2.22.2007

Mardi Gras: Behind the Mask

Mardi Gras, for us, is about forgetting the daily struggle. Just blocks off of the parade route you'll find families living in trailers, and entire neighborhoods still wasteland. The Central Business District and the French Quarter have a nice facade going, trying to look clean and polished to attract tourism, because thats our bread and butter, but if you look close enough you'll find traces of Katrina everywhere. The video will focus on the happy, I'll post it once its edited, but its my duty to share a bit behind the mask...



This image is a perfect example: the Superdome with its new gleaming white roof, and hiding just behind, a highrise with its windows still blown out.



Here we have the Orpheum Theatre, some of the most beautiful architecture in the city, just amazing. The poster in the big lighted box outside advertises "a hilarious new stage play that touches your heart and soul"......opening on August 27, 2005 (Katrina hit on the 28th)......I can't help but wonder what happened to the production....


On St. Charles, on the parade route at Lee's Circle, a blue tarped roof and Mardi Gras banners....

7 comments:

herself said...

So, do you think Katrina killed New Orleans utterly dead? I heard early rumors about pouring huge amounts of money to rebuild it all, Disney style, on higher ground nearby. Does that strike you as an avoidance of the tragic reality of the total destruction of what was, albeit precariously, a whole culture with a rich history?

Is it and should it be over, in the bg picture? And if so, what are you and the Lady thinking of doing now?

Ubatuber said...

Killed dead? Absolutely not. We aren't going down that easy. I think if there were some kind of govt. decree to leave Nola dead, we'd have a state seceding from the union for the first time in a few centuries. Probably a civil war too.
We will need huge amounts of money to rebuild it all, and if the federal govt. werent pouring huge amounts of money into, say, building hospitals in Iraq, or, say, preparing space stations on Mars, I think we'd be much, much further along with the recovery. Its really just unbelievably disheartening as an American, that you tell yourself you live in the richest country in the world, that no matter what, we'll be taken care of, and I'm telling you, its just not true. Dont believe the hype. All sense of patriotism has gone completely out the window for me at this point. As for rebuilding on higher ground, it wouldnt be necessary if the levees were strong enough. So in a way, building on higher ground would be more an avoidance of the inefficiency of local and federal government. It was not Katrina that did us in, it was the breaking of the levee, which is just a big pile of mud with rebar through it (marvel at the engineering genius).
What are our plans? I just dont know. I do know that its insane to try to avoid harsh weather, its everywhere, snowstorms, tornados, earthquakes, no matter where you are. The premise that Nola shouldnt be rebuilt b/c we'll just flood again is probably the single most ludicrous idea I've ever heard in my life (I'm not slamming you here Shell, its just a thought thats echoed a lot over the last 2 years, and honestly I don't get it). So do we stay or go? I don't know. See, now I'm starting to feel robbed, like, what would my life be like if the storm hadn't come? Would we have a house? A child? Better work? Right now I know that we cannot even come close to affording a house around here, with the way real estate is (if its livable or in a dry neighborhood, it may as well be Beverly Hills). And even if we could afford the loan or house payments, the flood insurance would kill us. There aren't a lot of well-paying jobs and I'm really getting tired of working blue-collar just to barely make ends meet, especially considering I havent even begun to pay back my student loans. I guess, honestly, we're just waiting for something to give. I'm applying for movie work every chance I get. We still have our sights set on Cali, I just feel like it'd be safer for me to have some experience before we head out there. I don't know. Maybe I'm just afraid of the risk. I'd rather starve to death here than there :)

Whew, sorry...floodgates open and all....thanks for the spur, Shell...I need to talk about this stuff, and I really want everyone to understand how things are here, so keep the questions coming, and if I ramble or go off-topic, bear with me :)

Ubatuber said...

I'm thinking now that I'm giving too harsh an impression of the city. For all intents and purposes, the French Quarter is fully functional. We have utilities, we have some of our great restaraunts, bars, and galleries, our museums and zoo & aquarium (after replacing 13000+ fish :(
We are progressing, slowly getting back to new-normal :) Normal but new b/c everything is different....I described it to someone the other day as a sort of 'phantom limb' syndrome...you hear that when a person loses a limb, they still at times feel it there or wake up forgetting that its gone.....I was talking about a game my brother and I used to play as kids, said something like 'its at moms, I'll get it'......oh wait.......

I feel like I'm doing some good for myself by blogging about the bad news, like venting, but I don't want to give a completely negative impression...progress is being made on the human level...now if we could just get new levees built :)

herself said...

Oh, that was helpful to know. So the smart idea then would be to put some real money into building decent levees.

It helped me recently to realize that America has not been about "Patriotism" for many decades, if it ever was built with such pure virtues, but rather is considered by those in its governmental administration to be merely a "Market" for greater wealth and power building. Once I saw that, understanding the mindset, priorities, and behavior of politicians made crystal clear sense!

I agree with you that there is no perfectly safe place to live, so you might as well live where your heart is. I don't feel you and the Lady are there because you are chicken, it's just the culture you two feel most happy--nothing wrong with that.

I don't think your life has been robbed by these events, no matter their cause. I believe your life, as everyone's is, in fact unfolding as it should. Not as a fatalist view, but just an empirical truth.

When you talk about these struggles I am reminded of the many folks before you and Lady Roche who overcame their hardships together and built their lives through their grit and character and ended up all the richer for it. I have every faith in your both for your happy lives.

Ubatuber said...

Thanks Shell.....you're probably right about things unfolding as they should...
My next Katrina post will be more informative, I'll talk about how the city floods and why....

Darkstrider said...

Surely in the wake of Katrina they're planning to build stronger levies?!?!??!? No??

I've always loved the Led Zeppelin song When the Levee Breaks (wow, I don't know how to spell it!) but now it has too much poignancy (Hah! nailed that one, it's worth twice as many points! ...um, I did nail it, didn't I?).

Ubatuber said...

well, theyre still working to rebuild the katrina damaged levees, but there are still miles of levee that didnt break but are just waiting to.....nothing at all has been done about strengthening....

Funny you mention the zeppelin song, i used it for a Katrina montage video that I've been considering posting......