Sunday, January 4, 2015

Angel From Montgomery

Po boy views
Phil LaMancusa
The Ides Of March
Angel From Montgomery
“And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.”
However, you pick up your March Where Y’at and it seems that this month’s festivities are starting as slow as the Saints defense. Well, you’re not imagining things.
As a city that’s founded on a Catholic menu (with liberal side dishes of lascivious licensing), we tend to lay a little low after Mardi Gras to atone for our rambunctiousness during Carnival--- however--- when we can taste the end of Lenten season, our hormones and pheromones chafe at the bit.  Consequently, long about the middle of March, the sassy and smartass celebratory locomotive begins its chuga-chug-chug (the little engine that could…… and does).
Starting with Buku Music and Art on the 13th, we slide into Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday, St. Joseph’s, St. Patrick’s, Congo Square New World Rhythm, New Orleans Food, Tennessee Williams Literary, Spring Equinox, International Beer, Hogs for a Cause, and Louisiana Oyster Jubilee Festivals. March-- in like a lamb and out like a lion--especially because, in the interim, there will be second lines, crawfish killings, birthdays, deadlines, wanderings, wooings and someone getting a fat check back from Uncle Sam.
It’s said ‘there’s nothing as constant as change’ and the new influx of residents—from hospital workers to Hispanic laborers; forward thinking teachers to the struggling upwardly mobile  ---  change demographics. New Orleans continues to be painted with a wide brush, and you’d be a fool not to love the colors and a traitor if you didn’t wish that things would remain the same. You can play the “I remember when….” game all you like; but, one thing for sure about spring 2015, there’s eddies in the wash, cosmically and cosmetically.
The French Quarter has turned into a Disney-esque  caricature, the Marigny has become the new French Quarter, upper Bywater has become the New Marigny, lower Bywater has turned into Brooklyn and less affluent folks are being pushed (again) into ‘the Nine’ (upper and lower). What was once a viable downtown is now hotels, office buildings and parking lots.  Affordable housing for retirees and missions for the homeless share zip codes with churches, schools, nursing homes and product driven facilities which now are either condominiums or hulking shells.
Meanwhile, a gleaming steel and concrete city on the hill will have arisen smack dab it the middle of River City where a neighborhood once stood. Likewise the Lafitte Greenway will be nearly complete, they’ll still be talking about tearing down that affront of an interstate along Claiborne, the last of the projects will have fallen, and possibly a decision will be made about the old Charity Hospital.
Question: what are you gonna do? Answer: whatever you can. Pray for a good landlord and a reasonable rent, throw caution to the wind and watch your back.
There’s no sense in even considering a move to another city/town. That would only become a stigma on the polish of your impeccable personality; face it, once you’ve drank the New Orleans cool aid you’re doomed, spoiled, cursed and infected with a love/hate relationship with the best damn city in the nation. No one who has ever lived in New Orleans will consider anywhere else in this country their true home. There, I’ve said it and I’ll swear by it. Hell, maybe I’ll run for Mayor.
At one time I believed that the only place to live in New Orleans would be in the French Quarter and it’s true; kinda. The Quarter’s 24/7 sensory overloaded me (at some point most tenants will know when it’s time to leave the party); and, I found another neighborhood complete with kids, trees, squirrels, neighborhood pubs, coffee houses, restaurants and groceries.
Perversely, there are tracts of housing area that have only convenience stores and the occasional wild chickens. With luck there’s a washateria, filling station, Dollar store, Kentucky Mac Bell and/or bus stop close by; regrettably (and still), some folks are not that lucky. Historically, we are a city of haves and have-nots. We’ll make do. It’s the foundation of our culture, food, music and it’s in our blood--that’s not denigration--it’s the way it is.

Back to Spring (March 21st); in Italian it’s Prima Vera, meaning the First Truth, the true end of the past year and beginning of the new. Our juices flow. We do some ‘Spring’ cleaning. We decide to ‘get in shape’. Our young fancies have returned to love and our appetite for life reawakens. We become more critical, wistful, energized, keen; you know: “out with the old….”  The First Truth in New Orleans is that we will never be any better than what we are, but probably not any worse; so, spring forward (!), dust off your dancing shoes, suit up and prepare to shake your money maker!