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The Joys of Art

Sunday, December 11, 2005

As he destroys, (you) create....

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I agree with Chuck Taggart....God told me "As he destroys, (you) create".....This is why I tend to get a little maudlin at times....Geesh I hate that word!!! What's wrong with being maudlin?!!! The pain that Louisiana and her children has suffered has warranted us being a bit maudlin at times.... I would have permalinked your blog posting but it is a deadlink...So I had to post your post to my blog....

To Mardi Gras or not to Mardi Gras? There's a huge stink controversy brewing in New Orleans right now, and a growing movement (mostly led by poorer folks whose neighborhoods were destroyed) to cancel the pending Mardi Gras festivities in '06

I heard a story on NPR last night during which they interviewed an evacuated New Orleans resident named ChiQuita Simms, who's now living in Atlanta. She's vehemently against the idea of a Mardi Gras celebration and thinks it's "insulting," and that we should be rebuilding New Orleans intead of having a party. She's followed by the president of the New Orleans Marketing and Convention Visitors Bureau, who reminds us that the city can't rebuild itself with no income, no revenue whatsoever, and that in a normal year Mardi Gras brings $1 billion into the New Orleans economy.

Then there's this view: a New Orleans native who's now a newspaper editor in northwest Indiana wrote in the Times-Picayune, "As a native of New Orleans who has had to watch from afar the pain of his city, I don't want to see tax dollars go toward fun and frivolity when people are suffering and struggling,", to which New Orleans author Poppy Z. Brite replied, "THEN STAY THE FUCK IN INDIANA AND LEAVE US THE FUCK ALONE, YOU MONGOLOID."

As you can see, things can get a lil' touchy.

Yes, I know that tens of thousands of people are hurting. To some it might seem insensitive to have a parade. But y'know ... having parades is who we are. There were impromptu parades in New Orleans as soon as people started coming back home; in fact, there were parades thrown by some who never left. God knows the people remaining in the city need a little joy and celebration in their lives, something to let off some steam and allow them to both have a little fun and be grateful for anything they've got right now. I also can't help but notice that the anti-Mardi Gras complaints tend to come from people who haven't come home yet, mostly because they have no homes to come back to. I can understand why they're bitter, certainly, after spending a week mucking out the house where my family has lived for the past 25 years as well as seeing the house we lived for 15 years before that, which was got six feet of water and not "only" 4-1/2.

I think, though, that those folks are forgetting the people who have come home and started to rebuild, and those folks need a break. If you don't want to celebrate Mardi Gras, then don't -- stay home, stay away, stay wherever you are. If people who are back want to celebrate Carnival, let them. And as one local points out, "We plan to have Christmas, too."

Frankly, though, it all boils down to this -- we need the money. We need tourist dollars, and we need to rebuild our tourist and hospitality industries as soon as possible, if this city is to survive and become self-sustaining at any point in the foreseeable future. We need warm bodies in the Quarter, Garden District and Uptown, any place where the damage was minimal. We need them to see that part of the city is very much alive, and we need them to tell people that New Orleans is not a place for them to write off when it comes to tourism. If the city needs help with support, infrastructure and funding for police overtime, well ... they're actually considering seeking a corporate sponsor to underwrite costs for the first time ever. As much as I want to react against that, and against the encroachment of any corporate sponsor for what has been a private party open to the public for the last 150 years, I'm beginning to think that we should consider doing whatever it takes to make it work, and hope that the corporate sponsorship won't be needed once the city is back on its feet again.

Yes, great swaths of the city are still without power (about half, although it's supposed to be up to about 80% by the end of the year), and a lot of people haven't come home yet. However, the people who are offended by the idea of Mardi Gras have to realize that a city without revenue, with no tax base, ain't gonna last. If those folks want a home to come home to one day, we need to have as big a Mardi Gras as we can manage, and we need to hav an even bigger Jazzfest.

I feel very fortunate....I suffered minimal damage from a category 3 storm and I was also able to take two cruises to the Caribbean this year (February and November 2005)....


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