hungry hearted

serving up a healthy portion of pop culture commentary, random infatuations, and introspective ramblings

my first hurrication

After hosting some friends during their hurrication from Gustav last week, Margaret and I took the unexpected opportunity to follow them back for an impromptu visit to New Orleans. Being from the land of snowstorms and hibernation, I'm intrigued by the trials and tribulations of hurricane season. Giving into our curiosity, we took to the streets of the French Quarter to mingle with locals and gain a first hand account of the city's morale.

Last weekend's mandatory evacuation caused a clusterfuck of contraflow exiting the gulf, which has seemingly left citizens with mixed reviews. While the government's response was successful, the storm slowed down to a category two hurricane once reaching the gulf. The physical damage to New Orleans appears minimal. Previously flawed infrastructures were expectantly the most susceptive to Gustav's wrath, but the most notable impact is the massive power outage, which has left some without electricity for days and/or weeks to come.

The outage has given the presence of the Army Corps a lengthened purpose as the city has imposed curfew to deter mischief. However, some might argue that the men in uniform are preoccupied hanging out and flirting with locals.

Like millions of evacuees, my friends left New Orleans last Saturday night packed in their car with two dogs and a cat to embark on a miserable, crawling, twenty hour car ride to Austin. Residents have been vocal about their frustrations with the evacuation. Bar-side conversations yesterday consistently turned into individual recounts of horror stories resulting in a common conclusion apprehensive of future warnings. In this immediate aftermath, the event appears to many as a fire drill to compensate for the epic governmental failures of Katrina.

emergency meals dispersed during power outage by the Red Cross

There's no doubt that New Orleans houses a special breed. For some reason every time I visit I am strangely reminded of the movie Big Fish. There is something inescapably enchanting about this city, from the colorful characters nestled into mundane storefronts to the overgrown subtropical plants sprouting through and bringing life to cracks and crevices of dilapidated buildings. I think it is that same unique contrast that spills into a culture that refuses to surrender in the face of adversity.

Annie, get your wok?

A recent discussion with a friend of mine questioned the habitability of New Orleans. He said that instead of evacuating countless times, people should take a cue to permanently relocate to less threatened locations. I argued that such a concept seems anti-American. Heritage, pride, and tradition have always trumped practicality.

Now the city's focus is on the next tropical storm destined for the gulf shores, Ike. What happens next is anyone's guess. One thing that is for certain is the strength of a society which continues to withstand despite the odds. For a city in the throws of uncertain weather and impending catastrophe, no one seems bitter. There is an overwhelming presence of community that unites and strengthens individuals with each shared experiences, and that's a beautiful occurrence.