The Spirit of New Orleans

In the aftermath of Katrina author Christopher Rice talks about the spirit of his hometown for

“…it is also one of the few cities that even hardened cynics refer to as having a certain spirit. That spirit does not depend on the specifics of its infrastructure. In the words of my friend Eric Shaw Quinn, New Orleans has never offered permanence to anyone and there’s no reason not to believe that something just as unique will replace her. Instead it has managed to foster a wild hybrid spirituality that combines Catholic and Pagan influences into an adamant insistence upon enjoying the city’s sensual beauty in the face of nature’s constant encroachment. Mardi Gras, the city’s most defining communal celebration, requires only the creative expression of the city’s residents, not the specific use of landmarks and buildings. Hopefully, the current violence will not mask the fact that this city has responded to insurmountable obstacles with an institutionalized kindness and generosity.”

Meanwhile defiant French Quarter residents decide to go on and throw the annual Southern Decadence parade despite everything.

“…the annual Southern Decadence parade through the heart of the French Quarter stops for nothing ? not even Katrina. “Hey, we’ve got to keep our morale up, too,” said Jill Sandars, aka “Jelly Sandwich,” her “Quarter” name. Resplendent in a fluffy red skirt, dark hat and small black umbrella, she strutted and sang with 15 to 20 other storm survivors who’d hunkered down in battered but not beaten streets normally associated with bead-throwing at Mardi Gras.”

The reporter wonders if maybe the French Quarter which was spared much of the damage to the rest of the city had some special protection.

“The future of New Orleans may be problematic, and time lines for recovery mostly are educated guesses. But the same forces of fate ? or the mercy of the African voodoo goddess of the winds, Oya ? that deflected Katrina’s destructive winds at the 11th hour seem to have spared this legendary part of the American cultural experience.”

It looks like homosexuality, Voodoo, and Paganism in New Orleans weren’t wiped out after all. Even the goths are planning to return. I hope some people aren’t too disappointed.

Jason Pitzl-Waters