Monday, November 20, 2006

New Orleans . . . beginning to recover, but only beginning

I did a quick trip to New Orleans over the weekend.  Landed at 2:30 Friday afternoon, and flew out 7:15 Sunday morning.  I was at a conference doing some recruiting (again), but got to drive around town just a little bit.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to Chalmette, where I was able to spend Spring Break with our college students earlier this year.  Still, the parts of town I went through were significantly under water and significantly damaged by Katrina.  New Orleans continues to be in shambles.  But one definite difference I noticed was that as opposed to 6 months after the fact, there are now lots and lots of the FEMA trailers sitting in front of peoples' houses, indicating that they're back on their property and at least in a process toward rebuilding.  More grocery stores are open and looking normal, more restaurants around town are in business, more cars on the roads.

I booked my hotel the cheapskate way, through Priceline, so I didn't pick the location, but I ended up downtown, one block away from the west end of Bourbon Street.  On my previous trip, I spent zero time there, so I walked down there to look around on Friday night.  Gross.  Now, I'm not being a moralistic, pious, judgemental guy when I say that - I'm just saying that it was a big big turnoff.  I guess drunk people who think they're either hot, funny, tough, or horny just don't impress me all that much.  Honestly, that place made me think of how very classy Las Vegas is by comparison.  I only walked about three blocks in, and turned around - it really reminded me of the party scene in Tijuana, where I spent a little time in high school.

It was weird, though, because on Saturday night, when I stepped out to grab a sandwich for dinner, I began walking the opposite direction from Bourbon Street, but was drawn back that way by the sounds of a brass band.  There, on the corner of Canal and Bourbon, were a couple trumpets, a couple trombones, a tuba, a tenor sax, and some drums, being played like there's no tomorrow - really fun stuff, with a ton of gusto.  After watching that, I walked back down the street and found a little cafe to buy a PoBoy, and they, too, had a little band - dixie style this time.  It was much earlier in the evening than I had been on the street the night before, so people weren't quite sloppy drunk yet.  My impression of the scene was improved a little.  Still wouldn't go there for anything I'd call fun, but at least I didn't come back home with only negative memories of it all.

After having been to New Orleans twice this year now, I still have mixed feelings about the whole scene there.  There are still incredibly tangible racial tensions around town, still so much devastation everywhere you look, so much of life built around feeding the vices of tourists.  But there are still people who love their hometown, and the community they've been a part of, and they're still fighting for dignity with courage.  Those people know how to survive, even when they've been abandoned (or maybe because they've been abandoned).  I wish them well.

When I returned to the quiet of my hotel room, I flipped on the TV, and found the HBO Comic Relief show, taking place (in part) live, from the very street I was just on minutes prior.

I'm glad to be back home - the only travel I've got left this year is actually with Michelle (imagine that).

posted by Steve at 8:26 AM
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I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

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