New Orleans: Proud to Swim Home

Here we are in New Orleans! While the official VM fiancee was getting her test-run on hair and makeup, the official VM father-in-law-to-be & I took the official VM nephew-to-be to Lakeside Mall to pass the time. While there, we saw “Katrina Ridge,” a holiday train-set display based on post-Katrina New Orleans.

The little houses had blue tarps on their roofs. Some had little trees smashing them. Tiny graffitoed refrigerators were in litter-strewn front yards. Military Hummers and police cars were parked next to the train tracks, while the trains carried construction equipment and planks of wood. A toy helicopter circled above the set, two or three evacuees dangling from it by a string.

According to the sign beside the display, there was a community uproar over the display, so the mall had it dismantled.

Then there was a community uproar over the dismantling, so the mall decided to put it back up on display. The mall included a cross section of e-mails that they received. It seemed that a lot of people who had to swim out of the city were tougher than they were sensitive. I’m glad the mall restored the display.

I took about 10 million pix of the display, which I’ll post at my flickr site as soon as I’m home. (Here they are!)

After womenfolk rejoined us, we headed into New Orleans so we could meet with the rep from the venue where we’re getting married. We got to the French Quarter early, so we walked for a little bit.

There were plenty more people around this time than during our visit in October. The street-vendors have started to return to Jackson Square, and more street musicians were playing their tunes. I asked the parents-in-law-to-be if they’d mind if we checked out Faulkner House Books, the used bookstore in Pirate’s Alley (arr!). There was no sign of its existence last time we were here, but I was very gratified to find that it’s open and perfectly fine now.

Walking to the alley, I told Amy that I’d buy a copy of Confederacy of Dunces if the store had reopened. I asked the proprietor how they were affected by the storm. He said that the store wasn’t damaged, but that there wasn’t exactly any business around, so they closed for almost two months.

I ended up picking up two more books that I could’ve bought a lot more cheaply on Amazon, but I figure these guys deserve my business.

We had our meetup about the wedding arrangements, which went well. There are a couple of things I’ve procrastinated on, but we only have about 11 weeks left, so I’ve gotta get a move on.

The parking lot next to the venue was filled with federal vehicles and tents, just like in October. I was a little worried that the lot might not be available when we’re having the wedding, so I asked the manager of the venue what the story is.

“Well,” she said, “the feds said they were going to be out by Dec. 15. But about a week before that, I noticed they were putting Christmas decorations up around their tents. So the current story is that they’ll be out by January 15.”

After the meeting, we (Amy & I & the parents-in-law-to-be) headed to Café Du Monde for coffee and beignets. The place was packed, and it was just beautiful. I mean, Du Monde was still closed when we came in October, and there are so many things that I’m afraid will never come back, so I was ecstatic to see a café full of people, chattering away.

UPDATE:

Pictures from Katrina Ridge

Pictures from the French Quarter

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