Sunday, December 05, 2010
The gods are not crazy
The saints have special favor for Louisiana, New Orleans in particular, and I don't mean the football team. A glance at the television shows me that the Saints are playing the Bengals today, and winning at this point. No surprise. I wonder if the Saints will be in the Super Bowl this year. Evidence of their 2009 victory season is everywhere in this city.
There are two topics of conversation in this city: Katrina and the Saints. Other subjects crop up, don't get me wrong, but if you are an eavesdropper like I am you'll hear talk of these two things more than any other. I shouldn't find this surprising since both are an ongoing presence. The Saints, of course, play every weekend so its natural they should be brought up regularly. I'm used to living in Boston, a sports-obsessed town if there ever was one.
Boston has the Celtics (basketball), the Bruins (hockey), the Red Sox (baseball), and the Patriots (football). New Orleans has the Saints (football) and the Hornets (basketball). I never hear anyone talk about the Hornets. Never. I wonder how the Hornets feel about that.
The federal levee failures that occurred during Hurricane Katrina have been patched and the floodwaters pumped out. The aftershocks are evident everywhere though. Most of the neighborhoods I frequent don't show obvious signs, but if you listen to people talk, as I do (my ears are bent), the psychic effects continue to linger. People talk about where they were and what they did after the storm. They talk about how they rebuilt and how they are still rebuilding. Visit places like Hollygrove or the Ninth Ward, not even the Lower 9th, and you can see the physical wounds to the infrastructure and civic fabric without needing to eavesdrop.
I am at a loss when anyone wants to discuss either subject. I don't follow sports and I wasn't here for the event that unravelled New Orleans' tightly knit tapestry. To me, everything is new and just as it has always been. I get my knowledge of the past city through books and archives. Pre-K New Orleans is viewed only through microfiche. Armed with what I've gleaned, I can say that New Orleans is resilient. Its citizens do not know how to bow. This is a place where funerals are commemorated with parades rather than tearful wakes. It is that never-say-die, never-give-in, never-give-up-hope spirit that inspires me in its turn. I may have what seems a superficial take on things. My newness is my alibi. In time, I will absorb more. More of the city's spirit will fill in the chinks of my own.
New Orleans, despite hardship that would break an innocent's heart, does more than survive. It thrives. Whatever gods may hate Kansas or any other state in the Union, they shower bounty on New Orleans. It is a city of animal spirits afoot and a'prowl. If anything comes easily in New Orleans, it is a smile and a chance to talk about why this is the greatest city on earth. And it is getting better. The proof is everywhere, discussed within earshot of anyone sensible enough to listen. I listen and learn.
Today is the second Sunday of Advent but everyone is thinking about Mardi Gras.
My last post left the impression that I adore all women, and I do. I would much rather spend my time with members of the fairer sex than with men. All shapes, all sizes, all ages; a woman is a wonderful thing rather than a sometime thing. Just to keep my masculine credentials intact, though, here is something that I could watch all day long...
Not much of a New Orleans connection except the saxophones. It is cut and paste electronica rather than the instrumental craft that New Orleans musicians spend lifetimes mastering. Unlike the song, New Orleans' destination is not unknown. The future is brighter and better than anything that has happened before. When you are in New Orleans, you are not far from home. You are there. I am and I am glad for that.