Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sunday night geography blogging

Among the many features to fall through the cracks while I am off working there is the weekly geographic exploration.

Given how little I know about Louisiana (and the extreme navigational anxiety I go into when I don't have a map or know how places are related to each other), it seems like a good idea to take a look at Louisiana and New Orleans.

I would hope that we all remember enough from elementary school (or the newcasts following hurricanes Katrina and Rita) to know that Louisiana is on the Gulf Coast, whether we can name its neighbors correctly or not.

Here is a map of the state that you can click to enlarge. I looked at several and was not happy until I had one with Thibodaux, in honor of Grandmère and Grandpère. It just wouldn't do to show a map leaving this important town out. (Head about 8 o'clock from New Orleans and you'll find it. If you do not use clock-directions, then go west and a bit south.)

The defining realities of New Orleans, I venture to assert, are Lake Pontchartrain to the north and the Mississippi River meandering along on the south. Most of NOLA is below water level, which is why levees and pumps are so vitally important. When they fail, the city is in a world of hurt, as was so disastrously illustrated when the city flooded.

Photo courtesy of the Florida Baptist Witness. Walter Johnson, then a student as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, took the photo. I work one block below Canal Street and the building where we work had four feet of flooding. It took 17 months to restore the first floor of the building. There are regions of NOLA that had far more than 4 feet of flooding.

The pink section to the right of where I work is the Vieux Carré (or French Quarter). Bourbon Street is three blocks from the work site. No, I don't hang out there. In fact, I took a walk one lunch hour for the exercise and ventured 3 blocks up Rue Bourbon and then back again. That - and driving through a few blocks to deal with all the one-way streets and no-left-turn signs - is the extent of my hanging out in the FQ.

As you can see, I live in an apartment in River Ridge, just below where Earhart Parkway terminates (for those who know the area). I can walk to the Shimmy Shack from my apartment and did so Friday night after work. The Shimmy Shack is a local watering hole and eatery; lively and pleasant. I am told that they have a Russian waitress (and two Russian cooks) but she was not on duty that night. And here I had practiced saying "U vas yest krasnoye vino?" (У вас ест красное вино? - Do you have red wine?) Wound up ordering a double shot gin and tonic, followed by a pastrami and swiss sandwich.

First semester Russian student who did not quite finish the semester, so please don't hold me to proper Russian orthography. I think that was correct but would not swear by it.

Thanks to Ginny S. I have learned about Rouse's supermarkets, which are all over once you know to look for them. I pass a couple on the way home each evening; very convenient. They are quite upscale. For you SF Bay Area folks, they are rather like Andronico's only more spacious.

I usually end geographic posts with videos and music. The first one tonight is somber: a drive through the Lower Ninth Ward following Katrina and general information on what happened. We all need to know this story. It is almost 16 minutes long. You can get the idea in the first several minutes.

Kirstin told me about the ministry St Anna's has with the musicians of NOLA. Here is a video about bringing the music back (16m 33s).
Extended performance by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis in New Orleans supporting the Musicians' Village by Habitat for Humanity.

Music video by SONOMA (Spirit of New Orleans Music Alliance). The video is complete with scenes from around the French Quarter and Jackson Square.

It's a love song to the city of New Orleans featuring the vocals of Ms. Romy Kaye backed by Craig Cortello on guitar.

Here is a song composed by Sedrick Fuliga on the USS Nimitz and performed by him on this video, a plaintive offering for the people of NOLA in the immediate aftermath.

Note the recurring "But there's hope and strength in their eyes."

Tonya Boyd-Cannon and the New Orleans Office of Film and Video bring us this conclusion for tonight: "Rise, My Child."

Peace be upon this city and its people!

Mimi, that sweetie from the swamps, gets all mushy and serenades me.
--the BB


Grandmère Mimi said...

Oh, Paul, thank you, thank you. What can I say?

You made me love you
I didn't want to do it, I didn't want to do it
You made me love you
and all the time you knew it
I guess you always knew it.
You made me happy sometimes, you made me glad
But there were times, Dear, you made me feel so bad.

You know the way to this woman's heart, love. Harry Connick, Jr is my other sweetie.

Paul said...

I rather suspect, Grandmère, that way too many of my posts make you sad, Dear, given my penchant for holding up unpleasant realities to keep us all aware. GP had better keep an eye on that Connick feller.

Happy to honor your state!

Editilla d'Aphasia said...

Hey Paul,
I grew up 1/2 Episcopalian so I know y'all are one bunch of grandeloquent prolixatators!
Wonderful post.

I know how you feel about geography. Perhaps you might need to meet Alan over at "Think New Orleans":
He GIS'illero.

Our gratitude to y'all for your support and hard work in the city's recovery cannot be I hung you on today's Ladda!

Editilla~New Orleans News Ladder

Bubs said...

Wonderful videos and geography lesson. I'm new to your blog (Fran sent me) so I was wondering what kind of work brought you to New Orleans? How's your commute from Jefferson Parish?

Thanks for doing that post.

Lindy said...

I am glad to hear more about where you are living. I doubt I'll ever bring myself go to wander the FQ again -- at least not alone -- as some spooky witch doctor scared me pretty good last time I was there. Someday I'll have to regale you and GM with my FQ stories.

I assume you'll be glad to get back to Albuquerque. It's so beautiful.

Have a great week Paul!

Paul said...

Bubs, welcome. My adult life has mostly been divided between working as an accountant and being a parish priest. Now I wish I were financially secure enough to be retired so I could garden, write novels, and teach now and again. Since I am not financially secure, I work as an accountant. Consulting gigs are lovely. I am with a group working on the clean-up after an acquisition.

Lindy, some of my coworkers have been visiting the Vieux Carré but I prefer to see it only by day. years ago I walked the length of Bourbon Street on a Saturday night and then again the next morning (when they were hosing the vomit off the sidewalks). Given my attitude toward crowds, noise, and overpriced stuff.... Not even great music, good food, or a crowd of hot available men could lure me there.