We went to New Orleans on the 2007 Tour of the Southland. The first time I had been back since Katrina. I had been there for a week in June 2001 staying at the Ritz Carlton for a convention where I was on the staff.
Physically where we were this year (the French Quarter and the Garden District) we saw little obvious damage. The Super Dome is rebuilt of course. We saw lots of construction and a couple of burned houses in the Garden District, near Carrollton Ave. Otherwise it was as beautiful and exotic as it has ever been, hinting of so much.
But but but … the energy has been sucked out. The streets are not as crowded. A sign at Cafe du Monde on Jackson Square says, “Please seat yourself.” The last two times I was in New Orleans the lines were blocks long to get a seat. Bourbon Street had people, we saw a crew of tap-dancing kids leaving, there were eccentrics and freaks, but not so many, not so flamboyant. The old black man with a white beard singing “Sitting on a Dock of the Bay” on Jackson Square was really good, but he didn’t have much money in his guitar case.