Sunday, September 2, 2007

You can take the looter out of New Orleans..

This post (and the linked article) over at Relapsed Catholic brought back some memories.

My dad visited New Orleans once, years ago. He was headed to dinner at a place about two blocks away; so close that, as he tells it, he could clearly see the steakhouse sign from the hotel lobby, practically smell the beef. Even so, the concierge all but forced him to go by cab - they assured him, if he risked the walk, he would be taking his life in his hands!

And a friend of mine at college told me his family owned part of an apartment building in Texas. After Katrina, the other owners wanted to open the place up as a free shelter for refugees, like other buildings in the neighborhood, but his family refused. They had spent their fair share of time in New Orleans, it seems, and wanted none of it. Sure enough, a year goes by, and the once furious co-owners are falling over themselves to thank the uncharitable holdouts for saving them from the (oh-so-very natural) disaster that has befallen all the other poor, kind-hearted, naive (or perhaps not so naive, but unwilling to appear mean or racist) landlords in the area: property destruction, crime, the usual. Theirs is apparently one of the few buildings in the area that didn't become a dangerous slum.

I'll admit, I don't know if I could turn refugees away myself. I wouldn't exactly have sympathy for those who come begging, but I'd probably welcome 'em, write the building off, and throw another log onto my growing martyr complex. But I certainly won't hold it against those who take a less fatalistic view, who see not Mary and Joseph seeking shelter, but Breau and Broussard seeking silverware, and who decide to close (and lock!) the door.

Incidentally, this reminds me of one of my very last encounters before leaving Cambridge. I was in the bank to close my account, and, to my great bemusement, found myself waiting in line behind one of the local homeless. He hangs out right outside CVS in the Square, and I've given him change a few times. Now here I was in line behind him as he filled out some form and talked to the teller about his apartment. Yes, his apartment. 'Homeless' beggars with bank accounts and bachelor pads - not bad if you can get it!


doctorj2u said...

We had a wonderful meal in the French Quarter last weekend. I had the Seafood Martini as an appetizer, the Gulf fish as an entree, and Creme brulee with fruit as desert. We had wine left over after the meal so we went to the piano bar where a pianist and a trumpet player played New Orleans music for us. It was magical! Afterwards we walked through the Quarter, listening to the music in the clubs and from bands on the street, and closed the night at the Casino. Three middle aged ladies on their own and not a bit of trouble. Try and open your mind beyond the stereotyed prison you have put it in. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

Andrea said...

That's right -- since these ladies had a pleasant meal and a nice time in New Orleans, obviously all the crime and problems in other cities caused by the "refugees" from Katrina must not be happening! Open your mind beyond the prison of reality!

doctorj2u said...

I am a Nola native, living north of the lake. I KNOW the reality and it is a Tale of Two Cities. As long as you are alert (as in any city) and don't try scoring drugs, you are perfectly safe. Stop trying to make NOLA a scarey place. The tourist areas are safe. The neighborhoods, like Central City, are where the murders are occurring. Sorry you feel you have to demonize a whole city. It is an AMAZING place. You are missing out by writing it off.