A Message from The King
This is the text of an e-mail sent to Krewe du Vieux members from our 2006 king, Walter Williams. Walter is a native New Orleanian and the creator of Mr. Bill. For all you youngsters, Mr. Bill was a claymation character made famous on the early seasons of Saturday Night Live. Walter is a cool, down-to-earth guy who loves New Orleans and has not gone Hollywood nor let his royalty go to his head in any way. He agrees with me that it is a great time to visit New Orleans, or for locals to visit the places that are usually packed with tourists. This whole situation seems to have split people into “lovers” and “haters” of New Orleans. The people who are visiting our city right now are “lovers,” and it shows. King Walter commands everyone to invite their friends to New Orleans.
If you want to help New Orleans, don’t send money to the Red Cross or United Way, get your butt down here and have a blast. You’ll be contributing money directly to people who desperately need it this summer; the small local businesses, restaurants, galleries, antique shops, night clubs, ¦the core of what makes New Orleans unique and the foundation of the economic recovery.
If money actually does arrive someday from the Federal government, it won’t be until at least fall or winter. Many of these local businesses won’t make it until then, so they are totally dependent on visitors this summer. And from the look of things here in the Quarter today, (6/04) they’re coming. Cafe Dumonde was packed and that’s a great barometer.
This summer is a great time to visit. Sure it’s hot and humid (what the Tourism Commission refers to as sultry) but it won’t be too busy, so you can have the run of the place. You can stay at a first class hotel or quaint B&B in the Quarter or the Garden District, dine at a five star restaurant or grab some beans and rice in a neighborhood diner. And the music here is as fantastic as ever and everywhere. Then you can take a five minute cab ride over to the world famous 9th ward and witness utter devastation. You’ll then be a qualified messenger to bring your experience back home across America. I know this sounds like a broken record, but there is no way to comprehend the scope of the catastrophe without actually seeing it and driving through the miles and miles of broken ghost towns.
But people in this town are gritty and have retained their unique humor. If this had happened anywhere else, people would be suing each other, fist fights, cannibalism. I went to two neighborhood festivals yesterday in devastated areas and they carried on as if nothing had happened. There was no electricity, but they ran a generator so there could be live music. Mikhail Gorbachev’s Green Cross organization opened a resource center here yesterday to help people rebuild in a green and smart way. The opening was packed. NOMA, the museum in City Park, opened a Katrina photo exhibit which is highly praised and attracting droves, and thousands of Saints fans packed the practice field to get a first look at Reggie Bush; finally a Bush that might save New Orleans.
Things are coming together and if we can catch a break this hurricane season, this place will explode this winter and next year. Even if we do get some flooding in the neighborhoods already destroyed, it will only help focus the rebuilding plans and may lead to returning some areas to their natural state, wetlands, which would serve as an area to drain flooding into. Now if a cat 5 comes barreling in, then all bets are off, but at least everyone will be evacuated this time and no one should get hurt. But let’s all toss some gris gris and hope for the best.
This town broke is still more interesting than anywhere else, so don’t be bashful, come spend some money and have the time of your life. You can’t take this place for granted anymore, so get it while it’s hot.
Peace and love to all.
Please pass this on to anyone still figuring out what to do this summer.