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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

of fatness

I guess tonight was Fat Tuesday. If I were a good Catholic I'd have known that well in advance.

Several weeks after Hurricane Katrina, I attended a fundraiser by and for the Chicago theatre community (to the extent that the "Chicago theatre community" is capable of acting monolithically) it was spearheaded by my friend Jared, a New Orleans native. It was a lovely, moving night, on which I met several New Orleans evacuees, and we shared some laughter and some tears and some alcoholic beverages. There was a storyteller there, an evacuee who spoke some lovely words about his home city, about it's historical resilience, how it had endured disaster before and would again he defiantly proclaimed that they *would* return home and that they *would* hold Mardi Gras come the Spring. There was a standing ovation, and I found myself drunkenly (and tearily) shouting a promise that I would be there.

At the time I think I sort of meant it.

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Replies: 1 Comment

Rory, as you know, I lived in Louisiana for a little over six years. The office mate of a friend of mine who now lives in Baltimore told this friend that there was really no point in coming to New Orleans at this point. Outside of the French Quarter and much of the CBD (downtown), there are a lot of places still essentially devastated. A tourist could have gone down for Mardi Gras, gotten some beads, get drunk on Bourbon Street, and get their pocket picked; pretty much comprising a pre-Katrina visit to New Orleans. There has been a lot of criticism that the city held Mardi Gras in light of the death and destruction. Unfortunately, these people don't get it. Your friend Jared knew in September that the city would find a way to hold Mardi Gras. Besides the fact that the city absolutely depends on Carnival for its tax base and tourism industry, the residents needed it so they could know that this is eventually going to be OK. You have no idea how devastating it would have been to people to know that Mardi Gras was cancelled. People who relocated after Katrina would no doubt assume that the city is still in shambles. In some places, it still is, but progress is being made slowly but surely. What better way to show it than what New Orleans does best?

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