I Saw the Sign; Ace of Base for Mayor

I went to Natchez Mississippi again for the second time in a year. The last time I went there, the city seemed deserted. I noticed how that city is like a mini New Orleans with houses and architecture that actually predate our own. Where are the people? Where and when did they go away? What caused the mass exodus of citizens from a bustling river port from the turn of the century? The city of Natchez is a truly beautiful town that has been stopped in some sort of time warp. It seems like such a waste that a town so pristine with hundreds of empty turn of the century store fronts would not have been rediscovered by hipsters or the Gay/Lesbian community and completely taken over. The real estate is rock bottom cheap.You can buy a home built in the 1870’s for a little over $100,000.

We talked to a few locals, both regular Joes and business owners and they said Natchez had been that way for as long as they can remember. It’s the kind of town that makes your financial eyes get huge. You start to think of how if you moved there you could start up new companies and change the town’s outlook and make it the bustling commercial monster it once was. That single idea made me think of New Orleans. I looked at Natchez the way I should have been looking at home. Both cities used to be economic engines and for some reason began to fall down a path that made the big money boys turn and walk away from it. The only difference is that Natchez is a blank slate. There would be no rebuilding required. Everything is there, you just have to move in and use it.

We all know what New Orleans is up against, so I don’t have to write about that. I stayed in Natchez for two days. Those two days were long enough. I realized I could not possibly live in a place with very little sense of culture. Maybe it was there but I didn’t see it. I’m not knocking Natchez, it is quiet and friendly and that may be how people there like it, but there was no activity to speak of. Could you imagine going down to the quarter and having only one car parked on every block? That is how it was there. It made me realize that we are city people and the only city I could think of living in is here. I’m already where I want to be.

Going back to my statement of wanting to go to Natchez and change it for the better, I had an empathetic moment. I know I make fun and attack all of the dirty hippies and the hipsters and the Dudley Do Right activists who come down here to make a life for themselves, but I came to the realization that those people feel about New Orleans how I felt about Natchez. We natives live here our entire lives and our view of the city may be slightly skewed. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to come in and give you their perspective. We fear change here, but I believe it is time to think way way out of the box and let someone else figure it out. The rest of the world is using Blue Ray discs and we are buying up all the cassette tapes if you know what I mean.

I say we let the modular homes and the land barons come in and see what they can do. It won’t take away from the truest aspect of the city that makes it what it is. The people are the ones that make it a home, not the architecture. This guy is building a giant double high rise on Jefferson Highway and along the river road. Bring it on. So maybe no one can afford to live there but at least it looks nice. He is taking an old battered area of Riverbend and changing it for the better. I think we need more of this. We need a lot more of this.

We’ll have to wait another three years until Nagin is out of office and people from Colorado can’t vote here anymore, but I think the City can be what it once was. We just have to stop being so goddamn stubborn and look to changing the future as a good thing and not a culture killer. We have to get politicians who do nothing out of office and give forward thinking people a chance. We have to make decisions about things that may make some people unhappy. Why is the city still covered in filth? Crank up the bulldozers and bring in the dumpsters. It is time to start the ball rolling. I’m sorry, but if you know you’re not coming back, let the people who still live here take care of business. We need to hold the government and the charitable organizations accountable for the money they spend and what they use it for. Politicians don’t want to make hard decisions because they need to be re-elected. They are responsible for where we are now. It’s been long enough, do something or step down.

Peace out suckas

Hail Ming!

8 Comments so far

  1. Ann (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 2:51 pm

    Natchez has culture – it’s just hidden away. ;-) Actually, there are some hipsters who are doing exactly what you suggest, but it’s a gradual process. Some friends have gotten behind an Art and Folk festival in the early fall. They had some amazing musical acts in 2006 and sime very talented local artisans. The Balloon Races in the fall are cool. They have an opera festival and a literary festival thingy headed by Greg Iles, best-selling author who is a native. They have a Thai restaurant now. There are bars and bistros and stuff – you just have to know where to look. Bikers love Natchez – you can usually find them Under The Hill.

    You are right about needing a new perspective. If you are intersted in investing in Natchez, let me know. I can hook you up with some people who are trying to turn it around.


  2. Jack Ware (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

    It’s nice to hear that from a native. Since I’m not from here I am frequently discounted with statements like “you wouldn’t feel that way if you grew up here”. I hate that. I’m very pro-technology/pro-progress. And I’ve never understood why it is so difficult for people to accept the idea that things can change and be made better without sacrificing the things that really matter. Think of all the things we can do without: poverty, poor education, few job opportunities, low wages, crime, shitty streets, generations living on welfare, politicians….etc

    Would any of these things be missed? How exactly does illiteracy work into the culture of New Orleans other than as a contributing factor in crime, poverty, and a lack of job opportunities?

    I’ve never understood the fundamental fear of change in this city but I suppose that’s just because I didn’t grow up here…lol

  3. Carl (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 7:11 pm

    “Hail Ming”?


  4. Paulp (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 10:06 pm


    Please translate, I am not atuned to internet lingo other than LOL. Thanks

  5. Paulp (unregistered) on February 20th, 2007 @ 10:20 pm

    Ann, I saw the Thai Restaurant. We went to a place across the street instead. I was told it was owned by a guy from New Orleans. The patio area looked like Pat O’s so I guess it’s true. We went to the King’s Tavern as well. It reminded me of Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. I didn’t see the ghost when I went upstairs.

    I really do like the place, but I think I would have to let someone else start the turnaround before I would ever move there. I would recommend it for anyone living in New Orleans who needs a weekend getaway for less than $400 or $5oo bucks.
    It’s quiet and a nice change from the bullshit here.

    There is an abandoned theatre right next to the new orleans place that would make an awesome “Prytania theatre” type of thing. The old facade is still there just like every other building downtown. I like the fact that they didn’t allow their old houses and buildings get demolished by progress.

    Maybe a few years down the road, I might look into some weekend property up there. Maybe they can get some tourist airtime and promote it to people down here as a refuge from the daily grind. I say we band together and make it our sister city so we can hotel discounts or something. It truly is like stepping back into the antebellum south.

  6. Ann (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 6:14 am

    The theater I think is being used by a friend of mine for storage – he was gutting it a few years ago in hopes of convertin git to a live music venue, but he’s doing it all out of pocket so things move slowly. The New Orleans place was going to be a pizza/beer garden – I think New Orleans works better. By all means talk it up – I’ll mnetion you comments to our friends next time we’re down. It’ll make them feel all warm and fuzzy. ;-)


  7. Jack Ware (unregistered) on February 21st, 2007 @ 8:30 am

    ROTFLMAO = Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off

  8. PHiL (unregistered) on February 24th, 2007 @ 11:59 am

    “The rest of the world is using Blue Ray discs and we are buying up all the cassette tapes if you know what I mean”… This just about sums it up :)

    Perhaps we should move to Natchez or maybe the planet Mongo.

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