The Spectacle Blog

Philadephia Society and New Orleans, Part I

By on 3.30.09 | 11:51AM

The Philadelphia Society's New Orleans meeting has concluded.  This was my first time to be invited.  I have some impressions to report about both the society and the town.  For this post, I’ll focus on New Orleans.

If I can judge from the French Quarter and the rush hour traffic, New Orleans is back.  The downtown area was absolutely hopping and it wasn't Mardi Gras time.  I've never seen an American city other than NYC with so much night life.

However, I have to admit I was taken aback by Bourbon Street.  On Saturday morning, I visited Cafe du Monde with a fellow academic who'd been a Bush appointee.  After eating our beignets, we walked along the sidewalks and were nearly flooded out by a street washing machine that literally poured soapy water all over the streets and walkways.  I wondered how often the city conducted that operation.  My guess now is every night.  By the end of Saturday, I'd seen the Quarter in operation.  You run into an awful lot of questionable liquids on the street and sidewalks.  Come morning, the wages of overindulgence (and a lot of horse droppings) need to be washed away.

I was stunned by "out there" nature of the sexually-oriented businesses in evidence.  That takes a little doing since I live in Houston which is filled with elaborate strip clubs, but there you spin rapidly by them on elevated freeways.  In New Orleans, you walk by women in lingerie standing on sidewalks and in doorways to beckon customers inside.  I imagine Times Square was like that P.G. (pre-Giuliani).

Having been to 21st century Times Square and seedy Bourbon Street.  I'll take Times Square.  One changed for the better.  The other stayed the same.  Of course, I take into account the admonition of Thomas Aquinas that you can't use the law to abolish all vice, lest you create a backlash of total rebellion.  Still, Rudy G. seems to have done a better job of locating the golden mean than his counterpart Ray N.

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