Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans: Where Laid Back is Laid Bare

Although The Big Easy has branded jazz houses, boats, and airplanes since 1900, it was columnist Betty Guillaud of the Times-Picayune who is most credited for making New Orleans’ nickname a household word. In response to the I Love New York hype of the 1970s, Guillaud compared The Big Apple to The Big Easy, where she described everything as slower, simpler, and easy-going.

Like many tourists, I was drawn to the careless fantasy that was New Orleans, reveling in the booze, food, and jazz without a second thought for tomorrow. But tomorrow always came, and once the throbbing haze of Pat O’Brien’s finally subsided, I thankfully returned to my family, career, and responsibilities.

The problem with binge fantasies is that the devil eventually shows up like a back alley loan shark to collect his fee. For some it’s monetary, while others are crippled by something akin to metal pipe across the knees. For New Orleans, the devil came in the form of Katrina, who in her own big easy form, pirouetted lazily across the Caribbean and Florida to a city where today’s troubles could always wait for tomorrow. Striking an area the size of Great Britain, Katrina displaced or drowned a population long overdue for a cold shower.

Predictably, the dysfunctional Louisiana leadership (elected by corruption and people too lazy to vote) blamed everyone else. While liberals and the media blamed racism and George Bush for the disaster, the illiterate gangs they coddled for decades were raping, ransacking, and murdering survivors as they awakened to reality.

For the first time since the Civil War, New Orleans has become one of America’s most important national landmarks: A place where procrastination was finally ravaged by reality. With their FEMA and insurance settlements, survivors should decide whether to build elsewhere, or drown.

To me, New Orleans offers more to humanity as a national park and wildlife refuge. Their evolution is long overdue.

1 comment:

  1. "To me, New Orleans offers more to humanity as a national park and wildlife refuge. "

    I thought that's what it was already.