Monday, July 17, 2006

Apres Le Deluge

I missed my flight* and had to re-book for tomorrow, so I'm spending another night in New Orleans. Tonight I'm keeping it low-key, hanging out at Alan's while he spends the night over at Becky's. I don't think I even have the energy to go out again.

This trip has had everything: drugs, alcohol, skinny dipping, a wedding, parties, an insane unintelligible black dude who insisted that the eye on the pyramid on the one-dollar bill is really a spaceship, cowboy guys, and more. In fact, I'd say in the few days I've been here, I've made more friends than I have in the past six months at home. I haven't even had time to call back some of the cool people I've met, like Sarah and Jen and Steve, who is a brewer and fellow appreciator of beer. (I still have your phone number -- maybe next time I'm in town we can do the pub crawl?)

But more on all of that later. What I wanted to write about now was the other end of the city. Thanks to Becky, this evening I got a quick tour of the Ninth Ward and St. Bernard Parish, some of the hardest hit areas. They are, in a word, completely fucked up. If I weren't from Detroit, I'd say I've never seen anything like it. Street after street of empty, silent houses, tons of wreckage and debris, and the occasional white FEMA trailer. It's hard to imagine how these neighborhoods will ever recover.

I'm happy to report, however, that the spirit of New Orleans is alive and well. In characteristic fashion, the souvenir places are even selling t-shirts with Katrina-related jokes like "FEMA = Fix Everything My Ass" and "NOPD = Not Our Problem, Dude." It's a small thing, but it speaks volumes about the way people are down here and why I love them and their city so much. Even with all of the devastation, on top of all of the city's regular perennial problems, nothing this visit has changed my belief that New Orleans is the coolest place ever.

And now that I know people here, it will make it that much easier when, on one of my visits, I miss my flight... and don't bother to re-book it.

* I managed to sleep in so late I didn't wake up until about an hour before the plane took off. The plane took off at approximately 5pm. Yeah, I had quite a night.