers faster. Two and a half hours later they finally called "98." I ambled up to the counter, grateful that I would soon be walking out with new Louisiana license plates for the Jeep.
Alas, twas not to be. Apparently, having a valid driver's license, insurance, and a title that has been signed over is not enough in Louisiana. You must also have a noterized bill of sale or certificate of donation. (sigh.) I'll go back one day next week. This time with a book.
Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely sources. For a while now, I have been trying to put into words why we love New Orleans so much. I hope, through this site, you get a glimpse of that. But yesterday, I came as close as I have yet to putting those feelings into words. I am a frequent contributor on the Uptown/Garden District forum on nola.com. Yesterday, someone with a screenname of "OldDave" posted the following:
New Orleans as you knew it is gone. I am originally from Miami. I know about hometowns that change forever.
There is nothing left in New Orleans that you can't find other places, and oftentimes better. Old houses? Many, many places have houses just as old or older and in better shape.
Free lifestyle? Hundreds of places out West like that.
Historical charm? Florida and New Mexico are older.
New Orleans was poor. It was cobbled together over many years. That gave it a lot of options on how to live there, and its atmosphere. That is gone. Big money coming in. Everything will be new and shiny. Which will cost money to live in. Something like the developments in Florida. But, if there is no industry there to support the wages, that bubble will burst.
You all know the geographical and environmental problems of New Orleans. Get the money while you can from the speculators and move on. Otherwise you will be trapped there. Your taxes WILL go up tremendously, as will everything else. Except your wages.
Ahh, sitting here on the porch, admiring the mountains, with the most beautiful evenings I have ever seen anywhere. No tornadoes, no hurricanes, no crime in comparison. No mold. No hot, sticky July, August, and September. No damp cold in January. Can run down the road to a casino, or Santa Fe or Taos and get into any social scene you would find in New Orleans.
Could use some good New Orleans food here, though. I like cayenne better than chilis.
I loved New Orleans, but what it was is no more.
This inspired me to write the following (which I have edited slightly here, since this page will exist long after those forum posts are gone):
New Orleans had some distinct "districts." Some of these were worse hit than others, as we all know. It remains to be seen whether the hardest hit areas will bounce back, and whether they will bounce in the direction of improvement or not.
The areas of the city I have frequented since 1992, and then moved into 5 years ago are essentially unchanged, with the same old businesses and services rapidly coming online.
You are, of course, correct, though. Many, many places have houses just as old or older and in better shape. There are hundreds of places out West with free lifestyles. Florida and New Mexico are, in fact, older and have their own unique, historical charms.
That on which you speculate, however, remains to be seen: Our taxes MAY go up tremendously (although I doubt it). Exactly when does "everything else" start going up, Dave? The restaurants aren't charging more, the grocery stores aren't charging more. Gas is actually less today than it was the day Katrina kit. Some landlords are charging more, but most aren't. I've been to Home Depot and Lowe's several times (and Target, and Sears, and Walmart, and Sam's). Their prices haven't gone up either.
Exactly when do things get more expensive, Dave?
The thing you miss in all this is "character." Yes, other places have old homes and free lifestyles. None have New Orleans unique character. The Jazz just *feels* different elsewhere. The food doesn't excite the senses in quite the same way.
It is about Character, Dave. And New Orleans has an abundance of it. Its character, in fact, is one of the main reasons I love New Orleans. It is why I came back as soon as I could. It is why I longed to be home when I was away, but the safety of my family had to come first.
I like the mountains, too, Dave. I have spent many a night in South Lake Tahoe and Incline Village. They have their own unmistakable, unique character. But they are not New Orleans.
New Orleans has lost some of its dwellings and some of its people, but not its character.
Perhaps the New Orleans you loved is gone. But mine isn't. I am sorry yours is gone, and I grieve with you. But I am thrilled that *my* New Orleans is still here, and healing herself with every minute that passes.
- Adam auditioned for a job playing piano for Harry Anderson yesterday. Harry prefers to use a piano player instead of a drummer in his act. The audition went well, and we all have our fingers crossed that he will be able to get the gig. Harry's place, Oswald's, will have its grand opening around New Year's.
- Julie Austin had Peter and Glen go out to her house and take pictures. You may have seen damage before, but this is an inside look at what someone on this site has lost. The home will be bulldozed, and she is planning to rebuild on the lot. You can view the pictures here.
- Wilma is a Cat 5 storm with the lowest barametric pressure ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Basin. All computer models agree that the storm will not head towards New Orleans, but we are nervously keeping an eye on her, nonetheless.
- Café Du Monde opened at 6AM today. It was packed with locals and contractors, but few tourists, as you might expect
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