Theyʼre Rip­ping Up Bour­bon Street!

El Dorado News-Times - - Opinion -

Yes, they are, and I’m not ex­ag­ger­at­ing this time. Block af­ter block of the ac­tual street paving from curb to curb is be­ing taken up, and a large sec­tion of Bour­bon Street has chain-link fenc­ing cov­ered with black cloth for sev­eral blocks. While we were there re­cently, we watched the street be­ing ripped up by large back­hoes. The side­walks are still there, and all the stores, restau­rants, and bars. How­ever, the street with the back­hoes and chain link fenc­ing takes away some of the New Or­leans French Quar­ter mys­tique.

Well, you just might think a sewage line put in about the time An­drew Jack­son was bat­tling the Brits might need re­plac­ing, and you would be right un­less you want the French Quar­ter to float off to the Mis­sis­sippi River in a flood of sewage. Well, we were try­ing to have a late lunch at Gala­toire’s Restau­rant, and had to walk two blocks around the fenc­ing just to get there. Of course, a trip to Bour­bon Street is on most folks lists of things to do when in the Big Easy, and I can tell you that the con­struc­tion is go­ing to put a crimp in a lot of folk’s trip.

Ver­tis and I went to New Or­leans on our hon­ey­moon, and since then we’ve been back many times. Yes, things have changed, but Crys­tal Ham­burg­ers is still there, which is where we ate sev­eral times on our hon­ey­moon. How­ever, on our last trip, when I sug­gested we have din­ner there, you know, for old times’ sake, I got a frosty stare and a com­ment that wouldn’t be al­lowed on a TV talk show Un­less it was Jerry Springer. But let’s don’t talk about food ex­cept to say, I think New Or­leans has the best food in the good old USA. It re­ally hard to find bad food in New Or­leans. But other than food, why do we south­ern­ers flock to the Big Easy?

I think most south­ern­ers go to New Or­leans to get

away from the day to day bore­dom that is the real south. Ac­tu­ally, I kinda like be­ing bored­most of the time, but a cou­ple of times a year, I get the urge to es­cape., and we head for New Or­leans, which is al­most al­ways hot and muggy, and it’s lit­tle dan­ger­ousuh, maybe a lit­tle more than a lit­tle­don’t go by your­self for a mid­night ceme­tery walk.

Of course there’s Mardi Gras, and I think ev­ery­one should go at least once. That prob­a­bly enough for at least 95% of us. I’ve been, and yes, the floats are amaz­ing. Of course ev­ery­one wants to catch some beads, and I have still have a sack full from my trip. You will find out the beads lose some of their at­trac­tive­ness when you get back home. You can’t even give them away. But if you re­ally want some beads—and this for guys—-gals al­ways get beads thrown at them, but who is go­ing to throw beads at some nerdy guy from Smack­over. no­body, not even the drunks on the floats. Guys need a gim­mick. First, it will help if you are over six feet tall and have long arms to go with that height. This is what you do: look for great look­ing, and this is im­por­tant short girls, and stand right be­hind them. You will be able to pick off the over­thrown beads thrown by drunk float rid­ers, and un­less the beads are thrown at the gor­geous girl’s feet you will be able to catch them be­fore they do. Well, if that seems a lit­tle crass to you, here’s an­other way. Just get a base­ball cap that says some­thing for­eign like Canada in big let­ters, and point to it when the drunk float throw­ers come by. For­eign tourists are go­ing to get 10 times the beads a red­neck from Boca Chita is go­ing to get.

But New Or­leans is a dif­fer­ent than the city where we went for our hon­ey­moon, and I think for the bet­ter. On our last trip we no­ticed a big change is in the mak­ing. It’s an ac­cel­er­ated move back into the cen­ter of town. Of course, folks have al­ways lived in the French Quar­ter, but ad­ja­cent to the Quar­ter around Mag­a­zine Street where it in­ter­sects Poy­dras Street, there is an up­per floor res­i­den­tial build­ing boom tak­ing place. It’s dif­fi­cult to walk down that street, which is to­ward the World War Two Mu­seum, Eme­rial’s Restau­rant, Peche Seafood Restau­rant, and about 20 other great night spots, bars, and clubs be­cause of the blocked off side­walks for build­ing con­struc­tion. Sev­eral multi-floor new build­ings are go­ing up, and scads of up­per floor re­mod­el­ing into apart­ments is un­der way.

Ac­tu­ally, as I travel to al­most every ma­jor city, I see a ‘back to the city cen­ter’ mi­gra­tion tak­ing place. It makes a lot of sense, and it does two very pos­i­tive things: Of course it cuts sev­eral hours a day off a per­son’s com­mut­ing time, but it also is the best way to ren­o­vate Amer­ica’s down­towns. Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, each new res­i­dent brings as much as $ 50,000 per year in gross sales to down­town busi­nesses. Adding peo­ple to a down­town guar­an­tees a re­vived and ac­tive down­town.

Of course, there is a lot more than eat­ing and drink­ing to a New Or­leans visit. That’s prob­a­bly a sur­prise to some peo­ple. So for the sip­pers and tee­to­talers, here’s a few things to do: Be sure to visit the Zoo, to see the won­der­ful gi­ant Live Oaks and the flock of Flamin­gos, and they do have a bunch of other an­i­mals, but the Live Oaks and Flamin­gos are the rea­son to go. Of course, the Aquar­ium is a must and then take in the ad­join­ing IMAX Theater, where you can see Hur­ri­cane on The Bayou——great doc­u­ment about Ka­t­rina, and while you in the area you can shop the big dis­count mall called River­Walk. I picked up three Tommy Ba­hamas $80 shirts for $29 each.

Well that’s my quick take on the Big Easy, and if we’ll re­ally be hon­est, New Or­leans is re­ally not part of the South, it’s an ap­pendage to the south that has evolved as a tonic for bored and hun­gry South­ern­ers.

Richard H. Ma­son of El Do­rado is a syn­di­cated colum­nist and au­thor and for­mer pres­i­dent of the Arkansas Wildlife Fed­er­a­tion and the state Pol­lu­tion Con­trol & Ecol­ogy Com­mis­sion.

Richard Ma­son

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