Monday, February 19, 2007

Happy Mardi Gras

Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Are you sick of all the news coverage about Mardi Gras? Do you think the media is making too big a deal of "the recovery"?

I graduated from college in 1991, spent a month hanging around my parents' house then jumped into a 1973 Dodge Dart with no air conditioning or FM radio to drive across the country with two guys I barely knew. I'm still wondering what my parents were thinking. I spent the summer teaching in Los Angeles before being placed by Teach for America in New Orleans.

I moved to the City that Care Forgot in August of that year. If I had been placed in Los Angeles I would still be teaching. New Orleans just couldn't be bothered to teach its children. Or provide health care. Or basic safety. I'm being incredibly cynical and certainly there are many people who do care about these things. But certainly not for the poor. Or black. And that was over 80% of the city.

But it is a town that knows how to throw a party. For that day before Lent. For Jazz Fest. For the beginning of crawfish season. For someone's funeral (you haven't lived until you've second lined in a housing project - the music truly goes into your soul). For the Miss High Hair Pageant. You name it, there is a party for it.

Which is why I am so angry at both the "how can they party?" comments during the Mardi Gras coverage. Easily. They party because they are alive and because they can.

And I am also angry at the "get over it" comments. WHAT?!?!? Our government allowed a major US city be destroyed. I knew in 1991 that if a category 4 hurricane came up the Mississippi River and went into Lake Pontchartrain it would destroy the city. And I am a Yankee (as in Northerner, not the baseball team). If I knew that, surely the government did. But then our government "knew" there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

One Mardi Gras tradition that we've introduced the kids to are King Cakes. The bakery we get them from includes little porcelain figurines symbolizing Mardi Gras. In years past there has been a Flambeau Carrier and a Mardi Gras Indian. I love that they haven't switched to plastic figures.

We have ended up with four king cakes this year and the bakery has three figurines for 2007.

CAPTAIN BLUE ROOF... a.k.a 'sub-sub-sub contractor'

KATRINA....lady? OR a hurricane?

And, my favorite, The FEMA Trailer they will live in.

Laissez-les bon temps roulez New Orleans.

If you haven't already given money to the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans or would like to give again, please consider donating to the New Orleans Musician's Clinic or the NO AIDS Task Force.


Jenn said...

It's easy to "get over it" when it isn't your city, or your friends, or your hometown, or your family, or your house...

Alex Elliot said...

"Get over it"? I really don't understand people!

Ambassador said...


It was the most spectacular day...more costumes on Fat Tuesday than I've seen in many years, storm or no storm. Brilliant local political satire, terrific family group costumes (The Addams Family with a six year old Uncle Fester), hairy men in pretty dresses (not me this time)...and more music and joy and fun than some people ever get in a lifetime.

We party because it makes the rest of life so much more bearable. In a city that has seen great tragedy many times over three centuries, it is our celebrations that bring us all back together in the most extraordinary ways.

Love, Your Ambassador

soccer mom in denial said...

And Ambassador, I am very glad you were there.

Kate said...

Awesome post, Allison. So true about not helping this city. It's a terrible truth.