I wrote the following while I was on my way to New Orleans last Thursday and thought I’d throw it out to the Internets to see how you like it. It’s been edited, but mostly it was my gut reaction as we flew toward the Crescent City…
I oftentimes forget that people travel to New Orleans because of its history. And it is a city very rich with history. Unfortunately, thatâ€™s been tainted by years and years of poverty piled on top of the effects of Hurricane Katrina.
The first time was in 1993. I remember the year because we went for the Final Four. Kansas was playing in one of the most stacked final weekends of the tournament ever, with Michigan, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Kansas lost their semifinal game to the Tarheels, who were led by Eric Montross.
North Carolina went on to win the National Championship, defeating Michigan in a game that would go down in infamy as the one where Chris Webber called a timeout at the end of the game that the Wolverines didnâ€™t have, resulting in a game-sealing technical foul.
What I remember of New Orleans from when I was 16 was really more the spectacle than anything. I remember traveling to the Tulane campus with David Rowe and visiting Frankie & Johnnyâ€™s for my first experience with crawfish. We saw Bourbon Street and the debauchery in all its glory on the first night, the streets packed with fans from all four schools milling around from bar to bar, from strip club to strip club, drinking and generally just making asses out of themselves.
We toured the French quarter during the day, which is really when people should see it. Bourbon Street is too much to take, but the rest of the quarter is intriguing, filled with art shops and tarot card readers along the streets.
I was reminded of this New Orleans today as I sat on the plane returning to the city that Iâ€™ve grown to dislike very much. It is rich with history, sure, but the smell of sewage in the city casts an overwhelming. Iâ€™ve not been back since Hurricane Katrina hit and Iâ€™m interested to see whatâ€™s been done to overcome that tragedy.
The woman across the small plane from me was sifting through her â€œWalking Tour Guideâ€ and other assorted New Orleans tourism maps and such. She reminded me that some people (myself not included) still visit this city at the mouth of the Mississippi because itâ€™s fascinating. There really is a lot to see if you want to find it. You just have to ignore the smells and the other negative things that go along with a city that has endured what New Orleans has.
This is my fifth trip to the city. While my first experience was amazing, being led around by a former native, going to the Final Four, etc., my following experiences (outside of the amazing food) have been less than stellar. Thereâ€™s no reason I could point to particularly…I just remember the city being dirty and less impressive with each additional viewing.
Now I realize that like I said earlier, what I donâ€™t like about New Orleans is that it seems like a city with a lot of potential, but it just canâ€™t get it together. Something horrible happened to the city, but the government has thrown TONS of money there, but it still is a ways from being right again and I donâ€™t know if it ever will be because the people in charge have about as much of a clue as to how to run a city as those running Kansas City, Missouri proper.
Either way, I just donâ€™t see myself ever going back there to visit. Iâ€™ll go when I absolutely have to for a conference or whatever, but Iâ€™m not going to voluntarily go back. It would take some serious motivation for me to do so.