Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cresent City - whose time has come...and gone?

We used to visit New Orleans occasionally, prior to Katrina, but have not been there for half-a-dozen years or more. To my mind, the place was always more hype than substance but, with the frequent parades, some questionably "great" restaurants and subtle hints of Cajun mystery with a dash of voodoo, it was no worse than any of the other gawker cities around the country.
That was then - this is now.
The Katrina flood seems to have permanently washed away any remnants of mystique and authenticity from the city, in addition to the dozens of neighborhoods which, too, are unlikely ever to be resuscitated. Along Interstate 10 to the east of town, a number of off ramps are closed by barriers and the closed roadways are overgrown with grass and weeds. The flora all along the highway doesn't do anything to dispel the air of dilapidation either. Many trees were snapped off by the winds and everything that is surviving has a sickly appearance, probably due to the inundation with sea water.

An enterprise that has appeared since the waters receded, is the French Quarter RV camp ground. This is an easy walk from "downtown" and yet provides believable security in a city seething with petty crime horror stories. The regular rates are about $60.00 per night but, in times like Mardi Gras or the Jazz Festival, watch out - rates go as high as $200.00 per night with a three night minimum!


Mark Folse said...

You must not visit too often, or you would know that those exits on the far eastern edge of town have been barricaded off almost since they opened.

It's hard to imagine this entire visit didn't occur entirely in your imagination, as most of the tourist infrastucture you talk about is back 100%.

Maybe you should try asking some locals about where to go and what to eat, and perhaps you would not be so disappointed. It sounds like you must have made the basic trip down Bourbon Street, which is like judging the entire state of Florida based on a trip spent entirely in Disneyworld.

New Orleans East was in fact terribly devestated and is very slow to come back. Many people out there did not carry flood insurance (just as people living at the foot of fifty foot levees in the midwest did not) because FEMA and their mortgage bankers (relying on FEMA flood maps produced with the Corps of Engineers) indicated they did not need such insurance. They thought they were protected.

New Orleans is struggling and will continue to struggle over the next decade as we continue to rebuild largely out of our own pockets, often frustrated rather than aided by government at any level: local, state or federal.

In spite of that New Orleans remains a vibrant place, and much of what drew us home (and draws tourists here) continues to revive with the insistance of wildflowers on a fire ravaged landscape.

Sam Jasper said...

ditto what wetbankguy said.

BTW Crescent has a C in it.

Tim said...

It's a free country and you're entitled to your opinion, but I think you're wrong. Major sections of New Orleans are back to business. Conventions are lined up, incredible live music all over the place, and more restaurants are open today than before Katrina (and that's only counting real, sit-down restaurants, not taco trucks or franchise fast food outlets).

Did you get to see Frenchmen Street where Astral Project plays jazz at Snug Harbor, while next door at d.b.a. Gal Holiday sings authentic country, and across the street is VaVaVoom laying out french gypsy music at the Spotted Cat? Did you find your way to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and then walk over to the National World War II Museum? Did you feast on pumpkin pancakes at the Blue Plate, then eat an authentic Creole lunch at Dooky Chase's, then surprise your significant other with supper in the exclusive table in the back of a pick-up truck at Jacques-Imo’s? Well then, I don't know what the heck you're writing about. Are you sure you visited MY New Orleans???



GentillyGirl said...

Y'all obviously didn't make to my New Orleans. Our little neighborhood is coming back quickly, but it's a long haul.

Our city is rebuilding in spite of the efforts of Big Money to take over our homeplace. New Orleans isn't Bourbon Street or the Quarter... this is the place and culture we wish to live in.

I have lived in many places in this country and abroad. This is my home, and before you make statements about my city, back it up with facts.

My heart and soul belongs to this Blessed Whore of a city,(That's what folks think of us) but we have a culture here.

Come back down and I'll show you the real New Orleans.