Saturday, June 03, 2006

Disaster tourism=masochism

Disaster Masters on the job.

Palm Trees @ Harrod's

Man! New Orleans has everything!

Ok, so the normal instinct of any tourist is to fantasize about what it would be like to live in the place they are visiting and having relationships with the elusive 'local.' The conflicting feelings of openess and guardedness in both the visitor and the local are exagerated when facing the stories and frustrations about the rebuilding process in New Orleans. I want to know more, but the more I ask, the more I feel like a voyeur or a celebrity gossip column reader.

The early half of the day was spent in the museum district, seeing a number of poignant exhibitions. The National WWII Museum, or the “D Day” museum, was obviously well funded. Although I was admittedly contextualizing the exhibits, the focus on community efforts on conservation and rebuilding seemed very relevant. Both the Contemporary Art Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art had Katrina themed exhibitions. At the contemporary, it was a show of local artists' work, damaged by the storm and flood. The other was an exhibit of local photographer and prof at LSU, Thomas Neff, called "Come Hell and High Water: Portraits of Hurricane Katrina Survivors." One portrait turned out to be of a museum guard that walked into the exhibit while I was standing there. They had a family party on the Saturday before the storm and decided to ride it out because they were sited on higher ground and the family was already together with plenty of food. During the week they were stuck there, they used the pool in the backyard to cool folks down and stay hygienic. At one point, a news helicopter flew above and saw the blue pool, focused in to see the guard floating in the pool with a beer.

French Quarter.

Mardi Gras bead in drain

At night, I went down to the French Quarter. Absolutely gorgeous, felt like Europe. Walked around for awhile search for Wifi. I was told by several folks that the city had promised city-wide service after Katrina. I was told the closer I got to Decatur, the better the signal. Never got it. I got different stories from folks about it, most seemed incredulous about this ever working reliably, describing it as 'spotty at best.' One person rolled their eyes and called it a 'consolation prize.' Ended up in a bar called One Eyed Jack's who let me use theirs, drank too much vodka and crashed by 9pm. I was woken up by what I can only imagine was a pimped out cruise-mobile by the glass-chandelier-vibrating bass and the reflection of gas lamps in its rims on my hotel room ceiling.


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