Made it home safe and sound yesterday afternoon, but the final approach was a bit shaky. By which I mean, the plane was wobbling from side to side for the last 10 minutes before we touched down. I pounded a G&T at the terminal bar to steady the old nerves, then Amy & I headed over to baggage claim.
The Christmas-day exchange of presents was kinda funny. Amy told her parents that they could shop for me off my Amazon wish list, but I think they misunderstood her and bought nearly everything off my wish list. When they first checked out my list (and hers), they told her, “But you guys only have books and CDs on your list!”
Not anymore! It became a running joke on Sunday afternoon, as I opened package of books after package of books:
Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Robert Caro’s biography of Robert Moses, The Power Broker
Robert Bruegmann’s Sprawl: A Compact History
Robert Strassler’s Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, for when I feel like redelving into that subject.
Her father said, “That oughtta keep you occupied for a week or so.”
Now, I was mighty appreciative of all the books (on top of the aforementioned copy of Black Hole), as well as the 5-quart stand mixer, but the problem arose the next day, as we began packing. We started to consider shipping all the books home (including the stuff I bought at Faulker House, and the Sam Cooke bio I just finished, and the copy of Little, Big that I brought down, as well as the multiple books that Amy received), before a severe redistribution of clothes, toiletries, etc., enabled us to get all the books into our one suitcase. Fortunately, Amy’s clothes don’t take up too much space. All I brought with me on the flight was The Future and Its Enemies and the Jane Jacobs book.
At the terminal yesterday morning, we discovered that the suitcase weighed more than 60 lbs., which should’ve led to a $25 overweight charge. Fortunately, they waived the fee because of my Elite status on Continental. Then we were allowed to cut into the security line, right in front of some crippled kids and nuns. Yay!
On Monday, we returned to the French Quarter, got more beignets at Cafe Du Monde, and walked around for a while. Plenty of people were out walking; nowhere near pre-Katrina numbers, but it was still heartening to see so many people vacationing there.
That led us to wonder about who’s choosing to go. Were they people who’d booked their trips pre-Katrina, or did they decide to go after, to boost the economy (and find cheap deals)? We should’ve asked, but we’re morons, so hey.
Instead, we bought cheap T-shirts at a souvenir shop! We picked up a couple of “I (Heart) NO” shirts, a NOPD (Not Our Problem Dude) shirt and a great one that read “I Stayed in New Orleans for Katrina and all I got was This Lousy T-Shirt, a New Cadillac and a Plasma TV.” How could we resist? If you heard some of the stories about how people are spending their FEMA money, you’d blanch.
And that’s about all I have to report on. The Quarter looks like it’s doing okay, but I can’t say anything about the rest of the city. I still don’t know how they’ll manage to get people to move back, and how they can jump start any industry besides tourism in NO,LA. Amy & I entertained some idle thoughts about what it would take for us to move down there, but were stumped as to what sort of city it could possibly become.
Maybe some of the books on my new reading list will help me answer that question.
(Update: Witold Rybczynski at Slate just posted a piece about this subject)