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I was awoken around midnight Monday morning to the sounds of an impromptu second line parade making it's way down my street. The group of about 100 revelers started to turn the corner away from my house but doubled-back and continued down my street when they saw me come out and dance to the music on my front stoop. There have been a few other parades down my street before, but never one this late at night and with this many people. It was pretty awesome.
Today, 436 days after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the final broken traffic light between my house and the interstate has been repaired. Coincidentally, most of the missing street signs (and one-way signs) in my neighborhood were also replaced today. I told everyone that I was going to have a huge party at my house once all of the lights between my house and the interstate were fixed. Due to some work travel and Thanksgiving travel, I am probably going to have to delay the party for a few weeks. Look here in the coming weeks for a date.
Shortly after Katrina flooded NOLA, many people began talking about how there would be a silver lining to the whole mess: the school system would be rebuilt from the ground up, housing projects would be turned into mixed-income utopias, the corrupt government officials would be voted out of office, etc. Well 1 year later little of this has come to be: our school system is still a mess, the crack dealers have already moved back into the section-8 apartment by my house, and good old Nagin is still Our Mayor (TM).
I knew that things would return to the status quo after the storm, but I also knew that another entirely different silver lining was coming. I knew that the Mexicans would be coming, and with them would come good, cheap Mexican restaurants and good, cheap cheese dip (something New Orleans has never had). At first there were just people selling tacos and tamales out of the backs of pickup trucks. Next came the taqueira wagons (aka Roach Coaches), the kitchens on wheels that sold tacos like the ice-cream-man sells fudgesicles. I smiled, but I knew that there was more to come. Yesterday I saw a banner atop one of the gutted shells of a business alongside I-10 in New Orleans East: "Coming soon. El (name_not_important) Mexican Restaurant". This will be just one of many. Dozens more El (name_not_important) Mexican Restaurants and Los (name_not_important) Mexican Restaurants will go up before the recovery of our city is over. Soon the streets will flow with crack cheese, and it will be good.
On my way to work the last three mornings in a row I have seen a cop try to kill himself. So far he has been unsuccessful. The scene unfolds like this: Right before S. Claiborne becomes an on-ramp for I-10 at MLK Blvd there is a very wierd intersection involving three traffic lights in a row. Two of these three lights only have space for one car to stop in each lane (i.e. if another car tried to stop behind the first car they would be in the middle of the intersection for the previous traffic light). Because of this wierdness most people floor-it once the first light turns yellow in order not to get stuck in the middle of an intersection. As a consequence many cars end up running at least one of the lights.
Well the NOPD has decided that this presents too good of a money-making opportunity for them to pass up, so for the last three workdays in a row there has been an officer waiting at the end of the intersection ready to ticket the cars that run any of the lights. This seems all well and good except that the officer is on foot. That's right: this guy jumps over the guardrail into the middle of a three-lane on-ramp, puts out his hands, and pulls over two, three, even SIX cars at a time. He's almost caused dozens of multi-car accidents yet has somehow managed not to get himself killed.
I don't know if he should be fired or given a medal...
For anyone curious as to why the city of New Orleans needs the National Guard to come down and patrol flooded areas, I now have the answer: It's so that the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Department can sit on Tchoupitoulas and radar people. Because everyone knows that giving speeding tickets on Tchoupitoulas St. is certainly more important than going one block over and arresting the drug dealers, crackheads, and murderers that prowl Annunciation. I'd say this is just one more reason to consolidate the offices of Criminal and Civil Sheriff (along with about fifty billion other useless public offices in New Orleans). So remember folks: Vote early, vote often, and always vote against the incumbent.
After the McCoy Tyner Trio tonight I saw a taxi cab with spinner rims. Less then 10 minutes later I saw the bartender at the Circle Bar pick up a live cockroach with his bare hands and throw it at a couple of lesbians sitting at the bar, who then proceded to run away screaming. Interesting night...
Sometimes I really think I should invest in a cameraphone...