UP late tonight... getting ready to leave for Paris tomorrow, up to my balls in work, yadda yadda.
New Orleans this past weekend for Krewe du Vieux was a good trip. I am glad I went. For more thoughtful thoughts on this, check out SHG's page and G-Hopp's page.
The parade was excellent, this is now my 5th, and it was really well attended and wow, was the crowd enthusiastic. The "ball" (Krewe du Vieux Doo) was busy too, though I was so exhausted from a intense night out the day before, I have to admit that I, err, napped. Ya'll know how I love my naps.
Driving in, you could see damage to the trees and houses in Beaumont and Lake Charles from Hurricane Rita. It was amazing how the swamps were untouched between Lake Charles and Baton Rouge (do you know why it's called that, Red Stick in English?), and there and New Orleans. I counted at least 13 FEMA trailers inbound to New Orleans, and a FEMA mobile medical unit. And the semis - truck after truck of heavy equipment and stuff for rebuilding. It all gave me a sense of activity and hope before I even got there.
Then, in Jefferson Parish you suddenly saw house upon house with some kind of damage, and so many with blue tarps on their roofs to keep the rain out... and only a few with new roofs. G-Hopp pointed out the bathtub ring on the sound barriers and we realized we were now "under water", and then way under water. My heart just sank. We passed one of the Cities of the Dead, and I suddenly wondered what happened since it was under water. The Super Dome came into view, and looked fresh with its new roof. The oncoming traffic, outbound for the weekend, mostly reconstruction folks and then people now back and working in the CBD and living in the suburbs, had been backed up for miles, and that lifted my spirits - that sense of activity and rebuilding.
Off the highway and down to G-Hopp's place. She's lucky, so lucky. You drive through a few dicey blocks to get there. You also go through some heading to the CBD or the French Quarter or the Marigny. What do see on these blocks? On some, just more debris ready to go. On others, nothing has been done. You pass a dead car here and there. It reminded me of Harlem in the 1970's (yes, I have been there then). You think, Why have they not hauled this shit off? I quickly stopped thinking that when I learned that potholes and sinkholes have not been fixed: there's just a cone in it...no matter how deep - I saw one 3 ft deep.
The Marigny, French Quarter - essentially fine. The Quarter is doing fine. Many other patches in the city are doing well - yet there are so many patches that are not. It seems like the patches are appearing from place to place, not spreading out yet. I guess that has to do with so many things - peoples' income, where they evacuated to, are the back, etc. So when you drive around, you alternate from hope to sadness to anger.
Well, it turns out these alternating feelings happen to be a key element of Hurricane Brain. At a party Friday night, I heard this term tossed around, and could not tell if it was real, derogatory, a joke, etc. So I asked. Whoops. Did I get a lecture, or so I thought. The outpouring of information, emotion, from a few people to me about this was overwhelming. Basically, it's not just the trauma of the storm or the immediate aftermath. These people live there now, with electricity that goes out when it rains (do you buy too much food for the fridge?), one grocery store for a huge geographic area that is insane every day, no regular businesses - like painters, barber, corner store, and the uncertainty of so many things. So it makes you confused, pissed off, depressed, and I guess not always thinking straight.
But what really got to me was this: I heard that places like McDonald's, etc. have not opened in the Marigny or other places in similar shape. Why not? I don't get it - customers (local and reconstruction workers), people who need jobs, good PR, etc. We walked by a Foot Locker in the CBD that was looted and then under water and had not been touched since: now that's creepy. I know McDonald's is in the CBD now, good. But why, in general, are big companies not going back, and just footing the damned bill?? Hell, Burger King was advertising a $250 signing bonus on St. Charles. To go back in, rebuild, employ people at a good wage so they can and want to stay, and just take the friggin' risk is not that big a risk. If it does not work out in a few places, at least there was an effort. The money going back in is fairly minimal. To get workers to do the work on rebuilding - well you pay them enough and they will come. Obviously, you don't go re-open in the lower 9th Ward. But not in the Marigny? WTF?? This really befuddles me.
Enough of that. The Parade!! Krewe du Vieux is a satirical krewe, so the parade has a theme (c'est levee), and so do the sub-krewes. Here's a tidbit from elsewhere on them. G-Hopp and SHG have good descriptors in links above. Anyway, here's some pictures, remember blue is for the tarps on the houses, not for governor Blanco's eyes.
OK, now the rougher ones. This is on a shop on St. Charles. It's a local icon now and the owner won't paint over it. Very creepy, as you read to the right there are updates with dates, like "9.11 - woman gone"
A local theatre that "mysteriously" burned two weeks ago just as it was nearing completion from repairs etc.: they were putting the carpet in.