Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My one and only Katrina post.

A snippet from a report in yesterday's (UK) Guardian perfectly encapsulated what I love about New Orleans:

After the storm passed, police circled the quarter with bullhorns shouting: "The French Quarter is closed. This is state of emergency. Please, please get off the streets or you will be detained."

But that couldn't dampen the indomitable spirit of one of the nation's most famous - and infamous - neighborhoods.

Tamara Stevens, 45, and her boyfriend Rick Leiby, 65, found their way to Johnny White's Sports Bar before the winds even stopped blowing. After spending a harrowing night in their swaying apartment, they needed to be out among people.

"This place will still be here," Leiby, a tour guide, said as he sipped a screwdriver from a plastic cup. "And it ain't gonna quit."



Today the Times Picayune confirms that, despite evacuation orders, curfews, power outages, rising water, and rampaging looters, Johnny White's is keeping the faith:

Johnny White’s Sport Bar on Bourbon Street at Orleans Avenue didn’t close Tuesday night, and had six patrons at 8 a.m. drinking at the bar.

"Monday night, they came by after curfew and wanted us to close," bartender Perry Bailey, 60, said of officers then patrolling the French Quarter. But all we did was shut the doors and stayed open.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Laurie said...

This might be your only post here but I've mentioned you frequently at my blog. Thanks for all the links you've sent my way.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 9:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You two have so much in common - I feel like I'm watching a sit-com - like "Moonlight" whatever....

Thursday, September 01, 2005 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Laurie's Mom said...

Hi Mr. Wang Chi, this is Ruby, Laurie's Mom. As you may know we believe in the Ghost and Spirits of our pass. That is what saved the French Quarters. Jean La Fitte, Napolean, Marie LaVoa - the VooDoo Lady, (I know I didn't spell her name right, but she is definitly there.) And all the slaves who have lived and died there. They are the protection of the French Quarter. To much of the pass is in that part of New Orleans. And will be there for a long time to come. Happy Spirits.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

I fail to see the admirable and "spirit" in able boded people choosing to drink when so many around them are in trouble and/or dying, or in the selfishness of people who chose to stay in New Orleans when they could afford to leave and are now just another strain on limited resources an already out of control situation.

During the Asian Tsunami, you do not hear proud tales of people drinking and living it up in the remaining bars and hotels, the stories you hear are of strangers helping each other regardless of means.

Perhaps this is the spirit of New Orleans, to have the rich party while the poor suffer?

Thursday, September 01, 2005 2:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jack said...

Dear Susan,

You don't have to be rich to go to a bar in New Orleans, and having a beer at Johnny White's hardly "living it up."

But more to the point, just what do you exoect these people to do to help? Break some shop windows to make life easier for the looters?

Thursday, September 01, 2005 4:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't mind, Big Wang,I would like to respond to "Susan in St. Paul's" comment. Dearest Susan, while I can appreciate your disapproval of people enjoying libations as a spiritual offering to the French Quarter and the people who live there, you must understand that this is just the cajun way. Cajuns turn everything into a party. An authentic New Orleans funeral will start off somber, but will quickly turn into a celebration of life. There will be food, dancing, and lots of "spirits." It's not just New Orleans, that's Louisiana. Legal drinking age is still 18. You can buy daiquiries containing real rum in them at little shops and drink them on the way home, just like buying an ice cream cone at Dairy Queen in Texas. Drinking is just the cajun way to celebrate, to grieve, to live. Us true cajuns (Louisiana folk) will do anything and everything possible to help anyone that is in need, and I ga-ron-tee, sha, dat der be plenty uf dem labation to go round whilst we do da helpen!

Thursday, September 01, 2005 5:53:00 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Well said, Anonymous. I understand Susan's confusion though. People just don't understand us Cajuns, sha.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 7:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

I don't "disapproval of people enjoying libations as a spiritual offering to the French Quarter and the people who live there." Thanks to Mr. Wang, I have been educated regarding Louisiana and alcohol.
I can understand funerals as there is nothing timely one can do for the dead. I could understand partying during the hurricane when there was no way yet to help people, but once there are options to help save human lives, I would think even Cajuns would prefer to choose helping.

As far as what one could do to help? I don't know, but I would figure there was something one could do or try to do. Mr. Wang is a bright, creative man, I am sure he could have thought of something.

Around here after bad snow storms, tornadoes and/or flooding, we check on neighbors, look for people who need help, make sure people have flashlights, candles, help prepare sandbags, dig out cars, give blood, deliver food and/or water, among other things.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 10:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

If I wasn't so fond of Mr. Wang, I would not have said anything.

Thursday, September 01, 2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

"Around here" and in New Orleans, people are doing the same things.

Friday, September 02, 2005 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Susan in St. Paul. I understand you're point of view. I share your fondness of Mr. Wang Chi, and he certainly is an intelligent man. However, while he can be truly creative with the written word, and verbally in confined spaces, I truly believe Wang's level of intelligence tends to hender his emotional sensitivity towards others. Despite this, he is a very kind and gentle man. Who, if given a quick kick in the ass, would do just about anything for those he's close to.

Everyone from near and far are doing everything humanly possible to help our neighbors through this disaster. And though it may seem calloused, some will simply raise the glass in salute to a job well done.

Friday, September 02, 2005 1:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

back to Mr. Wang's original post, what what job well done were they saluting?

As far as intelligence being an excuse for insensitivity, it doesn't hold water. One should not have their ass kicked to get them to be decent caring people.

Some people are under the impression that once you reach a certain level of intimacy with a person you no longer need to be polite, respectful or caring, I feel this is wrong. The closer people are in my life the better I treat them because they become part of my life. Like the commandment of honoring thy mother and father, one should likewise honor those they care for.

Laurie-around here, they do it BEFORE they go to a bar to celebrate.

Saturday, September 03, 2005 12:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Concerned observer in Louisiana said...

Susan in St. Paul,

Drinking at a bar with no electricity, no running water, no adequate transportation, no real means of communication in a near police state is not "living it up".

Would you really be so noble if you and the people you were holed up with in some dive were trying to keep your own person from being raped, looted, shot at by gangs in the now-lawless city of New Orleans? I sincerely doubt it. It's about self-preservation and survival. Yeah, drinking alcohol seems like somewhat juvenile, but really, what else can they do?

And by what means of transportation would you and your fellow noble Minnesotans make it over to the Superdome or Convention Center to help out the masses? If it were available and you REALLY left the Quarter to go that way, you'd be so overwhelmed by people begging for your mercy that you'd beg God for mercy yourself.

Maybe you've been through your share of "bad snow storms, tornadoes, and/or flooding", but I would bet everything I have that you have NEVER been through something like this. So, why don't you button it up in Minnesota, make a donation and have a drink. It might loosen you up considerably. Sounds like you need it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005 6:12:00 PM  
Anonymous Susan in St. Paul said...

The original post refers to a time immediately after the storm, "before the winds even stopped blowing." From what I understood there was still running water, and conditions had not deteriorated to the point of anarchy.

Perhaps the coming lawlessness would have been a known foregone conclusion to New Orleans residents, and the people in the article weren't really "keeping the faith" as Wang put it. However, nothing in Wang's post mentioned the people were going to a bar out of self-defense, self preservation or that they had gone to holed up there.
Some of the other comments here suggested that they were indeed partying, it being the Cajun way.

What I would have done was check on my neighbors, and do what I could within my neighborhood if nothing else. As I have I done in the past. I never said anything about leaving the quarter, the superdome or convention center.

No, I have never been through anything like that and I would not wish it on anyone. I have already made a donation and will continue to do what I can.

I realize you are upset, but please look at the original post and my objections to it within the context of when it was written and what was happening at the time.

Saturday, September 03, 2005 8:14:00 PM  

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