Nawlins Pralines


Earlier this month, I took a short jaunt to NOLA. I’d never been and didn’t know much about it except for Mardi Gras, which is still a vague reconnaissance. Fortunately for me, we stayed in the French Quarters where every night sees a circus-like ambiance of drunken debauchery. I’ve had my share of debauchery in life but something about Bourbon Street nightlife is almost pathetic. It’s like misplaced and feigned enthusiam, but that would be my projection since I can not at all imagine such deliberate lack of self-regard/awareness. It is the 20 year college reunion of every college third tier fraternity/sorority wherein they do the same thing they did as 19 year olds.

Otherwise, the most unsavory aspect of traveling to tourist driven areas would be how often tourism can make caricatures out of a place, which is natural when there is a high concentration of kitsch “embodiment” of a city’s specialty or whatever. If your initial contact (and it is often the case) is with that setting, well, it’s hard to see the charm behind such syndication. I find it a little insulting that people choose to just proliferate and peddle a formula without standard rather than try to find new ways to appeal to visitors and draw them in.

Not that it’s completely without its redeeming qualities, many areas of the city are beautiful.

It goes without saying that visiting the site of Katrina is moving in the way that seeing the aftermath of any tragedy can be. I think this is especially true after having witnessed 9/11. My reaction to any tragedy – all human tragedy after all – has become much more visceral.

Last observation: I’m not sure if it’s because I live in New York and am just accustomed to seeing the kind of poverty that New Yorkers show or have just accepted them as a part of New York’s social fabric or the city is organized in a way that it’s never that outstanding or if New York’s obsession with image extends to every socio-economic class. But every other city, the state of the impoverished is always very jarring. This is true for NOLA, many cities in Europe, Shanghai and Beijing. On the plus side, this manifestation made the tour guide’s pride in NOLA’s low unemployment rate and resilience sound especially optimistic.


One response to “Nawlins Pralines

  1. Dave H. June 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Agreed on the state of the impoverished in many cities!

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