Sunday, August 06, 2006

New Orleans

We are spending billions a year in Iraq. We need to be spending billions to start with in New Orleans. First of all, we need approximately 9 billion to beef up our levees to withstand a category5 hurricane. Even if we spent the 9 billion this year engineers are saying it will take 20 years for the construction. How much is the Big Dig in Boston costing ? How smart of our congressmen to invest in tomorrow's future. If we can upgrade our subways and dig more underground roads for efficiency; can't we make one of our most historical and unique cities safe for people to live in ? People can make a difference with or without the government. This weekend I went to New Orleans for recreation and not only did I have one of the best weekends (as far as weekend vacations go) I came away feeling like I really made a difference. So I am making this entry to encourage others to do a great thing. It all started out pretty much like this..... I wasn't planning on going anywhere this weekend but at the last moment decided a boost of cajun fun was the perfect way to spend an August weeknd. First of all I have to say that my condo in Dallas is 5 minutes from Love Field so I literally got to the airport in 5 minutes (ZERO stress). The flight was 55 minutes on Southwest-- up and then down. Arrived at our hotel the Hotel Motelone before noon and immediately got a jolt by eating at Arnaud's Remoulade in the French quarter: a swamp drink, boudin, and crawfish etoufee to die for. Before a late evening meal with friends from New Orleans (fellow DWI lawyers) we had the oyster trio with bourbon milk punch at ? Bourbon Seafood House (one of the Brennan restaurants). I was so ovewhelmed when Lynell ? our big, brawny, african american waiter gave me a thank you card and told me how much it meant to him and the people of New Orleans that we were there bringing business to the city. I kept thinking all weekend where do these restaurant workers live ? So many have nowhere to stay. My friends told me that they had discovered a band of people living in an abandoned Shell station. Everywhere we went we had the best food (spiced to the max like something ferocious.... god those people eat good). Other fantastic meals included Desire ? at the Royal Sonesta. I had the full southern dish there... all I was missing was a fan and big straw hat and rocking chair. I had a mint julep, boudin, jambalaya and traditional bread pudding N'awlins style with whiskey sauce. It was so good I had bread pudding at 3 different restaurants during my stay and all were to die for. I could go on and on about Emeril style over the top fare but suffice it to say that the little restaurant facing Jackson square and the entertainers had the best crawfish pie (I was so sad to see it closed at 10 pm on a Sat. night... unheard of before the storm) and Alpine (right behind it) never ceased to amaze.... there was nothing that waiter would not do or get (my sophisticated friends wanting extra balsamic, wanting to add ice cream to bourbon pecan pie, wanting to have their cocktails changed in just the right way.... ) all the while having everyone in these restaurants genuinely grateful we were there (and not in a normal restuarant kind of way). Even the shops had signs outside their windows thanking tourists for shopping and how it is helping bring their city back. Hard to imagine that only a third of the restaurants are back. I heard my favorite Mike Anderson's will not be reopening, such a hallmark of the French quarter it is hard to believe. But outside of their being fewer people walking Bourbon street before dark it is a helluva place to eat and have a good time. There is absolutely no reason why a person would not have just the best time. We took a horse carriage ride through the town, got to go hear jazz at the Spotted Cat and Steamboat Willie and his band on Bourbon street. It was particularly neat considering it was Satchmo weekend (celebration of Louis Armstrong's bday) but every time I have ever been to New Orleans the jazz has been just as great. It was so good to see everyone having a great time... it is good for people to enjoy life and I can't think of a city that has more enjoying the good life culture than New Orleans. There was so much history to take in as well. I never realized the oldest Catholic church is in New Orleans. We got to walk for blocks through the French quarter during a rain storm. It cooled everthing off, the sky got beautiful and dark, you could hear jazz music playing out the clubs and side streets while all the while you got to look into the most beautiful antique stores with gorgeous, historical chandeliers and ornate furniture pieces dating back several hundred years. I guess I'm just so use to modern deco and Dallas cosmopolitan or Fort Worth cowboy grandiose style. The art galleries are phenomenal. I had to get another Todd White piece (they say he is more prolific at his age than Andy Warhold was.... not to mention his pieces are just stunning and this nation has never seen anything quite like it... I of course love the fact that most of his pieces are of people enjoying life typically holding martini glassses...). Two of the shops I went to were having half price sales.... incredible deals but it made me sad... I fear they are fighting to stay open (you can get Charles Dickens signature at Vintage429 ? for 2500 ? I got to actually touch an autographed Profiles of Courage by JFK !). All the store owners could not have been nicer. I really got the sense that even though I was there to have a good time ( buying, shopping, eating, touring...) they were the most happy by the fact that through sheer grit and pride they were still there, alive in a town that the government forgot. Making them more happy than me felt good. It is good when pe0ple help people. It is beautiful to see the strength of the human spirit. I've always loved the good people and culture of New Orleans and now I love them more... even though in many ways our country left them in their time of need- those good people did not leave us. Cheers to the best damn vacation spot our good country has. I did not see one ounce of bitterness in that town whose very survival depends on our generosity and efforts right now.... vacationing in New Orleans has got to be one fo the most pleasant forms of assistance I have ever had the pleasure of. Cheers and thanks to those special people, now let's get busy financing those monster levees Uncle Sam ! Mimi Coffey


Raphael Garcia said...

This entry definately hits the spot on what this country needs to focus on to make it an even better place during times of war and natural disasters. I too have friends in New Orleans and surrounding cities whom have shared with me their stories and even were in contact with me during the period Katrina devastated the city. It's of awe to me how certain folks in power could turn a shoulder or not be organized enough to respond to the needs of such good folks in a split second as if their own were in dangers tracks. History and common sense tells us in advance what such a monster of a hurricane would have done to such a city and it's environment. Not to mention the greed and theft that occurred during this period from the very people put in place to help those in need. Although the worse popped their heads to take all that they could, there were also those who gave all they could to help. And to me that is what counts when your soul person reaches out unselfishly only to help those who need it most. That is what I like to remember about that period of time and hopefully once I get over this slump in my life I too can visit New Orleans with total ease. AS my friend told me earlier this month, New Orleans Welcomes You when you are ready!!!

Mr. Melpomene said...

I'll be there tomorrow. Can't wait to eat a real meal.