Tuesday, December 25, 2007

You Loot
You Die...

And a Merry Christmas from New Orleans!

The Bonzos are here visiting Mr. B.'s sister, who currently lives in DC, but was a long time NO resident. Her son and daughter are in town for the holidays. Last night we had the traditional red and green Christmas Eve dinner, then church at Trinity. Today is the Christmas gathering of the clan for turkey at Dave's - the father of the Bonzo nephew and niece.

So far we have pigged out as only can be done in New Orleans, where it is difficult to find a bad meal. On a day in the country we hit a couple of plantations and a fancy house. We stopped at a very modest–looking roadhouse for lunch & were treated to huge steaming platters of outstanding gumbo that featured homemade andouille (an-DOU-ee) sausage. The waitress was a pretty young girl who spoke French-inflected English, a remnant of the Acadians from Canada who settled here in the 18th century. The rightly-painted creole plantation was very poignant & had the original slave quarters in the back. These shacks were lived in by farm workers as recently as 1974. The plantation that was more traditional in appearance – enormous white house w/ columns in front & two stories of porch around three sides – was a gas. It was owned by a single guy who loved his dogs, to the point of staging a “dog wedding” as a housewarming, complete w/ wedding gown for one, little tuxedo for the other, & peanut butter applied to each muzzle to ensure a post-vow “kiss.” Mrs. B. is a fan of house museums and may even do her next book on them, so she trots Mr. Bonzo around to view them every chance she gets (this is usually fun).

We visited a friend of Mr. B's sister who has recently moved into a new (to her) house after her former house was totally wiped by Katrina. She is now living in a nice house that had to be stripped to the studs & is still being restored. An acquaintance of her son drove down from Nevada with a U-Haul full of furniture to help stock the house. The neighborhood she has moved to is about half occupied, but has the appearance of being on the way back to normalcy. We took a Grayline bus tour of the hurricane damage & saw other areas that were still very desolate, including acres of concrete slabs where once stood houses & apartment blocks, plus empty shopping malls, churches, gas stations & even an abandoned library. One of the houses had the title of this post spray painted on it. We saw hundreds of houses with the x'd out circle and notations indicating when the house was visited during rescue operations & what they found there – “Dog inside” or “H2D” (two humans dead). Chopped out roofs are still to be seen as well as many burned out and abandoned houses.

But on the whole the city looked very tidy & there were no huge piles of trash. Some houses were decorated quite lavishly for Christmas. Mr. B. is friends with a couple who are, respectively, the chairs of the chemistry department at Xavier and the University of New Orleans. They were forced to evacuate and relocate as a result of Katrina, but they have both moved back. Unfortunately, Dave was the victim of an attempted armed robbery a couple of days ago. This happened at 6 am in front of his home. So, it can still be pretty dangerous here. But the city has an unquenchable spirit & recovery is well on its way, which was very good to see.

Mr. B's nephew has recently graduated from law school, passed the bar, and is currently working for an admiralty law firm. His education was interrupted by Katrina but he was fortunate to be taken in by the Georgetown law school for a term. He is committed to making his life in New Orleans and has even managed to talk his girlfriend into coming down to NO to go to grad school.

Life goes on. Best to all.

The Bonzos in New Orleans