Sunday, September 18, 2005

Nawlins, Soon Rather Than Later?: I just wanted to point out this article (update: the article appears to be no longer on line) on the state of The French Quarter down in the Crescent City. It seems they are driving like bulldogs to get things back up and running. Some great quotes:

New Orleans has always been a strange location for a tourist mecca, plopped between a lake you can't drink and a river you can't swim. Know where the city gets its drinking water? The septic end of the Mississippi. It's a hearty populace that can drink the silt and insecticide flushed from nine agricultural states. It's a hearty horse that can slurp such stuff, then pull a carriage full of tourists through the sweaty brick streets.

A walk down Bourbon suggested that the party street prepared well for the storm. (Apparently, strippers are used to fleeing town quickly.) The Unisexxx Club's sign still teased/threatened tourists with "World Famous Love Acts by Men and Women."

At Big Daddy's lounge, one of the street's biggest and most-raucous strip clubs, a generator was keeping the iconic mechanical swing, featuring a fake pair of showgirl legs, dancing in and out of a window.

Finis Shelnutt, owner of the building that houses Alex Patout's Cajun restaurant - think crab cakes, crawfish ÇtouffÇe - was sweeping debris from the sidewalk and hosing it down on a recent sweltering morning. He kept the place open during the storm, serving reporters and police officers who happened by. Food was scarce, and the ice was going quickly.

Preservation Hall, tabernacle of traditional jazz, is closed indefinitely but appears undamaged. The CafÇ du Monde looked in need of nothing more than a leaf blower before it could begin serving its powdery beignets again. Assuming the roof's fine, Pat O'Brien's popular courtyard bar could reopen quickly.

Among the holdouts, there is no self-pity, only optimism and - perhaps most important of all - the city's trademark sense of merriment. When they were done cleaning, they hooked a sign to the wrought iron gate. "Jesus swept," it said.

This makes me very happy. I vow to be one of the first visitors back to The Quarter. But my favorite quote is this one:

"Honestly, the French Quarter is cleaner than it's ever been in 22 years," said resident Mike Howell, who has a doctorate in political science and tells fortunes for a living in Jackson Square, the bustling core of the city.

He gets the Golden Waiter Award for best use of an advanced education. I'm sure he ends each of his readings with the words, "You can trust me, I'm a doctor."