Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Drive Home & A Waitress Named Gifty

The trip has reached its completion, all 8 hours later. We have had a wonderful time in a wonderful city and had a blast going there and coming back even though we had a number of set backs such as 10-gallon gas tanks and phantom rain storms, we made it through had a productively fun (we maximized the fun [four parades in all!] while doing actually very little) and worked our way into a week happy that we had gone.

We closed with a nice dinner at, of all places, a truck stop before heading back through Houston. No matter what one can say...New Orleans will be back and be back to stay.

God bless and have a great week.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Blogging from the Frontlines: Vieux Carré and The Ducks of Tucks

Day two has reached its completion, out of our three-day weekend excursion to New Orleans with much fanfare, revelry, and a little bit of prayer. Thankfully the rains withstood for most of the afternoon, and even when they did come it wasn't a total wash. We made our way out to Napoleon Ave. in Uptown to catch two early afternoon parades so that we would be able to see a few parades in case Endymion postponed their parade. It turns out that they did for a potential downpour condition that never truly materialized.

So I bolted out the door this morning to join the parade-going bunch, less the umbrella I packed especially for the day. No big worries there. We managed to circle De la Salle a few times before getting to a suitable parking spot. We got to the Iris parade about a third of the way in progress and joined the fray for the beads. Surprisingly the marching bands were non-existent in the parade so it flew by in about 20 minutes (about half the usual time). The Krewe of Tucks followed next, without a dark cloud threatening overhead. I enjoyed their float titles, many of which were witty backhand (but justified) swipes at everyone from FEMA, to the Corps of Engineers, to the Mayor (of the "Chocolate City"). The picture above was after the second parade of our motley group, once Endymion made their decision to cancel the parade for the day (note the sunny skies above).

So, since Endymion was out the reach of our viewing eyes now for the year, we decided to meander down to the French Quarter for the afternoon. After much lengthy discussion, we managed to weave our way through several deserted neighborhoods around Claiborne, including a number of vacant (but still unsightly as ever) housing projects. We had made a sightseeing trip through the Ghetto of New Orleans. Then we managed to do more sightseeing in Mid-City, noting the still visible waterlines from August on many of the buildings). Circling around the foot of Elysian Fields, we made it back to City Hall and parked, walking back down Canal to the Quarter.

We had a nice (but crowded) visit to Café du Monde for a plate of beignets and hot chocolate; after all we are in the CHOCOLATE city after all! We viewed St. Louis Cathedral and the vista of Mississippi River from the "Moon Walk," named after the 1970 mayor of New Orleans, Moon Landrieu. Beads still in tote, most of the group went to the Saturday vigil mass at St. Louis, which is still as glorious and stately of a church it has ever been. It was nice way to cap our brief visit to the Quarter before ambling down a rather deserted Bourbon Street, finally heading to our cars back at City Hall. I remember now why I avoided Bourbon Street every year before with all of its drunken out-of-towners being a bunch of disgusting (and drunk) fools.

Thankfully we left the dreary wet weather of the Quarter for warmer and more spacious accommodations of a local eatery for some seafood and more visiting. It was an all around great day.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Second Lining to New Orelans...

Finally the week is over and done. No more tests, no more exams, no more assignments to worry about...for an entire weekend. I am free at last to have fun, to have a great time, to be with friends and family for the Carnival is here for me. It's off to New Orleans for me, and I wish all the best. Happy Mardi Gras!

Laissez les bon temps roulez, y'all!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mardi Gras 2006: Relief, Rebuild, Renew

I cannot stand those who say Mardi Gras should not roll on. I pity those who think it is not important enough to roll on that the cost is "too great." I'll argue until cannot argue any more that it is imperative that New Orleans holds this year's Carnival season, in spite of all of the adversities—past, present, and future—to overcome the loss and to overcome the pain wrought because of Katrina. This year's celebrations are to spite the storm that dared to try to take away "the city care forgot." No storm can take away a community, nor can it take way the Spirit of a community. It always remains, in one form or another. Mardi Gras belongs in New Orleans, and New Orleans belongs to us all.

We all must be supportive; we all must be a part of the celebration. One of New Orleans’ notorious nicknames, "the city that care forgot," mustn't gain a new nickname as the city the Nation forgot. The city mustn't go quietly off into the night. This year’s Mardi Gras is not a swan song for the Crescent City. This is the party to start all parties. This is the party that renews the New Orleans to the one we all knew and that will rebuild to the city it ought to be.

Laissez les bon temps roulez, y'all!