The words themselves conjure up certain scenes in your mind, don’t they? Say the words “Mardi Gras” and everybody thinks of…
That’s right! Good clean, inexpensive family fun!
What? Oh. No, see, that other stuff is all down on Bourbon Street. I’m talking about the Uptown Mardi Gras, where all the parades roll down St. Charles Avenue.
And fun we had! The whole family went down to New Orleans; Cindy went early to work at the Blood Bank, and Jack, Carolyn and I joined her on Friday the 24th. Stop at the condo to drop our bags, and then take the one block walk to the Avenue and the parades.
Our place turned out even better than expected when it came to enjoying all the parades. The combonation of being centrally located, with our own off-street parking, made the whole experience hassle-free. The parades themselves - we saw all or part of about a dozen from Friday night through Tuesday - were a lot of fun, and between Carloyn and Jack I swear we came home with fifty pounds of beads! Those were "Uptown" beads, thrown from floats with nothing expected in return. Night or day, the streets were full of families camped out with "ladder chairs" for the kids, and frat boys drunk on Lite Beer wishing they were on Bourbon Street.
Cindy and I did venture into the Quarter on Monday night (Lundi Gras to you veterens), and it was packed. Crossing Bourbon was like trying to ford a rain swollen river with the wagon train, except that when you finished crossing Bourbon Street, the bottom of your shoes were sticky. We didn't linger.
On a darker note, the Lower 9th Ward is open, and we took a drive through. I didn't take any pictures, mainly because my brain just couldn't process the level of destruction I was seeing all aroaund me enough to do anything but look. Besides, no photograph, or description, or even video would ever hope to convey the devastation that that area suffered in the flood. I saw an entire block of nothing but foundation slabs. I saw cars and trucks smashed, thrown, piled and rusting like toys that were left in the yard all winter. I saw houses that had run into each other like it was a car wreck. Every once in a while you'd see a roof in the street, but no sign of the house it came off of. I saw a house wrapped around a tree.
The whole area was full of tourists and media crews, and a reporter from CBS Radio chased us down to ask us about what we were looking at. It became clear pretty fast that we weren't going to give him the sound bites he was looking for. He wanted to have people talking about gawking at the misery of others. People have always been drawn to the sites of natural disasters. It reminds us of our empathy, and makes us feel more fortunate to have not been involved in more uncomfortable, direct ways. I think it's good that all those people are there. I think everyone should see it. In fact, I think a big chunk of it should be left just as it is, as a monument of sorts to the bureaucracy, greed, and stupidity of the people who built those levees, and a reminder that God and Mother Nature, laugh at "plans".