Years ago, while still a grad student, I remember driving through New Orleans and thinking that this is a city where things happen and people move. And then, things did happen and there was devastation. The French Quarter is not how I remember it to be. Now, post-Katrina, this section of town has been cleaned up, designed for tourists, and residents are visitors, performance artists who provide entertainment for a few fleeting hours each night. Older couples dressed in suits + ties and lace dresses wander through the streets, holding hands.
All around, there is street action: dancing, bare bodies (male + female), music and street theater. There is art and life in this city and there is heartache and pain. The devastation caused by Katrina and its aftermath have now become tourist material.
“They don’t want to clean up,” says a taxi cab driver. “Everyone wants to come to our city and see what was destroyed.”