A Couple of Revelations
A few days ago I was talking to a friend of mine who lives on the north shore. She was asking me all kinds of questions about how the city is doing and what it is like these days. She was asking me things like: “Are things open downtown?” “Are the street vendors and street performers back in The Quarter?” I was really shocked that this particular person would be asking me these questions, because before the storm she was constantly over here on the south shore going out, shopping, and visiting friends. Now it seems she almost never comes to the city.
Then Friday I was in Barnes and Noble picking up a last minute gift for Father’s Day when I stuck up a conversation with a nice couple from Harahan about a book full of Katrina related photos. While I was chatting with them, the lady received a phone call from her son. Apparently he is home from college for the Summer. It sounded like he was telling his mother that he was going to be going out downtown that night. I think she just about flipped out. She told her son that it was far too dangerous to be “out after dark in the city.” I know that after the 5 murders Friday night her concern might seem a little more justified, but this conversation occurred before that. Besides, the violent crimes are not really occurring in the kinds of places that I would expect her college aged son to frequent. If her son is planning to go down to Central City for a good time on a Friday night, then she has some bigger issues to worry about.
In both situations I was completely shocked by the lack of knowledge these people really had about what is going on in the city. These were people who live relatively close to the city, yet it appears that they have made little or no effort to really know what is going on down here. It makes me feel like New Orleans is becoming this little island and outsiders just don’t care about us anymore.
Another revelation I had this past weekend came when some friends of mine who have moved away from New Orleans came back for a wedding. A couple of them kept making comments like: “Its weird to see houses in this neighborhood boarded up right next to ones that are fully occupied.” And “Wow, I can’t believe how much garbage is piled up on the side of the street!” These comments were made in an area that I consider completely repopulated in uptown (Burthe and Cherokee). I realized that there are certain things that I am beginning to no longer notice. Things that should not be normal in an American city, but my brain is starting to interpret them as normal. I don’t think this is a good thing. I am not the only one this is happening to, am I?